Monday, October 31, 2011

So There's More To Wine Than Pinot and Cabs...

 To Be Filed Under Grapes You've Probably Never Heard Of... So a couple of posts ago I noted how I checked out a tasting seminar of the Vins du Sud Ouest (IVSO) (aka the wines of the South West of France). And along with learning about wine acronyms, I learned that there are a lot of grapes out there that I have never heard of. So for anyone looking to expand their wine vocab here are five varietals that are not Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon.

PS The Above photo from the appellation of Madiran (where the main grape varietal is the below mentioned Tannat).

Tannat is grown in the Basque country, most notably in the tiny appellation of Irouléguy, on the Spanish border. In 1870, Basque immigrants brought the grape to Uruguay, where it adapted perfectly to the local soil and climate. It has since become the national red grape variety of Uruguay, accounting for approximately one third of all wine produced in that country; more Tannat is grown in Uruguay than in the varietal’s native France. Tannat makes decidedly robust wines, with pronounced aromas of smoke and plum, significant tannins and a wonderfully spicy finish.

The Malbec has been grown in the valley of Cahors for more than 2000 years. It is the on the terroir of the Lot River that Malbec finds its optimal condition to give its maximum of potential. The varietal is an easy growing grape but is extremely sensitive to its natural environment: soil, microclimate, length of sunshine, microclimate, etc. Malbec is typically a medium to full-bodied red wine. Ripe fruit flavors of plums and blackberry give it a jammy characteristic. The tannins are rustically woody and earthy.

First used to make Cognac although not as popular for that purpose as Ugni Blanc and Baco Blanc. The Colombard has a high natural acidity making it a good choice for blends. Prone to rot and powdery mildew, the Colombard was the most widely planted grape in California until the early 1990s where it was often used as a base for jug wines. It is also an important varietal in South Africa though decreasingly so and is now being grown in the hotter growing regions in Texas. If given the proper treatment, Colombard can produce crisp whites with citrus fruits (lime and grapefruit), along with green apple and grassy flavors with a soft minerality.

Négrette is a direct descendant of Mavro rootstock, a grape variety cultivated extensively on the island of Cyprus. It is said it was brought to France from the island by knights returning home from the Crusades. In California the vine is known as Pinot St-George. Négrette’s color ranges from deep plum to eggplant and it's flavors include rich plum, sour cherry, peony, violet and licorice.

Also called Fer Servadou, the name refers to the iron-hard woodiness of the vine. Braucol produces a wine high in color, full bodied and rustic. Flavor characteristics include blackcurrant, raspberry, crumpled leaves and red pepper.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Gluten Free Supermarket

For the 1 percent of Americans who have Celiac Disease (an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine in response to ingesting foods containing Gluten) eating is forever a battle with anything that contains gluten (which is everything!). And it’s not a walk in the park for the 6 to 7 percent who have gluten sensitivity, although they don’t have Celiac Disease they do have Celiac-like symptoms (abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, fatigue, persistent diarrhea).

It’s become a Big issue: as of this year the IRS now allows Gluten Free foods to be included in deductible medical expenses and insurance plans will start to cover the excess cost of the food.

Chances are you or someone you know has a problem with Gluten. And up until now those seeking out Gluten Free food were subjected to that one half of an aisle at the supermarket… but for those living in the Valley (and those willing to traverse over the Hill) there is now a supermarket focusing only on Gluten Free products.

Pam MacD's Gluten Free Market opened on April 11th in Burbank, as the largest gluten free market in Southern California. Owner, Pam MacDonald was diagnosed with Celiac disease over 14 years ago. Since that time, she has tried virtually every Gluten Free product that exists, and has sorted through it all to bring only the best food together in one convenient location.

A few weeks ago I attended the Launch Party for Pam MacD’s and fell in love with a couple of new products (there’s a lot of cross over from the Gluten Free community to the Vegan/Vegetarian community). My new discoveries are below, but if you want to check out all the possibilities go to Pam MacD’s Gluten Free Market (3516 W. Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505).
Divine Dips

Divine Dips A Vegan Ice Cream that kicks ass! Divine Dips embodies the creamy richness, flavor and texture of traditional ice cream, without the drawbacks of dairy! Crafted from a blend of organic coconut milk, cashews, nut milks, and other all-natural ingredients. You can find if retail wise at locations such as Rainbow Acres or get it on top of your Gluten Free Waffles at waffle joint Bru’s Wiffle!

Almond Glory Focaccia Bread and Pizza Crust This 8” Pre-Baked Pizza crust comes on its own black baking tray that you top with your favorite toppings so now the Gluten intolerant can take this anywhere with them and enjoy pizza along with everyone else.

Livia's Kitchen - Vegan, Gluten-Free and Soy-Free Cookies These are some of the most amazing non-dairy cookies I’ve ever tasted. A lot of times Gluten Free/Vegan cookies taste like dry bricks, but these are so moist and decadent you can’t believe there’s not a stick of butter in each of them. You can find Livia's Kitchen at numerous farmer's market in Los Angeles.


Photos by Adam Rubenstein from

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Bad Acronyms: Stopping GEs

Hey Guys! Want to sign a petition? The peeps over at Food and Water Watch are trying to stop Monsanto's GE Sweet Corn!

Monsanto's GE (that's Genetically Engineered not the light bulb company. GE’s other aliases include GMO, aka Genetically Modified Organism) sweet corn is approved and could be on your plate next year. This GE sweet corn, the first Monsanto crop designed to be consumed by people, is genetically engineered to produce pesticides and resist herbicides.

Food & Water Watch will be delivering these petitions signatures to the top ten largest grocery store chains in the U.S. to let them know consumers won't buy Monsanto's GE sweet corn.
So why should you be concerned about Monsanto's Genetically Engineered Sweet Corn?
1) This is the first GE crop that Monsanto is marketing for direct human consumption.
2) It will not be labeled.
3) It hasn't been tested for human safety.

Monsanto's sweet corn variety flew through the approval process because it combines two genetically engineered traits that were approved in 2005 and 2008. The USDA does no independent testing of GE crops, and the "stacked" combination of these traits for herbicide resistance and pesticide production has never been through a safety evaluation of any kind.

These traits have never been engineered into a food that will be consumed directly by people. Most of the GE corn that is currently grown is eaten by animals or processed into corn syrup, corn oil and other corn ingredients that show up in processed food. Monsanto's aiming to have their new GE sweet corn grown on 250,000 acres next year (roughly 40% of the sweet corn market). If this scares you take action now to make sure this corn isn't sold at your local grocery store (especially since you can do it on the internet now… remember when you had to sign a petition in person).

If the approval of Monsanto's sweet corn isn't bad enough, genetically engineered crops are not required to be labeled (like they are in Europe). We have no way of knowing if a food has been genetically engineered or contains GE ingredients.

They (and I) believe labeling should be required so that people can choose whether or not they want to eat GE foods. Unfortunately, GE sweet corn will not be labeled and it doesn't look any different from regular sweet corn.

Help make sure GE sweet corn is not sold by signing their petition to grocery stores. Food and Water Watch will be delivering this petition to the top ten grocery store chains in the country in an attempt to stop GE sweet corn from reaching our plates.

Sign the petition to grocery stores today: