Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Help "Team Swirl" in the Fight Against MS!

One of the great things about owning your own business is that you have the ability to direct your efforts and resources to causes you are passionate about.  Our decision to start "Team Swirl" began when one of our friends was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2007.  Christy began to train with us that year on a 20 year-old 10 speed road bike, which she road up until the day of the MS Tour. She completed the first day of the tour, 75 miles, on her new and improved road bike and has inspired us all to continue to train, raise funds and ride the MS Tour.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society uses funds collected from the MS Bike Tour to not only support research for a cure tomorrow, but also to provide programs which address the needs of people living with MS today. Because we can fight this disease by simply riding a bike, because we have chosen to help thousands of people through a contribution to the MS Bike Tour, we are now getting closer to the hour when no one will have to hear the words, "You have MS."

For the last 2 years "Team Swirl" was the top fund raiser for the Louisiana MS Tour.  Last year alone we raised close to $40,000 and surpassed the large corporate teams such as Shell, Entergy, Dow, UPS and more.

So how can you help in 2010?
-Make a tax-deductible donation online to MS by sponsoring Team Swirl, please go to: National MS Society Team Swirl

-Attend our 4th Annual MS Benefit Thursday, August 26th at 6:00pm held in true Swirl style – great wine, food, auction items and people watching for a mere $20.
What Do You Get for Your $20 Donation?
    * A tasting of 6 incredible wines compliments of Republic National Beverage Company
    * Great wine and art related silent auction items including regular and large format bottles, gift certificates, artwork, Saints memorabilia and more!
    * Delicious food to munch on while you are tasting and bidding by a local chef prepared with groceries compliments of Canseco's!
    * Meet Team Swirl, our group of riders who are dedicated to raising $30,000 and making a difference for people living with MS.
    *Want to bid or hang out, but not due the tasting?  Have a glass of wine at the bar, the proceeds will be donated to MS this evening!

For reservations for the tasting (the event is limited to 60 people) and more information, call 504-304-0635

Tagliatelle with Fresh Tomato Herb Sauce and Gulf Shrimp

Saturday evenings in the summertime are usually spent at home.  Knowing we had a 50+ mile ride planned for Sunday, I had the perfect excuse to make a pasta dish, surprise, surprise.  But I wanted to keep it light, no heavy cream sauces or meat, and I wanted to keep it simple, not too much fuss or mess.  So Gulf shrimp are a given, and with our extremely hot summer temperatures, I enjoy making sauces and pestos that don't require cooking.  And Kerry's abundance of fresh herbs in the garden offers me lots of possibilities.

I made the dreaded run to Whole Foods on a Saturday for supplies, me and 5,000 other people, and was happy to see a huge table of heirloom tomatoes at the shocking price of $3.99/lb.  So I load up with a those, some kale and lots of other stuff to get us through the week, and drove home to get started.

I picked up the tomatoes for a sauce I wanted to make that sort of reminds of a cross between the Sicilian Pasta Trapanese, that I adore, and an herb pesto.  Based on a similar recipe from the Sicilian island of Pantelleria by Mario Batali, this one uses fresh tomatoes as the base with a mixture of 3 different herbs, spices and olive oil, no cooking required except for the pasta and shrimp of course!.  It is delightfully refreshing and the addition of mint to the herb mixture gives it a different spin.  You'll have some leftover that you can use the next day and serve over fish, toss with steamed veggies or whatever else you come up with!  I served this with my sauteed kale recipe and the deliciously fresh Vitiano Rosato from Umbria, but sadly only 1 glass since we had to ride the next day...oh well, there's always tonight!

Serves 2

    * 3/4 lb. fresh Gulf Shrimp, shelled and de-veined
    * Olive oil, salt, pepper
    * 1/2 cup mint leaves
    * 1/2 cup basil leaves
    * 1/2 cup parsley leaves
    * 2 cloves garlic
    * 2 tablespoons capers, drained
    * 2 medium heirloom tomatoes, roughly chopped
    * 1-1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
    * 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    * 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    * 1/2 pound fettuccine (when I don't have time to make my own, or buy it from Chef Dan, we use the Bionaturae brand and are especially fond of the tagliatelle)


Bring 4 quarts water to boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.

Quickly saute shrimp in a little olive oil until just barely pink.  Season with a touch of salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside, reserving the pan (it should be fairly large) and oil for later.

In a blender or food processor, mix mint, basil, parsley, garlic, capers, tomatoes, black and red pepper and extra virgin olive oil to form smooth paste. If needed, add a little more olive oil. The color is a little odd, but it tastes amazing!

Cook fettuccine according to package instructions until al dente and drain well.

Heat up your shrimp pan again to medium heat and put the lightly cooked shrimp back in the pan.  Add the drained pasta, stirring to coat it with the oil and shrimp, and cook for about 1 minute.  Turn off the heat, add the fresh tomato pesto and toss together until well mixed. 

Serve immediately, garnished with fresh basil ribbons and a little grated Grana Padano cheese.

Wine of the Moment, 2009 Vitiano Rosato

I just love a good juicy, dry rosato on a hot summer night. Really any time of year will do, but I find them particularly satisfying during New Orleans' sweltering months of July and August.  The Vitiano wines, made by Falesco in Italy's Umbria region, offer incredible values in their crisp, dry Bianco, beefy Rosso and refreshing Rosato.  Owned by the brothers Riccardo and Renzo Cotarella, the goal of the winery is to strike a balance between the uniqueness of native Italian varieties and the versatility and appeal of international grapes.

Equal parts Merlot, Cabernet, and Sangiovese with a little Aleatico thrown in, this wine is a joy to drink.  I served it Saturday evening as a perfect accompaniment to my Tagliatelle with Fresh Tomato Herb Sauce and Gulf Shrimp. A lush, crowd pleasing mouthful of red berries with a nice minerality, soft and balanced.  Lots of finesse, great with or without food and only $11.99/bottle!

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:  88pts.  The 2009 Rosato from Vitiano, Riccardo Cotarella’s winery on the Umbria/Lazio border, is ridiculously good for the money. A well-articulated floral bouquet leads to berries, dried flowers and minerals. In 2009 I especially like the way the Rosato balances clarity and richness. This is a harmonious, polished effort from Vitiano. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2011.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Very Blueberry Cake

Every visit home to Pennsylvania always involves lots of great eating and this trip was particularly focused on desserts.  The abundance of fresh blueberries, black raspberries, watermelon and peaches yielded some excellent after dinner treats.  My mother and my sister-in-law are both avid bakers, something which is definitely not my forte, so I always appreciate their efforts.  I really wanted to post the recipe for my mother's black raspberry pie, but it was devoured before I even got to take a picture.  My other favorite was my sister-in-law Missy's Very Blueberry Cake which I was able to snap a quick shot of the very last piece before it got finished off.  Not my best photo, but the cake was to die for.  I also love the combination of blueberries and lemon and this moist, delicious cake really complements both of them.  You might remember Missy's recipe for Pumpkin Roll that I published over the holidays...

Very Blueberry Cake

½ cup butter softened
½ cup shortening
1-½ cup sugar
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ t. baking powder

1 T. all purpose flour
2 t. cornstarch
1 t. quick cooking tapioca
4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 t. grated lemon peel

1 Cup confectioner sugar
2 T. Milk
1 t. lemon juice

In mixing bowl cream together butter, shortening and sugar.  Beat in eggs on at a time, and then mix in extracts.  In another bowl, combine flour and baking powder, mix and add to creamed mixture, blending well.  Spread 2/3 of the batter in a greased 15x10 pan, reserving the other 1/3 for the end.

For filling combine flour, cornstarch and tapioca in a large bowl.  Add ½ cup blueberries, mash with a fork and stir well.  Add lemon peel and remaining blueberries, toss to coat.  Pour blueberry mixture evenly over batter in pan. Drop remaining batter in rounded tablespoons over filling.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes until golden brown.  Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over warm cake.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cycling Mount Etna


Mount Etna Pennsylvania that is....we've just returned from visiting my family for a few days, enjoying the beautiful weather, rolling hills and a pristine fresh water lake.   My sister brought over a few bikes for us so we were able to get in a little training while away.  Some challenging hills kept us huffing and puffing on Sunday, so we followed it up yesterday with an easy 35 miles on one of the Rails to Trails routes, the Lower Trail, reportedly one of the best kept secrets in Pennsylvania.  Riding along the peaceful Juniata River, through small rural towns and farm land, it's really nice to get away, if only for a few days.  We ate a lot of great food and I was able to snag one of my sister-in-laws recipes for her Very Blueberry Cake, made with fresh blueberries from my sister's garden.  Look for the recipe in tomorrow's email... 

The trip put me behind in my weekly email, so I will be sending it out tomorrow.  Happy Trails!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Go Native, Indigenous Varieties for Adventurous Palates

Our "Go Native" Tastings have always been a hit in the shop and we're taking this one to another level as we pair these obscure grapes with cheeses from their same regions.  And what better portfolio to raid for this tasting than that of Matt Lirette, our local go to guy for European wacky varietals.   On Tuesday, August 10, Greg Knapps, former sommelier of Stella!, who now works with Matt, will present 5 wines from Italy, Spain and France focusing on indigenous and sometimes little known varieties and the eco-systems they thrive in.  And Ron is  working with our friends over at St. James Cheese to find new cheeses to pair with from the same regions for our "Go Native"  cheese plate.  The tasting is $12 and reservations and prepayment are required and please let us know if you'd like to reserve a cheese plate for $12 as well.  Please call 504.304.0635 for reservations.

Here's a preview of what we'll be serving:

France's Loire Valley
The Cheese:  Selle Sur Cher - Like many goat cheeses from the Loire Valley, the outside of Selle-sur-Cher is coated in edible ash. The ash is flavorless but adds a stunning visual contrast against the stark white goat cheese.  Sweet, nutty, and peppery with mildly tangy acidity. The texture varies depending on ripeness, but it is typically dense and chewy.  

The Wine:  2008 Jacky Preys Cuvee Fie Gris - Before there was Sauvignon Blanc, the storytellers and wine historians say, there was Fie Gris. The believed “mother” of the white grape that produces some of the most lively wines in the world, Preys Fie Gris is made from ancient pre-phylloxera vines, some more than 100 years old.  It delivers all the delightful and racy mineral energy one finds in the best Sancerre and Pouilly Fume, but with a flavorful complexity that even the top wines can only hope to match.   

From Northern Spain
The Cheese:  Galician Tetilla cheese is made from milk from herds of cows in the area, basically Friesians, Alpine Browns and Rubia Gallega.  Its flavour is creamy and slightly salty, its texture is fine and its colour yellowish ivory, although undoubtedly its greatest characteristic is the peculiar breast-like shape that gives it its name (tetilla means small breast). 

The Wine:  2008 Descendientes de Jose Palacios Petalos del Bierzo, WA 90 pts.  From steep hillside vineyards ranging in age from 60-100 years planted with Mencia, the indigenous grape of cool-climate Bierzo. The vineyards are biodynamically farmed and the wines are bottled without fining or filtration.  Beautiful nose of lavender, incense, spice box, black cherry, and cranberry, with nice weight on the palate, intensity, and layered fruit.  

Southern Italy

The Cheese:  Burrata is one of the most sought after cheeses in the world today and restaurants and consumers have gone burrata crazy! From the Puglia region of Italy, the heel of the boot, came this incredibly deliciously creamy cheese created in the 1920s in the town of Andria.  For the uninitiated, the cheese looks like a ball of fresh mozzarella with a tiny topknot. But cut into it and the center, a tangy core of cream and stracciatella ("little rags") of mozzarella curds, oozes onto the plate.  Sweet, creamy, lusciously and delicately textured it is irresistible. 

The Wine:  2009 Torre Quarto Rosato - This juicy rosato from Puglia combines the great spice of Primitivo with the fruit and flesh of Uva di Troia.  Weighty with good structure with succulent red berries cherries and roses with a touch of pepper on the finish. 

Northern Italy

The Cheese: Fontina Val d'Aosta - Reflecting its origins in the high, Alpine slopes, Fontina is actually an Italian cousin to the French Gruyère.  Raw milk is sourced from cows that graze 6,500 feet up on foothill pastures to make this rustic cheese with grassy, sometime truffly aromas. The dense, semi-soft paste has small openings, and is made from pressed, lightly cooked curds. After several months of brushing, washing, and oiling in the caves, a burnished, crusty rind protects a pale golden interior. The uniquely rich flavor is subtly fruity, earthy, mushroomy, and woody, and pairs great with roast meats and truffles. 

The Wine:  2007 Mayr-Nusser "Elda" Schiava - A delicate and summery red wine from a tiny producers whose estate is virtually inside the beautiful city of Bolzano. Smoky, red berries with a hint of fig and citrus notes, a deliciously interesting made from 100% Schiava.  

Abruzzo, Italy
The Cheese: Ok, this was a tough one as we could not find a cheese from Abruzzo to pair with this so we decided to go with the producer's recommendation of a blue cheese. We went a little further north in Italy for the Toma Blu, a mountain cheese  made from pasteurized cow's milk. This is a blue-veined toma that has been seasoned for two months on wooden planks, followed by an extended aging period in oak barriques filled with aromatic herbs and hay. This cheese has bold earthy and herbal flavors combined with a pleasant spiciness. The finish is long and pleasant,with woodsy notes. 

The Wine:  2007 Ciavolich PECORINO Colline Pescaresi “Aries” - Not the cheese but rather the wine! This Pecorino is certainly a wine experience. This small production white from Abruzzo is rich and full bodied with a deep golden yellow color. Soft and structured with elegant floral notes, hazelnuts and peach. The texture is velvety with a honey flavor; full and harmonious.The Ciavolich family has been cultivating the land between Chieti and Pescara in Abruzzo since 1853.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Salmon with Moroccan Chermoula

It was a pretty lazy Sunday for us. Having gotten our long bike ride in on Saturday, we had an uneventful day with no plans to leave the house in the midst of the 100 degree temperature, except a trip to Whole Foods for the weekly grocery run. As a treat to myself, for going through the torture of a packed WF on a Sunday afternoon, I always get to stop at Puccino's Coffee for a frozen puccino. What is that you ask? Frozen ice milk and espresso blended together and topped with whipped cream. I tell myself it's lowfat and usually have at least one a week as a reward for making the grocery run to Metry...any way, I digress....

I knew I wanted to make fish tonight and that I wanted to serve a chermoula sauce with it. I got a beautiful piece of coho salmon, but there wasn't a sprig of cilantro in the store so I opted for making it entirely from parsley (I usually use mainly cilantro with a just a bit of parsley). I didn't know we were out of coriander seeds at home, so I had to skip than ingredient as well, but I threw in a few other things to make up for it!

Kerry's mom gave her a little mini cuisinart one year and I love to use it for recipes like this when I'm only making enough for the night's meal. I made the chermoula first to let the flavors set and then made a rub for the salmon as well. This is a very quick, fresh summer dish that is bursting with flavor and works with just about anything, fish, chicken, meat etc. Click here for another version that I combined with eggplant and stuffed into peppers, chermoula.

1-1/2 cups fresh flat leaf parsley
1 clove garlic
1 t. cumin seeds
pinch of saffron
pinch of cayenne pepper
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Fish Rub
lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
pinch chili powder
olive oil

1 lb. wild coho salmon

Put all ingredients, except oil, of the chermoula in a food processor and pulse. When everything is well mixed, begin adding the olive oil a little at a time until well blended. Set aside.

Mix ingredients for rub and add enough oil to be able spread it onto the fish with your hands. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large pan. Quickly cook salmon to desired doneness, remove from heat and allow a little butter to melt on the filets. Add chermoula and serve.

Swirl & Savor Dinner at the Italian Barrel

photo from nomenu.com

On Wednesday August 4th we'll be hosting another fun and affordable wine dinner at the Italian Barrel in the French Quarter. The Swirl and Savor Dinner Series features local chefs and restaurants in an intimate setting. We'll be limiting the participants to 20 people and feature 5 courses with wine pairings at a cost of only $65 per person, including tax and tip! Our favorite Italian Wine Guy, Antonio Molesini will host this upcoming dinner prepared by Chef/Proprietor Samantha L. Castagnetti, a native of Verona. The restaurant features elegant Northern Italian cuisine and a jaw dropping wine list, served in an atmosphere reminiscent of a true Italian trattoria.

We decided that the way to best showcase Chef Castagnetti's culinary skills was to feature the wine and food of her native region, the Veneto. This 5 course dinner will feature the following:

Smoked Salmon Salad
paired with Casalnova Prosecco

Fresh Figs and Prosciutto
paired with Bertani Due Uve

Tagliatelle al Ragu
Paired with Bertani Catullo

Chicken Alberto
Paired with Tedeschi Amarone

Cioccolato Salame
paired with Bertani Recioto Valpolicella


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