Archive for December, 2009

Syrah from Santa Barbara

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Syrah has been one of my favorite varietals ever since I was introduced to the wines of the Rhone Valley. So it is only logical that I became enamored with Syrah from Santa Barbara County once I moved here in 2008. Santa Barbara County has grown from a quaint wine region to a major player in California. This region now has over 100 wineries specializing in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. 

Over the last year and a half I have tried every Syrah I could get my hands on. Although I have not had every Syrah in town, I believe I have tasted almost all the better ones.  My two favorites are: Dierberg Syrah 2005 and Babcock Syrah Upper Crust 2007.  Both are full bodied, well balanced and cost about $30. I won’t bore you with all the flavor nuances, but I will say these wines won’t bore you.

A few other wineries that I have been impressed with are: Jaffurs, Melville, and Stolpman; but note that $30 plus is typical for these wines. A couple wineries that are more budget friendly are Beckmen and Consilience.

Each of these wines are delicious; I hope you get the opportunity to try a few. If you have a favorite Syrah that I didn’t mention, please feel free to share it with the group.

 Tis the season…so gulp a Syrah or two and have a Happy Holiday!

Tons of Potatoes

Friday, December 18th, 2009

A couple weeks ago I ran a marathon.  A friend asked me if I eat pasta the night before the big race to carbo-load.  Although I love pasta, I prefer a  baked potato for my pre-race meal because it’s easier for me to digest. Actually I ate a steak, carrots, and a huge baked potato the size of my shoe. As I ate it, it  reminded me of my youth because baked potatoes were a weekly staple in my house. Today I rarely eat a baked potato, but I consume other types of potatoes at least three times a week. I love potatoes.

My favorite potato is a fingerling (or yukon) roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary. So simple, but the essence of the potato screams deliciousness.

For special occasions I am torn between two more decadent potato dishes: scalloped potatoes (sometimes called potatoes gratin) and twice baked potatoes. My mother served scalloped potatoes for festive occasions. Although there are different variations, you basically bake sliced russet potatoes in milk and cream. I add sliced onions and some garlic between the potato slices, but it’s the cream that makes the dish so rich and tasty.

Have you ever made twice baked potatoes? After baking russet potatoes for an hour or so,  scoop the potato out of the skin and mix with butter and sour cream. Put the mixture back in the potato and top with grated parmigiano reggiano and bake for another half hour.

I am crazy about potatoes. I could eat them almost every day, except for boiled potatoes. Did you every eat a boiled potato? It has to be one of the most tasteless and boring dished ever invented.

So, if you had one last meal and it had to include a potato…what potato would you pick?