We started with the wine — great wine from California that will be part of the Winter Wine Spectacular in Manchester on January 29. Each of the wines showcased here will be at the grand tasting, along with the winery owner or winemaker. We chose four chefs from across the state with a passion for food and wine, and asked them to create a dish that marries well with the structure of the individual wines. Take a sip of wine ... nice. Taste the food and take another sip of wine ... oo la la! A good match enhances both the food and taste of the wine — from that initial sip to the finish that lingers on the tongue. That’s what it’s all about.Information about the Winter Wine Spectacular can be found at the end of this story.Chef Evan Mallet and Honig’s Savignon Blanc“I picked Honig’s Savignon Blanc with our Seafood Cazuela for two reasons. One, Michael Honig and I share a passion for purity, organic and biodynamic methods and sustainability. Those values are reflected in the products we offer. Two, this Sauvignon Blanc is, unlike so many others out there, sophisticated and well balanced. Rather than the overwhelming minerality or pungent citrus up front, you get a hint of both with a softer tropical fruit note. Despite all this wine has going on, it never feels confused or cluttered in the mouth. Its taste is pure and crisp, and it lingers beautifully, just like the exotic yet comforting flavors of the cazuela that accompanies it.”
— Chef/Owner Evan Mallet, Black Trumpet Bistro
In Spain, cazuela refers to the earthenware dish this soup/stew is served in. Dishes served in a cazuela often bear the name of the hardware itself, just as paella is served in a paellera and Moroccan tagine in a tagine. This dish is best served on a rare cold winter day when lobster is affordable. Most of the dish can and should be prepared in advance. Serves 12.
1 lb. salt cod
1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or one can chickpeas, drained
2 lb. monkfish
3 chicken lobsters
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 lb. Mahogany clams or small countnecks, soaked and scrubbed
1 large onion, chopped
healthy pinch saffron
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
red chile flake, optional
24 ounces low-sodium chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 lb. red potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 lb. rutabaga, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup large green olives
4 Roma plum tomatoes, chopped
Soak salt cod in cold water overnight. Soak the chickpeas in cold water overnight.
The next day, boil the salt cod in fresh water until it flakes apart. Discard the water and set the cod aside. Boil the chickpeas for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain water.
Prepare the monkfish by cutting away the outer membrane and portioning into 2-ounce pieces. Refrigerate until ready to prepare the dish.
Boil the lobsters in salted water for eight minutes. Remove the lobsters and set aside to cool. Reserve two cups of the lobster water and discard the rest. When the lobsters have cooled down, twist off the tails and halve with a sharp knife lengthwise.
Remove the claws with all the “knuckle” sections intact and — using scissors — cut up into the claw shell from the base of the knuckles. This allows your guests to access the precious lobster meat without getting too dirty. (Of course, you can remove the meat from the shells entirely, but the presentation is less spectacular.)
A half hour or so before serving, heat butter and olive oil in a large pot. Lightly salt and pepper the monkfish pieces and, when the oil begins to smoke, sear the fish pieces on all sides. Remove the fish, add the onions to the pan and sweat them until they start to stick to the pan. Add clams, saffron and cumin (and red chile flake, if desired) and pour the lobster water into the pot. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add all vegetables including chickpeas, if using the dried ones. If using canned chickpeas, wait until the next step. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Stop here, let cool and refrigerate if making the soup in advance.
When ready to serve, bring the soup back to a boil, drop in lobster and salt cod and simmer until all the flavors meld into a rich brothy stew. Divvy up the lobster, monkfish and clams evenly and pour the rest over the top. If you have earthenware bowls or cazuelas, great, but if not, a regular bowl will do just fine.
Serve with crusty bread.
About the Winemaker
The Honig brand was built on their Sauvignon Blanc production early on. Michael Honig, as a young man, worked to get it into San Francisco restaurants in 1984. Michael is the grandson of Louis Honig, who passed away before his dream of a family winery could be realized. His vision of bringing his family together in the beauty and bounty of Napa Valley has become a reality. The family farms 70 acres in Rutherford, in the heart of Napa Valley, using sustainable farming methods. The crop is thinned, the shoots are positioned and when the fruit reaches the perfect balance of ripeness, flavor and acidity it is hand picked.
To preserve the delicate tropical fruit flavors, the majority of the fruit goes directly into the press as whole clusters. With the cold soak process, selected grape lots are crushed into a tank and the juice is left in contact with the skins for several hours before processing. This cold soaking process enhances the grapefruit/citrus components. Fermentation is completed in stainless steel tanks at cold temperatures.
Honig 2007 Sauvignon Blanc
A bright, fruit forward Sauvignon Blanc, with citrus aromas of grapefruit, lemongrass, and lime, overlaying passion fruit and mango characters. The vibrant tropical flavors linger, while the finish is crisp and refreshing.
Fruit , 97.6% Sauvignon Blanc and 2.4% Semillon, Barrels, 1/3 large oak casks (neutral wood), 2/3 stainless steel tanks.
Chef Elizabeth Jackson and Buehler Cabernet Sauvignon 2005“Buehler Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 — no overpowering ripeness. No jam. No insecurities.
This is a food wine, and proud of it! While it stands nicely on its own, it purrs like a fat cat when you give it the right food. I chose a rich, slow-cooked short rib dish to pair with this full-bodied wine.
I initially tried my short ribs with three different flavor profiles — a classic French braise with plums; another with porcini mushrooms; and lastly, a simple wine braise with hints of toasted fennel. And truthfully I loved them all. I was most struck by how the plum braise brought out a beautiful spice in the wine that wasn’t apparent in the other two dishes — I liked it and will certainly pair them again. While the fennel-spiced braise was good, the real complement was the porcini. Neither the wine nor the short ribs stood up and boasted, they just snuggled right in together … It was a beautiful thing. Adding a touch of the toasted fennel back into the final porcini dish turned out be enough to complement the spice in the wine without overpowering it.”
— Chef/Owner Elizabeth Jackson, Libby’s Bistro
Beef with Porcini and Carrots for six
5 1/2 pounds beef short ribs (8 ribs), trimmed of excess fat
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sweet paprika mixed with 1/2 tablespoon ground toasted fennel seed (optional)
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 cups rich beef broth
2 cups Cabernet wine
2 rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
3 thyme sprigs, finely chopped
3 sage leaves, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 pound baby carrots
1 pound button mushrooms, whole if small, halved if larger, pan roasted in olive oil and butter
Preheat oven to 350°. Rub ribs with salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon sweet paprika mixed with 1/2 tablespoon ground, toasted fennel seed. Set aside. In a medium heat-proof bowl, soak the porcini in the boiling water until they are softened, about 20 minutes. Skim the porcini from the water while being careful to leave behind any sand in the bottom. Strain and reserve the soaking liquid. Rinse and coarsely chop the porcini mushrooms.
Heat oil in heavy oven proof pan oven over medium-high heat. Add ribs, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Add onion, and sauté until very lightly browned. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits and reduce one half. Add chopped porcini, cook slightly. Add beef broth and strained mushroom water and return the meat to the pan.
Add rosemary, thyme, sage and bay leaves to the pan. Cover, reduce heat and bake covered at 300° for 1 1/2 hours. Turn ribs; bake covered an additional 45 minutes.
Add carrots and button mushrooms; bake covered an additional 45 minutes or until carrots are tender.
Place ribs, carrots and mushrooms on platter; keep warm. Reserve cooking liquid. Add a few ice cubes to encourage fat to come to the top. Skim. Rewarm and reduce slightly. Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta.
About the Winemaker
Buehler Vineyards is a small, family-owned winery located in the mountains east of St. Helena in Napa Valley. In 1971 John Buehler Sr. purchased the land to build a retirement home, while his son John Jr. began dabbling in winemaking. By 1978 John hand-crushed 800 cases of wine. Pleased by the results, he gradually increased production and by 1988 had gained a respected worldwide reputation. At Buehler the hillside vineyards are planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon, with smaller blocks of old-vine Zinfandel. The family has been farming this beautiful countryside for 36 years using minimalist winemaking techniques. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is 100-percent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with 35 percent estate-grown and the remainder from a low-yielding Napa Valley vineyard on the valley floor, resulting in a broad spectrum of flavors.
Buehler Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
With higher acid levels and lower sugar levels at the optimum stage of flavor development, the word “balance” best describes the overriding theme of the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is brimming with fruit aromas and flavors biased to the black fruit end of the cabernet spectrum: plums, blackberry and black currant. Rich and full-bodied on the palate, this Cabernet drinks well on release, but will soften and develop with additional age.
Executive Chef Matt Lee and Truchard Syrah 2004“Truchard wines are purely consistent in flavor and diversity. Their Syrah is a full-bodied wine — the nose is rich in fruit, with some definite spice and a little mellow vanilla. I tasted dried fruit or even sun-dried tomato on the palate and rich, concentrated berry with a hint of cracked black pepper. This wine is capable of complementing rich spice (peppercorn) and creamy textures (blue cheese mashed potatoes)."
— Executive Chef Matt Lee, Granite Restaurant and Bar
The Centennial Inn, Concord, www.graniterestaurant.com
This recipe could serve six. It is also served as an entrée selection at the Granite Restaurant.
6 large Yukon Golds, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick (about 1 quart)
1/4 cup Great Hill blue cheese
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup prepared horseradish
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a large sauce pot add potatoes and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Simmer until fork tender. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Add all other ingredients except for the olive oil. Turn mixer on to medium-high speed. Blend until smooth. Slowly add olive oil in a slow, steady stream until completely incorporated.
Brandied Peppercorn Glace
2 tablespoons shallot or red onion, small diced
2 cups beef stock
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, coarse ground
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns, coarse ground
1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns, coarse ground
1 cup brandy
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt to taste
In a medium sauce pan, add 1 T. oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until lightly caramelized. Add peppercorns and cook until fragrant. Add brandy, reduce to about 2 T. Add beef stock and reduce to 1/2 cup. Add heavy cream and reduce to coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste.
Haricot Vert and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
4 ounces haricot vert (or young green beans)
2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thin
1 tablespoon shallot, diced fine
1 tablespoon garlic, diced fine
1/4 cup vermouth
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon butter
In a medium sauce pan bring 1 quart of salted water to a boil (salty as the sea). Add cleaned haricot vert. Bring back to a boil. Remove from boiling water while crisp/tender and submerge into ice water. In a sauté pan, heat 2 T. of olive oil over medium high heat. Add shallot and garlic, and cook until translucent. Add sun-dried tomatoes, deglaze with vermouth, reduce to 1 tablespoon and add vegetable stock, bring to a boil and add butter. Stir into create a creamy ragu. Add blanched beans. Season and remove from heat.
Vidalia Onion Rings Beer Batter for 6 rings
1 1/2 cups flour
16 ounces dark beer
1/4 cup soda water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Vidalia onions, sliced into 1/2-inch rings
2 cups canola oil for frying
Whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder into beer and soda water. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat canola oil to 350 degrees. Cut Vidalia onion into 1/2 inch rings. Dip into batter and place into hot oil. Cook until golden brown on both sides.
Grill filets over hot coals to desired temperature after all the other accompanying dishes are prepared.
About the Winemaker
Anthony Truchard Jr.
Truchard Vineyards was established in 1974, when Anthony Sr. and Jo Ann Truchard came to the Carneros region of the Napa Valley and purchased a 20-acre parcel of land. They transformed what was an abandoned orchard into a vineyard and began selling the fruit to a local winery.
Over the past 34 years, Truchard Estate Vineyard has grown to 400 acres, of which 270 acres are planted on a series of hills and valleys, with 12 dedicated to the syrah grape. The soil varies from clay, shale, sandstone to volcanic rock and ash. The various combinations of terrain, geology, and marine-moderated temperatures provide unique wine-growing conditions. They sell grapes to more than 20 premier Napa Valley wineries in addition to making their own wine from their estate-grown fruit since 1989.
Aromas of cassis, plum and blackberry with hints of vanilla, white pepper and earth. The mouth is layered with jammy flavors of black cherry and red currants, followed by mineral and cracked black pepper. Velvety tannins provide an opulent finish of fruit and spice.
Chef Tom Puskarich and Joseph Carr Pinot Noir“When I first tasted the Joseph Carr Pinot Noir, what struck me was the subtle hints of cherry, a bit of plum and just enough tannins to add some body. All in all, this is a well-balanced wine that’s perfect for pairing — especially with Asian flavors. Duck was my next thought — its leanness is a good match for a medium-bodied wine, while the skin delivers just enough fat to balance out that little bit of tannin without overpowering the wine. I chose a ponzu glaze for the duck to bring out the plum notes in the wine.
The subtle bite and earthy quality of the baby bok choy also plays well with the slight mineral taste. Finally, the sesame basmati rice cake adds some texture to the dish as well as another interesting flavor component (be careful not to use too much sesame oil). On the other hand, this Pinot Noir is great all on its own, too.”
— Chef/Owner Tom Puskarich, Z Food and Drink, Manchester, www.zfoodanddrink.com
Ponzu-glazed Duck Breast
raw boneless duck breast
1 teaspoon canola oil
ponzu sauce (available at grocery stores)
Split one boneless duck breast down the middle. With a paring knife, carefully score the skin, being careful not to cut all the way through. In a large pan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Place the breast skin side down in the pan and allow fat to render from skin, about 6 to 8 minutes, occasionally draining fat from pan (fat may be reserved for other purposes if desired). Note: Do not turn duck breasts during the rendering process
When the duck skin is brown and crispy, remove from pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Place duck breast back in the pan, skin side up. Let cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
Glaze breasts with 2 tablespoons ponzu sauce. Remove from heat and allow sauce to thicken. When sauce is thick, remove duck from pan and let rest a minute before slicing and plating.
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon each
black and white sesame seeds
Bring water to a boil, then add rice. Purposely overcook (about 40 minutes). Drain any extra water. Mix together 1 teaspoon sesame oil and sesame seeds on a shallow plate. Form the rice mixture into cakes about the size of a deck of cards and dip both sides into seeds. In a non-stick sauté pan add a tablespoon canola oil, plus a dash of sesame oil. Cook on each side over medium heat until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Braised Baby Bok Choy
Regular bok choy also works well, too.
6 small baby bok choy
(available in Asian markets)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or soy sauce)
and chicken stock (optional)
Remove core of bok choy and separate the leaves. Stir fry leaves on high heat with a teaspoon of canola oil for 30 seconds. Add a dash of soy or fish sauce and 1 tablespoon chicken stock. Reduce to medium heat and cook until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.
About the Winemaker
After 20 years in the wine business serving as a world-class sommelier, then-industry executive Joseph Carr set out on his own in 2005 to form his family-owned wine company. It was, he says “a chance to follow a dream.” As director of Joseph Carr Napa Valley, he continues to work with small estate growers, coopers and winemakers, many of the same associates he met throughout his long career. Joseph Carr applies the nègociant concept to both Bordeaux and Burgundy varietals working with his winemaker and and estate grower, Tom Larson, of Larson Vineyards to create wines both balanced and approachable. All the Joseph Carr wines are strictly hands on from vine to bottle and have been received with great enthusiasm.
Complex aromatics, with ripe strawberry and floral rose petals on the nose. Bright in color, this Pinot Noir exhibits flavors of sweet black cherry, cassis, spice and hints of cinnamon. Moderate tannins give this wine body and a smooth finish.
Winter Wine Spectacular, January 29Don’t ‘Wine’ Without a Plan
So much wine, so little time …
With more than 1,200 wines available for sampling at the 2009 Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular, where do you start?
Save your sanity, not to mention your liver, and have a plan.
First, drink plenty of water. Not only will it keep your palate clear, it will keep you hydrated. If you wish to rinse out your tasting glass with the water pitcher offered at the vendor table, dry it out so as to not dilute your next glass.
You do not have drink the entire sample. If you have a hard time throwing away perfectly good (or even bad) wine, ask for a shorter pour and just sip the absolute minimum you can and still get a good taste of the wine. Or do like the pros and just taste and spit without swallowing.
Eat before you go to the tasting or hit the food stations at the Wine Spectacular first, as the lines tend to grow considerably during the evening. There are over a dozen fine restaurant offering gourmet appetizers, so enjoy the food, too.
Rather than wonder and taste aimlessly, focus on a category or characteristic. That could be a grape type (e.g. Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir), a state, region or country, a vintage, or vintner or vineyard.
Or go luxe — head to the Bellman’s Cellar Select Room. Yes, it’s an extra admission ticket, but well worth it, as you’ll be tasting from finest premium (read: expensive) wines from around the globe.
Whether you stick to a specific varietal or select your wine samples by bottle label art, enjoy the experience — because what goes better with a glass of wine than the good feeling of helping others? — Cindy Kibbe
Winter Wine Spectacular, Jan. 29, 2009, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Radisson Hotel-Center of New Hampshire, Manchester. Tickets online at nh.easterseals.com, Grand Tasting, $60; Bellman’s Cellar Select Room, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m, $120
This article appears in the January 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine