Friday, November 28, 2014

A PERFECT FINISH

ADDING A PINCH of nutmeg to eggnog, chocolate shavings or rock salt to cocoa, piloncillo sugar or ginger or citrus or just about anything else that needs to be grated into your hot or cold drink just got a whole lot easier, thanks to Microplane. These simple mug-toppers allow you to place the grater inside the cup, grate and remove. This one grates super-hard items; another similar one grates stuff like chocolate and cheese. The graters are about $10 at cooking stores. (I'm thinking stocking stuffers!) (Shhhhh!). www.microplane.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SNEAK TASTE

 
Zpizza and 2014 Beaujolais Noveau made for
a perfect pairing.
IT DOESN'T HAVE finesse and it's not balanced, but every year, Georges Duboeuf releases a Beaujolais Nouveau -- new wine -- that's basically a sneak preview of what the vintage will become. The un-aged wine is fun, bright and fresh. It's slightly acidic, with touches of strawberry and raspberry. It would go with turkey or ham, but it also works with pizza.  It's $10.99 and in stores for a limited time.

Monday, November 24, 2014

APPLES ON TAP

 
NO, IT'S NOT apple cider, but if you like the idea of a glass of  sparkling cider but don't want all of the calories and sugar, this brand new flavor of Hint sparkling water flavor is really cool. It has a super subtle flavor, but it's bubbly and bright and perfect alongside holiday foods. Find it at fine grocers for about $2 per 28 ounces.



Sunday, November 23, 2014

GOBBLE JEEBEES

 
Maybe my turkey carving didn't look this nice, but you
get the idea!

NOT EVERYONE IS OK with unpacking a raw turkey; yanking the bags out of the cavities, rinsing the raw bird and figuring out how to truss or perhaps even stuff the thing before werestling it into the oven. I understand! It's OK! If you are one of those people and you would really like to put on a Thanksgiving dinner, I have the best news EVER! Jennie-O has your back.
Look for their turkeys in opaque bags in the frozen department. They're labeled "Oven Ready."
Buy the size you need, and trust me, it's all good. You don't have to do anything with this bird except cut a few slices in the bag. Seriously: Your fingers WILL NOT TOUCH the raw bird, nor do you have to spend more than a few short minutes looking at it.
Pop it in the oven -- directly from the freezer if you like -- and cook until the little plastic thing pops out and you're ready to rest, carve and serve.
Caution: Those foodies who go to battle at Whole Foods for turkeys may question your turkey if they see the packaging, so bury it deep... and if they ask if you brined it, say "Yes!" (The Jennie-O folks did it for you.) No one -- and I mean NO ONE -- will ever guess your secret. Jennie-O turkey is a little saltier than unbrined turkeys, but it has the same bold turkey flavor as any other turkey I have ever tasted.

 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pizza My Way

 
 I LOVE THE new pizza restaurant trend that invites people to select their own toppings so that the pizza they order is precisely what they feel like eating. Great idea, and even better when the restaurant goes the extra distance to provide organic and non-GMO ingredients.
Welcome to ZPizza, which has a handful of restaurants in the Bay Area, including one near me, in South Fremont. Like Blaze Pizza, ZPizza makes a thin-crust, but this one has an ultra-fresh taste, as it's made with more natural ingredients that are utterly fresh. They also have great gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options.
The chicken is perfectly cooked -- not too dry. The sausage has bold flavor without being too fatty. Even the sauces under the toppings taste homemade. loved the gorgonzola-pear combination, and fell hard for the spicy chipotle-sausage pizza with corn and cilantro. It's entirely different and so delicious. 
If all of this is making you hungry -- set your alarm for 1 p.m. today (11/22/14) so you can try it yourself. The restaurant is sharing free tastes from 1 to 3 p.m. ZPizza is near the 880-680 Mission Boulevard interchange in Warm Springs. It's at 46703 Mission Boulevard. Free pizza is also being served at ZPizza restaurants in Danville, San Ramon, Livermore and Sunnyvale. Click here to get the address: www.zpizza.com/locations  

CHEERS FOR CARMENERE

 
Colchuaga Valley provides the ideal setting for growing Carmenere
 grapes with concentrated flavor.  (Photo courtesy Carmen Wines)
BOTTLES-UP time in Chile arrives at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 24, when the country celebrates the rediscovery of the varietal in Chile with a twitter chat from 6 to 7 p.m. Love Chilean reds? You can join in the chat by using hashtag #CarmenereDay for a chance to win a prize. One is a set of Riedel glasses and a decanter. The other is a Coravin.
You might also learn a little more about the varietal, a grape that orginates in Bordeaux, and was brought to Chile in the mid-19th century. The grapes thrived, but looked so much like merlot that there was lots of confusion. Unlike merlot, carmenere grapes produce deep, spicy reds with bold flavor notes that are not unlike some cabernet blends. The varietal was discovered in a vineyard owned by Carmen -- on Thanksgiving Day in 1994... hence the celebration!
OK, so curious types may want to know why Thanksgiving Day might be significant in Chile -- it's not, but the Trinchero Family Estates in Napa imports and markets wines from Carmen, one of the oldest and largest wineries in Chile. www.carmen.com