Pannonhalmi Apatsagi Pineceszet – Riesling, 2015

  • Basic info: Pannonhalmi Apatsagi Pineceszet, Riesling – Pannonhalma, Western Hungary, 2015
  • Type: white
  • Price estimate: $18 (from Somm Select)
  • Look: light to medium yellow, translucent with only some legs
  • Smell: Lovely aromas of lemon and honey
  • Taste: Apricot, citrus, maybe a little mango. White grape and a little mineral note in the middle. Finish is medium length with some honey, but not sweet.
  • Conclusions: Fantastic! Really beautiful wine. Easy to drink, but a lot of character and no two sips are exactly alike.
  • Other notes: When I first read the description of this, I decided I had to pick up a bottle or two. “Bone dry Riesling” was the basic description and I thought that would be great on a warm spring day. I expected a pretty good wine, but I didn’t expect one that would just totally blow me away. From the first sip to the last, I savored this wine – I kept trying to figure out why I liked it so much, but never came to a firm conclusion. Bob thought it was just as good – amazingly well crafted and a lot of interest. I was so glad I picked up two bottles of this and slightly sad that I didn’t get more.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Somm Select: “Pale straw-colored with green highlights at the rim, with aromas of kaffir lime, white peach, green apple, white flowers, exotic spice, wet stones, and a hint of white mushroom. Medium bodied and textured . . . delivers great freshness and mineralogy.” 13.1% alcohol by volume.


Whipped Cream Cake with Caramel Buttercream

It has been a little while since I spent a day playing in the kitchen and baking. I’ve done some cooking, although not much really interesting lately, but I decided that with the latest cool snap it was time to crank up the oven and bake an actual cake.

PIMG_20180304_150921.jpgrobably anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s remembers the orange Betty Crocker cookbook. I think every house had one and unlike a lot of cookbooks today that are specific to one type of food (grilling, vegetarian, sauces, desserts) this one has just about everything you can think of in it. It definitely reflects the times when you read through some of the recipes, but for desserts, for cakes, I love this cookbook. I found a copy at a used bookstore in California when I lived there (I think for a dollar since it was pretty beat up on the outside) and snagged it. While I don’t go to it often for meals, I definitely go to it for baking ideas. Classics have a place.

The cake came straight from the cookbook and I actually followed the recipe. For the icing, however, I just went with the basic buttercream with the caramel sauce I made a month or so ago that was languishing in the fridge. The result – a cake Bob called “excellent” and one of my “best efforts.” Given that he generally likes what I bake, I’m taking that as a high compliment.


  • 1.5 cups whipping cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • .5 teaspoon salt

Heat over to 350. Grease and flour pans (I used two 9 inch cake pans)

Beat cream until stiff. In separate bowl, beat eggs and vanilla until thick and lemon colored. Fold eggs into whipped cream. Stir together remaining ingredients and gently fold into egg/cream mixture. Fold until well combined.

Divide into pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before icing.


  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • .5 cups caramel sauce
  • confectioners sugar to taste (about 1-1.5 cups)

Beat butter until light and airy. Add caramel sauce and mix well. Slowly incorporate confectioners sugar until the icing comes together and no longer has a distinct butter taste.


Hauts de Meynac, Bordeaux Blend – 2015

  • Basic info: Hauts de Maynac, Bordeaux Blend, Bordeaux, France – 2015
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: unknown (this was a gift)
  • Look: Dark. Opaque red with a touch of dark purple
  • Smell: Wine (seriously) with a tiny bit of cherry
  • Taste: Earth, oak, sour cherry. More acid than I thought it would have given the color. Medium finish with a lot of oak.
  • Conclusions: With food, this was fine. Without food, Bob had to finish my glass. It was ok and I can tell my tastes are changing because two years ago I would not have been able to get past the first sip. This is what I *think* Bordeaux is supposed to taste like, but it isn’t my preferred style.
  • Other notes: I know Bordeaux wines are some of the best wines in the world, but I just can’t get past the earth and tree bark taste that so many of them have. I started drinking red wine years ago, but stopped because almost everything I found was huge, earthy, oaky wines. To me, dirt and tree bark are not flavors I want in my wine. A touch of them, sure, a lot – not so much. This probably makes me unsophisticated in the world of wine, and I’m perfectly fine with that. Give me a good Pinot Noir or Zinfandel any day.
  • From the bottle: “The vintage has a garnet, clear and brilliant robe, with a fresh fruit nose accompanied by black fruit aromas and a subtle round mouth.” 13% alcohol by volume.


Couscous Stuffed Peppers

Every now and then I come up with something that just works. It isn’t often, but sometimes I do. This was one of them.

At the farmers’ market I found these incredible yellow peppers and some heirloom tomatoes. The garden has given me kale and basil, so I figured I could make up something with all of those. Bob isn’t a huge fan of peppers, but the yellow and orange ones he can do, so I thought he’d eat the filling and leave most of the pepper, but he ate the whole thing. The peppers were incredibly sweet and the filling had a deep flavor that was great on it’s own, but complimented the peppers so well.

Keep in mind that this was something I threw together and all quantities are estimations.


  • 2 large peppers
  • 1 cup Israeli Couscous
  • 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pecorino cheese (or other hard grating cheese), divided in half
  • 4 kale leaves
  • 3/4 cup basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Peppers: Cut the top of the peppers off and remove the seeds and veins of the pepper. Coat in olive oil and lightly salt. Roast in 350 degree oven while you prep the filling.

Pesto: combine basil, kale, lemon juice, garlic, almonds and a pinch of salt in food processor. Blitz until everything is finely chopped. Add 1/4 cup cheese and about 1/4 cup olive oil and blitz again. Adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.

Couscous: Heat a large pan with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. When oil is hot add onions and tomatoes. Cook for about five minutes, pressing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon every few minutes to help them burst. (you could also chop the into small pieces then add them about half way through cooking the onion.) Season with salt and pepper. Add couscous and cook for two minutes more. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pesto and most of the remaining cheese.

Put it all together: Remove pepper from oven and carefully (they are hot) fill each pepper with couscous mixture. Sprinkle a little cheese on top and return to the oven for about twenty minutes. There should be enough filling left for a third pepper, but I took it for lunch the next day instead of making another pepper.

Bedrock Wine Company – Zinfandel, 2016

  • Basic info: Bedrock Wine Company, Esola Vineyard Zinfandel, Amador County, CA – 2016.
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $35 (from winery)
  • Look: Ruby red wine that is opaque in most lights, but has some translucency in the sun. Slight plum tint at the rim.
  • Smell: Raspberry (ripe, ready to eat raspberry still on the vine) with a little cherry.
  • Taste: Mild spice, red fruit, anise/ licorice. Super smooth with a nice acidity and mineralogy. Wine changes from fruity to a deeper flavor and it has a chocolate note on the long finish.
  • Conclusions: Amazing wine. Bob and I savored each sip of this wine, and I think we sat on the back porch for over an hour savoring a single glass each. This is everything I love about zinfandels in a light style, although the alcohol content is still up there.
  • Other notes: After the first sip Bob and I just looked at each other. If I blind tasted this I would have called it a pinot noir right out of the bottle. A half hour later, as the wine sat and opened a little, it was pure zinfandel. I didn’t think I could like a zinfandel more than I liked the Old Vine Zinfandel from Bedrock, but this is just as good if not better. I’m kind of sad that we only have one bottle of this wine. It is a little more than we usually spend for a “just to open” bottle but since I found out I passed my Admin Certification test for NJ and a bunch of other states (same test, but each state has a different required score – I managed to score high enough that my score will count for any state that accepts the exam) we decided a little celebration was in order.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes. 14.4% alcohol by volume.



The other day Bob and I did one of our favorite things – wine on the back patio. We had a nice glass with dinner, then finished them outside enjoying the warm weather. The pets joined us and I love the shot of Alinea on the table. You can’t see her very well, but I still love how it came out.

In the glass is a Gruner Veltliner that I love. We’ve also tried a Nebbiolo recently and while I generally really like Nebbiolo, I didn’t like this one. I tried to have it with food, but I just could not get past the Robitussin taste.

Pet pictures (’cause they are cute):


La Crema – Pinot Noir, 2015

  • Basic info: La Crema Pinot Noir, Monterey, CA – 2015
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate:$19 (local wine store)
  • Look: Garnet colored with minimal translucency. Good legs.
  • Smell: Fruit, berries, specifically raspberry and strawberry
  • Taste: Ripe strawberry and cherry with some mineral notes. Almost no tannin. Smooth wine with good, but not overpowering acid. Nice long finish with notes of blackberry and darker fruit.
  • Conclusions: Really nice drinking wine. Smooth and enjoyable.
  • Other notes: The weather finally turned nice here and one afternoon after work I decided to have a glass of wine before making dinner because I just wanted to. It was a long day a work and I wanted to enjoy the sun and warm temperatures, especially after being so cold all of January and at work every day. We picked this up on a whim at our local wine store. I thought I recognized the winery, but wasn’t 100% certain. I’m still not certain if it is the same winery that I think it is, but it was a lovely wine – so much so that we picked up another bottle of it the next time we were at the wine store.
  • From the bottle: “Aromas of black plum, cherry, rhubarb and hints of earth and loam. Flavors of red plum, raspberry and blood orange are underpinned by distinctive river stone minerality and savory umami character. Plush and richly textured with juicy, yet balanced acidity and integrated toasty barrel spice.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.