Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chef Thomas Wood's Chili Glazed Scallops

Last week I had the pleasure of sitting at the grill bar at Maximo's tasting wines with Antonio, Michelle Gueydan (she's been consulting with them to update their wine list and work with the staff), manager Eric Solis and chef Thomas Woods.  Our fourth annual "Tre Bicchieri" Italian Wine dinner will be at Maximo's next month so we were tasting through a number of potential wines and chef Thomas prepared a few dishes and sauces to accompany them.

As we began with the whites, he impressed us immediately with one of his signature dishes, Chili Glazed Scallops.  The fresh, gigantic sea scallops were cooked to perfection and served atop a bed of sauteed spinach and pears.  Equally as gorgeous is the wine we choose to pair it with, the 2008 Castello della Sala Cervaro della Sala, a very Burgundian styled Chardonnay from Umbria.  So if this first course is any indication of what will follow for the next four, we are all in for an incredible evening!

We'll be finishing up the menu and pairings this week and I'll post the information as soon as it is confirmed.  But as a special treat, Chef Thomas has shared the recipe with us so you can give it a try yourself before hand or just wait 'til May 18th at 7pm!

Chili Glazed Scallops
Chef Thomas Woods, Maximo's Italian Grill

Chili Glaze:
1 Tablespoon Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoon Pomace oil (though any neutral cooking oil will work)
1/2 cup Honey
1/4 cup Stock (Preferably fish, though chicken, shrimp, etc., will work)
1/4 cup White wine (Dry though whatever you’re drinking will work
just fine)
Pinch Salt to taste
Pinch Black Pepper to taste
4-2 ounces Diver Scallops
(seasoned and grilled)

Place oil, garlic and red pepper in a medium sauté pan on medium heat, making sure all ingredients are incorporated in the pan while in heating. Toast the garlic until golden brown. Deglaze pan with white wine, stock, honey and lemon juice. Incorporate ingredients in pan. Add butter, parsley, salt and pepper. Reduce contents in pan; sauce will visibly change (all bubbles will appear the same size). Drizzle glaze over the top of scallops.

Chef Woods serves this dish at Maximo’s accompanied with a pear and baby spinach sauté. Serves 2.

Under the Radar Wines

We've taken advantage of an incredible sale offered by our friends at Purveyor's and have some highly rated wines at really great prices.  Check out the reviews, but believe me, these wines speak for themselves.  Get here quick, they are going fast....

2006 Bodegas Artazu Santa Cruz de Artazu Navarra
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, 92 points
($50; 100% garnacha, from vines up to 100 years of age) Full, bright-rimmed ruby. A decadent bouquet displays ripe cherry, mulberry, smoked meat, incense and Asian spices. Deeply concentrated red and dark berry preserve flavors are admirably pure, with exotic floral pastille and anise qualities adding complexity. Suave oak spices build with air and carry through the long, sweet finish. The energy of this wine is captivating. Tanzer says $50, we say $16.99!!!!

2006 Tensley Syrah Three Creek Vineyard 
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 92 points
The 2006 Syrah Three Creek Vineyard possesses a similar dark ruby/purple color as well as a beautiful bouquet of creme de cassis and lychee nuts, which give uplift and complexity to the aromatics. Tasting more like a Cote Rotie than its siblings, it offers medium body, silky tannins, and beautiful purity as well as complexity. This is a lovely wine to enjoy now and over the next 7-8 years. Should be $40, now $21.99!!

2004 La Cova del Vins Terros
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 92 points
The 2004 Terros is produced from three different varietals, 50% Garnacha from 96-year-old vines, 25% Carinena from 75-year-old vines, and 25% Syrah from 20-year-old vines and was aged for 14 months in barrel. Inky purple, it exhibits a fragrant perfume of cedar, tobacco, pepper, cassis, black cherry, and blackberry. Supple on the palate, this plush wine is forward and easy to drink. The tannins are ripe and soft, the finish long and pure. Drink this tasty wine over the next decade. $19.99, Sold Out!

2004 Celler de Capcanes Cabrida
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 93 points
The 2004 Cabrida is the winery’s flagship and is composed of 100% Garnacha from low-yielding 70- to 105-year-old vines. It was aged for 12 months in new French oak. Deep purple, the wine has a splendid perfume of pencil lead, scorched earth, smoky black cherries, and black raspberries. This is followed by a high-toned, racy wine with considerable elegance. Its flavors are intense and it is well balanced with a lengthy finish. Drink this tasty effort over the next 10-12 years. Should be $48,  now $26.99 

2008 Tensley Camp Four Vineyard Blanc
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 06, 07, 09 all rated 90 points, 2008 not rated
Tensley’s only white wine, the elegant 2009 Camp 4 Blanc, is a blend of 65% Grenache Blanc and 35% Roussanne. Aromas of nectarines, quince, and white currants are followed by a medium-bodied white wine revealing fresh acids as well as a heady finish.
Should be $28, now $14.99

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wine of the Moment, 2010 Abiouness Carneros Rosé

As it happens every "spring" here in New Orleans, suddenly, its hot.  Usually we can at least make it to Jazz Fest before the thermometer bumps into the nineties, but early April?  So that means it is time to start stocking up on Rosé and and while you'll see some old favorites in the shop, look for some new fresh facings as well like my new favorite, the Abiouness...

I tried this wine a few weeks ago with Monica and Neil from Neat Wines and fell in love with it.  Female winemaker Nicole Abiouness makes only 175 cases of this Pinot Noir Rosé made from a blend of the vineyards used in her single vineyard Pinots:  Stanly Ranch and Hudson Vineyard.  It is fruity, fleshy, and deliciously dry, with a juicy nose of red cherries and spice.   On the palate you get everything a good pinot should give while still retaining the characteristics of a Rosé….light yet crisp on the finish with  strong, typical fruit characteristics of Pinot Noir:  strawberries, red raspberries and a touch of tart cherry with a balance of green earth and terrior.  You can almost taste the crisp, cool Carneros breeze!

Also look for the Abiouness Eagle Point Range Sangiovese at the bar in half bottles and her Pinot Noir should hit the shelves soon.  And as a side note she donates a portion of the proceeds of this deliciously pink wine to breast cancer research.  Way to go Nicole, I hope we get to see you in the shop one day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pasta with Italian Sausage and Veggies

With the shop being in full spring mode right now, spending lots of time in the kitchen preparing complicated dishes is on hold 'til July!  One of my quick, go-to pasta recipes that I've been making different variations of every time, is based on one of Lidia Bastianich's dishes.  A healthy, hearty one dish meal, we love it with a nice glass of red wine, but a full bodied white would work just as well.  Here's my version from this Sunday's dinner using chicken sausage for the meat plus arugula and zucchini for the veggies.  But I've made this with pork sausage and shrimp, with different veggies like kale or asparagus, basically whatever is left in the refrigerator on Sunday night!

Serves 2-3

For the Sauce:
1 large zucchini, grated
2 big handfuls of fresh arugula
2 links of Brau House Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage (Whole Foods)
4 tablespoons good olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
1 cup or more chicken stock
Diced fresh tomatoes and a handful of chopped fresh basil for garnish

For the Pasta:
3 quarts water
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 pound orecchiette or we've been using pasta shape called "lumaconi" from WF that we love 'cause it really soaks up the sauce.

For Serving:
1 ounce or more Piave cheese, grated

Preparing the Sauce:
  • Slice the sausage and saute over moderately high heat in a tablespoon of olive oil. In a moment or two, add the crushed garlic and continue sauteing for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the sausage is lightly browned. 
  • Add another tablespoon of olive oil and toss in the arugula and zucchini. Taste, and season lightly with salt and pepper flakes. (At this point, you could start the pasta.) Cover the pan and let steam for several minutes. 
  • When the spinach has wilted, stir in the butter, then the stock and bring to a boil. Taste again for seasoning, and let cook uncovered for several minutes more to reduce and concentrate the liquid. 
  • At this point grate the cheese. Again taste and correct seasoning keep on a low simmer until the pasta is ready.
  • As soon as the pasta has cooked and drained, turn it into the hot sauce and toss gently to blend. Taste carefully for seasoning, and remove from heat. 
  • Sprinkle on half of the freshly grated cheese and the chopped basil, and toss to blend. At once, turn the pasta onto the hot platter or plates, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and diced tomatoes, and serve.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Taste The Wines of Bastianich Tonight @ Swirl

Lidia Bastianch and her son Joe have dedicated their lives to bringing the best of Italy home to your table.  Award winning restaurants, best selling books, popular cooking shows, and amazing wines, they've created an Italian family food dynasty like nothing else I've seen.

Lidia's cookbooks are some of our favorites and I feature her recipes regularly on my blog and Joe's book "Vino Italiano" is one of my go to references on the crazy world of Italian wine.  Besides owning 18 restaurants across the country, they now own three wineries in Italy in Friuli, Tuscany and recently a property in Piedmont, all which produce very high quality, food friendly wines at approachable prices.  Due to our crazy tasting schedule, the wines go in and out of inventory so, needing a Bastianich fix, I asked Monica from Neat Wines about doing an event.  We'll be tasting 5 wines from Friuli and the Maremma and I might just throw in a special treat of an older vintage bottle of their 5 time winner of the acclaimed "Three Glasses" award, The Vespa Bianco.  We'll have copies of a few of Lidia's recipes available and some Italian cured meats and cheeses to try with the wines.

Our events with the Neat Wines crew are always fun and with this lineup, Tuesday night is sure to be a sell out, so please call 504.304.0635 for a reservation.  Attendance is limited and pre-payment is required to hold your spot. $10, Tuesday, 6:30-8pm.


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