Show 147, November 21, 2015: Kyle Meyer, Co-Proprietor, Wine Exchange, Santa Ana

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeWine selections for the Thanksgiving turkey can always be a source of great anxiety. To the rescue is our resident wine expert, Kyle Meyer, Co-Proprietor of Wine Exchange in Santa Ana. As you’ll hear he makes Thanksgiving wine pairings a simple pull of the cork! Also his suggestions are happily affordable.

“We have no agenda for what you choose, only that you buy it from us. Pursuant to that, we’d like to toss out a few guidelines and ideas for you to evaluate to make your selections for that Thanksgiving turkey, the idea being that you are comfortable with the reasons for making the selections. We’ll start by saying the politically correct thing which is whatever you choose will be fine, you should serve what you like. Nothing wrong with that in theory, except that we don’t honestly believe it ourselves.

We would shy away from big, powerful, tannic wines that would overwhelm the turkey meat and not be versatile enough to play with the variety of other things that can appear on the holiday table. Things like big Cabs, Zins, and Syrahs are great with red meats.  Such wines would bludgeon the delicate bird and be further complicated in the wake of stuffing, yams, and other such themed delicacies. They might play alright if you are doing more exotic preparations like smoking or deep frying your bird, but even that’s a little bit of a stretch.

Our ‘keys to the game’, as they would say in a sport pregame show, are as follows:

  1. Turkey is a more delicate meat. There is a wide range of things that will work well, from moderate weight reds, to demi-sec whites, to crisp, dry whites.  Heavy reds and oaky whites would definitely not be our first choice, and acidity is key to mixing it up with such a wide range of foods.
  2. Your choices have as much to do with the type of accompanying dishes as they do with the bird itself. A sweet or savory bent as to a majority of dishes should definitely be a factor in the decisions. For example if its yams, corn soufflé, cranberry, etc, a lighter, slightly fruity choice (Demi Sec Vouvray, German Kabinett) would make a better ‘match’. If the leanings are more earthy (mushrooms, brussel sprouts, spinach/gizzard stuffing), lighter reds like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Blaufrankish, and Rioja make a whole lot of sense.
  3. The crowd. Yeah, there, we said it. Probably not politically correct, but it’s true.  Who’s coming to your house? A bunch of your friends that are serious wine drinkers?  A bunch of marginal relatives that will drink up anything you put out there and maybe drop ice cubes in it? While it sounds snobby, these are common issues that some of you face.  A lot of people end up spending the holidays with folks they wouldn’t necessarily choose to. So the key is to put something on the table that you can enjoy, but also plays to the level of the folks you are with.
  4. The weather. Choices for a ‘feast’ might well be different if the outside temperature is 35 degrees and rainy or 75 and sunny.

All of that out of the way, let’s get a little more specific. We’ve laid out some basic ground rules, so let’s make a few varietal and genre suggestions. If we’re looking for a hint of sweetness and some bright acidity, to us one of the easy calls especially for a mixed group, our personal choices would be German Riesling, either Kabinett or Spatlese, a Vouvray demi sec, and a Pinot Gris from Alsace.

Yeah, we know there are folks that will serve Chardonnay no matter what. Our problem with Chardonnay from California is the lack of sufficient acidity to play with the varied dishes. French versions play better with the food, but can have trouble with certain dishes.  Same with Sauvignon Blanc in general, because, while it might work superbly with certain dishes, it could be terrible with others. In other words, you’ll have a lot of stuff on your plate (literally), so our thinking is to choose wines that can work with the widest variety of flavors.  In the dry category we like Pinot Blanc, white Rhones, northern Italian whites (Pinot Grigio, Soave, Friulano, etc.), white Bordeaux, and Spanish whites from the northwest (Albarino, Godello). Dry pinks are beautiful foils as well, though there will be those that think rose is like white shoes, only for the summer.

As to reds, the key is good acidity and no heavy tannins. Gamay (Beaujolais, Cru Beaujolais, not nouveau necessarily), Burgundy (Kiwi or American Pinot Noir, as well), Rioja, Chinon, and Austrian reds. If you want to kick it up a notch weight-wise, Grenache-centric wines from the Rhone or Spain have more punch but still fit the lower tannin profile

And the last rule of thumb is, if all else fails choose…sparkling! Yes you read that right. The market is swelling with amazing producers of everything from grower Champagne to humble Pétillant Naturel (or as the kids call ‘em ‘Pet-Nats’). We know it seems a bit avant–garde to adorn your holiday table with bubbles, but the key is to remember that sparkling wines and Champagne in particular pair tremendously well with just about anything you can throw at it (that includes the big clashing flavors on the Thanksgiving table). When making your choice of sparkling, consider going pink. The pink color in sparkling rosé comes from red grapes and more often than not it’s Pinot Noir. This will lend a slightly more vinous texture and weight to the wine and will help stand up to the mix of dishes much better than say your Chardonnay based Blanc de Blancs.

So there it is, our cheat sheet for Thanksgiving wine pairing.“

Thanks, Wine Exchange!

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Show 141, October 10, 2015: Chef Andrew Gruel, Mussels and National Seafood Month

Andrew GruelIt’s National Seafood Month and as our Co-Host, Chef Andrew Gruel points out there is a massive deficit of seafood in the American diet. For example Americans, on average, only consume 16 pounds of seafood a year. Compare that to Japan where the average consumption per person is 170 pounds per year. “The SoCal Restaurant Show” encourages all of our listeners to enjoy more seafood as a part of their regular diet. It’s both tasty and healthy…

Mussels seem to be the forgotten and underappreciated mollusk in the United States. They are incredibly popular in Europe. The meat is a bit tougher than an oyster or clam but it’s still delicious with a mildly sweet flavor.

Mussels are an ancient food of early man going back over 20,000 years.

The “SoCal Restaurtant Show” was recently on Prince Edward Island in Canada. We enjoyed mussels there simply steamed in white wine, craft beer, and with tomatoes. The broth is equally delicious, too.

Our resident seafood authority, Chef Andrew Gruel, will spread the joy of mussels. They are really good eating. There is life beyond oysters !

 

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Show 113, March 7, 2015: Kyle Meyer, Wine Exchange, Santa Ana

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeOur resident (and always accessible) wine authority, Kyle Meyer, co-owner of the new Wine Exchange in Santa Ana (formerly known as Best Wines and BestWinesOnline.com), is back with us for another round of genuinely useful wine education.

What’s the new drama with natural corks in wine bottles? Is a natural cork the best way to seal a bottle of premium wine? Is an artificial cork an acceptable alternative? What about a screw top ?

What is a corked wine ?

Hint…Kyle feels a screw top works well for a white wine. He prefers a cork for a good red wine.

Kyle explains all in plain English with a side of humor…

 

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Show 47, November 9, 2013: William Lewis, Sommelier and Partner, The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar

Sir William Lewis of the Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar in TustinWilliam Lewis is the award-winning sommelier and partner in The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar located in The District in Tustin. For the second year in a row they were awarded The Golden Foodie for Best Wine List in Orange County in 2013. They were also just recognized with OpenTable’s 2013 Diner’s Choice Award for Notable Wine List.

Whether your preference for your Thanksgiving table is a pairing of a fine white, sparkling, or red wine William has the selection of the perfect match for each that will both impress and not break the bank.

Sir William’s suggestions:

Jordan “J” Sparkling
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label
Clean Slate Riesling
Merryvale Starmont Chardonnay
Martin Ray Russian River Pinot Noir 2012
Grgich Hills Zinfandel 2010

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November 9: Thanksgiving Holiday Special

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Sam Sifton, National Editor of The New York Times Part One
Segment Three: Sam Sifton, National Editor of The New York Times Part Two
Segment Four: Chef Instructor Elizabeth Whitt Part One
Segment Five: Chef Instructor Elizabeth Whitt Part Two
Segment Six: Chef Instructor Elizabeth Whitt & Chef Jet Tila
Segment Seven: William Lewis, Sommelier and Partner, The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar Part One
Segment Eight: William Lewis, Sommelier and Partner, The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar Part Two

Dreading the thought of the big, high-anxiety Thanksgiving holiday meal preparation? Don’t despair…It’s our calming Thanksgiving special and we’ll put you at ease with practical advice from the cooking pros. We have you covered.

Chef Jet and Producer Andy preview the Thanksgiving special.

Sam SiftonJournalist Sam Sifton is the former restaurant critic for The New York Times and currently serves as their National Editor. He actually wrote the book on Thanksgiving last year. It’s entitled Thanksgiving – How To Cook It Well and it’s an excellent resource that any home cook would want to have.

Sam shares highlights from Chapter 2 of the book which is defining the perfect bird and explaining how to best cook it.

Sam Sifton is back with us providing more helpful Thanksgiving education. He offers his two favorite side dish recipes. Those are Three-Pepper Sausage Cornbread Dressing, and Roasted Cauliflower with Anchovy Bread Crumbs.

Elizabeth WhittChef Instructor Elizabeth Whitt is no stranger to the show. When Chef Jet has a culinary quandary he goes right to Chef Elizabeth. She is a Le Cordon Bleu, Paris trained chef with expertise in both hot foods and pastry.

In this segment Elizabeth talks about pumpkin. Should it be fresh or can it be canned? Also, the step-by-step instructions for preparing and baking the perfect, classic pumpkin pie.

Elizabeth has an “Appetizers and Hors D’oeuvres” class coming up on December 5th from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Chef Instructor Elizabeth Whitt continues with genuinely useful Thanksgiving cooking help.

She explains what dishes can be successfully prepared ahead to save time (and limited oven & burner space) on the big day.

Chef Elizabeth also shares her easy recipe for her favorite Thanksgiving side dish for her own Thanksgiving table.

It’s your turn…

Jet and Chef Elizabeth Whitt offer their Thanksgiving advice in responding to listeners’ questions. It’s everything from how do you know when a persimmon is ripe to what are the most creative ideas for using the abundant leftovers.

Also everything you want to know about cooking deep-fried turkey and the path to preparing the perfect stuffing.

Sir William Lewis of the Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar in TustinWilliam Lewis is the award-winning sommelier and partner in The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar located in The District in Tustin. For the second year in a row they were awarded The Golden Foodie for Best Wine List in Orange County in 2013. They were also just recognized with OpenTable’s 2013 Diner’s Choice Award for Notable Wine List.

Whether your preference for your Thanksgiving table is a pairing of a fine white, sparkling, or red wine William has the selection of the perfect match for each that will both impress and not break the bank.

William Lewis, the popular sommelier and partner of The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar located in The District in Tustin returns to complete his inspired Thanksgiving wine pairings.

He also talks about digestives for the finale of your Thanksgiving meal. It might be brandy, cognac, Calvados or even the Italian Fernet-Branca.

Look for the debut of The Winery Restaurant’s elegant new eagerly anticipated location on Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach in February of 2014!

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Sam Sifton, National Editor of The New York Times Part One
Segment Three: Sam Sifton, National Editor of The New York Times Part Two
Segment Four: Chef Instructor Elizabeth Whitt Part One
Segment Five: Chef Instructor Elizabeth Whitt Part Two
Segment Six: Chef Instructor Elizabeth Whitt & Chef Jet Tila
Segment Seven: William Lewis, Sommelier and Partner, The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar Part One
Segment Eight: William Lewis, Sommelier and Partner, The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar Part Two

Pumpkin Risotto

by Chef Elizabeth Whitt

Serves 8

1 onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups Arborio rice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup white wine
5-6 cups chicken broth
1 small baking pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-2 inch pieces
1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino
1/4 cup cream (optional)

Heat broth in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, add pumpkin or butternut squash and a few pinches of salt, turn off heat and let sit until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove squash with a slotted spoon and set aside until rice is done. Heat a 4-to-5-quart saucepan over medium heat and add onion and 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Cook until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  When onion is tender, add the rice and cook stirring frequently for about 1 minute, to coat the grains of rice. Add the wine and begin adding broth 1-2 cups at a time and continue to stir often. Your liquid should be at a constant simmer so adjust your stirring or your heat to achieve tiny bubbles. Once the rice has absorbed most of the liquid add more.  Begin tasting the risotto after you have added half of the broth. When it is cooked it should be tender but not mushy. Continue adding broth until it has reached correct consistency, about 20 minutes.  Add cheese, cream and 1 tbsp. butter and stir until combined.  Fold in squash, check for seasoning and serve.

Oven Baked Method: Heat a large oven safe skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Add oil, onion, salt and pepper and sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add rice, more salt, white wine, cubed but uncooked butternut squash and 4 cups chicken broth and stir until combined. Bring broth to a boil, cover and bake in oven at 400 until rice is done, about 15-25 minutes. Check cooking after 15 minutes and add more broth if needed. When rice is just or almost done, add in cheese, butter and cream if desired and let rest 10 minutes and serve.