Monday, May 25, 2009

Berco do Infante Reserva, 2007

Berco do Infante Reserva, 2007

A great advantage we Americans have, being a part of the world market, is the availability of many great wines from regions across the globe. Portugal represents a region offering abundant selections of quality wines at affordable prices. This Berco do Infante is a red table wine made from the Castelao and Aragonez grapes, both indigenous to the Estremadura region of western Portugal. This wine has a dark purple color and is nearly opaque. There are fresh aromas of black cherry, prune and smoke and spice. This is a medium bodied wine with a palate of ripe black fruit, espresso, deep minerality, gentle acidity and fine grained tannins. The finish is smooth and harmonious. This wine will pair well with any summer barbecue and can be found in the Seattle area for about $9. This wine is an excellent value from the coast of Portugal.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Trapiche Malbec, 2008

Trapiche Malbec, 2008

Bodegas Trapiche is located in Mendoza, Argentina at the foothills of the Andes. They own more than 1000 acres of vineyards and grow both red and white varietals that are used to produce numerous different wines ranging form value to luxury. This Trapiche Malbec is a value wine that we purchased, on sale, for about $8.00 at the Bellevue QFC Market. The color is a deep purple with violet hues. There is a luscious nose of fresh blueberries, black cherries and cooked rhubarb. This is a medium bodied wine with an abundance of fresh berry and black fruit flavors balanced by some coco and mineral notes. The tannins are well submerged and there is a gentle acidity that contributes to a smooth finish. This wine is more “New World” than old, but will pair well with any summer barbecue.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa
4949 E Lincoln DriveParadise Valley, Arizona 85253
(480) 627-3200

Prado is the signature restaurant at the new InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The design of the hotel is inspired by Andalusia in southern Spain. Camelback Mountain is a stunning back-drop to this sprawling resort. The history of southern Spain is unique with major cultural influences from Roman, Greek and Moorish occupation. The restaurant is a large space highlighted by lovely fabrics, textures and colors that truly create an old-world ambiance of luxury and comfort. Amongst the delightful design of archways, pillars and Moorish tiles, our table was located directly across a large wood-burning fireplace that is an outpost of the kitchen for preparing the wood-grilled specialties. The menu stays true to the foods of southern Spain and the Mediterranean, but is greatly influenced by the Italian born chef, Claudio Urciuoli. There is a strong emphasis on the use of fresh local ingredients and high quality food products along with simple preparations that allow the food to speak for itself.

Kate started with a Gazpacho of tomato and piquillo peppers. The chilled soup was a smooth puree with delightful flavors of sweet tomato, red pepper and a lovely essence of green vegetables. She loved it. I chose the Burrata with roasted tomatoes and olive bread. The Burrata was a large wedge of fresh mozzarella, enhanced with cream, with a fantastic light texture and sweet dairy taste. The accompanying herb scented roasted cherry tomatoes and grilled olive bread highlighted how three simple ingredients, in the right hands, can surpass culinary excellence. I know I will order this dish, again, when we return.

For entrĂ©es, Kate had a "nightly special" Arroces ( rice dish), with chicken, spicy sausage and heirloom tomatoes. This dish was baked in a large terra cotta cazuela and is Prado’s version of a Paella. We both enjoyed the dish and greatly appreciated to delightful melding of the flavorful ingredients in a flavorful roasted and toasty (but moist) rice matrix. I ordered the Alaskan Halibut. The large center-cut halibut fillet was perfectly cooked with a golden brown crust and served on a bed of farro. The farro had a pleasant chewy texture, nutty taste and was deftly seasoned with ras el hanout, a cinnamon scented spice blend traditional to Northern African.

The dessert menu looked too good to pass-up and we couldn’t resist each ordering one. I ordered the Spanish-style Churros with a warm chocolate dipping sauce and Kate ordered a Chocolate Tart with fleur de sal (sea salt) and red chili flakes. Both were great. The Churros had crisp, cinnamon and sugar coated outsides with light moist centers. The dipping sauce was cocoa-luscious. The Chocolate Tart was a creamy caramel infused chocolate balanced by a sprinkling of fine sea salt and perky chili flakes. A scoop of refreshing olive oil gelato crowned the dish.

Our service at Prado was exceptional and can be largely credited to their new General Manager, Pavle Milic. We were warmly greeted when we arrived and given perfect attention and service throughout the evening. Our waiter, Olivario, expertly answered our questions about menu preparations and ingredients and he delightfully guided our dining experience. This is a beautiful restaurant with elegant straight forward cuisine and attentive professional service. We give Prado high marks for knowing how to do things right. Bravo Prado.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Girardet Baco Noir, 2006

Girardet Baco Noir, 2006

Girardet Winery, of Roseburg Oregon, is a pioneer in the Baco Noir variety on the West Coast. They have been producing it since 1991. Baco Noir was developed in the Armagnac region of Bordeaux by Francois Baco. This bottle of wine was produced in the Umpqua Valley in Southern Oregon and was given to me by one of my very nice patients. This is the first time we ever tasted a wine from the Baco Noir. This wine has a deep crimson/purple color that is very dark in the glass. The nose is packed with rich aromas of blackberry, sweet plum, cotton candy and spice. This is a medium bodied wine with a rich mouth feel of cooked blueberries, black cherry, cinnamon, and chocolate. The rich fruit flavors build slowly and then linger on a spicy finish. There are soft tannins and lingering acidity that contribute to the overall deliciousness factor. This wine comes in someplace between a new world Spanish Garnacha and a smooth Mendoza Malbec.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp

Last night we hosted a party for my Eastside Dental Study Club. This was a Pizza Party at heart, but we also had several tasty appetisers. These Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp are relatively easy to make and are definitely a crowd favorite. I made a double batch; plated them and the sauce on a platter for easy passing amongst our guests.

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp
With Dill Dipping Sauce

16 Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 Slices Prosciutto
16 small Bamboo Skewers
1 tbs. Olive Oil

Soak bamboo skewers in cold water for 10 minutes.

Cut each slice of Prosciutto in half, lengthwise, and wrap each Shrimp. Skewer each wrapped shrimp and lightly coat with olive oil.

Place on medium hot grill and cook for about 3-5 minutes, per side, until charred and cooked through.

Dill Dipping Sauce

¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
2 tbs. chopped fresh dill
2 tbs. chopped chives
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp sugar
1 tbs. lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Serve chilled.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mas Donis Barrica, 2004

The 2004 Mas Donis Barrica is a blend of 85% Garnacha and 15% Syrah from the Montsant region of Spain. The wine is aged for 8 months in French and American oak. We had cellared this wine for the past 2 years and decided to open it last night. The color is deep red/purple and is nearly opaque. There is a lovely nose of dark berries, plum, aged cheese, earth. On the palate the wine is medium to full-bodied with layers of ripe black fruits, espresso, tobacco and leather all co-mingling to form a long, pure finish. The tannins and acidity are both restrained and compliment this easy drinking wine. This is another outstanding wine from Spain imported by Eric Solomon.