Pan-Seared Scallops and Carrot Risotto, a recipe
After counting bottles of wine sold, adding up numbers, and dealing with the ins-and-outs of managing financial and operational enterprises, I find solace and indulgence in the evening’s respite. Luckily, my better half is a foodie and I get to tag along for the ride. She loves taking the two of us on savory excursions to wind down when we’ve both had long weeks at the office. My contribution is always the wine, and I try to find that special bottle to do her creations justice.
Last night, we had a tasty recipe that will satisfy any pescetarian’s craving, and I have the pleasure of sharing it with you. We try to use fresh herbs from our balcony garden and veggies from our CSA when possible.
PAN-SEARED SEA SCALLOPS AND CARROT RISOTTO (For Four)
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 cups finely diced carrots
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
5 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine (use a good cooking wine)
1/2 cup freshly shredded pecorino Romano cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 lb dry sea scallops (if stored in liquid, rinse and pat dry)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1.Heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter over medium heat in a medium sized heavy-bottomed pot; add carrots and stir until the carrots are coated with the butter and oil. Add 1/2 cup water, salt, and the sugar; cover and cook 5 minutes, or until tender. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until water evaporates and carrots are just starting to brown, about five minutes. Reserve half of the carrots; in a blender, purée other half with 3/4 cup of hot water.
2. Heat remaining oil and butter over medium heat in same (unwashed) pot used for carrots. Add onion and cook until translucent, about five minutes. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil. Add wine and cook, stirring, until wine evaporates. Add carrot purée and cook, stirring, until mixture absorbs most of the liquid.
3. Add about 1/2 cup of the broth, stirring often, until rice absorbs most of the liquid. Repeat process, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time and stirring often till each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente (about 20 minutes; at least 1 cup broth will remain).
4. Fold in reserved carrots, Pecorino Romano cheese, parsley, and thyme. Add up to 1 cup of broth (1/4 cup at a time) to loosen the risotto. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
5. Sprinkle sea salt on the scallops. Heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter over medium-high heat in a pan until almost smoking. Place the scallops in the pan, and do not move them for two minutes. Turn to cook the other side for one minute. Serve 5 scallops on each serving’s bed of carrot risotto.
As I take the elevator down from our corporate headquarters, I usually stop on our new sales floor (which, by the way, you should definitely check out if you have not) and visit our sales operations. They are not only extremely hard working, but they help me make these most important everyday drinking decisions.
For this meal, they suggested the Hofstatter Bianco Barthenau Vigna S. Michele 2006. When my wife and I sat down to dinner, the nose of the wine threw us off, as we sensed whiffs of honey and a mineral-saline quality. I thought it would be much stronger on the palate, but it was actually quite mild in flavor with a light fruitiness that complimented the saltiness of the cheeses in the carrot risotto very well. It’s a viscous full-bodied white, almost straw yellow, making it look like a Chardonnay to me. The subtle lingering of the wine and ambrosial decadence of the scallops definitely put my weary mind at ease. It’s good to be home.
The eternal question of what to put with barbecued eel answered
One of my favorite things about working at IWM is the array of wines and food I get to experience on a daily basis. Being a New York City native has allowed me to become quite versed in my knowledge of many cuisines and, of course, plenty of wines. But lately I have become ho-hum when it comes to my usual indulgences. These days I am inspired by chefs such as Wylie Dufresne, Pichet Ong and our very own Kevin Sippel. I want more of the eclectic. I want New York to be a melting pot that goes straight to my taste buds. I want a new mixture of all I know, collaged with the present day abundance of history, art, culture and cuisine. Therefore, I have taken the extreme challenge of creating a sort of wacky, yet classic, tasting with wonderful and proper wine pairings that teeter just over the edge of comfort.
First off, I was inspired by our client dinner last fall when I had an amazing experience of tasting a great array of Italian wines. For antipasto, I would love to pair our Bruno Giacosa 2005 Spumante Brut with baked artichoke and traditional fried abalone. The biscuity, bready taste of this frizzante wine combined with the tangy, crunchy aspect of the baked artichoke and fried shellfish is so exquisite that it’s sure to tingle the taste buds.
Next would be our Mastroberardino 2005 Taurasi Radici paired with one of my favorites, poached egg with wild mushroom soup and gruyere fonduta. The savory yet complex flavors of this Aglianico wine paired with the mixture of egg, fungi and cheese would be a dream as our primi course. Maybe not quite as wacky, but it’s a superb classic pairing that no one can argue with!
Sea urchin tends to be an iffy avenue when it comes to pairings. After consulting with a few of my IWM coworkers, the Chardonnay Querciabella 2007 Batar with its subtle complexity and soft oak seems to be the unanimous vote for our Chef Kevin’s Strigoli pasta dish with rock shrimp, roasted calamari and sea urchin.
For our fish course, I went down a road in Taiwan and have chosen to pair barbecued eel with an IWM favorite, the Merlot based Bodega Chacra 2009 Mainque. Bodega Chacra’s hailing from Argentina and the eel dish’s coming from Taiwan makes this course the ultimate in wacky and enticing.
Last but not least, I would love to feature a Pichet Ong classic dessert, foie gras Napoleon! This dessert features cacao nibs, hazelnuts, salty foie gras and tangy red pepper jam. My unusual pairing for this course would be our rich, sumptuous and berry-laden Begali 2005 Recioto.
Although we don’t have all of these wines currently in stock, this wacky tasting event will become a reality the day we do. Here’s to the eclectic, the new and the experimental!
There’s no need to sacrifice the yumminess for healthiness
January is a month of renewal and rejuvenation. We start to remember that our health needs more constant attention and bodies need to move more often. But how to make our quest for health jibe with our wine and foodie obsessions? Is there a way to combine decadent, gourmet foods and wine with a nutritional lifestyle? I like to think that I can take on the challenge of a foodie-health lifestyle and I have some wonderful pairings to prove it!
Here’s one dish I really like to make, a Winter Squash Risotto with Radicchio. Combining winter squash and risotto is a splendid, savory delight. The natural sweetness of winter squash paired with the slightly bitter flavors of the radicchio make for a wonderful, warm dish for the season. And at only 333 calories, this as an officially health-conscious dish. Squash works beautifully with dry Riesling, specifically Frecciarossa’s 2008 Riesling Gli Orti. Also, Champagne is never a poor choice for this celebratory dish. I recommend Roger Coulon’s 2002 Brut Blanc de Noirs. It’s so crisp and delicious.
Milk-Fed Veal Chop Wrapped in Young Leeks is another homey, yet elegant healthy dish that I love making after the holiday season. Although the recipe calls for crème fraîche, you can replace it with nonfat or low fat Greek yogurt. Veal is a perfect pairing for the Nebbiolo grape, and my best bets for pairing this dish would be the Cantalupo 2004 Ghemme and the Ada Nada 2000 Barbaresco Valeirano.
Another course I wouldn’t dream of going without would be dessert. A light, healthy option I love would be Crème-Caramel Flan, and this one has less than 200 calories, paired with the Querciabella 1990 Orlando di Vin Santo Vin Santo. This silky, light flan and its caramel richness is the perfect, complementary pairing for notes of dried apricot, candied orange and hazelnuts Querciabella’s dolce wine contains. This is the last vintage of this particular Vin Santo, so be sure to pick one up before they are gone forever!
Hope–and enjoyment of food alongside a healthy lifestyle–isn’t lost. We can always tweak ingredients and cut portions to make up for the treats and holidays throughout the year. It’s a relief to remember that wine is the most calorie-friendly alcoholic beverage and contains cancer-fighting antioxidants. Go wine! In moderation!
Things to do before good bubbly goes bad
To celebrate the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, I went to a BYOB sushi restaurant with some friends, and everyone was generous enough to bring several bottles of sparkling wines from different countries. It was interesting (and delicious) to compare Prosecco vs. Cava vs. Champagne, all paired with different kinds of sushi rolls.
The meal was fantastic, but I think we all over estimated the amount of food and wine that we could all consume, so we ended up bringing a lot back home. So the question becomes what to do with leftover Champagne? Champagne is such a special drink that you don’t want to waste it, but you also don’t want to turn it into something that’s any less glorious than in its pure form. So here is my idea for a glamorous after New Year’s Champagne meal.
To start, I am going to prepare a Champagne Risotto. Risotto needs a lot of liquid to soften and cook, so why not make part of that liquid Champagne? You can add some vegetables of your choice, but I think this recipe with asparagus and prosciutto from the Food Network sounds amazing. (Link embeded, but you can also click here.)
The main dish will be chicken with truffles and a Champagne sauce, which I found on Epicurious. This is definitely a way to transform what could be an average meal into something amazing. Depending on my budget after the holidays, I might have to leave out the truffles and substitue porcini, but I’m saving by re-using the Champagne! (Click here too.)
For dessert: Champagne truffles. There are several different methods and variations on how to make them, some easier than others; this one that I found on Free Recipes looks both manageable and yummy. You can make them in advance as well, and they will surely impress your dinner guests. It’s an example of an easy recipe that will be delicious no matter what. (Final spot to click.)
This meal will be a great way to start off my year, and hopefully set the precedent for how I will be dining in 2011. Do you have any culinary tricks or savory secrets in how you use your leftover bubbly?
the IWM sales team exploration dinner
I’ve returned to New York from Hong Kong for a few months and was fortunate to take part in a team wine exploration dinner on Monday night, the purpose of which was to see an IWM event in same way that our clients do when they attend an evening in our Studio del Gusto or Vintage Room.
I found it a perfect way to get reacquainted with the team in NY, our Chef Kevin “Macho” Sippel, and some old friends named Giacosa, Gaja and Fiorano. Kevin made his presence felt with an antipasto selection of meats from our Salumeria and assorted Crudo, followed by two rounds of hand-made pastas. I quickly realized that the next few months will come with a few added pounds. I should probably schedule a series of strenuous hikes now for my return to Hong Kong.
The wines started off with a duo of Gravner Anfora wines, the 2003 Ribolla and 2003 Breg, a blend of Ribolla, Pinot Grigio and Riesling Italico, which I haven’t tasted in years. In Hong Kong, we feature Gravner’s Ribolla at Chinese dinners often because of the wine’s incredible ability to evolve in the glass and adapt to nearly any food. To enjoy these wines again with true Italian cuisine reminded me of the way that I’d first learned to appreciate them.
We moved into a selection of reds starting with Valdicava’s new 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva “Madonna del Piano” and Mastroberardino’s 2005 Taurasi Radici. Both of these wines were a pleasant shock to my system as I’ve been enjoying traditionally styled wines of Piemonte almost exclusively of late. When it comes to the modern style of Brunello, I believe Valdicava is as good as it gets, particularly for how well these wines age. A 1997 Madonna we opened in HK was an absolute showstopper, and this 2004 is clearly headed for similar greatness. The 2005 Radici was the first Taurasi I’ve had in over a year. It took only a whiff to bring a smile to my face as I remembered the brief love affair I’d enjoyed with the 2003 Radici years ago.
Next, we moved into a powerhouse Piemonte lineup starting with Gaja’s 2005 Costa Russi, the more approachable of Angelo’s cru Barbarescos; it was shown straight from bottle and also after hours of decanting side by side. Our group was split over which was more enjoyable; however everyone agreed that the Costa Russi was beautiful in one form or another. Having recently tasted a series of older Gaja wines, I am very confident that these 2005’s will be something truly special for anyone with the will power, or off-site cellar, to hold them for 15 years.
Our move to traditionally-styled Barolos featured Bruno Giacosa’s 2004 Croera di La Morra, a wine I’d not tasted in two years, and a 2005 Bartolo Mascarello that was new to me. The Giacosa is really coming along very nicely; it’ll be interesting to see how a La Morra Barolo from Giacosa will show in ten years and how it will contrast wines like Rocchefalletto Riserva, which is much bigger. The ’04 promises to be one of La Morra’s premier cellar-worthy Barolos, and the Mascarello was a bit of a surprise because of its approachability at such a young age. Further, the nose reminded me so much of another wine I’d had last month, the 1967 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo.
Before moving on to the Fioranos, we put Dal Forno’s 2003 Valpolicella and Quintarelli’s 2000 Amarone side by side. Placing masters of contrasting styles next to each other can sometimes seem like a Presidential debate, with voters feeling a need to choose one party or the other. In what should be a model for decision-making, we found a myriad of positives in each. Why should one be forced to choose Dal Forno or Quintarelli when both are so phenomenal?
Finally, we came to the Fioranos, and in a way that put us even more in touch with the individual nuances of these wines. We tried two 1994 Fiorano Biancos, but from different casks (Botti), #44 and #26. The #44 stands out even among other Fiorano wines in that it has a relatively sweet nose, reminiscent of a Friulano Ramandolo, while showing a more “typical” Fiorano taste and oxidation. I have to note how well these wines showed given that they had just followed Dal Forno and Quintarelli powerhouses. These whites had no problem showing their intricacies at the end of the night. While these wines are surely not for everyone, they are for anyone with an inquisitive approach and an appreciation for wines that have a story to tell.
What a night! Would you believe it all happened in about two hours? Rest assured I was the happiest passenger on NJ Transit that night. I doubted anyone on my train had had an experience like mine. Then again, I’m back in NY so anything is possible. It’s good to be home.keep looking »