Apr 102012

I reconnected with some dear, old friends of mine a couple weeks ago. These people own an electronics repair shop and I’ve made many referrals to them over the past 15 years, primarily through my Joe’s Radio Page website.

Apparently, they appreciated my referrals because when I called them to ask a question I mentioned who I was and the manager of the shop immediately brightened and told me to get in there because they had something set aside for me since the last time I visited, about 10 years ago.

The gift was a bottle of Calvados, an apple brandy from France. My only previous experience with Calvados was as a component of a French dessert, where it was poured over something good.

Our first experiment with this stuff was a cocktail made with ginger ale. The drink was both sweet and powerful, so it’s not something we’ll want to jump into every day. We’ll try some more recipes, and I’m sure we’ll figure out a way to fit this into this fall’s Apple Butter festivities.

Last year, we decided to start a collection of 2007-vintage wines that we would open on our anniversary each year. We worked with the wonderful people at Wine Discount Center and Binny’s to build our assortment, taking into consideration the wine we like now and those that are likely to age nicely.

This year (on our fifth wedding anniversary) we had our first uncorking, which was a 2007 Ribera del Duero Pesquera Crianza from Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez. The tasting was a success and the wine was delicious.

When we originally tasted the wine last year, we thought it was complex with some balanced fruit notes. Wine Spectator described it as a “crisp, firm red with lingering notes of smoke and clove.” They also thought menthol and herbal flavors overshadowed the black cherry, which we didn’t find to be true.

Our recent tasting notes:

Drank with Lisa’s homemade Italian Meatball soup– started with an olive-fig tapinade (an idea Lisa got from our recent dinner at Retro Bistro) over italian bread, and then moved on to the soup.

Lisa: “It has cool fruit flavors– a little sweetness, but not a lot. Dark fruits, like cherry, medium body.”

Joe: “It’s become more smooth in the year that passed. Not getting any menthol or herb this time around. Dry at the finish.

Our collection includes more Spanish and French wines, so tune in next year to see what we pull from the cellar.

This was the dessert I prepared on Sunday: Chocolate-Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Arctic White Icing, fresh whipped cream with vanilla sugar, and fresh red raspberries. All of this followed my semi-legendary Chicken Parmesan. You can see why I only go crazy making this particular dinner once a year.

Tonight, I came home to see that Lisa made these heart-shaped pizzas, which she served along with a bottle of Cristalino Brut (the wine we served at our wedding).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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