Obscure Reds and Seasonal Flavors for Autumn

Jaci_Jens_Julie_thanksgiving 2015

This is the month of feasting.  In winter months, gathering is not just for holidays but for sharing food, story telling and in many ways keeping each other company while the weather is terrible!  So this month we feature unique and obscure wines to hopefully kick start a fun gathering.  Why not present something that starts a conversation?

Rosé wines will be 20% off from Thursday November 12th until Thanksgiving!  Our fabulous Ramato is on a huge discount as we need to change labels by the end of February:  Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe Pinot Grigio Ramato (Veneto, Italy) Originally $17.99 … it is now: INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19.  Spread the word!

Here’s the line up of obscure reds:

Weingut Prechtl Zweigelt (Weinviertel, Austria) — Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59 — Tasting notes: 100% Zweigelt- inky color with black currants, blackberry skins, sage and savory herbs, medium tannins. Pair with: Buffalo Burger as well as sausage dishes, especially blood sausage with sage or a pomegranate jicima hazelnut fresh greens salad.

Weingut Prechtl Reserve Red (Weinviertel, Austria) — Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59 — Tasting notes: Zweigelt, St. Laurent, and Blaufränkisch —  If your palate wanted to explore other countries, here you go-  Inky, yet tart, luscious tannins and layered dark fruit berries with vinous herbs. Pair with:  Sage and pork spatlese, your green bean casserole that Grandma made, or a fresh rack of lamb.  Choices, choices…

Food_Lamb rib chops with fregola

Carmen Carmenère Gran Reserva (Colchagua Valley, Chile) — Reg $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59 — Tasting notes: Dark cherries, plums, toasted smoky bits, vanilla and a hint of fresh raspberries. Pair with:  Smoked ham with cloves and fruit- orange would be ideal, but do your pineapple and tell me otherwise.

Neil Ellis Pinotage (Stellenbosch, South Africa) –Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39– Tasting notes- Dark plum, cherry, blackberry melded with dark chocolate, soft tannins. Pair with: STEAK!!  Seriously.  Alternatives of morels, nut pies, pot pies and ham hock stews… ahhh yeah.

Spice Route Pinotage (Swartland, South Africa) — Reg $23.99 | Mixed Case $19.19 — Tasting notes: Smoky cherry tobacco with explosive plum, raspberry fruits, medium tannin and a hint of beetroot (as the winemaker calls it). Pair with:  Collard wraps with stewed meats or pulled pork.  Or Spring rolls with a tamari aoili.

Castelfeder Lagrein (Alto Adige, Italy) — Reg $20.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59 — Tasting notes: Extracted black raspberries, black currants, cherries and blackberries with tannins, tobacco leaves and earth.  Inky, but not heavy.  Lush, but not heady.  Pair with: Smoked turkey or ham roasted with nuts.  Vegetarian: squash, zucchini and roasted potatoes.

VEG_ZUCCHINI with yellow & red peppers, pesto & goat cheese over tomato purée_Sep 2014
Castelfeder Pinot Nero (Alto Adige, Italy) — Reg $20.99 | INSIDER $19.99 | Mixed Case $15.99 — Tasting notes: Rich dark plums and black cherries with supple tannin, smoke and spice. Pair with:  If salmon was in season, that would be delicious.  Alternatives — Scallops, duck, game hen, roasted beets with blue cheese, fig and pomegranate endive salad with hazelnuts and balsamic.

Palazzo Malgara Nerello Mascalese (Sicily, Italy) — Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99 — Tasting notes: Rich black berries, black cherries, tannin, leather components with layers of tobacco, vanilla and licorice. Pair with: Cioppino, seasonal mushroom dishes, risotto and veal.

FOOD_veal rack chop with linguine_Sep 2012
Palazzo Malgara Negroamaro (Salento, Italy) — Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19 — Tasting notes: Dark plums, herbs, silky texture with subtle rustic earth undertones. Pair with: Lamb meatballs, stuffed piquillo peppers, paella.

Palazzo Malgara Nero d’Avola (Sicily, Italy) — Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19 — Tasting notes: Blackberry, blueberry, & cassis with a medium and mild body and a soft round finish. Pair with:  A great seafood red!  Swordfish, sturgeon, spot prawns with a side of fresh pasta and herbs!

Robert Ramsay Cinsault (Columbia Valley, Washington) — Reg $31.99 | Mixed Case $25.59 — Tasting notes: Briar patch strawberries, black cherries, summer baked fruit with hillside herbs. 94% Cinsault, 6% Syrah. Pair with:  Duck and game hen, roasted potatoes and yams, cassoulet.

Foppiano Vineyards Petite Sirah (Russian River Valley, California) — Reg $24.99 | Mixed Case $19.99 — Tasting notes: Brambly fruit and blueberry mix with softer hints of espresso, black cherry, and dark chocolate. A seductively long finish. Pair with:  Flank steak with sauteed peppers, Stilton Blue, Humbolt Fog and figs, roasted chicken with rosemary and carrots.

$5_crostini with blue cheese mousse, figs

Flying Dreams Tempranillo (Columbia Valley, Washington) — Reg $49.99 | Mixed Case $39.99 — Tasting notes:  Ripe raspberries, anise and spice mixed with fresh cedar and cocoa. Pair with:  Lamb with a cherry balsamic sauce, risotto with saffron, pancetta and goat cheese pizza

Santa Lucia Morello di Scansano (Tuscany, Italy) — Reg $17.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59 — Tasting notes: Spicy with earthy aromas.  Deep dark plums, wild black berries, cooked cherries with stony minerality. Medium plus tannin gives a leathery quality with hints of tobacco leaves. Pair with: Jens’ Sausage Lasagna

May you have safe travels with great meals filled with laughter, great conversation and delicious pairings!

Happy Autumn & Happy Thanksgiving!

Jens, Julie and Jaci

November 10, 2015 at 11:50 pm Leave a comment

Premier Vineyard Tours with Gina Gregory!

Gina Gregory | Premier Vineyard Tours

Established in 2009, Premier Vineyard Tours offers bi-annual exclusive tours to Tuscany and Piedmont, Italy.  Gina Gregory developed the concept of tour while managing Portalis Wine Shop and Bar in 2007.  With local distributor connections she was blessed to immerse herself into the world of wine and wine making.  Once working at Portalis, she realized that the many people were craving more than the typical in and out hustle of a wine tour, but the true essence of what and why we fall in love with this culture.

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The culture of wine is about community.  And as Gina developed relationships with guests here in the States- sharing stories about their trips to Italy vs her adventures- she surmised that their experiences could be greatly enhanced by the local touch of small producers and cooperatives.  They may not possess marketing gurus, wine directors, tasting room manager and tour guides… but they do possess the love of wine making and the creation thereof.  So onward to adventures we go…

Keeping with the concept of community, locals and vineyards, Gina, her business partner Kimberly Chilcutt, and her husband have been offering tours for the last six plus years.  Intimate, informative and selective.  Producers range from small to large however all of them are family owned.  Gina spent a great deal of time and research selecting restaurants, wineries and even routes to ensure that her tour guests would have a remarkable memory.  Not the rush into a wine tasting, rush out to a van, rush to this and that.

When she began, tours were primarily Tuscany (Italy) as it is a mecca for wine tourism and that was where a lot of her research had been focused.  Piedmont, though the hub of transportation between Austria, France and Eastern Europe, was not as well developed.  Focus is on locals, community and wine… but tourism?  Yes! Piedmont was not as well established for accommodations as Tuscany, but Gina took the challenge with her local contacts and has been offering tours to Piedmont as well.  Now she is proud to announce that they will be purchasing a home in Piedmont her own accommodations after renovations to a local farmhouse in the Asti and Alba regions.

Gina’s concept of embracing the culture of wine- community- and offering it to her guests is beginning to flourish.  Well nurtured and thought out, the tours are crafted to experience the community not the tourism.  After she establishes her plans, she will be interested in expanding beyond Piedmont and Tuscany, however- not without much research and making the connections with her locals!

We are honored to share Gina’s story, as it reflects our own philosophy- the culture of wine is about community.  Embrace it!

For more information and tours
For more stories about Gina
Image credit:  Red Box Pictures

October 11, 2015 at 9:15 pm Leave a comment

New Tasting Series: Battle of the _____________:

BATTLE OF THE_boxing gloves_email
Compare the subtleties of a specific type of wine!  It’s a classic geeky wine tasting which we will be pleased to run through the end of the year. Join us every Thursday from 5-7pm for a blind tasting and wine 102!

Here’s this week’s tasting details (+ the archives from previous tastings in this series):

BATTLE OF THE_Riesling Rivarly

Riesling Rivalry: Germany vs Alsace

Join us to test the senses! Experience the difference between the Vosges Mountain slopes and the steep and slate covered vineyards of Mosel. Tasting runs from 5 to 7pm.

Mountain styles | Acidity levels | Fruit Differences

Mosel’s Slate Slopes — A cool continental climate, super steep vineyard slopes (between 45-60° grades are typical), a heavy influence from the visible chunks of blue-gray slate covering the soil and typically a condensed growing-season that can be a little short on sun, make up the unique terroir of the northerly Mosel River Valley. The South facing slopes tend to be the most desirable vineyard locations, as they garner higher doses of sunshine. The Mosel River itself represents a critical component of the area’s terroir, as the river is responsible for both reflecting and retaining the sun’s heat to the vines as well as providing a buffer to early frosts via the river fog

Vosges Mountains— Because of predominantly westerly winds, the Vosges mountains tend to shelter Alsace from rain and maritime influence, and the region is therefore rather dry and sunny. The long, dry growing seasons allow grapes to ripen fully. These grapes are filled with sugar and aromatics; when they are made into dry Riesling or Gewürztraminer wines, the wines retain lovely fragrance, delicious spice and moderate alcohol levels.


BATTLE OF THE_Garnacha vs Grenache

Thursday October 29th, 2015:  BATTLE OF THE…
Garnacha vs Grenache: Spain vs France | Southern Rhone and Castilla y Leon
Was it grown in the Meseta of Spain or the under the strain of the pebbles of Southern Rhone?  Garnacha (Spain) and Grenache (France) are the same varietal- yet delightfuly differnet depending on where it is cultivated.  Tasting runs from 5-7pm.

Meseta-–  Higher acidity.  Extracted fruit.
About 40% of Spain’s land mass is made up of a high central plateau (Meseta).  It includes Castilla-León, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, Aragón and La Rioja.  High elevation means cool nights, so ripe grapes retain enough acidity for fresh flavor.

Southern Rhone– Soft full fruit.  Higher alcohol.
Pebbles- The galets have the beneficial property of absorbing the heat of the day and radiating it out at night, thus reducing the chances of frost at ground level during the colder winter months.  While advantageous for north facing vineyards, those facing the south often have cleared them away, the night time heat radiating from the stones risking over ripening the grapes.  The wines from these soils are deep, muscular and high in alcohol.


BATTLE OF THE_rt v lft bank

Thursday, October 15:  BATTLE OF THE:
Right vs Left | Bordeaux Soils and Varietals

Is it all about the soil and the varietal?  Let’s taste the difference between the varietals of the Left Bank vs the Right Bank of Bordeaux! Tasting runs from 5-7pm!

Varietals and Growing Conditions
Right Bank Bordeaux— Clay and Limestone.  Merlot is the king of the Right Bank, perfectly adapted to the clay and limestone terroir of Saint Emilion and to the gravel and clay of Pomerol.  Here it is blended with Cabernet Franc and infrequently with Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Merlot produces fleshy, silky and aromatic red wines, often earlier drinking than those of the Left Bank.

Left Bank Bordeaux— Gravel.  On the Left Bank, the gravel soil is particularly conducive to the development of Cabernet Sauvignon, which provides structured red wines with very firm tannins and a long aging capacity. It is associated with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, sometimes Petit Verdot, rarely Malbec.


BATTLE OF THE_coast v central
Thursday, Oct 8: BATTLE OF THE:
Coastal vs Central | California Climates
Take one varietal and match it up to different areas of the same AVA (region/state).  Find out the impact of maritime influences vs continental!  5pm- 7pm!

Technically most of California is a Mediterranean climate however there are sub regions that are more continental.  Continental is very warm temperatures during the day that drop drastically at night.  Washington and Argentina are a prime example of continental climates, however, Lodi AVA of Central Valley California areas are also similar (not Central COAST California).  Mediterrean climates have long growing season with very little temperature variation and precipitation.  Maritime climates are in between the two with obvious bodies of water that mitigate weather.  Like Mediterrean, long growing seasons, yet there is always precipitation and distinct season (like continental climates).  New Zealand is a classic maritime climate.
How does this impact wine?
– Hot climates that have cool nights have rich dark fruit (juicier) with richer body yet higher acid levels.  Doesn’t have to be acidic, but the finish is impacted.
– Mediterranean are moderate climates which have medium fruit, with medium body and moderate acidity.
– Maritime climates have medium to mild fruit with a medium to light body and medium to higher acidity level.
Bonus:  what’s the varietal?

Thursday, Oct 1: BATTLE OF THE FUNK:
Oregon vs France | Pinot Noir
Forest floor and coastal Willamette funk or deep dug soils of French terroir? Pinot Noir is a notoriously fickle grape in the vineyard. It picks up a lot of character- can you tell the difference? Test your senses!  In its home, it has had many centuries of intense care, presumably leading to the use of clones that are exactly matched to their soils and micro-climates. France: limestone and topsoil is mostly a varying mixture of limestone, clay, and flint; Manure, rich soil, tart cherries, cranberries. Oregon: volcanic and sedimentary soil, overlaid with any combo of granite, silt, loam and clay. Flavors: Mushrooms and forest floors; Cherry cola and pomegranate

Brettanomyces- lives on the skins of fruit, fruit flies, wine barrels
4-ethylphenol: Band-aids, barnyard, horse stable, antiseptic
4-ethylguaiacol: Bacon, spice, cloves, smoky
isovaleric acid: Sweaty saddle, cheese, rancidity

.BATTLE OF THE_mtn vs lake
Mountain vs Lake |  Pinot Grigio
Temperature and Cooling Factors — what’s the effect on wine?  Micro-climates have a huge impact. TerroIr gives off immutable characteristics; however, we are talking about the structure of the area and the impacts thereof. Sea breezes tend to leave traces of briny qualitites.

Mountains- proximity to sun or shade, cooling factors (higher altitudes heat fast, cool quick), impact cloud formations and precipitation.  Overall- a cooler growing area.  So wines tend to be crisp with subtle fruit nuances
Lakes- mediate temperatures by maintaining warmth from the summer, and cooling through the summer; protecting vines from frost at budding time.  So overall- a warmer growing area.  Therefore, wines show ripe fruit, warm body and subtle acidity.
Image credit: 

Image credit: 

Thursday, Sep 17: no tasting as it’s wine club pickup

BATTLE OF THE_grapeft straw
Thursday, Sep 10: BATTLE OF THE:
Grapefruit vs Straw |  Sauvignon Blanc
CITRUS!  But what kind?  And can you taste grass, straw, green peppers or just grapefruit?  We are super excited about this new tasting. Hope you can join!

Ripeness Challenge 
Cooler climate and Less Ripe:  Lime, Green Apple, Green Bell Pepper, Gooseberry, Basil, Jalapeño, Fresh Cut Grass
Warmer Climate and Ripe:  Asian Pear, Kiwi, Passionfruit, Guava, White Peach, Nectarine, Dried Summer Grass, Tarragon, Lovage, Celery, Lemongrass
Other fun flavors:  Box of Chalk, Wet Concrete (Stainless) and Vanilla, Pie Crust, Dill, Coconut, Butter, Nutmeg, Cream (oak)
More fun


Thursday September 3rd:  BATTLE OF THE:
Oak vs Steel | Chardonnay Challenge! 
BUTTER- OAK- FRUIT- MALO WHAT?  The face off of steel vs oak.  Can you tell the difference?  Find out Thursday September 3rd 5pm-7pm!
Oak- French oak (vanilla, baking spices), American oak (coconut, sunscreen oil, caramel, butter), soft on the palate
Steel- Fruit (tree fruits, Meyer lemon, pineapple, tropical fruits) and higher acidity
SIDE NOTE:  Malolactic fermentation is the process of stripping lactic acid by applying malolactic.  This removes the angular acid notes and replaces it with the creamy soft butter texture that plops on your palette.

October 8, 2015 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

Beginnings and Endings- Enhanced Dining Exposed

Beginnings and Endings – Aperitifs and Digestifs

In the realm hospitality, first impressions are key.  An aperitif is the first impression, for beverage- dining- and hosting.  It’s the moment of pause when guests gather to introduce themselves and a moment for one to transition into an experience.

In beverage terms, an aperitif is light, refreshing and low alcohol.  The word comes from the Latin aperire, “to open”.  That is to open your dining experience as well as your palatte.  It is not meant to overwhelm your senses.  Therefore, simplicity is valuable.  A glass of dry white wine or Champagne, as well as a cocktail (typically half the alcohol content of a classic cocktail) are key.  The goal is not to stimulate the desire to eat, but to refresh the senses.
blog_ beginnings and endings 3
Classic Aperitifs– Lillet, Dubonnet, Campari, Cynar and Vermouth (Dolin and Carpano Antica are my favorites)

For some classic recipes see here:

As one finishes their aperitif, the next moments move on to beginning their dining experience.  The ebb and flow of conversations rise and fall with dishes and beverages in lieu.  As the dining experience concludes, we have the opportunity to enjoy digetifsthe end of the experience.

Since one is full of meal and beverage, the digestif are small treats.  Typically high in alcohol, served neat (no ice) and in small quantities (2-3 ounces).  This is the perfect opportunity for:

  • Aged Spirits (Scotch, Rum, Anejo, Cognac, Armagnac)
  • Bitter/herbal liqueurs (Chartreuse, Benedictine, B&B, Fernet Branca
  • Cocktails (Sazerac, Old Fashioned)
  • Fortified wines (Ports, Madeira, Sherry)
  • Sweet dessert liqueurs (Sambucca, Amaretto)

blog_ beginning and endings 2

And how does one decide on the last treat of one’s meal?

  • Light meal- creamy, rich, sweet or fruity
  • Large meal- higher alcohol content, clear your throat and your thoughts
  • Of the same origin as cuisine.
  • Coffee and tea with beverage, such as a Correcto– grappa and espresso
  • Or, ask your Sommelier or Floor Manager for their favorite treat!


More reading and references:


September 9, 2015 at 11:18 pm Leave a comment

Outdoor Seattle Activities in August and September

The transition from summer to fall is probably one of my favorite times of year.  I love the warm days and cool evenings.  I also love the extended accessibility to be outside! If you are feeling stuck in a rut with summer or are new to the area, here are some fun Seattle area explorations to attend to.

Kayaking and paddle boarding is a fun adventure that you can explore here in the city with minimal time commitment.  If you are wanting lake action, I suggest:  Agua Verde Paddle Club – and make sure to leave time for delicious beverages and food from Agua Verde; or  Lake Union NWOC.  For Ballard:  Surf Ballard and Salmon Bay Paddle – lunch or dinner in Ballard is pretty easy.  KISS Cafe is the on the way stop for deli sandwiches and killer salads.  West Seattle is all about Alki Kayak, a great lunch stop would be Pecado Bueno or the Husky Deli.  If you are not able to be that active but still enjoy the water, the folks at Argosy Lakes Cruise Lake Union are excellent hosts!


Outdoor Music and Random Events
Seattle is teaming with amazing artists. Besides the super cool Pianos in the Park, which ends on August 16th, you should make time for:

Or if you are looking for something with a bit more chaos  Ballard’s Viking Days are coming up on as well as Pyramids Tomatobattle!


Mountains and Trails
Our beautiful region wouldn’t be what it is without the mountains, trees and trails.  For out of Seattle area adventures- free park days are:

Or in Seattle, my favorites are Seward Park, Lincoln Park, Carkeek Park and Discovery Park for excellent day hiking.   But check out the Parks and Recreation page for all of the amazing spaces we share.
You can always jump on a bike and enjoy the Burke Gilman Trail–  I’ll never forget my first time biking on this trail.  Traveling from Golden Gardens all the way to Woodinville is exhilarating.    Or just take a short ride to Fremont, Ballard or the U-District.  Here are some other stories!

parks_ burke gilman

Not in the mood for a long trip to the east side?  Explore the local breweries and the food trucks these days are killer.  Beyond Woodinville we have Seattle area wineries.  The Seattle Urban Wineries links to their tasting hours.

There is still plenty more to do this summer and into the fall.  We will be here at Portalis after your adventures for tastings or your chilled bottle of wine and beer for dinner!

All the Best!

Sommelier, wine + food writer

August 13, 2015 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment

Beyond Beautiful- British Columbia

On a gorgeous afternoon, I served a couple traveling through Washington from British Columbia.  What a treat to share insights into camping and hiking with our neighbors to the north.  In turn, we waxed poetic on the growing wine regions of British Columbia. In February 2015 our wine club featured British Columbia, specifically Okangonan Valley. It is not uncommon to view BC regions similar to Washington- but closer together.  The diversity of British Columbia’s terrain and terroir, though similar to Washington, are unique and loaded with potential.


British Columbia has five VQA regions- Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, Similkameen Valley and the Okagonan Valley.   Three of these regions have martime influences which can define them together and very similar to the Puget Sound AVA.  That would be the Islands and the Fraser Valley.  The other two regions are continental with lake mediating factors.  The Okanagan Valley is the top contender as the Similkameen Valley the second to all five regions.  These two regions have short yet hot seasons.  The vineyards need to be on the low slops of the steep valley walls to acheive enough sunlight hours to ripen. Amidst the northern hills and mountain ranges, is the northern most point of the desert network that range from BC into Mexico.  This desert range is very similar to the Columbia Valley, especially with needs for irrigation.  Lake factors assist in mitigating harsh winters and frost outbreaks in spring or fall.  The Okanagan Valley produces Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; whereas in the Similkameen Valley (say that five times fast), we additionally find Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

blog_British Columbia_1

The three other regions are all coastal with variable weather influences which greatly impact the production.  Most of the wine is sold to local markets.  Varietals grown in these regions are obscure with some boasting of success with Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.  As our climate adjusts and change our environment, keep your eye on these vineyards.  They may be locals only now, but cult wines in the making.

blog_British Columbia_2

British Columbia is beyond beautiful.  The region is diverse- from mountains to desert to islands and vineyards.  Explore!


Jaci Kajfas
Sommelier, Food + Wine writer

Guild Somm
Wine BC

July 1, 2015 at 10:03 pm Leave a comment

Archive: Seasonal Recipes from Chef Tracey

About_Tracey_Jan 2014_v1_email

Greetings from Chef Tracey:
I was the long-time chef at Portalis Wine Bar, and at the invitation of Julie & Jens, I am back writing seasonal recipes for the Portalis Wednesday Food+Wine Tasting. I’ll be focusing on seasonal foods & preparations that are easy for the home cook to prepare and would will taste great with wine!. We’ll include wine pairing suggestions, of course!  On a different but related note, Portalis has had lots of requests to rent their new space for events. If interested, we’ve worked out the catering details for you: Event Space>>

Food_Duck breast cherry molasses glace_090311

Seasonal Recipes from Chef Tracey: Thanksgiving         

This month is all about food for us.  Here is one of my favorite line ups for Thanksgiving.  Don’t miss out on Julie and Jaci’s favorite autumn dishes either!

FIRST COURSE | Pumpkin Mole Soup with Cayenne Marshmallow  
Pumpkins!!  Most people think of carving pumpkins. I think of eating them, especially with fall spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, clove. It’s just so holiday & festive. Pumpkins are wonderful, seasonal, vegetable alternative. Which leads me to one of our favorite holiday pumpkin soup  from the Portalis recipe archive and cookbook. Awesome first course for Thanksgiving!

Recipe >>

  • 2 whole sugar pie pumpkins
  • 1 large red garnet sweet potato
  • 1 leek, 1 small sweet onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 Tbs cilantro
  • 1 Tbs crystallized ginger (chopped)
  • 2 quarts organic chicken stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 oz cream sherry

Mole spices:

  • 1 oz bitter sweet chocolate (58% cocoa)
  • 2 guajillo peppers
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice, pinch of clove
  • 1 Tbs peanut butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup warm water

Cut pumpkins in half, scrape out seeds & put face down on a sheet pan rubbed in olive oil.  Pour ½ cup of water into pan & bake in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until pumpkin is soft. When cool, scrape pumpkin flesh into a bowl.  Small dice onion & leek and sauté in olive oil until translucent (5 minutes).  Add garlic clove & crystallized ginger and sauté for 5 minutes.  Deglaze with the cream sherry.  Add chicken stock, pumpkin & sweet potato (peeled & diced).  Bring to a simmer & cook for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, make your mole base.  Put peppers in a dry sauté pan on medium-high heat (or roast in 400 degree oven) for 5 minutes. This brings out the oils in the dry chile. Put chiles in a bowl, cover in hot water & let sit for 15 minutes. Then drain water, pull the seeds out of the chiles, put in a food processor & purée the peppers. Add all the mole spices including the warm water & purée until it’s a paste.  Add the paste to the soup along with the heavy cream.  Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Purée soup with a hand blender. Add chopped cilantro & season with salt & pepper to taste.

Top with marshmallows & a sprinkle of cayenne.

SECOND COURSE | Endive Apple Salad
Fall salad are so creative.  Using your pumpkin seeds the pumpkin mole soup, you have a free ingredient! For a fall salad, I think of heartier green, such as the curly endive which is a bitter green. To sweeten up the tartness, just add fresh apples, another wonderful fall fruit. I like Granny Smith apples for this salad. Then I add fennel which has a licorice flavor and tastes great with the tart, sweet of the apple & endive. Top with roasted, salted pumpkin seeds and dress with an apple cider vinaigrette.

  • Apple Cider Vinaigrette  — reduce 2C apple cider to 1/2 C (almost the texture of honey), then add 2-3T apple cider vinegar (to taste), then 1/2 shallot minced, whisk in 1 1/4 C olive oil. Top!

THIRD COURSE | Roasted Duck with Orange Sage
Duck at Thanksgiving instead of turkey! I love doing duck. It’s easy and way tastier. Get a whole duck (pretty readily available at Seattle grocery stores, for sure in the freezer section which works fine).

Recipe >>
In the cavity, stuff 1-2 oranges cut in half (as many will fit), couple sprigs of sage/thyme.  On outside, rub with salt (~2T + 1/8t nutmeg & 1/8t ginger). Put on a rack in a roasting pan.

Roast on 450 for 1/2 hour (high heat renders the fat), then put oven down to 225 & slow roast the duck for approx. 3.5 hours until it falls apart. (Cavity temp should get to 165). It ends up being like a confit duck because it’s cooking in its own fat. Fired up?

Here’s a glaze recipe:

  • 2C of orange juice with the left of 1/2 orange (or zest from remaining)
  • 1C chicken stock
  • 2T of champagne or apple cider vinegar.
  • Season with salt & pepper.
  • Reduce really slow until it’s thick. Want true decadence, whisk in a couple pats of butter. Pour glaze over each serving.

DESSERT COURSE |  Apple Cranberry Galette
Apple Cranberry Galette Recipe >>

First- use Granny Smith apples– they bake better.   1 package of pie dough (with top & bottom). Peel & slice 6 apples. Your choice of dried cranberries or cherry – 1C. Mix into sliced apples. Add 1/4 brown sugar and 1/4 white sugar (1T cornstarch mixed in) + 1t cinnamon + 1/4t nutmeg + pinch of clove. Toss. Let juices come out.  Then split the apple mixture into two and put in the center of the two pie crusts. Leave a 2 in rim of pie dough with no apples. Fold dough over around the edge, crimping as you go (see picture). Back on a sheet pan on 375 for about 20min until dough is brown and crispy. Top with vanilla ice cream.

Have a wonderful & delicious Thanksgiving!!
–Chef Tracey


Food_PORK CHEEKS parsnip puree, mustard greens, apple horseradish relish_Nov 2013_v2
10.24.2015 – Now for “Braising Land” which is what I’m called to do in Fall…

The above picture is PORK CHEEKS with parsnip purée, mustard greens & apple horseradish relish which we served in the wine bar in November 2013. I’m going to give you a different braising recipe that is more for the home cook and is one of my long-standing favorites for pork: PORK SHOULDER with choucroute, which is a French version of sauerkraut, but it’s not as vinegary.

RECIPE: Take the pork shoulder and rub it with salt, pepper, a pinch (not more!) of allspice & a pinch of nutmeg. Brown the shoulder for several minutes on each side until brown and crispy. Put the browned shoulder in a dutch oven, and deglaze the sautée pan with 1-2 bottles of the apple or pear cider (we recommend: Finnriver) & 1 Q of chicken stock, then pour over the pork shoulder. Add a bay leaf & sprig of thyme. Put a lid on the dutch oven and slow cook on 325 degrees for 2.5-3 hrs or until the meat falls apart. While that’s cooking, use a 4-Q pot to fry up 4 pieces of chopped bacon until crispy. Add in 1 julienned onion, 1 garlic clove (chopped), 1 peeled & diced Granny Smith apple, 1T caraway seeds, and 1 bayleaf. Sautée for 3-4 minutes until soft (but not brown). Then add 1 head of green cabbage, sliced as thin as possible. Then deglaze with 1/4 C Champagne vinegar, 2C chicken stock + 2T honey. Add a lid and cook on low for approx. 35 min until the cabbage is soft. Season with salt & pepper if necessary

Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes, and a glass of your favorite Alsatian wine! (or Austrian or Burgundian or WA for that matter). We recommend: Domaine Moltès Réserve Riesling (Alsace-pure!), Weingut Prechtl Längen vom Löss Grüner Veltliner (award-winning GV from Austria), Maison Paul Reitz Santenay (live a little!), or 1851 Cellars Cab from WA (dark fruit, no oak, great with food!) or the Chardonnay for that matter (nice, round, no oak, another killer food wine from WA State).

Hope you enjoy this meal. I love it!
–Chef Tracey


10.14.2015 – Seasonal Recipes from Chef Tracey: Mussels

Seafood at home! We had clams on the menu at Portalis as a House Favorite, and I didn’t dare take them off! If I’m cooking at home, though, especially in the fall, I make mussels. Here’s a recipe that’s quick & easy and uses the end of season heirloom tomatoes still available. Sautée a shallot, garlic & fennel in olive oil. Deglaze with 1C white wine, 1C clam juice and zest of ½ an orange. Then throw in your mussels (1lb – washed and debearded) and diced heirloom tomatoes. Put the lid on the pan and steam on medium high until the mussels pop open, maybe 7 min. Finish with chopped basil on top, sourdough bread on the side, and a glass of wine. We recommend: Domaine des Herbauges 2014 Classic Muscadet Côtes de GrandLieu Sur Lie (Loire Valley) as a classic seafood wine from France. Another excellent choice would be Outon 2011 Albariño (Rias Baixas), a world-class seafood wine from Spain.

Cheers to fall!
Chef Tracey

10.07.2015 – Seasonal Fall Recipes from Chef Tracey: Fresh Corn  

On the same day as we got the peaches (see last blog post below), we got freshly picked corn, too — still had dew on it. So wonderful. With fresh corn, I love to make corn soup. This recipe would be simple-dimple. Let’s go with olive oil, 1 shallot. Saute. Throw in corn cut from 6 ears of corn. Saute for a couple minutes. Add 1T green curry (has more lemon grass which I like, but you can use any curry you’d prefer). Add 1 quart of coconut milk & ½ quart of chicken or veggie stock. Simmer for half an hour. Throw in blender or food processor (or use a hand blender) and puree it. Garnish with a little bit of fresh corn mixed with chopped Thai basil & mint. (again, I’m all into the aromats!)

With this, you need a fuller, rounder white wine for the perfect match. Go with an unoaked Chardonnay (try: 1851 Cellars from WA) or a nice Pinot Grigio (try: Corte Giacobbe from Veneto).

Cheers to fall…
–Chef Tracey

Food_Peach Shortcake with amaretto whipped cream_Jun 2012

09.30.2015 – Seasonal Recipes for September from Chef Tracey: Peach Buttermilk Cake       

My husband, Sam, and I just got a crate of peaches from Yakima (coming home from The Gorge, after lucking into some Dave Matthews tickets). We hit little farmer stands around the pass on the way home, loading up the jeep with food for the LloydMartin. The peaches almost looked fake the color was so perfect!  Juicy, sweet.

With peaches like this I automatically think of aromats to go with, such as crystalized ginger, and from there I head to an ooey-gooey brown sugar Upside-Down Buttermilk Cake or a Peach Shortcake (pictured) which is quick & easy! I used to make both of these at Portalis to rave reviews. Here’s an easy recipe for my Upside-Down Cake. Use this basic Buttermilk Cake recipe. Put your peeled & sliced peaches tossed in brown sugar, ginger & butter on the bottom of the pan & put cake batter on the top and bake. Then flip it over onto a plate. It’s so yummy!

Dessert wines? Enjoy with Moscato (Piedmont) or a lovely little Beaumes de Venise (Southern Rhône).
Happy September & cheers to the end of summer bounties…

–Chef Tracey

House_Deviled Eggs with smoked trout_May 2014_v2
August 2015
Seasonal Recipes from Chef Tracey: Deviled Eggs

Nothing will make you the star of your next picnic faster than these fancy deviled eggs. Smoked trout can be a little tricky to find, but look in the fish section of any higher-end local grocery store and you should be able to find a vac-pac of it. And wow, does it dress up this old picnic standard! Please help yourself to my recipe below. Don’t miss the suggested wine pairings as well!  Enjoy the last few weeks of summer! –Chef Tracey

Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs
Boil 12 eggs by dropping them into boiling water. Turn the heat off and let them sit for 13 minutes, then shock the eggs in ice water so that they stop cooking. Cut the eggs in half, saving the whites on a platter. Put the cooked yolks in your Cuisinart and add:

  • 2 sides of smoked trout (you need the whole filet)
  • 1/3 C mayo
  • 2T crème fraiche
  • 1t capers
  • 1t fresh dill
  • 1t chives
  • pinch of smoked salt (Maldon is my favorite)
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 1/8t minced garlic.

Purée and then fill the egg white halves with the creamy yolk filling. Beautiful if you use a piping bag. (Create your own by cutting off the corner of a zip-lock bag.) Or go for a more rustic look by using a spoon! Garnish with a sprig of dill or smoked paprika.

Bubbles would be great with the egg and the fish flavors! Enjoy:

Chef Tracey's Recipes_Buffalo Burgers_July 2015
JULY 2015
Seasonal Recipes fromo Chef Tracey: BUFFALO BURGERS

I am a big fan of the classic American hamburger, and this is a fun twist: a buffalo burger! Ground bison is a nice change of pace to the classic beef burger. Bison is less fatty and has a light gaminess to it. It’s also super juicy. Follow my instructions below for a crunchy, crusty burger outside, with a pink, juicy middle. You should be able to find ground bison at most grocery stores. Often it’s in the fresh section in the little square vac-packs. If not, check the frozen section. It will still make a tasty burger. Please help yourself to my recipe below. Don’t miss the suggested wine pairings (which would be great with beef burgers as well!  And then there’s always beer…
–Chef Tracey

Ground bison is a nice change of pace to the classic beef burger. Bison is less fatty and has a light gaminess to it. It’s also super juicy. Follow my instructions below for a crunchy, crusty burger outside, with a pink, juicy middle. You should be able to find ground bison at most grocery stores. Often it’s in the fresh section in the little square vac-packs. If not, check the frozen section. It will still make a tasty burger.

  • Pat out the patties and then lay them on a piece of paper towel.
  • Cover them on top with another piece of paper towel, and let the paper towels absorb some of the moisture from the meat. (This will make the outside crunchy when you grill your burgers!)
  • Remove the paper towel and season with cracked pepper & smoked salt.
  • If you’re oriented towards a cheeseburger, try a smoked maple cheddar or a smoked cheese of your preference. An extra sharp white cheddar would also be delicious.
  • This burger is great with no bun and a little side salad, but if you’re up for complete decadence, try a brioche bun (what we affectionately termed “butter-bread” at Portalis).
  • Top it with lettuce (Romaine or iceberg for crunch) and a slice of Heirloom tomato & Walla Walla sweet onion.

Enjoy & have a great summer,
Chef Tracey

JUNE 2015: Seasonal Fruit Salad

We’ve really been missing our Chef Tracey since the close of the Wine Bar in December. We thought everyone would enjoy hearing that she’s doing well. She’s helping out her husband, Sam Crannell, Chef/Owner at LloydMartin in Queen Anne, taking classes to become a certified QB bookkeeper (a return to a previous life!) and working part-time as a bookkeeper. We met with Tracey last week with a proposition: Let us hire you to do our Food+Wine column, sharing seasonal recipes for our home cooks …and she said yes! (We’ll pair the wine, of course!)

FRUIT SALAD with nectarines, plumcots, grapes, honeydew whip & lemon thyme_May 2014_v4_email
So, here goes with our first edition: Seasonal Fruit Salad
“The fruit is looking beautiful at the markets …the time of year when I am inspired to make fruit salad. I particularly like the combination of nectarines (which have a little more acidity than peaches making them a fresher, citrusy accent) and honeydew melons (which are a cooling summer fruit).” –Chef Tracey

This fruit salad feeds 2 people for brunch or 4 people for a light dessert:

2 nectarines pitted and sliced
1 C red grapes halved
½ a honeydew melon cut in small cubes
Lemon thyme
2 T freshly grated coconut

DALLOP of lemon crème fraîche:
½ C crème fraîche
1 T honey of your choice
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Mix together fruit in a serving dish & add a dallop of crème fraîche to the top. As well you can make individual servings. Garish with a sprig of lemon thyme.

WINE PAIRINGS: This dish is amazingly flexible for wine. If serving for brunch, bubbles are great way to start and Prosecco (which is less dry than other bubbles) would be a delicious combo (try: La Farra Prosecco Superiore Brut). Riesling with its off-dry mid-palate would be great (try: Domaine Moltès Riesling Réserve) as would a well-made Californian Viognier. Another delicious option would be Ramato (orange wine) from Veneto. It’s technically 100% Pinot Grigio, but it’s a wonderful copper color from being left with the skins for a longer period. It’s fleshy and lush and crazy good! (Try: Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe 2013 Pinot Grigio Ramato). For dessert, Moscato would be a great choice – bubbles, slightly sweet, low alcohol (we’ve got a great one on sale: Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2010 Vigne Rare Moscato).

Cheers to summer eating & drinking, and cheers to having Chef Tracey back with us for this feature!

Julie, co-owner
Portalis Wines

July 1, 2015 at 3:31 pm Leave a comment

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