I’m one of those weirdos that doesn’t like licorice. Black or Red. Groan. No… it goes beyond that. It makes me nauseous… unhappy and desirous of fleeing. So it wasn’t until well into my adulthood that my love affair with the fennel bulb began. Before I discovered this root vegetable, I assumed fennel arose from the same family as anise, which is the base flavoring of licorice (or, at least, it’s supposed to be but today’s chemical candy is anyone’s guess). It’s certainly related to anise but fennel bulb is the milder-flavored underground portion of an herb, which, coincidentally, is the basis for the controversial grog Absinthe. I’ve already posted a main dish using this root veggie, Spicy Shrimp with Sauteed Fennel, but this super-fast side can give you all the mild, delicious flavor without the hassle of cooking. I re-created this salad recipe after enjoying it at a Tampa restaurant and now it’s a staple in my salad arsenal.
Read more: Healthy side recipe: Fennel salad with mustard dressing
One the juiciest parts of blind-tasting wines is the shock and awe when you uncover a really, really tasty find. It’s like unearthing a lost twenty in your jacket pocket or getting something on sale that you needed anyway. A delicious surprise. I hadn’t tried Pepi wines for many years, finding them rather boring and uninspiring in days past. But this fruity little Chenin-Viognier number caught the eye of every taster at the group tasting table. From the wine pro to the casual consumer, virtually everyone gushed, anxiously awaiting the “reveal” to find out the price. So they could go buy a case. They got their wish… Pepi Chenin Blanc-Viognier is quite affordable at $10. I hadn’t tried Pepi wines for many years, finding them rather boring and uninspiring in days past. But this fruity little Chenin-Viognier number caught the eye of every taster at the group tasting table. From wine professionals to casual consumers, virtually everyone gushed, anxiously awaiting the “reveal” to find out the price. So they could go buy a case. They got their wish… Pepi Chenin Blanc-Viognier is quite affordable.
Read more: Wine review: Pepi 2011 Chenin Blanc Viognier California
This recipe can be thrown together as soon as your feet hit the welcome home mat. Takes about 10 minutes to make and 30 minutes to cook. Earthy, savory and filling, this stew cures what ails you, warms the cockles (whatever those are) and leftovers freeze well for the next rainy or cold day.
Read more: Simple weeknight recipe: Smoky garbanzo and spinach stew
Since moving to California almost two years ago, I’ve craved quite a few tasty morsels hidden in the folds of Tampa’s food underbelly. On a recent trip back east, I undertook the momentous effort of packing all these culinary cravings into one very short gorg-cation. The result was not only weight gain and stomach bloating but often reminiscent bliss beyond compare. The details are too delicious and would be mean to share completely, but the highlights are the best restaurant meal destinations a person can have in Tampa in four days.
Read more: What I did on my Christmas vacation: The Tampa best food and wine edition
For many sparkling wine houses, this time of year produces 50% of their sales. Tis a shame that wine drinkers save up their bubbles and celebrate fizz strictly in December — a bottle of bubbly could be a celebration unto itself. But perhaps our American puritanical roots prevent us from indulging too often? Ever the eschewer, that doesn’t stop me. Come join me in my every day gustatory party with this list of consistently well-made, delicious bottles of sparkling bubbly and Champagne
Read more: Bubbles for all occasions: Great sparkling wine and Champagne for the fizzy holiday
Ah… true Champagne. I still remember when I was introduced to this elixir otherwise known as Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne — shortly before I became a wine writer, a wealthy friend bestowed a bottle of their Brut bubbly as a Christmas gift. At $40, it was far and above what a lowly poor girl such as myself could afford. And I wallowed in its elegant beauty — completely worth the money. The rose is no exception.
Read more: Wine review: Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose Champagne
Cool things abound this year for the alcohol-minded folks on your gift list. Or for you, if you swing that holiday way. Here are a a few ideas of the best offerings out there for wine, beer or whisky enthusiasts and one quick trip to Amazon will get you closer to being finished with your Christmas or Hanukkah shopping.
Read more: The best, most wanted wine, beer and whisky gifts for the holiday season
As we meld into more of America’s melting pot, Thanksgiving is becoming a more difficult wine pairing challenge. And every host wants to look cool/educated/sophisticated/knowledgeable when it comes to pairing food and wine. Or, at least, Food Network says you do. But no one says you need to be perfect when choosing the accompanying vino — there are, indeed, tried-and-true wines which cozy up to many variegated Turkey Day plates.
Read more: Giving wine the bird: Thanksgiving wines for Turkey Day
Growing up, our poor excuse for a Thanksgiving cranberry side was opening up a chilled can of cranberry sauce. I was never a fan… tasted like (and I imagine it still does) aluminum flavored, jellied cough syrup. It was one of the items I pushed around the plate until no one could notice I didn’t eat any. This recipe is nothing like that horrible memory.
Read more: Thanksgiving cranberry: A chutney alternative to the dreaded canned sauce