Monday, December 29, 2008

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Mushrooms are starting to pop up all over wine country now, which makes it a great time to try out some new mushroom recipes, like this one. This is an easy, impressive vegetarian recipe that really showcases the luxurious assortment of mushrooms out there this season. Experiment with different types that your local market has on hand.

1 small onion, diced

2 tbsp. butter
2 lbs. Arborio rice (Italian rice)
1 onion, finely chopped
½ bottle white wine

1 lb. mixed wild mushrooms
2 tbsp. Olive oil

White truffle oil, to garnish
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place mushrooms on sheet tray and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until mushroom are very tender.

Sauté onion and butter together in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Pour in rice and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes on low hear. Add wine and turn up heat to medium. Cook rice until all the wine evaporates. Bring broth to boil. Pour half of the boiling broth into the mixture and then add the rest of the broth slowly, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until risotto thickens and all liquid is gone.

Slowly stir in cooked mushrooms into the risotto. Garnish with several drops of truffle oil and fresh parmesan on each serving. Serves about 6.

Recipe by Chef Emily Buller

Five Wines to Try in 2009

The start of the New Year always seems to be about making lists. For some it’s a list of New Year’s resolutions, for others a fresh start to the seemingly never ending “to do” list. And for people like me, it’s a list of places to see, things to do or new things to try in the coming year. This year I decided to make a list of wines that I want to try in 2009. I find that I get stuck in a rut always returning to wines made from my favorite varietals or wine growing regions. So here is my “Top Five Wines to Try in 2009” list. Try making your own list and push yourself to explore varietals you may not normally think to drink or a wine from a wine region that you’ve never had before.

Gruet Brut NV – I’m definitely not one to limit myself to only drinking bubbly on special occasions. And while I’m a fan of expensive champagne and sparkling wines, I like to find a good deal. I’ve recently heard about a sparkling wine made by the Gruet family in New Mexico (yes, that’s right, they make wine in New Mexico) that is a great value at $14.

Ravines Dry Riesling – I have to admit that I don’t know much about the Finger Lakes Wine Region so I’m kind of taking a stab in the dark with this particular vintner. But since Finger Lakes Riesling is on my list of wines to try and I’ve heard good things about Ravines, they made my list. This boutique winery is located on the eastern slopes of Keuka Lake and its name comes from the fact that vineyard is situated between two deep ravines. This dry Riesling retails for about $17.

Poesia Torrontes – Torrontes is a great value white wine from Argentina with an extremely aromatic and fresh taste. I think the varietal will become one of my favorite summer wines this year and I’m going to start by seeking out the Poesia Torrontes. I’ve heard it’s a great deal at $13 a bottle.

Lange Twins California Merlot – Lodi often gets a bad rap compared to other winemaking regions in California, but the Lange Twins know what they are doing. They’ve been farming grapes in Lodi since 1916. As an added bonus, they incorporate sustainable farming methods into their growing practices. Their Family wines retail for about $15 and I’m looking forward to seeking out their Merlot in 2009.

Boudreaux Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – I’ve spent a good deal of time drinking Washington State’s Rieslings, but I haven’t put much focus on their red wines. This wine has been getting a lot of good press lately and comes from a small, boutique winery located in Washington’s Cascade Mountains. The fruit comes from some of the most coveted vineyards in the state including Champoux, Klipsun, Sevin Hills and Bacchus. It’s predominately Cabernet Sauvignon (about 90%) but winemaker Rob Newsom blends in a little bit of everything else – Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Syrah and Sangiovese. Retails for $50-60.

Written by Linzi

Raise Your Glass

We all know that it’s common etiquette to tip our glasses to each other and toast before taking that first sip. In fact, every country in the world has some type of drinking toast. The origin of clinking glasses to toast is said to come from medieval times when it was a sign from the host that the drink was good and not spoiled. In the United States, we say cheers. But there are many variations on this throughout the world. Here are a few of our favorites.

Prost = Germany
Chin = France
Kanpai = Japan
Kippis = Finland
Salute or Cin Cin = Italy
Salud = Spain or Mexico
Za Vas = Russia
Gia Mas = Greece
Saude = Portugal
Sawasdi = Thailand
Na Zdravi = Czechoslovakia
Kong Chien = Chinese
Kia-Ora = New Zealand

So raise your glass this New Year’s and toast to 2009…

Written by Linzi

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yule Log Cake

The Yule log is said to have its origins in Germanic paganism practiced during the early mediaeval period, in which the burning of the Yule log would welcome in the winter solstice. Enjoy your own slice of history this Christmas season with our delicious version of the rolled Yule log.

5 eggs, separated

1/3 cup sugar

3 ½ oz. dark chocolate, melted and cooled

2 tbsp. flour

2 1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder

½ tbsp. cinnamon

Chocolate shavings

White Chocolate Filling

2 oz white chocolate

2/3 cup double cream

Chocolate Icing

6 ½ oz dark chocolate, melted

2 oz butter, melted

Beat sugar and egg yolks with a fork until thick, then stir in chocolate, flour and cocoa powder. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form and fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Pour batter into a greased swill roll tin and bake for 15 minutes or until firm. Place cake on a towel sprinkled with sugar and roll up from the short end. Set aside to cool. To make filling, place white chocolate in bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook on medium, stirring constantly until smooth, then stir in cream. Cover and chill until thick and spreadable. Unroll cake and spread with filling, then roll up cake. To make icing, combine chocolate and butter and mix well. Spread icing over roll and decorate with chocolate shavings and dust with powdered sugar “snow” just before serving. Serves 8.

Recipe by Karen and Emily

Festive Holiday Drinks

We all love a great glass of wine to accompany our holiday meal, but there are many other ways to toast the holiday season. From sparkling wine cocktails to a steaming cup of hot cocoa, we’re sharing our favorite festive drinks of the season.

Pomegranate Sparkling Wine Cocktail – this is a favorite at our house around the holidays. Not only does it taste like the perfect holiday drink, it looks like it to. Peel the fruit from a fresh pomegranate and place 4-5 seeds into a sparkling wine glass. Fill the glass with 2-3 oz of PAMA liqueur and 1-2 oz. of sparkling wine. Gently stir to mix and serve.

Holiday Sangria – no one says that Sangria has to be reserved for summertime. Make it special by using a nice Chianti and Port mixed with high quality brandy or cognac. Festive ingredients like pomegranate juice, mandarin oranges, cranberries and pears add a winter touch.

Kahlua Eggnog – we love this take on eggnog. Combine 1 oz Kahlua liqueur with 4 oz Eggnog. Sprinkle with your favorite holiday spices like nutmeg or cinnamon.

Steaming Hot Chocolate – there’s nothing wrong with making hot chocolate from a mix, but we prefer the not-so-sweet and homemade taste of this easy recipe. Combine 1 ½ teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 ½ teaspoons sugar, 1 cup whole milk and a pinch of salt. It’s optional to add just a pinch of cinnamon. Serve in mugs with a dollop of homemade whip cream on top.

Written by Linzi

Yountville's Newest Hot Spot

After the long-awaited opening of Bottega Napa Valley in Yountville, the Italian-inspired restaurant is now in full swing and attracting quite a bit of attention. Former chef of Tra Vigne, Napa Style founder and Food Network star Michael Chiarello’s newest restaurant creation reveals a flavorful combination which almost met our expectations.

The atmosphere of Bottega is open and appealing and fitting of the owner’s style, combining rustic wine country flair with an urban-sexy edge. Aged brick walls and timber beams contrast with modern lighting and an open-air minimalism. The resulting feel was open and lively, but lacking in intimacy and warmth as a result of the expansive dining room.

We arrived at our 4-top table on Saturday night at our reserved time of 8:30 pm and we were promptly seated in the 90-seat packed restaurant. The Italian-inspired Napa cuisine’s menu offered us seasonal creations with the Chiarello flair that brought Tra Vigne to fame. Signature dishes include house made veal tortellini in brodo di carne, seared scallops with chickpea passatine, and wood-oven roasted whole fish with Meyer lemon.

I opted to try two pasta dishes, the ricotta gnocchi ($14) which was delightfully light and flavorful, and the veal tortelli in browned butter with butternut squash and sage ($15). Although each dish was tasty with fresh and vivid flavors, the portion size was very small and should not represent a main course pasta dish. The rest of our party chose the goats milk braised lamb shank ($24) which was well received, and the garlic roasted Dungeness crab ($28) was reportedly tasty but slightly overcooked.

I finished the evening with a dessert of torta di riso, a rice tart with Meyer lemon ($8) which was sweet and appealing, but finished with too little compote and mascarpone, resulting in a dry finish.

One highlight of the evening was a personal visit from Chiarello himself who was outgoing and

lightened up the dining room with visits to most diners that evening. Overall, the experience was a good one and I think with a little bit of time Bottega will become another hot spot in the Napa Valley…as long as they increase the portion sizes on the pasta dishes a bit!

For more information, visit, or call 707.945.1050.

Written by Karen