It’s Rhubarb Time! Grilled Bluefish with Rhubarb Sauce

Food: June is the time of year around here where there is an explosion of rhubarb in people’s gardens, and everyone is wondering how best to use this bounty. Of course, rhubarb pie is a favorite. Rhubarb wine can be exquisite. And rhubarb juice is a delicious, thirst-quenching drink on a hot summer day. But how about a rhubarb sauce poured over a wonderful grilled fish. And, what better fish to grill than bluefish. I grew up fishing for bluefish in the ocean south of Long Island on my uncle’s boat. There is not a better game fish for fight and flavor than a bluefish. To this day, it is my favorite of all fish to eat. And grilling it over charcoal is the best way to cook it.

Grilled Bluefish w: Rhubarb sauce + Aust Riesling

So … what about that rhubarb sauce? Make a light-colored syrup out of 2 T of sugar. Then … stand back (it spatters a bit) and add 1 T red wine vinegar and the juice and zest of one orange. The sugar will re-harden, but will become syrupy again in a few minutes after you turn the heat down. Add 1/2 lb thinly sliced rhubarb, 1/8 tsp cumin, and 1/8 tsp salt. Cook for about 15 min until the rhubarb is soft and has lost its shape. Put it all in a blender and puree it. This recipe is from an old favorite, Fresh Ways with Fish and Shellfish. It works really well with the bluefish. We’ve served the fish with wild rice pilaf and green beans.

Wine:  2012 Mount Trio Riesling. This riesling hails from Western Australia. The winery is located in the delightfully named region of Porongurup. Unlike the rieslings from Germany that most of us are used to — a bit on the sweeter side and decidedly complex — the rieslings from Australia are usually bone dry and pleasantly sharp and bright tasting. The Mount Trio is no exception.

Mount Trio Australian Rieslig

Tasting Notes: The nose is pleasantly citrusy (mostly mellow orange and lime) and with a hint of orange blossom. The palate is a bright-tasting, citrus flavor that is not too acidic as some citrus-tasting wines can be. The orange juice and zest in the rhubarb sauce seems to bring out the aromas and taste of orange in the wine. Crisp and refreshing!

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A Source: K & L Wine Merchants

Springtime Sunday Dinner – Roast Lamb

Food: A boneless leg of lamb, stuffed generously with fresh oregano, rosemary, and garlic…how perfect for a Springtime Sunday!  Served with roasted red potatoes with rosemary and peas seasoned with mint.

A word about lamb … one often sees frozen leg of lamb sold in supermarkets and it’s usually identified as being from New Zealand. This is almost always grass-fed lamb which tends to have a stronger lamb flavor. The fresh lamb typically sold in most markets is U.S. raised and is most often grass-fed but finished off with grain. This is usually a milder tasting lamb. If you are fortunate enough to have access to locally raised lamb, this is usually grass-fed.

Roast lamb w: Bordeaux

Wine: 2009 Chateau Jean Faux Sainte-Radegonde Grand Vin de Bordeaux. One of the truly great wine and food pairings is red bordeaux wine and roasted lamb. Unfortunately, bordeaux wine is often on of the most expensive wines in the world. At $20 a bottle, this Chateau Jean Faux is one of the most affordable and delicious bordeaux that I have found. The winery is tucked away in a quiet corner of the Bordeaux wine region about half way between the city of Bordeaux and the town of Bergerac. Sainte-Radegonde  is situated just beyond the boundary that defines the Saint Emilion AOC, truly one of the most renowned wine regions of Bordeaux. Go to the website below to read about and see pictures of this beautiful area.

The wine is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.

Jean Faux Bordeaux


Tasting:  The nose can best be described as warm (yes, I know, that sounds weird) with a wonderful aroma of black cherries. On the palate, one gets a lovely flavor of “hedgerow jam” (an amalgam of mixed wild berries one might find in a hedgerow), with the most prevalent of the berry tastes being wild cherry. There is an unmistakable flavor of allspice on the long, lingering finish. What a nice wine … by itself or, especially, with the lamb.

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Pasta Carbonara with Roasted Vegetables and 2011 Renato Ratti Barbera d’Alba

Food: Pasta Carbonara with roasted vegetables

The pasta could not be more simple. Chop some bacon and cook it in some olive oil until it begins to curl, but not brown. Add some white wine and cook until evaporated. Boil the pasta. In the serving dish, break 2 eggs and mix with a total of ¾ cup grated Romano and Parmesan cheeses. Then add the cooked bacon. Whisk together and stir in the hot, drained pasta.   Roast vegetables in your favorite way. We used eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, and carrots.

Carbonara pasta, Roasted veg w: Barbera d'Alba

Wine: 2011 Renato Ratti Barbera d’Alba. This wine hails from the Piedmont region of northern Italy in the village of Alba just south of the city of Turin. Located south and east of the Italian Alps, it is an area known for both its breathtaking scenery and its famous, world-class wines — the most notable being barolo and barbaresco, both made from the nebbiolo grape. Barbera, however, is the most widely planted grape in the Piedmont region, accounting for more than 50% of wine production in the DOC.

Renato Ratti Barbera d'Alba

Tasting notes: On the nose, one gets the pleasant scents of plum, black currant and blackberry. On the palate, blackberry jam persists as the most recognizable flavor. A word about fruit flavors in wine — younger wines that have fruit as part of their flavor profile tend to have the tastes of fresh fruits; then, as the wine ages those flavors tend to soften into the tastes of cooked fruit like jam, fruit leather, or even pie. Although this dish is more commonly paired with a white Italian wine like a Pinot Bianco or Pinot Grigio, this Barbera is perfect with the rich taste of the carbonara and the roasted vegetables. The low tannins of the Barbera contribute to the suitability of this pairing.

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Mussels With Fettuccini, Morels, and Asparagus

Food:  The basic recipe is from Molly O’Neils A Well-Seasoned Appetite.  We have prepared and enjoyed ‘Mussels O’Neil’ for years.  For this version, we added freshly picked wild morels from our “secret location” and asparagus for a real celebration of month of May. The mussels, morels, and asparagus are each cooked separately. While the pasta is cooking, steam the mussels in a little water and white wine (preferably the white wine you have paired with the meal). Cut the asparagus into two-inch pieces and saute in a little butter. When the mussels are done, remove them, reduce the remaining liquid to about a cup and add some cream. When the pasta is done, combine it with the mussels, sauce, morels, and asparagus. Season to taste.

Mussels w: morels, asparagus +

Wine: 2012 Sarno 1860 from Avellino, Italy. Avelino is in the Campania region near Naples. The wine is made primarily from the Fiano di Avelino grape. The Sarno 1860 is considered to be an excellent expression of that grape.

Sarno 1860 Italian white

Tasting notes: The nose carries a lovely scent of honeysuckle and other white flower floral notes. On the palate, one can taste white peach, pear, and a light touch of citrus and minerals. It has a nice lingering finish, and is a good match for this meal complimenting the mussels, morels, and even the asparagus (a notoriously difficult flavor to pair with).

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A Source: K & L Wines (online)

Sicilian Shepherds’ Sauce on Tortiglione Pasta

Food: Here is a favorite from Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s wonderful The Italian Country Table. This begins with a thick, hearty marinara sauce, generous with sage, garlic, and hot pepper flakes. [If you aren’s serving a crowd, divide the sauce in half before proceding. Cook 2-3 ounces of pasta per person until it is underdone. Mix the pasta in with some of the sauce and heat for 2-3 minutes, adding more salt and hot pepper as needed. Put the pasta and sauce in your serving dish and top with ricotta cheese. Bake at 425 degrees until hot through. A completed casserole, unbaked, will freeze very well for a quick meal later.Pasta with Sicilian Shepherd's Sauce

Wine: Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2009Querceto Chianti Classico

Tasting notes: The nose has faint black berry and vanilla notes, while on the palate black cherry, black berry and earth are tasted. Well-matured tannins make for a smooth taste. The finish goes on and on and on.

read more: The site is written in Italian, but Google will translate it for you…..

Creamy Asparagus Soup

Food: Asparagus Soup is one of our favorite recipes from Salute to Healthy Cooking. Since it freezes perfectly, we make big batchs in the spring to enjoy all year long.  Enhanced with the addition of a swirl of Boursin cheese and Finn Crisp with melted Swiss cheese, it is delicious and even low in calories.

Asparagus soup w: Dutcher Chardonnay One and a half pounds asparagus                                             ½ c onion, roughly chopped            1 cup potato in 1″ dice                                                               5 cups chicken stock                                4 oz raw chicken breast cut into 4 pieces                                 salt & pepper                                         per serving:             1 and ½ tsp Boursin cheese                   4 pieces of Finn Crisp crackers               1 ½ oz Swiss cheese [1 deli slice]

Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and cut spears roughly in half. Pour the chicken stock into a sauce pan. Add the onion and asparagus. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables so that it will steam/poach while the asparagus is cooking. Bring the liquid to a simmer and put on a lid. Remove the chicken when it is cooked and put it in the blender. When the vegetables are cooked, remove them from the stock and put in the blender. Cook the potato in the pot and cook until soft. Pour the stock and the potatoes into the blender with evrything else. Blend until smooth. Return to the pan and season to taste. Cool and divide into 6 portions to serve or freeze.                                                                                                                                   Put 1.5 tsp Boursin in the center of the hot bowl of soup and swirl it around to mix slightly.   Cut the slice of cheese into 4 strips, 4” x 2”, and put a portion on each cracker. Warm in the oven until cheese melts.

Wine: 2013 Dutcher Crossing Chardonnay (Costello Vineyard)

Dutcher Crossing has long been one of our favorite wineries. We visited them on an extended drive through Sonoma County a few years back. Their winery is located in the beautiful Dry Creek Valley, though they have vineyards in several areas of Sonoma. Their chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and zinfandel are all excellent. This particular chardonnay is made from grapes grown in the nearby Alexander Valley.

Dutcher Costello Vinyard Chardonnay, 2013

Tasting notes: A lovely melon and honeysuckle fragrance is detected on the nose. Gentle flavors  of tropical fruits (notably pineapple) and peach highlight the palate and finish. A light touch of oak and some bright acidity help provide a nice balance to the flavorful fruit. ‘The natural cooling provided by the high elevation of this Costello vineyard on the Alexander Valley’s eastern slopes provides an ideal climate for chardonnay.  Asparagus can be a challenging food to pair with the right wine, but this wine compliments perfectly the delicate flavors of the asparagus soup.

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A source: One can purchase this wine directly from Dutcher Crossing at their website

Bangers and Mash with a California GSM

Food: Bangers and Mash is a simple, country dish from England. What could be heartier or easier than sausage, gravy, mashed potatoes, and a green vegetable?  How interesting that a quintessentially English dish should pair so well with a wine originally from the Southern Rhone region of France, or, in this case, from the Central Coast of California.

Bangers & mash w: The Offering

Wine: 2009 The Offering from Sans Liege.  A typical Southern Rhone-style red wine  is a combination of Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre, hence the nickname ‘GSM’. A GSM from California is cleverly referred to as a “Rhone Ranger.” This California wine made by Sans Liege is from Santa Maria in the Central Coast region. It is composed of:

42% Grenache, 31% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre, and 2% Viognier

The Offering, GSMV

Tasting notes: On the nose, one detects cherry and raspberry fruit leather. The palate reveals a refined fruitiness. ‘Hedgerow jam’ might be the best description of the flavor of this GSM. Mellow and round, lush and delicious.

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A source: Brown and Company, Portland, ME