Thursday, September 20, 2012

NM State Fair Food -- More!

A short note.

First, the SPAM contest was great this year.  Some amazing recipes and the junior and adult division winners look like strong contenders for the National competition.   The "man from SPAM" always brings some SPAM stuff as giveaways and we won a pair of socks!

Second, a new favorite food at the fair -- Torpedo Dogs!  A unique method of preparation nearly guarantees no drips out the bottom of the bun.  4 or 5 sauces to try with a delicious Polish Dog.  Yum, yum!  Their stand is fashioned out of a shipping container.  Look for them around Albuquerque!

Monday, September 17, 2012

NM State Fair, Food, and Jackalopes

I love State Fairs.  I love the exhibits (4-H and FFA), the crafts, cooking, sewing, and quilting submissions, the SPAM contest (as an observer only), the horses, the baby animals that grow up before your eyes, the food.

In our house, we refer to the start of the State Fair as the beginning of the "eatin' season".  On the heels of the fair comes the Balloon Fiesta, then after that it's Thanksgiving, and after that it's Christmas (or the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or the special observance of the winter season of your choice).  As a matter of fact, I advise anyone to either get their cholesterol tested BEFORE the State Fair or after the middle of January, because it's pointless to do it during the eatin' season.

A new creature this year in the Poultry and Rabbit barn is the rarely seen jackalope.  These were particularly special since they are of the mini persuasion, not the usual significantly larger persuasion that can get up to four feet tall, if you include the ears.

Here's a picture of the darlin' in his cage:

Here's a close-up of the little guy:

Hope you enjoy your State Fair!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A most delicious Wine and Dine at Scalo tonight

I believe I said that last week was pretty darn good.  Tonight, that was topped.  Please keep in mind that this report is based on my tastes and impressions.  I'm not a professional wine taster, but sure appreciate the good stuff in wine and food.

We had a representative from the winery, Flora Springs Winery, with us tonight.  A family-owned winery in St. Helena, CA; begun by Flora and her husband.  Flora is now 100 years old and still active; her son owns the winery and her grandson is in charge of operations.  The winery has been in operation for 33 years.

Our menu was thoughtfully paired with selections from the winery by the chef of Scalo Nob Hill.  Note that the price will be going up.  My spouse and I were speculating  what such a dinner would cost in San Francisco, CA, or New York, NY and came up with $75 or $100 per diner.  Tonight's dinner was $22.50 before tax and tip.  The cost will be going up to a mere $27.50 next week.  Still an  amazing bargain, considering the quality of wines and food that are paired together.  Many thanks to Scalo and its wine distributors for this generosity, and, for tonight, to Paul Trioni, from the Flora Springs Winery!

The salad was a simple and savory green apple and endive salad with a honey dijon vinaigrette dressing.  This was paired with a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc in the Sancerre style. with the grapes coming from Oakville.  While still nicely dry, there were melon components in the taste and this paired very nicely and smoothly with the salad.

The second course was a delicious and fresh tasting shrimp and avocado spring roll with a nicely bold soy and ginger dressing.  This was matched with a 2010 Chardonnay with minimal oak, from the Carneros area of Napa.  (By the way, the Flora Springs Winery owns all the land the grapes are grown on and do not buy grapes for their wines.)  I could pick up tastes of baked and fresh apples with a clean crisp fragrance in the glass.  This wine was not over-powered by the savory sauce served with the spring rolls and the tastes held true during enjoying the spring roll.

The main course was braised beef cheeks served with mushroom risotto, a red wine jus, and slivered fresh scallions. This was served with a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine for which the Floral Springs Winery is most known.  The cheeks were tender, the risotto deeply flavored and both were well matched to the Cab.  Honestly, one could drink this Cabernet with hamburgers and have a delightful combination.  This cabernet sauvignon was 100% of the cabernet grape from the Rutherford region in the Napa Valley.  In the glass there was the fragrance of deep red cherries with a hint of roses (yes, roses!), along with a hint of tobacco and leather.  On the tongue, the soft tannins were present but not dominant, leaving a pleasantly dry finish and the hint of roses and leather persisted to the end.

Dessert was a most delicious and smooth chocolate creme brulee, served with a 2009 Merlot.  This was a blend of 97% Merlot and 3% Malbec.  Definitely tastes of dark cherry and black pepper on the tongue, a most satisfactory companion to the richness and smoothness of the chocolate creme brulee.  A hint of smoke on the finish that delightfully completed the taste.

If you have the opportunity to enjoy one of these Wednesday Wine and Dines, I think you will be pleased.  The reservations fill up quickly; your best bet is to sign up for the weekly notifications and reserve as soon as you can (at the Scalo website -- yummy education on the plate and in the glass).

Monday, September 10, 2012

A (Pretty) Quick Thank You Card

Made a quick (for me) Thank You card for a friend's generosity and am sharing with you (after we've put it in the mail).

Stampin' Up! products used:  Pool Party and Island Indigo inks, Naturals card stock in Ivory, Island Indigo card stock, 'thank you" from You're My Type stamp set (1/4/12 - 4/30/12 occasions mini catalog), Labels Collection Framelits, and  Bitty Banners Framelits.

Star background is created by sponging Pool Party through star punchinella from Gauche Alchemy, sold through Art Fire.

The multiple "thank you" background stamp is by Inkadinkado -- pretty sure I got it at Hobby Lobby either on sale or with a coupon.

The Mimbres frogs is a stamp I've had for years -- sorry, could not find a current site for it.

I am not a representative of or a design team member of any of these companies, but I sure appreciate them all!

A new haul video is up -- my Stampin' Up! haul


Can't believe September is 1/3 over, already.  At last, we're starting to get some cooler weather.

My Stampin' Up! order came in, so I thought I'd do a "video" of it.  It's up in YouTube land. 

More later!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Lovely Wednesday Evening

A local favorite restaurant of ours hosts a Wednesday Wine and Dine.  The menu is composed around a winery's or regions' wines that the organizer can procure.  Tonight was our second time at Wine and Dine, and while the first one was certainly tasty and memorable, tonight's was truly delicious.  Props to Scalo Northern Italian Grill for a delicious menu and excellent pairing of wines to the food.  And, props to Esser Vineyards for enabling the provision of wines from the SW distributor.  Esser is based in Napa Valley, but all the wine selections for this evening were from their Monterrey vineyards ( I think I have this correctly -- the grapes are most definitely from Monterrey).

The soup was a delicious savory and spicy Cold Tomato and Cucumber Gaspacho that included sweet peppers and fresh herbs. It  was most favorably paired with a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc that complemented the soup while also tasting refreshing on its own.  Before the soup was served, the citrus and floral notes were enjoyable.  But the melon notes did not come out, for me, until after a taste of the soup.  Smooth but not cloying.

The salad was a deceptively simple chopped salad of romaine, yellow and red peppers with slivers of red onion, dressed with a roasted pepper vinaigrette.  Our whole table raved about the vinaigrette and I plan to grill the staff later this week on how it was done.  The wine paired with the salad was a 2010 Chardonnay.  Smooth but not cloying, only spending 6-8 months in oak, this was bright and fresh.  I could taste the citrus as well as some tropical fruit flavors but it was not sweet at all.  Delicious by itself and with the salad.

The entree was a NY Strip portion served with Gorgonzola mashed potatoes and grilled zucchini in a savory mushroom sauce.  The original plan was to serve this with a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, but the restaurant and the wine representative decided to change the wine to a 2009 Merlot and that was a most successful change.  Smooth and leathery on its own, the wine melded with the flavors of the entree with ease.  Each bite of steak, potatoes, or grilled zucchini with the mushroom sauce were enhanced and respected (if that's possible) by the Merlot.

Finally, a 2009 Pino Noir accompanied a raspberry sorbet decorated with mint slivers.  A delicious combination and a very tasty wine on its own, with cherry, tobacco, and oak flavors.  The sweet-tart of the dessert complimented the wine and the wine was not overcome by the sorbet.

Amazingly, Scalo manages to offer these Wednesday Wine and Dines for $22.50 (before tax and gratuity).  This is a bargain in delicious eats and impressive wines.  See their website for information on future Wednesday Wine and Dines. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cooking counts as Crafting, yes?

I'm counting things done in the kitchen as coming under the Craft designation; I'm pretty sure my efforts don't qualify as Art.

We're invited to a Labor Day hangout, and as it is still too stinking hot to turn the burners on, opted for already cooked shrimp.  A minor complication -- DH neglected to notice that the tray of already cooked shrimp were frozen on his recon earlier in the week.  So now, 2 1/2 hours before we're supposed to show up, we're thawing shrimp.

What I wanted to share was our cocktail sauce recipe.   Cannot take credit for invention of the recipe, just the adaptation.  We first tasted this at Cutter's in Seattle -- they had a most excellent shrimp and crab cocktail with this flavorful and spicy cocktail sauce billed as the "Fireworks Prawn Cocktail".  We inquired as to the components and all they would share is that wasabi (the green spicy horseradish paste that comes with sushi) is part of the recipe, and it definitely adds a yummy flavor to the sauce.

So we tasted and tasted to try to detect what else might be in the sauce, and here is our version.

Fireworks Seafood Cocktail Sauce

  • Amounts are approximate, as this is a "season to your taste" kind of sauce
  • Makes about 2 cups.  Recipe can be halved or doubled, as needed
  •  Recommend making at least 1 hour before it is needed
  •  Takes about 10 minute to prepare.
2 cups of your favorite tomato ketchup
1 large clove of garlic (minced, mashed, put through the press -- your choice)
1 tablespoon pure horseradish (the grated stuff in a jar -- NOT horseradish sauce or cream)
4 teaspoons of wasabi (this is usually in the Asian food section of grocery store in small green box -- is in a tube, lasts nearly indefinitely)
4 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
4 - 6 grinds of your peppermill
About 2 teaspoons of juice from lime (our preference) or lemon

Mix all together and taste.  Adjust as needed, adding more wasabi, lime juice, etc.  Refrigerate until needed.  This will improve and the flavors blend as it sits in the refrigerator.  Taste again before serving and adjust as you need.

This also keeps well -- at least 10 days in the fridge (between the horseradish, wasabi, garlic, and citrus juice, how could it not?).  It's actually quite tasty as a sauce for hotdogs and sausages.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Haul video from Joann's is up on YouTube

I did get the pictures taken and "video" put together yesterday and it is now up on YouTube.

My channel is, fortunately, also called craftytravelfrog.  This makes my third video!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Shopping at Joann's and Rebel Donuts

Did a little bit of shopping at Joann's -- jewelry making supplies are 25% off (today is probably last day) and stamps and stamp sets are 40% off.  But check their website -- they are having Labor Day sales and there are coupons.  Did pick up some jewelry making things -- will do a short "video" later today and post on YouTube.

Then on to Rebel Donuts, here in Albuquerque.  An independent donut shop with unique combinations of flavors, and they are making up new combinations every day.  DH had the maple glaze, which he pronounced as delicious and I had the Zinger, which was new that day -- raised donut with raspberry jam sprinkled with cocoanut and topped with a swirl of butter cream frosting.  Not a giant donut and the tart flavor of the raspberry jam nicely balanced the richness of the butter cream.  Yum, yum.  Highly recommend.  Open 7 days a week, 7am to 4pm weekends, to 6pm on weekdays.