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Reds off the Beaten Track

Reds off the Beaten Track

Much of the wine we drink is made from the so-called “international varieties.” Even though they have places of origin, they have become so well-accepted that they are grown almost in every country; that’s not a bad or a good thing, but just a fact of drinking wine.

While this familiarity can help us sort through the tens of thousands of different wines on the market, sometimes it’s interesting to try something different, something we don’t taste or even see on the shelves every day.

Here are a half-dozen such wines I recently tasted:

2011 Pfaffl Altenberg Niederösterreich St. Laurent Reserve (Double Magnum) ($162)

Very enjoyable as a food wine, a tad like a merlot with enjoyable cherry flavors and firm tannins.

2011 Château La Colombière Fronton “Coste Rouge” ($14)

Enjoyable red berry flavors backed up by dark raspberry tastes; full, lightly spicy, unfiltered.

2011 Château La Colombière Fronton “Vinum” Negrette ($10)

I love this grape, and I love this wine, especially at the price. It has a raspy spiciness and is a touch gamey, a little like a fresh sangiovese without the tannins. My “Pick of the Litter.”

2011 Stinson Monticello Tannat ($32)

Just out of the bottle, it has tastes of splintery oak and unripe fruit; very tart cherries with some green notes. This is a winery on the rise, I think, but this one doesn’t help its reputation.

2011 Tormaresca Puglia “Neprica” ($11)

A blend of local and international varieties, it has bright acidity with ripe purple fruits, a few savory notes and light tannins — very satisfying.

2009 Mas Belles Eaux Languedoc “Les Coteaux” ($19)

A blend of Rhône varieties, it has jammy black fruits, touches of syrah earthiness and road tar, and good minerality. Still tight, so it can profit from a little aging.


Italian Style Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a very popular Middle Eastern egg dish floating in a thick spicy tomato sauce. My eldest daughter is hooked on shakshuka and likes to make it often on the weekends. She’s made it so many times that she has started modifying the traditional Middle Eastern recipe for a change of taste scenery. In this new variation of shakshuka she made the egg dish Italian style with herbs such as oregano and basil in a marinara tomato sauce with a cheesy mozzarella Parmesan topping. Super delicious, filling and so decadent all at the same time. Serve it with crusty bread to soak up all the tomato sauce and this makes for a fabulous weekend brunch. Give it a try!


27 Things to Do in Beaufort NC and Beyond: The Ultimate Crystal Coast Travel Guide

Off the Eaten Path&rsquos Crystal Coast Travel Guide highlights all of the best things to do in Beaufort NC and beyond, where to stay, what to eat and so much more. Planning a day trip, weekend trip or just looking for other things to do, places to visit, and where to eat across North Carolina? &hellip


Itinerary

Day 1: Grand Junction, CO Moab and Arches National Parks

Meet your guides for an early morning pick up in Grand Junction and make the short drive to Moab where we’ll kick off the day with a few hikes in Arches National Park. We're in Moab by the afternoon so you can settle into your accommodations. Tonight’s dinner will give you a chance to learn more about your fellow travelers and seasoned guides.

Day 2: The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

Today takes us into Canyonlands, where we’ll hike in the Needles district of the park. These staggering formations will give you a fantastic perspective of just how vast the Canyonlands truly are. Take the evening to relax, look through your photos and reflect on the day, and enjoy a lovely dinner with your new friends.

Day 3: Boulder by way of Capitol Reef National Park

This morning has us saying goodbye to Arches and Canyonlands as we make our way to Boulder. Along the way, we’ll stop in Capitol Reef to check out some well-known sites, potentially including Cassidy Arch and Cohab Canyon, among other “out there” options. At the end of the day we’ll check into the beautiful Boulder Mountain Lodge and enjoy a gourmet dinner at the fabulous Hell’s Backbone Grill.

Day 4: Capitol Reef National Park

We have a full day to explore Capitol Reef from the Burr Trail Road on Lower Muley Twist in the panhandle section of Capitol Reef, assuming the weather cooperates. If not, we’ll have the option to check out Calf Creek Falls. There will be free time this afternoon to enjoy the sights, sounds, and other amenities at the lodge.

Day 5: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park

Your guide knows just where to go to introduce you to the lesser-traveled Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Possible hikes include Grosvenor Arch, Willis Creek Narrows, or Calf Creek Falls. We arrive in Bryce Canyon National Park late in the afternoon.

Day 6: Bryce Canyon National Park

We will be getting an early start after breakfast to make the most of our time in Bryce today. Our hikes wind along the rim and down into this striking landscape. Sunset will leave an indelible impression!

Days 7 & 8: Zion National Park

A short (72 miles) but oh-so-scenic drive delivers us to Zion National Park this morning. These two days will include full days of hiking in Zion with myriad options depending on the interests of the group. The staggering sights in Zion, with its vast peaks and valleys, are a nature lover’s delight. We’ll conclude this amazing tour with a farewell dinner at the delicious and locally renowned Spotted Dog Café!

Day 9: Sunrise hike and departures home

Our last morning, a sunrise hike will be available to those who have interest, followed by shuttles to St. George, UT, or Las Vegas, NV, for flights home.


What's not to love about brunch? This beloved in-between meal offers so many fantastic opportunities to have some fun in the kitchen. The goal of a great brunch recipe is usually more along the lines of "must be absolutely delicious," as opposed to, say, a protein-packed lunch that'll keep you going all day or a dinner you can quickly get on the table after a long day. Brunch, though? It's relaxed, it's indulgent, and it's the kinds of foods that everyone loves.

This greatest hits gallery includes the classics, from the fluffy Basic Pancakes you see right here and wonderfully crisp bacon to buttery biscuits and sweet, rich French toast. And if you've ever wanted to learn to make perfect standards, such as hard- or soft-boiled eggs, look no further: We've got simple and straightforward instructions on how to make these classics with aplomb.

Wander a little bit off the beaten path and you'll bump into the Dutch baby pancake, an exciting twist on the basic flapjack, which poofs up into a show-worthy display when baked in a piping hot skillet and bacon, eggs, and toast cups, which use a muffin pan to create delightful and delicious individual cups, and you have a delicious, whimsical brunch spread the entire family will be excited to sit down to.

And if you're in search of some accompaniments to go with other dishes, we've got plenty of ideas. Smoothies (from banana-blueberry to avocado-banana) are a nice way to lighten up the table if the other offerings are on the heavy side. And potatoes are always welcome, too&mdashwhether elegant, thyme-seasoned potato slices, or roasted potatoes scented with fresh rosemary.


Culinary Delights

Courtesy of Jordan Winery

Jordan Winery

1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 431-5250

The ivy-covered chateau of Jordan Winery in Alexander Valley is an impressive sight, modeled after the chateaus of France. Beautiful winery building aside, it’s hard not to be captivated by the natural beauty of the 1,200-acre property, which features mountaintop vistas, rolling vineyards, and elaborate culinary gardens. Each of the unique tastings and experiences offered showcases the winery’s committment to both quality food and wine, but to really get a taste of Jordan, book the Estate Tour & Tasting (which resumes in June). This three-hour journey through the picturesque estate includes al fresco wine tastings, food pairings, and a tasting of Jordan’s Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for a comprehensive (and memorable) Jordan experience.


46 Best Cheap Red Wines Under $20

Shopping for red wine is no walk in the park. When you're staring down a wall of hundreds—nay, thousands—of nearly identical bottles, it's almost impossible to know which ones are worth your time just by looking at them. You can usually guess that an expensive bottle will be at least kind of good, but not everyone has the means to drop a lot of dough every time they want a sip of cab sauv.

Thankfully, there are a number of amazing, affordable red wines—you just have to know what to look for. That's why we picked the brains of sommeliers, mixologists, and wine experts from all over the country to get their top picks under $20. These 43 bottles are some of the best cheap red wines you can find. They won't break the bank and are actually quite stunning, despite their low price tag.

Note: The prices below reflect the average online-purchasing price as of the time of publication. Prices may vary.


Rosés

Best buy
Tesco Finest Malbec Rosé
Mendoza, Argentina 2019 (£8, Tesco)
Catena, the producers behind this own-label wine, make some of Argentina’s best red malbecs. Here they’ve mixed it with a dollop of the aromatic white grape torrontés to deliver a tangy, easy-drinking rosé with a winning hint of exotic fruit.

Muga Rosado Rioja, Spain 2019 (from £9.99, Waitrose, Majestic)
A long-running classic rosado from Rioja, Muga’s garnacha-led pink is as ripe-fruited, bold yet balanced and refreshing as ever, with the weight to handle meaty fish, full-flavoured marinades, and classic Spanish smoked paprika-laden dishes.

San Marzano Tramari Primitivo Salento Rosé Puglia, Italy 2019 (from £9.99, strictlywine.co.uk corkingwine.co.uk)
Primitivo makes impressive, sweetly fruited, dark reds in Italy’s heel in Puglia, but it can also be used to make a distinctive, richer, cherry-scented style of rosé that is, in the case of Tramari, appealingly just off-dry to match pepper and chilli spicy dishes.

Domaine de Grandpré Cuvée Minotaure Côtes de Provence, France 2019 (from £15.99, mrandmrsfinewine.co.uk thevineking.com)
In south-eastern France, Côtes de Provence is to elegant rosés what the Côtes du Rhône is to spicy reds, and this is a textbook example of that quintessential summer style: pastel-shaded, crisply but gently red-fruited and with a refreshing wave of acidity.

Best buy
Co-op Irresistible Pinot Noir Casablanca, Chile 2018 (£7, the Co-op)
Finding decent pinot noir under £15 is hard enough under a tenner and we’re into hen’s teeth territory. Which makes this soft, fragrant, slinky red-fruited gem from the coolish Pacific-adjacent Casablanca valley a standout bargain.

Taste the Difference Marzemino Trentino Italy 2018 (£8, Sainsbury’s)
Exuberant, fresh blackberry summer pudding fruit is the hallmark of this vibrant, vivid red made from the local marzemino variety in Alpine northern Italy’s Tentino region. Another one for drinking chilled, preferably with a plate of salami to hand.

Les Nivières Saumur Loire, France 2018 (£9.49, Waitrose)
An evergreen summer red from the Waitrose list, this vintage is full of the crunchy fresh currant fruit, graphite and streak of acidity that makes the cabernet franc of the Loire such a refreshing choice, chilled down, with salmon on a hot day.

Trimbach Pinot Noir Réserve Alsace, France 2018 (from £16, thewinesociety.com greatwesternwine.co.uk)
Still better known for their spicy, sumptuous whites, producers in Alsace are getting better and better at ripening pinot noir. The best, such as Trimbach’s, are distinguished by an easy-drinking, summer-ready raciness and delightfully pretty red fruit.


1. Tomato Frittata with an Herb Explosion

I love the idea of frittata—take some eggs, throw in leftovers, and voilà, you have breakfast, lunch, or dinner complete. Except that I rarely take frittata (or anything) so lightly. I still don’t know what got into me the day I made that tomato-and-herb frittata. I’d done my usual prep work of cross-checking recipes, but as I reached into the fridge to grab my thyme, I spied a package of leftover dill. I grabbed it too. What could go wrong?


Potato Salad Done Right

Potato salad is one of the easiest and most beloved dishes of summer: a soft and creamy mix that anchors any grilled, fried or steamed menu of the season. But that doesn’t guarantee that every potato salad will be good. Sadly, there are an awful lot of attempts gone wrong out there — mushy, bland, overdressed and generally unappealing.

The good news is, it’s just as easy to make a terrific potato salad as it is to make a terrible one, once you understand a few of the finer points of putting it all together.

Having mixed up hundreds of potato salads over summers past, I’ve learned some fundamental principles that apply to any variation, whether you’re sticking to the classic mayonnaise-swathed recipe or looking for something off the beaten track. Follow the rules below and you’ll be able to riff on the theme, mixing it up to suit your appetite and mood.

Or try one of these dressing recipes. Are you feeling like something classic, but with a garlicky twist? Substitute homemade aioli for regular mayonnaise. Pink potato salad gets its zingy color and flavor from a combination of sriracha, ketchup and chopped kimchi in the dressing. Or leave off the mayonnaise entirely and indulge in crisp shards of bacon to add richness, offset by grainy mustard and sweet, sautéed shallots. For something light and summery, use a simple dressing of lemon juice and olive oil strewn with mint and scallions.

Firm and creamy varieties stand up better to being tossed and dressed than soft and starchy ones, which can fall apart. Choose fingerlings, red bliss, new white potatoes, Yukon Gold or any of the small heirloom potatoes you see. Avoid russets.

Choose potatoes that are all the same size so they cook at the same rate the smaller the better. Ideally, the potatoes should be small enough that you need only halve or quarter them to yield a nice compact bite. So-called micro-potatoes are ideal.

Don’t be shy with the shaker. Boil potatoes in water as salty as the sea this ensures even seasoning and maximum flavor.

Don’t crowd the potatoes in the pot they need elbow room to cook evenly. Crowding also slows down the cooking.

Start checking on the potatoes after 15 minutes for small ones, 20 minutes for medium-size spuds. And don’t overcook — you want them tender in the center but not mushy at the edges. Use the tip of a paring knife to test, not a fork, which can break up their flesh. When done, the potato should fall off the knife and back into the pot.

As soon as you can bear touching them, cut the potatoes into bite-size chunks or wedges while they are still hot (or at least warm). Hot potatoes drink up more dressing.

For every 2 pounds of potatoes, you’ll need 1/2 cup to 1 cup of dressing, depending on how saturated you like your salad. For a classic summertime dressing, spike 2/3 cup of mayonnaise with a tablespoon of mustard, a tablespoon or two of cider vinegar or lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons of minced red or white onion.

Toss with dressing while the potatoes are hot, but keep other vegetables and herbs separate until the last minute, lest they wilt in the heat.

Potato salads always need more dressing than you think, so keep extra on hand to add at the last minute.

Flavors have a way of settling down, so be sure to give the salad a taste just before serving, and adjust the seasoning by adding more dressing, salt, pepper and/or whatever acid (like lemon juice or vinegar) you used in the dressing.


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