Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Pinot Noir Project: PiNOt Time Like the Present!

It's September 4th already? Wow, where has the time gone?! My kid will be turning 7 months this weekend, other people's kids went back to school today, and a whole summer has come and gone! In less than 3 weeks the first day of autumn will arrive, along with the fall colours on the trees, and the Pinot Noir project is set to come to a close on September 23, the day I have chosen to cook for my husband as part of his wedding anniversary gift. During the spring/summer I've been trying as many bottles of Pinot Noirs as I can get my hands on, without breaking the bank, since we moved houses late June. Like a good little WSET student, I have been keeping my tasting notes. Here is the abbreviated version of my tastings, sorted by wine region. I hope these notes will tempt you to try some PNs that may have caught your eye in the liquor store. Enjoy!

Canadian Pinots

1. Inniskillin Pinot Noir 2010
Nose: Hints of raspberry, ripe cherries, fresh-cut grass, white pepper, stone, a lot of medicinal notes after swirling.
Palate: Dry wine, high acidity, medium tannins, medium-bodied. I tasted ripe cherry and raspberry, white pepper, grass, vegetal flavors. Not a long finish.
I rated it: Acceptable. It contained a bitterness my palate didn't care for.
Paired With: Lamb shoulder roast, grilled asparagus & red bell pepper. Solid pairing with the vegetables, but I should have known better than to pair it with such a robust meat. One more lesson learned in the project!

2. Mission Hills Five Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009
Nose: Bouquet of blackberry, raspberry, dried cranberries, black pepper, hay, meaty, stony, and very pronounced medicinal notes again. A little bit nutty, too.
Palate: Dry, high acidity, medium/high tannins, very full-bodied. I tasted flavors of dried cranberries, black pepper, hay, nuts, eucalyptus, stone and cedar. Longer finish than Inniskillin.
I rated it: Good. It was a good representative of what a Canadian Pinot Noir can be, but it's not one I can see drinking a lot. A good wine to pair with red meat.
Paired With: Baked Salmon in Balsamic/Cherry Glaze. This wine overpowered the salmon and wasn't fruity enough to play nicely with the glaze. I think the wine would do better with lamb or pork with a spice rub.

3. Gray Monk Pinot Noir 2009
Nose: Strawberry, hint of blueberry, plum, mushrooms, coffee, damp earth. Fruit is faint compared to the others in the bouquet.
Palate: Dry wine, high acidity, soft tannins, full-bodied wine with notes of strawberry, plum, asparagus, hay, coffee, damp earth. Longer finish.
I rated it: Acceptable. Weaker Pinot Noir compared to other wines with fruit grown in the Okanagan Region.

Californian Pinots

1. MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009
Nose: Strawberry, raspberry, plum, cabbage, hay, coffee, cream
Palate: Dry wine, medium acidity, some tannins, medium bodied. Cherry, strawberry, black pepper, perfume, coffee, earth. Medium finish.
I rated it: Good. The PN grape thrives in the Sonoma region of California, and this wine is no exception. There are better pinots from that region though! Also a great value.

2. La Crema Monterrey Pinot Noir 2009
Nose: Wild strawberries, raspberries, plum, rose, eucalyptus, hay, mocha, resinous, earth.
Palate: Dry, medium acidity, medium tannins, full-bodied. Strawberry, red cherry, white pepper, eucalyptus, green pepper, mocha. Medium finish.
I rated it: Excellent! I could drink this over and over and over and over...

French Pinots

1. Olivier Larochette Pinot Noir AOC Bourgogne
Nose: Raspberry, white pepper, toast, resin. Very earthy!
Palate: Dry, high acidity, some tannins, full-bodied. I tasted strawberry, raspberry, cloves, eucalyptus, coffee and resin. Medium finish.
I rated it: Good. Good representation of an AOC Burgundian wine.
Paired With: Grilled Chicken Pitas, Tapenade Polenta. Surprisingly good pairing!

What's Next: My focus for the remainder of the Pinot Noir project is on both California and New Zealand. I haven't spent a lot of time tasting either region, and I've heard fabulous things about wines from both. I'm also hoping to have a snippet on Champagne. Here's to a great 3 weeks of tastings!

Monday, July 16, 2012

How Do You Like These Apples?

This week I purchased a 5lb bag of Spartan Apples. It's really hard to eat that many apples when there are only 2 adults in the house, so in order to make sure none of them go to waste I devised a meal plan for the week that guarantees that I'll use them up, as well as the rest of the fruits and veggies in the house! Here it is:

Monday: BBQ Pork Back Ribs w/Homemade Spice Rub, Balsamic Quinoa Salad. Dessert: Ricotta & Chocolate Quesadillas w/Raspberry Coulis
Tuesday: Cheddar Tarragon Pancakes w/Pineapple Apple Maple Salsa, Veggie Omelets
Wednesday: Chicken w/40 Cloves of Garlic, Spinach, Apple & Avocado Salad (The chicken recipe is one out of Anthony Sedlak's best selling cookbook. RIP, you truly showed the world what passion about food really is)
Thursday: Spinach & Bell Pepper Quesadillas, Tuna Pasta Salad. Dessert: Apple & Rhubarb Crisp
Friday: Out for dinner

Also, I am pleased to announce that my little girl is going to be initiated into the world of solid food for the first time this week! I have chosen to start with avocado, and sweet potato. Here's hoping that she'll end up loving food as much as her parents do!

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 allrecipes.com 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!