Blog Archives

Rosh Hashanah lunch, Herb encrusted gefilte fish loaf, Rosemary and Sage Infused Encrusted Rib Roast, vegetable kugel, and many wines

Rosh Hashanah day was a bit more wine focused than the previous evening. We invited a bunch of friends over and they brought some wonderful wines for us to enjoy. The first one being the 2008 Brobdingnagian Besomim Wine from Jonathan Hajdu, the associate wine maker at Covenant Wines. The other wine was the 2007 Hagafen Cuvee de Noirs, which I had been craving and was a wonderful surprise and delight to enjoy! We also opened a bottle of 2007 Galil Mountain Winery Shiraz Cabernet, which is another bottle that I truly enjoyed. The wines were all killer and really enjoyable. Now on to the menu and my normal format, we will get back to the wines later.

The meal started with the same starter course as we had the previous night, our reliable Herb encrusted gefilte fish loaf and green and black olives, and hummus. The reason I really like this recipe is because while normal gefilte fish recipes tastes like bland boiled white fish, this recipe tastes like herb-encrusted fish that is lightly charred with the herb and spice flavors permeated through and through the fleshy texture – quite a treat. The main course consisted of one of my favorite cuts of meat – rib roast. This was not a standing rib roast, as it was already deboned. The only way to cook this meat is covered slow and low and then blast it with a 400 degree oven to char the outside. This is the recipe of the generation X master of cooking science; Alton Brown, who I believe took much of what he learned in culinary school and Harold McGee and made it simple and palatable to generation X. The roast came out really nicely; it was NOT over or under cooked. However, the issue was that we served it lukewarm instead of piping hot. It is difficult on Yom Tov to both warm up a chunk of meat and not over cook it while trying to serve it piping hot. At least the rest of the meal was warm, including the Sage and Rosemary Jus. Along with the rib roast we had a repeat performance of brown rice, vegetable kugel, and fresh vegetable salad. The guests did serious damage to the rib roast, so I think it worked out well. We bought two chunks of rib roast, one 7+ pounds and the other one being 5+ pounds. The 7+ beast was consumed on Rosh Hashanah lunch, while the other chunk was served to family, when we all gathered for Succot (more on that is a subsequent post).

To pair with the lovely side of cow, we opened two bottles of wine, the two a fore mentioned; 2008 Brobdingnagian Besomim Wine and 2007 Galil Mountain Winery Shiraz Cabernet. The Brobdingnagian Besomim is a field blend of Zinfandel, Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Carignan. The grapes are sourced from the Chabad Rabbi’s small vineyard that he planted on his property in the Napa/Sonoma area. Jonathan then made the wine and it is truly a wine for drinking with food, this is no sipping wine. The wine is crazy rich with spice, which is the obvious derivative for its name (Besomim means spice in Hebrew). The wine easily handled the richly fat and herbed rib roast and the side dishes. We also enjoyed a bottle of 2007 Galil Mountain Winery Shiraz Cabernet. Originally, Daniel Rogov had given the wine a poor score, and I wanted to try it anyway, and I am happy I did. In a later tasting, before his untimely passing, he tasted the wine again, and scored it much in line with my notes and score.

The wine notes follow below in the order enjoyed:

2007 Hagafen Cuvee de Noirs – USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville – Score: A-
The nose on this lovely burnt peach colored wine was lively with effervescent small bubbles, along with pear, orange, brioche, light toast, yeast, mango, apricot, peach, strawberry, and chocolate. The mouth on this medium bodied wine attacks first with a lovely mousse of small bubbles, followed by strawberry, peach, apple, orange, and pear. The mid palate is lovely and balanced with lively acidity, brioche, yeast, oak, and mango. The finish is super long, concentrated, and spicy with strawberry, lovely mousse, brioche, more chocolate, yeast, mango, peach, light oak, orange, and tea. This is a lovely sparkling wine that really needs time in the fridge and one that is a lovely now and will continue to be lovely for at least a few more years to come. 

2008 Brobdingnagian Wines Besomim – USA, California, Sonoma County – Score: A-
This is a wine that truly lives up to its name. Besomim is Hebrew for a potent spice mix that is used as part of a post Sabbath havdalah (or separation) ceremony. The grapes used in this blend come from a field blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah. The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is screaming with spices, nutmeg, black pepper, cloves, along with mint, tobacco, chocolate, a hint of tar, high alcohol to start, cedar, raspberry, plum, black fruit, herbs, and vanilla. The nose is assaulted by all of these aromas in quick succession, so I am sure I missed some. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is hopping and super concentrated with dark cherry, plum, blackberry, nutmeg, cloves, spices, mint, and chocolate. The mid palate is balanced with nice acidity, chocolate, mint, tobacco, and cedar. The finish is super long and spicy, with rich spices, toasty almost spicy cedar, tobacco, chocolate, tar, black pepper, cloves, blackberry, herbs, and vanilla. This is a wine that is best enjoyed with heavy foods, this wine is far to spice infused to be enjoyed as a sipping wine.

2007 Galil Mountain Winery Shiraz Cabernet kosher – Israel, Galilee – Score: B++ to A-
The nose on this purple to black colored wine is an alchemy of the two fruits used, tobacco, rich chocolate, tar, strong alcohol to start, black pepper, dirt, sweet cedar, smoky notes, raspberry, blackberry, plum, and vanilla. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine starts off very hot, but over time cools off to show both sides of this blend, the syrah shows first with a strong presence of black pepper, coffee, blackberry, and tar, over time the syrah gives way to the Cabernet with rich blackberry, plum, sweet cedar and chocolate. The Cabernet side of this wine almost 100% reminded me of the Alexander Winery Cabernet with its sweet cedar, plum, and blackberry combination. The mid palate is balanced with rich acid, sweet cedar, black pepper, tar, chocolate, tobacco, licorice, dirt, plum, raspberry, and a nice dollop of vanilla on top. This wine pack a punch with its heat, but once that dies down, the wine has two sides that are both lovely apart or combined, and linger nicely with rich ripe plum tobacco, chocolate, a hint of tar, and vanilla.

Puttanesca, Cholent, and two more 2007 Binyamina Yogev wines

This past week we enjoyed some simpler home cooking; Puttanesca and Cholent. I have long ago modified the original puttanesca recipe, for many reasons. Pasta sauce recipes call for finishing the sauce by placing the pasta into the pan of sauce. The issue here is that on Shabbos this is really not the best way to serve this for us, as it does not last long this way, and two of us will not finish the dish. We do this so that we can have leftovers, but again, that does not match the recipe format. Also, I like to add things to the recipe, like ground tofu and vegetables. So here is my revised version of the recipe, and enjoy whichever you prefer:

Puttanesca Sauce Recipe:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 finely chopped onions
  • 1 tsp of salt to help sweat the onions
  • 1 pound of sliced brown mushrooms
  • 3 diced zucchini
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 oz of anchovies (tin or tube)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (or crushed by you) with juice
  • 1 jar of Kalamata olives without juice (any other olive is a waste of time)
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes

First put the oil in a large pan and heat up the oil till it is almost smoking. Then saute the onions and salt and watch them till they get nice and browned. Then add in the mushrooms and saute them till they just start to get soft and are releasing their juice, then throw in the zucchini and wait till they are just soft. At this point the mushrooms should be getting browned and the onions should be golden. Then make room in the pan so that there is enough exposed space to heat the garlic and the anchovies. The idea is that the anchovies become paste like and integrate into the vegetables. If you are starting with anchovies from a tube then you are already there. If you are using anchovies from a tin, like I do, then you need saute them in their oil until they get warm and start to fall apart. Once the mixture is all integrated, add in the tomatoes, Kalamata olives (without juice), capers, basil and red pepper flakes.

Wait for the mixture to thicken, which takes some 40 or so minutes, and then it is ready. I cool it down and warm it back up on Friday, before the Sabbath. That said, others may well want to serve it right then and there, along with some lovely al dente pasta. We do not finish the pasta in the sauce as the recipe calls for two reasons; we like to eat more sauce than pasta, and because putting the pasta in the sauce for a few hours, even right before the Sabbath starts, would turn the al dente pasta into mush in short time. For Saturday lunch we had some nice vegetable cholent which is something we enjoy and whose leftovers we enjoy throughout the week.

When looking for some wine to pair with these dishes I decided to try more of the Yogev wines that I had in the cellar. I did this because I wanted to know if last weeks’ bad showing for the 2007 Binyamina Yogev Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz was a fluke or sad reality. The truth is that they are well past their prime and, while they were not DOA, they are clearly vintages that need to be drunk ASAP.

The wine notes below are listed in the order that they were tasted:

2007 Binyamina Yogev Cabernet Sauvignon – Shiraz – Score: B to B+
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine, with brown overtones, is filled with blackberry, black currant, black cherry, vanilla, crushed herbs, light oak tones, along with pepper notes. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine follows the nose with blackberry, cassis, and black cherry. The mid palate is balanced with soft tannin, cedar, acid, and dates. The finish is long and spicy, with rising pepper notes, cedar, black fruit, and vanilla, with black cherry, pepper, and vanilla lingering. Drink up this wine is dying quickly.

2007 Binyamina Yogev Cabernet-Merlot – Score: B to B+
This wine is declining very quickly! The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine, with a hint of brown, is filled with dirt/mineral, blackberry, cranberry, black Currant, cedar, and bramble. The black currant quickly overpowers the palate and nose. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine has soft tannin, bramble, dirt, blackberry, black currant, along with a lovely mouthfeel. The Black Currant again becomes dominant on the palate, throwing it a bit off balance. The mid palate is balanced with acid, lovely tannin, oak, tobacco, and coffee. The finish is nice with tobacco, coffee, oak, black currant, black berry, and bramble. Black Currant, tobacco, and coffee linger long on the palate after the wine is gone. Drink UP!!!!!

2007 Binyamina Yogev Cabernet/Shiraz, 2007 Barkan Classic Petite Syrah, Chicken Soup, Lemon Roasted Chicken, and Cholent

The weekend of February 18th, was the first one home in some time, so it was all about easy food and blessed relaxation. My wife whipped up her lovely lemon roasted chicken and I pulled out some chicken soup, that I had whipped up before I left, from the freezer. Chicken soup freezes really well, but be wary about which vegetables you choose to freeze with the broth. Some vegetables do not mind freezing, like carrots and sweet potato, however turnips and zucchini do not fare nearly as well. Also, while chicken soup does well in the freezer, it is all about what technology you use to freeze the soup. In one word – air – is your enemy. So, the simplest and least expensive method I have found for freezing is to use freezer bags, from your favorite brand, and fill them up with the soup, making sure to get out every drop of air, while being mindful to not make a massive mess. This method has worked great for us, and we put the bag in a tupperware and such, to give the bag extra support, and protection from protruding metal and other hard surfaces, that would like to puncture the bag’s outer shell.

To pair with soup and chicken I went looking for some nice wine and took out a bottle of the 2007 Binyamina Yogev Cabernet/Shiraz, which I bought last year during the Passover sales. Let me just say two words – DRINK UP!!! The bottle I opened was DOA (Dead on Arrival), which was a real shame. Clearly oxidized, without a nick or flaw to be found on the cork, so clearly a bad bottle, and down the drain it went. I then moved on to another Israeli 2007 bottle, and found a 2007 Barkan Classic Petite Syrah, also acquired last year during the Passover sales. This one was a bit more alive, but clearly on its way down. At least this bottle has an excuse of having been mevushal before bottling.

In the end, no real winners were found in liquid form this weekend, other than the wonderful chicken soup, which was really all I needed!

2007 Binyamina Yogev Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz Blend – Score: DOA

2007 Barkan Classic Petite Syrah – Score: B- to B
This is a nice and lively wine with rich blackberry, black cherry, kirshe cherry, and smoke on the nose and mouth, along with a now soft mouth feel. The wine is also starting to exhibit some cooked fruit flavors so drink up!!!

Barkan Pinot Noir, Teal Lake Shiraz Cabernet, Tishbi Cabernet – Petite Sirah, Tierra Salvaje Carmenere

This past week we attended the bar mitzvah of our friend’s kids.  I say kids as they are twins and they did a wonderful job both on their readings and their speeches.  After the ceremony, we were treated to a crazy feast that was quite enjoyable, to say the least.  The meal was scrumptious and the wines served with it were also quite nice.  They were mevushal wines and as stated in previous postings, the quality of mevushal wines can be all over the map.  The wines we were served were quite nice, and in many ways interesting.  None of them made us stand up and cheer, but two of them were downright enjoyable, and two of them were fascinating more from their characteristics then their overall flavor profiles.  Because I had them away from home, I had no place or ability to write notes, therefore, the notes are less through then they normally are.

So many thanks to the hosts, and the wine notes follow below:

2007 Barkan Pinot Noir – Score: B+
I have already blogged about this one here, and enjoyed it now as much as I did the last time.  The acid really picks the wine up, still funny that they bottled the Pinot in a Bordeaux bottle!

2006 Tishbi Cabernet – Petite Sirah – Score: B – B+
This is one of those wines that is really fun.  The nose is packed with classical Golan dirt, nice red fruit, a touch of blackberry, and herbs.  The mouth of this very soft and light to medium bodied wine is active, alive, and really nice.  Fresh red fruit, gobs of nice dirt, and a medium long finish with nice acidity and spice.  A great quaffing wine that is light enough, yet tasty as well.

2005 Teal Lake Shiraz Cabernet
– Score: B
This is a wine whose nose is 100% different than its mouth.  The nose on this wine is almost Cabernet like with a nice combination of red and black fruits.  However, the mouth of this medium bodied wine is a very fruity and extremely floral, to the point of throwing the wine off kilter.  It is a trait of these Teal Lake Shiraz wines, to be crazy floral, but this is a bit too far!

2008 Tierra Salvaje Carmenere – Score: B
This Chilean wine is cool because it is a rather uncommon varietal, but that is where it ends pretty much.  I will say that the wine starts off with an awful smell that does blow off over time.  Still what is left is a floral nosed wine with just enough red fruit to call it wine.  The mouth of the medium bodied wine has a fair amount of floral characteristics along with some fruit, pepper, and a touch of acidity.  There may have been some tannin in the wine, but it was not registrable above all the other noise.

%d bloggers like this: