Trinchero Winery

Dan and I are blessed in many ways, including wonderful friends and family, our health, and the means and ability to travel.  We also happen to be very lucky to have good friends who have a connection in the wine business, and who were kind enough to hook us up with a private winery tour on our recent trip to the Napa Valley.  Many thanks to Lindsay, Damon and Mr. G for setting up this amazing experience for us!  We felt quite important and special on our first-ever winery tour, getting an inside look and lesson from our guide:  the very knowledgeable Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator, Rosie, of the very classy Trinchero Napa Valley winery.  Trinchero is a beautiful place and the wines we tasted there were outstanding.  The winery was so nice that we felt like we could live there, and the wines were so good that we joined their wine club.  We look forward to our first shipment, assuming it ever cools off here in Texas so they can send it without risking damage to the wine from the heat (just one of the many things we learned from the folks at Trinchero — if a winery won’t agree to delay shipping to hot climates until cooler months, then you probably don’t want to purchase that particular wine.)  It was a lovely afternoon and one of the most memorable experiences of our trip.

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Mushroom Lasagne

Ina Garten does it again.  Hers might be the most-used cookbooks we own — just about all of them have multiple pages tagged with recipes we have tried and enjoyed.  And her books are the ones I often go to when I feel like we’re in a cooking rut, which is how I found her recipe for mushroom lasagne.  Traditional lasagne with red sauce, italian sausage and ricotta cheese is one of Dan’s specialties, and we have it all the time.  So I thought it would be interesting to try a completely different lasagne — with mushrooms instead of meat and cream sauce instead of tomato.  The result is somehow rich yet light at the same time, hearty and delicious.

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Ad Hoc

Some of the best things in life are the most simple.  Dan and I recently took a wonderful trip to Northern California, including a glorious long weekend in Napa Valley.  We took tons of photos, and plan to share each and every one of them.  Just kidding, we won’t be *those* people.  But we will have a couple of posts sharing some California goodness, starting with this one covering an amazing – yet simple – dinner we had at Ad Hoc, a Thomas Keller restaurant in Yountville, CA.

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Grilled Corn

Corn is one of the quintessential summer foods.  Although you can get corn year-round if you buy it frozen or canned, we think it tastes best fresh off the cob.  It tastes even better if you can get it as freshly-picked as possible.  Dan grew up with summers full of fresh (as in picked that morning) corn from a place called Barroner’s Farm in Pennsylvania, and it’s no coincidence that we almost always make a trip home to visit Dan’s mom during corn season (Hi Elaine!)  Fresh corn conjures memories of childhood summers for me as well, since us kids used to spend a couple of weeks every summer with our grandparents in Ohio.  After these visits, my parents were always happy to see us when they picked us up at the airport — no doubt they missed us, but I suspect that the big box of fresh corn coming off the baggage claim belt had something to do with their happy smiles as well.  For years after moving to Texas, Dan wouldn’t even bother with the corn available here because it wasn’t as fresh as the corn from his childhood.  But as his grilling repertoire has grown, he discovered a way to cook corn that, while not quite as good as fresh-picked, is still delicious and tastes like summer.

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Homemade Bratwurst

This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge is blending, which involves emulsification of ground meat to create a smooth texture.  From my perspective, blending means an even bigger raw meat horror show than last month’s sausage.  For blending, the esteemed Charcutepalooza founders Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy challenged us to make bratwurst or weisswurst for the Apprentice level, and hot dogs or mortadella for the Charcutiere level.  We chose bratwurst.  We thought about making weisswurst, but I was intimidated by descriptions of the traditional way of eating it (slicing open the casing or sucking the meat out of the casing), and wasn’t sure I would like the taste of the weisswurst.  I already know I like bratwurst.  We also like hot dogs (who doesn’t?), but the smaller casings we ordered did not arrive in time to make the hot dogs for this challenge.  We will make them at some point this summer — can’t let those intestines go to waste — and maybe post some photos from the experience.  If you’re lucky.  Or unlucky, depending on how much you enjoy seeing pictures of raw meat.  Speaking of which, prepare yourself for some pretty gnarly shots of uncooked animal flesh ahead.  While not the prettiest process, this resulting bratwurst is by far our favorite tasting Charcutepalooza effort to date.

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Breakfast Pizza

We love pizza of all kinds — whether it’s delivery, healthy(ish) homemade, or a pie with unusual toppings.  Dan has recently been experimenting with baking bread, which means we often end up with dough remnants perfect for homemade pizza.  One weekend we decided to put the leftover dough to good use by having it for breakfast.  Turns out that thin pizza crust topped with cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon and cream gravy is a really nice way to start the day.

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