The Perfect Gift

Find Gift Baskets filled with high quality wines, thoughtfully selected foods such as Vermont aged cheddar, Rowena’s baby bundt cakes, The Peanut Shop peanuts, fresh-baked biscotti at Wine Gourmet.

See Kimberly present all the baskets on Channel 10’s Our Blue Ridge, December 2010.

The Perfect Gift

The entire basket is assembled right here in the shop.

Perfect gifts for many people in your life.

Neighbors
Newlyweds
Fathers
BFFs
Referrals
Clients

Watch Mechelle put together the most popular gift basket of the season – the 2-bottle basket.

To order please call us at 540.400.8466 or email info@winegourmet.biz

Click Here for all Baskets

 

 

Back from Bermuda!- Wines and Good Times

We have returned. 

All hail Wine on the Rail!

Wine Gourmet’s inaugural wine excursion carried us from Roanoke to New York to Bermuda and back.  I, Beth (the best-girlfriend ever, BGFE), our esteemed Melinda and her husband Allen escorted 17 Wine Gourmet customers on a tropical (or semi-tropical at least) get-a-away. We hauled along with us just over a hundred bottles of wine and the ship also provided a bottle for each cruiser. By the numbers it was 21 cruisers, six and a half days and 126 bottles to consume.  We faced our consumption responsibility undaunted and drank with conviction but, in the end, gave away our last six or eight bottles as we had to face the fact that we had more wine than we could finish in our remaining time without their being medical issues.
C’est la vie vin.
We began our odyssey with a morning in New York City.  Sunday dawned unseasonably chilly and BGFE, who’d neglected to pack a jacket or sweater requested a stop to shop.  Navigating the NYC streets turned into a challenge as Oprah was in town (having just finished a week at Radio City Music Hall) and was clogging the streets with folks running to cure something or other.  Loads of participants in matching t-shirts streamed past police barricades on their way to a finish in Times Square. Numerous times we would approach a barrier only to be waved away and directed ever further from our intended destination.  As we were ahead of our schedule, we were not terribly concerned and felt we could wait out the commotion arranged by her nibs.
But back to the jacket quest.  We saw a likely shop with a small space in front and I executed a feat of parallel parking that left my fellow passengers slack-jawed with amazement.  Trailing clouds of glory, my fellow passengers and I entered the store.  Beth grabbed a “New York” sweatshirt and a jaunty hat of orange plaid.  Beth paid her tab and dressed immediately.
Feeling a bit peckish, we sought a suggestion for breakfast from the shop clerk and he pointed to the Carnegie Deli across the street.  Somehow, in the dazzle of my parking, we’d failed to notice a New York landmark within yards of the car. We hauled over, heaved in and had a breakfast that couldn’t be beat.  BGFE was especially charmed to find herself dining across from a signed photo of Andy Garcia. This is a person whom I pray she’ll never meet. ‘Cause, if she did, it’d surely be a case of “See you later suckers!” and Beth would be off, leaving me only a final view of the soles of her feet as she tears off down the sidewalk toward her one true love.
Exit BGFE, Enter WGFE,   . . . alright maybe 2nd or 3rd WGFE – even with that exit, she would have some serious competition.

Pastrami and Eggs - The Breakfast of Champions

 

Anyway, now sated and the streets relatively clear, we headed off toward the ship. From the car I phoned the person whom I’d been instructed to contact in order to arrange the off-loading of the wine.  The contact told me that he didn’t know who I was or what I was talking about.
So I explained.
He then re-explained that he didn’t know who I was or what I was talking about.  – With this a hot, panicky bile began to rise in my throat.
Fortunately, before I choked, we arrived at our passenger drop-off point and the passenger drop-off attendants took the nine cases of wine in stride and ushered us to a spot where we received direct attention from the folks of Holland America. We got on – and so did the wine. 

Once aboard, Beth and I abandoned our wine related duties and set out to explore the ship.  We kept stumbling across fellow Roanokers along for the wine trip and were relieved to note that their faces showed more pleasure than disappointment.
Still moored to the pier, we began to feel uneasy as several hours passed with no luggage or wine appearing in our stateroom.  Finally, the luggage showed up but without the wine. I phoned my second contact, the ship’s Beverage Manager – a man with the unlikely moniker of Simon Jam.
Simon had a voice that was thick and slow and precise, like a butler who barely tolerates the antics of his employer. Simon oozed that he had my wine in his office and asked if I could come up to meet him there.  I felt a bit like it was the Principal requesting my presence and I began to examine my conscience for things I might have done, however inadvertent, that might have caused offense.
“Sure.” I said. “I can come right now.”
There was a sigh on the other end of the line.
“Why don’t you wait until 4 o’clock?” he responded distractedly.  He was obviously a man who didn’t care to suffer trifles.  “I have some questions to ask you.”
I half expected him to caution me to not leave town.

I collected my wine co-guide Melinda and we showed up at Simon’s office promptly at four. We were waved in as he looked up from behind his desk.  He was slight, tightly groomed and thin lipped.  He wore an officer’s uniform and, as I approached, he smiled weakly and offered his hand. I could tell that neither gesture came naturally to him. “Mr. Jam?” I said, trying to show him respect and pronouncing the name as my English interpretation would indicate.
“It’s ‘YAH-MM.’ he said, correcting my pronunciation with obvious pain. “I’m Dutch. Please call me Simon.”
This was not starting well. I introduced Melinda.
“I believe that this is yours.” said Simon, gesturing vaguely at the cases of our wine that were stacked in his office.
“Yes, they are.” I said.
“You are having a luncheon tomorrow? Yes?”
“Yes, we are.” I answered.
“Do you have a menu?” Simon asked. “Neither the chef nor I have seen a menu.”
“Yes, we do.” I told him, more than a little disconcerted as the menu had been e-mailed to me from Holland America via the travel agent.
“I have a copy in my stateroom.” Melinda offered.  “I can go down and get it.”
“Perhaps you’d better.” said Simon, humorlessly.
Melinda disappeared in search of the menu.
I waited quietly while Simon returned his attention to the pressing matters of his position.  The phone on his desk rang and Simon snapped up the receiver. He unenthusiastically thanked the party for returning his call and then began to berate them for not mentioning a wine tasting function (unrelated to ours) in the intercom announcements that had run a few moments before. He was incredulous that his wine tasting, which was among the most important events aboard, had completely missed mention. The call was brief and terse.  When he hung the phone up, he looked at me.
“That was the ship’s Program Director,” he said chafing at the stunning incompetence of it all, “and because she doesn’t mention the wine tasting only 70 of the 120 people who signed up will actually show up.”
“Oh.” I said thoughtfully, studying the tops of my shoes.
Suddenly and without warning, his face unclouded and he teetered on congenial.
“Maybe she’ll make another announcement.” he said without conviction. “Anyway.  You can leave your wine here and get it whenever it’s necessary.  The door is always unlocked.”
Melinda returned and handed him a copy of the menu we’d been e-mailed. He scanned it and shrugged. “OK” he said. “Are you happy with the scheduled time of your events?”
“Well,” I answered, “we had to cancel one event because the time was bad.  Can we reschedule that?
“Of course.” he said. “When would be convenient?”
– and so it went. I don’t know why Simon was, at first, so cool and taciturn but, in the end, he was gracious and helpful and we had our wine cared for and our event re-scheduled.

A good time being had by all.

Our events went swimmingly, if you’ll excuse a semi-nautical term.  We poured twelve different wines, most provided by one of our benefactors, Roanoke Valley Wine Company and the rest provided by Wine Gourmet.  The biggest hits? I think, by people’s reactions, the rich and powerful St. Innocent Momtazi Pinot Noir and the graceful and peppery Stadt Krems Gruner Veltliner.
We made our way to paradise, swam in impossibly clear water and chased tropical fish. We ate wonderfully and the consensus seemed to be that the Bermuda Fish Chowder alone was worth the trip. (I found a recipe which seems to accurately represent the dish we had.  It follows below.) Personally I suffered a hangover, sun-burned feet (one tasting was conducted with me in bare feet) and the loss, to the wind, of my favorite ball cap.  Like Luca Brazzi, my hat sleeps with the fishes.
I can safely say that, for many of us, the return home was a matter of reluctance.
Stay tuned for an announcement of Wine Gourmet’s next foray.
You’re all invited.   Honest.

Bermuda Fish Chowder

Be sure to serve this chowder with bread, otherwise your guests will be licking their bowls. Unseemly that.

1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice
5 cups water
2 1/4 lb mixed white fish fillets such as cod, grouper, tilefish, and snapper, skin and bones removed
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole allspice, tied in a cheesecloth bag
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
3 tablespoons cornstarch stirred together with 3 tablespoons water
12 small hard-shell clams such as littlenecks, scrubbed
1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 to 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup (or to taste) dark rum, such as Bermuda’s own Gosling’s Black Seal
2 tablespoons Sherry pepper sauce (This may be hard to find as it is a Bermudian condiment.)
Cook onion, bell pepper, leek, carrots, celery, chopped tomato, and garlic in butter in a 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer briskly, uncovered, 20 minutes.
Stir in fish, tomato paste, bay leaf, cheesecloth bag of allspice, thyme, hot pepper sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 20 minutes (fish will break up), then re-stir the cornstarch mixture and stir into chowder. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Stir in clams, shrimp, Worcestershire sauce, and rum and gently simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let chowder stand, covered, 1 hour.
Gently return to a simmer and stir in Sherry pepper sauce.

The Ultimate Paella!

Adam Z. Markham

In preparation for an upcoming trip to Spain my wife and I had two friends to dinner… Barb and Dave have traveled Spain extensively and we wanted to pick their brains. Deciding to cook paella, I proceeded to look in my cookbook collection for the best version I could find… evidently things were not going to be that simple. I found great and dramatic variation between the recipes.

I then checked out the web. Big mistake. The recipes I found there were even more disparate in opinion! Some folks were purists, insisting on the inclusion of rabbit and the exclusion of seafood. Some cooked on the stove top while others espoused an oven-based method. Some added saffron while others insisted its inclusion was akin to culinary heresy.

What started out as a simple search for a decent recipe ended up (much to the chagrin of my adorable wife) turning into a day-long quest for the perfect paella recipe.

Researching the history of the dish, I discovered it was originally cooked over an open flame often made from grapevines. Grapevines being hard to come by in the wilds of Bedford County, I decided to utilize my trusty Weber gas grill, “Old Smokey”!  Being an enormous fan of all things porcine I decided that the addition of chorizo was not even up for debate… pig simply makes life a better place. Seafood seemed an obvious choice, as did chicken, so I settled on mussels, shrimp and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The most traditional rice for paella seemed to be Bomba, but due to difficulty in sourcing it (as well as a bout of periodically-occurring procrastination) I decided to use Arborio instead.

The end result was shockingly tasty and was proclaimed by our guests to be the “Ultimate Paella” (insert mental image of host grinning like an idiot)!

I strongly recommend sourcing and buying a paellera (the traditional cooking vessel). They are usually sold based on the number of servings they will produce. This recipe was developed using a 6 serving paellera approximately 16″ in diameter that I purchased from Provisions Gourmet in Roanoke. If you don’t happen to have a paellera – and are determined not to own one – you could substitute an oven-safe skillet of similar diameter although I don’t recommend it (hey, I said it was the ultimate paella, I never said anything about easy or quick).

Suggested Wine Pairings: If you are in the mood for white, a nice Albarino such as Salvenal Cosecha 2008 (only $14.99 at Wine Gourmet) would work nicely. For a red wine, try a Spanish Garnacha such as Atteca Old Vines 2008 (an absolute bargain at $17.99!).

Mmmmm..... paella!

Grilled Mixed Paella
Serves 6  VERY hungry people

½ cup good dry white wine – preferably Spanish
1 tsp. saffron threads, crushed
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, peeled, cut into 1 in. dice – skin reserved
5 large cloves garlic, peeled, minced – skin reserved
½ cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves, lightly chopped – stems reserved and chopped
1 ½ lb. shrimp – peeled and deveined, lightly sprinkled with sea salt – shells reserved
7 cups good quality low-sodium chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1 tbsp. olive oil (preferably Spanish)
8 oz. Spanish chorizo cut into ½ in. chunks
6 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
1 red bell pepper cut into 1 in. dice
1 green bell pepper cut into 1 in. dice
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried sage
½ tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. sweet paprika
2 ¼ cups unwashed Arborio rice
2 to 3 tbsp. demi-glace, depending on strength
10 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
¾ cup fresh peas (frozen is acceptable)
½ cup pitted olives [preferably Spanish (such as Manzanilla) stuffed with anchovies – trust me!]
1 large fresh rosemary sprig
½ lb. mussels – cleaned and debearded
3 large lemons

Preheat grill over medium high heat and cover. Ideally the grill should hover around 350˚.

Prepare all ingredients (mise-en-place) beforehand. Put thyme, sage, and both the sweet and the smoked paprikas into a mortar and pestle and grind until well combined.

Put saffron into white wine to soak.

In a medium saucepan add reserved shrimp shells, onion and garlic skins and parsley stems to chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes. Strain. Keep broth hot but not boiling.

On grill, add olive oil to a paellera (paella pan) for six and heat until shimmering. Add chorizo (do not be tempted to use Mexican chorizo because it is too greasy) and brown all over. Remove. Salt chicken, add to pan and sauté until nicely-browned. Remove. Add onion, peppers and fennel. Lightly salt and sauté 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the herb/paprika mixture to the pan, along with garlic, and continue to stir for another minute.

Add rice to pan and stir until grains are evenly coated with oil and beginning to become translucent. Add the demi-glace, half of the parsley, tomatoes, peas and olives. Stir until demi-glace has melted. Return the chorizo and chicken to the pan.

Stir in the wine/saffron mixture and 4-4 ½ cups of the stock (there should be enough to cover the rice by ½ inch or so). Cook with grill lid open, occasionally stirring gently, until dish is no longer soupy but still contains plenty of liquid, 5-10 minutes. Level out the top of the paella, place rosemary sprig on top and close grill lid. Cook without stirring for 10 minutes at 350˚, checking occasionally to ensure the rice is not burning. More stock may be added as necessary (see note below).

Open grill lid and nestle shrimp into the paella. Insert mussels hinge-side down and close grill lid. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until the mussels have opened. Discard any unopened mussels.

Remove from heat. Scatter remaining parsley and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top and cover with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes. Serve in the paellera at the table with additional cut lemon wedges as garnish.

PLEASE NOTE: Paella is ALL about the rice. The additional ingredients are subject to change and should be considered secondary to the perfect rice. When properly executed, the rice texture should be somewhere between the fluffiness of a pilaf and the creaminess of a risotto, with nice little “crunchy bits” around the bottom and sides of the pan. Remember: the rice will continue to cook as it rests, so to compensate, it should actually be a bit TOO al-dente at the end of cooking phase. If the rice appears to be absorbing all the stock but is not yet sufficiently cooked add a bit more stock. If it appears to be getting done but the rice is still a bit too soupy, open the lid to the grill and turn it up (being careful not to let the paella burn on the bottom).

…Adam

Mike’s Pretty Good Meatloaf

A selection from the classic comfort foods section:
meatloaf

Meatloaf is a neat-loaf, treat-loaf, can't be beat-loaf.

I grew up being served meatloaf once a month or so.  While mom was a cook of modest abilities, she had a few signature dishes  for which my siblings and I swooned a bit.  Meatloaf was one.  Mom’s meatloaf was typical of the times (the sixties and seventies).  It was a rather bland affair the recipe for which she’d clipped from the Ladies Home Journal or some other glossy, June Cleaver-y periodical. It involved only hamburger meat, breadcrumbs, eggs, worcestershire and ketchup with a dry onion soup mix.  Still, we clamored for it and the hand of the sibling that might attempt to filch a little extra from his brother or sister’s plate would likely be drawn back empty and sporting a new mark on the back whose pattern would closely match the tines of the fork from the nearly-offended party.  Though mom always made two full meatloafs, only one would be served to our family of eight at dinner and the other would be held to slice up for meatloaf sandwiches for the next day’s school or work lunch.  That still works well.
– Leftover meatloaf makes great sandwiches.

The recipe below is one that I’ve developed after a little trial and error in getting the right combination and proportion of ingredients.  That being said, a meatloaf is a very flexible and versatile dish and feel free to add and omit ingredients as you see fit.

Mike’s Pretty Good Meatloaf
1.5 lbs.  Lean ground beef (ground chuck or sirloin works best)
2/3 lb. Ground pork
2/3 lb. Ground veal or lamb
1 Cup Onion, finely diced
1/2 Cup Carrot, finely diced
1/2 Cup Celery, finely diced
5 medium Cremini mushrooms, (3) whole & (2) medium chopped
(These are sometimes called baby portabella. White button mushrooms will also do fine.)
3 large Cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 Cup Seasoned bread crumbs (I prefer Italian seasoning)
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 Cup Ketchup
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chopped Fresh parsley
1 Tsp. Dry oregano or 1 Tbs. fresh
1 Tsp. Dry marjoram or 1 Tbs. fresh
1 Tsp. Kosher salt
1 Tsp. Freshly-ground black pepper
Seasoning mix
(This is not a necessary ingredient.  I happen to be fond of a seasoning mix called “Slap Ya Mama” and like it in the meatloaf but, if it’s omitted, the loaf will not suffer significantly.  If you have a favorite of your own, that will work in here just as well, I’m sure.)
Pre-heat oven to 375 deg.

One of the secrets of a good meatloaf is to not work the mixture very hard.
In each step you want to work it to the minimum degree possible, just enough to accomplish the task at hand.

If you have a seasoning mixture to use, put onions, carrots and celery into a bowl and use the seasoning mixture on them. If not, no biggee, just skip this step.

In a large mixing bowl, tear off pieces of the ground meats in small chunks and add them to the bowl, rotating between meats as you go. Once the meats are together in a chunk-y mass, add the onion, carrot, celery, the two medium chopped mushrooms, and the garlic. Mix the mass, integrating the vegetables into the meat.

Now add the egg, ketchup, dijon, and worcestershire, along with the parsley, oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper. Work this gently into the meat mixture until you have a meaty, vegetable-studded mass in the bowl. Add half the breadcrumbs, working it in gently.  You’re after a semi-dry, moldable mass here.  If the mixture continues to be “wet”, add bread crumbs until you achieve your goal.

You can mold the meatloaf by hand but I prefer the brick-like regularity that I get by using a loaf pan (a 10-inch loaf pan works fine).  Assuming a loaf pan, put about 1/3 the mixture into the pan and gently press it into the corners, making a layer of even depth.  Take the remaining three mushrooms and put them, cap-side down and lined up like soldiers, into the middle of the pan.  Gently fill-in around the mushrooms, eventually burying them and and cover with the remaining meat mixture.  When you slice the meatloaf for serving, the inverted whole mushrooms make a very attractive shape in the middle of the slices.

I like to cook the meatloaf over a drip-pan to catch the fat, if that arrangement doesn’t suit you, or you’d prefer it a bit juicier, you can cook it on a piece of parchment paper placed in a sheet pan. (A “cookie” sheet won’t do very well here as the fat drippings are likely to run off the edge of the sheet.  You need a pan with a lip all the way around to contain the drippings.)

Run a knife or thin plastic spatula around the sides of the pan while the mixture is in it, separating the mixture from the walls. The mixture will have enough “cling” that it won’t fall out as you invert it on to your cooking surface, whether it’s a screen over a drip pan or parchment in a sheet pan, but you will still want to act decisively.  Quickly invert the loaf pan onto the chosen surface and then gently lift at the corners until you feel the loaf pull free from the bottom and settle onto the cooking surface.

Cook for about an hour and twenty minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 deg.

Glaze (if preferred): I’m on-again, off-again on how I feel about an “icing” on my meat-cake.  If you like it, here’s a formula –

1/3 Cup Ketchup
1 Tbs. Sugar
1 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tsp. Worcestershire
1 Tsp. Ground cumin

Whisk these ingredients in a bowl, blending thoroughly. Remove your meatloaf about fifteen minutes early (or at about 140 deg., if you’re using a thermometer) and switch the oven to “broil”.  Quickly spread the topping blend over the top of your meatloaf, as if you’re icing a cake. Once topped, put the loaf back in the oven and cook for fifteen more minutes.

Because we’re talkin’ comfort food here, serve this with potatoes, or rice or macaroni & cheese.  For a green, I love green beans, though broccoli or asparagus would also do well here.  Mom often served her meatloaf with lima beans, which I could not abide and often skipped dessert rather than put the foul things in my mouth.  I’m older now and recognize that they probably have their place but still,    . . . I’d rather listen to someone take banjo lessons than actually eat lima’s.

As for wine, any decent red could work well with this: cab, merlot, shiraz, tempranillo, dolcetto – all good choices – but I prefer a nice chianti.  An oaky chardonnay is also an excellent choice.  I had this with a Stuhlmuller chard from Alexander Valley and it was a terrific match-up.

Allow the warmth of the wine to fill you while you daydream of tomorrow’s sandwiches.
Published in: on December 6, 2009 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Viva Sangria!

Sangria Tasting on Thursday, Sept 10, 5-8 pm

Sangria Tasting on Thursday, Sept 10, 5-8 pm

Sangria is a host’s best friend.  Made properly, Sangria is tasty, food-friendly and a perfect quaffer for guests “not into wine.”  

Sangria originated in Spain. The word Sangria comes from the Spanish word, sangre meaning blood. The drink gets its name from the red color of the wine used in a traditional sangria recipe. The drink is also made with white wine which is called sangria blanco.

Sangria is basically a mix of wine, juices, soda water and fruit. Any young red wine can be used in a traditional recipe. 

Tried and True Tips:

1.         Good, quality ingredients are important in this drink. Wine is the dominant ingredient, so care is taken to use a good wine.

2.         It’s important to allow time for the liquid to blend with the fruit.  A few hours or even overnight in the refrigerator will enhance the flavor.

3.         Add soda and ice just before serving. 

4.         Use a Spanish Rioja to get the authentic flavor of red Sangria.  Here are a few wines we think are perfect – Protocolo Tinto $8.99 and Cortijo III Rioja $10.99

Published in: on September 9, 2009 at 1:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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