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.

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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.

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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

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>>

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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

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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

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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