Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Carpenè Malvolti Brut Rosé in a Single Serving Bottle, Veneto, Italy - $8


We stopped for happy hour at Royal Blue today, and I grabbed this single-serving of Carpenè Malvolti Brut Rosé.

Sassy Wine Belly - Carpenè Malvolti Brut Rosé in a Single Serving Bottle

The wine was light, refreshing, and very effervescent. What a delightful way to spend happy hour, especially outdoors in this Texas heat! This is definitely a favorite of mine!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Stag's Leap S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley, CA - $135


Have you heard of the Judgement of Paris? This is the great-granddaughter of the wine that won top red (over several renowned French reds) in 1976.

Sassy Wine Belly - Stag's Leap S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon 2013     Sassy Wine Belly - Stag's Leap S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars is a mecca for red wine lovers and wine history buffs. Yes, that's me! This S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon is the softest, most wondrous Cab Sauv I've ever had in my life! I reviewed it previously when I visited the winery - you can find that review here. I've saved the cork and the bottle because this is such a special, special wine and is so near to my heart!


Alborz Persian Cuisine - Restaurant Review

This is going to be a challenging review. We love the food at Alborz, but they have never gotten a takeout order right. Literally. Every single time we've ordered out from Alborz, there has been something wrong with our order. This experience was no different.

Sassy Wine Belly - Alborz Persian Cuisine

My favorite main dish at this restaurant used to be called Koresh Bademjan ($11) - it's a stew of beef filet and eggplant. When ordered Koresh Bademjan this time, they gave us an eggplant appetizer called Kashk-o-bademjan ($6) instead. Hubby had to go back to the restaurant for the correct dish, and was still charged for the incorrect one (which they asked if we wanted to keep, but we didn't actually order).

Despite the takeout service, the food is so great here! Hubby always gets Boneless Chicken Breast Kabob ($12) and trades half of his rice for a Shirazi Salad (diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions mixed with dry mint, lemon juice, and olive oil). My Bademjan is always a nice balance of beef and eggplant in a tasty sauce, and I have so much leftover that I can usually have it for lunch or dinner the next day.

Beware that if you try the lunch buffet, the Bademjan is only eggplant - there is no beef in it. You have to order off the menu to get the version with beef.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Roasted Chicken Breasts with Potatoes and Carrots - Recipe


You may need more than one casserole dish or pan to make this recipe. It is a very basic, delicious, satisfying home cooked meal!

Sassy Wine Belly - Roasted Chicken Breasts with Potatoes and Carrots

Ingredients
  • Organic EVOO
  • 6 organic, free-range chicken breasts
  • 1 onion, sliced into 16 wedges
  • 8 red or Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered
  • 8 carrots, scrubbed clean and sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • paprika for color

Instructions
  1. Chop the vegetables, slice the onion, and mince the garlic
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F
  3. Drizzle your casserole dishes or baking pans with EVOO
  4. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and paprika; flip each piece and repeat on the other side
  5. Place the onions around each chicken breast
  6. Place the carrots around each chicken breast on top of the onions
  7. Place the potatoes with the carrots and onions around the chicken
  8. Sprinkle the minced garlic evenly on top of all of the ingredients
  9. Drizzle all of the ingredients with EVOO and sprinkle the veggies with salt and pepper
  10. Place the pans into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Check to see if the juices in the chicken run clear - if not, put the dish back into the oven and check again every five minutes until the juices run clear.
  11. When plating the food, remember to drizzle some of the olive oil/juices from the bottom of the pan onto the chicken and the vegetables

I've made this dish for some very picky eaters, and they have loved it! It's a keeper!


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Château Coupe Rosé Frémillant 2015, Minervois, France - $15


Sassy Wine Belly - Château Coupe Rosé Frémillant 2015     Sassy Wine Belly - Château Coupe Rosé Frémillant 2015

This wine smells so strongly of strawberries! It's nice and dry with a little acid in the finish. Mouth puckering! 

I'm not a huge fan of strawberry-flavored wine, and I found myself laboring through the bottle, but others who like fruity wines might really enjoy this rosé!


Prelog's Dinner - Restaurant Review; Fritz Müller Semi-Sparkling Rosé, and Paraiso Pinot Noir 2013 from Monterrey, California


We were fortunate enough to be able to visit Prelog's one last time before they temporarily closed in search of a new location. We were seated at a table with full view of the kitchen - perfect for watching the artistry involved in making such tremendous food!

Sassy Wine Bellly - Prelog's Dinner
Hamachi with compressed watermelon ($14) - every bit was savory and sweet at the same time, and perfectly balanced.

Sassy Wine Bellly - Prelog's Dinner
Heirloom tomato salad with mozzarella bursts ($13) - a light and lovely salad!

Sassy Wine Bellly - Prelog's Dinner
Snapper with mussel sauce, fingerling potatoes, eggplant purée, asparagus, zucchini, radishes, and sun dried tomatoes. Crisp skin and so flavorful - around $25~$30.

Sassy Wine Bellly - Prelog's Dinner
The tenderest chicken next to Bess Bistro's French-cut chicken, served with chard, carrots, and polenta - around $25~$30. Hubby thinks Prelog's ranks up there with Alan Wong's on Maui (although you can't beat the Hawaiian setting of AW).

Sassy Wine Belly - Fritz Müller Semi-Sparkling Rosé
This Fritz Müller Semi-Sparkling Rosé from Pfalz, Germany is very dry, yummy, and so food friendly! Need to check with the Austin Wine Merchant to see if they have it! Around $30 a bottle at the restaurant.

Sassy Wine Belly - Paraiso Pinot Noir 2013
This Paraiso Pinot Noir 2013 from Monterrey, California ($13 a glass, $39 a bottle) tasted more like a Syrah, with dark fruit and smoke, and extremely dark in color. Weird for a PN but tasty. 

Sassy Wine Bellly - Prelog's Dinner
We had the Antonelli's Cheese Platter ($13) for dessert. It included Gorgonzola, Parmesan, and Brie. We would have liked more bread for the cheese tray.

What a wonderful experience! Florian and Romana go out of their way to insure that you have a fabulous time, and I can't wait to try out their new location!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Kim Crawford Rosé - Hawke's Bay, New Zealand




I've had this rose twice this week during happy hour at Taverna. It's nice and light, fruity and refreshing. The wine rep from Republic who works with the restaurant says that they recently put it in a Burgundy bottle and that it is mostly Merlot. According to the winery's website, Malbec is also in the blend.

Not sure how much this costs per bottle as it was $6 per glass during happy hour at Taverna. However, Kim Crawford's Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir sell for about $15 per bottle at local stores such as Central Market and Trader Joe's, so I would assume that this rosé would be offered at a similar price point.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Famille Quiot Domaine Houchart Sainte Victoire Rosé 2015, Côtes de Provence, France - $14.99


     

Austin Wine Merchant recommended this Famille Quiot Domaine Houchart Sainte Victoire Rosé to me when my favorite Domaine Houchart Rosé was out of stock. 

It's a little less fragrant and actually smells a little hot (at 14% alcohol, not surprising). The nose was white nectarines at first. It is drier than my favorite. It's nice, but at a few dollars more per bottle with not as much flavor or aroma and higher in alcohol, I'll stick with my fave when it's in stock. Otherwise, this is a nice option!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Domaine Vetriccie Rosé (Ile de Beauté) 2015, Corse (Corsica), France - $13.75


     

This Domaine Vetriccie Rosé was very good. It's not as fragrant as my favorite Domaine Houchart Rosé, but much lower in alcohol (12% as opposed to DH's 13.5%) and very tasty! 

I purchased it for $13.75 per bottle at the Austin Wine Merchant. They have such a wonderful selection of wine!


Taverna Happy Hour - Restaurant Review


Happy Hour is a great deal at Taverna, but you have to be ready to stand and be a little cramped if you're in a large group, as it's only available at the bar. There are house wines for $5 a glass, mimosas and bellinis for $2 a glass, and some appetizers and pizzas at half price (~$6).



In addition to the two glasses of Kim Crawford Rosé I ordered at HH tonight, I also got a California pizza to go (chicken, mozzarella, avocado, feta, tomatoes, cilantro - $7 for HH). Hubby and I enjoyed it immensely. I'll have to remember these ingredients so that I can make our own at home!


TRACE at the W Austin, Lunch on the Fly Menu - Restaurant Review #3



This was a wonderful fish in a corn chowder, with a peach salad on the side. I appreciated how light and flavorful the meal was.

The cookies were chocolate chip - a perennial favorite of mine!


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Prelog's Brunch - Restaurant Review


Unfortunately, Prelog's is now temporarily closed, but I thought I'd post this review anyways as they are looking for a new location and hope to open soon.

The yummy brunch buffet includes tons of veggies, salads, cheese, and various seafoods and charcuterie for $39 per person. Mimosas are $6 a glass. 

If you order the buffet, you also get to choose à la carte from the menu at no extra charge! I added a Caesar Salad and Petite Filet. When you order à la carte in addition to the buffet, the portions are smaller - totally makes sense!

This was not a traditional Caesar Salad. There were no anchovies, and they usually don't include tomatoes. Even though it wasn't what I was expecting, it was tasty!

The Petite Filet was great - perfectly cooked and so tender. The fries were AMAZING - how do they get them so crispy?!

I'm looking forward to trying out Prelog's again in their new space!


Boiler Nine - Restaurant Review


I was extremely excited about the original concept for Boiler Nine (4 levels, with different types of menus on each level), but when we entered the restaurant it was much smaller than I expected. I only went to the main floor and basement (both were cozy). There is also a rooftop deck, which we didn't see. Each has a different menu. We ate on the main level.


We started with the Muhammara (candied walnuts, cumin, coriander, yogurt, sesame crackers - $10). It was very delicious. I miss the Muhammara at Fino, and am glad that another restaurant in town offers it (even though it's slightly different).


We also enjoyed the Sausage Platter (Andouille, Smoked Beef, Fennel-Ginger, Pickles, Mustard, and Toast - $23).

I also ordered the La Vida Al Camp Cava Penedes, Spain NV ($10 a glass), and it was lovely and very good with the food.

Boiler Nine is a little pricey, but the dishes are interesting and I'd like to try more of them. The only down-side to our visit was that they were cleaning the kitchen with bleach and we could smell it from our table. Other than that, everything was great.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tofu Lettuce Cups - Recipe


If you've been following my blog, you'll know that I'm obsessed with True Food Kitchen's Shiitake Lettuce Cups. I created my own version tonight.



I chose to use baby bella mushrooms from Central Market and extra firm tofu from Trader Joe's for this recipe. Also used organic Romaine lettuce and Soyaki sauce from TJ's.

Ingredients
  • 1 package TJ's extra firm, super protein tofu, diced
  • TJ's Soyaki Sauce
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 8 leaves organic Romaine lettuce, washed and dried
  • EVOO
Instructions
  1. Dice the tofu and marinate it in Soyaki Sauce for at least 20 minutes
  2. Wash and dice the mushrooms
  3. Separate and wash the lettuce leaves
  4.  Stir fry the tofu and mushrooms in the EVOO for 5 minutes
  5. Fill the lettuce cups with the tofu and mushroom mixture
Hope you enjoy this light, healthy, vegetarian dish! You can also add chicken, or replace the tofu with chicken, if you prefer.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Arugula, Pear, and Goat Cheese Pizza with Caramelized Onions - Recipe


Pizzas on naan bread are so easy to prepare, especially for a weekday dinner.


Tonight, I decided to make an arugula, pear, and goat cheese pizza with caramelized onions.

This is the finished pizza - so mouthwatering!

Ingredients
  • 3 pieces of naan
  • softened goat cheese (slice off a section from a log, and let it come to room temp)
  • Organic EVOO
  • 1 organic onion, diced
  • 2 pears, sliced lengthwise into 16 pieces
  • fresh organic arugula
  • sea salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar (optional)

Instructions
  1. Dice the onions and slice the pears - set aside
  2. Preheat a medium-sized sauté pan and begin caramelizing the onions with the EVOO (heat the EVOO and add the onions, stirring constantly for approximately 20 minutes)
  3. Preheat the oven to 400F
  4. Place the naan on a baking sheet
  5. Spread the goat cheese evenly onto the naan
  6. When the onions are a light brown and slightly sweet to taste, turn off the heat to the sauté pan and spread the onions on top of the goat cheese
  7. Add the sliced pears on top of the onions
  8. Generously distribute the fresh arugula on top of the pears
  9. I find that I don't need salt or pepper on these pizzas, but sometimes I like to add a little balsamic vinegar - it's up to you whether you want additional flavoring
Enjoy!


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bacon, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Frittata - Recipe


Frittatas are so perfect for brunch! You can make them ahead easily and reheat them in the oven before serving. Leftovers are so delicious, too! Here's a recipe that I developed and use all of the time. Great thing is, you can use just about any meat or veggie you have available!



Ingredients
  • 6 large eggs

  • 1 cup crumbled chèvre (goat cheese)

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)

  • 1 t sea salt 
  • 1/4 t freshly-ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 6 to 8 strips turkey or regular bacon, diced into 1/4-inch pieces

  • 10 oz baby spinach, washed

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cheese, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a medium ovenproof skillet, cook bacon in olive oil over medium-high until crisp, 6 to 7 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and toss until barely wilted, about 30 seconds. 
  5. Add egg mixture and stir until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  6. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until center is set, about 15 minutes.
  7. Cut the frittata into 8 equal pieces and serve.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Home Slice Pizza - Restaurant Review


Had a little family gathering at Home Slice to celebrate a few birthdays. Such a great place, especially for folks with young ones. The restaurant provides pizza dough for them to play with - what a fabulous idea!


Last time I was here I ordered the The F’heck Yeah! (Adami Prosecco with a scoop of our bona fide lemon Italian ice - $9). This time, I ordered The Liberace (Adami Prosecco with a splash of Izze Blackberry and a twist - $9). I have to say, after having tried both, I much prefer the The F’heck Yeah! The Liberace was nice, but a bit subtler than I expected.

We shared a family-sized serving of the House Salad ($13.75), which came with Garlic Knots - awesome! The salad is a great combination of lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, red cabbage, and vinaigrette.


We ordered three large pizzas at $22 each: a Spinach, Roasted Red Peppers, Green Olives, Onions (pictured above); Pepperoni & Mushroom (not pictured); and one pizza split between White Clam and Eggplant Pie (see below).


The Eggplant Pie is not as good as it was when the eggplant was diced into smaller pieces, and there weren't big globs of cheese on top. This was good, but the previous version was better. We asked for marinara sauce on the side for the Eggplant Pie (it's usually cooked with red sauce, but because we ordered it on the same pizza as the White Clam, they had to omit the red sauce). The White Clam is probably my favorite pie, especially since no one else in town makes one like it!

Our server, Lacey, also brought us three desserts to celebrate our birthdays, and also because she's just awesome! We had such a great time and she was so wonderful! Can't wait for our next visit!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

TRACE at the W Austin, Lunch on the Fly Menu - Restaurant Review #2


This was my second time at TRACE for their Lunch on the Fly Menu. The menu changes weekly, and this was my favorite thus far, featuring Bolognese and Shishito Peppers!


The Bolognese was made with lamb, and even though I don't prefer lamb, it tasted fine. The portion was large and the sauce was tasty, covering the tender noodles perfectly! I would have licked the bowl, but I had company. The grilled peppers were wonderful, too!

Also my favorite cookie selection thus far - a lemon poppy seed cookie! So mouthwatering!


Saturday, August 6, 2016

E&O Kitchen and Bar - Restaurant Review


We entered San Francisco from the north as we traveled from Napa to the airport.

     
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, the fog descended on us. Forgot that it was Fogust in SF.

We arrived a little early for lunch, so we walked from E&O Kitchen and Bar to the Ferry Building. It was a lovely, energetic, chilly walk! So many people out and about, and so many vendors along Market Street.


I knew that I would love E&O Kitchen and Bar the moment I walked in. The sophisticated decor and excellent service are evident from the first moment.


The restaurant's Executive Chef, Sharon Nahm, chose all of our courses for us (how lucky are we?!!!). We began with the Coconut Curry Ceviche (local white fish, green curry, chilies, taro chips - $18). It was so delicious and perfectly balanced! I couldn't get enough of the taro chips, too - a taste of home!


We then had the Lamb Naan with cucumber raita and roasted tomato chutney ($11). I'm not a huge lamb fan, but this was cooked just to my liking and the sauces were so good that I couldn't choose a favorite!

The Butternut Squash Dumplings (with thai red curry lemongrass sauce and basil oil - $13) were tender and tasty. I could eat these forever!

The chef also ordered some rolls for us, both cooked and raw, and they were beyond delightful! If I weren't already so full and about to board a plane to be trapped in my seat for hours, I would have eaten more and taken the rest to go! These are apparently on their regular lunchtime menu for folks on the go, and I wish I lived close enough to take advantage of this offer because I'd do so everyday!

Thank you to Chef Nahm for the most incredible Saturday lunch I've ever had! You're the best!


Friday, August 5, 2016

VNTJS Sauvignon Blanc - $7




Bob the Wine Guy at Trader Joe's in Napa recommended this wine. He told us that it's a blend of Sauvignon Blanc with a bit of Sémillon to round it out and make it less acidic.

It's bright and fresh with a slightly bitter finish. I prefer a straight SB aged in stainless, so this won't be a go-to wine for me. However, it's a price point that would appeal to a lot of budget wine buyers.


Haole Punch Kettle Sour Ale


I can't believe I'm posting about beer because I usually don't drink it, but this was an exception.


How can any girl from Hawaiʻi pass up a drink called Haole Punch with flavors from the islands such as passion fruit and guava? I had to try a sip, and guess what? It tastes just like passion fruit, guava, and orange with a slightly sour finish. It's fruity but not sweet, and I really enjoyed it!


Etude Merlot 2005, Sonoma Valley, CA




A friend shared this amazing 2005 Etude Merlot with us. While it was high in alcohol at 15%, it was smooth and very tasty. I love a good, aged wine!

Another friend made these delicious sausage and pepper sandwiches, which we all gobbled down with reckless abandon! Nothing like a vacation in a vineyard to stir the appetite!


Cheese, the perfect afternoon snack!




We purchased most of these cheeses at the Oxbow Market earlier today, and one at Trader Joe's.

The blue cheese at the top left is a type of Gorgonzola - it was wonderfully pungent! I didn't try the Brie in the bottom right corner, but it was reported to be excellent.

There were variations of Gouda and Cheddar, too, including a Trader Joe's Cheddar with Caramelized Onions. I buy this one on a regular basis.

So much fun trying all of the cheese with various wines and beer this afternoon!


Alpha Omega Winery - St. Helena, CA


Alpha Omega is a picturesque winery located just off the highway in St. Helena. Wine tastings are $30 per person. Thanks to a friend of ours with a membership, we were able to enjoy complimentary tastings!

We began with the white wines:
  • Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 1155 2014 ($66 a bottle) - aged in neutral french oak, this SB tasted so much like a Chardonnay to me - butterscotch on the nose, and a slightly bitter finish
  • Chardonnay 2013 ($72 a bottle) - flavors of apricot, citrus, honey, and butterscotch

We then tried a couple of red wines:
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($98 a bottle) - a blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot, this wine had strong blowback and a nose of black fruit and wood, and tasted of black fruit and wood with strong tannins
  • Proprietary Red 2012 ($96 a bottle) - a blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, and Cab Franc, this wine goes through two types of fermentation (oak and stainless), resulting in strong blowback on the nose, and a velvety, silky smooth feel in the mouth with a chocolate finish and strong tannins

Our wine educator, Jennifer, was very knowledgeable. Alpha Omega also provided individual bottles of water and some light crackers for the tasting.

The pool on the edge of the tasting patio is a great setting for photos! Such a gorgeous winery!