Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Two Wines - Two Dishes - PDX Style

People often ask me, including my daughter, what is my favorite food. Well the truth is, when you are a foodie (A person who loves almost all food and seeks out new culinary treats) like I am, it tends to be, well, everything.

However,  there has been a couple dishes that really stand out and since this is a wine blog, it only makes sense I share two classic dishes that are made with wine.

I just came across a post titled 8 of the best Julia Child Recipes and of those 8, three were cooked with wine. Not to my surprise, one of those recipes holds fond food memories for me.

Perhaps you remember one of my older post titled At The Market - A little Taste Of  France. In that post I shared one of my many "Did That Just Happen? Stories".  Let me share one of my fondest, not so absurd, French memories with you.

The trip was part of a culinary weekly excursion, and to say the food was amazing is an understatement. I remember a few incredible dinners we had, but the one that stood out the most was the classic Boeuf Bourguignon or simply Beef Burgundy.

Boeuf Bourguignon is such a simple dish but to make it a great dish, as opposed to an average one, boils down to the quality of ingredients and technique. Oh and yes, this was one of Julia's favorites. I almost feel embarrassed to say it but it is really just a beef stew with red wine.

A true Beef Burgundy is made with good quality red wine from the Burgundy region of France. Mushroom, pearl onions, and potatoes are almost always served in or along with this tender and succulent dish.

You can also concoct a great Beef Burgundy using American wines.  I suggest our PDX Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine is a perfect choice for an exceptional Beef Burgundy!  

Here is a link to a wow your guests Beef Burgandy recipe I found on The Spruce. Use our PDX Cabernet Sauvignon for the red wine. 

Beef Burgundy

I am not sure how Julia Child felt about mussels, though I do remember my first steamed mussels dish. It was actually in Culinary Art school many moons ago. I got a chance to try many new dishes those two exciting years. I try to forget the calves brain I sampled, though it was not all that bad. 

One of my favorite classes was the seafood course. I learned how to put a lobster to sleep, how to filet a fish, and how simple it was to steam mussels. Although I didn't make it myself, I certainly enjoyed it.

I enjoyed it so much, it often appears on my restaurant plate and of course my Holiday party platter. Steamed mussels tend to be a cook's blank canvas.

The technique is simple enough and can be made with so many different ingredients. Start with sausage or bacon, add onions, leeks and garlic. For the steaming liquid, wine, beer, or stock acts as the base. Consider tossing in fresh herbs or scallions. The options are endless. 

Please, DO NOT forget the bread. You will need that to sop up the aromatic juices. Believe it or not, this is a pretty inexpensive and quick meal to make. 

Here is a simple recipe I found on my favorite site Savuer. For the white wine, an excellent choice is our PDX 2015 Vidal Blanc. 

Mussels With White Wine, Garlic, And Parsley

One Final Thought

Can I have a ride? 

The life of mussels appears to be quite boring. Just sayin. They 

typically just sit there, eating, and hanging out at the bottom of the 

water. No music, no cell phones, and certainly no bar. Like, get a 

job or something.

But they make up for their mediocre life with their cool 

reproductive style. The lazy male just sits still, and releases his 

sperm. The sperm follows the current and locates the lazy female. 

The female mussels do that thing female mussels do and produce 

mussel larvae. 

The larvae hangs out at the fish stop and waits for a very specific 

fish to stop by. It then hops on and takes a three week joy ride. 

When able to make it out on its own, it hops off the unharmed fish 

and starts its own boring life. I guess after all that excitement, it 

needs to rest until the next available ride comes along. 

"Hey Mr. Fish, so what do you do for a living?"

 "I work at the mussel delivery center." "I deliver mussel larvae

"Yeah right, like that's a thing."  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Paradocx Spiced Red - Same Wine, Many Names

How do we know fall time is coming to Paradocx without asking Alexa  "What time of the year is it?" That's what I do. Well first, it's grape harvest time, and second, it's the release of our seasonal Spiced Red Wine. It's funny how the weather influences our food and wine choices. 

Customers have already started inquiring whether we have the spiced red yet. Just because the weather is cooler and pumpkins are out, and my Dr. Who costume is in my closet, we tend to think fall.

This will be my fourth fall season here at Paradocx Vineyard, and I love comparing the spiced wine to previous years. They all taste great and we especially love to heat it like a traditional mulled wine. No need to add spices or oranges, our wine maker did that for you.

It seems every year a few Germans trickle in and are always surprised to see we that sell the same spiced wine they serve durring the holidays. In Germany, it goes by a different name, Glühwein

As cool as it is to say "Glühwein", it's basically the same hot sweet wine and spiced libation found all over Europe, and some in South America. We like to brag because every German we have spoken to agrees it taste just like home.

My wife and I once talked about, or shall I say hopefully wished, for a vacation along the Rhine river.  On a boat of course as we don't swim well. We'd stop in all the small villages and enjoy the holiday festivities at the many Christmas markets called Christkindlmärkte. 

This is where you will find your fresh Glühwein and probably all your crafty Christmas presents. If you are there and are thinking of me, one of those fancy steins would be a lovely gift. 

We Americans and Germans have no monopoly on spiced wine. It seems practically every European country has its own version. The Russians call it Glintwein and in Romania,  it is known as Vin Fiert

Most spiced wines translate as "boiled wine or hot wine" Glögg and other close spellings are versions of spiced wines served in the Nordic and Scandinavian countries. 

In Bulgaria, it is called greyano vino, and consists of red wine, honey, and peppercorn. Apples and citrus fruits are also sometimes added. 

In Southern Chile it is called candola.

Mulled wine in the Czech Republic is called svařené vino.

In France, vin chaud  typically consists of red wine mixed with honey, cinnamon, and orange. 

A popular red blend called Egri Bikavér laced with cinnamon, sugar, and cloves, and sometimes Amaretto is the spiced drink of Hungary.

In Italy, you can find mulled wine in the northern part of the country, and is called vin brulé. 

Madeira or Port wine is typically used as the base of vino quente.

Light That Baby Up


The Germans take spiced wine to a whole new level. It's mulled wine meets fondue pot.  A fireproof bowl is filled with heated dry red wine, spiced with cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, and orange peel. 

The bowl is suspended over a small burner. Think fondue pot or those scented oils my wife loves so much. I mean seriously, does my house have to smell like coconut custard pie? 

Anyway, a specifically designed metal grate is placed over the bowl and holds a seven inch sugar cone soaked with rum. The rum soaked sugar is torched and slowly melts into the mulled wine. More rum is ladled as the sugar keeps melting. 

"Wow" that is the coolest thing I have heard. "Sorry mom", this year the family will be in Germany for Christmas. Gemütlichkeit!

The Pairings

One of the many secrets to pairing wine and food is to pair it by region. What's in season? What do they normally eat in that area? "What grows together goes together".  No matter what you call it, spiced wine, mulled wine, or Glogg, the following foods are commonly served along side.

IDenmarkgløgg pairings typically include æbleskiver, sphere shaped pancake puffs sprinkled with powdered sugar and accompanied with strawberry marmalade.

In Norway, the sweet wine is paired with rice pudding.

Ginger bread and lussebullar which is a type of sweet bun with saffron and raisins, are typically served in Sweden.  

Other great and traditional pairings include mince pies, blue cheese, pickled fish, stuffed fig, and roasted chestnuts.

One Final Thought

Speaking of Fall, did you know how the "jack-o'lantern" originated? According to an old Irish myth, a bloke named Stingy Jack was out with his drinking partner, the devil. The two apparently got pretty slammed so Jacked talked Satan into turning himself into a coin to pay for the drinks.

Jack put the Devil coin into his pocket along with a cross that kept the Devil from transforming back. 

Stingy Jack promised the Devil he would free him as long as the devil didn't bother him for a year. Again, Jack bought himself 10 more years by tricking the Devil into picking an apple from a tree then carving a cross into the bark, while the Devil was lurking in the branches. 

God was unkind to Jack when he died and did not allow him into heaven. So Jack's soul was forced to roam the earth with only a burning coal for light. Jack put his coal into a turnip and became "Jack of the lantern" or "Jack-o lantern."

The Irish began carving scary faces into turnips, potatoes and beets to scare off Stingy Jack and other spirits? 

And you thought the Devil was tricky? That must have been one hell (no pun intended) of a coin to pay for all the ales they drank. I wish I knew that trick. There would be no one left in the bar by the time I got my bill.