Friday, November 27, 2009

"calitalian" wines - November 25, 2007

Last night we tasted "calitalian" wines with John Behler. Italian grapes grown in California. This tasting was awesome, because of the different characteristics of a wine. Where a grape is grown determines how it will taste, just like a person.

Astoria Pinot Nero ’07 (Italy, Veneto)
paired w/ Beet green ravioli

Peter Dipoli Merlot ’04 (Italy, Alto Adige)
paired w/ Wild boar sausage patty

Opolo Sangiovese ’05 (California, Paso Robles)
paired w/ Lambwich

Graziano Moscato ’07 (California, Mendocino)
paired w/ Moscato gelee, local fruits

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To Brine or not to Brine

It is two days before Thanksgiving and want to try a new turkey recipe. I have been brining turkeys for the last 10 years and I thought I would do a practice turkey - a salted one. With the great prices on turkeys for Thanksgiving, I bought 4 turkeys, but could only fit 3 in the freezer, so 1 defrosted in the refrigerator and I needed to roast it.

The turkey came out moist, juicy and really tasty. And I did not have to mess with a brining solution or make room for a big container in my refrigerator. And it was so easy....see how I did it.

I researched several salted turkey recipes and found one that was simple and easy...Clementine Salted Turkey. Because I did not have Clementines, but have a tangerine tree going crazy with fruit, I decided to use the tangerines instead. I also had a container of culinary lavender from Maui and ended up changing the recipe to incorporate products I had in my possession. And trying to keep it as local as possible.

Here is the salt rub recipe:
Chopped rind from a medium Wilhelmina Rise tangerine (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon of Maui grown culinary lavender
1 tablespoon of course ground black pepper
3/4 cup kosher salt

Mix in a bowl.

This recipe is for a 12 lb. turkey. Sprinkle tangerine/salt mixture all over the turkey, also in the cavity. Cover turkey with plastic wrap and refrigerate turkey overnight (24 hours).

Take the turkey out of the refrigerator and rinse thoroughly, also in the cavity. Coat the bottom of your roasting pan with extra virgin olive oil (2 tablespoons). Place the turkey in the roasting pan and pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Let stand out for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

With a stick of butter that has been also sitting for 30 minutes, rub the turkey evenly. Cut 2 tangerines in half and stuff in turkey cavity. Tuck wings under and turn the turkey over to its breast side down, sprinkle turkey with pepper and ground sage, more salt is not necessary.

Roast turkey breast side down for an hour, then lower the heat to 350 degrees, turn turkey over breast side up and roast for another hour and a half. Baste the turkey once at this point.

The turkey is ready when your therometer reads 160 degrees in the thickest part of the turkey, usually the breast.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not All Persimmons are Created Equal

It is almost Thanksgiving and that means you are now seeing those strange, little pumpkin looking, orange fruits in the produce department of your grocery store or at the local open markets....yes, they are persimmons. For many years, I've stayed away from eating these fruits, thinking they were just ornamental, like those little pumpkins and gourds you use to decorate your Halloween, then Thanksgiving table.

But to my surprise, they are sweet, juicy, crunchy, jellylike, and delicious. So every November, I look forward to eating these seasonal jewels.

There are three varietals of persimmons available here in Hawaii and two of them are grown on Maui....Hachiya, Fuyu and Maru. A friend of mine just came back from a weekend trip to Maui, he brought back some Fuyu and Maru persimmons, and shared them with the crew at work. He informed me that these persimmons are grown on the slopes of Haleakala - upcountry Maui. I did not know that. I always thought they were all grown in California. The farm in upcountry Maui is called the Hashimoto Persimmon Farm. I lived in upcountry Maui for a year and worked back and forth from Oahu, for 11 years, and I did not hear of this farm...go figure.

So I am doing a taste test of the 3 varietals of persimmons. The first is the Hachiya. It looks like a heart shaped orange tomato. This persimmon cannot be eaten unless it is fully ripe. Ripe is when the fruit is a dark rust color and very, very soft to the touch - when it is almost ready to pop & the skin is very thin. Like a very ripe tomato. Warning - if you eat it before it's time, it is like biting into sticky cotton balls. So sticky that you have to brush your teeth, at least twice, to start getting the cotton feeling off your teeth and the sides of your mouth. Yucky. So ripen your Hachiya on the counter until soft (up to 2 weeks) and must be eaten within 2 days. Or you can freeze your unripe Hachiya, then thaw (this hastens ripening).

But when you eat it at it's perfect ripeness, it is like eating a sweet, satiny, jellylike strawberry papaya peach nectarine - but with a hint of cinnamon. Hachiya's are usually from California and not that readily available in our Hawaii markets.

The next tasting is the Maru persimmon. The Maru looks just like the Fuyu, a plump orange tomato, but lighter in color and not as pretty (it's the one on the right). You can eat the Maru crunchy and not fully ripe, not like the Hachiya. But you can wait until it is fully ripe. When you eat it not fully ripe, it is like eating a perfect peach and nectarine, but with a smooth apple texture.

And now the Fuyu persimmon. This is the pretty sister of the Maru, in appearance, not as plump, the skin is clear and deeper in orange. But comparison in taste, I think the Maru has a sweeter taste and creamier texture. The Fuyu might be prettier to look at, but the Maru has the better taste. It's the pretty/plain girl philosophy.

So run to your closest market now and get your seasonal jewels, before it is gone, like Fall.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Open Markets in Spain are like Cathedrals!!!

I've been back from my trip in Spain for a month now and I surely miss the open markets. The love, passion, and pride put into the merchandising, quality and selection of their vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, eggs, etc. was so beautiful and inviting.

I had the pleasure to have an apartment just around the corner from the famous open market in Barcelona - Mercat de La Boqueria, also known as Mercat de San Josep. So my early mornings, for the first week, were spent going to the market and watching the vendors set-up and prepare their fruits, vegetables, juices, eggs, jamon (cured hams), candy, spices, cheeses, poultry, fish, shellfish, breads, etc. for the local and tourist shoppers. Each booth/kiosk was very specialized and sold a specific item. The egg kiosk sold only eggs, the candy booth sold only candy, vegetable kiosk sold only vegetables, etc, etc. And the owners/workers were very knowledgeable about their products - what it was, where it was from, how it is grown and when it was picked....WOW.

Then I would stroll to the popular "Pinotxo Bar" for my cafe con leche and an ensaimada a la plancha. And sometimes a bowl of their delicious chickpeas with mushrooms or whatever was fresh. The owner of the bar was my barista every morning, so it felt like being at "Cheers". He knew my drink and my pastry before I even got a seat at the bar. And always got me to try something new on their menu.

Then I would go to my favorite juice stand for my 16 oz. freshly squeezed, chilled, mixed juice mix. My favorite was the papaya/orange juice and it was only 1 euro.

With my juice in hand, I would normally cruise the market looking for fruits, cheese & jamon that might be great snacks for our touring ventures later in the day. The fishmongers and their fresh catch of day, were so fun to watch.

I just loved the colors, animation of the people and the whole experience of this mercat. I was totally absorbed in the moment.

Please enjoy my pictures. Let me warn you, the pictures do not capture the true beauty & essence of this market. It is a feast for the senses.

Tenga muchisima hambre...I am very hungry!!!!

the hungry traveller

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wine down Wednesday @ town Review

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Tonight we had a very creative and delicious tasting - "ports" with Mark Lloyd. I say creative because it opened my taste buds and mind to ports. Ports are not only an "after dinner" drink. The food pairing tonight was spot on. Ed, Dave and their team in the kitchen always amazes me. The first course, just brought me back to Spain and the flavors of great memories. The second course, steak with ulu puree "unreal". I thought the ulu puree might be gummy, but it was creamy, tasty and a perfect starch for the hangar steak. The last course, OMG, was truly a orgasmic chocolate experience. See more of the pairings after each wine description. Enjoy!

Cossart Gordon "5-year-old Bual"
Made with Bual grape and aged in cask for at least 5 years. Bual (boal): luscious, medium-rich Madeira with great concentration of flavor and a complex bouquet. Best served with drier salty cheeses.
paired with aged mahon, marcona almonds, jamon wrapped dates

Pombal do Vesuvio Douro '07
This wine comes from one of the Douro Valley's regions grandest estates, a history dating back to 1565. In 2007, this vineyard produced a small quantity of exceptionally concentrated Touriga Nacional, perfectly matured grapes that resulted in wine of elegance and finesse yet with great depth and power. The Touriga Nacional makes up 70% of the final blend of the inaugural 2007 vintage of Quinta do Vesuvio Douro DOC wine (plus 20% Touriga Franca and 10% Tinta Amarela).
paired with pu'u o hoku hangar steak, ulu puree

Graham's Six Grapes
Founded in 1820, W & J Graham's is a consistent leader in producing exceptional Vintage Ports known for their rich complexity and superb againg potential. In 1890, Graham's acquired Quinta dos Malvedos, its flagship vineyard and one of the top sites in Portugal's Alto Douro Valley. The Symington Family acquired Graham's in 1970.

Quinta do Vesuvio '07
96 Points-Food & Wine Magazine - "A great vintage of Vesuvio, this is completely Douro in its flavors, a bold stroke of color across the palate, a ruch of green, red, blue and purple. It's plump, if not downright fat (the wine seems softer in acidity than some of its peers), but it's ripped by tannin, with a pervasive schistiness that makes it grand. Those resonant tannins combine with vibrant spice, licorice and green herb to create a hum of energy around all the fruit. The wine vibrates with power, intensely compressed. Drink it young to be wowed, or cellar it for decades; it's anyone's guess when this will calm down."
both wines were paired with 77% dark chocolate, chocolate pretzel tart, port soaked blueberries