Wine. Food. Reviews. Recipes. Lap it up.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Steal this logo!

Organically Grown in IndianaBack in the late 1990s, I entered a competition to create a logo that could be used on organic food products from Indiana. The idea was to make a simple design that would be recognizable and easy to reproduce.

As it turned out, my entry was selected. But then the committee had "a few changes" it wanted to make, and it soon became evident that I would be creating another design from scratch that would be acceptable to everyone on the committee — for free.

Now, the best way to generate a mediocre design is to work for a committee, so I declined. As far as I know there still isn't a label for organically-made Indiana products, so if you want to use this one, be my guest — here's the link to a high-resolution .eps file. It should be usable on anything from small oval stickers to large signs.

I'm putting this into the public domain, and don't expect any payment for it. But if you do use it, please let me know!
Anonymous, 11:22 AM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Weim & Cheese fundraiser is June 21

Weim & CheeseHere's a fundraising event that's near and dear to my heart: Louisville Weimaraner Rescue's first Weim & Cheese, which will be held in New Albany on June 21.

I'm flattered and pleased that I, Jackson Silverheels Gray, was chosen to be the poster boy for this event! As you may already know, I was taken care of by Louisville Weimaraner Rescue before I found my forever family and became the WineCanine. (My predecessor, Milo Zane Grey, was cared for by Weimaraner Rescue of the South before he moved to Indiana.)

Even though Louisville Weimaraner Rescue is run completely by dedicated volunteers, the bills add up quickly — veterinary services, prescriptions, insurance and food among them. Adoption fees alone can't generate enough income to cover expenses, so donations of goods, services and funds are important.

LWR's Weim & Cheese event will be a fun way to raise money to help offset those costs. The evening will feature a raffle, silent auction, live auction, yummy hors d'œuvres, beer, a cash bar, and of course wines and Weims! Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 at the door. Donations for the auctions are welcome, and since LWR is a 501(C)3 not-for-profit organization, tax-deductible.

To order tickets, send a check or money order to Louisville Weimaraner Rescue, 16810 Highway 62, Charlestown IN 47111-9728. To donate auction items, call 812-256-3967 or send an email to Denise King or Jackie Pondy. (And tell them Jackson sent you!)
J. Silverheels Gray, 5:32 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A little Potato Salad for the weekend

Here's a tribute to potato salad by the Ross Sisters, from the 1944 production Broadway Rhythm.

And while we're on the subject....

Potato Salad Like Mom Used To Make
Source: Virginia Finch
Makes six servings

6 potatoes, boiled
6 eggs, boiled and chopped fine
1/2 cup sliced green olives
1/2 cup dill pickles, chopped
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 cup celery hearts, chopped
1/2 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
1/2 cup yellow mustard
Tabasco to taste

Chop boiled potatoes into approximately 1/2" cubes. Combine with rest of ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Chill before serving.

Adjust for personal preference. I usually omit the pickles and double up on the olives, and I tend to go heavier on the mustard, too. A bit of white pepper adds zing.

J. Silverheels Gray, 9:56 AM | link | 2 comments |

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Domaine Fincham Red Note 2005

Red Note 2005Domaine Fincham's delicious Grenache-Syrah blend, the Red Note 2005, opens with a typically earthy French nose which quickly blows off and is replaced with aromas of leather and blackberries. In the mouth it's medium-bodied, rich and velvety, with flavors of blackberries and dried cherries tinged with baking spices, and just enough tannin to give it some structure. It leaves behind a long, dry, cherry-tinged finish that makes you look forward to the next sip. Its price is $15 or so, and for that it delivers a lot.

Winemaker Mark Fincham is a Londoner who leads bicycle tours, has a master's degree in oenology from Lycée Viticole, and got his hands-on experience by helping his wife and her family make wine at the vaunted Châteauneuf du Pape producer Domaine du Pegau. Fincham's own vineyards are further southwest, in Costières de Nimes.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:36 AM | link | 0 comments |

Monday, May 19, 2008

Despite rising costs, still the land of plenty

Pot Luck or Humble PieFood has been in the news quite a bit recently. Rising prices of corn and rice have sparked unrest in countries in which they are staple foods, and residents of the United States are having to deal with shortages of certain commodities, such as rye. The reduced salmon population in California, Oregon and Washington is expected to push the prices of wild Alaskan salmon to as much as $40 per pound (we'll find out just exactly how much when Copper River salmon gets to our area later this week or next). And the political support for ethanol subsidies is slipping as corn prices rise.

News stories about dollar-stretching and belt-tightening abound, so it was a bit of an eye opener to read a story in The New York Times that says Americans throw away 27 percent of their available food, or about a pound a day per person. This isn't a purely American phenomenon: Brits throw away a third of their food, and Swedes up to a quarter.

And while 30 million tons of food is deposited annually into U.S. landfills, Second Harvest reports that contributions to food banks has declined by nine percent. It's a complex problem (complicated, as many things are, by the specter of liability lawsuits); follow the link and read the whole thing.

In the meantime, remember what your mother said: Eat everything on your plate; and waste not, want not.
J. Silverheels Gray, 9:49 AM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, May 16, 2008

Henry's Drive Pillar Box Red 2006

A Pillar BoxI've put off reviewing the Pillar Box Red 2006 from Henry's Drive for quite a while because of something my mother taught me: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

The Pillar Box Red 2005 was any easy-to-drink red blend – all one needed to do was to crack open the screwcap, pour it in a glass, and drink it. When the 2006 vintage arrived last winter, I expected it to be much the same, but it wasn't. Instead, as it came out of the bottle it was bitter and harsh, and packed a lot of alcoholic heat.

Due in part to the perseverance of our wine rep, we wine guys and gals discovered that its personality changed dramatically after it was exposed to air for a while, so we sold the ’06 with a caveat: Decant it for at least half an hour, or leave the bottle open for three days before drinking. Because of those requirements, it definitely wasn't a party wine.

Lately I'd been curious about what effect six months of bottle age had wrought on the Pillar Box Red, so I gave it another try last night. Cracked open the bottle, poured a bit, gave the glass a swirl, and ... "hey, this is good!"

Age has definitely mellowed this vintage of Pillar Box Red. It does open with a streak of tannin, but that is quickly overpowered by jammy blackberry, blueberry and cassis flavors. It's full-bodied, and the alcoholic heat it once had is nowhere in evidence, despite its 15 percent alcohol content. After a brief (20 minute) decant the wine opens even more and the streak of tannin vanishes, a cedar nose emerges and the fruit flavors deepen. It could benefit from even more bottle age, but this Australian blend of Padthaway Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is perfectly drinkable right now, and is an excellent candidate to pair with burgers or serve by itself -- and since it's only about ten bucks a bottle, as a party wine!

Aussies love to give their wines strange names, but they don't come out of thin air. (D'Arenberg's Footbolt Shiraz is named after a horse; Tait's Ball Buster Shiraz is named in honor of the winemaker's wife, who we are to gather is not a shy, delicate creature.) Pillar Box wines are named for the ubiquitous mailboxes that populate Great Britain and, to a lesser extent, Australia. Pillar Box's wine labels further extend the tribute — and as a variation of the theme, Henry's Drive also makes a Barossa Shiraz called Dead Letter Office.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:06 AM | link | 1 comments |

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'll have the Cabernet, accompanied by The Who

Wine NotesMusic can have an effect on the way listeners perceive the qualities of the wines they are drinking, according to a study performed for Viña Montes by the Heriot-Watt University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

When a powerful piece of music is played, a wine such as Montes Alpha's Cabernet Sauvignon is perceived as being 60 percent richer and more robust than when there is no musical accompaniment, according to Professor Adrian North. "It is widely acknowledged within the scientific community that music affects behavior," said North, who conducted the research. "However, this is the first time it has been scientifically proven that music can affect perception in other senses, and change the way wine tastes."

The research by North's Department of Applied Psychology is based on the theory of cognitive priming. This postulates that when a particular style of music is heard, it stimulates or 'primes' specific areas in the brain. Subsequently, when wine is tasted, these areas of the brain are already active and prime the taster to judge the wine in a corresponding way. The effect is more pronounced with red wines than with white, the study finds.

Music is already used in the production of Montes wines, as monastic chants are played to maturing casks of wine in the winery's Feng Shui-optimized barrel room. The company is now looking into adding music recommendations to its back labels.

That Arbor Crest Merlot ’03 I had a couple of nights ago was particularly good — or was it the London Symphony Orchestra's rendition of Dvorák's New World Symphony...?
J. Silverheels Gray, 8:41 AM | link | 0 comments |

Friday, May 09, 2008

Fogo de Chão opens in Indianapolis

Fogo de ChãoIf you're a wine-loving meat-eater, you'll want to pay a visit to the new Fogo de Chão Brazilian steakhouse that just opened in downtown Indianapolis. (Welcome, race fans!)

Located in the newly-renovated Broadbent Building at 117 East Washington Street (aka The Building Formerly Known as The Zipper), the restaurant is contemporary and elegant, with a large central dining area, a bar and a private dining room. This Fogo de Chão (which translates to "fire of earth") is the eleventh link in a chain of restaurants started by two brothers in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1979. They opened their first U.S. location in Dallas in 1997; by the end of this year there will be 13 Fogos in this country and five in Brazil.

In the approximate center of the dining area is a massive salad bar brimming with all kinds of greenery, fresh vegetables, cheeses and a few meats. An entire wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano, carved out and filled with chunks of itself, anchors one end.

After the buffet comes the main event: Meat, and lots of it! Each diner is provided with a small round disk that is green on one side and red on the other. Turning the green side up provokes a flurry of service, as waiters armed with skewers of various flame-grilled meats descend, asking "rare, medium rare or medium?" Some customer participation is occasionally required, as some tongs are provided so the diner can grab meats that are sliced off the skewers. It doesn't take long to figure out that the best plan is to flip the disk to red after two or three items accumulate on your plate — which is to say about a minute or two.

There are 15 different meats to sample, including various cuts of beef, lamb and pork, as well as chicken legs and bacon-wrapped breasts and some fabulous little pork sausages called linguica. If you identify one thing in particular you want to focus on, all you need to do is make your wishes known and an entrée-sized portion will appear on your plate. Bread and side dishes of garlic mashed potatoes, a yummy polenta and grilled bananas are served family-style.

Wine lovers should be delighted with the selection and service as well as the dining room decor, which consists mainly of the restaurant's wine collection, much of which is on display. Chances are you'll be able to find something suitable for your taste and budget on the extensive and well-organized list, from a glass of White Zin ($7.25) to a bottle of Château Haut-Brion Pessac Leognan ’00 ($925). As you would expect at a steak house, there are twice as many reds on the list as whites, including no less than a dozen from Bordeaux. There are also 11 splits available (reds and whites) and several by-the-glass selections. We drank glasses of Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile (also available at $28 per bottle), which turned out to be an excellent match for the flame-grilled meats. Wine pricing is fair at about twice retail for most wines, and as you move up the list in price the markup moves down. Their wine glasses are of high quality and generously sized — a good thing, since a by-the-glass pour is a quarter of a bottle. This restaurant has earned six consecutive Awards of Excellence from the Wine Spectator for a good reason!

Beer enthusiasts don't fare as well, since just the usual suspects are available and no microbrews. However, at least one Brazilian beer (Xingu, I think) is on the list. The well-stocked bar includes several after-dinner drinks and a few single-malt Scotches. They also of course stock Cachaça, and although I didn't sample a caipirinha there, Feed Me / Drink Me reports that they make good ones.

For the quality and service (and potential quantity) that Fogo de Chão delivers, its prices are reasonable: $38.50 for dinner, $24.50 for lunch, plus drinks and dessert. The salad bar is available by itself for $19.99, so even the wayward vegetarian who happens to wander in should be able to leave happy and sated. And for the meat-loving omnivore, Fogo de Chão is simply a must-go.

Fogo de Chão
117 E. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:45 AM | link | 2 comments |

Friday, May 02, 2008

Noah Grant’s opens for lunch

Noah Grant'sZionsville's newest restaurant, Noah Grant's, is now open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Noah Grant's is a block west of Main Street at 65 South First. The space previously housed Brix. (And for you history buffs, before it was Brix it was an ice cream parlor.)
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:29 AM | link | 2 comments |

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Farmers markets ramping up

Farmers MarketsHere's a sure sign that Spring has actually arrived, and that Summer is on the way: The local farmers markets are beginning to stir.

The Broad Ripple Farmers’ Market will open for the season this Saturday at its location behind Broad Ripple High School; hours are 8 a.m. until noon.

This Friday also marks the start of the season for the Green Market at
Traders Point Creamery. Hours are 4 p.m. ’til 8 p.m.; dinner is available 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
J. Silverheels Gray, 11:14 AM | link | 0 comments |

Quattro Mani Montepulciano 2006

Quattro Mani MontepulcianoBig, mouthfilling, smooth and satisfying describe the Quattro Mani Montepulciano 2006.

This easy-to-drink Italian starts off with dark berry, leather and smoke on the nose. The dark berries continue on the palate and are joined by dried cherries and a little more smokiness.

This robust, full-bodied wine is enjoyable by itself, and its smoky component would make it a good match for burgers, barbecue and grilled meats. Its price is a very reasonable $10 per bottle.
J. Silverheels Gray, 11:01 AM | link | 0 comments |