The Daily Dish

Wine and buzz at WGBH’s tasting Friday night

By Cathy Huyghe
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A successful event always has these elements in common:

The right mix of guests. In the case of WGBH’s Old World New World Showdown on Friday night, that mix included long-time ‘GBH fans, new ‘GBH fans, and a whole other set who were drawn to WGBH’s Yawkey Atrium at One Guest Street for the chance to taste eight wines, mingle with friends, tour the studios, and stay on for a live jazz concert with Melissa Aldana after the tasting.

A well-considered program. That meant a sparkling wine reception (just to set the tone!) followed by a paced tasting of four grapes — Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Syrah — first in their Old World iterations and then in their New. The tasting was punctuated between grapes by comments from certified wine educator Adam Chase of Grape Experience and feedback from the crowd. That kept everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction.

Good-quality food and drink. This we couldn’t have achieved without the very generous support of the following local wine shops and distributors:

    * Bauer Wine & Spirits, who donated the 2009 Montes Leyda
    * bottles, who donated the 2009 “Kung Fu Girl” Riesling by Charles Smith Wines
    * Federal Wine & Spirits and Oz Wine Company, who donated the 2007 Doudet-Naudin Bourgogne Rouge
    * Gordon’s Fine Wines & Liquors, who donated the 2007 Schild Shiraz
    * Grape Experience, who donated their time and expertise
    * Henry’s Wine Cellar, who donated the 2006 Three Sons Cuvée
    * Martignetti, who donated the 2008 Château De Sancerre
    * Tomasso Trattoria and Panzano Provviste, who donated the 2008 Weingut Walter Rauen Detzemer Wurzgarten Riesling
    * Wine ConneXtion, who donated the 2006 Gigondas

Buzz. The event was completely sold out. Guests were texting and tweeting. Feedback ranged from “Timely, informative, fun!” to “Loved the tour of the studios. Loved the concert.” to “Hope this event is repeated in the future!!!”

You can count on it.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Burgers and burgundy at Gordon’s

By Cathy Huyghe
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I know I was supposed to be there for the wine. It was Burgundy, after all, and a lot of it — almost 20 different wines, both red and white, all readily sippable.

But I got distracted by the food.

That was the danger at the Burgers & Burgundy! event last Saturday afternoon at Gordon’s Fine Wines & Liquors in Waltham. Certainly, there were three tables set up with six or seven Burgundies each but across the room were two cooks from Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro serving up small bites like stacks of beets with Narrangansett feta and popcorn that had been dried for nine years — who ages popcorn for nine years? — and seasoned with brown butter and sage.

I tried to focus, I swear I did, and get myself back to those wines. Nicholas Potel Côte de Nuits. Bouchard Père et Fils. Château de Chamirey…

But then I glanced over my shoulder and the cooks were putting up the burgers, one a fish version made from Maine shrimp and the other a meat version made from true certified Angus beef from Blackford Farms.

Their draw was irresistible, especially the Maine shrimp burgers. So I made a deal with myself: to appreciate both the food and the wine by identifying the best pairing for each.

The beef burger was easy, thanks to Lexington-based wine writer Becky Sue Epstein who I trust implicitly on such matters. “The Givry,” she said simply, referring to the 2007 Parize Givry 1er Cru “Les Grandes Vignes.”

As for the shrimp burger? (Which, by the way, was garnished with a romesco sauce and arugula dressed in a sherry vinaigrette.) I couldn’t quite decide between the 2007 “Marie Antoinette” Pouilly Fuisse by J.J. Vincent or the 2007 “Les Setilles” by Olivier Leflaive.

But here’s the good news: I didn’t have to.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Roast Chicken (and a Few Tips) From a Time-Crunched Fitness Coach

By Jennifer Dunn
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Tips for edging toward a healthy life, even when there’s no time:

    * Multi-task. When I’m cooking I’ll often listen to a book on tape or I’ll have my son help.  This actually makes it a special and relaxing, and it transforms a chore into an experience.

    * Take advantage of the Internet. Gather healthy recipe ideas. Order produce online from Boston Organics; it’s reasonably priced and delivered straight to my door. Use the internet to make planning and shopping quicker, simpler and easier.
    * Plan, shop, prepare. On a weekly basis — Sunday, say — take time to plan your meals and do all of your shopping for the week. Then go home and prepare as much as you can.  Freeze it, store it, do whatever you need to do. During the week you will be much more likely to serve healthy choices if the food is already cooked.

Recipe from a fitness coach: Roast Chicken

Ingredients:

    * 1 small or medium organic, free-range chicken
    * 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
    * Half a cabbage, roughly chopped
    * 7-10 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
    * 1 lemon
    * Ample olive oil
    * 1 T. balsamic vinegar (optional)
    * Celtic sea salt and fresh ground pepper
    * Red wine or balsamic vinegar and water (optional for gravy)
    * Rice flour (optional for gravy)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475° F.

Heap the onion, cabbage and garlic in the middle of a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. If you like, you can also drizzle your balsamic vinegar over the veggies as well.

Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. With a sharp knife, prick holes in the lemon and stuff it into the cavity of the chicken.

Cover the outside of your chicken with olive oil and rub thoroughly with Celtic sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Then place the chicken on top of the bed of veggies in the pan.

Pop the pan in the oven. Reduce the heat to 400° F. Baste after about 40 minutes.

Total cooking time should be about 1 hour and 20 minutes. (I like to use a meat thermometer to check it; just insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken’s thigh, without touching the bone. Take the bird out when it reads 175° F. The internal temperature will continue to rise.)

Cover your bird with foil and let it sit for another 10 minutes. Carve it up and serve on a platter with your favorite steamed veggies and wild rice.

Bonus gravy:

Remove excess fat by skimming it off the top of the pan.  Put the pan on a large burner and bring it to a simmer. Mash up all the vegetables with a potato masher. Add a few glugs of balsamic vinegar and a half-cup of water, or you could use a half-cup of red wine.

Let the gravy simmer for a few more minutes, then sprinkle about one tablespoon of rice flour over the pan. Whisk vigorously until you reach the desired thickness and then remove it from the heat. Let it cool for a few minutes and then press it through a strainer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

It’s that easy.

Jennifer Dunn, Certified Personal Trainer, is the guest author for today’s Foodie Blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, where we explore myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Letter from Paris: Tasting of US wines

By Cathy Huyghe
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Technically no, I did not have to come to France in order to attend a seminar about California Zinfandel.

Yet there it was — the invitation, that is, for the seminar and an afternoon of tasting wines and spirits from all across the US — and there I was, at the US Embassy on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris yesterday afternoon, in order to partake.

There were plenty of connections between the event and WGBH, including the ambassador himself, Charles Rivkin, formerly CEO of The Jim Henson Company and a friend (and fan) of ‘GBH’s children’s programming. Several of the wines being poured are represented in the WGBH wine cellar and auction, including Kistler, Joseph Phelps, and Hahn Family Wines. And wines from the state of Massachusetts were originally slated to be included in the tasting; they withdrew, unfortunately, at the last minute, but states like Missouri and Colorado in addition to California and Washington all poured samples of their wines.

All of which were excellent reasons to spend an afternoon at the Embassy. But, aside from those reasons, my eyes and ears were especially attentive to the reception the wines would receive from the 600-plus attendees. American wines in France have traditionally been given a rather cool reception, despite the increasing percentage of US wine exports into France.

That cool reception was still very much in evidence at the tasting yesterday. “That tastes excellent,” I heard one guest say to another before adding, “for an American wine.” The cool reception was also in evidence at the Zinfandel tasting, when a member of the audience asked presenter and California winemaker Paul Dolan if it was “within the possibility of his imagination” to make a wine that’s less subtle than the high-alcohol wines we were tasting. I sat next to a restaurant consultant who is active in Paris, who told me that several Parisian sommeliers in the room weren’t even picking up their glasses to taste the wines in front of them.

Was it worth the effort, to bring more than 100 American wines to Paris where they received such a response? Perhaps, especially if you factor in the responses from less hostile guests who commended the effort to increase bonheur between the two countries.

But would the tasting and seminar have been as well attended were it not held at the US Embassy? Probably not. And that is the uphill battle that the US Foreign Agricultural Service will have — may always have — to fight.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Julia Child’s old stomping grounds: Photos from Paris

By Cathy Huyghe
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Julia and Paul Child's address is France was 81 Rue de l'Université, 7th Arrondissement.

In 1963, Julia Child stepped in front of the cameras at WGBH and introduced viewers to the art of French cooking with The French Chef, bringing her passion for French cuisine and inimitable voice to television. The series ran for 10 years, sparking a revolution in both American cooking and TV how-to shows that endures today. A recent trip to Paris gave me a chance to retrace the steps of this iconic, yet supremely relatable, chef and food lover.


Julia and Paul lived on the top two floors of this building.

Imagine if one of the names listed here today, on the call box outside the front blue door, were Child.

The closest Metro stop to the Child’s apartment, looking very much like it would have looked in Julia’s time.

Situated close to Saint Germain des Près, Androuet Fromagerie was back then, and still is today, one of the finest cheese shops in all of Paris.

Androuet’s cheeses range from “workhorses” like Comte to these precious bites, looking like the cheese version of mignardises.

You can’t have Paris without chocolate. Jean-Paul Hévin chocolatier, located on rue Saint Honoré in the 1st arrondissement, is famous for its cheese-filled chocolates.

And you can’t have chocolate — or Paris! — without wine. Le Rubis wine bar, also in the 1st arrondissement, is old, comfortable, and crowded. Their selection of wines by the glass relies on small pours from trustworthy regions.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Carving a pig from head to tail at Formaggio Kitchen

By Adam Centamore
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Last Wednesday evening, Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge gave class attendees a rare opportunity to witness what most foodies only read about: the actual carving of a pig.

In the spirit of Cochon555, a traveling competition centered on the appreciation and creative preparation of all things porcine, Julie Biggs and Jason Lord reduced a 110-pound heritage pig into cuts of meat easily recognized in your local meat case. Picnic hams, tenderloins, Boston Butt cuts, spareribs, pig’s feet, and jowl were all on the menu.

As attendees arrived for the class, they found themselves in the presence of a carcass that had been initially prepared; the head was separated from the body, which was cut cleanly in half. It took some a few moments to adjust to what they were standing next to, but there were no real surprises. Biggs commented, “These people know why they are here, and they know what they are going to see.”

Biggs and Lord’s sheer passion for their work quickly mitigated any slight discomfort.

Biggs, Formaggio’s charcutière, and Lord, the chef for Formaggio South End, were excited to conduct Pig Butchery 101: Primal Cuts from Head to Tail. “I love how cool pigs are today,” said Lord. “People are more educated and interested in what they eat.”

Neither Biggs nor Lord has any formal training in butchery per se. “I never learned butchering in culinary school,” said Lord. When asked how he acquired the considerable skills he was demonstrating throughout the evening, he confided, “I learned from sticking around [East Coast Grill, in Cambridge]. I just got involved.” Biggs is still learning. “I’ve always wanted to learn,” she said. “I love the idea of going to a farm, picking out an animal, and seeing it through to the end myself.”

Throughout the class, attendees sampled dishes made from various parts of the pig. The starter was a simple sausage roll; a light pastry shell filled with browned sausage with a hint of garlic. Next came “head to tail” posole, a traditional Mexican stew made from “bits and pieces” of pork livened up with hominy, cayenne pepper, cumin, and other spices in a robust pork broth.

For those feeling a little more adventurous, pig ear salad came next. This was many people’s first experience with pig ear, and most found the salad to be a pleasant balance between salty (from the roasted pig’s ear and capers) and tangy (from the citrus vinaigrette dressing). The final tasting was a Chinese-styled pork belly, sliced and served simply, letting the flavors of the meat’s fats melt in their mouths. During each course, Formaggio manager Vince Razionale kept guests’ glass full of rich, dark ales and stouts to complement each of the dishes.

A recurring theme during the evening was respect. “As long as you respect and appreciate what the animal is doing for you, you’re in the clear,” Lord said. Several times he leaned near the animal and thanked it in a hushed tone.

Watching Biggs and Lord treat the animal with such reverence summed up the spirit of the event. In dismantling their heritage pig, they were completing the journey of an animal in the food chain for our benefit, and while the results were tasty and the mood light, they never lost sight of what was actually happening. When asked why an experience like this was so important for people to have, and why he loved participating, Lord said it best.

“It’s real.”

Adam Centamore is the guest author for today’s Foodie Blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, where we explore myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

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