Friday, November 22, 2013

A Gift for Every Wine Lover on Your List

Don’t panic this holiday season; the perfect gift is actually out there. For oenophiles who want to take their grape love to the gifting level, here’s a list of carefully chosen wine-related gifts. Each item is crafted with wine in mind by Oregon artisans. A bottle, gift pack or gift certificate for a tasting from any of the region’s finest wineries is surely appreciated, but a creative wine gift might just put you down in history as the best gift giver ever. Be forewarned, you’ll forever be expected to gift über cool presents. Are you ready for the challenge? Read more in 1859 Magazine here…

Monday, November 18, 2013

Big News From Argyle Winery

Press Release:

Winery Expands Production as Next Generation Winemaker Takes the Reins 

DUNDEE, Ore. – Nov. 14, 2013 – For the first time in its 26-year history, Argyle Winery is unveiling new labels that set a dramatic tone for the winery’s products and better visually connect its award-winning sparkling and still wines under a unified brand. In response to and in anticipation of future growth, the company is also expanding production with the purchase of a larger facility as Nate Klostermann assumes the day-to-day head winemaking role under the watch of founding winemaker Rollin Soles.

Branding Conveys Argyle’s Quality
Elegant and contemporary, the winery’s new labels reflect the attention to detail in Argyle’s winemaking as well as offer customers better visual cues for choosing wines from the trusted brand.

Argyle’s clean new look and progressive series approach make wine selection easy:
  • Wines with a single diamond on the label are part of the Grower Series, paying tribute to Argyle’s history as growers first, farming more than 400 acres in the Willamette Valley.
  • Wines with two diamonds distinguish the Artisan Series, which features select wines representing the best examples of the specific craft of Argyle’s viticulture and winemaking for sparkling and still wines.
  •  Wines with three diamonds signify the Master Series, simply Argyle’s best wines – only the rarest, most age-worthy wines made in small quantities often from single vineyards. 

“For the first time since our humble beginning, we are introducing new packaging that conveys Argyle’s quality,” said Chris Cullina, Argyle’s director of sales and marketing. “The naming series is based on the story of our land, people and tradition of winemaking, and the new graphics help consumers distinguish our different wines at first sight.”

Response to the new labels from distributors and key accounts has been overwhelmingly positive. They welcome the heightened sophistication and believe the packaging’s elegance and refinement rings true to the nature of Argyle’s wines.

New Production Facility For Maintaining Quality
Starting in 2014, Argyle will house its winemaking and cellaring operations in a new facility in Newberg, Ore., that allows the winery to maintain its sparkling wine production while providing room for growth.

“As the popularity of our sparkling wine has grown, so has our need for more space,” said Klostermann. “Bottle fermenting all of our sparkling wines, allowing them to age on proprietary yeasts for three to 10 years, requires more room.”

The new production facility, housed in a former manufacturing building, keeps with Argyle’s tradition of repurposing existing buildings and will allow the winery to continue expanding production from its current capacity of 50,000 cases. The popular tasting room will remain in the historic Victorian farmhouse that previously was Dundee’s town hall.

Collaboration Continues
Nate Klostermann assumed the role of head winemaker in February 2013 after eight years under the mentorship of founding winemaker Rollin Soles. An enologist respected for his acute palate and attention to detail, Klostermann is a recognized expert in blending still and complex sparkling wines. Soles will continue working with Klostermann on viticulture and winemaking, signing off on all wines before they are bottled. Klostermann also collaborates with vineyard manager Allen Holstein and his staff of skilled vineyard stewards, many who have been with the company for more than 20 years.

Argyle has been handcrafting fine wines since 1987, when it was founded to produce ‘method champenoise,’ vintage sparkling wine in Oregon. Today, Argyle not only produces some of the finest vintage American sparkling wines, it also crafts world-class Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. Its wines are available at the fine restaurants, wine shops and select grocers, as well as online. For more information, go to

Contact: Matthew Domingo

Friday, November 8, 2013

Unique Oregon Wines That Surprise

“The only thing that should surprise me here is that some things still surprise me.” – Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Okay, so who doesn't like a good surprise? There are few things in life more delicious than a pleasantly unexpected experience or one that exceeds your expectations. When I drink a glass of wine and discover it exists in this happy place that lies somewhere between my predictions, assumptions and reality—I realize how much I love surprises.

To be honest, not many wines surprise me these days. But when they do, it’s not something I keep to myself. The following wines are non-Pinot noir jaw-droppers that I must confess recently left me marveling at the wonder and brilliance of Oregon wine. Read my article in 1859 Magazine for my surprising wine picks.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Oregon Wine Goes Social

In honor of Regional Wine Week (sponsored by Drink Local Wine), I'd like to take a moment to draw your attention to a new monthly tasting group with a focus on Oregon wine. The Oregon Wine Social which has recently emerged in Portland, brings Oregon wine country directly to the city. Thinking beyond urban wineries and giant wine festivals, each month this wine group presents a fantastic opportunity to taste a variety of producers from all over Oregon wine country in a very intimate venue.

This ain't no wine festival though. With limited tickets available, you won't be fighting your way through crowds thick as fog seeking wines and conversation with the producers. Instead, you'll discover interesting wines, time with the winemakers, cozy venues and clever food pairings from the restaurant of choice, all while mingling with other local food and wine lovers.

The next Oregon Wine Social celebrates the 2013 Grape Harvest on Wednesday, October 16th from 5:30-7:30pm at 23 Hoyt. This months guest wineries are Ghost Hill CellarsImbue Cellars and WillaKenzie Estate. In addition to the food, wine and great company, fun prizes and tickets to future events will be up for grabs. A few tickets still remain, but get them before they're gone.

Oregon Wine Social "Harvest Celebration"
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Where: 23 Hoyt 

RSVP is required by Tuesday October 15th. $30 per person
Ticket price includes wine tasting from the 3 featured wineries, and special appetizers prepared by 23 Hoyt. 
Tickets are very limited and will sell out quickly. Ages 21 and over only. 

Click here to purchase Tickets

Like them on Facebook, to stay in the know about upcoming events, I do.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Oregon Wine Road Less Traveled

In pursuit of Willamette Valley wine, wineries along the Highway 99 corridor tend to get lots of love. And what’s not to love? There is an amazing selection of conveniently located wineries along this stretch of road. Stray a bit off the beaten track though, and you’ll discover an alternative wine route that steers you away from congestion and toward accessible, peaceful and lesser-known experiences instead. Read more about wineries along this route in 1859 Magazine.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Back in Blanc

If you haven’t yet discovered Oregon Pinot blanc, it’s high time you do. Because, in addition to producing some of the best Pinot noir in the world, Oregon makes a damn fine Pinot blanc as well.

Not to be confused at all with Chardonnay, and especially not with Melon, Pinot blanc is actually a genetic mutation of Pinot noir, and quite possibly more like the Cinderella sister—often forgotten about and left without a date for the Ball. Around the world, Pinot blanc may be blended with other grapes to produce more complex flavors, but Oregon tends to be more purist, letting the lovely and distinctive tropical, spicy and floral notes of this wine shine through.

One of my favorite pairings with Pinot blanc is oysters, but a close second is Pasta al Melone (see recipe below). This sweet, savory and rich meal is perfectly balanced by the dry style of Oregon Pinot blanc. So, with an abundance of both warm summer days and juicy melons in high season, what better time than now to give these both a try? The pasta dish is simple to prepare, but impressive enough to serve to company. Serve it with a seasonal green salad and some crusty bread to soak up the sauce. It's like a fairytale food and wine pairing.

Some favorite wines for you to explore:

Spindrift Cellars 2011 Pinot Blanc ($16) – Honeydew melon and lemon curd entertain your palate while zingy acids liven up your meal.

J. Scott Cellars 2011 Pinot Blanc ($15) – Pear, pineapple and sour apple make your mouth water—lingers long after your last swallow.

Bethel Heights 2011 Estate Grown Pinot Blanc ($18) – An array of citrus, creamy lemon curd, tart green apples, pear and nutmeg cookies. Sweet on the nose, but brilliant and racy acidity in the mouth. It's like the Energizer bunny of wine.

Chehalem 2011 Stoller Vineyards Pinot Blanc ($28) – A more floral and traditional Pinot Blanc. Juicy white peaches, Anjou pear and delicate orange blossoms grace the glass. This wine has it all… great minerality, succlent fruit, rich body and snappy acidity.

The Four Graces 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc ($24) – Tropical flavors of pineapple, papaya and lychee are perfectly complemented by white tea, ginger and creamy custard.

Elk Cove 2012 Pinot Blanc Willamette Valley  ($19) – Clean and crisp with a focus  on the fruit. Aromas of orange peel, pear and white flowers make this divine when paired with salty and rich foods.

With just over 200 acres planted to Pinot blanc in Oregon, Pinot blanc is not the most common wine from this region. Yet a number of Oregon producers are turning out wines that would make even Price Charming take notice. In addition to those listed above, other wineries producing noteworthy Pinot blanc are Ponzi Vineyards, Foris, WillaKenzie Estate, Rex Hill, Amity, Adelshiem and Left Coast Cellars.


Pasta al Melone (serves 4-6 people)

4 T butter
1 T vegetable oil
3 cups cantelope diced into ¼ inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ t tomato paste
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Tonnarelli or pasta of your choice (cooked according to directions)

  1. Put butter and oil into sauté pan and turn heat to high. When oil is hot, add melon.
  2. Cook melon for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until melon softens but is not entirely broken down, most of the pieces should still be separate.
  3. Add cream, lemon juice and tomato paste and cook until reduced by half.
  4. Add salt and pepper, stir gently and remove from heat.
  5. Pour sauce over prepared pasta and serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Evening Land Tri-Fecta

Evening Land Vineyards (ELV), the new kid in town, has quite a reputation already. It’s one of ambition, quality, brilliance and beauty… the stuff legends are made of.

Not many wineries produce wine in multiple locations. While a few Oregon wineries also make wine in California or Washington, and even fewer number make wine in both Oregon and Burgundy, Evening Land actually makes wine in all three locations with fruit from esteemed vineyards in these areas—Oregon, California and France. Stop in at their new Dundee tasting room and sip for yourself. You might just not believe your tastebuds.

With vineyards and wine production in the Willamette Valley, Sonoma Coast and in an idyllic 12th century chateau in the legendary Burgundy France, ELV offers tasters a chance to experience the wide world of wine. Enjoy them all, side-by-side, and explore the qualities distinctive to each specific growing region, as well as the varietal similarities.

Discover the minerality of the Evening Land Chardonnays, each of them bright, rich, alive and impressive showing flavors of lemon, grapefruit peel, pear and white blossoms.

The ELV Pinot Noirs are simply captivating. The Willamette Valley blue label (ELV's elegant labels are color-coded according to price), a blend of three different vineyard sites (Lemelson, Stoller and Eola Springs), is surprisingly priced in the “affordable” Oregon Pinot Noir category. At just $25 a bottle retail, it’s a wine you definitely want to get your corkscrew into and add to your regular line-up. 

The Seven Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir is simply stunning. On the savory side of Pinot, the wine is still dripping with sweet, luscious black cherries and tart red raspberries. This acid-driven wine is perfectly balanced…a symphony of fruit, earth, minerals and old-world style, all the notes coming together in perfect harmony. Sublime. Quixotic. Pour me another glass.

Though I’d tried ELV's wines before, this comprehensive and more focused tasting made quite an impression on me. All of the wines (with the exception of the Spanish Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir, which is wisely being discontinued) are even better than remembered or expected. Evening Land is definitely a winery to put on your “Must Visit” and "Must Taste" lists. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How Often Does a Wine Totally Take You By Surprise?

Maybe I've been spoiled by so much good wine, but these days it takes something really special to sweep me off my feet. One thing that excites me though, is a winery that does something so completely different and totally unexpected, and then does it exceedingly well. Case in point, WillaKenzie Estate.

In Oregon, we're blessed with an abundance of  fantastic Pinot noir and even great Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, but rarely do you find a winery that's stepping completely out of the box and delivering something totally off the beaten path. Yet somehow, I found just the thing.

Last year, with great luck, I stumbled upon WillaKenzie Estate's 2010 Pinot Meunier and boy was I happy I did. Sadly, I only purchased a couple of bottles of this beauty. I was so impressed with this wine, I was saving this last bottle for a special occasion, or at least a special person to share it with. But alas, I decided I was special occasion and special person enough and popped it open last night with dinner. So, in the end, you're actually the lucky one I get to share it with :)

Though this variety actually ripens more consistently and reliably than Pinot noir, for reasons unbeknownst to me, Pinot Meunier is not typically found as a stand-alone red wine and not widely grown in the Willamette Valley. Traditionally, Pinot Meunier is used as one of the three main blending grapes in Champagne (the other two are Pinot noir and Chardonnay). For use in Champagne (insert drool here), the grapes are pressed immediately, it's juice never having contact with their skins to encourage tannin and color development. Meunier means Miller, which is characterized by its leaves that are covered with a white, dusty, powdery substance (almost like flour, and not to be confused with mildew). WillaKenzie harvested their estate-grown grapes and put them in cold storage for a few days before they went through a traditional cold-soak maceration, fermentation and punch-down regime (not unlike their Pinot noir). What was created, was a limited-production wine that shows love, forethought and risk. All the makings of a winner.

WillaKenzie is one of the few wineries (certainly in Oregon anyway), who is producing Pinot Meunier as a single vineyard and varietally-specific wine. It's 100% estate grown, in Yamhill Oregon, and worth the experience. If you're an acid hound, like me, you'll especially love this wine. The high acidity is part of what makes it pair so well with food. The wine is light, yet plush and tart. It's screaming with fresh fruit flavors of sour cherry, cranberry and pucker-power pomegranate, with compliments of white pepper, vanilla and pie spice.

Happy Marriages:
Keep food pairings simple. An absolute pleasure to drink all on its own, the WillaKenzie Pinot Meuneir is ideally suited to lighter foods. Try it with roasted chicken, seared scallops, shrimp on the barbi, savory potatoes and sauteed zucchini.

The 2010 Pinot Meunier is sadly sold out, but the 2011 vintage has just been released and is impressive and oh-so-drinkable now too. Rest assured a few more of those bottles will find their way into my cellar. If you're smart, they'll make their way into yours too.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Aquaman to the Rescue… Cocktail in Hand.

Summer in Portland has come early this year. While most years, June still finds me dressed in my rain jacket and boots, this year I have already shed those garments, trading them in for a sundress and a nice healthy(?) tan. And though I typically don’t have much use for AC in my car, this year I find myself wishing for the refrigerated and re-circulated air to blow me down. Yeah, nothing like black leather in the hot sun with no way of cooling it down other than your own body. Can you say “sticky?" Sit in traffic in a slow moving car for an hour or so and I’m fairly certain you’ll feel something like a rotisserie chicken. When this happens to me, my mind immediately goes to Aquaman. But I’m not talking about being rescued by superheroes, I’m speaking the language of savior cocktails. Do you know of a better language?

Aquaman may have been the most underappreciated Justice League member, who even knows what his superpower was anyway? And, while Aquaman may not have been the coolest or most memorable of superheroes, THE Aquaman is definitely the coolest and most memorable drink you’ll ever come across. It's the king of cocktails. The master of the mixed drink. You might even feel something like a superhero when you drink it (go on, try to communicate with underwater sea-life)… it may not make you swim faster, but at the very least, it will make you forget all about your stifling commute. What more can you really ask for? Come on, did you really think you'd acquire superhuman powers?

The anise and lime flavors of this cocktail are simply perfect for an evening cooling off on your deck, but if you’re thinking dinner, I recommend pairing it with Mexican food. Though Aquavit is traditionally a Scandavian spirit, the sweet and sour components of the cocktail work surprisingly well with salty fish tacos while at the same time rescuing you from the heat of a spicy salsa.

Mix yourself up a tall one, sit back relax, and then let me know how Aquaman saved the world.

Serves 1

Fresh squeezed lime juice
Aquavit (I especially like Krogstad from House Spirits Distillery based in Portland)
Simple Syrup

  1. Add 2 shots each of lime juice, Aquavit and simple syrup into a shaker with ice. 
  2. Shake and pour into a superhero serving glass. 
  3. Garnish with a twist of lime or a float of mint leaves.
  4. Sit back and let your secret identity take shape.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Saké PDX… the Saké Bomb of Events

I sat at my table in awe, mouth hanging open, in surprise and appreciation for what I was witnessing at the table next to me. The server was pouring a glass (choko) of saké, and instead of stopping when the glass was full, he continued to pour and pour, and pour, until the wine had sufficiently overflowed into the box (masu) that the glass sat in, filling both containers. I found the presentation so impressive, I wanted to order my own glass, just so I could watch the process all over again. I couldn't help myself, I felt the words overflowing from my mouth like the saké from the bottle. I said "How cool is that!" and then proceeded to ask the couple at the table next to me if they knew why it was done like that. Their answer was a simple “No, to draw attention to it might make it stop, and we don't complain.” Next, I asked the waiter about the meaning, to which he answered "It’s the traditional way." Unsatisfied with the answers I was getting, I pulled out my trusty phone and turned to Google. Wiki told me that there is in fact a very specific meaning as to why saké is poured this way. It is simply intended to show the restaurant's generosity. I generously shared this information with the couple and the waiter.

I've dined in a lot of sushi restaurants, but I couldn't recall ever experiencing such hospitality before. Though I’d ordered saké numerous times I was never shown such generosity until I ordered a glass of my favorite saké (Yuki no Bosha – Cabin in the Snow) at my favorite sushi restaurant, Bamboo Sushi in Portland. And then it was just as I remembered. The saké was beautifully light and refreshing, with notes of melon and white peaches, and the presentation made it even better. They were so generous! :)

"Generosity is not me giving that which I need more than you do, but is giving me that which you need more than I do." Khalil Gibran

On June 27th, Saké Fest returns to Portland at The Governer Hotel. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample more than 100 different kinds of saké, plum wine and beer from near and afar. With premium and rare saké available to taste, guests can learn about and experience something very unique and very special, this is not your typical wine tasting event. And though the vendors probably won’t be pouring your drink to overflowing, they will be generous with their knowledge and you’re sure to discover a new favorite beverage with incredible versatility and with such a variety of characteristics you never thought possible. You have been warned though, you will likely be converted and walk away from the event a saké snob, never be able to look at someone who orders warm saké the same way again.

Saké Fest PDX is an event like no other. Experience it for yourself on Thursday, June 27th from 6:30-9:00 pm at the Governer Hotel. Expect a memorable evening overflowing with rare Japanese saké, an a little education and delicious food pairings from area restaurants to bring it all together. Get your tickets now, I’ll be there hoping to clink glasses with you, we can talk about saké or what it means to give without expecting anything in return. See you there! Kanpai.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Love the Club Your With…

Today’s wine clubs offer members a great deal more than merely complimentary tastings, seasonal parties and wine discounts. It’s like being a part of the inner circle.

Click here to read more about the benefits of being a Wine Club Member on Oregon Wine Press…

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Give it Up for Oregon's 17th AVA

The Oregon Wine Board recently announced that Elkton Oregon received approval from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau  (TTB) becoming the state’s newest American Viticultural Area (AVA). The Elkton Oregon AVA, Oregon's 17th, is located within the Umpqua Valley AVA, which is also a part of the greater Southern Oregon AVA.

Some call it terrior.

Similar to wine appellations in Europe, AVAs are designated when someone petitions the TTB proving that specific areas show qualities determined to be unique to that region's geography with boundaries that are specifically defined. The Elkton AVA is on the Umpqua River and a mere 36 miles from the Pacific Ocean. This location brings daily sea breezes and penetrating fog, giving Elkton its unique climate – cool, maritime and temperate. According to Charles Humble of the Oregon Wine Center, “The climate in Elkton is quite different from the prevailing perceptions of the surrounding areas. Southern Oregon is most often thought of as warmer and drier than winegrowing areas farther north in the Willamette Valley.”

Humble says, “The newest Oregon AVA is the fulfillment of wine pioneer Ken Thomason’s dream of growing world class cool climate Pinot noir and white grapes near the small town of Elkton, which has a population of 170. Thomason began planting grapes in 1972 on a west-facing bench two miles east of Elkton at a site now owned by Mike and Vonnie Landt of Rivers Edge Winery.”

The newly attained AVA status will enable winegrowers and winemakers within the Elkton Oregon AVA to better describe the origin of their wines while allowing consumers to better identify wines from that region at the point of sale. Some wineries and winemakers feel that narrowing the AVA down to such a small area actually makes it harder to sell the wine. I've heard people say they have a hard enough time describing to someone where the Willamette Valley is, or the Umpqua River Valley, much less having to explain places like Chehalem Mountain, or Elkton, for that matter. This argument speaks to me, but I'm not in education, I'm a marketing person…I've learned to embrace the KISS philosophy, Keep it Simple, Stupid.

Ultimately, this article isn't intended to debate the merits or detriments of AVAs, it's about sharing the news that Oregon now has 17 different and unique ways to denote their wines. So let's all raise our collective glass for a warm welcome to Elkton Oregon AVA. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Food and Wine Combinations that are Downright Deligious!

Pairing Pinot Noir with food can be as simple as grilled salmon, mushrooms or pork. And while that combination can be positively scintillating, when you challenge yourself to think outside the culinary box, doing so might just get you the golden ticket to epicurean heaven.

Dreaming of taking the food and wine experience to a whole new level, WillaKenzie Events Manager Claudia Bowers looked beyond traditional French or Northwestern fare to showcase how truly versatile the varietal could be, especially when paired with unexpected foods. Bowers worked with Portland chef extraordinaire Ricardo Segura of Patanegra restaurant, and the esteemed winemakers from WillaKenzie Estate, Elk Cove Vineyards and Ghost Hill Cellars to create a Pinot and Paella dinner that would expose people to a new trend in wine and culinary education.

You heard me right, she said Pinot and Paella.

According to Bowers, pairing Pinot Noir and Paella was a natural idea. “I wanted to show how Pinot Noir is the Little Black Dress of wine, it goes with everything is truly perfect for every event,” said Bowers.

When asked how his wines stood up against the exotic flavors of saffron and paprika of the paella, WillaKenzie Estate Winemaker, Thibaud Mandet says, “as long as the exotic flavors are not too strong and overwhelming, the match will be a good one. Wines with high acid levels, moderate tannins, solid structure and complex aromatics help, and Pinot Noir can be versatile that way.”

“It’s all about balance and intensity”, Mandet says.

When Patanegra Chef Ricardo Segura was challenged with serving paella with Pinot noir—a classically Spanish rice dish served in his restaurant—with Pinot Noir, instead of Spanish wines like Tempranillo or Grenache, he knew he had to make a few modifications. According to Segura, “There are so many variations of paella. In this instance, I utilized rabbit broth and meat to make the paella more rich than typical, complementing the lush, rustic, earthy and fruity components of the wine.”

Pinot Noir and Paella is just one of the many potential success stories. Because Pinot Noir is such a well-balanced wine, it can be coupled with a wide variety of foods and your imagination is your only limitation… don't let it hold you back. Combining food and wine can be a religious experience, this one will leave you praying for more.

Patanegra Paella 
by Ricardo Segura of Patanegra
Serves 6-8 people

1.5 lbs. escolar
1.5 lbs. mussels
1.5 lbs. prawns
1.5 lbs. langostinos
1.5 lbs rabbit
½ lb chorizo
½ lb chicken
½ lb ham
½ lb calamari
¼ lb roasted red peppers
1 ½ cups Sofrito (garlic, onions, peppers and tomatoes that have been pre-simmered)
Parsley for garnish
2 cups paella rice (short grain - Bomba is preferred, Arborio will do in a pinch)
Spanish paprika
4 cups rabbit (or chicken) stock
1 T saffron
Sea salt to taste
  1. Heat some olive oil in a paella pan and sear/brown the rabbit, chorizo and ham.
  2. Add the calamari and stir over high heat for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the Sofrito and continue stirring.
  4. Slowly add rice, level off in the pan and then do not touch.
  5. Add stock and bring to boil, then add salt and saffron and reduce temperature.
  6. Reduce temperature, add remaining fish/seafood.
  7. Cover and finish in 375 degree oven (or on stove over low heat) for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Let rest for 5 minutes, serve, give thanks and devour.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Eat to Live, Live to Eat or Just Simply Love to Eat

The name James Beard is to foodies as Pavlov’s bell is to dogs. You hear the name and you immediately think of food so genuinely good and so simply scrumptious that your mouth begins to salivate. 

If you love to eat, are interested in the Portland food scene or culinary history, this is one play you don’t want to miss. Portland Center Stage is currently running I Love to Eat, a play that showcases the culinary genius James Beard, at the Gerding Theater through January 24, 2013.  Actor Rob Nagle brilliantly portrays the larger-than-life iconic figure who elevated cooking to an art form (while keeping it completely accessible) in this one-man show about the legendary chef from Portland. Nagle spoonfeeds the audience tidbits about cooking, and the history of cooking. You'll learn that the earliest recipe was one for beer and was written as a poem 6,000 years ago. He'll even demonstrate how to whip up a perfect mayonnaise, and surprisingly produces a batch of what looked like tasty sandwiches for those lucky enough to be sitting in the front row. I Love to Eat is not only a whole lot funnier than I expected, it’s also peppered with generous dashes of warmth, honesty, tenderness, passion and beauty, which all come together to fill you up and leave you truly satiated, as if you'd just consumed a wonderful meal presented by the perfect host.

The play honors the epicure who started it all.

Long before the Food Network was concieved, James Beard was the star of the first-ever TV cooking show on NBC called I Love to Eat (in 1946) where he demonstrated techniques for everyday American cookery. He wasn't a gourmet—in fact he despised the pretentiousness of that word—Beard’s philosophy was “Be simple. Be honest. Fresh ingredients, the best you can find, in season.” It’s a bit ironic that a man who wrote 26 cookbooks would say something like “There are no new recipes, just variations on a theme,” and yet he did. His ground-breaking way of cooking, one that included being true to one’s region, has stood the test of time and inspired so many great chefs.The James Beard Foundation was set up in his memory to provide recipes, education and scholarships that help aspiring culinary students from all walks of life, while preserving his vision of American culinary's heritage and future. 

You don't have to be a chef or a foodie, you just have to love to eat.

I’ve accepted it, as a Jewish girl, I've always known how to eat… let’s face it, food is in my genes. As a skinny child, I think I heard the words “Eat, you’re a growing girl” (insert New York Jewish mother accent here) more than I heard anything else, including "Would it kill you to clean up your room?". My memories of childhood strongly steeped in food, like a good cup of tea. Food was not only the centerpiece of every religious holiday, it was also used as reward for good behavior, punishment for bad and was one of the ways my parent’s showed their love (my mother by cooking our favorite meals and my father who valued sharing culinary experiences with his kids by taking us out to ethnic restaurants so as to expose us to different foods from around the world). Though I clearly understood the foods of my culture, I wouldn't truly understand or appreciate the foods of my region, or seasonal or locally-sourced cooking until I moved to Portland.

Portland gets a new pantry.

Portland is fortunate to have a multitude of seasonal and even some year-round farmer's markets. And with places like New Seasons, finding fresh, local produce and the best ingredients needn't ever be a challenge. But things are about to get even easier and more interesting for Portlanders. Watch for the James Beard Public Market at the west end of the Morrison Bridge to arrive soon. The full-time, year-round, indoor-outdoor market will feature 40-60 permanent vendors who can help you satisfy your cravings for fresh and local cuisine.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The New Year Means New Oregon Wines to Taste

Where over 3,000 grape vines are now planted once stood a Christmas Tree farm. Paul and Lori Gates purchased the property in 1996 with a vision, their eyes set on the ideal spot for growing wine grapes. They cleared four of the estate’s seven acres and planted them to four different clones of Pinot Noir. Located on Iowa Hill in the Chehalem AVA at a 900 ft. in elevation, Gresser Vineyard is now planted in the Burgundian style, close to the ground, to capture the night’s escaping heat. Paul sees the value in paying close attention to his vines to produce the highest quality fruit and does so by being personally connected with his vineyard. In fact, he walks the vineyard regularly with a backpack sprayer to ensure he sees and can respond to every single vine. 
Producing the estate’s handcrafted wine has become a labor of love for the entire family. While Paul is the primary winemaker and vineyard manager, the whole family is involved in the production and management of the vineyard and label.

Gresser wines are truly value wines. You can consider them everyday wines, with an average price of $20 a bottle. In 2009, the Gates produced 700 cases, and as their label grows, the family is considering purchasing fruit to complement the grapes grown on the estate.

The 2008 Pinot Noir Red Label, priced at just $19 is completely estate-grown, elegant and thin, like a French woman dressed in sensual French perfume. The aromatics were captivating, with raspberry, cranberry, soft oak and chocolate covered cherries. The 2009 Pinot Noir Red Label ($19) showed more oak on the nose, with more tobacco notes and brown spice and the 2009 Pinot Noir White Label showed big red fruit flavors, finishing like a cherry cordial, sweet, long lasting and truly satisfying.

New Year’s Resolutions

Paul is a man with a past. He grew up in California's wine country, and has worked for a number of prestigious wineries, from local producers Shafer and Montinore, to the heavy hitter, Korbel, where he developed a taste for the bubbles. And though he hopes to produce a sparkling wine by next harvest, the Gates have also set their vision on building a gravity flow winery into the hillside of the estate in the next year or so. In the meantime, however, you can taste their wines at 1910 Main in Forest Grove, in co-operation with four other wineries and owned by the 1910 Main - An American Bistro conveniently located right next door.