Thursday, November 8, 2012

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: Vegetable Soup on a cold day - got Wine? Yes

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: Vegetable Soup on a cold day - got Wine? Yes: Vegetable Soup on a cold day - got Wine? Yes I can't believe the weather literally dropped 20 degrees overnight. And we got rain to boot....

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Vegetable Soup on a cold day - got Wine? Yes

Vegetable Soup on a cold day - got Wine? Yes
I can't believe the weather literally dropped 20 degrees overnight.
And we got rain to boot.
Good 4 my lawn.
But, I could do without the chill.
What is good, is when cold wet weather comes around,
it means it's that time of year.
Comfort food.
Red Wine.
Maybe this year we can get back to tasting some zinfandels.

So tonight before my daughter arrived home from school and my wife from work,
I whipped up a large pot of vegetable soup.
Now as you now, you can find an earlier recipe of vegetable soup on my blog.
Just check the archives.
I suggest you make your own version.

Making vegetable soup is like making meatloaf.
Just about anything can go in it - and it always comes out delicious.
All you have to do is experiment!!!
Try adding string beans.
Kidney beans.

I actually added to my soup tonight the rinds of 2 cheeses.
Parmigiano Reggiano and Kerrygold cheddar.

My daughter loved it even though she reserved the tomatoes to the side of the bowl.

Now for the wine.....
I found 2 more cheap wines 4 under $20.

2010 Barbed Wire Meritage
Price: $10.99
A St. Helena wine with a bordeaux style blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

here's another:

Lot 205 Cabernet Sauvignon
Price: $9.99
A Healdsburg wine with tastes of mocha chocolate and mixed berries.

But of course I had to drink a really good bottle of wine.
1 that I thought would bring out the ripe red tomatoes, tomato paste, and pepper of
my soup.

2009 Young's Vineyard  Shenandoah Valley Barbera

This winery in Plymouth, CA. is one of my favorites up in Gold Country
aka Amador County.
They only produced 420 cases of this wine.
They should have produced 420 cases more just because it's that  good.
Enough said...

It is cold, wet, rainy and I need to get back to my soup and my glass of red wine.


Check out my recipe for vegetable soup:

and email me at:

Next blog? Pesto chicken???

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: 2 More Under $20 Wines & Spaghetti Recipe 2 Match

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: 2 More Under $20 Wines & Spaghetti Recipe 2 Match: 2 More Under $20 Wines & Spaghetti Recipe 2 Match Here are 2 more wines. Both R under $20. Just like my previous posting. 2 inexpensiv...

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2 More Under $20 Wines & Spaghetti Recipe 2 Match

2 More Under $20 Wines & Spaghetti Recipe 2 Match

Here are 2 more wines.
Both R under $20.
Just like my previous posting.
2 inexpensive wines that would go great with this recipe that I am including.

2010 Wheelhouse Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
A cab full of delicious fruit with notes of black cherry and boysenberries.
$14.99 a bottle.

2011 3 Girls Cabernet Sauvignon
Big cab.
This 1 needs to breathe.
But at the end of the night, this cab had a distinction of a richer pinot noir.
$9.99  a bottle.
Not bad.

And here is a delightful spaghetti recipe that brings out the reds, cherries, and tannins
of these wines.

Spaghetti  with Saffron, Sherry  & Olives.

1 box of your favorite spaghetti
2 cups of diced onions, I used Red Onions but you can use any variety
1 Tbsp. of capers
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
1 diced carrot
1 Tsp. of oregano
1/2 Tsp of celery salt
1/4 Tsp. EACH of black pepper and salt
1/4 Tsp. of red pepper flakes, add more if you like the heat
2 Tsp. of minced garlic
1/4 Tsp. of  diced Saffron threads
1lb. of lean ground beef, use turkey if you want something leaner
2 ounces of diced pimiento stuffed olives
1/4 cup of sherry
1 2/3 cups of marinara sauce, any store brand will do, I make homemade sauce
2 Tbsp. of olive oil

I cook the pasta in a large pot with salted water for 5 minutes.
I like my pasta al dente.
Besides, the pasta cooks in the warm sauce.
I heat a large skillet over medium heat, adding the olive oil.
Add carrot and cook for 5minutes.
Add the onions and cook until translucent.
Add garlic.
Cook for 1 minute.
Add oregano, celery salt, pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, and saffron.
Cook for an additional minute.
Crumble in ground beef or turkey and cook until browned
Add marinara sauce, olives, sherry, capers, and parsley.
Simmer over low heat for about 15 - 20 minutes.
Add spaghetti.
Stir  mixture.

I love the dry sherry taste even though it is cooked down.
And the saltiness of the olives.
A little heat of the red pepper.
A the hint of saffron at the end.

A big glass of wine just adds to the red velvety taste of the sauce and vegetable mixture.
Wine goes great with every meal.
No picture here.
I ate every last bit of it.
I'm a glutton 4 good food & wine.

As always eat well and be merry,


Monday, November 5, 2012

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: Good Wines 4 Under $20

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: Good Wines 4 Under $20: Good Wines 4 Under $20 A couple of recent purchases in which my wife and I found a few GOOD wines for under $20. Usually that is a probl...

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Good Wines 4 Under $20

Good Wines 4 Under $20

A couple of recent purchases in which my wife and I found a few GOOD wines for under $20.
Usually that is a problem.
Finding a wine that is cheap in price yet drinkable.
Is it possible to find a good bottle for under $20.

I don't mind spending extra $$$ for wine when I go out to dinner with my wife.
At a good restaurant I often take advice from the sommelier (wine experience) on what to recommend,
if I don't know the wine, the varietal, or the wine regions.
You pay more for the wine and the recommendation (as if you were bringing your own wine and paying for corkage fee.)
On the other hand, I wince when a retail clerk recommends a certain bottle.
Ok, so this clerk (commission employed) graduated from Cal -Davis school of viticulture and enology. Doubtful.

Case in point: We were both wine club members at 4 wineries.
Gee, we found out we could purchase similar if not the same wines at discount prices from:


Beverages & More (BevMo)

The Grocery Outlet

Cost Plus ( World Market)

So here's my list of cheapy but good drinkable wines for under $20.

Cabulous Cabernet Sauvignon
Surprising bottle from the Trinchero Family Estates
Big on fruit and oak.
Price: $9.99

Also, included in the above picture:
Leese - Fitch 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a good 1 !
Who doesn't love a Sonoma cab?
Price: $8.99

2 here - split decision.
2008 Lyeth Sonoma County Meritage and 2007 Viano Vineyards Private Stock Contra Costa County Cabernet Sauvignon.
My wife found the Contra Costa wine a bit flowery.
Maybe she was dreaming of our days when we drank pinot noires.
Those days have passed.
I found it light and fruity.
The meritage had a nice bend of different varietals.
Something I really enjoy!

2008 Lyeth Sonoma County Meritage
Price: $15.99

 2007 Viano Vineyards Private Stock Contra Costa County Cabernet Sauvignon
Price: $6.99

So there u have it. 4 cheap but tasty wines 4 under $20.

Next review will be on a few + inexpensive wines under $20:

3 Girls Cabernet

Barbed Wire Meritage

Stonecap Syrah

Wheelhouse Napa Cabernet


Seriously Rock Cabernet

Here's 2 drinking good & inexpensive wines....



My Blog:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Memories of French Toast

Memories of French Toast.

When I was young.... jeez seems like eons ago, my dad would make me French Toast for 
breakfast in the morning. I thought it was the best thing in the world. I felt as if I was King.
Also, that my dad was the best and coolest. Genius. I mean to whip up a breakfast in seconds and make it taste like a $1,000,000.
He never let me cook. Still don't know why. Trade Secrets??? But, he did let me watch.
Never could I speak while he was in the kitchen. You know "Genius at Work."
Well Dad, memories... I remember to this day...French Toast.
So here we are 40+ years later.
Conversation comes up and my wife is talking about French Toast.
Her mom would make them. Same recipe???
I usually buy my daughter the frozen kind in the supermarket.
I hate the smell of them.
Finally, to bring the memory game back and let my 6 year old know about 
her grandfather she never got to meet, I decided to make my own French Toast.
Just like my dad did. Eons ago.

French Toast
2 eggs
2 slices of rustic bread (French Loaf, Sourdough, etc.)
1 Tbsp of cinnamon
1 Tbsp. of 1/2 and 1/2 
2 Tsp. of butter

Top with your favorite fruit and maple syrup.

I heated a fry pan on top of my stove.
Medium heat and placed my butter in the hot pan.
Whipped my eggs in a bowl. Added the half and half and cinnamon to the egg mixture 
and whipped the mixture again.
Coated  both my bread slices with the liquid. 
Placed them in the hot pan and lightly browned both sides.
Removed, topped the toast with slices of banana.
Added maple syrup.

You could add any type of fruit. I used to pick wild blackberries at Mechanic's Field
but that's another story to tell. Did I mention nutmeg. Hmmmm.
Could add that too.
Breakfast in bed.

Thanks Dad. and...Grandpa.
Miss you!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: Scallops, Tomatoes, and Garlic Bread - a family co...

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: Scallops, Tomatoes, and Garlic Bread - a family co...: Scallops, Tomatoes, and Garlic Bread It's great having the family in the kitchen. We all work and eat together. I guess that is why w...

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Scallops, Tomatoes, and Garlic Bread - a family cooks together

Scallops, Tomatoes, and Garlic Bread

It's great having the family in the kitchen. We all work and eat together. I guess that is why we are always happy and in love.
I had Kierann pick the tomatoes. Red, sweet yellow, and green tomatoes from our backyard garden.
My wife helped prepare the scallops and I toasted the bread on the barbecue.
Gee I had it easy this time. It took about  10 minutes to prep the meal and 10 minutes to cook everything.
It took Kierann about 3 minutes to pick the tomatoes.
She gets so excited to pick strawberries, tomatoes, or peppers.

Scallops, Tomatoes, and Garlic Bread

8 medium size scallops
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 loaf of rustic bread
2 Tbsp. of balsamic oil
1 dozen tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic minced

Rinse scallops with water and dry (dab) the scallops with a paper towel.
Brushed them lightly with  a little oil and lightly season both sides
with salt and pepper.
Set aside.

A rustic baguette. Sour dough or french bread.
Slice the bread lengthwise.
Spread the loaves with the minced garlic. Or if you have whole clove
of garlic, rub each loaf with a clove of garlic.
Lightly drizzle each loaf with oil.

Halve the tomatoes.
Place the tomatoes in a bowl.
Add the balsamic oil and toss.

Onto the barbie...(barbecue.)
You can steam the scallops on tin foil.
Place the scallops on the fowl.
Place on the barbecue and steam 2 minutes per side.
To caramelize the scallops, place in a metal pan
or directly on the barbecue 1 minute per side until lightly charred.
Place the bread directly on the barbecue until browned and crusty.
Place the tomatoes in a pan and cook until they pop and blister.

Quick and easy.
Most of all, the whole family was involved.
Only Kierann didn't eat the scallops.
She hates fish.
More for mom and dad.
Try prying the bread from her hands.
Good luck. She loves bread.

We all love to eat.
And cook together.




Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Winning Recipe - Chile

I have been asked by a number of people to publish my prize winning chili recipe.
It's pretty simple and it only takes a few items to kick it up a notch.
Although the recipe did have a lot of ingredients.
Of course, I like to cook my chile slow and over a low burner.

2 pkgs. of ground turkey (approx. 2lbs. total )
2 cans of rinsed kidney beans
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 cans of corn (drained)
2 cans of  rinsed garbanzo beans
3 diced carrots
1 diced onion
2 diced green peppers
1 can of beer
2 pkgs. of chile seasoning mix
2 tbsp. of  minced garlic
4 tbsp. of diced green chiles
4 tbsp. of adobo sauce (normally chipotle chiles in adobo )
just use the sauce only
4 tbsp of canola oil
4 tbsp of garlic olive oil
2 cans of tomato paste
4 cups of water
salt and pepper

First I place the canola oil in a large skillet and heat it over medium heat.
Brown the turkey. Do not drain the grease. Turkey is dryer than ground beef. It needs moisture.
Let cool.
In a separate large skillet, place the garlic olive oil. If you prefer you can use olive oil without the garlic
flavor. Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat.
Place the carrots, onions and green peppers in the pan. All the vegetables should be uniform in size.
(Meaning cut in the same size.) They cook more evenly.
Cook until the vegetables are sauteed and become translucent (think shiny or glazed.)
The look I get when I have 2+ glasses of wine.
Let vegetables cool.
In a large pot start assembling all the ingredients.
First add the turkey with the grease.
Stir in the chili packets with the water.
Start cooking over low heat.
Add vegetables ( carrots, green peppers, and onions.)
Add the minced garlic.
Stir in 2 cans of tomato paste.
I used Hunts.
Add rinsed kidney beans and rinsed garbanzo beans.
I used my favorite SW Premium beans for both garbanzo and kidney.
Add  2 cans of drained corn. Do not add the liquid.
I prefer Del Monte whole kernel corn.
Add 2 cans of diced tomatoes. Liquid and all.
I used SW diced tomatoes.
Add diced green chiles.
I used Ortega diced green chiles.
Add the adobo sauce. If you want more (+) heat dice up some of the chipotle
chiles and add to the pot.
But these suckers are hot (Caliente !!!!!)
The adobo sauce adds a smokey flavor and packs a little punch (heat.)
I used Embasa which is a Mexican brand distributed by Hormel Foods.
The chiles and the chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are readily available at Mexican grocers
or at your local grocery in the ethnic aisles.
Add beer. You could use a cup of red wine but I wanted a lower calorie
beverage and less of the tannic taste that comes from red wines.
I used 1 12 oz can of Busch Light Beer.
Stir all the ingredients together.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
I like a lot of pepper in mine.
Cook uncovered over low heat for 2- 3 hours.

Now of course, if I wasn't in a rush, which I was because I had to make corn bread with the chili and prepare for the cookoff;
I would have grilled fresh onions, peppers, chiles and corn.
That would have brought out even more (+) flavor and sweetness of the vegetables.
And I could have used ground beef instead of the ground turkey.
But, I was in a rush. Try cooking every night and making lunches every morning
for your wife and 6 year old demanding daughter.
Also I wanted a lower calorie meat to serve in the chile.

So there is the recipe that beat out 11 other contestants and fed (in tiny cups ) about 100
fellow enthusiastic onlookers.

As always it was a joy cooking with you!
Lots of love and good food...


Couple of New Reds - Wines

Checked out a couple of new reds this week - or should I popped open a couple of bottles to sample.
I love wine with dinner or just relaxing with my wife in the backyard.
Red table wines are usually cheaper in price.
They are not as heavy a red as some zins or  some barberas.
 I should start collecting the bottles.
The label art is nice and it reminds of the days of
collecting albums for their artwork even if they sucked musically.
I really find it amazing to watch people stare for minutes on end trying to find a wine.
Maybe there should be more reviews at stores. How about wine samples?

2010 Decoy Napa Valley Red Table Wine.

Absolutely delightful.
 Rich in fruit but not to heavy in tannins.
Bright cherry berry flavor.
Loved this one.Very Good !

I think my wife and I bought this one for around $15.
Kathleen bought this one at Costco, Decoy Winery sells a 3 pack for $75.

Here is another:

2009 Oberon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Right around $20  per bottle.
Another great value. Cabs seem to hold their flavor and value.
I like to drink them immediately, but you can aerate / decanter them and wait a half hour to breathe.
Aerating wines allows oxygen to filter into the wine. Let it breathe.

 3rd pick:

2010 Kirkland Signature Series Rutherford Napa Valley Meritage Red Wine.
I find it rather unique that Kirkland bottles wine from other wineries under their name.
Don't get me wrong, most of the wines under the Kirkland label, sold through Costco
are really good.
Try the reserves.
Here is the link for the Costco Connection newsletter on wines:

I recently saw a 2006 bottle of this same vintage.
That one would have to be one to serve right away. 2006 would not last after the end of 2012.

Here is bottle #4:

2010 Avalon "California" Cabernet Sauvignon.
I had my taste tester KRW check this one out. She said:
"It would be a good 2nd bottle to drink."
It kills me to know she is always right.

Surprising to me is that it was good.
It's normally a $25 bottle but I bought it for $7.99 at Luck's Supermarket.
 I should have pilfered the other cases they had in stock.
Nice to know they had a $2 coupon off the bottle and it had a 91 rating. 2 other bottles,
the pinot noir and the merlot had 92,and 93 ratings.
I wish they had their website up and running so I could check out the wine maker's
message and their brands.

Bottle 5: Judal Family 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Love the label.
Instead of labeling the percentage or breakdown similar to ie:
cab / merlot / zin / verdot the bottle is labeled as 50% Sonoma County and 50% Napa County.
 A drinkable red wine.
Boy, were they spot on saying you can taste a hint of tea, truffle and dark fruit.
I tasted all of the above and more...

Finally, #6 it this one rocks the Casbah !
2008 Sterling Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
When you want to taste a wine with full grape flavor, this is the one for you.
I could have eaten the grape seed, stem, and skin on this one.

This is a Napa apellation wine and it Rocks !
I need to try their other wines.

Well, there you go 6 wines that you have to try.
Remember, ask your wine broker to look for these.
And stock them.
You may find them at Costco, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Safeway, or Lucky's Supermarkets.

The pleasure was all mine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chili Cookoff Winner

I just WON the SLOT ( St. Lawrence O'Toole ) Chili Cookoff!

12 contestants, 3 judges, nearly 100+ people in attendance.
 Good food, drinks, family and friends.
What more could you ask for on a beautiful Sunday afternoon after church service?

Chili cookoff winner gets bragging rights around St. Lawrence O'Toole school and church.
1000 family members attend either the church or school.

Never thought I would win, but I had great support from my lovely wife, ( she could have won this if she entered, P.S. she is a fabulous cook, ) my daughter Kierann, and friends.

Along with the bragging rights, you get to keep the original apron with the picture of the church,

the winning white apron with the blue 1st place ribbon,

 and a great 19 piece barbecue set.

Not every day that you win something.
I am fortunate to have family, friends, faith, and happiness.
It seems to all come together like A BIG POT OF CHILI.

Thanks again to my wife - Kathleen, daughter - Kierann, family, friends, church and Kierann's school for all in attendance and the love and support.

Also, to Kitchen On Fire and the staff to boost my culinary skills!
The staff: Chef Olivier, Chef Mike, and Chef Gilad.

Now for my next venture..
Wait until they see what I am cooking up for the St. Lawrence O'Toole International Dinner Night!

If you want the recipe for the winning chili, please email me.
I am not sending you any via mail or internet.
You are more than welcome to the recipe.




Friday, August 24, 2012

Osso Buco

Osso buco - Italian for bones with holes. Usually made with veal shanks or beef bones. I made my dinner last night for the family using beef. Osso Buco typically incorporates a thick sauce made with onions, carrots, and tomatoes.
The first step is to brown the meat. It's sort of a caramelization. Browning the meat seals in all the flavor.

You will need the following items:
A Le Creuset

or deep broiling pan
A large mixing bowl
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
4-6 pieces of veal or beef shanks / bones
4-5 tbs. of canola or vegetable oil
and salt and pepper.
Place the oil in the pan and heat oil over medium heat.
Place flour in bowl. You can add 2-3 tsps. full of salt and pepper to the flour or you can season each piece of meat individually.
Flour the bones on all sides and shake off excess flour.
Brown bones in the oiled pan on all sides until lightly browned.
Let rest at room temperature.

Now for the thick sauce.
You can buy a braising sauce from an Italian specialty store  or from a food store such as William Sonoma.

Braising sauces come fully prepared in quart size containers and all you need to do is add it to the meat with equal parts - water. Just make sure that the combination sauce and water, equally mixed together covers the bones.

You can make a homemade sauce from the following ingredients:
2 peeled, diced, de- seeded ripened tomatoes (tomatoes can be grilled for extra flavor)
1 diced onion
1 diced carrot
2tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. of sugar
1 tsp. of thyme
1tbs. of minced garlic or garlic powder
1tbs. of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon wine (only the good stuff you would drink!)
1/2 cup of beef stock
2 tbs. of corn syrup
Blend all well in a mixer. For a thicker sauce add more carrots, onions, and tomatoes.

Place veal or beef bones in a slow cooker with 2 boxes of beef stock and osso buco sauce.
Cook  covered for 2 - 3 hours over high temp.
For oven cooking, place bones in a broiling pan or large pyrex, cover with beef stock and sauce.
For beef stock, check my earlier blog on how to make your own beef stock.
Or you can buy it from Swanson:

or Knorr:

For concentrate, add water as recommended. Follow instructions. Low sodium is the best.
It allows you the opportunity to season your dish +/- to your taste without adding additional salt.

Cook at 325 degrees for 2.5 hours.

Serve over mashed potatoes or rice. Add sauteed carrots, peas or pearl onions.
For gravy, take 1 cup of the liquid from the dish, skim of excess fat.
Place the liquid in a shallow pan. Cook over medium heat. Wisk in 1 tsp. of corn starch and
2-3 tbs. of heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2.

I love this. I could eat it in my sleep. Plus it makes my whole house smell like a
warm and delightful restaurant in Tuscany.

Eat,drink, and be merry...



Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Wines

                                                                        Olympic Wines

To keep up to date with the recent olympic sports events, I thought I, your most humble author,
would present to you some wines that were enjoyed during the 2 weeks of the olympics.

I loved the events and could not be more prouder of our athletes, coaches, and all players,
even those who did not medal. 
They worked, cried, sweated, and painfully brought out the best in all of us (The US that is ! ) and represented our country well.

I think we could say the same for the wine makers, the growers, harvesters, and staff
that nurture the soil and grapes to produce the gift of the gods, aka: "wines."
OK, maybe they don't sacrifice as hard as some athletes, but there is a lard of hard work,
science, and love in the winemaking process.

Now we can say that some wines should be ranked by medals: Gold, Silver, Bronze.
At least the wineries do receive medals during wine competition.
See ie: 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

I just wanted to play along the theme of the olympics and wines that I had with meals.

So here goes:
 2005 A.T. Richardson Australian  Chockstone Shiraz.
My wife thought it was so / so. I thought it tasted pretty good.
It definitely had notes of liquorice and a variety of spices.
A nice finish of ripened blackberries at the end.
(Pictured on the far left.)
Ok, since the judges didn't agree, Chockstone receives a Bronze medal.

2008 Chain of Fire Merlot.
Once again, I have to hand it to this winery, they made the olympics and scored a medal.
In my previous blog, I mentioned that I had tried their chardonnay and that their cabernet sauvignon had rave reviews.
We let the merlot breathe for 1/2 and hour.
This South Eastern Australian wine is a hit.
Love the taste of red berries, think raspberries and spices.
No wonder the Aussies finish well ! 
Spot on to Robert Oakley Vineyards.
(Pictured on the far right.)
Silver Medal.

Unfortunately, we had a spot that did not make the cut.
One of our wines fell off the balance beam or should I say
it belly flopped off the diving board.
2009 Four Spot Sweet Red Wine.
I like that it was lower in alcohol volume. Most wines are 14.5% alc. /volume.
I should have known when I saw the label: "sweet."
It would have been more enjoyable if the 4 grape varietal
was dryer, more acidic, and less sweet.
(Pictured on the far right.)
Sorry, this one never made it to the medal round.
Maybe in 4 years in Brazil, by then I will be drinking Chilean wines.

2010 Reti Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon
Here is another South Eastern Australian wine.
They seem to be all in the olympic pool together.
For those of you who are not big into shiraz or syrahs,
it's nice to have a blend like this: 76% shiraz and 24% cabernet sauvignon.
I had hints of blackberries, a kick of black pepper, mulberry which you only find in the south.
and plum which is least of my favorite tastes.
Still  a close race from MWD Vineyards.
(Pictured in the blue label.)
Bronze medal. 
The label and the plum taste threw the point system off.

2010 Edge North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
I finally found an inexpensive wine that I can store for 8 or more years.
I posted previously that white wines should be stored for up to 5 years
and reds  5-10 years.
Found this one at Costco for slightly over the $20 range.
Great taste. Low price.
You can find a really good bottle for under $30.
I like the range from $10 - $40.
Ask your wine merchant. 
I do.
2010 Edge North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured with wrapping.)

and here it is in the center w/o wrapping.

I will be buying more at my next trip to Costco.
This is a silver medal specialist.

And the GOLD MEDAL goes to.............
2008 Caymus Special Selection Napa VAlley Cabernet Sauvignon
(smacked dab in the center)

My words to describe this wine. " OMG! It's going, going, gone!
F%$&ing love it! Where were you all my life? Unbelievable! This kicks b**t!
Best wine I had all of 2012!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, if there was a best in show, aww that's dog stuff,
close finish to the gold but beat by a couple of seconds:
2008 Ferrari Carano Mountain Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
from Alexander Valley

Another superb California wine. 
A wine to share with others.

And here it is the wine buy of the month.
This is the one that you could say is everybody's olympic favorite:
2008 Diamond Oaks Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

$4.99 / bottle. 
Yeah, pinch me I think I'm dreaming. 
Wake up and smell the grapes...
What a find! 
Bought 2 cases.
I'm buying more...
Thank you Grocery Outlet!
You are the Brazil of 2016 Olympics.

Thanks again to our wonderful athletes.
Our country.
And our troops.
I raise my glass to all of you for your dedication and service.

Steven Wetherell



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

 Chicken Tortilla Soup

I'm not a fan of Mexican food.
Well, I do like it but I'm not into eating it more than 1 day a week.
Unlike some family members who could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The fast food mexican restaurants SUCK.
I can't believe you can even call them Mexican restaurants.
At least we are fortunate here in California to have some good
authentic Mexican restaurants and taquerias.
And you can make a good Mexican dish.
Here is a start.

Chicken Tortilla Soup.
1 ear of corn
1 red pepper - diced
1 bell pepper - diced
1 zucchini - diced
3 garlic cloves - minced
1 sweet white onion - diced
1 can of stewed tomatoes  - chopped
1 can tomato sauce
 1 chipotle in adobo sauce - chopped
3 large cans or boxes of chicken stock
1lb. of rotisserie chicken - cubed
1 tsp. of cumin
1 tsp. of poultry seasoning
3 Tbsp. of vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

I grill 1 ear of corn until slightly blackened on all sides.
(On a barbecue or skillet without oil.)
Oil is not needed and the sweetness of the corn is enhanced from the charring effect.
In a pot over medium heat I place the oil and then the diced vegetables:
peppers, onion, zucchini and garlic and cook until translucent.
It takes about 1-2 minutes.
You can set it aside and let it cool if you plan on  cubing fresh chicken and cooking
 it in a skillet with a Tbsp. of oil and the seasonings.
Me, sometimes I'm lazy.
I'll just pick up a rotisserie chicken, shred it or cube a pound of it and I'm done.
The easy way, is to take a chicken breast, season with your favorite spices on both sides
and place it in a glass pyrex dish in a 350 Degree oven for about 20 minutes.
The chicken should be slightly brown and juices run clear.
Me again. Lazy.
Bring on the rotisserie!
Maybe I will  buy one for my grill.

Ok, add the chicken, spices (seasonings), vegetables, chicken stock, tomato sauce,
stewed tomatoes.
Add any Mexican spices you desire.
Add more stock (if needed.)
Add the chipotle in adobo sauce.
This sucker is HOT. If you want more heat - add 2 chipotles.
Dont ask me to kiss you later or for water.
I told you so.
Cook on a low to medium heat for an hour.

Ladle into a serving bowl.
Add your favorite garnish!
Avocado, Cilantro, Green onions, Sour cream. Cheddar cheese. Parsley.
I like garlic chives, sprinkled queso fresco and tortilla chips.

You can buy the tortilla chips.
Here I'm not lazy and I like the fresher taste of making my own tortilla chips.

In a fry pan over medium heat I add 1 -2 cups of vegetable oil.
 I cut tortillas into 1/2 inch strips and drop them into the hot oil until they brown up and get crispy.
Remove and place on a plate with a paper towel.
While hot, season strips with salt and pepper.
Add Mexican paprika for an extra kick.

Saludos Amigos !

Oh, and since I am in such a good mood over food and wine,
I thought I would give you an added bonus.
I'm such a nice guy....
Here are 2 nice wines to bring out the spice and heat from the soup:

2008 Indelible Wines mark of Passion Cabernet Sauvignon


2005 Franciscan Vintage Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

All the best.



Thursday, June 28, 2012

5 Cheap wines Under $10

5 Cheap wines Under $10

Yeah that is right. You don't need an eye test. I found 5 delightful, drinkable wines for under $10.
Make that SIX but I am going to save the BEST for LAST.
Who would have thought in this day and age with rising costs that you could find a wine for this
price that doesn't taste like prune juice, woodsy grape juice, or a dirty fruit drink.
Typically, when you purchase a wine for this price, it's like drinking cheap wine and
you get what you paid for: cheap, terrible tasting wine.
The ones I found, are good, inexpensive and you can make wine cooler or sangria
if you like.

#1. Deep Sea Chardonnay

Here is a $21 - 24 bottle of wine. Light, Crisp, refreshing.
Price I paid for it $4.99

#2.Volteo Tempranillo Cabernet Savignon

A nice spicy wine with black and red fruit berry taste.
A unique varietal form Spain.
Usually this wine cost over $12.99
I purchased it for a whopping $5.99

Next on the list.
#3. Chain of Fire Cabernet Sauvignon
This is an Australian wine from the wineries of Robert Oakley.
I'm not familiar with his wines except he makes and distributes this brand
and there are a number of different wines available such as a
chardonnay, merlot, and above mentioned cabernet.
Typical price would be $12.99 / bottle.
Got mine for $5.99

#4. Pepi (aka Robert Pepi) 2008 Pinot Gris
I had his wines before and I was not a big fan. Every once in awhile
there is a surprise. Here it is. A Pinot Gris.
Lemons, melons, light, airy. Great for a summer day.
I paid full price for this one.
Lookout! Yep, $7.99
Cute website. Gets you in that party mood.

#5. One of the most inexpensive chardonnays discovered in 2012.
Bloomside Cellars 2009.
This one from South Australia. I love this one!
Has a hint of lemon candy. Citrus. Fruit green and yellow.
Sweet but not too sweet. Like me.
Bottled by MWD Vineyards.
I need to research this one...

#6. I saved the best for last.
This is the find of the century. Well maybe not century.
2007 St. Francis Syrah. Sonoma County.
Here is a $24.99 bottle.
I stole cases upon cases of this wine at a retailer for $6.99 a bottle.
And the retailer gave me a discount on each case.
$10 off or 10% off. Can't remember after 2+ glasses.
Word on the street is that the workers from St Francis
were running out of the store with cases of it.
They didn't get a full discount at this price even though they worked at the winery.

Here is my word of advice. Find a wine you like.
One that you would enjoy drinking, sharing with friends, and giving as gifts.
Make a list. Search online and check your grocery or liquor stores for the brand names on
your list.
Check to see if they are served at your favorite restaurant or bar and recommend them.
Finally, check out retailers such as:
Trader Joes:

Whole Foods ( if you can find a cheap one?)

and the Grocery Outlet:

or any supermarket in your area.
Make your list. Drink your wine.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maui Sunset Chardonnay

Maui Sunset Chardonnay

                                    Well Kierann finally completed the labels for the chardonnay.

She loves Hawaii and the beach. She came up with the name
after seeing the sunset. I told her I wanted the label to be
"a reflection of the warmth and beauty of the wine and how 
it is just like Maui." She said: "I like the pictures of Maui
sun, moon, and rainbow"
My daughter is right,
She should write the blog.
Nice that she is learning to read. 
Maybe she will follow my blog.

The chardonnay is fabulous. Never thought I could top my
production of the syrah / cabernet blend.
Not that I am disappointed,
but I like bolder reds and this was more of a lighter rose.

My wife, the grape and vine of my life,
said she thought it was lite and delicious.
It's nice to have 2 girls that approve of your work.
Make that 3, including my oldest daughter Eden.
That could be the name of my next varietal.
A Merlot called Kierann & Eden.

Well, I'm digressing...
The chardonnay cleared up after all the clarifiers.
It was so murky with sediments and the grape concentrate,
 that I was red in the face.
Or should I say white (since this is chardonnay)
as a ghost.
But the wine settled...

And at the time of bottling, it had a nice amber color.
The filtration worked.

I had Kathleen sample the first glass.
She enjoyed it.
I tried the 2nd glass and noticed a
lot of great flavors:
Ripe fruit of green apple, pear,
and a touch of lemon.
Also, there was a subtle taste 
of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Lucky me.

Now the difficult part, bottling and boxing.
It's like putting your daughters to bed.
They are so cute and sweet,
you just want to stay up all night and read books with them.
With my wine, I could sit in my wine cellar,
(aka: my "man cave")
and just stare at the labels, the wine
and enjoy my solitude.

Next up, making Merlot.
It's almost like raising a family.
I'm making a family of wines.
Having Kierann make the labels,
Kath sample the wines,
it's a family affair.

Enjoy the wine of your time.
Most imporatantly,
enjoy the time with your family
and always...
share the wine.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Trattoria Laurellinos

Trattoria Laurellinos

I know most of my blogs are wrapped around cooking or wine. 
Every once in a while it is nice to step outside to grab a lunch or dinner.
Even nicer is to let someone else do the cooking and checking out a
restaurants wine list.
Plus side... no dishes to wash!!!

About a year ago, my wife and I decided to have lunch with friends at Trattoria Laurellinos.

I rated it a B minus. I had the Minestrone zuppa. 
The Italian soup had a nice assortment of beans and vegetables made in a vegetable stock with pasta.
Not bad.
The antipasti, calamari fritti was a little better. 
Light battered fried calamari.
The garlic aioli was lighter and refreshing.
Again, not great but not bad either.
Service and friendliness of staff made me think I should have given
them a B plus.

Well, a year later and my wife and I decide to head on over down Macarthur
Blvd. to Larellinos. 
We both chose salads.
My wife had the beet salad: Insalata di Bietole.
Good mix of salad greens. 
I tried her salad and loved the acidity of the pink 
Nice assortment of ripe beets. 
A sharp contrast with the soft goat cheese and earthiness of macadamia nuts. 
The mango vinaigrette brought a beautiful sweetness to the mix.

My salad: Insalata di Spinaci.
Fresh spinach, Pancetta, egg, gorgonzola cheese, and balsamic dressing. 
I was hoping the hard boiled egg was not crumbled but whole.
It was crumbled. 
However, the spinach was clean and fresh, the vinaigrette
 a colorful brown dressing, thick and tangy. The pancetta, crunchy and salty.

2 BIG salads with lots of bread. Dressings were spot on!
Did not like the ice teas. A little too bitter and had a chemical taste.
Warm and friendly.
Just nice people and we enjoyed talking to them.

One note, checked out their wine list.
Maybe time to update.
Luna di Luna has nice wines. 
Drinkable but not everyone likes a merlot.

The service Great and the food seems better.
And a nice lunch crowd eating there.
Looks like your ranking is moving up a notch.
Good job.

Check out Trattoria Laurellinos:
We will be back!

Steven and family.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: Pesto Chicken with Tomatoes

Real Men Eat Quiche and Drink Wine: Pesto Chicken with Tomatoes: Pesto chicken with tomatoes. My wife and I made this dish the other night. I'm not a big pesto fan but I still can't get over the taste...

Pesto Chicken with Tomatoes

Pesto chicken with tomatoes.
My wife and I made this dish the other night. I'm not a big pesto fan
but I still can't get over the taste. Enjoyable.
I think we have about a hundred chicken recipes.
Some with marsala, red wine, white wine, cream sauces;
Some fried, broiled, baked, cubed, shredded, and more...
Somehow, pesto keeps crawling back from the recipe book.
Must be that GREEN color, or maybe the smell of the basil.
Guess I found my weak spot. Pesto.
Or should I say: "Pesto !"

Here goes:

1 box of whole wheat pasta. I like elbows or ziti.
Wheat pasta, less fat.
Penne works great here.

1- 2 chicken breasts, depending on how much chicken you like.
I think my friends on the east coast have Perdue.
We have Foster Farms.
1 cup of baby (cherry) tomatoes.
2 cups of freshly chopped basil leaves
1 cup of pine nuts
1 cup of parmesan cheese
1 garlic, smashed and diced
juice of 1 lemon + 2 Tbsps. of lemon reserved for the marinade
1/2 cup of olive oil + 4 Tbsps reserved for the marinade. I like Bertolli oil.

First, I take the chicken breasts and remove all the fat.
Slightly flatten (aka) pound the chicken breasts.
I (lightly sprinkle) salt and pepper each side of the breasts.
Set aside.

For the chicken marinade:
2 Tbsps. of lemon juice
4 Tbsps. of olive oil
1 Tbsp. of poultry seasoning.
Poultry seasoning is basically dried ground onion, garlic, basil, sage, coriander,
 black pepper, paprika, rosemary, and marjoram.
Both The Spice Hunter
and McCormick make dry spices.
Blend (infuse) the oil with the lemon juice and stir in the poultry seasoning.
Pour over the chicken breasts.
You can marinate the chicken in the fridge for 1 hr.,
but remember to let the chicken get to room temp before cooking.
My preferred cooking method:
I oiled my barbecue. (Or you can spray with Pam.)
Cooked the chicken over medium setting, roughly 5 minutes
per side until lightly scoured with grill marks on both sides,the chicken juices run clear
and the meat is white and moist.
Also, barbecued my tomatoes until they are  blistered (popped open.)
Let both rest

Place the pine nuts in a small pan.
Place over low heat on the stove for 2 minutes to loosen the oils and aromatics
 from the pine nuts.
In a cuisinart or food blender:
 mix the 2 cups of finely shredded basil, the cup of pine nuts that you roasted, the juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 cup of parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta in a pot of salted water. Al Dente: 8 minutes.
Drain. Do not rinse! Do not oil!

Dice the chicken into shreds or cubes. Cut the tomatoes in half.
Place in a serving bowl with the pesto and pasta.
Mix well.
Serve chilled or room temp.

Now for the fun stuff...
I'm filtering and bottling my chardonnay today.
Everyone say Yeahhhhhhh!

Life is beautiful.
Thanks Kath, Luv u.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Little Red House - cabernet / syrah

Finished making cabernet / syrah ("Little Red House") last month. My newest wine was made this morning.
Work has been slow this week so I thought it would be nice, while we are having a break from the "global warming" rain  & cold, to start the process of making a chardonnay for the summer.

The cab / syrah is aging. Bottled, finished and waiting to be enjoyed later this  summer.
Completed processing the grape liquid with my yeast and wine clarifiers.
Now the fermentation begins.

Will be checking the filters and water levels the next couple of weeks until the sulfites will be added.
The long wait begins. maui sunset here we come. Yes, that is the name of the chardonnay.
Kierann my soon to be 6 year old came up with the title and will be creating the artwork once the bottling process begins.

Now for the chardonnay.... I am hoping for a light crisp white wine.
Somewhere along the notes of a Napa Cellars Chardonnay
 not a Miner Chardonnay.

Yet, I love both but there is a time for each.
Less oaky and lighter on the fruit of apple, pear with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.

The Cab / Syrah, although not a disappointment turned out more like a rose.
Lighter than the big blends I like (ie: Super Tuscans, Meritage, Barberas). Still enjoyable.

On a different note, I decanted a spanish wine last night:
2005 Emilio Moro Ribera Del Duero.
A red table wine from Spain. Not bad but I should have picked a 2007. 2005 might have been
ready for a bullfight.
There are times when you need to drink wines a little earlier. This one tasted fine but it needed some  time to breath.
It was darker in color but still lost some of its tannins.
Drinking and making wine. Always a learning process...

Heh, wanted to give a shout out to Thomas Riley. Fellow writer and educator.
He has a very good blog at:

I'm enjoying his blog. Very knowledgeable in the wine biz and a nice style of writing.

Cheers Tom!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Restaurant Reviews

I know I was supposed to write part 2 of my favorite restaurants in Oakland but I thought I would "jump jump around, jump around" over to Emeryville.
So here goes. A few of my favorites, my menu picks and the restaurants link:


Can't go wrong with mac & cheese. Add bacon and onion and I'M There !
Roasted beet salad with cherries and goat cheese.
And a warm crab and avocado dip for an appetizer.
Wine for me 09 Cakebread Chardonnay.
Like you didn't know I would have picked that wine?

Myozen Sushi and Roll.

I like the 3 item bento box. I get to choose some of the items I want
and can add or substitute others.
The vegetable tempura is nice. Not too heavily battered.
Good miso soup.
Light veggie salad with asian dressing.
Now for my sushi: California roll, Spicy Tuna, and Unagi (eel)

Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe.

The guys from Green Day rocked the House!
Fish and Chips, get these on Friday.
Meatloaf and mash potatoes available on Monday.
2 of my favorites.I order it everytime. Can't fail with these 2.

P.F.Chang's China Bistro

I know, I know it's a chain.
At least it's not like that fake mexican chain of restaurants
my wife drags me to.
Chicken lettuce wraps. perfect little bites of chicken, mushrooms, onions
and more wrapped in a lettuce cup.
Mongolian beef with just the right amount of garlic and scallion onions.
Orang peel chicken with chili sauce and orange.
And I will have a TsingTao. Yes that's right no wine for me here.

Just a few here. Maybe next time I will move on over to Alameda
to check out the Park St. area restaurants.


Monday, February 13, 2012