Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sauce Culinary Travel



Image courtesy of Sauce Culinary Travel

I am beyond impressed by Adam Boles and Sauce Culinary Travel! In preparation for my upcoming trip to Napa, I thought I'd be getting a list of recommended wineries and restaurants from Adam. Instead, I just received a personalized and very detailed nine page guide with a mobile map that includes all of the locations. Incredible!

Adam's depth of knowledge and passion for wine, food, and hospitality are reflected in his work and company. His thoughtful suggestions take into account my preferences and personality. I'm completely blown away and am so excited for my trip!

Sauce Culinary Travel hosts Chef's Tours, Long Weekends, and Custom Foodie Trips! Check them out!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Valmorena Barbera d'Asti 2015, Italy - $13


     

Purchased this wine for $13 a bottle at Costco. It's a bit earthy, tart like cherries, and dry on the finish. It's not my favorite wine.


Ste. Michelle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Columbia Valley, WA - $11


     

I purchased this Ste. Michelle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (made by Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery) at Costco for $11 a bottle. It's dark and rich without being oaky. Delicious!


Albero Organic Bobal Rosé Wine 2016, Valencia, Spain - $6


     

This Albero Organic Bobal Rosé 2016 is so pretty in pink! It smells and tastes like raspberries and cherries, and has a dry tart finish.

I purchased it for $6 a bottle at Trader Joe's. I'd buy it again, but for just $2 more I prefer the Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Rosé NV


Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Rosé NV, Portugal - $8


     

This Vinho Verde Rosé from Casal Garcia is non-vintage. It's light, fresh, slightly effervescent, and reminiscent of strawberries. I love the gorgeous pink hue and the low alcohol content (only 9.5%).

I purchased this wine at Trader Joe's for $8 a bottle. Yum!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Disruption Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Columbia Valley, Washington - $15


     

This Disruption Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is wonderful! Dark, chocolaty, and dry with firm tannins, it is pure delight! Love!

I purchased this wine for $15 a bottle at Costco. Great selection there right now!


Château la Liquière Faugères les Amandiers 2016, Faugères, France - $11


     

This rosé is one of my everyday go to wines. It's got hints of red fruit and cassis and is not as light as I expected. A definite change from last year's vintage.

I purchased this wine for $11 a bottle at the Austin Wine Merchant.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Broadbent Vinho Verde Rosé NV, Vinho Verde, Portugal


     

This beautifully pink Broadbent Vinho Verde Rosé NV is fabulous! It's crisp and light with just a hint of strawberry and effervescence. It's a non-vintage wine, and I love the fact that it's only 10% alcohol! This is another to buy again!

This was brought to us by a friend so I'm not sure where she purchased it.


Pinot Nero Blauburgunder 2015, Alto Adige, Italy - $17.99


     

This Pinot Nero Blauburgunder 2015 is nice - dry and fruity with a little acidity on the end.

I purchased it at Austin Wine Merchant for $17.99 a bottle.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

WillaKenzie Estate Gisèle Pinot Noir 2013, Willamette Valley, OR - $13


I'm loving the Pinot Noir selection at Costo right now!

     

This fabulous WillaKenzie Estate Gisèle Pinot Noir 2013 is estate grown and certified sustainable - yay! I am really enjoying its light and fresh taste, along with its grounded, not-too-acidic, and slightly chocolaty finish. It should be very food friendly, although I'm enjoying it as dessert after dinner. There's also a slight hint of flint - to some of you it may read gunpowder, and to others it'll register as minerality. Either way, it's yummy!


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Mexican Orzo Salad - Recipe


I had to think of a fast, easy, and delicious recipe for a potluck event that fit into a Mexican theme. I don't have much experience cooking Mexican food, and quesadillas and shrimp cocktail were already on the table, so I found this wonderful Mexican Orzo Salad recipe online. For the original recipe, click here. See my version of the recipe below.



Prep: 1 hour
Marinating Time: 2 hours
Servings: 8

Ingredients
  • 1 16 oz package organic orzo pasta
  • 2 small organic bell peppers (any color), chopped
  • 1 pint organic cherry or baby heirloom tomatoes (any color), chopped
  • 1 bunch organic green onions, chopped
  • 1 small organic red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 15 oz can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed until water runs clear
  • 1 15 oz can organic kidney beans, drained and rinsed until water runs clear
  • 1 15 oz can organic black beans, drained and rinsed until water runs clear
  • 8 oz organic whole kernel corn
  • 1 cup chopped organic cilantro leaves
  • organic sea salt to taste
  • freshly-ground organic pepper to taste
  • 5 organic limes, juiced
  • 6 T organic extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the orzo, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 2 minutes less than the instructions on the package.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, prep all of the ingredients. The veggies, beans, and cilantro can go into one large bowl. The salt, pepper, lime juice, and oil should go into a cup with a spout - mix this well with a small whisk.
  3. Drain the orzo and place it in a large salad bowl. Fold in the combined veggies, beans, and cilantro. Pour the mix of the salt, pepper, lime juice, and EVOO over the salad.
  4. Toss to coat, and refrigerate at least 2 hours to let the flavors marinate before serving.
  5. Can be served cold or at room temperature.
Notes
  • Choose the peppers and tomatoes based on freshness. You already have green (green onions, cilantro), yellow (corn), and purple (red onion, kidney beans) in the color palate, so you'll want some red and orange, which you can find in both peppers and tomatoes.
  • As I mentioned, I needed a fast recipe. I didn't get a chance to allow this to marinate at all, and it tasted fine. It was much better the next day, but it was still delicious the first night at the event.
Enjoy!


Friday, May 26, 2017

Nutella Rice Krispy Treats - Recipe


Made these for a friend who is coming over tonight - it'll be the perfect dessert for her since we share a fondness for Nutella! You can find the original recipe here.


Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooling Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 9

Ingredients
  • 4 cups organic crispy rice cereal 
  • ½ to 1 cup Nutella (make it to your taste)
  • 3 T organic butter or coconut oil (again, use what tastes good to you) 
  • 4 c marshmallows (do not use natural or organic marshmallows - they don't have the right texture when melted)

Instructions
  1. Grease a 9"x9" baking dish with a little bit of your butter or coconut oil and set aside. 
  2. Heat the rest of the butter or oil in a large saucepan on low heat. 
  3. Once melted, add the marshmallows and stir until melted. 
  4. Once the mixture is combined, lower the heat. 
  5. Add Nutella one spoonful at a time, stirring until each spoonful melts. Add ½ cup for lighter flavor or up to a full cup for richer flavor.
  6. Pour in the crispy rice cereal and stir until well coated with the mixture. 
  7. Immediately pour the entire mixture into the baking dish and press it down evenly into the pan. 
  8. Let cool, then cut into squares. 
  9. You can store these in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Disruption Red Wine 2014, Washington State - $15


Enjoying a lot more Washington wines since our recent visit to Seattle earlier this spring!

     

This Disruption Red Wine 2014 is dark and chocolatey with a little bit of acid and spice and moderate tannins. Nice! I've shared it with many friends who have really liked it!

I've found it here in Austin at Costco or Western Beverages for $15 a bottle.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Coast Bar + Kitchen - Reestaurant Review


We tried Coast's Happy Hour this evening. There are a handful of interesting items on their HH menu - $5 Green Ceviche (usually $10) and $10 Taco Plates (usually $14). I ordered two items - the Green Ceviche and the Shrimp Taco Plate. My friend ordered a Chicken-Fried Softshell Crab Taco Plate ($15 - special) and the Churros ($9) and we shared everything.


The Green Ceviche was great! It was made of fresh tuna with avocado and flour tortilla chips.


The Shrimp Tacos were just okay, nothing special. The shrimp was overcooked. The slaw (same on both dishes) was good without too much mayonnaise.

The Softshell Crab Tacos were fine until I bit into what felt like tiny rocks, and tasted something akin to guts rather than crab meat. I wouldn't order these again. I was actually worried about my new filling getting damaged!

The Churros were also fantastic - they were soft and warm and melted in my mouth!

I'm eager to return to Coast to try a few other items! Their lunch Poke Bowl sounds delish!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sway - Restaurant Review


Sway is such a nice restaurant!



We usually go as a couple and thus don't have to contend with the community dining tables, which aren't my favorite. However, I love sitting at the counter and watching the chefs do their thing in the kitchen. These were our seats at the counter the last time we dined there.

They look straight into the bustling kitchen.

To start I ordered a glass of the Louis de Grenelle Brut Rosé from the Loire Valley, France ($13 a glass, $52 a bottle). It was lovely, and I knew it would be great with anything from the menu.

We ordered all of our dishes at once. The first one to come out was the Salt and Pepper Softshell Crab ($17), which happens to be gluten-free. It was delicious but way too salty and I found myself wondering if I should wait for the rice that would come with the curry, or order an additional serving of rice. Hubby said I should have known it would be salty - "salt" is in its name. I've had plenty of salt and pepper dishes before (mostly lobster), but this is the first time the salt overwhelmed me. However, the crab was very fresh and cleaned well so that I didn't taste anything out of the ordinary (i.e. guts, etc.). Good overall despite the salt.


Next came our fried Brussels Sprouts with fermented black beans and garlic ($8), which also happens to be gluten-free. Again, so good but so salty! While I usually don't like fermented black beans these were not overly fermented. I did like it, but again wished the rice would arrive.


Next came the Pad Thai (rice noodle, blue prawn, tofu, egg, toasted cashew, bean sprout, Thai basil - $16), also gluten-free (perfect for my dear friends, the three JBs). I know what you're thinking - how boring and ordinary. But this was truly my favorite dish of the night. While it was quite a small serving, the prawns were huge and perfectly cooked, the dish was balanced and not overly seasoned, and I loved the mingling of all of the flavors. While Pad Thai might be ubiquitous, it's not that easy to master. I LOVE this one!


Last came the Jungle Curry (Texas wagyu beef, red chili, baby corn, eggplant, peppercorn, coconut cream - $19) and rice! It was salty and SPICY! The beef was extremely tender and the dish itself was okay, but this is the kind of spice and heat that prevents you from actually being able to taste the food itself rather than the sauce.

Overall, I like Sway and especially its atmosphere. However, the food was too salty! If I were to do it again I would order rice with all of the dishes as only the curry came with rice. Additionally, it came last and the rice included wasn't enough to cut the salt on all the dishes.

I will be back to try some other dishes - and order rice from the beginning!




Friday, May 12, 2017

Overnight Blueberry and Challah French Toast - Recipe


Mom was in town for the weekend but I had to work on Mother's Day, so we decided to do a brunch at home on Saturday instead. Because performance weeks are so busy for us at the ballet, I needed a dish that I could prepare ahead of time and then just cook on the morning of the brunch. This recipe was perfect for that purpose! You can find the original version here.



Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 10 to 12

Ingredients

  • 12 slices thick Challah bread cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup fresh organic blueberries (add more if you like!)
  • 12 large organic brown eggs
  • 2 cups organic milk (your choice - can be animal, almond, or soy)
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup organic maple syrup
  • organic maple syrup for serving
  • organic butter for serving (optional)

Instructions
  1. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Place half the cubed bread into prepared baking dish. Top with the blueberries and then remaining bread cubes.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk, vanilla and syrup until well combined.
  4. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, making sure that the bread is absorbing the liquid.
  5. The next morning remove the pan from the fridge 1/2 hour before baking to let it come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Set the remaining maple syrup and butter for serving on the counter so that they can come to room temperature.
  7. Remove the plastic wrap and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 25 to 30 minutes or until the center is set and color is golden.
  8. Serve with maple syrup and butter, if desired.

Notes
  • Hubby liked this recipe, but it's just too eggy for me. I think it's the Challah bread. Next time I'll try it with some type of whole wheat bread.

Enjoy!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Columbia Winery Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Franc 2014, Woodinville, WA - $35


     

This Columbia Winery Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Franc 2014 is a winery exclusive - can't get it anywhere else. It's rich, dark, chocolaty and dry with soft tannins and a beautiful finish. Such a fabulous wine! Love!

Now to join the Columbia Winery Case Club...


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Fajita Seasoning - Recipe


When you're stuck without fajita seasoning - make your own! Original recipe here.



Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon organic cornstarch 
  • 2 teaspoons organic chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon organic sea salt 
  • 1 teaspoon organic paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon organic brown sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic ground cumin
Instructions
  • mix all ingredients in a small bowl
  • seasoning can be stored in a dry glass jar
I used 1 tablespoon per pound of veggies. This recipe makes almost 3 tablespoons of seasoning.

Enjoy!


Friday, April 14, 2017

Cantine - Restaurant Review


I can't believe that Cantine is closing. Yes, it's closing and I've just been there once.



Cantine and Asti are owned by the same folks. Makes sense, as this wine and dish are also offered there. 

The wine is a Cantina di Caldaro Pinot Nero 2014, Trentino - Alto Adige, Italy for $13 a glass or $52 a bottle. 

I ordered the Linguine Vongole (Littleneck Clams / White Wine / Garlic Olive Oil / Breadcrumbs - $21; add Ground Sausage & Tomato for $4). Compare that to Asti's Linguine & Littleneck Clams (with chili flake / garlic breadcrumbs - $23; add ASTI sausage & tomato for $4).

I enjoyed both dishes (on different nights) immensely. While Cantine is closing, luckily, we still have Asti!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

True Food Kitchen - Restaurant Review (Poke Bowl)


Poke - pronounced poh-keh; Hawaiian for "to slice or cut"

I am a total sucker for poke bowls. Seriously. I cannot pass one by without trying it. And thus, even though the Poke Bowl (wild caught albacore, avocado, quinoa rice, mushroom, snow pea, cucumber, cashew, turmeric ponzu) at True Food was $22 (really?!), I ordered it.



It was good, but not amazing. In Hawai'i, I can get fresh ahi tuna and seaweed in a made-to-order poke bowl for under $10. I know, the airline ticket to get to Hawai'i is around $1,000, so that in total makes a super expensive bowl of poke. However, remember that this Hawaiian girl grew up on the islands, so all she knows is fresh poke bowls for way UNDER $10 each, and only containing fresh ahi and seaweed with seasonings. So, while this bowl was fresh and yummy, I found myself pining for Hawai'i, reasonable poke, and a little sprinkling of fresh seaweed on top of the tuna. Sigh.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Josh Cellars Rosé 2016, California - $11


     

Really enjoyed this Josh Cellars Rosé 2016. It's light, food-friendly, and fun! At only $11 a bottle at Western Beverages, it's also a great value.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Comforts of Whidbey - Langley, Whidbey Island, WA


There's just one word for this winery and the family that owns it - charming!

How did we find it so tucked away on Whidbey Island? Zach Comfort - the wine guy we met at the Patterson Cellars Tasting Room - his parents, Carl and Rita, own Comforts of Whidbey, and Zach grew up working at his family's winery.


Their newly-built tasting room has space for special events and houses the winery's bed and breakfast upstairs. The winery itself is located on the bottom floor of this building.


Here's the view from the balcony of the tasting room - so peaceful and beautiful. And CHARMING!


Tastings are $6 each and the average bottle costs $20. There's a little bar in the tasting room that can fit around 12 to 15 people standing up.


This winery definitely excels in its white wines. Most of them are blends that are closely related or crosses of Gewürztraminer and other whites.


This winery doesn't produce memorable red wines. I don't think that the climate and terrain are especially favorable to these red varietals. Carl said that they used to only offer white wines but got tired of folks turning away from their tasting room upon hearing "we only have white wines." I get it. This isn't their strong point and they know it.

     
According to the winery's website, this Siegerrebe "has distinct floral characteristics and is low in acid and very fragrant. The wine has been finished dry to complement spicier dishes. We have found it pairs particularly well with hot curries and spicy Italian dishes. Siegerrebe was created as a varietal in the 1920’s by crossing the grape varieties Gewürztraminer and Madeleine Angevine. This grape variety grows particularly well in the cool climate of the Puget Sound AVA." We liked it so much we purchased a bottle of it for $20.

If you're in the mood for a friendly, family-owned winery that's a little off the beaten path, don't miss Comforts of Whidbey!


Village Pizzeria - Langley, Whidbey Island, WA

L
Even at 3pm, there was a wait for a table at this popular pizzeria in the heart of Langley!


I can see why - look at this beautiful view! I mean the water! The house red wasn't bad either - it was around $5 or $7 a glass.



As all of our family tends towards vegetarianism, we ordered two veggie pizzas Neapolitan style - one with olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, and tomato sauce ($23.75 for a large), and the other with red bell peppers, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, and pesto ($24.50 for a large). Both were excellent! Highly recommend!