Sunday, February 27, 2011

Metapost: Attention Ladies of Decatur (Georgia)!

This coming Friday is the first Friday in March, so that means it's time for another Ladies of Decatur tweetup!

Date: Friday, March 4
Location: Carpe Diem
Time: 6-ish (I'll aim to be there around 5:30)

Please leave me a comment or tweet me at @RandomOenophile (link to follow me above) so I know approximately how many to expect. Happy spring!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tasting Notes: European Cellars at JavaMonkey

Yes, I'm actually blogging about wine this week! I have to do that every once in a while so y'all don't think I'm knocked up. On the other hand, a recent comment addressing me as "sir" on a post from three years ago tells me that people still think I'm a guy.

I was supposed to go to novel critique group this past Thursday night, but Hubby and I have been crazy busy with our jobs, so we haven't had the chance to spend much time together. All Jess (also a woman) at JavaMonkey had to say at a previous tasting was two magic words: Eric Solomon. He's an importer who focuses on "place over process," and I've rarely had a wine of his I didn't like. With a nod to a recent post by my awesome blogger friend Joe (not a woman), I'll try not to be too pretentious in my descriptions.

2009 Giachino Altesse (Savoie, France): 100% Altesse.
I love tasting grapes I've never had before. This one, originally called Roussette, which I've also never had, was originally from Cyprus, but apparently the soil next to the Alps is a little bit different. Instead of being sticky, this one has a little citrus and stone fruit with some muskiness and a lot of floral notes on the palate. It's also really dry and would likely be better with food. Hubby and I think that a seafood pesto dish would be just about perfect with it.
Rating: Good

2009 Bergerie de l'Hortus Cuvee Classique Blanc (Montferrand, France): 30% Chardonnay, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Viognier, 10% Roussane
The guy who started this winery was walking in the hills and found the ruins of what may have been a Roman farm growing the "Mediterranean three" of wheat, olives, and grapes. He cleaned it up and started growing wine there. This one has an apricot-jasmine nose with a little honey and stone fruit on the palate.
Rating: Good to Very Good

2008 Rhône by Roger Sabon (Côtes du Rhône, France): 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Cinsault
This winery has been in the family since 1576 and currently has three generations working on it. They must drink a lot. My favorite of the evening, this one is a nice, smooth, dry red with some earthiness. It's not heavy at all and would be a great summer sipper with light grilled food or on its own.
Rating: Very Good

2009 La Madone (Loire Valley, France): 100% Gamay
One of my table mates asked Jess, "Are you trying to get rid of the leftover Beaujolais Nouveau in disguise?" This one's not a nice Gamay. My notes say moldy strawberries and very tart.
Rating: Meh

2008 La Granacha (Côtes du Rhône, France): 100% Grenache from 80-year-old vines
A little acetone-chemical on the nose with some raisin. Big and chewy with high alcohol, it wants steak or barbecue.
Rating: Okay, got better as it opened

2009 Château Pesquie Terrasses (Côtes du Ventoux, France): 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah
If you've been following our adventures for a while, you know that Hubby and I are always on the lookout for good wines from the Côtes du Ventoux region after we had a particularly good one in Belgium. Yes, I just commented elsewhere that I think the term "barnyard funk" is a funny one to use with wine, but there are some French syrahs that have that aspect on the nose. This one had smooth fruit with a hint of caramel and really became lovely after it was open a while with the funkiness all but disappearing and just leaving the fruit.
Rating: Good to Very Good

Oh, and in exciting news, the Emory Commons Publix now has a cheese counter and cheese minions!

I was irked when they decided to rearrange the whole freaking grocery store, but I can live with it if it means I can get cheesy goodness. Alon's is still my first choice, but in a pinch, this will do.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Great Bread Experiment, Part One: Confessions of a Newbie Bread Baker

I have a little secret to share, and it's scandalous. You see, I'm in love with another man, and he's a member of the cloth. Even more shocking? Hubby doesn't mind! It's because the thing I'm in love with isn't his eyes or hair, it's his…


I'm talking about Brother Rick Curry, of course, author of The Secrets of Jesuit Soupmaking and The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking. No, I've never met him, but his recipes are divine, if you'll excuse the pun.

The Secrets of Jesuit Soupmaking was a gift from my parents' neighbors when I was in graduate school. I'm not sure how they found it or whether they've tried it themselves. Maybe their thinking was along the lines of, "Hey, she's a budding cook, and she's Catholic! This is perfect!" Each recipe is accompanied by a story, either from the author's experience or from Catholic lore, and that's about all I paid attention to when I first got the book. The recipes were just too much for one person living alone, and I was intimidated by the stocks.

Fast forward four or five years to Hubby looking through our cookbook shelves and pulling it out with a "What's this?" He took making stock as a challenge, so the stars and ingredients aligned. We've made several recipes out of that book, which prompted Hubby to give me the Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking for Christmas this past year:

I'd heard that making bread was addictive, but I thought, "surely that bug won't bite me!" Even so, I was cautious, and it took some nudging by Hubby to get me to dip my toe into those floury waters with Focaccia:

Crispy on the outside and dense on the inside with a nice mix of herbs both in the bread and on top, it was delicious.

The next weekend, we made Irish Lamb Stew from Cooking Light, and I made onion rolls to go with it. These guys were more like the Sister Schubert rolls in texture and flavor (what is it with religious and bread baking?) with onion and dill in them.

The following weekend, with a freezer full of bread, we decided to take a little break from the baking. Our eating had not caught up with my bread production habits, so we settled for pizza dough, which I'd made a few weeks previously and a Deep Dish pizza from the Weight Watchers pizza cookbook.

See? Playing with leavening agents is addictive.

Finally, Superbowl weekend, with a pot of simmering meatballs in spaghetti sauce (my dad's recipe), I got back to the bread making with olive bread.

I'm a bad Italian and only like olives in stuff (not on their own), so I enjoyed this bread most dipped in the sauce that went with the pasta. Hubby, my carb enabler, really liked it.

Oh, and I'd like to note that I don't have a bread machine. Each of these projects was hand-kneaded. My only "cheat" is using the stand-up mixer for "beat for ten minutes"-type instructions. Yes, I make a big mess in the kitchen, but it's a yummy mess!

Okay, I'm hooked. My goal is to make each of the recipes, but I'm not going to commit to a timeline. Just look for bready updates to come! Atkins aficionados need not apply…