Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Grawed Down To The Bone

Awake the Lakes “Where Summer Begins and the Fun Never Ends” is a Memorial Day Weekend festival in Alexandria, MN, that includes activities for the entire family. Friday kicked off the weekend with the popular Rib Fest and Beer Garden and music.

To celebrate the start of summer, we fired up the grill to make some award winning Baby Back Ribs.

1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste
3 pounds baby back pork ribs
1 cup barbeque sauce

Preheat grill for high heat.
In a small jar, combine cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Close the lid, and shake to mix.
Trim the membrane sheath from the back of each rack. Run a small, sharp knife between the membrane and each rib, and snip off the membrane as much as possible. Sprinkle as much of the rub onto both sides of the ribs as desired. To prevent the ribs from becoming too dark and spicy, do not thoroughly rub the spices into the ribs. Store the unused portion of the spice mix for future use.
Place aluminum foil on lower rack to capture drippings and prevent flare-ups. Lightly oil grate, and lay ribs on top rack of grill. Reduce heat to low, close lid, and leave undisturbed for 1 hour. Do not lift lid at all.
Brush ribs with barbecue sauce, and grill an additional 5 minutes. Serve ribs as whole rack, or cut between each rib bone and pile individually on a platter.

As with barbecue cooking, barbecue sauces have regional characteristics. Kansas City-style sauce is the most common nationwide. It has a tomato or ketchup base and pronounced sweet, sour and smoky elements. Barbecue sauce from nearby St. Louis usually has a tomato foundation but without the smoke (which normally comes from bottled liquid smoke). North Carolina's barbecue sauce, traditionally put on that state's beloved pulled pork shoulder at the table, is vinegar-based; the sauce is clear in eastern North Carolina and tomato-red in the western half.

A young, bold, fruity and spicy red wine, such as a Rhone Syrah or an Aussie Shiraz, will stand up to those smoky, spicy, and typically sweet flavored barbecue sauces.

So, if the weather is good this week, I’m sure you will get the smell of a barbecue fire wafting through your window. Join in the rib tickling fun!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Faking It

Some days, it may seem easier to have your body show up for what life has in store and let your mind check out. But "faking it" results in a devaluation of the “real you”.

It is the same with making sparkling wine versus champagne. Except for French Champagne and Spanish Cava, most sparkling wines are made using the charmat or tank method.

This method is a much quicker, cheaper way to put bubbles into wine, although the final product lacks the added qualities that are derived from the traditional process. In the tank method, yeast and sugar are added to bulk base wines which are held in a pressurized tank. This triggers a second fermentation that is halted by cooling the tank. Once the secondary fermentation is finished, the wine is filtered, and a dosage [doh-SAHJ] (A mixture of sugar and often brandy) is added immediately prior to final bottling. The percentage of sugar in the syrup determines the degree of sweetness in the final wine.

Experience life, both good and bad each day, don't fake it!

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all that we will know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you and I sigh.

William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Promenade Home

The Promenade was a wine and food event held May 3rd, in St. Cloud, MN. The evening was filled with a selection of wines, hors d’oeuvres, gourmet desserts and live musical entertainment with proceeds benefiting area charities.

Some notable wines from the tasting included:

Cave de Rasteau “Ortas Prestige” which is a blend of Grenache with Syrah and Mourvèdre. It was rich, ripe and very robust. Match it to equally flavorful beef or lamb dishes.

Smith and Hook Cabernet Sauvignon had ample black-cherry and black-currant fruit, with hints of chocolate and pipe tobacco. Serve with standing rib roast or lamb.

J & F Lurton Araucano Pinot Noir was rated 86 points by Wine Enthusiast. Its flavors of red fruits, and its silky suppleness made it the favorite of the evening. Enjoy this wine with food that can match its full body and rich flavors like mustard roasted veal, sautéed chicken and mushroom or pasta dishes.

Erath Pinot Gris had a delicate bouquet of fresh almonds, peaches and white flowers. It had an ample, round and well defined body. (Think Rubenesque!) Match with shell-fish, oysters, white meat and soft cheeses.

Bonny Doon Riesling Vin de Glaciere Icewine had hints of pear, pineapple and nectarine. They use a process called cryoextraction which involves freezing the grapes after harvesting, then extraction. This completely goes against the rules but it’s cheap, and it tastes great.

So, swing your partner and DoSaDo into your nearby liquor store.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Nature Called

Ever since the snow melted, just two weeks ago, it is hard to come inside for long. Migrating birds are back, their calls and songs filling the air. Spring peepers and bullfrogs have come out of hibernation to serenade us. Wildflowers push up through the dry leaf litter toward the sun's light and warmth. Each day is so alive that unless it is dreary or windy, like today, nature calls me to come out and play.

Just a few drops of rain this weekend will speed the evolution of bud to leaf or bloom. It reminds me of the contained energy behind a champagne cork ... hold on ... Mother Nature is ready to explode!

There is a quote from a book I read, long ago, that expresses it well.

"Sometimes I experience God like this Beautiful Nothing. It is seems like the whole point of life is to just rest in it. And then other times, it is just the opposite. God feels like a presence that engorges everything. I come outside, and it seems the divine is running rampant. Nature, the whole of creation, is some dance God is doing, and we are meant to step into it, that's all."

Go outside and dance!