A Cotes du Rhone and a Chardonnay

A Cotes du Rhone and a Chardonnay

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10 unless noted otherwise.

label of cote du rhoneVidal-Fleury Cotes du Rhone 2010 Imported by W.J. Deutsch and Sons Ltd, White Plains, NY  Alcohol 14% by Volume; $12.99 at BevMo, on a 5 cent sale for two – $6.52 per bottle.

On the Label: “Established in 1781 in the Northern Rhone Valey, Vidal-Fleury is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Rhone Valley. Today we vinify and age wines from the Rhone’s renowned appelations, focusing on the choicest terroirs. This specific blend of Cotes du Rhone is a typical Southern Rhone wine, full bodied, smooth with young and fruity flavors.”

My Take: An easy-drinking wine. Cotes du Rhone wines are plentiful in Europe, and are as close as a guarantee of an easy to drink wine as I can possibly give you. When the hubby and I were in the Netherlands many moons ago, we stopped at a gas station slash market, and bought two bottles of Cotes du Rhone (not the Vidal-Fleury, it must be said) for under $10. The cashier smirked at us, but I will say it was VERY drinkable wine! If you go for an undemanding red wine that you just want to sip and not worry about, then this is a good one.

My Rating:  ~ Very Drinkable ~ An easy-going wine that won’t offend you or your guests.

Alexander Valley Vineyards Chardonnay 2010 Sonoma County, Wetzel Family Label for Alexander Valley Vineyards ChardonnayEstate  Alcohol 14% by Volume  $11.99 at Pavilions

On the Label: “Everything about the Alexander Valley – the morning fog, the soils, the cool night air – create the perfect conditions for growing Chardonnay. When that fruit is in the hands of a skilled winemaker, you get a stellar wine like this 2010 Estate Chardonnay. Vibrant flavors of green apples, ripe pears and citrus unfold in the glass, making it a fine companion with sauteed shrimp or creamy pasta dishes.

“This is a perfectly balanced wine, melding the crispness and richness of Chardonnay fermented and aged in both stainless steel and French oak barrels. Pour a glass and discover why our historic family-owned winery on the homestead of pioneer Cyrus Alexander continues to be recognized for producing superb estate wines that are superbly priced.”

My Take: Well, as usual, I have to gag over the label. The first paragraph isn’t bad, but the second? Let’s just say they lost me at “Pour a glass…” . It’s like an author writing the back of the book blurb, and then writing “now open up the book and start reading to see how brilliant it is.” Um, not too classy.

Okay, rant over. All that aside, the wine was a decent Chardonnay. It went well with roasted chicken and a spinach salad and some crunchy garlic bread (surprisingly well with the garlic bread, actually).  For those of you who are turning your backs on buttery Chardonnays, don’t worry – the oak on this wine isn’t heavy and the butter doesn’t overwhelm. Overall, it’s a clean, crisp wine with just a hint of creaminess to it.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~

That’s it for today, folks. It seems autumn has finally arrived in my neck of the woods, and soon we’ll be turning our clocks back. Remember to spread joy all throughout the year, and help your fellow humans in need whenever you can. Hugs!

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

My rating system: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!

Wrestling with Recipes – Vegetarian

Wrestling with Recipes – Vegetarian

Sorry about the lack of blog posts the last couple of weeks. I’m finding healing takes up a lot of energy! I am, however, getting a lot of work done on my latest book, so that’s a plus.

But as I get stronger, I am at last cooking again and enjoying it. Getting adventurous. So, yesterday I made this terrific recipe that ended up being more of a pain than it needed to be. (Afterwards, I was a zombie. And it wasn’t the wine I drank that made me a zombie! I guess I need to cook something less ambitious for now.)

Cover of Vegetarian Cook BookI’d bought this book called Vegetarian, over 300 healthy and wholesome recipes chosen from around the world, pubbed by Metro Books with Nicola Graimes listed as the Consultant Editor. (If you click on the link, it’ll take you to Amazon.)

So there’s no one driving Chef force behind the recipes, which may account for the rather randomness of it. And while this is a Vegetarian cook book, they use a lot of dairy and eggs and cheese throughout, which surprised me. Plus there’s NO nutritional information, so don’t go looking for it.

There is, however, a comprehensive introduction and discussion on the basic vegetarian whole food diet, the essentials you need for good health, and over 100 pages on The Vegetarian Kitchen and what to stock and why. Interesting reading, and I’m glad I picked it up in the bargain bin when Borders was going out of business. (Sniff…I miss my Borders!)

Anyway. I’d found this meal in the book called Potato Rosti and Tofu with Fresh Tomato and Ginger Sauce (pg. 312). Since we’re trying to eat a couple meals a week meat-free, and since I have a back yard full of tomatoes, this looked like a good start.

My first hangup? The recipe called for 3 3/4 cups of tofu, cut into 1/2 inch pieces. How do you buy 3 and 3/4 cups of tofu? I went by weight, only later realizing that weight doesn’t equal – well, never mind. I wish they had just said buy one 16 oz block of Tofu. I ended up buying 32 ounces of tofu (two 16 oz blocks) – which frankly was 16 ounces too many (but they were on sale, so I lucked out).

Then the recipe had me marinating the cut-up pieces in a TERRIFIC marinade – but there wasn’t enough marinade, so I had to double the recipe. (I’m finding that to be true very often. Is it just me? Or do recipes tend to skimp on marinade amounts?) After an hour of marinating, scatter on a cookie sheet then bake until crispy, 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Um, let me just say – there is no way, even with turning, that you’ll get crispy tofu in an oven. No way. The only way, in my experience, to get crispy tofu is to fry it. If I’m wrong I’d love someone to explain how to do it! My tofu, after baking, was still soft (and yes, I used extra firm).

The rosti was fun – 2 lbs of potatoes cut in large chunks and boiled, cooled, then grated into shreds. Season with salt & pepper, then form by hand into potato cakes, and fry in a thin layer of oil for 6 minutes per side. This recipe made more than we needed, and we ended up using the leftovers for dinner tonight – but would be spectacular with breakfast, as well.

Then there’s a sauce – you add the marinade to 8 chopped up tomatoes and some olive oil in a hot pan, and cook the heck out of it. The recipe called for me to strain the sauce to get rid of the skins, but by that time I’d been in the kitchen far too long to do such nonsense. (By the way – this is a long slog in the kitchen. Easily two hours, with minimal time to just sit and stare at nothing. This is not a recipe you want to make on a busy weeknight with the kids screaming in hunger.)

Two rosti, a scatter of tofu, and topped with the delish sauce. Add a tossed green salad, and it was a wonderful meal. EXCEPT – when I make this again, I will split a cake of tofu in half width wise, then cut in quarters before marinading. None of this 1/2 inch crap. After marinating, I’ll probably dip it into some – oh darn, forgot the name of it…rice based dry stuff – anyway, dip it in that and then fry it quickly for the crispy.

I might add an egg to the rosti, just to keep the potato cakes from separating so easily in the pan. That was a minor headache.

All in all, the men loved the dish. LOVED it. It was a light and yet filling meal, with an label for Alexander Valley Vineyards ChardonnayAsian flair that everyone appreciated. The hubby and I shared half a bottle of Alexander Valley Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay, regularly $18.00 but on sale for $11.99 at Vons. A terrific addition to the meal, though a Sauvignon Blanc would have worked as well.

This is the first recipe I’ve made out of this book, and I think before I make another one I will read the recipe carefully and see where the traps are for the unwary cook. I’d much rather change something up as I go, than buy ingredients I don’t need.

Wrestle Factor (time + grrr moments):  ~ High ~  
Taste/Likeability Factor: ~ High~
A Remake? ~ Yes, Absolutely, With Variations ~

Do you have cookbooks that you always have to “fix” the recipe? Or are you a slave to how it’s written? AND – What’s your favorite cookbook? With the advent of the internet, I do a lot of last minute “what do I want to make tonight” searches, but I still prefer to skim through a cookbook in my lazy time and think of filling happy bellies. What about you?


Thanks so much for stopping by! If you like this post, do let me know. I’m thinking about having a regular feature on recipes if there’s any interest. Of course, I may do it anyway, because I’m like that, lol! Cheers, and remember to drink responsibly!