Archive: FOOD + WINE by Jaci

Food + Wine

Ballard Bakeries – A Tribute

Ballard is bursting at the seams with businesses.  One does not have to go far to have their needs met.  And one of those needs in my family is a weekly trip to the bakery.  Now, let me precursor here- I am Celiac, but my children are not.  That doesn’t stop the weekly trip.  This month, in honor of sweets and love, my daughter and I took a trip to some of our favorites (but not limited to these, mind you).

Our tasting exposition with quotes by Keskah June:

HONORÉ
Is only a block away. We ordered the Kouign Amann ($2.75) for Keskah and the Almond Croissant ($3.95) for Julie.  “My Honoré pastry was super yummy, crunchy and flakey on the outside and soft on the inside. The bit of carmelized sugar or whatever gave it a good kick of sweet but the salt in each bite from the bottom gave it back that savory flavor.” Pair with Lustau Pedro Jimenez  (Jerez, Spain) — Reg $39.99 | Mixed Case $31.99

Scandinavian Specialties
If you have never been in this shop, turn around and get to it.  Not all pastries- they have excellent deli foods (all Scandinavian) as well as a killer cheese and salami section, and of course, all the fairs from cute souvenirs to tasty candies too. But we were on a treat mission, so Keskah picked the Verdens Beste Kake.  It is a double layer of almond meringue with vanilla custard cream center ($4). “It’s super airy and not too sweet, I love it.  It’s delicious 20 out of 5 stars!” Pair with Bodegas Maset Cava Lleo (Penedes, Spain) — Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19

Cafe Besalu
The creations out of this bakery are well worth the line.  As one would see on a daily basis, the line out the door is all the locals and many who know exactly what they want.  When I could eat gluten over a decade ago, I would have the ginger biscuit.  I waited to snap a photo of it, but someone bought the entire plate before we arrived at the pastry box.  Keskah could not decide.  The problem is- everything is amazing.  So, she got a few!
Gruyere and Onion Pastry — “Besalu onion and Gruyere was delicious. I couldn’t stop eating it, just the perfect combination of savory in a pastry.”
Pair with Château des Roques 2012 Vacqueyras Southern Rhône Reg. $22.99 | Mixed Case 18.39

Hazelnut Twist  “The hazelnut twist was good, just not my sort of flavor I guess. It didn’t have a good nutty to sweet balance.” Pair with  Domaine d Moltes Riesling Reserve (Alsace, France) — Reg. $19.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59

Quiche Lorraine — “The quiche Lorraine was awesome as usual. It had a great egg to other ingredient ratio and the bacon was cooked just right!” Pair with Domaine d Moltes Pinot Blanc (Alsace, France) — Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59 or Domaine Claude Nouveau 2010 Santenay Premier Cru Grand Clos Rousseau (Burgundy, France) — Reg $49.99 | INSIDER $47.99 | Mixed Case $38.39

As I mentioned, those were only a few to stop at.  We frequent these ones as well, for the following reasons:
Larsens Bakery-  Not fancy but still delcious.  My son LOVES to get donuts and the gigantic M&M cookies.  I of course stock our house with the cheesy croissants or small rolls for afternoon snacks.
Tall Grass Bakery- Any time I have guests in town, we stop by for a few loaves to enjoy fondue. ( I make my own GF bread fyi).
Fresh Flours- excellent macaroons and the coffee is always fantastic.
MIRO Teas-  A wide selection of Gluten Free pastries.  My personal favorite is carrot cake.
If you have a favorite in Ballard, please let me know!  Keskah always loves a pastry date.

All the best-  Jaci

 

Food + Wine

Food + Wine_ legumes 2
What is a Pulse?  It is a legume or “grain legume” and internationally recognized as a vital player in crop rotation world wide.  2016 is the International Year of the Pulses by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  Washington State is the largest producer of garbanzo beans in the world as well as one of the large producers in legumes in the United States.

Morroccan Lentil Soup  –  Pair this with Vinchio Vaglio Serra Nebbiolo Lange Piedmont Italy  Reg. $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19 — Light bodied, yet expressive tannins, plum skins and cherry.

Mung Bean – Pair this with Bodegas Rauda Tinto Roa Crianza Castilla Y Leon Ribera del Duero Spain — Reg. $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39 — Ripe raspberries, red currant & blackberries delicately meshed with notes of toast and balsamic

Black Eyed Pea and Collard Greens Soup – Pair this with La Fleur Chazal Rouge Bordeaux France — Reg. $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79 — Blue currants, black raspberries, plums with medium tannins, structure and depth.

Vegetable Chickpea Curry – Pair this with Petit Romain Rouge Costieres di Nimes France  Reg. $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99 —  Dark rich summer cherries, white pepper, hillside herbs and soft tannins.

Smoky Chili – Ashobourne Red Hemel en Aarde South Africa — Reg. $44.99 | Mixed Case $37.49 — This Pinotage blend is expressive with rich cranberries, cherries, black raspberry, iron, leather, smoke and earth.

Brazilian Freijoada (Black Bean Pork Stew)  – Pair this with La Puerta Gran Reserva Blend La Rioja Argentina  Reg. $55.99 | Mixed Case $44.79 — Malbec, Bonarda and Syrah.  Intense dark plums, Rainer cherries, wood smoke, peppercorn and vanilla.

Red Beans and Rice – Pair this with Casto Pequeno Cotoval Castilla Y Leon Spain Reg. $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case  $11.19  —  Summer fruits- blackberries, raspberries, wild strawberries mixed with black peppercorn, soft tannins and subtle hints of vanilla

Here’s to your health!  Enjoy!  Jaci
Food + Wine_ legumes
Check Recipe Archive> for earlier posts!
Front Page Image  |  Above Image

Food + Wine

Dilemma with Dessert- Pairing

Pairing with desserts can be a challenge- already a treat and sweet, yet the wrong combo can be so wrong.  Like ying and yang, food pairing should keep in mind complementing as well as contrasting.  Most people assume dessert wines are syrupy sweet, but several are not.  And dessert wines don’t have to be what one pairs with dessert- sometimes a beer, cider, cocktail or wine is a better choice.  And if all else fails, have a few options and make it a fun end of the meal conversation!

Since many of you are entertaining the holidays, here are a few ideas to strike your fancy as well as some fun reading links!

Apple based:  cider, hot cider with rum or whiskey, Alscaian Rielsing, or Kabinett Riesling, Oregon Gewurtraminer, Sauternes, Blanc du Blanc Sparkling (100% Chardonnay)
Berry based:  Australian muscat, brachetto recioto di valpolicella, sparkling rose, sparkling shiraz or red wine (Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo), Campari

Rich cream based, such as custards or creme brulee:  (Matching weight) Amontilado (nutty), Tawny Port, Sauternes (esp if fruit), LH Alsacian Riesling, Trocken Riesling, Moscato (for light and floral)

Chocolate based: Bual or Malvasia Maidera, Ruby Port, Dark German Ales, Porters, California Cabernet, WA Syrah, Austrailian Shiraz

Caramel, butter based: Bual Maidera, Single vintage or white Tawny port, Pedro Ximenez, Belgium beer

Cookies and simple cake/cake breads:  Trocken Riesling, Moscato (for light and floral), Beaumes de Venise (Eames), vermouth, Lillet, Sparkling Cider, Rose, Lambrusco
Coffee and cream based: Chocolate or Espresso Martini, Amarone, Barolo, Stouts, Malvasia Madiera

More reading 1 | 2 | 3

Advertisements

Pairings with Northwest Fresh & Foraged!

NW Bounty_Fiddlehead fronds_Jaci_040815

Photo credit:  Photo Guide: The ABCs of Northwest Spring Produce>

I have been blessed to work with many local chefs that utilize and live by the standards that their cuisine should reflect what is currently produced.  Right now, Chef Don Curtiss at Volterra is using fiddlehead fronds, English peas and morels served with a scallop which admittedly sparked this article.

I LOVE fiddlehead fronds.  They are the youthful beginning of ostrich ferns that curl tightly and have the same texture as slightly cooked pea vines. Some say fiddlehead fronds are similar to asparagus.  I do not find them as bitter and the flavor is richer.  At Volterra, we pair the scallop and spring vegetables with Montenidoli Vernaccia.  However if you are cooking these at home without morels, try them with a verdejo such as Chamelin (currently on close out SALE for $10.99 | Mixed Case $8.79) or a local Washington Sauvignon Blanc.   (But please not a New Zealand or Loire- too much citrus, not enough grassy undertones.)

Mmmmmm…. Morels!  A meaty mushroom treat sautéed in butter and red wine- serve this with any local Syrah, such as Darby or 5 Oros Tempranillo (Spain).

Dandelions tossed in a salad with some pansy petals or sautéed with a touch of oil and sea salt… pair this with VVS Arengo Barbera or Barbanau Rosé.  Or both. 

NW Bounty_Morels_Jaci_040815
Nettles
are a bit time consuming to harvest but such a healthy and unique delicacy.  These are another bitter green yet high in iron.  Nettle gnocchi, similar to spinach gnocchi, paired with Noveau Aligoté or Tenuta Giaccobe Soave.

The beautiful white flower, Elderflower, with its delicate fragrance is a fantastic dessert as a simple syrup.  I like Dolin Blanc on the rocks with a touch of Elderflower simple syrup.  Chef Don Curtiss served his lemon mascarpone custard with Elderflower simple syrup last fall! We paired that with VVS Brachetto.

Watercress salad or garnish with Ossau-iraty and enjoy with Clos du Bosqut Pinot Noir

Rhubarb as a pie is always nice- but as chutney with your pork tenderloin…  Yes please.  Pelassa Barbaresco with its rich cherry undertones, tannins and soft leather is a great match.

Next time you are at your local farmers market, ask for something off your beaten path.  How is your local farmer cooking it?  What are your local chefs growing and bringing in?  Each season presents bounty here in the PNW.  Portalis is here from 11am-5pm on Sundays if you are at the Ballard Market and need a pairing with your freshly foraged produce and local finds.

Cheers!
Jaci
Sommelier, wine+food writer

http://www.oregonlive.com/mix/index.ssf/how-to/field-guide-to-foraging-in-the-northwest.html
http://www.activelynorthwest.com/food/photo-guide-abcs-northwest-spring-produce/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddlehead_fern
http://www.grownorthwest.com/2010/05/wild-edibles-making-a-menu-with-nettles-fiddlehead-ferns-and-morels/

Cheese & Wine ~ Your Pairing Guide

Wine&Cheese Pairings_Feb 2015
The quintessential match made in heaven, right? Here’s a website that does a great job giving you the nitty-gritty on the cheese: The Cheese Course> We’ve taken it a step further and paired each type of cheese with a wine in the shop that would taste fabulous!

Category 1: FRESH CHEESE – fresh, tangy & crisp flavors
o Chevre- goats milk- tangy and crisp.
Pair with: Chateau de la Bigotière Muscadet (Loire)
o Burrata- soft, rich and creamy texture.
Pair with: Nottola Chianti Colli Senesi (Tuscany)
o Triple cream- layers of delicate soft creaminess.
Pair with: Cave de Bissey Crémant de Bourgogne (Burgundy)
o Feta- herbaceaous and salty
Pair with: Bodega Casto Pequeño Chamelin Verdejo (Rueda)
o Smoked Mozzerella- delicate and moist
Pair with: Domaine de Marcé Sauvignon Blanc (Touraine)
o Ricotta- subtle sweetness with soft creamy texture.
Pair with: La Farra Sparkling Rosé (Veneto)
o Mascarpone- naturally sweet
Pair with: Castlefedder 15er Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige)

Category 2: BLOOMY RIND– soft, delicate flavors
o Boucheron- goat flavors, tangy hints of citrus, and an herbal quality
• Roche de Lune Vouvray (Loire)
o Camembert- mushroomy, garlicky, woodsy flavor
• Domaine Perraud Le Grand Sorbier Bourgogne Rouge (Burgundy)
o FROMAGER D’AFFINOIS- aromatic and delicate brie.
• Domaine La Bessonne Rosé (Provence)
o PIERRE ROBERT- Classic triple cream brie.
• Domaine de Frégate Bandol Rosé (Provence)
o GAPERON- assertive cheese, with a Brie-like texture, flavored with chunks of garlic and cracked black pepper.
• Domaine de Nalys Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvée Rouge (Southern Rhône)
o L’EDEL DE CLERON- gently sweet, slightly woodsy and quite delicious.
• Maison Paul Reitz Vosne-Romanée (Burgundy)
o LANDAFF- flavors, tangy with a clean finish. The open and buttery texture.
• Nottola Tre Pezzi Toscana (Tuscany)

Category 3: WASHED RIND– creamy, funky with occasional brine rind
o EPOISSES- aromatic and creamy.
• Domaine Claude Nouveau Santenay Le Chainey (Burgundy)
o CHAUMES- rich, full-bodied flavor and creamy texture
• Chateau des Roques Vacqueyras (Southern Rhône)
o GUBBEEN- mushroom and earth.
• Palazzo Malgara Primitivo di Manduria (Sicily)
o MUNSTER- supple and golden, slightly sticky and sweet, with huge flavor, rich and beefy.
• Domaine Moltès Riesling Réserve (Alsace)
o RACLETTE- deliciously fruity mountain cheese is traditionally melted over open flames.
• Pelassa San Vito Roero Arneis DOCG (Piedmont)
o TALEGGIO- farm yard and cream
• Vincho Vaglio Serra Barbaresco DOCG (Piedmont)
o L’AMUSE GOUDA- aged amber, hazelnuts and butterscotch.
• Le Gravillas Sablet AOC (Southern Rhône)

Category 4: BLUE CHEESE– pungent, sharp & salty
o CAMBOZOLA- mushroom, lemon zest
• Domaine de Nalys Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvée Classique Blanc (Southern Rhône)
o CASHEL BLUE- sweet creamy tangy
• Chateu des Eyssards Sec Cuvée Prestige (Bergerac)
o GARROTXA- mild herbal flavors with a hint of hazelnuts.
• Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe Soave (Veneto)
o GORGONZOLA NATURALE- firmer texture with more pronounced, intense flavor.
• Nottola Anterivo Supertuscan (Tuscany)
o MONTBRIAC- blue version of a double-cream Brie
• Bodegas Rauda Tinto Roa Crianza (Ribera del Duero)
o VALDEON- salty, pronounced, piquant and long lasting.
• 5 Oros Vendimia Seleccionada DOC (Rioja)
o STILTON- rich, creamy taste with nuances of honey, nuts and leather.
• Chateau Franc Grace Dieu Saint Emillion Grand Cru (Bordeaux)
o ROQUEFORT- soft, crumbly paste melts in the mouth with an intense and complex spicy, salty, flavor.
• Bodega Casto Pequeño Gravedad Tempranillo (Toro)

Category 5: SEMI-HARD RIND– full rich & bold flavors
o APPENZELLER- herbs, spices, white wine, and salt which contribute to its sophisticated, fruity flavor.
• Torre Gajo Pinot Grigio delle Venenzie IGT (Veneto)
o BEECHER’S RESERVE CHEDDAR- smooth, grassy and slightly sweet.
• Wish Wine Co Cabernet Sauvignon (Northern Coast, CA)
o BRA TENERO- soft, delicate and aromatic.
• Vinchio Vaglio Serra Dorato Gavi DOC (Piedmont)
o EMMENTHALER- sweet, nutty flavor
• Weingut Prechtl Satzen Zweigelt (Weinviertel)
o FONTINA D’AOSTA- firm, but supple paste with flavors of grass, nuts, and fruit.
• Zuazo Gaston Finca Costanillas DOC (Rioja)
o CABRA AL VINO- aka Drunken Goat, due to the dousing in red wine that gives this cheese a sassy edge, while the interior is mild and smooth.
• Señorio de Fenojal Reserva DOC (Rioja)
o GRAFTON 4 YEAR CHEDDAR- sharp, earthy flavor and a slightly crumbly texture. Made from the raw milk.
• Les Chevaliers de Dauprat Pauillac Rouge (Bordeaux)
o PETIT BASQUE- sheep cheese with an oily and slightly woodsy flavor.
• L’Adage Saint Emilion Rouge (Bordeaux)

Category 6: HARD RIND– mature & developed flavor
o WENSLEYDALE- It has a smooth thin natural dry rind which is bound in muslin with a moist hazelnut creamy taste and salty tang.
• Pelassa Bricco Enrichetta Langhe Barbera/Nebbiolo DOC (Piedmont)
o TOMME DE FEDOU- a mild earthiness to the aroma and flavor of the cheese while the interior has a firm texture and flavors of hay and nuts.
• Domaine de la Croix Bouquie Sauvignon Blanc (Touraine)
o PIAVE- an intense, full-bodied flavor, reminiscent of Parmigiano Reggiano, that intensifies with age and makes this cheese absolutely unique
• Palazzo Malgara Shiraz (Sicily)
o OSSAU-IRATY- lactic, nutty, rich slightly oily, firm texture.
• Bodegas Maset Reserva Cava Brut (NU) (Penedès)
o MANCHEGO- delicious briny, nuttiness; earthy, hearty and wonderful.
• Bodegas Tavera Cendal (La Mancha)
o MAHON- bold, magnificent one that could never be called mild. The yellowish-orange rind conceals a soft, salty and decidedly spicy interior.
• Domaine Le Mourre Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Southern Rhône)
o IDIAZABAL- buttery, balsamy taste and a nutty finish.
• Cruz de Piedra Umbral de los Tiempos Malbec (Mendoza)

Any questions? Stop by and visit with us about it. You’d make our day!
Jaci Kajfas, Sommelier

Chocolate & Wine for Valentine’s

Food_Cadeaux Chocolates
Janet Shimada’s beautiful, award-winning Cadeaux Chocolates (above)

As with food, when pairing wines with chocolate, match lighter-flavored chocolates with lighter-bodied wines, and more “intense” flavored chocolates with more full-bodied wines. When pairing wine with chocolate, you can look for wines with have the same flavor profile as the chocolate (nutty, cherry, other fruit, mint, etc.), or look for contrasts. Most experts would recommend “sticking” with fortified wines (ports), because the sweetness of the wines match well with chocolates. But there is more behind it. Let’s take a journey beyond fortified wines.

Milk Chocolate
Milk chocolate has a higher percentage of sugar, and a smaller percentage of chocolate liquor (unsweetened chocolate). In addition with its higher milk content, milk chocolate is a milder, sweeter product with fewer aromas and flavors.  Wine pairing suggestions: a Tawny Port (try: Quinta De La Rosa 10y Tawny Port) is the ultimate match. Its nutty, caramel flavors highlight the milk chocolates’ own flavors and intensify the overall chocolate flavors.

Semisweet Chocolate
Dark chocolate with 50% to 69% cacao has strong, complex flavors, with notes that are nutty, spicy, floral, earthy, fruity, and/or caramel. The aftertaste is balanced, not too sweet. Wine pairing suggestions: fortified fruity wines like Banyuls and Ruby Ports (try: Niepoort NV Ruby, Quinta De La Rosa Finest Reserve) have cacoa and chocolate aromas and flavors as well as cherry, raspberry or other berry fruit, and are classic companions with chocolate. Vintage Ports should be matched with caution: The high sugar and alcohol content can overwhelm the chocolate. Banyuls and nonvintage Ports have softer, rounder tannins than vintage Ports and pair better with chocolate.  Another classic choice is Cabernet Sauvignon (try: Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon or Sparkman Kingpin Cabernet Sauvignon) or Bordeaux (try: Château Pibran Pauillac or Château Pichecan Margaux). It brings out the fruity-peppery-grapey notes in the chocolate. Zinfandel brings out chocolate’s spicy notes. Tawny Ports, which have nutty, tobacco and leather notes, also make good pairings.

Bittersweet Chocolate
The most intense, richly-flavored dark chocolate is 70% to 100% cacao. Bittersweet chocolate can have bitter, roasted, fruity, earthy, woodsy, ashy and/or nutty notes. The same wines will match bittersweet and semisweet chocolate.

Chocolates with Caramel or Toffee
Wine pairing suggestions:  Hungarian Tokaji, with notes of apricots, butter and caramel, pairs well with buttery salt caramels. Young Madeira (try: Broadbent Madeira 5y old) has classic caramel and toffee flavors and good acidity to pair with that kind of chocolate. Buttery caramels and toffees pair well with buttery wines. Mersault from a ripe year, with rich, lush fruit and low acid or a rich buttery Chardonnay from California (try: Shannon Ridge Chardonnay) complements the brown sugar and caramel flavors as well as the cocoa flavors of the chocolate. The nutty bouquet of a dry Oloroso Sherry complements the nuts in toffee. It’s also great with salt caramels. Sauternes, a rich sweet dessert wine from Bordeaux, has honey, apricot and peach notes, also pairs well with caramel and toffee chocolates. The chewiness of the candy stands up to the viscosity of the wine. Tawny Port enhances the nutty notes of toffee, and to a lesser extent, caramel.

Chocolates with Cinnamon and Ginger
A spicy, dry Zinfandel (try: Four Vines Maverick Old Vines Zinfandel) or a sweet Late Harvest Zinfandel (they can almost be port-like) are good options to complement the spicy notes of chocolates with cinnamon and ginger.

Chocolates with Coconut
Brachetto D’Aqui (try: Giacomo Bologna), a light sparkling dessert wine from Piedmont, with typical aromas and flavors of strawberries and roses, is a great match with nuts and coconut. Sauternes or a Late Harvest Semillon or Moscato from Australia (try: Two Hands) are other options.

Chocolates with Coffee Flavors
Chocolates with espresso, mocha, coffee bean and other coffee flavors. Oloroso sherry or cream sherry (coffee, nutty flavors) or Australian Shiraz (try: Langmeil Valley Floor Shiraz), with dark fruit, mocha, coffee, espresso flavors.

And last … Chocolates with Nuts
Including hazelnuts, almonds, and other nuts and pralines. Wine pairing suggestions: nutty Tawny Ports are the perfect match for chocolates with nuts. Sherry that is not too sweet is a good companion to almond-based chocolates, ideally a Pedro Ximinez with its almond aromas and flavors, or a well-rounded Fino. Cream Sherries match well with hazelnuts. Lighter nuts like pistachio can be served with Sauternes. Other options would be Brachetto D’Aqui and Cabernet Sauvignons.

Cheers & Happy Valentine’s Day!
Jens

Gina goes Truffle Hunting in Piedmont


Gina’s led her most recent Premier Vineyard Tours group on a truffle hunt:

Truffles are hypogeal fungi that are born and live under the earth (think of it as a subterranean mushroom). They can be found as shallow as a few centimeters beneath the earth or, in rare cases a meter underground. Their size can also greatly vary from just a few grams to a kilo. (Wow!) Truffles grow in symbiosis with the roots of trees in specific microclimates. The most common truffle trees are oak, lime, poplar, beech, hazel, willow and douglas fir. The best growing conditions for the truffle are calcareous soils with spring and summer rains versus long hot summers. The most sought after truffle is the rare white truffle (also known as tuber magnutum pico) the “king of truffles!” This rare truffle can be found in Northern & Central Italy, Croatian and Istrian peninsulas.

One of the highlights from my recent wine tour of Piedmont, Italy, was a truffle hunt. We took a break from the wine road and headed to nearby La Casa del Trifulau; a fifth-generation family of truffle hunters or “trifulaus”. La Casa del Trifulau truffle farm is now run by brothers Natale & Giorgio Romagnolo in Costigliole d’Asti. Upon our arrival, both brothers greeted us with an introduction to their hunting dogs as well as a brief history of truffles. There are hundreds of species of truffles, but our goal for that day was to hunt for the summer black truffle or “scorzone.”

We set out late in the morning to the forest across the street from their farm. With our truffle dogs Diana (Roman Goddess of the Hunt) and Brio (her son) racing ahead, Giorgio started calling out orders to them and gently tapping his staff on tree trunks to keep the dogs focused. As we walked up the forest trail, the dogs were diligently sniffing the earth, darting back and forth with Giorgio’s voice never far. Then suddenly, Diana barked and started to dig frantically near the base of a poplar tree. Giorgio kneeled down beside her and called Brio over to help. He explained it was important for Brio to be a part of the discovery so that he can learn to find his own truffles. When Diana got close to the truffle, she started digging with one paw, so as not to damage the truffle. At this point, Giorgio took over with a zappino: a pick-like tool that helps set the truffle free. Within a few seconds he had the truffle in his hand, congratulated the dogs, and gave them a treat. It was an exhilarating moment for all of us as we took turns holding and smelling the precious discovery! We were lucky enough to go through this excitement two more times on our hour long hunt, and even witnessed Brio ‘the rookie’ find his own large truffle. Bravo, Brio!


When we returned, Natale prepared some local salumi, with a local goat cheese and a generous amount of shaved truffle on top. We even took turns shaving our own truffle! Natale told us stories of his childhood and shared his favorite truffle recipes as we sipped on local Barbera wine and feasted on fresh truffles. This was a very good day indeed. I look forward to returning in the fall sometime to join Diana and Brio on their quest for the rare white truffle!

The most surprising thing I learned on our truffle tour is that the intoxicating aroma of truffles only lasts a few weeks. After that, the spores die and it no longer has its enticing scent. Natale warned us about truffle oils in the market, explaining that the majority of them use a synthetic chemical that mimics the smell of the truffle. How do you know if your oil is authentic or not? Check the label and if it says “truffle essence” then it is synthetic. As of today, there is only one known white truffle oil in the US market that doesn’t use a synthetic chemical and it’s produced by Oregon chef & truffle hunter Jack Czarnecki. Thanks to his background in bacteriology, Jack has developed a method that safeguards the oil from bacterial growth and keeps the truffle perfectly preserved. Check out his products here: https://oregontruffleoil.com/

What to drink with your next truffle dish? I suggest the following wines available at Portalis:
Vinchio-Vaglio Serra 2009 Barbera Tre Vescovi
Pelassa 2009 Barbera d’Alba San Pancrazio
Nottola 2008 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Nottola 2009 Chianti Colli dei Senesi

Buon appetito!
Gina

For more information on Gina’s tours to Italy visit her website at: www.premiervineyardtours.com

A Conversation with Lobo Hills

I had the opportunity to sit down with local winemaker (and motorcycle aficionado) Tony Dollar and ask him a few questions about his winery, Lobo Hills. Prior to winemaking, Tony had worked in the hospitality/restaurant industry at such places as Canlis. His opening venture into wine was in the winter of 2010 with three wines totaling 234 cases; 2009 Riesling, 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, and a non-vintage Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, Lobo Hills aims to produce almost 1,200 cases thanks to the created fan-base in and around Seattle for their wines.

The aim of Lobo Hills wine is to produce ‘wine for food’, in other words balanced and acidic wines that are drinkable throughout a meal. The winery itself is based out of the Dollars’ home in the Wedgewood neighborhood in North Seattle, and uses minimal intervention in its production techniques. Tony sources his grapes from throughout Eastern Washington: white varietals from around the town of Sunnyside, red varietals from near Benton City, the Red Mountain AVA region, and Wahluke Slope.

Since Lobo Hills wine is made with food in mind, I asked Tony what his favorite food pairings were for the vintages carried here at Portalis:

Right Bank Red Blend: Beef stew, or roasted Portobello mushrooms

Cabernet Sauvignon: Beef Tenderloin

Riesling: Grilled Pork medallions or Lemon roasted chicken

Look for new vintages to arrive in April (among them being a new to the market white blend!)

Cheers!

Kyle

Meet Olivier Boyé of Corsican Cellars

Corsican Cellars is an artisanal cheese importer and distributer located in Mercer Island. Here at Portalis, we have had the pleasure of serving a number of this company’s delicious products for a number of years now. While Corsican Cellars delivers a wide range of French, Italian, Spanish, Corsican, British, Irish, and Belgian goods, it also looks to supply goods from American farms that use traditional, sustainable farming and production techniques. Not only is the company focused on high quality, but the owner Olivier Boyé is knowledgeable about his products, and always delivers excellent merchandise. I had the opportunity to sit down with Olivier and ask him a few questions about his products, producers, and experiences with Corsican Cellars.

I of course first asked Olivier about his personal background, and how he begun in the cheese import business. Olivier’s family was from the island of Corscia originally, but he grew up in a suburb about 25 miles outside of Paris called Étiolles. Every summer his family would return to Corscia to visit his grandmother, and enjoy in all the wonderful artisanal crafted delicacies the island is known for.

Olivier wanted to continue to carry the traditional Corsican artisanal feel into his business, as he had experienced as a child visiting his grandmother. His aim is to be able to create personal relationships with each farm he imports goods from, in order to be better connected to the producer’s success.  The cheeses Corsican Cellars imports are direct from the caves of the producer, so that they can assure the quality for their customers. They are one of the few suppliers that are interested in preserving some of the artisanal cultures of different regions around the world. Many of the producers Olivier imports products from have never before had their products sold to the United States, making Corscian Cellars a very unique company.

I asked Olivier for his top cheese choices to pair with wine, and this is what he came up with for us here at Portalis:

– Ferme Kukulu, Pur Brebis Lait Cru:
o Ferme Kukulu is a 5th generation cheese maker from Basque Country. Made from raw sheep’s milk collected every day on the farm. Aged 4-6 months in a cool underground cave. Firm textured cheese with a natural rustic rind, milky & nutty flavors.
o Pairs well with Riesling like the Domaine Moltes 2009 Riesling Reserve, $19.99

– Fromagerie des Ardennes, Chèvre de Wavreumont:
o From Wallonia in southern Belgium, this organic raw goat’s milk cheese is created using the traditional medieval recipe used by Trappist Monks. Very clean goat lactic flavor with balanced acidity, along with flowery & herbal notes.
o Pair this with the Roche de Lune 2009 Sancerre, $31.99 or the Domaine de La Croix Bouquie 2009 Touraine $15.99
– Fromagerie Glaser, Märitchäs Après Soleil:
o Fromagerie Glaser is a 6th generation cheese maker, and this is the first time it has been imported to the US. The milk used in the cheese is brought in from remote pastures to the village of Steinen on trailers pulled by hand, donkey, or even dogs. This cheese is aged for 10 months in natural caves with a sandy bottom, and then moved to a warmer cave where deeper flavors develop (in total about 18 months of aging). This cheese is slightly salty, buttery, and has roasted hazelnut & fruity notes.
o A round Chardonnay with a hint of oak like the Sparkman 2010 “Lumiere”,  $28.99
– Les Fruitiéres de Bornes, Bleuet de Savoie:
o Also called “Bleuet de Salève”, this is a semi-soft to semi-hard raw cow’s milk bleu cheese. It is a mild a creamy cheese with sweet, grassy aromas. Depending on the time of year the milk was harvested, this cheese can range in color from white to yellow (dry hay feed in winter to grassy and flowery Alpine slopes in summer). Aged for 3 months.
o Try this with Port, such as the Washington produced Wind River Cellars 2001 Port, $20.99
– Emilio Mauri, Burro Mauri Carta:
o This butter comes from a producer in Lombary (a region known for its milk). Emilio Mauri has created wonderful expressions of the natural assests of this part of the world since the 1920s. This butter is a wonderful expression of his vision.
o Pair any buttery dish with a wine such as the Chateau le Boscq 2006 Saint-Estephe, $29.99
Cheers!
Kyle