Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Wine and cheese were created as a way to preserve grapes and milk. Both have been enjoyed together for centuries. Enjoying wine and cheese together can enhance the taste experience of both parties. Wine and cheese are more enjoyable when tasted together. Taste is subjective and there is no right or wrong way to enjoy wine and cheese but there are a few suggestions to help you enjoy wine and cheese together.
Balance is necessary when pairing wine and cheese. A sweet wine like a Port pairs well with a strong assertive blue like Stilton.
Cheese can follow the flavors and intensity of the wine you are drinking. An intense red can stand up to an intense cheese like aged Gouda.
If the wine is subtle, try a delicate cheese. You can also contrast flavors, try an earthy cheese with a fruity wine.
The more acidic your wine is, the higher the fat content of the cheese. The acid from the wine will help to cut the fat of the cheese. A rich creamy D’affinois is accentuated by Champagne.
When thinking about wine and cheese pairings you can take a trip to a destination. If you are interested in French wines, reach for French cheese. Wines and cheeses made in the same region will pair well together.
Young mild goat cheese, double or triple crèmes and bloomy rind cheeses pair well with light whites and sparkling wines.
Soft to semi firm mild cow’s milk, aged goat, and sheep’s milk cheese pair well with light red, rose, lager, and pilsner.
Stronger, bolder nuttier, harder, aged and mild washed rind cheese pair well with red wine, ales, and lambic.
Strong washed rind and blue cheese pair well with dessert wines, port, and stout beer.
Some cheese friendly white wines are: Albarino, Champagne, Gewurztraminer, Gruner Valtliner, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. Some cheese friendly red wines are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Dolcetto d’Albec, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo-Garnacha blends, and Zinfandel.
Some things to avoid when pairing wines and cheese are wines that are tannic and those that have strong oak flavors. A wine that is very tannic will overwhelm the taste buds that are used to enjoy the flavors of cheese. You want to enjoy a wine that has high fruit and low tannins. A light bright red will be better enjoyed with cheese rather than a wine that is heavy with tannins and oak.
Reds can overwhelm the palate. If you have to go red, try an old world red wine. Many argue that old world wines compliment food better than new world wines. A Rioja from Spain is very versatile and will pair well with many different foods. Enjoy wine and cheese together and feel free to experiment and try different combinations. Enjoy!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Carter Mountain has an orchard and vineyard and grows peaches, nectarines, apples, and grapes. They have a wine tasting room, snack bar, and bakery. I went straight for the doughnuts, apple cider doughnuts. Sadly, these doughnuts were a disappointment and seemed to lack apple cider. Part of the reason you drive for hours to an orchard for doughnuts is to get them hot and fresh. The orchard was busy despite the rain but the doughnuts weren't hot.
The doughnuts were fine but not worth the hours in the car. They were bland and could have used more of a cinnamon and sugar coating along with more cider. Turns out they do not use their own apple cider in their doughnuts. We learned that it is very difficult to get a licence to make apple cider. This may explain why every orchard was selling the same apple cider on our previous quest for cider doughnuts.
The best part of Carter Mountain was the Pink Lady Apples. These are Patrick's favorite apple and they were ready to pick that day. The rain eased up and we hit the orchard filling our bags with Pink Ladies. These apples are so firm, crisp, and juicy but not too sweet. Carter Mountain is beautiful and dog friendly. A great place to bring the family but not a doughnut destination.
I did buy some Caramel Apple Cookies that were delicious in my opinion, Patrick did not like them which left more for me. They were fresh, chewy, and the apples had a nice texture.
As we left the mountain and headed into Charlottesville the rain cleared and the sun came out. We walked the downtown and checked out the shops. I love towns that have pedestrian promenades. There were many coffee shops, independent businesses, and restaurants with outdoor seating. Charlottesville is very dog friendly and I felt like a horrible puppy parent for leaving my two dogs at home.
We picked up a local newspaper to find a place to eat and found a very interesting ad for Carpe Donut. Carpe Donut is a mobile doughnut truck that only offers apple cider doughnuts. We had to find the doughnut truck. Thankfully, the truck was parked less than a block from our car. Carpe Donut's lights were visible from our parking spot.
I fell in love with Carpe Donut as it is a family owned business that supports local and organic foods. Matt, the owner, talked with us about where he gets his eggs and cider. The truck has a small selection but what they do offer is done right. The thick Italian hot chocolate was wonderful. Floating on top of the cup was a great chocolate layer that was left in the bottom of the empty cup. I had no shame and used my finger to fish out the chocolate goodness.
The doughnuts had a nice apple cider flavor, they weren't hot but they were fresh. Carpe Donut has a great and informative website. http://carpedonut.argon.org/ But these doughnuts did not satisfy my apple cider doughnut craving.
The first time I had apple cider doughnuts, Patrick took me to Solebury Orchard in New Hope. Once we arrived, we were presented with hot apple cider doughnuts. I remember them being light, cakey, and flavourful. I have been chasing the doughnut ever since. I may have to drive the four hours up to New Hope to satisfy this need. We did drive 2 hours for a doughnut disappointment, why not drive 4 hours for the real thing?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Center. It felt more like a convention than a festival and made me wonder how green it was to hold the festival at all. We were lured by the ability to see Joel Salatin speak. He would give a talk about his book Everything I want To Do Is Illegal. As a cheesemaker, I have been very interested in his work and Polyface farm.
The talk was a huge disappointment. He described a hunting scene where the hunter brings home his kill and leaves it laying around for week before it makes it into the fridge. For a man who has many paid speaking engagements, he did not seem to know what he was talking about. He couldn't’t seem to decide if he is or isn’t a Luddite. The room was shocked when he implied that foreigners do not wash their hands because of cultural differences. Sitting in that room, I felt like one of few who did not drink the Kool Aid. Honestly, I cannot recall any interesting information that he shared with the group. But I was distracted buy the obnoxious woman sitting next to me who spent most of that hour picking her face and nose. I hope she washed her hands.
After hearing Mr. Salatin speak, we moved into the sea of booths. There were a lot of familiar companies like Cliff Bar, Honest Tea, and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. The longest line was at Ben & Jerry’s to get a free sample of ice cream. I find this rather sad and hard to believe that so few people had never had their ice cream. Yes, we all like free stuff but why wait in line for a small paper cup filled with nothing new. I was hoping to find some smaller producers and local companies but it wasn’t the Localvore Festival. It seems to be very expensive to have a booth at the Green Festival.
I had hoped since Mr. Salatin was speaking there might be a Polyface farm table. Or Consumer Supported Agriculture, buying program, local farm, or an alternative to Supermarkets. I did sign a bunch of petitions. Greenpeace was there and the girl had a hard time explaining the petition, it was related to clean energy. I signed up for some email newsletters and have already received one from the Green Restaurant Association. Patrick picked up a flyer about a new style of beehive which looked interesting.
I picked up a Sustainability report thinking it might list sustainable foods, clothing, and lifestyle options. Instead it was a strategic sustainability consulting and had charts and graphs and bored me. This waste of paper did not note if it was printed with soy-based inks on recycled paper. I must have picked up ten ponds of paper from the many booths and plan to recycle all of it. Some of these bits of paper did state they were printed with soy-based inks on recycled paper but some did not have any such statement.
I picked up a Department of Public Works Reference Guide from September 2008. The back stated “Mixed Sources Product group from well-managed forests, controlled sources and recycled wood or fiber”. Then there was the following paragraph:
“Printed on 30% post-consumer-waste, process-chlorine-free recycled paper manufactured with wind power, creating the following environmental benefits: 364.64 trees preserved for the future; 154,892 gallons of wastewater flow saved, 17,138 lbs solid waste not generated; 33,745 lbs net greenhouse gases prevented; 258,289,500 BTUs energy not consumed; and 66,794 lbs air emissions not generated. The use of wind-generated electricity produced savings equivalent to: planting 4,515 trees”.
Wow and this booklet is filled with useful information, I only wish I lived in D.C.
I got The Vegetarian Guide, one for Washington, D.C. and one for Baltimore, MD. There were many booths to help you become a vegetarian but being a vegetarian in not necessary for a green lifestyle. The festival had an atmosphere where meat is bad, but corn and soy bean farming can be as devastating to the environment as any cow. Whatever you are eating think about the life it had and the environment in which it was grown. Then think of the process it took to end up on your plate. Consider food miles, the amount of fossil fuels needed to transport the materials. I personally like to know the history of my food be it animal or vegetable.
The scariest thing I saw was an ad for Quorn in the Healthy Clippings “coupons for a NATURAL way of life”. What is Quorn? The ad states: “Quorn products deliver great taste, fantastic quality and a wide variety of items to meet the demands of on-the-go lifestyles”. I am glad I do not have an on-the-go lifestyle. Quorn is meat and soy free but that does not explain what it is. Their website says Quorn is all natural and the principal ingredient is mycoprotein from Fusarium venenatum. So what is that and how is it made? Wikipedia supplied the following information http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quorn
“Quorn is made from the soil mould Fusarium venenatum strain PTA-2684 (previously misidentified as the parasitic mold Fusarium graminearum). The fungus is grown in continually oxygenated water in large, otherwise sterile fermentation tanks. During the growth phase, glucose is added as a food for the fungus, as are various vitamins and minerals (to improve the food value of the resulting product). The resulting mycoprotein is then extracted and heat-treated to remove excess levels of RNA. Previous attempts to produce such fermented protein foodstuffs were thwarted by excessive levels of DNA or RNA; without the heat treatment, purine, found in nucleic acids, is metabolised by humans, producing uric acid, which can lead to gout. The product is dried and mixed with chicken egg albumen, which acts as a binder. It is then textured, giving it some of the grained character of meat, and pressed either into a mince (resembling ground beef), forms resembling chicken breasts, meatballs, turkey roasts, or into chunks (resembling diced chicken breast).”
There seems to be some chicken in your Quorn. If you want chicken the just eat chicken. My issue with vegetarianism is all the fake foods which are often filled with sugar, sodium, and chemicals. If you want the taste of a hot dog then maybe you shouldn’t be a vegetarian. I think the only reason for being a vegetarian is because you do not like the taste of meat and love vegetables. Instead of changing what we eat, why not change how the food is raised.
The same booklet with the Quorn ad also stated that “October is National Dessert Month!” Do we really need more excuses to consume dessert with Thanksgiving and Christmans around the corner? Does that promote healthy living? Many of the coupons and samples were for cookies, chocolate, snack foods and other foodstuffs we do not really need.
The festival also had many booths to greenerize your home and help you build a new green home. I only wish I was about to build my own home. One exciting company was Repax which is an alternative to U-Haul. They offer a Reusable Packing System and the brochure states their “revolutionary moving system significantly reduces the amount of time and effort spent in making your move, reduces the cost of your move, and simultaneously provides security for your valuables during the move. We have made the entire process of moving easy, affordable, and ECO-FRIENDLY.” I hate moving but I like this company. I might not be building a house soon but I will be moving in the near future.
Another exciting discovery is the Airlie Center in Warrenton, VA. www.airlie.com I picked up 8 hand outs and there was no note if they were printed on recycled paper with soy based ink except for one which just had the recycle symbol. The following information was gathered from those handouts:
“The Airlie Center and Conference Center was founded in 1960 as an “island of thought” and has provided a unique environment for the creative exchange of ideas ever since” They offer “recycling and a linen and towel reuse program, organic culinary garden, energy efficient lighting, and non-toxic biodegradable cleaning product… a comprehensive pollution prevention program focused on sustainable business practices which minimize the center’s impact on the environment… The Local Food Project at Airlie’s ¾ acre garden has annually supplied more than 4,000 pounds of fresh herbs, vegetables and flowers to Airlies Center’s kitchen… Airlie Center, For over 40 years, the natural place to meet.”
They host an Annual Harvest Dinner and Dialogue, offer workshops such as the Organic Garden Primer, Exploring the small farm dream, and tractor safety. Airlie has environmental certification from Green Seal’s Environmental Lodging Program and the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program. I look forward to exploring Airlie and only wish I had to find a place to hold a conference.
The festival was consumerism at its greenest. There were coupons and free samples but there were plenty of booths where you could purchase jewelry, clothing, and handbags. There was a lot of shopping and Visa was everywhere. I paid my $15 entry fee and spent $1 on an Honesty Tea drink. I was not there to spend money but to get new ideas.
The festival also had a Hemp Pavilion, Movement Room, Green Teen, and an Organic Valley Green Kids’ zone. Many of the companies involved are a part of larger companies but they don’t mention this. Kashi is owned by Kellog and Casadian Farms is owned by General Mills. Green is the new buzz word and it is making me see red.
OK, I still have a lot to read from the Green fest and a lot to think about but now I am gonna play with my doggies on this beautiful day.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Three days before my wedding, my grandparents were in a car accident after visiting my mother in the hospital. A driver made an illegal U turn causing the accident. Grandpop hardly had a scratch, but Grandmom was in really bad shape. They were unable to attend my wedding.
I spent the week before my wedding visiting my mother and grandmother in the hospital. I was being referred to as the bride in two different hospitals. I didn’t go to the hospital on Wednesday in order to have a trail run for hair and make-up. I also had to deal with a very badly fitting handmade wedding dress. But I didn’t even have the time or energy to deal with that dressmaker.
The night before the wedding there was a dinner with Patrick’s mom, step dad, dad, step mom, his maternal grandmother, aunt, and uncle. My brother and father were there but my mother was too sick. My aunt Mary came in her place and read a note my mother had dictated which made me cry.
That night I shared a bed with my mother. I hardly slept, every time she moved I had a little heart attack. I remember she got up to close the window and I tried to help her. I lay in bed next to her and cried. She was 59 but had aged so much that week; she was a shell of her former self.
There was so much rain that week and Saturday was a deluge. The morning of my wedding I got a call at 6 a.m. from the V.F.W, where our wedding was to be held. The location was flooded and I would have to find a new location if I wanted to get married that day. I fell to the floor and cried not knowing what to do.
I called Action News and left them a message about my situation. They called me back and there was a reporter at my mother’s house by noon. I got ready for a wedding with the location to be decided by generosity. Many people called Action News wanting to help which was such a blessing.
The Jeffersonville Golf Club donated their space to us and the ceremony was only a few hours delayed. I used to pass by this place often when I lived in Collegeville. I never would have imagined I would get married there. I wanted to get married by water and we did not want to get married at a golf course. But I was thankful we had a place for our 150 guests.
We left the house before my mother. She got sick along the way and we waited for her arrival. I remember her face when she saw out flower girl who was a man in drag. She was happily shocked and we all needed the comic relief. She walked down the aisle flanked by my brother and Aunt Mary. The rain had stopped and the clouds cleared. We were able to have our ceremony outside. By the time I could see my soon to be husband’s face, I just wanted to kiss him. I just wanted to hurry thorough the ceremony and kiss him and hold him tight.
There was great food, music, and dancing. My mother danced and seemed to have a wonderful time. Many of her friends and family were there and I was glad we could all share this time together. Fox News showed up to the reception to get a piece of the story. I wanted my grandparents to be able to see me on my wedding day even though they were in the hospital.
The next day was my mother’s 60th birthday. Many people were celebrting at her place. Her friends got together and bought her a dream come true, a Chinese crested hairless puppy. Mr. Broadway was about three months old and a little sweetheart. My mother was so surprised and happy but Mr. Broadway needed a few more shots and went home with my mother’s friends that night.
On Wednesday, Patrick and I left for our 12 day honeymoon in Hawaii. I arrived in paradise and cried. It was so beautiful and I was so tired and sad. I had been afraid to leave but was convinced to go by family. That day, my mother fell and fractured her hip but I did not know this.
Thursday, we had massages and we went food shopping as our little place had a kitchen. Friday, we hit the beach. I was amazed by all the fishes in the crystal clear water. Saturday, I got a call to come home. Once again, I fell to the floor and cried. I opened a bottle of champagne as my husband tried to get us on the next fight home. When we got to the airport, someone had to give up their seat and spend another night in paradise. Patrick and I got on the plane but couldn’t sit together and I cried silently to myself.
I got off the plane and my father was waiting. His voice was shaky as he told me that my mother had died. The last time I saw her was on the birthday when I tucked her into bed. The day she died, her friends smuggled Mr. Broadway into the hospital for a last visit. In October, Patrick and I moved out of our place in order to keep my mother’s puppy. We renamed him Squeeky, which was my mother’s motorcycle name.
I think of my mother everyday and miss her with all my heart. My wedding will always be connected to her sickness and death. I have tried to make sense of these events but have to accept them as they are. And now I really hate these bridezilla shows because they don’t have a clue. I wanted a simple wedding but you can’t always get what you want. But I did get what I needed, Patrick.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
As is fairly standard, we were promptly served house made chips and salsa. The salsa was flavorful, herbaceous, and mild. I ordered a Horchata which is a cold drink made from rice, almonds, cinnamon. It was delicious and perfect for cooling the palette after a bit of spice. I ordered a beef Tamale Mexicano and a pork pupusa, both of which are gluten free. I have never been impressed by pupusas and this one was fine but not what will bring me back. The tamale was excellent and the beef was tender and tasted like brisket. It was served with some pickled onions that were an unexpected treat. I could eat a whole bowl of them.
Patrick ordered the Plato Tipico which was a NY strip steak served with a plantain, queso fresco, avocado, corn tortillas, rice and refritos. The steak had a smoky charred crust that was delicious. Patrick had finished his steak and was eating a tortilla with queso fresco when our server came by and asked him if he could wait. She was searching for the word steak. The chef had decided that the steak he was served was too small so he was made another one. He had been perfectly happy with the food he had been served and was full, but who can turn down free steak. I happily ate most it and was utterly stuffed.
If I am hungry and only have $2, I’m going to Abi for a tamale. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On weekends they serve Sopa de Mondongo which is a soup of veggies, cow feet, and comb tripe. They also have tacos, burritos, and fajitas but I loved that tamale so much I may never try anything else. Next time you have a craving for Mexican, give this place a try. They have been in business since 1986, so they must be doing something right. Then you can pop into the thrift store next door for some buried treasure.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Unfortunately, Hill High farms did not have any apple cider doughnuts. I had a very, very sad face. So we walked around and visited the cows, goats, and chickens. Then we bought some cider and pumpkin pie fudge that tasted more like cinnamon. We did not give up the doughnut dream. We drove around the country side and stopped at a few farmstands and orchards. No one had doughnuts.
We picked our own apples at Rinker orchard. It was a beautiful fall day that was sunny with a nice breeze. We brought home our half bushel of apples and I got to wondering what to do with all those apples. Patrick likes to make applesauce which has never interested me all that much. He is a wonderful pie maker but I am trying to avoid wheat. So I started to think about apple ice cream. I found a few recipes but didn’t have cream so I made up my own.
My first attempt of the day was a failure as the apple cider curdled the milk. The second attempt was a delicious success. First I washed, peeled, and cored three apples. I put the apples in a pot on medium heat with some butter, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, and one cup of sugar. I let the apples go with occasional stirring until the apples were tender. I left them to cool then added them into a blender with two cups of milk. I blended them, chilled the mixture thoroughly, and then churned in my Kitchen Aid ice cream maker.
This ice cream came out wonderfully without cream or eggs. Patrick was in love with its bright apple flavor. I have decided to call this applesauce ice cream. I am still searching for apple cider doughnuts. I plan to visit another orchard later this month in Charlottesville that claims to have apple cider doughnuts. I will definitely call them before I make the two hour trip.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Earlier this week my husband, Patrick, had a meeting in
We had lunch at Regi’s American Bistro, http://www.regisamericanbistro.com/home.html
which has been open since 1978 but the food tasted fresh and new. I ordered the Club salad which had hard boiled egg, avocado, bacon, blue cheese, chicken, mixed greens, and a balsamic dressing. I thoroughly enjoyed my salad and found it worthy of the $13 price tag. The bacon was the most delicious bacon I think I have ever had. It was smokey, thick, and crisp without being over cooked. Patrick ordered a burger which he enjoyed and was actually served medium rare as requested.
I would love to return to Regi’s as I fell I must try their crab offerings. I am a crab cake aficionado and I see they have gotten some acclaim for their crab cake and cream of crab soup. But that will have to wait till next time as Patrick was off to his meeting and I was on my way to the museum. I dropped Patrick off and found ample parking in front of the museum. I was amazed by the parking meters because a quarter would get you an hour and these meters went up to ten hours.
The main exhibition area was closed for installation but I was able to keep myself busy looking at their permanent collection. Many of the artists suffered from health problems and experienced hard lives. They created art for themselves, not for money or fame but as a way to express themselves. I was very moved by the art and over joyed that someone has provided a home for these artworks. This museum is a must for every art lover and anyone who wants to be inspired.
We had a 6 o’clock reservation at the Woodberry Kitchen
http://www.woodberrykitchen.com/ so I picked up Patrick and we headed over to Clipper Mill. If I were to move to
Patrick ordered the Paella and I the Truck Patch Suckling Pig. I have been wanting to consume a baby pig for quite some time now and had to seize the opportunity. I found Patrick’s Paella delicious and well seasoned with tender octopus and flavorful shrimp.
My Suckling Pig fell short of my expectations. It was served in what amounted to a pool of Minestrone soup with pasta that did not do the pork justice. The pork was served as a reconstructed brick. They took the pulled pork and compressed in into a brick and added the skin back on top. The meat was delicious with a small amount of gristle but the skin was turned to leather. I love crispy fatty pork skin but this could not be cut with a knife and was not worth eating. Maybe in Minestrone soup was required to soften up the pork skin but that defeats the crispy point.
We returned home with 2 slices of pie I had picked up earlier in the day from Dangerously Delicious Pies in Federal Hill. We noticed this place during lunch due to their pie and cross bones logo. I went into the shop around 4:30 before picking up Patrick. The sales woman seemed annoyed that I wanted to purchase pie because she wanted her work day to end. She had to verbally list the pies as there was no menu present and seemed bothered by my questions. They also serve coffee but did not have any iced tea or iced coffee but she offered to pour some coffee over ice for me.
There were your basic pies such as coconut, sweet potato, peach, and you’re your specialty pies like the White Trash Tiramisu and the
Aside from the eating and visiting the museum, I felt good to be in an urban environment. That feeling is hard to come by in Northern Virginia and