Notes from the Cellar: As I was saying …

by Jeff Cox, Beer and Wine Merchandiser

This article was originally published in February 2010

Now we’re cookin’. As our side of the big blue ball wakes up and turns its face to the light, the waning days of last year and the annual fade-to-black already feel like … well, a decade ago. But I have unfinished business from way back then.

A good friend in the wine business reminded me that in December, I began and left unfinished a litany of Stuff Worth Carrying Forward — this correspondent’s “best of,” as it were.

I was just reaching a fever of exuberant verbosity over the Gorge and the Languedoc when I reached my word count and Ms. Editor gave me the hook. Then, I forgot what I was doing. Ahem. Herewith then, a continuation of My Favorite Things (with apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein).

It’s been said that the French are great cooks — but that the Italians taught them how. Though I’m frankly as Francophile as one can get (and this observation is made almost always by an Italian), I admit there’s some credence to it.

Since I’ve already exposed myself to a thousand curses, I’ll up the ante and venture that among Italian regional cuisines (and wines), Piemontese is especially artful and delectable. But don’t take my word for it, get ye forthwith to Spinasse and try the tajarin with butter and sage, all the more amazing with a bottle of Marchesi di Gresy sauvignon blanc.

That said, my “go to” for soul-warming comfort food remains French — not the haute cuisine of Paris or Lyon but the amazingly sensual flavors of bistros and traditional recipes. Locally, the closest thing to being there is Boat Street Café and Renée Erickson’s enticing menu and tantalizing, well-chosen wine list.

For my 51st trip through the calendar, I’ve resolved to follow my friend Carrie’s example and make a habit of visiting the Boat Street bar for the rib eye with beets, potatoes and black olive tapenade. That, and a glass or two of something from the southern Rhône or the Languedoc, and we’re living large, baby.

Finally, as I was telling Throckmorton the other day, I resolve to drink more Champagne — specifically, more artisan, “grower” Champagne. Who can argue with better quality for the same price — or less — than the big-name “brand” stuff?

Like a sweet spring day, we often forget how fine it can be until we open a bottle, close our eyes, and let that exquisite, effervescent je ne sais quoi fill the corners of our soul.


Also in this issue

February: the month of change

February is one of my favorite months. It takes us from the short days of winter toward the longer days of spring. Evidence of the wan-ing days of winter is everywhere. In my garden, Snow Drops are prolific at the start of the month and gone by the end of the month.

Organics in 2010: Age of Enforcement

The year 2010 is shaping up as a very good one for the National Organic Program (NOP). The new director, Miles McEvoy, is promising an "Age of Enforcement," with stronger standards, increased collaboration with stakeholders, improved oversight, and penalties for violations.

Homemade yogurt

Are you hesitant to try plain yogurt because it might taste bitter? Try homemade yogurt. It is sweet even when unflavored, although you can add any flavor you like. Sweeten it with agave or pure maple syrup, or add organic berries, nuts or raisins. A squeeze of lemon is tasty, too.