CV, the Wine Guy, talks Syrah

Skagit Valley Food Coop_CV the Wine Guy_Syrah_10.27.14Syrah #1 : Barnard Griffin Syrah 2012
Appellation: Columbia Valley, Washington
Alcohol by Volume: 13.9%
Price: $14.99
Wine Enthusiast Rating: 90 points
CV Says: Some people would arguably say that Syrah is the best varietal for Washington — it does very well here. Barnard Griffin was established in 1983. The vineyard is in the Columbia Valley, and the winery in Redmond. The tulip label featured on the Syrah is being retired — Barnard Griffin also uses (and increases to use) a newer label with a gold griffin. I think the first Barnard Griffin tulip label was for the Tulip festival here in Mount Vernon. I’m not certain of that, but it is a nice, familiar look to those of us in the Valley.

Syrah from this state of ours is very well known and liked. Syrahs has varying levels of intensity — this one is approachable, but it has a lot of luster. This is a serious wine. Syrahs in general are serious wines. They’re full of fruit, but they’re also full of leather, and the denseness the grape has to offer. This is a wine that would be good for fall meals; it would be wonderful with lamb. It would be fine with steak, or other cuts of beef. It would stand up well to anything that had a bit of spice, or heat, to it. The Barnard Griffin Syrah has the flavors of cassis, and ripe, dark fruit, such as plum or cherry.

Syrah #2: Alvarez Nölting Fedriani Laffitte
Appellation: Valencia, Spain (Eastern Mediterranean Coast)
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
Price: $9.99
Wine Enthusiast Rating: 93 points
CV Says: This Syrah is … BAM! Full of flavor. It has a lovely hit: it’s not like a hit over the head, but it will get your attention. This is a bona fide, obscure classic Spanish Syrah. For this wine, it’s all about the extraction. If it’s in the grape, they’ll get it into the wine, and the color of the wine is testament to that committed extraction: it’s inky and opaque. The Fedriani Faffitte is a dense, thick wine. While CV and I (Rachael, his interviewer and scribe) were chatting about Syrahs, we were joined by our Kitchen Manager, Lisa (a fantastic cook in her own right)m who was looking for a wine to serve with a bone marrow appetizer. This was the wine of choice. Its suppleness makes it a surprisingly adaptable food wine: it would pair well with hard cheeses; dark, nutty chocolate; or lamb. Or, of course, you could go the route CV and I both did independently, and enjoy it with “it”.

Style wise, the Barnard Griffin is a light Syrah; the Fedriani Laffitte is BIG. The former actually has a higher alcohol content, but due to the style of the Spanish Syrah (and its extraction process) it’s a much bigger, heftier wine.

The Bounty of Bulk: Use Your Noodles

Skagit Valley Food Coop_Bounty of Bulk_Oct 27Welcome to our latest segment focusing on the wondrous world of bulk: pasta. Buying in bulk is great for saving money on these pantry essentials, from couscous to spaghetti to shaped pasta. The Co-op stocks a dozen different types of noodles and pasta, including gluten-free quinoa and corn rotelle.

Accessorize your noodles with some garlic, onions, and leeks (local from Ralph’s Greenhouse in Mount Vernon, WA) and you’ve got a great base for many meals. Choose hearty and healthy whole grain pastas, and add seasonal vegetables, cheese, tofu, or your preferred cut of meat. Here are a few choice recipes from our customers and staff:

Seasonal Vegetable Orzo Salad Recipe

Orzo - “orzo” is the Italian word for barley. However, orzo pasta is made from semolina durum wheat, not from barley. It’s a versatile, rice-shaped pasta. A classic for cold vegetable salads and comfort meals, use orzo to add texture to soups. It’s a great deal in bulk — only $1.79 per pound!

Make a delightful, yet simple orzo salad: Read more The Bounty of Bulk: Use Your Noodles …

CV, the Wine Guy, knows a good bargin!

SVFC_CV Wine_Bargin RedsThis week, CV The Wine Guy is giving us the scoop on three bargain wines that the Co-op frequently carries. The first two wines can be found stacked around the column that is just in front of the Bakery case in the Deli area. The third is at the column near the Deli to-go case (on your way to or from the cheese island). All of them are a steal at $7.99 each!

Bargain Red
: 2012 Codice (pictured on the left)
Producer: Dominio de Eguren
Geographic Origin: Castilla (Vino de la Terra)
Varietal: Tempranillo (Spain’s most native grape type; good for full-bodied wines, with spicy red fruit flavors and aromas)
Price: $7.99
CV Says: Margarette is the wine representative that sells us this wine — she has wonderful wines at great prices. The bottle does not list the varietal, and really — that’s not necessarily important. Codice means tradition, or the codes, in Spanish. There are a lot of rules and regulations for wine making in all of the European countries. In Spain, in the last 10 years, the new generation of wine makers got permission to not follow those rules “to law”, or, at least, could ignore them without getting fined. It was decided that, as long as the new ideas were shared amongst the wine makers of a region, an individual wine maker could go off on their own. This has created a nice synergy in Spain; there’s a lot going on there. Some of the old funkiness that was carried on by tradition, maybe in a negative way, is gone. And that’s really been a positive thing. This bottle of wine has probably seen just a little bit of wood. It’s going to have lovely berry and cherry flavors to it. This is a bottle of wine that will go well with a simple meal — pastas, pizza, any  kind of hearty sauce. It will hold its own. It’s not going to be dry in any sense; it’s going to have a fair amount of fruit on it. It’s a bottle of wine that pleases many. 
Read more CV, the Wine Guy, knows a good bargin! …

New Feature: CV, The Wine Guy, talks Red Blends

CV the Wine Guy_Skagit Valley Food CoopMeet CV, one of the newest additions to the Co-op family. CV is our resident wine guy and our newest cheese specialist. And he’s here to give you generous, succinct, friendly advice on wines (and cheese). CV is quick to say that he’s not a wine “expert” — he’s not the person to go to for fancy terminology — but he does know wine, and approaches it with robust energy and a desire to match wine with people, food, and experiences. Each week, CV will pow-wow with us about geographic regions, specific varietals, wines with a purpose, etc., and give you two wine recommendations at two price points, below $10, and below $16. (With a darn good bargain or occasional splurge thrown in from time-to-time.)

Have suggestions for where CV takes us next? Email us at community(at)skagitfoodcoop(dot)com.

For week one, we’ll keep things nice and friendly — kicking off autumn and this new feature with Red Blends. Read more New Feature: CV, The Wine Guy, talks Red Blends …

The Indian in the Cupboard: Palak Paneer

SkagitValleyFoodCoop_IndianintheCupboard_Paneer_3.31.14SkagitValleyFoodCoop_IndianintheCupboard_PaneerFinal_3.31.14

If South Indian cuisine is the Washington fare of India (fresh, light, lots of fish and seafood), then North Indian food is down-home Texas (rich, creamy and heavy). Most Indian restaurants you’ll find will be North Indian and boast menus of buttery, starchy goodness. Butter chicken, tikka masala, jalfrezi, biryani, roti, naan – it’s all enough to drive a girl mad with food-lust. But, of course, there is one North Indian dish that shines on a pedestal of deliciousness in my heart, far above the rest: Palak Paneer. Creamy, sweetly spiced spinach surrounds chunks of soft paneer (a mildly flavored Indian cheese). Its dangerously delicious flavor is capable of sending anyone into a proper comfort-food coma. But I like to live dangerously, so let’s cook.

Ingredients
2-7 oz. Packages of Paneer (cubed)
2 Bunches of Spinach (blanched and finely chopped)
5 Tbsps. Olive Oil (vegetable oil or ghee would also work)
½ Large Jalapeno (finely chopped)
1 ¼ tsp. Turmeric Powder
½ tsp. Cayenne
Salt
1 Clove of Garlic (minced)
½” – 1 ½” Piece of Fresh Ginger (peeled and minced)
1 Medium Onion (finely chopped)
2 Medium Tomatoes (large dice)
¾ tsp. Garam Masala
Pinch of Asafoetida
Pinch of Red Chili Powder
1 Bay Leaf
1 Curry Leaf
1 Heaping tsp. Coriander (ground)
1 Scant tsp. Cumin (ground)
2-3 Tbsps. Heavy Cream or Yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Mix 1 tsp. turmeric, cayenne, salt and 3 Tbsps. oil in a large bowl. Drop in cubes of paneer and gently toss. Set aside.

    SkagitValleyFoodCoop_IndianintheCupboard_FriedPaneer_3.31.14

    Fried Paneer!

  2. Rinse spinach well. Boil about 6 cups of water in a large saucepan with ½ tsp. of salt. When water is boiling, turn off heat, and drop in spinach leaves. Cover pot with lid and leave for 2-3 minutes. Extract spinach from boiling water, using a colander, and immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water. Leave in ice water for a minute or two, then drain the leaves.
  3. At this point, it may be easiest to toss your spinach into a food processor and blend into a coarse puree. I, however, live sans food processor and thusly get to do it the old fashioned way! Huzzah! – Finely chop the aforementioned spinach by hand, using only your sharpest kitchen knife and the will to laugh in the face of modern technologies.
  4. We’re ready to cook! Heat a large frying pan on medium high. Carefully add marinated paneer to hot pan. Toss cubes until all sides are a light, golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Add about 2 Tbsps. of olive oil (or ghee) to your pan. Add onion, ginger, garlic, and jalapeno. Sauté ingredients until they are a deep, golden brown. With a cup of water at the ready, add the remaining spices. Splash mixture with water, as needed, to keep spices from burning. A thick paste will form. Keep it moving for a few minutes, until spices permeate the air with a distinct, strong aroma.
  6. Add spinach to pan with ½ cup water. Add tomatoes. Simmer for 4-8 minutes, adding water as needed to keep mixture moist.
  7. Slowly add cream, stirring constantly, and salt to taste. Cover and let simmer for about another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Serve over basmati rice, with naan, paratha or roti. Enjoy!

*For all my vegan buddies out there, replace paneer with 1 package of extra firm tofu and cream with canned coconut milk. The substitutions will totally still work with the recipe. Yay!