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Archive for October, 2010

The Poor Man’s Chef Says, “Give Me the Simple Life!”

Now that autumn is in full swing and there’s a chill in the air, I’ve begun exploring foods and wines that invoke a certain sense of comfort and warmth, especially after a long day at work.  The other night, I created a weeknight supper that did just that:  my wife and I were left satisfied, filled and relaxed.

Start with a nice savory piece of meat.  I happened to have some leftover smoked pork tenderloin in the fridge.  However, don’t fret – Chicken, pork, sausage or steak all work well – just make sure to add some sort of dry rub or spice combo to give your meat a nice smoky flavor.


  • Chop up the *cooked* meat
  • Slice 2-3 yellow squash
  • ½ – 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 4 strips of Oscar Mayer fully cooked bacon


  • Salt and Pepper
  • Garlic Salt
  • Some sort of dry barbecue rub or savory spices

Place the broccoli florets in a microwave-safe bowl; add a little water, a tsp. of butter, a dash of salt and pepper, garlic salt and barbecue rub.  Cook for 3-1/2 – 4 minutes in the microwave.

On the stove, heat up a frying pan and coat the bottom with olive oil.  Toss in the sliced yellow squash.  Season with salt and pepper.  When the squash is cooked halfway, throw in your chopped pre-cooked or leftover smoky meat.  Next, add the nuked broccoli florets and buttery juices.  Lastly, add some crumbled or cut up fully cooked bacon.  Add just a little tap water to seal all the flavors together and cook till done.

My Secret Weapon:

  • If you really want to dial this dish up a notch with some heat, consider laying down a small foundation of Fat Free Desert Pepper Trading Company Spicy Black Bean Dip on your plate first and then top it with your skillet creation.  

Bring it all home with a simple tossed salad, topped with creamy dressing and toasted almonds, and add a sensual looking Spanish beauty like the Paul Cheneau Brut Cava Blanc de Blancs Lady of Spain (Sample, $11).  Consisting of 45% Macabeo, 40% Xarel-lo, and 15% Parellada grapes, this ‘lady’ is crisp and clean and made in the same traditional method used to make true French Champagne.  It is absolutely fabulous with the array of spicy flavors dancing around in this recipe.

Why mess around with strife – even on a weeknight, right!?  :) Bon Appetit and snuggle up!

2008 Sprint Cup Winner

In the high speed race to reach top octane levels in their Sauvignon Blancs, the pit crews for many wine regions push to find the right balance of ripe fruit and explosive acidity, but few teams can keep up with Team New Zealand.  Its consistent cool nights, even in the hottest of summers, allow New Zealand to produce Sauvignon Blanc fruit bombs with blazing fast acidity.

The 2008 Goldwater Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Wairau Valley is a great example of that in your face, cheek pulsing, acidic jolt style that so many outstanding New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are known for.  Delivering a massive attack of grapefruit and other citrus notes, the 2008 Goldwater Sauvignon Blanc reaches intense mouth-puckering speeds so quickly that it almost requires putting on a Nomex racing suit so you don’t get burnt by its blaze.

4 Stars out of 4 for the 2008 Goldwater Sauvignon Blanc.  It leaves the other Juicy Fruits in the dust.

(Sample, $15 MSRP)

Just a Little Patience

I’ve had some interesting experiences this past year with several of the Concannon Vineyards red wines, and if there’s one common thread that they all share it’s –  don’t judge them on the first sip.

The 2007 Concannon Conservancy Cabernet Sauvignon continued this familiar trend. 

On the first night, although it possessed a prominent zing of tart raspberry notes, my wife and I found this Cabernet Sauvignon to be a little too “light” for our tastes.  However, on the second night, the 2007 Concannon Conservancy Cabernet Sauvignon was brewing with delicious black cherry and black pepper notes that clung to our gums.  Go figure…

3 Stars out of 4 for the 2007 Concannon Conservancy Cabernet Sauvignon.  Whether you decant it, or open it up and let it rest for 3 hours on the kitchen counter, or stir it up in the blender – a little patience and air time is required to get the full impact of this nicely put together Cabernet Sauvignon. 

(Sample, $15 MSRP)

Lunar Effects

For centuries, people have been fascinated and oddly affected by the appearance of a full moon.  Its powerful presence in the night sky has perpetuated myths of animals and people going crazy, ritualistic practices being carried out, people turning into werewolves, etc.

In the Chilean Mapuche language, the word Pargua means “full moon.”  I recently felt the strong effects of one exciting red blend produced and bottled by Vina Pargua LTDA.  Right from the start, winemaker Jean Pascal Lacaze and the folks at Pargua do their best to cast a spell over drinkers with its impressive label artwork created by renowned Chilean artist Benjamin Lira.  Mr. Lira used the word Pargua, meaning “full moon”, as a point of inspiration for the wine’s label.

However, the real inspiration is the magic potion inside the bottle.  Made with 100% organic and estate grown grapes, the 2007 Anka Pargua II spellbinds drinkers with its elegant and mouth filling flavors of dark fruit, black pepper, green peppers and sweet spices; that together deliver a wonderful and first-class finish.

If there’s a flaw to be found in the 2007 Anka Pargua II, it’s the fact that only 2,500 cases were produced of this exceptional red wine. 

4 Stars out of 4 for the 2007 Anka Pargua II.  Carrying a suggested retail value of $20, it’s by far the best organic red wine that I’ve tried so far in 2010, and it represents a wickedly outstanding value for a limited-production wine made from a blend of  30% Cabernet Franc, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 11% Syrah, 6% Petit Verdot, and 2% Carmenere.

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