Wine Food Pairing - Space Shuttle Launch Party!

Wine food pairing, any excuse for a party! Weather permitting, we have a terrific view of the space shuttle launches from our backyard. So the gang all came over and we gathered around ... first the computer with a glass of Oak Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon .......



Then the TV screen ....... the sky began to cloud up this afternoon ... it was bright sunshine earlier this morning ..... Of course, when they had the nine minute hold it began to rain here!

RATS! I brought out the fried cheese sticks, we sipped wine and listened to mission control on the TV. My camera was at the ready.... just in case we had a cloud break. Well, it continued to rain and we watched the launch on the TV screen. Not nearly as special as seeing in the backyard!
Here is a picture of a night launch from our backyard 8 years ago. Very special, indeed!


Our wine food pairing went well and, of course everyone cheered as the Discovery lifted off. When ever I watch this magnificent event I get emotional and teary eyed because I feel so blessed to live in such a great country .... the whole crowd felt this way ....

God bless America. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Let's Heat it Up!

Wine food pairing ... sometimes I just get these crazy cravings ... perhaps it is my age or the fact that I have an adventurous spirit! Anyway, as I was cruising down my supermarket aisle I noticed a package of Fiery Habanero chips ....... Hmmmmmm ...how hot could they be?




I was in the mood for a bit of heat and I thought, this would be great for my cocktail hour appetizer. Already anticipating the tingling my taste buds would receive, I gave some thought as to what I would "pair" with these crunchy taste treats. I wasn't really in the mood for beer and my famous Margarita's, while totally delish, leave me in a fog the next day.

Down the next aisle I found the perfect compliment looking down at me from one of the top shelves .... Champagne or sparkling wine!

My fave is Freixenet Brut ...... with that sexy looking black bottle. I made my purchase and took it home for a quick chill.

OK, the moment has arrived ... I open the bag carefully and the pungent aroma of spice hits me .... smells good ... I shake some out into a serving dish and pop one in my mouth ... hey this is good, not really hot at all! I continue with my preparations and pop the cork on the chilled Freixenet .... and pop a couple of more chips in my mouth ... HOLY SMOKES!!!!!!

Let me just say this about these deadly chips ... they creep up on you! I passed by a mirror while running to the "ladies" and I looked like a crazed woman ... my nose was running, eyes watering and perspiration was running off my brow! I guess I am a wimp when it comes to heat. Once I got my body fluids under control and was able to take a sip of the chilled champers, things settled down!

The Freixenet kept the heat down to a tolerable level and complimented these tasty guys, in fact, I felt like taking a quick turn around the dance floor!

OK, maybe they weren't quite that good, but still something I would try again ... maybe!

Wine food pairing, heat it up. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing says Goodbye to Robert Mondavi

Wine Food Pairing .... it is all about the great food and the terrific vintners that come up with wonderful wines that compliment it. I have been drinking wine since I was a child ... my parents pressed their own grapes, but my first serious wine experience came at the hands of Robert Mondavi's White Zinfandel.

A group of women I worked started a monthly get together. We tasted many different wines along the way, but our very favorite was the White Zin by Robert Mondavi. These wine parties began as a way to unwind from a stressful work place (we were paramedics), but ended up with a true appreciation of the grape. As a group, we always had a toast, "Life is too short to drink bad wine!"

All of our parties from then on included something from the Mondavi Winery. His vision of the good life , of wonderful food, loving family and great music, always accompanied by wine is the image I have when I drink and enjoy wine.

Mr. Mondavi recently passed away on May 16th, 2008.

Wine food pairing raises a wine glass to you ... may you rest in peace. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Holy Crab!

The adventures of wine food pairing takes us back to Guanaja Honduras ... to hunt and consume the nocturnal land crab. I know, you are thinking to yourself, what the heck is she talking about? Well....

I have eaten all kinds of crab, prepared all kinds ways, but I don't know when I've had so much fun as when I went hunting for land crabs. First off, the best time to go "hunting" is when it is a very dark moonless night. While you wait, it is best to have a few cold cervezas to prepare for the evenings events. Gather your hunting gear ... that would be a large cloth sack, flashlight, a long stick and a cooler with a few more beers.Gather your hunting crew together ..... we found that we needed 4 people ... one to use the flashlight, the beam of light serves to blind the crab and momentarily stops it from running away, one to hold the bag, one to use the long stick and either sweep the prized crab into the bag or let the pincher grab onto it and drop in the sack, and of course, one to serve the cold beer.

These tasty crustaceans can get up to 6 inches across so be careful not to get pinched, do NOT grab your crab.....it can be quite painful ! It is not unusual to have a crab take a stand and rear up and wave his claws at you. This is not a sign of a friendly greeting so make sure you have a long stick! Care must also be taken that none of your hunting party steps in a crab hole and twists an ankle, in addition, there is usually quite a bit of laughter, so do NOT wet your pants from excessive laughing!

Land crab hunting is not for the faint of heart ... I have even had nightmares of this hunting expedition ....... so be forewarned!

OK, we take our prized bounty back to the resort kitchen and the next afternoon we are rewarded with a yummy dish of crabs and rice presented by the chef. This was a wonderful local dish that was seasoned just right. I chose to pair my feast with a buttery Chardonnay and it complimented the crab perfectly, but the rest of the group continued with the same cold cerveza as the night before.

Wine food pairing, is truly a challenge! CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - the Stars of the Show!

Wine food pairing ... we went by boat to the StarBar on Marco Island for a lazy Sunday afternoon lunch. The weather was delightful ... the way it is in Florida during the late spring .... warm, humidity down and the sky so blue that it almost hurts your eyes.

Carol and Jim took their "lunch launch" and we all piled in for the short ride. Little did we know that we would have entertainment on the way. These two dolphin guys decided to do a "flipper" show for us. You just have to love it!

We arrived in style and were greeted by our server who is well known by all and out came the chilled glasses of wine. Chardonnay for Carol and Jim, Pinot Grigio for me and aqua on ice for my escort Houdini. Houdini, my little Maltese, takes his job seriously when his Dad is out of town and accompanies me everywhere!

We started with appetizers ... warm, roasted red pepper hummus served with pita bread, calamari and fried mozzarella sticks. Served with their freshly made dipping marinara sauce, we could have stopped there and I would have been satisfied, but the afternoon was young and we were out just to relax and enjoy. The chilled wine kept coming, the Star Bar was attentive to our needs and the view sitting outside was wonderful!

On to the entree ... Houdini and I shared a yummy turkey wrap that was made even better by the sliced banana peppers. The cold Pinot Grigio soothed the "bite" from the peppers and the portions were so large that I took half of it home!

What a terrific afternoon with friends ... this is what wine food pairing is all about! CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing Follow Up to Stelze .....

OK, wine food pairing guys, this is a follow up to my recent post on having Stelze (pig shin) at the Oktoberfest in Munich. I found this video lurking in my closet since 2001 and just felt that I had to share! Of course, this is not the video where I actually got up on the tables and joined these crazy Germans, I'm not silly!!!!! That one stays in my closet!

video

Anyway, this is Oktoberfest in one of the food tents. Believe it or not, it was not all that busy I'm told due to weather ... YIKES!!!!

I don't know why they are all singing in English because most of these folks don't speak English, but at least I felt at home and could sing along.

So grab yourself a beer and a brat, turn up your speakers and enjoy. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - We say Goodbye to Guanaja!

It wasn't a pretty sight, but wine food pairing says goodbye to Guanaja Honduras until next time. Here is our good friend Brewski Bob curled up in a hammock, snuggled up with a bottle of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot. Unfortunately, his wife, Pat couldn't make it down this trip and Bob was forced keep himself entertained!

It was definitely time to leave, as you can see, Bob was down to his last 2 Lempiras (about 10 cents)!

After Bob's quick snooze in the hammock, we all wandered over to the Castaways restaurant for one last meal. Kevin whipped up an All American hamburger and french fries for us and we paired it with the remains of the Chilean red. It was one of our best meals ever!

The terrific view of the crystal clear Caribbean water only a few feet from our table will make this vacation unforgettable.



Wine Food Pairing in Guanaja Honduras, Central America. Cheers!

Wine Food Pairing - Lamb on the Barbie

Wine Food Pairing and lamb, you know, those cute little woolly guys? As a child, I would never eat lamb, I guess, because my very best, favorite stuffed toy was a "Lamb Chop" look a like. My mother tried , but I resisted all her efforts to round out my palate. It wasn't until just recently, while visiting the Bahamas did I find out what I had been missing all those years.

A couple of summers ago, my husband and I spent 3 months cruising the various Bahamian islands and while we just love seafood, after a while you need something different! We were visiting Marsh Harbor, in the Abacos, and they have a terrific grocery store. Sitting in the meat case were these delightful looking lamb chops imported from New Zealand. Apparently, New Zealand and the Bahamas must have some kind of trade agreement because these guys were succulent and very inexpensive. Well, my husband, the Austrian, wanted to give them a try ... trust me, he said! OK, I have heard that before.

We went back to the boat and he went about marinading them in a mixture of fresh garlic, olive oil and rosemary from my herb garden that I grow on the boat. The barbie was set up on the back of the boat and I went to work in the galley making some of my world famous garlic mashed potatoes and putting together a fresh salad, after all, we had fresh green stuff from the store!

My husband fired up the grill and called for a suitable red wine. Well, on a boat you do have limited resources so I went in my underwear drawer and pulled out a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon that had traveled with us from the US. It is difficult and very expensive to get good wine in the Bahamas so we tend to bring our own and cruise on a floating wine cellar!

The chops went on the grill, I popped the cork and poured the first glass while the sun was getting ready to set. Houdini, our Maltese, was prancing around the cockpit, drooling and hoping for a miracle to occur ... just perhaps one chop might fall off the grill!

My husband prepared them medium rare and OH MY ... thoughts of my cute little "Lamb Chop" from childhood disappeared! The cab paired perfectly with the grilled, garlicky chops and we watched another beautiful evening in the Bahamas unfold while we enjoyed our wine food pairing. Houdini got a few choice lamb morsel's hand fed to him and a wonderful time was had by all.

Why not lamb? Wine Food Pairing. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - a Neighborhood Get Together

Wine Food Pairing with good friends and neighbors is always a treat. Yesterday we had a terrific get together across the street on the Marco River at Carol and Jim's house. It is that time of year where our numbers dwindle as many go back "up north" to homes that are too cold in the winter! So we needed one last "meeting" before 2 more couples leave next week.

The email invitation read "bring an appetizer, or not" ... there is never a lack of food at these parties, but everyone still brings something of interest. I guess I missed the part that said, as long as it is sausage! No, it wasn't on the invitation, but as I wandered in, everyone looked at me in expectation ... did I bring sausage, also?

Well, I had some crispy coconut shrimp on toothpicks with a spicy orange chili dipping sauce. I set the plate down and looked at the counter. Everyone had made a sausage plate ... there was sweet and sour sausage, teriyaki sausage, hot sausage, brats and more! I felt like the kid at school who forgot it was St. Paddies Day and didn't wear green! Too funny. Apparently, there must have been a "mind meld" and everyone of them came up with this original idea on their own.

I chose the Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio for my beverage of the evening and it paired great with the shrimp and really put out the heat from the hot sausage. There was also one of my very favorite Beaujolais from Louis Jardon and that complimented the brats perfectly.


All in all, it was a wonderful evening. Munching on tasty treats, sipping good wine, chatting comfortably with friends and watching the boat traffic on the river. Truly wine food pairing at its best! Thank you Carol and Jim. CHEERS!

The picture above was taken by Carol Kinkead, our hostess. As you can see she is a professional photographer. To view more of her stock photos, or perhaps purchase one, you can visit her web site at: http://www.stockead.com

Wine Food Pairing - Stelze, Stelze Everywhere!

Wine Food Pairing with Stelze ... what, you ask is that? An Austrian pork treat, of course!

Stelze or schweinhaxe, as it is sometimes called, is an Austrian/German dish. It is made from the leg region of the pig ... that area between the knee and the foot ... a pig shin? I think the proper word in English is a pork hock and it is a tasty, but fatty delight.

I have eaten Stelze all over the world.

The first time I was introduced to Stelze was in Vienna, Austria at the famous Schweizerhaus. It is a large beer garden type restaurant done up in the Bavarian style. Perfect for the warm spring day or a crisp fall afternoon. Of course, if you eat the stelze it must be paired with the original Budweiser Budvar, beer made in the Czech republic. It is fresh on draft with a traditional thick fluffy head on top. The meal is served with a basket of fresh "salt" sticks, a cabbage salad and a special Schweizerhaus potato chip platter made right on the premises. You get freshly grated horseradish and senf, or mustard, on the side .... YUMMO!

To check out the Schweizerhaus you can just CLICK here


The next place I ran into into this pork delight was at the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. WOW! Oktoberfest is this is a crazy beer celebration held every year and if you are ever in that neck of the woods at the end of September or early October be sure to stop by to enjoy the show.

We ate at the Hacker-Festzelt, I think it means the "festival tent" . These are not to be confused with camping tents .... these portable dwellings seat between 4,000 - 6,000 patrons and take 3 months each year to erect! After much discussion we decided on a wonderful stelze served with a potato dumpling and gravy ... OH BOY ... it was good! This was served with the "super sized" beer called a "mass", actually spelled with a special German letter that is not on my keyboard, it is the phonetic spelling. All I know is that each stein of beer is one liter and some of the ladies serving these giants carry up to 12 steins at a time! Talk about muscles. You can check out the Hacker-Festzelt by clicking here.



Next on our journey of stelze we went to Salzburg, Austria. The birth place of Mozart, Salzburg is also a picturesque city with many castles, churches and of course, the Augustiner Brewery. This is where the Augustiner monks have been brewing up their wonderful beer in their monastary since the 1600's. The Augustiner Brau is Austria's largest beer tavern and is quite unique by American standards. First off, you pay for a beer token and are given a heavy stoneware beer stein, then you line up and rinse your already clean stein and go over to the beer fountain an fill her up ... COOL ..... !

For food, you have a choice .... you may bring your own from home like a picnic basket .... many people do this ... or you can wander the food stands and vendors to buy something. This is where we ran into the Stelze stand.

Three of us shared this tasty treat along with an Austrian bread dumpling ( called a knoedel) and a mixed salad plate. Inside seats about 1,500 and in the nice weather they open up the beer garden outside for another 1,600 seats .....

For more info on the Augustiner Brau

Well, it has been several months since our last Stelze, since finding it in Florida is a rare thing indeed. Our Austrian friends Elisabeth and Hans decided to give us a real treat and whip one up for us!Elisabeth served Austrian potato salad and a cold cabbage slaw to complete the traditional Austrian meal. The Austrians drank beer with the meal, but the wine "chick" (myself) went for a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon which I thought paired quite well!

Wine Food Pairing with stelze is certainly not impossible. CHEERS!

To learn how to make Stelze or Schweinhaxe, I have a terrific recipe, just click here!
My friend Jean just shared this wine food pairing tip with me:

Thinking of GIVING UP WINE?

I was walking down the street when I was accosted by a particularly dirty and shabby looking homeless woman who asked me for a couple of dollars for dinner.

I got out my wallet, got out ten dollars and asked, "if I give you this money, will you buy wine with it instead of dinner?"

"No, I had to stop drinking years ago," the homeless woman told me.

"Will you use it to go shopping instead of buying food," I asked?

"No, I don't waste time shopping," the homeless woman said.

"I need all my time trying to stay alive."

"Will you spend this on the beauty salon instead of food," I asked.

"Are you NUTS!" replied the woman.

"I haven't had my hair done in 20 years!"

"Well," I said, "I'm not going to give you the money. Instead, I'm going to take you to dinner with my husband and me tonight!"

The homeless woman was shocked ..... "Won't your husband be furious with you for doing that? I know that I am dirty and I probably smell pretty bad."

I said, "that's OK, it's important for him to see what a looks like after she has given up shopping, hair appointments and WINE!"




Wine food pairing, sometimes you just have to laugh. CHEERS!


Wine Food Pairing .. a Cinco De Mayo Celebration!

Wine food pairing to celebrate Cinco De Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for "5th of May", is a holiday celebrated in Mexico. The holiday commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza SeguĂ­n over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The date is observed in the United States and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

The date is best recognized in the United States as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry, much as St. Patrick's Day, Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of Irish, German, and Chinese ancestry respectively. Similar to those holidays, Cinco de Mayo is observed by many Americans regardless of ethnic origin.

Pat and Bob Brown decided to host the "Pelican Street" party and it was well attended. As you can see, Pat went all out with her Mexican specialty dishes and no one went away hungry. "Roberto", well known for his love of cold cerveza, brought out his industrial sized Margarita blender complete with carrying case!

Wine was available for the event ... red or white, but the real star of the show were the "secret" recipe Margarita's that Bob whipped up!

When the chips were down (tortilla chips, that is!) Everyone switched over to the icy tequila beverage. Cinco de Mayo in Naples, Florida ... sometimes you simply must be flexible with your wine food pairing. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing in San Pedro Sula Honduras

Wine Food Pairing takes us back to the mainland of Honduras in San Pedro Sula. We would be leaving early the next day for the US and we stayed at a highly recommended hotel called La Cordillera Apart Hotel. The hotel was well appointed, sparkling clean and also had a terrific restaurant that stayed open until 10:00pm.

I chose a jumbo shrimp kabob with a creamy sauce over rice.... HOLY COW .... the portions were enormous! The steamed veggies perfect with a slight crunch.


I paired this with the house Chardonnay that complimented it perfectly. The buttery wine and the spicy/creamy sauce were "perfecto". Wine Food Pairing in mainland Honduras, terrific. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Snapper Guanaja Style!

Our Wine Food Pairing continues in Guanaja Honduras. Fresh snapper caught and prepared by Kevin at the Castaways Resort and Marina was on the menu this evening. He did it Honduran island style with the head on, garnished with tomatoes and lime on the side.


This was delicious. We paired Mr. Snapper with a Chenin Blanc from the western cape of South Africa. The wine, rich and aromatic was a beautiful match with the fresh seafood.

Southern Tide and Mr. Snapper ,a terrific wine food pairing. CHEERS!