Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An Extraordinary Event Tomorrow

Beckstoffer...if you have a love of California wines, chances are you've heard the name. And if you've ever tasted any wines with Beckstoffer on the label, as a vineyard or producer, you know the level of quality that will be poured from the bottle. The Beckstoffers are Napa's largest independent family growers providing top notch fruit for a number of well known wineries. They have acquired several historical vineyards over time with their fruit in extremely high demand among premium wineries. Tuck Beckstoffer has taken advantage of all this great fruit from the finest areas of California and has been making award winning wines since 1990's.

Lucky for us, these wines are carried by our friends over at Mystic Vines and they've agreed to do a very special seated tasting with us. And what a lineup! Showing the quality and diversity of fruit from the Beckstoffer owned vineyards we will feature the Melee Grenache (2010-WS 93, $38), 2010 Semper Pinot Noir (WE 93pts, $46), 2010 Sempre Chardonnay ($50) plus 3 wines from his 75 Wine Company - affordable, premium wines of distinction, and his Hogwash Grenache Rose. As a special treat, Scott Howett of Mystic Vines will share a bottle of the newly released 2010 Mockingbird Red and 2010 Mockingbird Green Cabernet ($170) that will be available for pre-order at a very special price for Swirl customers attending the event.

And if the wine lineup weren't enticing enough, Casey Foote of St. James Cheese will show off some amazing California cheeses from top producers like Cowgirl Creamery and Cypress Grove while Scott Frank of Point Reyes Farmstead will have some of his cheese on hand as well. $30, reservations and prepayment required. Call 504.304.0635 to reserve your spot.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tomato Season in the South

It's one of my favorite times of the year here in New Orleans.  No, it's not Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, it's tomato season, when my most favorite food is in abundant supply in all shapes, forms, sizes and colors.  Our friend Mary gave us a bag full of big, ripe Creole Tomatoes this weekend and Kerry has our little garden overflowing with cherry tomatoes.

We were having a little get together last night for our group that is coming with us to Positano this year, so I decided to make use of all this beautiful fruit and make a few tomato dishes.  Both of these are so simple yet amazingly delicious. 

The first is classic tomato bruschetta, and when I say classic I mean the way the Italians make it in Italy.  There is no vinegar or onions just five simple, fresh ingredients assembled and served with good, grilled crusty bread.

Bruschetta al Pomidoro (Tomato Bruschetta)

This is a summer staple on the Amalfi coast since Campania is also the DOP of San Marzano tomatoes.  You know, those delicious, deeply flavored plum tomatoes that we are only fortunate enough to get in cans.  But a quick lesson on bruschetta; it is pronounced bru-SKE-ta and bruschetta refers to the bread, not the topping.  The best bread for bruschetta is a stale, dense loaf like a sour dough or country style bread. The bread is cut into slices, grilled, and brushed with good quality olive oil then rubbed with fresh garlic cloves.  There are many recipes you can make to top your bruschetta, but the pomidoro is a classic.

To make the topping:
-4 medium sized ripe tomatoes cut into 1/4" dice
-2 cloves of garlic minced
-10 fresh basil leaves torn into small pieces
-1/2 to 1 teaspoon coarse salt
-few turns of the pepper grinder
-a pinch or two of peperoncino
-2 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil

For the bruschetta:
-12 slices of dense, stale bread, no more than 1" thick, and about 3-4" long
-olive oil  
-1 clove of garlic cut in half

Mix the topping ingredients, stir to combine and set aside.  Using indirect heat on a grill quickly toast the bread slices until the edges get slightly dark.  Remove from heat, brush on some olive oil and rub with the clove of garlic.  Add the topping and consume immediately!

Now what to do with all of those tomatoes Kerry has been so proudly attending to?  Cherry tomatoes always make my mouth water for a classic Sicilian dish and Lidia Bastianich's recipe is tried and true. Delicious, light, fresh and very unique, this is the perfect summer pasta dish. I've fallen in love with this brand of dried pasta called Cipriana that is sold at the Fresh Market on St. Charles and now use it anytime I'm not making fresh

Pesto Trapanese 
From Lidia's Italy

Serves 4 to 6

¾ pound (about 2-1/2 cups) cherry tomatoes, very ripe and sweet
12 large fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup of whole almonds, lightly toasted
1 plump garlic clove, crushed and peeled
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino or to taste
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste, plus more for the pasta
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano

Recommended equipment:
A blender (my preference) or a food processor
A pot for cooking the spaghetti

Rinse the cherry tomatoes and pat them dry. Rinse the basil leaves and pat dry.

Drop the tomatoes into the blender jar or food processor bowl followed by the garlic clove, the almonds, basil leaves, peperoncino and ½ tsp salt. Blend for a minute or more to a fine purée; scrape down the bowl and blend again if any large bits or pieces have survived.

With the machine still running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, emulsifying the purée into a thick pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning. (If you’re going dress the pasta within a couple of hours, leave the pesto at room temperature. Refrigerate if for longer storage, up to 2 days, but let it return to room temperature before cooking the pasta.

To cook the spaghetti, heat 6 quarts of water, with 1 tablespoon salt, to the boil in the large pot. Scrape all the pesto into a big warm bowl.

Cook the spaghetti al dente, lift it from the cooking pot, drain briefly, and drop onto the pesto. Toss quickly to coat the spaghetti, sprinkle the cheese all over, and toss again. Serve immediately in warm bowls.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Us, Celebrating 7 Years!

Neil Gernon pouring at our very first Friday Free For All, June 16, 2006
It's hard to believe that it's been seven years since we opened our doors and held our very first Friday Free For All tasting for a very enthusiastic and thirsty neighborhood crowd.  Those were tough times in New Orleans in June of 2006 with all of us so effected by the failure of our Federal levee system and the devastation it caused.  Collectively dealing with the destruction of entire neighborhoods, losing jobs, rebuilding homes, fighting with insurance companies, friends and family leaving the city in droves - we were all struggling to find our way.  Returning and rebuilding were never even a question for Kerry and me. Our faith in our city and the resilience of its people were enough to keep us here; and as Chris Rose so appropriately stated, "the longer you live in New Orleans, the more unfit you become to live anywhere else..." 

Store front June 2006 and now...
Pre-renovation and then in 2008
But just returning wasn't enough, we wanted to be part of the rebuilding, investing our hearts and our pocketbooks in our beloved, broken city.  And I can tell you, it was an uphill battle from the start!  Dealing with our flooded home; leaving a very secure, well paying job of 8 years for the unknown; negotiating with a neighborhood association that was initially against our plan and an incredibly difficult city permitting process; a terrible accident that took place in the shop just days before we opened; a business partner who disappeared in our first week; needless to say, it was a drama filled beginning.  But it was, and still is, the neighborhood support that kept us going.  Because somehow through it all, Swirl became a place where people gathered and shared their stories, a bright spot in the midst of the post-Katrina madness to clear your head, rest your feet and share some good wine while you were at it!  

Bar area in 2006 and now.
Taylor, the original swirl shop dog!
Well the conversations have changed since then, but the feeling in the shop remains the same - a comfortable spot to sit and relax with friends over a nice glass of wine; a place you can bring your dog to, your kids, your date or your grandmother and feel good about being there.  A special place, that you've helped us create filled with lots of great memories over the years.  And seven years later, as a business, a neighborhood and a city, we all have persevered,  flourished and now finally find ourselves settling in to a very good rhythm that we hope will continue for many more years....Thank you all for you support, then and now, because you are what makes Swirl such an awesome place!  So forget your troubles, come on get happy and join us in celebrating our 7th birthday at our Friday Free for All or any of our fun, upcoming events this week!

Friday Free For Alls now...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Last Supper Club of the Summer @ Three Muses

Amuse & Cocktail served on the balcony @ Three Muses
Our last supper club until September!  This is a small, intimate event on an evening when Chef Daniel Esses incredibly popular "Three  Muses" restaurant is closed for regular business.  Dan has designed a special French Caribbean themed menu for the evening that we will pair with French wines and a delicious Caribbean style cocktail presented by David Sobiesk of Artisan Fine Wines.  This promises to be a wonderful evening of great food, wine and company! The seating for this event is extremely limited and we only have 12 spots available for swirl customers, so please watch for my special email later this week with reservation instructions.

Chef Daniel Esses’ Supper Club
Cost: $75 inclusive

For reservations: email Candice Sirmon, candice.sirmon@gmail.com
You will receive a return email from Candice with a PayPal link where you can pay with credit or debit card.  Your reservation is not complete until payment is made and Candice receives the confirmation from PayPal.  She will follow up with an email once she has received your payment. 

Wines supplied by Swirl Wine Bar & Market
Presented by David Sobiesk, Artisan Fine Wines

Amuse Bouche
Mini Goat Meat Pies
Ananasinha ~ Rum, Velvet Falernum, Pineapple & Lime

1st Course
Crab And Corn Fritter
2011 Verget-Macon Charnay "Le Clos Saint-Pierre”, Burgundy 

2nd Course
Banana Leaf Steamed Snapper with Grilled Peach Salsa
2011 Chateau De Valmer Vouvray, Loire

3rd Course
Pork Tenderloin Colombo 
Sides- Yellow Rice Pilaf With Local Fresh Beans
          - Coconut Milk Braised Greens
2011 Chateau de Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone les Deux Albions, Rhone

Banana Tarte Tatin with Coconut Ice Cream & Rum Carmel Sauce
2008 Herman Mosel Beerenauslese, Austria


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