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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pizza Night w/Alexander & Fitch

Took a rare night off from the grill and thought Id indulge in one of my other favorite that is homemade pizza and Cabernet Savignon!

I know at first glance when you see the Alexander & Fitch label you must think "Oh, Hipcheck must have found some small cool new winery that will soon attain cult status." But truth be told-this is a wine that was recommended by some schmo on one of the many varied hockey forums I lurk at occasionally and was purchased at a local Trader Joe's for a whopping $5.99 a bottle. I decanted it and let it breathe a bit and even then had "$5.99 a bottle" written all over it. It had a nose that was somewhere between turpentine and paint thinner(if there is a difference...they may be the same thing but anytime the nose can be compared to an industrial solvent you know the overall review isn't going to be glowing by any stretch). I couldn't really single out any particular fruits and with its reduced 13.2% alcohol level its was almost an exercise in futility. If only I would have been smart enough to buy a case of the Indigo Hills Cab when it was available at the local wine club for $6.19 a bottle.

To the food-The salad was romaine lettuce served with a creme sherry vinaigrette blended with sun dried tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and sliced Haas Avocado. Very Nice! The creme sherry vinaigrette was much more delicate then your average vinegar and would have probably been been better served with some mixed baby greens but with a family budget you cant have it all.

For the pizza we couldn't decide if we wanted to do it Italian Style with Sweet Soprasata or Shrimp w/Parsley sprinkles so we went half and half. The salami portion went very well with my ever so artistic leaning soprasata searing to a nice bacony crunch working well. The shrimp may have been more flavorful had I done some type of quicky marinade but even on its own without any seasoning or marinade still had a nice delicate flavor. The heating method(slow roasted on top of pizza) actually gave it the perfect texture. Not at all too shabby considering it was made almost solely with leftovers! Let that be a lesson in budgeting frugality-pasta on monday or tuesday with the remaining sauce serving as pizza sauce later in the week. How this entry went from a serious wine and food review to Hints from Heloise is beyond me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas, Halibut, Tuna, & much much More

What a delightfully marvelous weekend it was; I grew weary of steaks and chops and what not so decided that I needed to get more seafood into the diet and onto the grill.

Pictured here is the entire meal....

Asian Marinated Albacore Tuna adorned w/Japanese mayo and capers, roasted red and yellow peppers , bacon wrapped asparagus, and sliced pesto foccacia. Citrus Pepper Halibut served crowned with symbolic mushroom cap as well grilled summer squash.
Balsamic Tomatoes and Avocado Spears and the obligatory Cajun Chicken Breast.

The Asian Tuna was actually prepared by my beautiful wife by slicing the filet into 1/3rds and marinating in mirin, miso, soy sauce, chili sauce, and garlic. This was hands down the evening's best food. The marinade gave the fish a wonderfully subtle japanese/asian flavor with just a hint of spice from the chili sauce. Quite frankly, I was jealous and showed my disapproval by making her sleep on the couch later that evening.

The Halibut was good though...Halibut is a great versatile fish for the grill and so easy to cook. I didn't marinade at all but simply used a dry rub of Florida Citrus Pepper in Conjunction with some freshly ground Sea Salt I crushed with a mortar and pestle. I pretty much use a mortar and pestle at all times when using herbs...its as common of staple on BBQ night as my wine decanter. You may be wondering about the Family Guy magnet. Hipcheck Jr. thought the plate needed once last final finishing touch and couldnt decide between the Kale, Radish Floret, or the Peter Griffin magnet on the fridge-Call me crazy but I thought he made the right choice.

As for the other items-really for the most part they were simply garnish. I was going to prepare a pesto/mayonnaise remoulade for the halibut but absent-mindedly forgot to pick up the basil. By the time I realized I was already on my second glass of wine....

As for the Wine-It wasn't particularly notable but by that same token was horrifically bad. Maybe I had a bit of sinus congestion but couldn't really disseminate anything on the nose much less on the palate. Maybe I was just in a crappy/indifferent mood. Did you ever notice that the more joyous the celebration the better the wine tastes? Even the cheapest bottle is palatable with the right atmosphere while generally a good wine wont particularly stand out with as unimpressive or otherwise bland evenings fair. For instance-the Marquis Philips certainly stood out as superior to the Cousino-Macul but was tasted during a family gathering and thus seemed a bit more celebratory. Maybe it's just me.

Stay Tuned-Ill be doing a New York Steak as well as Lamb Tenderloin in the next entry.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Kalbi Style Korean BBQ!!

Well we went with a Korean Motif last night as you can plainly see. The Wife marinated the short ribs in her top secret korean marinade-I will let you in on a secret though; one of the ingredients is something called "Sesame Oil."

Anyhow the top plate shows the ribs, some marinated bean sprouts, some Kimchi as well as our beer of Choice Kirin Ichiban. I know to the untrained American eye the Kimchi and Sprouts probably look more like entrails and tapeworms but rest assured these two items are in fact vegetable based. The bottom picture shows the 4 year old hand of Hip JR trying to nab one of the succulent ribs off of the plate. What can I say-hes a chip off the old block. Reminded me a bit of my food related petty thefts when I was his age. When I was 4 or 5 it wasn't all that uncommon for me to Shoplift Smoked Gouda, Italian Prosciutto, and Imported Spices(saffron and Madagascar vanilla ) from the local Lucky Market on shopping trips with my mother.

On a semi related side note-Kimchi is a great source of naturally occurring Pro biotic Culture and has some other great health benefits. You can read more about here or search for yourself if you are so inclined.

If you like spicy food and garlic-Kimchi will be right up your alley. It has a pretty strong flavor though so pairs much better with beer then it does wine. If it is something you want to try though I would certainly recommend going with some lower priced bottles. And as always, if you do manage to find a wine that pairs well...I'm all ears.

I also did some BBQed hot wings this weekend that were fantastic but in my zest to digin forgot to take pictures. I may do them again for dinner tonight and If I do I promise Ill take pics and post them here. Thanks again for all the positive feedback Ive received in the month or so this blog has been in existence. If anyone here wants-feel free to add the link to your blog but make sure you title the link
"Hipcheck's Food and Wine Blog that is not only the best blog on the internet but singlehandedly revolutionizing the way we view dining in todays modern socio and economic climate."

Monday, April 2, 2007

Marquis Phillips. Excelsior Cab, and Weekend BBQ recap

Marquis Phillips Shiraz

The Good-Marquis Phillips Australian Shiraz. You've probably read reviews in which a wine was described as "buttery." Well I always personally thought it to be hogwash until I got a whiff of the Marquis Phillips. I kid you not it was so buttery I almost thought about putting it on some popcorn and popping in a DVD. We're all familiar with overused term "Fruitbomb" but this wine may be the first to earn the moniker of "butterbomb." Apart from being terrific on the nose it was a solid effort with some strong fruit to start and a clean albeit tame finish. Certainly a wine I wouldn't mind getting 6 bottles just to have on hand. The wife as well as some of our guest all thought it was very good.

Excelsior Cab

The Not so Bad-The excelsior cab came recommended by some tall blond git from South Africa who strongly recommended as a good every day drinking wine. And truth be told it wasn't half bad it just didn't stand up as well against the Marquis Phillips. Perhaps I should try it again on its own and maybe give a bit better review at a later date. Ill go record as saying if the Marquis Phillips scored a spectacular touchdown the Excelsior scored a routine 24 yd Field Goal in a dome game with Adam Vinateri kicking the ball. Hey it is opening day for Major League Baseball....which is why I'm using the NFL reference.

To the food reviews....

We started off with a cheese/fruit tray using some Aged Tillamook Cheddar and two Imported English Cheeses-an aged English Cheddar and some English Variety of cheese knows as Cotswold.

The next picture is our meat tray showing some Cajun Shrimp Skewers, Caribbean Style Chicken Breast, Some Hot Wings I dug out of the freezer and cooked with some Franks, and one lone, soul, sad sausage I cooked for no apparent reason.

The next dish was vegetable mixed grill I cooked using a BBQ Wok, Jumbo Tiger Prawns, and some Colossal Sea Scallops. I marinated the shrimp and scallops in some sweet Vietnamese chili sauce, olive oil, and garlic. Certainly the nights most popular dish as the vegetables were perfectly tender with just a bit of texture to them and the seafood portions succulent and vibrant. The chili sauce marinade wasn't overbearing by any means and surprisingly not as spicy as I would have thought.

The last pic is just a closeup of the Cajun Shrimp and the Chicken Breast enlarged to show texture and moisture levels. All in all the night went very very well....until for some reason I decided to start drinking vodka. After that my memory is a bit hazy and I'm pretty sure it didn't go well.

And with all of this talk of English cheese...I may as well as post one of my all time favorite cheese related bits-