Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Sauvginon Blanc Seduction (Courtship Rules)

Long courtships can be magical. But most of us, microwave-minded Americans, wouldn’t know that. Sauvignon Blanc has courted me for years, but I’ve been evasive, secretly snubbing the Sancerre bottles colleagues have deemed royalty. I’m a Viognier-girl. I’m a Marsanne and Roussanne-girl. When I think of Sauvignon Blanc, I think, “white grapefruit.” Big deal. But, this last year I’ve stumbled into some truly intriguing bottles of Sauvignon Blanc. It’s like the guy or girl who’s been asking you out for years and you’ve repeatedly declined. Then he or she says or does something that makes you take notice. Maybe, he references Frida Kahlo, who is your favorite artist of all time. Or maybe, he references a Psalm that you absolutely adore. Suddenly, they’re not as corny. The 2010 Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Estate Grown Fumé Blanc is not corny. Apricot, white peach and lavender aromas emerge from white grapefruit, lemon drop, lychee and white pepper flavors. I love the saltiness at the finish, that beautiful minerality that beckons ceviche, yellowfin sashimi and oysters. It’s absolutely delicious and three days later with no fancy wine preserver, it’s still unraveling on my palate. I paired it up with the savory, sweet escovitch fish my father bought from a seaside port in Kingston and it was the promise of an amazing food and wine pairing fulfilled. As I enter 2012, I think of the promises I’ve made to myself but have failed miserably. “This time, I won’t let him…” But I did. And so I make another promise to myself to consider the long courtship over the corny, one-palate wonder.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sorrel Scandal

Sorrel season is a scary time of year. Relationships can be broken. Some are even terminally altered. In my family, aunts feud over this luscious, holiday drink made from an herb that turns into a gorgeous, violet color when it’s ready to be picked. The herb is then transformed into a rich, spicy scandal juice. Jamaicans love sorrel, and it’s typical for family members to offer empty, white rum bottles filled with sorrel as holiday gifts to other family members. Each family member has his or her own style. Some make sorrel with dramatic amounts of sugar (Think 80s Kool-Aid). Some use piercing amounts of ginger. Some use lime. Some sorrel juices have the consistency of rhubarb syrup. But really well-made sorrel always has a few splashes of Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum. Recently my mom has been using me a scapegoat in evaluating the sorrel that pours in during the holidays. “Dinkinish is a food critic,” she will say sneeringly to her sister who may have neglected to send my mother her yearly batch. “She said that yours was very, very sweet last year.” My cousin just sent my mother a batch that was super lime-y. I decided to pour it into a flute glass with some Cava, but the lime assassinated the Cava. But I’m not giving up. I’m sure a more sugary sorrel is sure to work. My mom asked me what I thought, phone in hand, but I learned my lesson. “It’s good,” I responded flatly.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Booty & Fresh Greens

God drew a heart in the sky for me this morning. I’m serious. I just finished 100 downward dogs, my derriere feeling rounder than the fullest moon. And as I lay down for shavasana, a cloud appeared in the shape of a heart. Whenever possible I go to the free yoga class at Bayfront Park. It’s perfect weather for bending, breathing, straddling the wind and glancing at the woman whose derriere looks like it could hang neatly from a Christmas tree. With all this airy introspection, I decided to eat a simple, mixed green salad. I stumbled into Organic Girl Good Clean Greens at Publix and was taken with the beautiful, bright lettuce that stood out among the other bags filled with dewy, brown leaves. Don’t you hate spending $4.99 for a bag of organic greens that look like they were picked from a sewer garden? It’s been a while since my palate perceived the spicy, earthy, fresh nuances in the ubiquitous spring mix. I had some Gran Queso that I grated for the salad. The cheese is like a Manchego meets Parmigiano-Reggiano in flavor and in texture. I tossed in some dried cranberries and drizzled a little Makoto Ginger Dressing.  The salad was calling for a nice Sancerre, a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or a yummy sparkling wine—Graham Beck, maybe. But I never have two things that match. I had a 2007 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre that was leftover from last night, so I just sipped that. This wine is delicious. Dried, dark cherries and raisins downward dog the palate. It gets jammy after it sits in the glass for a while. It’s brick red and super juicy like many of the yogi-dudes who insist on practicing topless.
Happy Birthday, Jesus. I know you’re sipping the good stuff:)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bareback in Vacqueyras

I’ve been in smorgasbord-heaven for the last five days. I deserve it. The year is ending, taking with it the pangs and woes, victories and defeats, answered prayers and unanswered prayers, good bottles and bad bottles. For me, it’s been a year of staring mortality dead in the eye, leaping bareback into oblivion and emerging like a ravenous tiger. I know you know what I’m talking about. You lost jobs. You found jobs. You lost loves. You found loves. You paid bills. You didn’t pay bills. You slept. You haven’t slept. You passed exams. You failed exams. You lost faith. You found faith. But you’re still here—sticky-fingered, messy, pissed-off, and rejuvenated. So am I. Enough sermonizing. What about the wine? At first, the 2006 La Cuveé du Président Vacqueyras tasted like a 40 year old man on the brink of a mid-life crisis. The dark fruits were still there, but they were dull and sluggish, like they were hanging on to lives already lived. But I was patient. Most men need coaxing, right? So I decanted it and waited 45 minutes. Those repressed dark fruits began to emerge with flavors like mushroom and black pepper. There was some dark chocolate, and the body wrapped around my palate like cashmere. But I do believe this wine is in its last and closing days of time. But you aren’t. And that's what’s important. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Brunch, Booz and Djon-Djon

What do you get when you mix lightweight ex-girlfriends, a slightly intimidated baby daddy, tabbouleh and a yummy Zinfandel? Brunch. Today is my best friend, Sandy’s, birthday. We’ve known each other for over 23 years (Stop trying to figure out my age lol). Since she was in Haiti for my birthday, we decided to celebrate together. Now that we’re grown-ass women, we don’t see each other as much even though we live in the same city, so this was a special moment. Sandy’s stunningly gorgeous Haitian neighbor—Titu made the tabbouleh, and Sandy's mom made my favorite rice in the world—diri ak djon-djon (Haitian black rice). This luxurious dish is made with black, sun-dried mushrooms indigenous to Haiti though there are bootleg versions you can find in local, Caribbean markets. Having had the dish many times, I can tell the difference, and I can tell Sandy’s mom splurged on the real mushrooms (Thanks, Ma). Oh, but the pièce de résistance was the Haitian pineapple upside down cake jeweled with candied prunes. This is Sandy’s specialty. It’s moist, buttery and sweet, like Jamaican rum cake without the rum. I know the Zinfandel sounds random. You were thinking Bordeaux or even a Chinon for the mushroom-y rice, right? I know, but that’s what I had, and it wasn’t the big, jammy, purple-tooth showdown I was expecting. The wine had aromas of roses and anise and flavors of black cherry, loads of dark chocolate and black pepper. It was a flirty wine appropriately named Macchia Adventurous, ’09 vintage from Linsteadt Vineyard. Sandy drank Riesling…from the blue bottle lol

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gourmet Squatter Video

This is my debut video for Gourmet Squatter. I'm so excited and am looking forward to doing more of them. Squat, Sip, Savor...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Moon Over Sinner Food


Church food is the best food. Why? In black churches, cooks aren’t just cooking for anybody. They’re cooking for God. And God loves flavor. My church is celebrating its 25th anniversary banquet, and so my family’s house has been like a pressure cooker for the last 48 hours. Each year, my mother drags my father all over Miami, looking for the best cuts of goat meat and chicken. Prep work is serious. My mother massages chicken with obscene amounts of garlic, thyme, onion, and Nature’s Seasoning. She cleans the goat meat with vinegar, seasons it similarly, but she also adds a bright-flavored Jamaican curry for curry goat. Voluptuous women named Sistah This or Evangelist That pour into the house with smoked, country hams, brown stew chicken, Haitian macaroni au gratin, potato salad, and rice and peas. Most of them are Nurses’ Aids and have just completed double-shifts, but you wouldn’t know it if I didn’t tell you. They have ceaseless energy, offering these gifts with hands that have bathed the sick, comforted the dying and borrowed a necklace or two from the infirmed. But my mother secretly deems her food the best. This year, her sous chef—a new member we’ll call Sistah Jerk, has won the golden jerk award. Guys, her chicken is worthy of heaven’s table—tender, smoky, sweet-spiced, Jamaican jerk perfection. I’m talking glossy-lipped-chew-the-bones perfection. I watched her melt the coconut cream into the gungo peas and rice, and it, too, made the angels lick their fingers clean. Tonight’s full moon will bring in all types of church folk and quasi-church folk. They’ll emerge from dusty bibles. The pungent smell of Holy Ghost stew (manish watah) will lure them in. Most won’t buy dinner tickets, but request juice instead of ginger ale. I’ll serve them. That’s my job—church waitress.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Salt Snob

In 2007, I visited a salt plantation in La Rochelle, France. It was one of those gourmet squatter jaunts that pop up out of nowhere. Anyway, I got a couple bags of salt to take home. One had coarse, gray nuggets that I sprinkled on my organic ground sirloin and pearly racks of lamb and the other was like little speckles of broken, white diamonds I used on salads or to enliven my dips (The peppadew cream cheese is simply amazing). I broke up with Morton and became quite the salt snob. But last night, I used the last of it. Another beautiful relationship ended as I doubt I will be returning to La Rochelle to buy salt anytime soon. Aaaah, but what an intoxicating affair.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Better Than Bedroom Bacon

I woke up with meat on my mind—applewood smoked bacon or chorizo wreathing a soft pile of scrambled eggs seasoned with scallion and red peppers. Maybe a couple slices of toasted and buttered hard dough bread? The perfect gourmet bed bash. But I was in a rush, and I never keep that type of the stuff in the fridge. I raced out of the house, a McDonald’s sausage egg McMuffin-mirage on the edge of the street. I haven’t had McDonald’s in forever. It would be just this one time. The conscious, anti-fast food police would never know. I want to buy the vegan, tofu scrambled eggs with homemade, apple soy sausage and coconut buttered whole wheat toast, but I just don’t have $9 to drop on breakfast right now. As I take that sharp right and head down the boulevard, my car piercing through the Krispy Kreme crack, Taco Bell and Subway-street walkers, I turn into the parking lot on the right. What am I doing here? I’m being led. I know it. The gourmet squatter angels are guiding me. I walk into the restaurant to find Mr. Carrot hard at work. “You’re hungry?” he asks in his Rafiki-in-The-Lion-King voice. He flashes that charming, goatee-framed grin and disappears. He emerges from the kitchen 20 minutes later, hands me the tofu special in a paper bag—McDee’s style. “Go forth. Be great,” he said.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Barefoot Lies

My mother loves Manischewitz Concord Grape wine. To her, it is grander than the most distinguished Sauternes or luxurious Pedro Ximenez dulce. She called me yesterday, her voice as sugary as her favorite wine because she bought a bottle of Barefoot Sweet Red for under $6 and was wondering what I thought of it. My mother is the godmother gourmet squatter, a master at discovering the most sophisticated gourmet fare at half the price. She’s skilled at budgeting in such way that she can enjoy luxurious treats like wild smoked salmon and freshly made turkey sausages. I acquiesce to her ability to sniff free gourmet samples from miles away. But we don’t share the same wine passions. Still, I joined her for a first taste of her new find. It wasn’t tragic. Actually, it was the kind of base I’d use for a summer sangria or as an ingredient for Jamaican black cake. She loved it, smiling at me from underneath her colorful, paisley tie-head. “You like it?,” she asked in her roaring, Jamaican twang, her excitement mirroring that of a child skipping away barefoot on a sugary sand beach, the world and all its pretensions lost in the dawn’s light. “Yes,” I responded. “You too lie,” she said, rolling her luscious, brown eyes at me.