I possess a Daredevil-like sense of smell. I notice aromas floating in the air that few people do, from potpourri, blooming flowers the next block over, sauteed onions from outside the front door and — my least favorite thing on the planet — incense burning in a nearby apartment. Inherited from the chef-side of my family, this intense sense is both a blessing and curse, since there are also plenty of not-so-fabulous aromas floating in the air too. As you likely know, taste is heavily dependent on smell (think about when you have a cold) so my taste factor is also influenced by this, ahem, blurse. But that’s where tasting wine becomes really cool. I smell and taste a lot of things in a wine. Like green pepper(aka pyrazine vegetal-ness) in many Chilean Carmenere wines. I whiff it first, then it bursts into my mouth. Generally experienced in grapes that haven’t ripened enough, the green pepper experience in Carmenere is part of its DNA. I never warmed up to this flavor and still don’t care for it. So when I get a sample bottle of Carmenere, I’m rarely psyched. However, the Anderra 2013 Carmenere surprised me. It helps that the wine is is the Chilean project by Baron Phillipe de Rothschild. Yep, that Rothschild.
Read more: Wine Review: Anderra 2013 Carmenere and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Have you ever read the side of a salad dressing bottle? Be in a patient mood when you do. Hard-to-pronounce words followed by a list of chemicals. My mantra is that, if I can’t pronounce it, I shouldn’t be eating it. Ingredients often look scary to me… preservatives like potassium sorbate, red or yellow coloring, thickeners like xanthan gum and moderately evil flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate. Not to forget sugar. Plenty of sugar in them, there bottles. When I “went healthy” many years ago, I dropped the bottled stuff and started making my own. Very surprisingly easy to do, once you get the hang of it and learn what tastes good to you. And the biggest accomplishment is knowing how to dress a salad without measuring. Bonus!
Read more: 4 ingredient Dijon vinaigrette recipe for salads (or marinades)
Summer is here, allowing all of us who live in a four season climate to enjoy the things that only summer can bring. For me – bring on the shandy (or radler if you prefer) perhaps the greatest beer cocktail. Like so many drinks the origins of the shandy beer cocktail are fuzzy and hotly debated. Some have suggested that the drink’s origins are found with Henry VIII who enjoyed the beverage in times of marital discord. It’s hard to imagine this, since a few shandies could never leave one in the mood to separate your spouse’s head from her body. However, he may have had issues well beyond the mood lifting properties of the shandy.
Read more: Shandy beer cocktail: Refreshing summertime drink
With the medical professionals screaming at us to eat healthier and better and the food marketers saying their fake food fits into this category, it’s difficult to know where to turn. But I turn to real food — food that comes from the ground or from a tree and has never seen a factory or processing plant. I don’t have to worry about eating too much of it or if it’s going to give me hives or any… ahem… digestive issues. If you’re hoping to make the switch or just trying to expand your healthy food horizons, here are seven, deliciously real foods that you should and can enjoy with relentless abandon.
Read more: 7 healthy additions to a real food diet (paleo style)
Since January, things have changed a bit in our house. At least, the food has. We ate pretty healthy before, although my definition of “healthy” is drastically different than it was a couple of years ago. Back in the day, I espoused and lived the “low fat” mantra, counting calories and working out like a fiend. Then I started reading. A lot. Now, fat is my friend, I never count calories and work out maybe three times a week. I do try to stay active but I haven’t seen a gym in a couple of years. My blood work has improved, my weight has maintained a constant level and I feel great. And the food allergies I had before my cleanse have, all for intents and purposes, vanished.
Read more: I cured my food allergies with diet: 60 days post cleanse
It was called “Black Wine” for years – the Malbec wine from Cahors in France’s Southwest region. The British were the main consumers of this rich, unctuous and tannic drink until the root louse phylloxera decimated the vineyards in the late 1800’s. 100 years later, after replanting with terroir in mind, the Cahors wine producers awakened to a different Malbec world far from their shores, in Argentina. They realized they were late to an already raging party. Undaunted by the competition, Cahors wine producers now feel it’s the Golden Age of Cahors and better late than never to reclaim Malbec’s French birthright.
Read more: French Malbec and wines of Cahors: The original
During my food allergy curing, gut healing exercise, I hankered for baked goods. There’s nothing quite like sinking your chompers into soft, savory goodness and I missed that satisfying sensation. I also sought an alternative gluten-free, nutrient-dense breakfast option. Enter the coconut flour muffin. Combining insight from a few paleo recipe websites, I created a fluffy muffin that fit my tastes.
Read more: Recipe: Savory gluten-free garlic and herb muffins (paleo friendly)
Chile has been a happening place for several years now. With a Mediterranean climate much like northern California, the grapes bask in sunshine and enjoy rain during the winter mostly. Even the landscape, with mountain valleys and slopes, resembles California. And, like California, the resultant wines are consistently high quality. But there’s one big difference: Price. Wines from Chile astound with a price to quality ratio that most wine regions would love. I dare say few wine regions can top the number of excellent wines under $20 that Chile does.
Read more: Wine review: Montes Alpha 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
I wrote about corks versus screwcap for wine closures back in 2010, and the argument continues five years later. Strangely enough since screwcaps have proven their worth over and over again. But…ah… the romance of cork still wins over the hearts of wine lovers. This infographic, shared by Tim at WineTurtle.com, reveals the depth of the remaining confusion.
Read more: Wine cork versus screwcap: The debate rages on (infographic)
Stew meat is one of the most affordable cuts of meat out there. Cooked quickly, it can be a tough, chewy mess but combine it with veggies, broth/stock, herbs then slow cook it for hours, and you’ll have magical deliciousness. Add in the ease of a slow cooker or Crockpot, and you have super simple, quick deliciousness. Even better.
Read more: Slow cooker recipe: Lamb or beef stew (paleo and AIP diet friendly)