Friday, November 25, 2011

Fine, Affordable Bordeaux Wine

My recent picks of affordable wines at Trader Joe's are fine Bordeaux wines. The 2009 Chateau Meric ($9.95; left in the photo above) is a typical Medoc (region 1 on Bordeaux map) blended Cabernet Sauvignon wine with smooth/silky tannins, the aroma of ripe red fruits (blueberry and cherry) and a hint of vanilla. It has an attractive ruby color with a slight amber reflection. This wine should age well for the next few years but is deliciously ready to drink for this holiday season.

2004 Chateau de La Riviere ($14.95) is from a well-reputed, historic winery in Fronsac (region 12 on  map) and is a bargain. Fronsac "appellation" (the district where a wine's grapes were grown; e.g., Napa, Sonoma, etc.) is located west of St.-Emilion, next to Pomerol and has a reputation for great value in red Bordeaux wine. I love how this wine bursts with wonderful fruity aromas as soon as the bottle is uncorked, and its luscious, fine Merlot flavor. This wine needs to be decanted. "Decanting" is a way to remove the deposit of tannins and color pigments that build up in older wines. The bottle needs to be stood upright several hours before you start. Next, gently remove the cork and wipe around the neck to clean it, inside and out. Pour out all the wine slowly and carefully in one movement to transfer to a clean, clear glass bottle, pitcher or decanter, leaving just the sediment in the original bottle.

Trader Joe's sells the 2007 Chateau de la Riviere, but the 2004 is definitely a better wine, plus you have an opportunity to practice decanting.

More tips on storing, decanting and serving wine at the


2009 Chateau Meric, Medoc (above)

2004 Chateau De La Riviere

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Autumn Vegetables

Autumn is here at my farmers market. We are still having fairly warm and sunny days here in the Bay Area, but the change in season is evident in the market's offerings. Ben, an organic farmer, told me that he saw frost last week, and that means there may be no more tomatoes next week. Sure, it's already November -- we are spoiled living in California. The East Coast has already had a bad snow storm. Anyway, it's the season for squash, potatoes and Swiss chard, with apples coming and oranges in the next few months. 

I baked these small honey bear squash that Ben gave me with a little butter and salt. They are less sweet than pumpkin but have a firmer texture, like butternut squash. Very delicious!

Organic vegetables are great. They don't all have the same shape and color, and sometimes aren't so pretty, but they always taste great. I marinated these eggplants with olive oil and chopped garlic and grilled them. I want to make Moussaka this week.

Basil is almost at the end of its season. Time to can some pesto sauce to enjoy until next summer.

It's also season for persimmons.

I sauteed eggplant with onion, garlic and chopped Italian parsley for the topping of Bruschetta.

Sauteed eggplant on toasted Ciabatta bread. Mmmmm!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Easy Indian Curry

I enjoy Indian-style curry dishes quite often. I normally make vegetarian curry but sometimes I make chicken or lamb curry. It's great with boiled Basmati or Thai jasmine rice, or Naan (flat bread) when available. I also make Raita (yogurt sauce with vegetables or fruit) to serve with it. Now making curry is especially easy! You can buy curry sauce at Trader Joe's -- 15 oz jar for $2.29. Their Curry Simmer Sauce is milder and the Masala Simmer Sauce is darker and spicier. Both are fairly good products and inexpensive.

I normally use chopped onion or shallot, sliced carrot, zucchini and mushrooms. I sautee the vegetables for 5-6 minutes with a little vegetable oil, then pour in a whole jar of the sauce with a cup of water and simmer the curry for 15-20 minutes. That's it. You may use coconut milk or buttermilk instead of 1/2 cup water, which will make the curry richer and more flavorful.

Naan bread and cucumber-tomato-mint Raita