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A ‘Riviera’ Vacation in Your Kitchen: 2010 Abadal Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo and Mediterranean Beef Stew

Hit with two winter storms, 3 feet of snow, children home from school due to ‘snow days’, and a cold wind whipping outside my window, my thoughts turned back to my trip last May to Madrid and the ‘French Riviera.’ Oh how I longed to be basking in the warmth, the beauty, and the rich, delicious flavors of the people, the wine, and the food. This winter has made me desire both comfort…and a vacation. Fortunately, I got a taste of both in my own kitchen.

Nothing says comfort like a hearty beef stew, and nothing warms you from head to toe like a glass of incredible red wine. I chose to combine the two, and add a touch of ‘vacation’ into the pot by making a Mediterranean Beef Stew and pairing it with a Spanish 2010 Abadal Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo blend from Pla de Bages. The combination delivered with earthy goodness and the rich flair of flavor that only the Mediterranean can deliver in both its food and its wine. Simple yet seductive. Like so many ‘winos’ and ‘foodies’, I snapped the photo and posted it to my Corked Cowgirl page on Facebook (see the post here: Mediterranean Beef Stew and 2010 Abadal Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo┬á).

Today I was asked to provide the recipe for the stew. Your request is my pleasure. Don’t let the long ingredient list scare you. It’s mostly spices, and it’s super easy to make.

The recipe is as follows:

5 TBSP olive oil
2 1/2 lbs of stew meat cut into 1″ pieces
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used Truffle salt. If you’re looking to try it, you can find it at William Sonoma, Dean and Deluca, or even on Amazon)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 package of mushrooms, sliced (I used organic baby portobello mushrooms)
2 zucchinis or yellow squash, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups beef broth
2 1/2 cups water
1 2/3 cups dry red wine (I used the 2010 Abadal Cab Franc/Tempranillo…before sipping the rest!)
7/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
2 TBSP Bay Seasoning (you could throw in 3 Bay leaves as well, just don’t forget to take them out before you serve the stew!)
1 can Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)
6 oz spinach (fresh or frozen)
3 1/3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (optional)

Brown the meat in three tablespoons of the olive oil in a dutch oven or 4-quart stock pot. Once it browns, turn the heat to low. Make a paste with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, the cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, and salt. Dump it on the meat and toss it around to distribute the spice paste evenly. Pour yourself a glass of wine and start sipping.

Add the chopped onion, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, and minced garlic to the meat. Pour the tomatoes, water, beef broth and (most importantly), the wine over the meat and vegetables. Stir it up and bring the stew to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for an hour or two, or until the meat and veggies are tender. By now you should be ready for another glass (or two) of wine.

While you’re waiting for it to cook, mash the garbanzo beans with a fork and begin your second glass of wine. When the stew is done (which could be whenever you run out of patience, or wine) stir in the mashed beans and spinach. Cover and cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until the spinach is wilted(if it’s fresh) or warmed through (if it’s frozen). Sprinkle the vinegar (if you are using it) into the pot, stir up, and serve with brown rice if you want the extra carb rush. Salt and pepper to taste if necessary. You may also open another bottle of wine, if necessary.

If you decide to simply sip the wine for dinner and wish to forego the stew, you’ll find the 2010 Abadal Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo for between $15-20. It is an AMAZING wine with rich fruit flavors like blackberry and plum mixed with beautiful herbal notes and even a hint of toffee. Stock up on this one to drink throughout the rest of the winter!

Cheers!

~CC

 

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Niagara Falls: Forget the water; go for the wine…Hillebrand Estates Winery

It’s hard to believe that a week has gone by since I was overlooking the breathtakingly powerful and spectacular Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Niagara is far more than the water or the tourist attractions of the ‘wedding capital’ of North America. Niagara-on-the-Lake is a spectacular wine haven, especially this time of the year: beautiful homes along the water, dazzling fall colors on the trees, warm hues of the vineyards at harvest in contrast with the cool temperatures, and quite frankly some surprisingly good wine finds you might not expect if you’ve not ventured out of the wine country of the U.S. west coast.

This was my second visit to the Niagara VQA, and sadly, I still haven’t had enough time to enjoy the many quaint wineries. There will be many more trips in my future to explore it all, but I did manage to make a couple new ‘friends’ on this trip, and revisited a couple of favorites. Tonight, I think I’d like to introduce you to one of those favorite friends: Hillebrand Estate Winery.

The first wine I opened was their Trius White 2009. I’m thinking this one is going to be the one I pick at Thanksgiving because it just ‘works’. And there’s plenty to be thankful for in this one. In the glass, it holds a very pale straw color…reminds me of the fall fields actually. The nose more than makes up for any lack of color though. Very aromatic with strong floral and lemony citrus perfume wafting out of the glass. As it warms, you pick up a hint of pear or melon in it, but the floral and lemon bowl you over to start.

On the tongue, there’s a crispness to match the cool October air. Refreshing flavors of tropical fruit (I got a lot of pineapple) with that hint of lemon, some melon, and even a little pear flavor. Lots of fruit in this one, but not sweet. Like I said, it’s dry, crisp, and refreshing. This is going to be PERFECT with my roasted bird over the holidays. And apparently I’m not the only one that thinks this blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and unoaked Chardonnay is a winner as it has already received medals at some of the Ontario wine competitions.

The next bottle I opened is pretty much a ‘favorite child’. Seriously, I think it is my favorite Cabernet Franc…period. I tried it on the first visit, brought some back to try with my friends at Wine Flights in Leawood, Kansas, and we all agreed, this is by far one of the best Cab Francs we had ever tasted. This is their Showcase Cabernet Franc 2008. Their Showcase wines are truly that…’showcased’ by winemaker Craig McDonald. These are the ‘luxury’ wines and this one in particular is a Rolls Royce in my opinion. Brilliant ruby red in the glass with a whole host of complexities going on with the bouquet: dark fruits, mint, tobacco, and what I like to call the typical Cabernet Franc ‘funk’. The only way to explain it is to say it’s reminiscent of the way a forest smells after a rain. That smell is PERFECT in a glass of Cabernet Franc!

But not as perfect as the taste.

It is smooth and refined, complex but not overpowering. Those same sweet black fruits shine through with toasted vanilla oak. I will take this wine over a lot of Cabernet Sauvignons, quite frankly…or I guess in this case…’Franc’ly. This wine has received acclaim internationally. It should receive acclaim from your taste buds as well.

Hillebrand also has unbelievably exceptional icewines (which I will be reviewing in the next few days).

Not only are the wines exceptional, but the level of customer service is phenomenal. Keep in mind, I’ve only visited once before back in May (where they treated me like a queen for no reason other than because they wanted to). I walked in with my friends and found the lovely woman (Lynda) behind the tasting counter who had introduced me to the wines the first time. After 5 months and only one brief meeting, she remembered me on the spot. Again, one of the friendliest and most delightful people you will run into. She quickly spirited my friends and I (simply out of the goodness of her heart) up to the VIP room as she had done the time before. Upstairs, it was very busy, but we spotted the gentleman (Jeff) who had introduced us to the Showcase series five months prior. Again, he spotted and recognized us on the spot, and made certain he took care of us personally, answering any questions, and again, going over and above the call of duty. These people treat everyone that walks in like the most important person they have ever met.

If you decide you want a wine experience that is unpretentious, fun, and pure wine heaven, that will give you the royal treatment both in the glass and in your personal interactions, then I highly suggest you consider a wine trip to ONTARIO wine country…and Hillebrand Estate Wineries.

Trius White 2009: $19
Showcase Cabernet Franc 2008: $38.00

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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