Thanksgiving with Germans? It’s Spanish, of course!

How will the owners of Portalis spend their Thanksgiving? I spent a few minutes with Jens and Julie to ask what they’ll be cooking up for the holiday:

Portalis Wine Blog: So, how will you two be spending your rare day off together for the upcoming holiday?
 Julie: This year we will be celebrating at home with our two girls, Clara and Annelie, and we’ve invited another couple, both from Germany and their little daughter.  A nice meal, some wine with friends, all around a cozy fire. We are very excited.
PWB: I’m curious what’s on the menu?
 Julie: Well, Germans don’t eat a lot of turkey, it’s not a common food there. So we thought we’d switch it up this year and prepare something different. Jens suggested one of his special dishes, Paella!
PWB: That’s definitely different for Thanksgiving, but sounds delicious. So what will be your contribution to the meal?
 Julie: In keeping with the Spanish theme, I thought I’d prepare homemade brandade (salt cod) paired with a sparkling Cava from Casteller. Next will be a frisée salad with an anchovy vinaigrette paired with Palacios 2007 Remondas Placet, a white Rioja. Oh, and there’ll be a big plate of orange slices, a bowl of peas and lots of homemade bread on the table for the kids.
PWB: Jens, you’re in charge of the main course, Paella. Tell me how you like to prepare it and some of your secret ingredients.
 Jens:  I like to take my time, by prepping some of the ingredients the day before. The main secret is to cook the rice in clam juice. I like to put lots of different seafood and meat in it: dungeness crab, halibut cheeks, scallops, octopus, prawns, shrimp, chicken, sausage, bacon, bell peppers, herb salt, saffron and pepper. 
PWB: Sounds awesome! What wine will you be drinking with it?
 Jens: Well, we’ll do several…(We’re German!) Clos Les Fites 2003 Priorat, El Quintanal 2005 Ribera Del Duero, and then maybe Celler Tomas 2006 Vilosell Costers del Segre . These reds range from plummy and elegant to full-bodied and spicy.
PWB: …And for dessert? assuming you have room.
 Jens: Our friend Nickie is a trained chef and will be making flan as well as her specialty… apple tart tatin. I can’t wait!
PWB: Which dessert wine have you selected?
 Jens: Eiswein of course for the tart.  Then probably Moscatel for the flan.
PWB: Just one more question, “Do you have room for one more at the table?”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! For suggestions on wine pairings for your holiday meal, feel free to contact Jens ( for recommendations. Also, check out our Food+Wine page for a new spin on a traditional meal from Chef Tracey.


Chef Tracey’s Fall Food+Wine Pairings

Duck for the Holidays
December 20, 2009

Our duck confit is stellar and has gotten rave reviews from customers.  For those of you interested in the real deal, the duck legs have been salt cured for 24 hours and then cooked in duck fat for about 6 hours at low temp.  This dish is a great combination of sweet & salty, fatty from the duck and earthy from the vegetables which are a wonderful selection of seasonal winter vegetables: sunchoke, sweet potato & Brussels sprouts.  The duck with its sauce (which consists of the gelée from the bottom of the pan reduced with red currant preserves) tastes like candied meat.  Paired with the Saint Cosme 2008 Côtes-du-Rhône ~ it’s a match made in heaven!

For an easier version of duck confit at home, I use a whole duck which I salt cure over night (rub the skin and inside the cavity with salt and herbs, your choice).  The next day, rinse the duck and pat it dry, then put in a roasting pan (I recommend using a rack) and roast at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the oven to 250 degrees and roast for 3-4 hours, until the leg joint moves easily. The first 15 minutes in the oven sears the fat and makes it crispy and then the long roasting time results in meat that falls off the bone, similar to duck confit. 

Happy Holidays!
Chef Tracey

Insider scoop on Manchego 
Sunday, November 29, 2009

Now that December is here and it will be cold for some time, I thought that a winter tart was in order, and I’ve gone with confit fingerling potatoes, Spanish chorizo & manchego. Confit potatoes simply means that they are slow poached in olive oil, making them nice and rich, and perfect for the tart as the olive oil renders out during its baking, complementing the richness of the chorizo. And then there’s the Manchego.  This is the real deal … a special, award-winning Manchego, new to the Seattle market via Corsican Cellars, a small local cheesemonger.  Manchego has become ubiquitous in our local high-end markets, but all Manchego is not created equal.  They all vary in flavors & textures, based on the aging process and this particular cheese is exceptional.  It’s a raw sheep’s milk cheese from the La Prudenciana farm in La Mancha, aged for 12 months, and has a nutty, pungent flavor which can hold its own against the other ingredients on the tart.
This tart needs a nice tannic food wine to handle the richness of the potatoes/meat/cheese.  The biggest Spanish wine on the menu is the Buil & Giné 2006 17.XI Montsant ($9/glass) which would pair beautifully or you could go Southern Rhône with the Saint Cosme 2008 Côtes-du-Rhône ($8/glass) which is a classic food wine that would taste delicious as well.  Want to go Northwest?  Try the Seven Hills 2005 Tempranillo ($9.50/glass) which is a very nice food wine as well. It has a little higher acidity to cut the fat of the dish.

Chef Tracey

Posted: Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Thanksgiving for Two
I grew up in house that planned for leftovers, but as an adult, I’ve realized I don’t much like them.  If you find yourself in similar shoes and you’re facing an upcoming Thanksgiving where you want turkey but you just can’t take turkey sandwiches for the foreseeable future, then Chef Tracey has a suggestion for you:  Turkey Paillarde with cranberry, apple bread pudding & Brussels sprouts.  Paillarde simply means “a piece of meat that has been pounded flat before cooking. It takes its name from the Restaurant Paillarde, situated at 38 Boulevard des Italiens, in Paris, where it is said to have originated.” (Menu Mystique, Norman Odya Krohn, 1983)  In this case, get a turkey breast, remove the skin, cut horizontally through the breast ending up with 7-8 pieces.  Pound them, pan fry them in butter, and then sprinkle a little parsley on top to finish.

For the bread pudding:  Cube stale bread, preferably baguette. Dice & caramelize 1 onion. Peel & dice 1 Granny Smith apple, Combine with ½ C sun-dried cranberries & 2 sage leaves, chopped.  For the custard:  Heat 1C heavy cream & 1C chicken stock to simmer.  Whisk 8 eggs (with salt & pepper) in separate bowl.  Slowly pour stock/cream mixture into eggs.  Pour that mixture over bread mixture and toss.  Let that sit for 15 minutes, stirring periodically for bread to absorb hot custard mixture. Pour into buttered baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Take foil off and bake another 15 minutes. 

Aside from the preparing the Brussels sprouts, that’s it … which should leave plenty of time for wine drinking, visiting, watching football or whatever suits you on this holiday.  We have paired this dish with Oregon Pinot Noir as it doesn’t overpower the turkey and the smoky, cherry fruit flavors go great with the bread pudding.  If you need wine suggestions, please feel free to contact Jens:

Happy Thanksgiving!
Julie, Co-Owner
Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar

Posted: Tuesday, November 03, 2009
PORK TENDERLOIN with parsnip purée, braised chard, golden raisin & pine nuts ($14) paired with Bishop Creek Cellars 2006 Pinot Noir Barrel Selection $9 glass / $21 per bottle

Pork is not only delicious, but it’s a very versatile meat with varying cuts and preparations that allow for very different dining experiences.  With that goes a wine versatility as well.  Pork pairs well with fuller-bodied whites, such as a Washington Viogner blend (Thurston Wolfe 2008 PGV $18), Oregon Pinot Gris (try: Spindrift Cellars 2008 Pinot Gris $18.50) or a Bordeaux Blanc (try: Chateau La Freynelle 2007 Bordeaux Blanc $13) as well as lighter-bodied reds such as Pinot Noir (as is the case with the above entrée currently on the menu) or even more medium-bodied reds with richer, fattier, braised pork preparations.  Go with a Southern Rhône blend (try: Saint Cosme 2008 Côte du Rhône $17) or even a smoother New World Syrah (try: Qupé 2007 Syrah $18 from the Central Coast, CA).  With pork dishes, you can go exploring with respect to wine.

Have fun!
Julie, Owner
Portalis Wines

Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2009
It’s peak season for mushroom foraging which inspired me to do the mushroom brie tart.  In the market right now, chantarelles (coming from southern Washington & Oregon) are looking beautiful.  I love the rich golden color and the nice, woodsy, earthy flavor which pairs well with the richness of the brie. The other mushrooms on the tart are crimini which have a nice deep rich flavor and beech mushrooms which add a slightly sweet, nutty flavor & delicate texture to the tart. 

Some ideas for cooking with fall mushrooms: creamy parmesean polenta with marsala-braised mushrooms (which will go on the menu in the next few weeks), a creamy mushroom soup (which you can purée and serve as a mushroom bisque topped with truffle oil & chive) or how about some mushroom risotto? Here’s my insider tip:  sautée your mushrooms with olive oil on a really high heat so that they have a nice sear & caramelized color and add them to the risotto for the last five minutes of cooking.  Finish with parmegiano reggioano & thyme.

Wine Pairing for wild mushrooms:
When you smell a bottle of Pinot Noir from Burgundy, the nose often has a mushroomy smell, making this a classic pairing (try:  Henri Delagrange 2006 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune $28).  You can also get earthy, musty, mushroomy flavors from Itailan Barolo (try:  Fontanafredda 2004 Barolo Serralunga D’Alba $69/SALE $ ), Barbaresco (try: Pelissero 2004 Nubiola Barbaresco $44) or for a more affordable wine, go with a Nebbiolo from Lombardy:  Conti Sertoli Salis 2006 Baccalit $19.

Chef Tracey

Posted:  Sunday, October 10, 2009
WIENERSCHNITZEL with warm German potato salad $18
… served with a glass of Weingut Graf von Schoenborn 2008 Sylvaner Kabinett $9 

Chef Tracey has been using the phrase comfort food a lot lately and nothing says comfort more (to Jens & many people) than Wienerschnitzel.  (By the way, Wien is German for Vienna, and Wienerschnitzel is a style of schnitzel originally from this part of Austria.)  Chef Tracey aced this one: a tender veal cutlet with a side of warm, creamy, fingerling potato salad.  And together with the wine pairing, Weingut Graf von Schoenborn 2008 Sylvaner Kabinett … it’s beautiful!  The wine varietal is Sylvaner, a grape grown in the Franken region of Germany, with lovely flavors of apples & pears. It is slightly off-dry with a solid acidity, allowing it to stand up to this rich meal. And for a little added touch, the bottle has the traditional bulbous bottom common in Germany for this type of wine (see top of photo).  Hope you can stop in to enjoy this while it’s on the menu.   

Julie, Co-Owner
Portalis Wines

Posted:  Sunday, September 27, 2009
Manilla clams with caramelized onion & bacon $13
Now that the weather is getting a littler chillier, a nice steamy bowl of clams has a lot of appeal.  With this dish, I like the saltiness of the bacon with the sweetness of the onion and the brininess of the clams.  I’m serving the clams with baguette to sop of the delicious, rich, buttery broth.  This dish pairs well with a broad spectrum of white wines.  The Ness 2008 Albariño (a classic Spanish fish wine from the northeastern region of Rias Baixas) has enough acidity to cut the fat of the bacon & butter.  A classic French bistro pairing would be the Château Lafont Menaut 2006 Pessac-Léognan which is a Bordeaux blanc that’s full flavored enough to handle the richness of the dish.  Or you could go all out rich and drink a glass of the Saintsbury 2007 Chardonnay, an oaky, buttery California Chardonnay, a wine that’s normally difficult to pair with food, but the buttery, bacony richness of these clams can hold up to it.

Chef Tracey