Wine Food Pairing - Fun with a Crazy Czech Chick!

Wine food pairing ... at the Sunset Grille on Marco Island ... one of the only eating and drinking establishments on the island that actually has a spectacular view as the sun sets into the Gulf of Mexico.

It's funny that most of the time BigAl and I stay home and enjoy our quiet island paradise, but when company comes it is our time to play tour guide.

The weather has been crazy. Our usual warm and sunny days have been replaced by cold .... and wind ...

Well, we had to come up with something to warm ourselves and our company up .... Maria, was visiting from the Czech Republic ... she hails from the Budweiser or Budvar region ( České Budějovice ).

This is the area where the original
Budweiser beer was brewed ... the American Budweiser, alas, is simply a copy ... lol!

The sunset grille serves up large platters of food and was just what we needed to get our engines started! Big Al went for a Caesar salad topped with a homemade chicken salad and I was feeling a bit Mexican ... this king sized plate of Nachos had us all shouting OLE` .... I paired this tasty dish with a crisp Pinot Grigio from Ecco Domani ... YUMMO!

Maria ordered up the peel and eat shrimp and was not disappointed ... everyone enjoyed everything and we still took food home.

We had a great time down at the Sunset Grille with the crazy Czech chick. Wine food pairing ... it's all about the food and wine. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing Celebrates a New President!

Wine food pairing is always looking for a reason to celebrate ... to raise a glass in honor of some occasion ... what better reason than the ushering in of a new President of the United States?

Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States, making history today as the first Black American to hold this office.

The place chosen for this momentous celebration is Joe's Crab Shack in Naples.

Maria and I begin with a toast .....
even the youngest members of our party got into the action ... Eliza tipped her bottle, also!

The USA is an amazing country and anything is possible if you have the dream .... God Bless America!

Wine food pairing, it's all about the dream. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Toasts Change!

Wine food pairing ... the end of one administration and the beginning of Change ..... the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama is sworn into office ... CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - A Dash of Mexican Fun .. Ole`

Every now and then the wine food pairing crew has a hankering for some excellent Mexican food. We are so lucky to have a local restaurant that has authentic and reasonably priced Mexican food that is just around the corner!

Maria's Restaurant has been in business now for several years at the corner of US 41 and SR 951 in Naples, Florida ... always friendly and offering the freshest of food it is always my Mexican place of choice for a quick bite to eat. It brings back memories of sitting on the beaches of Mexico sipping icy cold cerveza and munching on salty chips and hot salsa .... Oh My!

Anyway, I digressed a bit ....

I ordered a delicious beef steak chimichanga ... kind of like a deep fried burrito with beans and rice ... sour cream on top and some of the ... YIKES ... hot green salsa. This had me ordering a second Dos Equis to put out the fire ... lol!

BigAl ordered a Mexican Tipico sandwich that would put Subway to shame ... this "bad boy" had layer upon layer of tasty meats, lettuce and tomatoes. It had breaded beef steak, grilled ham and sliced pork roast ... my goodness ... everything was piled so high it was tough to even wrap your lips around it! The portions were so generous that we both took boxes home and had lunch the next day.

Sometimes, I have found that when you are doing wine food pairing, the best wine is beer and the Dos Equis was the perfect pairing!

Wine food pairing, it's all about the food and beer. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Pair 337 with a Slice of Heaven!

Wine food pairing received a wonderful Christmas gift of a "337" Cabernet Sauvignon. I had been saving this bottle and thinking that maybe a hearty steak on the grill might be just the ticket for this California Cab that exudes wonderful aromas of mocha and dark cherries ... but wait ...

We had some friends stopping by and I had gone out earlier and picked the last of our bananas. They were getting to the point that they were a "must" use and they screamed banana bread at me! (Pictured here is the stack before they ripened) In Florida when the bananas ripen, it is an all or nothing kind of deal ... one day they are green and then the next day you have a whole stack that is ready to go ... lol ...

Anyway, I digressed a bit, but I tried out a "killer" new banana bread recipe ... one that was loaded with semi-dark chocolate chips and walnuts. The chocolate nutty scent coming from the oven was enough to convince me that perhaps, this medium bodied Cab, would be the one to do my bread justice! It seems that the bold taste of chocolate and nuts "masked " the lighter banana flavor and in reality the bananas just gave a wonderful moisture to the bread without a strong flavor.

Well, let me just say this, about that .... it was a great decision! Wine food pairing, it's all about the wine and food. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Chili ? Call the Dr. !

Wine food pairing wants to know ... what wine do YOU pair with chili?

In Florida, when a winter's day drops into the 60's, we get craving something to ward off those winter chills ..... what better than a big pot of homemade chili?

I thawed out a pound of ground chuck and pondered .... what about my quick 3 bean chili?

First off, I "sweated down" a large onion and a green pepper in my big cooking pot then tossed in the "chuck" to brown along with some cumin, chili powder, S & P. To this I added the rest of my ingredients ... a can of diced tomatoes and 1 can each of light red kidney, pinto and black beans then my not so secret, secret ingredient, a small jar of mild Pace Picante sauce and a teaspoon of sugar! A quick stir and then let simmer for a couple of hours.

Crystal hot sauce ... we like our chili with a sneak up heat that purges the system, but for company I'll just keep it mild and let them add as much or little as they can handle at the table ... Let me say this about the heat factor of my chili ... if this is for BigAl and myself only, I finely dice some jalapenos and shake in some Louisiana ... lol!

Now, to get back to my question, what wine to pair with this spicy treat ... well, BigAl chose to go with a beer ... Dutch Windmill, imported from Holland. I wanted to drink wine and decided to go with a gift that we received at Christmas .... Dr. Willkomm's Blue River Riesling. This tasty white wine from the Mosel region of Germany was the perfect combo to temper the spicy heat of my chili! Not to mention that it comes in a beautiful bottle that I want to display in the kitchen.

So for all those chili and beer drinkers out there ... I say " next time you have chili, call the Dr.!"

Wine food pairing .... it's all about the wine and food. CHEERS!

WFP - Yeah...the Bird Has Finally Flown the Coop!

Wine food pairing has had turkey in many shapes and forms over the last couple of weeks and all I can say is HOORAY! The "bird" has finally flown the coop!

I almost had tears in my eyes when Aunt Patti and Brewski Bob invited us down to their house for smoked baby back ribs the other night ... ! I knew that we would be in for a real treat.

Brewski got his new digital smoker last year and I must say, he has been practicing and it seems that it has paid off. The meaty ribs were smoked with apple wood and when I asked what the delicious dry rub was, he told me that whatever he could find in the spice cabinet went on to the ribs .... YUMMO!

I paired these babies with a 2003 Christian Moueix Merlot. This French wine from the Bordeaux region was smooth and earthy ... perfect for the ribs. I even had the non-wine drinkers sipping!

I must say that coming off of 2 weeks turkey, this wine and food affair was the best of the new year .... so far .... competition is a great thing for those of us that love wine food pairing ... it is all about the food and wine. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Turkey Overload!

Wine food pairing meets the after holiday Turkey challenge ... Turkey overload ... we have had THE Turkey dinner, turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey noodle casserole ... holy turkey ... what ELSE?

One of my very favorites, especially in Florida where the weather is warm in even in the winter is Turkey Salad!  Just when you were hoping the bird had flown the coop, so to speak, you find the last ziploc baggie in the fridge.

I like to make quite a production out of this ... I chop the meat into bite sized pieces, dice red onion and celery, S&P, then add my miracle whip light and fold together.  

Now the garnishes are what make this special.  I toast slivered almonds and drain a small can of mandarin oranges to add on top ... this is so yummy, you will have guests asking for the recipe.

When you bring this out use your best cut crystal serving bowl, bring a basket of warm from the oven whole wheat baguettes and a chilled bottle of Barefoot Pinot Grigio.  This award winning Pinot is a crisp, medium weight wine that is perfect for sipping outside on the patio with your turkey salad.  Wine and food can be as easy as this.

Wine food pairing .. it is all about the food and wine.  CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing with the Other White Meat!

Wine food pairing with the other white meat .... what might that be you ask?  Well, pork, of course!

For some reason pork is quite reasonalble in the local markets right now and that is always the best time to buy ... but sometimes I get tired of the old tried and true recipes so I looked to BigAl to come up with something special.  He always has great ideas mixing his Austrian upbringing and his American lifestyle and coming up with tasty results!

He started out with my cast iron skillet ... I don't use it nearly often enough ... it is a terrific way to cook, holds the heat and once seasoned, will last a lifetime. I got this one from Shoppers Choice and I highly recommend it!

BigAl starts out prepping the chops by stabbing garlic into the pork chops with our handy dandy meat tenderizer along with a quick rub of veggie oil. He heats the skillet up with a touch of oil and a dab of butter ... gotta love those Austrians ... they really know how to flavor their food!  A quick sear and then they are ready for the next step ....

... meanwhile I have "sweated" down some onions and mushrooms and they are ready for the magic! A splash of white wine, a little cream and a touch of corn starch to thicken the sauce ... S&P to taste ... pour this over the chops and into the oven to finish up.  It doesn't take long ... depends on thickness ... we like our pork done medium .... of course, we need a topper for this ... a handful of mozzarella cheese and under the broiler for a second or two and voila we have a meal!

I have chosen to pair this wonderful meal with garlic smashed potatoes and BigAl earlier in the day made his famous red cabbage .... a delightful mix of red cabbage, red wine vinegar, a tart apple, sugar and S & P ..... totally yummy!

I was in the mood for a crisp white wine for the wine and food event and  pulled out an Italian Pinot Grigio .... it did the trick with its refreshing crispness ..... 

An awesome meal of "scheinefleisch mit rotkraut" .... wine food pairing ... it's all about the food and wine.  CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Wok for Your Health!

Wine food pairing wants to know ... "have you considered 'woking' for your health"?

We were introduced to the art of cooking with a wok by our friend "Sail Boat Karl", an Austrian friend that has sailed all over the world ... what is quicker and easier to use on a sailboat than a one pan, or in this case, wok meal?

This is great for what ever you have on hand ... this particular one has zucchini, summer squash, onions, red & green pepper along with some fresh ginger, garlic and shrimpies! The seasonings are whatever we feel like that particular day ... this wok has low sodium soy sauce, Emeril's Asian, Ty Ling Five Spice, Crystal hot sauce and a touch of dry white wine.

We always use peanut oil in our wok with just a dab of sesame seed oil for flavor .... all in all, a pretty terrific quick, tasty and nutritious meal!

When you go looking to purchase your wok, it is important to choose the correct one ... do NOT get a nonstick wok ... the high heat and stirring with chopsticks always damages the coating ... that means you are eating the non-stick coating ... YUK! My personal favorite is from Joyce Chen and is the: Joyce Chen Classic 14-Inch Carbon Steel Flat Bottom 4-Piece Wok Set
It really makes a difference when you have the proper tools for the job at hand!

To get in the mood for our Asian wine and food feast I always break out the sake ... I like mine hot, but some prefer to chill it .... our fave is Gekkeikan .... sake is a fermented rice beverage and definitely has the "kick" of wine or beer so be prepared!

Now, cooking Chinese style has so healthy meals, that one of my New Years resolution was to eat more of it. I found this super Chinese recipe book online and I have gotten some terrific recipes and ideas from it ... be sure to check it out!

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Wine food pairing ... it is all about the great food and wine. CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - A Reuben to Die For!

What could be better on a balmy winter's day in Florida than to go the local watering hole for a tasty cool beer and a "killer" Reuben sandwich? Wine food pairing sometimes slips a bit into beer food pairing and let me tell you ... it works just great!

The Capri Cafe, located on beautiful Isles of Capri, Florida offers some of the best food, service and views around this tiny island jewel!

First off, when we arrive, we are always greeted by name, even Houdini! Jeb Bush signed the doggy dining bill a few years back when he was governor and the cafe goes right along! Well mannered dogs are welcome at this open air dining establishment ... he is even served his cool water right along with our beers ... lol!

My very favorite at the cafe is the gigantic Reuben sandwich that they serve on marbled rye bread. This monster makes at least 2 meals for me and is stuffed full of tender corned beef, tangy sauerkraut and delicious dressing that marries all the flavors together ... Houdini always gives it a 4 tail wag!

BigAl decided on the fried fish fillet sandwich. This is a change on the menu as their last fish sandwich was no comparison to this chicken of the sea! Once again, Houdini gave it a 4 tail wag ... we take the breading off for him so he only gets the delicious white fish ... fresh and tasty.  Houdini must watch his "studdly" figure.

It is always a lot of fun to visit this local cafe ... a time to catch up with all the local friends that wander in and out.

At the entrance of the cafe is the transom of "Island Gypsy,"a boat that has been plying the waters of Isles of Capri as well as all over the world for many years now.  Obviously, the boat has "retired"!  Hurricane Wilma sank her 3 years ago, she was raised and sold by the insurance company ... the new owner was not  loving and she sank again ... right outside the Isles of Capri Cafe ... what to do?  The Cafe owners decided that the "now abandoned" boat would be  perfect to welcome guests to this Island eatery.  

So, my friends, this is the proud ending to this loyal yacht!

The Island Gyspy .... she has seen a lot of adventures and wine food pairing in her day.  CHEERS!

Wine Food Pairing - Pompano with a MOJO Momma Kick

Wine food pairing is always looking for something just a little different than what we have done before ... after all ... how many times can you have the same old thing?

Our neighbor, Jack, gifted us some wonderful Pompano fillets from a fishing trip. As he presented them to me he proudly announced that they were swimming in the Gulf of Mexico a half an hour before. This brings a whole new meaning to "fresh" fish ... lol!

Pompano are wonderful tasting fish, firm and white, but flaky meat with a delicate taste. I always love to do something basic with these guys and then kick them up a notch!

I love to grill fish, but no matter how much oil I use, the fish fillets always seem to stick on the grill ... my answer to this problem is a nonstick fish basket, I use the Charcoal Companion CC3035 Ultimate Rectangular-Shaped Nonstick Grilling Basket
... works like a charm every time! I oiled the fish with a dab of veggie oil and then S & P ... that's it.

Now for the extra kick ! I whipped up a MOJO sauce using the juice of 2 oranges, 1 lemon, 1/2 jalapeno pepper, cilantro, fresh from my garden, 2 smooshed garlic cloves, S & P all pulsed in the blender with a drizzle of EVOO. HOLY SMOKES ... this was tasty!

After BigAl removed the fish from the grill I liberally brushed this MOJO "nectar" over the fillets and it had our taste buds tap dancing and our eyes watering! It was even great on the grilled zucchini and summer squash.

For this wine and food event I opened up a Bold Cabernet Sauvignon from Marcus James ... this Argentinian wine from the Mendoza Province hints of blackberry, strawberries and underscored tannins .... my, my,my ....

With wine food pairing, it is all about the food and wine. CHEERS!

WFP - How to Use the Vinturi Wine Aerator!

Wine food pairing is the first to bring you this silly video clip of "yours truly" attempting to instruct use of the Vinturi Wine Aerator after having just a few sips of wine first to "relax" ... OH MY!

Actually, we really like this new gizmo as it gives the wine a richer smoother finish ... or at least we think it does!

BUY one here NOW!
Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator

WFP - Wishes You a Happy New Year!

Wine Food Pairing - Goodbye '08 ... !

Wine food pairing is really in its element on New Years Eve ... after all, what's not to love about champagne and sparkling wines that tickle your nose as well as the taste buds?

While we always enjoy a good party with wine and food, this year we decided to spend the evening at home, relaxing next to the Koi pond, listening to the waterfall and Jimmy Buffett crooning his ballads in the background.

BigAl and I have discussed many times that the best restaurant is at home and I must agree that he is probably right.

We began the evening by toasting the Austrian New Year at 6:00pm Florida time with a Crane Lake Brut. This sparkling wine is light bodied with fresh lemon, lime and grapefruit notes. The perfect way to begin the evening .....
Planked salmon was on the menu for this New Years Eve ..... untreated cedar planks are terrific for a light smoking of salmon ... really brings me back to my Pacific Northwest roots. I get my planks from: Tomlinson Cedar Plank 12 Pack, 1/4 Inch x 6 Inch x 8 Inch are great to use and no hassle at all!

Be sure to soak the planks for about an hour before placing on the barbie ... you want smoke, not fire ... lol!

I oiled up the fillets and then rubbed on a bit of LuLu Buffett's Crazy Sista seasoning (Jimmy's sister) for an awesome flavor. Get the grill up to about 350 then put them on for about 15 minutes for a "medium" salmon. You NEVER want to over cook salmon and dry it out.

We were in the mood for a garlic overload so I whipped up some garlic smashed potatoes to go along with ... I always leave the skins on my taters, that's were all the vitamins are, finely chopped up a handful of garlic cloves, and clipped some fresh chives from my herb garden ... YUMMY!

Now, I had made some tzaziki the day before and we used this over the cooked salmon and even used a dollop on the potatoes. For you guys that are scratching your head about now and asking what the heck tzaziki is, I'll share my "quick and dirty" recipe ....

Tzaziki is a Greek thing .... the base is plain or Greek yogurt, grated cukes, pressed garlic, S & P along with fresh dill from the garden ... now some people use mint instead of the dill, just personal choice. This makes a great appetizer along with warm pita bread, but can be used as a sauce or condiment for many things.

Well, by the time we had everything set on the table it was time to "pop" the cork on another Crane Lake ... what a great way to send off 2008!

Wine food pairing by the pond .... Happy New Year! CHEERS!