Friday, April 29, 2011

True Story!

You may have seen this come to you via email before. My husband sent this to me today and asked that I share it on my blog. This sounds like a scenario that may have happened between us before:

A woman is sitting on the veranda with her husband having a glass of wine.
The woman says "I love you".
The husband asks, "Is that you or the wine talking?"
She replies "It's me...talking to the wine"

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Tale of Two 3 Course Meals

Tale #1: A Cheddar "Battle"
Sommelier school is expensive. Really, really expensive. When I first expressed my interest in pursuing this passion to my husband, and after showing him the tuition costs, I really thought he would say no. After all, we are saving up for a new house and need all the money we can save for the down payment. And I'm not necessarily going to chase this as a new career path. However, to my surprise, he was very supportive of me and I just finished the Wine Fundamentals course through WSET! To thank him for his support and to show him that I did learn something in exchange for tuition fees, I cooked him a three course meal that focused on a couple forms of cheddar, complete with wine pairings.
First course was a slow-cooked French Onion Soup topped with broiled, mild cheddar on baguette slices, paired with a Chardonnay, 2008 Tinhorn Creek from BC. This chardonnay is medium bodied and doesn't go overboard with oaky flavors, and because of this I found it to be a great match with the soup, bringing out the rustic flavors of the onions. I'm not much on chard, but this one is great to pair with food or drink on it's own! Next time I will use a stronger cheddar for the soup, which I will make again!
Second course was a "grilled cheese" made with medium cheddar between grilled chicken breasts cut lengthwise in half. I marinated the chicken in a cocktail of Blanche de Chambly, a stronger Quebec beer, along with apple cider vinegar and a few herbs first, then my hubby grilled it on the barbecue. I served the chicken with fried butternut squash (sage was the main herb used for flavoring) and broccoli in a cheddar bearnaise sauce. The wine pairing was a merlot from chile, Anakena. Because the merlot was a 2009 it was very mild, soft tannins, and mild fruit flavors with a hint of spice. But it still held up to the flavors of the cheddar and I thought it paired well. Here's what it looked like:

Dessert was an apple crisp with mild cheddar woven into the topping. I don't think I will ever make an apple crisp without cheese in it ever again! I wanted to pair it with my sacred bottle of Robert Renzoni's 2008 La Rosa, a 2008 Californian rose made with Sangiovese grapes. But because this is the bottle that has the Renzoni autograph on it (and I don't know when I'm going to that area of California again), I couldn't pull the cork, so to speak!

So despite the missing wine pairing with dessert, the meal turned out well and needless to say, my husband was all full up in the end!

Tale #2: The Easter Parade of Pairings
The title comes from my dad, who used to sing the Easter Parade song to me and my sisters every year. Even though I live 3,000kms away now, he still "sang" it to me in the Easter card he sent. Easter is a big holiday for my family. They all get together, have a feast, and they never forget the wine! Easter is one of the three days I get a little homesick, not being able to to join in the fun back home. To help ease the homesickness, I made us a 3 course meal, and I didn't forget the wine pairings either! I chose to do a "best of" theme for our food adventures this past year, with hints of my Ukranian background to complement the meal.
First course was kielbasa and brick cheese infused with onion and parsley, paired with an Australian Shiraz, Wyndham Estate's 2008 Bin 555. Originally I wanted to pair it with a more mellow red since I find Shiraz has quite a bite for my tasting with it's peppery notes. This wine still maintains the quality of a good Shiraz, without slapping you in the face with spice. It paired decently well with the kielbasa and cheese, but I think I'll keep trying different wines to pair with kielbasa in the future.
For the main course, I took a chicken breasts supreme, pan-seared it skin side down, and then roasted it in the oven with butter and a sauce, a reduction of honey and white wine, flavored with rosemary. I continued basting the chicken with the reduction as it roasted, and topped it with the sauce when serving it. Very sticky, but very sweet! This chicken breast recipe is actually found in Anthony Sedlak's The Main cookbook, so props to him for coming up with it! I served the chicken over roasted garlic mashed yams, topped with bacon bits for a smokier flavor-after all, the chicken was super sweet, and I didn't want to go overkill on the sweetness. The side was paska, a ukranian raisin bread that we munched on after the official main. Here's what it looked like:
The wine pairing was my personal favorite white: Hernder Estate's 2008 Vidal, which you can only get in Ontario. It's light to medium bodied, very floral in bouquet with a sassy hint of lime. It's sweet but not overly sweet, so it brought out the sweetness of the chicken without making the main taste too sweet.
Dessert was originally going be a spiced banana rum cake, but since we still had chocolate fudge cake leftover from Friday night's family dinner, we ate that instead and paired it with a rum and coke to help kill the sugary flavors. A fantastic ending for a fantastic dinner!

Now it's time for me to take a break from three course dinners with wine pairings. Back to the regular family tradition of Slow Cooker Sunday, which will be my personal take on my nana's "Floating Chicken". Now off to the wine store to pick up the wine I'm going to use in that recipe!