a sediment-al night.

Monday night, we had a dear friend over for dinner to drink a special bottle of wine that he gave us for our wedding!  A 2000 Domaine Cros Minervois Vieilles Vignes.  Most wines people buy these days are made to drink right now.  This wine is unique (for modern wine-drinking), because even at 11 years old, it was still hitting its peak!  All wines were once made this way… built to grow better with time.  Very cool.

The 2000 Domaine Cros Minervois Vieilles Vignes

I didn’t do the best job of pairing the meal with the wine (steak probably would have been a better fit), but the cheese I selected for a pre-dinner appetizer matched beautifully.  I highly recommend this French Morbier cheese, bought at Trader Joe’s!  It was stinky, pungent, and it brought out lovely dark berry flavors from the wine.  The vegetable streak through the middle of the Morbier is crazy!  (Crazy good.)

The French Morbier Cheese

Even though the meal might not have been the best choice for the wine, it sure was delicious!  I served prosciutto-wrapped grilled chicken stuffed with goat cheese & herbs, along with sautéed squash, steamed broccoli, and French bread.  The chicken was as easy to make as it is to write out!  I took chicken breast fillets, made a slit with a sharp knife, then stuffed in goat cheese (this particular cheese came already mixed with fresh herbs… you could also mix in your own!).  I tried to seal up the opening as best possible, then cooked the fillets in our George Foreman counter grill for about 5 minutes.  After that, I took the chicken out and carefully wrapped each fillet in prosciutto.  I cooked the chicken for about 2 more minutes, and the result was delicious!  It was like the prosciutto had been welded on — yum!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken, Stuffed with Goat Cheese & Herbs

It was a sediment-al night, because I have never seen such crazy sediment from a wine!  Truly an Old World style wine.  :)

Sediment!

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steak & potatoes {spanish style}

I studied abroad in Spain four years ago, and fell in love with the country!  Early on in our relationship, Chris and I went on a date to Jaleo, “the renowned tapas restaurant of José Andrés.”  Oh my goodness.  One sip of the sangria, and I was transported back to Spain!  The tapas were amazing, and I have since fallen in love with the food at every restaurant of his.  Chris and I actually had our rehearsal dinner at the Jaleo in Crystal City, and it was SO delicious and fun!

Anyway, I could go on and on about Chef José Andrés, and I’m sure I will write more entries on his food.  We had some friends over for dinner on Saturday night, and I decided to make it Spanish-themed and use recipes by José!  His Made in Spain cookbook was the inspiration.  I made red wine sangria, beef tenderloin with picón cheese, sauteed green asparagus (white asparagus probably would have been more authentic!), and mashed potatoes with manchego and olive oil (that recipe can be found here).

Steak w/Blue Cheese Sauce & Asparagus

Here you can see most of the entire meal… I’m not sure why I put the mashed potatoes in a bowl when everything else was already on the plate!

Steak w/Blue Cheese Sauce, Asparagus, Mashed Potatoes w/Cabra Cheese, & Sangria!

There were a few adjustments.  I used ribeye steaks (cheaper) and Moody Blue Smoked Blue Cheese (from Screwtop!) for the sauce.  I also used Cabra cheese for the mashed potatoes (also from Screwtop) instead of Manchego.

Sangria!

What a fun night of Spanish-style food with our friends!  By the way, check out this new temporary restaurant of his that is opening up soon.  It’s going along with the National Archives’ exhibit, What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?  I can’t wait!

my favorite local wine bar.

Oh, how I love Screwtop.  I will need to force myself not to blog about this place constantly!  I go there monthly with a group of three girlfriends and outside of that, I try to go whenever else I can!  When I’m with these girls, we always order two bottles, eat lots of delicious appetizers, and just have the best time discussing life, love, and God.  It might be the best informal bible study ever.

Last night, the Wino Wednesday deal was $10 off Austrian wines, so we started with a Hillinger Pinot Noir.  YUM.  You can also find Hillinger wines at The Wine Cabinet in Reston.  We ordered a cheese platter with a swiss cheese, a peppery pecorino, and an “oh-so-lucious” creamy cheese, which came with honey!  I should have written down the exact names of these cheeses… I realize this list is somewhat vague!  (By the way, Gwyneth wrote a very informative newsletter on cheese this week.)

Hillinger Pinot Noir & Cheese Platter, taken with my iPhone

After that, we split the grilled cheese sliders, which are two heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches made with a blend of cheeses and served with some marinara sauce on the side for dipping.  GENIUS.  We also split a Burrata Caprese sandwich.  The highlight of this sandwich was the special Italian Burrata Fresh Mozzarella cheese!

What I REALLY wanted to share with you all was the second wine we ordered.  Next time it needs to be the first wine, and the focus of the meal!  We told the waiter we wanted a red wine that was full-bodied and interesting, and he said, “I have something I know you’ll love.”  After he walked away, we turned to each other and realized he was probably going to bring us something incredibly expensive that we would love!  Uh-oh.  Sure enough, the bottle was $50, so before we tasted, we told each other to STAY STRONG and just enjoy the taste!  It was actually the smell that made us cave (and then of course the taste was incredible too!).  Such a powerful smell of dark berries and spice.  Here it is, the Small Gully Mr. Black’s Concotion, a 2006 GSM (49% Grenache, 34% Shiraz, and 17% Mourvedre) from the Barossa Valley in Austrailia.  I will not forget you!

Small Gully Mr. Black's Concoction, a 2006 GSM from the Barossa Valley in Australia (photo credit: G. Heidel)


i just can’t get enough goat cheese & pesto!

Some foods are just made for each other:  Peanut butter and jelly.  Chips and salsa.  Goat cheese and pesto!  This heavenly combo won me over in pizza form on Saturday night.  This morning, the memory was lingering so strongly that I decided my usual bagel with cream cheese just wouldn’t do.  (Sometimes when I find a food combo I love, I become a serial eater.)

First, the pizzas.  I had been intrigued by a recipe in Food & Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch Italian Cookbook (can also be found here).  We made some adaptations though.  Chris and I don’t like eggplant, so we used portabella mushrooms instead.  We also added some chopped onions and pizza sauce, because I don’t know about you, but when I’m really in the mood for pizza, a sauce-less one just will not make the cut.  Finally, whenever we’ve been making pizzas lately, we use garlic-and-herb pizza dough from Trader Joe’s.  It adds a lot of party to a pizza.

We are unfortunately between pizza stones right now, so we used a quiche dish (actually turns out beautiful results!) and a 9 x 9 pan.

Pizzas in the Oven

By the way, Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest newsletter was on homemade pizza.  I think the main things I took from it were: 1) Don’t use too much sauce, and 2) I really want a wood-burning oven someday.

Trader Joe’s was our source for wine again.  A Lazy Bones 2009 Cabernet Franc from Paso Robles (very cheap, as usual).  Chris has been loving Cabernet Francs lately.  Though this one was from CA, it is a very popular grape in VA wines.  He read to me from The Wine Bible that Cabernet Francs usually have pepper and violet aromas.  I’ve never noticed the violet aspect, but the pepper definitely always stands out to me.

Goat Cheese, Portabella, & Pesto Pizza with Cabernet Franc

Finally, my Memorial Day brunch meal.  It felt like such an elegant way to start a day-off.  Basically, I toasted a plain bagel very lightly.  Then I brushed it with olive oil, adding freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.  Then came globs of goat cheese, drizzles of pesto, and some chopped sweet red peppers.  I popped it all back in the toaster oven for a few more minutes, and the meal turned out AMAZING.

Goat Cheese, Pesto, & Red Pepper Bagel

Also, I highly recommend making your own pesto.  It is SO easy, and SO worth it!  I always use a recipe out of a vegetarian cookbook I have, but it is similar to this.  You can refrigerate the pesto for up to a week, and freeze it for even longer!

top 100 restaurants: kinkead’s

Chris and I are trying to go to all of the Washingtonian’s Top 100 Restaurants. It’s a slow goal, but we are making progress! Last night, we tried out Kinkead’s, a seafood restaurant near the Foggy Bottom metro. We used Village Vines (they emailed us a free $10 credit) to get 30% off our final bill… always a good option for the more pricey restaurants.

It was a funny environment. Loved the live piano-playing! Kinkead’s seems to be the place where the rich, elderly people of DC go. Chris and I enjoyed people-watching, and gathered a lot of info by eavesdropping on nearby conversations! There was a family a few tables away, representing a few generations, where one older man seemed to know the waiter very well. To the right of our table, an elderly couple barely spoke as they ate, but laughed loudly at a joke the waiter told about how people are always on their cellphones these days. To the left, a couple (probably in their 30s) dined with their parents; it was apparently the first time both sets of parents were meeting each other. We were hoping for a proposal! Maybe it happened after we left.

This is Kinkead's logo - on everything at the restaurant!

Anyway, Chris ordered the Alaskan Halibut with Crab Imperial, Scallion Spoon Bread, Sweet Potato Puree, and Mustard Cream Sauce. I can’t find the exact name of what I ordered, but it was Red Snapper with Asparagus, and some sort of asparagus cream sauce (which I MUST learn how to make!). The portions were perfect, and the meals were divine!

The Alaskan Halibut - Chris' meal.

The Red Snapper - my meal.

For wine, we each ordered a different glass. Chris got a yummy red blend, and I chose a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. I need to branch out more into white wines… I truly loved this one! Dryer, and oh so full of citrus flavors!

We really enjoyed our time at Kinkead’s, but I’m not sure if we’ll rush to go back (maybe if we’re living around here and rich when we’re in our 70’s!). The meals were delicious though, and we felt very refined as we ate.