Fitness, Food, Wine & Travel

Posts tagged “summer

Wine Wednesday: Esporão 2012 Alandra Rosé


Did you know Portugal ranks 6th in terms of per capita wine consumption in the world?  According to The Wine Institute, the Portuguese drink 42.2 liters of wine per person each year.

And just in time for the warmer temperatures outside, today’s featured wine happens to be from Portugal. It is a lovely, simple, and fruitfully delicious rosé of Aragoñes, Syrah, and Touriga Nacional called Alandra. (Alcohol 13.5%) It’s strawberry-scented and floral.

Last night I enjoyed it with some sauerkraut and sausages, though the best pairing could be possibly be found this spring/summer with food in your picnic basket (meats & cheeses). The screw-top makes this wine convenient for on-the-go. And upon learning the price, I’ll be on-the-go to stock my wine refrigerator! It retails for just $6.99. To find out where you can purchase this wine, contact northamerica(at)esporao(dot)com. Also, my quick internet shopping yielded these results (click here).

To learn more about Esporão Wines, you can follow them on twitter here or find them on Facebook here.

If you represent a winery and would like to be featured in a wine/food pairing on my website, please contact me here.

Total Wine & More’s Local Favorite: My Rosé Picks for August

A few weeks ago, I was chosen by Total Wine & More for their Total Wine & More “Local Favorite!” program. This program features a local media “influencer” each month and allows them to pick their favorite wines to recommend to customers. For the next month, I’ll be pictured next to my wine selections (with a tag that will resemble the one above) in the Sacramento (Arden) store with a link back to this website.

I was very honored to be approached, and I quickly decided I would select some rosés for the month of August. I couldn’t think of a more perfect wine for summer––a wine that pairs well with almost anything. I feel rosés are overlooked, slightly under appreciated and all too often confused with that sickly sweet white zinfandel stuff that was first made by mistake, (but a serendipitous one for them at that) by Sutter Home in 1975.

No, the rosés I am talking about are so much more than their cloying white zin “dopplegängers”. These wines have finesse, refinement and are fruity and flavorful, yet much drier. I discovered I truly did like pink colored wines again (and the difference between a white zinfandel and a rosé) a few years ago (2008 to be exact) when I tasted the Valley of the Moon Rosato di Sangiovese at the California State Fair’s Grape and Gourmet event. Since then, the rosé thing has been slowly catching on. I have tried and enjoyed several since: Bray Vineyard’s Rose of Barbera and Nichelini’s Rose of Cabernet to name a few.

Since that Grape and Gourmet event, every time the thermometer rises, my go-to wine is a rosé. And I think this summer especially, I am completely obsessed with interested in them and want to try as many as possible so I can learn even more about them.

Andy and I met up with Total Wine’s (Arden Store) Wine Manager Theo Snyder last Friday evening to taste an assortment of French and California rosés, so I could personally recommend three of them to you and the customers at Total Wine & More, Arden.

My first selection is a French rosé, Domaine Rabiotte Aix Provence Rosé 2012 ($11.99). It would fall into the “very dry” category, and it’s almost apricot/peach in color. It’s great appetizer wine, but I would be just as happy drinking it with sushi, a light fish dish, or even pork loin. It’s everything I look for in a rosé and it’s French, so it has sex appeal, no? 😉


My second pick is the Sobon Rose Rezerve 2012 ($11.99). This rosé is a special blend of grenache, syrah and carignane and another great food wine. I could really smell the fruit when I examined the wine, and I could taste some minerality (I tend to love a little bit of earthiness in my wines) present. I wasn’t shocked that this rosé made my top three, because I have been a Sobon fan for years. Check out their Cougar Hill Zinfandel and their Barbera for more tasty adventures. 🙂

My third choice is the Truett Hurst Zin Rosé Dry Creek 2012 ($17.99), which I feel is the perfect rosé wine for red wine lovers who might think they aren’t a fan of rosés. It delivers a burst of flavor and settles in between a Goldilocks-esque not-too-sweet, yet not-too dry flavor. This one works with or without food and if I stuck with straight rosés through a whole dinner, I would have this one for dessert with fresh fruits and cheeses.

I’d like to thank Total Wine & More for asking me to take part in their “Local Favorites” promotion. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Paleo Panzanella Salad Featuring Julian Bakery’s Paleo Bread

What do you eat when it’s this hot outside? Salad! This is a great meal for the current weather.
Since going gluten and grain-free, I have denied myself one of my favorite dishes: Panzanella Salad. I was surprised to find out that Andy had never had the salad before.The people at Julian Bakery make Paleo Bread, and they kindly sent me samples of the almond and coconut to use as I pleased––I had the salad in mind. The Paleo Bread™ Almond is Gluten Free, 60 Calories, 1 Net Carb, 7g Protein and 5g of Fiber Per Slice. Grain Free, Soy Free, Corn Free and GMO FREE.Panzanella Salad
Salad Ingredients:
6 cups Paleo Bread cubed (I used the almond variety, but the coconut variety will work, too!)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1  cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive tapenadeDressing Ingredients:
1 Tbs finely minced garlic
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (we use Frate Sol)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperCut the Paleo bread into cubes and toast in the oven until browned. You can also toast the cubes in a pan in some olive oil.

To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, red onion, basil, and tapenade. Add the Paleo bread cubes and toss with the dressing. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Allow the salad to blend it’s flavors for about 30 minutes to an hour.

You can find Julian Bakery on Facebook here and on twitter here. You can buy Julian Bakery Almond Bread in stores at these locations or online here.

Summer Survival Wine Kit Giveaway Sponsored by [yellow tail] Wines

“Feel the heat burning you up, ready or not…”

I feel extremely lucky right now. I live in a small one bedroom condo and the air conditioning works great. I have access to a pool. I might not have a lot of money, but I am counting my blessings now that I have a steady job and the financial bleeding has stopped (until something else dastardly happens). 😉

This week’s temperature predictions top anything I have ever seen since I have been here (it’s my 9th summer) and according to Andy (a life-long Sacramentan) anything he has ever lived through as well. It’s supposed to be 109° today, but rather than bitch about it (like most people) I am going to swim, tan, sweat, drink water, eat ice and just get through it with a smile on my face. I’d like to apologize for said face in advance: melted, smeared and greasy! Ah, the fresh look of summer! Also, there will be lots of bad, half fixed hair (wig) days. Again, sorry. 😦


To help YOU make it through the swelter, [yellow tail] Wines has sent me this lovely beach kit, which I am going pass on to one lucky reader. I want to help [yellow tail] introduce their latest wines: The [yellow tail] Pink Moscato (with notes of strawberry and watermelon) and Sweet White Roo (flavors of tropical fruit and lemon sorbet)! They’re a perfect match for your backyard BBQ or bringing to the beach (screwtops!)

The Summer Survival Wine Kit (pictured above) Contains:
One bottle [yellow tail] Pink Moscato
One bottle [yellow tail] Sweet White Roo
One huge beach towel
One pair sunglasses
Set of plastic wine glasses
One straw hat
One pair of sandals
…All in one big pink tote! (sorry, ice cubes not included!)

OK wine lovers (especially you sangria people out there, because this wine makes a great base for sangria or summer cocktail!) 🙂 The Summer Survival Kit is up for grabs for anyone local to Sacramento!

To win, please share this post via twitter or Facebook and leave a comment below. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR 4th of JULY? 🙂 Feel free to share a link to your favorite recipe or blog!

I’ll pick a winner on the morning of July 3rd, so you can have your bag o’ fun by the 4th of July! Stay cool out there. xo

You can find [yellow tail] on Facebook here and on twitter here.

Paleo Picnic: Lamb Burgers with Curry Ketchup

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This past weekend turned out to be pretty good weather, so RB and I decided we would pack a picnic and head over to Music in the Park at Curtis Park. It was a great time, and enjoyed by people of all ages.

We sat on a blanket made up of squares of old polyester pants sewn together by RB’s Yia, Yia. In our picnic basket, we brought lamb burgers wrapped in napa cabbage and topped with rings of red onion, avocado, feta cheese, and curry ketchup that I made just before we packed the basket. We also brought a broccoli, cauliflower, and bacon sauté with toasted almonds and our favorite snack, parsnip chips.

Suggested wine pairing is the Shenandoah Vineyards Zingiovese, which is a 54% Sangiovese, 48% Zinfandel blend*. A beautiful elixir from our friends at Sobon Estate that stands up to the spicy and sweet of the curry ketchup and the meatiness of the lamb.

*The percentages do not add up to 100%, but I took the blend info straight from their informational PDF here. *shrugs* 😉

And now… the recipes!

Lamb Burgers
1 lb ground lamb (we used Superior Farms)
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbs oregano
1 tsp coriander
1 1/2 Tbs crushed garlic
pinch salt
Mix all ingredients together with your hands in a medium-sized bowl until well incorporated. Form into 3 or 4 patties (3 for best results). Refrigerate until you are ready to grill.

Curry Ketchup
2 containers of organic tomatoes
(I used small, cherry sized yellow tomatoes)
1 small can of tomato sauce
1/3 cup water
2-3 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs pomegranate molasses (if you don’t have pomegranate molasses,
you can use regular molasses, or honey)
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp curry
2 tsp crushed garlic

Rinse the tomatoes then put them in a pot with the tomato sauce and the water. Bring to a simmer and cook the tomatoes and allow them to burst open. This is what you want. The tomatoes will cook and break down and get thick this way. Keep the mixture on a simmer until the liquid content reduces by half. Then, add the rest of the ingredients (all the spices and the molasses, then the tomato paste). At this point, the mixture will resemble ketchup, so continue to reduce until it gets to your desired thickness.

This recipe makes about 1 1-2 to 2 cups, so you can bottle the unused portion and refrigerate for a week. The funny thing is, is that on a picnic with RB, the ketchup didn’t make it through the night. When we got home, he piled some more of the vegetables on a plate and on top of them went the rest of the ketchup. 😉 At least I know he loved it, so that’s why I decided to share the recipe with you.

The “bun” for our burgers were leaves of napa cabbage. The leaves of the cabbage are durable enough to conveyor belt the meat to your mouth, but tender enough to bite into. We sliced the red onion very thin, and naturally, feta was the cheese of choice.

Thanks again to Superior Farms for providing such a nice variety of lamb. We really enjoyed all the cuts. You can see how we prepared the rack here and the boneless leg here.

Sausage Party…

Yes, it’s true. Last Sunday afternoon, I was the only girl at the party…sitting at a table with 5 boys.

You see, Running Bum threw a party at his house (in honor of one of his friends on his 60th birthday).

And, a few weeks ago, the marketing people at al fresco sent me some coupons to try their product and show it to all of you.

So to help out on the food preparation, and because I sensed it was a good opportunity to try the different flavor options, I skewered up the sausages with a colorful bunch of vegetables, and we threw them on the grill.

The varieties we sampled are pictured below:

The sausage and vegetable kabobs were the perfect way to try the different flavors. The Sweet Italian sausages had a red and green bell pepper flavor, the Roasted Garlic had a more mild flavor, and our favorite, the Roasted Pepper and Asiago had a great red bell pepper flavor with just a touch of cheese. The sausages were flavorful enough on their own, so I am happy we tried them this way and not disguised in a complicated recipe.

The bonus is that each sausage is an average of 140 calories. And I am always looking for a calorie bargain.

It was fun afternoon. The party guests are all runners, and it was very entertaining to hear their stories, since I am kind of a beginner at the sport.

All the food we served was Paleo, because two of the guests besides RB and myself already follow the diet.

We also dined on pork and blueberry meatballs (recipe to come), a huge salad, and prosciutto-wrapped melon. Dessert was some 80% chocolate and bacon-wrapped dates. RB and I really love to entertain and cook for others!

To learn more about al fresco, you can find them on Facebook here, and you can follow them on twitter here.

Southwestern-style Caprese Salad

This past weekend, I needed to make something to bring to a birthday party for a good friend of mine. Since Saturday was packed full of fun activities (including 7.5 miles of running, a tour of the Roush Residence hosted by Sac Mod, and a “wine-by” of Raley’s Grape Escape), I didn’t have a big block of time to spend on the dish. Still, I wanted to bring something that looked inviting and would stand out on a potluck table. Something that would look and taste like I spent more time than I did ;), and something light that would pair well with the hot weather.

So, I was looking on the Nugget Market website for some sort of direction, and this recipe emerged. Thank you, Nugget!!

Of course, I never follow a recipe exactly, so I changed up a few things. Also, it’s not completely Paleo since there is cheese in the dish, but cheese is my little cheat.

Here’s my version:

Southwestern Caprese
2 Heirloom tomatoes, sliced
2 organic tomatoes, sliced
4 Tablespoons cilantro (finely chopped)
1/2 cup Casero cheese (crumbled like bleu cheese)
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbs olive oil
cracked black pepper
lime juice

When you are prepping the avocados, squeeze some lime juice over them after you slice them to prevent them from browning. To prepare the salad, pretend you are making a lasagna or moussaka. You will have enough ingredients to make two layers.

Layer the bottom of a 9×13 in. baking dish with both kinds of tomatoes and one of the sliced avocados, then drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil over the layer. Add half of the cilantro over that, followed by half of the cheese crumbles. Then sprinkle half of the cumin and then crack some pepper over that. You won’t need salt because the cheese will be salty enough to season the salad. Repeat the process to form the top layer.

Make this salad within a few hours before you plan to serve it, or right before you plan to serve it, if possible. Organic tomatoes and avocados taste amazing, but their lifespan is extremely short. 🙂

You can follow Nugget Market on twitter here and like them on Facebook here.

Spiced Lamb and Vegetable Kabobs

Probably my favorite thing to make for dinner during summer is kabobs. They’re simple, healthy, and take very little time to prepare. I put together this spice rub for lamb we bought last weekend from Taylor’s Market. It was London broil, and the butcher even cubed the meat for us.

Spice Mix:
1 Tbs Chili powder
1 Tbs Cumin
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Curry
1/2 tsp Salt

London broil Lamb (cut into cubes for kabobs) from Taylor’s Market

Assorted Vegetables
(mushrooms, peppers, red onion, squash)

Mix all the spices together in a small bowl. Place the cubed meat in a medium-sized bowl and pour about 1/8 to 1/4 cup olive oil over the meat. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the meat and oil and mix together with your hands until well combined.

Marinate the meat for about 20-30 minutes.

Chop the vegetables and if you are using wooden skewers rather than metal, allow them to soak in some water while you are chopping the vegetables, so that they won’t burn when exposed to the grill.

Arrange the vegetables and meat on the skewers. Of course, this isn’t rocket science… however you arrange the skewers is up to you. We had a lot of extra meat left, so we ended up doing a few skewers with meat and onions only.

Grill the kabobs until the vegetables are slightly charred and the meat is cooked to your liking.

We paired the kabobs with a Tempranillo from Fall Line Winery.