Recipe: Crispy Sea Bass or Mahi Mahi with lemon dill sauce

Crispy Sea Bass

Due to its healthful aspects — high in protein, vitamin B-12 and iron — fish is something I try to eat at least twice a week. It can enliven a boring week of chicken, pork and beef. But it can be challenging to find super fresh fillets that don’t sport the stomach-turning “fishy” taste; frozen is often what I reach for. But you can still find excellent fresh fish at the grocery store and fish counters, however, you must be vigilant — always ask the guy behind the counter to let you smell the fish before it’s wrapped. Even a whiff of fishiness is a good indication it’s been out of the water a while. Your nose will let you know the deal. This recipe calls for either sea bass or Mahi Mahi, but you can use other white fish as well (halibut or cod come to mind). Tilapia isn’t ideal since it’s too thin, and oilier fish like salmon or swordfish won’t work either. You can also half this recipe. To keep the fillets crispy for the next day, store in a plastic container with wax paper on the bottom.

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Visit California wine country: Reserve Lunch at Franciscan Estate Winery

Franciscan Scallops

As someone who has been in the wine trade for many years, I’m privy to plenty of special experiences… wine dinners, library tastings, chef-prepared lunches, etc. Most of the time, these sweet gigs aren’t accessible to the general public. Which I’ve always thought a frickin’ shame. Why shouldn’t a winery provide as much fun to the evangelists who sing praises through social media as much as the guy who recommends the wine at a shop? But that’s how the game is played. At least for now. Exclusivity isn’t the case at Franciscan Estate Winery in Napa Valley.

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Spring vegetable recipes: Three sauces for steamed or roasted asparagus

Fresh Asparagus

Although vegetables have their own fabulous goodness on their own, when you tire of the same ‘ole thing, a simple sauce goes a long way to renewed or increased deliciousness. My favorite spring vegetable is asparagus, a perennial plant related to garlic and onions and native to Asia, Europe and North Africa. It’s super high in fiber and nutrients like vitamins B1 and 2, C, E, K as well as folate, copper and manganese. Enjoy with abandon.

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What to buy at Trader Joe's: The full guide to their food

Trader Joe's Loot

Although it’s been three years since I moved to California, I still wallow in the awesomeness of Trader Joe’s (TJ’s). Their business model of offering only private-branded food and beverage is unique, so you kind of have to test out the merchandise to see what your favorite items are. Not that this is grueling work. They sell an insanely varied line of foods (around 4,000 SKUs), from über gourmet chocolate to some of the best frozen foods you can find. Having the corner on each specialty item appears to be working for them. Based in Monrovia, California outside of Los Angeles (but owned by a German company), TJ’s is privately held and the actual producers of their grocery items remain secret. This is a fantastic story from CNN.com highlighting Trader Joe’s success and reveals some of their inner sanctum. I know my friends in Tampa FL have been anxiously awaiting the opening of their first TJ’s, and I heard there was line snaking around the block when their doors finally unlocked. Wait no longer.

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Video: Winemaker Mark Beringer on why the 2012 vintage was stellar

Winemaker Mark Beringer being interviewed

The 2012 vintage in Sonoma and Napa was legendary – lauded by many a wine writer as well as those who really know, the winemakers. The red wines from 2012 are starting to hit the shelves and I wanted to find out the real deal on the hype. So I had a chat with Mark Beringer, a fifth generation winemaker at Artesa Winery in Sonoma’s Carneros region who has wine in his veins. I figured this guy would know the scoop.

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Wine review: Brancott Flight Song 2013 Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc

Sometimes less alcohol goes a long way. Imagine sitting by the pool or enjoying a spring picnic with some cool white wine in the GoVino or plastic wine glass. Less alcohol will allow you to enjoy this scene a bit longer — lingering over tasty snacks or ogling the people at the pool. Kinda dreamy, huh? Brancott Estates, known for their New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, has launched a new line of wines called Flight Song, pimping them as having 20% less calories (than their other wines). And lower alcohol. About 4% less alcohol actually, weighing in a 9%.

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Hail Kale Caesar Salad Recipe

Kale Caesar Salad

I have become a massive fan of kale… I do feel like I’m in a herd of sheep following the trend, but it is pretty healthy and can be incredibly tasty. Up until recently, I roasted kale as well as tossed it into soups but Kale Caesar Salad was the first raw recipe I embraced. This version originally came from Alton Brown but I’ve altered it generously to make it a bit more healthy and more pungent.

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Greek wine comes of age

Nemea Driopi Classic Agiorgitiko

When I was growing up, a dusty bottle of Greek Retsina held court in our pantry cupboard. My mom purchased it while traveling in Greece back in the 50s, hoping one day to open it with fanfare. To my knowledge, it’s still there, crusty and dusty. Sometime after I’d gone deep into wine, she did ask me if it would still be tasty if she opened it at that point. My response was guttural, mostly because my experience with Retsina resembled grain alcohol laced with turpentine – on a good day. It wasn’t until several years later, when I stumbled into the incredible Mediterranean restaurant Zaytinya in Washington DC, that I realized Greece might have other delicacies to offer than this famed, nose hair-burning liquid.

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