Food: Swordfish steaks (about 1″ thick) are oiled and seasoned, then cooked on a grill pan for about 6 minutes on a side, shorter or longer depending on individual tastes. The salsa is homemade or your favorite, with the addition of canned or fresh peaches. The rich fish plays nicely off the spicy/sweet flavor of the salsa. Serve with sides of your choosing.  We enjoyed peas+carrots with brown rice pilaf.

Swordfish w: peach salsa, w: Novellum Chardonay

Further pairing: Since we don’t consume an entire bottle of wine at a meal, we need a good pairing for later in the week.  The wine also paired well with Pork and Vegetables  in Tandoori Sauce.

Wine: The Languedoc-Roussillon region of France provides us with Michel Gassier’s Costieres de Nîmes Nostre Pais White, 2011   Like most wines from the south of France, this is a blended wine. This particular wine is composed of 90% Grenache Blanc, 5% Roussanne, and 5% Viognier. This wine proved an exceptional pairing with this swordfish.

Costieres de Nimes

Tasting notes:  This full-bodied white wine has a delightful nose of melon and honeysuckle. On the palette, one can taste melon, honeysuckle, pineapple, and hints of stone fruit, particularly peach, likely brought out by the peach salsa.

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St. Patrick’s Day is a day for many people to celebrate their Irish heritage. Traditional foods are often part of the celebration. When I was growing up, my mother would always serve corned beef and cabbage, never a favorite of mine. Instead, in our household, our family always enjoys lamb stew and Irish Soda Bread to help comemorate this special day. (sorry, Mom)

Wine: Vina Ardanza Reserva ‘La Rioja Alta’ 2004Vina Ardanza

Rioja, one of the best-known wine regions of Spain, is located in the northern part of country but west of the Pyrenees. Tempranillo is the most widely planted grape variety, followed by Garnacha (called Grenache elsewhere) a distant second. Two other varieties of grapes are frequently added to Rioja wine in very small quantities, Mazuelo (called Carignan elswhere) and Graciano.

Grapes in Vina Ardanza = Tempranillo 80%, Garnacha 20%

Tasting notes: Nose has notes of leather, black currant, cloves, and mushroom. On the palette: black currant, earth, cedar, leather, and a hint of spice. A very nice level of acidity, reminiscent of the best of Old World wines. Full-bodied wine with 13.5% alcohol. Delicious with the lamb stew.

Food: Lamb stew from Salute to Healthy Cooking, served with peas and Irish Soda Bread. For the stew, cubed lamb shoulder is baked in a covered oven-proof casserole with sauteed onions, thyme, bay, and water for 45 minutes. Adjust oven heat [around 350 degrees] so that the stew does not boil. Carrots are added for 15 minutes, then potatoes are added and the stew is baked, covered, another 45 minutes. This is all done the day before. Adjust the seasonings. Glazed baby onions and glazed, sliced turnips are added when the stew is reheated before serving. Bake the Irish Soda Bread, cook the peas.Lamb Stew w: Irish soda bread, peas

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Greek Meze [small plates] with Robola

Sometimes all you want is “a little smackeral of something” (as Winnie-the-Pooh would say) instead of a big meal, and this delightful grouping of foods certainly fills the bill.

Food: Spanokopita rolls [purchased frozen in a Greek market, or make it yourself], oil-cured olives, cherry tomatoes, loukanico [a Greek specialty made from lamb] sausage, artichoke spread, toasted baguette slices.Greek Snacks w: Rebola

Wine: 2011 Gentilini Robola of Cephalonia. Robola is an indigenous white grape variety of Cephalonia, the largest of the Ionian Islands of Western Greece. The grapes are grown on the steep slopes of Mount Ainos. It is vinefied by the producer, Gentilini.Robolo of Cephalonia

Tasting notes: The 2011 vintage is a beautiful golden color. Citrus notes are prominent in the bouquet, along with white flowers, honeysuckle and a hint of almond. A lovely combination. These flavors are echoed on the palate, and balanced with nice acidity and minerality.

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In Portland, Maine, one of our favorite restaurants is Fore Street. One of our dinners there inspired this pizza.

Food: On each 8” pizza shell (see Feb 12 posting Pizza v. 1.0) smear some richly-flavored vinaigrette salad dressing, then a large dollop of plain yogurt. Sprinkle over it: ¼ cup sauteed sliced leeks; 1/2 oz cooked, chopped chanterelle mushrooms; ½ oz crumbled bleu cheese; 1/2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese.ForeStreet Pizza

Wine: Mitolo “Jester” Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010. From McLaren Vale, AustraliaMitolo Cabernet Sauvignon, the Jester

Tasting notes: This pizza is absent the tomato sauce, mozerella cheese and Italian seasonings common to the more traditional pizza that pairs so nicely with a Chianti. Instead, we’re looking for a wine to pair with bleu cheese, leeks, and mushrooms. Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent pairing with these ingredients, particularly with a delightfully sharp blue cheese. Our choice for this dish is the 2010 Mitolo “Jester” Cabernet Sauvignon from the McLaren Vale in Australia. It is a lush, richly-flavored Cab, amazingly complex and concentrated, with aromas and tastes of black currants balanced with silky smooth tanins. An unusual feature of this particular Cab is that 20% of the grapes are air-dried, similar to the making of an Amarone wine. And this wine is a steal at about $16.

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