Monday
Jan052009

Wining and Dining Jack Tripper Style



To this day, Three's Company remains my favorite television show of all time. I started watching in kindergarten (don't ask me how my parents allowed me to) and have seen every single episode countless times and it just never gets old. There is something so comforting and nostalgic about those three crazy kids, the Roeper's, Larry and Mr. Furley. Three's Company was way more than just "jiggle tv" and misunderstandings with sexual double entendres. I count it as one of the greatest sitcoms ever devoted to gastronomy. It was only after I became involved with wine did I notice all the great wine and food references. The earlier episodes were set in the late seventies when Jack Tripper was studying to become a chef at Santa Monica Technical School. He was a true gourmand and hardly an episode went by without some reference to crepes Suzette, poulet a la brouchette, escar-got, 1967 Pouilly Fuisse and Grand Marnier Souffle. The cast frequently enjoyed wine while entertaining at home or at the Regal Beagle and if you look closely enough, the poster on their refrigerator is all about wine. If you want to know about fine dining during the seventies, just watch an episode of Three's Company.

A few years ago, I attended a signing for my friend Wendy McClure who had just launched her book The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan. The book is based on a set of Weight Watcher's recipe cards from the seventies that had belonged to her mother. The photos of the food are absolutely hilarious and Wendy's commentary is even better. I collect cook books of all kinds and her book inspired me to start a collection of older books - especially those produced between 1950-1979. The recipes and photos are a time capsule of the way we used to eat and they really show you how far we have come with cuisine and food photography.

This past weekend, I found two great new books for my collection. They are the sort of books I imagine Jack Tripper would have consulted in order to make dinner for Janet & Chrissy/Cindy/Terri or Greedy Gretchen.

The first is Betty Crocker's Cooking with Wine from 1974.


As W.C. Fields once said, "I cook with wine, sometimes, I even add it to the food."

That's not minestrone, it's fresh fruit soup made with rose wine. Those garbanzo bean looking things are actually melon balls. Mmmm...good!

And here we have a lovely Salmon Steak Bake with green grapes and red wine, an elegant Tangy Tomato Fish and a properly Sauced Shrimp. Three tasty ways to get your omega 3.

Those poor chickens didn't stand a chance.

I prefer my food to not remind me of Johnny 5 from Short Circuit

The second is Cooking with Wine - A Sunset Book from 1972.


This book features some really cool old school recipes such as Beef Bourguignonne & Chicken Veronique. What really caught my eye was a recipe for Baekeoffe, an Alsacienne stew that was on the dinner menu at Everest. This recipe does not call for bacon but the version I remember included it.

4 medium sized boiling potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled and cut in 1.4 inch slices
2 lbs pork shoulder cut in 1 inch cubes
2 medium sized onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 small bottle or 1 3/4 cups dry white wine
1/4 cup butter

Lightly grease a 3 or 4 quart casserole; layer in half the potatoes, top with half the pork; then add half the onions and half the parsley, 1 clove garlic and 1 bay leaf. Repeat with remaining potatoes, pork, onions, parsley and garlic, finishing with bay leaf. Sprinkle salt and pepper over all; slowly pour in wine and lay butter pieces on top. Cover and bake in a 375 F oven for 1 1/2 hours until meat is tender. The book recommends serving it with Rhine, Traminer or Gewurztraminer. I recommend Gewurztraminer, dry Alsace Riesling or Pinot Noir.

Sunday
Jan042009

Wine Ice Cream!



Look what I found in the coolers at Whole Foods. It's wine ice cream from Mercer's dairy based out of Boonville, New York. They have been around for decades and make everything from 36 flavors of ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt and in 2007 they added wine ice cream to the line up. In general, it is very difficult to pair ice cream with wine with the exception of a few dessert selections. The coolness of the ice cream numbs your palate which makes it very difficult to taste wine. Mercer's uses some secret formula to infuse the wine into the cream.

I didn't fork over the $9 to try it but maybe next time. I was thrown off by the Peach White Zinfandel flavor. What's next - Yellow Tail Rocky Road Moose Trail? I know it sounds snobby but can you make a quality ice cream product with white zin? And that poor cow - all that work to produce milk and it ends up being mixed with swill - Bessie the cow deserves better. I'm not expecting Grand Cru Burgundy but they could have found something else besides white zin - especially if you are going to charge people 9 bucks for it.

With 5% alcohol, you must be over 21 to enjoy. Here are the other flavors. The Chocolate Cabernet sounds really good and it's not made from Thunderbird or Franzia so maybe I'll give it a whirl.

  • Ala Port
  • Cherry Merlot
  • Chocolate Cabernet
  • Peach White Zinfandel
  • Red Raspberry Chardonnay
  • Royal White Riesling

Sunday
Jan042009

Animal Print Wine Tote - BYOB in Style



Right before Charles and I head out to a BYOB there is always a debate as to what bag we should put our dinner wine in. Plastic bags show you don't care about the environment and it just doesn't seem right to show up to a restaurant with your wine in a Walgreen's bag. We could go with one of the hundreds of Whole Foods brown paper bags that are stuffed underneath the sink but they are too big and we have plans to eventually turn them in for our 10 cent refund and to avoid the scrutiny of the checker, "What do you mean you didn't bring your own bag?" I'm always tempted by the glittery holiday gift bags but they're just too cute to give up. And then you have the department store or Charlie Trotter To-Go bags but now you're just showing off.


I've tried the wine specific totes before but following a night of drinking wine sans markup with abandon we inevitably forget to take them home with us. Well, I was at Vino 100 in Mt. Prospect last night and I found this too fabulous to ever leave behind wine purse. I just had to have it and now I can show up to my favorite BYOB in style! The sturdy case comes with a wine opener and is covered with a giraffe pattern printed on an easy to clean plastic material. It fits most bottles as long as they are not too tall or too wide. It was $39.99 before tax.

Vino 100 had other colors and patterns available. If you are interested in purchasing your very own wine purse, contact Jennifer Martinez at Vino 100, 110 S Emerson Street, Mount Prospect, IL. Ph. 847-253-8466. Website: www.vino100mtprospect.com

Saturday
Jan032009

Juicy Wine Co. BLT: Bacon Lover's Tuesdays

"Yeah but bacon tastes good." These five simple words uttered by the character Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction perfectly explains our love affair with these strips of smoked meat. It tastes good! You can also do a lot with bacon: candy bars, tempura, cup cakes, air freshener, Christmas tree ornaments, shower curtains...the list goes and on. But what about wine and bacon? Absolutely! I'm a big fan of taking simple, extraordinary foods and matching them with a lofty wine counterpart, e.g. Champagne and potato chips, Malbec and BBQ ribs, Nebbiolo and Italian Beef and yes Pinot Noir with Bacon. This concept of low brow-high brow pairing makes wine what it should be - fun and enjoyable to the point of giddiness. Don't believe me - serve fried chicken and Champagne at your next party. So why does Pinot Noir and bacon work? The sweet and sour cherry profile of Pinot Noir along with baking spice notes from the oak combine to make a perfect foil for the salty, smoky and let's face it fatty flavor of bacon. It tastes good.

Rodney Alex and Aracelli from Juicy Wine Co. know how to have fun with wine and food and they have put together a string of events featuring the favorite foods of our childhood paired with wine. In addition to their Dirty Bird Bubble Bath Brunch on Sundays which features Harold's Fried Chicken and Champagne they have added BLT and Pinot Noir Tuesdays - BLT Sandwiches made with Benton's Smoked Country Bacon with 1/2 price bottles of Pinot Noir. I think even Jules would approve.

Check out the Juicy Wine Co. website for more information.

Saturday
Jan032009

RedEye - 10 Wines Under $10

Check out my 10 picks under $10 in the Weekend Edition of the Chicago Tribune RedEye or you can access the selections on line.

I'll be writing a bi-weekly column titled "Bottle Service" for the Weekend RedEye starting next Saturday. Be sure to check it out for wine tips, suggestions and more! You can also sign up to receive the weekend edition of RedEye at your doorstep.