Family

Made with LOVE

Posted in Dinners, Family, Food, Pairings, Recipes, Wine on February 15th, 2016 by nita – Be the first to comment

“Cooking is LOVE made visible…” – Anonymous

“Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.” – Robert Mondavi

I grew up with the understanding that food tastes better when made with love. When I was sick in bed and my taste buds were shot, my mother’s homemade soup would always make me feel better. And it was always delicious. When my daughters cook my breakfast on Mother’s day, I find myself going for seconds… sometimes thirds. Again, delicious. And of course, when my husband offers to make dinner for me on those infrequent but extremely well thought out occasions, I find myself savoring every bite as though it would be my last.

Love is one of those invisible ingredients that is necessary to every dish you create. After all, a recipe on paper (or online!) has no SOUL… It is the cook’s responsibility to bring soul to the recipe!

Inspired by LOVE and all things red, pink, and festive, we created a memorable dinner menu paired with some fabulous wines this year for Valentine’s Day. Our dear friends joined us as we paraded through courses of decadence. Here’s what we noshed and sipped on!

Charlot Tanneux Champagne Brut Cuvee Micheline 2008 – Suggested by colleagues and clients alike, I decided to bring home a bottle of this beauty for our special evening. This is a super sultry bottle of bubbles. Kudos to winemaker Vincent Charlot who clearly knows that the foundation of a stunning champagne is first and foremost, is to be a stunning WINE. This bubbly is rich, with a confusing but delicious combination of crisp and cooked apples, white fruits, flowery aromatics, and a seductive sweetness that is perfectly balanced. The perfect start to the evening!

Beet Tartare with Chevre and Maple Chili Pecans paired with A. Mandria Patrimonio Rose 2014 – We topped a composed salad of arugula, beets dressed in balsamic, and chevre  with maple-chili glazed pecans. This dish begged for a rose to be paired with it, and I couldn’t imagine a better one than this Corsican gem. Rose petals, strawberries, and citrus on the nose… Melon and stone fruits on the palate. It was a perfect match! Click here for the Beet Tartare recipe…

Egg Yolk Ravioli with Sage and Pancetta paired with Domaine Thibert Pouilly Vinzelles Les Longeayes 2012 and Domaine Bzikot Bourgogne Blanc 2013 – Velvet. That’s the word that came to mind when I tasted the perfectly runny yolk that oozed out of our ricotta and egg filled homemade raviolis into a sauce of butter, stock, sage, and pancetta. This called for a wine with some acid to pair with it. Some of my favorite producers of white Burgundy came to mind… I actually appreciated both wines with the ravioli. The Vinzelles was a better match on paper due to the richness of the wine and the buttery-”velvety” style of the sauce but the acidity of the Bzikot really cut through the decadence of the sauce and made for a perfect match. Thanks to our dinner companions for bringing the Bzikot wine – it was so nice to taste 2 very different style of white Burg with this dish! Click here for the Egg Yolk Ravioli recipe…

Braised Short Ribs with Swiss Chard and Potatoes paired with Chateau Rayas Ch du Fonsalette 2000 and Rovellotti Ghemme Chioso dei Pomi 2008 – OMG. Loved this short rib preparation. After it braised, it finished off in a 400 degree oven to almost “crisp up.” So the meat had a bite to it on the outside and was super tender once we cut into it. The velvety sauce along with the swiss chard were a great foundation for some complex and structured wines. We had two fabulous bottles. We decanted the Ghemme for almost 2 hours, and it evolved into a smooth and elegant pairing with luscious dark berry tones, aromatic violets, and structure that softened into great complexity. SO ethereal. Such a great pairing. However, I think I practically went into a trance when I took a sip of the Rayas. This 2000 vintage of juice from the Fonsalette property is labeled as Cotes du Rhone – but make no mistake… it IS a VERY serious wine! A lovely Rhone blend of red varietals, the wine is creamy and textured, game-y with lots of garrigue, some herbal tones and even a little bit of licorice. In my opinion, this wine was perfect with the short ribs and accompaniments. Click here for the short rib recipe!

Simply stated, the inspiration for the meal came form love, exuded love, and was served to those I love. Made with Love <3

Exotic Comforts ~ Sweet Pairings

Posted in Dinners, Family, Food, Pairings, Recipes, Wine on October 27th, 2013 by nita – Be the first to comment

This is one of my favorite “special occasion” recipes that reminds me of the flavors that I grew up with. I used to take for granted the exotic aromas, colors, and tastes of the foods from my childhood, from my parents’ birth country. But now I embrace them and search for the perfect pairings that will only enhance these fabulous flavors!

My mother taught me at a young age that every aspect of Indian cooking has a practical “reason” or benefit. For example, Turmeric is used in almost all Indian recipes, and has an extensive medicinal repertoire! Everything from its antioxidant qualities to its anti-inflammatory uses, has awarded this amazing spice its invaluable reputation. Additionally, the use of ginger in almost all of my childhood meals was used to aid in curing sore throats, colds, and even used in preventative measures. Roasted Fennel seeds are a common “after dinner treat” that aid in digestion. While many of these ingredients add flavor and depth, Indian food is also known for its heat – both warm and spicy!

Riesling is known to be an optimal pairing for spicy foods. I find that the acidity in the 2012 Donnhoff Estate Riesling offers a perfect balance to the wine, and the sweetness of it pairs perfectly with this dish. Enjoy!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 4 dinner portions

For the marinade:
1 cup whole milk yogurt
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons ground turmeric *
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon garam masala *
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (make small slits in pieces of chicken before marinating)

* Can be found at specialty markets and grocery stores, or at Specialty Asian/Indian grocers – or try Kalustyans

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
¼ cup blanched whole almonds
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons fresh chopped serrano chili or 1 teaspoon ground cayenne **
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 28 oz can Jersey Fresh pureed tomatoes OR 2 to 3 (14 to 15 oz) cans whole tomatoes, chopped, juices reserved
Pinch of sugar
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

** This dish is moderately spicy. The heat level can be adjusted by adding more or less chili or cayenne according to your preference.

Marinate the chicken: Combine the first 8 ingredients together in a large bowl. Add chicken and combine well. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, grill the chicken (wiping off any excess marinade) on a hot grill or grill pan, or you can broil it – for ten to twelve minutes, or until charred in certain areas. CHICKEN WILL NOT BE COOKED THROUGH AT THIS POINT. Remove from grill/ grill pan/ oven and cut into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a small pan. Add blanched almonds and sauté at moderate heat until slightly browned stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Let the almonds cool completely, and then pulse them in a food processor until finely ground. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large enameled cast iron casserole (I used my Le Crueset.) Saute the onions, garlic, and ginger over moderate heat, about 8 minutes. Add the next 5 ingredients and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes (if not using Jersey Fresh, add only one and a half cans of the reserved juices,) sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Cover partially and simmer for about 20 minutes, on medium low, stirring occasionally. Sauce should be slightly thickened at this point.

Add the cream and the almonds, stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the chicken, simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cilantro leaves at this point if you wish, take off the heat, and serve with basmati rice and/or warm naan.

Sumptuous Summer

Posted in Family, Food, Recipes on July 29th, 2013 by nita – Be the first to comment

The farmers markets are full of colorful, bright, and fresh produce right now…. so I am taking advantage of summer’s bounty! When using farm fresh produce, there is no need for heavy seasonings or altercations of flavor. What you see is what you get, and it’s nature’s best representation of the season. Here are some of my favorite summer ingredients in both sweet and savory creations…

Strawberries
Although I first used ripe, sweet strawberries in this recipe in the late spring, I’ve been making this throughout the summer as well with equal success. The sweet fruit shines and is perfectly accompanied by the heat of black peppercorns, and the acidity of the vinegar. Perfect topping for toast or for goat cheese bruschetta! – Credit to old school Gourmet Magazine and Sejal for introducing me to this recipe! Strawberry Preserves with Black Pepper and Balsamic Vinegar: In a small heavy saucepan, combine 2 cups strawberries (trimmed and quartered,) 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons water, and 1 teaspoon cracked fresh black pepper. Simmer the mixture, skimming the foam occasionally, for 15 minutes or until thickened. Let cool completely – this will keep, covered, for up to a month.

Sour Cherries
While I love snacking on the sweeter bing or rainier cherries throughout the summer season, these tart little gems only have a 2 to 3 week season here in NY/NJ (early July) and are the perfect ingredient for pies, tarts, and preserves! I experimented with a sour cherry salsa which unfortunately accentuated the tart, astringent flavor. More successful was the sour cherry preserves that I made – a great topping for ice cream, or wonderful even in savory appetizers (placed on top of a toast with melted robiola cheese.) One of my favorite desserts is Sour Cherry Turnovers (click here for the recipe.)

Blueberries
We picked blueberries at a local farm the other day – there really are only a few things that can compare to beautiful, ripe, NJ blueberries in July! So, naturally, we brought our stash home, proceeded to snack on them throughout the rest of the day, and stuck a few cups-full in the freezer. I made this blueberry smoothie the next morning – so delicious and the perfect anti-oxidant rich breakfast for my family! Creamy Blueberry Smoothies: Combine in a blender (I use my vitamix for a very smooth texture) – 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1/4 cup skim milk, 3/4 cup plain or vanilla lowfat yogurt, 1 teaspoon honey. Blend until completely smooth, and enjoy immediately! (Throw in some flax or chia seeds for an extra healthy boost!)

Shishito Peppers
I don’t often find these in the markets in NJ, but every now and again I will stumble upon a gorgeous batch of shishito peppers at one of the Manhattan open markets… No matter what my menu is for that evening, I somehow find a way to incorporate these delightful, slightly spicy little peppers! The entire pepper is usually eaten, seeds and all – and the way that I prepare them is just a little olive oil, sea salt, and a hot skillet – blistering them slightly all over. I am getting hungry just typing this! This is a very general recipe – the qty of the ingredients depends on the size of the pan you are using… Blistered Shishito Peppers: Heat a skillet over medium high heat, and add a good amount of extra virgin olive oil to coat the pan. You want the oil to be pretty hot… Add the peppers, and make sure that they are coated with the oil. Then, leave the peppers alone for a minute or two per side. They will blister and after about 4 to 5 minutes total cooking time, they are done. Transfer them to a serving plate and immediately add some flaky sea salt, keep a small empty bowl nearby so that you can discard the stems as you eat… Enjoy!

Sweet Corn
Every summer around this time, I think of the sweet corn that one of the farmers at the Ithaca Farmers Market sold to us a few years ago… He took his pocket knife, cut off a little section of yellow and white kernels from the cob, and offered it to us to taste. It was by far the sweetest, and most savory corn I ever had – RAW too, to top that! We as a group proceeded to buy what seemed to be a truckload of corn from him, and the recipes that week were endless. Click here for a recipe for Summer Corn Pesto that is a great accompaniment to any pasta of your choice. Click here for a fabulous sweet corn soup recipe… I topped it with the meat of grilled langoustines, but you could just roast off some corn kernels to top, or any other accompanying vegetable on top would be great too…

And the list goes on… mangoes, and pineapples, eggplant,  summer squash…… I’ll leave those to my next post – I’ve got to choose amongst a dozen or so tomato recipes so stay tuned! :)

Epitomizing Comfort Food

Posted in Dinners, Family, Food, Pairings, Recipes, Wine on February 7th, 2013 by nita – Be the first to comment

Feeling incredibly lucky to be the recipient of any foodie’s dream gift, Thomas Keller’s French Laundry/Ad Hoc cookbook set (Thx RAP!), I decided to follow master Keller’s instructions for a comfort classic… Chicken Pot Pie. This is the epitome of comfort food for Manish. No matter how strict he is on his carb or dairy intake for the week, he always makes room for a good pot pie.

This recipe is super easy and delicious! It takes time though – and a little bit of patience. So give yourself a few hours, follow his instructions, and get ready for a real treat! I personally didn’t veer from the recipe at all – but next time I wouldn’t mind adding some peas, maybe a smidge of garlic, and just a tad more cayenne to the bechamel. The crust is to die for!

Thomas Keller’s Chicken Pot Pie, AdHoc Cookbook

Pie Crust:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks of butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
About 5 tablespoons of ice water

Preparation:
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Then add the butter and toss to coat with flour. With your hands or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour, tossing and incorporating any pieces of butter that have settled at the bottom of the bowl, until the butter pieces are no larger than a pea. Drizzle 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of ice water over the top and, using a fork, mix the dough until it holds together when pinched: add the remaining tablespoon of water if the dough is very dry. Knead the dough until it is completely smooth and the butter is incorporated. (I used all 5 tablespoons)

Divide the dough in half, with one piece slightly larger than the other (the larger crust will be the bottom piece). Shape each half in a 1 inch thick disk. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for atleast one hour, or up to a day. (if the dough does not rest, it will shrink as it bakes.)

If the dough is too hard to roll, let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes or pound it a few times with a rolling pin. Lightly flour the work surface and rolling pin. Lightly dust the top of the large disk with flour and roll it out to a 13 to 14 inch round about 1/8 inch thick: roll outward from the center, rotating the dough frequently and adding a little flour to the work surfaceor dough as needed to prevent sticking. Fold the dough in half and transfer to a 9 to 10 inch pie plate, gently easing the dough into the corners and up the sides.

Roll out the second piece of dough in the same manner, to a 12 inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate both doughs for 15 minutes.

Makes one 9 to 10 inch double crust pie.

Chicken Pie Filling:
1 cup of 1/2-inch pieces red-skinned potatoes
1 1/4 cups of 1/2-inch pieces carrots (cut on the diagonal)
12 white pearl onions
3 bay leaves
3 thyme sprigs
24 black peppercorns
1 1/4 cups of 1/2-inch pieces of celery (cut on the diagonal)
2 cups of shredded cooked chicken

Bechamel Sauce:
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
3 cups of whole milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
Pinch of cayenne

1 egg, beaten

Preparation:
Roll out the dough, place one piece in a 9 or 10 inch pie plate and the second on a baking sheet, and refrigerate.

Put the potatoes, carrots, and onions in separate small saucepans with water to cover and add 1 bay leaf, 1 thyme sprig, and 8 peppercorns to each pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and simmer until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain the vegetables, discard the bay, thyme, and peppercorns, and spread on a baking sheet. Cut the onions in half.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice water. Blanch the celery until just crisp-tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.
Drain, transfer to the ice bath, and chill just until cold. Drain and add to the baking sheet with the other vegetables.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes; adjust the heat as needed so that the mixture does not brown. Whisk in the milk, lower the heat to keep the bechamel at a gentle simmer, and cook, whisking often, until the sauce has thickened and reduced to about 2 cups, 30 to 40 minutes; move the whisk over the bottom and into the corners of the pan to be sure the bechamel doesn’t burn.

Position the oven racks in the lower third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Strain the bechamel through a fine-mesh conical strainer into a spouted measuring cup. Season with salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, and cayenne.

Remove both doughs from the refrigerator.

Scatter the vegetables and chicken into the pie shell. Pour the bechamel over them. At this point, if the top crust is too hard to shape, let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes. Moisten the rim of pie shell with some of the beaten egg. Cover the filling with the top crust and press the edges of the dough together to seal. Trim away the excess dough that overhangs the rim. Brush the top crust with the egg. Cut a small vent in the center of the dough with a small cutter or the tip of a paring knife to allow steam to escape.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the crust is a rich golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If necessary, move the pie to the center rack during the last 10 minutes of baking to brown the crust. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes.

Cut the pot pie into 6 wedges and serve warm.

I didn’t have any California Chardonnay on hand to pair with this (surprise surprise) but wanted something with a level of richness, but of course good balance, that would go well. I chose the 2011 Edi Keber Collio Bianco. A blend of Friulano and Ribolla Gialla, the wine is fermented and aged in cement vats which results in great weight, fruit, and balance while still retaining a load of minerality. Love it!

The sloppy photo above is just proving how impatient we all were to eat this last night after following meticulous instructions, and waiting! But it WAS worth the wait… So go ahead and run to the grocery store now – it’ll be the perfect meal to make when you are snowed in this weekend! :)

Happy Birthday baby girl…

Posted in Family on January 21st, 2013 by nita – Be the first to comment

3 year old Maya

I have very fond memories of Maya’s past birthdays. As most moms, I take pride in all of her achievements and am so in awe of the beautiful young lady she has become. So why is it that I can’t help but carry tissues around with me for the past few weeks – in anticipation for this very day to come. Her fourteenth birthday. (Sniff sniff… tear tear)

Maya, sweetheart, this is for you. I am not the author, but I might as well be, because this poem verbalizes everything that I feel inside. I love you so much. You are my best friend. And I am so lucky that you have matured into a daughter who sometimes has a better head on her shoulders than I do! (I said SOMETIMES!)

THOUGH YOU ARE GROWN, by Cynthia Sieving
I remember years ago, you were so little then,
Sometimes I can’t help but wish, that you were small again.
I’ve cried when you’ve faced heartaches, and saw that as you grew,
Nothing broke your Spirit, instead it strengthened you.
I’m filled with mixed emotions, as I hold back all the tears,
And with much pride remember, back so many years.
When I first held you in my arms, if only I’d have known,
The years would feel like moments, after you had grown.
You aren’t a child,though in my eyes, I guess you’ll always be,
that baby girl who changed my life, and means the world to me.

Maya - almost 14

Happy 14th Birthday my darling. I am always here for you. You are my perfect little gift that I will be forever soooooo thankful for.

I LOVE YOU!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Posted in Family, Food, Recipes on January 7th, 2013 by nita – Be the first to comment

If I have fresh ricotta in the house, this recipe is a must. Eggs, lemons, and flour are all staple ingredients – so the fresh ricotta is key. I’ve tried many recipes for lemon ricotta pancakes, but I go back to the one published in the September, 1991 issue of Gourmet each time. Light, fluffy, slightly sweet and fresh! There is something about the texture that I enjoy about this recipe. It was originally printed with an accoutrement of sauteed apples, but I just have mine with a light drizzle of pure Vermont maple syrup…

I instagramed this photo yesterday and received numerous messages for the recipe, so here it is!

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (as published in Gourmet Magazine, Sep, 1991)

4 large eggs, separated
1 1/3 cups fresh ricotta
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 cup all purpose flour
melted butter for the griddle
pure maple syrup

Place an oven proof baking sheet in a warm oven (no warmer than 200 degrees F.) In a bowl, whisk together the yolks, the ricotta, the sugar, and the zest. Add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until just combined. Set aside. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Whisk about 1/4 of the whites into the ricotta mixture, and then fold the rest of it in gently but thoroughly. Heat a griddle over medium heat and wait until hot enough for drops of water to scatter over surface. Brush griddle with melted butter, drop 1/4 cups-ful of batter on griddle and cook 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer the pancakes to the baking sheet in warm oven and continue with the rest of the batter, brushing melted butter as needed. Serve pancakes with maple syrup (and dust with powdered sugar if you want!) Makes about twelve 3-4 inch pancakes.

Balance

Posted in Family, Food, Recipes, Wine on January 5th, 2013 by nita – Be the first to comment

Balance is the key to successful execution in food, wine, and even life in general.

I remember as a kid, my father used to say to me “Nita, too much of anything is never good.” So the little smart a$$ that I was, I would find examples that I thought would stump him… “Oh yeah, well how about too much fruit or too many vegetables!?” He would then go on to explain the effects of fiber and lack of on the digestive system… and I was pretty much done trying to stump him.

The next “balance” themed life lesson that I took from my father was when we had our first child. He told me that while life will change now, we shouldn’t revolve everything around the baby – instead, submerge the baby in our revolving worlds. Although the scale teetered quite a bit at times, we did manage to find a balance, and appreciate the advice to this day.

Now onto food and wine… Your palate senses 5 different flavor elements… salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami (my upbringing will remind me that “spicy” should be the 6th element but that’s something I don’t need to argue right now.) While all do not need to be present in a dish or a wine, a balance of two or more of these flavors is necessary to counteract an excess of any one particular element. In wine, acidity is key. Some of the best Riesling producers are the ones that are dedicated to making high acid wines – never cloying, always fresh. Without the acidity, we would feel like we are just drinking syrup.

I have a recipe that exemplefies the importance of balance. It’s really more of a condiment recipe – you can use it on everything from combining it in salads, topping your blanched vegetables with, a sprinkle over a grilled fish, or hearty pieces of meat. It’s a gremolata recipe – and it possesses qualities of sweet, sour, bitter, umami, salt, and even spice… Sprinkle it over the next dish that you think needs a lesson in balance!

“Kicked up” Gremolata

1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
zest of 1 large navel orange
zest of 1 large lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
salt (see notes)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Do not add salt until you are ready to sprinkle the gremolata on your dish. You can store this gremolata in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days – but not with salt. So set some aside if you want leftovers! I use this to top everything from salads, vegetables, fish, eggs, and meat. Sprinkled over braised lamb shanks is divine!!

Makes about 1/2 cup

Happy 16th Anniversary!

Posted in Dinners, Family, Food, Pairings, Wine on May 26th, 2012 by nita – Be the first to comment

“Each year on this day, I think about my world and how you make it a better place for me. I then resolve that I can’t love you more than I already do… And the following year I realize I am wrong. Thank you for your support and your love and being part of something to always look forward to. Happy sweet sixteen and here’s to many many more!”

To celebrate 16 years of marriage, Manish and I spent the night in a gorgeous B&B in Princeton, and had dinner at our favorite… elements. We participated in a special dinner as guests of Chefs Scott Anderson, Mike Ryan, and their team at elements with guest chefs Curtis Duffy, Alex Talbot, and John and Karen Shields. The textures, colors, and remarkable flavors of the meal were unmatched by any other we’ve experienced. The wine pairings by Justin Kuruvilla, wine director and sommelier were divine.  Here is the recap of our incredibly memorable meal…

Guest Chef Dinner at elements with Alex Talbot, John & Karen Shields, Curtis Duffy

Pansy custard, egg, yogurt with crispy crouton by team elements

Back Cove Oyster new spruce, spinach, an infusion of seaweeds, radish milk by chef John Shields

Cold broth of english pea recado negro, creamy ginger, compressed pineapple, black mint by chef Curtis Duffy

After the "coconut shell" was cracked open... Amazing.

Dried beets and sour strawberries concord grape kombucha, walnut, yogurt by chefs Alex Talbot & Aki Kamozawa

Chilled scallops toasted goats milk pudding, hibiscus tea, licorice flavored herbs by chef Curtis Duffy

"Tongue-katsu Oscar" soft shell crab, asparagus gribiche, almand by chefs Alex Talbot & Aki Kamozawa

100 day dry aged Wagyu dehydrated shrimp, shiitake mushroom, cured, elderflower 1 of 2 by team Elements

100 day dry aged Wagyu dehydrated shrimp, shiitake mushroom, cured, elderflower 2 of 2 by team elements

Alpine strawberry cashew, thai chili, tarragon, hyssop by team elements

Dried carrot sweet woodruff, white chocolate yogurt, tonka bean, muscavado sugar spread by chef Karen Shields

Final desert by team elements

Txikifest 2012

Posted in Family, Food, Wine on May 7th, 2012 by nita – Be the first to comment

one of the first producers of txacoli that i tried back in 2007

an experienced txacoli pourer

Txacolina… or Txacoli… Incredibly refreshing, light, mineral, and slightly effervescent. The perfect warm weather wine. The Basque region’s reason for celebration.

The first time that I ever tried Txacoli (pronounced Chock-o-lee,) one of our suppliers at the shop had brought in a bottle for us to sample. “Hondurrabi Zuri and Hondurrabi Beltza,” was the response from our rep when asked what the grape varietal was of this unique wine with the silly name. Made of indigenous varietals found almost exclusively in the Basque region, Txacoli is a dry wine with high acid and low alcohol. The slight spritz of this libation is volumized by the elevated pouring technique performed by bartenders and servers that are familiar with this practice. Normally served in tumblers, Txacoli is fabulous as an apertif or served aside tapas, cheeses, meats, and fresh seafood.

spiced prawns with taro root

tarragon deviled egg with deep fried hama hama oyster

buckets of txacoli!

Txacoli was going to be front and center at “Txikifest 2012.” Txikifest is the annual NYC festival (2012 marked its 2nd year) that celebrates the newest vintage of Txacoli and is hosted by the fabulous tapas restaurant in Chelsea, Txikito. Many new releases of Txacoli were presented along side some of the most delicious bites from eateries all around Manhattan (and some even a bit farther away.) The festival took place in the back alley of Txikito and welcomed over 200 guests.  JB gave us the initial heads up on this May 6th event and we decided to attend with some fam and friends. We sampled so many different producers of Txacoli and paired them with the perfect Basque-inspired bites. The proper way to pour Txacoli is  to start a foot or so above so that the wine aerates by the time it hits the tumbler. It helps to use the little plastic pourers that aid in the aerating as well. It’s quite fun to watch.

Our etched souveneir glasses

We bought some raffle tickets (all proceeds from Txikifest went to Department of Neonatology at NYU Langone Medical Center) and came home winners! I won a lovely basket of cheeses, meats, vinegars, olive oils, chocolate, and wine. One would think after a day so beautiful, wine so refreshing, food so delicious, and gift (raffle) so generous, that the day was complete. Of course there was more!

The winners! Congrats P&J!!!!

The last few numbers were being called on the final raffle draw of the day – the trip for two to Spain! Up to the seventh digit, my ticket was a match… but then the last two numbers were called out… close but no cigar. The winner was my brother in law, Piyush! But it wasn’t until he came back to the “screaming crowd” with an envelope in his hand that he realized he had won THE TRIP! Several celebratory toasts and interviews later, we were all pouring txacoli like “experts” (some better than others) and decided to call it a day.

And yes, if all goes well, we will be joining the winners to Bilbao later this year.

SALUD!

And I’m back…

Posted in Family, Wine on April 22nd, 2012 by nita – Be the first to comment

I’m back! Well, back to blogging that is. I’ve had a few very hectic months. What with the crazy storm in October, our trip to India in December and January, and basically just catching up since then.

I’ve taken some time to get things back in shape around the house, and all the while, have enjoyed some moments… Take a look!

India – one of my favorite photos from India. We visited both sides of our family which was amazing! We were also fortunate enough to travel through Rajasthan. While in Rajasthan, we rode camels in the desert and Manish was able to get this great shot at sunset.

At 56 – Joe finally agreed to bring one of my favorite, unique wines into the shop! The 2009 Francois Cazin Cour Cheverny. This deliciously crisp and lively white hails from the eastern part of the Loire Valley. Made entirely of the Romorantin grape varietal, white fruits and minerals take center stage while a little bit of salinity and stone fruit round out the finish. Gorgeous wine for sipping or enjoying with a variety of food for this time of year!

At home – We celebrated moments with family…

Travel – We traveled (with the girls) to our old stomping grounds of San Francisco! Caught up with old friends, visited old teachers, and saw our old apartment(s!) All the while making new memories soaking in the gorgeous scenery, enjoying dinner with new friends, and forging business relationships that will hopefully be blog-worthy in the near future! More on that later!

At work – We said farewell and good luck to a good friend and colleague. Thank goodness we will still be seeing you – but we’ll miss you at 56!