Monday, February 23, 2009

Some-What Homemade with the Walnofer's #4

Us Walnofer's have still been eating these past few months at home, but just forgetting to report all the goodies that are making their way to our table. This episode is titled winter comfort foods.I cannot take all the credit for this soup. It actually came out of a pre-made soup bag, but I did have to rehydrate it! Thanks to Mom-n-Law for the Bisque in a Bag at Christmas. With the addition of the crystal clear spring water of Calistoga, this dish went from bag to bam! Throw in a few large gulf shrimp, a little bit of Creole seasoning for flavor and garnish, and you have a hearty winter soup with a little taste of the South.
A recent winery excursion a few weekends back took us to St. Supéry where we found this very nice 2006 Napa Valley White Wine Virtú. It is a meritage Bordeaux blend of Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc and the crisp, acidity balanced very nicely with the creaminess and spicyness of our soup.

The Mrs. got the baking bug and went all out with a made-from-scratch apple pie for dessert. Nothing like warm apple pie when its a chilly 48 degrees and sunny out here in Northern California :) When will we master the art of homemade vanilla ice cream to compliment this wonderful pie? For now, its a scoop of Safeway Select Homemade-Vanilla Ice Cream. Close enough.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tour of California: Stage One!

Yes we do, Calistoga, Yes we do. Stage One of the Tour of California came through our little town and we bellied up to the Herbalife Sprint Point to see some fast racing action. Would the first Green Sprinters Jersey go to Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish, or maybe even a certain Lance Armstrong?
Nope. It's none other than Francisco Mancebo of Rock Racing. Word at this point is that he has been on a 85 mile breakaway, sometimes with Tim Johnson (OUCH p/b Maxxis) and David Kemp (Fly V Australia) but after the Cat. 2 Howell Mountain, without.
And here comes the Astana boys laying the hammer! Chris Horner's scary-happy grin in full view pulling Popo, Marabito, Chechu, Lance, and then Levi. Needless to say, their was quite a bit of panic on all their faces as the Tour of California was slowly slipping out of their grasp.

And their they go.........................................shoulda watched on a mountain top.

Also speaking of panic, the High Road boys were at their max with the field in tow trying to keep a leash on Lance & Levi and the Astana led bunch. Apparently their was quite a shake up on Howell Mountain after George Hincapie flatted at the base of the climb. Leading worker bee Michael Barry is gritting his teeth, which are probably filled with the fertile soil of the Napa Valley as you can imagine with these weather conditions.
Dang, where was homeboy Brad Huff? I guess I missed him in all the action.............or maybe that is him that I spy in the black rain coat. Looked like a long day in the office for our resident Mercy-alum and current Jelly Belly Sprinter

Many thanks go out to Brad and Sharon Suhr, owners of Calistoga Bike Shop, for letting us warm up in their shop as well as for the amazing banana-nut bread that Sharon made. Even more amazing, is the fact that ~12 hours later, Sharon gave birth to their 2nd child!!!!! Congrats go out to the Suhr's, and their amazing dedication to holding off the birthing process till after the Tour of California :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy 1st Valentine's Day from the Walnofer's. No big night out on the town, no expensive gifts, just a little romantic dinner for two at restaurant Haus Wallnöfer.
Who needs to go buy flowers when you can go pick them outside your front door? Sufficient I think.
Here is our table at the family friendly Haus Wallnöfer. Since we knew the chef, we were treated to a very special, secluded table for two. Compliments to the Mrs. for the very elegant ice vase.
After a quick review of the wine list, we decided to start the night out with some bubbles. A Segura Viudas N.V. Brut Reserva Spanish Cava. I thought it would pair nicely with the first course.
First Course: Grilled Oysters on the Half Shell with a Blood Orange Champagne Mignonette Sauce.
2nd Course: Roasted Red Beet Salad with Beet Greens & Shallots Sauteed in Apple Juice and Ginger Ale and garnished with Blood Orange Segments and Glazed with Honey.
It was time for a wine selection for the main course. Reaching deep into the back of the cellar, out came this gorgeous 1999 Monte Rosso Louis Martini Zinfandel. Excellent choice I might add! Last year we celebrated with the 2005 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignion. Better hold with tradition.

3rd Course: Washington State Grass-fed Beef Tenderloin on a bed of Grilled Baby Spinach topped with Window-Box Micro Greens adjoined with Skewered Gulf Shrimp with a Oaxacan Mole Sauce (Mexican chocolate/chili sauce).

4th Course: L'Edel de Cleron (Brie) and Fleur des Alpes (Reblochon) with Toasted Cocoa-Dusted Pecans, Walnuts, and Hazelnuts, Chocolate Shavings, Blood Orange, and Homemade French Baguette.

5th Course: Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse with Hand-Whipped Chantilly in a Flute , a Chocolate Chip Cookie with Valentine Heart in Red Icing (not an artist!), and a Macchiatto with Chocolate Cabernet Liquor, Chantilly, Chocolate Shavings and Sprinkled with Cocoa Powder.
Not a bad Valentine's Day celebration for a 1st V-Day in the valley as a married couple. Next celebration, Cuatro de Mayo!

Friday, February 13, 2009

2009 World of Healthy Flavors!

The Fifth Annual Invitational and Leadership Retreat: World of Healthy Flavors took place here at the CIA-Greystone campus a couple weeks ago. The conference is held in collaboration with the Harvard Medical School and is a leading conference linking the worlds of health, nutrition, and of course cooking. As a contributing writer for the Sage Thymes school newsletter, I just so happened to get the opportunity to get out of the kitchen, and into the Ecolab Theatre to join these leaders of the foodservice industry. The conference included several tasting sessions that were quite of interest for a certain recent graduate of sensory science. Under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Loss, the audience was surveyed using an audience response system and then the captured data was analyzed and discussed with the attendees.
The bottom row: Options for Tackling the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Challenge.
Top Row: Sodium in Processed Foods: Comparing Differences among Brands.
Flavor doesn't always mean fat. Many countries use spice blends to develop signature flavors that restaurants can capitalize on as consumers demand lower calorie menu items. From top left to right: Garam Masala, Sambhaar, Suvir's Spice Blend for Fish, Turkish Baharat, Dukkah, and Ana's Kebob Spice Mix.
Nut-based sauces are also a unique way to impart healthy fats and flavors to increase the nutritional value of food. The days of beurre noisette (brown butter) and sauce a' la meunière (butter, lemon, parsley) might not be the only option anymore. From top left to right: Romesco, Muhammarah, Pistacio sauce w/lemon, orange, and olive oil, Almond bread Skordalia, Walnut Tarator, Pesto Trapanese, Pasta de Chile Morita y Cacahuates o Pepitas, and Salsa de Chile de Arbol y Cacahuates.
Remember that this conference is still about food, and what better place to try out these healthy creations than up in the Teaching Kitchens upstairs. The TK was transformed for the closing sponsor reception, "In Small Bites." Let's go check out some of these small bites.
Bush Brothers and Company makes some pretty tasty beans and Chef Tucker makes some pretty tasty........
.....Chipotle Pinto Bean and Spicy Pork Tostada's with fresh Cilantro, Avocado, and Salsa Verde.
Southwestern cuisine is notorious for their full flavors, without all the fat. "And no, sour cream is not indigenous to Mexican food, nor low fat!" Chef Iliana de la Vega, from CIA-San Antonio, demonstrates how with..........
.....Shrimp on Skewers with Peanut & Pumpkin Seed Mole and Oaxacan Green Mole.
Sun-Maid Growers of California donated some tasty dried up grapes. "No Napa Valley grapes were harmed during the production of these raisins!" Chef Lars and AOS-6's very own, Rick Kazmer, prove that raisins don't always just have to be eaten out of hand, instead..............
.......perhaps with Warm Shredded Beef, Chili Poblano and Marinated Onions on Golden Raisin and Corn Blinis with a Raisin-Balsamic Sauce.
Chef Andy Wild was the perfect salesman for Dow Agrosciences who donated the ingredients for these Poblano Chiles Stuffed with a Oaxacan-Style Pork Filling. Also known as Chiles Rellenos con Picadillo Oaxaqueno.I remember my days with Kellogg's. It was probably the healthiest time of my food career. Chef Briwa took a page out of Kashi's book to produce................ ...........Mediterranean Flatbread (JJ Flats) with Figs, Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Walnuts, and Honey.
Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute put their product in the hands of Hawaii-native Chef Wong. Kind of ironic? But the food speaks for itself, and the "Wong Way" is the........... ......tasty way! Bombay-Style Rockfish. Wait, isn't Bombay in India? What a trio of cultures in this one dish!
No meal is complete without dessert. The National Peanut Board provided tasty peanuts and under the guidance of world-renowned CIA pastry chef, Chef Stephen Durfee, out came Peanut and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream in Flax Seed Cones.
After this healthy feast, I might want to reflect on the calorie count of all these small bites. Oh well, calories in-calories out right! What a conference and what an opportunity for a student to take a look at a side of the foodservice industry that many of us in the kitchen don't even know exists. Many thanks go out to Chef Scott Samuel and Conference Program Director Amy Miller for giving me this opportunity.


It means a lot more now-a-days than it did in the past. May God's healing hand be laid on you. Get well soon bro.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wine Club: Dessert & Wine Pairing?

It's the time of the year once again to start planning that Valentine's Day Dinner. What more appropriate to discuss at Wine Club than, Dessert & Wine Pairing!The desserts for tonight were provided by the CIA's very own "Baking & Pastry." The delicacies included (left to right, top row first): Dried fruit (fig, apricot, cherries), Pecan Cake, Chocolate Souffle cake, Chantilly Cream, Lemon Pound Cake, Peach Cobbler, and Something-Really Good Cake without a name.

Other sweet accompaniments included grilled pineapple, Maldon salt, caramel, orange segments, berry coulis, and candied orange rind. Not to be left out of the sweet wine pairing, two cheeses were included, Abbaye du Belloc (sheep cheese) and a St. Agur (blue cheese).

Now let's talk about the wines (left to right):
1. Robert Mondavi Moscato D'oro, 2006 Napa Valley: a very floral, citrusy sweet wine but isn't syrupy. Suggestions for dessert pairings run across the board, but I found the Lemon Pound Cake to match the character of the wine flawlessly!
2. Quady Elysium 2007, California Black Muscat: incredible nose of red raspberry, stone fruits, and a perfume similar to a fresh rose. This wine was very interesting and surprisingly drinkable. Hands down match with the raspberry coulis.
3. Carmes de Riussec Sauterness 2004: SAUTERNESS!!! What more can you say? I love these little Bordeux-esque wines. It was very versatile with the desserts. The peach cobbler, caramel sauce, and candied orange all were good matches. The best match for me was the Chocolate Souffle Cake topped with the Chantilly cream. Maybe even add a little caramel topping to finish it off!
4. Pedro Ximenez Hartley & Gibson. Jerez, Spain, Sherry: Either you love of hate Sherry. Their is not much middle ground with this fortified wine. I tend to dislike them a little as the high alcohol content makes them a little harsh on my palate. Other than the caramel sauce, I thought the Abbaye du Belloc cheese was the winner with this wine.
5. Graham Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2003: Port is the king of dessert wines. It matches almost everything, if you like port. Sweet berries, dark spices, mocha, chocolate. And once again, especially caramel!
6. Blandy's 10 Year Malmsey Madeira: Very unique taste that conquered the pungentness of the blue cheese and was a great match with the grilled pineapple............that was drizzled with caramel!
So, the moral of the dessert and wine pairing story is..........enjoy either your chocolate-based, fruit-based, or ice cream dessert with a little bit of caramel on top for a pleasurable, and sweet end to your meal.