Last week I attended a huge wine tasting hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle. The event showcased wineries from over 25 states that competed in the nation's largest wine competition. After the judging takes place — at another location on an earlier date — the newspaper hosts an impressive, almost overwhelming, public tasting. Although I tried countless wines, here are the bottles I plan on seeking out in the future.
Posts for March 4th 2009
Since Barack Obama was elected as president, we've learned a fair amount about the commander in chief's food preferences. He enjoys johnnycakes and peach cobbler, and prefers his burger medium-well with salad on the side. The newest item to add to his list of loves? Tony Mantuano, executive chef of Spiaggia.
Spiaggia, one of the Windy City's premier restaurants, has always been a special occasion favorite for the president and first lady. When the Levy Restaurant group — which owns Spiaggia and handles special catering for the Washington, DC's Verizon Center — learned the president would be at the Bulls-Wizards game last Friday, it flew Mantuano to the nation's capital to surprise Obama with dinner. Mantuano recalls:
When Obama walked out and saw me there, he did a classic double take and said, "What are you doing here?" It was hilarious. He called the photographer over and said, "Take a picture of me with my favorite chef." He said "favorite chef." I've got witnesses!
For dinner, the executive chef cooked Obama his favorite dish from Spiaggia, scallops made in a wood-fired oven, adding that the president "always orders them."
With its cheese cave, floor-to-ceiling views, and 700-bottle wine list, Spiaggia's on my list of Chicago destinations. Hearing how much Obama loves the chef has me coveting a table there even more — and I'll surely try the wood-fired scallops. Those of you who've been to Spiaggia: Are you a fan of Tony Mantuano's cooking?
I love sandwiches born out of serendipity — when a handful of ingredients you happen to have on hand comes together in perfect combination. Sometimes, you enjoy them just once, but often, these spur-of-the-moment creations become sandwiches you make again and again. Such is the case with this turkey sandwich, served on rustic Italian bread I bought to serve with soup, manchego cheese leftover from a dinner party, and some pear butter homemade by a fellow Sugar staffer. Turkey is my go-to sandwich protein, from my daily turkey delights to more clever and decadent creations. So I'm always looking for creative twists on the basic turkey sammie. Since manchego cheese is often served with quince paste to complement its sharp, salty flavor, I paired it with the sweet, spiced pear butter. If you're not lucky enough to have homemade pear butter on hand, apple butter is just as tasty. Slightly bitter watercress makes a great green garnish against the hearty bread. To get the recipe, read more
- With their meaty texture, mild brine and vivid hue, Castelvetranos have become this year's olive of choice. — San Francisco Chronicle
- If you think organic food is safer, think again. — New York Times
- Make an authentic Roman spaghetti alla carbonara at home. — Boston Globe
- Kitchen twine is one tool no home cook should be without. — Los Angeles Times
- Find out what the creators of Open That Bottle Night enjoyed on its 10th anniversary. — Wall Street Journal
- 5 unusual recipes that call for nine items or fewer. — Washington Post
- Top Chef 4 winner Stephanie Izard has a weekly video podcast. — Chicago Tribune
If you've been a fan of YumSugar for a while, you'll know that I have a thing for dulce de leche, the thick, milky caramel from South America. From layered cakes to ice cream sandwiches, I'm always looking for new ways to highlight my favorite sweet.
For my half birthday, I'll be experimenting with a recipe for chocolate dulce de leche bars.
A crisp shortbread crust balances out the rich mixture of dulce de leche and chocolate. They're portable, making them perfect for a picnic at the Hog Island Oyster Company. To see the recipe, read more
Now that Top Chef is over, I've got another professional chef showdown to discuss: Iron Chef. I'm a huge fan of not only the American version, but also the Japanese version that started it all. Recently, I had an opportunity to catch up with America's very first Kitchen Stadium winner, chef Ron Siegel, now the executive chef at The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco.
On a sunny morning I met with the chef in his kitchen, which recently launched a small bites and half bottles menu. I was taken by his humility — "I'm not doing a great service here," he told me, "I'm just cooking" — and his candidness. To see what else he had to say, read more
Both Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis premiered new Food Network series last Fall, so it's no surprise to learn that another of the network's biggest stars, Sandra Lee, is set to begin production of a new cooking program.
Sandra's Money Saving Meals will premiere on May 10 at 12 p.m. The show will focus on Lee's "triple A factor" of accessible, aspirational, and affordable food. She'll provide cost-saving tips for grocery shopping and feature innovative ways to use leftovers.
As more and more people look for inexpensive meal options, it's only natural for the Food Network to move toward a recession-friendly lineup. In a statement, Bob Tushman, the senior vice president of programing, said:
At this critical economic time, Sandra comes to the rescue by providing our viewers with creative ways to save money and time while cooking great meals at home. We appreciate the dedicated passion and in-depth knowledge Sandra brings to this topic, and we look forward to launching this new endeavor with her.
Although I've never really been a fan of Sandra's 70/30 semi-homemade philosophy, I'm curious to see her tips on affordable eating — after all, she was made from scratch! What do you think about the new series? Will you watch Sandra's Money Saving Meals?
This affordable recipe turns an ordinary can of beans into a spectacular yet simple meal. With the help of supermarket sauces like barbecue sauce, tomato paste, and molasses, rinsed navy beans take on a sweet, smoky flavor. Combine with greens, onions, and chicken sausage for a dish that is balanced and filling. Before heading to the store, raid your fridge and pantry for the ingredients — red or white beans can be used instead of navy beans and really, any thick, juicy sausage will work wonderfully in this recipe. To check it out, read more