Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Great books on wine & cooking

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting and Running a Winery

Author: Thomas Pellechia
Rating: Excellent
Format: Paperback,368 pages
Price: $18.95
Webpage: http://us.penguingroup.com
ISBN 9781592578184

Experience and knowledge is power. Thomas Pellechia has been on all sides of the wine business. His new idiot's guide is a perfect instruction manual for anyone who has dreamt about owning their own wine business. This book covers almost all of the possible legal and financial issues that will be faced by any vintner.

Valuable chapters include vineyard design and layout, grape yields (gallons per ton) and how to make a profitable business. They say it isn't so! Custom crush versus owning your own winery. Pellechia shows you how to crunch those numbers too! My favorite pet peeve, wine label design is also logically explained. You will learn the do's and don'ts for designing a wine label that's draws attention, entering your best wines into a professional wine competition, plus a lot more. This is the best education a vintner may ever get for less than twenty bucks!

On the Line
Authors: Eric Ripert and Christine Muhlke
Rating: Excellent
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
Price: $35.00
ISBN: 9781579653699 (1579653693)
Webpage: http://www.workman.com/products/9781579653699/

As a resident of New York I tried unsuccessfully to secure a lunch reservation at Le Bernardin for several years. My only complaint after reading this book is that I am fearful that its readers will flock to Le Bernardin in even more frequency keeping this wonderful restaurant sold-out! With three Michelin Stars it should be expected.

Chef Eric Ripert has allowed the reader to examine the inner soul of Le Bernardin in a manner similar to a culinary MRI. This book is like the official owners manual and operational guide for running a world-class seafood restaurant. Ripert's signature recipes are included.

Spectacular photography, intriguing illustrations and timelines makes this book Le Bernardin un-coded!

Under Pressure
Cooking Sous Vide
Author: Thomas Keller; Introduction by Harold McGee
Rating: Excellent
Format: Hardcover, 295 pages
Price: $75
ISBN: 9781579653514 (1579653510)
Webpage: http://www.workman.com/products/9781579653514/

America's most respected chef has discovered the Sous Vide method of cooking. It involves packing food, seasonings and sauces in airtight plastic bags and cooking at low heat. This Chef Keller confirms provides superior flavors and precision.

Several years ago Chef Keller along with culinary greats(Daniel Boulud, Charlie Trotter and Mark Miller, to name a few), teamed-up with Cuisine Solutions to offer a line of their signature dishes that could survive shipping via mail order. I attended a media luncheon where all of the press attendees ate foods that had been prepared via the Sous Vide method. It was delicious!

In Under Pressure, Chef Keller discusses the many virtues and obstacles he experienced using Sous Vide. The photographs used to illustrate this book is first class. While some of the commercial equipment shown in this book is only practical for a professional kitchen, I believe that some of the techniques in this book could be adapted for use in a Food Saver home sealing system.

Just like Thomas Keller's other books, Under Pressure is packed with a great assortment of recipes that will keep even the most enthusiastic foodie busy for the next year. The sources directory at the back of this book is an invaluable resource for finding rare ingredients from Keller approved purveyors. Buy this book and keep it on your table for inspiration. It will help you discover your inner foodie.

Reviews (C) 2009 by Christopher J. Davies, Wine Country International ® magazine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Taste of Elegance Denver Chefs Get Serious!

2009 Taste of Elegance Denver:
Chefs Get Serious!
Story and photos by Christopher J Davies

Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg , Claire Walter Food Critic/Author,
Amanda Faison, 5280 magazine, Teresa Farney, The Gazette, Colorado Springs

The 2009 Denver International Wine Festival Taste of Elegance Chef's Competition took place on Thursday November 12, 2009 at The Mile High Station, Denver.

This year's event was our biggest and best ever, with 15 Colorado Master Chef's participating. Top Chef Season 5 Winner Hosea Rosenberg, our previous three time champion joined on as our celebrity Judge and Master of Ceremonies. Hosea has had a whirlwind year due to his TV stardom. We are so proud of him and his accomplishments.

This year's TOE drew an impressive bevy of serious chefs from as far away as Telluride. Our only female contestant was Eliza H. S. Gavin, Chef/Owner, 221 South Oak Bistro, Telluride. Eliza is a cook book author and seriously talented chef. Visit her restaurant the next time you happen to be in Telluride: http://www.221southoak.com/

Photo Left: Chef Corey & Hosea
The winner of the "Most Creative Chef" category was Rob Corey of Sandoval's Kitchen, which is part of Master Chef Richard Sandoval's restaurant group (Tamayo,Zengo La Sandia, Pampano, to name a few!). http://www.modernmexican.com/

Chef Corey has extensive culinary credentials himself. Even recently having spent a 3 month "stag" with America's Superstar Chef, Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Napa Valley.

We assigned him 2 different Spanish Gold Medal winning wines from the Denver International Wine Competition. View list of winners: http://www.denverwinecomp.com/2009results.html

When I asked Chef Corey to provide recipe's for his winning dishes. I was shocked to receive such extensive procedures as well as professional quality tasting notes for the wines. This man is a serious contender folks! Try these recipe's at home if you dare. Be prepared to spend a lot of prep time for it took Chef Corey three days to create these masterpieces.

Taste of Elegance – Wine Tasting & Recipes
By Chef Rob Corey
Thursday, November 12, 2009
6 to 9 pm
The Mile High Station
2027 West Lower Colfax Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80204

Wine 1 – Castillo de Maetierra Libalis 2008 - Melodic white wine blend from Northern Spain's Valles de Sadacia region. The majority of the grapes are Muscat with a small percentage of lesser-known white varietals, Viura and Malvasia. Incredibly aromatic, slightly sweet, and very floral. Smooth, silky, with a flavor that's almost tropical. Valles de Sadacia is a Spanish geographical indication for Vino de la Tierra wines located in the autonomous region of La Rioja . Vino de la Tierra is one step below the mainstream Denominación de Origen indication on the Spanish wine quality ladder. Only white wines are included in Valles de Sadacia. Three types are considered: dry (seco), semi-dry (semiseco or semidulce) and sweet (dulce).

Tasting notes: Apricots, peach flesh, vanilla-oak, honeysuckle.

Libalis 2008 & Small Plate:

Braised Bacon - Pain Perdue - Foie Gras - Chutney - Chocolate

(A “Mosaic” of Cherry & Maple-Glazed Braised Bacon with Brioche Pain Perdue, Cardamom Creme Anglaise and Foie Gras Butter with a Green Apple, Dried Apricot & Raisin Chutney, aside Chocolate Truffle Texture)

Wine 2 – Matsu 2006 - Tinta de toro is a local varietal found in the western half of Spain, near the town of Zamora. It’s thought that the varietal is an adaptation of traditional Spanish tempranillo. The province of Zamora, where the D.O. Toro is located is in the extreme western part of the region of Castillo Y Leon in western Spain, near the border with Portugal. The D.O.Toro vineyards are in the southeastern part of the province. Toro is best known for its tinta de toro but they also grow malvasia, garnacha and the white varietal, verdejo. The Tinta de Toro red wines are known for being lusher and richer versions of tempranillo due to the vineyards more southerly situation.

Tasting notes: Leather, cigar smoke, small raisins, plums, cherries, barnyard must, fig
Matsu 2006 & Small Plate:

Croquette “Egg” – Chile Morita – Pistachio - Fig

(Toasted Almond, Grilled Chicken, Caramelized Onion & Mornay Fried Croquette “Egg” atop Chile Morita Sauce, Frisee Salad with Jerez Sherry Vinaigrette, Toasted Pistachio Crumbs & a Fig Jam Glaze)

Braised Bacon - Pain Perdue - Foie Gras - Chutney – Chocolate

For the Braised Bacon in Cherry-Infused Maple Syrup:
Notes on Sous Vide: Slab Bacon is used in order to braise the bacon in its own fat, essentially “confit”. Cut the bacon into manageable sizes (9”X6”) to fit the vacuum bags that you have. A house-version Seal-A-Meal works fine for this application. A professional vacuum chamber is preferable (Koch). Make sure the bacon is totally chilled when it is put under pressure in the bag. Work clean and sanitary. Chill the vacuum bag with the pork (33 degrees) before immersing in the water bath with the immersion circulator. Once cooked (12 hours @ 68.8 degrees C.) place the bag with the pork in it into an ice bath to shock it back to temperature (33 degrees). Refrigerate until you are ready to use the bacon.
1. Sous Vide Slab Bacon 1-2# ea.

2. Cook in water bath @ 68.8 degrees C. for 12 hours.

3. Shock in ice bath.

4. Press for 24 hours with 5-6 pounds of weight.

5. Cut into large lardons and fry until crisp.

6. Glaze in hot Cherry-Infused Maple Syrup (add frozen Sour Cherries with juices to the pure Maple Syrup and reduce back to a syrup, using the cherries as garnish), 5 minutes.

For the Pain Perdue:
1 C. Milk
3 ea. Eggs
1 t. Salt
2 T. Honey
Dry Brioche Bread, cut into Pont-Neuf (2” X ½”)
1. Dry bread slices for 8 hours, or overnight, on a wire rack.
2. Soak dry bread slices in batter for 30 seconds on each side.
3. Drain on rack and let sit for 5 minutes.
4. Brown on all sides in clarified butter.
5. Bake on sheet pan for 5-10 minutes @ 375 degrees.

For the Crème Anglaise:

2 C. Light Cream or ½ & ½ (12-18% Butterfat)
1 bean Vanilla, split lengthwise, or 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
12 pods Cardamom, crushed, black seeds only
1/3 C. Granulated White Sugar
5 large Egg Yolks

1. Crush Cardamom and split Vanilla Beans. Add to cream.

2. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar and whip until light lemon color and creamy.

3. Bring cream to just under a boil.

4. Temper the cream (adding a little of the cream to the eggs at a time) into the eggs, stirring the two mixtures together with a wooden spoon in order not to make any bubbles.

5. When all the cream is added to the eggs, put the mixture in a bowl and cook over a double boiler until 185 degrees F., or the mixture holds its shape when you draw your finger across the spoon.

6. Put the bowl of Crème Anglaise over a bowl of ice and continue to stir while the custard cools.

7. Store in squirt bottles and refrigerate.

For the Foie Gras Butter:
1 ¼# Foie Gras
Milk, to cover the foie gras
2 t. Kosher Salt
¼ t. Fresh ground white pepper
¼ t. Sugar
½ t. Curing Salt (6%)
2 qts. Chicken stock
1# Sweet, unsalted butter

1. Rinse the foie gras under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place in an airtight container and cover with milk. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours to degourge.
2. Remove the foie gras from the milk, rinse and pat dry. Cover it with a damp towel and let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes (it will be easier to work with).
3. Pull apart the two lobes. Keep one covered with the towel while you work with the other. Remove any membranes. Starting with the large lobe, locate the start of the primary vein. Slice through the lobe to the vein, pulling the foie gras apart to see the vein clearly. Butterfly at a 45 degree angle. Expose the interior of the liver and remove the primary vein.
4. Keeping the outside of the liver intact, locate and remove as many of the smaller veins as possible. No matter how much you scrape and cut inside the lobes, you’ll be able to reform the lobes.
5. Cut away and discard any bruised areas. Once the foie gras is cleaned, fold over the sides and return it to an approximation of its original shape.
6. Repeat with the small lobe.
7. Mix the kosher salt, white pepper, sugar, and pink salt together. Press the foie gras into a container in an even layer ¾ to 1-inch thick. Sprinkle and press half the marinating mixture over and into the liver. Flip the foie gras and repeat on the other side. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the foie gras and enclose the container completely in more plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
8. Remove the liver from the container, place it on a piece of parchment paper, and break it up as necessary to form a loaf about 6 inches long and 3 ½ inches wide. Using the parchment, roll the foie gras into a log, twisting and squeezing the ends of the parchment paper to help compact the foie gras.
9. Unwrap the foie gras, discard the paper, transfer the log to a piece of cheesecloth, 1 foot wide by 2 feet long, and place it along one of the short ends of the cheesecloth. Rolling it away from you, roll it into a tight log.
10. Loop an end of twine around your index finger. With the same hand, hold one end of the cheesecloth tightly and wind the string around the end of the foie gras. Repeat on the other end, wrapping and tying both ends tight enough so that some of the foie gras comes through the cheesecloth. Tie three strips of twine around the torchon, spaced equally.
11. Poach the torchon for 90 seconds in simmering stock. Refresh in an ice-water bath, to cool.
12. Pass the foie gras through a tamis and reform the foie gras into a torchon.
13. Compress the torchon in a thin dish towel to reform. Twist and tie the ends of the towel to return the torchon to its former shape. Tie the ends of the towel with string and hang in the refrigerator overnight.
14. Remove the torchon from the refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature. Do the same with an equal amount of unsalted sweet cream butter.
15. When both are soft whip together in a mixer with the paddle attachment. When the butter is smooth, load into squirt bottles or refrigerate in a crock, covered for up a week.

For the Chutney:

2 T. Butter
4 T. Shallots, brunoise (1/8-inch dice)
½ C. Red Bell Peppers, brunoise
½ C. Green Bell Peppers, brunoise
½ C. Yellow Bell Peppers, brunoise
½ C. Orange Bell Peppers, brunoise
1 T. Honey
2 T. Light Brown Sugar
2 sticks Cinnamon
5 pods Star Anise
1 C. Apricots, dried and diced
1 C. Black Raisins, diced
1 C. Golden Raisins, diced
2 t. Chile Ancho powder
S&P t.t.
½ C. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 apple Sliced thin and halved OR oven-dried OR Dehydrated in a dehydrator

1. Melt butter over medium heat and add shallots. When the shallots are just translucent, add all the peppers and cook 2 minutes, making sure that the peppers are still firm.

2. Add all the other ingredients and cook until almost all the liquid is reduced.

3. Taste and adjust as necessary.

4. Put the chutney into a bowl and let it cool at room temperature. Let the chutney sit in the refrigerator, covered, overnight.

For the Truffle Texture:

2¾# Bittersweet Chocolate
2 C. Heavy Cream
4 oz. Kahlua
1 T. Ancho Powder
½ t. Chipotle Powder
1 ea. Chopped Serrano Pepper
1 C. Coffee Beans
1 t. Vanilla
6 oz. Very-Softened Unsalted Butter (room temperature, 65 degrees F., or higher), cut into ½” pieces
1. Chop the chocolate into very, very small pieces, making sure they are all the same size (1/8” or less). Put the chocolate into a bowl twice the size of the chocolate mound.

2. Heat the cream, Kahlua, Ancho Powder, Chipotle Powder, Serrano Pepper, Coffee Beans and Vanilla slowly over medium-high heat. When almost to the boil, pour the mixture through a sieve over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 30 seconds and then, with a wooden spoon, begin in the middle of the mixture and stir the cream into the chocolate.

3. Add the soft butter and continue to stir it into the ganache.

4. When the ganache is silky smooth put it into the bowl of a mixer and beat it on medium-high to high with the whip attachment until it is cool/room temperature. Be careful not to overbeat.

5. Put the truffle texture into a plastic container and store, covered, at room temperature.

To Assemble:
1. In a shallow white bowl, put a dollop of chutney off center. Put the halved apple slice through the middle of the chutney.

2. Put two Pont-Neuf Brioche Pain Perdue, one on top of the other, in the center of the bowl.

3. With a small palette knife, put a small round of the truffle texture on the right side of the Pain Perdue and drag the palette knife through the texture, very quickly, to make a “comma”.

4. Place the fried and glazed braised bacon (3 pieces) around the Pain Perdue.

5. Drizzle the Pain Perdue with the Cardamom Crème Anglaise.

6. Add a small squirt, in front of the Pain Perdue, with the Foie Gras Butter.

Croquette “Egg” - Chile Morita – Frisee - Pistachio - Fig
For the Croquette “Egg”:
1# Skinless Chicken Breast, on the bone
½ # Onions, julienne.
2 T. Butter
3 bulbs Garlic, cooked in 1 gallon of chicken stock (infused with onions and caramelized jalapenos). Reserve the chicken stock.
1/4# Toasted Hazelnuts (skins removed and chopped).
1C. Thick Mornay
S & P
Standard Breading: Flour, Eggs (whipped) and Panko Crumbs
Truffle Oil and Truffle Salt

1. Grill the chicken breasts almost through, then rub them with garlic, spritz with lemon, and coat with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Cool. Remove the breasts from the bone. Let marinate overnight, covered, with the garlic and lemon.

2. Caramelize the onions in butter.

3. Stew the chicken breasts (with the garlic) and the caramelized onions, covered, in chicken stock until the breasts shred. Add stock as necessary. When chicken and onion mixture is cooled, hache (chop) very fine.

4. Toast the hazelnuts @ 350 degrees F. Cool. Chop in food processor until quite fine. Add to the chopped chicken. Cool the mixture.

5. Prepare the thick Mornay. A 50:50 ratio of flour and butter, cooked to a pale roux, add hot milk (1 quart:4 oz. roux). Cook 30 minutes over low heat, stirring often. Remove from the heat and add grated cheese (Manchego, Oaxaca, Mennonita), salt and pepper. Chill the sauce.

6. With gloved hands, mix the chilled Mornay into the chilled Chicken mixture.

7. Prepare the standard breading procedure.

8. Using a spoon, make a quenelle and roll it in the flour, then the eggs and finally the panko crumbs.

9. Fry the quenelles @ 350 degrees F. When crisp, remove from the oil and dust with truffled salt and a touch of white truffle oil.

For the Frisee “Nest” and Jerez Sherry Chive Vinaigrette
1 T. Frisee Lettuce, snipped with scissors into tree/branches.
1 t. 3:1 Vinaigrette (3 parts chive oil, recipe below, to 1 part Jerez Sherry, seasoned with kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper).
For the Chive Oil:
1 packed C. Chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 C. Canola Oil
1. Place the chives in a strainer and run hot water over them for about 2 minutes to soften and remove the chlorophyll taste.

2. Shock the blanched herbs in an ice bath to chill.
3. Drain the cold herbs and squeeze as dry as possible. Use scissors to cut them into small pieces.
4. Put the chives in a blender with enough of the specified oil, just to cover.
5. Blend on medium speed and allow the herbs to blend for one minute. If the herbs aren’t turning freely, add slightly more oil.
6. Turn speed to high and blend for 2 more minutes. Remove the stopper to allow some air in. Check the oil occasionally, as it will begin to warm up. It should not get too hot or there will be a loss of color. If the machine or the puree becomes hot, refrigerate the puree.
7. Add half the remaining herbs to the machine and blend for 2 more minutes.
8. Add the remaining herbs and blend for another 2 minutes.
9. Put the puree in a clean container and refrigerate for at least a day to intensify the color. The puree can be stored for up to a week. It can be frozen for up to 2 weeks, with little lose of color.
10. Place a piece of cheesecloth over a container and secure with a rubber band or string. Place the puree on a cheesecloth and let the oil filter through for about an hour.
11. Discard the cheesecloth and the remaining puree. DO NOT WRING OUT THE CHEESECLOTH. That will cloud the oil. You may need to do this in batches. Store oil in the refrigerator, or freeze it. Once strained, the oil will discolor in 2 days.
12. Store the oil in clean plastic squeeze bottles.

For the Chile Morita Sauce:
5# Tomatillos, roasted on one side until black.
¾ oz. Garlic
¾ oz. Chile Morita, lightly toasted in fryer (10 seconds or less) @ 350 degrees F.
½ oz. Cilantro, chopped
1 oz. Sea Salt
1. Under a salamander, or on the grill, blacken the tomatillos on one side only. Remove from heat.

2. Fry the Morita peppers very carefully, making sure not to burn them.

3. Add remaining ingredients and puree with a burr-mixer (hand wand).

4. Cool, label and store in the refrigerator.

For the Pistachio “Crumble”:
Pistachios, raw, unsalted, shelled
Panko Crumbs
1. Hache (chop) the pistachios almost to a powder.

2. Add ¼ panko crumbs to the volume of pistachios.

3. Toast the pistachio/panko mixture (at 350 degrees F,) until golden brown. Cool.

4. Store the crumbs in a covered plastic container.

For the Fig Jam Glaze:
6 qt. Boiling water
6 qt. Fresh figs
1 qt. Water
8 slices Lemon

1. Pour boiling water over figs and let stand 15 minutes.

2. Drain and thoroughly rinse in cold water.

3. Pat dry. Remove stems and crush.

4. Measure figs (by weight) and place in a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole.

5. Add ½ C. sugar for each cup of crushed figs.

6. Add 1 quart water.

7. Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 3 hours (or until thickened), stirring occasionally.

8. Ladle jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼ -inch head space.

9. Add a slice of lemon to each jar.

10. Cover at once with metal lids and screw on bands.

11. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes or until jars “pop”.

12. Yields 8 ½ pints.

13. Strain the seeds through a tamis and load a squirt bottle with the Jam Glaze.

To assemble:
1. Place a dollop of the Morita Sauce just left of middle of a long plate and draw a spoon through it.

2. Add a bit of vinaigrette to the frisee lettuce and place the nest in the middle of the Morita swatch. Top it with the fried, truffled, salted and truffle-oiled croquette.

3. Cross the Morita with fine threads of Fig Jam and then the Pistachio crumble.

Story and photos © 2009 by Christopher J Davies, all rights reserved

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Recipe & Pairing From The Denver International Wine Festival

Recipe from The Best Chef of The 2008 Denver International Wine Festival

My absolutely most enjoyable event of the year is The Denver International Wine Festival's Taste of Elegance Chef's Competition.

We provide only Gold Medal winning wines from the Denver International Wine Competition to 14 of Colorado's Master Chef's. Each Chef is assigned two different Gold Medal wines just one week before the event. Their assignment is to create a custom paired dish to go with each wine. At the Taste of Elegance, they create 400 appetizer portions to serve some of Colorado's most devoted food and wine lovers.

Our 2008 "Best Chef" was Jean-Luc Voegele, the Executive Chef of The Westin Tabor Center Hotel in Downtown Denver. Jean-Luc is a French native and may have been fed wine with his Cheerios as a youngster. His pairing at the event was one of the most unusual combinations, yet it worked quite deliciously!

Roasted Beets Salad with whipped Goat Cheese served with a
Tomato-Ginger Vinaigrette

Paired with R&B Cellars, Zwingville Zin 2006

By Executive Chef Jean-Luc Voegele, Westin Hotels

Serves 12

Roasted Beets Salad Ingredients:
3 Lbs. Red Beets
1/2 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Banyuls Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Chopped Chives
1 Tbsp. Chopped Italian Parsley
2 Tbsp. Chopped Shallots
1 Tbsp. Dried Cherries (Blanched and Chopped)
1 Tbsp. Macadamia Nuts (small pieces)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger Minced
1 cup Tomato cubes peeled & seeded
2 T. Kosher Salt
1 T. White ground pepper

Goat Cheese Mixture Ingredients:
1/2 c. half & half
1 Lbs. Goat Cheese (Logs)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. White ground pepper

Tomato Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1 cup Tomato cubes peeled & seeded
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup Banyuls Vinegar
1 Tbsp Chopped Italian Parsley
1 Tbsp. Chopped Shallots
1 Tbsp. Chopped Chives
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger Minced
2 T. Kosher Salt
1 T. White ground pepper

Garnishing Ingredients:

12 ea. Italian parsley springs
12 ea. Cherry tomatoes cut in half


To prepare the beets salad:
Wash the beets in running water and scrap off all the dirt. Drain them and wrap the beets in aluminum foil and bake in 350(F) oven until soft, approximately2- 3 hours.
After they cool down, peel of the skin. Then shred them.
In a large bowl mix with a whip the oil and vinegar with the salt & pepper like a vinaigrette, then add chives, parsley, shallots, dried cherries, ginger, tomato, Mac nuts. Check the seasoning.
To prepare the goat cheese:
Mix the cheese with the half & half in a kitchen aid mixer and add the seasoning. Let it get smooth. Then reserve it in a piping bag with a star tip.
To prepare the vinaigrette:
In a bowl mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper with a Wisk to emulsify the vinaigrette. Then add all the other ingredients and check the seasoning.

Assembly of the salad:
Use a 3 inch round circle and start filling it up ¾ with the beet salad, then add the goat cheese. Drizzle the vinaigrette around the plate and decorate with cherry tomatoes and a spring of parsley.

Note: Chef Jean-Luc Voegele returns to the Denver International Wine Festival, Taste of Elegance on Thursday November 12, 2009 at The Mile High Station. I can't wait to taste his new pairings! For tickets visit: http://www.denverwinefest.com/order.html

Additional Information & Resources:

The Denver International Wine Festival
Official Website:www.denverwinefest.com

The Denver International Wine Competition
Official Website:www.denverwinecomp.com

R&B Cellars Wine Information:


R&B Cellars homepage:

The Westin Tabor Center, Denver Colorado

Story and photos (C) 2009 by Christopher J. Davies, All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Harvest America 2009- Part One

Harvest America 2009
By Christopher J Davies

Harvest is a vintner's celebration of the culmination of a year's hard
work. It marks the transition period in the winemaking cycle from
vineyard to cellar. In physical terms, it is the process of picking
ripe grapes from the vine.

This past week, Darcy and I had the pleasure of visiting the Napa Valley where Harvest is already in full swing. We were honored to attend the 43rd Blessing of The Grapes at The Robert Mondavi Winery. Margrit Mondavi and Director of Wine Making, Genevieve Janssens hosted the event for friends, employees and a handful of press. Monsignor John Brenkle of The St. Helena Catholic Church presided. Afterward we all enjoyed a delicious lunch overlooking the vines!

Margrit Mondavi with grapes

We stayed at the lovely Wine Country Inn, located in St.Helena. This place is awesome! We stayed in a private cottage overlooking a lush vineyard. Every afternoon they host a delicious wine tasting with tons of snacks. The staff was ultra-friendly and made sure that we were happy. They are centrally located.

The Wine Country Inn & Gardens 1152 Lodi Lane St. Helena, CA 94574
Toll Free: 888-465-4608
Phone: (707) 963-7077

Just down the street, Duckhorn Wine Company. One of the Napa Valley's most revered producers. Their tasting room and headquarters is a large modern house with a wrap around porch. They offer several levels of tastings some with food pairings included. Since they are off the beaten path, Duckhorn is not that crowded. They offer an intimate setting with some of the best wines in the region.

Duckhorn Wine Company
1000 Lodi Lane

St. Helena, CA 94574

Tel. 707 967-2008

Check back soon for more posts about this trip!

Coming September 27, 2009
Harvest Fest Long Island

Long Island Wine Country. com cordially invites you to take part in
this once-a-year activity by joining our 8th annual Harvest Fest 2009"
Day in the Vineyard".This full day event will take place at Laurel
Lake Vineyards, in the quaint hamlet of Laurel, on the North Fork of
Long Island. Laurel Lake Vineyards is a modern vineyard & winery
focusing on producing premium quality estate wines. The winery
building features a massive elevated wrap around deck that offers a
picture perfect view of the vineyard below.

Darcy and I will host up to 150 guests. For details visit:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pastel De Choclo Chiliean Corn & Meat Pie

Pastel De Choclo

Chilean Corn & Meat Pie

Here's a healthy traditional Chilean dish that is favorite of many locals. It is light and ideal for the summer. Vegans can leave out the chicken. Meat lovers may add more ground beef instead of chicken. Fish lovers may substitute salmon.

Serves 12.

6 large ears of corn, grate the kernels
8 leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. butter
1/2-1 cup milk
4 large onions, chopped
3 tbsps. oil
1 lb. (1/2 kg) finely ground lean beef
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1 cup black olives
1 cup raisins
12 pieces of chicken, browned in hot oil, seasoned with salt,
pepper and cumin
2 tbsps. confectioners' sugar

All photos (C) 2009 by Christopher J Davies. All rights reserved.

Heat the grated corn, chopped basil, salt and butter in a large pot. Add
the milk little by little, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.
Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Leave to one side while you prepare the
meat filling. Fry the onions in oil until transparent, add the ground meat
and stir to brown. Season with salt, pepper and ground cumin. To prepare
the pie use an oven-proof dish that you can take to the table. Spread over
the bottom of the dish the onion-ground meat mixture. Arrange over this
the hard boiled egg slices, olives and raisins. Put the chicken pieces on
top, bone the chicken if you like. Cover the filling with the corn
mixture. Sprinkle the confectioners' sugar over the top. Bake in a hot
oven 400 Deg. F (205 Deg. C) for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden
brown. Serve at once. In Chile more sugar is served to sprinkle over the
"pastel" as it is eaten.

Story and photos by Christopher J. Davies.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Caveat Emptor: "Let The Frequent Flyer Beware"

Caveat Emptor: "Let The Frequent Flyer Beware"
Story and photo by Christopher J Davies

We all know that caveat emptor is Latin for, "Let the buyer beware". This phrase should definitely be used when comparing frequent flyer programs and airline policies for redeeming a "free" ticket.

As a member of several frequent flyer programs, I am outraged over the hassle and cost that some airlines put me through. I feel like a number of my most-frequented, so-called "classic" carriers have totally turned their backs on me, the customer.

Last month, I needed to fly from Denver to New York on two back-to-back weekends. Rather than be penalized with hiked up rates for purchasing tickets at the last minute, I decide to cash in some "free" tickets. The two experiences I had illustrate the drastic difference between a larger carrier and one of the “low-cost” carriers.

Flight on May 1, 2009 via United Airlines #558
For my first trip, I decided to use 25,000 United Mileage Plus points to redeem a roundtrip ticket from Denver International Airport to New York LaGuardia Airport. When reviewing my flight options against jetBlue schedules, I found that United had many more direct-flight options.

I selected my “Award Travel” option on United.com and clicked “book travel”. Immediately a window popped up asking me if I wanted to enjoy 6 inches of more legroom for $39 each way. I declined. Then another window popped up to inform me that I would be charged $100 because I was booking award travel that would occur in less than 21 days. Why does this matter to United? If I am booking my award travel online, no human labor is incurred on their side right? Infuriated, I accepted the fee only because it was cheaper than purchasing a ticket without using my free points.

When I clicked “accept,” another window popped up informing me that it would cost me an additional $5 for taxes, fees and surcharges!

When I tried to select my seats, the website's cockpit seating map showed that all seats were reserved and it would not permit me to pre-select my seat. That meant I would need to get to the gate earlier so that I could use all my powers and sweet charm to negotiate an aisle seat.

One day before my departure, I received an automated email from United Airlines. It confirmed my itinerary and asked me to check in. I was able to select my seat, an aisle in the very last row. The check-in procedure also permitted me to check my bag. I was surprised to see a window pop up to inform me that one bag would cost me $15 to check. “What a rip off,” I thought, but proceeded to type in my credit card number. What else could I do?

The following morning my check-in at DIA was uneventful. When I got to the gate, I learned that even though I was seated in Row 34A, the last row, my seating group was 4th, the last allowed to board the plane.

Since many other customers did not wish to pay $15 to check their bags, the overheads were over-packed with carry-on luggage. I found it difficult to place my laptop bag in the bin above my seat because someone from another row's luggage was in my spot. Worst yet, by having a seat in the last row of the plane I was privileged to be sitting in front of the bathrooms and adjacent to the flight attendants seated in the rear. I was shocked to overhear a flight attendant radio her superior with news that the water in the bathroom sink was not operational. "This equipment is defective. We should change planes," she explained, yet her superior disagreed and our flight took off for New York. The lack of water was particularly inconvenient as we were in the midst of a swine flu epidemic and folks had been told by President Obama to wash their hands regularly.

During the flight we were treated to soft drinks, water and coffee. “Smartpack” and
“Minimeal” snack collections were offered for a cost of $6 to $12. Wines, beers and cocktails were offered at $6 each. United now accepts credit cards only; no cash.

FLIGHT ON MAY 7, 2009 VIA jetBlue AIRWAYS #558
My experience with jetBlue was much different. The website was easy to navigate and after selecting my desired flights, I was able to select my seats.

I logged onto their website and clicked on “True Blue Program”, which is their frequent flyer reward program. I had accrued enough flight segments to earn a free round trip ticket. After clicking “submit”, the pop up window informed me that I would be charged $5 for taxes, fees and surcharges. Yet, unlike United, there was no penalty for ordering the "free" ticket only nine days in advance.

On the day of departure, I brought my pre-printed boarding pass that I generated online. Its barcode was all that my front desk agent needed along with my identification. I was happy to learn that my first checked bag was free!

When I boarded my flight, there was a noticeable difference in legroom from the United flight which was probably equal to the space that United charges an extra $39 per segment for. Also, jetBlue's equipment was brand-spanking new. Prior to takeoff, the pilot made an announcement informing the passengers that while our plane was one of the newest in jetBlue's fleet, that the onboard Direct TV system, with screens build into the back of every seat in front of each passenger, was not working correctly. After take-off, however, the flight attendants re-booted the system and we all got to enjoy 36 channels of free TV, plus the choice of 4 pay-per-view movies for $5.

About an hour into the flight, we were offered a beverage service, followed by a choice of 6 different complimentary snacks. The snacks were not as elaborate as the ones offered on United, but they were free. The options were: Terra Blues®Chips, Doritos® Munchies Mix, Chocobillys chocolate chunk cookies, All Nuts roasted cashews, Stella D’oro® Breakfast Treats or Stauffers® Animal Crackers. Wines and beers were offered for $5.

The overall attitude of the jetBlue flight crew was much friendlier drinks were served with a smile and the occasional joke.

Summary: United(UA)-vs-jetBlue(JB)

Cost to redeem free ticket UA $105 , JB $5
Cost to check first bag luggage UA $15, JB $0
Cost to check additional luggage UA $15ea, JB $30 or more
Additional legroom UA $39, JB$0
Public movie UA Yes, JB No
36 channels of TV at no cost UA No, JB Yes
Complimentary nonalcoholic drinks UA Yes, JB Yes
Cost for wine/beer UA$6, JB $5
Complimentary snacks UA No, JB Yes

I used to be one of United's most frequent fliers. My Mileage Plus Statement indicates that I have flown over 375,000 miles, yet since the terrible events of September 11th and United's subsequent bankruptcy, this airline has not fully recovered. Unfortunately, the cost is being paid by the once-valued customer. If GM is able to be reinvented as the new GM, I believe that United Airlines should take some notes. -CJD

Monday, April 20, 2009

Crab Cakes for Appetizers or Brunch!

Crab Cakes for Appetizers or Brunch!

Story and photos (C) 2009 by Christopher J Davies

I noticed that Costco is now selling Chicken of The Sea, Super Lump Crab in their deli section. The cost for a 1 LB container is only $14.99, which is enough to make 12 decent size crab cakes. Having lived on the East Coast for most of my life, I have encountered too many crab cakes that contain excessive filers such as onions, celery and peppers. It is my opinion that these fillers overpower the the wonderful natural taste of the crab.

In the store, I discovered the manufacturers recipe was not full of filer type ingredients. So I decided to test out their suggested recipe. Both Darcy and I have added this to our list of favorites!

Delicious Crab Cakes

1- 16 oz (1 LB) cup of Crab Meat
1 beaten Egg
2 tbs. Mayonnaise
1 tbs. mustard prepared( we used Grey Poupon)
1 tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbs. dry mustard (we used Oriental Hot Mustard)
1 tbs., seafood season (we substitute with Louisiana Cajun Seasoning)
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Hot Sauce ( 2 shakes of Tobacco)
3/4 cup bread crumbs (we used Progresso Italian)

Combine all ingredients except crab and breadcrumbs. Add crab to mixture. Fold breadcrumbs in gently. Form into crab cakes by hand.

To keep consistent size we used an ice cream scoop to measure. Result was 12 identical sized cakes.

Pan fry in canola oil for 4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.

Hollandaise Sauce Finish

If you are looking for a great sauce to finish the crab cakes, make a basic Hollandaise Sauce.

Note: While this an easy to make sauce, but it will require your full attention at the stove. You need low heat and constant stirring by hand.

6 egg yolks
2 tbs. lemon juice
1-cup of butter( 2-sticks)

Stir egg yolks vigorously in a 3 quart saucepan over very low heat. Stir with wire whisk until butter is melted. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Brunch Menu Idea:
After creating the above, poach two eggs per person to serve crabs benedict.
Add salt and 2 tbs of vinegar to water. Once the water boils add two eggs, cook for 2 minutes. Use a strainer spoon to remove. Place on plate on top off toasted English Muffin slices. Garnish with Hollandaise sauce, paprika and parsley.

Storage of cooked crab cakes:
Crab cakes are rich. So we do not always finish them. You can store for 24 hours in the refrigerator. To reheat, do not microwave. Instead warm on a sheet bake pan in the oven at 300 F at 20 minutes.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Capital Grille's Exceptional Tuscan Wine and Food Feast

The Capital Grille's Exceptional Tuscan Wine and Food Feast

By Christopher J. Davies
Photos (C) The Capital Grille

Darcy and I just had the pleasure of visiting the Capital Grille Restaurant in Denver's historic and trendy LoDo neighborhood. The restaurant is located in the heart of Larimer Square.

While the Capital Grille has been on my short list for amazing steaks, seafood and service, this meal was a very special occasion as we were set to try the Capital Grille's five course, Italian-fare dinner, a promotion that goes on at all of the 35 Capital Grille's restaurants across the US, until April 5, 2009. The five-course dinner is offered at the recession buster price of $49 per person, which is definitely well-worth the cost!

George Miliotes

Best of all, the dinner offers an exclusive opportunity for diners at The Capital Grille to preview the premier vintage of Banfi Vintners 2005 BelnerO Sangiovese di Montalcino, a delicious Sangiovese made from unfiltered cuvée of specific clones that have been selected after 30 years of research. The Capital Grille's Corporate Wine Sommelier, George Miliotes scored a home run by securing an exclusive on this Tuscan wine release. The wine is deep ruby in color with rich fruit flavors. It is aged for 2 years in classic barriques. Bottle's are offered at $69.

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were warmly welcomed by the host and personally escorted to a table in the middle of the restaurant. The décor was rich deep mahogany with massive paintings and pleasant subdued lighting. The place reminds me of a stately country club in the country side, with patrons deep in conversation. The place was bustling with activity and a little loud. But the tone of the room was celebratory.

Within in a minute of being seated, servers had swarmed our table offering the menu, water selection and advice on cocktails. When I received the special printed Italian Fare menu, I was impressed with the generous amount of food that would be served. But the biggest surprise was that the wine pairing would all be done with just one wine for all five courses...the 2005 BelnerO Sangiovese di Montalcino!

I must admit, that in all my years of attending wine pairings I have never seen this done before. This would be a very interesting meal indeed!

Our waiter explained the restaurant's extensive wine list, which was loaded with more than 5000 bottles. And while you can find exceptional values in the $40 to $75 range, the listed is weighted with Rock Star friendly bottles that will reach the peaks of even Mick Jagger's wallet with cult wine lover's Harlan Estate, Napa Valley Cabernet offered at $1,900 per bottle.

Since the pairings with the food would be all with the red wine, I asked the waiter to suggest a glass of Champagne to wet our taste buds. Our waiter suggested that he also open a bottle of Banfi Vintners 2005 BelnerO to allow it to breath.

After 25 minutes of savoring the Champagne we got to have our first sip of the rich and powerful BelnerO. Magnifico!

Swordfish Roasted inside Parchment Paper


Black Truffle Mac ‘N’ Cheese


Creamy Porcini Mushroom Soup Garnished with Chive Oil

Field greens, shaved fennel, goat cheese, 12-year balsamic; Tuscan extra virgin olive oil

Choice of

Herb-Marinated, Dry-Aged Tenderloin with Garlic, Roasted Tomatoes, Red Peppers and Cipollini Onions


Swordfish Roasted inside Parchment Paper with White Wine, Roasted Tomatoes, Oil-Cured Olives and Capers

Black Truffle Mac ‘N’ Cheese

House made Carmel gelato with chocolate sauce and home baked biscotti


The wine paired amazingly well with the dishes. Darcy ordered the steak and I ordered the fish, so we experience the full menu selection.

The creamy porcini soup was rich and creamy with an earthy finish. The pairing with the wine was fantastic and we tasted an increased earthiness with the mushrooms.

The salad was huge and tasty. The balsamic classed a little with the wine but when tasted together with the goat cheese it was heavenly.

The filet was cooked perfectly "black and blue" as Darcy ordered it. The pairing with the wine was a good match.

My Swordfish was delivered in a sealed parchment paper. Our waiter sliced the parchment slowly to allow the steam to escape. The fish was smothered in a rich tomato sauce. The pairing was surprisingly spot on with the wine.

I am a big fan fan of Mac and Cheese, the Black Truffle Mac ‘N’ Cheese hit home just like Grandma's comfort food! The truffle oil gave it a nice sophisticated touch. And the wine paired very well.

The dessert was impressive as when I think of a chain restaurant, I do not associate homemade desserts. The House made Carmel gelato with chocolate sauce and home baked biscotti were delicious. Darcy and I enjoyed our final sip of wine with the dessert.

If you can, make a reservation at your local Capital Grille to enjoy their exceptional five course, Italian-Fare Dinner before Sunday April 5, 2009. This is dinner is bound to tantalize your taste buds!

The Capital Grille states" our partnership with Castello Banfi exemplifies the restaurant’s commitment to offering our guests an exceptional dining experience. The unique, five-course Italian-fare dinner was inspired by an exclusive opportunity for The Capital Grille to debut in the U.S. Banfi’s 2005 BelnerO Sangiovese di Montalcino. The Capital Grille will continue to explore distinctive partnerships."

For more information on the latest on The Capital Grille’s current and upcoming offers visit www.thecapitalgrille.com

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Recipe's from Boulder's Top Chef

Top Chef Season 5 concludes tonight. Who will it be?
Carla, Stefan or Hosea?

I am rooting for Hosea because I know from past experience that he has what it takes to win tonight.

Before he made it to Top Chef Season 5 fame, Chef Hosea Rosenberg of Jax Fishouse in Boulder, was a two time "Best Chef" at the Denver International Wine Festival. In 2007, Chef Rosenberg won the Taste of Elegance Chef's Food and Wine Competition.

Here are the recipe's for his winning dishes:

Thai Marinated Scallops with Trout Roe and Pineapple Syrup

(serves 4)
4, large, fresh scallops (about 2oz each)
2 oz lime juice
2 oz orange juice
1 large knob ginger
1 stalk lemongrass
4 oz coconut milk
2 oz rice wine
2 C fresh pineapple juice
½ jalapeno, seeded
1 T corn starch
1 oz trout roe
1 large English cucumber, sliced into think disks

Slice scallops into thin disks. Chop ginger into very small pieces and then squeeze with kitchen towel to extract juices. Combine ginger juice, lime juice, orange juice, lemongrass, coconut milk, rice wine and a little salt. Pour marinade over sliced scallops and set in refrigerator for 3 hours. While scallops are marinating, put pineapple juice in blender with jalapeno and puree. Add juice to a small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce by ¾. Whisk in cornstarch and strain. To serve, lay cucumber slices on plate. Lay scallops on cucumber and top with caviar. Drizzle a little pineapple syrup over top and serve cold.

Wine Pairing: Brassfield Estate Winery, Serenity 2006, High Valley, CA

Venison Tenderloin with Celery Root, King Oyster Mushrooms, Foie Gras and Huckleberry Demi
(serves 4)

4, 6oz medallions of venison tenderloin
1 large celery root, peeled and chopped
1 large Yukon, peeled and chopped
2 cloves roasted garlic
4 oz butter
4 oz cream
½ # king oyster mushrooms
1 T chopped garlic
1 T chopped shallots
1 T chopped fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, oregano)
4 oz foie gras, cut into 4 equal portions
8 oz demi glace
4 T fresh huckleberries
Salt and pepper

Season venison with salt and pepper and grill to desired temperature. Boil potatoes and celery root together until soft. Mill mixture and add roast garlic, cream and half the butter. Season with salt. Slice the mushrooms and place in very hot pan with remaining butter, shallots, garlic and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Season foie gras with salt and pepper and sear in very hot pan until just browned on each side. Puree half of the huckleberries and add to demi. To serve, place a mound of celery root puree in center of plate. Slice venison and fan over half of the puree. Place pile of mushrooms next to venison. Pour demi around plate and garnish with remaining huckleberries.

Wine Pairing: Galante Vineyards, Red Rose Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, Carmel Valley, CA

Recipes by Hosea Rosenberg
Story and photos by Christopher J Davies (C) 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs- A Foodies Enchanted Delight

The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs
Every Foodies Enchanted Dream!

Story and Photos by Christopher J Davies, except where noted.

Last weekend we had the pleasure of taking our annual foodie pilgrimage to the fabulous Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. The resort is set on 3000 beautiful acres, with four award-wining championship golf courses (that will play host to the 2011 U.S Women's Open) , 593 guest rooms, 107 suites, gargantuan 185,000 square feet of meeting space, 6 tennis courts, a full service spa, 18 restaurants, café's and lounges.

Photo (C) The Broadmoor

Guest rooms are lavishly appointed and opulent. Ours was located in the original main building with a birds eye view of Cheyenne Mountain and the resort’s own Cheyenne Lake. Our bathroom was totally renovated with marble tile, modern glass enclosed shower and a large five-fixture bath.

Three of the Broadmoor restaurants are Mobil Star rated, In 2007, Penrose Room became the first Colorado restaurant to receive the AAA Five-Diamond Award. Both Charles Court and Summit are AAA Four-Diamond Winners. The Broadmoor's reputation for "raising the culinary bar" spans way beyond the Rocky Mountains. This allows them to attract culinary students from around the globe for their apprentice programs.

The Broadmoor's 7Th Annual "A Salute to Escoffier" honored legendary French Chef of Paris' Savoy and Ritz Hotels, Auguste Escoffier. Escoffier's most noted career achievements are revolutionizing and modernizing the menu, the art of cooking and the organization of the professional kitchen. He also developed a system that simplified the menu as it had been, writing the dishes down in the order in which they would be served (Service à la Russe).(Take note all you Top Chef wanabee's!) He also developed the first à la Carte menu. Many of these achievements are taken for granted today.

Photo (C) The Ritz, Paris

As a food writer, I have immense respect for Escoffier, as he was the author of numerous cooking books and articles over the years. His most famous book "Le Guide Culinaire: A Guide to Modern Cookery" by Auguste Escoffier is considered the "chef's bible" and original copies have auctioned on Ebay for thousands.

Over the years Escoffier received many awards and honors. The most famous was granted by Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II when he told Escoffier, “I am the Emperor of Germany, but you are the emperor of chefs.”

•Peach Melba
•Melba Toast
•Cuisses de Nymphe Aurore:
a dish of frogs legs created for the Prince of Wales
•Tournedos Rossini:
Named after the great Italian composer, Gioacchino Rossini

In his later years, Escoffier became a consultant to many resorts and cruise lines. One of his most infamous menus was a 10-course dinner created for the First Class Passengers on the RMS Titanic. The menu was served on it's ill fated final night. (At least they ate well!)

For Escoffier's Titanic Menu & Recipe's click here:

Today, there are several organizations dedicated to the memory and traditions of Escoffier, in a similar fashion as The James Beard Foundation honors it's namesake chef. The most famous, Les Dames d'Escoffier International, is an organization for women with careers in the food industry, made up of chapters in cities across North America. In 1977, the organization named Julia Child as their first recipient of their Grande Dame award. www.ldei.org

When asked about this event, the Broadmoor's Director of Food & Beverage, Craig Reed, remarked "A Salute to Escoffier was so honored to Georges Auguste Escoffier as we thought would be unique as he was considered the "king of chefs and chef of kings"---we also knew that we were uniquely able to host such a grand event because of the rich culinary talent we have at the Broadmoor. Be it our garde manager, sauce & roast department, butcher shop, pastry & bakery department, the culinary diversity of our many restaurants and their chef's. All of our chef's are lead by Executive Chef "Sigi" Eisenberger, only the 4th Executive Chef of the Broadmoor over it's 90 year history.

We also wanted the event to raise money for something we thought special, The Broadmoor Culinary Apprenticeship and The Colorado Restaurant Associations ProStart Program."

The Broadmoor's 7Th Annual "A Salute to Escoffier" took place over a unusually warm January weekend. On Friday evening, guests enjoyed a welcome reception that showcased International wines paired with culinary creations from The Broadmoor's celebrated restaurants. Wines were generously poured by representatives of Republic National Distributors,event sponsor and Colorado's largest distributor of wine.

Chef Bouquin, Photo (C) The Broadmoor

After enjoying this feast, we moseyed over to the Broadmoor's newest restaurant Summit, which was designed by haute restaurant architect Adam Tihany. When you walk through Summit's doors it easy to be awestruck by the glass-enclosed 14-foot,rotating wine turret. French born Executive Chef Bertrand Bouquin greeted us before we were seated. I believe that his American Brasserie/French Bistro styled creations are on level with Thomas Keller's Bouchon, sans the touristy price tag. Chef Bouquin's version of Keller's "Mac and Cheese" was heaven! It's a rich but subtle combination of perfectly cooked noodles assembled with Lobster, Chanterelle, Bacon and Goat Cheese. We also loved the Colorado Lamb Chops with creamy polenta. Our neighboring guests ordered Summit's signature "Angry Trout" with Braised Swiss Chard, Lardons, Pine Nuts and Grenobloise sauce. Why is it called angry? The trout’s tail is inserted through its mouth just before it is fried. The final dish looks as if the trout is gritting it's teeth!

Place setting at Charles Court

Trio of Seafood at Charles Court Luncheon

Cheese Course

On Saturday we enjoyed a cooking demonstration by Chef Bouquin as well as a fun wine paired Luncheon at Charles Court, showcasing wines from Sonoma Cutrer and Bonterra organic wines. Guests enjoyed a rare tasting of three Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay's, pairings were "spot on" with the Chef's Trio of Seafood Appetizers; Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Shrimp Fritters and Diver Scallops with Pear Risotto. Our second course was Colorado Buffalo Tenderloin in Blue Cheese Crust and Wagyu Shortribs, paired with Bonterra Syrah. For dessert, everyone loved the Colorado Artisan Cheeses(5) paired with Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Noir. This Luncheon was a steal at $45 per person.

In the afternoon, mixologist's from Summit demonstrated the "Art of the Cocktail”. Bartenders treated guests to samplings of Summit's signature cocktails "Sparkling Summit", "Woodford Smash" and Latin inspired "Cosmolito".

1.5 ounces Herradura Reposado
1 ounce Grand Marnier
1 ounce lime
1 ounce cranberry

Pour all ingredients into mixing glass and shake for about 15-20 seconds pour over rocks or into a martini glass.

Saturday evening's big event was the "Salute to Escoffier Grand Buffet" a six hour, free-flowing dining and entertainment extravaganza with a live auction benefiting The Broadmoor Culinary Apprenticeship Fund. The Grand Buffet would make Escoffier proud.

On Sunday, seasoned, well-rested Foodie's went medieval over The Broadmoor’s "Traditional" (I say colossal!) Sunday Brunch with a selection of more than 70 items. Thank god we managed to fit in time for the Broadmoor's spa and fitness center during our stay!

Mark your calendar...the dates for The Broadmoor's 8Th Annual " A Salute to Escoffier are February 5 to 7, 2010. Two night packages begin at approx $449 per person, based on double occupancy. (Limited to 250 guests).Call(800) 634-7711, ext 5775.

You do not have to wait until next year to "Salute Escoffier" and enjoy The Broadmoor's rich culinary offerings. For special celebrations, enhancing the Penrose Room’s romantic charm is a glass-enclosed 24-seat private dining room, affording guests a breathtaking mountain view.

Colorado's only 5 Star restaurant also offers special tasting menus.

Tasting Menus:
Three course $62
Four course $72
Chef’s tasting menu $95, with wine parings $150

For additional information visit www.broadmoor.com or call (866)381-8432 or (719)577-5733


Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Oyster and Caviar
Serves 6

Panna Cotta:
14 oz Cauliflower
2/3 oz Butter
1 4/5 Cream
2 ea. Gelatin sheet
To taste Salt and white pepper
12 each Oyster
Caviar – for garnish

Dice cauliflower and put into a small pot. Add butter and water to barely cover the cauliflower. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered, until tender and most of the water has evaporated. Add cream and simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes. Blend to a fine purée, stir in pre-soaked gelatin and pass the cream to a fine-mesh sieve. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the Panna Cotta into small dishes and allow to cool.

Open the oyster and remove them from shell.

Place the oyster on top of the Panna Cotta and decorate with caviar and dill.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hungary’s Epochal Food & Wine Culture

Statues at Heroes Square, Budapest

Dio Restaurant

Mysterious fountain of wine!

Budapest (pronounced/ Buda-Pesht), capital of Hungary, is in my opinion one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. During the cold war it had a reputation for being “the Paris” of Eastern Europe. The city is actually a combination of two cities Buda and Pest that are separated by the Duna (Hungarian) or Danube River.

When I first visited Budapest in 1992, the inhabitants were still trying to grasp with their newly obtained freedom. The Soviet Union was officially dissolved. While this was mainly positive, some locals resented the jump in expenses that they incurred with freedom.

When I dined in traditional popular restaurants, I experienced old world cuisine that was comprised of a great amount of heavily fried foods such as chicken and goose, doused in paprika & cream. The wine list’s consisted of 90 percent sweet local white varietals and classic Tokay and Aszu, sweet wines made in a similar style as Sauternes. Many were great pairs for cutting through fatty, fried, spicy foods.

During my first visit, I found the Budapest’s hotel accommodations minimalistic. With the exception of The Hotel Gellart, with Turkish baths and spa, most other hotels featured Soviet influenced, prefab architecture.

Today, the city is home to more than 70 hotels, including the luxury masterpiece Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest. This Art Nouveau landmark has been painstakingly restored/ transformed (at a cost of $500 million) with ultra-modern comforts, luxury and impeccable service with water views of the Danube and Buda Castle District. Its restaurant is well worth a visit.

The Four Seasons Restaurant Gresham Kávéház
Modeled after a café long frequented by Budapest's intelligentsia from the nearby Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Gresham Kávéház. The restaurant overlooks the Danube and the Chain Bridge.

Exceptional Appetizer! Trio of Foie Gras

•Foie Gras Au Torchon with Strawberry Jam
•Foie Gras Scallop with Cinnamon Roasted Peach, Tokay Reduction
•Foie Gras Mille-Feuille with Red Currant

Notable Entrees

•Slowly Cooked Pike Perch with Spring Vegetables, Saffron Sauce
•Roast Sea Bream Fillet with Green Asparagus and Romaine Lettuce, Tomato and Green Olive Tartar
•Grain Mustard Crusted Salmon with Fennel and Beetroot Carpaccio, Pink Pepper Corn Dressing
•Tagliatelle with Scallop, Squid, Mussels and Shrimps, Spicy Fresh Tomato Sauce
•Roast Baby Chicken with Leek and Potato Cake, Preserved Lemon Jus

Roosevelt Tér 5-6.
1051 Budapest
Tel. 36 (1) 268-6000

Hilton Budapest hotel
The Hilton Budapest hotel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in the heart of The Buda Castle District, next to the Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church. The hotel offers great Danube and city views.

Enjoy the best of Hungarian and International cuisine in the Hilton Budapest hotel's Dominican restaurant or view the ruins of a medieval monastery from the Lobby Bar. What makes this hotel really unique is that it is constructed around medieval ruins. You pass through the ruins walking from the lobby to guest rooms.

The Hilton Budapest hotel has 24 meeting rooms for 4-660, exclusive open-air venues in historical settings, a 24-hour business center and wireless Internet access all around the hotel. Step up to a Guest Room Plus for a Danube view or choose an Executive Room with Executive Lounge access.

Hilton Budapest Hotel
Hess A. ter 1-3, Budapest, Hungary H-1014
Tel: 36-1-889-6600 Fax: 36-1-889-6644
Website: http://www.hilton.com

Nearby you may choose to visit the Labyrinth of Buda Castle.
This maze of tunnels (which literally goes on for miles) is located beneath Castle Hill. The tunnels were first intended as wine cellars, then as bomb shelters. But cave drawings have also been found, indicating a more ancient history, which will also be part of your experience. Tours are self-guided and spooky. You might wish to bring a flashlight or matches. One highlight is the mysterious fountain of wine. If you visit after 6pm, the main lights are turned off and you must tour with lanterns. Cost 1500 HUF/1200 with Budapest Discount Card.
Labyrinth of Buda Castle
Castle District
Budapest 1014 Hungary
+36 1 212 0207
Email: info@labirintus.com
Open Hours Daily 9:30am-7: 30pm
Website: http://www.labirintus.com/

The House of Hungarian Wines
Another must stop for wine lovers is The Hungarian House of Wines, which is located across the street from The Hilton Budapest Hotel. They are run by the Hungarian Academy of wine and feature an array of wines from Hungary’s 13 major wine regions, giving you a one-stop location for tasting a kaleidoscope of delicious wines from Hungary’s top regions. Approximately 50 bottles are open for tasting. Cost is 3500 HUF/ $15 USD for one hour tasting.

The House of Hungarian Wines
1014 Budapest, Szentháromság tér 6.
Tel 36-1-212-1030

DIÓ Restaurant & Bar
H-1051, Budapest Sas u. 4.
Tel. 36 1 328 0360

DIÓ offers a modern day interpretation of Hungarian cuisine with International ingredients. The restaurant is boldly decorated in its own sleek style that combines 21st century form, with natural weaves fused in spectacular color and dramatically illuminated.

Worthy bites include Deer Sausages, Goose Liver Praline in stuffed Maize, Vegetable Fritters and Pigs Cracklings Pate. New twists include traditional Goulash Soup made from Grey Cat
Linktle. Fish lovers will enjoy the Roasted Pike Perch with Bacon and Mustard Sauce!

The wine list is dominated with boutique Hungarian wines and a spot of Italian reds. This is Budapest's newest dining hotspot. It is well worth the visit.

Fausto's Osteria Restaurant
Szekely Mihaly utca 2., Budapest, Hungary
Tel: +36 1 331 87 11

After several days in Hungary, you may get the urge to take a break from the local cuisine. I found Fausto's Osteria by searching Italian restaurant Budapest. My cab dropped us off at the street, but it took 15 minutes to find the restaurant, because they had no sign! It was well worth the work.

Fausto's produces authentic down home Italian cuisine at reasonable prices. My wife and I enjoyed a bottle of Collavini Cabernet 2004 for (5.000 HUF)$21.65 USD. Their menu contains a great selection of Meat, Fish and Home-made Pasta dishes.

Monarchia Wine Shop, Budapest
Address: 1092 Budapest, Kinizsi Street 30-36.
Phone: +36 1 456 9898
Opening hours: Mo-Fr: 10-18; Sat.: 10-18

The Monarchia company is a consortium of Hungary's best wineries. The Monarchia wine shop offers a broad selection of Monarchia wines as well as International selections, books and wine accessories. The store is near the Hungarian Museum of Art.

Story and photos © 2009 by Christopher J Davies