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Clams on grill

Yesterday was our annual Garage sale which has become quite an event that always ends up with an after party. The new grill was very busy and was more than up for the task. Our local supermarket was running a weekend special on a box of about 50 small neck clams. My son bought one so we decided to grill them. This is a very easy way of cooking clams without all the hassle of steaming them. Just heat up the grill on high heat and pop them on. We used tongs to turn them a couple times until they pop at which point you turn them so the meat side is down and then cook until the juice starts to bubble. We then moved them to a serving bowl and had drawn butter and cocktail sauce for dipping. You can make just about any kind of sauce you want. Food and Wine magazine has a great Horseradish-Tabasco Sauce recipe in their June edition provided below. Clams make a great summer time appetizer that many love and using the grill makes it an easy and less messy experience. Just make sure you clean the clams well before cooking, sand in the clams not good.
Horseradish-Tabasco Sauce:
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter softened
2 tablespoons of drained horseradish
1 tablespoon of Tabasco
¼ teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon sweet pimenton de la Vera (Spanish smoked paprika)
Salt to taste
Light grill and in a small bowl, blend the butter with the horseradish, Tabasco, lemon zest, lemon juice, and pimento de la Vera. Season with salt and add about a half teaspoon to each clam after they are cooked. They even suggest serving with grilled bread, like a hard crusted French bread.
From Food and Wine June 2006

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The Annual Garage Sale

Hi there Wine Lovers! What an exciting weekend I had, hope you had a great one too! As I sit typing this I am enjoying a glass of Chapplett Cabernet Sauvignon to wrap up the weekend. I am inside this evening as thunderstorms threaten to strike any moment. You may think what I have to say about the weekend is a little strange, but it was one of my most favorite annual event weekends- it was our annual garage sale. Yes, garage sale. Most folks probably dread the thought of garage sales as it is a lot of work to have one, but our family and friends have a great time. We all put our stuff together to create one sale, we make signs, we have breakfast, lunch, drinks and more. We set up our cooler in the garage and start with beers around 11:00 and some wine a little later. Our customers consistently ask to join the party or if drinks are for sale. We had Smoking Loon Chardonnay and St Clement Sauvignon Blanc at the sale, with some Hanna Sauvignon Blanc after the sale while swimming. We always manage to pull in some big crowds, everyone has a profitable day and most of all we have a great time. We made close to a $1,000, with the most profitable couple pulling in a little over $200.
After the sale and clean up we headed to the backyard for some swimming and relaxation. As I said earlier we had some Hanna Sauvignon Blanc after the sale, then as a quick shower passed over us, we enjoyed a Raymond Burr Chardonnay. Our sister and brother in law were staying the night, and we had others join us for dinner so there was quite a bit more quality wine enjoyed. We also had a variety of foods with our son pleasing the crowd with clams and later on some specially prepared venison meat on the grill. There was shrimp cocktail, lobster and crab cakes and finally some grilled salmon and small red potatoes to finish. During the course of the evening we indulged in some fantastic wines along with our foods. We certainly rewarded ourselves for the hard days work with some Bremer Family Cabernet, a Silver Oak-Alexander Valley while sitting by our outdoor fireplace. We then enjoyed a midnight swim including lots of trips down the slide into our inground swimming pool and finished off the evening with a bottle of Frank Family Zinfandel. In hindsight, it was too late to be opening a bottle as good as Frank Family that late in the evening, but it happens sometimes. Plus it wasn’t me, it was my sister that opened that one. Of course, I didn’t stop her though. Another great time, as usual!

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June 2008

06/22/08 If you follow wine news you already know that studies have shown the chemical resveratrol found in the skins and seeds of red wine grapes. Has proved to be effective in helping prevent heart disease, may make cancer cells more receptive to chemotherapy and now another study shows it may be effective against obesity. Scientists say studies show that Resveratrol, an antioxidant naturally found in red wine and grapes, holds the potential to reduce the number of adipocytes in the body, thereby potentially preventing, or even treating, obesity. What else can this chemical do? For those who are wondering, Adipocytes are the cells that primarily compose adipose tissue, specialized in storing energy as fat.

06/12/08 Rumors are flying in Napa Valley about the possible sale of Chateau Montelena. According to Wine Spectator, winemaker Bo Barrett would neither confirm or deny the sale. Best known for their estate-grown Cabernets from the vineyard at the property in Calistoga. Chateau Montelena gained international fame in the famous 1976 Paris tasting where its 1973 Alexander Valley Chardonnay won a blind tasting, blowing away the competition that included other California Chardonnays and prestigious white Burgundies from France. Rumor has it the Barret family owners of the property have been made offers in excess of 100 million. Wow!

06/01/08 Napa California Vineyard purchased by David Beckham as birthday present for wife Posh Spice Victoria.
The LA Galaxy star is said to have paid in the seven figures for the Napa Valley Vineyard which will be run by a group of specialists. Beckham and his wife became wine lovers while living in Spain, when Beckham played for Real Madrid. They intend to bottle their own high quality wines for themselves, friends and family.

06/01/08 France will relax old wine rules to fend off New World challenge
France has long scorned the international appetite for what they call “vulgar” wine. Now France joins the fray and as of yesterday allowed growers to make and market their product in the more fruity fashion of the New World.

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The wedding

We are back from a long weekend at the Jersey shore.  If you are from New Jersey or the surrounding area you probably know we refer to it as being “down the shore”.  That is NJ slang for being at the beach.  We were at Long Beach Island, exit 63 off the parkway.  We stayed in a town called Ship Bottom on the Island and attended a family wedding.  We arrived Friday early afternoon and hit the beach for a while before rehearsal dinner, but of course, we left room for some wine between the beach and dinner.  We hung out on the balcony of our sister and brother in law’s room overlooking the beach, yelling to the rest of our friends and family still on the beach while we poured some really nice whites.  First we had one of our favorite summertime whites, the Hanna Sauvignon Blanc, then we tried a white that returned to NJ from our Napa trip last month.  A 2007 Venge wine called Bianco Spettro (White Ghost) that was more awesome than we remembered it to be, with flavors of citrus, apple, pear and even key lime jumping out at you.  We were all very happy with that purchase.  You know sometimes what tastes good in Napa Valley doesn’t always taste so good when you return home, but no dissappoinment here!  The rest of the weekend was busy with lots of wine being consumed, if I told you all of it, you’d think we overindulged.  I can tell you though, that there were some really enjoyable wines such as Bennett Lane Cabernet, Frank Family Zinfandel, and a great Frank Family Reserve Pinot Noir.  There was plenty of beach time and lots of sunshine before the 5pm ceremony on the beach.  After the ceremony we headed to a relatives yard for a picnic type reception outdoors under a huge tent.  That brings me to share a funny highlight.  Being the wine drinkers we are, we quickly searched out the help yourself bar and discovered some wines, but could not locate an opener.  Acting resourcefully we quickly remembered the nearby liquor store where we could purchase an opener and while we were at it, we selected and purchased our own wine for the evening.  That’s bad, right?  Not really, we did save the bride and groom money and kept our box out of the way beside our table.  All in all, a great weekend, a few tired people from our late nights and another one in the history books.  Return soon for more summertime stories!

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June 2008

I am going to go out on a limb here for the June wine of the month with something I have never done before. I am choosing a wine club member exclusive wine that you obviously can’t run out and buy a bottle to taste. Some of you may think that is cruel, however the intent is really just that I love the wine and also would like to show you that there are advantages to being a winery club member. A word of caution though, do not join any clubs while out tasting for the day. If you are interested, ask for the club member paperwork, complete and join at a later date. Everything sounds so much better after a few glasses of wine until the shipments start arriving and your credit card bill is rising. I would also suggest joining a club that only ships you winery or club member exclusive wines. You wouldn’t want to pay shipping on a bottle of wine that you can purchase at your local retailer for less. My wine of the month is a 2005 Cuvaison Diablo Syrah, Carneros. The 2006 was just released in our most recent club shipment for May and is resting in the cellar to recoup from the long journey to NJ. No kidding, you should lay the bottles down for a bit to let them settle after being shipped. We will have to see when we taste the 06 vintage if we make an additional purchase of the latest release Syrah as we did with the 05 vintage. I still have a half case or so left in the cellar. Diablo refers to a specific type of soil that can be found in the southern reaches of the Cuvaison Carneros Estate Vineyards. The Diablo clay which is black and blocky is very barren and infertile, perfect for taming the effusive Syrah vine, according to Cuvaison winemaker, Steven Rogstad. The resulting wines have the qualities of some of my favorite wines, dense, beefy, laden with jammy fruit and exotic spice notes. Just 511 cases were made. Outstanding!! Certainly a benefit of being a club member are the limited production wines that are not sold to the general public. Not that I am suggesting you join Cuvaison, you should join a club producing wines most suited to your tastes, but I would like to give kudos to Cuvaison on going green. The Cuvaison Carneros Winery has gone solar! Check out their website for pics and graph usage charts!