Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Il Ruspo Barbi 2010 Sangiovese: Value Wine for a Chilly Night

So I'm going to be honest with you, as much as I love to pair great wines with delicious meals, I get pretty jazzed about a wine that I can crack open at the end of a very long day and just relax with.  These wines have to be full of great flavor, they normally need to be light to medium in body so I don't fill up on them too fast, and I like limited tannin in a sipping wine.  I also want them to be economical.  Rarely do I want to crack open an expensive bottle of wine on a random Tuesday night, however, and here's the trick- I want to FEEL like I'm treating myself to that amazing bottle just because.  I want there to be depth to the wine, and complex flavors.  

The other day I was browsing at The Wild Duck in the North End and I found the perfect bottle.  Il Ruspo Barbi 2010 Sangiovese.  This bottle rang in well below the $20 mark, as I recall closer to $13, and presented with a medium garnet rim blending to a ruby core.  An incredibly clean nose, medium intensity and scented with black fruits, eucalyptus, and the slightest hint of chocolate.  The palate fell right in with what I anticipated, medium to medium plus acid, gentle tannins, light in body, and bold flavors.  Similar to the nose, I got tastes of bright, fresh sour cherry, and then baked plums and black berries mixing with a subtle feel of chocolate or mocha and a hint of herbal and eucalyptus again.  Gorgeous wine.  A medium length finish made this a very nicely balanced wine, and a great representation of what slightly aged Sangiovese can be.  

I can't say that I'd age this one much longer, the body and tannin can't hold it for too much longer but right now, this is a gorgeous wine.  It's a perfect sipper on a chilly night to keep you warm and chase those bad day blues away.  Of course just as easily it would pair with a heaping bowl of pasta smothered in red sauce, or in a wine reduction sauce to marry together pork and vegetables.  This is a good one folks- drink like a prince at a paupers price.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Salvatore's Restaurants Offer Half Off Entrees for Unplugging

You know - when Salvatore's pizza soaked fruit in alcohol and tossed it atop a pizza I thought they were pretty great.  It was a smooth move, one might even say it was a way to improve the impossible to improve.  Now however, now Im in love with Salvatore's.  

The restaurant group has decided to help us unplug.  Far too often when I'm out I look around and it seems every person is nose down in their phones.  Between the texting, and the face-biz, and the twittering and the instagraming...well- there is a lot going on on those hand held devices.  So starting today, Salvatore's Restaurants is offering a buy one, get one for their entrees every Monday during lunch (12 pm to 3 pm) if their patrons check their phones at the host stand for their meal.  The restaurant will take care of bagging and tagging the phones and then will return them at the end of the meal.  And dont worry if you're dining alone- you'll get 50% off of your entree.  

I gotta say- I applaud Salvatore's for this one.  Meal time is one of the best times to catch up with loved ones, to share stories of the day, and to enjoy the company of those sitting right next to you, or across the table.  Let's join Salvatore's in this movement to unplug, taste our food, and enjoy our companions.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

Oh it is, with the utmost certainty, that time of year again!  Sure there's the Pumpkin Spice Latte movement, but really this is the time for all things apple, and pumpkin and most importantly - cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves and all spice.  It is the time of year when our baked goods are warm and spicy and bring you right back to those blessed childhood memories of sitting in your mothers kitchen, the first few weeks of the new school year behind you, and the warmth of the oven radiating through the room.   This is the time of year where I crave baking.  All of a sudden every thought is of sweet treats and how much time I carve out to bustle in my kitchen with my music blaring.

This year I have been all about pumpkin cupcakes.  Any and every occasion seems to call for them to be made, and after a few different attempts at finding the right frosting combination I believe I have finally nailed it.  Both recipes I've made exactly true to the recipe-rare for me.  I didn't tweak or change them at all.  The cake is a perfect mix of spices and full pumpkin flavor, mixing the flavors of pumpkin pie with moist cake.  The frosting, sweetened with brown sugar, brings its own twinge of caramelization and down home rustic feel.  Every bite is full of long shadows, filtered sunlight, crunching leaves and the smell of autumn.

Pumpkin Cupcakes from Always with Butter (recipe image from them as well)

Creamy Brown Sugar Frosting via CD Kitchen
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup golden brown sugar, (packed)
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add brown sugar; beat until well blended. 
Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup (scant) at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in orange juice concentrate and vanilla. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

Restaurant Reviews: A dead art?

Last December I declared 2023 the year I would return to food writing.  It was a bold statement (even now as I look at my last published dat...