How to Pair Wine and Chocolate

Chocolate, the food that is craved more than any other in the United States, is the perfect mate for wine. The two together make the perfect gift for any occasion, for man or woman.

Whether it is a housewarming gift, an anniversary gift, a birthday gift, or a gift for Valentine’s Day, it is the perfect gift when you want to make someone feel special. But how do you know what wine goes with what chocolate?

Many people say it is difficult to pair wine with chocolate, but it is not. At least it is not too difficult if you know the basics.

You may also like: How to Choose a Good Wine in a Retail Wine Shop

At least my basics. I am not an expert by any means, but I do love wine and I do love chocolate, and I do love them together, so in my world that makes me sort of an expert!

The first thing you need to know is that the chocolate should not be sweeter than the wine. We all know what it is like to take a drink of something after eating a bite of something sweet. It will do the same thing to your wine.

A bite of a chocolate that is sweeter than your wine will make your wine taste bitter, and this is not what you want. In my opinion, dark chocolates are the easiest chocolates to pair with wine, obviously because they are not as sweet.

  • When using dark chocolate you can match these with the more intense, full-bodied wines. If you prefer the sweeter, lighter chocolates, these go better with the lighter bodied wines. Because dark chocolate is itself a little bitter, it works better with wines that are little on the bitter side.
  • Bittersweet, semisweet and dark chocolates go better with red, fruity wines.
  • Milk chocolates go much better with white dessert wines with apricot or peach flavors.
  • White chocolate, which is not a true chocolate, but loved by many, works great with Champagne, or a Riesling.

My personal choices

Dagoba Organic Chocolate – dark 59% is a great dark chocolate to pair with a dry, fruity red wine such as California’s Wild Bunch Red . This is a surprisingly good wine, with flavors of strawberries and raspberries that complement your dark chocolate very well.

These two were simply meant to go together. And, I love the label. It would make a cool tattoo!

I prefer a lighter wine, like California’s Wild Bunch White Wine with lighter flavored chocolates like Godiva’s assorted chocolates when presenting assorted chocolates, it is safer to go with a light wine rather than bitter, because assorted chocolates tend to be on the sweeter side, often filled with fruits and nuts.

Wild Bunches White Wine is a great combination of lemon zest, honeysuckle, and orange, followed by apple and pear. These flavors all go very well with fruits and nuts. The fruit and nut fillings often have trace of salt and this is actually leads you to the sweeter wines.

Do you love caramels covered in dark chocolate? Well, try them with a glass of Blandeys Madeira Malmsey. This is a very sweet wine that has both caramel and walnut flavors. It leaves a pleasant caramel aftertaste

There are many wines and many chocolates to choose from, this can either make your choice a difficult one, or one you enjoy immensely. Just remember, if you are going to be sampling a lot of wines and chocolates, start with the lighter ones and work your way up to the darker ones.

The darker ones will over power the lighter ones and you will not get a true reflection of the flavor. (I learned this from a real expert!)

If you want healthy dinner for your wine, cook some seafood without oil on the best non-toxic cookware.

What’s Cooking? Top Culinary Food, Wine and Beer Festivals for Spring

Grab your fork and your corkscrew and get packing for these top food, wine and beer festivals for spring 2019. These events are a great way to sample the best menu items from top chefs, restaurants, wineries, and breweries, have fun, and even support local charities in the bargain.

Artisano Wine

 

 

Six days of food, fun and sun await you at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival April 5-10 in downtown. The weekend begins with the Eat, Drink amp; Be Pretty Party, a fashion-forward event with food and wine from more than a dozen restaurants.

The Great Arizona Picnic at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall is a family friendly afternoon that includes a cooking challenge reminiscent of the popular TV show “Iron Chef.” The festival finishes with the who’s who of the culinary community at the Chef Tribute Dinner.

This year the event honors world-renowned star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Since 2002, the fest has raised more than $3.5 million for local arts programs.

The 21st Annual Taste of Vail showcases more than 30 guest chefs, restauranteurs and sommeliers, more than 50 international wineries, and a Colorado Lamb Cook-off. The all-you-can-eat-and-drink wristband is $75, for imbibing your way through Vail Village.

Restaurants include the Wildflower, at the Lodge at Vail, where I ate one of the best gourmet meals of my life last year. Wineries included the acclaimed California vineyards Trefethen and Grgich Hills.

Or, take the gondola to the Mountaintop Picnic, at 13,500 feet, with picture postcard views of the Vail Valley. The foodie event is perfectly times for Vail’s wildflower season, when colorful blooms emerge from the snow melt.

New Orleans is equally famous for its food, music and partying, and the New Orleans Wine and Food Experienceis one-stop shopping for all three.

It’s a five-day festival, May 24-28, 2011, featuring cooking demonstrations and tasting events by the Big Easy’s top restaurant chefs, including a Louisiana Crawfish and Rice seminar. NOWFE is a non-profit organization.

Proceeds from the 2010 event benefitted charities including the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and several programs for children. So you will be eating, drinking and partying for a good cause.

There are several culinary festivals in Virginia in May, beginning with the Virginia State Championship Chili Cook-off in Roanoke on May 4th.

Now in its 32nd year, the cook-off brings together some of the best chili cooks in the USA, along with chili and salsa tastings, live entertainment, a beer garden, and jalapeño eating contest, Wash down the spices at the Virginia Beer Festival, May 6 and 7 in Norfolk.

This brewfest gathers beers from nearly three dozen domestic and international breweries, along with great music and food tastings.

The Ninth Avenue International Food Festival launches New York City’s season of street fairs celebrating one the Big Apple’s many neighborhoods and ethnic or cultural groups.

2019 is the 46th annual Ninth Avenue event, which runs for nearly one mile, from 42nd Street to 57th Street, the weekend of May 14-15. More than 200 Ninth Avenue restaurants and vendors and offer everything from pepper squid (Thailand) and Nasi Goereng (Indonesia) to freshly shucked oysters and fresh baked brownies.

The vendor stalls are interspersed with entertainment that also represents the festival’s international flavor, from Egyptian belly dancers to Irish clog dancers. Proceeds help support local charities, especially those for children of low income families around Ninth Avenue.

It’s a great way to take a bite out of The Big Apple on the cheap.

Those are my four favorite culinary festivals, but there are hundreds of others throughout the United States, and overseas, too. For a comprehensive list of culinary festivals in the USA, by month or by state, check the Food Reference website.

Creative Casseroles and One-Dish Dinners

Who says you cannot play with your food? Get creative with your traditional dinner dishes, mix and match ethnic treats and spoon your soup from the bread instead of dipping your bread in the soup.

Barbecue Shepherd's Pie

There is no reason to make the same recipe every time when you can easily create a completely new treat by switching just one or two of the ingredients. Play with your food tonight and see what you can come up with starting with your old stand by recipes.

Barbecue Shepherd’s Pie

Add a little kick to Shepherd’s pie with a spicy barbecue sauce.

  1. Brown a pound of ground beef, add your favorite vegetables to the pot, like green beans, carrots, celery and corn.
  2. Pour an entire bottle of spicy barbecue sauce over the meat and veggies.
  3. Simmer on medium low temperature for 10 minutes.
  4. Pour the meat and vegetable mixture into a medium sized casserole dish.
  5. Top with mashed potatoes.
  6. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chicken Parmesan Ziti

Combine two favorite dishes to make a one pot meal. This is a great dish to use up leftovers.

  1. Cut up prepared chicken Parmesan.
  2. Boil ziti noodles as directed on the packaging and drain.
  3. Add the chicken Parmesan to the ziti.
  4. Pour 2 jars of spaghetti sauce over the chicken and noodles.
  5. Stir to combine.
  6. Pour the ziti and chicken Parmesan into a large casserole dish.
  7. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the casserole.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Soup in a Bread Bowl

Switch up the soup and your bread. Form prepared bread dough into a large circle. Bake as directed on the packaging. Heat soup. Remove the bread dough from the oven and allow it to cool. Cut a circular opening around the top of the bread.

Carefully, remove the inside of the bread bowl. Fill the bowl with hot soup. Serve with the inside pieces of the bread bowl.

Taco Lasagna

Put a spin on your average taco. Grease a standard pie dish with cooking spray or butter. Place a small flour tortilla on the bottom of the dish. Spread salsa on the tortilla. Add a layer of browned ground beef. Sprinkle cheese on the meat and top with a tortilla.

Continue layering until the pie dish is full. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve with toppings such as sour cream, ranch salad dressing, lettuce, tomatoes and taco sauce.

Seafood Instructions: How to Peel Shrimp, Prepare Lobster and Shuck Oysters

It is my understanding that billions of people who reside on the earth are attached to the idea of eating seafood. Frankly, I’m skeptical. Can there really be that many people who are willing to eat food that lives its entire life inside its own toilet?

Lobster

It must be true because there are certainly a lot of seafood restaurants around. I don’t partake of the food from the sea much myself, but having lived in a beach town most of my life, I have come to learn how to deal with certain elements involved in eating seafood. Here are some tips for handling seafood if you are one of those who enjoy eating it, but maybe have some trouble dealing with it.

Peeling and Deveining Shrimp

I have recently learned of the pleasures of eating shrimp. But I only eat it fried after being marinated in Tabasco sauce. The delicate art of peeling and taking out the veins of shrimp is not one I have to deal with, but you may. Begin by pulling the shell of the shrimp loose.

Then take a small paring knife and cut along the vein. Pull the intestine free of the shrimp’s body and then feast to your heart’s content.

Preparing a Lobster

I have tried lobster and goodness knows it is one of the most appealing-looking foods to come from the sea, but I just haven’t yet discovered its gastronomical pleasures. Tastes like chicken. To clean a lobster in preparation for feasting, begin by taking hold of the tail in one hand and the body in another and give the tail a firm twist.

Next, cut away the cartilage and remove all that expensive meat. Locate the intestinal vein and do away with it. Grab hold of the lobster’s body and pull it away from chest shell. Cut the chest shell in half and remove the meat inside.

Get yourself a lobster cracker and crack open the claws. Remove the meat. An aside: did you know that a lobster is actually just a big bug? It’s true.

Shucking an Oyster

Back in the days before the world beat me down and whitey took away my naïve innocence, I used to tell people I was an oyster shucker when they asked what I do.

The truth is that I have never shucked on oyster and certainly have never eaten one and I suspect this statement will remain true until the mortal coil is whipped away from my being. Shucking an oyster is not that difficult to learn.

You can probably master the art of oyster shucking after just a dozen or so attempts. Begin shucking the oyster by breaking open the hinge of the oyster shell. Detach the muscle from the top shell and then discard that shell.

Loosen up the oyster with your knife and pull it free. Then, if you must, swallow it raw. Just don’t expect me to join you.

https://ecolifemaster.com/ – here you can also find devices for health to make your kitchen life easier.

Rotisserie Chicken – Stretching the Food Budget

Rotisserie Chicken is one of the best time and money savers available to the home cook. One of the best, if not the best, rotisserie chickens on the market today can be found.

Rotisserie Chicken

The chicken is huge in size compared to the rotisserie chickens in many supermarkets. The Rotisserie Chicken where I shop weighs in at a full three pounds and is always cooked to perfection.

The cost is under $5.00 a chicken bringing the cost to $1.66 per pound, a real money saver for anyone on a budget.

Slicing and serving Rotisserie Chicken as it comes from the store will easily feed a family of 4 or 6. But if one is on a budget and is trying to stretch their food dollar the chicken can be turned into two or three meals without anyone feeling deprived.

Here are three meals using one Rotisserie Chicken.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

  • 2 Cups Cooked Chicken in ½ inch pieces
  • 2 cans drained mixed vegetables
  • 1 can or jar chicken gravy
  • ½ can or jar of water
  • Pinch of whole thyme leaves
  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits

Combine cooked chicken, mixed vegetables, gravy, water and thyme in a oven proof casserole dish. Flatten out biscuits and completely cover the chicken mixture. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven, 20 minutes or until light brown.

Cheese Chicken Enchiladas

  • 2 Cups Cooked Chicken, shredded
  • 1 Cup cooked rice
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 16oz. jar salsa
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican Cheese Blend
  • 8 (6inch) flour or corn tortillas
  • 1 can enchilada sauce

In a large bowl combine cooked chicken, rice, taco seasoning, ½ jar of salsa and 1 cup of cheese. Combine the remaining salsa with the enchilada sauce and spoon ¼ cup into the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish.

Soften the tortilla according to the directions. Spoon chicken mixture into tortilla, roll up and place in baking dish. Cover with remaining enchilada and salsa sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake in 375 degree F. oven 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

White Chicken Chili

Cover the remaining chicken and carcass with 2 C. water and simmer on low for twenty minutes. Remove chicken from the pot and then pick all remaining chicken from the bones. Return the chicken meat to the pot with;

1 can white navy beans, drained, 1 package taco seasoning and 1 small can chopped green chilies Simmer over low heat 20 minutes. Spoon over corn tortilla chips and top with shredded Jack or Cheddar cheese. Serve with chopped green onion, jalapeno peppers and sour cream on the side.

Click here to find the best appliances for your kitchen.

How to Choose a Good Wine in a Retail Wine Shop

Selecting a good wine is easy. Most people over-think it. After several decades of working in wine shops ranging from small neighborhood boutiques to large national grocery store chains, I can tell you that it is significantly less difficult than you think to always choose a good wine.

How to Always Choose a Good Wine

Choosing a good wine every time is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1. How to Choose a Good Wine Every Time – Shop at a Good Wine Shop

Good wine shops come in all shapes and sizes. A small boutique wine shop does not necessarily mean better service, and a large national retailer does not necessarily mean cheaper prices. Find a good wine shop that answers your questions.

In the long run this will save you more money and more heartache than anything else. It will also provide you with better wine more of the time than any other single variable-period. A good wine shop is imperative.

As much as I hate to say it, most of the people that work in my industry are not good at their jobs. If you walked into an auto-mechanic’s shop and asked about the difference between one auto part and another, you would expect an informative answer.

Unfortunately, most wine shops don’t work this way. They don’t care about you. And they don’t bother to train their employees. They expect you to be drunk and self-reliant.

The truth is many wines are chosen by stores because they get something in return. Who doesn’t love subsidized vacations, extra cases, and box seats at a major league sporting event? Kick backs on boxes in California to help the corporate bottom line? I know I do.

Don’t fall for it. Make us work for our money.

Tastes are different from one person to the next. I may not give a damn what my neighbors think about me after I invite them over for dinner. But maybe you do. I like wines high in acid, and maybe you don’t. I love rustic, but maybe you love modern.

A good wine shop should be able to recommend wines to you no matter what words you use to describe them. If one word fails, try another, and another. If they still don’t understand, then find a new wine shop.

Individuals that work in a wine shop typically get to taste thousands upon thousands of wines every year. You, most likely do not. In just one year working at a good NYC wine shop, I collected nearly 40,000 tasting notes-in my life, several hundred thousand.

That feat is impossible for regular consumers.

When I was a novice in the industry, choosing a wine for a customer was at times intimidating. So I tend to cut the ‘young-ens’ a little bit of slack. Now selecting a wine for someone else is entertainment. Make work fun for wine store clerks.

Nobody wants to be just a cashier. Ask a question they might have never heard before.

2. How to Choose a Good Wine Every Time – Read the Label

Maybe you are too shy and bashful to ask questions. Don’t fret. Another good way to find a good wine every time is to read the label. Most labels are full of information.

They tell you the name of the producer, the bottler, the region, the country, the importer (if imported), often the name of the parent company (if owned by a large corporation), the vintage, sometimes the vineyard, sometimes the quality, the alcohol level, etc.

Always take note. Every wine that you taste tells you something: good, bad, happy, dry, earthy, fruity, boozy, goes well with goat cheese, makes me want to dance, etc. Associate those words and impressions with the words on the label.

For example, importers like Kermit Lynch, Jon-David Headrick, and Louis/Dressner follow a philosophy. Most importers do. And each one is unique. However, there is a similarity that runs through all of the wines in a single importer’s portfolio. If I turn a wine over in a wine shop and see Jenny amp; Francois Selections, I know what to expect.

Using previous experience with other wines from the same importer as a lens, I can gain a greater understanding of the other words on the label.

It may sound complicated, but it will quickly become second nature. Many people just remember grape varietals. “I like Pinot Noir” or “I like Chardonnay.” While that is a start, it’s kind of like saying I like soda. There are many different sodas.

Remembering that you liked a Chardonnay from Margaret River, but not one from Adelaide is infinitely more beneficial than simply remembering that you like some Australian Chardonnays. The words on a wine label matter.

The more associations you have with each of them, the more you know what to look for. Pretty soon, you will be able to have a good grasp on what a wine tastes like before you even pop the cork.

3. How to Choose a Good Wine Every Time – Listen to the Wine

Many people rush to be critics-to pass judgment. As soon as a cork is popped, it’s all business-“strawberries, earthy, peonies, velvety, I like it, I don’t like it,” and all that. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it isn’t always very helpful.

Wine tells stories. Much more than most products. Wine talks about the place where the grapes were grown. It talks about the people who grew the grapes, and the people who made the wine. There is much to be heard. There is much to be learned and experienced. Open your senses.

When you invite someone over for dinner that you don’t know very well, is it best to rush to a judgment on that individual? This human being is good, or this human being is bad. I don’t think so. Impressions change. Judgments are overturned. Knowing a person is something different altogether.

The famous wine-maker Jean-Michel Deiss once said to wine writer Andrew Jeffords in an interview “What is a man? A man is the network of all his genes; that’s his ‘possible.’ Beyond that, though, a man is all he’s learned.

Every day he lived, he learned. He suffered; he became enthusiastic; he fell in love; he became disappointed. When I meet someone, what do I want? I want what he has lived (his vécu); his humanity; I don’t want his genetic material.

Why, when I taste a wine, do you want me to taste its genotype and not its vécu?”

Always choosing a good wine, the right wine, is about experience. It’s about knowing which wine to choose. Pop some tops. Life is beautiful-one sip at a time.

You can make your own cocktails with a best blender for frozen drinks.

How to Write a Restaurant Review

Eating is an important part of life and dining at restaurants and food outlets is common practise in modern society. There are numerous opportunities for those who wish to turn their dining experiences into cash by writing restaurant reviews.

How to Write a Restaurant Review

Before earning any money, however, it is essential to know what goes into writing a good review.

What to Include in a Restaurant Review

A dining out experience is a combination of several factors.

Here are some of the important ones to consider:

  • Service Atmosphere
  • Decor Ambiance
  • Crowd Lighting
  • Seating Menu
  • Wine list
  • Price
  • Music
  • Location

It is helpful to keep a notebook on hand and jot down thoughts about these areas as the meal progresses.

Focus on the Food

The main purpose of a restaurant review is to discuss the food. This requires the writer to be familiar with terminology such as stir fried, baked, sautéed, jus and escargots. Some restaurants specialize in specific types of food such as Greek, Italian or Chinese.

As a reviewer it is important to know the way international cuisine should look and taste.

Here are some of the main points to consider when assessing food quality:

  • Ingredients
  • Taste
  • Texture
  • Freshness
  • Portion size
  • Variety
  • Color/appearance
  • Temperature
  • Aroma

Who is the Target Audience

This is determined by the type of restaurant. Is it the type of place that attracts students or businessmen? Is it a fast food place, a vegetarian restaurant or a top French Restaurant?

After determining the target audience, word the review appropriately. It should follow a natural progression from booking a table, to the service while being seated, to the actual meal and payment at the end.

Recreate the experience by using words to build a picture of the ambience, food, flavour and service. Personal opinion is acceptable but don’t write a review that centres around, “I did this and I did that.”

Avoid generic descriptions like delicious, tasty and savoury and choose specific words that will mean something to the reader.

Include the Restaurant Details

This is an area sometimes neglected. Give the full name of the restaurant, the address and phone number and state their opening hours and website if they have one. Some restaurants have desirable settings such as a beach front or vineyard. It is worth mentioning this in the review.

Restaurant reviewing often starts out as a way to make a bit of extra money. Some writers end up making a career of it. For those who enjoy eating out, it’s a field worth pursuing. Just remember that it takes time and perseverance to become successful.