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Wine Oh!

BRENDA ADAMSON
AUSTIN, TX

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Hey, welcome to the food blog.

I hope you enjoy wine and food as much as I do and like to share recent discoveries and great bargain finds. I am not an expert by any means. I just know what I like and can usually afford, and occasionally splurge on.

The rest of the time is just work, travel, cookbooks, cooking, eating and life with wine. . . it's so much nicer.

Our ratings are based on how much we did or did not enjoy each wine. No professional advice here, just honest opinions. The same goes for the restaurant ratings.

We drink what we like with what we like to eat.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Night Wine Oh's! - *Halloween - True Blood?*


From Food & Wine Oh!


Our Spec's purchase on this Friday night was made more in the spirit of Halloween than in the search of great wine and we just couldn't pass up these spooky bottles of juice.

But with the Univ. of Texas playing Tech we knew it would also be a Jameson-Irish-Whiskey-Manhattan-weekend and we should be ready for whatever came--and Tech brought it. Our beloved Horns looked like crap. Well the No. 1 ranking was great while it lasted and the Manhattans were fabulous as usual.

We passed out gobs of candy to lots and lots of little ghouls and goblins, princesses and fairies. The "V" was good--pretty much standard Merlot-ditto for the "W".

From Food & Wine Oh!


Manhattan's "Friday Night Wine Oh's!" Style

We make a serving for 2--

In the shaker:

  • Fill shaker with crushed ice
  • 4 shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey

In the (frozen) glass:

  • 1 T Sweet Vermouth (to taste)
  • 1-2 Maraschino cherries
  • 3 dashes of bitters (to taste) Shake Whiskey vigorously until the shaker frosts, pour into glass. Find your favorite lounge spot and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Herb-Garlic Grilled Lamb Chops with Roasted Vegetables & Grapes, Toasted Walnuts & Blue Cheese Salad

From Food & Wine Oh!

This dinner is just too easy--and you get gourmet results! We served it with a bottle (or two) of Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon. Yum.

From Food & Wine Oh!


Herb & Garlic Grilled Lamb Chops with Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled, large cubes
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, large cubes
  • 3 carrots, peeled, 1.5" chunks
  • 3 zucchini, 2' chunks
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 7 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1-2 tbs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbs fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs dried oregano (use fresh if you have it)
  • olive oil
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 6 lamb loin chops

Preheat Oven to 400° or 425°

  1. Prepare vegetables and toss with 1/4 cup or so of olive oil, salt and pepper and half of the chopped garlic and herbs. Sprinkle lightly with balsamic vinegar. Spread onto a large baking sheet and roast in the oven until golden and caramelized--about 40 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, season lamb loin chops with salt and pepper, rub lightly with olive oil and coat with remaining garlic and herb mixture.
  3. With about 15 minutes left on the vegetables, heat grill to high. Grill lamb loin chops to medium rare--about 5-4 minutes on one side and 4 minutes on the other depending on your grill. Turn once. Remove to platter and let the chops rest for about 8 minutes.
  4. Serve chops on top of roasted vegetables with a little drizzle of good quality finishing olive oil.

From Food & Wine Oh!

Grapes, Toasted Walnuts and Blue Cheese Salad

  • 1/2 bunch green seedless grapes, washed and removed from stems
  • 1/2 bunch red seedless grapes, washed and removed from stems
  • Blue cheese, crumbled (brand and quantity to taste)
  • 1 c broken walnut halves, lightly toasted
  • olive oil, just enough to coat grapes and walnuts with oil and cheese
  1. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Taste for seasoning and lightly salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately or keep chilled until service.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday Night Wine Oh's! - *Tapas*

Friday Night Wine Oh's are back!

Himself and I have been really busy for the past month and we haven't had the energy to blog. Last night I didn't want to cook so we made our usual stop by Spec's and picked up a bottle of Antano Crianza, jamon Serrano, truffle pate, dolmas, a brick of Manchego cheese and a can of piquillo peppers. Odd combination I know, but it all worked together--and no we didn't just pick up one bottle of wine. We grabbed a couple of bottles of Gruve and an Italian wine that I'll blog on later this weekend.

I stuffed the piquillos with a wedge of Manchego cheese and sauteed them in olive oil perfumed with garlic and red pepper flakes, just until the cheese started to brown and bubble. We wrapped the dolmas with some jamon Serrano--the Spec's deli guy gave me a sample of this little treat while I waited on my jamon--good move because he sold me on some dolmas too. We sliced a few pieces of baguette and pate. Dinner was served.

From Food & Wine Oh!

Manchego Stuffed Piquillo Peppers


1 can Piquillo peppers, drained
1/4" slices of Manchego cheese, cut in wedges
olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes

  1. Place one slice of cheese in each pepper.
  2. Heat oil in non-stick skillet and saute red pepper flakes and garlic until the garlic is slightly browned and remove garlic from pan.
  3. Saute peppers until cheese is bubble and slightly browned and peppers have blistered. Cook peppers in batches. Place on platter and drizzle the flavored oil and crunchy garlic over the peppers. Sprinkle a few extra pepper flakes and serve.

Serves 8 - 10 for appetizers

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tamales

From Food & Wine Oh!



Making tamales has always been one of life's mysteries to me. About 4 years ago I attempted to make a batch. Needless to say, they were bland, thick and doughy. Everyone agreed that tamales were best left to the professionals and those families with a history of tamale making passed down from mother to daughter. Oh, and did I mention that my tamales were thick and doughy?

I guess enough time has passed that the memory of those ill fated tamales faded slightly and the challenge to make tamales set in again. So on my weekly grocery store run (a trip to Fiesta International Foods) which supposedly was only for flour, carrots, celery and yeast--I ended up with tamale masa, country style pork ribs and dried corn husks and a resolve to make tamales.

Himself just rolled his eyes and mouthed "not again!"

Well he can kiss mine--this time I was successful. I did it! I did it! The tamales were flavorful and tender. Some were a little too thin, but I know how to fix that. No more store bought tamales and I don't have to wait until Christmas to buy a couple of dozen from someone whose family makes tamales.

By the way Himself has eaten at least 2 dozen since Saturday night.

From Food & Wine Oh!



New Mexico Red Chile Pork Tamales

2.5 lbs country style pork ribs (any cheap cut will do)
2 tbs salt
2 oz + 2 tbs New Mexico Red Chile powder (reserve 2 tbs for masa)
olive oil
1 medium onion diced
4 cloves garlic chopped
2 bay leafs, finely ground
6 whole allspice, finely ground
3 tbs cumin
.5 cup dry red wine (optional--after all it is Wine With Life Please)
1 large chicken bullion cube
enough water to cover pork
1 large package of dried corn husks
2 lbs masa dough (I bought pre-mixed masa at Fiesta)
1.5 c butter, softened
.5 c shortening
1-2 tbs Adobo seasoning (it has salt in it)
1 tbs garlic powder
*Note you will want to cook the pork prior to mixing your masa dough and soaking your corn husks.

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2. Coat pork with salt and chile powder and set aside.

3. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron or heavy bottomed dutch oven. Brown pork on all sides and remove from pan and set aside.

4. Add more oil if necessary and saute' onion and garlic until translucent. Mix in ground bayleaf, alspice and 2 tbs cumin and red wine and bring to a boil. Add in bullion cube and dissolve.

5. Add back to pot the browned pork and cover with water. Cook in the oven for at least 2.5 hours or until the pork shreds easily with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool.

From Food & Wine Oh!


6. Meanwhile, put the butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) and whip until light and fluffy, as when beating butter for a cake.

From Food & Wine Oh!


7. Continue beating the butter mixture and gradually add in the wet masa dough. When all of it has been added and the mixture is light and spreadable, beat in the Adobo powder, garlic powder, remaining chile powder and cumin. (You can just add in 2 tbs of salt if you don't have Adobo.) Cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent mixture from drying out.

From Food & Wine Oh!

8. Put corn husks in a large bowl or pot and cover with hot water. Weight down the husks so that they are totally submerged and soak for 30 minutes.

9. Remove cooled pork (meat only) from dutch oven and shred into a bowl. Add just a small bit of chile sauce to moisten slightly. You don't want this drippy just moist. Cover and set aside.

From Food & Wine Oh!

10. Drain the corn husks and pat dry with a clean dish towel. Place one large corn husk (or overlap two smaller ones) on your board. With the back of a spoonula spread the masa mixture onto the center of the husk to the edges of the long side (see image). Leave space at the top and bottom of the corn husk for sealing.



11. Place a tablespoon, more of less, of the shredded pork into the center of the masa. Fold one of the long sides of the corn husk over the filling making sure the masa on that edge completely seals in the filling. Fold over the other long side to seal the packet. Pinch the masa at the bottom and top of tamale to seal the ends and then fold up the bottom of the corn husk. Stack on tray, folded side down until finished making tamales. Note: The top of the corn husk will be open, but the masa seals the top of the tamale filling.


From Food & Wine Oh!

12. Place the tamales in a steamer basket over simmering water in a large pot with lid and steam for 90 minutes. Top the water off as needed--I checked mine every 30 minutes or so. Check for doneness. The husk should peel away cleanly. Let the tamales rest for 10 minutes. Pile tamales on a plate and start shucking. (These freeze well. Reheat in microwave.)

Makes 4 - 5 dozen

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

CarneVino - Las Vegas & Mario Batali

There is something to be said for the old adage, "You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy." Take a breath, it's a long article.

In early September Himself and I took a business trip to Las Vegas—yes, really, it was a business trip—to attend a union organizing conference. (By the way, Himself is my husband David.) I am always eager to go along on the conference trips to Vegas not only because we get to see many of our union friends from across Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arizona, but also because the dining options in Vegas have just exploded.

I was particularly looking forward to this trip because I had my heart set on dining at CARNEVINO Italian Steakhouse; a new restaurant endeavor by the partners of chef Mario Batali and winemaker Joe Bastianich located in the Palazzo Hotel and Casino next door to the Venetian. I had done my research by downloading a copy of the press kit and menu, and I knew the guys would go for the "steakhouse" part of the menu.

The menu is set up for an Italian course-style dining experience with antipasto, pasta, meat and veg courses and dessert.

There were 12 of us in all and we did make reservations although I don't know if it was necessary, just recommended. We continued to add people as the evening went along and the restaurant was very accommodating. The dining room was beautiful with soaring ceilings and windows looking out on the garden view—it was not stuffy at all.


Cheesecake with Marionberries

The staff was excellent and very good natured towards our semi-rowdy group. (After all, we had spent happy hour in the Tequila Bar at Bally's. During HH each beer comes with a free shot of tequila! I don't think we disrupted the other diners but I'm sure it was entertaining to watch our group.) There were at least 4 wait staff and 2 sommeliers assisting our group. The menu, food portion was one page long and the wine list was another six pages—this is when it got interesting with the country boys.

Like any nice restaurant, the wait staff was very attentive--the napkins were folded and placed back in your spot if you got up to go relieve yourself (the guys found that amusing), dirty flatware was taken away and replaced with new, shiny clean forks and knives (I've never seen so may guys worried that they wouldn't be able to eat because "he took my fork"). Menu items like papardelle with porcini trifolati, orecchiette, bucatini all'amatriciana all needed explanations. My personal favorite was when the East Texas boys got to "puttanesca". It was all down hill from there.


Halibut with Risotto

The table was set with hot bread baked on site and served with butter and lardo. If you have never tried lardo, put that entry on your bucket list! "That shit is good!" was heard several times—country boys and tequila shots. . . It was supposed to be a compliment to the chef.

Cannelloni with Duck and Amarone

Four of our diners shared the dry aged bone in ribeye for 2 ($135), and Himself ordered lamb chops “scottadita” 3 double chops for $45. Other dishes ordered by the group included a 16oz New York strip ($51), cannelloni with duck and Amarone $35.00, halibut and spaghetti ai frutti di mare $47.


Of course my order was the most adventurous of the group—antipasto course was beef carpaccio with warm lardo crostini (that shit is good) ($18.00), then I ordered the black fettuccine with crab jalapeños and shallots as my pasta course and it was delish! ($16 for the pasta course sized portion). For my entrée I ordered the osso buco alla Milanese with saffron orzo and gremolata complete with marrow bone (yum) ($38). Since I make my own osso buco I usually don't order it out, but I was dying to try Mario's and it was really wonderful. The lemon zest in the gremolata and in the orzo just set the dish off perfectly. I had a tawny port for dessert. Wine: was a Barbera d’Alba Sandrone 2005 Piemonte ($16/glass) and a Malbec, Tritono 2004 Mendoza ($20/glass).



Osso Buco alla Milanese with Saffron Orzo and Gremolata

We passed plates, forks and spoons full of food across and down the length of the table so that everyone could try a bite of it all.

This definitely goes down as one of the best dinners in my lifetime.

Ok, there is one in every crowd. This was grape sorbet, which was really good, but the entire table agreed that it looked like. . .well you fill in the blank.