Archive for February, 2010

Tasting New Things in February

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

It’s easy to fall into a routine of cooking and eating the same things. Trying new ingredients and discovering new wines is one way to mix things up. Here are a few items that I think are worth seeking out…

Farro Fetticini by Valentino Felicetti (Rustichella d’Abruzzo is another great producer) is an excellent alternative to semolina pasta.  Farro, sometimes called spelt, is a whole grain wheat that can have a slightly nutty taste. I like to serve it with shrimp and peas. It’s easy to make, saute the shrimp till just pink then add the pasta and a little pasta water. Add frozen peas, the juice of two lemons,  two tablespoons of butter, and a pinch of red pepper flakes for kick.

Frontera Tomatillo Salsa is a tasty product by Chicago chef Rick Bayless. I have enjoyed several of his salsas, so I was optimistic about the tomatillo salsa. His products are typically very authentic, and packed with flavor. This salsa contains the tang of sweet roasted tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, and serrano chiles. It tastes fresh, explodes with flavor, and has a hearty kick.  I added chunks of pineapple to the salsa and used it to top a grilled fish. The pineapple adds some sweetness and also tones down the heat. I have also enjoyed this salsa in an omelet and in a stir fry. I think it is a versatile product to have in your pantry that can add interest to many of your meals.

Frontera Tomatillo Salsa

Frontera Tomatillo Salsa

Last week I bought a bottle of Apple Chipotle BBQ Bath made by Sweetwater Spice Co. It’s a flavored brine concentrate that was recommended by a local gourmet food store, Metropulos. Apples and brine sound like the perfect combination for pork chops which are on the menu for next week.

Apple Chipolte BBQ Bath

Apple Chipotle BBQ Bath

Friends recently bought me a bottle of Peaceful Alliance by Artiste Winery.  This wine is a blend of 75% Pinot Noir, 22% Syrah and 3% Viognier. I normally prefer to judge wines strictly on the contents of the bottle, but I must say this is the best looking label I have ever seen. The painting of the rowboat is by Carole Rae Watanabe. Good news, the wine itself is also great. It’s a light to medium bodied wine that is very well balanced. It tastes like a bowl of raspberries combined with an earthiness that gives it well rounded character.

Wine Label

Wine Label