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Archive for July, 2010

0 – 100 MPH

Talk about incorporating full throttle acceleration in a bottle! 

I recently had the opportunity to sample the 2009 Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc from Chile (*MSRP: $10.99), and could have used a seatbelt to go along with it!  This Sauvignon Blanc displayed wicked speed in the quarter mile and blew the doors off of my taste buds with its razor-sharp grapefruit, lime and orange peel zing, along with an off the charts acidity that was nothing short of a high octane jolt.

I’m definitely a fan of this Sauvignon Blanc.  I’ll warn you, though: this wine is certainly not for the faint of heart!  Be afraid.  Be very afraid!

3 Stars out of 4.  Going 65 -75 mph is usually enough for me, but if you aren’t afraid of getting whiplash then the 2009 Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc will be the right speed for you!

One Fabulous ‘BrokeAss’ Meal

Like many, I’m always looking for creative food recipes on the internet that are affordable, easy to follow, and just plain old tasty looking.  One of my favorite websites to visit for inspiration is BrokeAss Gourmet.  Gabi Moskowitz’s blog features some delicious recipes that are always under $20 and take very little effort to make. 

Last night, we had a hankering for fish tacos.  I remembered seeing an incredible looking fish taco recipe on BrokeAss Gourmet and decided to give it a go!

Gabi’s creation called for the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb red snapper fillets (2-3 small fillets)
  • 1/2 cup i.p.a. beer (I like Big Daddy or Lagunitas)
  • 2/3 cup flour plus more for dusting fish
  • salt
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and diced finely
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 2 tbsp crumbled cotija cheese

Unfortunately I didn’t have some of the key ingredients, so I decided to use her original recipe as inspiration and create a fish taco recipe of my own.

I substituted the red snapper in this case with a 1-1/2lb slab of fresh Atlantic Salmon (price: $11.10).  I also couldn’t find cotija cheese, so I substituted with crumbled Greek feta cheese (price: $2.49/ 4-oz container) and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (price: $2.49/ 4-oz container).

Next, rather than battering the fish and frying it up as Gabi’s recipe called for, I instead opted for a different method of cooking the salmon.  I first heated up about 2 TBS. of olive oil in a large pan.  I then placed the slab of salmon into the pan and seasoned it with Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Salmon Seasoning, which I already had in my spice cabinet.  You can use a simple combination of salt and pepper and fresh lemon as an alternative to the seasoning mix.  I seared the seasoned portion of salmon (skin side down) for about 3-4 minutes on the stove top.  I then moved the pan into a pre-heated oven and cooked it for about 10-11 minutes at 380°F.

The result is a perfectly moist salmon fillet ready for a taco party!

While the salmon is cooking in the oven, cut up your avocado, mango, onion, lime, jalapeño, cilantro, tomato and a pinch of salt ( *I added a hefty squeeze of fresh lemon and lime juice to mine).  Combine in a large bowl and toss together.

Time to EAT

To assemble the tacos:  top each softshell tortilla with a few pieces of seared salmon, a couple of large spoonfuls of the homemade salsa, and a sprinkle of either of the crumbled cheeses over top.

Perfect Wine Pairing 

Oregon Pinot Gris.  They’re usually very clean, crisp, and possess racy citrus qualities that pair perfectly with these (salmon) fish tacos – and Oregon definitely knows a thing or two about Salmon.  Consider trying King Estate Pinot Gris or Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris.

If you’re looking for a terrific and easy summer meal to feed 4 hungry adults, this one is sure to be a big hit with everyone!

Bon Appétit!


The Three Graces

While out for a stroll one very hot summer day, I noticed a very tightly taped box addressed to me on my front step.  Upon further inspection, I opened it and found that it was filled to the brim with packing peanuts.  Boy, do I despise packing peanuts!  But I digress…  Inside this treasure chest was a little Armenian love from the peeps at Tree Of Life.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t the Kardashian sisters, but rather a slender bottle of 100% Pure Pomegranate Wine!  Now I know that many wine drinkers might argue – “That’s not ‘real’ wine!” and others might say, “Why on earth would anyone drink such a thing?”

Well, here are 3 reasons to give the Tree Of Life Semi–Sweet Kosher Pomegranate Wine a try:

 Charm – “Straight –Up”

I’m not going to lie – Semi-Sweet Kosher Pomegranate Wine was not high on my list of wines to try.  But surprisingly, it’s not as bad as some might imagine.  Is it sweet? Yes.  Is it fruity?  Yes.  Is there a buyer for this wine?  Certainly.  The Tree Of Life Semi–Sweet Kosher Pomegranate Wine is something that will appeal to the “non-wine drinker” who is interested in drinking wine. Why? This wine is very fruity, not dry in the least, and tastes just like Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice – no joke!  My Dad is someone who I would consider a “non-wine drinker”, but I do know that he enjoys the heart-healthy antioxidants and taste of cranberry juice – so something tells me he’d like this wine too!  On a side note, my wife and I thought that this might hit the sweet spot with BBQ foods.

Beauty – “Shaken, not Stirred”

One of our favorite martinis in the whole world is a Pomegranate Martini.  But the key to making an incredibly good Pomegranate Martini is to use Pama.  Pama is a phenomenal Pomegranate Liqueur, but it sure ain’t cheap!  A 750ml of PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur can easily set you back nearly $25.  For less than half the price ($12.99 MSRP *sample for 750ml), I was curious to see if the Tree Of Life Semi–Sweet Kosher Pomegranate Wine could be used as a substitute.

Voila!  It totally works as a cheap alternative to PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur.  I’ll admit, it’s not quite the same, but it’s close enough that by the second (or third) martini, no one will tell the difference!  One martini, two martini, three martini…Floor!


  • 1 1/2 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur * Sub w/ Tree Of Life Semi–Sweet Kosher Pomegranate Wine
  • 1 1/2 oz premium vodka
  • 1/4 oz orange-flavored liqueur
  • lemon zest for garnish


  1. Combine all ingredients into a shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with a lemon zest.

Creativity – “The Fiesta”

For the last creation, we thought we’d make a more adventurous concoction and transform our new fruity friend into Sangria.  If you’re looking for a great book on Sangria, you just might want to check out Sangria by Mittie Hellmich. This book is full of festive and tasty recipes.

Here’s the Sangria recipe I created with the “Tree of Life”:
2 large California navel oranges, sliced
2 large peaches, sliced
2 large nectarines, sliced
2 tangerines, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
2-4 oz Triple Sec (Orange flavored liqueur)
Remainder of chilled Tree Of Life Semi – Sweet Kosher Pomegranate Wine (*Approx. ¾ of a bottle left).
12 oz chilled club soda
Crushed Ice

First, cut up all of the fruit.  Next, grab a festive pitcher that will be large enough to hold all the fruit and liquid.  Place the fruit into container; add an entire 750ml bottle of chilled Tree Of Life Semi–Sweet Kosher Pomegranate Wine and the Triple Sec.  Place in refrigerator for 2 hours or more to allow everything to marinade.  Once ready to serve, add the club soda to the mixture.  Grab a few festive glasses, fill with ice, and pour the Sangria.

The result was just pure, refreshing, fruit enjoyment!

All in all, it was fun coming up with different ways to serve the Tree Of Life Semi–Sweet Kosher Pomegranate Wine.  I’m sure we could have come up with more, but we only had one bottle to work with.  Although we thought this wine worked best in our martini recipe, if you crave sweeter style wines, this might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Fancy Dinner Friday – The Invasion

Man, I sure have missed Fancy Dinner Friday.  I’ve especially missed the pre-dinner excitement that our Fancy Dinner Friday Mascots always bring.  Friday night dinner in our home has become something quite special that our whole family looks forward to each week.  Unfortunately though, we’ve been so busy over the past weeks that we’ve had to take a few rain checks on our customary Friday, not so “fancy”, plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

This past Friday though, the four of us were finally able to settle down into our familiar festivities.  And on this warm summer evening, we also welcomed two new faces to the mix.  The first was an energetic and electrifying pre-dinner visit made by our newest Fancy Dinner Friday Mascot – “Spaceman Storm Trooper”.

Spaceman Storm Trooper got things off with a bang – that’s for sure!  But for some reason, our 6 year-old son was nowhere to be found…hmmm?!

Our other special appearance was made by a bottle of 2007 Boeri “Martinette” Barbera d’Asti DOC Superiore that I received as a sample.

“Martinette” is the name for one of Boeri’s oldest Barbera vineyards.  Both the location and microclimate are very conducive for the production of Barbera grapes.  The Boeri estate uses several steps in making their Barbera d’ Asti.  In July, they first start with the “thinning” of the grapes. Harvest then begins at the end of September where clusters of grape bunches are selected and collected into small wooden crates.  Next, the grapes are then gently pressed. Afterwards fermentation (with the grape skins still on) occurs for about 7-8 days in barriques, where the wine is ultimately allowed to rest for the next 12 months before bottling occurs.

The result is a tantalizing, Super-poli grip of a wine. 

Right out of the gate, this wine absolutely fills your mouth, adhering to your teeth and gums, giving your taste buds a vigorous workout.  This is definitely not the kind of wine that you want to drink prior to your six-month dental exam if you hope to get out in less than 15 minutes.

The 2007 Boeri “Martinette” Barbera d’Asti DOC Superiore delivers an impressive jab of bright red fruit, accompanied by sweet spices through its finish.  I was also picking up a violets vibe and a very interesting slate & stone mineral-like finish.  All in all, it worked absolutely fantastico with a plate of thin spaghetti topped with a mixture of meatballs, grilled Italian hot sausage, and marinara sauce.

3 Stars out 4.  The 2007 Boeri “Martinette” Barbera d’Asti DOC Superiore is a distinctive and  gripping red that can moonwalk alone, but will really have your taste buds pulsating when paired with a variety of Italian foods!

(MSRP $10)

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