Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Gauntlet

This weekend, Luke threw down the gauntlet. Not certain exactly what was said; I just know my ears perked when I heard a challenge was initiated. A food challenge to boot! The next thing I knew, we were preparing for dueling clam recipes, followed by a second dish. It was like Iron Chef when they reveal the secret ingredient. We were a flurry of turning cook pages, clacking computer keys, and scribbling pens. We hopped in the car and headed to the market...keeping our ideas secret only to be revealed when completed.

Now, before I get too far into this story, let me just say, this was the last weekend Luke's dad would be in town for quite a while, so it was sort of a send off dinner as well...plus, we needed a judge!

We arrived at the market, and quickly gathered all of our necessary items. Complete with wines for pairing. Then we raced home, not that we needed too, it was just part of the excitement, and quickly started our prep work. Of course by this time, we had a pretty good idea of what the other was making (we kept sneaking peaks at shopping lists and grocery carts) but we still kept it secret to the end.

The drum roll please..........


First course - Steamed Clams in a spicy white wine broth served over orzo pasta with fresh basil and parsley. Paired with a 2002 Chenin Blanc.


First course - Broiled clams on the half shell topped with homemade pesto. Paired with a 2006 Ponzi Pinot Nior.


Second course - Chocolate ganache cupcakes filled with dried cherries and chunks of chocolate ganache and topped with more, yes you guessed it - chocolate ganache.


Second course - Homemade pasta with mint and green tomato pesto.

So who won? I think we all did, after all we were the ones enjoying a fabulous meal!

Friday, August 01, 2008

"Pre" wine flight - literally

While it's always exciting to be traveling to a new locale, it's no secret air travel isn't as fun as it used to be. Good news for those folks with delays or layovers in Baltimore, Seattle and Sacramento, and at JFK and Dulles! Vino Volo (Italian for wine flight) is the first upscale airport wine bar and from what I hear, plans are inthe works to open Vino Volos in Philadelphia and Detroit by the end of this summer.

Though we weren't delayed, we did have the opportunity to enjoy a brief stop, and try a wine flight at Vino Volo. Offering international and domestic wine flights, the prices were suprisingly low for an airport. I opted for a Dominus flight and Luke went for an Oregon Pinot flight. We chose the crabcakes and duck confit which was also suprising tastey considering what airports normally have to offer. The crabcakes were tender and full of meat, and the duck confit (served on top of lentils) was tender and flavorful. Our entire meal came to less than $50, including tip. Another great benefit; Vino Volo restaurants are located inside the airport after you're through security. So if you find a bottle you enjoy, you can actually take it with you and enjoy it at your next destination!

So before putting your tray tables in the locked and upright position...Salute!