Category Archives: wine

WINE STEAL trader joe’s grand reserve – 2009 cabernet

I am no wine snob.  Just wanted to make that perfectly clear from the get-go.  I am, however, a Trader Joe’s shopping snob (stated smugly whilst shining my nails upon my lapel).  Seriously, if shopping at Trader Joe’s were a competitive sport, I would absolutely be on Varsity.  Maybe even Pro.  So, it took me completely by surprise when I learned that I have been missing out on, perhaps, one of the BEST TJ’s deals:  their estate produced wine, marketed under their own private label.  I’ve walked past these bottles countless times, dismissing it as “generic wine”.  What a ROOKIE!  The Trader Joe’s 2009 Grand Reserve Cabernet is a total steal at $12.99 per bottle.  Produced by a top-secret winery, this wine could easily sell in the mid $20 range should they market it under their own label.

Truth be told, I vacillated about whether or not to post about this.  Mainly because I want to go back to Trader Joe’s and buy the remainder of their stock immediately (once it’s gone, it’s gone, folks).  But then I remembered that I’m the one who’s totally late to the party on this.  So here you go:  don’t pass this one up, it’s well worth your thirteen bucks.

I will now ride the pine, with my tail between my legs, on the JV shopping squad.  At least I can soothe my wounded ego with another glass of this fabulous cab.

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LAS TAPAS tortilla de patata

We  just finished reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón for our book club.  If you haven’t read it yet, you are in for a real treat.  I periodically forced myself to put it down, so that it wouldn’t end too quickly.  It’s that good. Ruiz Zafón has artfully woven together a story of suspense, romance, and fantasy that reads like poetry. Oh…and it is set in Barcelona, my favorite city on the planet.  So, it’s no coincidence that I had a mad craving for Spanish tapas while reading this little gem.  As it was my turn to host, I had a good excuse to make a few of my favorite things…

Las flores

El Menú
Almendras  Marcona Almonds
Aceitunas   Jumbo Queen Olives from Andalucia
Pisto Manchego  Roasted Vegetable Purée
Champiñones al Ajillo  Mushrooms sautéed in garlic, olive oil, & dry sherry
Ensalada de Espinacas y Garbanzos  Spinach and Chickpea Salad
Albondigas  Spanish Meatballs in Saffron Sauce
Queso   Assorted Spanish Cheeses (see below for list)
Tortilla de Patata Potato Omelet (recipe below)

Pisto Manchego

Los Quesos de España

Los Quesos
Queso Mahón Cow’s Milk Cheese, Mild
Queso Manchego  Sheep’s Milk Cheese, Sharp
Queso Azul de Valdeon Tangy Blue Cheese
Ibérico Curado Cured Sheep & Goat’s Milk Cheese, Sharp

Tortilla de Patata

 Tortilla de Patata Potato Omelet
Of all the tapas, this is the one that transports me right back to my dining room in Sevilla.  In Spain, the word tortilla refers to an egg omelet, and they are consumed as midday or evening meals.   The pros cook their tortillas on the stove top (if you’ve spent a summer in Spain, without A/C, you know why), but I’ve had mixed success with this.  I follow the Test Kitchen method of starting it on the stove and finishing in the oven.

8 Eggs
2 Russet Potatoes (small), Peeled
1 Yellow Onion
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
Salt
Flat Leaf Parsley

Using the smallest slicing disk, thinly slice the potatoes and onion in the food processor.  Heat oil in a 10 inch oven proof skillet (no bigger!!!), and sauté the potatoes and onions for ten minutes, until soft, salting throughout.  Beat eggs with one teaspoon of salt, and pour into skillet.  Allow to set around the edges of the pan for about two minutes.  Transfer pan into 425 degree oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the sides puff up, and the egg is done when cut into the middle.  Transfer back to the stove, over medium high heat, and cook until a golden brown crust has formed–use a spatula to peek.  Let it rest for a few minutes, then use a spatula to loosen the tortilla around the edges.  To unmold the tortilla, invert a plate over the pan, then grip both firmly, and flip the omelet on to the plate, browned side up.  Finish with a sprinkle of coarse salt and chopped parsley.  Serve at room temperature.

Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a little vino….

Los Vinos de España

Most of the wines pictured above were less than $20!  Here are some of my favorites:

Vino Tinto  Red Wine
Ergo Tempranillo Rioja
Marqués de Riscal Rioja
Sexto red blend

Vino Blanco White Wine
Albariño
Martinsancho Rueda Verdejo
Cava Spanish Sparkling Wine

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CHEERS, SALUD, PROST!

Happy October!  Welcome cozy sweaters, chai lattes, all things cinnamon,  and RED WINE.  


The Gorge is home to many fantastic wineries and lately my favorites have been by Jacob Williams. Their 2007 Cabernet was just voted “Best Oregon Wine” by the NW Wine Summit.  At $24 a bottle, it is a steal!  Their merlot is also deserving of a shout out.  Ever since Paul Giamatti’s rant in the movie Sideways, I’ve struggled with that particular variety, but Jacob Williams is getting me over the hump.  


Something tells me that it’s going to be a long winter, so I’d love to hear new suggestions from my wine drinking friends!  CHEERS….







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