The End of an Era on Ballard Ave

Portalis Wines_Julie&Jens_800The news is out! The For Lease sign is up! Portalis Wines is nearing the end of our 10-year lease in this spot (12 years on the street!), and we’ve decided it’s the end of an era for us on Ballard Ave. What a run! When we first opened in 2003 (up the street at 5310 Ballard Ave) Ballard Bookcase was across the street next to Ernie’s motorcycle & metalworks shop (now Bastille). Ernie had “The Pisser” in the window, a life-size metal figure of a man ready for you to hook up your hose so he could water your lawn as he did his business! Anyone remember? The Wilson Ford building was next to us, empty and dilapidated. Madame K’s was still on the block. Ballard Hardware was in its original location, and we could go on!

As part-owners in the building, this is a good move for us. For you, it will be good because we promise to find a new location with improved parking! The only change (and it’s a big one) is that our new venue will only have a wine shop, no wine bar. J. Strecker Selections (our wine import company) has taken off, demanding much more of our time. We are looking forward to this change, but in the meantime, it’s been a great ride with the wine bar, and it’s time to celebrate:

It’s time to celebrate a great run! It’s time to celebrate the development of this great street & neighborhood. And it’s time to celebrate the people (employees, winemakers, cheesemongers, chocolatiers, artists & patrons) who helped create such a great wine venue through the years. Here’s to:

(the best photos from our archives; sadly we are missing many from the early years)
End of an Era_Guests_011814
Row 1: Jeff Porter|Stone Brewing (CA), Matt Gubitosa|ANIMALE (WA), Massimo Gonzi|Nottola (Tuscany), Tenuta Vitanza (Tuscany)
Row 2: Tony Dollar|Lobo Hills (WA), Michael Glauser|Jumi (cheese) Imports (Switzerland), Tom Stocks|Taylor Shellfish & Ines Giovanett|Castelfeder (Alto Adige), Ernie Loosen|Dr. Loosen (Germany)
Row 3: William Woodruff|Chloe Wines (Seattle importer), Peter Devison|Efeste (WA), Fernando Rojo|Bodegas Rauda (Spain), David Oldham|Andrew Will (WA)
Row 4: Teresa Slechta|Vinum Imports (Seattle), Daniele Pelassa (Piedmont), Mark Ryan (WA), Sophia Berquist|Quinta de la Rosa (Portugal)
Row 5: Jamie Brown|Waters (WA), Madame Schoenheitz|Schoenheitz (Alsace), Neil Ellis (South Africa), Mark Davidson|Wine Australia
Row 6: Janet Shimada|Cadeaux Chocolates (Seattle), Alberto Anoz|Zuazo Gaston (Rioja), Luke Bradford|Cor Cellars (WA), Brandee & Brian Grasso |Structure Cellars (WA)
Row 7: Emiliano Morando|Vinchio+Vaglio Serra (Piedmont), Linn Scott|Sparkman Cellars (WA), Francois Blachon (France), Brian Patterson|San Francisco Wine Exchange
Row 8: Eleni Papadakis|Domaine Serene (OR), Marc Picon|Pares Balta (Spain), Trey Busch|Sleight of Hand Cellars (WA), Penny Murray|Planeta (Sicily)

THE FOODHail to Chef Tracey>
End of an Era_Wines_Food_102714

THE WINES (some of our favorites through the years)
End of an Era_Wines_102714

End of an Era_Art_102414

THE TEAM (truly a great group through the years!)
End of an Era_Staff_102014_nice ross_v2
Row 1: Dennis, Sky, Stacey|Erin, Johnny
Row 2: Lisa|Kimber, Gina, Joel, Brandi
Row 3: Katie, Julie|Jens, Amanda
Row 4: Jim, Tracey, Sky|Donovan, Pavel
Row 5: Brian, Karli, Matt, Travis
Row 6: JJ, Mark, RhiAnnon, Gavin
Row 7: Logan, Evann, Daniel, Debi
Row 8: Corinne, Ross, Craig

We look forward to seeing you at 5205 Ballard Ave through the end of the year!

Cheers to Ballard & cheers to wine!
Julie & Jens, Owners
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

October 28, 2014 at 2:32 am Leave a comment

Spanish Wine Pilgrimage

BLOG_Jaci's Wine Tour of Spain_081014_stars
Summer is in its peak.  It is a time of harvest, growth and a bit of spiritual retreat.  We give salutations to Spain with this pilgrimage through our Spanish selections in honor of our many friends that live in Spain and walked the El Camino de Santiago:
BLOG_Jaci's Wine Tour of Spain_081014_map_v2
The El Camino de Santiago or the St. James Trail travels through the northern border Pyrenees mountain range between France and Spain. Travelers walk this path for personal and spiritual growth.  Imagine if you were on that journey.  You finish your day at St. James in Santiago in the most North Western coastal corner of Spain and begin your journey through the wine regions of Spain.  The journey begins in the northwest coastal areas of Spain across the northeast coastal then down to the center of Spain in La Mancha.

From Santiago, you will travel to Rias Baixas.  The calmest coastal area on the Atlantic coast, it is one of the exclusive areas to harvest sea life.  It is also known for refreshing Albariño and with rich pine and eucalyptus landscapes. The lush maritime area of the North West Spain is where the sea rules cuisine and industry.  Our producer, Bodegas as Laxas has been producing  Albariño since 1975.  A refreshing wine, with a glyceric finish, it lingers on the palate with exacting acidity. Pairing with this would be a hearty ceviche halibut salad tossed with fresh pimentos, oranges and crisp jicama.

Town Hall in the village of Valderas (Castilla y León) where Bodegas Casto Pequeño is located

Town Hall in the village of Valderas (Castilla y León) where Bodegas Casto Pequeño is located

Though as hard as it may be to extract oneself from the coastal winds and scents, we continue to move forward to dive deep into the heart of Spain to find red varietals.  On to the plateaus of the Iberian Peninsula, we travel to Castilla y León.  Nestled together and surrounded by Cantabrian mountains to the north, Zamora mountains to the south, and Sistma Iberico mountains to the south east, the Meseta plateau is at a higher elevation providing hotter days and cool evenings.  These landscapes protect the vineyards from the coastal influences we just experienced in Rias Baixas.  Here, the Duoro River begins and travels east through Portugal to the Atlantic Ocean.

Casto Pequeno_Bodega_web
Bodega Casto Pequeño cultivates its Tempranillo here in these dynamic conditions.  With vineyards in Castilla y Leon, Rueda and Toro, Bodega Casto Pequeño produces complex wines, with suppleness and structure and rich cherry and strawberry driven wines.  Classic regional pairings would be Judias del Barco con chorizo (sausage and bean soup), Morcilla de León (blood sausage) and Cangrejos de río con tomate (Crabs Rio in tomato).
Castilla y Leon_traditional food_Judias del Barco con chorizo

Due east in the area of Spain in the in Ribera del Duero region, Bodegas Rauda  produces Tempranillo in a more refined modern fashion with ample fruit and elegance.  Pairings with these wines would be similar however preferred favorites are braised hen with saffron and tomato or Manchego cheese with roasted peppers and mushrooms!

Burgos hosts Ribera del Duero's annual “Fiesta de la Vendimia” or Harvest Festival

Burgos hosts Ribera del Duero’s annual “Fiesta de la Vendimia” or Harvest Festival

Crossing over plateaus to the Ebro River, we will head due east to the Navarra and Rioja regions directly under the Cantabrian Mountains.  The transition from the dry plateau climate with Atlantic coastal influence to the continental plateau climate with mountain winds highlights the varietals distinctness and shows how they thrive in different environments. It is here that a stronger prominence of other varietals are grown, such as Garnacha, as well as a stronger use of French varietals (including Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) in conjunction with the traditional Tempranillo.

Joaquín Lozano & his father who together run Bodega Marqués de Montecierzo

Joaquín Lozano & his father who together run Bodega Marqués de Montecierzo

Navarra is nestled north east of Rioja, and is part of the Way to St. James if one walks through the vineyards of Valdizarbe.  It is a historic area, more noted for tradition than wine, and secretly one of my favorite regions in Spain.  Marques de Montecierzo is rich in culture almost as much as the pilgrimage to St James.  Limestone clay soils and tunnels underneath an ancient mill house, the family cultivates the vineyard in sustainable practices.

plaza oyon
Rioja, southwest of Navarra, has grown dramatically in popularity.  Driven primarily by Tempranillo and Garnacha, the French influence is still strong with notes of French oak rather than American oak.  Our friends at Zuazo Gaston are located near the village of Oyón (pictured above), and they highly recommend the nearby town of Logroño for local cuisine. Alberto Anoz, our contact at Zuazo Gaston says that a typical local menu would be: “Menestra de Verduras” (vegetable stew) or “Patatas a la Riojana” (potatoes with Spanish sausage) with “Chuletillas al Sarmiento”  (baby lamb chops grilled with vine branches, pictured below). He recommends the following local restaurants: En Ascuas (where they make very nice grilled meats, including Chuletillas al Sarmiento) & Cachetero.

He also suggests visiting the “Calle del Laurel”, a local street in Logrono with plenty of small bars and excellent tapas.

Traveling to the north eastern part of Spain, sitting on the Mediterranean coast is the Catalonia region (pictured below). Here we enter Spain’s most cultivated and modernized wine region, but even with growth and investment, they cherish their traditions and have stayed close to their roots.
Maset_penedes in June_FB1
Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine, hails from this area and is produced with the varietals Macabeo, Parellada, Xarello, methode tradionale.  The bubbles are sassy and vivacious with lush textures on the palette. Bodegas Maset has taken great care in executing an elegant and voluptuous Cava.  They are also known for their production of exciting reds with varietals such as Cariñena and Garnache.  Pairings for Catalan regions are influenced with Mediterranean coast (olive oils, vegetables, legume, pastas), lamb, cheese, anchovy, tuna and cod.
BLOG_Catalonia cuisine
For a special local dish, our friends at Bodegas Maset recommend Pollo asado con chalotas, ciruelas y piñones (roast chicken with shallots, prunes and pine nuts). Their dear friends Sandra & Xavi (who live in Barcelona less than an hour due east of the winery) write a cooking blog, Els fogons de la Bordeta, where you can find this recipe!

Castillo de Almonacid in Castilla-La Mancha

Castillo de Almonacid in Castilla-La Mancha

Into the heat and depths of Spain, we find La Mancha. Low density and difficult living conditions due to the arid temperatures, however wind mills and agriculture thrive.  This intensity produces some thrilling Tempranillo and Syrah.  Bodegas y Vinedos Tavera blends their Cendal with a touch of Syrah which is able to withstand the hot days and chilly nights.  In Valdepeñas and Tierra de Castillo, the Bodegas Juan Ramirez family stands firm with tradition and makes their wines with 100% Tempranillo (vineyards pictured below).  Pairings in this region would be Cocido Madrileño (meats, sausage and garbanzo beans), garlic soup and pisto (vegetables of squash, tomato and peppers).

Time restricts our travels but journeys never have to end, Spain can be limitless.  Hearty in its wine, food, tradition and culture, each region is represented through and noted through its specific nuances from its agriculture, culture and growth throughout the centuries. Spain is an exploration of the senses and a heartwarming reminder that tradition is a foundation not a decal.  A pilgrimage for the spirit as is many times found through sharing with good friends at the table from a vineyard and the land.

Jaci Kajfas
Guest Wine Writer, Sommelier & Dining Room Manager at Volterra in the historic neighborhood of Ballard in Seattle, WA

Interested in taking a wine tour of Spain? All the wines mentioned above as excellent examples from their respective regions are available at Portalis Wine Shop:
Rias Baixas | As Laxas Outon
Castilla y León | Bodega Casto Pequeño
Ribera del Duero | Bodegas Rauda
Navarra | Marques de Montecierzo
Rioja | Zuazo Gaston
Catalonia | Bodegas Maset
La Mancha | Bodegas Tavera
Valdepeñas | Bodegas Juan Ramirez


August 10, 2014 at 10:50 pm Leave a comment

A Walking Tour of Sicily

As we are surrounded by the cold, dark, rainy days of Seattle in winter, I thought it would be a good time to enjoy the photos of a trip to Sicily that my parents (ardent supporters of Portalis and lovers of food & wine) took with some couple friends of theirs last spring. It was a walking tour, so every day they’d take a 4-6 hours hike (primarily through the countryside) and then they’d return to their guesthouse for a wonderful meal of local foods & wines.

Here’s the itinerary (which you can follow on the map) with photos from each day:

Day 1: Arrival in Syracuse with a walk through Syracuse Archaeological Park and a historical tour of Ortygia

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Day 2: Noto & Oasi Naturale di Vendicari

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Day 3: Mount Etna
This hike was moderate to challenging with an elevation gain/loss of 2200 ft.

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Day 4: Necropolis of Pantalica

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Day 5: Mount Ganzaria with a visit to Villa Romana del Casale, which is considered the most important Roman archeological site in Sicily.

Day 6: Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonnie followed by a cooking class

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Day 7: Walking tour of Cefalu, a beachside resort, followed by visits to the towns of Segesta and Erice, and the hilltop Castle of Venus.

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Day 8: Riserva Naturale di Monte Cofano, plus a wonderful night of dinner and drinks at Planeta Estate and Vineyards

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Day 9: Selinunte archaeological site; “La Dispensa” winery and vineyards

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We carry several wines produced by a large Sicilian co-op. Interested in experiencing some of the wines from this beautiful land? Let us know and we’ll hook you up:
Palazzo Malgara Inzolia
Palazzo Malgara Nerello Mascalese
Palazzo Malgara Shiraz
Palazzo Malgara Nero d’Avola

Julie, Co-owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

February 22, 2014 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

New Tasting Series: Grape Varietals A-Z

A-Z_logo_Jan 2014
Kicking off a new year, we thought it would be fun to do a comprehensive tasting series featuring as many single grape varietals as we carry in the shop. We counted them up. (There are 60+!) We put them in alphabetical order. And we’re ready to go! Here’s the schedule.  If you make a good chunk of these tastings, you will have tasted the vast majority of single grape varietals grown around the world today. We’ll offer a little educational overview on each grape including tasting notes & where it’s grown. The rest is up to you. Ready, set, go:

Tastings run every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday from bar open (4pm) to 8pm:
Tue, 14-Jan – Albariño ~ pictured above in the Outon vineyards in Rias Baixas, Spain
Wed, 15-Jan – Aligoté
Thu, 16-Jan – Arneis
Tue, 21-Jan – Barbera
Wed, 22-Jan – Blaufraenkisch
Thu, 23-Jan – Brachetto
Tue, 28-Jan – Cabernet Franc
Wed, 29-Jan – Cabernet Sauvignon
Thu, 30-Jan – Cannonau
Claude Nouveau_grapes_chardonnay_banner
Tue, 4-Feb – Carmenère
Wed, 5-Feb – Chardonnay (France) ~ pictured above in Claude Nouveau’s vineyards
Thu, 6-Feb – Chardonnay (California)
Tue, 11-Feb – Chenin Blanc
Wed, 12-Feb – Cortese
Thu, 13-Feb – Dolcetto
Tue, 18-Feb – Garganega
Wed, 19-Feb – Garnacha Grenache
Thu, 20-Feb – Grauvernatsch (Schiava Grigio)
Tue, 25-Feb – Grüner Veltliner
Wed, 26-Feb – Inzolia
Thu, 27-Feb – Kerner
Tue, 4-Mar – Lagrein
Wed, 5-Mar – Malbec
Thu, 6-Mar – Melon de Bourgogne
Tue, 11-Mar – Merlot
Wed, 12-Mar – Montepulciano
Thu, 13-Mar – Moscato
Tue, 18-Mar – Muscat
Wed, 19-Mar – Nebbiolo ~ pictured above in the Pelassa vineyards of Piedmont, Italy
Thu, 20-Mar – Nerelo Mascalese
Tue, 25-Mar – Nero d’Avola
Wed, 26-Mar – Pedro Ximenez
Thu, 27-Mar – Petit Verdot
Claude Nouveau_grapes_v2_banner
Tue, 1-Apr – Petite Syrah
Wed, 2-Apr – Pineau d’Aunis
Thu, 3-Apr – Pinot Bianco
Tue, 8-Apr – Pinot Blanc
Wed, 9-Apr – Pinot Grigio
Thu, 10-Apr – Pinot Grigio
Tue, 15-Apr – Pinot Noir (France)
Wed, 16-Apr – Pinot Noir (Oregon)
Thu, 17-Apr – Pinotage
Tue, 22-Apr – Primitivo
Wed, 23-Apr – Prosecco
Thu, 24-Apr – Riesling
Tue, 29-Apr – Sangiovese
Wed, 30-Apr – Sauvignon Blanc (France)
BLOG_Jens in Australia_Shiraz grapes from Beachworth_Victoria_v4
Thu, 1-May – Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
Tue, 6-May – Semillon
Wed, 7-May – Shiraz ~ pictured above from Jens’ trip to Victoria, Australia
Thu, 8-May – Syrah (Old World)
Tue, 13-May – Syrah (New World)
Wed, 14-May – Tempranillo
Thu, 15-May – Torrontes
Tue, 20-May – Verdejo
Wed, 21-May – Vernaccia
Thu, 22-May – Viognier
Tue, 27-May – Welschriesling
Wed, 28-May – Zinfandel
Thu, 29-May – Zweigelt

This should be a lot of fun! Look forward to seeing you there!
Julie, Jens & the Portalis team

January 14, 2014 at 7:53 pm Leave a comment

Portalis Staff Dreams Big for the Holidays

It’s a tradition! Every December we ask your lovely Portalis staff what they would like to drink for the holidays. Here’s what they said:

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Jens & Paul Reitz Vosne Romanee
Jens:  Ahhh, this year it’s Burgundy! I’d pick the Claude Nouveau Premier Cru or the Paul Reitz Vosne-Romanée, either one. Festive, beautifully-made wines. Cherry, dark fruit. They pair with everything. Always a class act!

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Rhiannon & Lagrein Riserva
RhiAnnon: You’ve corrupted me. My go-to was always my high-end Washington wines (which I love), but I’m going Old World this time: Burgum Novum Lagrein Riserva. When you take a sip of this wine, it will make you stop mid-sentence and think about what you are enjoying. Lesser-known varietal. It will knock your socks off!

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Travis & Stevenson Barrie PN
Travis: Stevenson – Barrie 2009 Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley! Great structure and acidity with lingering black cherry & cedar finish.

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Matt & Pelassa Barolo
Matt: This past year saw me get married in my personal life as well as learn to serve wine to the public in my professional life. In both cases, I’ve learned that patience is, in fact, a virtue. In this same vein, I would love to have  Pelassa’s 2007 Barolo, a wine beautiful now, and even more so in the years to come.

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Evann & Priorat
Evann: I’d choose the Bodegas Maset 2011 Mas Viló Priorat. The first time I tasted it I fell in love! It reminded me of cold weather and the holidays! A wonderful Christmas Dinner wine!

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Daniel & ferrer
Daniel: My pick for wine is Achaval 2007 Quimera. Because once opened up, it has lovely texture & complexity with a hint of plum, cinnamon & chocolate. This makes it an excellent winter wine!

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Tracey & Jean Veselle
Tracey: Same song, different year! Champagne! This year I’d go with the Jean Veselle Reserve if I had my choice. Cheers!

Dec 2013_Staff Picks_Julie & Rauda Musai
: Probably because I want to go there, I’d choose a deep, dark, well-aged Spanish Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero. Since I lived in Germany in the early 1990’s I’ve dreamt of a trip through northern Spain. Now 20+ years later, it would be a wine trip through northern Spain. Sounds good, huh? My friend Catherine Reynolds (you can find her at the Spanish Table) once described wines from this part of Spain as ‘hedonistic pleasure bombs’. I can’t wait to try mine: Bodegas Rauda 2009 Musai de Tinto Roa. Cheers!

From our house to yours, happy holidays!
Jens, Julie + the Portalis team

December 5, 2013 at 8:55 pm Leave a comment

Remembering Holidays Past

Holiday Recipes & Wine Pairings_2010
Three years ago, Chef Tracy got the idea to create a Little Book of Recipes. We got Jens to do the wine pairings, did a little research on how to create a beautiful, handmade book, and we were off with a lovely little book of Portalis recipes for the holidays. It flew off the shelves! It was such a hit that we have decided to post some of our favorite recipes from that wonderful little book, along with updated wine pairings. We hope you enjoy these delicious yet totally doable holiday home recipes. Cheers!

Gougères with Gorgonzola Mousse,
Red Grapes & Walnuts
~ paired with ~
Cave de Bissey Crémant de Bourgogne

Mâche Salad with Roasted Butternut
Squash & Cranberries
~ paired with ~
Castelfeder 2011 “Lahn” Kerner

Roasted Duck with Pomegranate Molasses Sauce,
Maple Sweet Potato Gratin &
Brussels Sprout Gratin with Hazelnut Crust
~ paired with ~
Domaine de Nalys
2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réserve

Sticky Toffee Pudding
~ paired with ~
Porto Kopke 20-Year Old Tawny Port

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Gougères with Gorgonzola Mousse, Red Grapes & Walnuts

Little Book of Recipes_Gougeres & Bissey

1 cup water
3 oz butter
1 tsp salt
pinch white pepper
pinch nutmeg
1 cup flour, 4 eggs, 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put water, butter, salt, pepper & nutmeg in a saucepan on medium heat and bring to simmer. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the paste is pulling off the sides of the pan. Take off the stove & stir in the parmesan cheese. Put mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment & mix on low until the steam stops coming out of the dough. Then add eggs (one at a time) scraping the bowl in between to incorporate eggs evenly into the dough. Then I put the dough in a piping bag and pipe onto a sheet pan, making them about the size of a quarter and placing them about 1½ inches apart. Bake for 20 minutes until golden in color & puffy. Note: if you don’t want to use a piping bag you can use a teaspoon to drop onto the sheet pan.

These gougeres can be served warm by themselves as simple little cheese puffs or you can cool them, cut off the top & fill them with anything you like. I like to fill them with a gorgonzola mousse:

Gorgonzola Mousse
8 oz crumbled gorgonzola (room temp)
4 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1 Tbs butter (room temp)
red pear or red grapes & toasted walnut halves to garnish

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whip attachment, whip cream cheese on high speed until light & fluffy. Then slowly add the gorgonzola & whip until light & fluffy. Add butter & mix to incorporate.

Then cut the top off of the gougères and fill with the mousse.
(Again, I use a piping bag but you can use a spoon.) Garnish with red grapes cut in half or a slice of red pear and a piece of toasted walnut.

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Mâche Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash & Cranberries

Little Book of Recipes_Salad & Kerner

2 medium butternut squash
1 cup dried cranberries
1 5-oz container of organic mache (usually with the bagged salad mixes in gourmet grocery stores; substitute spinach if you like)
pinch of nutmeg
1 oz olive oil

Peel butternut squash, scrape out seeds & medium dice. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the diced squash, olive oil, salt, pepper & a pinch of nutmeg in a bowl and put on a sheet pan. Roast for 7 to 10 minutes until squash is tender. Cool.  Then, in a salad bowl, toss the squash, mache & cranberries with the maple vinaigrette (recipe to follow), adding enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the salad.

I make candied walnuts as a garnish but to save time you can buy candied walnuts or pecans, which you can usually find in the bulk food sections of most grocery stores.

Maple Vinaigrette
¼ cup best quality maple syrup
1/8  cup sherry vinegar
1 tsp minced shallot
¼ tsp Dijon mustard
pinch of salt & pepper
½ cup olive oil

Place maple syrup, vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt & pepper in a bowl and slowly whisk in olive oil. You can also use a hand blender and drizzle in the olive oil to make a thicker, emulsified vinaigrette. Toss with salad immediately before serving.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

Roasted Duck with Pomegranate Molasses Sauce

Little Book of Recipes_Duck with cherry molasses sauce & Nalys Reserve_v2

I recommend a pomegranate molasses sauce for its sweet & tart components as the perfect complement to the richness of the duck.

1 whole duck
½ cup kosher salt
2 Tbs sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice

This is a 2-day process, so you’ll need to plan ahead. First thing you want to do is wash the duck inside & out with cold water and pat dry with a towel. Then combine all other ingredients to make your salt rub. Rub inside of cavity with the salt rub & thoroughly rub the outside as well. Put on a sheet pan place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day wash the duck again in cold water to get the salt rub off & pat dry with a towel. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put the duck on a roasting rack (breast side up) and roast for 10 to 15 minutes to crisp up the skin and render out some of the fat. Then turn the oven down to 250 degrees & roast for 3 to 4 hours, basting the duck every 30 minutes with the fat from the bottom of the pan. The duck is done when the leg moves easy at the joint.

8 cups pomegranate juice
1 sprig of sage
1 star anise pod
1 shallot (sliced)
1 tsp black peppercorn

Put pomegranate juice in a sauce pan on medium high heat. Bring juice up to a simmer & reduce by half. Then add sage, star anise, shallot & peppercorn and reduce on low until juice is thick like molasses.  Strain sauce & serve warm with the duck.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

Maple Sweet Potato Gratin

1 lb Red Garnet sweet potatoes
1 lb yellow sweet potatoes
1 lb butter
2 cups Grade A maple syrup
1 cup pecans (chopped)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
½ cup cold butter (diced)

Melt 1 lb butter & maple syrup on medium heat until it begins to simmer, then take off the heat & set aside.  Peel & slice potatoes into ¼ inch slices.  Put into a bowl and toss with the maple butter mixture and salt & pepper. Put the potato mixture in a 10 inch round gratin dish, patting down to compress the potatoes. Put foil over the gratin & bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are baking, make the pecan streusel topping. Put the pecans, brown sugar & flour in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cold (½ cup) butter & pulse a few times until mixture resembles course bread crumbs. Then take the foil off the potato gratin, add the pecan topping & bake for 15 more minutes uncovered.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

Brussels Sprout Gratin with Hazelnut Crust

1 lb Brussels sprouts
1 cup bechamel sauce (recipe to follow)
1 cup cave-aged gruyère (shredded)
½ cup skinned hazelnuts
½ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup butter (melted)

Bechamel Sauce
1 cup half & half
½  yellow onion
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
1 sprig thyme
1 garlic clove
pinch nutmeg
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour

To make the bechamel, put the half & half in a sauce pan and add bay leaf, clove, sprig of thyme, garlic clove & nutmeg and simmer for 15 minutes to infuse flavors. Strain and cool to room temp. Then in a sauce pan melt butter, add flour and stir with a whisk until a paste forms. Then slowly pour in the half & half while whisking over medium heat and continue to whisk until sauce thickens. Cool to room temp.

Wash Brussels sprouts in cold water & pull off the outside leaves. Cut the bottom off & then slice Brussels sprouts in a ¼ inch slice. Melt 2 Tbs butter in a sauté pan & add the Brussels sprouts. Cook on medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes until the sprouts are tender. Season with salt & pepper. Set aside in a mixing bowl.

Add the cooled bechamel & gruyere to your Brussels sprouts and fold together. Pour the mixture into a gratin dish. Put the hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse a couple times. Add the bread crumbs & butter and pulse again to combine. Crumble over top of the gratin & bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes until the edges are bubbling.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

Little Book of Recipes_Sticky Toffee pudding & port

2 cups diced dates
2¼ cups water
1½ tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour an 8 inch square baking pan (2 inches deep), knocking out excess flour. In a 2 quart saucepan, simmer dates in water (uncovered) for 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and stir in baking soda. (Mixture will foam.) Let mixture stand at room temp for 20 minutes. In a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, ginger & salt. In a stand mixer beat together butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating after each addition until just combined. Add date mixture with a spatula and stir batter until combined. Pour batter into baking pan. Set pan into a larger baking pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the smaller pan. (This water bath insulates the cake so that it doesn’t heat up too quickly, causing the center to rise & crack.) Bake in middle of the oven until tester comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove pan from water bath & set on a rack to cool.

¾ cup plus 2 Tbs unsalted butter
1½ cups dark brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a 2 quart saucepan over moderate heat. Add the brown sugar and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream & vanilla. Simmer sauce until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.  Then serve warm pudding with warm sauce over it. I like to garnish with brandy whipped cream or the ice cream of your choice.

Hope you enjoy these recipes! Happy Holidays to you & yours!

December 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm Leave a comment

Rosé & Thanksgiving, a Perfect Pair!

BLOG_Rose & Thanksgiving_Nov 2013
Rosé has built up a lovely following of fair-weathered friends, and who’s to argue? What could be more refreshing than a crisp yet still fruity, cool refreshing glass of coral colored wine (with the sun shining through!)?  What has gotten overlooked in this weather-based attachment is that rosé ranks as perhaps the quintessential food wine.  It, literally, can pair with everything, even a big fat juicy steak. Now we’re not suggesting that it’s superior to a big tannic red, but it’s decent with the steak & it’s delightful with the side salad (unlike that massive Cab).

What is rosé? Rosé is made from red grapes, although there are other methods of rosé wine production that combine red &white wines (this is an illegal process in France and generally looked down upon as a way of producing this kind of wine). The most common way of producing rosé is due to skin contact with the juice. The skins are allowed to ferment with the rest of the juice for a certain period of time (usually one to three days). The longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the darker and more vibrant the color in the final rosé wine. To extract the skins for the juice, the mash is pressed. (In red wine making, the skins are left in during the entire fermentation process, leading to tannic wines).

Why is it such a good food wine? Rosé wine is slightly more robust than most white wines, and its acidity is a little softer than most whites, making it rounder and more flexible with respect to food. That said, Thanksgiving can be a tricky meal for wine & a beautifully made, well-balanced rosé would make a wonderful pair to the demands of a gamey-salty-sweet traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Here are some of our favorites, including several rosé sparkling wines:

Label_FR_Barbanau 2011
Chateau Barbanau 2011 L’Instant Rosé
Reg $22.99 | INSIDER $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
From the classic rosé region, Provence, Château Barbanau has been family owned for over a hundred years with Sophie & Didier Simonini-Cerciello currently at the helm.  Made from 90% Grenache & 10% Syrah, this rosé has a bright clear blush color with a nose of red fruits with white floral notes & peach flesh. Fresh, with great finesse, full & fleshy. Has never met a food it doesn’t pair perfectly with. We’re down to our last bottles, so make your move quickly if interested.

Label_FR_Croix Bouquie Rose
Domaine de La Croix Bouquie 2010 Rosé
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
This young domaine is owned by Alpha Loire, a trio of friends who combine their passion for wine with sustainable farming. Pineau d’Aunis, also known as Chenin Noir, is often used to make sparkling wines or in this case a very unique rosé. Pale pink with flavors of strawberry & rhubarb, this has a round soft finish. Pair with spicy ethnic foods, seafood, BBQ …or roasted turkey! One of our best selling rosé.

Label_IT_Montecchiesi Selverello Rose_no frame
Tenuta Montecchiesi 2011 Selverello Sangiovese Rosato

Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
The Dal Cero family based in the Veneto also own and operate this small estate in Tuscany. Tenuta Montecchiesi vineyards are located near Cortona. Made from 100% Sangiovese this rosé has brief skin contact resulting in its vivid pink hue. Fruity and rich with notes of ripe mixed berries, it is great with all meals. A few highlights are cold meats and delicate fish dishes & fowl dishes, either stewed or grilled.

Label_IT_Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe_Blush_4_no frame
Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe 2011 Pinot Grigio Ramato (Blush)
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
Okay, so this wine is not technically a rosé as it’s 100% Pinot Grigio, but it sure looks & acts like one! Produced by the Dal Cero family, it’s created according to the ancient tradition of the Republic of Venice, leaving the wine in contact with skins for 12 hours, creating this beautiful copper colored wine. Aromas of exotic fruits with sweet white flowers. Lush & velvety on the palate. People love this wine & it would be a great addition to any Thanksgiving table!

Label_IT_La Farra Rosé_no frame
La Farra Rosé Cuvée
Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
The Nardi family, specializing in high quality Prosecco, has their winery in the village of Farra di Soligo. This exceptional sparkling rosé is made from mostly glera grapes with a touch of Raboso (red grapes) for color. Dry and superbly soft, it’s full of structure and is a perfect aperitif or Thanksgiving dinner wine. Saluté!

Label_AU_Prechtl Schaumwein_no frame
Weingut Prechtl Pinot Noir Sparkling

Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19
Petra & Franz Prechtl own & run this 15 hectare estate (established 1839). This dry sparkling Pinot Noir is a lip-smacking opportunity to impress at your next occasion. Pale copper/pink hues, vibrant with notes of strawberries & cherries followed by a soft creamy finish! A perfect match with rich fish, roasted game or poultry or to quench a spicy dish. Prost!

The Portalis team would love to hook you up with these wines or any other wines that would be of interest to you for your upcoming Thanksgiving feast, so please stop by!

Julie & Jens

November 18, 2013 at 7:03 am Leave a comment

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