Mussels O’Neill … with a Nova Scotia Tidal Bay White

Pairing:  Mussels and Pasta Paired with 2016 Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay White

Food:  Confession time … we love mussels … REALLY love mussels! Our favorite food to eat when we’re on Prince Edward Island is mussels. We pig out on potfuls of mussels steamed in a little water and some wine, maybe a leek and some herbs for added flavor. Back to the confessional …our eyes are often bigger than our stomach resulting in … are you ready …leftover cooked mussels! What to do? Our favorite thing is make what we call Mussels O’Neill, our adaptation of a recipe found in the wonderful cookbook, A Well-Seasoned Appetite by Molly O’Neill. Simply boil down about 2 cups of the mussel stock left from steaming the mussels to about a cup. Add about 1/2 cup of wine, reduce again. Add 1/2 cup  half and half or cream to make creamy texture to the sauce. Add the cooked mussels and some pepper to taste. Mix the cooked linguini into the sauce. Serve then sprinkle with chopped, fresh parsley. Amazing.

Note: Prince Edward Island mussels are, in our humble opinion, the best mussels on the planet! Oysters, too!

Mussels O'Neil

Wine:  Nova Scotia wines are becoming a hot item among oenophiles in Canada and elsewhere. Tidal Bay is the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia, and Benjamin Bridge is one of twelve wineries across the province making a Tidal Bay wine. It is made from L’Acadie Blanc, Oretega, and Geisenhiem grapes, all cold-weather varieties developed for their flavor and hardiness. L’Acadie Blanc is perhaps the most widely grown white wine grape in Nova Scotia.

Tidal Bay Benjamin Bridge

Tasting Notes:  A pale straw color, almost colorless. The nose hinges on the delicate aromas of green melon and green apple, with a background smell of fresh ocean breezes (appropriate for a wine called Tidal Bay!). Green melon and Granny Smith apple persist on the palate, with a real tang of the green apple … but definitely not citrusy. One can almost detect some pleasant, light salinity in the taste that carries over to the finish. The tanginess of the wine acts as a nice foil to the creamy taste of this mussel dish. Some wines have intangibles that make them great pairings with certain dishes. Tidal Bay has these traits that make it a great pairing for locally sourced, maritime seafood.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Mussel Dishes:  Chablis (France), Muscadet (Loire Valley), Verdicchio (Italy), Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), Chasselas (Switzerland)

Other Foods That Pair Well with Tidal Bay:  Stuffed Bar Clams, Raw Oysters, Grilled Shrimp, Pan-Seared Scallops, Smoked Salmon

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A Source:  Prince Edward Island Liquor Agency


Strawberry and Chicken Salad … with a Basque Country Rose

Pairing:  Strawberry and Chicken Salad Paired with 2015 Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Rubentis Rosé

Food:  This salad is almost too pretty to eat. It’s strawberry season here in the northeast part of the U.S.. The season lasts only a few short weeks so we look to serve them with just about everything … breakfast, lunch and dinner.  These sweet, flavorful, fresh berries are absolutely perfect added to a salad of spinach greens, chicken, kiwi fruit, and slivered almonds … all drizzled with a lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette. Summertime … and the livin’ is easy!

Strawberry and Chicken Salad

Wine: Txakolina Rubentis is the rosé version of Txakolina, the lightly fizzy wine made in the Getariako Txakolina region of northern Spain … Basque country. It is made from 90% hondarrabi zuni white grapes and 10% hondarrabi belts, a red grape. These grapes are grown virtually nowhere else but in Basque country, and are descended from ancient wild grapes indigenous to this small corner of the world. The Basque people themselves consume the vast proportion of Txakolina wine, with the U.S. being a distant second largest consumer. Indeed, one rarely finds this wine for sale anywhere else, including Spain itself. For me, sampling wines with that heritage and origin is a thrill.

Spanish Rose

Tasting Notes:  A beautiful pale shade of pink. Imagine yourself out by the clothesline where the dry sheets are billowing over your head while you breathe in the clean fresh smells of the laundry along with the fragrance emanating from the nearby strawberry patch. That’s what you get when you smell this lovely wine. Strawberries and honeysuckle nectar are the gentle flavors, mingling nicely with the slight effervescence tickling your palate. Needless to say, this simple, clean tasting wine pairs wonderfully with the strawberries in the salad. Wine complementing food … food complementing wine.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Strawberry/ Chicken Salad:  Sancerre (Loire Valley), Vinho Verde (Portugal), Chardonnay (Chile), Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)

Other Foods That Pair Well with a Rosé:  Salad Nicoise, Cold Meat Plate (Salami, Ham, etc), Potato Salad, Paella, Lamb Kebabs

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Celebrating the Fourth … Buffalo Burgers (Version 2.0) Paired with a Red Blend

Pairing:  Buffalo Burgers Paired with a 2011 Montes Twins Malbec/ Cabernet Sauvignon Red Blend

Food:  A year ago, we featured Buffalo Burgers, along with potato salad and coleslaw as our traditional Fourth of July picnic. This year we are repeating that meal, but with different variations for each of the components of the meal. The buffalo (or, perhaps more accurately, bison) burgers are made from a mixture of ground buffalo meat, wild blueberries (really!), Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard. Version 2.0 of the potato salad has added green peppers, celery, and onion. And we used red cabbage (instead of green) in the coleslaw, giving it the look of a fireworks display! It is the Fourth of July after all!

Buffalo Burgers Version 2.0

Wine:  For this year’s picnic, we drank a Malbec/ Cabernet Sauvignon 50/ 50 blend from the Colchagua Valley wine region in central Chile. The region is particularly well known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, considered by some as the best Cab made in all of South America. Both Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are splendid single varietal wines. Blended together by a skilled winemaker, they become a wine of extraordinary complexity, depth and polish. This is a special (but inexpensive) red wine that goes well with many different foods (read on).

Montes Twins

Tasting Notes:  A deeply colored reddish black (thanks to the Malbec in the blend). The aroma is reminiscent of blackberry jam cooking on the stove. The palate is hedgerow jam … a composite of dark berries (blueberry, black raspberry, blackberry, black cherry). Smooth and velvety … the soft tannins feel like gently padded elbows (does that make sense?). A real nice pairing for these buffalo burgers … goes down real easy … and very inexpensive ($11).

Other Wines That Pair Well with Buffalo Burgers: Zinfandel (Sonoma), Shiraz (Australia), Merlot (Italy), Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile), Cahors (France)

Other Foods That Pair Well with a Malbec/ Cab Blend:  Grilled Steak, Meat Loaf, Roast Beef or Lamb, Pizza with Sausage, Mushroom, and/ or Pepperoni

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