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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.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Texan in New York - Caponata and Troy Farmers' Market





Himself’s career change has been great; however, he works a lot. And me? Not so much anymore. As Himself proclaimed today after we left the pizza joint for lunch: “You are living the dream baby! Living the dream.” This was a comment on my plans for the remainder of my day—clean the apartment, take a nap, etc., etc.—my new routine. So, I am trying to find activities to keep me busy.

Every Saturday in the City of Troy venders set up for Troy Farmers’ Market. There is everything you can imagine from organic milk and cheese to bread bakers, fresh produce and herbs, a fish monger, organic beef, bison, lamb, flowers, local wineries, plants, soaps and candles. I can see all of this from my 3rd story apartment window that looks down on Monument Square. The market is year round and the summer market moves in to the atrium building for winter market starting in late October. Go to www.TroyMarket.org for more info and a list of vendors.

This past Saturday I picked up fresh eggplant, zucchini, shallots, kale, thyme, fresh vine ripe tomatoes and of course a bottle of Pinot Noir. I had zucchini bread in mind, but needed to do something with the eggplant and I had everything for Caponata except the raisins. After reading several recipes—all similar, but different—I decided anything goes for Caponata so here is my version made with what I had on hand. I substituted dried cranberries for raisins – sweet, tart, delicious!

Caponata

¼ to ½ c Olive Oil - more if needed
1 lg Eggplant – large diced - peal leaving stripes
1 lg Zucchini – large diced
2 m Onions – large diced
2 Stalks of Celery - chopped
3 Garlic Cloves – chopped
15 oz can of San Marzano whole tomatoes and juice
½ can Tomato Paste
½ jar of Capers - drained
¼ - ½ c Jalapeño Stuffed Green Olives - sliced
¼ - ½ c Red Wine Vinegar to taste
¼ c Sugar to taste
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
2/3 c Dried Cranberries
Lemon juice to taste
½ c Flat Leaf Parsley - chopped
Water if needed
Good fresh bread for serving

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil and sauté eggplant, zucchini, onion, celery until vegetables start to soften and get some color. Add more oil if necessary. Add in garlic, tomato paste and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add in tomatoes with juice, breaking up the tomatoes, then stir in capers, olives, vinegar, cranberries, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt and pepper. Add water if necessary and then cook down till liquid is reduced for about 30 minutes. Add in parsley and juice of 1 lemon. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve hot, room temp or cold. It is your choice. This recipe makes a huge batch. I did freeze about 2 pints so I’ll see how that turns out.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Texan in New York - Lo Porto Ristorante Caffe

Himself and I have relocated from Austin, Texas to Upstate New York. “Why?” you ask. Himself has made a huge career change and it is that time in our lives to see some sights and have a little fun although it is working fun.

Last night we visited Lo Porto Ristorante Caffe located at 85 4th Street, Troy, NY. I have to admit we have driven by this location quite a few times and never knew it was there. It was on the suggestion of a co-worker whose Mother is Sicilian and will not eat out (Italian) other than Lo Porto. Sounded like a good recommendation to us!

This was the New York Italian experience that I was waiting for. Garlic. Garlic. I still smell like garlic. We sat in the bar area of the restaurant. At first the bar was quite empty, but as the night went on the bar filled up with folks with funny accents and they all obviously knew each other. These New Yorkers talked about houses in Florida and family. Lo Porto’s award winning chef even came out to pat backs and shake hands. We were thoroughly entertained.

The food was awesome, huge portions and cooked to order so it was a relaxing experience—no rushing you out to free up the table—we did not call ahead. The service was very good. We shared a clams casino appetizer and were sorry that we had eaten all of the bread and had nothing to sop with. Next we had a dinner salad with house Italian and again we were searching for the bread to sop up the dressing. I thought at one point Himself was going to lick his plate.

I had Shrimp Michael over linguini. Shrimp, mushrooms, garlic, scallions and diced tomato in a light cream sauce. There was no way I could eat even a quarter of the portion served. Himself had Veal Milanese, which was a breaded cutlet in a sauce of capers, roasted peppers, olives, olive oil,
garlic and lemon. The veal still had crunch to it and it was served with mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans, yellow and zucchini squash also sauced with olive oil and garlic.

We had a baby Amarone which was dark, rich and luscious with just a little bite at the end and it did not mellow out. It was a perfect pairing for our entrées. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the wine label or write down the name, but it was Bin 51 on the wine list.

Lo Porto should definitely be on your “to do” list. Check them out at www.loporto.com. $$+ depending on your wine/drink order.