Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Last 3 Course Meal in Chateau Holyantle

Well, this is it-the last night in our townhouse. Since my husband has been working overtime with his job and then coming home and packing, I wanted to surprise him with an easy 3 course meal to thank him for all his hard work that's also easy on our bank account. So I came up with a 3, possibly 4 course menu that is themed seafood:

Optional Course: New England Clam Chowder
Assorted Sushi Rolls
Pasta Tuna Alfredo
Maple Tartlettes

Wine Pairing: A Sauvignon Blanc called Cat's Pee on a Gooseberry Bush-the wine is straightforward, as the name of the wine is what you'll find on the bouquet. A good Sauvignon Blanc at a great price!

Due to time constraints with our move, I can only make the main course myself. However, this 3 course meal shows that anyone can make up a 3 course meal with ordinary products found in the pantry and fridge, and that you can do it on a fixed budget too! Here are some of my tricks:

-Our local Wal-Mart clears out their baked goods that are coming up on their "best before" date. I like to go first thing in the morning so I get a variety of things to choose from. There are some deep discounts on some good stuff with the added motivation of eating it quickly!

-One of our local liquor/wine stores (Superstore) has a section of wines that are priced at $10 & under. There are some decent wines on that shelf; don't assume that all the good wines cost a fortune!

-I read the weekly flyers and make use of the weekly sales! There have been many times I've come across some great deals on produce and made new meals based on those ingredients! Websites like have a function where you can type in ingredients you have on hand and they recommend some recipes you can make. This has become a go-to for me!

-I sometimes jazz up food I have in the pantry by using various veggies, herbs and spices or using them as part of a bigger recipe. It's amazing what you can do with a can of soup! Check out the brand names' websites and they can recommend recipes based on products you have.

Tonight's dinner cost me $2.49 for the dessert, $3.20 for the pasta (it wasn't on sale), and $10 for the wine and $7 for the sushi (but I count that as more of a thank-you present for hubs!) everything else I already have on hand.

I'm glad I was able to come up with something good for our last meal here. Our kitchen was fun to cook and bake in and I learned a lot here. Although I will miss living here, I can't wait to start cooking in our new house! First up: homemade burgers!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bring on the BBQ Season!

The senses of summer are finally in the air! The sights and sounds of kids playing in the playground close to my home, the smell of a fresh spring rain, the feel of a warm breeze against my cheek, and the best one: the smell of my neighbors' barbecues cooking up steak, chicken, all kinds of tasty foods! All of this has inspired me to cook up a great meal for my husband this week in lieu of his recent promotion! The menu:

  Spinach & Garden Vegetable Salad
Grilled Pork Ribs in Apple-Lemon Barbecue Sauce
Corn on the Cob
Bell Pepper & Balsamic Quinoa
Rhubarb Cherry Crumble

Wine Pairing: I have half a bottle of Mission Hills 5 Estates Pinot Noir remaining from a recent tasting that might pair well with the smoky flavor of the barbecued pork. It didn't pair well with salmon in a cherry balsamic sauce last week, so I wanted to see if it would pair well with a more robust meat and smokier flavor.

My goal for the summer is to learn to grill meats as good as my hubby does. This will be a great start, and I plan to try 'cue-ing some steaks later this week if the weather permits.

And while I'm thinking about Pinot Noir, another project post will be coming out shortly!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Budding Pinot-phile

Easter has now passed, and the start of the Pinot Noir project has officially begun! The first tasting and food pairing occurred on Good Friday. The first wine tasted was Louis Latour's 2009 Pinot Noir, an AOC from the Beaune region of Burgundy.

The Menu
Roasted Leg of Lamb
Mediterranean Vegetable Caponata
Ukranian Paska Bread

Two bottles of Louis Latour were purchased for $21 each and were rated an average of 84-86 points by various websites. We used one bottle to marinate the leg of lamb - it was marinated in a combination of the wine and various herbs for 24 hours.

I found this full-bodied wine to be very characteristic of what I've read a good Pinot Noir to be - hints of red fruit on first nose, but opens to more vegetal aromas like green pepper and wet leaves once swirled. I personally detected hints of red currants, black pepper, bell pepper and coffee on the palate.
Overall: A good quality pinot at a good price. A great one to start the project with.

When paired with the lamb, the wine was able to withstand the bitter flavor of the meat, and the acidity didn't overwhelm the tomato sauce in the caponata. Great pairing!

During the Easter weekend, I found a wine book I purchased awhile ago called The Wine Planner. The book lists some wines to try, what vintages, qualities and characteristics of each wine and what food to pair them with. I made a list of all the Pinot Noirs in the book and set out to my favorite liquor store, Willow Park Wines, to see if I could find any of them. While there, I met the new teacher of the WSET Program and told him what I was looking for (I forgot his name already-thanks Mommy brain!). He helped me locate one, Villa Maria's 2010 Pinot Noir, from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. The Wine Planner pairs this pinot with smoked cheese, so I chose a smoked gouda to accompany the wine.

I detected a bouquet of cranberries and ripe cherries on first nose. After swirling, the second nose opens to green peppers and damp earth. The palate is slightly spicy and has a medium-high acidity, and wasn't as full-bodied as the Louis Latour. The palate is very representative of the nose-cranberries, ripe red cherries, bell peppers with a spicy black pepper finish. I found this wine to be of acceptable quality-not nearly as good as the Louis Latour. This wine could be consumed on it's own, but I much preferred it when paired with the smoked gouda and gourmet crackers.

One other thing I learned while at Willow Park was that the wine glasses I was using for each tasting wasn't the best glass to use. The proper wine glass to use has a slightly flared lip that makes it easier to taste the fruit on the tip of your tongue than a regular red wine glass. A good example is shown here:

I was able to pick up 2 of these glasses for $10 total at Stokes as they were on sale. All of the other pinots that I taste will be done in these glasses.

Some New Project Notes
-I have decided to mark the end of the Pinot Project as of Sunday, September 23rd. We have a bottle of Veuve Clicquot N/V in our cellar that I've been dying to get into since we bought it last year. I figured a good date to drink it would be when we celebrate our anniversary, which is September 27th. The Wine Planner lists this champagne as an ideal pairing with bagels with cream cheese and scrambled eggs - I really want to see if this works! If it doesn't, then we drink it on it's own during and after our anniversary dinner.
-New Pinots on my "hit list" that are found in the area: La Crema, and Mission Hill 5 Estates. If I can find it, the Gallo Sonoma County Pinot Noir comes highly recommended. The Mission Hill Pinot will be paired with salmon.

Up Next: Inniskillin's 2010 Pinot Noir from the Niagara region, and it will be tasted on it's own.