Thursday, September 24, 2009

Catch Up & Wine Tasting

Let's play catch-up...again...?!!?? Sorry I haven't been blogging as much lately. It's one of the few things I feel guilty about. I've committed so much time to Eat With Me, that when I let days slide by without posting, I feel like a neglectful baby. Well, such is life and other ongoing projects. I'll keep trucking along and ask that you bear with me...

This week has been about not spending extra money and using what we have at home. To that end, we had some bratwurst in the freezer and those became Sunday night's dinner.

I wasn't up for firing up the grill, so I par-boiled the brats to cook them through. Then they were give a quick fry up in a pan, followed my a nice bath in beer, onions and butter. Heaven on a bun! Oh, we didn't have buns, we had a left over loaf of Italian bread that was purchased over the weekend. All was good.

Monday night I took some frozen chicken thighs out of the freezer and prepped them for a warm, slightly spicy/smoky braise. First, I cooked up a few slices of bacon that was cut into 1/2 pieces. With the fat rendered, I seared the chicken after seasoning it with salt, pepper and a blend of sweet paprika, smoky paprika, dried mustard and oregano. After the chicken was seared, I sauted some onions, red peppers and two medium tomatoes that I had seeded and diced. To that I added about 1 cup of chicken broth. When brought to a simmer, I returned the chicken to the pan, covered and placed in a 300 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. Tender, juicy and flavorful chicken. Just prior to serving, I removed the chicken to a plate and simmered the braising liquid down to create a sauce. I returned the cooked bacon bits to the sauce and served over the chicken with some steamed rice and green beans. A very satisfying dinner. I'll make this again.

I felt I needed to get away and get lost this weekend so I took a great drive to the Shenandoah National Park and drove about half of Skyline Drive. What a beautiful day! I got lost in thoughts and reflection on things that have been happening over the past years and just let myself absorb all Mother Nature had to offer. It was a great experience.

On my way back from the Shenandoah National Park, I stopped at three different wineries and participated in their tastings. There was Rappahannock Cellars, Fox Meadow Winery and Philip Carter Winery. Rappahannock was the first stop and best for tasting, they seemed to really know the business of the tasting experience, great service and a nice atmosphere. The thing I think I appreciated the most; the bottle of water included with the tasting fee!!!! You know how often I've had to ask for water at a tasting? I loved it. The wines were all interesting and the guy who helped me out seemed to know what he was talking about and was genuinely interested in what my thoughts where. I left with a bottle of Meritage. Fox Meadow offered a tasting with food pairings. The pairings were tiny pieces of nibbles...I'm talking small, but you got enough to notice the differences with the wines. The most interest was Pinot Gris with rice krispie treats! It was a lovely pairing. I left here with a bottle of Merlot. The last visit was a terrifying experience for me, considering how mellow of a day I had been having. Philip Carter had some sort of special event going on and there were LOUD stinky children running around and screaming...and LOUD drunk adults screaming everywhere. I considered leaving, but I was curious about the wine. Finally, I got someone to help me out and I enjoyed several wines, they were good, but the most interesting here was the Chardonnay, which was oaked and not something I usually like, but the oak wasn't in your face monster oak, I really appreciated it, so I brought a bottle of that home with me! Good times...except for all the loud people!


Tony said...

We love Shenandoah Nat'l Park (PBS documentary THIS WEEKEND!) and are out that way frequently.

You know how often I've had to ask for water at a tasting?

too often. No one even thinks about rinsing glasses between pours. It's to the point where I bring home a bottle of wine and find out it's actually way better than I initially expected! :)

Thanks for the winery reviews (it's only a matter of time before we hit those) and especially the warnings about Philip Carter... we don't do "loud crowds." (though my wife would argue that I *am* a Loud Croud of 1. I guess I just don't like the competition?)

ScottE. said...

Tivo is already set for the PBS special! Very excited.

I'm sure Philip Carter isn't that bad on a normal day, but with all the rug rats and drunkards, I didn't do well, and didn't really enjoy the tasting as much.

But the water was key at Rappahannock!

DancerInDC said...

The brats are always a winner, and feels like a "no fuss" meal.

But the chicken was the exciting surprise of the week. Really delicious and unique.

I hope he gets to post some pictures of the bisque we had this week - that was just divine.

Addie said...

I wish you would have had a chance to go to Chateau O'Brien instead of Philip Carter...we were there the exact same day you were (judging by your description). Next time you are out our way, stop in at O'Brien instead. The views are beautiful and they really care about their wine.