Sunday, June 29, 2008

Is it safe to eat tomatoes yet? It's Summer, I NEED them.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

the wine room

If you ever find yourself around Winterpark, Florida you have to plan a trip to The Wine Room. Not only is it the best wine bar in the Orlando area but it is the only one of it's kinda in the entire Nation (hard to believe I know, but I asked!). At The Wine Room you purchase a card containing whatever dollar amount you'd like to spend tasting wines. You then peruse around their cozy shop sampling wines simply by inserting your card and pressing a button for a 1-3 oz taste. Wines are arranged by type and the price per ounce varies from $1 to $25. In addition to the large selection of wines, they also offer specialty beers, cheeses, and other things to nibble on while you taste at your own pace.

I've had the opportunity to visit The Wine Room twice now and have tasted a lot of wonderful wines. We even have money left over on cards from our last visit that we can use for another time. Tasting wine before you buy it is always a good idea and this seems like the absolute best way to do it.

Mosella 2004 Riesling Spatlese Graacher Himmelreich
The wine maker himself was there to tell us a little bit more about his wines. He saw me jotting down notes and made sure to introduce himself as the only American wine maker in Germany. We tasted 2 of his Rieslings and they were just as he described them -- excellent. The above was light and crisp with notes of starfruit and grass -- perfect for the incredibly hot day outside.

Freemark Abbey 2006 Viognier
I almost always love a viognier. This one was a bit different that the very floral and fragrant ones I'm used to. Lemony and full of zest.

Martinelli "Giuseppe & Luisa" 2006 Zinfandel Russian River Valley
Very nice but very expensive. Spicy finish. Hints of coffee, kirsch, and strawberry.

La Crema 2005 Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
A solid pinot for the buck. Perfume-y and full of sour fruit on the nose. Thick and luscious with red fruits and plum.

La Crema 2006 Chardonnay
I'm not much for Chardonnay but La Crema makes some really nice wines. This one was thick and oaky with a bright finish that was fitting for the heat.

The Black Chook 2006 Shiraz Viognier Australia
This is the most memorable wine I've ever tasted. What a combination! It smells like the sea and tastes like the sea in a way that perfectly fresh seafood might taste. There's a hint of salt and maybe a bit of briny seaweed. This is just one you have to taste to believe. I'm not sure I'd want to drink a bottle but it might pair really nicely with oysters or other bivalves.

Rosenblum Desiree Chocolate Dessert Wine California
The Wine Room even has dessert wines and ports! This one tastes just like what you might think it tastes like. It has a smooth buttery taste that reminded me of chocolate cake batter.

Meeker FRO-Zin Russian River Valley
An icewine made from zinfandel grapes. It resembles grape juice or raspberry juice and tastes like sweet candy. Mark from Mosella called it "Kool-Aide" and it is, but in the very best, tastiest way.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

mutant fruit

Everyone is sweltering in the heat and has lost there appetite haven't they? Thankfully loads of wonderful fruits are in their prime (sans the tomato what with the salmonella and all...) and make a wonderful light snack, refreshing leisurely breakfast, or a scrumptious dessert. Now is the time to hit up your local producers. You may find mutant blueberries the size of quarters like this one:

Or you'll find other great berries perfect for jams/jellies, pies, cobblers, trifles, cakes, ice creams... it's endless.

Raspberry Tiramisu
adpated from Giada de Laurentiis

1/2 cup good quality raspberry jam
6 oz orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier)
8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
scant 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
ladyfingers, enough to fill a 9x9 glass dish
1-2 pints fresh raspberries
dust with confectioners sugar, chocolate shavings, or cocoa powder (optional)

In a small bowl combine the jam and liqueur to thin it out. Set aside. In a large bowl whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. In another bowl, soften the mascarpone with a spoon. Fold the cream into the cheese, adding a little at a time until combined. Layer the bottom of a glass dish with lady fingers and spread the jam mixture over the top. Then add a layer of the cream and top with raspberries. Add another layer of ladyfingers and repeat the layers until you're dish is full or you run out of ingredients. You can double the recipe to fill a trifle dish. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors meld and serve on a hot, hot day. This is perfect for a picnic and can be thrown together in no time.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I succumbed to a 'free' trial of a new product that is being promoted by Lance Armstrong. My FRS (Free Radical Scavengers) trial came with not just a energy drink, but also a powdered and liquid concentrate and chews. I've had time to try the sample and thought I'd blog about the experience.

First the taste. Well, if you're one of the lucky few who can't taste Splenda (aka sucralose) then you will probably like FRS. The 'diet' versions have a mere 5 g of sugar. I haven't tried the non-diet versions yet but I imagine they are loaded with as much sugar as a Red Bull or any similar energy drink. The drinks taste best super cold and chugged. I've had the berry and peach-mango flavored drinks. They're not great, with a slight vitamin-y taste, but they're not that bad considering some of the alternatives. The chews are a little more tolerable and come in lemon-lime and orange flavors. They have some grittiness but I've really gotten used to eating them despite the sucralose. The powders and concentrate can be added to other juices to mostly mask the taste. After a couple days trying the out my trial pack, I'm getting used to the taste.

FRS suggests drinking 2 cans of the drink per day and/or 2 chews at a time -- morning and afternoon. They also suggest drinking or chewing right before a workout for an added boost. P says he has definitely noticed a boost in energy from drinking/chewing FRS. He described it as different than coffee or other drinks that tend to give you the jitters. I haven't noticed a thing. I'm not surprised. I think if I ate an entire bag of the chews I'd still be tired. Unfortunately there's no quick fix when you live with CFIDS.

So what's in the stuff? FRS is more of a health drink than an energy drink. The caffeine content is about the equivalent of 1/4 cup of coffee. The main ingredients consist of green tea extract, vitamins and minerals, and quercetin. Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant found in green leafy vegetables, capers, red onions, citrus, apples, and various berries. This main ingredient seems to be how the drink got it's name, since antioxidants help combat the barrage of free radicals that damage cell membranes and DNA. Green tea extract is also a powerful antioxidant, and if you ask me you can't have too many antioxidants! In addition, quercetin works as an anti-inflammatory! After reading about quercetin, I want to eat more capers and red onions.

So maybe I can get past the taste if I know it's good for me. Each can is packed with B vitamins and vitamins C and E. The sugar and sodium content are minimal and the drink is not carbonated. The verdict is still out on whether quercetin is the next big thing or not. If you want to try it out for yourself look in stores or check out the trial. The downside to FRS is the price. If you don't cancel your subscription after signing up for the trial, you will be charged $60/month and receive loads of FRS at your doorstep. While the drinks are competitively priced at $1.99, a bag of the chews can cost you anywhere from $15-20/30 ct. Maybe we'll see a price drop if demand gets high, in the meantime ration your 'free' trial.