Monday, June 27, 2011


It's amazing, living in California for the past 5 years every where you turn there is a bottle of Californian wine.  People come from all over the world to drink it, and everyone is crazy about it.  People love their California wine so much they even take bottles with them when they go out to eat.  Imagine that.  I worked in Los Angeles at an Italian restaurant we only served Italian wine and that made some people very unhappy.

Today I find myself in Portland Oregon enjoying the local fair.  I'm shopping at farmer's markets and cooking a lot of dinners.  I was here and was hoping to tryout some Oregon wine.  I find the local wine shops, the nice supermarkets with all the local delicatessen and fresh pasta and cheese anyone could ever want.  But no Oregon wine.  They have shelves full of Italian wine even the hard to get items like Chinato (something recently rescued from the brink of extinction), and cases of French, Spanish, German.  Not one bottle of Oregon wine in site.

So I head off to Oregon wine country and first stop in the Chehalem Mountains, an area located in the largest AVA in Oregon Willamette Valley.  On our trek up to the top of the Chehalem Mountains we are surrounded with so much beauty of wildflowers lining the streets, long horn cattle, and many orchards of Filberts (aka Hazelnut).  Oregon is 2nd in the worlds production of Hazelnuts next to Turkey.

Our first stop was Vidon where we were met by one of the winemakers Dave.  Dave is a local to Oregon growing up not to far from Portland and since his family owned most of the Hazelnut farms in Oregon spent much time in Newburg.  Vidon currently has 5 1/2 acre plot of only Pinot Noir in one of the best nooks of the mountains.  It is above the 400 foot mark making this soil Volcanic.  And with their vineyard site south facing and kind of like an ampetheather with very rocky terrane the grapes have a great growing season.
Vidon is a small winery producing at best 1,000 cases a year primarily of their 3 clones on Pinot Noir.  They planed their vineyard in 1999 and it was not until 2003 that they had their first real harvest.
Using only neutral french oak they are able to create wines that really show off the terrior and the characteristics of the clones.

Their wines were great the 2008 3 clone was showing really well.  Beautiful fruit, and a bit of leather and tar.  After we did a taste of the 3 different clones separately and we could see how they all came together and what part each one played.

Mirabelle is the 115 clone and you could tell immediately that this was the aromatics of the blend.  You didn't even need to put you nose to it to smell the sweet ripe fruit bursting from the glass.

Hans is the Pommard clone and he was the "man" of the blend.  A workhorse for the wine he brought the weight and the structure to.  Dark and rich with a bit of carmel notes to the finish.

Brigita is the 777 clone and she was the smallest of the bunch.  She brought the feminine touch to the wine with her silky elegance she danced her way across you palate. Brighter fruit notes of currant and raspberry

Vidon's website

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Liguria is a crescent shaped strip located on the northwest corner in Italy.  It borders to the north France, to the east Piedmont, and Emilia Romagna, and Tuscany to the south.  The Apennines Mountain range runs through Liguria and literally falls off when it touches the Mediterranean Sea.
  The capital here is Genoa and doubles as a major port
This is the smallest region in Italy, and is believed to be so because of the aggressive terrain.  With the protection of the Apennines Mountain range Liguria was one of the last regions to be conquered by the Romans, not to mention Ligurian’s rebellious manors.  
  Ligurian’s have to work harder for their food and their wines.  The seas are not as generous in the north as they are in the south and farming on such harsh terrain makes things a bit difficult.  With all that hard work Liguria is one of the most diverse and flavorful regions in all of Italy.  

The mountain valleys are covered in basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and garlic and all of these flavors can be found in their cooking.  Ligurian’s love to use garlic in their food and unlike the rest of Italy, this style of cooking has created that garlic-eating stereotype we all know.  If you are looking for a Ligurian specialty you will not find this at a dinner table. The most common food found in Liguria is at a Friggitorie (fry shop) where you will find things like gianchetti (tiny anchovies or sardines that have been fried), calamari (squid), gamberetti (shrimp).  

For bread you will find a lot of Focaccia rich in herbs and olive oil.  Pasta here is lasagna, gnocci, trenetto (long flat “spaghetti”), corzetti (coin shaped) usually served with pesto (basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts), tocco di carne (meat sauce), tocco de noxe (walnut sauce).  Lots of pesce (fish) and vegetables but little meat if any there will be coniglio con le olive (rabbit cooked with olives and herbs).

Cinqueterre DOC:  Most commonly know to tourists for it’s romantic cliffs edge towns.  The Cinqueterre as it’s name suggests is made up of five lands; Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Monterosso al Mare.  La Spieza is the nearest major city and the gate way to the Cinqueterre.  Grapes are harvested in small baskets that are carried up from the sculpted Cliffside vineyards. The grapes that are in the blend : Albarola, Bosco, and Vermentino.

Rossese di Dolceacqua DOC: These wines are produced in the medieval town of Dolceacqua.  The name means “Sweet Water” and is reference to the town it comes from.  Made from a minimum of 95% Rossese these wines are fresh, and fruity, with notes of pepper and light tannins.  For Rosses Superiore you will need to age it at least a year and the alcohol content must rise from 12% up to 13%.

Colli di Luni DOC:  Liguria’s most southeasterly DOC, located on a mountainous area where Toscana, Liguria, and Emilia Romagna meet.  This DOC actually overlaps Tocana and Liguria where they both have Vermentino in commom.  In Toscana this region is known as Lunigiana and is situated in between the Appennines and the Alps Apuane.

Riviera Ligure di Ponente: Meaning “Coastline of Liguria at the place on the horizon where the sun sets.”  This is the larges DOC in Liguria comprising of 3 subzones; Albenga, Riviera dei Fiori, Rossese di Albenga.  Most commonly found grape varietals are Pigato, Vermentinoand Rossese.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


This grape has a long history in Liguria, stemming from the Dolcetto  varietal Rossese produces a light, low tannin red usually showing notes of cranberries, leather, and pepper corn.


The most widely planted grape in Liguria.  This varietal produces small berries that make a light bodied neutral style wine.  Used primarily as a blending grape in Liguria’s Cinqueterre DOC.


A very light white variety found in Liguria.  It is permitted a minimum of 40% in the blending of Cinque Terre DOC wines.  When harvesting this grape needs utmost care because it has a tendency to oxidize quickly.

You can also find this grape in Sciacchetra from the Cinque Terre.  This is a sweet wine made from 60% Bosco and 40% Vermintino and Alborola.


A grape of Spanish origin, this varietal is also found in many other regions of Italy along with Corsica, and to some extent Languedoc.  Many scientist believe that Vermentino is directly related to Pigato and also Favorita from Piedmont.  This grape produces a light to medium, citrusy, summery, saline driven white.


A white wine thought to have originated from Greece.  It's name derived from the pigmentation of the grapes, pink spots on the skins.  Pigato is a grape that really enjoys the sun and will show lots of aromatics from floral, saline, almond oil, to ripe peaches and nectarines. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Wandering through the farmers market I stumbled on some rhubarb and thought I would give it a try.  Rhubarb is a very bitter vegetable that has many uses.  In America it is typically used to make pie fillings most commonly accompanied by strawberries. Where in China they use rhubarb root for healing purposes in a tea for cleansing and as a laxative.

I thought I would pair my rhubarb with some pork

What you will need:
1 pint strawberries
1 stalk rhubarb (leaves removed they are poisonous)
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon water
salt and pepper to taste
1 seed of all spice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Wash rhubarb and cut into small sticks
Quarter strawberries
In a medium sauce pan place all ingredients in the pot

and simmer for 15 minutes until rhubarb has broken down and all liquid has evaporated. 

Remove from heat and let cool.  Remember to remove the all spice.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Saffron and Spanish Paprika Truffles

*adapted from Bon Appetit Cookbook

What you will need:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
12 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (please DO NOT use unsweetened)
1/2 teaspoon valilla extract
1 teaspoon espresso
1 teaspoon spanish paprika
1 teaspoon saffron
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

A. Take the whipping cream and add spanish paprika, saffron, cinnamon, and cayenne.  Let rest for 30 minutes this can be made 1 day ahead.  The longer it steeps the better.

FOR THE TRUFFLES CENTERS: Bring cream mixture and butter to simmer in heavy small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low.  Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Pour inot small bowl.  Stir in vanilla and espresso.  Freeze chocolate mixture until firm enough to hold shape, about 20 minutes.
B. Line 1 baking sheet with waxed paper.  Spoon out 20 mounds of chocolate mixture onto prepared sheet, using about 2 tablespoons for each.  Freeze until mounds are almost firm, about 8 minutes.

C. Roll each mound to form spheres and then dust in cocoa powder.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Enjoy.

If you would like to add some cinnamon and paprika to cocoa powder to give some extra flavor please do.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It Smells like Rose

Teutonic Wine Company
2010 Pinot Noir Rose
Chehalem Mountains
Laurel Vineyard
This small husband and wife operation Barnaby Tuttle and Olga Tuttle were approached in 2005 with the opportunity to have their own vineyard  (Alsea) 20 miles off the coast of Oregon.  This is where they got their start making all natural, sustainable, organic wines.  What that means is they use ONLY wild yeasts and practice good stewardship over the land.

This Pinot Noir Rose is made from their vineyard (Laurel) in the Chehalem Mountain range.  There are only 87 cases produced and it's 100% Pinot Noir.  What makes this wine so special is that the grapes are grown and harvested specifically for rose.  They use all wild yeast from this vineyard, and for the aging process neutral oak.

This wine displayed great minerality.  Being only 10% alcohol there was plenty of acidity and had a full mouthfeel. Lots of red fruit from watermelon, to raspberries. Baking spice and Paprika. And a real meaty finish and when I say meat I mean steak no sauce.  This wine craved food and it paired well with the Vegetable Terrine I made.

Please check them out online

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cherry Clafoutis

*adapted from Silver Spoon

Hello all,
  I know it has been a while since we last spoke but man has it been a busy blur of a few months.  I'm back and since cherries are in season I thought I would give this Clafoutis a try.

What you will need
1 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups cherries, pitted

The best way to pit the cherries, cut in half pull one half off the pit.  For the other half that has the pit cut in half again.  This will make it so the flesh is easier to pull off.

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
Grease cake pan with sweetened butter
Sift flour into a mixing bowl, add
and mix until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the cake pan so that it is 2/3 full.
Sprinkle cherries on top

Then bake for 40 minutes

Let rest for 15 minutes...Enjoy