Dec 9, 2010

December 2010

Hi All you Lunatics;

oh my gawd....

I have come to the conclusion that we must address the holidays as something that is hard to fathom anymore: sure, the decorations, the parties, the gift-buying and the gift-receiving, the cookie and desserts we all profess not to eat, but love to have and to make this time of the year....
and now, we have the computer aspect of the the holidays and it seems like: the new religion.

You have no idea how many Christmas cards and notes, and family "letters" we have received via the internet and e-mails.....

Don't get me wrong: I love to hear from long-ago friends, or relatives we haven't seen in along time, and usually get communications through cards, or name-drawing, or just "thinking of you" notes. And we do get a lot of satisfaction out of hearing about the everyday lives of the people that we know marginally, or through work or jobs.....the insight and the "huh, I didn't know that" aspect of them.....

Gary and I want to write our own holiday card to people who we haven't seen in years, but put a bit of evil holiday cheer in it:

"Well, it has been an eventful year: Johnny got kicked out of re-hab: again. Suzie has been trying to get Mr. Right to propose, but has to wait for his wife to leave - the kids miss him so much....Our dog Scooter is still chasing the neighbors cats, even with only three legs....that rash on my chest has now spread to my face, but some friends tell my it looks good.....Gary's able to feed himself now....the medication seems to be working, other than the uncontrollable fits of profanity and spit.....and the house foreclosure has been delayed another 60 days......"
I have always wanted to be the guy with the bumper sticker on his car that says "My child is on the Honor Roll in Art Class at Folsom Prison".

but that is us....(it does seen the horns do come out during the holidays....I attribute it all to my up-bringing....Gary's? Hormones...)
Gary and I and the Wine Gang went out wine tasting a couple of times these last several week-ends. You know how people live in a beautiful area, a place like Placerville/El Dorado County where people come here to vacation and sight see? Well....sometimes with our wineries, the ones that we are so familiar with and drink their wines so often, we forget about their presentation and how many other wines they might be offering. That is what we did. We went to our oldest winery account, dating way back to 1974: Boeger Winery.
When we opened our first restaurant up here, The Vineyard House, Boeger was our first local winery that we carried. And believe it or not, our wine list was pretty extensive at the time, eventually carrying most of the ten or so local wineries offerings. And believe it or not again: we probably carried at least 8 or 9 White Zinfandels: yes!!!
The reason? Back then, White Zinfandel was theee wine that got people drinking more wine, and getting non-wine drinkers drinking wine.
It seemed at the time that all of our local wineries had a White Zin on the market, and we couldn't keep them in stock. Moms, Dads, Grannies, Trannies: everyone was drinking that particular bottle. Along with Mateus Rose, and Lancers. And we can't forget Blue Nun.The famous one? Sutter Home White Zinfandel....

At the time, it was what the Michael Jackson "Thriller" album did to many of the general public: it made dancers out of all of us.....even those of us with no rhythm what-so-ever: didn't stop us: we Danced !!! I remember going down to our bar in the basement at the restaurant, ordering 2 Tequila Sunrise's, going into my alcoholic haze, and then opened my eyes: well, I could dance to church music, I was so good. And a pole in the room? Watch out Carol Doda!! A long haired hip-thruster I was.....and a butt-wiggler....and a head bobber....
just not able to do them at the same time....

That "Thriller" album (yes kids: they were "Albums" then.....vinyl records that you either played separately so they wouldn't scratch, or you could be a rebel and stack 4 or five on the turn-table and have music all night long.....) put so much fun into parties, that we all started experimenting with music: being a young kid from the city up here in the mountains looking for crazy fun finding music? Bee-Gee's, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, "Caribbean Queen", Marvin Gaye.....heaven!! And of course, all of our friends believed we had great taste in music (apparently, we can all decorate houses, dress really well, know all the colors at the paint store, and shop for accessories better then the employee's at Pottery Barn....{these falliacies must end!!!}...but that is another story..) because we played it really loud, and remember: I could dance to organ music.... in my mind at least...
So that would get the party started. And we would laugh and have fun and work the floor. But it got the people out there and dancing....

Just like White Zinfandel got people trying new stuff that they maybe thought they had never liked before. Trying your first wine and usually having a Hearty Burgundy or Chianti at your great aunt and uncles house, you know, the one on top of the refrigerator that had been there - opened - since last year: this was not a great introduction to wine-drinking if you were fresh off of Tab of Fresca.....
White Zinfandel EASED people into wine drinking.....

And so we carried Boeger's White Zinfandel. Along with their Hangtown Red, and Hangtown White, etc....

Our own little Miss Sara took excellent care of us, guiding us through the varietals and tastes we needed to be aware of. She has so much information about the wines that I was totally impressed and demand she get a huge raise!!!

Oh well....I tried.....(just like home: no one listens to me.....)

What we tasted we loved that day? Barbera, Rofosco, Primitivo, and of course, their Zin's. Love them....and thank you for the wonderful reception you showed us all.

Then on our day of education, we ambled over to Madrona for a wonderful tasting of their current wines. Paul and Maggie took us down-stairs into the the "vault" (we think they didn't want others to see us having too much fun....) and sampled us on all their current vintages, and some futures. Of course my favorite wines that day were the ones I couldn't have....such is life.....
But we did taste some of their incredible, rich, big reds that I love. It is a wonder to taste some really toothsome wines since our current status with California tastes seem to be along the lines of "fruity" - gimme a "stain-your-teeth-red" any day. Madrona's Malbec, Shiraz/Cabernet, Nebbiolo, Syrahs....and of course their Zinfandels. It was wonderful tasting these wines all over again, re-introducing me to their great product.
What is odd to a lot of people to imagine: I get to taste upwards of 20-40 wines a week. I take copious notes on my wine-tasting, because at my age, well....let's just say my memory comes and if I take the notes, at least I have a great reference point to remember later. And oddly enough, I have great penmanship - at the beginning at least....
Syrah: 2007 - El Dorado County; reserve; huge nose, luscious outer tongue tinge, leather, cocoa, old-tobacco; complexity that evens out to a well rounded mouth-feel. (why yes, I do right notes like the beginning.....)
At the end of the day? I can't seem to stay within the lines of my note paper, my penmanship is huge and flowing off the paper, and usually it says: I lub theese wines.

end of notes.

Thank gawd I have friends who "think" I am just tired.
The things we do for our public.....Garys Santas
It never ends.....__________________________________________
Gary has the tree up at the house, the outside of the house decorated, and the timers are working. He has hung wreaths in the windows, flower arrangements on the mantle and in the dining room, placed all of his Santa collection out on the table, and is over at Aunt Sandi's decorating her table for her.
Me? I baked some cookies.
Then took a nap. Then looked at the new Pottery Barn catalog.
I love the holidays.
Our new menu: we have a lot of new items on this months menu.
Lulu and I have made some Stuffed Pasilla Chiles that we filled with fresh zucchini, sweet potatoes, and corn, and three kinds of the great Mexican cheeses we found locally. On a bed of rice, topped with a roasted tomato sauce, and Mexican Crema. this is good eating. Vegetarian but so very flavorful.
We have also included, at Ms. Sharon Chilton's request, Chicken Vindaloo on the menu as an alternative Hot-Head Special. This is probably the hottest/spiciest dish we have ever served; it puts my "Hot-Heads" to task in the 'sweat-on-the-forehead' department. A rariety for Indian curries, it uses vinegar as part of the flavor base. It is wonderful in its complex chile heat, and we top it with a bit of our house made curry to bring it back to earth. Hot-Heads unite!!!
Beef Stroganoff is back, making my meat-lovers and sour-cream needers happy. We use only filet for this dish, and four kinds of mushrooms, in a rich sour-cream, paprika and wine sauce. Over noodles. Good stuff.
Our own Cioppino with crab claws, scallops, prawns, mussells, and white fish in a rich tomato/wine broth served with a bit of rice on the side.
Farfalle Pasta with Goat Cheese and Gorgonzola: Crimini, Shitake, domestic whites, and Porcini mushrooms in a white wine, fresh oregano cream sauce, finished with Meyer lemon zest, goat cheese and topped with a bit of crumbled Gorgonzola. Pasta happiness.
We brine our pork chops. This makes them so juicy and flavorful. So this month, how about a 14 oz. Double-Cut Pork Chop, in our maple/sage/brown sugar salt brine, char-broiled and served topped with an apple/onion compote-jam like topping that says HOLIDAYS and smells like your kitchen should at this time of year.
This months Risotto is a Saffron and Shrimp Risotto that is topped with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and extra-virgin olive oil.

Scroll down this page to get to our new menu and this months promotions and recipe. This is the fun part!

Enjoy our weather, go to the wineries, get involved in what is the rest of our mild weather. Come to Cafe Luna, see Gary and Richelle and Maria, and Courtney and Drew and say hello. We love to see you, and I love to hear back from you. We love being your guilty pleasure. And send me ideas you would like to see on the mind,,,,,,it is a slipping...

This Months Recipe
Double Click on the recipe title for a PDF copy. Enjoy
Cafe Luna's Chocolate "Chubbies" Cookie

Christmas is here. Cookies, cakes, fruitcakes, pies.....the kitchen is full of great smells.....and tastes.
Miss Sherry is a bona fide chocoholic, and these cookies are for her. Make tons of these...they are wonderful, best within a couple of days baking, but wonderful for you and your family and friends, or to give away for a great little gift. Did I tell you they are a chocoholics dream? Try these after dinner with a great port like
Jodar's Black Bear Port, drizzle a bit of chocolate syrup on top, and you have a very elegant dessert. Or eat them by yourself when no one is with you. Either way:

Dec 7, 2010

and our By-The-Glass Selections Pairings

Just Double-click on the under-line above to preview or download

Wine Facts and Trivia:
Thomas Jefferson's salary was $25,000 per year - a princely sum, but the expenses were also great. In 1801 Jefferson spent $6,500 for provisions and groceries, $2,700 for servants (some of whom were liveried), $500 for Lewis's salary, and $3,000 for wine."

Thomas Jefferson helped stock the wine cellars of the first five U.S. presidents and was very partial to fine Bordeaux and Madeira.

Cork was developed as a bottle closure in the late 17th century. It was only after this that bottles were lain down for aging, and the bottle shapes slowly changed from short and bulbous to tall and slender.

The Napa Valley crop described in 1889 newspapers as the finest of its kind grown in the U.S. was...hops.

What is the ideal temperature for wine?
chilled (45-55 degrees F) for a few hours in the refrigerator.
Reds: slightly cooler than room temperature (about 65 degrees); Younger fruity reds benefit from chilling.Sparkling Wine: thoroughly chilled; refrigerate several hours or the night before serving.Dessert Wine: room temperature.
Chilling tones down the sweetness of wine. If a red wine becomes too warm, it may lose some of its fruity flavor.

Should I ever use a decanter for my wines?A decanter is used mainly to remove sediment from older red wines. Also, it can be used to open up young red wines. Otherwise, wine will "breathe" enough in your glass and decanting is not necessary.

Why should I swirl wine in my glass before I drink it?
By swirling your wine, oxygen is invited into the glass, which allows the aromas to escape.

Some of the best-known grape varietals and their characteristics:

Sauvignon Blanc - Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine best known for its grassy, herbal flavors. Sauvignon Blanc is also called Fume Blanc, and is a popular choice for fish and shellfish dishes.
Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) - The low acidity of this white varietal helps produce rich, lightly perfumed wines that are often more colorful than other whites. The best ones have pear and spice-cake flavors.
Chardonnay - Chardonnay is a white wine which can range from clean and crisp with a hint of varietal flavor to rich and complex oak-aged wines. Chardonnay typically balances fruit, acidity and texture. This varietal goes well with everything from fish and poultry to cheeses, spicy foods and nut sauces.
Muscat - The white Muscat grape produces spicy, floral wines that often do something most other wines don't: they actually taste like grapes. Muscats can range from very dry and fresh to sweet and syrupy. This varietal is often served with puddings and chocolate desserts.
Gewurztraminer - Gewurztraminer is a white wine that produces distinctive wines rich in spicy aromas and full flavors, ranging from dry to sweet. Smells and flavors of litchi nuts, gingerbread, vanilla, grapefruit, and honeysuckle come out of this varietal. It is often a popular choice for Asian cuisines and pork-based sausages.
Riesling - Rieslings are white wines known for their floral perfume. Depending on where they're made, they can be crisp and bone-dry, full-bodied and spicy or luscious and sweet. The flavor is often of peaches, apricots, honey, and apples and pairs well with duck, pork, and roast vegetables.
Champagne/Sparkling Wine - These wines are made effervescent in the wine-making process. Champagnes and sparkling wines range in style from very dry (Natural), dry (brut) and slightly sweet (extra Dry) to sweet (sec and Demi-Sec). Many sparkling wines are also identified as Blanc de Blancs (wines made from white grapes) or Blanc de Noirs (wines produced from red grapes).
Pinot Noir - Pinot Noir is a red wine of light to medium body and delicate, smooth, rich complexity with earthy aromas. They are less tannic than a cabernet sauvignon or a merlot. Pinot Noirs exude the flavor of baked cherries, plums, mushrooms, cedar, cigars, and chocolate.
Zinfandel - Primarily thought of as a Californian varietal (though recently proven to have originated from vineyards in Croatia), Zinfandel is a red wine with light to full body and berry-like or spicy flavors. The Zinfandel grape is also widely used in the popular off-dry blush wine known as White Zinfandel. The Red Zinfandel pairs well with moderately spicy meat dishes and casseroles.
Syrah (Shiraz) - Syrah can produce monumental red wines with strong tannins and complex combinations of flavors including berry, plum and smoke. It's known as Shiraz mainly in Australia and South Africa.
Petite Sirah - Petite Sirahs are red wines with firm, robust tannic tastes, often with peppery flavors. Petite Sirahs may complement meals with rich meats.
Merlot - Merlot is a red wine with medium to full body and herbaceous flavors. Merlot is typically softer in taste than Cabernet Sauvignon. It's flavors and aromas include blackberry, baked cherries, plums, chocolate, and mocha.
Cabernet Sauvignon - Cabernet Sauvignon is a red wine known for its depth of flavor, aroma and ability to age. It is full-bodied and intense, with cherry- currant and sometimes herbal flavors. Cabernet Sauvignon may have noticeable tannins.