Category: Food & Wine Pairings

Chocolate Decadence

One of our very “Serious” friends – Texans Alan and Jacqui – agreed to share their amazing chocolate dessert that paired perfectly with the wines from our recent Sangiovese Tasting event.  It is a simple, elegant recipe that will surely impress your guests.  Try it with red wine, or wines that were suggested during our great chocolate/wine pairing event. From Chef Wayne Brooks Ingredients: 1 lb butter 1 1/2 cups sugar 6 large eggs 10 oz dark chocolate, cut into pieces Directions: Heat oven to 325° F. Gently heat the butter until just melted. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, over simmering water.  Take the chocolate off the stove, then slowly whisk the butter into the chocolate. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until pale yellow, thick, and a ribbon forms when beaters are lifted. Fold one fourth of egg mixture into chocolate mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining egg mixture. Pour into a 9-inch cake pan that has been lined with parchment paper or wax paper. Rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Place the cake pan into a larger dish, and fill with enough water to […]

Sangiovese Tasting – Round 2

We did a Sangiovese-inspired wine & food tasting a while back –  it was a great success, so we decided to expand the efforts, increasing the number of wines, the geographic scope, and the number of tasters. After some more research, we found a selection of wines that were mostly sourced from local stores (Tampa to Venice FL), with all the wines easy to obtain.  We picked eight wines for this effort, keeping to wines that were at least 80% Sangiovese, and retaining two wines from the previous Sangiovese tasting. This event included: Volpaia Chianti Classico (2007) – Tuscany Casanova di Neri Rosso di Montelcino (2011) – Tuscany Paolo Bea Montefalco Riserva (2007) – Umbria Mocali Morellino di Scansano (2012) – Tuscany Tolaini Al Passo (2009) – Tuscany Tre Monte Campo di Mezzo (2011) – Emilia Romagna Avignonese Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (2011) – Tuscany Bibi Graetz It’s a Game (2010) – Tuscany We keep to a very simple scoring system: Weasel pee Let’s move on – drinkable, but save it for cooking wine Not bad – might buy it. Pass me another slice of pizza This is good stuff – I want more! Yes, yes, yes! (“I’ll have what […]

Marea: One of New York's Finest (And a Crudo Recipe)

There are so many choices in NYC for fine dining, and it seems that bar gets raised higher and higher as new restaurants open, new concepts explored, new trends established.  Marea is not so new (opened in 2009), relatively speaking, but it is still “young” – and still has the feel of youthful exuberance in its atmosphere, service, and menu.  It’s hard to believe that an Italian seafood-oriented restaurant can rival the great Le Bernardin, but Marea is at the same level. From start (amuse bouche) to finish (house-made mini chocolate cake), we were “wowed,” which is no small feat.  Highest quality crudo in the city, done with elegance & creativity.  And probably one of the best pasta dishes in the world (octopus & bone marrow – simply amazing!).  Worth the trip, and worth the price.   We also want to greatly complement the wait staff.  We were there the day before the Super Bowl, with every football dignitary in town. A well-known group from the Washington, DC area requested a last minute change – from a table of six to twelve.  The wait staff performed an incredible ballet to accommodate, orchestrated by Maitre d’ George, which minimized any inconvenience […]

Five Wines to Wow Your Valentine – Wine & Chocolate Pairings

Wine & chocolate seems strange to some, but the right wine with the right chocolate is a beautiful thing.  There is so much exploration to do, since there are so many interesting taste combinations to discover – nuts, fruits, types of chocolates – it really is an endless experiment.  We’ll give you some pairing tips to keep in mind, then some fun wines to discover. Tips for Successfully Pairings Wines with Chocolate Here are a few simple rules – not hard and fast, but more like guidelines: Chocolate is very complex – just like wine.  For pure chocolate, you’ll find some subtle flavors which are inherent to the region, the cocoa content, and the fat content.  It is best to do some experimenting to find the best wine and chocolate combinations for you. Try to detect some underlying flavors of the chocolate, then the wine separately.  Play with the matches. In  general, try to keep the wine sweeter than the chocolate.  However, some dry wines with strong flavors will also work, depending the prevalent flavor notes of the wine.  For example, wines such as Argentinian Malbec with a mocha undertone works well with chocolates having mocha flavors. More elegant chocolates […]

The Italian White Wine Series: The Vermentino Grape

  This is the first in our series, discussing some very interesting white wines from indigenous Italian grapes.  We are always on the look-out for serious producers who focus on quality, willing to spend time in the vineyard to control flavor, and willing to use more labor intensive fermentation techniques to make a final product which brings out the best in their production.  The best of these wines will sing along side of food, especially those foods from the same regions. Vermentino is a late-ripening white grape variety, and is the primary grape for white wine  in Sardinia, and to some extent in Corsica, in Piedmont under the name Favorita, and in increasing amounts in the Tuscany region.  Vermentino also shows up in wines from other regions, such as Colle Solato from Umbria (we’ll review this wine in one of our next postings). The  Vermentino wine which often gets the most attention is the DOCG Vermentino di Gallura which is produced in the province of Olbia-Tempio, in the north of Sardinia.  It’s a good wine with mildly-flavored seafood, but it is difficult to drink alone or with other stronger flavors.  A classic Vermentino from Sardinia is straw colored (sometimes slightly green), […]

Wine Tastings – Interesting Italian Whites – Zenato Lugana

For a very long time, we very rarely chose an Italian white wine – in fact, we mostly avoided it, considering Italian whites as large production, mass marketed fruit juice.  About 7 years ago, we were at a Wine Spectator event.  The place was paced, and it was hard to get to the wines we had on our list.  We passed by a booth for Cantina Terlano, from Alto Adige – there was no line, so we decided to give their (mostly white) wines a try.  It was truly an eye-opening experience.  Most notable were the sauvignon blanc (called Quarz) and the Gewürztraminer.  The sauvignon was enticingly exotic in the glass, having herbal aromas with a slight exotic fruit overtone.  The taste was reminiscent of the New Zealand, with multilayered fruits of mango, papaya, lime and red grapefruit, but still a bit of sophisticated flint.  The acid balance was very refined, creating a harmonious opulence with a long and impressive finish.  We bought as much as we could find, and still drink the Cantina Terlano wines on a regular basis. Our goal has been to search out more of these small, dedicated producers who have found a niche for making […]

Felidia's – Meraviglioso!

Everything about Felidia’s is spot on, including service, food, and wine. And, at the end of the meal, we feel we got our money’s worth. MrSeriousFoodie and wife DinnerDoctor celebrated with two of our regular tasters, MsL-Foodie and MrSignificantOther. Top notch pasta as always, especially the spinach tagliatelle with duck ragout. MrSignificantOther had the long-time favorite of Cacio E Pere (pear and fresh pecorino-filled ravioli, aged pecorino, crushed black pepper).  DinnerDoctor had a simple pasta dish with fresh black truffles, and it was simply delicious. Both dishes were so subtle, the pasta is so light, and the sauces were simple but elegant – truly Italian perfection. Andrew the sommelier served us a great Pignolo, which was a revelations for us. The wine had just the right notes of pepper and spice – it was med-full bodied but had sensational aromatics, with a nice after-taste of raspberry.  It paired beautifully with all the food. Felidia’s – our longtime go-to NYC restaurant – is just like my Mom would have made – if she ran a professional kitchen.

Maritana Grill at at Loews Don CeSar Hotel

One of the busiest days at any good restaurant is Vale’s Day – which we always avoid. But the day after is my wife’s birthday, which we can’t avoid. The Maritana Grille was still packed, and they were offering their Valentine’s Day tasting menu. It looked wonderful, and it met our expectations. This is one of the few restaurants in the Tampa – Sarasota corridor that meets our standards of fine dinning, matching some of the best in NYC, Chicago, New Orleans, and San Fran. Kudos to the chef, the wait staff, and the sommelier (who has brought some really interesting wines to the list).  My hat is off to any wine guy who knows that New Zealand is about more than Sauvignon blanc, and in fact has some great Bordeaux blends from the Hawkes Bay region.  The sommelier had a cab/merlot blend from Craggy Range (2008) which was outstanding.

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