Carry on My Wayward Son (or Daughter)

I don’t know how it happened.

One moment, I’m posting almost every day and keeping up wtih all of the food events, cranking out different dishes every night. Then the next moment, it just stopped.


I can’t say that I don’t know what happened. Lots of different things have happened since the last time I’ve posted: major sickness, getting accepted to Georgetown for my Tax LLM, Valentine’s Day, Birthday, taking part of the bar exam, lots of work…. In the end, lots and lots of stuff. Unfortunately, some of these events were major food events, and their reporting just slipped by. Even though I documented the food with pictures and still have vivid memory of some of the meals, the newness and shinyness of the meals have slipped by, and so posting on them will be less glitzy and less emotional than if I had posted about them shortly after.

A big part of me was just tired, and maybe a little burned out. Not tired of cooking, just tired of writing, tired of being so pressed for time, and tired because of work and school. Attention can only be directly to so many places at once, and the thought of sitting down at the computer and posting was just too much to ask after editing hundreds of pages of law review notes or reading hundreds of pages of trust law.

Although I still don’t have as much time as I would like, I’m going to try to be a little better about posting. Unlike last month, I won’t let this month’s Daring Bakers challenge slip by without even thinking about it (thank goodness for spring break!). Even though I don’t anticipate in participating in a lot of food events or challenges, I will make a reasonable attempt to write about things soon after I cook them. And even though I don’t anticipate a lot of food events within the next month or so, at least I have a lot of backed-up postings that I can use in the soon-coming skant times.

As for the first post back, I’m embarassed to say that I still don’t have the time or energy to make my own post, so I am guest-posting a wine review from my father in law, Jim Robertson. Enjoy!
Though Nancy and I (Jim) have long appreciated wine, neither of us know
much about it, so when Jenny and Jay gave me (Jim) a book on wines, we
had hoped it would help us select wines worth tasting and help us know
what to look for.  Unfortunately, we live in an area that has few
options for wine other than a couple of cut-rate liquor stores (at the
largest one in town, over the past few years, we have learned despite
their large inventory that the wines sit on the shelf for years and a
1.5 liter bottle of Dewars is $6 or $7 more than at the grocery store –
I guess cut-rate is a euphemism for screw the customer), a combination
butcher/fine food/wine shop that lost its liquor license a few years
ago, and grocery stores, one of which has a pretty good wine section,
but they only stock wines that their wholesalers supply.  However, we do
have one wine store (Cork and Cap – but it is on the other side of town
we don’t always get there) that carries wines of quality and interest
from around the world that the owners choose themselves.  Unfortunately,
they are not big enough to carry a really large selection, but that
makes it easier in a way.  We also buy wines at Chicago area liquor
stores, when we visit family there, which gives us more variety.
We evaluate wines quite simply.  Rather than trying to discern spices,
fruits, and other flavors, which to us, after trying to do so, seems so
subjective that it’s a fantasy, it all boils down to whether we truly
enjoy the wine, think it’s a bargain, or just don’t like it, based on
price and taste.  We also ask each other, do we want more than a half a
bottle (two small glasses each) or do we cork it for another meal and/or
use it for cooking wine?  Guess it’s “wine tasting for dummies” but
let’s not dwell on the details.  Our 20 tastings, of which several we
tasted twice to find out if we had the same opinion, follow below.   We
will keep comments to a minimum, but the reader must realize that, unless otherwise stated, the wine in Michigan dollars was between $10
and $14 retail.  For wines more costly than this, the bar of quality and
drinkability is higher  We have 9 winners, 9 losers, and two fence-sitters.


Maculan Pino & Toi 2006 Italy (white) – the wine book does not discuss
Italian white wines more than to say they don’t measure up  …. but
this particular wine said to us “drink the whole bottle and then
more”…. unfortunately, we did not have a second bottle.  The second
time we liked this as much as the first.  If you find something older by
this winery (in the mid- to late 90s) that is equivalent in taste and
quality it will be labeled Maculan Briganze di Briganze.

Vega Sindoa Chardonnay Navarra, Spain – first try we thought it was good
but not great.  On the second try changed our opinion as we thought it
was excellent.  A great value at $11.99 if you can find it….tho with
dollar crashing we may be relegated to Gallo, Glen Ellen, and Mondavi in
the future.

Geyser Peak Alexander Valley Chardonnay 2005 – had this with a Moroccan
lamb tangine so it’s clearly robust for a white to stand up to this type
of food.  Some folks might find it too robust but we really liked it.

Sockeye 2006 Pinot Noir, Central Valley, Chile – good and quite
drinkable but not as good as the wine that follows.   At $12.99, this is
a superior wine and a much better value than the Beringer, below.
Terrazas de los Andes, Malbec 2006, Argentina (red) – compared to the
Beringer and the Sockeye reds, this one knocked our socks off.  At
$11.99 this was a steal as most Malbecs are stronger reds than we care
for….this one was much more like a Pinot Noir, but richer.  Maybe
we’re nuts, but this was one of our favorites, though we’ll qualify this
by saying we only tasted it once.

Beni di Batasiolo Gavi 2005 (white) – another wine the experts might say
lacks character.   We thought with its low acidity and alcohol content
(12%), we could drink it all night, given it’s wonderful flavors.  Alas,
we only had one bottle.  We’ve concluded both of us like light, dry,
somewhat fruity Italian whites…a far cry from commercial wines such as
Soave Bolla, etc.

Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva DOC, Taurino 2003, Italy (red) – this is
a complex refreshing change from Chianti that blends really well with
heavy pasta dishes but that is also very drinkable.  From the “heel of
the boot” part of Italy, it is an excellent value at $11.99.

Alomos, Malbec 2006, Argentina (red) – a full-bodied red without being
heavy and overbearing like the LaPosta.  Went well with the Lebanese
food we had.  Another good value at $11.99.

La Crema Chardonnay, Sonoma 2005, California – this is a good
smooth-tasting chardonnay that goes down easy and leaves no question
about the “two glass” rule.  We have ordered it out at a couple of
restaurants that had it when we wanted to splurge in the past but not
totally break the bank.  For home consumption, it’s a bit on the pricey
side at $19.99 but it does go on sale for $16.99 on occasion so it makes
the winners list on sale.

Banfi Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, 2004, Italy – this Chianti yelled
drink me with the first few sips.  Went beautifully with the pork ragu I
made (recipe from Incanto in San Francisco and published recently in the
NY Times).  We were both sorry not to have room for more ragu and more
wine at the end of the meal.  Even at $19.99 we both agreed this was
worth the steeper than preferred price.


Beringer Pinto Noir 2006, Napa California – after the Beringer
Chardonnay (see below) we were surprised that this was actually quite
good (see below), though at $21.99 it is not a great value and is not as
good as the much cheaper red wines listed above.

Chianti Riserva 2004 Renzo Masi & C. Rufina – good, esp. for the price,
but it is not a true D.O.C.G. (did not specify D.O.C.G. on the label) so
it may not be true Riserva (this is what happens when you start reading
wine books).  Tried twice and couldn’t pass the “drink more than two
glasses test,” but good with food and better than many similarly priced
and most cheaper red wines.


Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay 2004 ($15.99) – this is a typical high
end grocery store wine (which is where we bought it)  given the
proclivities of commodity distribution.  This was dull and pedestrian.

Grayson 2006 California Chardonnay – no way … I’d rather have any
other wide distribution mid-priced wine (e.g. Gallo Sonoma Chardonnay
[$13.99 often $8.99 on sale]).

Parducci 2005 Mendocino County, California., Chardonnay – better than
the Grayson, but don’t bother.

Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2005 Reserve Vielles Vignes Pierre Andre, France –
$15.99 with a weird metallic taste…yuck.

Morande Terrarum Riserva, Casablanca Valley, Chile 2006 (white) – Tried
twice.  This had quite a sour taste to it that we did not like.

La Posta 2006 Malbec, Angel Paulucci, Argentina (red) – big, heavy
overbearing Malbec and at $16.99, we wouldn’t think of buying this again.

Orvieto Classico Amabile Bigi (white) – this is a lesson on why not to
try what you don’t know anything about even if its mixed amidst the
display racks with Pinot Grigios and Chardonnays.  This is a sweet wine,
and not a very good one at that, and is one reason why the wine book
disses Italian whites.  Not exactly what I wanted after preparing veal medallions with wild mushrooms and mustard tarragon sauce.  We poured
the second half of the bottle down the drain.

Wild Horse Pinot Noir, Central Coast 2004, California – acceptable but
it took us two meals to get through the entire bottle.  Why pay $19 (on
sale, regularly $23) for something that can be had for half the price
that is just as good?


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March 2008
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