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wine wednesday

Oysters & White Wine – A Guide to the Perfect Pairing

Amazing Matriarch is here to help you host the perfect oyster & white wine paring be it for your next party, or a night in with your special someone.

The Oysters

The best way to pick oysters is to do a taste test; whether it be with a marked, mixed dozen at home or at a local raw bar (check out the 10best oyster bars in Boston or search 10best.com  for ideas in your city from other local experts) a sampling will hep you decide what you want to serve.

There’s been a battle between east and west coast oysters for years, personally I find oysters from each coast equally enjoyable, while my husband prefers the more mild flavors and smaller since of west coast oysters. The difference between oyster from each coast is that you’ll find large, firm, meaty morsels of high salinity in the shells of east coast oysters and a slightly sweet melon and cucumber flavor in the smaller, more delicate west coast oysters.

A mix of both is always nice, but  as an east coaster with easy access to briny delights from local waters year-round; who buy into the fresh is  best when it comes to food (especially raw seafood) movement, I recommend sourcing oysters from local farmers and seafood shacks.

Popular east coast oysters, that are easily accessible and worth shucking at home include:

Oysters on the half shell at home
Oysters on the half shell at home
  • Wellfleet – large, meaty, clean tasting with excellent salinity
  • PEI, Malpeque– tender, the brininess and sweetness are in balance
  • Island Creek– rich, fatty meat with a buttery finish in a deep cup
  • Blue Point– medium in size with a mild ocean flavor, meaty and from in texture

Popular west coast oysters worth seeking out include:

  • Kumamoto– cucumber flavor, deep cups, small in size
  • Fanny Bay– strong cucumber flavor, meaty and firm

Serve shucked on a platter of crushed ice or alongside shucking knives and gloves (oven mitts work well) for a more casual “shuck your own” event.

The Sauces

Meeting Chef Justin Shoults
Meeting Chef Justin Shoults

Whatever oysters you choose to serve and however you choose to serve them, be sure to have a sampling of sauces on hand:

  • Tabasco: the watery nature of tabasco allows for a hint of heat without too much bulk to overwhelm the oyster’s texture
  • Lemon wedges: technically not a sauce, just a squeeze of lemon over your oyster is all you need to counterbalance the salinity of what’s in the cups
  • Cocktail sauce: “beginners” eat oysters with cocktail sauce, but those who truly enjoy the oyster prefer to eat it without as the heft of the this sauce. It’s strong flavor and dense texture can overwhelm the oyster (do not even think of putting on west coast oysters) so use sparingly.
  • Mignonette– this vinegar based sauce is easy to prepare and can be altered using various add in (herbs, type of vinegar, & flavoring agents like ginger). My favoirte, simple mignonette to make is from Ina Garten and Food Network.
  • Herbed Creme Fraiche– This is delightful on both east and west coast oysters where the mild flavor enhances the oyster; a sorel laced version I tasted at a seminar presented by Brine’s Chef, Justin Shoults at the 2015 Nantucket Wine Festival was perfect, but other herbs can easily be subbed in, just be sure to puree the herbs as to avoid a chunky sauce.

 

The Wine

Sampling of whites with oysters
Sampling of whites with oysters

I typically pair my oysters with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Luckily, when participating in the Flight of the Oyster tasting at The Nantucket Wine Festival there was an expert (Philippe Newlin) on hand to create a perfect pairing with  dry to sweet Bordeaux; changing how I look at my at home raw bar drink selection forever.

Six that worked well:

  • Sirech Les Deux Terroirs Blanc 2013, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Marjosse 2013, Entre-Deux-Mers
  • Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc 2013, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2013, Medoc
  • Hauts de Smith Blanc 2012, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Suduiraut 2007, Pessac-Leognan

Pour your sips and savor the oysters finding the combination that calls to you and filling that glass to the top.

-Helping you rock the raw bar, Jess

What’s your favorite oyster pairing? Tell us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch

 

 

Host an Approachable Wine Tasting

Bring a little taste of Napa (and your kids) to your next dinner party

When you want to entertain without all the fuss and muss of a formal dinner party, host a wine tasting with a few friends. It will seem like you spent days preparing, but really you’ll have invested a few hours and minimal effort to prep for your guests arrival.

Best of all, no sitter is needed. Plan for an early evening arrival and the kids can play while you sip, savor and nosh and still get everyone to bed on-time.

While the adults make their way through the tasting menu, the kids can play, catch a movie and munch on pizza (courtesy of the local delivery man). Paper plates and juice boxes make for easy clean-up, and special treats like candy or popcorn can help delay the need to leave for a little bit longer.

To set-up your tasting, you’ll want a few bottles of wine. To mimic what you’d find when visiting a vineyard, start with whites and move onto reds (lightest to darkest). Have your guests take part in the wine selection by assigning each couple a bottle or two to bring along. Encourage guests to seek something new so the tasting is a learning experience for all.

At a recent wine tasting party we sampled the following( in this order):

tablescapeI set the table with 6 glasses for each guest (if you find yourself without enough glasses, purchase a plastic sleeve), plates for appetizers, utensils and a guide with tasting notes. In the center, I presented the food to pass around family style.

When each couple brings an appetizer to share, you’ll cut back on the  cooking (and clean-up). Various people bringing dishes also allows for a variety of food to be sampled. Guests should keep in mind the tasting theme and consider what food would pair well with the wines being served.

Treats that have made their way through my doors for wine tasting nights include little crostini topped with fun toppings such as sliced meatballs, chunks of chicken parmigiana, bean dip and olive tapenade. As well as endive cups filled with delicious Tuscan Chicken Salad. But if you’d rather keep the food in house, make it simple by throwing some pre-made (I love Trader Joe’s) appetizers in the oven.

As the host, I jump at the chance to experiment with the cheese plate. Although markets like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Wegman’s and Trader Joe’s offer excellent cheese selections, when I want to impress my friends I head to a small, local shop.

The one cheese shop I favor, close to my home, is Wasik’s The Cheese Shop in Wellelsey, Massachusetts. The cheese maker, Brian Wasik is typically in store and beyond helpful. I explained what my goal was in cheese selection and he guided me through his cheeses to find the perfect cheese pairings to compliment the wines.

Armed with three cheeses: La Tur from Piemonte, Missouri Truckle, and Taleggio from Lonbardy , Italy, I set off to find the special little touches that would take this platter from something to nibble on to the star of my table. Adding piles of salumi (the Italian word for cold cuts) , some tall bread sticks, a bundle of grapes, pile of apricots, a line of olives, and a little honey to drizzle over the truckle, the cheese plate was ready for my guests to enjoy.

And enjoy they did because the six adults at the table almost polished off the entire cheese plate. First, tasting each cheese alongside the appropriate red or white, then gobbling up the accompaniments as they returned for seconds and thirds.

Guide your guests by sharing the following tidbits about each cheese so that they learn not only about the wines you’re serving, but also the food:

cheeseplate

  • La Tur from Piemonte is a creamy blend of pasteurized cow, goat and sheep milk that pairs well with whites.
  • Missouri Truckle is an unpasteurized cheddar cheese aged in a cheese cloth on the outside, allowing the cheese to breath and resulting in a dry, crumbly texture paired with the light reds.
  • The Taleggio from Lonbardy , Italy is a semi-soft, washed rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that held up well to the bolder reds.

This allows them the confidence to host their own wine tasting, and hopefully reciprocate the invitation.

Add a little touch of wine to your cheese by labeling using old wine corks. Using a dark colored marker, label each cheese then stick a toothpick into the cork, and insert into the corresponding cheese.

And finally, add a little extra something to your wine tasting party by asking everyone to send you a picture of the wine labels so you can put a wine menu together. To do this, research the wine maker’s tasting comments and add them to sheets of paper accompanied by the photo of the label, and space for taking notes. This keepsake lets your guests not only remember the night, but also find the wines that you’ve discovered. It also acts as a guide for the wine phobic so even if they can’t actually smell or taste the correct flavors in the wine, they can comfortably fake it.  If you don’t have time to create your own guide from scratch, use my template as a starting point.

You’re friends will be amazed at how easy it is to host an elegant evening of wine tasting.

-Just one mom finding a way to enjoy wine with friends, Courtney

Check out Amazing Matriarch on Social Media- Facebook: Amazing Matriarch; Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter:@AMatriarch and fill us in on your wine tasting adventures using #amazingmatriarch

 

 

 

 

A Foolproof Pairing to Impress Your Friends: Italian Wine and Cheese Part 2

Pairing wines with cheese is an art form mastered by some and a mystery to others. When you master a few pairings you’re armed with an arsenal of appetizers that will impress any guest.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piave_cheese
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piave_cheese

Serve the nutty Paive Stravecchio cheese with an Italian red or two, and a few simple accompaniments, and you’ll be asked to repeat this pairing at every party.

Paive Stravecchio has a grainy texture that is best enjoyed on cheese board with a dollop of mostarda and a glass of Italian red. From the Veneto region in Italy’s northern area. Manufactured from cow’s milk this cheese takes on the flavor of the land that the cows graze upon.

http://castellare.it/eng/chiantiClassico.html
http://castellare.it/eng/chiantiClassico.html

Two classic Italian red wines that pair nicely are the fruity, full-bodied, smooth, 2005, Tasca d’ Almerita, Lamuri, Nero d/’Avolo Sicilia and the dry, 2013 Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico.

Add a salumi of arista di maiale (roasted pork loin) and you have the makings of a full Italian style lunch or a lovely American style appetizer. Encourage your friends to try each piece alone then mix.

First, sample the cheese along with a bit of mostarda (an Italian condiment made from candied fruit and a mustard flavored syrup that take son a consistency somewhere between honey and jam) and enjoy how the two compliment one another. Then, try the cheese with the arista di maiale and enjoy how the subtlety of the pork loin pairs with the sweet almond flavors of the flaky cheese. Finally, enjoy all three together and you’ll find the making of an excellent broiled sandwich when you top a slice of bread.

Then relax and finish the plate before moving onto your next course.

-“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”, W.C. Fields

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A Foolproof Pairing to Impress Your Friends: Italian Whites with Asiago Cheese & Speck

The Italians know how to live the good life. They sip fine wines, and eat rich foods, and turn their meals into events that could last all day. All you need to recreate the spirit of an Italian celebration is a good hunk of Asiago, a bottle of white, a hunk of crusty bread and a little salumi.

http://www.caputosdeli.com/products/asiago-fresco-dop.html
Agriform’s Asiago Fresco DOP

Asiago Fresco is a spongy, creamy. Italian cow’s milk cheese that has a mild flavor and makes an excellent addition to a cheese pizza. But a piece of this cheese on a plate alongside a a few slices of Speck makes for a an appetizer you’re friends won’t soon forget.

http://www.librandi.it/en/
http://www.librandi.it/en/
Photo from: http://wine.mastroberardino.net/en/Show.aspx?idElemento=16
Photo from: mastroberardino.net/en/

Pair it with an oaked 2013 bottle of Librandi, Efeso-Val di Neto Bianco or an un-oaked Mastroberardino, Radici Fiano di Avellino and the flavors will come to life. These simple wines are elegant, allowing the flavors of the food to shine. The Radici also pairs well with seafood and chicken so you can easily follow up your appetizer with a meal calling for the same wine.

Or keep some on hand to enjoy solo. Top a slice of Italian bread with a slice of speck, a piece of Asiago and a drizzle of honey alongside your glass of wine and call it a meal.

Either way, this pairing will have you living la dolce vita.

-Vowing to serve wine and cheese to please, Jess

Stop Your Whining and Get to Wine-ing at Boston Wine Events

If Boston’s winter has you whining about the excessive amount of snow on the ground, and the excessive cold, check out two great wine events that are sure to switch you from a whiner, to a wine-r- the Boston Wine Festival and Boston Wine Expo

Boston Wine Festival kicks off in January to save you from the post holiday haze that had you fooled that this winter won’t be so bad after all. Taking place at the Boston Harbor Hotel, the Wine Festival is a series of wine focused dinners featuring the cuisine of acclaimed Chef, Daniel Bruce, paired with wines from around the world. Running through March, the events of the Boston Wine Festival often sell out making a seminar or dinner best planned in advance. Boston Harbor offers hotel packages so guests can easily retire for the evening with only a walk to their room.

The Boston Wine Expo takes place annually on President’s Day weekend at 10best 2015 best Boston hotel, the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center. This expo is jam packed with winters from around the world sampling their finest wines in a laid back atmosphere, while chefs take to the two stages to showcase their skills in cooking classes aimed at teaching you a new kitchen trick. Seminars are held in various conference rooms throughout the Boston Wine Expo and offer deeper exploration of a region, style or parking of wine. Hotel packages are available to make your weekend even better. And use of the drync app allows easy purchasing while you’re tasting so you’ll be sure to remember the wines you loved.

Buy your tickets today so you can wine the right way until winter comes to a close.

-Here to rescue you from the winter blues, Jess

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