Australian winery Penfold's released Rawson's Retreat to provide consumers a solid, entry-level wine. It's friendly, jammy and approachable. And most importantly, it's available for less than $10 a bottle. Quick Tasting Notes Rawson's Retreat Merlot, 2006 Color: A deep red-violet, inky in the center and lightening to a rich, translucent ruby color near the edges. Nose: Very fragrant, exhibiting succulent strawberry, slight blueberry and faint rhubarb aromas. Palate: The wine has supple mouth feel and a nice balance in its flavors, though the thin tannins will prevent it from standing up to heavier foods. Finish: The finish was surprisingly long, sweeping the palate but leaving subtle, lingering fruits. Overall this wine is not going to win monumental accolades, but it's a perfectly serviceable, approachable wine and provides a nice introduction to Penfold's new-world style.
What to pair it with?
Balsamic glazed tuna, of course! The wine's subtle flavors and mild tannins paired perfectly with this slightly sweet, wonderfully lively dish.
Some time ago, I told you all about fried coke, the latest in a long line of foods fried up by carnies. Their search for battered opportunities never seems to wane, but I've not yet seen fried mashed potatoes. We call them Potato Pups. To make them, start with mashed potatoes:
- Begin with a half dozen potatoes--any variety should be fine
- Peel the potatoes, and put the potatoes in a boiling pot
- Put enough water in the pot to cover the potatoes and salt liberally
- Place the pot on the stove over high heat and bring the water to a boil
- After about seven minutes, begin checking the potatoes by poking them with a fork
- When the fork enters the potatoes easily, they are done
- Drain the potatoes and mash them using a plain wire masher
(how much work you put in will determine how smooth your potatoes will be. Keep in mind, however, that you're going to want them to hang together when you're frying them)
- After you've mashed the potatoes, you can mix in additional ingredients (For the Potato Pups, my dinner host mixed in some finely shredded cheddar cheese)
- Roll the mashed potatoes into balls--about half a golf-ball size worked best for us
- Heat oil to 325 degrees in fryer or dutch oven or large pot
- While waiting for the oil to heat, roll the potato balls in seasoned flour (for a special treat, you can grind instant potato flakes and try using those as a covering)
- Carefully lower the coated potato balls into the oil and cook for about 2 minutes
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the potato balls from the oil and increase the heat (medium-high should be fine)
- When the oil reaches about 350 degrees (or a little higher) lower the potato balls back in to crisp the outsides
- Remove the potato balls from the oil and drain on paper towels or an inverted cooling rack
- Serve with sour cream, bacon bits, broccoli, or whatever you normally use to doctor your potatoes
The potato pups are a wonderful complement to a casual evening of rented movies or good conversation. We enjoyed them as part of a catch-as-can meal that included french bread, pizza, and a fresh papaya served with a bright, flavorful dressing:
Mix 1/2 cup fresh kumquat juice and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar with a 1/2 teaspoon of light brown sugar. Mix vigorously.
What to pair it with?
Zinfandel usually pairs well with all kinds of food, and tonight's zinfandel was no different. Seven Deadly Zins represents seven of the Lodi appelation's best wineries combining their crop to make a single, very drinkable wine. Seven Deadly Zins won't win any awards, but it is extremely friendly, mellow and jammy, and has lithe tannins and little alcohol heat. Being such an approachable wine, I'm sure you could serve it at most casual gatherings and have a real hit on your hands.
Here at News for Curious Cooks I'm filing brief reports from the intersection of food and science. It’s a lively neighborhood these days. There’s a constant influx of new information in food chemistry and microbiology, agriculture and manufacturing, and in human perception and health. I glean items from current technical publications and scientific meetings, from conversations with cooks and scientists, and from questions that come up in my own kitchen in the San Francisco Bay area. --Harold McGee
Mr. McGee is the author of On Food & Cooking: The Science & Lore of the Kitchen, a fine book and one that many cooks consider the one must-have in the kitchen.