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Food & Wine,Portugal,Wine,Winery

Blueberry Flavored Balsamic Vinegars from Charles Creek Kitchen in Sonoma Just Rocked My Palate

CONTEST: Why I Want to Go To Portugal to Visit Enoforum Wines with Jo Diaz

Blueberry Flavored Balsamic Vinegar… Oh, it is just so good… I couldn’t even imagine what this vinegar was going to taste like, but could hardly wait to find a use, besides the obvious salad dressing ingredient. And… like all other things Charles Creek… it over delivered.

Bill Brinton, proprietor of Charles Creek Vineyards, just isn’t one to sit still. I met him in 2002, when he was launching his first vintage of Merlot. At that time, he was just branching out into having his first vintage of Los Patolitas Chardonnay. Seven years later, you need to visit Charles Creek Vineyard to see what else he’s done with cultivars… It’s astounding. I’m not going to list them all here, because I want to list what I’ve just learned about… His newly launched Charles Creek Kitchen of Sonoma Balsamic Vinegars.

  • Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
  • Blueberry Flavored Balsamic Vinegar ~  RECOMMENDED WINE PAIRINGS ~ Pinot Noir, Gamay Beaujolais, or a Trincadeira from Portugal
  • Cinnamon Pear Flavored Balsamic Vinegar
  • Black Currant Flavored Balsamic Vinegar

All of these vinegars are aged 18 years, and all of them are intended to be enjoyed with fruits, salads, cheeses, and desserts. As soon as I taste the others, I’ll also have wine recommendation. I’m pulling a frugal act of tasting them one-at-a-time, so you’ll get one-at-a-time recipes, too.

When you get to know Bill and Gerry Brinton, you quickly learn that only the best will do for this dynamic couple. Consequently, you can trust that what they’re promoting will be something you’ll really enjoy, if you, too, enjoy fine wine and fine foods. (I’ve written recently about a cheese tasting that enjoyed with their wine club members: Wine and Cheese ~ Perfect Pairings at Charles Creek Vineyard).

I used this Blueberry vinegar a couple of ways in the same meal, just to have integrated flavors. I’m going to share the recipes that I created on the spot, given my 30 years of woking around my kitchen, I now mostly make it up as I go.

Salad dressing:

Mix the following, shaking vigorously once combined:

  • 1/4 C Charles Creek Blueberry Flavored Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/8 C Apple Juice
  • Salt, pepper, finely minced garlic, fresh basil, lemon thyme

Add olive oil, and shake vigorously, again:

  • 2/3 Cup Extra Light Virgin Olive Oil

Sprinkle this on any salad of your choice. Mine had baby lettuce, Boston lettuce, blueberries, tomato from the garden, and cucumber slices.

Sweet n’Sour Sauce

  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup of pineapple juice (from canned pineapple chucks)
  • Two tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup of Blueberry Flavored Balsamic Vinegar
  • One tablespoon of organic ketchup
  • Few drops of hot chili oil (if you enjoy it in dishes)
  • Two tablespoon corn starch (to thicken your sauce)

Sweet n’Sour Chicken (serves two):

  • Two Chicken breasts
  • Two vegetables of your choice (I used carrots and celery)
  • One onion
  • One garlic clove
  • Pineapple chunks from drained can of pineapples

Mince garlic and onion, slice chicken into bite-sized pieces. Also cut vegetables into bite sized pieces. Drain pineapple and set aside.

  1. In a hot frying pan or wok, heat chicken, onions, and garlic until cooked. (Onions become glazed.) Remove, set aside.
  2. In the same hot pan, stir fry vegetables, then add pineapples, just stir fry long enough to get heat into the pineapples.
  3. Return chicken portion to the pan immediately with all other ingredients.
  4. Quickly add the Sweet n”Sour Sauce, stirring constantly.
  5. Sauce will thicken.
  6. When sauce becomes thick and coats all of the ingredients, remove and serve on a bed of rice.

We enjoyed this dish with a 2006 Alentex Premium Trincadeira/Aragonez. ($8.00)

The wine’s light, fruity flavors paired perfectly with this dish. The chicken’s sweet and sour flavors delivered by the Blueberry Flavored Balsamic made this dish come alive in a way I’ve yet to experience with other traditional balsamic vinegars. Meanwhile, the balance of sweet and sour in the sauce didn’t throw off the balance of the wine, either. I love when foods like this come together.

The discipline with this one was to not overindulge… That’s why this recipe started out as a Recipe for Two! (I hate leftovers. The foods just don’t taste as good the next time around.)

Let me know how it goes!

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