Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tapas Tuesdays, Back by Popular Demand!!

Tapas Tuesday, Tuesday May 25th 6 to 8pm

Back by popular demand! Geoff Worden from Wines Unlimited will present our annual tasting of wines from the Jorge Ordonez portfolio including the highly rated, award winning Bodegas El Nido Clio (94pts). And recently back from a trip to Spain, Chef Dan Esses is inspired to create new traditional tapas dishes to pair with the wines. $24 includes a tasting of 5 wines paired with 5 tapas courses.

Check out Chef Dan's menu and wine pairings:

Albondigas- meatballs with dried cherries simmered in port wine
paired with 2007 Bodegas El Nido Clio (RP 94pts)

Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with Spanish blue cheese
paired with 2008 Bodegas Nekeas El Chaparral Old Vine Garnacha (ST 90pts)

Chorizo and potato croquettas
paired with 2007 Bodegas Atalaya Almansa (RP 91pts)

Guava, manchego and serrano wrapped in basil leaf
paired with Marques de Gelida Cava (RP 90pts)

Melted Spanish goat cheese topped with smoked paprika marinated roasted peppers
paired with Vega Sindoa Viura/Chardonnay

What a deal! $24 per person, reservations and prepayment are required as attendance is limited to 40 people. Please call 504.304.0635 to reserve your spot.

Pistacchio Pesto, Sicilian Sunshine in a Bottle

We've been coveting this bottle of Pesto di Pistacchio di Bronte since we returned from our trip to Sicily in October. We were leaving our home in Lingaglossa on Mount Etna and stopped in the little wine shop that we frequented during our visit. As Sicilian's take great pride in their local products, the little store was packed with honey, chocolates, pistacchios, jams, wine and other culinary delights from that part of the island.

Not wanting to open it, we hid it in our pantry waiting as close to the expiration date as we could. So one night last week we grilled some Tuscan style steaks, reluctantly but excitedly, opened the bottle and stirred up the contents. Scents of Sicilia instantly rose from the jar, bringing us right back to the eastern coast of the island where pistacchio di Bronte have an almost sacred status. Check out this site, bronte insieme, if you want more information on this most amazing place and nut. Below is a recipe from their site:

Ingredients: one bunch of basil, one bunch of parsley, 50 grams pistachios, 20 grams pine nuts, 30 grams toasted almonds, olive oil, 30 grams parmesan, salt and pepper.
In a blender, puree the pistachios, pine nuts, toasted almonds, parmesan and a handful each of parsley and basil. Add as much olive oil as needed, along with salt and pepper. Blend until it forms a smooth paste.
This pesto goes well with penne pasta, spaghetti and gnocchi.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Swirl Hosts the Empson USA Barolo and Brunello Tour 2010

Empson USA is one of the premier importers of Italian wines in the country. Each year their famous Barolo and Brunello tour hits the major US cities and finishes with a trade tasting in New Orleans. Knowing our love for all things Italian, they have asked us to host a second New Orleans event in the store on Wednesday May 19th, that will give our customers a chance to taste these incredible wines. This famous tasting will feature the 2004 Brunello Riservas, 2005 Brunellos, 2006 Barolos, as well as other wonderful wines from the most prestigious wineries in Italy.

For a mere $20 you'll be tasting more than 25 wines from an extremely elite group of producers such as:
Piedmont: Bongiovanni, Conterno Fantino, Einaudi, Marcarini, Poderi Colla;
Tuscany: Costanti, Fuligni, Lisini, Poggio Antico, Cignale, Boscarelli.

To whet your palate, here's a few of the wines we'll be tasting:

2004 Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino - WA, 94pts. The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino is simply awesome in the way it marries a gorgeous expression of ripe, dark fruit and a classic sense of structure. A rich, enveloping wine, it flows onto the palate with masses of black cherries, minerals, spices, tar, new leather and smoke. This is an exceptionally well-balanced and finessed Brunello full of character. The tannins remain rather firm but there is enough sheer density of fruit that opening a bottle on the young side is still likely to be rewarding. Simply put, Fuligni’s 2004 Brunello di Montalcino is not to be missed.

2006 Poderi Colla Barolo Bussia Dardi le Rose - WA, 94+pts. Poderi Colla’s 2006 Barolo Bussia Dardi Le Rose is a bombastic, textured wine made in a surprisingly full-bodied style for this domaine. Though somewhat aromatically closed at first, the wine’s pedigree is impossible to miss, as waves of dark fruit meld into grilled herbs, rosemary, spices and dried roses. Sweet, mentholated notes add complexity as this majestic Barolo continues to open up in the glass. This is without question one of the standouts of the vintage; and readers who appreciate a firm, cellar-worthy style of Barolo will want to give the Bussia Dardi/Le Rose serious consideration.

2004 Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva - WA, 94pts. The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva reveals impressive richness in its wild cherries, sweet herbs, spices, minerals and tobacco that meld with a high-toned bouquet. This gorgeous, medium to full-bodied Brunello blossoms on the palate as intricate layers of fruit continue to emerge with a wonderful classiness. The long, harmonious finish leaves a lasting impression. This is a terrific effort from Costanti.

2005 Orma Toscano Orma - WS, 91pts. Dark in color, with intense aromas of blackberry and black licorice, with hints of oak and an earthy undertone. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins, a long finish and a round, caressing texture. The debut wine for Sette Ponti from Bolgheri. Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wednesday May 19th, 6 to 8pm. $20 per person, reservations and prepayment are required as attendance is limited to 40 people. Please call 504.304.0635 to reserve your spot.

Cocchi Americano,The Elusive Italian Apertivo

We are really exciting about the arrival of an amazing Italian Apertivo, Cocchi Americano (pronounced co-key). Giulio Cocchi's original recipe Americano is more that just a simple aperitif in the town of Asti - in fact, it is the aperitif by definition, a piece of this century's local cultural and gastronomic history. This is the original Americano, produced without a break since 1891 according to an entirely natural recipe: white wine aromatized with many herbs and spices, no artificial coloring, flavoring or additive of any kind, produced in limited quantities and matured for a year before being put on sale. The name is a bastardization of the term for making a bitter, and has nothing to do with our fair country.

Similar to Lillet, but a little more bitter and spicy, try it the way the Italians take it: two parts strong with one part soda water, over ice, with a slice of orange.

If this has piqued your curiosity, stop at the bar one evening and try it, we're adding it to our menu and it is also available for sale in the shop.

$9 at the bar, served in the way the Italians drink it, of course!

Kerry's Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Our last night at the beach we decided to just cook whatever was left in the frig. Kerry was in charge of the salad and we had 3 lonely zucchini that needed to be eaten. Another food blogger that I follow, prouditaliancook, recently posted a recipe for a Zucchini Ribbon Salad. Using that as her inspiration, Kerry made her own with the following ingredients:

baby arugula and other mixed organic greens
her homegrown sprouts
Feta Cheese
fried zucchini ribbons from 3 zucchini (see below)
dressed with fresh squeezed lemon (1 part) and olive oil (3 parts)
fresh basil
salt, pepper, pepperincino

Fried Zucchini Ribbons

Take 3 small zucchini, cut off the ends and slice lengthwise using a really good vegetable peeler or a mandolin. You can cook your strips of zucchini either in a stove top grill or saute pan coated with a tiny bit of olive oil and sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, they only take a couple of minutes. Make sure they cool completely before adding them to your salad.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bucatini Arrabiata with Fresh Gulf Shrimp

Our trips to the beach with our friends R&T always involve shared cooking responsibilities with each couple taking their turns at creating fabulous meals. After a day on the beach, we all look forward to our evening cocktail hour (or two...) while one pair relaxes and the other takes over the kitchen and we all chat and gossip, trying not to delve into anything too serious. We all marvel at the incredible food we eat on these trips and how lucky we are to share this time together. I usually don't want to work too much while we are there, but I did do a better job at documenting what we ate and how we prepared things so this week I will share our main meal, Kerry's Zucchini Salad and next week R's.

I knew I wanted to cook something with 2 of my favorite ingredients, fresh gulf shrimp and, of course, pasta. There's a great little family owned seafood place on highway 180 heading to Fort Morgan called Fresh Market Seafood that we buy our shrimp and fish at every time we come so we picked up a few pounds of shrimp and got to work.

I'd been thinking about this dish for awhile as we've had a big package of bucatini in the pantry for a few weeks just waiting for the right opportunity to use it. Bucatini is one of my favorite dried pastas as I love the texture and way it really soaks up the sauce. It is popular in southern Italy especially in Lazio where the famous Roman dish, Bucatini alla Matriciana, originated. My version of the Roman classic, which mixes the pasta with a light sauce of tomato, pancetta and red pepper flakes, is the base for this recipe with the fresh shrimp adding a Gulf coast twist.

As for the wine we drank, I needed another excuse to open up a bottle of the 2007 Pietradolce Etna Rosso which went wonderfully with the meal.

Serves 4-6

1 pound of Bucatini
1/4 pound of pancetta sliced in 1" pieces
1/4 c. white wine
2 lbs head on, fresh gulf shrimp
Medium shallot, diced
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 (28) ounce can of whole San Marzano plum tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoon of olive oil
Torn fresh basil leaves
1/2 t. pepperoncini (hot pepper flakes)
Bread crumbs (if needed to thicken sauce)
Grated fresh Pecorino


Fill a 10-quart saucepan with water over high heat for the pasta. Add the pasta during the last 10 minutes of the preparation process to the boiling water.

Prep shrimp by peeling, leave on tails, removing the heads and deveining, rinse and pat dry.

Pre-heat a saucepan to medium heat with 1 T. of olive oil. Add the pancetta and sauté until the bacon is browned but not crispy (3-4 minutes). Quickly add the shrimp and the wine and saute for a minute or two, just until shrimp begin to turn pink. Do not fully cook them at this time.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and shrimp and set aside on a plate. Add the a little more oil to the pan, heat and then add the onion and garlic and lightly fry for a few minutes until translucent. Add the tomatoes, basil, and hot pepper flakes and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Add in the shrimp and pancetta and simmer for a few more minutes, but be careful not to overcook the shrimp.

Combine the al dente pasta with the saucepan ingredients and simmer for a few more minutes, adding a little bread crumbs if you need to thicken the sauce. Transfer the completed dish to a large serving bowl. Top with pecorino cheese.

Tutti a tavola a mangiare!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cheese Plates, Our Current Selection

Wonderful with a glass of wine and to share with a friend or two, our cheese plates change often so that we can offer you something fresh, creative and delicious every time.

Current Selection
Spanish Sampler

Romero is coated with rosemary and has a dense, firm and pale paste with a complex flavor that has a lemony finish.

Pata Cabra is semi soft and smooth with creme fraiche and lemon notes mingled with the sweet scent of cooked milk.

La Peral has a soft, creamy paste, and a enough blue to be spicy, but not overwhelm.

Miticana, similar to the popular French Bucheron, this sheeps milk cheese is tangy, sweet and soft all at the same time.

Cured Chorizo is an intensely seasoned, hard, dried Spanish pork sausage flavored with pimenton (smoked paprika), garlic, and salt with a spicy kick.

Membrillo is a sweet, very dense jelly made from the fruit of the quince tree that has a similar to apples or pears.

Marcona Spanish almonds are a little flatter than ordinary almonds, with a richer flavor.

All plates are served with freshly sliced bread or crackers, $12

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Savory Bites

...offering tidbits of information on interesting discoveries in the food and wine scene of New Orleans.

Hal Wallace, Owner and Fisherman

Alabama Gulf Coast Shrimp - While we were at the beach last weekend I knew I wanted to cook something with 2 of my favorite ingredients, fresh gulf shrimp and, of course, pasta. There's a great little family owned seafood place on highway 180 heading to Fort Morgan called Fresh Market Seafood. Most of their products are fresh off the boat daily as they are a family of fishermen that have been fishing these same waters since the 1860's.

The Wallace family is one of the oldest families in the area. It was the Wallace's who founded the Lagoon fishing village in 1861 located just a few miles from the market. They've been local area fishermen and shrimpers for generations. Current owner, Hal Wallace, his Father, Johnny and several cousins catch the bulk of the shrimp sold at Fresh Market Seafood.

They have 2 locations, one in Foley and the one we visit on highway 180 and I highly recommend them on your next visit to the Gulf Coast beaches.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Annual Tre Bicchiere Italian Wine Dinner

Each year we celebrate the best of Italy with an Italian wine dinner featuring the highest award winning wines of the Gambero Rosso Vini d'Italia, those given the "Tre Bicchieri" or 3 Glass designation. Given to less than 300 wines yearly, the Tre Bicchieri award is the highest and most prestigious honor that can be bestowed upon an Italian wine and is highly coveted by producers.

To best present the wines we choose an Italian restaurant each year that demonstrates the same commitment to superior quality and match these amazing wines with their cuisine. We are excited to hold this year's dinner at Chef Adolfo Garcia and Chef Joshua Smith's southern Italian restaurant, a Mano. Chef Joshua Smith's menu will feature 6 tasting courses paired with *6 wines representing their respective regions. Antonio Molesini, Italian Wine Specialist from Republic National Beverage, and a native of Cortona, will join us in hosting the event.

Wednesday, June 2nd
6:30pm Cocktails (cash bar), 7:00pm Dinner
$100 per person, tax and tip included
a Mano, 870 Tchoupitoulas Street


Fish crudo, citrus, fennel
paired with
Castello della Sala Cervaro della Sala, Umbria

Cured duck breast with seasonal berry conserve
paired with
Michele Chiarlo La Court Barbera d'Asti

Sformato di Porcini (savory mushroom mousse/custard)
paired with
Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico, Toscano

Fresh pasta with lamb ragu
paired with
Feudo Maccari Saia Nero d’Avola, Sicilia

Red wine braised wild boar with polenta
paired with
Antinori Guado al Tasso, Tuscany

Bittersweet chocolate budino, hazelnuts, olive oil, sea salt
paired with
Sella & Mosca Villa Marina Cabernet, Sardegna

*As these wine are produced in limited quantity,
one 5 oz glass of wine will accompany each course

Saturday, May 8, 2010

So Far. So Good at Fort Morgan Beach!

We weren't sure what to expect for our beach trip this weekend, but I am happy to report that as of today the sand and the water on the coast of Alabama are as gorgeous as we left them in November!

We are very excited to be out of town for a few days to recover from the jazz fest madness and catch our breath before the next round of activities start. Having one of T1's infamous wodka tonics while Rachel cooks up some pecan crusted catfish, we'll be mixing our favorite cocktails, drinking our favorite wines, cooking up a storm and of course spending some quality time on the beach. And if there are any changes in the water or these gorgeous white sandy beaches, we'll let you know. But, so far, so good!


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