Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Trust This Tip!

Looking for the best coffee in NYC, the freshest fish in New Orleans, a great little hotel in Paris or simply a romantic spot to watch the sunset in Florence? A new edition to swirl and savor, T3 offers a travel, food or wine related tip that you need to know about! Discovered during our adventures and travels, these are not paid endorsements but simply tried and true tips for inquisitive minds.

This Weeks Tip!
La Florida, The Best Pizza Ever (so far)– The sunken ruins of Largo Argentina in Rome, where Julius Caesar met his assassins and numerous stray cats have now found sanctuary, is right next door to the best pizza we've ever had. We stumbled upon La Florida (flor-EE-da) one afternoon while spending the day eating nothing but fabulous street food in this most amazing city. It offers one of the best deals you may find on pizza, with a large variety with loads of local ingredients that always seems to be fresh out of the oven. It’s a perfect place for a quick, inexpensive lunch, and don't forget to check out the ruins and visit the cats (Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary) while you are there.

La Florida
Open 6 days a week, closed Sundays; 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Via Florida 25 in Largo Argentina
Phone: (+39) 0682004382

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Wine of the Moment, Champagne Drappier Carte D'Or

Isolated a couple of hours’ drive south-east of Epernay, the Aube vineyards of the Côte des Bar seem like a different wine region. But this is still Champagne, even though the region is closer to Burgundy than Reims, and it produces some intensely flavored Pinot Noirs which provide a different flavor profile to that of its northern cousins. The more powerful pinot noir grape from the Aube results in a fuller bodied and more assertive complex style with a very fresh and dry finish. The great houses to the north are well aware of the quality of their neighbor's wines: a big house like Veuve Clicquot will have up to 20% Pinot Noir from the Côte des Bar in their Yellow Label blend and the legendary Krug also buys grapes here.

Wine has been produced from the soils surrounding Champagne Drappier for some two thousand years. The present custodian of the business and the home is Michel Drappier with his father and mother still on hand to help (and children waiting in the wings to carry on the tradition), but the Drappier family history goes back to the beginning of the seventeenth century. Remy Drappier, a merchant draper (hence the name) from Reims and his son, Nicolas (1669-1724) were suppliers of wine to Louis XIV. It was in 1808 that Louis Drappier moved to Urville and began to develop the business that is still thriving today. The family's heritage is linked with stories of Cistercian monks and their leader, St-Bernard of nearby Clairvaux Abbey, one of the most influential religious figures of medieval France. However,wine production actually began during the First century AD, when the Gallo-Romans first planted vines on the site.

The Champagne Drappier Cart d'Or-Brut is predominantly Pinot Noir, with just a little Chardonnay added to provide that buttery smooth palate. It is fresh but mature, has complex flavors and full rich fruit. This has only 7 per cent white grapes, making it almost a blanc de noirs. It has a strong, savory, bready, developed bouquet showing lots of yeasty notes. The rich, smooth, very appealing flavor has a streak of lemony acidity running through it and a clean and dry finish.

Always searching for bargains, and they are few and far between when it comes to Champagne, I saw this wine on one of our distributors close out lists. I bought what was left, but at this price, there wasn't a lot...so supplies are limited, but you can buy this great little bubbly for $25. Seriously, this is a ridiculous price for the quality of this Champagne and you should not waste time in calling me or stopping by if you want some. We bought a case for our personal consumption and the other 2 are up for grabs! A great way to bring 2010 with a recession buster Champagne!

Wine Spectator: Elegant style, displaying floral, mineral and citrus aromas and flavors matched to a creamy texture. Well-balanced, classy, firm and long. Ideal as an aperitif, but could match light dishes as well. Drink now through 2012. 90 pts.

$25, just silly....

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Missy's Pumpkin Roll

Dessert at my parent's house on Christmas day always presents a dilemma as we have to chose between my mother's fresh pumpkin and apple pies as well as my sister-in-law's homemade pumpkin rolls. But since we are all such good dessert-loving-sugar-addicts, everyone take a small piece of all three ("small" being defined very differently between the males and females of the family), topping off the pies with a little whipped cream or ice cream. I always save roll for last, the moist pumpkin spiced cake with its silky cream filling melt in your mouth and make it the perfect end to the perfect meal! Thanks Missy for sharing your recipe!

-3 eggs
-1 cup sugar
-2/3 cup pumpkin
-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*you will also need a clean dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar to keep from sticking)

Cream Cheese
-1 cup powdered sugar
-1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
-2 tablespoons butter
-3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
-Powdered sugar for topping (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, sugar and pumpkin.
2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.
3. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well blended.
4. Line a 10 1/2" by 15" jelly roll or cookie sheet with wax paper that extends over the lip of the pan. Pour the batter onto the cookie sheet, spreading evenly.
5. Bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Prepare a clean kitchen towel by sprinkling heavily with powdered sugar.
7. After baking, turn the cookie sheet onto the towel, the cake should slide out onto the towel. Keeping the wax paper, start at one end and roll up the cake up lengthwise into the towel. Cool 30-40 minutes.
8. While the cake is cooling, make the filling, by stirring together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and butter. Mix well.
9. After the roll has cooled, unroll it, removed wax paper and spread the filling evenly over the cake. Roll back up without the towel. Wrap in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or until filling is firm.
10. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cultivating Gratitude

I awoke early in my parent's home in chilly Pennsylvania this morning, made a cup of coffee and huddled back under the covers to write in my journal on this merriest of days. As one tends to do on days such as this, I began to think about all of the treasured gifts life has given me.

I am so thankful and fortunate to have the gifts of -
+ a wonderful family and circle of friends who truly care about me
+ a loving partner to share my life
+ work that makes me smile
+ a safe and happy home to lie my head at night
+ loving animals that make me laugh and warm my heart daily
+ physical and emotional health and well being
+ an inquisitive mind always seeking, always open

My message to myself this Christmas day is to let go of fear and seek to be the best person you can be, today and everyday. Cultivate gratitude and be thankful for all of the wonderful gifts life has given you.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Club Swirl December Selections

Part wine club, part discount program, "club swirl" offers a great way to try new and exciting wines from around the world. Benefits include our 2 wines of the month, discounts on all wine purchases and tastings, invitations to special members only tastings, advance email notices on special wines brought into the store and more for only $39.99/month! Memberships applications are available, call 504.304.0635 for more details.

December Selections:
Laetitia Brut Cuvee

Situated in southern San Luis Obispo County, Arroyo Grande Valley weather is typically known for cool spring days, followed by a handful of warm days, all leading up to a late April bud break. Mild summers feature many days of light fog resulting in low yields, concentrated fruit and excellent acidity.

A beautiful panoramic view of Pismo Beach and Avila Bay on California’s Central Coast can be seen from Laetitia’s Estate Vineyards. Only four miles from the ocean, their hillsides receive a thin band of fog in the morning, intense sunshine during the day and coolness in the evening. This microclimate, coupled with extended growing seasons, high acidity and low pH, produces grapes with intense flavor and complexity. The well-drained soils yield small crops of great depth and varietal character.

The Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc grapes were hand harvested, whole cluster pressed and tank fermented using champagne yeast. The wine is encouraged to undergo malolactic fermentation and then bottled in the springtime, implementing true Méthode Champenoise tradition. They target 24 months en tirage for the Brut Cuvée program. From bottling, to aging, riddling, disgorging and labeling, the sparkling wines are carefully moved, by hand, many times before they are ready to be released.

A classic blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, each varietal contributes its own special character to the finished cuvée. The result is a wine that is perfectly celebratory, crisp and suggestive, as only a sparkling wine can be. Warm biscuit dough, ripe apricots and summer cherries all show themselves in this irresistible sparkling wine.


Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir

Situated in southern San Luis Obispo County, Arroyo Grande Valley weather is typically known for cool spring days, followed by a handful of warm days, all leading up to a late April bud break. Mild summers feature many days of light fog resulting in low yields, concentrated fruit and excellent acidity.

Planted on cool benchlands overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Laetitia’s vineyard has low-yielding, rocky volcanic and limestone soils that produce incredible, concentrated fruit. Planted with a wide selection of Pinot clones, this Estate bottling is a fantastic example of the quality this vineyard produces.

2007 Estate Pinot Noir has slightly higher acidity. In a true test of the vintage’s merit, this wine did not require fining. Estate Pinot was aged for 11 months in an exclusive selection of French barriques, a combination of Francois Freres and Rousseau; with 30% being new oak.

Bright fruit aromas offer a perfumed nose of wild raspberry, maraschino cherries, rhubarb and rose petals that yield to a dark & mysterious palate with
framboise, brown sugar, dark chocolate, vanilla smoke and toasted meringue.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chicken Soup to Soothe the Soul

Kerry woke up this morning with the cold that is being passed between our group of friends, so I decided to make her a little chicken soup soothe her head and her soul. The food situation at home gets a little dismal during the holiday since we basically live at the shop for the two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Years. After a quick trip to Rouses for organic carrots and celery and some Sanderson natural chicken legs, raiding the pantry, herb garden and frig, I scrounged up enough ingredients to make a pretty delicious soup!


* 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 2 medium onions, chopped
* 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
* 3 celery ribs, chopped
* 4 cloves of garlic sliced thin
* big pinch of peperincino
* big pinch of dried oregano
* 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
* 1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary
* 4 chicken thighs on the bone, skin removed
* 2 chicken breasts, skin removed
* 2-1/2 quarts water
* 1 quart cold water, or as needed
* 2 Tablespoons "Better than Bouillon" organic chicken base (Wholefoods)
* fresh chives for garnish
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* egg noodles or grains, we used the "Seeds of Change" organic 7 grain blend

Heat 2 T. of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown the chicken thighs and breasts until almost cooked through.

Heat the other 2 T. of oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. First throw in the garlic and quickly heat until they sizzle. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 10 minutes. Throw in a pinch or peperincino, thyme, oregano and rosemary and stir to coat the veggies with the herbs.

Add the chicken pieces and the rest of the oil from the skillet and stir fry together with the veggies for a few minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is very tender and falling off the bone, about 2 hours.

Remove the chicken pieces from the pot and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then pull the meat from bone and put the chicken pieces back in the pot. Stir the meat back into the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add noodles or grains, garnish with chives and serve hot.

The Fig Report, Week 6

Not much to report this week, but my little cutting is still alive and growing, although the growth is a little slow...at least we are moving in the right direction!

Via del Sale, Ancient Traditions Thriving in a Modern World

It was a stunningly beautiful morning on the west coast of Sicily as we journeyed out to the "Via del Sale" or salt road that runs between Trapani and Marsala. With the Egadi Islands to the left and the breathtaking, looming Monte Erice to the right, the shimmering salt flats dotted with the old windmills come into view. The lagoon of Stagnone has been home to the salt works of Trapani since the Phoenicians began the ancient method of hand-harvesting of sea salt as early as 1154 B.C. The shallow waterway, high temperatures and winds that aid in the evaporation make is the perfect home for the checkerboard of shimmering rectangular evaporation pools that hold the sea water during various phases of evaporation.

"Ettore e Infersa" signs along the road guide you to the historic production area started in 1922 by two passionate men of the same name. Committed to the maintaining the ancient methods of salt mining brought by the Phoenicians, their company still harvests the salt by hand and even restored the 500 year old windmill so that it can again be used to grind the salt and power the pumps that move that water from pool to pool during the various stages of evaporation.

During the months of June through, September the salt is gathered once it reaches the last pool and evaporation is complete. It is taken by wheelbarrel to areas between the pools and arranged in small heaps. Throughout the winter these heaps are protected by layers of roof tiles until the spring, when the salt preparation begins. (We were there in October so the harvesting had already taken place and the piles of salt were being readied for the winter months. Some of the photos above are mine and the ones of the harvest are from the web.) The natural harvesting process allows the salt to maintain the trace elements found in sea water like magnesium, iodine and potassium which make it more flavorful, soluble and complete.

There is a museum at the site where you can view a video of the history and the process, go to the top of one of the windmills and buy gifts. We did all of the above and our fellow guide on the trip, Elisabetta, told us that the salt made by this company was available in the states. When I got home I went to our local Italian market, NorJoes, and found the Antica Salina by Sosalt, the place we visited!

So if you are a foodie and a purist, you need to try this salt! It comes in a fino/fine grade that is a little finer than Kosher salt and a grosso/course. If you can't find it, I've added it to the Swirl and Savor store, click here for Antica Salina. Also for more information and photos go to the Sosalt website at www.sosalt.it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Tragic Loss of Artist Rudy Rowell

We are so sad to say that Louisiana lost a talented artist and a most wonderful human being yesterday when our friend Rudy Rowell was killed in a car accident. He was a kind and gentle man and both he and his work were loved by many. We will miss you Rudy, I hope you know how much joy you brought to others through your work and your humble spirit.

"Coffee and cigarettes. Low slung hats. Film noir. House bands. Dark bourbon. Road side bars. Muddy delta roads. Fried catfish. Fat Mama's tamales. Rainy mornings. Summer front porches. Blues. Soul. R&B. Lost at mardi gras. Mysterious tattoo. Beignets. Bloody marys. Wrinkled tuxedos. Jazz fest gospel tent. Sunday brunch mimosas. Graceland. Pensive. Poignant. Family proud. Piney woods. Southern accent. Old money. Natchez azaleas. Chicken-strapped crab traps. Small town Mississippi. In the deep south, atmosphere is destiny. Heat. Humidity. Water. Wind. Wet. Sticky. Hurricanes. Our unique cultural experience dictates the high style in which we survive. My art is my atmosphere and my experience. It resonates with those that have the same tension in their souls- no matter how it got there."

-Rudy Rowell

Monday, December 7, 2009

The DC10 Holiday Dinner

The DC 10, our crazy group of wine and food fanatics, held our holiday dinner on Saturday night with a theme of "holiday songs". Festive, silly and very creative, a great time was had by all. I'll do a complete post later in the week, but here is a photo of our presentation of Frosty the Snowman! Handmade butternut squash ravioli with butter and sage and dressed for success with a sauteed mushroom hat, peppercorn eyes, a carrot nose (of course!), habanero pepper mouth, sage leaf scarf, cardamom buttons, radish sprout grass and a little dirty New Orleans snow of crushed amaretti cookies, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and freshly grated nutmeg.

The Fig Report, Week 4

So far so good this week! With all of the dreary weather we've been having, I've enlisted the help of one of Kerry's grow lights that she uses for her micro greens "farm". There is definitely another leaf beginning to bud and I am starting to see some roots sprouting out through the bottom holes of the pot!

For the full story on my little Sicilian fig cutting go to: For the Love of Figs

Wine of the Moment, Caposaldo Prosecco

During these festive holiday times, I am constantly searching for great bubblies at all price points. And while Prosecco used to be the answer for fun, inexpensive sparklers, lately I find the prices are climbing without any great increase in quality. Needless to say, I was very excited when Antonio brought me this wonderfully refreshing, well made Prosecco that I could sell for under $15!

Italy's famous sparkling wine is made primarily in the district of Valdobbiadene (Val-do-bi-ad-en-ay) near the town of Conegliano in the region of Veneto. Prosecco is the actual name of the grape that is used to make this sparkling wine and many of the best examples are 100% Prosecco. As this is a grape that is prized for its delicate flavors and aromatics is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine. The Charmat method allows the wine to go through the second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles. The shorter, tank fermentation helps Prosecco preserve the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

The fruit for the Caposaldo comes from 4.5 ha owned by an artisanal small producer Antoinio Fattori along with those of other local growers he works with in Valdobbiadene and Conegliano in Treviso. Estate-grown Prosecco fruit, sourced and hand-harvested from high-density, low-yielding vineyards, with an average age of 20 years. It has lovely fruit with citrus, green apple and acacia flowers. The fine and persistent bubbles creates a soft, round mouth feel. Pleasant acidity, freshness and full-bodied flavor finish make this a a versatile wine excellent for an aperitivo, appetizers or throughout your whole meal! The best part, it's only $13.99!

Trust This Tip!

Looking for the best coffee in NYC, the freshest fish in New Orleans, a great little hotel in Paris or simply a romantic spot to watch the sunset in Florence? A new edition to swirl and savor, T3 offers a travel, food or wine related tip that you need to know about! Discovered during our adventures and travels, these are not paid endorsements but simply tried and true tips for inquisitive minds .

This Weeks Tip!
Castelvetrano Olives (nocellara del belice) – In the Belice Valley of northwest Sicily, olive-growing dates back to the 8th century BC and the Greek colonies. The flat, red soil and warm Mediterranean climate provide the perfect growing conditions for some of the best olives in the world. Castelvetranos are harvested young and cured in lightly salted brine, which accounts for their bright green hue and meaty texture. With a mild, nuanced flavor that's both salty and sweet, the fruit appeals not only to olive aficionados, but also to those who shy away from stronger, brinier varieties. I was very excited to find these deliciously plump, meaty olives on the Wholefoods olive bar when we returned from Sicily! If you can't find them, you can purchase them here at the swirl and savor store.


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