Great bread is a welcome guest at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Used at breakfast to dip toasted corners into the yolk of an egg, as the handy housing for your sandwich, or as a vehicle for sauce mopping with dinner, bread is something most of us eat every day. Today, grocery stores everywhere stock freshly baked and delivered breads from nearby artisan bakeries. The bread I remember fondly when I was growing up, though, came in a red, white and blue plastic wrapper from Franz.
For me there is no other city on the planet that is as electrifying as New York City. I recently won a recipe contest for the Cooking Channel and received an expense paid trip to The Big Apple to shoot a segment on a Cooking Channel show called The Perfect Three, but that was only part of my incredible experience in NYC. My good friend Angelika and I were able to choose four New York City restaurants where we would have dinner during our stay. I think that one could easily spend months choosing a different restaurant every night and still not be able to enjoy all the fantastic food the city has to offer.
It’s Super Bowl time again! The best thing about this Sunday is all the great food that has become synonymous with a great Super Bowl party! “Faux” holidays like this one give us all an opportunity to indulge in tasty game-time foods like nachos, hot wings and lots of cold beer. Because my family lived in Boston for three years, we became fans of the Patriots. To tell you the truth, though, I just love to watch the commercials! Make these tasty wings for your guests, or bring them along with you to a friend’s house for their Super Bowl get together. I guarantee they will be a big hit!
I became really interested in cooking when I was in high school. My parents both worked, my older brother and sister had moved away to start their own lives and it was just the three of us left at home. My mom often threw something together for us to eat for dinner, but planning and preparing the evening meal required more energy than my mom had at the end of a long day.
Grapes struggled to ripen in cold, wet climate that sat over the Willamette Valley in the late growing season of 2011. Typically this results in sharp, acidic finished wines. In places like the Alsace region of France, where grapes such as Pinot gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer rule; sharp, crisp and acidic is the style. In Oregon, the same style has proven to be troublesome for grape growers and winemakers, especially with red wines.
In fact, 2011 was so consistently cool, that late September had the fewest growing “degree days” (days between 50º and 84º F) of any vintage in forty years. Harvest did not begin until mid- to late October and finished well into the second week of November. It proved to be one of the latest harvest years on record, with high anxiety over potential mildew and devastating frost damage. For some, arriving fashionably late to a party is par for the course, and in Oregon that certainly has become the trend for harvest in the last couple of years. Herb Quady, a Southern Oregon winemaker for Quady North and Troon Vineyard, commented, “There was a serious frost in early November, but most vineyards were ripe by then, so the effect was not that negative.”
In mid-October, wine growers had already relaxed somewhat as a warm weather spell dried out the fruit and brought up the sugar content, just enough to begin harvest. Though low in sugar, the fruit provided a great depth and well-developed character, which consistently creates beautiful wines with balanced acids and lower alcohol content. “Some folks, myself included, have referred to this past vintage as the ‘Miracle Harvest,’” said Jesse Lange, winemaker at Lange Winery in the Dundee Hills. “I really couldn’t care less what it ends up being called, I’m just so satisfied and proud that for those vineyards and farmers that put themselves in a position to be successful, pulled through with flying colors.”
Unlike in 2010, where grape yields were well below standard, 2011 found more fruit being produced with thicker, heavier and juicer bunches. Also, unlike 2010, when migrating birds took some of the profits into their bellies, the vineyard owners were prepared for the top-skimming flocks, pounding day and night with air cannons to ward away the grape-hungry, winged beasts.
The final product is yet to be determined, as the wines are still very young and are still … well, becoming wine. But across the state, producers are optimistic that this could be a vintage to hang their soggy hats on. “The whites have all the hallmarks of a classic vintage: pure, complex flavors with lean and balanced acidity. The very young Pinot noirs have incredibly intense color density, firm and fine grained tannins and lovely blackberry, brambleberry qualities,” said Lange. Quady added, “It could have been disastrous, but it came out splendid.”
‘Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter! No, you got your peanut butter in my chocolate!” Remember that old candy bar commercial that suggested that only a collision could bring the two flavors together? It turns out they are an obvious pairing for countless confections and desserts. Chocoholics everywhere agree that a day without chocolate is a day without sunshine. Eating chocolate causes endocrine glands to secrete hormones that affect your feelings and behavior by actually making you happy. Research has found that chocolate eaten in moderation can even lower blood pressure. One T-shirt I agree with reads: “Emergency alert: If wearer of this shirt is found vacant, listless or depressed, administer chocolate immediately!”