A Taste of French Food &Wine

6 of the 7 Muskateers

This past weekend, my friend Angie (she took the above picture) hosted a French dinner party. Everything from the food, to our outfits, to the wine, were all French themed. She even provided us all with little French moustaches. And when we peeled them off, it took off any trace of a moustache we did have, LOL! Women going through menopause will get that joke!

We had some great food, a few great laughs, and some great French wine. We started the evening with a ‘welcome’ wine of a French rose, called Arrogant Frog. My friend Angie is seen holding the bottle of wine.

Angie holding the Arrogant Frog

There is an Arrogant Frog Sparkling rose, but that’s not the one we had, we enjoyed the dry Rose. It was crisp, light and delicious. The winemaker, Jean-Claude Mas is a 4th generation winemaker, who started assisting his father and grandfather in the vineyard when he was 3 years old. Our local NSLC also carries a Chardonnay Viognier white blend and a Cabernet Merlot red blend. I’ll have to try them. Made with the Syrah grape, this was a wonderful wine that we enjoyed with a delicious appetizer of spinach and artichoke dip on a baguette, made by Arla.

Not my picture, but you get the picture of how tasty it was

Our first course was a salad, which I made, and it had a base of spinach and arugula. I then added beets, mandarin oranges, bacon (of course), almonds, and grated parmesan cheese. I made my salad dressing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, pepper, soy sauce and some brown sugar. With that course we enjoyed this French sparkling beauty.

Cremant De Bourgogne Brut

The Cremant De Bourgogne hails from the Maconnais region of Burgundy, Franch and Cremant is made in the exact say way as Champagne, what is commonly known as the traditional method. You know that you cannot call a Sparkling wine Champagne, unless it comes from the Champagne region of France and follows a whole list of strict guidelines. This was wonderful, made from Chardonnay grapes, and a steal of a deal at just $25. It was dry, and elegant with a lovely mousse (the foam and bubbles after a sparkling wine has been poured is called the mousse.) This is another great example of a sparkling wine that is made identical to Champagne, but is so much more affordable.

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Not the actual picture of the Beef Bourguinon Elaine made

Would you believe I did not get a picture of the main course. I’m so sad, because our friend Elaine made an amazing Beef Bourguignon. It was so delicious, and we paired it with mashed potatoes and French green beans. We served a variety of wines, both white and red, with the main course. We drank Pinot Noir, a GSM (Grenache, Syrah & Merlot) as well as Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.

Dave & Fred, the brave two men who hang with us 5 women.

Dave, pictured above, made a wonderful french fluffy dessert with a custard and a homemade caramel sauce. It was a divine evening of food, wine and fun, but I can’t wait to tell you about the my Wine of the Week!

La Vielle Ferme

After last weekend, every single one of us will have this wine as a staple in our wine racks. Meet my new favorite white wine. This wine was recently written up in the Wall Street Journal for being a spectacular wine at a great price. This wine is just $14.49 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, and is a 4 grape blend. Bourboulenc, Grenache blanc, Ugni blanc & Vermentino, which are harvested at optimum maturity, which is the key to a flavorful full-bodied white wine. Gorgeous fruity flavors of apples and citrus with some tropical notes, this wine blew me away. I just loved it.

Words of a Wino – Love this

Well that’s it for me today. Thank you for coming along on my food & wine journey. I love it when people share their wine and food stories with me as well.

Till next weekend, Cheers

Darlene

Bordeaux Wine Tour, Anyone?

Official Announcement

I have exciting news. In April, 2022, I will be joining forces with Atlantic Tours and AMA Waterways to participate in a river cruise called ‘A Taste of Bordeaux’. I met the owner of Atlantic Tours, Richard Arnold, during several wine tastings I did in 2019. We hit it off and talked about the possibility of working together on a wine related trip. Well we currently have 2 we are working on. 2021 to the Niagara region of Canada, and 2022 to Bordeaux France.

Richard & Sandra
Richard has a tremendous amount of experience doing first class tours.

For any wine lover, Bordeaux France is the capital of great wine. Filled with Chateaus and vineyards, this is going to be an epic adventure in the land of food and wine. (2 of my favorite things in the world.) Travelling the Garonne & Dordogne rivers in first class style, this is a dream trip for any wine lover. I’ll have more details later, but right now we are planned for April of 2022. And in case you didn’t know, Bordeaux is just not for the red wine lover, Bordeaux produces some amazing white wines as well. Bordeaux white is mostly blended wines and tends to consist of 3 grapes, Semillion, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. Bordeaux white can be light and fruity (Sauvignon Blanc heavy) or rich and creamy (Semillion heavy). It is also home to some of the most expensive wines in the world.

2005 Chateau D’yquem

Like this 2005 Chateau D’yquem priced at $1112.00

Chateau Margeaux

Or this Chateaux Margeaux priced at a cool $1448.00. But you can enjoy good wine from Bordeaux without having to take out a second mortgage. So….Let’s talk some food & wine.

Puyfromage White

Take this Chateau Puyfromage White Bordeaux for example. It is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion and it is tropical, light and fruity, and every wine tasting I’ve ever bought it to, it’s a hit. It’s only $22 a bottle, it’s medium-bodied, with some acidity from the Sauvignon Blanc and very food friendly. Chateau Puyfromage also comes in a red blend, with 60% of the wine being Merlot and the other 40% being comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. So a really good meaty red at about the same price point.

Rayell holding a Sauternes
Chateau Coutet Sauternes

One of my favorite white wines to come out of Bordeaux is Sauternes. I know many people say they don’t like sweet wines, but if you have a dessert wine, in a small sherry glass, and have it as a dessert, it can be heavenly. Sauternes comes from the Barsac region of Bordeaux and the grapes are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion and Muscadelle. Sauternes takes these 3 grapes and applies a process called Botrytis Cinerea, or more commonly known as noble rot.  This causes the grapes to become partially raisined, resulting in concentrated and distinctively flavored wines. These wines are delicious dessert wines, served chilled, and those flavors of honey and apricot make for one of my favorite desserts.

New pork chop marinade
Bobby Flay’s homemade honey mustard sauce

I would really like to tell you about my new food discovery. I made Bobby Flay’s homemade honey mustard sauce and used it on grilled pork chops. Here’s one change I have made to the recipe. (Sorry Bobby) It calls for equal parts grainy mustard and Dijon mustard. I started cutting the grainy mustard in half. If I used 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, I used 1/2 a tablespoon of the grainy. I feel the grainy mustard can overpower the sauce. Here’s the grainy mustard I used.

Maille Mustard

Even on the website, it says it packs a powerful punch. And it does. So I’m using half. Then I added honey, salt & pepper. Delicious on pork.

Now, for my wine of the week… Believe me, this one is very affordable

I hope all my readers have someone in their life that looks at them like I look at this wine. LOL. I love a Ripasso, regular readers of my blog will know that. It’s Valpolicella wine poured over the skins and must of Amarone, while they are still warm. It takes on those beautiful Amarone flavors without taking on the heaviness of an Amarone. This is probably my favorite Italian wine. And last night was my first time trying this one by Folinari. It is a medium-bodied wine full of flavor, beautiful hints of balsamic, cherry and mocha spice. I did ribs on the grill, and it was amazing.

Have a wonderful week everyone. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Wining For A Long Weekend

Me last night!

I wasn’t just pining for a long weekend, I was wining for the long weekend. The Labor Day weekend, is the last official weekend of Summer for most people. For me, (don’t hate me) it’s ‘Bye Bye Summer – Hello Fall’. I am all about cooler temperatures, the pretty colours on the trees, and the availability of local fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m taking some holidays this coming week, my Mom, Sister, Brother-in-Law & Nephew are all coming for a visit this week, as we get Riley settled into SFX University in Antigonish, NS. I know I’ve been sharing some recipes lately, just wait until I start cooking for this handsome growing guy!

Riley at his High School Graduation
Me saying goodbye to Riley at the airport after 2 weeks in Barbados

This kid can eat, trust me. I’ll be cooking up a storm once he starts University here. They are all coming Wednesday for a visit and shopping, and then next Saturday morning we are off to Antigonish to set up his dorm room. There probably won’t be a wine blog next Saturday, but I’ll have lots to share in 2 weeks time. I’m also going to be doing a BIG travel announcement in 2022 for a wine tour you are not going to want to miss. Oui, Oui. That’s yes in French. A little hint of something special to come.

Let’s talk some wine…. and food!!

A great chicken marinade was discovered this week

Our Summer weather continued this past week, so since there was a lot of sunshine, I grilled one or two evenings. I have come up with the a fantastic chicken marinade. Start with olive oil, add a grainy mustard, or any mustard you have on hand, salt, pepper, a splash of lemon juice, splash of Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and the most important ingredient, brown sugar. Do you know why? I’ve discovered this week if you are grilling chicken or pork, brown sugar will be the secret to carmelization and a nice char on the outside. And a nice char on the outside will keep everything tender and juicy on the inside. It was delicious. I marinated it for about 4 hours. Overnight would be best. So what wine goes with this delicious grilled chicken? Red or white, pick your choice.

Saints & Sinners Pinot Grigio

This Saints & Sinners Pinot Grigio is from Canada, and is priced under $11 a bottle. Who doesn’t love a great deal over a long weekend. It’s not as dry as most Italian Pinot Grigio’s, it’s 75% Pinot Grigio, and 25% other fruit including Gewürztraminer, so expect a little sweeter Pinot Grigio. Most Pinot Grigio wines are a 1 on the sweetness level (the lowest), this one is a 2. If you love red with your chicken, try this wine.

Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel

This is the wine I enjoyed with it, and I’ll be heading out to buy more. This wine is $2 off right now in Nova Scotia, so it’s under $15 a bottle. Even on their website, the one and only food they have listed to try it with, is BBQ grilled chicken. A match made in heaven. Old vine is a symbol of quality in American wine. In France you see words like Grand Cru, in Italy it’s Superiore or Riserva, and in California it tends to be Old Vine, especially when talking about Zinfandel. Old vines make better wine, it’s as simple as that. At $14.48 a bottle right now, don’t make the same mistake I did, pick up more than one!!

Pork tenderloin

I also grilled a small pork tenderloin this week, and it came out great, after resting for 10 minutes in Aluminum foil. Resting your meat is very important when grilling, it lets the juices settle. It’s especially important in pork tenderloin, because you don’t want a dry pork tenderloin. I used brown sugar as the base of this marinade as well, because I just love the char it provides on the outside and it stays juicy on the inside.

And now for my wine of the week…

A 90 Point wine for $12.99

Run, don’t walk, if this wine is on sale at your liquor store, like it is mine. This wine is just $12.99 a bottle right now, while it’s available, and yes, that is a 90-Point designation you see on the label. World famous wine critic James Suckling gave this Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon 90 Points, and friends, right now this wine is less than $13 a bottle. This full-bodied beauty is from the Central Valley in Chile and is the #1 seller for Caillero del Diablo. Medium to full-bodied and not overly oaked, this Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect wine for a long weekend grill-fest. Enjoy.

I need this t-shirt

To all my readers, thank you so much for joining me for another week. If I don’t touch base next week, I’ll see you in 2 weeks time.

Stay safe and take care

Darlene

National Red Wine Day

840 WHAS - Happy National Red Wine Day! 🍷 ACT FAST!... | Facebook
National Red Wine Day

Yesterday, August 28th was National Red Wine Day, and if you were listening to one of our local Radio Station’s, 96-5 The Breeze, the Morning Show featured an interview with me from a couple of years back, talking about some of my favorite reds. So here’s this weeks wine blog, let’s talk some red wine… and of course some food.

Great evening for a BBQ

I do really good ribs

Yesterday evening was a beautiful evening for a barbecue, and I have friends in the building who don’t have a barbeque but they told me they were craving a feed of ribs. So I texted her and said “I’ll do a feed of ribs and bring them down”. It takes me roughly five hours to do my ribs, I slow cook them in a 250-degree oven for 3 1/2 hours in the marinade, and then finish them on the grill with a sweet and sticky barbeque sauce. They were fall off the bone delicious. And I had a brand new wine while I was cooking, and enjoying the feast.

Paso Creek 2015 Merlot

OMG, this wine was awesome! I loved the slogan on the bottom, “bold character derived from stubborn patience”. Paso Robles is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and is emerging as a top quality wine region, not only in California but worldwide. This is no wimpy Merlot, this is bold and flavourful without being overpowered by oak. I loved it, and I thought it was a great wine for $23.
So, one of the issues I had this pandemic, as regular readers will know, I was doing a lot of cooking, and a lot of testing new recipes. And I have the Covid curves to prove it LOL. Two weeks ago, I decided to do something about it, and I’ve been eating better for most of the week and even getting out and exercising. Virtual High-5 👏! It’s not easy.

I’m trying to eat healthier

I made this grilled chicken salad, with mandarin oranges, freshly grated Parmesan (because every meal deserves some joy), and I made my own salad dressing. Easy, and delicious. Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pinches of garlic, black pepper, Dijon mustard and brown sugar. This was lunch, so no wine for me. If it was dinner, here’s a great wine for that salad.

Caliterra Tributo Chardonnay

You could do a nice crisp Pinot Grigio, or even Prosecco, but the grilled chicken in this salad would also allow for a nice Chardonnay. The Caliterra Chardonnay is from Chile, not overly oaked, delicious apple flavours and priced under $18. It’s one of my favorite Chardonnay wines.

And now for my wine of the week….

Gauchezco Reserve Cabernet Franc

It’s been only the past year or two, that I’ve been discovering Cabernet Franc on its own. Previously, it was more known to me as the third grape in a Bordeaux blend. There are several winemakers making Cabernet Franc the star. In a recent 2020 special report on wine from Argentina, this wine was given 91 Points. It’s very good, it’s smooth and has lovely pepper notes. Another great wine for a BBQ. This wine is a Reserve and is priced just under $23.

Your chuckle for today

So I would like to take a moment in closing to tell you about a wine tour I am going to be involved in for next year. June 19th, 2021 (Fingers crossed) my friend Richard, who owns Atlantic Tours, will be bringing a group to the Niagara Wine Region and I’m coming to host the wine tours. There will also be a stop in old Quebec City. I can’t wait. Check out all the upcoming tours at http://www.atlantictours.com. Richard and his staff have been doing worry-free tours for many years. Mark your calendar for this fabulous wine tour as we experience some great wine and take in the stunning views of Niagara Falls. I’ll tell you more about it soon. Hope you can join us.

Niagara Falls, Ontario - Wikipedia
Niagara Falls

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Grape Balls of Fire

Spicy Food Wine Pairing Tips – Kwaf | The Best of Ontario Wine
Spicy Food & Wine can be great together

As my regular readers know, most Saturday mornings I sit with a great cup of coffee and write a wine blog. Since the pandemic started, I’ve started introducing some of my favorite recipes. Although I’ve always loved to cook, I really haven’t introduced recipes and my attempts at new recipes until recently. I’m getting lots of positive feedback, and I really appreciate all the comments. I mean what goes better with food than wine, except for great friends. I don’t know if you guessed it from the title this week, but we are talking spice this week, because my brand new adventure in cooking was making my first homemade salsa.

My 1st homemade salsa

My first attempt, even though I felt I used less jalapeno, still had some kick to it. It was awesome on nachos. The chips and cheese tend to curb some of the spiciness. I loved it, and will be regularly making it because it was so easy!

My late night Nachos

I always thought you had to chop up your tomatoes. No!! This recipe calls for canned diced tomatoes. I used the ones with garlic and olive oil. And for my first attempt, I used 1/2 a tin.

Aylmer® Accents® Garlic & Olive Oil Petite Cut Stewed Tomatoes ...
All the hard work is done

Here’s what I did:

1/2 a Jalapeno, with most of the seeds taken out. (that’s where all the heat is)

1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic

1/4 cup of cilantro

The juice of 1/2 a lime

1/4 teaspoon salt (& I added some pepper)

Tip of a teaspoon of sugar. (This is optional)

I put it in my mini-food processor. I use mine so much I keep it on the counter at all times.

Mini Food Processor

A few pulses, and fresh salsa, with no preservatives, will last for a week in a sealed container. It took 5 minutes.

Some people in the food and wine beverage industry think the best thing to go with spicy food would be a nice cold beer. you’re not wrong, but for my wine loving friends, I love wine with spicy food. We’re going to talk about some spicy food, and we’re going to talk to some wine.

A selection of Nova Scotia Tidal Bay Wines

One of my favourite wines to have is one of the many unique Tidal Bay wines offered by wineries here in Nova Scotia. Tidal Bay is an appellation blend Created by the wineries in Nova Scotia, as well as the Wine Association of Nova Scotia. Initially released in 2012, these wineries have to make a title page from 100% Nova Scotia growing grapes in a strict if standards that make for some beautifully made wine. I don’t have a favorite, but I will tell you, I’ve never had a bad one.

My spicy wines

My spicy wings, which I do in my air fryer, the sauce is simple. 1 part Frank’s Hot Sauce, 1/2 part maple syrup and 1/4 cup BBQ sauce. Delicious

I think my all-time favourite wine to have with spicy food is an icy cold Riesling. I don’t like full on sweet Riesling, but I do like a tinge of sweetness in my Riesling to take the edge off that spicy food.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling U.S.A.

I love this Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Washington State in the U.S.A. This is a dry Riesling with just a hint of sweetness. The wine was inspired by the winemaker enjoying Chinese food one evening, watching a movie. So he created Kung Fu Girl, and as he puts it ‘it’s been kicking ass ever since’. And it’s priced under $20 a bottle. Win-Win!

And now my Wine of the Week

The Cleaver

I can drink red with spicy food, and my favorite red grape to do that is Zinfandel. The Cleaver blend is 74% Zinfandel, 15% Syrah & 11% Petite Sirah. This is a super interesting red blend that not only goes with spicy food, you should try it with anything on the BBQ. The label says ‘It’s a Must for Meat’. It’s a $30 bottle of wine and worth every sip.

Stay safe

Well that’s it for me for this week. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene