September 5, 2018
Seriously, it is September 5th and the heat index is going to feel like 100 degrees. Ugh. In case you did not see my post from yesterday, I fully stand behind my statement that I cannot wait for the Fall weather.
I know, September (and even into October) have been notorious for still being warm, and maybe a little hot and humid too. I should know this by now; I mean, I have lived in Baltimore all of my life but I still think of September as back to school, leaves turning, brisk weather, and a NEW sweater.
Switching gears now! Talk about a SHOCKER with what I am about the share...I kind of have a thing for salmon. Yes, believe it or not, salmon is one of my "go-to" fish, and I can, literally, have it multiple days a week. My Mom is a little scared I am going to start growing fins, and my boyfriend is just appalled that I even LIKE it. The good news is that I am getting a healthy dose of Omega-3's!
As a Baltimorean, I do enjoy some good crab meat, and shrimp and tuna are a favorite as well, but not like salmon. LOL. Cod is just okay, and Rockfish I can take or leave (unless it is prepared really well). Oh gosh, I know there are so many more fish in the sea (ha!) - ooh, lobster is always nice - but you get my drift. Actually, I feel like more people dislike salmon than like it, unless you are a hardcore sushi fan who will eat any if it!
Wednesday's have, ultimately, ended up being a fish night in my household. Ever since my grandfather started trying out all different fish recipes (and, no, it was not ALWAYS salmon) on Wednesday nights, it just kind of stuck. No rhyme or reason. So, in my quest to change up my usual baked salmon, and drink whatever kind of wine was in my wine cooler or shelf, I decided that, moving forward, I shall get a little "fancier." If I am going to be taken as a serious foodie, recipe curator, and wine connoisseur, than COME ON, right?
My mission this week: Create a really simple, yet flavorful, salmon dish that would be PERFECT for this hot weather (I am going to try a few variations and see which one I like best to share), but, more importantly, pair the perfect VINO to go with it, and not just pull out what is currently chillin'.
The last time I had a really, stellar piece of salmon was, most recently, in NYC. And, go figure, it was at a super well known Italian restaurant in "Fidi" called Adrienne's Pizzabar.
While I do enjoy different spins on this classic fish, the preparation was so simple, and so flavorful, I ate every single bite (minus a few potatoes). It was baked to perfection, with a crispy outside that melted in your mouth. I attribute this to the wood burning oven that they use. In my next house, I am, totally, getting one put in my kitchen! Lemon, parsley, and a little EVOO & garlic stole the show with this dish! Needless to say, I am still dreaming of it, and thinking this may be the dish I re-create. We will see how it goes down in the kitchen...and how many glasses of wine is needed to per-fect it!
WAIT, now I may be on to something! You know where it says how many a dish serves on the recipe card? Maybe I need to add how many glasses are needed from start to finish (including consumption too)?!?! Million dollar idea RIGHT THERE!
As for my wine selection(s), well, I couldn't decide on just one; that would not be a whole lot of fun, LOL. Since my preparation will, most likely, be fairly plain and simple, I wanted to keep the wine to a white varietal, and, from what I have researched, an oak-aged or time-aged would be the perfect compliment. Plus, keeping to a white (or even Rose) in this weather just seemed more appropriate! Did I mention it is about 1000 degrees here right now!
As I REALLY venture into the world of pairing wines - although I am a firm believer that you drink what you like and everyone will have an opinion on "what goes with what" - I have gotten some really good information from a well known source - Wine Folly. I based my research on my fish of choice and how I wanted the taste to "pop." A richer white seemed to be the best choice; and, so, I narrowed it down to the following:
Sonoma or Central Coast for Chardonnay
Paso Robles for Viognier
Aged White Rioja from Spain
Oak Aged Chardonnay from Sicily
Australian Chardonnay from Victoria
Semillon from Hunter Valley
Since I am fairly familiar with the Chardonnays from the Sonoma and Central Coast of California - more on these in a different post - I thought I would venture into a little bit of a different territory. Plus, when I went to my go-to wine store (The Wine Source), here is what I chose (and in the order they were consumed):
Vina Gravonia Crianza (2008); Aged White Rioja - $23.99
Okay, I definitely need to expand my palette. Spanish wines are few and far between in my wine repertoire, especially aged whites. The color, alone, was an eyebrow raiser but I was assured this was FUN, different, and a great introduction into the Aged-White Rioja family.
I didn't know what to expect. As I mentioned, the pale gold color had me wondering about this tasting experience. Upon sniffing, swirling, and sipping, the fruit forward, and very complex taste, was a bit of a shocker to me. I know, that sounds so professional but that is about all I can say. After taking a few more sips, I came to the conclusion that maybe this wine was better served with food, and not a drinking wine on it's own (especially for my taste). It did start to grow on me a bit but I put aside until dinner to see if I could get more of the experience.
Yeah, dinner did not seem to help the cause! I tried, I really did, but the crisp apple notes did not seem to pop for me. Maybe it is TOO DRY for my taste buds? The jury is not out, yet, I still have plenty in the fridge and may try pairing it with another dish to see if it changes my mind at all!
Tyrell's Hunter Semillon (2015) - $27.99
This is not the reason why I was drawn to it BUT it is pretty cool that this wine is screw top #easybutton A lot of Australian wines seem to hop on this bandwagon. If you know why, because I don't feel like googling it, let me know! I was drawn to this because of the "no brainer" tag line at the wine store that stated "If you are tired of Sauvignon Blanc..." Ding, ding, ding! In fact, when one of the friendly gentleman who works in the store saw me with the bottle, he said "oh, that is FANTASTIC!"
I admit, I am kind of set in my ways; after consuming the few first swigs, I was hoping for it to have a little more of a Kim Crawford taste. While keeping an open mind - I mean, this is point of learning - and letting it breathe a little more, it definitely grew on my palette! I mean, by the time I was finished with my "glass half full" I think this may even have a little more complexity than a traditional Sauvignon Blanc. I kind of think this is #fit4janine!
This wine is a pleasing balance of fruit and soft acid. Plus, as the Wine Spectator put it "an interesting combination of a crisp, refreshing body coupled with the rich notes of toast, vanilla, peach, honey, and spice. This Australian beauty will be making it's way into my wine cellar at some point, and I cannot wait to try other Semillon's from Hunter Valley!
And, just like Kim Crawford, a go-to week night vino choice too!
San Simeon Viognier from Paso Robles (2016) - $19.99
And last, but certainly not least (and because it was the least expensive, just kidding), the Viognier from Paso Robles. I had a feeling I would really like it since one of my favorite Cabernets - Justin - is from this region! Bright and aromatic, coupled with tropical & peach notes, this BRIGHT wine was the least dry of all the wines I tried tonight (and rightfully so). This had just arrived at The Wine Source, so it was even a question mark to those who work there, although they had heard really good reviews!
With a mix between steel and oak barrels, this wine was a PERFECT compliment to tonight's salmon dinner but also an easy drinking wine as well. I am on my 2nd glass of THIS as I write. Okay, maybe this is too easy - ha!
Cheers to getting a little more well versed...and liking what you drink with your FISH!
P.S. All prices shown are from based on what I paid at The Wine Source in Hampden, Maryland.