Thursday, July 19, 2012

Surprising wines found outside Chico, California

On a recent trip to visit family in California, we decided to steer off the beaten path and visit some of the local wineries around Chico, California. What a great decision! If you're looking for the type of places where you can still meet the owners, winemakers and growers without spending a fortune than I highly recommend checking out Grey Fox Vineyard and New Clairvaux. These were our two favorites. New Clairvaux is an "Abbey community of Cistercian or "Trappist" monks that was founded in 1955 when the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky sent a group to California to begin a new monastery to relieve overcrowding at the motherhouse. New Clairvaux's land, history, and people make it an ideal site for 21st Century winemaking. Its Vina location is noted for its deep loam soils and mild climate, which enabled the site to blossom under the ownership of Peter Lassen during California's colonial days, and later as Leland Stanford's Great Vina Ranch, the world's largest vineyard, winery and distillery by 1890," says the Web site. While there, you should also walkover to check out the Sacred Stones project, the reconstruction of an 800 year old Chapter House from a Cistercian monastery in Ovila, Spain. Considered the most important room in a monastery, this historic structure is being rebuilt at New Clairvaux. And, it's gorgeous! At Grey Fox in Oroville, we were immediately met by one of the owners Jeanne. Jeanne walked with us into the tasting room which overlooks the hillside vineyard. After sampling some yummy Barbera's and Zinfandels, we enjoyed a picnic under the valley oak trees and continued enjoying the views. The soil around this part of California is perfect for Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Syrah and Viognier. If you're a cabernet lover, you may be disappointed.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

20 Hottest New Restaurants

LA's Ink, Nashville's Catbird Seat, and so many more great places are among the restaurants listed in RMGT Magazine's "20 Hottest New Restaurants." What's most exciting to me was to read that Seattle's Little Uncle was on the list. This tiny, and I mean tiny, Thai takeaway started out as a side project without a permanent address. Chef Wiley Frank, former sous-chef of Lark (one of my all time Seattle favorite restaurants), and his wife, first sold their cuisine in two restaurants and a farmers market for a series of pop-up restaurants before finally opening a permanent location in the Capitol Hill neighborhood at 1509 E Madison.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taste Everything: Secret is Homemade Noodles

It's snowing here today, and cold weather inspries warm hearty meals. The lasagna recipe below is a family favorite that we've adapted to make our own. When we make it for company they always rave about it's flavor. While my husband makes his own sauce - and we encourage you to do the same for this recipe - that's not our secret. It's homemade pasta. Making your own homemade pasta is quite easy; eggs, flour, water and a little olive oil. And, you don't need one of those fancy stand mixers which can be bulk and heavy, you only need a good old fashioned hand crank machine.

Here's what you'll need and what you'll need to do:

2 tablespoons olive oil1 cup chopped onion (1 onion)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey sausage

4 cups homemade pasta sauce

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cooked lasagna noodles

15 ounces ricotta cheese

4-8 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled (the more the better)

2 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling

1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
9x12x2 inch baking dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large (10- to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute more. Add the ground sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add your homemade sauce to the sausage, onions and garlic and bring to a simmer.

Simmer, uncovered, over low heat, for about 15 minutes for flavors to meld.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 x 12 x 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Next, add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one third of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.