Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lift your cup and glass to support Haiti, Chile
The earth has moved in Haiti and Chile and it’s possible that we, a world away, can support a return to prosperity through drinking coffee and wine.
Oscar attendees always seem to rally around a political cause, and I toasted my own while viewing the awards by helping support a product of Chile.
While there’s concern over the country’s future fruit crops after the Earthquake, Root: 1 has done the work for this batch of wine already. Makers say Carmenere is known as Chile’s signature varietal, producing a deep colored, full-bodied wine that offers the charm of Merlot and the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon.
I was charmed by the story of this “lost” grape of Bordeaux, rediscovered in Chile in 1994 and doing just fine, thank you, in Chile’s long, dry growing season.
 Viña Ventisquero, in partnership with Click Wine Group, bring us Root: 1, cultivated on original, ungrafted roots, at about $12.99 a bottle. Collectors will love the bottle marked with a grape vine and long root, trailing through wording. Pair it with grilled meats, pastas and spicy entrees. At my party, it got Best-Wine award as I enjoyed it with steak bites and cherry tomatoes.

Haitian coffee “all about the bean”
Coffee and chocolate from Irving Farm Coffee Co. in Millerton, N.Y. are flavorful products, without question. The company has been working to do some good in Haiti long before recent tragedies. As part of the Haitian Relief Effort, Irving Farm Coffee Company will donate 100 percent of the profit from their new Reserve Select Haitian Highland Pic Macaya coffee to Konbit Sante, a Maine-based volunteer partnership working to save lives and improve healthcare in Haiti. 
The blend is a limited supply "in season" coffee grown by small landowners in the Pic Macaya National Forest, one of only two national forests in Haiti. Taste it for hints of almond, chocolate and ripe fruit. Visit

In support of Ireland
Bushmills Irish Whiskey is too good to color green. I’m not, however, above blending it into a chocolate, banana smoothie. It’s to get my fruit servings in. Think St. Patrick would approve?

In support of the cook
Redwood Creek Wine costs about $8 a bottle, and I dare you to get all wine snobbish about that. So called grilling guru Steven Raichlen has some ideas I’ve tried, though I almost hate to “waste” a nice wine by cooking with it. I know people do, so I tried this, and can say, it’s good stuff:
Grilled Skirt Steak with Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce (courtesy of Chef Steven Raichlen)
3 cups Redwood Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup beef stock (preferably homemade)
2 shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Make the sauce.  In a heavy saucepan, bring the wine, stock, and shallots to a boil over high heat.  Boil until reduced to 1 cup.  Whisk in the butter, 2 tablespoons parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  The sauce should be highly seasoned.  Keep the sauce warm.  
Rub the steaks on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
Grill the steaks for 3 minutes per side for medium-rare, or to taste.  Transfer to a platter or plates.  Spoon the sauce over the steaks and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.  Serves 4.
Rosemary Grilled Shrimp with Sauvignon Blanc (courtesy of Chef Steven Raichlen)
1 bunch rosemary (branches should be stiff)
1-1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground or cracked black peppercorns
Hot pepper flakes (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup Redwood Creek Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine in a spray bottle
Grill shield or sheet of aluminum foil folded in thirds like a business letter.
Strip the leaves off the bottom half to two-thirds of the rosemary sprigs and finely chop. You’ll need about 1/4 cup.    
Skewer the shrimp on the rosemary skewers (or use classic bamboo skewers) so that it passes through both the head and tail of each shrimp. Align the shrimp so all face the same way — this looks more professional.  Place the shrimp in a baking dish.
Lightly brush each shrimp kebab on each side with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes (if using), chopped garlic and chopped rosemary.  Let marinate in the refrigerator while you set up your grill and preheat to high.  Brush and oil the grill grate.
Arrange the kebabs on the grill and grill until the shrimp is handsomely browned and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Spray the shrimp with wine as they grill (Set the nozzle so the wine comes out in a mist). If the exposed parts of the rosemary start to burn, slide the grill shield or foil under them.   
Serve immediately.  Serves 4.

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