Saturday, September 19, 2020


This month Cam is hosting the #winophiles exploration of Côtes du Rhône wines. It is a very open theme with the choice of any Côtes du Rhône wine of our liking. Côtes du Rhône AOC is  the second largest appellation in France and includes rosé, sparkling, red, white, dessert, and even orange skin-contact wines. With such a vast region to play in, and a large number of grape varietals allowed, we've got a great variety of wines and some food pairings in the line-up this month. Check out the wines, tastings, pairings, musings... below. And then come join us on Twitter on Saturday, 19 September at 8 AM PST under #winophiles to chat to everyone about their thoughts on the AOC, the wines, and their wine picks!

  • A Window Into Chateau-Neuf-Du-Pape Through Maison M. Chapoutier by Avvinare
  • Rhone Roam #3: Crozes-Hermitage Is Syrah, Condrieu Equals Viognier Paired with Fall Fish by Wine Predator

Côtes du Rhône wines come in three quality levels: Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages, and Côtes du Rhône Villages (named village). Although the named village wines are highest quality of the three levels, no matter which Côtes du Rhône you pick, the wines are versatile, wallet-friendly, and a foodie's dream since they are very food-friendly. I wanted to compare three reds - one Côtes du Rhône and two named village wines, paired with herb-crusted lamb chops and roasted potatoes. 


All good things, it seems, begin in the shadow of impending doom. Domaine de Cabasse was a highly regarded producer making wines from the Rhône villages of Sablet, Gigondas and Séguret. In 2012 the family decided to sell their property - the family with the exception of one family member who couldn't bear to see it go. Nicolas Haeni scraped together money, but managed enough to afford only the Séguret vineyard which he purchased and made the focus of his new project, "Malmont".

Nicolas Haeni is a young winemaker who made the first Malmont wines in 2013. The winery is set on steep rocky soil making all aspects of vineyards management including winemaking a challenge and a labour of love. The winery follows the principles of organic and bio-dynamic farming with a special focus on balanced soil nutrition. No synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides are used in the vineyard, and s
ince 2018 Domaine Malmont is officially in conversion to organic agriculture.

According to the winery: "Our winemaking aims at translating in the most accurate way the great fruit we harvest in the terroir of Malmont. Hence our interventions are reduced to a strict minimum. We use wild yeast to ferment and very little sulfites. No other additives than sulfites enter our winemaking process."

2017 Malmont Côtes du Rhône
13% ABV | SRP $13
60% Syrah, 40% Grenache

Destemmed grapes are allowed a 12 day maceration followed by spontaneous fermentation then aged on fine lees in tank.


Blackberries, pepper, faint geranium, not too complex

Similar to nose: ripe blackberries, very present black pepper, not too complex. A refreshing juicy acidity, somewhat jagged-edged tannins, a medium body, with a medium finish. The wine was a bit austere just out of the bottle but opened up and softened a bit as it sat in the glass. Overall it needs a rest in the bottle - I think it would be great starting in about 3 years, ~2023 or so although it is not complex enough to go very long in the bottle.

2017 Malmont Côtes du Rhône Villages Rouge Séguret
13.5% ABV | SRP $17
70% Syrah, 30% Grenache

Destemmed grapes are allowed a 20 day maceration followed by spontaneous fermentation then aged on fine lees. 
Fermentation, maceration, and aging are done in a truncated cone-shaped French oak vat.

Medium Ruby

Black cherry, violets, black and white pepper

Similar to nose: Black cherry, violets, black and white pepper. Juicy acidity, plush tannins, medium+ body, long finish. This wine was superb out of the bottle and as it opened up. It can certainly be had now, and it would also be terrific in 2-3 years.

Ferraton Père et Fils Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu
14% ABV | SRP $15
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan

Limestone gravel and large pebble soil from vast alluvial terraces (Riss), 80 to 150 m above Aygues and Ouvèze rivers.

Destemmed grapes are pressed and vinified in concrete vats. Vinification is traditional with daily punching down and controlled temperature. Aged in vats.

Medium Garnet

Mainly black fruit: blackberry and blackcurrant, a hint of wet earth

Similar to nose: mainly black fruit but also a slight bit of white pepper and a meaty savouriness on the palate. Juicy acidity, restrained velvety tannins, medium+ body, long finish. This wine was superb out of the bottle and as it opened up. Similar to the previous Séguret, this wine can also be had now or in 2+ years.

We paired all of the wines with herb-crusted  lamb chops and roasted fingerling potatoes. All three wines were splendid with the food. Lamb chops with classic French herbs - savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano - in my opinion, are just the perfect thing to pair with the nuanced red blends of the Côtes du Rhône.

Saturday, August 15, 2020


In August 2020 the French Winophiles are having a bit of a free-for-all in the Loire Valley! Jill Barth is hosting this month, don't miss her invite post. The options in the Loire are endless. Red, whites, rosés, sparkling wines, pétillant naturel, dessert wines, the Loire offers it all. We were to select whichever wine(s) we fancied, and we've got quite an inspiring list from everyone. Check it out below, and then join us on 15 August at 8 AM PST to talk about Loire wines on Twitter under #winophiles.

The Loire Valley wine region is along the Loire River and stretches from north central France to the Atlantic coast. The region has tremendous natural beauty, gorgeous châteaux, and a long history of winemaking, since the Romans planted grapevines there in the 1st century AD. Loire wines at one point were considered the most prestigious, even more than Bordeaux. A majority of the wine is white, although red wine from Cabernet Franc is also made in some areas. After Champagne, Loire is the second largest region for sparkling wine - crémant. It is also a very diverse wine region that offers exceptionally food friendly wines that are a true expression of their terroir and varietal due to no oak aging. It is a truly vast and varied wine region, sure to have something for every palate!

Each area in Loire has distinct characteristics and is known for certain wines. Almost all ~5,500 acres of Vouvray AOC, near the city of Tours, for example, are dedicated to the Chenin Blanc grape. Chenin Blanc is a high acid grape known locally as Pineau de la Loire and is believed to have originated in the Anjou wine region of Loire sometime in the 9th century. From there it eventually migrated to Vouvray. Vouvray white wines (Chenin Blanc) are categorised as sec, demi-sec, and molleux, and doux depending on acidity and residual sugar. Vouvrays from good vintages have aging potential, although they are also excellent without significant aging. Whatever the style of Vouvray wine, the one common characteristic amongst the wines is freshness/crispness.

For all that the region contributes to French and global culture, the Loire Valley was added to UNESCO’ World Heritage list in 2000. It is an area of France worth visiting regardless of any distinctions. 


In the early part of the 20th century, most of Vouvray (like much of viticultural France) was worked by farmers in polyculture. Cows, sheep, and grain were raised alongside vines. Such was the case for the land belonging to Lionel and Francoise Gauthier, the owners of Domaine du Viking. Francoise’s grandparents owned just 2 hectares of vines in the early 1940’s along with animals and grain crops. As is still the case in many areas of France, winemaking was primarily for family and local consumption. Until August 11, 1944 when Francoise’s grandfather, Maurice, was killed by Nazi soldiers after being caught trying to blow up some train tracks. His son, Francoise’s father, was suddenly in charge and in an effort to keep the family afloat, converted all of the land into vineyards. The family haven't looked back since then!

Most of the Domaine's 13 hectares are not on the famous chalk (tuffeau) soils that make up over 90% of Vouvray, but on the hard flinty soils of the northern tip of the appellation. Soils that produce crisp, mineral, and age-worthy Vouvrays.

As shown in the Google street view shot I took, the winery is more of a garage, although they do host tastings there. Domaine du Viking is also quite well known for its sparkling wines, made with the expertise acquired through Marcel L'Homme, the third generation of a family of farmers and vine growers.

2017 Domaine du Viking Vouvray Tendre
13.5% ABV | SRP $14
100% Chenin Blanc

Flint soils of Reugny rather than the more typical tuffeau soils further to the south and west in Vouvray

Grapes from 50-60 year old vines, hand harvested and hand sorted, pressed and fermented by native yeasts. Aged in tank for at least 12 months before release.

Medium yellow

White flowers, lemon zest, baked apples, a faint earthiness

Sweet white flowers, lemon zest, baked apples, a faint earthiness, and a delightful stony minerality on the finish. Off-dry with a juicy acidity and pleasant amount of residual sugar without being cloying. Medium body and finish, overall a really delicious wine after 3 years in bottle... could perhaps be fine for a while but I'm not sure it would benefit greatly from further aging. 

We had a very late lunch so we weren't hungry at dinner but by the time 9.30 PM came around we were a bit peckish so we decided to make it a light meal. We enjoyed this wine with two different but similar cheeses... a Fromager d'Affinois Brebicet from Rhône-Alps and a geo-rind MonS Mary dans les Étoiles cheese. Along with a black cherry-charred scallion relish (recipe below), a slathering of raw honey, a sunflower seed loaf, and a baguette.

The MonS Mary dans les Étoiles is a gorgeous goat's milk cheese with a rind of Geotrichum candidum (a mold-like yeast also used in Loire cheeses). It is a creamy cheese with a fresh citrusy, savoury vegetal flavour. The Brebicet is a sheep's milk cheese with a similar consistency to Brie but slightly more pronounced aromas. Can best be described as a sheep's milk Brie.

Black Cherry-Scallion Relish
makes 1 cup

- 4 scallions, cleaned
- 1 tbsp chopped green scallion tops
- 1-1/2 cups black cherries, pitted and quartered
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
  1. Put the scallions in a cast iron pan, and heat until charred and softened but not mushy. Remove from heat, let cool. Halve each scallion and dice.
  2. In a medium bowl add the salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil. Stir to mix well. Add the scallions, scallion greens, and cherries. Mix well.
  3. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, vinegar to taste.
  4. Serve with cheese and sliced baguette.

Friday, August 7, 2020


In August, when most of the N. hemisphere is in the peak of summer, the #WinePW crew are appropriately exploring Vinho Verde DOC, a virtually unlimited buffet of refreshing summer sips. If you'd like an invitation, check out co-host Cindy's invitation post and then join us on Twitter on 8 August 2020 at 8 AM PST to be enlightened about all things Vinho Verde and food pairings at hashtag #WinePW! Thanks Cindy and Liz, for hosting this event!

A sneak peek short-list of what everyone's pairing with their Vinho Verde is here:
  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Cam shares Foods from Around the World Paired with Pink Wines from Portugal
  • Event co-host Cindy at Grape Experiences, I’ve been reminiscing upon last fall’s work trip where I spent A Beautiful Morning at Quinta da Aveleda in Vinho Verde 
  • Event co-host Liz Barret of What’s In That Bottle? is thrilled with Va Va Va Vinho Verde: the Portuguese White That Wows
  • Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles answers What is Vinho Verde? 5 things I didn’t know about this perfect summer wine
  • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm savors Tomato Poached Cod with Vinho Verde Wine.
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass realizes that Distinctively ‘laurel” Vinho Verde Delivers with Seafood and Salad
  • Nicole at SommsTable is loving Vinho Verde and Simple Seafood Feast
  • Payal at Keep the Peas is pairing Sem Igual Vinho Verde with Peixe Caldine
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator says Vinho Verde: A Green Wine That’s White from Portugal Paired with Tuna, Tomato, Basil, Orzo #WinePW
  • Martin at Enofylz is Pairing Maria Papoila Vinho Verde with Summer Pizza
  • Susannah at Avvinare explains how Vinho Verde Meets Homemade Sushi
  • Terri at Our Good Life savors Scallops, Smashed Peas and a Great Vinho Verde
  • Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairing achieves A Successful Hunt Down of a Red Vinhao Escolha from Vinho Verde DOC #WinePW 


The largest of Portugal's DOCs and perhaps the least known globally, Vinho Verde is in cool, wet, verdant NW Portugal bordering Spain. A DOC since 1984, the region has approximately 52,000 acres of vines, 19,000 producers, 93 million liters produced per year, 100 export markets, and 45 indigenous grape varieties.

Although Vinho Verde translates to "green wine" in English, the wines of Vinho Verde DOC and its 9 sub-regions regions are in fact not green. It's a debate, but the name is a hark back to either the astringent nature of the wine that is produced from high-acid grapes with limited ripening, or the lush green region that is Vinho Verde. The arrival of maize in the 16th century shifted all attention to farming it and grape vines were relegated to side spaces... trees, walls, hedges, or pergolas, thus requiring ladders to harvest. Some small producers still train vines up heights, although most wine houses have switched to the typical low-trained vine method.

Most wines are still, but fully sparkling wines have been permitted since 1999 and both are now made in Vinho Verde. A majority - 86% - of the Vinho Verde wines are made from white grape varieties, with reds and rosés in the remaining 14%. The most popular indigenous varieties found in Vinho Verde are white grapes Alvarinho, Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Loureiro and Trajudura. Red varieties include Espadeiro, Padeiro and Vinhão. Blends are quite common, almost the norm, since sun exposure is limited and grapes don't ripen as they would in drier, sunnier regions. But Vinho Verde winemakers take advantage of the weather and different levels of aromatics, acidity, fresh fruit notes, and body that each varietal offers to create puckeringly refreshing wines with a prickly natural fizz when made the traditional way. Some winemakers do add carbonation to mimic the traditional-but-increasingly-rare in-bottle malolactic fermentation.

The Portuguese sailed to India in the late 1400s primarily to buy spices and take back to Europe for trade. Inevitably over time they set up headquarters in Goa on the SW coast of India, laid claim to a few other territories, effectively established a small colony in India, and remained until 1961. They left a cultural and culinary mark on areas they colonised, and in fact Portuguese is still spoken in some of those areas. This is especially true in Goa, their first Indian HQ. Since Vasco de Gama and the others who came to India were Catholics, they had most influence on the Catholic Goan population.

With regards to culinary tradition, perhaps the most well-known dish is the fiery vindaloo which is derived from the Portuguese Carne de Vinha d'Alhos, a dish made of pork cooked with garlic and wine (replaced by vinegar in India). In Goa it was enhanced with spices and that is the version that has prevailed around the world. SW India is a rice eating culture since that is what grows there easily. But the Portuguese brought leavened bread to the region and it traveled north to Mumbai and a bit beyond, where it is still called pão, the Portuguese word for bread. They also introduced to India chili peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes, which have left an indelible mark on Indian cuisine.

Fun Fact: Prior to chili peppers, black pepper was the primary source of heat in Indian food and it wasn't used so much for heat as it was to balance other spices and flavours. In Ayurveda, black pepper still reigns supreme, so traditional Indian food, which is  very seasonal and based on Ayurvedic principles, is mild, flavour-balanced, vegetarian, generally excludes tomatoes and chili peppers and focuses on the many benefits of spices including black pepper. Indians have been cooking this way for tens of thousands of years so we don't usually analyse the traditional food combinations but they're deeply ingrained in us since we eat that way daily.

For my Vinho Verde pairing, I settled on fish caldine, a beloved Goan Catholic dish that is derived from the Portuguese fish stew, caldeirada, but adapted to local Goan tastes and ingredients. Traditionally, caldine includes black pepper as the only spice, although some cooks add a chili pepper or two. Overall it is meant to be a mild dish, always prepared with freshly extracted coconut milk and seasonal seafood.

Per the winery, Sem Igual means without "igual" (equal in English). The name was chosen to define a Vinho Verde that is different from the popular fizzy and sweet style, but still made with the local grapes. The vineyards are on 10 hectares located in the heart of Vinho Verde, 30 min. from Porto where the family has produced wine since the 18th century.

However, in the younger generation, owner João Camizão decided to depart from the usual. Previously in his career, when on a telecom assignment in India, he decided to continue the family heritage but with a new series of wines that would be unique. Thus Sem Igual was born; the first vintage of Sem Igual was in 2012. Given that a mere 1,000 bottles of the 2018 Sem Igual were produced, I feel quite fortunate to have snagged one.

2018 Sem Igual "Sem Mal" Vinho Verde DOC
70% Azal, 30% Arinto
11% ABV | SRP $25

After an initial 10 day ferment, the wine is bottled to allow malolactic fermentation in bottle which results in a natural delicate fizz, no added sulfites, no filtration. According to the cut sheet, "Before pouring Sem Mal, you need to gently shake the bottle to homogenize the wine."

Granite and gravel, vines ranging from 6 to 70 years. The grapes for this wine came from a 4 year old vineyard

Cloudy, pale yellow, very fine bubbles

Lemons, a hint of wet stone, wet earth

A bracing acidity thanks to the two high-acid grape varietals used in this wine. Decidedly dry but balanced, took a little time to open up. Mainly ripe lemons, wet stone minerality, and a hint of tart green apple with skin. Overall a balanced wine with a welcome lingering finish. The bubbles are not intrusive at all, and make each sip delightful. This wine is made for fresh seafood on a warm summer's day! If I can get my hands on another bottle of this vintage, I'd pair it with oysters on-the-half-shell and a saffron mayonnaise.

We enjoyed it with Peixe Caldine, an Goan-Portuguese seafood stew that I made with shrimp. The mild sweet shrimpy flavour with the mix of warm spices and vinegar softened by the coconut milk beautifully complemented the earthy, citrusy, medium-full-bodied, spritzy Vinho Verde. This would also be good with rice, as many Goans eat it, but we loved it with bread. Pão would be the ideal bread but I'd forgotten to make it so we had it with the last of a baguette and a homemade Pullman loaf that I had made in a style similar to Indian bread aka pão. If you are a seafood lover, you can't go wrong with this one!

makes: 3-4 servings

- 1 tin/~400 ml coconut milk
- 1 in. piece ginger, peeled
- 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1-2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- (optional) 1 in. piece chili pepper (Indian, chile de arbol, Thai, or serrano chili)

The Rest
- 1 lb wild shrimp, cleaned and deveined
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 large/2 medium ripe tomato, chopped
- 3 cups shredded green cabbage (OR 2 cups shrimp-sized chunks of not-too-watery vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp salt (+to taste)
- 1 tbsp cane sugar
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar (+to taste)
  1. Open the tin of coconut milk and skim the creamy part off the top into a small blender (or smoothie) jar. Add the rest of the Sauce ingredients to the jar and blend into a smooth paste.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a medium pan and when it's hot add the chopped onion and salt. Stir and cook until the onions are softened.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook until they're very soft and the juices are nearly evaporated.
  4. Add the cabbage, 1/4 cup water, and mix well. Let it all cook on medium heat until the cabbage softens. Stir every 2-3 min. so nothing sticks to the pan.
    • IF USING OTHER VEGETABLES: add to the pan and cook for 3-4 min. then add 1/2 cup water, cover, cook until vegetables are just tender. Don't overcook or they'll become an unsightly mash.
  5. Turn the heat up to med-high and add the shrimp, the remaining coconut milk (the watery part left after skimming the cream off the top), sugar, and the rest of the water. Bring to a boil and let it cook for 5-7 min. or until the shrimp are nearly cooked.
  6. Add the blended Sauce and boil for 3-4 min. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and add the white wine vinegar, stir well, cook for 3-4 min.
  7. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt, sugar, vinegar, and black pepper to taste. The sauce should be neither too spicy nor too tart.
  8. Take off the heat and serve with Goan/Indian pão or other bread.

Saturday, July 18, 2020


This month in July the French #winophiles are exploring the white wines of Roussillon. Lynn Gowdy of Savor the Harvest is hosting us; do read her very informative primer on all things white wine and Roussillon at the link above.
Before Languedoc-Roussillon, there was Languedoc and there was Roussillon in Sud-Ouest - southwest - France, and then they merged with the larger Occitanie administrative region in 2016. As is the case with every ancient land, a few kilometres travelled make you feel like you're in another country! It's no different in France... for example, in the wine world Languedoc-Roussillon are lumped together implying that they are similar. In reality, they're two distinct regions - culturally, culinarily, linguistically, geologically, and even in wine styles. While wines from the Languedoc are fairly easy to find, those from Roussillon can be challenging to find. But they are delightful and worth seeking out if you like food-friendly wines with minerality, salinity, floral notes, and a rich mouthfeel.

We decided to pair our wine selection with Northern Thai food from one of our favourite Bay Area restaurants, Monkey Thai.


Clos de l'Origine is a small 10 hectare (~25 acres) domaine focused on organic farming with biodynamic practices since its creation in 2004, and now agriculture biologique (AB) certified since 2009. The winery has chosen to remain in the Vin de France classification to allow greater creative freedom. Winery operations are in a rather unassuming facility (see my Google Maps screenshot to the right) in Maury, Pyrénées Orientales (formerly Roussillon). The grapes are grown in several different terroirs throughout the region, ranging from 15 m to 400 m above sea level. According to vignerons and owners Marc and Caroline Barriot, the wines are made with the idea of vinifying "as close as possible to the expression of the terroir".

It is truly a labour of love - the soil is worked mostly by hand, harvests are 100% by hand, and the other work like weeding, tying the vines, etc. is also done manually. At the winery vinification is done with indigenous yeasts of each terroir, with no added yeasts or enzymes. As Marc Barriot says, "Our goal is not to obtain perfect and boring wines. Our choice is based on vinification with little sulfur, depending on the vintage, so as to respect the integrity of the grapes to obtain finesse and purity of the fruit, giving free rein to nature as to the tastes of our wines." 

100% Muscat Alexandria (muscat)
Price: $25, ABV: 12%

Vinification: direct pressed whole bunch Muscat grapes (no destemming), indigenous yeasts, skin contact with Muscat and Syrah for 3 weeks, no fining or filtration

Soil: clay, limestone, shale, 15 m above sea level

Colour: cloudy, yellow with a lashing of orange

Nose + Palate: Dried white flowers, juicy fruit, saline minerality, astringent but balanced, with just the right kind of medium length finish.

Pairing: We had this with northern Thai food which is savoury, not intensely spicy, features banana leaves used to wrap meats, uses sticky rice rather than Jasmine rice, and has a discernible absence of coconut milk. Quite different from the richly spiced, coconut milk "curries" sweetened with palm sugar that are ubiquitous in southern Thai cuisine and Thai restaurants outside Thailand. Northern Thai cuisine is fragrant and savoury, with layers of flavours, and brought out the best in Le Trouble Fait, an equally savoury wine with a rich mouthfeel to match the food.

Want to know more? Read below to find out what the other #winophiles are saying about their wine choices and food pairings! And do join us on Twitter to chat about the white wines of Roussillon with the hashtag #winophiles on 18 July at 8 AM PST.

Monday, July 13, 2020


I've been making pizza from scratch for a number of years and I've never found a dough recipe that wowed me. But I recently I came across Roberta's Pizza Dough recipe on the New York Times website and decided to give it a go based on the comments. I agree with everyone who raved about it, I love it too, and I suspect this is my new go-to dough recipe. However, I did a few things differently than the NYT recipe and loved the results so decided to write it up here in case I forget what I did. I hope you try it!

The sauce is a classic pizza sauce of crushed, reduced tomatoes and a bit of garlic. It's the way I've made sauce ever since I'd casually dabbled in cooking as a teenager, so I really couldn't tell you where I found the recipe - probably one of my mum's Italian cookbooks. But I can tell you that it is perfect in its simplicity and really lets the tomatoes come through.

  • If you haven't got 00 flour, use all-purpose
  • You can use the dough after a 4 hour rise but it will be lighter and more flavourful with the longer rise. I highly recommend it!
  • I let the dough rise in the stand mixer bowl but if you don't have room in the fridge, transfer to another bowl
  • I use a stand mixer now but I've mixed plenty of doughs by hand, it's just fine
  • Use a good quality low-moisture whole milk mozzarella (Trader Joe's has one)
  • Don't overload the pizza with toppings

makes: 2 12 in. pizzas, plenty of sauce

- 2 g (3/4 tsp) active dry yeast
- 200 g (~3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) warm water
- 155 g (~1 cup) 00 flour
- 155 g (~1 cup) all-purpose flour
- 8 g (1 tsp) salt
- 4 g (1 tsp) olive oil
- 200 g (~4 oz) sliced whole milk low-moisture mozzarella
- pepperoni/salami/prosciutto/other light toppings (optional) 
- fresh basil for final garnish (optional)

- 28 oz. tin whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano or other good quality ones)
- 2-3 cloves peeled garlic

  1. SAUCE: blend the garlic and whole peeled tomatoes + whatever liquid is in the tin. Cook in a slow cooker on High for 3-4 hrs, or on stovetop at medium heat for 1 hr. Use right away or store in the fridge for up to 3 days, then freeze if not using.
  2. DOUGH: Proof the yeast in warm water (barely warm, not hot or the yeast cells will die): add the yeast to the water and give it a quick stir, let it sit for a few minutes while you prep the flour mix.
  3. Mix the flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or any large bowl if making by hand). Add the proofed yeast mixture and oil to the flour, mix at lowest speed.
  4. Knead for 3 min. at medium speed, let it rest for 15 min., knead for 3-4 min. to form a smooth dough. Remove the dough ball and give it a light coating of olive oil. Put it in a bowl that fits in your fridge, cover with a towel, let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for 2 hrs. After 2 hours outside, put the dough in the fridge and let it rise for 8 - 24 hrs.
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge 1-2 hrs before you want to make the pizza. At the same time, put your pizza stone or cast iron pan into the oven and preheat the oven to the highest heat.
  6. After the oven has stayed at the highest temperature for 1-2 hrs, make the pizza: Divide the dough into two equal-ish parts. Shape each into a pizza, top with sauce (see recipe below), cheese, and toppings. Put the pizzas in the oven, together or one by one, set the timer for 6 min.
  7. After 6 min. broil on high for 1-2 min. Remove and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Israeli wine has come a long way from being absent from the global wine map to making  a strong presence around the globe. Viticulture has existed in the area now called Israel since biblical times, and wine was even exported to Rome at one point. However, the entire industry eventually died off with increased Islamic dominance in the area due to their religious rules about wine. Fast forward to much later, the modern Israeli wine industry was established in the late 1800s with the help of Baron Edmond James de Rothschild of the Rothschild banking and wine family but it really only took off after Israel was formed ~1948. Locally made wine was being sold within Israel earlier but it has continued to make a presence in other countries around the globe, although the US remains the primary export destination for Israeli wine.

For further reading, Wines Israel is an excellent resource to dive deeper into Israeli wine, past, present, and future.

The cuisine of the Jewish diaspora has always fascinated me because of its diversity and the nimbleness with which Jewish people have adapted foods to meet their religious and dietary requirements everywhere they have ended up. This includes India, which philosophically has nothing to do with Judaism but is a famously tolerant place that has offered protections and respect for cultural and religious proclivities to foreign communities who decided to stay in India after initially coming for trade and commerce.

Jewish people came to India initially as traders in the time of King Solomon’s reign (~970 to 931 BC) and stayed, and then after the Alhambra and King Manuel's Decrees which expelled Jews from Spain and Portugal if they did not convert to Christianity. The Hindu monarchs of the time offered numerous privileges to these waves of Jewish immigrants including land grants, tax exemptions, the freedom to speak their language, and freely practice their religion. These Jewish groups established themselves in India, built synagogues, and truly mixed  with the Indian population adopting elements of local  cultural habits and food. All of this was mostly in the coastal Indian states of Kerala and Maharashtra.

Indian Jews made their own wine, challah, and matzo because there were no Jewish bakeries, and like the Muslims do, they had their own butchers who slaughtered meat per Kosher requirements. As the Indian Jewry left or passed away, so did the butchers, and eventually the communities ate mostly vegetables and seafood along with the abundant varieties of rice, spices, and produce adapted from local recipes.

After Israel was established in ~1948 many Indian Jews emigrated to Israel. Although their centuries old synagogues and houses lay largely vacant in India, they continue to carry forward their synthesised cultural and culinary habits in their newly adapted land. I thought it would be interesting to connect the dots and discover how Indian Jewish food pairs with Israeli wine and ponder over whether the Indian Jews who are cooking their ancient hybrid Indian recipes in Israel ever pair them with local wine as they had done in India!

2014 Binyamina Winery Yogev, 12.5% ABV
SRP $20
WINE: According to the winery, "Our winegrowers instill their crops with their own individual character, Israeli roots and genuine love of the land, inspiring us to name this Series in their honor. Wines in the Yogev Series have been blended using the finest grapes from the best vines cultivated by our most outstanding winegrowers. Simply put, this is the very essence of our wines." The wine is an 80-20 cepage of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from the oldest vineyards in the Upper and Lower Galilee, and strives to be a "harmonious fusion between two noble varieties".

Regarding the wine-making process, the winery says, "The Sauvignon Blanc grapes are harvested two weeks after the Chardonnay grapes. Both varieties are brought to the winery and immediately pressed to extract the best quality free run juice and maintain freshness and aroma. After a natural clarification of the must, the wine is transferred for a slow alcoholic fermentation at low temperatures. The wine is then transferred for brief storage in stainless steel tanks until selection of the final varietal blend. Contact with oak is deliberately avoided in order to maintain maximum freshness. The wine is bottled after filtration and is released after briefly aging in the bottle."

NOTES: We thought that the wine is a beautiful medium lemon colour, clean with a medium intensity and predominantly citrus + white flower on the nose. On the palate it is crisp, medium-bodied with a juicy medium acidity and intensity, and grapefruit/lemon and pear notes with green apple and orange blossoms in the back palate ending with a medium finish. Overall this is a simple wine and considering that this has no oak aging, I can't see how it would age well beyond 2020.

FOOD: We enjoyed the 2014 Yogev with a lovely Keralan lunch of ponganam (rice+lentil crepes) and mutta kari (egg curry) from the book Spice & Kosher. The wine paired exceptionally well with the warm herbaceous of the curry leaves, the smoke of the toasted black pepper, and sweetness of caramelised onions in the curry along with the slight tang of the crepes made from a fermented batter.

The egg curry recipe is from Matilda Davidson, from Petah Tikva, Israel, a city that started small but became a permanent settlement in the late 1880s thanks to financial help from Baron. As I've mentioned above, he also helped establish the modern wine industry in Israel.

The word "curry" is anglicised from kari, a Tamil word for dishes seasoned with leaves from curry plant and meant to be eaten with rice or crepes. Kari isn't always saucy, and can be sweet or savoury. There are also 1000s of different kinds of crepes in India, and since rice grows exceptionally well in the wet humid climate, it dominates southern Indian cuisine so the crepes in South India are all rice and/or lentil-based. Seafood also aplenty, and each region has it's favourite fish. Also, in India oysters are considered poor fishermen's food so they never make it to the markets!

Pop over to the websites of everyone below to see what they've done with their Israeli wine and food pairings! And then come talk about it at #WinePW on Twitter on Saturday, 23 May @8 AM PST.

  • Terri at Our Good Life shares “Grilled Mahi Mahi and Gilgal Sauvignon Blanc. Our Good Life”
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator shares “The Eternal Light Shines in Galilee: Yarden Merlot, Pinot Gris”
  • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Lamb Stuffed Eggplant and a perfect Wine from Galilee”
  • Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen shares “Yarden Wines Paired with Japanese Surf ‘n Turf”
  • Rupal at Syrah Queen shares “Off The Beaten Path – Two Wines From Isreal’s Galilee Appellation”
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “Of Israeli wines, long-ago memories, and Harvey’s takeout”
  • David at Cooking Chat shares “Pairings for Gilgal Sauvignon Blanc from Israel”
  • Payal at Keep the Peas shares “Israeli Wine with the Diverse Cuisine of the Diaspora”
  • Nicole at Somms Table shares “Memories of Yarden Wines with a side of Meatball Shakshuka”
  • Jennifer at Vino Travels shares “Pairings with Wines from Israel”
  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Peppered Brisket, Honeyed Onions, and the 2106 Galil Mountain ‘Ela’”
  • Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairings shares “Enjoying Gilgal Cab Sauvignon – Merlot and Yarden Pinot Gris with Grilled Wagyu Steak, Alaska Sockeye Salmon and Poke Ahi Tuna Bowl”
  • Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “Two Fisted Wine Pairing with Yarden Wines”