when you spell restaurant right on the first try
Cheers: To Cents Well Spent!
A man in a white lab coat has his head bent over his worktable (our kitchen countertop) breaking in our new top of the line Japanese knives while using fancy techniques to slice up casual starters for our guests. The thought of having a stranger in our kitchen is new to me and just as the thought crosses my mind that it must be more awkward for him, he stops what he’s doing and notices the can of evaporated milk on the counter. His eyes light up and instantly he has a story to share about his mother growing up with a quirky trademark involving this same milk in her coffee. Officially, my mother is not the only individual to have this same characteristic. At that moment, I knew Thanksgiving 2013 with Wolfgang Puck Catering was a perfect match!
Whether Thanksgiving means traveling somewhere to be with friends and family or sitting at home relaxing with a can of SpaghettiO’s, it should be a day where you reflect on the things in your life that are most important. Being that both our mothers have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the last 35 years, paying a chef to take over their title was a difficult thing to grasp. I mean, what would Thanksgiving be without our mothers slaving away in the kitchen? Thank you to Wolfgang Puck Catering and chef Sean Meyers we found out! This year welcomed us to an entirely new level of appreciation. All the normal physical and mental energy used up in the kitchen was instead dispersed amongst our best company. That also meant, no burnt skillets or timers set. The only time that mattered was the time we spent laughing lightheartedly over a rotating assortment of Bacon Wrapped Dates, Seared Beef Tataki, Sweet Maryland Crab Cakes, and Truffled Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Turnover beginning at 3 o’clock.
For this week’s #Foodiechats #PerfectPairings we chose Barnett Vineyard’s 2011 Pinot Noir and 2012 Chardonnay from Savoy Vineyard in Napa Valley. One of the most important things to consider when pairing wine with food is to look for the most prominent element in your dish. You pick out the dominant ingredient, which is usually the sauce or seasoning rather than the main ingredient like chicken or beef. With an abundance of honeyed, maple cured and savory flavors in the Slow-Roasted Turkey and Herb Pork Tenderloin, the very round and balanced wines settled into our pallets perfectly. The way the Pinot Noir’s spicy, cinnamon notes bounced off the Jewel and Garnet Yams was a personal favorite amongst our guests! Simply put, these wines were chosen because they stole our hearts and luggage space away on our first visit to Napa!
In wine you find geography, climate and history but above all our Thanksgiving food and wine pairings was about enhancing friendships and conversations. On top of the wines’ structure and deliciousness, having pictures and a personal experience with Barnett Vineyard to share with our guests made for the best choice for the day’s special occasion. Tonight we raised our glasses to money being well spent and watching our mothers sit back and relax. Wolfgang Puck Catering took charge of cleaning up and both our mothers happily surrendered to not cooking next year! This is how the day should be spent.
Winemaker Notes: This hand picked Pinot Noir was cold soaked for 5-6 days with dry ice in small open top fermenters and punched down twice daily. The wine was aged in 50% new French oak. The individual clones were racked and blended before bottling.
Tasting Notes: “The full rich center of this wine coats your mouth like cream chocolate. The fruit continues with full cherry pie, coated around the gravel like minerality.”
Taki and Jackelyn’s Notes: This Pinot Noir wine has good cellar properties and is easy on the wallet and plush on the pallet!
Last night, we were so thrilled to have our chat hosted by the Specialty Food Association. Our theme was “Specialty Foods Holiday Gifting” and as soon as it was announced, I knew it would be a chat to remember. After all, nothing goes together better than food and the holidays!
We couldn’t have asked for a better sponsor for our theme. The Specialty Food Association is a community of over 3,200 entrepreneurs, food artisans and importers who bring craft, care and joy to the foods they produce. It was a #Foodiechats match made in heaven!
When you’re a foodie, there is no better holiday gift than food. It’s also a great option when you’re on a budget! I loved seeing why our participants liked giving food as gifts.
My favorite question of the night was “What are your top three favorite holiday flavors or ingredients?” We had so many great (and mouth watering) answers!
It was also great finding out what our #Foodiechats friends are giving out for the holidays. I got some amazing ideas! Chocolate was a very popular answer.
Thank you to the Specialty Food Association for being such a great sponsor. Keep up with them on Twitter at @craftcarejoy!
Be sure to tweet me at @RoryRoselyn with your favorite food item to give as a gift during the holidays! I need ideas!
The Specialty Food Association is a thriving community of food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs who bring craft, care and joy to the distinctive foods they produce. The not-for-profit trade association provides its 3,200 members the tools, knowledge and connections to champion and nurture their companies in an always-evolving marketplace.
For the holidays, the gift of food always delights. This year the Association surveyed its members and affiliates to get their expert takes on the season’s hottest products, flavors and ingredients from savory to sweet. During the chat, the Association will provide a sneak-preview of its findings.
Established in 1952, the Specialty Food Association fosters trade, commerce and interest in the $86 billion specialty food industry. The Association this year launched a new brand for the industry, “Specialty Food. Craft. Care. Joy.” to highlight the passion, creativity and quality that fuels specialty food.
A Twitter Chat is a real-time conversation on Twitter. Participants use a common hashtag (#foodiechats) to respond to questions the moderator and other participants pose. Tweets (Twitter messages) are limited to 140 characters, which keeps responses succinct.What is FoodieChats?
#Foodiechats is a worldwide online and live social foodie community. Each week, #Foodiechats showcases a new sponsor and theme in a ten question format. Within the ten question format, participants discover new brands, recipes, hot spots and meet new friends worldwide. According to the website, more than 400 contributors participate in the chat each week.Register for Twitter
Twitter is free! Sign up hereWhy you should participate?
Cheers: to making a tradition out of wedding dress shopping!
Whether you do things once a month or once a year, a tradition is an experience that makes the people involved feel a sense of belonging and incredibly special. Recently, a tight knit group of friends and family traveled with me to New York City with one purpose in mind, to find me the perfect wedding dress. To make the most of our time, we booked breakfast and dinner reservations at many of the new hot spots, wanting to try out different celebrity chefs and fancy cuisines. The 65-degree weather in the dead of winter, close friends from around the globe, and the celebration of love and marriage made for ample reasons to stay out of our hotel. However, to our surprise, we found ourselves amongst the most laughter and contentment sitting around the hotel lobby indulging in each other’s company and vending machine munchies.
Upon my return to Chicago, we attended La Cena Di Riso with two of our favorite partners in crime, Steve Green and Angela Woodward.This five-course wine and dinner event hosted by Quartino explored the versatility of Italian rice and was accompanied by wines of the Piemonte and Veneto regions of Italy. This event featured Chef Joe Coletta and Check, Please! Chicago’s host Catherine De Orio and Mama Mia was this spectacular! The décor, ambiance, and hospitality were exactly what I needed to warm me up and get me settled in after a non-stop NYC weekend.
For this week’s #Foodiechats #perfectpairings we chose a 2010 Dolcetto D’ Alba GALLUCCIO which is one of seven Dolcetto wines produced in Italy’s north-western Piedmont region. Although there are times when you think you want nothing more than a full-bodied red, or a night out on the town in your hottest stilettos, these lighter category wines were spot on for the night’s event. Just like the light-hearted night in NYC when we collected our drumstick and fruit snack wrappers, the Dolcetto had little acid, not much tannin and was light in body, making it incredibly easy to drink. It was ripe, balanced and not overpowering, making it a perfect table wine and an everyday drinker. The evening’s wine may not have been a benchmark Bordeaux or Rhone but was a great representation of why a magnificent dinner at one of NYC’s newest and chicest restaurants should not cloud the ability to appreciate a good ole hot dog from Gray’s Papaya!
Like it’s sibling wines, the 2010 Dolcetta has characteristically mild tannins and juicy fruit characters. The wine’s characteristics made it an excellent match with tonight’s menu consisting of a few of my favorites, Fried Arborio Riso Balls filled with Mozzarella, Baked Eggplant Rolls filled with Arborio Riso, and the Arborio Riso Soup with Pumpkin. We aren’t quite sure if Chef Joe’s dishes revolved around the wine or the wine revolved around his magical preparations, but Chef Joe made it a magnificent culinary experience. After the Acquerello Pudding with Dried Fruit Compote, we literally wanted to curl up and daydream by a fireplace.
The La Cena Di Riso event at Quartino was a flawless reminder of the value placed in everyday traditions and rituals, much like the New York City experience I hope to recreate. As much as I love funky, obscure moments of life, I appreciate the moments that are so utterly classic and timeless. We ended the evening saluting to recognizing our personal growth to see the beauty in everyday traditions and rituals. Thank you Quartino and Chef Joe for staying true to your roots and bringing us back to the way things ought to be!
Wine Notes: “According to Levi Dalton, a sommelier between restaurants and the host of the podcast, “I’ll Drink to That”) “Dolcettos are like the off-cut of meat that the butcher takes home for himself,” Levi said, adding that it was his go-to wine at home because of its versatility.
Photo Credit: Jackelyn and Taki
Restaurant Credit: Quartino Chicago
Last night’s #Foodiechats talked all things Thanksgiving with a Home for the Holidays themed chat.
My family doesn’t live too far away from Chicago, but our chat last night made me immediately want to drive home and have a home cooked meal.
The #Foodiechats family, my other family, bonded over traditions and dishes.
Cooking With Tony summed up last night’s chat with one tweet…
Question 4 was my favorite question of the night.
Family antidotes are always the best!
Question 8 was certainty delicious.
After question 8 my sweet tooth was going crazy.
And I couldn’t agree with Jocelyn more…
Move over turkey, pies have taken over the Thanksgiving spotlight!
Tweet me your favorite Thanksgiving dish at @SabrinaWottreng
& wishing everyone safe travels!
Cheers: to keeping your signature love story alive
Every relationship is so different, yet each one has a unique love story about how two people met or came to be. Whether you ask a new couple still in their honeymoon phase or an older, more mature one experiencing empty nest syndrome, the retelling of their love story adds an entirely new dimension. It’s the sparkle in their eyes and that extra pep in their step that to me happens to be the richest component of a relationship, much like the makeup of soil adds character and many dimensions of flavor to a wine.
Last week’s promise was to “start making decisions like a winemaker,” so we chose Capital Grille because of their finest list of French wines. France produces more fine wines than anywhere else in the world and wine regions around the world have adopted French winegrowing techniques, so we went for one of their most famous northern Rhone reds.
For this week’s #Foodiechats #perfectpairings we chose a 2005 E. Guigal Hermitage (95-98 RP) from Northern Rhone Valley in Eastern France. The grapes of northern Rhone are the easiest to remember; all red wines come from only one grape, Syrah. We swirled our glasses, observed the inky-purple color and of course reminded each other to hold the wine in our mouths for a few seconds before swallowing. Among the world’s greatest reds they say Rhones are the most untamed, I agree. At first the huge, mesmerizing aromas and flavors suggest black plum, blackberries, smokiness, leather and believe it or not, I actually tasted pepper! The Hermitage also had a long evocative finish, which in my opinion makes it a wine to take notice of.
For our first course we chose the Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella and Pan-Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers. The wine was so complex it poured forth so many new flavors by the minute, especially when shared with the zest of the Calamari. A wine that comes at you with a dagger of so many flavors begs for a hot night, chewy bread, and a dish loaded with garlic and wild herbs so we chose Filet Oscar with lump crabmeat and Salmon with our personal favorite sharing dish on the menu, creamed corn with smoked bacon. The result of pairing a Syrah with so much personality with the creamy, lemony flavors of the house-made Béarnaise from the filet and the spice of arugula over the salmon was downright thrilling. All the way down to the Cheesecake and Coconut Cream Pie desserts, Aaron filled us with just as much knowledge as he did calories. Thanks, Aaron for distracting us from experiencing true eater’s remorse.
Our server, Aaron, informed us of the climate and soil conditions behind the Syrah grapes of the 2005 Hermitage and how many old world growers make associations between the properties of the wines and the soil types that the grapes are grown on. For me, it was very helpful to think of soil as the makeup or love story in a relationship. Some start on rocky roads much like the gravel like soil of a Cabernet, where others seem to have much smoother, straightforward introductions much like the clay based soil of a Merlot. The question is, just how much does the soil affect the quality of the wine?
After doing research on the subject of wine and soil, I get the impression that truly great wine is made in the vineyard, not the winery. Just as in cooking, if you start with near perfect, in-season ingredients you wont need a top chef to pop out a delicious meal. On the other hand, the most talented chef in the world, when given inferior ingredients and vegetables that are out-of-season, will only produce a mediocre meal at best.
Anyone can drink wine and spend money on a rare or expensive bottle of wine at least once in their lifetime, but without the knowledge behind it, the soulful and more satisfying part of the experience is lost. For me, the beauty of wine comes from how it connects us to the land, to that unique place and then shows its signature through the grapes. We ended the night saluting to Capital Grille for heightening our experience with their knowledgeable staff and tonight’s lesson on soil affect.
Things to try at home: Research your wine and the soil in which the grapes come from to see if you can make an association between the properties of the wines and the soil types the grapes are grown on. For example, does chalky, stony, slate-like soils impart chalky, stony, slate-like characters to wine?
Thinks not to try at home: Never lose touch of that special, unique place or person that allowed you to be who you are today.
Wine tip: When it comes to wine we use words like “winemaker” and “winemaking,” however when it comes to quality wine these words are insufficient in countries like France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. In these countries they think of these artisans as “winegrowers” whose activity is “winegrowing.”
Photo Credit: Jackelyn and Taki
Restaurant: Capital Grille
Every Monday at 8 p.m. ET #Foodiechats hosts a Twitter chat, and this past Monday #Foodiechats hosted a Ninja Kitchen sponsored event in Chicago!
The Ninja Kitchen team demonstrated their new blenders and showed a triumphant face to face combination with Vitamix.
How did the Ninja Ultima Blender win? Technology! Watch this video to see how the Ultima works.
The spread of food looked and tasted DELICIOUS!
A Foodie favorite was the Pecan Pie Shooter!
Sophia and Carly would agree.
When the chat started, our Foodies were all business! Because this was a live event, you heard “What?” “No way!” “I love that!” and could tweet and talk with fellow contributors.
As the night concluded Ninja gave out these cool water bottles!
This was a great event to kick off the week! Can’t wait to try out the recipes Ninja Kichen provided.
What is your favorite recipe to blend? Tweet me (@sabrinawottreng) your recipe!
Cheers: the balancing act of life
Why does it sometimes seem so daunting to wake up in the morning and have a productive day when you have household chores demanding your attention? For me, it’s the laundry that makes me feel guilty as if it can’t sit for a single day and the way the swiffer lays up against wall like it’s pouting for someone to take it for a walk. Yes, those two trivial things somehow always take precedence over my career. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, this unmapped lifestyle that I spoke about last week could very well contribute to these days where 5 o’clock rolls around and nothing has gotten accomplished. I poured a million excuses into a bottle of wine and my patient fiancé’s ears and that was the start of this week’s wine experience.
For this week’s #Foodiechats #perfectpairings we chose a 2010 MAZZONI Rosso di Toscana from Montalcino, Tuscany. We discovered this ruby red wine at Mariano’s Four Course Wine Dinner experience with Chef Joe Farina. This wine is a blend of two grape varieties (72% Sangiovese and 28% Merlot) created by two distinguished winemaking families- Italy’s Franceschi and the Terlatos from the United States. The MAZZONI is made from 100% estate grown Sangiovese and Merlot that is handpicked at a state-of-the-art winery in Montalcino. The Sangiovese provides a firm backbone while the Merlot brought a soft and lingering finish. These two grapes brought ripe, dark berry, licorice and plum aromas, and flavors that were warm, soft, intense and balanced!
Chef Joe Farina from Rosebud’s newest concept Centro Ristorante brought us jaw-dropping courses that tasted delicious with the MAZZONI. For starters we had Meatballs with Whipped Ricotta. The second course brought us an 8-Finger Cavatelli with Rapini. Thirdly, a Giambotta with sausage, chicken, mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes and for dessert they served Rosebud Napoleons, Seasonal Fruit, and Premium Chocolates. Each dish was exquisite, however we will always remember this as the “50% veal and 50 % beef meatball-and-wine pairing event” for reasons you will only know if you attend! Also the Sangiovese based vino, with its underlying bright acidity and hint of saltiness, was magical when set off by the richness and fat of the beef.
That’s when the light bulb went off! I too aspire to have evenly proportioned symmetry like the #perfectpairing of meatballs and a balanced red wine. Not to toot my own horn but we took an aerial view of my life and realized that we have a Zen Master on our hands. Living mindfully, being kind, being patient and approaching problems with creativity are elements I had figured out but what I lacked was structure and consistency. I officially wanted nothing more than to be like a nice, balanced bottle of wine. Mark my word; I’m going to start making decisions like a winemaker. After all, if a winemaker can work with such unpredictable elements like soil and climate conditions than we too can bypass uncontrollable variables like when the hamper just so happens to get full!
A Tuscan experience and a good overview of my life brought a priceless discovery! We ended our night saluting to feeling empowered and leading your life in the right direction. After all, maybe having a life full of amazing events and adventures is as easy as simply planning them.
Things to try at home: Tackle your hobbies with a 6-month plan. Jump on the wine wagon and devote three months to white wine, three months to red. Each time you are out wine shopping, try a different varietal and sample a few variations. This will help you conquer any intimidation you might have over wine and making solid, defined decisions. Its helping me!
Things not to try at home: Never miss a notable Chicago Four Course Wine Dinner experience with Chef Joe Farina when the chance arises
Wine notes: This wine was aged for 12 months in French Oak, 50% in large barrels and 50% in second vintage barriques.
Authored by: Jackelyn Gauci and Taki Kastanis
Photo Credit: Jackelyn and Taki
Home cooking may be my favorite theme of #Foodiechats to date.
On Monday at 7p.m. Chicago time the #Foodiechats team brought dishes to share for a pot luck while participating in the chat.
Check out this soup by Angela!
I always love seeing new faces in the chat! Shout out to Kristina Navarro!
The tweet that made me laugh out loud came from Jessica Fiorillo.
Have you ever had Vegamite? I have, while in Australia. Not my favorite, but The Dessert Course loves it!
Question 3 had the best responses!
Can’t wait for next Monday’s chat!