Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blind Lovely

I have a terrible soft spot for rhone whites. Viognier, Roussane, Marsanne; from intense candy store perfume to sublime flinty subtlety, it is always a surprise when you open a bottle. Last month when Sam Tannahill was in town, we were discussing our love of these wines while we should have been talking about the lovely pinot noir he was pouring. Still, it is fun to talk about a shared passion when everyone else in the room is getting shnockered.

Since Sam had been on the road for quite a few days and was feeling pretty shredded, I brought along a pound of Metropolis coffee to send home with him. It is our favorite local roaster, even though Intelligentsia has had more success in their nationwide growth. Sam reported that he and Cheryl, his lovely, talented wife, enjoyed the coffee over Mother's day weekend. That made us happy.

What made me even happier is when a package arrived from Sam this week. Enclosed were two bottles from their Francis Tannahill label; a 2005 Grenache, and a 2006 Blind Love. These were tiny bottllings; 138 and 93 cases produced respectively. While A to Z and Rex Hill might pay the bills, these bottles seem to represent what they can really do when unleashed in the winery. Elegant and balanced wines both.
We had the Blind Love with a nice light dinner of grilled asparagus, fresh homemade ricotta, baby greens and poached eggs. I also tried doing a pizza on the grill, but failed miserably; I will have woodfired pizza at home by the end of summer or die trying. The wine, on the other hand, was tremendously successful. When we first opened this there was a full nose of perfectly ripe fruit, and a nice spring floral bouquet. We expected it to be almost too big on the palate. On the contrary; what a lovely, creamy mouthfeel with a gentle but present acidity to give it a clean light finish. Light enough that I kept wanting more. It was a wine that was perhaps too elusive; but we loved every drop.

The second wine was the 2005 Grenache from the Rogue Valley. We had this the following Wednesday while I listened to the fifth game of the Blackhawks/Redwings series. (a tragic finish, even as I write this. 2-1 Detroit.) Ness was home late from work and we wanted something simple for dinner, so we settled on one of our standby favorites. We call it Beans & Greens, but it is a recipe that we lifted from one of our favorite blogs, who in turn lifted it from Splendid Table. A fantastic filling salad with beans, baby greens, bread crumbs and toasted cheese. The wine was superb from the first taste; my first impression being that of a clean, young Chateauneuf. The color was rich and opaque, but by no means inky. It just had the look of a wine that had been given ample opportunity to develop naturally, and had nothing taken away from it in the racking ad aging process. The nose was nowhere near overpowering, instead delivering exactly what it promised; balance, backbone, and finish. As the night went on, we talked about how it progressed, ending with "plum jam on toast with white pepper." At that point, we decided to end the pretentious wine talk and cut ourselves off.
Sam, thank you for two delicious, elegant bottles. We had a great weekend and look forward to a summer of nice bottles, and good thoughts for good friends.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Is it Summer Already?

Just when I thought spring was in bloom - summer rushed in with all it's grilling, picnics and patriotic glory. Happy Memorial Day, Summer is here!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Favorite Thing

Every spring I seem to forget that lilacs are possibly my favorite flower. The smell of a lilac tree after a light rain is truly intoxicating - and I don't throw around that word - nor do I use it regularly, so it must be pretty amazing.
I only request one thing of our next house or apartment - a lilac tree outside my bedroom. Lots of very happy dreams.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Surprise Cheddar

We knew we were in for a treat when we finally cracked the lid on our tin of Natural Cougar Gold from Washington State University. Not to say we weren't skeptical; a lot of university agricultural products we've had in the past have been safe, sterile, and frankly a little bit bland. Not this time.This cheddar is reminiscent of a market style, without the bandage wrapping. A pleasant grassiness combined with a buttery, creamy mouthfeel. It crumbles nicely into small bites and was delicious on its own or with a crunch in a delicious grilled cheese. We must find some good apples, though they are in short supply right now. Please visit to learn more. I will be lobbying family to send another tin, asap.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Loved our trip to Omaha - complete with great food, visits with long lost family, and a drive through a tornado. Truly, the Midwest at it's best. Just a few to get started - we will post more to come.

Weekend Project

While waiting for the reputed 80 degree weather that was supposed to arrive by the end of the week, we spent some time building our Salad Bar. This is a perfectly utilitarian design, but looks so bountiful when filled with salad greens, herbs, and other shallow rooted edible plants. We hemmed and hawed about building it, but when the weather started turning and we realized the tulips were going to be holding down valuable real estate for a few more weeks, the need for another container became clear. It is a simple plan, but always measure twice, cut once. Since our 2x4's were pretty clean and straight it took less than ten minutes to have all of our pieces cut and laid out. We put a light coat of sealant on the wood, as per recommendation, to prevent mildewing or rotting wood. Our sealant, once cured, is not supposed to leach into the soil. Very important. We used two wood screws in the corners, and only one on the cross beams. In a moment of Danish over-engineering, we applied quite a few staples to the screen in the corners, even though the wire mesh will help to hold the screen in place. With mesh and roofing nails in place, it was time to get some soil in place and hope for the best weather possible.

Another easy planter we have been using comes from my job in the fine wine industry. Many producers still utilize wooden cases, and these are sturdy, attractive, and are nice for their ability to eventually break down and decompose. Drilling 1/2 inch drainage holes in the bottom of the boxes prevent soggy roots and can even allow deeper root growth when placed on bare soil. While we are not even close to what one would call professional gardeners, we have always had good success with these boxes, yielding plenty of potatoes, carrots and whatever else we felt the need to grow. Plus it is fun to see potato shoots popping up where four hundred dollar bottles of wine once were.

I started our greens, tomatoes, peppers and carrots in a few small greenhouse trays in our apartment. The greens are cold weather friendly and grow much faster than the toms and peppers. It is always fun to grow your own food and to start to see nearly immediate reward.It is also funny how folks perk up when you mention even the mere potential of having fresh tomatoes and peppers. This morning I ran into Mary, out mail carrier, and she was already staking out a claim on any excess tomatoes. Even if only half of our plants start to produce, there will be plenty to go around! Come on sun!

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