Monday, April 23, 2012

Six delicious French wines to try

Oui Oui! French wine is delicious!! J'adore vin fran├žais (I love French wine!!)

I always thought I didn't like French wine. I had a few bad experiences with wine that tasted really horsey. Literally, it tasted like a stinky horse in the barn. So I shied away from French wine.

I'm happy to report that I was wrong!!!

The funny thing is, I don't think I'm the only person that is a bit shy about French wine.

I attended a French wine tasting at BevMo! last Thursday. Our guests at these tastings usually head straight for the bar and immediately start tasting. The atmosphere is always lively with guests sipping wine and friends chatting.

This night was different. Everyone walked into the tasting room and went straight for the cheese without filling their glass with wine. And no one was talking. It was weird.

I think they were intimidated by the labels. It couldn't have been our host. Emmanuel was delightful. He was friendly and charming with a twinkle in his eye. And come on, the French accent was divine!  Oooh la la!!

I didn't even need to say anything to him about our guests behavior. He grabbed the first bottle, walked out from behind the bar and started pouring the first wine, a Louis Michel & Fils Chablis. The guests loved him, and the wine. He charmed them all.

$29.99 Regular/$24.99 ClubBev!

That's all it took to loosen up the crowd.  Before you knew it people were busy tasting wine and buying it like crazy to fill their cellars. Talk about a 180!

My favorite was the Chablis - it was crisp and light with hints of peach like a Sauvignon Blanc, which as you know is my favorite wine. I would drink it every day if it was 12 bucks and not $24.99!

In fact, most of the wines were kind of expensive. So maybe it wasn't French wine I didn't like. It was CHEAP French wine I didn't like. I'm not too fond of cheap California wine either! Or cheap anything for that matter.

Give a bottle or two a try sometime and let me know what you think. Some of these wines are served at top restaurants like the French Laundry!

88 PTS WILFRED WONG. This wine makes a statement, the '10 Domaine J.M. Boillot Puligny-Montrachet offers ripe apple density, with a push of sweet oak; long and layered on the palate; bright finish.  $64.99 Reg/$59.99 ClubBev!

90 WINE SPECTATOR. The '10 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Blanc is ripe and creamy up front; butter-framed melon, creamed peach and pear notes; stony edge on the fresh finish; blossoms in the glass.  $45.99 Regular/$41.99 ClubBev!
The price point on this one had everyone giddy. Of course it wasn't my favorite. 88 PTS WILFRED WONG. Richer and more forceful than other from the same appellation, the '09 Perrin & Fils Cotes du Rhone shows substantial power and richness; red fruit and leather in the finish.  $10.99 Regular/$9.99 ClubBev!
89 PTS WILFRED WONG. Pure and honest, the red-fruited '08 Perrin Gigondas exhibits red fruit and mineral in the aromas; lively and energetic on the palate; bright finish. $32.99 Regular/$28.99 ClubBev!
My favorite Red - - 96 PTS WINE SPECTATOR. The '09 Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape is packed with dark cocoa, mesquite, tobacco and roasted fig; pure cassis and plum fruit flavors; long finish with vanilla bean notes. $99.99 Regular/$89.99 ClubBev!
I asked Emmanuel what his favorite wine is. He's currently drinking the '89 Ch. de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape. We tasted the '09. His favorite is 20 years older. ha. Maybe I should buy one of these and save it for a special occasion.

Now go forth with a glass of French wine, and talk like a Frenchman!

Note: all prices listed are BevMo! prices.

Monday, April 16, 2012

BIN 38 Restaurant and Wine Bar Review

Don's wine flight

We went to BIN 38 in San Francisco last Saturday. We took Elli with us, which probably wasn't the best decision, but we were eating early (5:45pm) and thought it would be fine.

We rarely go out anymore. But now that I'm working again (woo hoo!) we decided to treat ourselves to a day in the city. Don did a quick search of places in SF and found BIN 38. We love wine so it sounded great to us. It was listed as a $$ price point. Which is a little misleading unless you're very careful with what you order.

It turns out BIN 38 is quite the happening singles scene and it's more wine bar than restaurant.

They made an amazing plate of pappardelle noodles with an alfredo sauce for Elli. It was super tasty so she was happy. Don and I each had a different wine flight, w shared the olive tapenade appetizer, and each of us enjoyed a really yummy entree. He had scallops. I had chicken.

Burrata $14
Castelvetrano olive tapenade, garlic puree, charred bread

Diver Scallops $25
Parsnip gratin, sunchokes, leeks, american caviar, celery, hollandaise
Wine Pairing: Domaine des Baumard Sauvennieres

Mary’s Chicken Roulade $22
Ricotta gnocchi, cipollini onions, artichokes, king trumpet mushrooms, truffle jus 
Wine Pairing: Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti

The food was delicious, although my chicken was a tad salty. The wine was good. But the service was really slow and uneven. They were so busy on Saturday when we got there they didn't have any clean wine glasses. It took about 15 minutes for us to get wine. That doesn't seem like a long time, but it felt like a really long time as we sat there looking at everyone in the dining room drinking wine!

Our entrees came really fast - which made us feel rushed. Don ordered another glass of wine just to send a message that we were there to enjoy ourselves.

I guess they had the last laugh though. The wine Don ordered, which was part of the flight he sampled, turned out to be 20 bucks a glass. It wasn't even a big pour.

Needless to say, our bill was quite a bit bigger than we anticipated.

Olive tapenade appetizer

Chicken with gnocchi, artichoke and mushrooms


The couple sitting next to us had a mix-up with their order. She ordered scallops and he had the burger. They brought her a salad, which was wrong. They took the salad away. It took FOR-EVER for them to bring her scallops. Her poor date sat there staring at his burger get cold. They nibbled on all his fries while they waited for her entree. It was uncomfortable to watch. The server should have kept his burger warm.

I wasn't being nosy. The tables are tight in the dining room so it was impossible to miss what was going on at their table.

Overall, the place was fun - if you're young, single and have a lot of disposable income.

I don't think we'll go back anytime soon. Or ever. Unless someone else is buying.

BIN 38
3232 Scott Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
Reservations are strongly recommended. Kids are not.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pulled Chicken BBQ Sandwich Recipe

I have an amazing BBQ chicken recipe for you.

It's awesome, and so easy, you'll hug me the next time you see me. This is the kind of meal the boys love. And when the boys are happy and full, we're happy. Right?

That's how it is in my house anyway. And I only have one boy to feed. But he's a big eater. So when I can satisfy him I'm oh-so-happy. 

Want to know the best part? You can have this sandwich, which is a meal, on the table in 30 minutes. Start to finish.

It starts with this dude right here: Guy Fieri. And the big honkin' roast chickens they make at Costco.

No one will need to know that you really didn't do anything. It will be our little secret. 

Pulled Chicken BBQ Sandwich
serves 6

1 large Rotisserie chicken 
1 jar Guy Fieri Kansas City BBQ Sauce
1 package of cole slaw mix
1 jar Marie's Cole Slaw Dressing
6 Slices of Sourdough Bread
1 clove of garlic
3 T butter
Cheese (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Chicken - Pull the meat off the chicken and place in a mixing bowl. Pull the chicken apart into chunks. Don't cut it. It works better if you pull it apart with your hands. Pour 1/2 to 3/4 of the bbq sauce all over the chicken. Stir to coat. Place in lightly greased baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Cole Slaw - combine bag of cabbage (slaw) with about 1/2 cup of dressing. Let sit in fridge while chicken is in the oven.

Texas Toast- Finely dice one clove of garlic. Place in dish with 3T butter. Melt in microwave for about 30 seconds. Brush on slices of sourdough bread. Top with a little bit of shredded cheese. Toast until bubbly and brown on the edges.

Toast + Chicken + Slaw

That's it. It's so easy, and so delicious. This will be a regular in your repertoire. I promise.

The slaw on top is what makes it. Don't leave that part out. Don't be a cole slaw wimp. Just do it. It makes the sandwich. I promise.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The love doctor

"Mom, I want to go on a date."


"Mom, I want to go on a date. Can I go? I want to know what it's like." 


"Mom?" she was standing two inches from my face.

"I heard you." I was processing what she said, thinking that if I didn't make eye contact with her she would drop the subject and walk away.

"Mom....I want to go on my first date with a boy that I know, that's a friend."

WHAT? A date? With who? Where will you go?

"You know I'm going with you. Wherever you go." 

My mind was racing with so many thoughts. I didn't really expect to have this conversation so soon. A date? Boys? She's in fifth grade. Is this normal? Should I let her. Holy crap, I need Don.

"Where's your dad? Don?" I looked at the door hoping he would magically appear at that very moment.

"Mom. It's just a question." she said, with just a little bit of eye roll.

The thought of her dating was sucking the life out of me. I wasn't ready for this.

She stared at me, fidgeting, smiling, and oozing with cuteness. Why did she have to be so dang cute. The boys were going to love her.

"When did you go on your first date?" she asked, her eyes twinkling with anticipation.

"I was really, really shy. I went to a few dances, that was about it. I really didn't date until college." I said, feeling like a loser.

Thinking of this caused a flash of heat to race through my body like a lightening bolt. Damn hot flashes.

She stood there looking at me so disappointed. She wanted to exchange first date stories. She wanted my advice. Crap. Why wasn't I cool when I was young.  I was that shy girl with the wide eyes looking in. Good thing I was really observant. I was pretty sure I could B.S. my way through this - but jeez, I had planned for this to be a middle school conversation. I wasn't ready.

"Mom, there are three boys that want to ask out three girls and go on a triple date." She was so excited she couldn't stand still.

"Are you one of the girls?"

"No. They don't like me."

My immediate though was "thank goodness" and then "What? Why not?"

How is that possible? You're beautiful, talented, funny. This is not right! Who are these boys?

She could tell I was concerned. I don't hide my feelings very well.

"Mom, it's okay. I don't like them. They like Lou Lou, Ava and Lilyana.

aaaaah. Three of the cutest girls in school, and good friends.

"Who doesn't like you? Who are the boys?" I wanted to know.


I remember my first date. I went to the 8th grade dance with Mark Johnson. He was our minister's son, and a friend. I didn't really "like" him. But he asked me. I liked Andy Hyra. But I was too shy to tell anyone, so I said yes to Mark. My mom made me a pretty yellow dress with ruffles, made of dotted swiss fabric. Do you remember that fabric? It had little raised dots all over it.

Anyway, Mark was really tall so I talked my mom into letting me get high heels. I picked out a pair of wedge sandals with a cork heel. I loved those shoes. I'm pretty sure that was the beginning of my love for high heels.

I got home and tried them on with my dress. The dress was too short! My mom had hemmed it to my ankle. I was devastated. I would look like a dork! I was so sad. I would never be cool.

We went to the dance. I don't remember if anyone said anything about my dress or my shoes. I do remember how the evening ended, though.

Mark's dad drove us home. I literally flew out of the car and ran to the front door because I was afraid he might try to kiss me. Poor Mark. I don't think it was the first date he was hoping for. I might have slammed our front door in his face as I yelled, "Thanks, Mark! I had a great time. Bye! See you in church."

And I wonder why I wasn't one of the cool kids.

Thankfully, Elli is not like me.

She is not shy. She is vibrant, and personable, and full of confidence.

She has dubbed herself the "Love Doctor" at school. She is the mediary between the boys and the girls, and she's loving it.

Holy crap. What am I going to do?