About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

American Chop Suey

As much as I enjoy gourmet cuisine, I have a weakness for “comfort food” like Meatloaf, Pot Roast and one of my all time favorites “American Chop Suey”.  Also known as “Skillet Macaroni and Beef” or “Chili Mac” the dish never fails to please with its simplicity, mélange of flavors and textures.  It was a popular item on diner menus in the 50’s and 60’s, often appearing as the "Blue Plate Special".  Today it appears to be a long forgotten item on these menus. Fortunately my wife Carol’s recipe is “as good as it gets” in my opinion and shows up routinely on our dinner table.  Her version is an adaptation of the recipe “Skillet Macaroni and Beef” from the cookbook, “Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers”.  Carol has a degree in Home Economics and according to her this cookbook goes back to the 1960’s (yes she still owns it). Our grandchildren have also become addicted to the dish, so since we were eating with our daughters and grandchildren on Monday night, she whipped up a big batch for us to enjoy.  Here is her recipe:

1½ lbs freshly ground beef
½ cup each of chopped red bell pepper and onion
2 - 8oz cans Hunt’s tomato sauce
1½ Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1-cup warm water
salt and pepper
1 heaping cup of elbow macaroni (uncooked)

Brown meat in a skillet (she uses no oil or butter).  Add the onion and pepper and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 1-cup warm water and 1 heaping cup of elbow macaroni and cook until elbows are al dente, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and, off the heat, top with shredded American cheese and serve.

I opened a bottle of 2010 Testalonga Bianco Vermentino Dolceacqua.  Made by Antonio Perrino in Liguria from 100% Vermintino grapes, it is a wine lover’s wine, i.e. is not a wine for everyone.  The wine sees extended skin contact, which imparts an almost funky, muted straw hue to the wine.   On the palate it is peppery and complex and seems to evolve forever in the glass as you drink it.  It was the perfect complement to the dish.  The girls preferred to finish the 2011 Quintarelli Secco Ca del Merlo Bianco that I opened the day before.  Readers of this blog know of my adoration for the wines of Quintarelli, and this, his only white, is magnificent.  Made from Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Saorin, it drank as well on day two as it did the previous day.

What’s better than being with the family, enjoying a home cooked “comfort” meal and drinking good wine?  Let us not forget the answer, NOTHING!


1 comment:

  1. Mark - this dish brings back great memories. My Grandmother used to cook it and it was a favorite. I have to say that pairing it with a Quintarelli wine takes it to another level !