Ultimate in comfort food… Ham & Cheese Gnocchi

In our home one of my favourite things to roast on the weekend is a ham shank.  I then always look forward to the many meal options I can make with the leftovers!  Split pea and ham soup, ham sandwiches for days, and my favorite comfort food… This Ham and Cheese Gnocchi – Paired with my favourite Viognier!

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Why does this pairing work so well?

Both pork and oak contain Lactones, which makes a Viognier that has seen a little oak treatment a fabulous choice that matches the intensity of flavors and molecular structure of the meat.  Smoked pork in particular has a fantastic way of bringing out the apricot and stone fruit flavors found in Viognier.

Because of this, Ham works well with Viognier, particularly rich new world varieties that offer up lots of stone fruit, floral, and mineral characteristics.   While the old world French options are delicious, I find that they are more mineral/terroir Continue reading “Ultimate in comfort food… Ham & Cheese Gnocchi”

Creamy Sundried Tomato and Chicken Pasta

Rustic and hearty with bright sundried tomatoes, this is one dish that can be a little tricky to pair with wine.  The creamy/tomato base can pose a bit of a challenge.  It is a dish that will require a bright, medium bodied wine with juicy acidity to not only match the bright flavours of the tomatoes, but cut through the creamy richness.

For us this dish goes beautifully with bright, fruity and acidic Barbera D’Alba or Barbera D’Asti from Northern Italy!

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Try it with Vietti Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne and enjoy a little escape from the comfort of your own kitchen!  With a rich nose and palate of sour cherries, and a hit of baking spices, and light oak, it is a wine with enough balanced earthiness and acidity to compliment the dark meat in this easy pasta dish.

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Wine & Pumpkin Pie? OH MY!

Leaves are changing, and the flavours of fall can be found in abundance at Farmer’s Markets and at your local grocery store.  Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and for many that means a Turkey Dinner Feast with those we care about, and crowning the evening with Pumpkin Pie!

My Grandmother’s Pumpkin Pie recipe has been known to send many back fro seconds… or thirds.  And while it is special on it’s own, pairing it with an equally as delicious dessert wine tends to elevate the entire evening to OUTSTANDING!

So what do you pair with Pumpkin Pie?  My personal favourite…

Arnaud de Villeneuve – Rivesaltes Ambre 5yr.  At usually around $25CAD for a 750ml bottle, this is great deal for a bottle to serve a crowd of 20!  Locally it can be found at Bin 905 Wine & Spirits, and select Calgary Co-op locations.

A blend of Grenache Blanc, Macabeu, and Grenache gris, it is a smooth dessert wine that begs for pumpkin pie.  With notes of marmalade, toffee, toasted nuts, and baking spices it compliments many of fall’s ideal desserts.

Need a great Pumpkin Pie Recipe?  Try Grandma Rudd’s:

Continue reading “Wine & Pumpkin Pie? OH MY!”

Roasted Lemon-Ginger Chicken

At first glance, the thought of roasting an entire bird may seem like something you would reserve for the weekend or a special dinner.

But this no fuss recipe makes enjoying a roasted chicken easy and delicious.  It is a recipe that you really just throw together in a pot, and tastes incredible!

When paired with a high mineral/lime peel flavoured, cool climate Riesling like Charles Smith Wines – Kung Fu Girl Riesling, this bird sings!

Riesling and ginger are exceptional together, and each in this combination pull out the best of all worlds.  If you are going to try and pair an alternate Riesling, be sure to steer clear of the sweeter choices usually labelled under 10% ABV, and if it is a German variety, look for one that is designated Kabinett from the Mosel.

These wines will be lighter in flavour profile and style than their Spatlese and Auslese siblings, as they are made from grapes picked earlier in the harvest when sugar levels in the berries are lower.

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Roasted Chicken and Garlic Scape Gnocchi

Little potato pillows from heaven… that is what our son calls Gnocchi.

With plenty of fresh produce making the rounds at farmers markets,  we happend upon a creative and exceptional dish to make use of the beautiful pea shoots and garlic scapes we were given.

This is one plate of gnocchi that is sure to please the most discerning palate!

Now it is important to note that this dish contains an item known to be a notorious ‘wine pairing killer’ – Asparagus.  There are very few wines that work well with Asparagus, however it is a perfect match for Roero Arneis – a grape native to Northern Italy.  The best of the best, and most historically significant Arneis is produced by Vietti.

For your perfect pairing, and to taste a glass of history, we recommend Vietti Roero Arneis.

Continue reading “Roasted Chicken and Garlic Scape Gnocchi”

Garlic Crusted Salmon with Watermelon Relish

On a hot summer day few things beat fresh watermelon, seafood, and a glass of Riesling on the patio!  Before the summer sun fades, I recommend picking up a bottle of Synchromesh, Tantalus or 8th Generation Riesling  and giving this recipe a try!

Quick enough for a weeknight meal, and extremely healthy – you will have just elevated your weeknight dining game to a 10!

Ingredients:
4 skinless salmon fillets
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cracked pepper
2 tbs paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1.5 tsp lemon juice or lime juice
1 tsp lemon or lime zest
1 tbsp olive oil
For Skillet:
2tbs Butter
Preparation:
Whisk garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, lemon/lime juice, zest and olive oil together in a small bowl. Rub salmon fillets evenly with the garlic oil mixture and let marinate for 35 minutes. While marinating, begin preparation of relish.
Tomato- Watermelon Relish
Ingredients:
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 cup diced fresh watermelon
1 avocado diced
1/2 Cup corn kernels
1.5 tsp lemon or lime zest
2 tbs lemon/lime juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
Pinch fresh pepper
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
Preparation: Mix all ingredients, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with the salmon

 

Cook the Salmon:

Heat a skillet on the stove on med/high heat.  Melt butter and transfer salmon fillets to skillet.  Cook each side until brown crust forms, flipping once in between.  Remove when browned but fillet is still moist and flaky inside. *Timing will vary based on the thickness of your fillet.

*Tip: to test salmon for “doneness” – insert a cold knife briefly into the thickest part of the fillet – remove quickly and feel the knife – if it is still cool to the touch, the salmon needs more time.  You will likely be able to take a quick peak as well to see if the colour of your fish has changed – but do not do this too often!

Top Salmon with 1/2 cup of Relish (or more!) and enjoy with a side of rice!

Cheers!

–  Kathryn

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Simple Brown Buttered Carrots

Some times the simplest recipes are the best, especially when made with garden fresh ingredients!

Our garden is offering up plenty of goodies this time of year!  One of our favourites are the ‘little finger’ carrots!

This year I made the mistake of planting them too close together… and as a result my son dug up what he named “Mommy Carrot, Daddy Carrot, and Octo-Carrot”… c’est la vie!


If you have carrots you are harvesting from your own garden that are tender, I find you do not even need to peel them before cooking – they are so delicious, and pretty looking just with the tops trimmed off and sliced lengthwise!

Browned butter adds a rich and nutty flavour to the sweet carrots, and is always a crowd pleaser!

Continue reading “Simple Brown Buttered Carrots”

Are you properly storing your wines with skrewcaps?

Over the course of the last few decades, skrewcaps have been embraced by many wine producers.  While they may not have the romantic appeal of a traditional cork… The reasoning for this is sound.  Natural cork is expensive, and in short supply.  A faulty cork can also RUIN a great bottle.

Skrew caps offer freedom from cork taint – a pesky bacterial growth found in natural cork that can reak havoc on your wine.  Cork taint is the reason why the Somm or server pours the host a small sample of wine to try first before serving the rest of the table when you order a bottle of wine.  This gesture is simply to make sure the wine has not been spoiled.  

NOTE: This is not your chance to reject a wine based on personal preference, or begin writing your tasting notes.  Why does the server leave the cork on the table for you?  Hint: it is not because it is a souvenir. It is a gift for you to inspect via a sniff for off odours – like the smell of rotting cardboard, or wet dog.

Because this bacterial pest can ruin epic bottles, quality-conscious producers, initially in Australia and New Zealand, began using skrewcap closures.

Sadly early skrewcaps (and current cheap skrewcaps) were not necessarily better than corks.  A natural cork closure allows wine to breathe, with slow oxygen maturation.  It is why bottles should be laid on their side in order to keep the cork from drying out, and allow slow, prolonged oxygen permiation into the wine via the porous cork.

So what does this mean for our friend the skrewcap?  Well, in cheap wines that are made to be consumed within a year… There is no need to lay them on their side.  Even in a higher end maturation worthy wine, a single year on it’s side will make little difference to maturation.

However, in higher end wines, manufacturers have tried to mimic the porous nature of a cork closure.  Specially engineered caps, like certain versions of the Stelvin closure, allow controlled oxygen maturation via a permiable seal in the wine.  These are cellar worthy bottles, best stored on their side to reap the benefits for years to come.

However, at the end of the day, when in doubt… If you don’t plan on drinking it soon… No matter what closure you have… lay it on it’s side.  You will never go wrong.
Cheers!

Marcel Lapierre 2015 Morgon

When it comes to juicy red wines, it is hard to beat a great Gamay Noir during the heat of the summer.

Cru Beaujolais, Beer Can Chicken (actually wine can – because that is how we roll around here…) and the patio are good friends.  This offering is a personal favourite from Marcel Lapierre – seductive cherry, cranberry, raspberry, violets and bramble.

True to Baujolais form this wine offers up plenty of carbonic masceration flavours of candied banana and bubble gum.

Unlike your basic Beaujolais however – this Cru Morgon offers up some solid tertiary notes sure to please the discerning palate.  A solid hit of barnyard, mushroom and spent hay on the nose linger past the fruit in this wine’s long finish. 

 Juicy and substantial, as Morgon should be, from this biodynamic producer. 
Best served lightly chilled and enjoyed with fantastic company!