Subscribe to Chucky - The Fat Vegetarian by Email Subscribe in a reader Chucky - The Fat Vegetarian: March 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wine Tasting - Veraz Garnacha 2009

"We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine."

I wish you a most wonderful and pleasant day my friend.  May happiness and prosperity abound.  However, please remember that neither happiness nor prosperity need be measured in gold.  A smile shared can certainly be worth all of the gold in the world.

Oh happy day!  Can life simply get any better?  You walk into a neighborhood produce market to buy some Cabernet Sauvignon, some oat patties, some onion, some whole grain bread and a couple of other staples and you are informed that your order total meets $20 or more.  "You're entitled to one of those bottles of wines over there for free today.", we were informed as the sales clerk pointed at the display.  I think that my little plastic tennis shoes burned rubber as I scurried across Eat More Produce to grab that bottle of Garnacha!

Chucky's Point Score:  86
Tiffany's Point Score:  89

Veraz Garnacha 2009

Grape Varietal(s):  100% Garnacha
Rating:  88 points (2009) Wine-Searcher, 87 points (2008) Wine Enthusiast
Price:  $0 at Eat More Produce in March 2012 (with $20 purchase)
Vintage: 2009
Producer:  Veraz
Alcohol:  14.0%

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "The first thing that I observed after swirling my glass is how quickly the windows dissipate.  Very nice floral and cherry on the nose followed by surprisingly bold red tastes on my palate.  At first it appears like a light bodied wine on my tongue but then big bold red fruits quickly grab and do not readily let go.  A truly wonderful wine.  I might go back to Eat More Produce and buy some more bottles.  Lucky, lucky me!"

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "It's been so long since I've had a Garnacha that I can't remember the style.  I love the tart cherry apple taste along with the cinnamon finish.  This is a wonderful value and a perfect everyday wine to keep on hand!  Even Eat More Produce's lower-end wines always come through for me!"

From the label:

This wine was produced from old-vine Garnacha grapes cultivated on chalky ans sandy soils.  Dark cherry red colour with violet hues.  Intense blackberry and raspberry fruity aromas, and well-balanced acidity.  The wine is soft and persistent on the palate.

We may have been given free wine but  by no means whatsoever was it anything less than superior.  Neither Andy nor Troy were around when we shopped today therefore I was unable to inquire how this sort of deal came about.  However, since it's not inferior wine I'm venturing to guess that the vintner made a whole heckuva lot of it?  It's a 2009 so I would think that it'll remain good for at least another year or two?

But ~ I'm not complaining.  This is deliciously refreshing wine.  Like Tiffany so eloquently put it, "... a perfect everyday wine to keep on hand."  If you like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir you're not going to regret a Garnacha.  Garnacha is to Spain what Carménère is to Argentina and Shiraz is to Australia.  It's the perfect grape for it's place, an optimum varietal and terroir match.  If you're lucky enough to live near Eat More Produce, you'd better get down there quick before we return!

Hi-dee hi-dee free-wine-tastes-mighty-fine-ho my friend.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Siam Garden Thai Restaurant, Winter Park, Florida

"Looking for peace is like looking for a turtle with a mustache;  You won't be able to find it.  But when your heart is ready, peace will come looking for you."
 - Ajahn Chah

May you be deluged with bountiful waves of happiness today.  Once that smile parks itself upon your face you will not be able to let go.  I wish you only the best today and nothing less.  Be good.  Be happy.  Pass it along and share the feeling with others.

In mid-February Tiffany and I were able to use a certificate at Siam Garden Thai Restaurant in Winter Park, Florida.  If memory serves me correctly, I paid $3 for $25 restaurant credit.  Of course, there are provisions associated to each deal, all of which seem quite acceptable.  In this case, I believe we were restricted to dinner hours only and 18% gratuity is required.  For this particular coupon, the minimum $35 purchase could apply to alcoholic beverages.  This is not always the case with every deal so read the restrictions print carefully before purchasing, okay?

Vegetable Spring rolls with sweet plum sauce

Oh... Thai cuisine!  Perhaps my absolute favorite ethnic cuisine if not closely tied or behind that of Vietnamese cuisine.  When it comes to Asian foods and health, both Thai and Vietnamese dishes simply cannot be beat.  Trust me ~ Walk into a Thai or Vietnamese restaurant and you will almost inevitably find several healthy low-fat vegetarian options.

Tom Yum soup with tofu

But ~ Please do be careful when ordering.  Take our Tom Yum soup, for example.  Yes, it's a seafood-based broth (fish sauce) but I have seen some restaurants offering a vegetarian option.

In the case of Siam Garden, I did not bother to ask the waiter because Tiffany and I don't pass-up seafood broth dishes when dining out.  However, had I made a similar dish at home I would most certainly substitute a vegetable for a fish-based broth.

Pad Thai and Spicy Cashew with tofu

When dining Asian-style, be cognizant that many dishes may include dashes of fish sauce, oyster sauce, broths derived from shellfish, and so forth.  When in doubt, ask your waiter or waitress to check for you.

The ambiance, menu selections, prices, service and food is simply wonderful at Siam Garden.  The first time that Tiffany and I went in and sat down to order we both had that eerie feeling as though we had been there before.  But, why?  After a few minutes we notice the unique pattern on the walls was identical to that we find at Maitland Breakfast Club.  Come to find out from Sandy at MBC, the location used to be home for Siam Garden before they moved to Winter Park!

For only $37 (bill plus cost of certificate), tip included, we were able to dine on incredibly tasty vegetarian Spring rolls, two bowls of Tom Yum Soup with tofu, Cashew Nut entree, Pad Thai with tofu entree, and four glass of wine!  I challenge you to find a better deal.

Hi-dee hi-dee Siam-Garden-in-Winter-Park-is-recommended-by-Tiffany-and-Chucky-ho my friend.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Return to Ravalia's Pasta Bar & Italian Rotisserie, Casselberry, Florida

"Once again I'm saved by the miracle of... lasagne!"

Salutations and wishes of wellness to you!  May this day bring sunshine, warmth inside, and a smile upon your face.  It's your day and you steer the minutes my friend.

Ever have one of those wonderful nights when everything simply appears to go so well and every single piece falls into place?  Tiffany and I had this night when we elected to drop by Ravalia's Pasta Bar & Italian Rotisserie tonight.  After we got off of work we had to run some errands and wanted a quick and delicious dinner afterwards.  Hmm... I had a hankering for some fresh pasta and what better place to get some!  "Let's go to Ravalias!"

Veggie lasagna with breadstick

As with every customer who enters, we were warmly greeted upon our arrival.  Al Ravalia was working tonight and he was so excited to announce some recent menu additions.  Much to our surprise he clearly remembered that Tiffany and I are vegetarian.  Tonight's special just happened to be vegetable lasagne.  And then there is the newly offered pizza!  Ravalias now has flat bread and has changed gelato manufacturers.

This is one of the beautiful things that Ravalias is doing.  They're constantly evolving to meet customer's needs.  They were getting so many requests for pizza that Al felt compelled to offer it.  But, here is no ordinary run-of-the-mill pizzeria.  This is Ravalias and they're not ordinary... They're extraordinary.  If you want "bread circles" topped with overly processed tomato sauce and flavors disguised in fatty meats, you need to go to "Pizza Hoot" or "Doomenos".

From the pasta to the pasta sauces to the sandwiches to the pizza to the lasagna and to the flat bread, everything is made fresh.  Everything is made delicious.  Tiffany and I were telling Al tonight that neither of us can remember the last time that we bit into a slice of pizza and tasted the sweetness of something as simple as the onion slices.

The lasagna?  Absolutely incredible!  At first bite you are reminded that it's made with fresh pasta.  Another thing that immediately comes to my attention, this isn't American food.  Instead, it's Italian food and made authentically so.  Instead of the lasagna being laden with massive amounts of cheap fatty cheeses it screamed of flavor throughout.  Sweet fresh tomato sauce, incredible tasty eggplant with texture, succulent bell pepper, slices of fresh mushroom, and so on.  I could not help but notice that the delectable flavors of the ingredients shined through in every single bite.

Pizza (Neapolitan-style) now available!
Ours was a veggie pizza.
Tomato sauce, cheese, fresh tomato slices, basil, black olive and onion.

The pizza?  Incredible!  A healthy version of the norm.  It's not over bearing with bread.  I would venture to guess that our entire pizza contained less dough than the usual traditional slice pizza.  Instead it's warm, crunchy and chewy.  Again, it's not over-loaded with any one item or cheeses.  Each bite allows the full flavors of each ingredient to shine without any one item becoming over bearing.  "Think it looks delicious?"  "Ha!"  "Just wait until you are able to order one yourself and have a bite!"

Psst... Al let us try an upcoming dessert item tonight.  You simply have not lived until you have tried what could be described as a hot baked pizza crust spread with delicious creamy Nutella spread.  I thought is quite similar to a fresh gooey chocolate chip cookie eaten fresh from the oven.  Ha!  I just gained 10-calories recalling this desert treat!  But, this my friend is one of those special desserts worth every single calorie consumed.  It's just more time happily spent on the treadmill.

Hi-dee hi-dee some-places-are-simply-too-good-not-to-keep-returning-ho my friend.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Return to JT's Seafood Shack, Palm Coast, Florida

"I wouldn't eat a hamburger for 40,000 dollars."

Hello my friend!  May this day only be outdone by tomorrows.  Share a smile and tread lightly on this wonderful planet of ours.

Huh?  What's this?  Say, Chucky ~ what do we have going on here?  It's beginning to feel a little like "Burgerpalooza".  Yesterday a blog posting on Eat More Produce's Oat Patties and now another blog posting on JT's Seafood Shack's Veggie Burger.  What gives my 4-foot tall plastic bubble headed friend?

Can you say "sheer coincidence"?  I'm going back through some saved photos and posting events from days gone by.  Today's blog post happens to be from a visit to  JT's Seafood Shack which Tiffany and I had on our way home from St. Augustine via State Road A1A along the Atlantic coast.  It was back in February and was a most beautiful day.

$6.75 at JT's Seafood Shack will get you all of this!  Simply amazing, huh?

In honesty, this was our third trip back to JT's Seafood Shack and the Boca Burger has been different each visit.  During our first-time visit we were served the most amazing Boca burger that we had ever eaten.  We were truly excited to be so close to veggie burger nirvana!  A thick juicy veggie burger having a texture amazingly like its original counterpart (the animal flesh, er... hamburger).

Sitting in front looking towards the back room and kitchen area.

We arrived early before actual lunch opening.  Sadly, JT's no longer is doing the breakfast.  It certainly was not for the lack of patronage so it must have been because of the inherently low breakfast menu profit margins and that inevitable period of lull between serving breakfast and the lunchtime crowd?  I feel so fortunate to have experienced the JT breakfast era as the morning food is as incredible as the lunchtime menu!

A look from across JT's most excellent restaurant.

On this visit we were served two standard Boca patties stacked onto the bun with all of the accompanying items:  red onion, lettuce, tomato, and pickle slices.  We asked the waiter why the difference from our last visit and he did not have a clear answer as he was new to JT's.

Tiffany recalls the waitress during our first visit explaining that they were temporarily out of Boca patties and were substituting another veggie patty.  Whatever the substituted patty, it was incredible!  The double stacked Boca patties were perfectly fine.  Just not something over the top like we were served during visit #1.

Excuse me as I salivate while typing this blog post.

We have been back once since this visit and, yet again, we were served something slightly different!  Oh, it was an original Boca burger but it was really thick.  About the same thickness as the two stacked standard Boca patties which we ate the prior visit.

However, on a good note, we truly enjoyed every veggie burger that we have been served at JT's Seafood Shack.  After all, who would even expect a fish restaurant to accommodate us vegetarians?  In my humble opinion, this in itself is a most wonderful thing.

In every case the vegetarian burger offered by JT's was tasty, cooked to perfection, accompanied with all of the trimmings, served with an overly generous portion of French fries, and provided at a cost that simply cannot be beat.  We simply LOVE this place!

Psst... Tiffany and I already have our next trip planned for JT's Seafood Shack in Palm Coast, Florida.  Perhaps we'll see you there?  Just look for the little plastic bubble-headed couple sitting at a table up front.  We'll be ordering vegetarian and drooling when our food has been served.  Bon appétit!

Hi-dee hi-dee who-really-needs-ground-animal-flesh-anyway-ho my friend?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Eat More Produce Oat Patties

"McDonalds announced it's considering a more humane way of slaughtering its animals.  You know thaty fatten them up and kill them.  You know the same thing they do to their customers, isn't it?"

I humbly extend oodles of my finest well wishes to you my friend.  May you be blessed with a day full of joy, happiness and health.  May the bluebirds of happiness flutter around you the entire day through as you tread lightly and leave a green footprint behind.

What can I say about Eat More Produce other than it's a mecca of healthy food at incredible prices?  Hydroponic vegetables, locally grown produce, locally made jams, freshly made salsa, cage free eggs, bulk grains, excellent wine, and I can go on and on.  And then there are their freshly made oat patties!  It's absolute vegetarian burger nirvana with delicious taste and texture to boot.  No ~ The raviolis are store-bought.  You know... With much regret, the big box type of store.

Eat More Produce Oat Patty Burger with Whole Wheat Ravioli

Kudos to Andy and Troy hiring the masterful chef who creates these most delicious patties!  From what I am able to gather they sell a whole heckuva lot of 'em.  I now find myself apprehensively walking into Eat More Produce fearful that there are no Oat Patties available in the cooler.  I fear that I may have to return another day for my anticipated "oat patty fix".  Hmm... I wonder whether it's possible to have oat patty withdrawals?

The ingredients are listed as:  oatmeal, steel cut oats, Chia seeds, Quinoa, oregano, cayenne, curry, garlic, salt, dried Shitake mushrooms and pepper.  Sounds simple, eh?  But ~ Like any successful recipe, the secret and talent is in the precise proportional blending of ingredients.  Trust me... Eat More Produce's chef has the recipe pinned down to a delicious tee.

Orlando's BEST Handmade Vegetarian Burger Patties.
Psst… They are killer awesome & delicious!

Yes, I could make them myself as I do keep all of these ingredients on-hand.  But at the incredible price of only $3.99 for 2 patties, why?  I'd venture to guess that each patty is approximately 4- to 6-ounces.  You cannot tell from the packaging but they're thick like an old-fashioned hand-made animal flesh (er... "ham") burger.  And, it's not as though they're not fresh either.

These cook up easily (saute over medium heat for approximately 2 minutes per side), hold together wonderfully, and are 2-die-4 delicious!  As a matter of fact, they're so huge that Tiffany and I share each burger.  We select a quality whole grain bun, add some Vegenaise, blue cheese and top it with fresh avocado.  Talk about scrumptious?

Tonight we'll each be eating half an Eat More Produce oat patty with some steamed veggies on the side.  Life simply cannot taste better my friend!

Hi-dee hi-dee I-will-stack-this-oat-patty-burger-against-any-of-your-animal-flesh-burgers-my-carnivore-friend ho!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wine Tasting - AlVerdi Sangiovese Rubicone IGT 2010

"In water one sees one’s own face.  But in wine, one beholds the heart of another."
 - French Proverb

Greetings to one, greetings to all!  Let’s make the day special.  There is no-one who can stop you from doing so as you are the engine of your own action.

Lucky, lucky me!  It was Sunday afternoon, Tiffany and I had time to spare, and we had a bottle of red wine whose screw-top came loose!  I don't know how it happened other than Tiffany held the bottle steady with one hand while her other hand grabbed the screw-top cap and twisted.

Chucky's Point Score:  90
Tiffany's Point Score:  91

AlVerdi Sangiovese Rubicone IGT 2010

Grape Varietal(s):  100% Sangiovese
Classification:  Indicaxione Geografica Tipica
Price:  $7.99 (or 2 for $14) at Eat More Produce, February 2010
Vintage: 2010
Producer:  Alverdi
Alcohol:  12.0%

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "Delicious!  Heavy on the strawberry notes and very complex.  Every second of taste upon my palate results in a plethora of wonderful tastes.  A very berry red wine and very well-balanced! Absolutely killer wine for the price.  Love it.  The red and oak flavors blend like a symphony."

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "Wow!  Another Sangiovese has won my heart!  The cherry and peppery bouquet follows right through to the palate!  Bold fruity punch is what I love about this wine.  The wine has the perfect balance all around. Love it!"

From the label:

A dry, well-balanced red wine with aromas of cherries and violets.  Perfectly suited to accompany grilled meats and pasta dishes.

From the distributor's web site:

AlVerdi Rubicone Sangiovese IGT 2008 Fact Sheet

AlVerdi Rubicone Sangiovese Fact Sheet

In one simple word, "Wow!"  This is nothing less than a superb Sangiovese.  With each sip you can taste the vine's struggle to produce its nectar.  You can smell the vintner's hard effort to produce the wine and the driver's effort to move it from the vineyard to the distributor's shelves.  This selection does not taste good... It tastes extremely good!

Hi-dee hi-dee every-now-and-then-you-simply-must-put-on-your-swim-trunks-and-dive-right-into-your-bottle-of-wine-ho my friend.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Wine Tasting - Kenwood Vineyards Vintage White Wine 2010

"You have only so many bottles in your life.  Never drink a bad one."

Hello my friend!  I hope that you have a very pleasant day.  May every hour surpass the last today.

Andy at Eat More Produce was excited to show us a half dozen or so new wine arrivals when we visited this afternoon.  Amongst the many wonderful choices was this vintage white wine selection which he raved about.  We are unable to buy all of the fabulous new selections because there are only two of us to drink the wine (er... only so much time to drink it in?).  We happily chose this one (and a couple of other selections).

Chucky's Point Score:  89/91 (14°C/8°C)
Tiffany's Point Score:  89/91 (14°C/8°C)

Note:  First score = Temperature 14°C.  Second score = Temperature 8°C.  The proper temperature to serve a Chardonnay is 8°C.

Kenwood Vineyards Vintage White Wine 2010

Grape Varietal(s):  69% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Chardonnay, and 1% Muscat
Rating:  87 points Wine Enthusiast, 2009 vintage
Price:  $9.99 (or 2 for $18) at Eat More Produce, March 2012
Vintage: 2010
Producer:  Kenwood Vineyards
Alcohol:  13.5%

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "Wonderful windows on my glass.  I allowed my glass to sit too long and it was drank slightly too warm (14°C instead of 8°C).  However, it’s an extremely pleasant white wine!  A wonderful blend of grapefruit, fruits and butter on the taste.  The taste on my palate closely matches the aroma on the nose (balance).  Delicious white blend!"

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "It’s been so long since I’ve had a white wine that I forgot how wonderful they can be.  I love the punch of grapefruit and pear along with a grassy and mineral taste on my palate.  This is a nice light smooth wine.  Very refreshing!  Perfect for the upcoming hot Florida afternoons.  Very nice!"

From the label:

This year’s Vintage White Wine combines Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to create a well-balanced and flavorful blend.  Its fruity/floral flavors and fresh acidity make it an excellent accompaniment to lighter fare.

From vintner's web site

This selection is a most delicious and refreshing white blend.  It amazes both Tiffany and myself how closely we scored this particular selection.  About the only distinct difference were our palates when it comes to acidity.  Almost universally I tend to taste acidity when Tiffany does not.  This can simply be attributed to a difference in taste buds.

We both wished we had bought another bottle of this wine because it quickly became empty.  Hey!  The bottle had a hole in it.

The two wine scores?  I decided to use a wine thermometer today and let the glass warm too long before realizing my mistake.  We both reviewed this wine at 14°C which is a little too high for a Chardonnay.  Upon tasting our second (and subsequent) glass at 8°C, we both agreed that had we done our tasting properly we’d be about 2-points higher each.  It’s truly amazing what a difference the proper temperature can make.  Therefore, I highly recommend a wine thermometer when tasting your chilled wines.  From now on, I certainly plan on adding it to our white wine tasting regime.

Hi-dee hi-dee white-wines-are-so-fine-ho my friend.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chucky's Favorite Things - Bamboo Steamer

"The taller the bamboo grows, the lower it bends."
 - Chinese Proverb

Hello there!  Did you know that smiles are contagious?  Don't believe me?  Go out today and try it!

I thought that I'd begin a new series of blog posts entitled "Chucky's Favorite Things" today.  My first item being introduced is the bamboo steamer.  But, before I begin, I shall extend the utmost credit and gratitude to Nick over at Macheesmo.  It was recently on his "Tuesday Treats:  Steamy!" blog post that Nick introduced (er... re-introduced?) me to the bamboo steamer.

Oh ~ I owned a steamer.  The metal type that came with my really nice copper clad Kirkland (Costco) cookware set.  I occasionally pull it out to use it and I stress the term "occasionally".  Then I purchased a "Hippie Steamer" at IKEA that was much easier and convenient to use.  Still though, I find myself rarely using a steamer.

Nick bragged and raves over the benefits of steaming with bamboo.  No excessive moisture, fresher tastier foods, healthier results, and so forth.  Nick is somewhat a blog food God so I know that I was not being led astray.  Oh yeah... for those of you an animal flesh eater ("carnivore") who may stumble upon this post, Nick's blog site is neither vegan nor vegetarian.  He simply has many, many meatless recipes on his site.  After you have read this blog post, check out Macheesmo.  You won't be sorry!

Bamboo Steamer (2 trays)

So, what does Chucky and Tiffany use this Asian cooking contraption for?  First and foremost, believe me when I say that you've never eaten vegetables until you have eaten them using a bamboo steamer!!!  Besides, it's very inexpensive (approximately $15), easy to clean, durable and made with the renewable bamboo plant.  Talk about going green?

Simple to use?  You betcha!  Just add a couple of cups of water (fresh herbs can be added to infuse exotic tastes to your meal) into a wok or any other large pan equal to or greater than the diameter of your steamer trays.  Turn the heat on high.  When the water comes to a boil, add you steamer trays filled with vegetables or whatever you wish to steam.  Cover and cook.  After it's done cooking you can simply turn off the heat, remove the wok from the burner and let it sit covered to keep the contents piping hot until you're ready to steam.  WARNING!!!  Always lift the lid away from you so that the steam escapes away from you.  You won't believe how much steam these steamer baskets can hold.  Awesome efficiency.

Besides breakfast scrambles, Tiffany and I make steam vegetables as a major part of our dinner each night.  You should see "The Seed" eyes gleam when steamed veggies are brought to the table!  We basically chop and steam whatever we have handy whether it be carrots, diced potato, spinach, kale, fresh mushroom, cabbage, diced celery, zucchini, yellow squash, onion or just about anything else.  Just be sure to chop the pieces larger than the open slats in the bamboo trays.  You can even line the tray with parchment (leaving some room for steam to rise) or use plates/bowls smaller than the steamer diameter.

I generally just toss the veggies into the tray and let the steamer do its thing.  I try to rinse the trays as soon as I have removed the veggies so that the food pieces don't dry and stick while I enjoy my dinner.  We keep the plates simple.  We use some Bragg's liquid amino acids, sprinkle on some herbs, or perhaps a dash of Molly McButter.

You really cannot go wrong.  You cannot burn food using simply steam.  Toss in a large steamer tray of chopped veggies, add the water into the wok, turn the burner on high, cover the tray, cook for 15-minutes, turn off the burner, and let the steamer tray sit covered while you prepare the rest of your meal.

You'll have fresh, tasty, and extremely nutritious food as part of your meal.  With boiling, the nutrients are leeching out during the cooking process.  Not entirely so with steaming.  I've never liked or eaten cabbage (except in Asian dishes) until this miraculous item found its way into our kitchen.  Thanks Nick!

Hi-dee hi-dee no-kitchen-should-be-without-a-bamboo-steamer-ho my friend.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wine Tasting - Pennywise Petite Sirah 2009

"What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set, ingenious machine for turning, with infinite artfulness, the red wine of (Petite Shirah) Shiraz into urine?"

Salutations with a scattering of well wishes tossed into the mix!  May you have nothing short of a simply wonderful, healthy and eco- friendly day my friend.

Petite Sirah is a welcome varietal in Chucky & Tiffany's wine cabinet.  If there is such thing as a less-than-spectacular Petite Sirah, it is my quest to find it.  Not that I particularly wish to taste inferior wine, rather I have an excuse to sip many wines along my quest!

Chucky's Point Score:  89
Tiffany's Point Score:  91

Pennywise Petite Sirah 2009

Appellation:  California; 43% Lodi, 38% Paso Robles, and 19% Clarksburg
Grape Varietal(s):  82% Petite Sirah, 8% Tempranillo, 5% Alicante Bouchet, 3% Syrah, and 2% Zinfandel
Price:  $11.99 (or 2 for $22) at Eat More Produce, February 2012
Vintage: 2009
Producer:  The Other Guys
Alcohol:  14.0%

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "Bam! from the onset.  My nose hairs danced for joy in anticipation of delivery to my palate.  My mouth and tongue were not disappointed!  Deep dark fruits heavy in licorice.  Nice tannin delivers mounds of semi-dry flavor.  Wonderful wine!  How can a grape pack such a delicious punch?  A delicious deep dark bold red wine."

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "Love the deep dark purple color of this wine which delivers a wonderful dark fruitiness on bouquet and palate.  The fruits and spices on the bouquet make me feel like I walked into a bakery!  I love the bold punch of dark fruits on my palate!  This is truly a wine I would jump into the glass and swim around!  Love the smoothness!"

Vintner's Tasting Notes

This is one of those wines that must make other vintner's both mad and crazy.  Yes another extraordinary Petite Sirah introduced into the market at a moderate price point.  Trust me, "Pennywise" on the label is entirely not indicative of what's inside this bottle.

Superb wine and a surprising blend.  It amazes me that The Other Guys winery were able to so perfectly blend so many varietals from so many vineyards into utterly sweet success!  I often find that vintners who mix and match so many grape varietals and terroirs often result in confusing tastes upon the palate.  This selection is no such wine.

Kudos to The Other Guys for the success!  Kudos for Eat More Produce for the price!  Kudos to my sweetheart Tiffany for allowing me to uncork the  bottle!  'Tis a truly wonderful life, indeed.

Hi-dee hi-dee you-had-better-stay-out-of-my-glass-Jeremiah-ho my friend.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Wine Tasting - Chalten Reserva Pinot Noir 2008

"Light the candles and pour the red wine into your glass.  Before you begin to eat, raise your glass in honor of yourself.  The company is the best you'll ever have."

I tip my glass of wine to you this day my fine friend.  Beware, however, that I only tip my glass.  In no manner am I insinuating that I am willing to share my wine!  Go out, have a fabulous day, be good, attain great, and find your own glass of wine!

One of life's most pleasurable things is to remove the foil, uncork and discover what's inside a bottle of wine.  It's an adult version of a child who opens a wrapped gift.  You really won't know what you have until the package has been unwrapped and the gift tried on for size.  Oh yeah... This wine fits!  It fits like a glove, my friend.

Chucky's Point Score:  88
Tiffany's Point Score:  86

Chalten Reserva Pinot Noir 2008
Grape Varietal(s):  100% Pinot Noir
Price:  $12.99 at Total Wine & More, March 2011
Vintage: 2008
Producer:  Chalten
Alcohol:  14.0%

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Notes:  "Complexity on the nose is only matched by an equally complex taste on the palate.  High tannin and long-lasting ecstasy in my mouth.  Each sip tastes better than the last.  A very unique color looks like rust & strawberry and the slightly tawny color matched with high tannins mean long shelf life.  The grapes used to produce this bottle did not give up their life in vain!  Yummy x 50!"

Tiffany's Notes:  "Enjoy the cherry notes on bouquet & palate, although the this tastes like a very young wine.  A little watered down for my taste, but it is a pleasant, smooth very drinkable delight!  Very elegant wine, but Pinots are not bursting with that bold dark fruitiness I prefer.  I am looking forward to my second glass to see if this wine opens up more."

From the label:

A dry, well-balanced red wine with aromas of cherries and violets.  Perfectly suited to accompany grilled meats and pasta dishes.

This bottle produced a most traditional Pinot Noir taste upon our palates.  Although it's not the big bold reds that we've come to love, Tiffany and I cherished our ability to drink from this bottle and experience the grape varietal.  An elegant and smooth red wine worthy of any dinner party. 

Hi-dee hi-dee wine-varietal-is-the-spice-of-life-ho my friend.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Steamed Omelet Bowl

"When arguing with a stone an egg is always wrong."
 - African Proverb

Hello my friend.  It's Friday!  It's Friday!  If you take the proper perspective every day can be your Friday.  Now, there's something to ponder.  Have a terrific day and add a smile onto someone's face along your way.

What is one of Chucky's favorite foods?  The one that may prevent him from every becoming a future vegan?  Yes ~ it's the egg.  Just behind an egg over easy, just about any other combination of a egg is favored by Chucky.  This includes the omelet.

Steamed omelet with green salsa on top

Ordinarily Tiffany will get out the cast iron skillet to make our omelets.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with this and they're quite delicious.  Then comes a bamboo steamer into my life.  I truly did not understand what I was missing until I read a blog which promoted bamboo steaming over any other kind of steaming.  The blogger promoted the benefits of bamboo over my conventional metal steamer pans and the electric appliance type.

Wow was this blogger ever right!  Life has not been the same in the Tiffany & Chucky household since our first bamboo steamer purchase about a week ago.  Steamed veggies simply never tasted the same before.  No oils, no sprays, and no frying.  Just pure essence of whatever is placed into the steamer basket with all of its glorious nutrition!

Being the inquisitive one I began searching the Internet looking for things to make in my new steamer.  The variety of foods is incredible.  I suppose that's why the Chinese have stuck with this most wonderful cooking apparatus for more than just a few years ago?  It cooks, it keeps warm and it serves perfectly cooked foods that are not mushy, overly-wet or having nutrition completely removed. 

During my searching I noted numerous egg and omelet meals.  Why not, huh?  This contraption is supposed to be so good.  So here goes one of my quick 'n simple creations using our new bamboo steamer.  Get up early, toss the ingredients into the bowls, prepare the steamer, let it go, and get dressed while you wait for your breakfast to cook!  SUPER easy clean-up too.  Food never actually comes into contact with the bamboo using this method.  Clean your bowls and clean your wok.  Absolutely delicious!

Think about the variations.  Onion, pepper, asparagus, zucchini, squash, broccoli, olive, jalapeno pepper, potato, etc.  It's limitless.  What do you have in your fridge that needs to be cooked before it spoils?  

Later on I will try a vegan variation using Ener-G egg replacer.  I'll keep you posted once I have tried it.  Until then, please enjoy this mornings most fabulous breakfast in the pictures below.

Step 1 - Add water into wok and turn heat to HIGH.
Step 2 - Add first bamboo steamer rack.
Step 3 - As water heats, add fresh spinach into bowls that have
been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
Step 4 - Add sliced mushroom.
Step 5 - Add diced celery.
Step 6 - Add diced bread.
Step 7 - Add crumbled blue cheese.
Step 8 - Add 1/4 carton egg beater into each bowl.
Step 9 - Salt & pepper and place first bowl onto steamer tray.
Step 10 - Add second tray and add second bowl.
Step 11 - Cover steamer trays.
Step 12 - Set time to 20-minutes.
Step 13 - A healthy and scrumptious breakfast is served!

As surprising as it may seem, the bread crumbs were not mushy.  Instead, my diced rosemary bread cubes were delightfully chewy and a perfect accompaniment to the the omelet.  This is a very low calorie concoction.  Only 30-calories for the Kirkland (Costco) Egg Starts.  The only real calories are in the single slice of bread and approximate ounce of blue cheese used in each dish.  Because I can toss in whatever I want each time, the variations to this omelet are endless.

This steamed omelet tastes MUCH better than it's fried counterpart.  Because the entire dish is contained within a bowl and because it's steamed instead of fried, the juices of every ingredient meld into a perfect melody of taste.  The juices of the fresh spinach, the creaminess of the melted blue cheese, and the juices of the mushroom perform the River dance of delight upon my tongue.

Hi-dee hi-dee yet-another-reminder-how-simple-can-be-so-healthy-and-delicious-ho my friend!