Archive for November, 2009

As I left work and headed home tonight  I called my wife and asked her  what she wanted for dinner. To my surprise, she didn’t care! She said,” nothing is really pulled out of the freezer and the fridge looks like the entire football team stayed over last night.” Ok, we could go in a couple directions here, pizza, nah had that last night. Pancakes, nah, and FYI they are called “flapjacks”in our house and we eat them more often at night then we ever do for breakfast. So maybe I go back to one of the house favorites,”Nacho Mama’s Nacho Bake.”This is always a winner when you wanna get food on the table quick, and my twin 4 year olds girls love the name of it. It is basically a  meat lasagna, but I switch out the pasta sheets for  flour tortillas and mozzarella cheese  is switched for a mix of cheddar and pepper jack cheese. I also add salsa to the tomato sauce. Just layer it all up just like you would for a lasagna and bake it in the oven until everything is hot and bubbling. Ok, this is a variation of the original that I made when I was in charge of making staff meal for many, many years in the restaurant. All that was ever handed to me was the end cuts and pieces left  from trimmed  up  strip loins and filets. It was my job to #1 make it taste good, #2 make it look good, #3 make sure I had enough of it, #4 make sure it was up in time when all those ungrateful maintenance men, secretaries and servers who came in to the kitchen to take a peek over at staff meal. You have to understand that making staff meal in the restaurant is not fun, it isn’t like cooking for love ones or vip’s. There is no foie, truffles, and killer seafood allowed. You are lucky if the other line cooks even give you their day old chopped herbs or chicken stock to make rice. This is usually the job of a younger cook in the kitchen, not usually the greenest guy in the kitchen, but usually someone who is trusted. God forbid if  “pink in the middle” chicken francaise gets sent up for staff meal. You will never hear the end of it, and you will never show your face in the dining room to eat with the servers if it happens more than once. They have an awful lot to say for their free meal!  You will never hear a cook  complain, they are grateful for two scoops of rice, a chicken wing, quick smoke and a text to their girlfriend before service. Now, how did I get this silly name? One day  I put up some really great tacos at the restaurant, they were banging! I roasted my poblanos, I made a really great salsa and  grated up some queso fresco. I made tons of really good authentic toppings on the side so the servers could make up  their own. To tell you the truth I made it cause I wanted my dishwashers to enjoy them. I was so proud until one server came and asked,” what the hell was this?” I was behind the line and I told her  “tacos”, she told me where to stick them. I quickly explained to her what it was until she continued to talk under her breathe. I told her that they were F… tacos again, and that this is they way real Mexican food was made, and not what her Mama called Mexican food. She wanted those horrible  hard shell tacos that come packed with the stupid mexican spice. Wow, did I lay it into her, I told her that my idea of a taco wasnt the same as her wonder bread eating ass and her and her mama need to try something other than Ortega taco shells. So now I  encourage my little girls to eat whatever I put in front of them, and if you give it a silly name they won’t ever mind the sauteed mushrooms, roasted poblanos and cumin spiked sour cream I slide into their daddy’s nacho bake.






Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Ok, I hope that you all have your turkeys by now. I’m sure everyone still has  to make one more run out to the grocery store to grab a couple loaves of crusty baguette and a handful of  limes for that perfect gin tonic. If your not feeling the whole hard alcohol or wine thing for Thanksgiving why not pop open a beer. Don’t forget the lonely beer!! HELLO EVERYONE, take a look around, football is on and what goes better with a Giants win and an absolute ass beating of the Dallas Cowgirls than a cold beer. I don’t care if you are drinking a Miller Lite or a fancy  Pumpkin Ale from your favorite micro brewery, just relax and enjoy the company. Beer shouldn’t be an afterthought or looked down on because your Uncle tells everyone that he only drinks expensive right bank Bordeaux. Trust me nobody else at the table knows, understands or cares what the hell he is talking about when he describes the floral notes and hints of black pepper. He doesn’t know anymore than you, he just read the back of the label and scratched the $9.99 price tag off when he walked up the steps coming into your house. So now that we are clear on all that, it’s time to kick back and enjoy some great conversations with family and friends. Go GIANTS!!!


Read Full Post »

Termes 2007


This is what I will be drinking on Thanksgiving!



Read Full Post »

When you sell wine for a living you are more than prepared to answer the question of “What do I serve with Thanksgiving dinner?” Unfortunately your customers are rarely equipped to answer the more important inquiry of “What are YOU serving for Thanksgiving dinner?” In response to this vicious cycle I have developed some simple and straightforward guidelines for selecting the “right” bottle for Thanksgiving. Bill and I went to the Culinary Institute of America, and as he thought it would be fun for me to share these tips with all of his readers since I have hung up my knives, and these days I focus on peddling wine.

First thing first, if you really don’t want to spend any time thinking about which wine to serve, and you want the age old suggestions here they are, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Noir, and Beaujolais Nouveau, are the big three when it comes to you standard or traditional Thanksgiving meal. The common theme is that the vast majority of these wines that are available in the marketplace are easy drinking, fruit driven, and not terribly big or full bodied. Any or all of these wines will suit your purposes adequetly. If you choose to take this road I suggest Gewurtztraminer from Alsace, both Willm, and Trimbach are reliable producers of top notch Gewurtztaminer and will do the job quite nice. Pinot Noir, I suggest Californian for beginners, look for Row 11 Santa Maria vineyards, or even something easier to find perhaps like MacMurray Ranch’s Central Coast. These fruity acid driven Pinots may not be the best of what Pinots can offer, but they are totally serviceable wines that are sure to not offend. The Beaujolais Nouveau can be a tad trickier to find if you don’t have a good wine shop near you, but limit your search to the George DuBeouf Beaujolais Village Nouveau and you should find what you are looking for. Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine that is created in celebration of the harvest in the region and as such it is fitting to serve with the harvest celebration that we call Thanksgiving. This wine is a red wine that is as close to a white wine as you will ever see and again should easily be a crowd pleaser.

For those of you looking for something a little more outside the box let’s examine the more “new age” pairings that are starting to make a splash these days. Dry Roses have found a home in the hearts and minds of many wine drinkers these days during the spring a summer. Served chilled these crisp and cool wines present oodles of rasberry, and strawberry notes with hints of tart cranberry and citrus zest on the finish. Sounds like exactly the type of wine we might like to serve with a Thanksgiving meal, especially any of you who live in a warmer climate. The easiest to find and often time best Dry Rose wines come from Provence, France, but keep in mind that Navarro Spain and many other regions around the world are now producing world class Dry Roses. This is not a license to serve White Zinfandel which is never okay, but rather make sure you are puchasing a DRY rose and watch your guests, “blush” as they enjoy pink wine.

Next up in our new and exciting adventure with Thanksgiving wine pairing would be the wines of the Rhone valley in France. These big and rustic wines might seem a tad overbearing for the humble roasted turkey but let’s look at what we are actually talking about. The wines of the Rhone are made primarily of Grenache and Syrah. Both of these wines are noted for their low tannin levels and fresh fruit flavors balanced with ample acidity. The Rhone valley its’self boasts a terrior of dark earthy notes like cedar and spice box as well as tobacco and lushious espresso. Fresh fruit wines balanced with dark earthy spicy notes and ample acidity, sounds like a great match to me. These wines tend to elevate the roasted flavors of the bird and shed a whole new light on the more savory earth flavors of the various sweet potatoe and winter squash dishes people serve often as sides. A side note the white wines of the Rhone, Marsanne, Rousanne, and Viognier are all acceptable wines to serve with big white stone fruits, and a subtle sweetness they often work well with this feast.

Burgundy is always a safe bet. Red Burgundy is of course nothing more than Pinot Noir, keep it light though. Don’t look for a Chassagne Montrache here, or even a Chablis, see if you can’t track down a nice Santeny Blanc. This is a charddonay that unlike the Californians is ripe and creamy and robust while typically receiving no time in barrel. Louis Latour makes a nice version of this wine and you should be able to find it for less than $20. If you choose to go with a red Burgundy keep it easy and cheap there is no reason to look for a small AOC here, just stick with bourgogne and it will suit your purposes fine.

Right bank Bordeaux that are Merlot based, work, any Sparkling wine is great, and Rieslings can be a fine match. The fact is, Thanksgiving is a simple meal, but it is hard to pair wine with it. Why? Because no ONE wine is going to work with EVERYTHING, but that means that almost ANY wine is going to work with something. There is but one rule that I abide by and enforce every year and that is KEEP THE NAPA CABERNETS IN THE CELLAR. The extreme tannins and overbearing fruit of these wines don’t work well with any of the traditional Thanksgiving trappings. Enjoy the holiday and feel free to email me with any additional questions.

Your Personal Wine Geek,
Kurt Clodfelter

Read Full Post »

Fruit and Vegetable Carving

Read Full Post »

Watermelon Carving @ Molly Pitcher Inn

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »