Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ribera del Duero and Rueda- a Marriage Made in Heaven

Photo Credit:  Ribera del Duero & Rueda
If you've ever taken a wine tour with me then you've heard me talk about some of the great marriages in the wine world:  Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Grenache.  Well today, it's time to announce a brand new couple- but this union is all different.  This is the union of two great Spanish D.O.'s - Rueda and Ribera del Duero.  

These two regions sit on the River Duero, which gives them similar continental climates with long hot summers and cold winters, and soil filled with lime, gravel and clay.  The roots of the vines have to dig down deep to get their nutrients giving character and strength to the wines.  As similar as these two regions are, they vary in varieties, though again, in perfect harmony.  Ribera del Duero produces, most notably, Tinto Fino, also known as Tempranillo.  Rueda, on the other hand, is most well known for their Verdejo.  

Now, you all know Tempranillo.  It reigns supreme in every one's go to Spanish red- lovingly known as Rijoa.  Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero is medium to
Photo Credit:  Ribera del Duero & Rueda
medium high in body.  It is medium to medium high in acid.  It imparts beautiful flavors of red fruits- cranberries, strawberries, plums, hints of almond and vanilla. These are powerful wines- ones you can easily sip on a chilly evening or pair with a hearty bean stew, or with a Tortilla Espanola.  As it doesn't have high tannins, this isn't a wine that demands rich and fatty foods, but one that can easily pair with those chicken and pork dishes, or even pair with swordfish.

Verdejo is special.  Verdejo can be compared to Sauvignon Blanc, with its citrus and stone fruit palates, and can also show signs of herbaceous qualities.  However it is fuller in body than your typical Sauvignon Blanc, making Verdejo, in my opinion just a bit more versatile.  It will pair beautifully with your shrimp or scallop dishes, but can easily work with bigger, heartier fair as well.  This one of those white wines that can hold its own in the winter months.  

The partnership of these two regions means that both of these wines will be easier to find.  They are showcasing them over the next few years in American markets and they are excited to teach us about their treasures.  Don't skip these bottles - I had the opportunity to taste the 2014 Verdejo and it was outstanding.  These two promise great things for many years.    

Monday, March 2, 2015

Travelers Forbidden Apple Ale

Oh Traveler's Ales....you have done it again!  A few years ago I was introduced to their shandys- blends of juices with wheat beers.  Their blends were both unique and comforting and I fell in love.  A few weeks ago they let me in on their newest brain child- their Forbidden Apple Ale.

I'll be frank with you- I was hesitant with this one.  I am a cider drinker but even for me, some apple products can just be too sweet.  This Forbidden Ale though...wow.  It is a wheat beer, brewed with apples...and not sugar.  The flavor is clean, it has a strong beer flavor with this wonderful, subtle fresh apple feel.  This is not like alcoholic soda- this is beer, tried and true, with a little autumnal feel.

This one is seasonal- so get it while it lasts!

Friday, February 27, 2015

5 Napkin Burger, Back Bay, Boston

Sometimes there is nothing, and I mean nothing, like a burger.  Grilled beef, sandwiched between buns...yeah there's some connotation there, and there should be.  When the craving hits- is there anything that satisfies the desire more?

However, on the flip side, there may not be anything more disappointing than an ill prepared burger.  Improper meat temperature, poorly put together, too many toppings, a flimsy bun...any of these can ruin the entire burger experience so finding the right spot to indulge is pretty critical.  You may have heard about this place, this New York founded spot that touts not only amazing burgers but also options for those of your party not jonesing for the escalated sandwich.  5 Napkin Burgers is delivering not only tasty burgers, but a host of other dishes encompassing a wide range of desires.

We started out exploration of the new offerings with a sampling of their appetizers: a Pesto Flatbread, Soy Bean Hummus, onion rings and Rhode Island style calamari complete with those fried peppers.  It would be incredibly difficult to find fault here.  The flatbread had a warm, crisp crust, topped with garlicky and salty pesto then smothered in cheese and tomato...how can you go wrong?  The onion rings were a sight to be seen, arriving at the table, golden circles stacked upon each other.  Their batter fried to perfection and yielding as you bit into each one with a satisfying crunch. The batter didn't overwhelm the onion, nor the onion overwhelm the batter and, best of all, the fry didn't permeate each bite with that harsh reminder that those delicious rings are, in fact, an indulgence.  My favorite here however, was the Soy Bean hummus.  The natural nutty flavor of the beans was preserved and paired with the refreshing crisp of peppery radishes.  It was an appetizer packing in nutrients that you can feel great about ordering.

I elected to have the turkey burger, topped with asiago cheese, pepper relish, pesto mayo and a slice of roasted tomato.  One of the things I love about 5 Napkins is their options for sides with their burgers- instead of being forced into fried accompaniments, here there are a host of options to enhance your meal.  I chose their tomato, avocado and cotija cheese salad.  I gotta say this was the MOST flavorful turkey burger I've ever had.  The combination of the salty asiago, the pesto mayo and the pepper relish packed a wallop.  The burger itself was juicy and well seasoned.  I loved the light feeling of the tomato salad.  Not dressed at all, the true fresh flavors of the ingredients shone on their own.  

Now no burger meal would be complete without a frappe.  I'm going to
assume that you all have not been to Kimball's Ice Cream and explain that a frappe is a milk shake that incorporates ice cream.  I realize that in the rest of the world a milk shake has ice cream but around here a milk shake is milk and syrup so from here on out- we're chatting frappes. 5 Napkin offers a wide array of frappes- think S'More (WITH a toasty marshmallow!), or Cookies 'N Cream, or Salted Caramel...

5 Napkin Burger is a large scale restaurant with a neighborhood vibe.  If you're looking for a great burger, or perhaps tacos or chicken and waffles - their menu is extensive with something for everyone.  So go, head on over and try out all of their new offerings!  


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