Author Archives: foodgal

What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 13

A new way to enjoy single-serve wines.
A new way to enjoy single-serve wines.

Le Grand Verre

First came single-serve wine and Champagne bottles. Then, mini wine cans.

Now, get ready for tube wine.

Just launched in the United State, Le Grand Verre packages offerings from boutique French wineries in single-serve, screw-top, slender, plastic tube-like containers.

The shatter-proof, recyclable container, which holds 6.3 ounces, was designed by research funded by the state of Burgundy. It’s so compact that you could easily slip one into your pocket, too.

The company was founded by CEO Nicolas Deffrennes, who got the idea for it after joining Harvard University’s wine club; Regis Fanget, who has worked in advertising for French luxury goods; and Valerian Dejours, a computer science engineer.

The wines come in 4-packs, either featuring one wine or a variety, for $19.99 to $29.99. Most are also crafted by female winemakers or female-owned estates who adhere to organic or sustainable farming practices.

A cute and convenient 4-pack.
A cute and convenient 4-pack.

I had a chance to try a sampler pack with two different reds and two different rosés. Each tube holds one generous glass.

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Cheers with Chilled Smoked Salmon Spaghetti with Capers and Avocado

A smoked salmon-avocado pasta with a glass of bubbly -- the makings for one fabulous dinner.
A smoked salmon-avocado pasta with a glass of bubbly — the makings for one fabulous dinner.

Smoked salmon, capers, avocado, and a squeeze of lemon.

That’s the mouth-watering makings for my favorite bagel topping. That’s also what stars in this easy and terrific cold pasta dish.

“Chilled Smoked Salmon Spaghetti with Capers and Avocado” is from the new cookbook, “Wine Style: Discover the Wines You Will Love Through 50 Simple Recipes” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, by San Francisco food writer Kate Leahy.

Leahy is the co-author of cookbooks by San Francisco restaurants, A16: Food + Wine,” “SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine,” and “Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes from the Crossroads of Southeast Asia,” plus so many more. But surprisingly, this is her first cookbook that’s all her own.

Pairing food and wine can easily intimidate and befuddle. But Leahy makes it easily approachable. She doesn’t inundate with too much nitty-gritty that would make most casual wine drinkers’ heads spin. Instead, after a short primer on wine basics (textures and flavor categories), she dives into the heart of the book, which comprises nine categories of wine, along with specific recipes that marry well with each.

For instance, in the chapter on “Rich White Wines,” you’ll learn about Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurtztraminer, Viognier, and a handful of Italian white wines, all of which are “rich enough to coat your mouth a bit, allowing them to complement creamy sauces and richer dishes in a balanced, even-handed way.” That is why “Oil-Packed Tuna with Potatoes, Olives, and Lemon” goes smashingly well with Albarino or Chardonnay.

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The All-Natural Red Velvety Strawberry Cake

A most unique red velvet cake.
A most unique red velvet cake.

Admittedly, the hoopla over red velvet cake has always left me perplexed.

Sure, the dramatic color captures your fancy — for a hot second.

Then, as quickly, reality tells you that’s all due to red food coloring. At which point, I say, “Pass me a wedge of all-real devil’s food cake instead.”

“Red Velvety Strawberry Cake,” though, sparked a far different reaction.

It had me all in from the get-go.

Nope, no artificial anything in this stunning cake. No food coloring whatsoever — only an entire bottle of red wine.

And if that doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what will.

Now, that my friends, is a cake.
Now, that my friends, is a cake.

To be fair, this cake doesn’t possess that vivid maroon you expect from red velvet. Instead, the wine, which first gets reduced before being added into the batter, adds the merest bit of rosiness to the dark chocolate-colored cake. The wine (I used a Pinot Noir) also adds a touch of acidity to balance out all the sweetness.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 35

Fresh bucatini and beef ragu from Etto that I cooked in a flash for dinner at home.
Fresh bucatini and beef ragu from Etto that I cooked in a flash for dinner at home.

Etto, Paso Robles

Yes, this might be a stretch for takeout, but since I actually did get everything to-go to enjoy later at home, I say it qualifies.

Plus, if you are ever in the Paso Robles area, you owe it to yourself to drop by Etto, a three-year-old boutique pasta shop started by third-generation Italian American Brian Terrizzi.

After reading an SFGate article about this charming store that makes and sells both dried and fresh pastas, I knew I had to stop in when I was in the vicinity last month to attend an outdoor wedding.

The small shop carries olive oils, salumi, cheeses, cookies, wines (including from Terrizzi’s Giornata Winery, and a slim selection of locally-grown produce. Basically, it’s everything you need to put together a simple yet satisfying Italiano meal at home.

The containers of bucatini and sauce.
The containers of bucatini and sauce.

Terrizzi learned how to make pasta from his grandmother, and from regular trips to Naples and Tuscany. He is a purist, making pasta with only organic durum semolina flour and water, which gets extruded through traditional bronze dies.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

If you love chocolate chip cookies and adore brownies, these bar cookies are sure to satisfy.
If you love chocolate chip cookies and adore brownies, these bar cookies are sure to satisfy.

After this grueling past year and a half, you most certainly deserve a special treat.

Or two treats in one to be exact.

“Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies” is precisely that.

Let those words roll over your tongue and sear into your mind for a hot minute: Chocolate chip cookie. Plus brownies.

Stacked one on top of each other, these cookie-brownie bars are truly the best of both worlds.

And a riot of dark chocolate.

This decadent recipe is from “Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection: 100+ Recipes to Take Your Sweet Treats to the Next Level” (Clarkson Potter) from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living.

They are essentially Brookies, which are often made as individual circular cookies. This recipe streamlines that because you bake everything in one pan. Which, of course means you get to enjoy them even sooner.

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