I. The Cookbook –
Friend Denise Chang-Yen wrote from Calgary last week to say she successfully cooked the empanada recipe provided on the last post here. It’s great to hear that a recipe from Chile, formatted and photographed in France, was tested by a friend in Canada. The internet continues to connect us – as do wine and food…
The cookbook The Winemakers’ Cooking Companion is still being prepared. Recipes have been collected and formatted for consistency. Measurements have been provided in both Imperial and Metric units. All dishes are now being test cooked and photographed. I’ll keep contributors informed as progress moves forward. And yes, I will be cooking those South African recipes soon and shall include some of the stellar photographs you sent me (with attribution) on this website. In the meantime, a recipe for delicious chicken and mango curry couscous from British Columbia is included below.
Chicken and Mango Curry Couscous
From Denise Brass, Co-Owner of Camelot Vineyards, Kelowna, Okanagan Valley Wine Region, British Columbia, Canada
Preparation Time and Quantity –
Total preparation time including cooking – 40 minutes. This includes 10 minutes to grill the chicken and 3 minutes to toast almonds. Serves 3 to 4 people.
Ingredients and Amounts
Chicken breasts – 2
Couscous (cooked) – 1 cup (160 grams)
Mango – 1
Raisins – ½ cup (75 grams)
Spring onions – 3
Almonds (sliced) – handful
Curry powder – 2 teaspoons (5½ grams)
Salt – ½ teaspoon (3 grams)
Stevia* – ¼ teaspoon (2½ grams); or ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
Cumin powder – ¼ teaspoon (½ gram)
Olive oil – 3 tablespoons (45 grams)
Pepper – to taste
Lemon (large; squeezed into juice) – 1
Agave or honey – 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters)
Salt – ¼ teaspoon (1½ grams)
Curry powder – ½ teaspoon (1 gram)
*Stevia is a plant-derived sugar substitute without calories. Alternatively, ¼ teaspoon of stevia extract powder is approximately the same as a ½ cup of sugar.
- Cook couscous.
- Peel and slice mango.
- Dice spring onions.
- Heat oil in a large skillet on low to medium heat.
- Combine curry powder, stevia (or sugar), cumin, and pepper in a small bowl.
- Coat both sides of chicken breasts with this mixture.
- Grill chicken on a skillet until cooked through, turning over as necessary – about 7 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness (cut open to ensure meat is cooked before taking off heat).
- After it is cooked, cut the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Toast almonds in a separate pan (to provide them with a crunchier taste) – 2 to 3 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together – chicken, couscous, mango, spring onions, raisins, and almonds.
- Prepare dressing, then pour over other ingredients and mix.
Denise wrote –
“Sometimes I add a bit more lemon, curry powder, or cumin at the end for more flavor.”
Denise wrote –
“This is one of a few personal favorite recipes, provided by my daughter Timika Brass who now resides in Austria.”
Tom’s Comments –
This is a delicious smorgasbord of flavors. You may want to make the dressing first so that you can serve the chicken while it is still piping hot. Remember to cut the mango slices small enough so they are bite size. Serve with a white such as a Riesling, or a dry rosé.
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II. International Gypsies: Charlene’s Story –
Yesterday I visited the town of Mirambeau – midway between the cities of Bordeaux and Cognac in France – to check out the renovated 5 star hotel Château Mirambeau. I posted that article on Forbes.
On the way home I took a 15 minute detour to the town of Montendre to eat and visit the newly opened wine bar called Le Cha’bernet – which is a play on words from the name of the owner (Charlene) and the grape (Cabernet Sauvignon).
It turns out Charlene opened her wine bar only a month ago, and apparently neighbors are enthusiastic, especially during the summertime Tuesday ‘night market,’ when plenty of locals swarm around the town square buying food and wine and listening to live music.
Charlene is a sommelier who studied at La Rochelle and worked in one, two, and three Michelin star restaurants in France (including, coincidentally, at Château Mirambeau, where I had visited earlier), Switzerland and England. She also worked at a wine store in Saint Émilion.
She now sells wine from all over France, as well as non-French wines, including Argentinian Malbec, Chilean Carmenere, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and Sicilian Zibibbo (the label calls it a ‘meditation wine’ – intriguing). She runs the store alone for at least ten hours a day, and sells food as well as wine – cheeses from Limousin, Charentes, and the Pyrenees mountains, as well ham and charcuterie.
Charlene is one of many roaming nomads met in recent years who travel the world to learn their trade, then return home to use their knowledge to gain income and share their experiences with others. It is this incessant flow and tide of intelligence and experience that improves the world, opens minds, broadens cultures and keeps innovation churning. In preparing the cookbook mentioned above, I found recipes for Italian gnocchi from Tasmania, Australia; for chicken masala from Chile, and for chimichurri from Italy. The boundaries of the world are fading as new generators of innovators travel far from what is known and comfortable to seek excellence and experience. Bravo.
Well done neighbor, and good luck with business.
My other recent Forbes posts are included here.
During the past months a lovely Spanish neighbor has gifted me twice with fare from her home country: Salamanque ham and bottles of unfiltered wine made from hand-picked Prieto Picudo grapes. These grow in tight, pointed clusters in the Valdeleña vineyard of the Ribera del Cea, Spain.
Always eager to sample wines from lesser known grapes, I uncorked this puppy and sampled it with the Spanish ham, sliced tomato (fresh picked from her garden) and organic comte cheese. The wine is like a sweet Merlot on the nose, round in the mouth, and includes tastes of charcoal, smoke and jam. After months of drinking low-alcohol Bordeaux French wines—this packed a punch with 14 percent alcohol. Although I don’t agree with the label’s saying it has a ‘long charming aftertaste,’ it’s easy drinking, and grows on you with time.
Which is why I’ve just poured a second glass.
Aged 12 months in oak, this wine is decent to drink with red meat or charcuterie. It originates within the Castilla y León region of Spain (in the central to northwest portion of the country) and is produced by Bodega Melgarajo—which is basically a late-1990’s sustainable rural development program, now run by a group of 170 winegrowers. Incidentally, Wine Spectator Magazine mentioned this wine producer in the final paragraphs of a 2013 article.
While on the topic of Latin culture, I recently cooked a batch of 50 empenadas from a recipe provided by Lapostolle winery in the Colchagua Valley of Chile. This stunning multimillion dollar winery was carved out of a granite mountain and enables the production of gravity fed wines – inspired by French Bordeaux blends, but including the local Chilean Carmenere grape.
The production of these empenadas took plenty of preparation time, but were well appreciated by all who sampled them. A recent dinner gathering (thanks Jonathon and Danielle) included guests from the UK, Holland, South Africa, Germany, Canada, and the U.S. enjoyed these nibbles. My Spanish friend also sampled them (and approved) while seated outside our local Cave de La Citadelle wine bar with a glass of local French wine: a melding of two amazing food and wine cultures.
Here is the recipe.
Cheese and Mushroom Empanadas
From Wine Team and Winemaker Andrea León Iriarte at Casa Lapostolle, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Preparation Time and Quantity –
2 to 3 hours to prepare (depending on your speed with forming individual empanadas), and 30 minutes to fry. Makes 50 empanadas.
Ingredients and Amounts
Vegetable shortening – 3½ ounces (100 grams)
Salt (kosher) – 1½ teaspoons (7.5 grams)
Warm water –⅔ cup (160 milliliters)
Flour – 3 cups (300 grams); plus extra for rolling out dough
Olive oil (extra virgin) – 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters)
Onion – 1⅓ cups (200 grams) [about 1¼ medium size onions]
Button mushrooms – 12 ounces (340 grams)
Dry white wine – 3 tablespoons (45 milliliters)
Egg – 1
Cheese (Gouda) – 6 ounces (170 grams)
Vegetable oil – as needed for deep-frying
Salt and fresh black pepper – to taste
* Rather than make pastry dough, you can use good quality pastry dough purchased from a store. It’s better to make your own if you have time.
- Remove stems from mushrooms, then dice caps.
- Dice onion.
- Beat egg and add 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of water.
- Shred Gouda cheese.
- Heat water.
- Heat vegetable shortening in a small saucepan over low heat. When it begins to melt, add salt and warm water.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Put flour in a food processor. While it is running, pour half the set aside melted shortening liquid inside. Stop the processor, set to pulse, and while on pulse slowly add remaining liquid. (Alternatively, you can mix by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon.)
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead briefly for a few minutes – until smooth.
- Form dough into a disk or a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until cool.
- Heat oil in a 12-inch (25 centimeter) skillet. Add onion, then sauté on medium heat until soft.
- Add mushrooms and sauté until ingredients begin to brown. Add wine and cook until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
- Lightly flour a surface and roll dough out as thin as possible. Cut 3-inch (7.5 centimeter) diameter circles out of dough, saving scraps (which can be re-rolled, but only one time). The easiest way to do this is place a glass onto the rolled dough and twist.
- Place a small pinch of cheese on each circle and top with about ½ tablespoon (2 to 3 grams) of mushroom mixture, leaving a ½ inch (1 centimeter) border around the filling.
- Brush egg wash around edges and fold dough over to make a half-circle.
- Tightly crimp edges by folding them over or using fork tines.
- Heat vegetable oil in a 2-inch (5 centimeter) deep fryer, sauté pan, or wok. When the oil reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius), slowly drop the empanadas inside, 6 at a time.
- Cook for a few minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool before serving.
Lapostolle recommends drinking Sauvignon Blanc wine with the empanadas. Alternatively any white Bordeaux blend works.
Tom’s Comments –
These are excellent and attractive vegetarian appetizers.
It takes about 1½ hours to have the dough ready to press, and ingredients all ready. Assembling the empanadas should be an assembly line process. I put three bowls before me: shredded cheese, mushroom/onion mix, and beaten egg. After putting a pinch of cheese and a half spoon of the mushroom/onion mix dead center of each dough circle – one at at time – I folded the dough over, crimped the edges, dipped the semicircular edge in the egg mixture in a rolling motion, then finally crimped each side with the tines of a small fork.
Now another recipe, taken again from the book I am assembling: The Winemakers’ Cooking Companion. These Austrian breadsticks are another appetizer/nibble to enjoy with a glass of wine.
Salzstangerl Bread Sticks
From Ariane Umathum of Umathum Wines, Frauenkirchen, Burgenland Wine Region, Austria
Preparation Time and Quantity –
15 minutes to prepare bread stick dough, 30 minutes for the dough to rise. Another 35 minutes to knead and form bread sticks, and 20 minutes to cook. Total time—1 hour 40 minutes. Makes 64 bread sticks.
Ingredients and Amounts
Flour (fine) – 2¼ pounds (1 kilogram)
Salt – 2½ teaspoons (14 grams)
Water (lukewarm) – ¼ cup (60 milliliters)
Milk – 2 cups (½ liter, or 500 milliliters)
Yeast – 1 package
Sugar – 3 tablespoons (40 grams)
Cream – ⅘ cup (200 grams)
Salt and caraway seeds – as needed
- Pre-heat oven to 480 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celsius), or wait until after step 2, below, to do this.
- Add yeast to lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar.
- In a bowl, make dough by mixing flour, salt, milk, yeast mixture, cream and sugar. Mix with a wooden spoon, then with hands. Knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Then put in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and leave in a moderately warm place, such as near the pre-heating oven or in sunshine. Let it rest and rise for at least half an hour.
- When dough is ready, cut into 8 parts.
- Knead each of 8 dough pieces for 2 to 4 minutes each on a floured surface such as a table. Then then cut each of the kneaded lumps, one at a time, into 8 more parts.
- To knead this dough, roll each of the lumps between your hands to make 6 to 10 inch (15 to 25 centimeter long bread sticks.
- Take each bread stick and roll it in a plate in which olive oil has been placed, then roll this oiled bread stick in another plate where salt and caraway seeds have been sprinkled. With practice, it will take about 30 seconds to coat each bread stick this way.
- Put some olive oil on a baking tray and place bread sticks on the tray. Reduce oven heat to 390 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
- Bake bread sticks for between 15 and 20 minutes.
Ariane writes –
“To give you a typical Austrian recipe, I chose salzstangerl. They fit wonderfully with wine and are so easy to prepare. In Burgenland they are often served at wine tastings.”
Tom’s Comments –
These salty delights will keep you reaching for more, and will make you thirsty enough to reach for more wine. You can choose how long or how thick you want the sticks, though ¼ to ½ inch (⅔ to 1¼ centimeters) thick works well. The use of two plates with olive oil and with the combined salt/caraway seed mix is my idea—just to provide assembly-line efficiency to the process. The alternative is to sprinkle the sticks on the baking sheet, but unless they are oiled, the seeds will not stick.
This recipe provides plenty of breadsticks, so you can halve the recipe if you want. However, even if you halve the recipe, you will need two baking sheets.
These sticks go well with red or white wines, preferably dry rather than sweet.
Finally, my latest Forbes posts are here, including a tribute to winemaker Denis Dubourdieu, and a piece on how Romans enjoyed luxury in western France.
Every two weeks I email out a notice about my wine blog – Vino Voices. This goes to a list of friends and wine lovers which grows slowly over years.
I also write short online articles for Forbes. My readership of those posts is greater than those who read this blog. Yet I decided to continue writing this independent blog – separate from Forbes.
Why? Because you followers have read me through the years. I want to provide you with fresh material that is informative and useful. Although this takes time, it’s satisfying. I appreciate your readership. Bottom line: thanks for following this blog through the years.
This week: Langhe and Napa…
Piemonte, or Piedmont in English, means “foot of the mountain” when translated from Italian. It is the second largest of 20 separate regions that make up the country of Italy. This parcel of land with close to 5 million people sits in the northwest of the country – inland from the Mediterranean and south of the Italian Alps.
The Piemonte region is further subdivided into 8 provinces. One in the southwest corner is named Cuneo. Within Cuneo is a region known as Langhe. This, translated, means “the tongue,” perhaps a reference to a spit of geological outpouring, a wash of ancient soils.
In 2014 a total of five regions, including much of the vineyards of the Langhe-Monferrato region, were designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. This increased the number of such sites within Italy to 50 – a greater number than for any other country.
The Langhe is home to famed wines produced from the Nebbiolo grape – Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as from another red grape – Barbera, and the sweet bubbling Moscato d’Asti made from the white Moscato grape.
This land bubbles with hills, each dotted with ancient castles. The region has a reputation for astounding food: hazelnuts grow close to vines, wild boars that provide cinghiale meat roam hillsides, and cheeses and breads here are outlandishly tasty.
Within the Langhe different towns sit on their own hilltops. These include locales we visited: Barolo, La Morra, and Montforte d’Alba.
Last week I visited with friends. While driving, one asked me to compare the Langhe region to the Napa wine region in California in the U.S. I am no great fan of Napa, thinking their wines generally overpriced and overoaked. However I do consider Napa an attractive location. Considering its reputation in the world, I deliberated the question and found some general comparisons.
There’s a sizable difference in size between these two regions. The Langhe includes some 3,300+ acres under vine, whereas Napa has some 45,000+ acres under vine.
Just as Napa is one American Viticultural Area (AVA) with 16 sub-AVAs, the Langhe includes its own divisions – but these are more complex, and accord to grape types produced as well as the quality of resultant wines (the governmental designation of the highest quality wines – DOCG, or Denomanazione di Controllata et Garantita – is applied generously, and deservedly, to the Langhe). Both Napa and the Langhe are vine lands interposed with what were once villages with smaller populations – Oakville and Yountville in Napa, for example, and La Morra and Barolo in the Langhe. But whereas Napa is generally a linear, broad bottomed valley accessed via two semi-parallel roads, the Langhe is topographically more complex – with multiple hills circled by swirling valleys accessed via dipping, switchbacked roads.
Villages in Napa and the Langhe were traditionally farming communities, bonded to neighbors through trade. But to protect themselves from sword wielding invaders, each castled hilltop in the Langhe retained agricultural independence in case of attack or siege.
Both locales include hot, hilly terrain influenced by cool maritime influences – the Pacific Ocean to the west of Napa, and the Mediterranean south of the Langhe. Both have soils that were once ocean floors – lifted to dry land some 150 million years ago in Napa, and 30 million years ago in the Langhe. Whereas Napa is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, the Langhe has its famed Nebbiolo grape – both of which produce tannic bold wines that command stiff prices due to limited production and cachet.
The food is legendary in both places. In Napa the tradition evolved more recently when increased wealth provided visitors who could pay steeper prices, luring in Michelin quality chefs. The Langhe has a longer and more traditional culinary history filled with natural bounty – truffles, rich cheeses, hazelnuts and soft breads beyond description.
Our time there was scant. The only tasting of Barolo we had time to enjoy was at 10.30 am. I happily obliged, as did my colleagues (except the driver) and none of us spit out what we drank. When in a gold mine, enjoy the gold, as we did by swirling and comparing the Barolos we liked best. The surprise – and it was large – was the cost, which appears to have diminished since I last visited almost a decade ago: now 21 to 35 Euros buys a bottle of extremely decent wine, a bargain from a collective group of producers based out of locales such as La Morra (which produces one third of all Barolo wines).
I first visited Barolo eight years ago and was given a vertical tasting of some amazing wines by a local winemaker. Since then I’ve had an affinity for this land. Do I have a preference between Napa and the Langhe? Good question. In order to decide, perhaps it would be best to visit both locales again to drink wines and eat local foods. Twist my arm.
Welcome to Summertime…
July 4th kicked off mid-summer in the US, while Bastille Day – July 14th – will soon do the same here in France.
First – my other wine/food blog posts for ForbesLife can be accessed by clicking here.
Second – last week I visited, with friends Les Kellen and Clarissa Schaefer, the cities of Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer, and Monte Carlo along the French Riviera for the eye-opening art exhibit of neighbor, friend, and artist Thierry Bisch. Thierry was commissioned by Prince Albert II of Monaco to paint 20 images of endangered wildlife from throughout the world. The Prince’s Foundation invited us to Monte Carlo to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of its efforts, during which it has funded 370 projects throughout the world (including Solar Impulse and actions to help save the Mediterranean Blue Fin Tuna).
While on the riviera, friends and I tasted several wonderful Provencal rosé wines.
After returning home to Bordeaux, I compared four local rosés against those from the Côtes d’Azur. Together with wine aficionado, wine judge, restaurateur, wine store owner, vineyard proprietor and entrepreneur Les Kellen – we sat in the sun on this 4th of July Monday and uncorked lunchtime bottles before plates of smoked trout, smoked tuna, oysters from the Bay of Arachon and chunks of bread ripped apart from a baguette.
Two of the rosé wines were exclusively Malbec, and all wines included 13% alcohol.
Here’s the scoop:
2014 Château La Rose Bellevue (75% Merlot, 25% Cab Sauv, 5% Cab Franc)
This wine from 20-year-old vines provides easy summertime drinking, and has more fruit and flowers than minerals. The acidity pairs well with smoked tuna and seafood. Relax and enjoy this – poolside if possible – on a July or August afternoon, or while having pre-dinner drinks with great friends, excellent food, and casual conversation. This balanced and polished wine comes from a producer consistent with quality.
Don’t laugh, but there’s a surprising and beautiful taste of crunchy buttered toast here with a hint of citrus. The wine is zesty, tense and well crafted. It’s not as seductive or seaside mellow as a Provencal rosé because it’s fiery. Forget about lazy afternoon drinking with this puppy: pop the cork when you’re revving up for action like a power evening after Bastille Day celebrations.
This is from east of Bordeaux – in the country of Cahors with typically chalky, tannic wines. “From Cahors, but in the style of a claret,” Les said after tasting this dark pink rosé. The wine has decent, balanced acidity – just right for knocking back while eating a plate of fresh oysters. This is beefier than Bordeaux rosés, but has a smooth and longer than expected finish. Beware ladies – there’s attractive wildness to this elixir you may find compelling.
Full in the mouth, this rosé includes doses of citrus that provide balanced acidity. “In the style of Provence,” Les declared, while swirling a glass above a plate of seafood. This well-balanced beauty is also well priced. Within my Bordeaux hometown, it has become a reliable staple.
Comparing Bordeaux and Cahors rosés to those from Provence – here are conclusions:
These summer wines may lack precision and finesse of Provencal rosés: their acidity is more dominant and the fruits jumpier. But for price versus quality, the value is excellent (they also match well with seafood).
La Rose Bellevue and de la Grave are classic rosés, well-balanced with slightly tart (de la Grave has punchier fruit, while Bellevue has a cleaner taste of citrus).
Matching Provence against Bordeaux and Cahors rosés is like comparing a Vermeer painting to a Jackson Pollock, or a gothic flying buttress to a Romanesque vaulted arch, or the temperate Mediterranean climate to more moody Atlantic afternoons. The terroir – where wine reflects location – differs.
How the grapes of Provence grow and acquire eventual taste depends less on topography (mountains and valleys) than on climate – which is steadier in the Mediterranean. Similarly, grapes in flatland Bordeaux are jolted by jabs and spikes of temperature – hazy mornings followed by full throttle sunny afternoons. After tasting multiple bottles of rosé and taking a jaunt across France I learned that – regarding the fingerprint of terroir (and how these wines consequently taste) climate trumps topography.
Again, my latest posts on ForbeLife are here.
For years I’ve written a blog tangentially related to wine with ramblings, explorations, tastings, and books read. This came out occasionally at first, then every two weeks. After I created an online publishing company (Roundwood Press) and started another blog, weekly posts alternated between the two.
I wrote and photographed and never understood the magic is of attracting readers to a blog. Comments were few (thanks, however, to sister Patricia), book sales negligible, and subscriptions often just not happening.
It’s been a labor of love, though it consumes time. I read each post dozens of times to iron out the flow of words, scrutinize sentences to make sure each has its place, and check that context makes sense.
As years rolled I wondered – shall I continue? Other bloggers bragged about having 10,000 subscribers within a year. What? I’d be delighted to have a few percent of that number.
A year ago an opportunity arrived to contribute to ForbesLife – an online lifestyle publication. I said – could you wait until I return from Pakistan to earn some funds? They said – sure.
So I went.
After seven rewarding and productive months with some wonderful people in Pakistan, it was time to move on. So is the way of life. I bid farewell, returned home to France, and told Forbes – I’m in.
Here’s the deal.
I’ll continue writing Vino Voices blog posts, though they will likely be shorter, and include links to pieces on Forbes (which will relate to wine, travel, food, and lifestyle).
The benefits include access to gazillions of images and videos, enjoying increased readership, and having similar latitude to choose which posts to write – each about the same length as what I have been writing.
My latest posts published on ForbesLife (two this week and one last week) are the following. I do hope you click and check them out.
- Bordeaux Winemaker Artist Teams With Prince Of Monaco To Save Wildlife
- How To Visit A Wine Bar In Saint Émilion
- Bordeaux Wine Festival Launches Soon
An ally of my sister (who, through his popular finance blog, was able to increase traffic to my own Roundwood Press site) named Jim Collins just published his own online book titled: The Simple Path To Wealth: Your Road Map To Financial Independence And A Rich, Free Life. (Cover illustration by sister Trisha Ray.)
Check it out. The basic philosophy is: save more than you spend, invest wisely, and enjoy life. It works for him; there’s no reason why the method can’t work for you.
The longest day of the year was June 21st.
In 1982, the French Director of Music and Dance, Maurice Fleuret, wanted to get more people involved with music, so created an event in Paris called La Fête de la Musique. It has since spread to each town in France. Music is played in the evening, paid for by cities and towns, and people listen for free.
The little city of Blaye where I live has some 5,000 residents. Yet even here there were seven separate stages set up around the city where some 25 sets of musicians will play tunes while folks of all ages come outside and enjoy life.
THAT was a celebration of life, community, and art. And the wines did flow…It was a remember that life is brief, cooperation and community are paramount, and making time for gatherings is important.
La Cite du Vin is Bordeaux’s new Wine Disneyland. For the past eight years Bordeaux’s mayor (and aspiring presidential candidate) Alain Juppé has been pushing to clean up the city, improve traffic flow, and turn Bordeaux into an international destination. He is succeeding, and this new City of Wine is like a museum that’s fun – with movies, music, and interactive facilities designed to help people learn about and appreciate wine, not only in Bordeaux and France, but throughout the world.
Here are some photos. I recommend you visit this locale, and perhaps our beautiful Bordeaux city someday. The wine bar and restaurant are well worth visiting and there are beautiful views from where they are on the 7th and 8th floors.
Winemaker recipe book – the final recipes are still coming in. I’ll keep you informed.
Thanks for tuning in these past years to read. I hope you continue…
The last time I wrote about Turkey was five years ago in a piece titled Turkish Wine. Many of us were privileged guests of a high school friend – Ferit Sahenk – who hosted more than a hundred of us for an unforgettable week in Istanbul and Bodrum.
It’s time to mention Turkish wine again – as well as zesty Turkish food.
In response to my request for a recipe for the upcoming book The Winemakers’ Cooking Companion, Nurcan Bariş – of Urla Wines on the Karaburun Peninsula of Turkey – wrote the following:
Sorry for my late answer and thank you for your great offer.
I presented your email to the Vice-Chairman of the Urla Winery, Mr. Bület Akgerman, and he prepared this delicious recipe for you. He loves cooking and also is Bailliage Regional d’Izmir/Chaine des Rotisseurs.
Turns out the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is a gastronomic organization located in 80 countries, but rooted in the Middle Ages. In the year 1248, King Louis IX of France ordered professional guilds be established to train apprentices and tradesman. One guild was for ayeurs – goose roasters. This evolved to include those who prepared meats and other game. Members called themselves rôtisseurs, created a code of arms, and took savvy pride as edgy developers of kitchen arts, wielding mastery over the transformation of raw meats into stylin’ meals. This tradition lasted four centuries.
In 1793 the French Revolution brought with it the guillotine, and the end of the guild system. Yet a pair of history-loving gastronomes resurrected this in 1950. Membership of the Chaîne today involves encouraging people to love and appreciate food, wine, and the bliss of life – wherever they live. Sounds like a dinner party. That message, and the organization, have spread wings around the globe.
No wonder Turks are all over it – their cuisine developed under the varied influences of the Hittites, Greeks, Persians, Romans, and the Ottoman empire. They have to stay open-minded about cooking techniques because history constantly alters and enhances their cuisine.
I cooked this recipe days ago (along with the cheesy pastry balls shown in my last blog), then cracked open a bottle of Château Tayac Bordeaux bubbly to see how the meal fared. Not bad. The coco, lemon, and curry light up taste buds. The key to enriching flavors is to saturate all spices and stock over low heat for hours.
The next day I served it to a French woman. THAT is a rapid, surefire way to test your cooking. She ate without wincing, devoured a second helping, and only asked whatever happened to the accompanying rice – which I had forgotten to prepare. No harm. The dish was still a tasty hit. Begin cooking hours ahead of meal time, then settle down with a glass or two of wine during the two and a half hour slow cooking window frame.
From Bülent Ackgerman, Vice Chairman of Urla Winery, Izmir, Turkey
Preparation Time and Quantity –
35 minutes to prepare, 2½ hours to cook. Serves 4 people.
Ingredients and Amounts
Canned coconut milk – 14 fluid ounces (400 milliliters)
Green chilies – 5
Red chilies (dried) – 2
Cinnamon stick – ½
Fresh ginger (grated) – 2 teaspoons (3½ grams)
Garlic cloves – 2
Fresh curry leaf stalks (optional) – 4
Turmeric (ground) – 1 teaspoon (2½ grams)
Chili powder – ⅓ teaspoon (⅔ grams)
Curry powder – 1 teaspoon (2⅔ grams)
Tomatoes – 2
Fish or chicken stock – 9 fluid ounces (250 milliliters)
Snapper fillets – 1¾ pounds (800 grams)
Spring onions – 2
Juice from 2 limes
- Seed and chop green and red chilies.
- Finely chop garlic cloves.
- Seed, then finely chop tomatoes.
- Grate ginger.
- Diagonally slice green onions.
- Cube snapper fillets.
- Put coconut milk, green and red chilies, cinnamon stick, ginger, garlic, curry leaves (if using), turmeric, chili powder, curry powder, tomato chunks, onions, lime juice, and stock in a slow cooker, or heavy dish such as a Dutch oven.
- Cook on low heat in slow cooker for 2 hours, or until flavors have developed. (Or cook at 220 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) in a regular oven in a heavy dish/Dutch oven.)
- Add fish and cook for another 30 minutes, or until fish is cooked through and flakes when tested with a fork.
Serve with rice, and garnish with the remaining spring onion. For wine, try a crisp, chilled white (ideally a Turkish wine made with the grapes Narince and Emir).
I made this during a weekend in France when all stores were closed. Substitution turned pivotal. I substituted bell peppers for chili peppers, then added chili powder for spice. I used lemons instead of limes, sliced a regular onion rather than spring onions, and chopped cod instead of snapper.
It all worked. No harm being a little creative.
What’s Next –
Today we visited the sparkling new, visually impressive, La Cité de Vin (‘City of Wine’) in Bordeaux city, with its high tech sensory and visual exhibits – all intended to teach about wine. We watched some animation, drank a few glasses, and peeked at the city from the impressive restaurant on high. Wow!
Will inform you about it soon.
I recently left an overseas job early. Turns out to have been a wise choice – the situation was turning unscrupulous.
Next, I flew back to my (relatively) new home in France – and to friends – to readjust, reacquaint with honest allies, and re-plot the Trajectory of Life.
Looking out the airline window before landing near agricultural fields surrounding Bordeaux, the weather looked optimal.
Within days of landing I had the fortune to attend, for the second year, Les Printemps des Vins de Blaye – The Winemakers’ Springtime in Blaye – within the local Citadelle fortress.
For 8 Euros you get glass, map, list of booth locations of 80 winemakers, and free access to sample all the wines you like from the Côtes de Blaye – Bordeaux wine region.
A little Bubbly helped start the day…
Next – the wines.
Many of the ‘usual suspects’ were there…
In between tastes, there was ample room to step outside for fresh air and a beautiful skyline…
Below is my value wine scoring for a few selected Blaye wines – created using the Vino Value algorithm.*
The more musical notes (♫), the better the overall value.
Even if you live far away and will not purchase these wines, there are other benefits to inspecting these value scores:
- Check out the prices. This is Bordeaux. Yet many wines costs between 5 and 10 Euros ($6 and $11) per bottle. Who on earth led you to believe that most Bordeaux wines are expensive? Not true. These are some amazing values here, as there are in most wine regions on the planet, if you take time to look.
- The ‘internal engine’ of the algorithm is hidden – for each wine I provide subjective scores based on taste, then mathematically combine these with prices to generate overall value scores. Looking at these scores shows that often wine values have no necessary correlation with price. There are ample good wines out there at a reasonable cost, and many duds which are too expensive. This makes searching for good value an adventure – let your taste guide you, not the reviews of others.
- Often (not always) winemakers have three or four wines in a series, and their ‘Top Cuvée’ may cost 30 to 100 percent higher than their ‘Second Best’ (because of the added cost of purchasing new oak barrels, and the required additional storage for longer aging). Yet often the taste of the most expensive wine is only slightly better than that on the second tier. Meaning? Often purchasing a bottle ranked second best is of better value than buying number 1.
|Vino Value™ Scoring of Selected Wines – Printemps des Vignerons de Blaye 2016|
|Winery||Wine||Retail Price – Euros||Retail Price – US dollars equivalent||Value Score|
|Château Siffle Merle||AOC Crémant de Bordeaux Blanc Brut||€ 9.00||$10.08||Good Value ♫|
|Vignobles Bourdillas||2009 Chateau Jussas||€ 5.50||$6.16||Excellent Value ♫♫|
|Vignobles Bourdillas||2012 Chateau Jussas||€ 5.40||$6.05||Excellent Value ♫♫|
|Vignobles Bourdillas||2015 La Rose des 4 Freres (Rosé)||€ 5.10||$5.71||Superlative Value ♫♫♫|
|Château Les Jonqueyres||2014 if des Jonqueres (Vin Biologique)||€ 8.00||$8.96||Superlative Value ♫♫♫|
|Vignobles Bayle-Carreau||2012 Chateau Pardaillan||€ 7.10||$7.95||Excellent Value ♫♫|
|Château Nodot||2014 Cuvee Tradition||€ 8.50||$9.52||Good Value ♫|
|Château Nodot||2010 Cuvee Prestige||€ 11.00||$12.32||Good Value ♫|
|Château Bel-Air La Royere||2012 Grand Vin||€ 22.00||$24.64||Good Value ♫|
|Château Bellevue Gazin||2005 Les Baronnets||€ 7.50||$8.40||Excellent Value ♫♫|
|Château Bellevue Gazin||2005 Premieres Côtes de Blaye||€ 13.00||$14.56||Good Value ♫|
|Château La Rose Bellevue||2014 Le Secret||€ 18.50||$20.72||Superlative Value ♫♫♫|
|Château Les Bertrands||2010 Nectar des Bertrands||€ 16.00||$17.92||Good Value ♫|
|Château La Cassagne Boutet||2015 – Les Puts (Rosé)||€ 5.00||$5.60||Excellent Value ♫♫|
|Château La Cassagne Boutet||2012 – Les Angeles||€ 20.00||$22.40||Good Value ♫|
|Château Lagarde||2014 Rouge Excellence||€ 10.00||$11.20||Good Value ♫|
|Château Canteloupe||2014 Eleve en Futs de Chene||€ 8.00||$8.96||Excellent Value ♫♫|
|Château Des Tourtes||2015 Cuvee Classique (Blanc)||€ 5.30||$5.94||Excellent Value ♫♫|
|Château Les Margagnis||2011 Grand Vin||€ 6.50||$7.28||Good Value ♫|
|Château Les Margagnis||2012 Grand Vin||€ 6.00||$6.72||Excellent Value ♫♫|
|Château Petit Arnauds||Grande Reserve 2012||€ 7.50||$8.40||Excellent Value ♫♫|
|Château L’Esperance||2015 Bordeaux (Rosé)||€ 7.00||$7.84||Good Value ♫|
|Château L’Esperance||2010 Cuvée Trois Freres||€ 15.00||$16.80||Superlative Value ♫♫♫|
* For more information on this proprietary wine value scoring algorithm, click here.
Weeks after Les Printemps we attended Portes Ouvertes – Open Doors – in the neighboring wine appellation of Côtes de Bourg – during which dozens of winemakers over several square kilometers opened doors to thirsty visitors. Tasting was free. This time I simply sipped and enjoyed, rather than take notes or rank wines. The only reason I mention this is a photograph taken many years ago (see second photo, below) shows how Bourg was once differentiated as being for lovers, whereas now love is apparently out – and spiciness in the wine is in.
Ah, a region of Love –
Finally – A Recipe
More than 100 winemakers (or winery owner) from more than 17 countries contributed recipes to my forthcoming book The Winemakers’ Cooking Companion.
These include such classics as –
Paella-risotto-chateaubriand-lamb rump-chocolate cake-mushroom omelette-seafood extravaganzas-lasagna-pot pies-candied figs-salads-veal schnitzels-focaccia-ceviche-baked yogurt-sashimi-foie gras-wild game (kangaroo, boar, guinea fowl)-apple tart-salmon mousse-wine flavored ice cream-glazed pork belly-rib eye steaks-balsamic asparagus-fondue-Chardonnay chicken-fresh pasta.
Thanks to all of you. Your generosity and inventiveness are greatly appreciated.
Below is a recipe contribution from a winemaker and winery owner Anne-Marye Piguet-Chouet (and her grandmother Michèle). Anne-Marye and her husband run Piguet-Chouet & Leurs Fils Vignerons. This is classic recipe from Burgundy, France.
Gougères are round, cheesy, puff pastry aperitifs.
I took some photos years ago while visiting Burgundy. My friend Robin and I took a cooking class at The Cook’s Atelier in the city of Beaune, where we also made gougères.
‘Les Gougères Bourguignonnes’ – Burgundian Cheese Pastries
From Anne-Marye Piguet-Chouet (and Grandmother Michèle)
of Piguet-Chouet & Leurs Fils Vignerons,
Preparation Time and Quantity –
25 minutes to prepare, 25 minutes to cook. Serves 6 people.
Ingredients and Amounts
Water – 1 cup (250 milliliters)
Butter – ½ cup, or 4½ ounces (125 grams)
Flour – 2½ cups (250 grams)
Eggs – 5
Salt – ⅘ teaspoon (5 grams)
Comté cheese* – 1½ cups , or 5¼ ounces (150 grams)
Nutmeg, cayenne pepper, – to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 320 to 340 degrees Fahrenheit (160 to 170 degrees Celsius).
- Grate cheese.
- In a saucepan, place water, salt, spices, and butter and bring to medium heat.
- Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low.
- Add flour and stir vigorously (using a wooden spoon).
- Keep over very low heat for 4 to 5 minutes until paste dries enough so that dough no longer sticks to walls of saucepan. Do not let dough dry out completely.
- Let cool, then add eggs one by one, adding grated cheese between each egg. Stir until the mass becomes one smooth paste.
- Make dough balls with spoons (or squeeze dough through a pastry bag). Space these balls on a baking sheet. Cook in pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the dough inflates and is brown.
Above all – DO NOT OPEN oven while they are cooking!
Serve hot, preferably, with champagne or a white Burgundy wine.
Anne-Marye writes –
“Enjoy your meal! This Gougères recipe is a specialty of Burgundy.”