Saturday, April 30, 2011

Food and Wine in Winter 2011

With a whirlwind of events, tastings and travels, I realized that it’s been quite some time since I sat down and thought about making mention of the food work I’ve had published and some of the killer wines that I’ve tasted in the last few months. February through April brought The V.I.P. Table a heavy workload and there’s much more to come. Also, I’d like to thank all of my readers who have allowed this small website to grow into a 3500+ monthly readership. I’m always open to comments and I welcome any opinions. So please feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you love or hate about The V.I.P. Table.

So on to “Food and Wine in Winter 2011”

Pumpkin Risotto
Nostalgia is a powerful tool in the chef’s arsenal. It’s a direct line to the hearts and minds of your guests. It's that smell from mama’s kitchen. It's that flavor, which will always remind you of home. Or that memory of togetherness around a family table, the food you ate and the happy memories you shared. Would it surprise you to know that nostalgia is a topic taught in culinary school? Well it is, and for very good reason because with nostalgia you can create a dish that will not only taste divine, but also speaks to the diner’s soul. That’s how pumpkin risotto ended up on my menu.

Read the full article and recipe: What’s Cookin’

Braised Pork Shoulder in Chianti Sauce
Braised Pork Shoulder in Chianti Sauces is amazing dish that will thrill your guests. The sauce balances richness with complex woodsy notes and vibrant acidity. It is transcendent, yet elegant and light on its feet. It’s one of those sauces that you feel could be poured over anything and never get boring. The pork is succulent, falls apart on the fork and nearly melts in your mouth.

Read the full article and recipe: What’s Cookin’

Calamari in Zimino
It's amazing how different traditional Italian food is from what most Americans grew up to believe it to be. The Sunday sauces and everything parmigiana that we grew up with are a far stretch from what you find throughout the majority of Italy. From north to south, the cuisine of Italia changes just as much as its geography, traditions and wines.

However, for the most part, one thing remains the same throughout Italy: the cuisine is based on simple recipes made great through the quality of the ingredients and the deft, passionate hand of the person who is making the dish. Calamari in Zimino is a perfect example of this.

Read the full article and recipe: What’s Cookin’

As for the wines, I don’t remember the last time that I had so many fantastic wines to choose from when writing an overview piece such as this. The wines below run the gambit of top shelf crowd pleasers to affordable daily drinkers; from Italy, Chile and the United States. There’s seriously something for everyone.

2009 Casa Silva Carménère Reserva - On the nose, I found blackberry, chalk dust, green bell pepper and manure. On the palate, it was big yet balanced, showing wild berries, more green pepper leading to a cough syrup like finish. Looking back on my notes, I feel as if these descriptors fail to do this wine justice. The fact is, it was highly enjoyable in a gripping and earthy way and an amazing value. (92 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher!

2010 Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc Estate - The nose showed lemon with fresh cut grass, minerals and a bit of nuttiness. On the palate, this was mouth-filling with sour grapefruit, lime, minerals, and green apple. The finish was long with sour patch citrus fruits. Not only was this Sauvignon Blanc refreshing and full of varietal character, it is also an awesome value. (90 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher!

2008 Larkmead Vineyards Firebelle - The nose showed black currant, cherry liquor, spice, brown sugar and a hint of fresh-turned soil. On the palate, it was velvety smooth and luxuriant as it filled the senses with flavors of blackberry jam, cherry wood and spice. The finish was exceptionally long with blackberry and currant fruit, yet fresh and begging for another sip. Larkmead has quickly become one of my favorite producers from the Napa Valley and one sip from these luxurious, yet refined wines will make a believer out of anyone. (94 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher!

2000 Arnaldo-Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco 25 Anni - The nose showed black cherries with vanilla sugar, cola and Christmas spices. On the palate, it was massive, bold, yet vibrant--balanced with a flavor profile that I could only described as dark chocolate covered cherries in sweet cream, yet bone dry. This wine was luxurious and smooth all the way to the long palate-coating finish. (95 points) Fine it: Wine-Searcher!

2009 Schäfer-Fröhlich Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs - The nose showed lemon, pear, spice and sage with hints of floral undergrowth. On the palate, this was beautifully balanced with piercing acidity, showing citrus, honey dew, minerals and stone. The finish was remarkably fresh with linger notes of grapefruit and herbs. (94 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher!

2006 Azienda Agricola Montevertine Le Pergole Torte Toscana IGT - The nose showed dusty bright cherry, leather and cinnamon. On the palate, I found focused red fruit, floral notes and savory roasted meats with impeccable balance and a level of fresh acidity that invites you to take another sip. The finish was fresh and long with sour red fruits. At this time, the Le Pergole Torte remains restrained by its fine structure but should be a dream of a wine in five plus years. (93 points) Find it: Wine-Searcher!

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