Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Spirited Dinner in Celebration of Café Degas’ 25th Anniversary

 Join our friends at Cafe Degas in celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a food and specialty cocktails pairing menu featuring the fine spirits of Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Citadelle and Mathilde Liqueurs. Enjoy a 6 course dinner prepared by chef Laurent Rochereux assisted by sous-chef Joe Pedroza and hosted by Hugo Chambon Rothlisberger director of sales for Cognac Ferrand.  Hope we see you there!

Date: March 22, 2011
Location: Café Degas 3127 Esplanade Avenue
Time: 6:30 PM Promptly
RSVP: 504-945-5635 or www.cafedegas.com
Price: $75.00 all inclusive

Oysters on the half shell served with aged whisky gelee 
Cocktail: French 75
Prepared with Citadelle, (a Botanical recipe dating back 450 years) Sparkling Wine, Lemon and Sugar

Terrine of Traditional Foie Gras served with Fleur de Sel and miniature Brioche
Cocktail: Pierre Ferrand Pineau des Charentes Aperitif

Seafood Course
Coquille St. Jacques; pan seared scallop,served in an artichoke heart with red curry & coconut sauce
Cocktail: Street Car
Prepared with Citadelle, Mathilde Pear Liqueur and Lemon Juice

Fennel and mint sorbet garnished with Citadelle

Roasted Duck, served with a braised celery gratin, fingerling potatoes, and a peach gastric
Cocktail: Vieux Carré
Prepared with Pierre Ferrand Ambre, Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, Simple Syrup 
& Peychaud’s Bitters

Baba au Rhum
Cocktail: Plantation Fish House Punch
Prepared with Plantation 5 year Grande Reserve Barbados Rum, Pierre Ferrand Ambre, Mathilde Peach, Lemon juice

Space is limited!!
All recipes for cocktails and special pricing on all ingredients will be available for purchase

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pinchitos, Spicy Grilled Pork Skewers

We've had so many things going on these past couple of months that there's been no time for intricate, complex dishes that take lots of time in the kitchen.  We've been focused on quick, healthy meals that don't take a lot of fuss or hard to find ingredients.  Kerry made us a pretty delicious dish this weekend that definitely fit the bill, a finger-licking-good spicy quick grilled pork skewers that I can't wait to have again!

Pinchos or pinchito, the diminutive, translates as “little thorn” or “little pointed stick,” so pincho moruno roughly means little mouthfuls impaled on a thorn or skewer.


•    1/2 cup olive oil
•    2 Tbs. ground cumin
•    2 Tbs. ground coriander
•    1 Tbs. smoked paprika
•    1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
•    1 tsp. dried oregano
•    1 tsp garam masala or generous pinch of cinnamon
•    1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
•    1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
•    2 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
•    2 tbs honey
•    2 Tbs. minced garlic
•    1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
•    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
•    Lemon wedges for garnish

In a small fry pan, combine the olive oil, spices and salt. Place over low heat until warmed through and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Place the pork pieces in a bowl pour spice mix over. Add the garlic, parsley, honey, and lemon juice and toss well. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Toss the mixture a few times during the marinating process.

Thread the meat onto skewers. Preheat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat, or prepare a hot fire in a grill. Grill, turning once until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 8 as appetizer.

Savory Bites: Changes at Le Foret

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

We celebrated Valentine's Day a day early with a lovely dinner at Le Foret with our friends Gwen and Mike.  Our friend Mimi Assad has been part of the kitchen staff since October, and she visited our table with some very exciting news.  Nola.com reported last week that chef Jimmy Corwell and Le Foret were parting ways and that has meant good things for Mimi as she has taken over the executive chef duties!  We couldn't be more proud of her and if last night's food was any indication of her "staying power" she should have no worries!

The dinner from start to finish was nothing less than amazing, with each dish's presentation, creativity and balance of flavors and textures receiving lots of ohhs and ahhs from around the table.  Everything dish was exquisite, but if I have to pick a few favorites...

Appetizers: Grilled Hudson Valley Foie Gras with chanterelle mushroom ragu, medjool dates, parmesan risotto and the Gravad Salmon with Corn Fritters with housemade crème fraiche and chives.
Salad: Butter Lettuce and Shaved Apple Salad, pecans, lemon ricotta, mustard lattice, honey apple dressing (I can't tell you how creamy and delicious this was...)
Entrees: Roasted Tenderloin of Nature-Fed Beef with organic Bloomsdale spinach, potato mille feuille cauliflower parmentier, wild mushroom-oxtail bolognese and this amazing lamb wrapped in kale that Kerry had that I forgot to write down...
Desserts: Caramelized Milk Souffle with Chocolate Sauce (I scraped every bit of this from the bowl...) and the Blackberry Doberge Cake.

Congratulations Mimi, we can't wait to come back!!

Blackberry Doberge Cake

Montsant and Priorat, The New Spain

Spain has a long history of producing great wines, particularly the red wines of Rioja.  However, this famous name is just one small region among many which produce incredible wines that are off the beaten path for most wine drinkers.  The exciting Spanish wine regions of Priorat and Montsant are nestled at the base of the Montsant mountain range, just an hour and a half’s drive south of Barcelona.  Priorato is known for it's somewhat expensive, powerful, rich reds while neighboring Montsant produces vlaue priced, elegant, complex wines.  Both regions share many similarities, there are distinct differences in the soils and terrior that set the wines apart.

Among the lesser-known wine-growing regions of Spain, Montsant seems like a potential treasure trove of solid, yet not too expensive wines, often coming from undervalued old vines. Its soil has some similarities with next door Priorat, and so does the varietal selection, but without the high price tags of Priorat wines.

Wine experts and press consider it to be an up and coming region and industry rags have declared it to be “a great discovery”.  The quality of Montsant wines is key to their success, as too is their great quality-price ratio. The prestigious Spanish wine guide, “Guia Peñin” agrees that “the quality of Montsant wines and their great prices make this region an excellent alternative.”.

The D.O. Montsant (Designation of Origin or wine appellation) despite being a fairly new wine appellation has years of wine-making history behind it.The D.O. Montsant comprises approximately 4,700 acres of registered vineyards and, as it is larger than its interior neighbor (Priorat comprises less than 4,000 acres), both its landscape and terroir are much more diverse. Montsant’s soil is a combination of granitic sand and calcareous soil, including limestone, large pebbles, some clay and shards of slate – all of which can be found in varying amounts throughout the appellation. In addition, although the D.O. has a similar climate to that of Priorat, Montsant has two rivers that run through it and they, along with the daily sea breezes that come in off the Mediterranean, provide the appellation with an infinity of microclimates that gives its wines a unique character. Montsant on average also receives more annual sun exposure than Priorat and contains as many of the extremely low-producing, century-old vines that make up the succulent wines so highly sought after in both wine regions.

In terms of wine style, the wines from the D.O. Montsant are full of flavor and finesse. True to their terroir, the wines of Montsant reflect “the fragrance of their landscape,” and are ripe with aromas of Mediterranean herbs (including thyme, rosemary and native lavender), exotic spices and black fruit. On the palate the wines are fresh and stunning, with notes of violets, blackberries, red currants, dried figs, sweet spices, toasted wood and subtle minerality.  Within the DO, varieties in a red Montsant wine can include Garnacha, Mazuelo (a.k.a. Cariñena), Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Tempranillo, although only a very small amount of this last variety exists within the appellation.

What immediately distinguishes Priorat from other grape-growing regions in the world is its soil type.  Many believe the secret to Priorat’s success lies in its amazing, granite-like soils, known to the Catalan people as llicorella and to the rest of Spain as pizarra.  The llicorella soil resembles slate or shale rock, intermixed with tiny bands of reddish-brown earth.  The name llicorella stems from the Catalan word for licorice, chosen to describe the black, somewhat shiny rocky substrate which is high in mineral content.Another important aspect of Priorat’s unique terroir is its climate.  The region is extremely arid and receives hardly any rain during the summer months.  Irrigation is rarely used as water is scarce, and is typically saved for the youngest vines and the hottest years.  Due to the steep slopes, rocky soil and little water, the annual production per acre in Priorat is extremely low.  A head-pruned, old vine in the region might yield only enough fruit for a half-bottle of wine.

This low production directly contributes to the characteristically concentrated wines of the region, which have great tannins, deep color and high alcohol content (13.5-15.5%).  The extremely harsh growing conditions and low-yielding vines also help explain the high cost of Priorat wines, which are justifiably more expensive than those of other high-volume wine regions of Spain.  The grape varieties in Priorato include Garnacha, Garnacha peluda and Cariñena with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah vines having been included in small areas.

We'll be tasting wines from both Priorat and Montsant on Tuesday, February 15 from 6:30 to 8pm so you can taste for yourself the similarities and differences between these two exciting regions!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Toast to All Things French, Wine Education Seminar

Well, maybe not to "all things" but certainly to their grape juice!  France is responsible for setting many of the international standards for which wine is judged today; yet, reading a French wine label and finding regions/varieties that suit your palate can be intimidating.  What is the Roussillon?  What grapes can I expect to drink with a bottle of wine from St. Emillon or Chateauneuf du Pape?  Does it matter if a bottle of Burgundy says Premier or Grand Cru, and what does the term "first growth" mean?  Please join us once a week on Mondays at 6:00pm for six weeks as we "tour," taste and decode the major wine regions in France.  Here's the line-up:

February 21:  Rhone Valley

February 28:  Bordeaux

March 7 (LUNDI GRAS): no seminar

March 21:  The Midi

March 28:  Burgundy

April 4:  Alsace & Loire Valley

April 11:  Champagne

Your tour guide will be Michelle Gueydan, who has a broad range of travel and career experience in food and wine, particularly in France, where she barrel tasted the acclaimed 2005 Bordeaux vintage, and even rode on the back of someone's motorbike to the acclaimed Domaine Pegau in Chateauneuf du Pape.  For six years, Michelle traveled internationally with former employers, Joseph Robert of J.E. Robert Companies and acclaimed musician/composer Quincy Jones, planning and executing meetings, events, concerts and wine pairing dinners.  Her Sommelier career highlights include five-star Relais &Chateau property, The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia , as well as her most recent stint as Wine Director for John Besh Restaurant Group in New Orleans.  A native New Orleanian, Michelle returned home in 2009 and has re-instated her former Virginia-based LLC, VinoSolutions, in Louisiana to offer local retail and restaurant outlets a unique opportunity to hire a Sommelier as a “Consultant."  Michelle continues to support the importance of education towards an end result: Louisiana as a destination not only for food and spirits, but also for WINE.

Each class is $30/person, or buy the entire series for $150.  Sign up early, as space is limited to 20 people per class.  Call 504.304.0635, reservations and prepayment are required to attend.

Cafe Degas' Infamous La Gratinee d'Oignon

I've been wanting this recipe for a long time, but thinking that something tasting this good would not be easily had, I never asked.  However, as I browsed the newly released Cafe Degas Cookbook, quickly looking through the soup section, there it was, their infamous La Gratinee d'Oignon.  Many nights I've sat at the small bar feasting on this hearty rich soup, savoring those soft delicious onions, chewing on the stringy melted gruyere, never wanting to get to the bottom of the bowl....

And the cookbook itself is really wonderful.  Starting with some of their signature cocktails, to amuse bouche and entrees and dessert, you'll see your favorite recipes accompanied by great photos from Sara Essex Bradley that really capture the essence and character of the place.  The cookbooks are available at the restaurant and they are having a book signing party at Cafe Degas on Wednesday February 16th.  Call Cafe Degas for more details, but in the meantime, make yourself some delicious French Onion Soup!

La Gratinee d'Oignon
from The Cafe Degas Cookbook

2 slices bacon
1 T butter
2 cloves garlic
3 medium onions
1 cup white wine
1 small bouquet garni
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup beef stock
1 T thyme
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
Toasted baguette slices
Grated Gruyere cheese

In a large pot over low heat render bacon in butter allowing fat to coat the bottom of the pot.  Add garlic and simmer lightly.  Add 1/4 of the onions and cook stirring lightly until browned.  Deglaze with white wine. Add remaining onions, bouquet garni, bay leaf, stock and cook stirring occasionally for 1 hour. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 3 hours or until onions are very soft. To serve place one slice of toasted baguette on top of each bowl of soup and the drizzle a generous amount of cheese to cover. If desired broil for one minute to melt and brown cheese.

Cafe Degas
3127 Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70119
(504) 945-5635  


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