Tag Archives: wine

Fattoria di MonteMaggio, A Magical Boutique Winery in Tuscany

Enjoying La Dolce Vita with Ilaria at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Enjoying La Dolce Vita with Ilaria at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Ilaria is giving me a lesson on the Sangiovese grape
Ilaria is giving me a lesson on the Sangiovese grape

My husband and I recently took a spectacular trip to Italy and visited some amazing regions, rich in cultures and traditions.  One of our destinations was Tuscany and we were living our dream of “La Dolce Vita” (the sweet life). We were blown away by the beauty of the rolling hills and the lush cypress trees. Finally, all the landscape pictures we had seen were coming to life and the views were similar to that of a postcard. On the first day, we got to visit this beautiful winery called: Fattoria di Montemaggio, located in Radda in Chianti in the heart of Chianti Classico region.  It’s truly magical with a stupendous view of the valley, and well-manicured grounds. There were full-blown roses and fresh artichokes growing in the immaculate garden. Ilaria, the estate manager greeted us with a beautiful smile and gave us a tour of the vineyards. It was clear how passionate she was about her job and demonstrated a great knowledge in the viticulture and viniculture process of wine making. She gave us a little lesson about the stubborn Sangiovese grape, as I explained in an earlier post:  The temperamental Sangiovese grape variety . I pointed out to her that the ground seemed very dry and she replied: “we need to make them suffer”. Of course, she was referring to this particular grape variety.  After a tour of the vineyards and some photo snapping, it was Denis, the cellar manager, who guided the wine tasting.  We enjoyed a lovely selection of wines in the company of Riccardo, our amazing tour guide and the multi-talented Katarina Andersson. She is a translator, an educator and a wine writer at: Grapevine Adventures. The wines were luscious and of high quality which were no surprise to us, after seeing the labor of love that went into producing them. Fortunately, because of the terroir and the micro-climate, Fattoria di Montemaggio is able to grow many grape varieties such as: Sangiovese, with small additions of Merlot, Pugnitello, Chardonnay, Malvasia Nera, and Ciliegiolo. A few months ago, I was able to get their Chianti Classico in my area and paired it with Pork Chops in Tomato sauce. It worked delightfully.  I brought back a couple of bottles from this recent trip and cannot wait to crack them open. If you intend to visit Tuscany, I highly recommend that you put Fattoria di Montemaggio on your itinerary. You will be very happy with this gem of a place.

Ilaria, the estate manager at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Ilaria, the estate manager at Fattoria di Montemaggio

The rose garden at Fattoria di MontemaggioThe view at Fattoria di MontemaggioIMG_8849The views at Fattoria di Montemaggio

I hope you have enjoyed my blog post on this beautiful winery and the enchanting photographs that I captured during my visit. My wish for you is to have the opportunity to visit this lovely place and bask under the Tuscan Sun.

Happy Travels!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
World renown – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
Culinary aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels

Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
and by Katarina Andersson – Wine Writer

Fattoria di Montemaggio
Fattoria di Montemaggio

 

 

Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

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If you love pork chops but never had them in tomato sauce, you are in for a treat. I use the thin pork loin chops and a variety of tomatoes such as canned San Marzano whole, strained and chopped tomatoes, and a jar of my favorite meatless sauce.

Gina's Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta
Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

Serves: 6-8 Level of difficulty: Easy-Medium
Allow 2.5 hours from start to finish – This recipe can easily be divided in half but why would you want to do that when the leftovers taste even better!

Gina's Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta
Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta


Ingredients: 

  • 4 lbs. pork loin chops, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil + more if needed
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 -26.46 oz. container strained tomatoes (Pomi brand)
  • 1 – 26.46 oz. container chopped tomatoes (Pomi brand)
  • 1 – 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, whole, crushed by hand
  • 1 jar of Mid’s meatless tomato sauce (32 oz) or any of your choice
  • Garlic powder to taste, optional
  • 1.5 lb. spaghetti or any pasta shape of your choice
  • Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese, grated or shaved
  • Flat-leave Italian parsley for garnish

    Preparation:

    1) Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large heavy- bottom pot, on medium-high heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Sear the pork chops about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove them. Add more oil if necessary. Do this in 2 batches. Set aside.
    2) Add more oil to pot, saute’ the garlic. Add the tomato paste, stir until it’s nicely caramelized. Add all the tomatoes. Season the sauce with salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Add the pork chops to the sauce, bring to a boil. Lower the flame, and simmer on low heat for about 1.5 -2 hours covered with lid-tilted. Stir occasionally to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The sauce will become very thick and rich in flavors. This dish tastes even better the next day.
    3) While the sauce is simmering, bring water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
    4) Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl and pour some of the sauce over it. Mix well until every strand of pasta is covered with the sauce. Put it in a serving bowl. Arrange the pork chops on a platter. There will be plenty of sauce left for those who like extra sauce. Don’t forget the cheese and garnish with parsley. Your guests will be wowed by the richness of this dish, and will ask for seconds.
    My wine pairing suggestions: I recommend a nice Chianti, Rosso or Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Of course, the choice is always yours.

    Cook’s notes: 1) Use whatever brand of sauce you like. If you feel the sauce is too watery, uncover it toward the end to let it reduce.
    Disclosure: I did not get monetary compensation for these products.
    Warning: There may be small bones in the sauce. Please let your guest or loved ones know.

    Gina’s Delicious Pork Chops in Tomato Sauce over Pasta

     

    Recipe developed by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover LLC
    Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover LLC
    All rights reserved 2017

    Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,

Gina aka Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
WSET- Level 2 Certified Wine Connoisseur
Culinary Aficionado

 

Wine Pairing, Thanksgiving Edition

Sonoma Loeb, Pinot Noir
Sonoma Loeb, Pinot Noir

 

Elegant La Crema Pinot Noir
Elegant La Crema Pinot Noir
Belle Glos Pinot Noir
Belle Glos Pinot Noir
Louis Roederer Champagne
Louis Roederer Champagne

 

 

 

Tattinger Champagne
Taittinger Champagne
Moet & Chandon Sparkling wine
Sparking Rose’
In Memory of My Beloved Dad - One of his favorite wines
In Memory of My Beloved Dad – One of his favorite wines

We don’t get to appreciate the beauty of autumn in South Florida, but at least, we have slightly cooler weather to make the holidays more enjoyable. Sadly for me, this is a somber time as it’s the first holiday season without my dad around. I will pretend to be in the mood and try to get in the spirit.  This is a time  where families and close friends gather around a bountiful table and celebrate with food and wine. Thanksgiving is literally around the corner and it’s time to show gratitude to our loved ones.  For those of you who are hosting, I am sure that your menu is in place but don’t forget to add this wine selection to your list. Today, I will help you pick some delightful wines to serve with your Thanksgiving feast. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. There are many reasonably priced wines that will work wonders.

I want to keep this as simple as possible without getting technical with fancy wine terms.  Wine pairing is subjective and everyone’s palate is different.  Let’s not stress over which wine goes with what food. These are my wine suggestions to add a little pizzaz to your party and make it fun for your guests.

I recommend Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay as basic wines for your cheese platters and appetizers, including seafood.  Make sure the white wines are not overly chilled because this effect can take away from the flavor profile of the wines (herbaceous, lime, peaches, pears, oranges…) If you want to impress your guests, add other interesting whites such as Vermentino, Verdicchio  or Albarino. The list is endless and the choice is yours. Keep in mind not everyone has a palate for white wine,  be sure to have some light to medium bodied wine such as Gamay or Pinot Noir.

White wines such as Riesling, and Gewurztraminer are lovely choices for your Thanksgiving dinner. They both add sweetness and aroma of spices, which complement the holiday theme beautifully.

Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc pair deliciously with vegetables such as asparagus and green beans.

Pinot Noir is an excellent red wine to pair with the turkey especially if you have mushrooms in your stuffing. It will bring out the characters of earthiness . There is a vast selection of Pinot Noir in the market. Check out some Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley region In Oregon. They tend to be more rustic with notes of cranberries and on the earthy side.  They’re often compared to the wines of Burgundy. However, if you are on a budget, I recommend Josh Cellars Pinot Noir, Mark West, or Mark West Black Pinot Noir.

When in doubt, you can always rely on bubblies.  They’re festive and vary in prices, from the least expensive to the most sophisticated. Sparkling wines and Prosecco are fantastic choices and won’t break the bank. If you are having a fancy affair, Champagne is always a good idea.

Dessert wines:  Fortified wines are a great choice to pair with decadent desserts. Tawny Port pairs nicely with pumpkin and cherry pies, Muscat d’Asti with apple pies, Mavrodaphne with baklava,  chocolate mousse cake with Brachetto d’Aqui.

This is not a wine tasting party, and it doesn’t have to be precise. Use this blogpost as a guideline to help you decide which wine to serve at Thanksgiving. The holidays are already stressful and there are far more important things to stress over. I am also featuring one of  dad’s favorite wines called Quattro Mani, a Montepulciano d’Abbruzo. It’s very inexpensive and has lovely hints of vanilla.

I hope you will have some fun with these ideas and enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Happy Thanksgiving From My Family To Yours,

Gina/Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

All the featured wines have been tasted, and the photos were exclusively taken by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover.

Mark West Black Pinot Noir
Mark West Black Pinot Noir
Pouilly-Fuisse' Chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France
Pouilly-Fuisse’ Chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France
Franciacorta Ca'del Bosco
Franciacorta Ca’del Bosco
Vinsanto - a delightful Greek dessert wine
Vinsanto – a delightful Greek dessert wine

MerlotandHumboldtFog

Delicious Fresh Snapper Ceviche

Fresh Snapper for Ceviche
Fresh Snapper for Ceviche
Freshly-caught snapper
Freshly-caught snapper
Ceviche by Foodiewinelover
Ceviche by Foodiewinelover

My son PJ loves the ocean and is passionate about all sea creatures. He enjoys fishing, and once in a while, he brings home a nice catch. He recently caught a nice mutton snapper and fileted it. The first thing that came to his mind was a ceviche. This dish originated in Peru and Ecuador, South America. It is often spelled seviche or cebiche depending on the region. Ceviche consists of raw fish that’s marinated and cooked in an acidic juice instead of heat.  Lime is usually the preferred method to prepare it. The Peruvian use Aji Amarillo, an indigenous chili pepper to give it some kick. It is widely used in their traditional dishes. It’s hard to find but you can substitute for jalapeño peppers. Ceviche has quickly become a trendy and popular dish in the US.  Famous and aspiring chefs are putting their own spin on it to give it a modern touch.  Let’s get busy in the kitchen!

Level of difficulty: Easy  – Serves: 3-4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized mutton snapper, filleted, and diced
  • 3 lime, juiced
  • 1 handful  of cilantro, chopped
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Aji Amarillo, or jalapeño, optional
  • Avocado pieces as an accompaniment

    Preparation:
    Combine the fish, lime juice, cilantro, salt and hot pepper.  Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours. The fish will have an opaque color on the outside. This would be a sign that it’s done and ready to be savored. Serve the Ceviche with some avocados.

    Wine pairing suggestions: 
    A dry Riesling from Germany or Torrontés, a crisp white wine with floral notes from Argentina.  When in doubt, pair it with a fruity Prosecco or a Brut bubbly of your choice. The choice is  yours, but stay away from a wine that has too much acid as it will clash with the lime juice. A clerk at your local wine store is usually trained to help you in selecting the perfect wine to pair with your food.Happy Marinating!

    Gina – Foodiewinelover
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

    Photos taken by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover (except for the peppers) Proper credit is given.
    Recipe by Foodiewinelover

Aji Amarillo, chili pepper
Aji Amarillo, chili pepper (stock photo, image source provided)

 

Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine over Polenta

Beef Short Ribs
Beef Short Ribs
Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine
Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine
Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta
Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta
Enjoying some short ribs
Enjoying some short ribs

Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta Beef Short Ribs braised in Red Wine over Polenta

After a long absence, I needed to get back in the kitchen and prepare some home cooked meals.  My son PJ suggested that I make Gordon Ramsey’s short ribs. It was a collaborative effort with him and the result was a Grand Slam. Of course, he thought he was Gordon Ramsey and acted like him, but, I had to take control in Gina’s Kitchen. Let’s just say, we were each other’s sous chef! I was feeding 6 hungry people and I came up with the following measurements.  This recipe can easily be divided in half for a smaller crowd.

Serves: 6-8  Level of difficulty: Easy-Medium

Time: Allow a minimum of 3 hours from start to finish

Ingredients:

  • 8 lbs. beef short ribs
  • Olive oil as needed for searing the ribs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 oz. of tomato paste
  • 2 heads of garlic, cut in halves (unpeeled)
  • 1 bottle of red wine, Chianti, Pinot Noir or Cabernet
  • 28 oz. of beef broth low-sodium
  • Italian parsley for garnish, optionalSide dish:

    1 cup Polenta for 4 cups of water, salt to taste

    Mushrooms topping: 

  • 8 oz baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. salted butter
  • 1 tbsp.  olive oil

    Preparation:

    1) Season the ribs liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. ( I keep my house on 75 degrees F.)2)  Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees F.
    3) In a very large and deep pan, over medium-high heat on the stove top, pour about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Sear the meat on both sides for about 3-4 minutes each side. Rotate the meat in the middle of the pan where the heat is, using a set of tongues.

    4) Place the garlic face-down randomly. Add  tomato paste and stir it in all over the bottom of the pan. Cook until it obtains a rust color. Deglaze with the wine. Cook until it reduces 3-4 minutes.

    5) Add the beef broth, and control the sodium if necessary. Bring to a quick boil. Turn stove top off.  Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 2.5 hours. Just forget about it, figuratively speaking.  (please do not leave oven unattended)

    6)  In a small frying pan, over medium-high heat, melt the butter and the oil, and pan fry the mushrooms until they are golden brown. Set aside.

    7) Prepare the polenta 20 minutes before the ribs are done. If you do it too soon, it will clump up.  Follow cooking  instructions on package.  Keep on the lowest heat until you’re ready to serve.

    8) Remove the ribs out of the oven and place them in a large platter. Take all the garlic out.  Pass them through a sieve and put the garlic paste in the sauce.  Stir well. Now it’s time to serve. Either buffet style or  you can plate it, by placing some polenta on the bottom of a platter, put the ribs on top and garnish with the mushrooms and parsley.
    Wine pairing suggestions: A bold Cab, Chianti or any red wine of your choice.It’s good to be back in the kitchen after a long absence.This blogpost is in Memory of My Beloved Dad, John.  I will always remember him in the kitchen as my potato peeler, my pot scrubber and my right hand daddy’s little girl. I will miss savoring delicious pasta dishes with him, but his legacy will live in my heart forever.

    RIP DAD- 1936-2016

    Disclosure:

    This dish is an adaptation of Gordon Ramsey’s recipe on YouTube. These measurements are mine based on 8 lbs. of ribs.
    Photographed by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

    Happy Braising!
    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
    My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles

Easy Pasta Primavera

As you know by now, I love eating pasta. It is definitely my favorite starch and one of the most versatile food to prepare.  For us South Floridian, it feels like summer already but for most of you, it’s still springtime. The flowers are blooming, and some veggies are in season.  It’s Pasta Primavera time, a simple pasta dish made with fresh vegetables in a cream sauce. It’s easy and delicious.  You can use any pasta shape of your choice, but today I am using a small farfalle. They’re commonly known as bow-tie, and the meaning stands for butterfly in Italian.

Serves: 6-8 as a main meal Level of difficulty: Easy – It takes about 20  minutes from start to finish depending how fast you prep your ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. small farfalle pasta
  • 1/2 head of garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more to drizzle
  • 15 oz. whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup pasta water, (reserved)
  • 3-4 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade

    Preparation:

    1) In a large frying pan, on medium-high heat, heat up olive oil. Sautee onions for 2-3 minutes, add the garlic, and sautee until you smell the beautiful aroma. Set aside.

    2) Bring the pasta water to a boil. Add a handful of salt, and cook pasta according to package directions. About 5 minutes or so before the time is up, add the asparagus and cook in the same pot to save time. Before draining, reserve 1/2 cup or so of pasta water.

    3) Turn the burner back on with the onions and garlic on low, drop the pasta, season with Italian seasoning and black pepper. Add the tomatoes and  asparagus. Slowly incorporate the ricotta, pasta water and basil.  Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Garnish with some veggies on top to make it enticing. Drizzle with olive oil.  Voila! It’s that easy!

    Wine pairing suggestions: Verdicchio , Gavi or a Sauvignon Blanc will work beautifully with this spring dish.

    Cook’s Tips

    You can use a variety of vegetables such as zucchini, green or red bell peppers. The choice is endless.  For a more flavorful version, roast the veggies in the oven, however, keep in mind, this recipe is meant to save you time. Put your own twist on it, and make it your signature dish.

    A recipe is to be used as a barometer, if you are on a salt-restricted or low-fat diet, cut back on the salt and use a part-skim ricotta cheese.

    Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours,

Easy Pasta Primavera

Recipe by Foodiewinelover
Photo by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover

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Bucatini all’Amatriciana, an Italian Classic Pasta Dish

Pancetta
Pancetta

Pancetta

Bucatini
Bucatini
Bucatini
Bucatini

Bucatini all’Amatriciana is a classic, and traditional Italian dish that originated in the Lazio region of Italy. Ideally, guanciale is used, but it’s not a common ingredient to find in the United States. The next best thing I recommend, is using pancetta, or bacon. This sauce is usually paired with a pasta shape called bucatini. It’s like a thick spaghetti, but hollow on the inside. It soaks up the sauce perfectly. This recipe is easy, mouth-watering,  and can be done in very little time, on a weeknight.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. Olive oil
3/4 lb. pancetta, cubed
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 chopped Tomatoes, Pomi brand * 26 ounces
14 ounces of San Marzano tomatoes (1/2 of 28-ounce can) *
Salt to taste, for sauce and pasta water
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch of sugar, optional
Flat leave parsley, 1/2 tsp. chopped
1 lb. bucatini, pasta
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

Serves: 4-6 Level of difficulty: Easy

Preparation:

1) Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.  Add salt.

2) in the meanwhile, in a medium-sized saucepan , over medium heat, heat olive oil, pan fry the pancetta, 5 -8 minutes until it renders some fat, remove, set aside.

3) In the same pan, add onions, garlic, sauté  for couple of minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, sugar, parsley, cooked pancetta.

4) Bring to a boil, and simmer on medium low for about 30 minutes or so.  Stir occasionally.

5) While sauce is simmering, drop pasta in the boiling water, cook according to package directions.  I like it al dente, which means to the bite.

6) Drain the pasta, be sure to drizzle some oil, and a little sauce to avoid clumping. Give it a good stir. Set aside. Taste sauce, adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Once you taste the pancetta and the seasoning in the sauce,  it’s time, to drop the pasta in the sauce.  Turn the stove off, mix well to coat every strand of pasta.  Place in bowls, sprinkle with cheese.

Buon Appetito!

Tips: You can use any brand tomatoes of your choice, and they don’t have to be San Marzano. Sugar is optional, and not necessary. I use it at times to get the right balance of acidity.

Wine pairing: My friend, and fellow sommelier, Certified Italian Wine Specialist, Angela Santarelli, recommends a wine with acidity to balance the fat. Her ideal pairing with this dish would be a Sangiovese based wine. Her second go to for red, a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. She also suggests exploring some wines further South, in the Campagna region.

You can follow her on Twitter: —>  Constantwining

I hope I have inspired you with another delightful Italian pasta dish.

Happy Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours!

Gina, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine, & Travel Lifestyles

Bucatini all'Amatriciana
Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Recipe by: Foodiewinelover
Images by:  Foodiewinelover
Wine pairing suggestions by:  Angela Santarelli over at Constantwining