Monthly Archives: December 2011

New Year’s Eve Recipes from Around the World

This New Year’s Eve will find those of us at Parker Sanpei & Associates celebrating in different ways, from grand parties on the town to quiet get-togethers with family to a daytime barbecue with loads of kids in attendance and a quiet night.  But how about the rest of the world?  Here’s a list of highlights (care of Wikipedia) with recipes and wines to match.

Turkey in Mole Poblano

MEXICO

Mexicans celebrate New Year’s Eve, Año Viejo in Spanish, by downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexican families decorate homes and parties during New Year’s with colors such as red to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love, yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions, green to improve financial circumstances and white to improved health. Mexicans celebrate by having a late-night dinner with their families, the traditional meal being turkey and mole, a tradition which has now spanned worldwide.

Pair Rick Bayless’ Turkey in Mole Poblano (from Saveur, Issue #133) with a Washington State Malbec like áMaurice ($47).

DENMARK

Il Cortigiano Prosecco Spumante

Many Danish people go to parties or entertain guests at home. The evening meal is more exclusive than usual, with desserts including the marzipan ring cake Kransekage along with champagne, and mains traditionally include boiled cod, or stewed kale and cured saddle of pork.  However, in recent years expensive cuts of beef as well as sushi have become increasingly popular.

Pair this recipe for Kransekage (almond ring cake) with an aromatic sparkling wine such as Il Cortigiano Prosecco Spumante ($11).

ITALY

Cotechino and Lentils

Italians call New Year’s Eve Capodanno (the “head of the year”) or Notte di San Silvestro (the night of St. Silvestro). Dinner is traditionally eaten with parents and friends. It often includes zampone or cotechino (a kind of spiced Italian sausage) and lentils. At 8:30 pm, the President reads a television message of greetings to Italians. At midnight, fireworks are displayed across Italy. A lentil stew is eaten when the bell tolls midnight – one spoon per bell. This is supposed to bring good fortune; the lentils represent coins, being round in shape.

Pair Mario Batali’s Cotechino and Lentils with a light-bodied, everyday Northern Italian Barbera such as those from Marchesi di Gresy ($18).

PHILIPPINES

Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc

Also known as “Last Day of the Year,” the Philippines is one of the few countries having New’s Years Eve as an official non-working holiday (special holiday). Filipinos usually celebrate New Year’s Eve with the company of family and close friends. Traditionally, most households stage a dinner party named Media Noche in their homes. Typical dishes include pancit, hamon, lechon (roasted pig), which is usually considered as the centerpiece of the dinner table. Barbecued food is also an integral part of the menu.

Pair this recipe for pancit noodles and vegetables with a grassy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc like that from Astrolabe ($20).

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Looking ahead: Food trends of 2012

It’s food trend-predicting time!

Yes, it’s that time of year when food and nutrition forecasters at Publicis Consultants USA predict the eating habits of Americans in the year to come. Here we take a look at each of the 12 forecasted trends and offer up suggestions on how to decide whether or not they’re up your alley.

1. Perpetual Snacking
Smaller portions and mini-bites will invade restaurant menus and grocery stores.

We love small plates!  Check out tapas bar Tia Pol in NYC, Asian gastropub Pubbelly in Miami Beach, or Lolo in San Francisco for scrumptious small plates and mini bites.

Chinois by Woflgang Puck

2. Global Food Mash-Up
Millennials will “travel the world” through eating and drinking inexpensive culturally mixed foods.

Fusion: It started in the eighties and we’re still not over it.  And, call us Old School, but Chinois by Wolfgang Puck in Santa Monica is still one of our favorites.

3. The Connected Table
Geo-targeting apps, recipe commenting, crowd-sourced restaurant reviews and tweets between bites will mean you’re never alone.

Our pick?  The new Alfred app for iPhone, which acts like a sort of Pandora Radio for eating out, data-mining your dining tastes to make personalized restaurant recommendations.

Monterey County Chardonnay

4. Wine Cred
Desiring fresh value-priced experiences, consumers will discover and share wines from lesser known growing regions.

Hooray for undervalued wine regions!  It’s about time the masses got to know the wines of Priorat, the Loire, Monterey County, California, and South Africa, as well as German Rieslings and Argentine Malbecs.  Next time you reach for another bottle of Napa Cab or Burgundy, think twice.  A good reference is A Taste of Terroir on the Cheap” in Food & Wine Magazine.

5. Pop-ular Popcorn
Popcorn is healthful, convenient, natural, versatile and affordable.

The aroma of fresh, stove-popped popcorn is one from our childhood…and once you’ve done it yourself, you’ll never go back to those over-salted, creepy bags of Orville Redenbacher from the grocery store. Here’s a great recipe to get you started.

Fooducate

6. In-Your-Face Nutrition
Front-of-pack labeling, nutrition disclosure on menus and calorie counting mobile apps will make nutrition messaging hard to escape.

The Fooducate app allows you to scan the barcode of any food in the supermarket and see the facts in black and white, as well as a commentary on what’s hidden inside and possible healthier alternatives.

7. Grow-it, Raise-it, Pick-it, Eat-it
From backyard beehives, chicken coops and heirloom veggie gardens to home brewing and at-home canning, hyper-local will come home.

A few good books to inspire your own hyper-local movement include Sunset’s One Block Feast, Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture, and Country Wisdom and Know-How.

8. Dining In Goes Beyond Comfort
New supermarket products and chef-inspired tools and techniques will help take in-home dining beyond traditional comfort fare.

If you’ve ever used a Silpat baking liner or Global kitchen knife, you know just what a difference a professional chef’s tool can make in the kitchen.

Barramundi

9. Barramundi, the Next Sustainable Seafood
This Australian import’s delicate flaky flesh is extremely low in toxin levels, but full of heart and brain-healthy omega-3s. Expect it on menus and then in packaged foods.

To find out for ourselves just how eco-friendly and healthful barramundi really is, we turned to our beloved Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch report.

10. Turmeric, the Real “Spice of Life”
Expect to see a lot of this bright yellow spice, which contains high levels of antioxidants and touts anti-inflammatory properties.

Modern day science is only just now discovering what the ancient Indian medicine of Ayurveda has known for centuries!  But no matter: we’ll happily take our recommended dose of turmeric in a Thai or Indian curry without complaint.

11. A Health and Wellness Gender Gap Grows
Women will continue to take active strides to improve their health by eating healthy and staying active. Men will lag further behind.

As if improved health and stamina were not valuable enough reasons to eat better and stay active, consider this dose of reality: According to Denise Reynolds RD of EMaxHealth.com, it affects our pocketbooks, too.  “There continues to be a wage gap between those who are of a healthy weight and those who are obese, especially among women,” she reports in her article “Obesity Affects Personal Finances, Especially Among Women.”

Michael Pollan

12. Tell Me What I Can Eat, Not What I Can’t!
An overload of hype will lead to a positive tone in messaging as consumers will seek delicious products that proactively enhance health and wellness.

Sorry to be the bearers of news you already know, but the best foods to eat are those that don’t include a nutrition guide like fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy.  As Michael Pollan states in his latest book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, “Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.”  Seems simple enough to us.

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Holiday Guide: Gifts That Give Back

One of the benefits to living in this era of globalization is our acute awareness of needs across the world – and the ability to help in tangible ways.  During this season of giving, we at Parker Sanpei & Associates take joy in giving gifts that both delight the recipient and support the world’s most effective and compassionate charities.  Here are just a handful of gifts that give back that you’ll find wrapped beneath our tree this year.

TOMS Eyewear - Giving sight to people around the world

You’ve seen just about everyone wearing TOMS footwear, and you may know that each pair of shoes out there represents another pair given to someone in need across the world.  Now, the TOMS concept of “One for One” comes to stylish sunglasses for men and women: A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each pair goes to medical treatment, perscription eyeglasses, and eye surgeries for people who need it most. $135-$150.

Riedel Crescendo Wine Glasses - Funding breast cancer research

These pretty wine glasses show a touch of pink at the base to signify Riedel’s support of breast cancer research with every set of Crescendo glasses sold. The set embraces Riedel’s popular stemless “O” design, perfect for both casual and formal entertaining.  We can’t help but picture a nice pink Provençal rosé inside… $70 for a set of four.

Cru Vin Dogs Loyal Companion Wines - Supporting animal shelters that find homes for orphaned dogs

Cru Vin Dogs Wine Group’s mission is to produce premium wines of exceptional quality from outstanding vineyard sites throughout the world while also supporting worthy canine-related causes – and their new Loyal Companion Series does just that with two Sonoma County wines.  A supple, honeyed Chardonnay and an exuberant Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend from hillside vineyards boast quality that far exceeds their price point.  And the best part?  A portion of the proceeds from each bottle sold goes to animal shelters around the country that care for orphaned dogs.  $13/bottle, $156/case.

Peacekeeper Cause-Metics - Promoting women’s health and human rights

According to their eye-catching website, “Peacekeeper Cause-Metics is the first cosmetics line to give all of its after-tax, distributable profits to women’s health advocacy and urgent human rights issues. PeaceKeeper builds a bridge between extraordinary women in the land of plenty and extraordinary women who, by chance of birth, don’t have our resources or opportunities.”  Sounds good to us, especially when the eco-friendly lip balms, lipsticks, glosses, and nail polishes come in such nicely-named colors as “Paint Me Passionate,” “Paint Me Content,” and “Paint Me Healthy.” $4 and up.

Penguin Classics (RED) - Helping to eliminate AIDS in Africa

Publisher Penguin Classics has teamed up with (RED) and The Global Fund – the world’s leading financer of programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria – to produce a freshly-designed set of classical literature from which 50% of the proceeds goes to fighting AIDS in Africa.  Titles such as Little Women, Vanity Fair, and Kidnapped boast covers by young international designers like Marian Bantjes and Caseroom Press in black, white, and – what else? – red. $15.

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Trio of Wintry Soups and Trader Joe’s Wine Pairings

Even here in sunny wine country, the evening air turns mighty cold these days, begging for a cozy bowl of soup and glass of easygoing wine.  Some people say wine shouldn’t fraternize with soup, but we beg to differ. The diversity of these soups provides a broad canvas on which to try many different styles of wine, and Trader Joe’s is just the place to source those wines without breaking the bank. The most important rule when pairing soup with wine? Match the weight of the soup to that of the wine (e.g. the heartier the soup, the more full-bodied the wine should be).

Here, we’ve curated a trio of blended soups and wines available at Trader Joe’s to match.

Nordstroms Tomato Basil Soup

The tomato-basil soup from the Bistro Cafe inside Nordstroms department stores is famous as a savory, delicious antidote to winter’s chill.  While Nordstroms jealously guards the recipe, the blog Serious Eats has devised a knock-off that fits the bill.  Pair with a low-tannin, fruity red wine such as the 2010 Roccalta San Giovese from Puglia ($4).

Butternut Squash Soup

There are many, many recipes for creamy butternut squash soup out there, but none are so complex and exotic as the one from Susan Branch’s book Autumn From The Heart of the Home (thanks to A Girl, A Market, A Meal for this adaptation). Spiced with curry, ginger, and nutmeg, this soup calls for a crisp, medium-bodied white wine such as the 2010 Dr. Beckermann Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling ($5).

Black Bean Soup with Sherry and Lime

Rich, healthy, and so so easy, this recipe from Gourmet Magazine for black bean soup includes dry sherry, which is the obvious wine pairing.  Sherry isn’t always top-of-mind for American wine drinkers, but a nice dry choice like Pastora Fino Pale Dry Sherry ($5) would integrate beautifully with this earthy, aromatic soup.

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How to Bring a Different Sparkle to the Holidays

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Champagne pairs well with just about every kind of food.  But as much as we here at Parker Sanpei & Associates love a good, toasty Champagne with our Christmas dinner and New Year’s Eve canapés, we also love to break the mold by serving a host of unusual sparklers that get plenty of oohs and aahs at festive get-togethers.  Why not swap the usual Moet & Chandon for something out-of-the-box this holiday season?

2009 Allan Scott Marlborough Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc

What happens when you infuse a classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with vibrant bubbles?  Magic, that’s what.  This Methode Traditionelle Sauvignon Blanc was produced from 100% Marlborough fruit to commemorate the Allan Scott Family Winemakers’ 20th vintage. The result is a lively, herbaceous and fruity sparkler ideal with fried green tomatoe medallions or sushi. $17.

Saetti Salamino di Santa Croce Lambrusco

Like White Zinfandel, lambrusco has become something of a dirty word among serious wine drinkers since its heyday in the 1970s. Sparkling red wine from the lambrusco grape grown in Italy’s abundant Emilia-Romagna region, it was often one-dimensional, sugary and conducive to crippling hangovers. But, as New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov declares, “The time has come to consign this unfortunate impression of lambrusco to the same locked attic trunk that holds the 70s disco wear.

Real lambrusco has as much to do with the candied industrial stuff as assembly-line Beaujolais nouveau resembles good cru Morgon. While many variations exist on the lambrusco theme, a good lambrusco secco is dry and fresh  —  frothy and almost purple in its classic version, yes, but full of tangy fruit and subtle, earthy flavors that are ideal on a summer night.

…or on a winter’s night, too.  We argue that the Saetti Salamino de Santa Croce Lambrusco is a delicious match for rich foods like lasagne bolognese or a selection of charcuterie like those from Allesina Fine Cured Meats. $20.

Naked on Roller Skates NV Sparkling Shiraz

If the wine’s name didn’t already get you, the brand’s name will: Some Young Punks out of Australia.  This actually a Shiraz-Mataro blend from the McLaren Vale that brings seriously bold aromas of blackberry, red licorice and toast with its bubbles.  Regarding the name, Some Young Punks say “There is a type of person for whom hillsides nor nudity are enough – a type of person who needs roller skates to enjoy these simple pleasures.”  Pair Naked on Roller Skates with a nice standing rib roast or even a flourless chocolate cake…if you dare.  $20.

Rosé Veuve Ambal Cremant de Bourgogne

You’ve probably heard of Veuve Clicquot, but what about Veuve Ambal? Probably not.  This sparkling wine producer hails from Burgundy rather than Champagne, and its rosé is a terrific alternative to a traditional blanc de blanc, comprised of Pinot Noir and a splash of Gamay.  Is there anything prettier than pink bubbles in a flute for the holidays?  Again, probably not.  This one shows delicate raspberry and redcurrant aromas and flavors that make the ideal match for pastry- and fruit-based desserts.  $10.

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