The Winds (Wines?) of Elsa

Elsa hit my deck hard

The Winds of Elsa? or the Wines of Elsa? Either way, Tropical Cyclone Elsa hit the Halifax area last night and while some people didn’t get any damage, my patio wasn’t quite as lucky. Yes, this is a picture of my brand new barbecue with a full 20-lb tank of propane inside, and yes, it was attached to the deck by 2 bungee cords. Didn’t matter, Elsa sent all my herb plants flying and my BBQ toppling. So that’s what I’m doing today, clean up. How was your experience with Elsa? People who live on the front of our building didn’t receive any wind at all. I guess I was in the path. Oh, and slept through it all.

Apparently that was me last night. Let’s look at some great food and wine.

First, a couple of new food dishes.

Chicken Flautas
Sweet & Sour Meatballs

My friends Mike & Kim in Newfoundland introduced me to chicken flautas 15 years ago. Delicious. Boiled or roasted chicken, (You can use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. ) shredded, add sauteed onions and garlic. Lots of garlic, they are garlicky! Add salsa and cheese and roll them up in a tortilla shell. And then fry them in a pan till browned on all 4 sides. These flautas, my Mom’s recipe for sweet and sour meatballs, and some rice made for a great weekday meal. I have ribs marinating today, and I’ll share those with you next week. Put them in the marinade last evening, that’s going to be tasty.

I’m going to share some great wines you can have with foods based in a sauce, in this case, a sweet and sour sauce.

A Rose is a great choice

Angie with Arrogant Frog Rose

Arrogant Frog is a great Rose wine and a fan favorite among my friends. It’s made with the Syrah grape, has wonderful acidity and is a great way to compliment a food with a heavier sauce. Perfectly priced at $17.

Pepperwood Grove Zinfandel

Another grape that goes well with a sweet and sour sauce would be saucy Zinfandel. Zinfandel’s peppery notes pairs very well with the smoky components of a sauce. You can also check for an American ‘red blend’, as many of them contain Zinfandel. For my Newfoundland friends, here’s a couple of great Zinfandel wines.

Gnarly Head Zinrfandel

Gnarly Head Zinfandel is an old vine Zinfandel, which means the flavors are really enhanced. It is found everywhere in Canada and is priced under $23 a bottle.

Cupcake Red Blend

A wine like the Cupcake Red Blend is a Zinfandel based red wine with Merlot & Petite Sirah added to make it a blend. Delicious and priced between $17 and $19. I looked for this yesterday at the NSLC on my street, but they were sold out of it. It would have been a great wine to have with my ribs tonight.

And last but not least, a brand new wine I had last night. Loved it. You have to let it breathe.

I had the 2015

When I first opened the bottle, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. The wood overpowered. So I let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes, and boy was it enjoyable. You need to either let this breathe for 20 – 30 minutes or decant it. Keep in mind, it was bottled 6 years ago in 2015, so in a case like that, when you first open the bottle, oak would be predominant. This wine was only aged 3 months in French Oak barrels so it shouldn’t be oaky. This is a beautiful Super Tuscan blend from Italy, made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese, in equal parts. Beautifully balanced with lots of body. Priced under $20 a bottle, I enjoyed it.

Well I have to dance myself down my hallway, I have my barbecue grates soaking in the bath tub.

Till next week, Cheers

I’m A Fool for the Cool

I’m not a fan of humidity

Although it’s cool here in Halifax today, we had a few really humid days this past week. Temperatures were like 28° with a humidex of 35°, that’s a little uncomfortable for me. In true eastern Canada fashion, however, temperatures hit a high of 13° yesterday.
My heart goes out to people in the western portion of our country, where temperatures are in the high 40s and low ‘50’s, and for our readers outside of Canada that’s Celsius degrees. Lytton, BC hit the highest temperature in North America, earning a mention on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. Sadly, a fire evacuated and burnt much of the town, and our hearts are going out to everyone there.

With temperatures that high, I barbecued during those couple of days.

This pork chop was a new recipe, and a winner! The easy to make glaze consisted of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and a little orange juice. Tasty! that marinade would also work on chicken.

If you’ve been watching the Food Network lately, you’ve seen iconic Canadian Chef Mark McEwan promote this wine. It was also featured on a couple of episodes of the latest Top Chef Canada. The reason being, Sauvignon Blanc is so food friendly. This Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc, it’s from New Zealand, and was the very first wine I ever got tested on in my training to become a Sommelier. Gorgeous flavors of passion fruit and grapefruit, make it a great summer wine. It pairs fantastic with seafood, and also your favorite summer salad.

For my friends in Newfoundland, there is a wide variety of Stoneleigh products available, including a sparkling. If any of my readers try that particular wine, can you let me know what you thought? I am going to get home this Summer, and would love to hear opinions.

Valpolicella Ripasso

Ripasso in Italian means ‘to pass again’, and that’s what happens with the Valpolicella grape juice. It is ‘passed over’ Amarone skins and picks up those rich deep flavors of the Amarone. This is a great BBQ wine, with cherry flavors from the Valpolicella and fig and chocolate from the Amarone skins. It’s on sale here right now, so it’s a great time to try it. We don’t have access to it here, but my friends in Newfoundland can get a dry Zonin Rose Brut. I’ll be trying that when I go home this Summer.

Stay safe everyone. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Summer has Landed!

Wine Goals!

Many people here in Canada really look forward to summer. Maybe because our winters tend to last a little longer. The weather has warmed up, the kids finished school yesterday and as we open up from our 3rd wave, people are talking about going to see family and friends throughout Atlantic Canada. What does summer look like for you? Is it camping? Is it barbecuing? Is it sipping wine on the patio? (Yes!). If you’re like me, it could be all of those things and many more.
I want to share some favorite summer wines, but first I’d like to tell you about a new refreshing cocktail I tried for the first time this week .

On a hot Wednesday evening this week, I tried the new vodka citrus drink from Black Fly. Black Fly is made here in Canada. Do you want to know how hot it was? There were about 12 ice cubes in this glass before I poured. This was tart, refreshing, and not too sweet. I have a few from this company to try, including vodka cranberry and vodka punch. They also do drinks with rum and gin, and you can get a variety pack as well. Perfect for Summer and available in all 4 Atlantic provinces and the rest of Canada.

Speaking of summer, did you know I do really good baby back ribs? I’m kind of known for them to my close family and friends . I have a nephew Brady, who works at IOC in Labrador City, who is trying to duplicate my recipe. I made a rack of ribs this past week, because it does take several hours to get delicious fall off the bone ribs.

If you were to ask me about one of my favourite meals, it is baby back ribs, crispy wings, rice and corn on the cob. It’s really too early for corn on the cob here in Nova Scotia, so I made this dish with corn, carrots, apples, red onion and bacon, which turned out to be really delicious. (I cooked the red onion in the bacon fat))

The key to great ribs, chicken or any kind of pork is marinating.

My marinade was brown sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper, a little bit of hot sauce, maple syrup, a little bit of orange juice and barbeque sauce. I like them to sit in the marinade for about six hours and then I slow cook them in a 250° oven for 3 hours and then I finish them off on the grill. Yummy!
Here’s the wine I enjoyed with this meal.

La Baume Syrah

Rarely will you ever see the French call this grape by its other name, Shiraz. They prefer Syrah, and this one from Domaine De La Baume is wonderful, and it’s around $18.
I promised my friend Daphne in Newfoundland last weekend that I would feature wines that she could get in Newfoundland. She told me she reads the blog, but she can’t get most of the wines I feature. Although you can’t get this particular Syrah, you can get one from the same region in the same price range.

I am definitely going to Newfounfland this summer to visit my family, and I promise to try this wine while I’m there. Like the La Baume, this Syrah is also from the Languedoc region of France and comes in under $18. I can’t wait to try this wine when I go home.

Last but not least, I am going to finish the blog with a refreshing rosé wine, and yes it’s available throughout Atlantic Canada including for my friends in Newfoundland

The Pelee Island Rose blush is a great wine for Summer. It also brings to light how much more we pay here in Atlantic Canada for wine from even the rest of Canada. This wine is $12.95 in Ontario, it is $18.99 here in Nova Scotia and $19.99 in Newfoundland. Hard to believe isn’t it, that’s a big difference. However some great news for my Newfoundland friends, it’s currently $2 off there! It’s not a dry Rose wine, it has some effervescence. But it’s very food friendly and wonderful if you’re just sipping on the patio.

That’s it for me for this week, till next week Cheers.

Wines for Dear Old Dad

My Dad

This marks my first Father’s Day since my dad passed last July, 3 months before he turned 90. It’s been a year of firsts, his first birthday, first Christmas and now first Father’s Day without him. He was a wonderful dad, and always had a smile on his face. He lived a great life and we all miss him very much.
Dear old Dad wasn’t very much of a wine drinker, but he was the first one to pour me and mom a glass. As a matter of fact, my Dad always went to the store and got Mom’s wine. it was after my Dad had passed, that my Mom went into the liquor store for the first time and bought her own wine. That was a new experience for her. He also loved great food.

I have to share with you the chicken that changed my life LOL. Anyone who was willing to listen this past week, I told them about this chicken. I brined my first chicken last weekend.

I took out a chicken early Saturday morning out of my freezer to thaw. Later that afternoon I boiled water, sugar, brown sugar, peppercorns, molasses, lemon, rosemary, thyme, & garlic. Once it cooled to room temperature, I added more cold water. It’s very important you do not put raw chicken in warm water, because it will create a safety hazard. Then I put the pot with the chicken and my flavored brine in my fridge and left it there until late Sunday afternoon. You can brine for 6 to 12 hours, however because I was having this chicken for Sunday supper, I brined for 24 hours. Then, because it was a beautiful evening, I fired up the barbeque and put it on the rotisserie.
I don’t have a picture of the finished product, because once it reached an internal temperature if 165° and it rested, I carved the chicken and started eating. O.M.G! It was that good, and I ate so much, I forgot to take a picture. It was so good I almost went door to door in my apartment building to say “You have to try this”! But I didn’t.

Let’s talk about some cocktails. On a beautiful sunny day, I know many Dad’s enjoy a beer while working the grill. So for Father’s Day we are also going to feature a beer. Now, here’s one of my favorite beers. Made here in the Maritimes.

Crafty Radler

If someone had told me a few years ago I would love beer with grapefruit and tangerine, I don’t know if I would have believed them. But I do! Made by Pumphouse Brewery in Moncton, New Brunswick, this delicious blend of beer, grapefruit and tangerine hits the spot on hot Summer day.

At the NSLC yesterday I noticed many of Nova Scotia Tidal Bay wines were on sale. These are fabulous for sipping on patios as the weather warms up, or enjoying with your favorite chicken or seafood. These wines truly reflect the terroir of Nova Scotia and I’ve never had one I didn’t like. Some of the ones on sale this week were Benjamin Bridge, L’Acadie and Grand Pre, just to name a few.

And last but not least, I tried a new red this past week and it was yummy.

Delicious and on sale right now

What a pleasant surprise this was. The Amado Sur Red Blen is an Argentinian blend of Malbec, Bonarda and Syrah. I looked for it on our NSLC website and couldn’t find it anywhere, however, it’s there. I saw it again last night when I was there. It’s in the Argentina section and it’s on sale right now for $16.99. Jon Thorsen who writes my personal favorite wine blog, the Reverse Wine Snob, check it out here. Jon started this blog because like me, he feels wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. He calls it a delightfully rich and fruity blend, and says it’s vegan friendly.

The wine-maker says its a great wine to go with steak, and it would be, but I had a little something of many items on my plate last Saturday night, and it went great.

Rice, wings, taco boats & a skewer

I do like variety on my plate, and yes it’s unusual I don’t have a vegetable on it. Don’t judge! It was Saturday night.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there. Have a safe wonderful weekend.

Till next week, Cheers

Smart People Drink Wine

Great news for wine lovers

There’s a reason for wine lovers to celebrate tonight. Not only because it’s Saturday night, but because drinking wine makes you smarter. At least according to Yale neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd. Now, I’m not Albert Einstein, or Albert Wine-stein for that matter, but that’s great news to me.

Dr. Shepherd says wine exercises both sides of your brain. Wine drinking requires sniffing& swirling the wine on the different sides of your mouth. Shepherd points out that this activity is a complex motor process involving several areas of the brain. The researcher covers the connection between interpreting wine flavors and the brain in detail in his book, “Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine.” And since wine requires use of so many of your senses, including smell and taste, it makes sense.

So here’s to great wine and smarter wine-drinkers.

So last week I told you I was taking care of the food for a few friends getting together on a balcony. We are allowed to get together on a balcony, not inside. Now some people froze, it was chilly, although 2 days later there was a heat wave warning.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

So we had 2 salads, a Caesar, and a Mediterranean Orzo salad. Orzo is a pasta that looks like rice, but actually is a pasta, and is great in a salad. I added red pepper, red onion, chickpeas, tomatoes, fresh herbs & feta cheese. You can add whatever you like to give it a splash of color.

Lemony Herb dressing

Then I made this delicious lemony herb dressing. And it’s even better the next day. In the dressing is fresh lemon juice, the zest of the lemon, 1 clove of garlic, red wine vinegar, honey, salt & pepper and of course olive oil. Delish!

Marinated chicken skewers

We also had some marinated chicken skewers. It’s the Chef Spencer Watts recipe that I had mentioned in a previous blog. That recipe is here.

Taco boats

I also did taco boats, because the store was sold out of the small taco shells, but these worked out better when we were sitting on a patio. They were much easier to handle, and less mess. (My apologies for a next day picture, I forgot to take a picture the night before, and this was left-overs.) The homemade salsa, lime cilantro crema, and dipping sauce for the skewers were a hit as well. I had so much fun doing this. I want to do this for our next get together.

Now let’s talk some wine, & cocktails – my intelligent friends. This past week we had a heat wave for 2 days, so on days like that, I like a nice cold refreshing drink. Can you say Arriba! (I know you have to more mature to remember Speedy Gonzales, but that’s what he would cheer.)

Speedy Gonzales

Speedy Gonzales would love these. I know we did.

Just before this latest lockdown, my friends and I had a Mexican themed food night. And what better way to kick off the event than with a classic Margarita from Jose Cuervo, featuring the famous Jose Cuervo tequila. Jose Cuervo has been making tequila for 250 years and now they are making these delicious mixed drinks. They are affordable and not at all sweet.

Here’s another drink that is not the least bit sweet. I’m not a fan of sweet drinks. Before Riley went back to Newfoundland, after his first year of University, he handed me one of these, and said ‘give it a try’. Well, the only danger with this drink is that you can’t taste any booze and it went down pretty fast. Wouldn’t take long to go through a 6-pack. Delicious and refreshing and the watermelon is one of 3 new flavors introduced this past year.

My friend Angie shared this wonderful wine with me this past week. It was easy to drink and not overly oaky. I figured the winemaker can describe it even better than I can.

“These Reserva wines reflect the varietal character, which combined with an ageing of 6 months in French oak barrels, make them to stand out for their freshness, fruit and balance.”

Errazuriz was started by two great wine-makers, Eduardo Chadwick and Robert Mondavi. And the winemaker for estate, Francisco Baettig, has won winemaker of the year for Chile, and has been nominated for one of the ‘best winemakers in the world’. So you know it’s a great value at just $16.99

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Till next week, Cheers