Winemonger Talk

  • Lamb Meatballs & Collard Dolmades with Jagini Blaufrankisch

    As summer turns to fall, we like to cook "crossover" meals- we're not yet ready for stews and massive chops, but we want something cozier than a salad of summer vegetables. On our menu? This recipe for lamb meatballs and collard dolmades that we clipped from the New York Times a while back. It fits the bill perfectly. You can make it as an appetizer or hors d'ouvre, or just make a bit more and dinner it is! (yes, you can have your last-of-summer-veggie salad on the side....)

    Jagini Blaufrankisch 2008

    And what will pair perfectly? The Jagini Blaufrankisch 2008.

    Among a portfolio of special and distinctive wines, this one manages to stand out. A collaboration between growers Hannes Schuster and Moric’s Roland Velich, the Jagini Blaufränkisch is grown from selected old-vines sites in Hannes Schuster's neighborhood of Zagersdorf, and then finds its way to wine under Roland’s very gentle and patient hand. Jagini offers quite a striking contrast to the more linear minerality of the Moric wines from Mittelburgenland, showing a succulence of fruit and a luxuriance of texture that even goes beyond what one normally associates with the Neusiedlersee Hügelland, those gently inclined sunny hillsides on the West side of the lake, where people have been making wine for the better part of three thousand years. This wine aims to preserve some of that ancient heritage, and hits the mark dead-center.

    Lamb Meatballs and Collard Dolmades

    1/4 cup medium-grind bulgur
    1 pound ground lamb
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
    Salt and ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
    16 to 20 untorn collard leaves
    Lemon wedges, for garnish.

    1. Soak bulgur in hot water to cover until tender, 15 to 30 minutes. Drain bulgur, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Combine bulgur with lamb, onion, garlic, cumin, mint, salt and pepper. Shape into 1-inch meatballs, handling mixture as little as possible.

    2. Put olive oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat; when hot, add meatballs and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, turning every couple of minutes. Serve immediately or cool and proceed with recipe.

    3. Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Trim stem ends of collard leaves and discard. Put half the leaves in the boiling water and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they are just pliable. Use a slotted spoon to remove leaves from water and transfer to a colander; run leaves under cool water; drain and gently squeeze to remove most of the excess water, leaving them just damp enough so they will stick together when rolled. Repeat with other leaves.

    4. Cut leaves in half by running a sharp knife along each side of stem, removing stem in process; trim top and bottom, making a large, rectangular-shaped leaf. Lay one leaf down with widest part facing you. Put a meatball in middle of leaf, bring two sides of leaves together and roll like a burrito to seal it. Put each stuffed leaf, seam side down, on a serving plate. Repeat, cooking and stuffing remaining leaves. Serve with lemon wedges.

    photo: Evan Sung for The New York Times
  • Pork Medallions with Roasted Figs and a Blaufrankisch Red

    When the Williams-Sonoma Wine Club paired up their recipe for Pork Medallions with Roasted Figs and a mighty Blaufrankisch red wine from Austria, we were totally down with it. We like the pork, we love the figs, and do we even need to say how we feel about the Blau? I think not.

    The kicker was the hard apple cider glaze... we just spent the weekend at the Apple Fair in Boonville, so we've got apples on the brain.* If you can get your hands on some, we recommend using the Apple Cider Balsamico from the Apple Farm in Philo.

    With the weather finally cooling down, this recipe is just perfect- and which Blaufrankisch to choose? We're going to say it honestly: decide what kind of a night it is, and let your wallet be your guide. The MORIC Alte Reben Blaufrankisch wines are spectacular, but they are not inexpensive. On the other side of the spectrum, the Winzerkeller Andau Blaufrankisch is not nearly as complex or elegant, but is just fine for the job particularly for what it costs. Somewhere in the middle? Try Wenzel, Schuster, Jagini, Umathum... a different bottling of Moric... there are many to choose from and all of them will warm your bones poured alongside this dish.

    Pork Medallions and Roasted Figs

    Pork Medallions with Roasted Figs
    1 pork tenderloin, about 1 1/2 lb., cut crosswise into 4 medallions.
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    1 Tbsp. olive oil
    1 cup hard apple cider
    1 sprig fresh rosemary
    2 tsp. grainy mustard
    8 figs, halved lengthwise
    1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

    MAKE IT:
    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    Season the pork with salt and pepper. In an ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Cook the pork, turning once, until browned, 4-5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. Add the cider, rosemary and mustard to the pan, bring to a boil, and scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Cook until the cider is reduced by half, 3-4 minutes. Return the pork to the pan, place in the oven, and cook for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the pork, and add the figs. Return to the oven and cook until the pork is tender and registers 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 6-8 minutes longer.

    Transfer the pork and figs to a serving platter. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk in the butter to make a sauce. Spoon the sauce over the top of the pork and figs and serve right away.

    *In Boontling, the language they speak in Boonville, the word for girlfriend is Applehead.

  • What to Drink With It - Vaughn-Duffy Rosé & Cheesy-Brussels-Pancetta Flatbread

    Vaughn-Duffy Rosé

    Sara Vaughn, wife (and inspiration) of winemaker Matt Duffy, shared her recipe for Brussels Sprout, Pancetta and Parmesan Flatbreads in the October 2012 issue of Food & Wine magazine*. It was part of a great article about "harvest widows"- the wives of a gang of winemakers in Sonoma who have banded together during the weeks when their husbands are basically in the fields and at the winery 24-7. They are, of course, good friends year-round, but we loved the name of their gang and the idea behind it.

    Matt Duffy makes not only their eponymous Vaughn-Duffy wines (Pinot, Syrah & Rosé), but is also the winemaker for Easkoot Pinot Noir. He is a crazy talented fellow-- but this post is about his equally crazy talented wife, Sara, who has created this recipe to pair perfectly with their Vaughn-Duffy Rosé.

    Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta & Parmesan Flatbreads

    1 envelope (1/4 ounce) instant dry yeast
    1 cup warm water
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
    1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced
    1 pound brussels sprouts, thinly sliced (5 cups)
    5 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (1 1/2 cups)
    1/4 pound thinly sliced pancetta, torn into 2-inch strips

    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    Lemon wedges and Asian chili oil, for serving


    In a bowl, combine the yeast with the water and sugar and let it stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the 1 tablespoon of oil, sale and 2 cups of the flour and stir until a soft dough forms. Knead in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until firm yet supple, 5 minutes. Lightly brush the bowl with oil. Add the dough and cover with plastic wrap; let stand until doubled in bulk, 1 hour.

    In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion, cover and cook over moderately high heat until softened, 5 minutes; reduce the heat and cook, stirring, until very soft and lightly carmelized, 15 minutes. Transfer the onion to a bowl and let cool slightly. Add the brussels sprouts, cheese and pancetta to the bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup of the olive oil.

    Preheat the oven to 450 and position racks int eh upper and lower thirds. Lightly brush 2 rimmed baking sheets with olive oil. On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough in half and shape each piec into a 13-by-15-inch rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the baking sheets and brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread the topping on the flatbreads and bake for 25 minutes, until golden and crispy. Shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Slide the flatbreads onto a work surface. Cut into rectangles and serve with lemon wedges and Asian chili oil.

    Learn more about Vaughn-Duffy wines here, and more about Easkoot Cellars here.

    *We hope Food & Wine magazine doesn't mind our sharing this recipe here... and we highly recommend you subscribe to their publication.

  • Greet the Grape - St. Laurent

    The St. Laurent grape (AKA Sankt Laurent, Laurenzitraube, Sankt Lorenz Traube, Pinot St. Laurent*) is generally believed to be a natural crossing between the Pinot Noir grape and some unknown partner- tho there is a faction of folks who are trying to disprove the Pinot connection. We rather like the idea and think of it as being the wild cousin of Pinot. It is, however, most certainly the parent alongside Blaufrankisch of the Zweigelt grape.

    Its name has been attributed to the Bordeaux village of the same name (as it is believed to have landed in Austria from France via Alsace and Germany in the mid 1860s) but other explanations point to Saint Laurentius day (10th of August), the day on which this grape allegedly likes to begin its ripening phase. St. Laurent is notorious for an early bud-break which can lead to trouble in countries like Austria where late frost is common, as it is very sensitive and frost will likely cause millerandange (shot berries). “You have to be a little crazy to grow this varietal ” winemaker Birgit Braunstein once confessed to me, “but I believe the rewards merit the pain of it all.”

    Sankt Laurent

    The St. Laurent sports juicy berries, velvety tannins and it is often quite mouth-filling. Its color leans towards a deep, dark red. St. Laurent wines tend to be fruity and multi-layered, and with just a little bit of age, a St. Laurent wine can develop an exceptionally smooth texture. However, it is the wine's bright sour-cherry aromas and flavors, which are typically offset by subtle tartness, that has its fans raving.

    St. Laurent wines pair well with your favorite spice cookies, a duck or other flying dinner, cheeses, BBQ and almost anything else you are not supposed to eat.

    And here- a few words about this grape from our in-house Mongerer, James Wright:
    "St Laurent is a relative of the Pinot Noir—on one side related, although the identity of the second parent remains uncertain… Current wisdom reports that it came from Alsace via Germany some hundred-fifty years ago. Its name comes from the fact that the early-ripening berries first become edible on or around St Laurence’s day, the 10th of August. The grape has enjoyed a resurgence in Austria in the last decade, after having dwindled rather badly during the Bordeaux-dizzy 1990s… Sometimes I describe it as "Pinot Noir's kinky cousin"—it frequently offers a wild edge that the PN does not, and a tendency to show a slightly lactic texture, but on other occasions it doesn't fall too far afield. Not so long ago over lunch, the Pfälzer winegrower Rainer Lingenfelder told me that he would've picked Hannes Schuster's '07 St Laurent Klassisch for a Pinot Noir, had I played him a guessing-game with it. (Good friend Rainer also confessed that the Germans are having a hard time figuring out how to work with the variety...) The vine likes Pinot Noir soils, limestone and the like, open fermenters and natural yeasts.

    My experience on the tasting jury of the Austrian publisher Medianet-Verlag in Vienna leads me to conclude that this is the variety most often abused by Austrian winemakers, with the murder-weapon most frequently being a French barrique from François Frères… But you'll find nothing of that sort from our boy Hannes Schuster! -exactly the opposite, the epitome of honest expressiveness."

    *additional AKA's: Blauer Saint Laurent, Chvartser, Laourentstraoube, Laurenztraube, Lorentstraube, Lorenztraube, Lovrenac Crni, Lovrijenac, Lovrijenac Crni, Pinot Sent Laourent, Saint Laurent Noir, Saint Lorentz, Sankt Lorenztraube, Sant Lorentz, Schwarzer, Schwarzer Lorenztraube, Sent Laourent, Sent Lovrenka, Sentlovrenka, Shentlovrenka, Shvartser, St. Laurent, Svati Vavrinetz, Svatovavřinecké, Svatovavrinetske, Svatovavrinetzke, Svätovavrinecké, Svaty Vavrinec, Szent Lőrinc, Szent Lőrinczi, Szent Loerine, Szentlőrinc, Vavrinak

  • Chef Chiarello Pairs Our Gruner With His Ceviche

    Chef Michael Chiarello

    Chef Michael Chiarello has honored us again by choosing one of our wines for his Napa Style Wine Club. Of course, a court-side seat to a taping of Iron Chef would also be great, but we'll take the club pick and the recipe he put together to pair with our Stift Goettweig Gruner Veltliner: a Bay Scallop and Grapefruit Ceviche with Avocado and Radish.

    Chef Chiarello says "The wine is animated on the nose with notes of citrus, red apple and rosewood. You may pick up notions of tangerine zest and a pleasing stony minerality. On the palate, it’s zesty and bracing with flavors of green apple, pear and spice."

    He also suggests: If you are not a big fan of ceviche, take all the same ingredients and create a lovely warm salad as an appetizer or main course. Just skip the marinating of the scallops and sauté them in some butter or extra-virgin olive oil. Then combine all the remaining ingredients in the assembly section and add to the salad greens. Take the marinade and reduce the fruit juices by half for vinaigrette to dress the salad.

    But around here, it's Summertime right now and this cold ceviche paired with a chilled bottle of Gruner Veltliner sounds just right!

    Serves: Serves 6

    Bay Scallop and Grapefruit Ceviche

    For the marinade:
    Zest and juice of 3 grapefruit
    Zest and juice of 3 lemons
    1 teaspoon Gray salt
    1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
    1 serrano chili-thinly sliced
    1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
    3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    To assemble:
    1 pound Fresh bay scallops
    4 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced thin
    1/2 cup minced redonion
    1/2 cup small diced red bell peppers
    3 avocados-peeled and medium diced
    3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
    1 1/2 tablespoonchopped cilantro
    2 English breakfast radishes-sliced thinly on mandolin
    6 cups baby salad greens

    Make the marinade:
    Combine all marinade ingredients except for olive oil in theblender. Blend until well combines and slowly drizzle in olive oil. Pour into abowl and reserve.

    In a non-reactive mixing bowl combine the scallops,scallions, onion, peppers, cilantro, and parsley with the marinade. Dress theavocado lightly with some of the leftover marinade. Allow to marinate chilled for 2 hours. Place the greens on a large servingplate. Using a slotted spoon remove theceviche and place on top of the greens leaving some of the marinadebehind. Place the avocado over thegreens. Fold the sliced radishes into the ceviche. Drizzle a little of the marinade over theplate and serve.

  • Pea and Crab Lettuce Cups paired with Gruner Veltliner

    Here we are in the dog days of Summer, and I can't think of anything more refreshing on a warm evening than a glass of very chilled, very crisp Gruner Veltliner (some ideas on that below) paired with this lovely recipe for pea & crab lettuce wraps. I find on a hot day that just a whole slew of these can do for dinner, but served as a first course or simple snack for guests of course works as well. You'll love the sweetness of the peas and crab set up against the slight bitterness of the endive, all made lively by the fresh lemon juice - and that's exactly why it pairs so perfectly with the Gruner: no grape goes better with shellfish as the minerality plays so well with any kind of brine, and the herbaceousness balances the subtle sweet the pea gives the cup.

    Pea Crab Salad

    Salt and ground black pepper
    1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas (you can use frozen- but fresh is really so much better & worth the shellin' time spent!)
    1 medium onion, preferably white, finely chopped
    1/2 a yellow bell pepper, minced. Red or orange works as well, or a combination. Not green!
    6 to 8 ounces fresh cooked crabmeat
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or to taste
    Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
    Endive leaves. You can use butter lettuce, or even iceberg, but they will lack that nice bitterness.
    Shredded basil or chopped parsley leaves for garnish. If you used butter or iceberg, add a bit of baby arugula to the herb garnish.

    1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and salt it. Poach peas in water until bright green, about 30 seconds, and remove with a slotted spoon; drain and cool for a few minutes. If you would like a milder flavor, poach onions for 15 seconds, and remove with a slotted spoon; drain and cool for a few minutes.

    2. In a bowl, combine peas, onion, bell pepper, crab, olive oil, lemon juice and some salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. To serve, spoon into endive boats (or lettuce cups); garnish and serve.

    Yield: 4 or more servings.

    Go with one lighter in style for a start. If it's from the Wachau, look for "Federspiel" on the label ("Smaragd" would be too heavy). From other regions you can look for the word "Classic", which usually means it's the entry level wine from a winery. Avoid "Reserve".
    The ones listed below would work perfectly-- you can find some of them here, or check with your local wine shop as many are widely available. With the Etz Gruner Liter, if it's not at your local shop, a quick internet search will set you right up!
    The picks:
    -Stift Goettweig Gruner Veltliner Messwein
    -Hogl Wachau Gruner Veltliner Federspiel
    -Hogl Schon Gruner Veltliner Federspiel
    -Hogl Steinterrassen Gruner Veltliner Federspiel
    -Malat Goettweiger Berg Gruner Veltliner
    -Neumayer Engelberg Gruner Veltliner
    -Winzerkeller Andau Gruner Veltliner (look for the 2011 vintage in particular)
    -Etz Gruner Veltliner Liter Bottle

  • Whole Roasted Rack of Pork with Dried Cherry Stuffing and Andau Blaufrankisch

    not the usual suspects (we're 2nd from the left)

    For his NapaStyle Cucina Wine Club, Chef Michael Chiarello has come up with a beautiful recipe pairing for our Winzerkeller Andau Blaufranksich 2009-- a whole roasted rack of pork with dried cherry stuffing. This is the second wine from us that they have featured in their wine clubs- clearly a sign of good taste on their part! But more than that, we think it shows that their selections are outside the box, which makes this a more interesting club than most. The picture here is from their website... except for the fact that they should of course be using Zalto stemware, this is a pretty great lineup.

    But back to the Andau Blaufrankisch and the pork---

    From Chef Chiarello:
    Described as a combination of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Gamay, Blaufränkisch has the grace of Pinot, the meaty structure and tannins of Syrah and the bramble of Gamay. Packed with bright, fresh fruit, this Blaufränkisch is a very approachable. The nose offers a bouquet of red plum, red grapefruit and dried blueberry with hints of spearmint, pine and forest floor. There’s a hint of pinesap on the palate with flavors of sour cherry and soft rose petal. The suave tannins are balanced with a refreshing acidity.

    This Blaufränkisch pairs well with savory, earthy dishes. Try it with big bone-in cuts of heritage pork that capture the true flavor of traditional pork or go with my Whole Roasted Rack of Pork with Dried Cherry Stuffing. Other options include roasted game birds like squab or guinea hen, marinated for a day with salt, pepper, garlic and herbs, and served alongside roasted parsnips or a well-seasoned polenta. For accent flavors, take inspiration from the wine’s herbaceous notes and look to green herbs like thyme, fennel and rosemary. For an earthy match, use mushrooms.

    Whole Roasted Rack of Pork with Dried Cherry Stuffing

    Cooking Notes from Chiarello:
    Over the years, we have evolved from roasting whole cuts of meat and poultry and moved towards roasting tiny pieces of meat, hoping it would be quicker. What we have given up is the scrumptious, satisfying quality of meat cooked on the bone. The saying is true: “the closer to the bone, the sweeter the meat!”

    Prep Time: 25 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour & 30 minutes
    Serves 6

    hello you beautiful chunk of pork!

    2 tbsp unsalted butter
    1 bay leaf
    1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
    1 tbsp brandy
    1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    1/2 cup fresh orange juice
    1/4 tsp finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
    1 large country-style Italian loaf, about 1 pound or panatone
    1 cup dried sour cherries soaked in one cup water
    1 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary or sage finely minced
    6 to 7 pounds center-cut, bone-in pork loin roast (8 bones)
    finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
    freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 cup dry white wine
    3 cups chicken stock
    1 bay leaf

    Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over high heat, and cook until it browns. Add the bay leaf and stand back (it might pop). Lower the heat to medium and add the sugar to the pan and stir. When the sugar has melted, add the brandy and stand back (it might flame). Add the lemon juice. Cook for 15 seconds, then add the orange juice, water from the cherries and salt. Stir and cook until the liquid has reduced by half and it has reached a syrupy consistency. You should have about 1/2 cup. Remove the bay leaf.

    Using a serrated knife, shave off the thicker parts of the crust. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 8 cups. Place the bread in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the brown butter syrup. Spread the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden and crispy on the outside and still chewy inside, 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally for even coloring. Let cool.

    Let the pork roast sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before cooking.

    Season the trimmed pork roast generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a roasting pan over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the pork roast, bone side down first. Cook until well browned on all sides, including the ends, about 15 minutes total. Remove the pork and set the roasting rack inside the pan. Set pork on the rack bone side up (if you do not have a rack simply leave in the pan, but bone side down).

    Place the roast in the oven and cook until the internal temperature reaches 155°F, about 1 hour. Halfway through the cooking time, place the stuffing in the covered baking pan in the oven and cook until warm throughout, 20 to 25 minutes.

    When the roast reaches an internal temperature of 155°F, remove it from the oven, cover lightly with foil and let rest for 15–20 minutes.

  • Drink This With It - Trillium in Denver

    Trillium Restaurant in Denver

    Trillium Restaurant Denverphoto courtesy trillium

    Open Ravioli of Grilled Blue Prawns: Seared Oxford Garden Greens, Pan Roasted Hazel Dell Mushrooms & Dill "Bisque"

    They had me at hello. One glance at the menu and right there, smack in the middle, a column titled SMORGASBORD with things like Aquavit cured salmon, Long Farm ham mousse, lemon & dill pickled shrimp and Vermont maple sugar cured rainbow trout. To the left- a "Smaller Plates" column with items such as fried Lake Michigan smelts (I am a sucker for little whole fish frites), steelhead trout raaka, and roasted beet & cardamon pudding. And then to complete the trilogy, in the right hand column, "Larger Plates".... and that's where my eyes landed upon the

    Blue Prawn RavioliThe Prawn

    Open Ravioli of Grilled Blue Prawns: Seared Oxford Garden Greens, Pan Roasted Hazel Dell Mushrooms & Dill "Bisque". The chervil mash potato that accompanied the grilled Lake Superior whitefish tried to lure me away, as did the Michigan ramps (I'm a sucker for ramps... I think I just like to say "ramps") and mussel dill broth that went with the pan roasted Steelhead trout. But the prawns trumped.

    The fact is that all of the dishes above would have paired well with the wine I had in mind, that they of course just happen to have on the list: Malat Goettweiger Berg Gruner Veltliner 2009 (a lovely, and even lovelier priced GV from Kamptal). But I knew that those prawns needed that wine almost as much as the wine needed the prawns.

    Scallops Trillium Denverscallops a la trillium would have worked too

    Shellfish in general just hollers for a crisp Gruner, but the herbaceousness that would be drawn out by the greens and dill, along with that certain umami made present by the mushrooms, was going to take this whole thing up a fairly serious notch.

    And so it did. And so it does. So there you have it: when in Denver, drink that with that.

  • Smoked Trout and Sauerkraut Pizza with Dry Riesling

    Smoked Trout and Sauerkraut Pizza with a Dry Riesling

    Lots of Smoked TroutLots of Smoked Trout

    Just ask Manhattan restaurateur Paul Grieco, The General & Manager of Hearth Restaurant, Terroir Wine Bar East Village, and Terroir Tribeca. He's the man behind The Summer of Riesling, so he knows a good Riesling pairing when he sees one. OK- so this isn't actually a pairing he came up with, but we wanted to get in a mention of his Summer of Riesling National Tour because everybody should drink more Riesling.

    We first saw this recipe in a San Francisco Chronicle article a few years back, so the credit for pairing it up to the king of the white grapes goes to Lynne Char Bennett. This crisp pizza goes so well with a dry Riesling it's ridiculous. When digging around for that recipe, we found a few versions, but in kitchen testing the one below came out the best. We import a dry Riesling from the Mosel region of Germany (from Schmitges, in a liter bottle no less!), so please don't think we're against the German Riesling thing here-- but what you want is a super-mineralic, wet slate, dry-as-a-bone Riesling that is light in style and alcohol. Meaning: an Austrian Riesling. If that's coming from the Wachau region of Austria, then it should be stamped with "Federspiel" on the label (and by crazy luck, we just happen to have a few of those available here on the Winemonger website.)

    I'd suggest making this pizza in your wood burning outdoor oven, or even on the grill, with the summer sun on your shoulders and the cold glass of Riesling in your hand.... but it's just as good indoors.

    -enough pizza dough for 3 12-inch pies (it's not so hard to make your own dough-- give it a go!)
    -cornmeal for dusting the sheet pan

    Smoked Trout Kraut Pizza

    - 1 1/3 cups sauerkraut (or to taste)
    - 1/4 cp whole-grain mustard
    - 1/4 cup dijon mustard
    - 1-2 firm sweet apples
    - 1 large thick sliced red onion, carmelized
    - 8 oz. smoked trout, flaked
    - 4 oz. grated mozzarella
    - 4 oz. grated monterey jack
    - kosher salt to taste
    - fresh ground black pepper to taste
    - fruity extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top
    - finely grated zest from 1 large lemon

    Preheat oven to 500, or fire up that grill.
    Roll out dough into 3 pies 1/8 inch thick, or thinner if you dare.
    Move dough to dusted sheets and poke it several times with the tines of a fork,
    Pre-bake for 3-5 minutes until crust is firm but not browned.

    Rinse the sauerkraut, drain, and then squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
    Mix the two mustards together.
    Core & thinly slice the apples (just before using, or be sure to give 'em a hit of lemon juice so they don't brown)

    Spread moderate amount of mustard on the pre-baked crust.
    Put equal portions (or not, depending upon your taste) of the sauerkraut, carmelized onions, trout and apples. Top with some cheese and season to taste with the salt and pepper.
    Bake or grill until the cheese is melted and the crust is browned the way you like it.
    Lightly drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the lemon zest.

    Serve with that Riesling we've been talking about.

  • Crisp Chicken Schnitzel with Lemony Spring Herb Salad & Umathum Zweigelt - per the New York Times Wine Club

    Another feather in our cap! This time, the exclusive New York Times Reserve Wine Club has selected our Umathum Zweigelt Classic 2009. We've been racking up these prestigious wine club selections lately: Chiarello, Williams-Sonoma, NY Times... not too shabby. But the best part? They come up with some killer pairings and include the recipe... such as this one for schnitzel that we're going to share with you here. But we should say- this wine club is definitely worth checking out.

    "The secret to crisp, light schnitzel is to trap air in the crust by moving and shaking the pan. when frying the cutlet, swirl the pan so the hot oil undulates over it. This creates steam that lifts the crust away from the meat allowing the breadcrumbs to crisp."

    That quote comes from the New York Times, but we've said the same thing before in our Schnitzel 101 Recipe. Their recipe goes far further, tho, with a lovely salad that sounds just right...

    Schnitzel with Lemony Anchovy SaladMmmmm.... Schnitzel

    Crisp Chicken Schnitzel with Lemony Spring Herb Salad

    6 anchovy fillets
    1 small garlic clove
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    7 to 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 1/2 cup panko or other unseasoned bread crumbs
    1/2 cup flour
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne
    1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    1 1/4 pounds chicken cutlets, pounded to 1/8 inch thick
    Safflower, peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
    2 quarts mixed baby greens
    2 cups soft herb leaves, like a combination of mint, tarragon, basil, parsley, cilantro, chervil, chives (try to use at least 3 kinds)
    1 scallion, thinly sliced, including greens

    Mince anchovies and garlic and mix with a large pinch of salt until you get a rough paste. Put it in bowl and whisk in the lemon zest, juice and another pinch of salt and some pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
    Place eggs in one shallow dish, bread crumbs in another, and flour mixed with cayenne and nutmeg in a third. Season chicken cutlets generously with salt and pepper.
    Heat ⁄ inch oil in a large skillet. While oil heats, dip cutlets one by one into flour (shake off any excess), then into eggs (ditto) and finally into the bread crumbs, taking care not to handle chicken more than necessary (hold meat by ends).
    When oil sizzles when a pinch of bread crumbs is thrown in, add a chicken cutlet (or 2 if your skillet is large, leave plenty of room around them). Swirl pan so oil cascades over top of cutlet in waves. When bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes, flip and brown the other side, swirling pan (swirling helps create air pockets, giving you lighter schnitzel). Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking platter or baking tray and sprinkle with more salt. Repeat with remaining chicken.
    Toss salad greens and herbs with just enough anchovy-lemon dressing to lightly coat them. Divide salad on serving plates and top with schnitzel. Drizzle with more dressing and garnish with scallions.
    Yield: 3 to 4 servings
    Time: 25 minutes

    Originally published in The New York Times “A GOOD APPETITE; For Stellar Schnitzel, The Trick Is Air” by Melissa Clark, June 3, 2009

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