Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Sunday March 06, 2011

Saturday Swirl:
Drink only organic wines!!!

Saturday Evening Toast 3/6/11

Ah, February is but a mere sunny memory for me! Sunny????? Yes! I was fortunate to go on my first vacation in over 2 years. I went home to Rio de Janeiro for 10 days to bask in the sun and the comfy warmth of family!

Oh my, and was it ever hot, 115 and sunny every day!!!! Fortunately, I was able to go to the beach every day and there is always a lovely breeze  not to mention the ocean at the beach. My family’s warmth consisted of tons of love, stories and of course, mountains of food! Thankfully, it was too hot to eat too much!

I came back to the chill for one day where I rode in a “spin-a-thon” for charity and repacked my bags to go to Florida for a 12 day demo marathon for my wines.

I spent 12 days traveling through the upper ½ half of Florida. Fortunately, I was able to spend the bulk of my trip on the west coast, Tampa and Sarasota areas.

I did 2-4 hour demos per day….lost my voice by the last day! These demos all took place in Whole Foods, Publix stores and various independent natural markets. One of the wonderful things about Florida is that wine and beer can be purchased in any type of grocery store or market. Without getting into the nightmarish intracacies of the individual state liquor laws, I will say only that each state and sometimes even at the county level, have different laws when it comes to where alcohol can be sold. Suffice it to say, one needs a degree in absurdity to understand it all!

Of course, I was “tasting” only Alex Elman Wines but that wasn’t too bad!!! I was fortunate, as I stated previously, that I was doing demos in predominately, natural stores where I could buy fresh, local, chemical free foods for my dinner. My dinner usually consisted of a salad or soup eaten gleefully in my bed staring at the “box”!!! I did not think I would be able to speak to one more person after all of those demos!

I did go out to dinner a couple of times. One night I went to a wonderful restaurant. What is so great about this place is that the food is organic, locally grown when possible, and each portion is 450 calories or less! It is a perfect portion of food, I even took mine home! The desserts come in a shot glass, how much more do you really need! I was tickled pink by the whole experience except for the wine list!!!!

The wines are chosen by a master sommelier, so I was looking forward to a great and creative wine list. I always have to remember to temper my expectations when I am out of NYC. So, here I am all excited to drink anything but Alex Elman Wines and my hopes were quickly dashed and doused by yuck! First of all, for an organic restaurant, there were only 2 organic wines and 1 biodynamic wine on the list. To further light my ire, the list was predominantly domestic and California to make matters worse! Before I upset anyone, it is not that I do not like and respect California wines, I just feel that they have developed a certain style that, for the most part, does not fit my sense of “correct and honestly” made wines. There are always exceptions to the norm but this is what I usually find, in “btg” by the glass selections.

I wanted something spicey to drink. Since I did not see any sirah/shiraz (these are the same grape just come from different parts of the world), I went for the red zinfandels. These are only found in the US. Oh, sorry, I tasted a sip of the only carmanere, the red wine of Chile, on the list. Normally, I love carmanere but this one was an abomination!!! So overwhelmed was this normally spicey delicious wine by oak that I wanted to take my pallet to the local lumber yard and get an estimate for tonnage! I quickly changed course, lowered my expectations and tasted 3 different zinfandels before I found one that did not send me back to the lumber yard.

The zin I chose went well with my BBQ chicken salad and I was happy. I did, however, comment to my distributor’s rep, with whom I was dining, that I was going to pay for the wine the next day. He looked at me quizzackly and I proceeded to explain. I have been drinking and eating only “clean” organic foods for quite some time now and I am too clean. Whenever I drink “conventional” wines, I feel horrible the next day, no matter how little I drink. This is due to the pesticides, herbacides and fungacides not to mention all the chemical preservatives(sulfites) and chemical yeasts that are added to wines especially wines from California. Moral of the story, according to my mother, dirty up your system again!!!! I am always amused by this response from Mama!

The moral of my story, I paid for the wine! I felt awful and I had no “cleanser” to get the poisons out of my system. Oh, the real moral, drink only organic wines!!!

This is probably the most “critical” post I have ever made on this site. I do not want to put down domestic or California wines ever. I am concerned by the need for otherwise wonderful dining establishments, taking the easy way out! Often, they are pressured by alcohol distributors to take certain wines, a topic for another day, but this is no excuse. In my humble opinion, it is the responsibility of a good restaurant to educate their diners. If a restaurant is making an effort to create great, creative menus, why allow the wine list to be so pedestrian. There is a ton of wine out there, put different wines on the list. Teach the staff about them and they, in turn, will teach the diner and the process continues. Furthermore, if a restaurant is a purported establishment that serves “organic” fare, one would think, by default, that the wine list would have more “organic” wine options! Afterall, it is only the fastest growing area of wine. Again, I want to be very clear here, I have nothing against the restaurant. Much to the contrary, I loved it! The food, ambiance and staff were fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone. I was disheartened by the wine list. So, bring your own bottle!!!!

This was a bit Dennis Milleresque today but my passion for wine overrides my sensible, diplomatic side sometimes.

Friday March 04, 2011

Carole’s Concoctions:
Dinner in a Flash!

I had the great joy of having my Mom on the radio show again this past Wednesday and we reminisced about cooking and food and one of the dishes we spoke about was a simple Cauliflower, bacon and onion pasta dish that Nana and Mm had in their arsenal for a quick quick dinner prep.  You know, for those days when you don't get home in time to make a more elaborate dinner or one that requires more time.  We chatted about how easy it is to whip something up if you have a well-stocked pantry and fridge.

So put this one in your arsenal - you will not be disappointed!!

Wednesday March 02, 2011

Heirloom Meals Radio:
Jo Murko - Take Two

It was an absolute treat to have my Mom, Jo Murko join me as my guest on the show today. She was my very first guest last February 16, 2010. Click here and you can hear all about her great memories and food stories. But today, we decided to chat about being an intuitive cook, chicken soup, whipping up a meal from a well-stocked pantry and the keen link between food and memory. I, for one, will NOT forget this interview with my beautiful, kind loving Mom. Thank you Mommy, I love you!!

Today's show.

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