Chipotle Kung Pao Chicken

chipotle kung pao chicken


I developed this fusion recipe quite a few years ago.  Lots of work, but worth it.  You will need actual chipotles, not just chipotles in adobo.  Enjoy my chipotle kung pao chicken!


New Mexico Green Chile Stew

Yeah, off-topic.  This is one of my favorite all-time recipes.  Once upon a time it was hard to find genuine New Mexico green chiles.  Today you can find them canned, occasionally frozen.  This works best if you use the real thing.  We sometimes substitute black-eyed peas for half the white beans.  Crunchier.  Plus a Texas tradition says eating black-eyed peas on New Years Day brings good luck.  Enjoy!




Wine and Cheese Pairings

Draeger’s is a popular, but small, chain of supermarkets on the San Francisco peninsula.  They recently sent out a guide to wine and cheese pairings.  We understand that there are large variations even within a single varietal.  Please take this as a rough guide and a bit of fun.  Feedback welcome.

Wine and Cheese Pairings

(click for larger image)


Artisan Thanksgiving Wine Pairings Tasting

Saturday, November 19, our friends at Artisan Wine Depot invited us over to taste some wines specially chosen to accompany the usual Thanksgiving dinner.  We were not disappointed.  As an added bonus we’ll throw in a couple of recent discoveries we’ve made on our own. But first, here’s sommelier Christine Tran explaining what varietal is particularly good for Thanksgiving:

Forthwith to the tasting notes.

Two Recent Finds

Louis Barthelemy "Brut Rubis" NV Brut Rosé Champagne Champagne and Burgundy at Artisan

Louis Barthelemy “Brut Rubis” NV Brut Rosé Champagne (click for larger image)

[pullquote]We usually don’t like rosé, especially in sparklers. But this is an exception. Notes of raspberry, pineapple with a smoky minerality in the background. Can be aged through 2020 if you have the patience. We don’t. In the best Champagne tradition, this is 70% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir.[/pullquote]

The other night we opened a bottle of Louis Barthelemy Brut Rubis champagne.  We discovered this goody at a previous Artisan tasting and wrote about it then.  Our previous review holds up pretty well. →

We bought two more bottles for the holiday.

You probably won’t be able to get our second choice in time for Thanksgiving unless you live near Paso Robles.  When we tasted Field Recordingswines, we joined their wine club on the spot.  Our latest shipment arrived two weeks ago.  We’ve been working our way through the box.  A few nights ago we opened thair 2016 Chardonnay Pet Nat ($25).  And I forgot to read the description first.  I should have suspected something was different because the closure was an old-fashioned bottle cap.  When it popped off we were greeted with a geyser of foam that lasted for well over a minute.  Lesson number 1: open in a big bowl.

It turns out that this wine was bottled while the primary fermentation was in progress.  It is naturally carbonated, but far more so than sparkling wines that rely on secondary fermentation.  Andrew’s tasting notes refer to crisp apple.  We would add the most refreshing limeade you have ever tasted.  At my behest, Andrew got this up on their website.  Thanks to him for helping us out.

And Twelve From Artisan

Artisan offered a full dozen wines.  With a couple of exceptions you will not go wrong with any of these.  Our reviews will be brief because we want to get this review online before Thanksgiving (although these will work perfectly well throughout the holiday season). Wines we bought from this tasting: Minuty “M”, Man Family chenin blanc, Saint Cosme’s 2015 Cotes du Rhone Blanc, and the Domaine Lafage Lieu Dit La Narassa 2014 Cotes du Roussillon.

Whites, Champagnes, Rosés, Oh My!

First up was the Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Rose Champagne ($75). Yeasty aromas with fresh bread lead to a palate of more yeast with subtle notes of wild strawberries.

The Chateau Miraval 2015 Côtes de Provence Rose (Provence, France, $14 for 375 ml) is the product of a partnership between Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and the Perrin family (Château Beaucastel). If you want a wine associated with Hollywood, this one is for you. But we found it flat and uninteresting.

Minuty offered their “M” 2015 Rosé AOP (Cotes de Provence, France, $20)An unusual rosé with aromas of mushrooms and strawberries, followed by a lighter strawberry palate.

South Africa contributed the Man Family “Free Run Steen” 2016 Chenin Blanc ($8, MAJOR BARGAIN). Aromas of peach lead to a palate of strawberries and white peaches. We bought four bottles and ordered a case which we will pick up later today.

Returning to France, Saint Cosme’s 2015 Cotes du Rhone Blanc ($19) is perfumed with floral notes. The flavor is like chewing violets. Viognier, marsanne, and picpoul grapes give this wine its unique character.

Followed by Four Reds

Heading south to Spain we found the Bodegas Faustino I 2001 Gran Reserva DOCa (Rioja, Spain, $30). Aromas of forest floor and black cherries are followed by more black cherries with hints of leather and tobacco.

And moving west to Italy, the Cataldi Madonna “Malandrino” 2012 Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo (Abruzzi, Italy, $19) was the only failure of the dozen wines. Aromas of wet dog followed by a soggy cardboard palate.

Over the years we have drunk many bottles from the Hahn Family collection. We’ve always found their Lucienne label a bit overpowering. Here they offered their Lucienne “Lone Oak Vineyard” 2013 Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands, $40). Aromas of dark fruit, black cherry, blackberry, followed by an explosion of fruit on the palate. A bit too acid and too big for our taste, but if you like your wines that way, you’ll love this one.

And it’s back to France with the Domaine Lafage Lieu Dit La Narassa 2014 Cotes du Roussillon (Roussillon, France, $16). Aromas and flavors of black raspberry, chocolate, pepper and olives. We picked up a couple of bottles. Very quaffable.

And Three More Whites

Moving further west, the Hansen Lauer NV Brut Riesling (Mosel Valley, Germany, $20) opens with rose petal aromas followed by wild strawberries on the palate. Too mild for our taste, but eminently drinkable.

Another from Germany, the 2014 Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg (Nahe, Germany, $28). Aromas of lemon sorbet followed by a nice balance between the residual sugar and acid.

Finishing where we started, France brought us the Vigneau-Chevreau NV Vouvray Petillant Brut (Loire Valley, France, $20). Notably, this is a chenin blanc sparkler. The winery tasting notes say, “This wine is characterized by its fine bubbles , its shiny yellow color and aromas of apple and ripe quince.” We agree with that but would add that the palate is almost exclusively bubbles.


We wanted to get this review up in time for Thanksgiving ordering. If you live near Mountain View or Los Gatos, Artisan offers an in-store pickup option that saves you shipping time and cost. Highly recommended.

Best Wines With BBQ?

[Images courtesy of Fix.com]

The folks over at Fix.com have published a guide to wines that pair with various summer dishes.  The guide is pretty generic — California zinfandels with BBQ ribs, for example — but it’s entertaining with some good suggestions that may not have occurred to you.

Wine Suggestions for BBS Ribs Best Wines With BBQ?

Wine Suggestions for BBS Ribs (click for larger image)

Memorial Day 2016 Ribs


Honoring our active and retired military personnel is not inconsistent with enjoying the first ribs of the season.

Editorial: The New York Times Should Stick to Foods East of the Hudson River

Today’s New York Times features an article titled “Learning to Engineer a Better Brisket in the Business section no less (BU-3, west coast edition).  In the article, the author, Ms. Claire Martin, extols the virtues of a “superior” barbeque grill invented by engineering students at Harvard.

Before delving into the horrors of this “invention” we have to recommend wines that go well with barbecued ribs.  A good California zinfandel that can stand up to the mop and the sauce are always good.  We recommend the 2012 Hartford Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard Zinfandel ($55). If you’re looking for something a bit older, try the 2007 Thomas George Estates Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley.  We bought a couple of bottles of this back in 2009 and opened one the other day.  Great stuff.  But sold out at the winery 🙁 .  And we reviewed the classic Ridge zinfandels last year.

So many things wrong with that simple phrase.  “Engineering students at Harvard” means they couldn’t get into MIT. (Disclaimer: I am an MIT graduate.)  “Superior barbeque grill?”  Impossible.  And their design is based on the execrable “Big Green Egg,” disavowed by every real barbeque cook.

What a travesty. Harvard students purport to show the rest of us how to “improve” barbeque. How can they hope to improve on something that’s nearly perfect? And the $1500 price tag could only appeal to residents of Manhattan, Long Island and Connecticut.

A few years ago my lovely wife bought me a Char-Griller Outlaw. Today you can buy the same unit for $170 direct from the company, probably less if you look around.




One of the “features” of the Harvard model is a chute that lets you add fuel without opening the lid.  Two questions come to mind.  First, does the chute slope downward?  Second, do you have to open the chute to add fuel?  If the answer to both those questions is, “Yes” then you’ve just destroyed the entire purpose of the chute.  Clue: warmer air rises to displace cooler air.

But what’s worse is that there is a zero-marginal-cost solution to this problem.  Just bolt on the (included) side fire box to your Outlaw.  You can add wood without opening the lid.  And the firebox is mounted horizontally to the barrel unit.  Meaning there’s no place for the heat to rise.

Outlaw Firebox

Outlaw Firebox

Which is largely beside the point for me. My specialty is ribs. And every single recipe worth cooking requires use of a mop blend, a liquid with spices blended that is painted onto the ribs every hour or so. Once the folks at Harvard can figure out how to get a mop that will cover the ribs without opening the lid, I might listen. On the other hand, an easier solution is just to leave the ribs cooking for another hour. If you’re in a hurry you should probably be cooking burgers over direct charcoal heat.

Oh, yes, there’s more to barbeque than just fuel.  What about the actual smoke?  Presumably they can include wood chips when they’re adding fuel.  I won’t speculate on the likelihood of that succeeding. But I would like to know if their design can accommodate wood-only smoking (no charcoal).

Reluctant as I am to give this horror any more publicity, here it is:

The Harvard Barbeque

The Harvard Barbeque

First peas in guacamole. Now this. I have a simple request for the Times: please stick to cooking you folks east of the Hudson actually know something about. As Justice Don Willett (@JusticeWillett) put it, “That’s a felony in Texas.”  Somewhere Steven Raichlen is crying.

Best Food for Pinot Noir

What’s the best food for pinot noir?  We recommend Rendezvous Ribs with Lemon Brown Sugar sauce.  Both are from Steven Raichlen’s opus Raichlen on Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs.

Steven is the author of many books about barbecue.  His best-known, The Barbecue Bible, explores barbecue around the world.  Many of his recipes can be found on his website BarbecueBible.com.