But tonight I'm feeling drunk in my nose. And my lips.

Wine club was fun. Sherries. Fortified wine = very raccous group. Especially since Tim's food pairings were so darn good, we all ended up drinking too much. Almonds, pistachios, Garroxta, kick-ass tapenade, olives. Yum. And excellent sherry pairings, all.

Must drink more water so I don't end up with a Meniere's attack tomorrow.
Guess I should be glad that we had 12 people at wine club tonight. Cause even with only having a 12th of a bottle or less from four bottles, I'm really feeling it. Odd. I'm downright goofy.

Fun tasting, though. The wines were all fine, but not awe inspiring. The pecorino, though - that was amazing.
I got behind on writing up my wine club notes, so this is a double up.
Read more... )
Wine club tasted Sauvignon Blanc tonight. Acid hound that I am, SB is one of my favorite varietals, so this was a happy making thing for me. Best moment had to be revealing to E that the wine he'd rated with a perfect 5.0, the wine he'd been raving about, was the same wine that just a few months ago he claimed to hate.

Blind tasting is fun. Wine quality is subjective.

We had three different goat cheeses with our wine, and asparagus marinated in grapefruit tarragon vinaigrette. Yum, says I.

Oh, and the warm green bean, pancetta, tomato, and parmesan salad I made at dinner was a big hit. As I thought, can't go wrong with half a pound of pancetta! I promised T I'd type up the recipe for her, so I'll post it here when I do.
Wine club was last week, but I'm late getting these up. Southern France was a big hit - this is one of our highest scoring nights - I think only our sparkling wine tasting was higher. Which is kind of funny, because the descriptors we use in the notes probably don't sound tasty to most of you! Leather, earth, burnt rubber, anyone?

For the wine geeks )
For [livejournal.com profile] ann_totusek and anyone else who's interested.
Recipes from the dinner )
The blow out Great Oak Wine Club Anniversary dinner is all done. People were as pleased as I'd hoped. Everything turned out great. There were a few things I'd tweak here and there, but it was great. All the wine pairings were good, some especially so. Everybody pitched in - some people before for prep, and some people during for plating and cleaning, and people after for cleaning. Many hands make light work and it didn't take a long to clean up after we were done - we were able to take advantage of gaps between courses to run things through the dishwasher. The menu was such that almost everything could be cooked in advance, with only a little bit of a la minute required - but that meant we were able to keep 5 or 6 people busy for going on 3 hours getting ready before dinner. Plus the time Katie and I spent last night and this morning. We had 16 people attending.

The final menu, with wines, and some pictures:
Rosemary Parmesan Coins
NV Collabrigo Prosecco Spumante Brut
Really great hors d'ouevres. Easy and very tasty. Sort of like a savory cookie. We had these and the sparkling wine out for people to have as they were arriving and before they sat down.
Read more... )
Mixed Greens with Zingerman’s Creamery Goat Cheese, Roasted Red and Gold Beets, and Toasted Walnuts
2004 Jardin Sauvignon Blanc, Stellensboch, South Africa
The goat cheese was more aged than I remembered. Elph, who works at Zingerman's did the actual buying, so I wasn't there to assess. I might have used something else. But it was a very good salad. The planned sherry vinaigrette fell victim to my not actually having the bottle of sherry vinager that I was sure I had, so we used a balsalmic vinaigrette instead, which was fine.
Read more... )
Farfalle with Smoked Salmon and Creamy Vodka Sauce
2004 Domaine Cordier Père& Fils “Terroir de Charnay” Macon
The only "eh" course, I thought. Needed more salt, but someone else was in charge of this course and I didn't taste it until I'd sat down. It probably would have been better when it was warm. And it suffered some, I think from all the things we needed to do to deal with the vegetarians and gluten free eaters. Boring plate - I had planned on making a chive oil to drizzle on the plate to jazz things up a bit, but didn't have time.
Read more... )
Blood Orange - Rosemary Sorbet
Presentation leaves a bit to be desired (I was busy with the next course, and the person doing the plating wasn't very concerned about looks), but it was very good. The blood oranges were totally anemic though. The duck course that followed was the course that required the most last minute preparation, so I added the sorbet to fill in the long gap.
Read more... )
Seared Duck Breast with Dried Cherry Sauce, Lentils and Swiss Chard
Lentils, Butternut Squash and Shiitake Mushrooms with Dried Cherry Sauce
2004 Domain Robert Chevillon Bourgogne Passetoutgrain
I'd written down a great to-do list, but the one thing I'd forgotten to write down was "score skin on duck breasts" so I forgot. Luckily, I'd put them into cold pans, so I realized it right away and was able to pull them out. Then none of the knives I had handy were sharp enough to cut the skin... ugh. This was definitely the most hectic course. Sear the duck, rest the duck, carve the duck, saute the chard, heat up the sauce, get everything plated. The vegetarian offering was totally different too, so that was a whole other set of things to do at the same time (although I delegated that to someone else). I only have a picture of the veggie option, since my camera was being obstinate. Jillian was also taking pictures, so I hope to get one from her of the duck.
Read more... )
Five Spice Braised Short Ribs (or Portabellas), Parsnip-Turnip Puree, Snow Peas
2000 J.L. Chave “Offerus” Saint-Joseph
I braised the short ribs this morning, and strained and reduced the braising liquid into an intense sauce this afternoon. The portion size was waaay to big on this one - I was expecting the short ribs to cook down more, and these ones didn't. Everything got eaten, but people were definitely feeling full, so I sent them all out for a walk while we prepped the cheese course.
Read more... )
Tasting of blue cheeses
NV Alvear Carlos VII Amontillado
The cheeses were Cashel Blue from Ireland, Stilton from England, Roquefort from France, and Gorgonzola from Italy. We served a variety of sides along with - some pears, some port glazed walnuts, a hearty nut and seed bread, and a little dollop of port reduction. The port glazed walnuts are amazing! And they played especially well with the excellent wine.
Read more... )
Lemon Sabayon Tart with Pine Nut Crust and Honeyed Mascarpone Cream
2002 Peller Estates Riesling Icewine
A yummy and easy recipe from the French Laundry Cookbook. And a *great* wine pairing.
Read more... )
Gianduja Gelato Filled Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce
Warres Otima 10 year Tawny Porto
Wow, this was the ever evolving course. We'd originally planned dark chocolate filled profiteroles, caramel sauce and Banyuls as the wine. But I couldn't get any Banyuls. So at the last minute I changed the gelato to Gianduja, as I thought I'd serve a Vin Santo instead. But then I couldn't get that! So we ended up with a tawny port. The caramel sauce didn't turn out - I think the recipe was messed up. So Katie brought over a jar of Sanders bittersweet chocolate sauce and we used that instead. And in the end, I think it turned out for the best - it was a really nice match for the wine.
Read more... )
Lessons learned - I was overambitious and took too much on myself instead of delegating. I basically planned and executed the whole meal. I had plenty of people assisting, but I was definitely in charge. Yeah, I'm a control freak, why do you ask? In the moment that was fine, but there were definitely a couple times this week where I was dreading the dinner or in "can't wait until it's over" mode instead of looking forward to it.

Too much food. Primarily the short rib course - one bone each would have been plenty, instead of the two we had. Which would have saved a bunch of money, actually.

Speaking of money... When we were planning the dinner, I told people it would be $20. But as things evolved, the price kept rising, and it ended up at about$25/person. Not a huge deal, but it stressed me out because I know that some of our people are really price-sensitive. The price wasn't at all unreasonable - wouldn't you pay $25 for that meal? And in any case, no one had any issues with the increased cost (at least none that they mentioned.)

I know there are people who want recipes, etc, but those will have to wait for another day. Liam will be up in 7 hours, and I'm on morning duty.
Saturday is my wine club anniversary dinner. Should be fun, although right now I'm finding it unreasonably stressful. I'm taking it all too seriously, I think, and need to loosen up.

Did some advance prep tonight:

  • Dough for rosemary-parmesan coins (which needed to chill for at least 4 hours)

  • Made the port glazed walnuts to serve with the cheese course (and a port syrup that goes with)

  • Made the rosemary-blood orange sorbet palate cleanser (My blood oranges were anemic and it ended up barely grapefruit juice colored, though. I resisted adding a couple drops of red food coloring. Tastes good, though - should be a nice intermezzo.)

  • Made a dry rub and coated the short ribs. (I love living in cohousing - upon discovering that I didn't have as much five-spice powder as I thought, I wandered over to the common house. There I found only old sad five spice powder, but the well stocked spice cabinet had all the whole spices I needed to make my own! Much better.)

Katie, my pastry chef, was working on the tart crust and profiteroles tonight, and maybe the caramel sauce too. Tomorrow morning I'll cook the short ribs, and make one more shopping trip to pick up salmon and (hopefully) morels for the vegetarian pasta. Tomorrow afternoon will be lots of chopping and prepping, as well as cooking up a number of things in advance that will just be reheated for plating. Whee! Must remember to take pictures.

But now, I need to stop my little LJ break and go clean the kitchen before I go to bed.
My wine club is celebrating its first anniversary by having a fancy dinner next Saturday. I've spent most of the past month plotting and planning. Here's the current menu, which will probably change a little bit before Saturday.

Hors D'ouvres: Rosemary Parmesan Coins (Prosecco)

Beet/Goat Cheese/Walnut Salad (Sauvignon Blanc)

Farfalle with Smoked Salmon and Creamy Vodka Sauce (White Burgundy)

Blood orange - rosemary sorbet

Seared Duck Breast with Dried Cherry Sauce, Lentils and Swiss Chard (Burgundy)

Five Spice Braised Short Ribs, Parsnip-Turnip Puree, Snow Peas (wine still TBD)

Tasting of blue cheese (Carlos VII Amontillado)

Lemon Sabayon Tart with Pine Nut Crust (Ice Wine)

Profiteroles filled with chocolate gelato (Banyuls, if I can get it)

We have one vegetarian attending, which is making things a little tricky. Luckily, the pasta and short rib courses lend themselves easily to substitutions (morels, if I can get them, for the pasta, and similiarly spiced portabellos for the short ribs). The duck course is a tricky one, since the dried cherry sauce will have duck demi-glace and the lentils will be cooked in stock as well. I have a plot for a stacked production of lentils, butternut squash with dried cherries, and sauteed shiitake mushrooms on top that shouldn't be too much extra work.
Had another fun wine club gathering on Monday night. We were all a little low key that night for whatever reason. I think because all the wines we had were kind of middling - no strong passions on either side to liven up the conversation. But things picked up, and a bunch of people stayed quite late, finishing off the bottles from the club AND the half full bottle of Zin I had leftover from a previous night. Then things started getting really raucous!

Probably nobody but me cares about the notes )
Wine Club met on Monday night to taste Chiantis. Interesting set of results - every wine had someone who rated it their WOTN. The ranges are our widest yet, I think. For most wines there was also somebody who really didn't like it. But in general I think people found it an eye opening experience about a wine they might previously have dismissed.
Read more... )

Wine Club

Dec. 6th, 2005 10:15 am
At last night's Great Oak wine club gathering we tasted sparkling wines. We tasted one genuine Champagne, a Loire Valley sparkler, a Cava (sparkling wine from Spain), and a New Mexico wine, of all places.
Wines and notes behind the cut )
In terms of overall evaluation, the real Champagne just narrowly edged out the Gruet from New Mexico, but since the Gruet is half the price ($15 vs $30), I'd say it was our find for the evening. And the Cava had great QPR. $30 Champagne aside, this crowd tends not to like French wines, as the Loire Valley sparkler scored lowest - one other person and I really liked it, but most people didn't.

Most people didn't find that the foods we had enhanced the taste of the wines any, but instead, that the wines made the food taste even better. We had a two year old aged gouda (Remeker), some Marcona almonds from Spain, and potato chips (which actually go *great* with champagne - who knew?). They weren't just any potato chips, but my favorite brand of thick cut kettle chips with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Fun, fun, fun. Tonight my wine club met to taste Australian Shiraz. 4 different wines, ranging from an $8 supermarket wine to an $18 selection. We tasted them on their own, then again with food - hunks of parmesan cheese, thin slices of roasted pork loin with chili-mustard rub, and black olive tapenade.
Tasting Notes )
Since all of these wines were in the 13-14% range, I got considerably more goofy by the end of the tasting than I did last time, when we were drinking low alcohol German Rieslings! Which is a bit of a problem, because I'm coming down with a cold or having an allergy attack, and would really like to take a Benedryl for my runny nose. But I'd have a hard time waking up for the baby if I did that...

Wine Club

Aug. 1st, 2005 10:15 pm
Great Oak wine club gathering tonight. Theme was Rosé. Here's the rundown on the wines, and their average score on our 5 point scale (1 is really bad, 5 is really good).

2003 Condesa de Leganza Tempranillo Rose $7.99
Better early when colder. Best value for the money 2.9

2003 Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d'Aix en Provence $9.99
Not very popular, but I liked it. Thin, light, gamay grape characterstics (bubblegum and banana nose) 2.4

2005 Crios Rose of Malbec Mendoza $12.99
Wine of the night. Big, complex. Stood up well to warmer temps. 3.7

2003 Chateau du Breuil Cabernet d'Anjou $10.80
Yuck. Cloying, overripe, too sweet - but the people who really liked sweet didn't mind. 1.6

Served a couple of cheeses with them, based on recommendations from the cheesemonger at Zingerman's. Chevrot, one of my favorite goat cheeses, plus this really, really nice sheep's milk cheese that I need to get the name of. We also had some Piave and the blue cheese left from the brunch. The Piave was fine with the wine, but the blue was a good example fo things that just don't go - it's a beautiful cheese, but it didn't do the wine any favors. I also got some strawberries and raspberries - since people often use these two descriptors to describe rosés, I thought it would be good to have their smells and tastes to use as benchmarks. Plus it made for pretty plates.

Next month, Germans. I've got four 2002 Kabinetts from the four main winemaking regions in Germany. Plus a 1998 Auslese that the store had on clearance - we'll do that one at the end as a special treat.

Wine club continues to be a lot of fun and get raves from the participants. Unfortunately, Liam's current bedtime is not syncing up very well, and we had a rough time getting him down tonight, with Eric having to miss much of the gathering.
In the continuing saga of Tammy's appliances, yesterday morning my dishwasher started smoking. It's a Bosch, which means it has no heating elements in the body of the dishwasher, so it wasn't as simple as something falling down against the heating element. Luckily, they were able to send a repairman out first thing this morning, and it's all fixed now. It was just a bad connection made when it was installed, but it takes time for it to build up enough to cause a problem. $95 later and I can finally wash the nasty brie covered plates from my wine tasting on Monday.

Speaking of the wine tasting, it was very much fun. This was the third gathering of the GO wine club, and everyone seems to be having a really wonderful time. After some of us were surprised by how much we liked the California Cab from our last tasting, we decided to delve a little deeper into Cabernet Sauvignon this time around. Details behind the cut )
After two months of red wines, next time we're planning to do whites. Either Germans or sparkling wines, depending which I can find a set of that look intriguing.
Tonight was the second gathering of the Great Oak wine club I started. I finished all of my glasses, which was definitely a little too much wine - I'm feeling kinda squiffy. Especially not surprising given that I got so little sleep last night, what with the teething. Tonight will probably be another night like that, which I'm totally dreading.

10 people for tonight's meeting. Tonight we did red varietals - Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The Merlot and the Cab were definitely the favorites, even for me. They were also slightly more expensive than the others - $12.99 vs $8.99 and $9.99, so one wonders if that might have made a diff. And of course, we were tasting these just with bread - the syrah and pinot would have shown better with food.

Details on the wines, in case anyone cares:
2002 J Lohr Paso Robles Merlot
2003 Crosspoint Montery County Pinot Noir
2001 Pierano Estate Vineyards Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon
2002 Domaine des Blagueurs Syrah-Sirrah

General consensus is to do a varietal next time - probably Cabernet Sauvignon, since it was well liked this time and is so popular and grown in so many places. Up until now I've been trying to keep the prices in the same ballpark, but next time I'll mix it up a little - definitely the Two-Buck Chuck Cab, plus a decent Bordeaux, then maybe a couple of Californians.

Well, I should get to bed while I'm still riding this tipsy feeling. Drinking wine before bed actually makes me sleep worse in the long run, but right now I think it would help put me out. Well, that and the fact that I only got about 4 hours last night, with my longest stretch being two hours.
After having a fun conversation about wine at a common meal a couple weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to start a Great Oak Wine Club. Tonight was our first gathering. We have a mix of people with a lot of experience and not much experience at all. I'm taking the lead and facilitating the first couple of gatherings, and after that we'll see where the group wants to go - we had lots of ideas being thrown around tonight.

For tonight's theme I focused on white varietals. I bought four bottles of wine, aiming for wines that were characteristic examples of their grape. We had the Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Reisling (very German in style, and more in my price point than the Germans the store had), a Bogle Chardonnay as an example of the classic overoaked, buttery California style, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and a Pinot Grigio, because I wanted a fourth wine and thought it was more well known than, say, Gewurztraminer.

We had 12 people in total, including Eric and I. There are another 3 or so people who are interested, but weren't able to make tonight's gathering - if we get everyone, we're going to max out the tasting capacity of a single bottle. Everyone seemed to have a really good time! We tasted all of the wines blind, so people could try to guess which was which. I read out descriptions of the various varieties for people who are new to wine. It's harder that it sounds - I don't think anybody got them all right. I nailed the Sauvignon Blanc and the Reisling, which are two of my favorite varieties, but mixed up the Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay - not surprising as they were the two I had the least experience with. Most everyone brought their own glasses, and I put out all 14 of mine to get everyone to four glasses each. One of the things people really liked was the opportunity to go back and forth and taste the different wines as they compared directly to each other, and to go back as they aged a little over the hour long tasting. We used masking tape to label the glasses and the wines by number until we revealed what was what at the end.

Next month we'll do red varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz/Syrah and/or Zinfandel - 4 was a nice number). And after that - well, the possibilities are endless. We talked about doing a closer look at one varietal and how it differs around the world, getting someone's guest wine geek from South Africa to come and show us some South African wines, trying out different wines with different foods to see what works and what doesn't...

I'm not so much with attending committee meetings or doing some of the more formal types of community work that living here involves. But doing things like this (and the game night we host, and cooking common meal) helps me feel like I do my part by contributing to the social network that's also important for community living.

I'm up waaaay past my bedtime. Off to join Liam in slumberland.
Bored at work. Going to hopefully finish cleaning my office this afternoon, but I'm not quite ready to start that yet. Gawd I need a new job.

So Friday was a Great Oak potluck, and I planned to make a frittata from the latest Cook's Illustrated. But Eric wasn't feeling quite himself yet, and didn't want to be tempted to eat too much at the potluck, so he didn't want to go. Instead, we went to my favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor, Jefferson Market. I initially ordered the salmon, but changed my mind and got the pork chop, which I was much happier about. As usual, Eric got a burger. He always complains that there's nothing on the JM menu that he likes. But we got to talking about the menu and it turned out there were all sorts of things on it that he would have liked, he was just thrown off by various unfamiliar culinary terms. So in the future, I'll be sure to go over the options with him, pointing out things that he'd like. This was our first time using the little portable booster seat we bought for Liam, and it worked really well.

Saturday morning Eric went off to a fish auction to sell some fish and thereby empty a couple of the tanks in the basement, in order to reduce the tank maintenance some. Liam and I went to a Lutheran church rummage sale, but arrived too late and all the good stuff was gone. We were there by 10, but they'd opened at 9, and I saw several good items with "sold" stickers on them. Saturday afternoon we went to "Dancing Babies," an African drum group presentation for babies at a branch of the public library. This wasn't as good as we'd hoped. Liam was pretty tired when we got there and unusually shy and low key and a little disturbed by all the people (it was very crowded). But by the end he was chewing on his jingle bells and shaker and occasionally wiggling to the beat. Our friends Holly and Brian and Maya were there as well and we hung out after, treating Liam to his first al fresco dinner at Jeruselum Garden. He liked the falafel a lot.

Sunday was a quiet day at home, mostly, as our plans to go to a record and CD show were thwarted by nap time conflicts. Got a step further in the ongoing organization of spaces project by cleaning out and organizing the pantry and lazy susan, which mostly involved throwing away a scandalous quantity of aging food. Then common dinner, where [livejournal.com profile] shadowriderhope made yummy mushroom/tomato/basil sandwiches and served exotic cheeses for dessert. It seemed like a wine meal, so I brought over a random bottle of Shiraz from my basement (I tend to net wines at parties, as more people bring wine than drink it) and shared it with a few neighbors. Which led to talking about wine a little bit with those neighbors and the inspiration that I should start a community wine tasting club. I sent out an email about it today and have 5 or 6 people who are interested, so that should be fun!

Oh - one last nifty thing about the weekend - one of my breastfeeding neighbors is having problems with low supply and is having to supplement with formula. She's trying all the various things and it's just not working. So I offered to donate some breastmilk for the baby to drink. I couldn't have done this before because I was struggling so much to get enough for Liam, but now that he's cutting back so much on bottles, I'm pumping more than he needs. I'm sorry that she's having problems and we went over the whole laundry list of fixes again (she's really trying them all - next up is ordering Domperidone from the 'net), but in the meantime I'm really happy that I can help.



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