Saturday, October 09, 2010

Miscellaneous food notes about Houston, etc.

Best French Fries -- Palace Bowling Lanes, 4191 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, Texas 77025. No joke. I am not a bowling fan, but when I have to go there for birthday parties, etc., I love the meaty, potatoey, perfectly golden fries!

Best Canned Tomatoes -- Strianese brand whole San Marzano tomatoes (the real McCoy, from the official D.O.P. in the Sarnese - Mocerino area in Campania, near Naples). They taste so ripe and tomatoey, yet have good acidity.
Available in a big (96 oz., I think) can for $10 at Nundini Italian Market and Deli, 500 N Shepherd Dr., which is a fantastic Italian deli and food store.

Favorite Quick Snack -- Spanish-seasoned olive oil-fried almonds. Take a handful of raw almonds, and gently fry them in 1/4 cup good olive oil for 5 minutes. Drain, then toss them with 40 turns of freshly ground sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon of sweet paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper. Let cool for 15 minutes. Addictive and healthy.

Best Pasta Brand I Can No Longer Find -- Giuseppe Cocco Fara St. Martino. Central Market used to carry it, but no longer. Has a ridiculously pure pasta flavor and soaks up any kind of sauce beautifully. Note to Central Market: BRING THIS BACK per piacere!

Favorite Olive Oil for Salads and Dipping Bread -- Montebello
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. From an organic monastery in Marche, Italy, this olive oil is light, fragrantly herbal at first, and then with a nice, subdued peppery bite kicks in at the back of the palate. 12 oz. bottle is about $15 at Whole Foods on Bellaire. Here's a photo of their pasta (which is very good), because I can't find an image of the olive oil and the labels are similar:

Thursday, October 07, 2010

2007 Boutari NAOUSSA (Greece)

Made from the Xinomavro grape, this wine initially reminded me of a lot of the Long Island Cab Franc's I used to taste when I was in the wine business in NYC in the early 80s. After airing, however, it changed.

Medium ruby color. At first, it displayed a very dark herbal, licorice dominated nose, with some dark berry fruit underneath. After two days in a Vacu-Vin closure, however, the nose was more mainstream, with nice, ripe cherry fruit and some smoky, underbrush scents. Medium bodied, with bone-dry flavors of dark cherry, intense minerals, and scorched earth. Long, very dry finish. Decent acidity and nicely balanced. 87. Was $15 at Spec's on Smith. Imported by Terlato Wines.

2005 Chateau Tour St. Bonnet (Medoc, France)

This is a classic Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux. I'm not usually a Bordeaux or Cabernet/Merlot fan, but this is a wine I could drink a lot of without tiring. It's also an excellent value. Try it with grilled lamb.

A blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot, this wine had a dark ruby color that is just beginning to show a bit of age. Very nice nose of cedar, cassis, and scorched earth. Nice eight and fruit in the mouth. Good balance, good structure. Flavors of cassis and low-toned smoky earth. Long, dry, fairly smooth finish with some nice tannins giving some definition to the medium bodied frame. Classic structure, classic flavors. 88. Was $15 at Spec's Warehouse on Westheimer/Commonwealth.

2007 Chateau de Saint Cosme COTES DU RHONE "Les Deux Albion" (Rhone Valley, France)

This 50% Syrah 50% Grenache wine is a perennial winner.

Luxurious black ruby robe. (Yup, it's a robe, not just color). Decadent nose of sweet berry extract and perfumey, smoky gravel. Rich, ripe, broad flavors coat the mouth with loads of low-toned berry fruit and clingy, iodiney minerals. Extremely full-bodied, with a long, warm finish that features fairly low (but not too low) acidity and abundant but ripe tannins. Made almost in a Chateauneuf style, this wine pushes the envelope but remains in balance. 89. Was $19 at Spec's. Imported by Stacole.

2007 Carpineto CHIANTI CLASSICO (Tuscany, Italy)

A very solid and satisfying Chianti. Good value.

Dark black ruby with the barest beginnings of ambering at the rim. Big, boisterous, old-fashioned Chianti nose of winey cherry liqueur, smoky gravel, and old barrels. Weighty and concentrated, with penetrating, earthy cherry fruitiness, great acidity, and a load of fairly soft, drying tannin in the finish. Rustic (for a Classico) and very good. 88. Was about $17 at Spec's on Smith. Imported by Opici Imports.

2008 Verasol "Tn" Tempranillo (Navarra, Spain)

Like a cloying version of a Spanish Beaujolais.

Vibrant dark ruby color with a hint of violet. Loud, massively fruity nose of amplified blackberry and boysenberry. Gobs of straightforward, ripe, slightly tangy fruit. Some minerality makes itself known in the back of the mouth. Low acid, soft, and full-bodied. Simple, flavorful, and satisfying in a dufus-y way. 82. Was $12.99 at Whole Foods on Bellaire. Imported by Jose Pastor Selections.