Monday, December 18, 2017

Wines for Holiday Fun!

Happy Holidays!

It's that time again to host and toast! There are parties aplenty and gifts to be given, but everyone knows the best gifts are those that can be drunk.  I'm here to help you navigate the wine stores and score the perfect bottles to be given and shared.

For the occasion that sparkles:
When you want your wine to complement the twinkling lights popping a bottle of bubbly is always the right decision.  Wowing your friends will be easy with sparkling wine from France called Cremant.  Made outside of the Champagne region so it can't use the fanfare of the name, it is made using the same practices but clocks in around $20.00 a bottle making it much easier on your holiday budget.

For a cookie tasting:
Hundreds of sugar cookies all lined up and ready to be devoured calls for a special wine. Those fancy desert wines, usually hidden away in the bowels of your wine stores are the perfect accompaniment.  I would highly suggest splurging on a bottle of Sauternes.  They are small bottles- 375 mL, and are typically found for about $40, but their sweet style and flavors of almonds and orange marmalade make them a perfect complement to a cookie eating afternoon.

For reunions and catch ups that last for hours:  
These are the nights we dream about -friends and family back in town, and hours can be wiled away with good conversation.  These occasions demand a sipping wine- a wine that doesn't require intricate pairing, a wine that can be drunk on its own and is presents a pleasing palate.  Valpolicella is the perfect wine for these nights.  This Italian wine has medium high acidity, coupled with medium body which makes this easy to drink glass after glass. The bright fruit flavors of plums cherry and often chocolate make it a pleasure to enjoy.  Valpolicella can normally be found for about $20 a bottle and be sure to find one marked with the DOC or DCOG label for the best quality.

No matter what wine you choose to accompany your gatherings and gift to your hosts, I wish you the merriest of festivities!!

Questions on what bottles will pair with your meals?  Send them over- I'm happy to help you plan!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Kitchen- At the Heart of It

I've been thinking a lot about the idea that I mentioned last week- that food is home.  For me, it always has been.  Certain, many, tastes and smells can bring me the same comfort that being home does.  They can make me feel that same warmth, love and acceptance as being surrounded by family can do.  If that is the case, if food is truly the key to home, than in the physical home it comes as no surprise that the kitchen is the epicenter of the household.  

Some of my favorite memories as a child are watching my mom cook.  We had this great kitchen in my childhood home- where the stove sat on a peninsula separating the room.  We had put these two wooden stools, ones enhanced by stray paint brush marks from art projects and spray paint from Halloween costumes of past years, on the backside of the peninsula so when my mom was cooking I could talk to her.  I would sit there for as long as she cooked- trading stories about the day, observing her methods, breathing in the scents.   In a time when "open concept" wasn't a thing- we're talking the 80s here kids- we were ahead of the times.

Today so many homes are designed to create this exact feel.  Every renovation I see, and all of the new builds, have this central idea in mind- to open the kitchen to the living space.  We take down the dividing walls and create a flow- a flow of space to foster a flow of conversation, of camaraderie, of family.  All of this stems from having that kitchen open.  Islands and peninsulas are far more common now than missing in kitchen designs so that in our busy lives we still have time, even if we're multitasking making dinner, to trade stories and make plans.  

What do you think of the open concept idea?  Anyone miss the formal dining room (I do sometimes!)?  When you think of your dream home- is it open or more traditional?   

Monday, November 6, 2017

Food, Wine and Real Estate!

It's been almost TEN YEARS.  

No, not since my last post though it feels like it, but since this little space of A Boston Food Diary began.  Ten years.  On January 23rd, 2008 I hit publish for the first time and man...I cannot believe the journey its taken me on.  Hopefully it's taken you, my dear reader, on one as well.  Over these years we've walked into countless restaurants, we've eaten lord knows how many calories, we've had incredible kitchen successes, and some unmentionable failures.  We've tasted wine together.  We've gotten to understand its story, it's trials and jubilations and its become something so much more than alcohol.  A Boston Food Diary has been there through an incredible chunk of my adult life and now we're going to start a new path together.  

Are you ready?  This is a big one.

Several months ago I joined Unit Realty Group here in Boston.  I have plunged into the incredible world of Real Estate as a buyer/seller/rental agent.  I decided it was time to put all of my knowledge of this amazing city, every nook and cranny, every hidden gem, to even better use, and help people find their home here.  As you all are aware- I don't believe there is any better city in this country to live than Boston, and I cannot wait to help people experience all that it has to offer.

So what does that mean for A Boston Food Diary- it means exploring the market through the eyes of the food and wine world.  Looking at kitchens and finding the ones that make me swoon to entertain in them, revisiting old haunts and introducing the new ones as we traverse the neighborhoods, and going back to what made me start A Boston Food Diary in the first place.  

Food is home.  Food is family, and friends, and laughter, and comfort.  Your residence should be the same.  I can't wait to start this next part of the journey with you all.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

It's All About That Body

Is your wine tasteless?  Have you noticed that you've had a sip of something fantastic and then you eat a little something and all of a sudden that awesome wine has no flavor at all?  It may be a simple fix- it might be that the wine was simply paired poorly.  One of the biggest errors that you can make when pairing wine with your food is not taking the body of the wine into consideration. 

Body of wine however doesn't refer to waist measurements or how it looks in those jeans- instead it refers to how it feels in the imbibers mouth.  We have a little analogy to help make sense of this.  Skim milk- you know how that feels when you drink it?  Weightless right?  Sort of like water?  But then if you were to drink heavy cream, or maybe when your ice cream melts in the summer- you know how that feels in your mouth?  It coats your teeth and tongue.  It lingers on the surfaces.  Wine will do the same- a light bodied wine washes back like skim milk, and a full bodied wine lingers like heavy cream.  And just like there are gradients between milk types- 1%, 2%, Whole...there are with wine as well.  Every wine will feel different in your mouth.

Apparently I have no photos of Beef Stew...imagination
Now with that much intricacy- that means that you can't just pair any old food with every glass of wine.  That's recipe for disaster.  Lets say you have a light bodied Sauvignon Blanc and you decided to pair that with beef stew.  Beef stew is full of richness.  The beef is fatty and the broth is hearty.  That will coat your mouth all on its own.  Now when you take a sip of that delicate Sauvignon Blanc, well it just can't compete.  It's own body is so light that it is overwhelmed by the richness of the stew and you no longer taste any of its flavor.  Poor Sauvignon Blanc.   Let's say, instead, that we pair that Sauvignon Blanc with roasted chicken or sushi?  Now every flavor of that Sauvignon Blanc can be relished, and so can your food!

That's of course the other side- if your wine is too full bodied, let's look at a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, then your food gets overshadowed.  That fresh Lobster Roll you've been dreaming about all winter.  It's finally in front of you- lightly dressed with butter, but really the lobster is the star, and then you pair it with a big Cab.  Yikes- good bye lobster- your layers of flavor will have to be tasted a different day.

Of course I'm speaking in extremes, but we want to be careful of the body of wine when we're pairing with food.  Make sure that the body of your food matches (as closely as you can) the body of your wine and avoid the unpleasantness.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sweet Wine or Dry Wine? Dry Wine or Sweet Wine?

SEVEN!  We have talked about wine for SEVEN different posts without even tasting it yet..that seems sorta criminal doesn't it?  I mean it's almost rude of me to make you wait that long to taste wine.  However, it's a good thing I promise.  Your primary senses have now been prepped.  You've visualized and breathed in the scent of the wine and through those acts, you know so much.  You've learnt about how old the wine is, you've prepped for what flavors may present, you may even know the type of grape.  You're ready to dive in.

When we taste wine- take a small sip and let it sit on your tongue for just a couple of seconds and it will settle naturally in your mouth, then swallow.  Under 5 seconds for all of it.  Every time, that first sip of wine gets me.  My mouth lights up- it immediately reacts to acidity, to alcohol, to the body, to the tannins and to the flavors that are ever present.  Wine has so many different facets to showcase, your mouth has to play catch up a bit.  We allow it time to catch up by taking it piece by piece- starting with the age old - dry or sweet. 

When we're talking about a dry wine or a sweet wine, at its core, we are talking about how much residual sugar is left in the wine from the grapes that made it. You remember those grapes- similar to the ones you snack on- sweet and bursting with flavor.  Well when you convert the right types of grapes to wine yeast eats the sugar in the grapes and makes alcohol.  Sometimes a winemaker might stop this process a little early and that leaves what we know as "residual sugar".  You'll taste this sugar in the wine and, depending on how much is left behind, you might end up with an off dry, semi sweet or sweet wine.  

Now here's the thing- we want to be mindful of this residual sugar when pairing food with wine.  As a general rule of thumb- always try to match a wine and food so that, if necessary, the wine has more sugar than the dish does.  If your food has more sugar to it than your wine, you may risk making that wine taste bitter or harshly astringent.  

So if you're having a meal with very little sugar- which would account for many of our roasted chickens, salads, sandwiches, soups etc, than the driest of wines will do, but say you prepare lamb with a cherry glaze- you'll want to pair a wine with that with a bit of sweetness to it.  Wines grown in warmer climates, and those Rieslings are great for having a perfect range of sweetness to them.  The other key pairing note?  Spicy food LOVES a sweeter wine!

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