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White Bean and Kalamata Olive Soup, Pizza, and La Fin Du Monde

This past weekend saw my wife and I making pizza and some lovely White Bean and Kalamta Olive Soup. The link to the recipe was the best I could find on the web. The one I use is from Mollie Katzen’s cookbook, which I have no right to place on my blog, please buy her book she is a genius!

The soup is simple to make, and I follow her recipe to the tee, short of adding in a wee bit more wine than her recipe calls for. Personally, that is the ultimate compliment, using someone’s exact recipe, with little or no change, because it is perfect as it is.

Besides the soup, we made some pizza as well. I must say that making kosher pizza now days is really quite simple. We buy ready made whole wheat pizza crusts that are very tasty, reasonably priced, and a cinch to complete.

All we do is take the ready made crust out of the package, or freezer, throw on some tomato sauce, pre-shredded pizza cheese, sliced onions, and olives. On top of that we throw on some herbs and we are good to go!

Benyamin from Four Gates Winery was by, and we tasted through the new wines that will soon be available on the website, stay tuned for those notes! Though some of the wines could have held up against the pizza, I went a different route for the meal, we bought a bottle of La Fin Du Monde. This is a Belgian Tripel style Ale, which has lovely bits of yeast lees that the beer can lie on and age for a few years, if stored properly.

The beer’s rich mouth, along with its mild bitterness, and unique spice flavor profile makes this a perfect compliment to pizza, rich pastas, light to medium meat or seafood, and rich deserts.

The beer note follows below:

La Fin Du Monde – Score: B++
The nose on this cloudy light gold colored beer starts with sweet malt, banana, heady spice, cloves, lots of foam and nice effervescence. The mouth on this medium bodied beer is rich and spicy with a frontal attack of cloves and coriander, followed by rich yeast, and toasty malt. Apple comes in along with a bit of citrus, all clinging to the rich head and mouth and making for a lovely spicy experience. The finish is long with more spice, honey/caramel, apple, citrus peel, and pepper. The high alcohol does not affect the taste, but beware of this puppy as it can catch up to you quickly if you take it for granted.


Trumer Pilsner, Sushi, Sweet Potato/Parsnip/Buckwheat Cholent, and Yarden Mount Hermon Red

This past week we had a two prong attack, sushi/beer and cholent/wine, as we were enjoying a quiet weekend together.   We bought some Ahi tuna, avocado, and cucumber, the three components we use to make enjoyable and healthy sushi.  We went with brown rice for our sushi this time, and it was OK, but the rice did not stick together so well.  When rolling it was fine, but once we started slicing the sushi roll, rice started falling off, which means the rice was not cooked to perfection.  The good news was that it still tasted just fine.  To pair with the sushi, I bought some beer, a Trumer Pilsner.  I found the Trumer to be very dry, not so fruity, and very hoppy with a bitter aftertaste of orange peel.  The beer was OK, but personally, I would have liked a bit more bright fruit.

For lunch we had Cholent made with sweet potato, parsnip, carrots, and potato all cubed into 1 inch squares.  For the thickening agent we used buckwheat.  Many are foolish and think that buckwheat is a wheat or grass.  Actually, buckwheat is a fruit! Yes, a dry fruit, like sunflower seeds, which is a type of simple dry fruit produced by many species of flowering plants.  The cool aspect of buckwheat is that it almost melts/disintegrates into the 20 hour cookfest, known as cholent.  You see, normally cholent calls for the use of some legume to do the binding, chickpea, white bean, or pink bean, or a mix of them all, along with some barley grain.  However, this past week we decided to try buckwheat.  Many know buckwheat as kasha, which is really buckwheat pan roasted or oven toasted, which helps to remove the buckwheat’s natural bitterness and to bring out a sweeter, nuttier flavor.  However, kasha is not what we wanted, as we wanted something to soak up liquid, which kasha does not do so well.

To pair with the cholent I opened an old bottle that was lying around, one that was around the cellar a bit too long unfortunately.  The 2006 Yarden Mount Hermon Red, was OK, but well past its peak.

The wine note follows below:

2006 Yarden Mount Hermon Red – Score: B to B+
The nose on this garnet to brown colored wine is hopping with black cherry, black plum, rich oak, raspberry, and tired fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine was mouth filling with nice black cherry, raspberry, and oak that rounds the mouth. The mid palate was not very alive with just a hint of tannins (that comes and goes), and oak. The finish is long with black cherry and spicy oak. The finish lingers long on the palate with more black cherry and oak, but it is tired and ready to go. The wine was brownish and should have been drunk last year.

Ella Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Roasted Chicken, Brown Rice, and Lindemans Raspberry Lambic

Well this past weekend was a wonderful learning experience for me.  We had a quiet dinner of roasted chicken, accompanied by a nice brown rice pilaf and a fresh green salad.  I thought a nice wine to match that would be a bright wine, and went fishing around the wine cellar for a Sauvignon Blanc.  I pulled out a 2007 Ella Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and what a surprise I had.  To start the cork was sopping wet and almost to its end, though no leaks.  I warn ALL readers to check this vintage, as the cork was not damaged or poor quality, it just looks like that cork was soaked.  Of course cork is differs from bottle to bottle, but just take a look at your Ella Valley SB and check.  I have never had a problem from any of their other wines, so this could have been nothing more than bad luck, but it is always safe to check.

Upon opening the bottle, I was greeted by a horrific smell, and almost barnyard or pee smell.  Yes, Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, was made famous by British wine critic Oz Clarke, when he stated that The Sauvignon Blanc tasted like: “cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush”.  Still, I do not associate that flavor with Sauvignon Blanc wines from Israel, but once I poured the wine the reason for the “odor” was clear.  When I poured the wine, I greeted with bubbles in the wine and a clear flavor and nose of yeast.  I am almost sure that the wine (at least for my bottle) went through ML (MaloLactic Fermentation) in my bottle, and so bubbles formed from the ML fermentation.  I can only guess that my batch was not successfully filtered to rid the wine of any left over malic acid.  The process of ML in a bottle, can create odors and bubbles, as the malic acid is “chowed down on” by Malolactic bacteria that are ubiquitous in the environment (you’re probably breathing some in right now).  Once all of these wondrous additions blew off the wine became more than acceptable, but the overall presentation was lacking – to say the least.  Again, check your bottles and enjoy!

For a special treat above and beyond some wine, I opened a bottle of Lindemans Raspberry Lambic.  It can be purchased at most local area alcohol shops.  My friend explained to me that Lambic beers are meant to be sour, and when I tasted this particular beverage, I understood that to mean – tart, but not sour.  In many ways, the beer tasted like a tart and refreshing raspberry version of a Sauvignon Blanc.  Of course, after more thought I realized that it was a totally fallacy.  What I was tasting was the extreme brightness, but the beer was so sweet and almost cloyingly tart, that nobody would compare the beer to any wine.  Moreover, folks at the table, thought the beer was spoiled or had gone to vinegar, but once I explained it was just sour beer, they liked it.  I guess I found it refreshing after a while, but it is more enjoyable (at least to start) accompanied by some chocolate dessert.

The wine notes follow below:

2007 Ella Valley Sauvignon Blanc – Score: B – B+
The nose on this light straw colored wine was very weird initially. First came a nasty and funky pee smell that was a byproduct of the wine’s ML transformation in the bottle.  Once that blew off the wine turned somewhat hot – wild!  Luckily they both blew off within an hour of opening the bottle.  Soon enough the nose turned to lychee, fresh cut grass, lemon, and grapefruit. The mouth on this light to medium bodied wine was refreshing but not rich, complex, or concentrated, and initially had bubbles in the glass. The mouth starts with lemon, lychee, and a fair amount of vegetal flavors. The mid palate is packed with bright acidity that flows into a nice finish of tart lemon and thick grass. The wine was not overwhelming and was a bit more green that I was expecting, but nice none the less, albeit the presentation.

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