It ain’t easy being the underdog. When you have Chianti and Brunello as your big brothers and Super Tuscans as your sophisticated sister, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has to do a lot to get attention. Add to that some pretty tough Italian regulations about growing, blending and a helluva long name, it’s been a tough marketing road for this small, 76-producer, sub-region of Tuscany. But they’re making a delicious go of it with Sangiovese as the king pin. Established in 1966, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOC (Demonimazione di Origine Controllata) is comprised of 3,100 planted acres in the southeastern section of Tuscany, about 65 kilometers south of Siena. But grapes and wine have been in this region for millennia, with documents proving vineyards dating back to 790 AD. In 1980, the region was awarded a G on the DOC (Demonimazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), making them among the elite wine growing regions in Italy. This year marks their 50th anniversary of being recognized with quality Italian wine.
Read more: The new (old) wines of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
For me, breakfast is the most difficult part of adjusting to a whole foods lifestyle. No cereal or grains pretty much limits a lot of options. On AIP, a regimen I followed for 60 days to cure my food allergies, you can’t eat eggs and that kinda sucked, so I started experimenting. It was during AIP that I began developing this sweet potato hash recipe and still make it frequently as a satisfying breakfast or side dish. Thankfully, I learned I’m not allergy-sensitive to eggs and now serve it with a fried or poached egg on top (NB: many people are sensitive to eggs and don’t know it). This sweet potato hash is Paleo and Whole30 compliant too. Enjoy!
Read more: Sweet potato hash recipe: Paleo, AIP, Whole30 approved
Founded in 1980 as a partnership by Glen Browne and Brit visionary Tony Cartlidge, Cartlidge and Browne began as a négociant-type winery. The young entrepreneur Cartlidge searched the North Coast of California to sniff out vineyards that spoke to him and the type of wine he wanted to make. Instead of investing in fancy digs and hoopla, the partners sunk money into high quality grapes and a fairly simple garage winemaking facility in Napa Valley. Thus, the brand was born. Fast forward over 30 years later when their well-founded success was rewarded in 2011, they sold to a company called Vintage Wine Estates who has thankfully not ruined what the partners established.
Read more: Wine review: Cartlidge and Browne 2013 Merlot
Loads of bullshit surround how to take care of your health. I’ve learned that it’s crucial to dig deep into research papers and studies, especially who paid for them. Kinda hard to believe the results of a study on the benefits of caffeine when it’s sponsored by the coffee industry. This hasn’t happened (to my knowledge) but it’s happened in numerous other industries, from cigarettes to pharmaceuticals. But here are a few healthy guidelines which are, indeed, vetted and real. Some are pretty tasty too.
Read more: Five helpful health guidelines
If you own a slow cooker, a four ingredient slow cooker pork roast is as easy as it gets: place ingredients in the pot and turn it on. Eight hours later, you have an amazing outpouring of pork love. Doubling or halving the recipe is simple too… it shrinks and expands with the poundage of your Boston butt or pork shoulder. Both of these are the recommended pork cuts you should seek out for their delicious fat content.
Read more: 4 ingredient slow cooker pork roast
I still remember when I set eyes on Oregon’s wine country, Willamette Valley. It smelled of perfumey Pinot Noir… wafting up through the vineyards, wineries and through my hotel window. It was harvest of 2007 and I fell in love. With Oregon Pinot Noir. The love continues to this day. Willamette (rhymes with “dammit”) Valley is the main grape-growing area and one of the first wine regions (AVA) established in Oregon. It’s about an hour south of Portland, straddling the mountainous coastline. A major reason for Willamette’s success is the vast temperature fluctuations during the spring and summer growing season, allowing the fruit to develop acids — a crucial element in creating complexity in wine, especially Pinot. Over the years, distinct winegrowing regions have emerged and now the state has 17 AVAs that wineries often indicate on the bottle to educate customers. But many keep Willamette Valley on the label because they’re likely blends of several AVAs.
Read more: Impressive Oregon Pinot Noir
I do eat my share of dark chocolate… not mounds of it at one sitting like a PMS’ed fiend, but a a few squares of rich, dark chocolate beautifully strokes my occasional sweet tooth. So I’m particular about what enters this mouth – it better be amazing. And, given that my fix is needed, ahem, almost everyday, it should be affordable dark chocolate. I spent easily hundreds of dollars – and about two years of effort – to find the best dark heaven deal and uncovered it, not at some gourmet, hoity-toity place (bless the people at Tcho, NOKA and Vosges) but at grocery stores.
Read more: Awesomely affordable dark chocolate: Endangered Species
Last January, I started my path to healing food allergies by strengthening my gut. Although how I lost weight was at first a mystery, it presented a fortuitous side effect to the food allergy cure. I’ve lost 11 pounds and counting, one jean size (going on two) and when I’ve strayed on vacation, once I get back to reality, my body settles right back into my normal lower weight equilibrium within a week. 11 pounds might not sound like a lot but I’m 5’2” and started at 124. A little goes a long way on my small frame. Now, I look in the mirror and say, “Hey, I’d do me.”
Read more: 6 insights into how I lost weight this year
For me, Cab Sauv isn’t a sipping wine. Not made for the patio or the party, but more for the dinner party. Its hefty tannins and deep, dark flavors are a challenge to my palate without the fattiness of food to protect it. But a well-made Cab begs to be recognized as such – celebrated for having achieved a balance of acid and tannins, fruit and oak, and an elegance worthy of any meal. Honig Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley makes this cut.
Read more: Cold weather wine: 2012 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
So the cupboard of your wine and food family and friends are already stuffed to the ceiling with glasses, random gadgets, and other sometimes-drawer-filling items. Maybe you seek something a little out of the ordinary yet perhaps a little useful for your friends and family? Check these unique wine and food lover gift ideas:
Read more: Unique wine and food lover gift ideas