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Chicken Soup, Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken, red and white Quinoa, and 2008 Don Ernesto Crescendo!

This past weekend saw us under the weather and so we cooked up a lovely and helpful pot of chicken soup, along with our standby dinner of lemon rosemary roasted chicken, some really nice white and red quinoa, along with some fresh green salad. The chicken soup was really great and truly hit the spot. The weather out here in Northern California has been acting really strange and is starting to feel a lot like last year, cold and wet. There are is some solar heat and some sunny days, but a lot more cold days and wet days ahead, is what it feels like.

The chicken soup was what we all needed and because we threw it together last-minute we improvised slightly to make the pot. We added red wine to the soup and we threw in some chicken soup powder. Yeah, it was a shortcut, but in the end chicken is what counts and when it comes to the fowl department, we handled that just fine by throwing in a bunch of winged and neck material, along with most of the recipe’s vegetables.

For a wine we chose a lovely bottle of red wine, yes red wine! I know red wine is sometimes considered a faux pax in many people’s eyes when pairing with chicken soup and roasted chicken, but I liked it just fine. The rich and lemony flavors of the roasted chicken went fine with the medium to full-bodied wine and I really did not drink that much with the chicken soup, as all I wanted then was warm liquid. Once we finished the two rounds of soup we moved on to the dish of lemon rosemary roasted chicken, white and red quinoa, and fresh green salad.

The wine started off so closed it almost tasted flat and hollow. However, with more air the wine opened and showed its true colors. To be honest it takes a real pro to be able to realize the difference between a poor wine, a closed wine, and a dud. Folks who go to wine tastings, wineries, etc. where they pop open a bottle and pour a glass and expect to perceive all that a wine has to give, are fooling themselves. That is why I love wine tastings to pick out the wines I want to try again in a more controlled setting where I can open the bottle and watch it change in the glass. Also, this wine is a blended wine of two or three varietals, of which I do not actually know. It tasted a fair bit like Cabernet Sauvignon but then added in a fair bit of tar, vanilla, and spice, making me wonder if there is some Syrah in there as well. The wine is mevushal and is another very solid hit from the ever consistent winery in Napa Valley.

The wine note follows below:

2008 Hagafen Crescendo Don Ernesto – Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is closed as tight as a tin can to start, but with time the wine shows its special characteristics that bob and weave in the same rhythm as the varietals open and show their stuff. The wine is a blend of two or more red varietals, one that I think is Cabernet and one that felt like Syrah or Petite Verdot, but I could not be for sure. The nose starts with a very Cabernet style, including blackberry, blackcurrant, chocolate, rich oak, black cherry, raspberry, plum, licorice, pencil shavings, and spice. Over time the nose starts to show off more tar and vanilla. The mouth on this wine starts off very closed end the finish is very short and surprising. Once again, this one shows what my dear friend and wine maker – Craig Winchell told me many times, the only fact that a wine cannot lie about is its weight. Everything else can either be sleeping or closed or hiding away until the wine awakes or comes out of hiding. This wine is no different, it starts off very closed with a nice medium to full weight, but with about everything else fully hidden. Over time it opens with a rich and velvety almost plush mouth with tannins that start off closed and open slowly more and more, along with rich oak, blackcurrant, blackberry, black cherry, plum, raspberry, and lovely tannin. With even more time the wine shifts to show tar and more plum. The mid palate is balanced with nice acid, chocolate, tannin, and rich oak. The finish starts off short, but over time it becomes long and rich with rich oak, nice tannin, acid, blackberry, chocolate, tobacco, plum, and a dollop of spice and vanilla. This is quite a lovely wine that needs time to open and one that demands your attention as it evolves and changes in the glass and the day.

Roasted almond breaded chicken (a great fried chicken substitute) and 2003 Four Gates Merlot

My wife does not often make it but when she does I always appreciate it. I am talking about her roasted almond coated chicken! The recipe is really quite simple and it is her personal recipe and it tastes awesome! To pair with this wonderful dish I opened a lovely bottle of the 2003 Four Gates Merlot. The funny thing about this bottle was that it was slightly out of whack a few years ago. A few years ago the acidity was way too high and it would dominate the palate. Now, the acid has calmed down, the wine’s muscle and full body is now in full bloom, and the chocolate and fruit are showing quite well, along with some rich oak. The wine is really a joy and a crazy good deal at 20 bucks! That is the good news the bad news is that I think it is sold out ūüė¶ We paired the chicken with a lovely kasha and mushroom pilaf and a fresh green salad.

Roasted almond coated chicken recipe

  1. Fresh chicken
  2. Unsweetened apple sauce
  3. Ground almond meal – NOT blanched almond flour
  4. Ground sage
  5. Garlic powder
  6. Black pepper

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Geographe K Chardonnay (citrus zest) and Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken

This past weekend saw us enjoying the same food we enjoyed last week, which is our go to dinner when we have no guests, and I am lazy! Once again we went with our Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken with red pepper flakes, Brown Basmati Rice, and fresh green salad. This time my wine of choice was far more successful than my previous attempt of last week. This wine was a major hit and was perfectly paired with the roasted chicken. The bottle I opened is a new wine from our friends at the Harvey River Bridge Estate Winery from Australia, the winery that has brought us the Joseph River Estate label and now the a kosher wine from the Flagship Winery – the Harvey River Ridge Winery.

The new wine, the 2009 Geographe K Chardonnay, is imported by Allied Importers and it actually sells for less far less money here in the US, than it retails for in Australia! The price for the 2009 Harvey River Bridge Chardonnay (the non-kosher version of the Geographe K), is 15 Australian dollars. Given today’s conversion rate that comes out to: 14.82, factor in the insane shipping costs, from half way around the world, and the 13.99 that is charging – seems like a steal! The new name, I guess, comes from the Geographe region that the Harvey River Bridge Estate Winery sources its grapes from. According to the Geographe Wine website, the Geographe wine region is: bounded by the curve of Geographe Bay, extending across a wide coastal plain and the rolling hills of the Darling Scarp, from Harvey south to Busselton and inland to Donnybrook and Collie, the Geographe Wine Region is fast developing into one of the country’s most exciting wine areas.

To me the wine was really enjoyable, tasty, and from my opinion, a slight bit oaky – though the winery’s page clearly states it is an “unwooded” wine. I sensed some wood on the nose, but maybe that was just me. PLEASE note, this was a nice wine, but it is NOT for cellaring – drink now or in the next 6 months – it will serve you well. Note as well, that this wine does remind me of many lovely unoaked (bare) Israeli Chardonnay from Ella Valley and Dalton.

The wine note follows below:

2009 Geographe K Chardonnay – Score: B++
The nose on this lemon to straw colored wine starts off very closed, however with time the nose explodes with grapefruit, bright lemon and citrus, peach, lychee, mango, pear, toasty notes, and spice/cloves. The mouth on this medium plus bodied wine is fruit forward and bright with pear, mango, grapefruit, lemon, and peach. The mid palate explodes with core acidity that is balanced by the wine’s weight, fruit, some nice orange rind, and spice. The finish is super long and extended with lovely bright citrus, grapefruit, mango, lemon, and spice. The mouth becomes spicier over time with a rounder, suppler, and softer mouth, but with a more expressive orange rind. All of this without any oak (according to the website), but I could not help but smell some on the nose, but hey that may just be me. Clearly NOT a wine that lived in an oak barrel, but one I could imagine had oak applied to it with sticks or bags to help fill out the mouth. Either way a wonderful wine that should be drunk now or within the next 6 months. This is not a wine for cellaring, but one that can be enjoyed with soft cheese, roasted fowl, and lemon or mushroom risotto.

Sweet Potato/Parsnip Risotto, Honey/Pepper Flake Roasted Chicken, and Four Gates Pinot Noir

We were not interested in another red meat meal, yet with the cold front lingering we were interested in a warm comfort food. ¬†So we went to one of our old standbys – risotto. ¬†I changed the risotto recipe this week to precook the root vegetables before integrating them into the dish. ¬†There is a major issue with cooking food for Friday Night; the fact that the food needs to be reheated. ¬†Its rears its ugly head for Risotto, where the creaminess that comes from extracting the rice’s innate scratches, is hard pressed to duplicate in a Friday Night situation. ¬†Risotto is normally finished with cheese or butter, which of course causes issues with a meat dinner, but also makes it difficult to replicate in an oven. ¬†In the past, I have been successful with cooking the risotto one or two cups of liquid short, letting it cool down and refrigerate it over night. ¬†Then take it out the next day, let it come to room temperature, and then add in the last amount of liquid, plus some fat of some sort, and throw it in a low temperature oven, in a ceramic like dish. ¬†The ceramic dish helps to force the heat into the dish and if it has a good enough cover, it helps to keep the heat from escaping.

So in our past attempt at making risotto, which was a semi-failure, we pointed out that adding in the raw vegetables late to the party was a mistake.  This time around, I sweated them in a separate pot, and added them to the dish at the end, knowing there would be more time in the oven to make them all work together.  This time the dish worked out great, proving that either roasting or sweating the vegetables ahead of time, is a far better approach.

The recipe can be found here, where we roasted the root vegetables ahead of time.  In the end there are really on two things in my recipe you can change; the vegetable and its preparatory heating.  In our case this week we chose a mixture of Sweet Potato and parsnip, cubed into the same shape, and sweated in a pot until almost tender.  The rest of the recipe stands true (albeit sans mushroom), and a cup of liquid short.

Friday day remove the risotto early to let it come to room temperature, add in more hot liquid and a bit of oil, mix it around, and place it in the oven right before Sabbath.  My wife made a wonderful roasted cut up chicken that is spiced with honey, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes.  The meal was rounded out with a lovely fresh green salad.

Lemon Rosemary Pepper Flake Roasted Chicken Recipe
1 cut up chicken
2 tbsp  lemon juice
3 tbsp of honey
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp red pepper flakes

Clean the cut up chicken and then place the chicken in a roasting pan.  First put the lemon juice all over the chicken and then place honey all over the chicken as well.  With the chicken glistening with both lemon juice and honey, shake the rosemary and red pepper flakes all over the chicken as well.  Bake the chicken covered at 325 degrees for 1 hour.  After one hour, remove the white chicken from the roasting pan.  Leave the dark chicken in the roasting pan for another hour, and then remove the pan and let cool down, before placing in the refrigerator.

To match the chicken and risotto, I pulled out a wine that I have not had in a bit of a while, a Four Gates Pinot Noir N.V. (2005 and 2006 vintages).  The wine has evolved since we last tasted it.  It is rounder with more oak, clean red fruit, and tart red cherry. The wine paired so nicely with the risotto and roasted chicken.

The wine note follows below:

N.V. Four Gates Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz CA – Score: A-
The nose on this ruby colored wine, with a hint of orange, is rich with oak, raspberry, Kirsch cherry, coffee, and a hint of plum. The mouth on this medium bodied wine rounds out nicely, after an hour of air, and the tannins are nicely integrated, giving the wine a full velvety mouth.  The mouth is also concentrated with a lovely tart cherry, raspberry, and oak.  The mid palate is balanced with nice acidity, integrated tannins, oak, and coffee.  The finish is super long with tart Kirsch cherry, along with acidity, oak, coffee, and lovely tannins.  A rounded flavor of oak and tart Kirsch cherry lingers on the palate long after the wine is gone.

Lemon/Honey/Pepper Roasted Chicken, Rice Pilaf, and 2004 Four Gates Chardonnay

This past week was harried and crazy coming back from New York, where we visited the Gotham Wine Event and a bit of the New York scene.  Anyway, my wife was very kind to essentially make shabbos.  To start she whipped up a batch of scrumptious roasted chicken, where she places the chicken in a pan and then covers the chicken with a melange of honey, red pepper flakes, lemon, and a few other spices.  Along with that she made some delicious spinach kugel, brown basmati rice, and a fresh green salad.  To match the food I went looking for a nice chardonnay in the cellar, and came up with a 2004 Four Gates Chardonnay.  The wine has been one we have drunk before, but this wine has turned, and should start being drunk up soon.  I always kid Benyo that it would be fine to add in a bit of oak to his Chardonnay. Well, maybe not, this bottle was almost a cousin to the 2007 Castel Chardonnay C, that is bright and also burnt on the nose from so much toasted oak.  The Four Gates Chardonnay is not as burnt as it is oaky, and is losing its fruit.  It seems to me that the oak is now overpowering what fruit is left, and so, if you like an oaky Chardonnay drink up, if not, drink up!!

Also, since I trounced it on Rogov’s forum, it is only fair to give it its due. This shabbos a friend made a lovely kiddush spread for all of the shul to enjoy. Part of that spread was a bottle of Red Label 2005 Hagafen Pinot Noir. On the forum both myself and Daniel did not find it very good at all. My only guess is that it was in a crazy dumb period. Because this morning that same bottle was lovely, with clear notes of oak, strawberry, cherry, plum, and coffee/chocolate. Very nice and very worthwhile. Probably at its peak or maybe a bit on the other side, but not brown or orange in any way. Anyway, as always full disclosure. Also, I had a drop of some 2004 Hagafen Merlot. Very nice, soft, accessible, rich with supple tannins, oak, plum, a hint of cassis, and raspberry. Nice wine, but drink up time.

The wine note follows below:

2004 Four Gates Chardonnay – Score: A-
The nose on this electric light gold to gold colored wine is filled with heavy and luscious toasted oak, starts a bit burnt to start, lemon, melon, peach, toasted almond, and butterscotch.  The mouth on this full bodied wine is now overpowered by layers of concentrated spicy and toasted oak, along with butterscotch, melon, and a hint of almonds.  The mid palate is packed with more oak, lemon, and bright acidity.  The finish is long and spicy, with tasty oak, butterscotch, and lemon.  As it sat the wine lost a bit of the burnt toast flavors, and it was awesome, but the next day, it was over.  I recommend to all that it is time to drink this wine up, and enjoy it with heavy roasted fowl, light stews, and hard cheese.

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