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WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Cyrus, Alexander Valley VineyardsCabernet Sauvignon is the most produced red wine in all of the major wine regions. DNA testing of the grape shows that it originated in the 1600s as a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

In France where the Cabernet Sauvignon grape originated, they are sometimes call Bordeaux wine. The most Cabernet grapes per acre are grown in France, then Chile, the United States, Australia, Italy, South Africa and Argentina – totaling over 650,000 acres worldwide.

Cabernet is a full-bodied wine with a flavor profile of cherries, vanilla, licorice and tobacco. Old-World Cabernet from the Bordeaux region is more subtle and light with strong tannins and acidity, while New-World Cabernet wines have more prominent fruit flavors and a higher alcohol content. It is aged from 9 months to 2 years or more in French or American oak.

Cabernet Sauvignon is also used quite often in red blends and mixed with other grape varieties. In fact, many Cabernet Sauvignon wines that are made in America contain up to 25% of another grape. The other grapes are chosen by the winemaker to add flavor or to give the wine better value. Typically, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes cost more to produce than Merlot and other red varieties.

Featured Wine: 2012 Cyrus, Alexander Valley Vineyards
This wine is a tribute to Cyrus Alexander, who in 1840 settled the 600-acre property where the Alexander Valley Vineyards are now planted. Produced since 1995, the Cyrus Cabernet Sauvignon is made to represent this great man, the region and the vineyard’s best grapes.

The 2012 vintage is the 17th release of Cyrus. Made from seven lots of estate Bordeaux grapes, three lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, two lots of Merlot and one lot each of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes have exceptional dark fruit flavors with complex aromas and structured tannins. The Merlot grapes are filled with juicy fruit and floral aromatics, and the Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec bring finesse, inky color, bright acidity and depth.

2012 was a growing season with ideal weather: brisk foggy mornings, sunny and warm afternoons and cool evenings. After each variety of grapes was harvested, they were aged separately for 12 months, and then blended and aged again for another 12 months in French oak. Additional bottle-aging was also required.

“This vintage has a dark purple color and intense earthy aromas of cassis, black cherry, chocolate and cherry, along with toasty oak and vanilla. This is a silky wine with flavors of cassis, dark chocolate, dark fruits and chocolate-covered cherries. The 2012 CYRUS boasts smooth texture, excellent balance and a long structured finish.”
From Alexander Valley Vineyards

Food Pairings: steak, lamb, prime rib, strong cheeses like Stilton, aged sharp cheddar.

Tenderloin Steaks with Cabernet MushroomsTenderloin Steaks with Cabernet Mushrooms

Ingredients:
2 Certified Angus® Beef tenderloin steaks
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 Tbs butter, divided
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Cabernet wine
1/4 cup beef broth
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Directions:
Grill steaks to desired doneness. To make the sauce, add 2 tablespoons butter and the olive oil to a sauté pan over high heat. When pan is hot, add mushrooms in a single layer. Lower heat; let mushrooms cook without stirring for 1 minute. Stir mushrooms with a wooden spoon, and continue to sauté until golden and cooked through. Time will vary depending on the thickness of the slices, approximately 2 more minutes. Add the wine to deglaze, and then add the broth and thyme leaves. Bring liquid to a simmer; let it reduce by half. Turn off heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and stir to combine. Add the salt and pepper. Serve the mushrooms over the steaks or on the side.

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Posted in: Beer & Wine, Recipes




Kick it up with Cajun Week at FRESH

Cajun Crab BisqueWhat’s the next best thing to being a Texan? Celebrating all things Cajun with our neighbors to the east. The flavor and traditions from Louisiana make Cajun food some of the best in the nation.

During the week of April 24-30, FRESH will be celebrating all things Cajun. Many of our favorite Cajun products will be on display and available for tasting.

From Frog Bone sauces to Slap Ya Mama seasonings, this is a great time to peruse the aisles and check out all the Cajun FRESH Finds. The week caps off with a crawfish boil on Saturday, April 29. Come join us for a day of delicious mudbugs on the patio. Check the calendar for details.

Cajun Crab Bisque

Ingredients:
3 Tbs butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs sherry
3 Tbs all purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 lb lump crabmeat
1 cup corn kernels
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning
1/2 tsp paprika

Directions:
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onions until golden. Deglaze with sherry and reduce. Add the flour; stir until smooth and it turns a pale golden color.

Whisk in the chicken broth, stirring constantly 
to avoid lumps. Mix in the milk, half-and-half, salt, crabmeat, corn, Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning and paprika.

Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue whisking as soup comes to a simmer. Allow the bisque to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly thickened. Do not boil.

Serves 4

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Easter Fun in the Kitchen

Easter Fun in the KitchenGrowing up, I have fond memories of coloring eggs every year for Easter. Mom boiled all the eggs. There were several bowls of colored water lining the counter, and we were ready to create beautiful eggs the Easter Bunny would add to our baskets.

That wasn’t all the fun we had in the kitchen, though. We also liked to make brightly colored Easter candy. White chocolate bark was melted, dyed with food coloring and poured into candy molds that my grandmother used to make lollipops and chocolates.

As the years went passed, the tradition was simplified, and now we like to make round cake bites drenched with melted chocolate then decorated with glazes and colored sprinkles. It’s a big colorful mess, but everyone has a great time. Plus, they are the perfect bite of sweetly delicious cake and candy.

It’s a fun tradition to start with your family. All you need is pound cake, a small round biscuit cutter, white bark candy coating, food coloring and sugar. The recipe is easy to follow, but you can get creative with other ingredients, shapes and decorations.

 

Easter Pound Cake Bites

Ingredients:
2 FRESH Bakery Pound Cakes (or 1 box pound cake mix, prepared)
1 pkg Brookshire’s White Bark Coating
powdered sugar glaze (1/2 cup powdered sugar with 1 to 2 Tbs water)
Over The Top Decorating Sprinkles

Directions:
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice the pound cake into 1-inch slices. Use a small round biscuit cutter to cut rounds from each slice of pound cake. Place on the cookie sheet. Melt the bark according to package directions. Divide the bark; dye different colors, if desired. Spoon 1 tablespoon of melted bark over each round. Smooth it over the top and down the sides of cake bites. Add more if necessary to coat all sides. Add glaze and sprinkles to the top of each cake bite.

Leave cake bites at room temperature for at least 20 minutes to allow coating to harden. Once set, use a sharp knife to cut away excess bark around the cake bites. Bites can be placed in mini-muffin wrappers for serving.

To color your bark: Melt the bark, and separate into 1/2-cup bowls. Add 2 drops of food coloring to each bowl.

To make a glaze: In a small bowl, measure out 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or lemon juice. Stir until liquid is a pourable consistency. Add 1 drop of food coloring.

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BREW CLUB Beer of the Month: Maredsous Tripel

Featured Brewery: Maredsous Brewery
Since 1872, the monks from the Maredsous Abbey, near Denée, Belgium, have been known for their commitment to patience, prayer, devotion and hospitality. As a Benedictine abbey, the community of 35 monks live, pray and work according to the traditions of St. Benedict.

Known especially for their hospitality, this is one of the reasons they began brewing the Maredsous Abbey beers. Their three brews include a blonde, brune and triple. According to the abbey, these three ales stand out because of their refined, flowery, fruity aroma and delicate sparkle. Each ale goes through a natural refermentation in the bottle, which means the beer continues to mature in the bottle.

The recipe for the beer is one of the Abbey’s best-kept secrets. However, the production of the beer was beginning to interfere with the monks’ strict interpretation of the Benedictine way of life. Since 1963, the abbey beer production has been licensed under Duvel Moortgat, a Belgian brewing company. However, Bernard Lorent, the current Abbott, or head of the monastery, is still involved in managing the brewing process, and making sure a significant share of the profits go to charitable projects.

Featured Beer: Maredsous Tripel
“Maredsous Tripel (10% alcohol) is a golden-bodied Belgian Triple, redolent with festive sparkle, creamy body and a luscious head. Its elegant smoothness belies the strong alcohol content. With a balanced, long and warming finish, it is only drunk in the monastery on special occasions. Full and robust in character with an elegant smoothness and rich aftertaste, it’s known as an abbey beer for a true connoisseur.” – From MaredsousBieres.be

“The complex bouquet immediately grabs you thanks to its fruity aromas, with touches of banana and zesty orange, alcohol, touches of raisins and other dried fruit. All of this is enriched with a hint of caramel from the caramel malt, which gives a taste not unlike that of sweet syrup.”
– From Belgian Beer Tourism’s website

Food Pairings:
Maredsous Tripel pairs well with the earthy flavors found in mushrooms, potatoes, pork and fennel. Fruit and sweet flavors are also a good pairing, especially apples, caramel, cinnamon or bananas.

Apple-Cranberry Maple Glazed Ham

Ingredients:
1 bone-in ham, fully cooked
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup apple jelly
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Directions:
Allow ham to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place ham in a large roasting pan. Place the cranberry juice, maple syrup, jelly and vinegar in a 2-cup measuring cup. Microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, or until jelly is melted and all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of the mixture over the ham. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes per pound, or until a meat thermometer registers 135° F. Spoon juices over the top of the ham about every 20 minutes. Remove ham from oven. Spoon remaining apple juice mixture over the surface, and return to the oven for 15 minutes.

Allow ham to stand for 20 minutes before serving. Pour remaining juices from the bottom of the pan into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and let the mixture reduce to half its volume. Serve as a sauce that accompanies the ham, or brush over the ham before serving.

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Celebrate with Potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day

Pot of Gold Potato BallsSt. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of food, fun and Irish tradition. It began as a religious feast for the patron saint of Ireland and has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture. Corned beef, cabbage and Irish soda bread are popular dishes, but the party wouldn’t be complete without Ireland’s favorite food, the potato.

In Ireland, the potato is the number one food crop and can be found at every meal. It plays a significant role in the Irish diet and has been a household staple since the tuberous vegetable was introduced to the country in the late 1500s. On average, the Irish eat about 250 pounds of potatoes a year, compared to Americans who eat just 140 pounds per person.

In 1845, the Irish famine began when a fungus carried on ships from North America to England its way to Dublin. The fungus caused potato leaves to turn black on the vines and rotted the potatoes. When the potatoes were pulled from the ground, they appeared normal, but they rotted after only a few days. Until 1852, there was mass starvation, disease and emigration from Ireland partly due to the potato famine. It took many years for the country and its economy to recover and for potato crops to be re-established.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations became more prevalent as increasing numbers of Irish immigrants came to America. After Ireland recovered from the famine and potato crops began to flourish, the spring planting time of the country’s favorite vegetable became another reason to celebrate.

Colcannon, potato cakes and meat/potato casseroles are some of the most popular Irish potato dishes. I love to make these potato balls for St. Patrick’s Day parties. Fried or baked, they are always a hit with my guests.

Pot of Gold Potato Balls

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs fresh Italian parsley, minced
1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1 egg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 1/4 cups Harp Irish Beer
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
4 cups cornflakes, crushed in food processor
2 Tbs olive oil
nonstick cooking spray

Directions:
Cook the potatoes and garlic cloves in boiling salted water for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain; add the butter and mash.

Let cool. Stir in the parsley, bleu cheese and egg; add salt and pepper to taste. Using floured hands, shape the potatoes into 1 to 2-inch balls or patties. Place on a baking sheet.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, beer, garlic powder and chili powder. In another bowl, add the crushed corn flakes and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Dip the potato balls into the liquid mixture and then the corn flakes. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spray the tops with cooking spray.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden, longer if your potato balls have been in the refrigerator. Serve with ranch or bleu cheese dressing. (The balls can also be cooked in the deep-fryer.)

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Posted in: Holidays, Produce, Recipes




Making Mudbugs for Mardi Gras

Making Mudbugs for Mardi GrasMardi Gras is on the way, and it’s time to let the good times roll. It’s also time to stock up on crawfish. During Mardi Gras season, there’s plenty of red beans and rice, but the versatility of crawfish can make it the main attraction.

Almost any way you use shrimp or crab meat, you can substitute crawfish. Crab salad becomes crawfish salad. Shrimp Alfredo becomes Crawfish Alfredo. Crab cakes become crawfish cakes. The possibilities are endless and very delicious. From soup to etouffee, add some crawfish and put a New Orleans flair on any meal.

Now, I don’t expect anyone to spend hours cleaning and shelling whole crawfish. That’s why I head to the freezer aisle and find the frozen crawfish tails that are already cooked, cleaned and peeled. The only thing left to do is thaw, rinse and mix into whatever recipe I have planned.

Saving time in the kitchen gives me more time to collect my beads, make some hurricane drinks, and get ready to celebrate Mardi Gras with plenty of Louisiana mudbugs!

Creamy Crawfish Tarts

Ingredients:
1 box mini fillo shells
1/2 lb cooked crawfish tails, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp hot sauce
1 Tbs fresh parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Place the shells on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350° F oven for 3 to 5 minutes for added crispness. Allow to cool. In a small bowl, combine crawfish tails, mayonnaise, hot sauce and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into fillo shells. Chill for 30 minutes and serve.

Makes 15

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BREW CLUB Brew of the Month: Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPABrewery: Deschutes Brewery
Deschutes Brewery overlooks the wild and scenic Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon. A family and employee-owned brewery, Deschutes crafts several year-round and seasonal beers that have plenty of balance and drinkability, and are invested with quality and consistency.

Deschutes began in a small public house in downtown Bend in 1988 and will soon open an East Coast brewery in Roanoke, Virginia.

Brew of the Month: Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
A juicy citrus and grapefruit flavor profile. Available year-round, this mouthwatering and delicious IPA gets its flavor from a heavy helping of citra and mosaic hops.

Food Pairings:
Pair this beer with citrus desserts, salads, seafood or spicy dishes, like hot wings or sushi.

Mixed Greens & Fennel Salad with Deschutes Vinaigrette

Salad:
2 cups mixed spring greens
2 cups arugula
1 small fennel bulb, sliced paper-thin
3 radishes, sliced paper-thin
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Vinaigrette:
1 1/2 cups Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:
Place mixed greens and arugula in a mixing bowl. Place all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender; pulse to combine. Spoon 2 tablespoons over the greens, and toss to combine. Scatter fennel and radishes over the top. Add pecans, goat cheese and bacon. Serve with additional dressing on the side.

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Blood Oranges for Valentine’s Day

Blood Oranges for Valentine’s DayRed is the color of love. For Valentine’s Day, I like to cook something that captures that beautiful color and represents passion on a plate. I found the perfect ingredient in blood oranges. Its deep-red juice, garnet flesh and red-speckled skin is as vibrant as it is delicious.

This is an easy recipe that uses the cooking technique of braising. It’s one of my favorite ways to cook during the winter months. Braising requires high searing heat at the beginning and low and slow heat to finish. It was created for tough cuts of meat or meat that is still on the bone.

After searing the meat on all sides until browned but not cooked through, liquid is added to the pot. The heat is lowered, and the dish continues to cook slowly at a moderate temperature.

This technique creates tender and juicy meat. You can also add vegetables such as onions, potatoes and carrots to cook alongside the meat. Add some broccoli, asparagus or peas at the end of cooking, and you have a complete meal.

Because most recipes for braising have heavy flavors and cuts of meat that contain more fat, I wanted to create something that is just as warm and comforting as a stew or a roast, but has lighter flavors and a leaner cut of meat.

The blood oranges and chicken are perfect for this dish. It has bright flavors, a beautiful light sauce and juicy meat that is completely satisfying.

Citrus-Braised Chicken & Blood Oranges

Ingredients:
2 large bone-in chicken breasts or 4 skinless thighs
salt and pepper, for seasoning
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, for juicing
4 blood oranges, 3 sliced and 1 reserved for juicing
1 Tbs herbs de Provence
2 cups chicken broth (approximate)

Directions:
Rub the chicken with salt and pepper. Add oil to a wide-bottomed stockpot. Heat to high, and sear the chicken until browned on both sides. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon and the blood orange. Add the wine and reduce by half. Add the broth and herbs; bring to a boil. Scatter the sliced blood oranges over the top. Cover and transfer to a 350° F oven for 20 to 40 minutes, or reduce heat to low and finish cooking on the stove. Keep an eye on the level of the liquid, and add more broth or water, if necessary. When the chicken is cooked through, remove to a serving plate. Spoon the sauce and blood orange slices over the top.

Serves 2

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WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Sparkling Wine

Gloria Ferrer Sonoma BrutSparkling wine, or champagne as it is better known, is a favorite for celebrations and romance.

Sparkling wine is made by taking the simple formula for fermentation (sugar + yeast = alcohol and CO2), and not allowing the resulting gas to escape. When you ferment wine in a closed or sealed environment, the carbon dioxide (CO2) returns into the wine, only to be released in the form of tiny bubbles after opening.

Not all sparkling wines are made using the same method or grape varietals. They also vary in sweetness and carbonation. To better explain, let’s break down some of the most popular varieties of sparkling wine.

Champagne (Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut): True Champagne is only produced in the Champagne region of France. It is usually a blend of grapes – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – and sometimes Pinot Meuner. They use the traditional method of bottling, which means it is bottle-fermented. The wine has gone through one fermentation in the tank and then another in the bottle, which creates the bubbles. The second fermentation can take months to years, and then the wine goes through a riddling process to remove yeast and sugar sediment. It is then given a sugar dosage that classifies the champagne style as Brut, Extra Dry or Sweet.

Brut (Gloria Ferrer): Brut is a classification of sweetness in sparkling wine. The Brut style contains 6 to 15 grams of sugar per liter of wine. The wine is dry, but there is just a hint of sweetness. In this sparkler, the winemaker stopped the fermentation process just before the yeast ate all of the sugar, leaving a tiny amount behind in the wine.

Extra Dry (Mumm Napa Cuvee): Extra Dry is slightly sweeter than Brut and contains a few more grams of sugar. This type of sparkler is dry, but not as dry as Brut or Extra Brut, meaning it retains a slight sweetness. It’s not sugary sweet, although they are noticeably sweeter than Brut wines.

Prosecco (Santa Margherita): Made in Italy in the region of Veneto, it is made from Prosecco grapes, also known as Glera, and is produced using the “tank method,” which means its second fermentation takes place in a tank rather than individual bottles. It is then cooled and clarified, and it receives its sugar dosage in the tank. Prosecco is typically Extra Dry.

Moscato d’ Asti (Castello del Poggio): A sparkling wine produced in the style of the Asti region of Italy. It is typically semisweet, lightly carbonated and low in alcohol.

Rose/Blush (Bottega Sparkling Rose Gold): Also known as pink champagne, the wine is made from a red grape, which can vary by region and country, and it was produced in the rose or blush methods of limiting the grape’s contact with its skin or blending a red wine with a white wine. They can vary from sweet to dry and generally have more fruit and floral flavors.

Blanc de Blancs (Francis Coppola Sofia): Made entirely from white grapes (typically Chardonnay), Blanc de Blancs are very different in flavor and lighter in color. Because champagne is typically made with Pinot Noir grapes that are light in flavor, Blanc de Blancs has a richly complex flavor with citrus notes that bring a lively acidic quality that is crisp and bright, but finishes dry and creamy.

Spumante (Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante): Spumante simply means sparkling wine in Italian. It does not identify sweetness level or type of grapes used. Another Italian sparkling wine that is well-known is Lambrusco, which is a red sparkling wine made from the Lambrusco grape of the Emilia-Romagna region. They are traditionally sweet, but some producers are now creating dry versions.

Wine of the Month: Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut
Aged for a minimum of 18 months, the Sonoma Brut shows delicate pear and floral notes with persistent effervescence and an effortless finish, making it a tremendously versatile sparkling wine.

Carefully crafted from hand-harvested Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. This brut is dominated by Pinot Noir, enabling the complex aromatic and palate profile that this red-skinned grape contributes.

On the nose, pear and floral notes are backed by toasty almond. On the palate, lively citrus, toast and apple flavors are overlaid with persistent effervescence, a creamy mid-palate and toasty finish.

Winemaker: Gloria Ferrer
More than 30 years ago, Jose and Gloria Ferrer created the Gloria Ferrer vineyards and winery in Sonoma County. It was the first to specialize in sparkling wine. Coming to California from Spain, the Ferrers relied on their family’s heritage as Spanish winemakers to develop their dream in America.

They acquired Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clone grapes from the Champagne region to begin creating their sparkling wines using the tedious méthode champenoise.

Gloria Ferrer is also known for her extensive collection of vintage wine and champagne glasses. Each glass was carefully selected from their travels to many countries and regions and is unique in design and craftsmanship.

“I remember very well when I began to collect glasses. It was in Venice in 1956 that my uncle gave me the idea while sitting at the dinner table in the Piazza San Marco. My father quietly got up and went into an antique shop near Saint Marco’s Cathedral and returned with a beautiful red Murano crystal glass with a golden dauphine in the stem. He gave me the glass and a kiss. The collection had begun.

In my collection, numbering around two thousand, there are all types of glasses. They vary in age and color. They are engraved and cut, painted and enameled, simple and ornate, transparent and opaque, molded and blown, antique and modern. Although we are convinced that the ideal glass for drinking cava is transparent crystal and the most suitable shape is the flute or tulip, I believe that in a collection there should be a little bit of everything. I confess that my favorite pieces are those with braided stems or serpentine interiors (perhaps trapped inside for centuries) or those ornate glasses with a white laticinio forming filigree in their stems or in the base. Those that have a teardrop of air on the knot of the base are my weakness, without forgetting those glasses of green, blue or ruby color from the beginnings of the sixteenth century.

For years, I’ve been roaming through antique shops all over the world. My husband has, with loving patience and graceful generosity, accompanied me the majority of the times. We have searched endlessly for the hard-to-find glasses in between knick-knacks and odds and ends, discovering them forgotten and lost in the most unlikely places in the world. It is these glasses, with their unknown history and their romantic toasts, which form my own collection.” – Gloria Ferrer

Food Pairings for Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut:
A tremendously versatile wine that is equally delicious with shellfish, crab, roasted chicken or sushi. Seasoning affinities include lemon grass, fennel and white pepper. Look to hard-aged and triple-cream cheeses with Meyer lemon compote for the cheese course.

Beet Bruschetta with Goat Cheese & Microgreens

Ingredients:
1 bunch baby beets
1/2 cup spreadable goat cheese
1 cup microgreens
1/2 loaf FRESH Ciabatta bread
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, additional oil for grilling bread
2 tsp balsamic glaze
pinch of salt and black pepper

Directions:
Remove the stalks, leaves and root tip of the beets. Place in a saucepan filled with water; bring to a light simmer. Let cook for 30 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove the beets from the water, and use your thumb to rub off the skin from the outside of the beets. Thinly slice the beets on a mandoline.

Brush the slices of the ciabatta bread with olive oil. Grill the bread in a grill pan or place under the broiler for 2 minutes or until golden. When bread is cool, spread the goat cheese over the slices. Top with a handful of microgreens and 4 slices of beets. Drizzle each slice with olive oil, balsamic glaze, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 to 10

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BREW CLUB Brew of the Month: Nine Band 28th State Stout

Nine Band 28th State StoutBrewery: Nine Band
Brewed in Allen, Texas, the malt and hop magic happens with every step of the crafting process. The Nine Band brewmaster brings award-winning experience to every carefully crafted style. Each beer is made with high-quality ingredients for the ultimate taste experience.

The Nine Band philosophy says, “Texas brews the legends, and it’s the inspiration for every craft beer created by Nine Band Brewing Company. Every sip serves up a tip of the hat, a nod of the head and a taste infused with the distinctive twang of our distinctive state.”

Brew of the Month: Nine Band 28th State Stout
Nine Bands brewers use oatmeal and flaked barley to give the 28th State Stout smooth creaminess and rich body. Made with specialty hops specifically chosen to represent Texas history, its dark roasted qualities are highlighted by chocolate malt and bring deep layers of flavor.

Food Pairings:
Pair this beer and other oatmeal stouts with fruity/creamy desserts, chocolate, game meats, pork or grilled items.

Classic Cheesecake with Cherry Sauce

For the cheesecake:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbs sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs

For the sauce:
2 cups whole frozen cherries, thawed
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs granulated sugar
2 Tbs brandy
2 tsp cornstarch

Directions:
Heat oven to 325° F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust. Bake for 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen crust; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate cheesecake for 4 hours.

To make the sauce, place cherries, brown sugar, granulated sugar and brandy in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until cherries begin to break down and juices release, stirring frequently. Cool to room temperature and then serve with cheesecake.

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