Monday, April 19, 2004

Random Note: I am listening to Johnny Cash and I have a harmonica in my breast pocket. Somebody grab me a pedal steel guitar, quick!

Anyways, so, as I mentioned in my last post, it was a big foodie weekend. It started off on Saturday morning with a French Bread class at Western Reserve School of Cooking with Kathy Lehr. Now, this lady *loves* bread. Because of this passion, she was very knowledgeable about all the aspects of bread-making. I learned not only about the process of making bread (the mix, the kneading, the slashing, etc.) but the various salts, flours and yeasts available and how they affect the taste and texture of the bread. In the end, I definitely felt I got what I was hoping for out of the class. I learned a lot about the techniques that go into making a good loaf of bread. Of course, between spending the morning making pizza dough and the class, I was less than apt to make the beer bread that Genevieve suggested doing on Sunday. Too much flour for one weekend.

After class, I headed over to Mike's for the night's wine tasting. Unlike the previous tastings, this one was buffet style. So Mike and Liz were not in a state of Level 5: Code Red cooking, by the time I arrived at least. The tasting went really well. The buffet style was really low maintenance (none of the, dead-time, dead-time, need 26 plates NOW! That's next weekend). The winemaker, Charles Meeker, was awesome. I remember from helping organize the panels for SynFest (an electronic music fest we did a few years ago) that the #1 type of panelist you can ask for is one that is: talkative, engaging and knowledgeable. Mr. Meeker was all three of these things *and* a vegetarian (ex-vegan), so he was overjoyed at the food. The wines were damn good too. The only one I didn't care for was his 10th Rack 2000 Zinfandel. It wasn't bad, per se, but just left me a bit "eh..". On the other side, he had other kick-ass wines, including some really big reds like his 2002 Barberian and 2001 Ed Demostene Zinfandel. Mike really enjoyed his Winemaker's Handprint Merlot, though my personal favorite was the Demostene.
He also had a 2001 Pink Elephant Dry Rose, which opened up the tasting. At 9.99, it's definitely a good buy for those on a budget. No, it wasn't nearly as good as his other , more expensive, offerings, but for the price, I wouldn't mind grabbing one for a party or such. The evening ended with a dessert wine, the Tu Tu Luna (love that name!), which was a pseudo-ice wine. (The basic procedure was the same, but because he's a California vineyard and grapes, obviously, don't freeze in CA., they were frozen artificially). The plus side of this is that it was very reasonable (18.99) for a dessert wine. But, though good, I didn't like it was much as other dessert wines I'd had in the past. Overall, some damn good wines. I've posted the full listing, with prices and descriptions, at the end. The food was, of course, awesome. My little pizzas went pretty well, though I felt the day hadn't been kind to the taste of the poblano's. Mike's sushi, as always, went like hotcakes, as did the endive leaves topped with black bean salsa.

Sunday, we spent the day enjoying the great weather with a 10mile bike ride at the Towpath (avoiding "Walk for MS" participants) and lunch at Mustard Seed. Definitely an awesome weekend.

2001 Pink Elephant Dry Rose $9.99
A blend of Cab Franc, Valdigue, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Guwurztramer.
Think of a sunny afternoon or a warm evening. A picnic at the beach, lunch by the swimming pool, or dinner outside on the deck. A chilled glass of wine, light bodied like white wine, but with a little more character, and bursting with a broad range of berry-fruit aromas and flavors, all followed by a satin-smooth finish. Or maybe something just plain refreshing after a hard day's work, before you turn to your more serious, classic Meeker red.

Meeker 10th Rack 2000 Zinfandel $14.99
Zinfandel, plus some Carignane and touches of Syrah and Petit Verdot
A wide array of aromatics and flavors for your gustatory enjoyment. Start with blackberry and black cherry; then throw in nutmeg, vanilla and a little clove, plus a dash of toasty French oak, a pinch of tobacco, and a finish featuring caramel and cola.
Built for your everyday drinking pleasure!

2001 Idle Home Zinfandel $23.99
Zinfandel plus a touch of Syrah.
This spectacular wine comes from vines planted in 1885 - that's correct, no typo, 1885! At Dave and Sharon Dowdy's Idle Home Ranch located in the cool Russian River Valley appellation of Sonoma County. The nose features peach, blackberry and black currant aromas with floral overtones, while in the mouth, cherry joins the same peach, blackberry and black currrant flavors, supplemented by notes of vanilla custard, nutmeg, and peppery spices.

2001 Ed Demostene Zinfandel $24.99
100% Zinfandel
There is nothing shy about this large-scaled (15.2% alcohol) offering from the Ed Demostene Vineyard. In the nose you will find cherry cola, vanilla, and toasty oak with cocoa spice and pecan praline. On the palate there's a beautiful mouthfeel, and cherry creme, black raspberry, cola, cocoa and vanilla flavors. This hight-spirited wine will sing with pork tenderloin, butterflied and stuffed with goat cheese, thyme, pepper and kosher salt.

2001 Winemaker's Handprint Merlot $34.99
88% Merlot, 9% Cab Sauv, 3% Cab Franc
Mendocino County
This is not your basic shy, underwhelming Merlot, but rather a large-scaled, layered example, with aromatics ranging from cherry, red licorice, mulberry, plum and tea leaves, to vanilla-laced oak. On the palate you will find more of the same cherry-centered and spice flavors, with fine tannins that are integrating nicely with the fruit. Try this with your favorite beef preparations or a mixed grill of lamb, portobellos, shallots and red bell peppers.
**Each and every bottle is handprinted by Charlie or Matt to indicate their pride in this butt-kicking, intense Merlot. If is our fondest hope that the wine is as good as the bottles are beautiful.

Meeker 1999 Four Kings $38.99
Proprietary Bordeaux-style blend
In the nose you will find plums, bing cherries, brown sugar, red leather, cocoa and pecan praline, followed by toasted oak and vanilla. On the palate, there's all of the above plus currants and spices, silky tannins, waves of flavor like ripples in a pind, and an exotically long finish. The well-rounded and luscious mouth feel just doesn't quit. We made it, we love it, and we hope you do too.

Meeker $32.99
"Redefining Civilized Wine"
Zinfandel and Barbera
Sonoma County
Big aromas, big flavors, big fruit, big structure, big persistence!
The huge, blooming nose of blackberries and carmelized brown sugar is followed by intense flavors of blueberry cream, cherry, black pepper and vanilla, all wrapped in a bear hug of sweet French oak. Go ahead, dive in, it can take it! It will pair terrifically with a thick hunk of beef crusty with a spicy rub and a side of juicy portobella mushrooms.

Meeker 2001 Tu Tu Luna $18.99
A blend of muscat, chenin blanc, and guwurztramer.
This dessert wine opens with incredible pear/floral/lychee aromatics, then dances on the tongue with pear, peach and apricot flavors. A healthy acid balanced ensures a long life and prevents the residual sugar from being cloying. A romantic and delicious finish to any meal. Try is with stilton cheese, sliced pears and salty almonds, with apple or pecan pie, or any great dessert.