Archive for January, 2012


Just for laughs….

We’re out of town looking some new and exciting things to share with everyone…. so You may notice some rather fun and interesting things instead of the usual for a few days. Today, I share this for the laughs and smiles and the actual reality that art imitates life sometime!


Recipe: Flourless Mocha Torte

Flourless Mocha Torte

Flourless Mocha Torte

  • 7 ounces 60% Cacao
  • 4 ounces Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Baking Bar
  • 1 tablespoons instant freeze-dried coffee
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt (optional)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream for frosting
  • 1 tablespoon instant freeze-dried coffee for frosting
  • 1/4 cups boiling water for frosting


  1. Melt 6 ounces of the bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is smooth. Set aside.
  2. Dissolve the 1 tablespoon of coffee in boiling water; set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Grease two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of the pans with waxed paper, and grease the waxed paper.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites on medium until soft peaks form.
  6. With the mixer running, gradually add 1/3-cup sugar. Increase the mixing speed to high and continue beating until stiff peaks form. (The meringue should be shiny.)
  7. In another large bowl, whip the yolks, the remaining 1/3-cup sugar, and the salt until thick and lemon colored, approximately 5 minutes.
  8. Slowly add 6 ounces of chocolate and 1 Tbsp coffee; beat until well blended.
  9. Gently fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it. Carefully but thoroughly fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
  11. Bake on the center oven rack for 25 minutes.
  12. Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside for 5 minutes with the oven door closed.
  13. Transfer the pans to a wire rack (the centers will fall).
  14. Remove the waxed paper while the cake is warm.
  15. Cool completely.

Frosting and Garnishing:


  1. For the frosting, melt 4 ounces of milk chocolate as directed for the cake.
  2. Dissolve the coffee in 1/4 cup boiling water; add all at once to the chocolate, stirring continuously until smooth. Cool completely.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream at high speed until stiff peaks form.
  4. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream.
  5. To assemble the torte, level the top of each layer by cutting off the raised edges with a long serrated knife.
  6. Place one layer on a serving plate. Spread the layer with 1 cup of chocolate whipped cream.

We recommend a huge velvet cabernet sauvignon for pairing with this cake!


Wine: Shypoke Cabernet Sauvignon (2009)

Shypoke Cabernet Sauvignon

Shypoke Cabernet Sauvignon

OK, there are very few wines I feel a strong allegiance to, but when I find them I am all about them. Shypoke Cabernet Sauvignon is one such wine, I recently was introduced to this wine in a tasting of their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon just prior to the holidays and it totally blew my socks off along with several other garments. I basically overstocked with this product and sold out not only what I stocked, but the remainder of the product in my supplier’s warehouse. This week, I was replenished on the Shypoke Cabernet Sauvignon- with the 2009 vintage. Needless to say I was initially heartbroken, where was the 2007, or even the 2008 (2008 that overall has proven to be a stronger contender than the 2007 Napa Cabernet Sauvignons in my opinion). But, the current release is 2009 and that’s what I have in my hands, so a wry smile crossed my lips as I realized I needed to try it out!

The label remains simple and understated, good marketing for a high class wine! I peel the foil back and pull the cork. The cork is high quality, well grained natural cork with nice density and firmness showing no signs of mold, or abuse. A nice start! The aromas erupt out of the bottle and execute a frontal assault upon the senses creating visions of dancing dark fruit, and spice in my head.

As this elixir escapes the bottle and is unfurled in my Riedel Magnum Glass the deep ruby-crimson hues cast shadows of flavors to come as the aromatics continue to capture the imagination. Swirling the 2009 Shypoke Cabernet Suavignon proves to that this wine can really dance, making the foreplay of wine tasting all the more invigorating and creating anticipation of just what this wine is going to do once it reaches my lips!

As my lips reach for the lip of the glass, the vixen elixir held within extends a velvet glove and caresses my tongue with nothing short of sheer velvet saturated in cassis, blackberry, and black cherries creating a caressing envelop that massages the palette. On the crest of the tongue there is an pure, clean explosion of brilliant deep spice that does nothing short of elevating the fruit to a new level just short of creating life itself and makes my head shift sharply to the left; as I finish this taste, the sensation of cocoa and cassis perfectly embedded caresses the mouth again with a warm sensation that certainly leaves my face slightly flushed. And then I exhale with pure pleasure.

Did I mention, I find Shypoke Cabernet Sauvignon somewhat of an erotic wine? I am one lucky man to have discovered this wine; and if I might say I am also one generous man to offer to share it with others!


Among mankind’s longest love affairs: wine!

I happened to stumble across his article from the Archaeological Institute of America about one of the earliest finds of wine making pottery ever. It seems that we as a human race have always love the nectar of the gods! Enjoy!!

Residue on a potsherd dating to the time of the first permanent settlements in the Middle East suggests that wine-making began 2,000 years earlier than previously thought. The sherd, ca. 7,000 years old, came from one of six two-and-one-half-gallon jars excavated two decades ago from the kitchen area of a mud-brick building in Hajji Firuz Tepe, a Neolithic village in Iran’s northern Zagros Mountains. Using infrared spectrometry, liquid chromatography, and a wet chemical test, Patrick E. McGovern and a team from the University of Pennsylvania Museum found calcium salt from tartaric acid, which occurs naturally in large amounts only in grapes. Resin from the terebinth tree was also present, presumably used as a preservative, indicating that the wine was deliberately made and did not result from the unintentional fermentation of grape juice.

Analysis of the Hajji Firuz Tepe sherd comes in the wake of two other recent discoveries of early wine-making in this region where grapes grow in the wild. Residue from a jar from Godin Tepe, in the nearby middle Zagros Mountains, was dated to 5,100 years ago, until now the earliest evidence of wine-making. Grape presses dating to the late third millennium B.C. have been found at Titris Höyük in southeastern Turkey.


Wine flavors….

Cassis Fruit

Cassis Fruit

Tasting wine and describing wine is a daily event in my life. I often remind people that the correct answer as to what a wine tastes like lies within themselves. The delicate sensibility of one’s senses of smell and taste combined with the personal experiences and exposures to flavors and foods will ultimately determine what you taste and smell.

Among my favorite descriptors to throw out and see a person’s reaction to is “barnyard”. Some us grew up on a farm and understand the two polar opposite reactions that can take place with this one. Typically, it is used in the wine world as a clean, fresh straw with light hints of newly tilled earth. However, if your only experience in a barnyard has been mucking stalls in a horse stable… it’s not a pleasant thought.

Then there are rather ubiquitous terms like cassis and leechee nut.  Very few Americans are familiar with those flavors I’ve discovered. Too bad, with the broad international produce at our finger tips, we don’t really have the exposure we should to these elements that are so highly cast upon our palates by the wine world. I’ll try to help a little today.

Cassis is a European Currant, which grows on a bush, bearing Black fruit; basically the flavor of Black Currant, typically considered a cordial liquor.  So, where many softer red wines will have bright red currant flavor, those bigger deeper red wines with black fruits will have cassis or black currant flavors. Think of a new world syrah with heavy jammy blackberry and cassis flavors that will feel expansive in the mouth.

Lychee Fruit

Lychee Fruit

Lychee is more of a white wine flavor, and is often referred to as a lychee  nut when dried, although it is truly a fruit and not a nut at all. This is a fruit that is rather hard to get your head around… Once on your palate, it has a perfume-like essence with a light grape-pear flavor. Ethereal soft fruitiness is my best description of Lychee. Typically, used a descriptor of white wines such as dry torrontes, Rieslings, and gewürztraminers where you have that spritzy, fruit like sensation that you can’t quite put your finger on- that’s lychee!

So, at the end of the day, if you taste fruit loops instead of leechee- it’s all good, it’s youtr palate built by your bank of experiences… the most important principle is to enjoy it and have fun as you continue your jouney!


Cheese: Ossau Iraty

Ossau Iraty

Ossau Iraty

Ossau Iraty  is a classic sheep’s milk cheese made in the French Pyrénées in two neighboring provinces. Ossau Iraty is made with the milk of the Manech and Basco-Bearnaise ewes. While it complies with strict Appellation d’Origine Controlée regulations, the shape of each wheel can vary from region to region. Ossau is aged for a minimum of ninety days until its paste has turned a luscious ivory; its fragrance is reminiscent of toasted hazelnuts, and its taste encapsulates the sweet, buttery flavors that a great sheep’s milk cheese can deliver. This cheese pairs nicely with mast wines, especially Sauvignon Blancs, or Merlots.


Recipe: Scotch Eggs

Scotch Eggs

Scotch Eggs

Perfect for picnics, this traditional favorite is given a modern twist here and, while it’s true that your own homemade Scotch eggs may require a little effort, they are so far ahead of anything you can buy. Using quail’s eggs also makes them more child-friendly and more likely to go in the mouth than fall on the ground. The recipe may seem a little complicated but actually it is not – and these will probably be the best Scotch eggs you have tasted. They will keep for several days in the fridge.

12 quail’s eggs

1 pound pork sausage meat

2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

1 medium egg yolk, beaten

Seasoned plain flour, for coating

1 egg and 4 tbsp milk, whisked together

5 oz panko Japanese breadcrumbs, or stale bread, left out overnight so it blitzes well for breadcrumbs

25 oz sunflower oil, for shallow frying

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Lower in the quails’ eggs and boil for three minutes. Remove from the boiling water and plunge immediately into cold, running water. When cold, peel carefully and set aside in a bowl of cold water.

In a bowl, combine the sausage meat, tarragon and beaten egg yolk. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and divide into 12 portions. Have ready three plates: on the first one, spread out some seasoned flour, put the egg wash on to the second plate and on the third plate spread out the breadcrumbs. Drain the quail’s eggs and dry them on a towel. Take one portion of sausage meat and flatten it out in the palm of your hand, place a quail’s egg into the center of the sausage meat then wrap the meat around the egg so that it is totally encased. Roll it into a little ball and repeat with the other eggs.

Roll each Scotch egg in the seasoned flour, then dip into the egg wash, shaking off any excess. Finally, roll in breadcrumbs to coat thoroughly and place on to a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper. Pour enough oil into a medium-sized, heavy-based pan to come no more than one third of the way up the side. Heat the oil to approximately 160C (use a thermometer, or test the temperature by dropping in a small nugget of sausage meat; if it rises immediately to the top and starts to fry, the oil is at the correct temperature). Carefully lower the Scotch eggs into the hot oil and fry until well-colored all over. You may need to do these in batches; if so, make sure the oil comes back up to temperature before frying the next batch.

Remove the cooked eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, or a cooling rack.

A great appetizer served wither warm, or lightly chilled- room Temperature with a crisp Pinot Grigio or Nero D’avola!

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