Sunday, February 14, 2010

Welcome to The V.I.P. Table

I've toyed with the idea of starting a blog where I could share the work I do with food and wine. A place that I wouldn't need to over think what I write but instead to concentrate of the creative side of my work, the artistry. Also, to share the things I find along the way, whether it be a special bottle or a restaurant experience that turned my head. That is what The V.I.P. table is all about. So take a seat and enjoy.

Trespass Cabernet Franc with Mushroom Risotto

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Californian wines may not be my "Thing" but some of the producers I met, on my visit to Napa in the summer of 2009, have become favorites of mine. Trespass is one of those producers and this is now the third bottle I've opened that has blown me away with it's elegance, intensity and freshness. Now, I've never seen a bottle of Trespass wine in a store and so I would highly recommend visiting their website or plan a trip to visit if you are ever in Napa. (Imagine sitting under an umbrella, with the owner, in the middle of his vineyard while sipping wine and listening to his commentary... Priceless.)

  • 2005 Trespass Cabernet Franc Estate Grown - USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena (1/17/2010)
    Opened and left to air for two hours before the first glass, shows an amazing nose of sour cherry jam, wild berries, dark chocolate, ginger and fresh cut flowers. The nose shows so much depth and yet retains a freshness that's quite admirable. Full bodied and with a velvety mouthfeel. On the palate you find black cherry, mocha and cedar with a dark chocolate and red berry finish that seems to go on for at least a full minute. (92 pts.)

Sometimes you pick the food to go with the wine and in this case I choose a Mushroom Risotto. It's not easy to pair the typical california wine with such a dish but the elegance and balance of this Cabernet Franc really accentuated the aromatics of the risotto and added further complexities in the mouth. This made for quite a meal as the earthy mushroom flavors provided a counter balance to the rich fruit of the wine.

You can find Trespass wines at:


  1. OMG, I'm salivating! Welcome to the Blogosphere Eric!

  2. Yes, welcome indeed! Does this mean you won't be guest blogging for me anymore! :)

  3. Thanks Dave, I am only starting out in the shadow of someone like yourself that has been doing this for so long and so well. Your blog is one of my regular daily stops.

    Regina, I only stopped because I thought you were moving on to other things. I wish you would have said something earlier. I'd love to contribute again one day to keep the networking going.

  4. By popular demand, I was asked to supply this recipe.

    This is something of a lazy man's mushroom risotto. The classic way would be to prepare a mushroom stock but this is a great cheat that will fool even the best of us. Give it a try and you'll understand...

    Mushroom Risotto

    Serves 3 – 4

    6 cups vegetable stock
    8 tbls. sweet butter (cubed)
    1 shallot (fine dice)
    1 ½ cups risotto rice (Arborio is fine, but I prefer Carnaroli)
    ½ cup white wine (Try using the same white you plan to pair with the risotto.)
    1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
    ½ cup dry Marsala
    1 Tbls. chopped sage
    1 Tbls. chopped rosemary
    1-pound crimini mushrooms (washed and sliced cross-wise into ¼ inch slices)
    salt and pepper (to taste)

    Prepare all of your ingredients before you start. You’ll need one pot for the stock and one sauté pan and one saucepan.

    Place the stock into a pot and bring to a simmer.

    In a sauté pan melt 2 Tbls. of butter over low – medium flame. The butter will foam up and when the foam settles, add the mushrooms. Season with a healthy pinch of salt and toss well to coat with the butter. Allow this mixture to cook for about 3 – 4 minutes. Next add ½ the sage and ½ the rosemary. Toss again and raise the heat to medium.

    Add the ½ cup of Marsala and bring to a boil. Once it has reached a boil, lower the heat to low and allow this mixture to simmer

    In a saucepan, melt two tablespoons of butter, over a low - medium flame, and then add the shallots. Season the shallots lightly with salt. Sweat until translucent, for about three minutes, but do not allow them to take on any color.

    When the shallots are almost ready, add another tablespoon of butter. Once the butter has melted, add the rice and bring the flame up to medium. Toss the rice in the butter and shallot mixture while stirring regularly. Do not allow the rice to take on any color or stick to the pan. This should take only one or two minutes.

    Now add the wine and stir. The wine will begin to cook off and, once the rice begins to look dry, add your first ladle full of stock and stir. I like to set a timer for 17 minutes at this point, as a guide, but not as the set time for completion.

    Continue to stir, keeping the rice moving around the pan. Regularly stir the rice, from the outside of the pan, into the center. As the rice begins to look dry again, add more stock and continue to stir.

    Meanwhile, keep an eye on the mushrooms. If they have shrunken and the liquid in the pan has begun to dry, you can remove them from the flame and stir in the last of the sage and rosemary. Take ¾ of the mushrooms out of the pan and set them in a warm area to rest (I like to keep an oven at 200 degrees to hold items). Now ladle some stock into the sauté pan, where the mushrooms were cooking, and stir up any bits from the pan. Spill the contents from the pan, into the risotto and stir.

    When the timer reads two minutes, you should begin to taste the risotto for doneness. Season lightly with salt, but remember that the Parmigiano Reggiano is salty as well, so season very lightly. Once your rice is al dente, soft with a slight snap to the bite, turn off the heat. You may have a little stock left; hold it for now. Now add the last tablespoon of butter and the ½ cup of Parmigiano Reggiano and stir into the rice until combined. If the rice is too dry, add a little bit more hot stock and stir.

    Taste the risotto, one last time for seasoning. Plate into warmed bowls. Garnish with the reserved mushrooms in a small pile at the center (a good trick is to use a 1 ½ cookie cutter, to pile the garnish into. Then pull the cookie cutter straight up and the garnish will form a perfect pile. Clean the rim of your plate and serve.


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