Tag Archives: wine

A Yummy Valentine’s Field Trip

Somethin’ Yummy went on the road today to research an idea for you, dear readers, for Valentine’s Day fun.  Oh the sacrifices for you.  🙂  DH and I took a drive up the road to Reeder Mesa Vineyards, with a Valentine for Doug and Kris (Red Velvet cupcake poppers–stay tuned for more about that tomorrow!).   Reeder Mesa Winery and Vineyards is a great place to go for a romantic field trip!  Have a look at what you’d see from their deck in the summer:

Can’t you just see yourself and your sweetie enjoying a glass of Reeder Mesa wine right there?  Check out the Memories page of the Reeder Mesa site for more beautiful scenery and happy revelers!

Today, Kris was in the tasting room and invited us to taste their freshly bottled Land’s End Wild Rosé, along with some yummy Jarlsburg cheese.  (Isn’t it pretty?!)

Mike Chariton, owner of Planet Wines in Grand Junction, Colorado, reviewed this lovely, approachable wine in the recent edition of Reeder Mesa’s newsletter, Through the Petiole: “2010 Land’s End Wild Rosé:  Made from a rarely seen varietal called Valdiguié, this rosé is the perfect antidote to winter — bright pink, the color of watermelon Jolly Ranchers, the appearance is youthful and playful. The nose is muted red raspberry, leading to flavors of cranberry, blood orange, and a hint of honey. Pair this delightful wine with highly seasoned Asian food, or enjoy its vibrant acidity with spicy barbecued shrimp. Stock up for the summer to quench your thirst on those hot days!”  –Personally, I get strawberry and pink grapefruit notes.  It was quite yummy with the Jarlsburg!

Reeder Mesa has received tons of awards for their wines.  In my opinion, no matter which wine you select, it will be yummy!

Kris has gift-wrapped some bottles just in time for Valentine’s, including the port-style Purple Haze, which is packaged with little chocolate cups you can drink your Purple Haze from, and then follow up the wine yumminess with the perfect chocolate bite!

You’ll find a great selection of wine gifts at Reeder Mesa as well, including the Vinturi I discussed in my last post.

Reeder Mesa Winery really represents the vibe of the Grand Valley wine culture–a friendly, laid back atmosphere and wines with the Grand Valley terroir.  Doug allows the grapes to determine what the wines will be and doesn’t really “mess” with them much.  The resulting wines are earthy and flavorful!

Bottom line for this post?  A winery trip is a perfect and yummy way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your sweetie.  Experience a winery, perhaps meet the winemaker, taste some yummy wines, buy some to take home and keep the Valentine’s feeling going!  What could be more yummy?!

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Wine Gadgets for your Valentine

“Wine is bottled poetry.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson

“A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou.” ~Edward Fitzgerald

“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.” ~Plautus

Valentine’s Day and wine just seem to go together.  DH and I are wine lovers and over the years have collected a great assortment of groovy wine gadgets–just the thing to bring as a gift to your Valentine along with a yummy bottle of wine!

Which wine to buy?  One that you like.  No need to worry about the Wine Spectator points awarded to the bottle.  Get a wine you like, and chances are your sweetie will like it too–probably you know your sweetie well enough to be able to select a wine they will like.  DH LOVES dry reds with a good tannic structure–Cabernet Sauvignon for him!  But both of us liked this lovely (unreleased) Cab Franc from Reeder Mesa Vineyards.  Our friends Kris and Doug Vogel make the wines, mainly from Colorado grapes.

To really make the gift, bring a little something else along; maybe a decorative wine stopper.  Wine stoppers come in all sorts of designs–you can select one with your sweetie in mind.  I love frogs–this is MY wine stopper!

We also have a donkey, one that has a rock from Norway, one turned from tamarisk wood, and various Christmas-y ones.  Check around places like Pier 1 or wine stores to find great stoppers.

Another item you see in this picture is a terra cotta wine cooler.  Before use, run cold water into it and let it soak into the pottery.  Drain the water and place your chilled wine bottle into it.  Evaporative cooling keeps the wine cold!  Groovy!

If you’re going to drink wine, you’ll need a good opener.  We have a variety, including a “rabbit” opener(I find it cumbersome), one that has 2 prongs that go down on either side of the cork (the bonus with this type is no damage to the cork, no cork pieces in the wine), and this one.  This is my current favorite.  It has a foil cutter, a perfectly-sized cork screw, and a two-step pry thingie.  It works so smoothly, it makes me look like an expert when I use it! 

Of course, if you buy a bottle with a screw-top, a wine opener might not be the best choice for the little gift to go with the wine.  There are some very nice wines with screw-tops these days–not just Annie Green Springs or Boone’s Farm!  (You know you’re around my age if you get THAT reference!)

A pair of lovely wine glasses go perfectly with that romantic bottle.  If you’re after the romantic look, go for special Valentine glasses.  These are a pair I bought at Pier 1 years ago; Pier 1 always has cute decorated glasses similar to these.  Today at the grocery store, I saw they had a variety of decorated wine and champagne glasses in the Valentine aisle.  If you’re after great quality, you could spend a bit more and buy Riedel glassware, designed specifically to compliment the individual characteristics of the wine varietal you selected.   They make glasses with stems and without–the current trend.  Personally, I like the stems.  (I not-so-secretly lust after Riedel glassware!) 

Our newest wine gadget is the Vinturi.  Y’know how wine tastes better after you swirl it in your glass?  This is because wine needs to “breathe.”  Air opens up the aromas and flavors trapped in the wine.  You could decant the wine to do this, but the Vinturi does it for you, one glass at a time.  It really does make a difference!  You can find these at wine stores, Bed Bath and Beyond and online.  If you and your sweetie are wine enthusiasts, this is a fabulous gift!

How ’bout YOU, readers?  Favorite yummy wines?  Other groovy wine gadgets you’d recommend?  Comment to this post and together we’ll create the ultimate Valentine’s (and other days) wine-gifting guide!


Filed under Gadgets, wine

How ’bout Lunch at il Bistro?

This was the gist of a Facebook posting from my friend Adele to my friend Becky.  Since I’m friends with both, I inserted myself into this conversation and the three of us went to lunch today at my favorite Grand Valley restaurant, il Bistro Italiano

 I love-love-love this restaurant and owners Ron and Brunella.  Brunella, the chef, is originally from Northern Italy.  The menu reflects her Northern Italian roots (often recipes her mom makes!) and her desire to provide a variety of food in regard to taste and to special diets (gluten-free, low fat, …).  Certain times of the year, Brunella’s mom is “in the house” assisting with the cooking–what a treat! 

Il Bistro is DH and my favorite “winemaker’s dinner” restaurant–the dinner specially prepared each fall with each course paired with a wine from the chosen winery. (For the past couple of years, this has been our friends, the Vogels, from Reeder Mesa Winery!)  The winemaker is in attendance, sharing the particulars of the wine, while Brunella shares her inspirations for the food paired with it.  (Look for a blog post about this fabulous dinner in September!)

Right now, Grand Junction is re-doing the downtown–tearing up roads and old pipes and such.  Unfortunately this so-called “up-lift project” is happening right outside il Bistro. 

Sidewalks are passable and the front doors are not blocked.  Inside, the restaurant is as it always is, comfortable, pleasant, with a lovely Italian vibe.  Both Ron (who is famous for his practical joking–beware!) and Brunella (sweet, welcoming) were there today.

The three of us sat down and were immediately provided with the usual yummy bread and pimento-ricotta spread that comes with every meal.  Adele requested olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as she is not a fan of the spread.  (BTW, this comes with more bread than is pictured…we were hungry!)

Next, Adele recommended we order Calamari for an appetizer.  I’m not a huge calamari fan, but Adele insisted this was different.  And it was!  Very lightly battered and fried, served with a creamy garlic-lemon sauce.  Mmmmm!  We ate it ALL! 

Next the entrees.  (Quotes are from the menu.) Adele ordered “My Mother’s Polpette–These are the meatballs I grew up with!  100% beef with parmesan cheese–served with fava beans and homemade chips.”  (Adele moved one of the chips so you could see the meatballs and fava beans.)  This is a gluten-free selection.

Becky ordered “Prosciutto E Avocado–shrimp, prosciutto di parma, avocado in a creamy white wine sauce–tossed with our spinach tagliatelle.”  It’s what she always orders. 

I ordered one of my favorites, “Gnocchi Al Funghi–an old Bistro classic: semolina gnocchi baked and served with a five-mushroom sauce.”  A vegetarian selection.  I’ve had this gnocchi paired with a Reeder Mesa Cab Franc before–perfect!!!

We ate, we laughed we chatted, and had no room for dessert (wah).  We may need to go back and JUST have dessert one of these days! 

I was a goober and didn’t read the menu today.  One of my seasonal favs, which wasn’t on the menu the last time I was there, was there!  Adele pointed it out after we had our food and were discussing Bistro favs.  Argghhhh!  Brunella tells me I need to come back within the next week or it’ll be gone ’til next fall.  “Rotollo Di Zucca–the traditional Bistro dish for fall/winter–homemade pasta rolled with pumpkin filling and served with gruyere sauce.”  Soooo yummy!

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40 Cloves

Wow!  That’s a lot of garlic!  And you’ll be so glad there is that much.  Mistral’s Chicken.  The M in Mistral’s stands for Mmmmmmm!  Our friends in California made this for us and served it up with yummy crusty bread and a lovely, oaky Pinot Gris.  More Mmmmmmmm!  One of the coolest things about this recipe, aside from how great your house will smell is that it’s basically just easy-peasy fried chicken and noodles.  Grown-up fried chicken and noodles.  Fried chicken and noodles you can serve when you want to really show the love to that special someone.

So here we go.  The ingredients for Mistral’s Chicken:

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces for frying     (Or if you’re lazy like me, buy it already cut up….the groovy thing about that is that you can pick just the kind of pieces you like!  I get a package of boneless, skinless breasts and 1 package of boneless, skinless thighs.)

40 cloves of garlic, peeled

1/2 cup of chicken broth

1/2 cup of dry white wine   (Be sure it’s a wine you like to drink–the alcohol will cook off, but the flavor will intensify–if you didn’t like the flavor before, you won’t like it in the recipe either.)

Salt and pepper

1 TBSP oil

1 TBSP butter

Egg noodles–prepared just before the chicken is finished.

First things first….peel 40 cloves of garlic.  A task that is quite a lot less daunting if you have one of these little garlic-peeling tube thingies:

You put each clove in the tube, roll it around on the counter and the peels just come off!  Very cool!

Set the garlic aside.

Place the oil and butter in a large fry pan over medium-high heat.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, lay it in the fry pan seasoned side down and season the other side.  Leave room around each piece, working in batches if necessary.  (If pieces are too close they will steam instead of frying and you’ll miss out on all the yummy caramelized browned part.)

Safety Note:  Always use a cutting board that you reserve JUST for raw meats.  Always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat.

Leave the chicken alone until it browns and loosens from the bottom of the pan easily and then turn and brown the other side….about 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness and bones. 

Mmmmm…doesn’t that look yummy?  Can you just smell it?!

Add all of the garlic to all of the chicken, burying the garlic under the chicken.  Let it cook until garlic starts to brown….about 5 more minutes.

When the garlic starts to brown, add the stock and wine.  Simmer until the garlic is nice and soft…about 20 minutes.  Add more liquid, maintaining the stock to wine ratio if needed. 

This is when it REALLY starts smelling great!  When you think the garlic is nearly ready, cook the noodles according to the directions on the package.

Drain the noodles and pour the chicken, garlic and pan liquids over the noodles. 

Serve with a nice, crusty bread; toasted and buttered if you like.  Let your guests know they should try smearing the soft garlic over their pieces of bread.  I also recommend serving Mistral’s Chicken with the rest of the wine you used to make the sauce—most likely you have most of the bottle left–but have a second bottle chilled anyway!  Drinking the same wine you cooked with really amplifies the flavor and compliments the dish perfectly.  Try it!  You won’t be able to stop yourself from making that yummy noise….Mmmmmmmmm!


Filed under dinner, lunch, recipe