Dona Sophia (2007) and Villa Farnia Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (2008)

Last night we had friends over for dinner. After a lengthy cocktail hour full of good conversation (and perfect gin martinis) we sat down for dinner and some red wine. We drank several bottles, two of which I am listing here. Both were fabulous.

I had prepared a totally organic dinner. For starters, I stuffed a well salted and peppered grain-fed chicken with a lemon, fresh thyme and 5 cloves of garlic.  I put the chicken in my cast iron skillet and drizzled it with olive oil and cooked in a hot, 425 degree oven for one hour. Then, I added carrots and potatoes (from the farmer’s market), more sprigs of thyme and 5 move cloves of garlic to the skillet along with about 1/2 cup chicken broth. Then, I turned down the oven to 350 and let it roast another hour and a half. I also sauteed a pint of pole green beans  (freshly picked), and made a salad with freshly picked lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and onions. So, I think dinner was delicious and healthy. For dessert I served some decadent chocolate cookies that I had prepared earlier in the day accompanied by some lemon sherbet.

I was too busy to write down my wine-tasting notes, but I can tell you that these two bottles of wine were a hit. Fabulous.

Tonight we are having a less-expensive wine that Tom bought on sale at the grocery store. I will blog about it tomorrow night (assuming we don’t finish it tonight). For dinner tonight, I am making a chicken stroganoff made with boneless, skinless chicken strips sauteed in butter, fresh mushrooms and onions sauteed in butter, then, the  addition of a thickened chicken broth and sour cream to simmer. I am going to serve it with buttered noodles, sliced fresh tomatoes and sauteed Swiss Chard. Yummy!

Green Acres Zinfandel (2008)

Green Acres Ranch Lodi Zinfandel 2008It is a summer Wednesday night in Michigan, the first day of July. We have a cool front with some rain so it is quite cozy tonight. So, I decided to take advantage of the cool weather and use my oven. I baked a batch of double-chocolate, walnut brownies (Tom loves these) and I made a stew out of leftover pot roast and some vegetables, which I put in a cast-iron skillet in the oven. We’ll have a comfy night and a comfy meal tonight.

I chose this California Zinfandel for our post-martini cocktail! (The martini was wonderful — served in an icy cocktail glass with just the right combination of gin & vermouth.) I am happy with this wine. I generally do not gravitate to Zinfandels — only because I am such an avid, die-hard Cabernet Sauvignon fan. But, I thought this would be a good selection for our dinner and I am pleasantly surprised at how good this is. A pleasant burst of raspberries and spice and a mellow mouthfeel. The finish is true oak.

Martini for one. . .

It is Saturday night and Tom is in a plane headed home after a conference in California. I spent the day a) doing laundry, b) attending our college football game and c) attending a wedding. Neither b nor c were very close to home but both were very important to me. Now I am home. I walked little Trigger and did a little packing (I have to go to Dallas tomorrow) and now I am going to read Saturday’s Wall Street Journal.  Tom won’t be home until late so I made a martini for one. . .thought I would share my secret recipe for a perfect martini.

Okay, it is important to put a martini glass in the freezer at least 15 minutes prior to making the cocktail (we keep ours in there all the time). Put the number of jumbo olives you want on a toothpick (I use three). Set that aside. Now, take a cocktail shaker and fill it with ice and then add 2 jiggers of high-quality gin (I used Bombay tonight). Then, add 1 jigger of extra-dry vermouth (Martini & Rossi is good). Finally, add 2 tsp. of olive juice. Shake it vigorously. Then, take the glass out of the freezer and plop in the olives. Then, slowly drizzle the cocktail from the shaker into the ice-cold glass.

Now, sit and sip and enjoy. There is nothing better.

(Note to our son, Tony who is in South Korea: WE MISS YOU!!)


Genuine Margarita

It is Sunday evening and we have worked in the yard today. It is a beautiful sunny spring Michigan day. We decided to celebrate with a margarita tonight. Taking a tip from writer Eric Felten, who writes “How’s Your Drink” in the Saturday/Sunday issue of the Wall Street Journal, I made a  couple of genuine maragaritas.  As Eric says, “Saccharrine glop extruded from machines is not the real deal. Nor is anything that comes pre-mixed in a bottle. And sorry, a can of frozen limeade, blended with ice and tequila doesn’t count either.”

Using his recipe, I put the following in a martini shaker with ice: 4 oz. blanco tequila, 2 oz. Cointreau, 1 1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice. I mixed it well and poured it into two icy-cold martini glasses that had been rimmed in fresh lime and coarse salt.

What a refreshing and delicious cocktail! Cheers!

Melody’s Perfect Martini (timeless)

martiniIt is Friday night and we have had yet another demanding week. I had the pleasure of working at home today on a project that demanded my focused attention (thus, my decision to do so at home rather than in my office where I would encounter interruptions). I also ran 9.8 miles this morning and it was 1 degree (F) when I left the house and 8 degrees when I returned. So, tonight we are celebrating the end of the work week. I have made a pot of vegetable soup and a loaf of whole wheat bread. The bread is in the oven and the soup is simmering. Oh, I love our Friday nights!

Tonight, I thought I would tell you how I make the perfect Martini. (We generally have a Martini and then wine but tonight [I don’t know what got into me] but I made us a second “short” Martini.)

o First, I put our lovely long-stemmed martini glasses in the freezer at least 30 minutes before I prepare the cocktail. Meanwhile, I take queen-sized olives and spear three each on a toothpick and set them aside. (Remember, the glasses are in the freezer chilling during all of this.)

o Then I put a shaker full of ice in my martini shaker. Into the shaker, I add three shots of gin. I use one of four brands: 1) Tangueray, 2) Bombay, 3) Plymouth, or 4) Quintessential. (I am always eager to try new premium gins with an open mind.)

o I then add 1 1/2 shots of Martini & Rossi vermouth. (I have also used Noilly Prat vermouth, which is excellent.)

o Then I add three teaspoons of olive juice from the olive jar.

o I shake it vigorously.

Only then do I take the glasses out of the freezer and put the olives (on the toothpick) in the glass and pour my well-shaken Martini into the glasses. When I serve the Martinis, the glasses are frosted and ice cold. Mmmmmm, delicious! Cheers!

Les Pins Domaine Carpy Fitou (2005)

Les Pins Fitou 2005We will have Les Pins Domaine Carpy Fitou 2005, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignon, and Mourvedre tonight with steak and rice. This delicious red is brawny yet delectable. It is full bodied with a fruity nose, firm and grippy tannins, and a bodacious finish.

Prior to opening this bottle, we started our cocktail hour with a martini. Yesterday I stopped at a wine and liquor store in Ann Arbor and decided to get some new gin and vermouth — something different than our normal brand. So, our martini tonight was made with Quintessential London Dry Gin and Noilly Prat French Dry Vermouth. It was a lovely martini. I would describe it as delicate but herbal. The gin has a pure and clean taste; the vermouth is infused with herbs. The two combined produced an equisite martini.

Gin & tonic

It’s 7:30 p.m. and 80 degrees; so we’re having a refreshing gin & tonic tonight. It hits the spot. A jigger of gin, a big splash of fizzy tonic and a generous squeeze of fresh lime. Perfect for a hot summer evening!