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February 2015
Two Super Bowl food and wine pairings stuck out for Dan.
1) Velveeta cheese dip with diced tomatoes and ortega green chiles.
Wine match: WHITE ROCK "Reserve" Chardonnay 2012 (not available at Back White Rock direct for the wine). Creamy texture and bright fruit in the wine meld together with this classic trashy gourmet goo.

2) Blue cheese-stuffed hamburgers with Red Onion/Zinfandel Marmalade and
GREEN & RED Zinfandel "Tip Top Vineyard" Napa Valley 2012. Also not available at this time at Back Room.
The burger and marmalade recipe comes from Michael Chiarello's "Live Fire" cookbook. I made giant 1 1/2 lb burgers and put them on focacia round loaves (cut into 6ths). Chiarello recommended Zinfandel with this burger (duh). Right as rain. Fantastic match.

For Connor, the standout pairing was Spicy Chicken Wings and Cava.
Roasted the wings with salt and pepper and tossed them in some unbelievably spicy wing sauce. I call it my kitchen sink sauce... 'cause, well, you know. Sriracha, soy, brown sugar, ketchup, dijon, fish sauce, cayenne, lime and whatever else seemed necessary at the time. It'll knock your socks off. Good thing a bottle of bubbles cures all.
The BOHIGAS Cava Brut "Reserva" ($15) was just the extinguisher for this fire. Crisp, bright with a nice zip.

January 2015
Dan's two most memorable Food & Wine Matches during the holidays:
1) Moules Frites (Mussels & Fries) at Bouchon Yountville.
With a bottle of PASTOU Sancerre "La Cote de Sury - Vielles Vignes" 2013 ($24/bottle at Back Room Wines.) Was tickled pink to see they served it by the glass and by the bottle. 

2) Crab Bisque made by my Mom for Christmas Eve.
She got the recipe from Here it is.
With a bottle of FRITH Grenache Napa Valley 2012 $32/bottle. Rich shellfish stock made with roasted crab shells, lots of herbs and some tomato paste made this an excellent Grenache dish. And it was!

December 2014
December is here and I’m still knee deep in Thanksgiving leftovers. In addition to the two turkeys I made this year (one smoked, one roasted for comparison’s sake,) I also made a whole ham. Yes, a whole friggin’ ham. Can’t say that I was planning on it, really. Dave Bos (of Bos wines, naturally) raised a couple of pigs, fattened on the scraps of his organic and biodynamic wine grapes. He had them slaughtered and needed a skilled butcher to break the meat down into manageable pieces. After he gave up on finding a skilled butcher, he turned to me. I hadn’t broken down a whole animal since culinary school… man, it was a lot of fun! Butchering two whole pigs is thirsty work, but luckily Dave brought copious amounts of his Bos “Ode to Fume” Sauvignon Blanc ($26) to keep us hydrated (and happy.)

Finally I got down to the legs and wow, were they a couple of beauties! I couldn’t bring my knife to scar them,
and far grander plans began to take shape in my head. So I broke out the trash bags, my biggest cooler and a whole lot of my special brown sugar brine. 8 days and 40 pounds of ice later, these babies were ready for the smoker. I used cherry wood (soaked in cooking wine) and a small handful of hardwood charcoal for the smoker. Kept it low and slow for 8 hours at a constant 200 Fahrenheit and then brushed a brown sugar, black pepper and honey glaze all over and let it caramelize at 300 Fahrenheit for another hour. I hate to admit it, but it outshined my turkeys and became the hit of my Thanksgiving Feast. My favorite wine to match? A lovely (and inexpensive!) Alsatian Gewurztraminer from Boeckel ($18.) The very same that is on our tasting tonight, actually. Now I just have to find another whole pig leg in time for Christmas. Happy Holidays!


November 2014
Autumn is here, bringing with it some cooler temperatures and those lovely Fall colors.
There doesn’t seem to be a single grape left on the vine anywhere in the valley, and most of the 2014 vintage is already in barrel. All this amounts to my favorite time of year for throwing dinner parties. My friends on the production side are finally getting to see the light outside of their cellars and rinse the grape must and dirt from off their hands to take a much deserved rest. My kitchen friends are still pretty busy with all of the valley’s scores of visitors, but even they get the occasional Tuesday off every now and again. Me, I love to cook… and especially for my friends.