Monthly Archives: August 2016

Sealed With A Kiss…Enjoy These End Of The Summer Wines

pepper 2” Pepperzilla” Cayenne pepper fresh from the garden! 12 inches long.  I always know that summer is in full bloom when the peppers start to ripen.

Summer, 2016 ends on September 22.

Though we’ve got to say, Goodbye for the summer, Baby, I promise you this, I’ll send you all my love
Every day in a letter, Sealed with a kiss

Sealed With A Kiss… teen love song was composed by Gary Geld and lyricist Peter Udell.


The summer of 2016  has been a fabulous wine experience. All of the wines listed here can be found in our local wine shops in Roanoke, Virginia.

As Autumn approaches I will remember fondly Alain Jaume 2015 Le Crétacé Tavel.  I adore this wine!  Alain Jaume Tavel Crétacé  Rose Le  is made from 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre grapes. $20 range Beautiful ruby-red, velvety smooth with bright red berry flavors. Perfect wine to share with friends when dining al fresco.

memories rose 2

Memoires Rosé de Provence 2015.  The name of this wine is perhaps a bit fortuitous ~ ah…the memories of summer…precious pink color in a sweet dimpled bottle. $12 range. Crisp peach aromas. Great acidity.

grapefruit 2

Rosé with Grapefruit.  An upside surprise! A lovely light grapefruit flavor with a tee-tiny bit of sweetness. $12 range.

vinho verde gato

Gatao Vinho Verde.  A blend of trajadura, loureiro, azal tinto and avesso grapes.  Just a tiny bit of sweetness, perfect for summer sippin’.  Citrus notes with a touch of pineapple and a nice little bit of effervescence. $11 range.

Two of my favorite rosé summer sparklers:

Royal Provence Rivarose Brut Rosé, from France, a nice summer sparkler, Syrah and Grenache grapes. $14 range.


 Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rosé.  $14 range. Blend of Grasparossa and Pinot Nero grapes.  Raspberry and Strawberry notes are no surprise in this wine. The real surprise is the smooth finish…no acidic bite or tannins at the end of the sip…just a touch of refreshing lingering lemon at the very end.

champagne aivery

From the Serious Eats article: Ask A Sommelier What’s Your Favorite Sparkling Wine:

Cremant is where it’s at! The word refers to sparkling wines made in France that come from specific regions; specifically NOT from Champagne. Cremants are a great way to start to learn the rules of which grapes grow in which regions: Cremant d’Alsace (Pinot Blanc), Cremant de Bourgogne (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), Cremant de Loire (Chenin Blanc), Cremant de Limoux (Mauzac!), and on and on and on. Oftentimes, you’re getting similar quality and on-par deliciousness without the scary price tags that come with Champagne.” —Theresa Paopao (Ribelle) Boston, MA

Aimery Crement Brut Rosé is one of my favorites. Ribbons of bubbles and sparkling notes of berries just like your favorite champagne, without breaking the bank.  Delicate, fresh with a long, mouth-filling finish. The color of this sparkling blushes just slightly and  tiny bubbles consistently rise to the top of glass.

Just heard this…

Real Simple magazine’s weblog recommends dropping a raisin into a bottle of champagne that’s lost its effervescence and give it a couple of minutes before pouring. The last gasps of carbon dioxide left in the wine will stick to the raisin’s ridged surface and release as bubbles.

My suggestion…drink the whole bottle of champagne and that way it won’t go flat (I personally do not like raisins so I cannot imagine plunking one of them in my champagne!)


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How Many Ways Can You Chill Champagne?

Very good advice on chilling champagne from PREMIERCHAMPAGNE. The Connoisseur comment is of special interest…the nuances of some vintage champagnes become apparent as the champagne “warms” a bit outside the ice bucket.


how-many-ways-can-you-chill-champagnePutting a block of ice in a champagne glass is akin to slathering your truffles in ketchup, but a humble ice bucket isn’t always enough to chill that bottle in good time. Bubbly drinkers in a rush have long depended on the trusty freezer compartment, and although champagne has a low freezing temperature, forget about that bottle at your own risk. It will explode if it reaches below 15 to 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping it at a constant 40 to 60 degrees is ideal if you want to preserve its alcohol level, bottom and top notes. If you’re in a hurry, though, science can help you to get a warm bottle to the right temperature faster.

The Magic of Salt

Salt might be an impedance if you’re trying to boil water, but it’s a boon when you need temperatures to go in the opposite direction. It disrupts water molecules…

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Summer Fun With Cherry Gazpacho!

champagne 2

Happy Champagne Summer ~ enjoying sitting outside and celebrating all things bubbly!

Champagne Charles Mignon Cuvée Comte de Marne Brut Grand Cru, NV

$48 range. 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay grapes. Nice acidity and hints of white flowers with strawberry.  Underlying light apple notes with a touch of mineral and toast. Crisp and elegant.


I found this lovely summer recipe for Cherry Gazpacho in one of our neighborhood magazines The South Roanoke Circle in an article by David Lake Cook’s Nook, Liquid Pleasure = Liquid Salad. The cherries add a surprising zing to this Spanish chilled soup.  Don’t forget to chill your serving bowls and soup spoons in the freezer before service which will help to keep the soup nice and chilly as your guests enjoy it.  The tomatoes, peppers and herbs in the photo above were freshly picked out of my garden.

Cherry Gazpacho

Three 1-inch-thick slices of a rustic white sandwich-style bread

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

3 garlic cloves, 1 thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 seedless cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 pound fresh bing or sweet cherries, pitted, set aside 12 cherries and finely dice them

3 ounces tomato juice

1 1/2 ounces red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 thyme sprig

Tabasco sauce (I used Peri-Peri medium hot sauce)

4 basil leaves, torn, for garnish

Cherry gazpacho mixture:  Drizzle 1 bread slice with olive oil on both sides – do not cut it up yet.  In a medium skillet, fry the bread over moderate heat, turning once or twice, until golden, about 4 minutes. Rub the bread on one side with 1 whole garlic clove. Cut the bread int 1-inch cubes and transfer to a bowl. Add the sliced garlic, red and yellow bell peppers, cucumber, whole pitted cherries, tomato juice, vinegar, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

Croutons:  Meanwhile, cut the remaining bread into 1/2 -inch cubes and toss with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the bread cubes to the skillet along with the thyme and the remaining garlic clove and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently until the croutons are browned and crisp, about 4 minutes.  Transfer the croutons to paper towels to drain. Discard the garlic and thyme and season the croutons with salt.

Working in batches, puree the cherry mixture in a blender until smooth.  Strain the gazpacho through a fine sieve.  Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco.

Ladle the gazpacho into shallow bowls. Garnish with diced cherries, croutons and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.


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Hallelujah It’s Peach Season!

peaches 2

Peaches In Prosciutto Over Lemony Ricotta And Herb Salad

The Local Palate Magazine …Food Culture Of The South

I made this fabulous salad for dinner this evening. The recipe is in one of my favorite food magazines…find the recipe using this link:

Of course, as usual, I did not have all of the exact ingredients that the recipe called for so I substituted Marcona almonds for the hazelnuts and honey for the maple syrup. I drizzled a bit of honey over the completed dish also…and the mint is fresh pineapple mint from my herb garden.

champagne rose

To pair this lovely peach and prosciutto salad I turn to my “go to” wine and food pairing book What To Drink With What You Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page and they suggest a rosé champagne…may I suggest Laurent-Perrier  Cuvée Rosé Brut NV 

Notes from The Champagne Guide 2014-2015:

Laurent-Perrier macarates its rosé for 12-72 hours, depending on fruit ripeness, until the color is fixed and the aroma resembles freshly picked raspberries.  So crucial is timing, legend has it that the first Chef de Cave, Edouard Leclerc, slept by the tank to stop it just in time! This wine has achieved that elusive ideal of volume and finesse, the world’s best-selling rosé champagne epitomizes the ultra-restraint of  rosé’s finest expressions.  All the more remarkable for the challenging  saignée method.


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Elaine Travels…Visiting Veuve Clicquot

Veuve Clicquot was a pioneer in many respects, being the first woman to ever manage a Champagne house. Her status as “Veuve” or widow, gave her the rights and privileges a married woman of her era would not have enjoyed. She brought the celebrated drink and the town of Reims to the world market, and […]

via Visiting Veuve Clicquot — Elaine Travels

What Wine Should I Order On A “Girl’s Night Out”?

(This week I am participating in a Problogger (ProBlogger is an on-line collection of resources dedicated to helping bloggers to find their voice and to create blogs that are both profitable but also making the world a better place) challenge with 200+ other bloggers where we are write a new blog post each day for 7 days.  We receive a challenge each day and today our challenge is:   to create a piece of content based upon a Frequently Asked Question.  The question I am answering is “What wine should I order on a “Girl’s Night Out”?)

Ordering wine when out with the girls has often been challenging for me.  The gals always agree that a white wine would be nice but beyond that we can’t decide…Pinot Grigio , Chardonnay, Riesling or sparkling? A night out with the girls is one time that I  drink a wine that is a little more fruit forward than the wines I enjoy with my husband because he likes heavier big bold reds.

Vinho Verde wine is the answer for me and my friends.  These wines are among my favorite summer wines because they have a light effervescence.  The Vinho Verde wines that I am describing here are  fruit forward bright wines that may be perceived as “a bit sweet” by those who enjoy a very dry wine. From Portugal these wines are drunk very young, known as “green wines” and they have a lower alcohol content for easy sippin’.  The region where these grapes are grown is along the Atlantic Coast of Spain known as the “Costa Verde or “Green Coast”.  A refreshing note about these wines…vinho verde wines are often not expensive ($9 -$12 range – restaurant prices will be a bit higher).

Most of the best wines are made from Alvarinho, the same as Spain’s Albariño. However, there are many other indigenous grapes that are also used, including Loueiro, Trajadura, Azal and Pederna.

vinho verde gato

I love this bottle of Vinho Verde because of the cat (gatão is the Spanish word for cat).  A blend of trajadura, loureiro, azal tinto and avesso grapes

To my palate this wine is fruit forward and teetering on a tad of sweetness, but does not go over the sweetness curve too far, otherwise I would not have enjoyed it.  Citrus notes with a touch of pineapple and a nice little bit of effervescence.

vinho verde wine

Conde Villar Vinho Verde is also a nice choice. A touch of lemon and apple notes along with the fun light effervescence.  Round and soft with some acidity.

Another delightful surprise about Vinho Verde is that this wine is also available in a rosé.

Rose vino vherderose vino vherde 2

Ela Vinho Verde Rosé ~ Bright berry notes.  Fruity yet dry. Refreshing! Beautiful fuchsia color in the glass.

Click below to read an enlightening article in the New York Times by Eric Asimov on the unfortunate marketing of rosé wine as a “summer accessory.”

Another idea to try on a girl’s night out is a “flight” of wine. That way we all get to try a little taste of delicious wine and maybe find a new favorite. That’s how I discovered Vinho Verde wine!

Speaking of girlfriends, I have some very special ones. One of my bubbly friends gave me this beautiful glass butterfly plate…I can’t wait to serve hors d’oeuvres to my guests on it. She brought this to me from Nashville.  Thank you bubbly friend!

butterfly plate 2


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Fun and Frolic In Your Own Backyard ~ Food Tours!

If you want an excuse to visit a city close by or far away…

or you would like to entertain out-of-town guests with little fuss…

or just looking forward  to slowing down and relaxing while you are served fabulous food all afternoon…

my recommendation is to take a food tour and have a bunch of fun!!!

cropped-hotel-roanoke-2.jpgFood Tours have become very popular all over the world and chances are that you can find a tour as close as your own backyard. Don’t limit yourself to just one tour ~ enjoy a craft beer tour,beer deschutes 2

a Sunday brunch tour…with Bloody Mary’s made with local ingredients perhaps…

bloody mary

a historical and cultural food tour or a wine tour. Since I’ve participated in many of our local food tours I thought it would be helpful to share these 10 tips to keep in mind when planning a tour:

  1.  Let the Food Tour company know about any food allergies or food preferences (vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.).  They should be able to accommodate at least the most common food restrictions.
  2. Take a friend or friends to enjoy the experience with you and take lots of photos to enjoy and salivate over after the tour. A food tour is the perfect way to entertain out-of-town guests…you can enjoy their company, feed them well and you won’t have to do any cooking!

Photo #7 Soup and Sandwich

3. Think about the weather – if it’s too hot or too cold for you then most likely you won’t enjoy the tour. Take the tour when the weather suits you.  Plan ahead for rain or inclement weather. Take a  rain slicker and/or an umbrella if needed. Always wear comfortable shoes appropriate for walking.


4.  Become familiar with the food tour’s cancellation policy. The  policy should be clearly stated on the food tour’s website.

5.  Review the food tour’s website and look for words such as “local”, “history” and “culture” and references to the eateries you will visit on the tour which is usually evidence that the food tour company is working closely with the local food experts to give you a unique and enjoyable experience. If you can’t find the information you are looking for on their website,  just ask the food tour company…they are happy to answer questions and provide all information needed for you and your guests to have a fabulous tour.

chocolate paper 4


6.  On-line reviews about the food tours can be helpful such as Trip Advisor. Expect to taste something different on the tour since the restaurateurs enjoy highlighting their specialties on the tours ~ peanut soup served with homemade spoon bread in a miniature cast iron pan at the Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia  is just one yummy example.

7.Make sure the walk is not too long or strenuous for you.  Also make sure transportation is provided on wine and craft-beer tours or have a designated driver so you can maximize your fun quotient on the tour.

8. Check (on the food tour’s website) to see if gratuities are accepted by the tour guides.  At the end of the tour take time to complete an on-line review of the tour.

9. Allow plenty of time for the tour. You don’t want to feel rushed as you enjoy your last spoonful of gelato or morsel of fresh coconut cake!

10. Fall in love with food tours…allow yourself a little extra time in the city you are touring for sight-seeing or shopping. Then plan a return trip to visit as soon as possible!

Please visit Roanoke Food Tours website for food, craft beer and wine tours in Roanoke and Lexington, Virginia:

river and rail salad

In addition..Four Food Tour Feel Goods:

  1. In many cases you will be supporting a local small business that operates the food tours.
  2. You will also be supporting local restaurants, cafes, eateries and wineries and when you return home you can encourage others to visit the places you enjoyed the most.
  3. The food tour may provide coupons at the end of the tour so you will be able to enjoy those on a return visit.

cheese store

4.You may meet someone fascinating such as the lady I met that owns the cheese shop in Lexington, Virginia…the cheeses she sells in her shop are AMAZING!

Meg Hall is the owner of Cheese To You, Fine Artisan and Curated, Name-Protected Cheese.  As she explains, her expertise is cheese and she continues to broaden my understanding of cheese through travel and education. I am a member of the American Cheese Society, and regularly attend the Society’s conferences and professional development seminars. I’ve  also completed the Master’s Cheese Class coursework at the New York City’s Artisanal Cheese Center.




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