Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Artisan American Cheese & Wine Pairing Class - 7 Spots Left!!!

Join Sommelier Michelle Gueydan and Casey Foote of Saint James Cheese for a night of Artisan American Cheese and Wine!  More and more people are getting turned on to artisan American cheeses. Cheesemakers are popping up around the country, developing innovative American originals which are rivaling the great European cheeses in flavor, quality and popularity.  Casey has just returned from touring some of our countries' best dairies and we'll be tasting his favorite finds that will be arriving in the city this week! This is a don't miss event!  Wednesday August 31, 6-8pm, $25. Reservations and prepayment required to hold your spot, 504.304.0635.

2010 Anne Amie Cuvee A Muller Thurgau
2010 Lioco NoCo Chardonnay
2008 Moises Holmes Hill Pinot Noir
2009 Vending Machine Winery Horror Show
2008 Bonny Doon Vinferno 

Capriole Crocodile Tears
Hook's Cheese Company Hook's Blue
Uplands Cheese Company Pleasant Ridge Reserve
Meadow Creek Dairy Grayson
Hahn's End Creamery City of Ships

Monday, August 29, 2011

Selecting the Wines: Dinner at Maximo's

Selecting wines for our dinners with local restaurants is one of my favorite things to do.  And believe it or not, there's a lot more to it than just opening up a bunch of bottles we like and designing a menu around them.  It is a process that involves the input and collaboration of quite a few individuals who all have a vested interest in you having a great wine and food experience.

I've been to dinners where it was obvious that there was not much communication between the wine people and the food people.  The latest experience, believe it or not, was in Tuscany. And as bad as the event was, it was actually very good for me to see what happens when proper planning is obviously not involved. Food comes out without wine or wrong wines in your glass when the food comes out and little or no thought going in to the actual food and wine pairings which means neither the wine nor the food really gets to shine.

Anne Zakin
Now onto our upcoming dinner at Maximo's...We are working on an event in late September when Anne Zakin, President of Marc De Grazia Imports USA, will be in town to host the dinner and present the wines. I met with sommelier Michelle Gueydan, who has been working with the staff at Maximo's, Chef Thomas Woods, General Manager Eric Solis, and Nick Selby from Uncorked, at his office to put our heads together to make the selections.   And I am really excited by the line up!

Chef Thomas Woods
We wanted a wide range to show case the depths of the portfolio and Chef Thomas' diversity in cooking styles.  We needed interesting wines but with good acidity and structure to pair with foods and even turned down a wine that we all fell head over heels for because we felt another would better fit our purpose (more on that wine later...). And although we tend to want to taste higher end wines at these dinners, it is important to present selections at various price points to show that not all wine needs to be expensive to be good.

So we decided to take you on a tour of Italy, presenting wine and food from the Veneto, Campagnia, Sicily, Tuscany and Alto Adige with a mix of obscure and well known grape varieties. The list is now in Chef Thomas' hands and it is up to him to create some culinary magic in the kitchen to pair with the wines.  The dinner is Wednesday September 21 and menu and pricing will be coming soon, but here's a little information on a few of the wines we selected:

2009 Kofererhof Kerner - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 93 pts:  The 2009 Kerner bursts from the glass with an exciting array of mint, flowers, passion fruit and crushed rocks. This is a beautiful, vivid white that takes shape in the glass, continuing to show off its remarkable class. A textured, creamy finish rounds things out in style. The estate’s Kerner is one of the great, great wines of Alto Adige, and the 2009 is nothing short of breathtaking. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2015.

2007 Az Agr Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - Robert Parker's Wine Advocat, 90 pts:  Dei’s 2007 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is wonderfully soft and expressive in this vintage. Bright red cherries lead to subtle notes of earthiness and pipe tobacco as this sexy, radiant Vino Nobile opens up in the glass. Fine, silky tannins frame the long, beautifully articulated finish. This understated, delicate Vino Nobile is a gem from Dei. 

2008 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso Feudo di Mezzo, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, 92 pts., (RP 93 pts) - Good deep red. Delicately smoky, penetrating aromas of redcurrant and crushed rock, with a liqueur-like nuance; seems a bit less intense than the Guardiola. Supple, creamy and sweet, which is typical for this vineyard bottling, but with very good acidity and a recurring rocky quality nicely complementing the berry and smoke flavors. Finishes with sweet but mounting tannins and notes of aromatic herbs. This has the structure to age but also offers considerable up-front appeal, though the tannins are such that I'd suggest laying this away for another couple of years.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pasta with Fresh Lemon, Cream and Chanterelles

I saw a recipe in Lidia Bastianich's cookbook and have just been waiting for the right opportunity to make it.  Hers uses lemon juice and zest with rich heavy cream with a fresh tagliatelle pasta.  But when I was shopping at the Hollygrove Market yesterday I got one of the few remaining bags freshly foraged chanterelles and decided they would be perfect addition to her recipe.  Not to mention they had a few pints left of the to-die-for Rocking R Dairy fresh cream, making my decision even easier.

Today was a long bike ride for us, so there was no time for fresh pasta. But I find the next best thing is the Bionaturae brand of egg pasta, and we just happened to have a package of the papparedelle in the pantry.

    * 3 tablespoons butter
    * 4 teaspoons Lemon zest, finely grated (about 2 lemons)
    * 1 teaspoons salt (her recipe calls for 2t, use 1t and then adjust)
    * 1 cup dry white wine
    * 1 cup chanterelles, slice the big ones vertically into strips
    * 1 cup heavy cream
    * ⅓ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 lemons)
    * 1 pound tagliatelle or pappardelle
    * 1 cup pecorino, freshly grated, plus more for passing
    * extra-virgin olive oil, best quality, for serving

Servings: This recipe yields 6 servings.


Put your pot of water for the pasta on the stove and begin to bring it to a boil. As you are waiting for your water, begin the recipe.

Drop the butter into the big skillet, and set it over medium heat. As the butter melts, scatter in the grated lemon zest; stir it around until sizzling. Add the chanterelles and gently stir them to coat with with butter. Pour in the white wine and lemon juice, add the salt, stir, and bring the liquids to a bubbling simmer. Cover the skillet, and let cook for a couple of minutes.

Uncover the pan, and slowly pour in the cream, whisking it steadily into the simmering wine and lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquids reduce to a saucy consistency you like, 2 or 3 minutes more.

After whisking in the cream, start cooking the pasta until al dente. This about 4 minutes for fresh pasta or the bionaturae pasta.

With the lemon-and-cream sauce at a simmer, taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.  Remember that your cheese will add some salt as well.  As soon as the pasta has finished cooking, quickly lift out with tongs and drop it all into the skillet. Toss the pasta until well coated, loosening the sauce with a few spoonfuls of hot pasta- cooking water if needed.

Turn off the heat, sprinkle a cup or so of grated cheese over the linguine, and toss well. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, toss again, and heap the pasta in warm bowls. Serve immediately, with more cheese at the table.

Monday, August 1, 2011

La Pazza Giornata In Amalfi Coast

Ride from Ravello to Amalfi with our driver Vincenzo Fusco, so much fun! For excursions and transfers on the Amalfi Coast, contact him at info@taxidriverpositano.com. Tell him le cinque donne di New Orleans sent you!


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