Saturday, March 31, 2007

Relishing Lunch

I drove down to La Diff today. Lovely weather for a convertible, by the way. As I walked around the block, I spotted Relish. I had heard about this Bottom lunch spot, but had not really investigated where it was located, etc. Serendipity can be a good thing. Relish boasted a hot bar (Italian on this day), salad bar, composed salads, sandwiches, paninis, wraps, and other delectables. I had a hankering for the Tarragon Chicken Salad sandwich: chunks of white meat chicken, light on the mayo with good tarragon flavor, slivers of almonds, diced red onion and celery, served on toasted whole grain bread. I did find one stray grape. I ordered and paid at the counter and my meal was delivered to my table. The ample sandwich came with chips, shredded carrots, and a pickle. To drink I had iced green tea sweetened with apple juice. Rather unusual, but very refreshing. Tables and chairs were set up outside for one’s dining pleasure. Since it was noon on a Saturday, the place was deserted.

Relish is located at 101 S. 15th Street and is open Monday – Saturday from 11 AM – 8 PM. Take out is also available.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot

In the April 2007 issue of Food & Wine there is an article entitled 50 wines you can always trust. Frankly, I do not agree with a lot of the selections. And I found at least one wine missing: Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot produced by the Wetzel Family Estate. Year in, year out this merlot is consistently full-bodied and tasty. It currently runs ~$20 per bottle and is a sure bet every time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

DC , Yes - Cow Poo, No

Over the weekend we got away from all things Richmond and found all things DC. Washington, DC, of course. We experienced rain showers; hot and cold temperature swings; sore legs from pounding a lot of pavement; incredibly prolific flowering sweet magnolias; an extremely yummy merlot; smoke-free restaurants and bars; a taste of “cow poo;” and a honking piece of ribeye.



Our first stop was the National Zoo replete with lions, tigers, and bears…and hippos, apes, elephants (you get the picture).


From there we headed up to Cleveland Park to Dino.

We ate at Dino the last time we were in DC. They continue to live up to and exceed our expectations. The menu contained a whole heap of appetizers – we wanted to order everything. They also featured a cheese plate. What to do? What to do? We looked at the wine list – a multi-page affair on a clipboard. The Brunellos and Barolos were too dear for our pocketbook, so we opted for the next best thing – 2004 Rosso di Montalcino Collemattoni. Full body and tannin balanced against dark fruits of cherry and cassis. Can you say yummy? We sure did. Once we had our wine, we found out the special of the evening – a 2 pound ribeye for 2. That did it. We dropped our other appetizer plans. Well, my hubby ordered a small plate of the meatballs (3 small ones in a delicious tomato sauce), and I ordered an Acciuga salad (Caesar-like), complete with anchovy filet. The steak was a honking piece of beef. Bone in, charbroiled with herbs, and drizzled with olive oil. It was served on a butcher block. Medium rare. Great with the wine. Served with a very tiny portion of fingerling potatoes and sautéed greens (we could have done with a few more potatoes). We ended up taking the whopper of a bone home, so I can make stock. For dessert, I chose the sinful chocolate route with Tris di Cioccolato – warm chocolate soufflé cake, bittersweet chocolate gelato, and chocolate crema Inghlese – washed down with a glass of Dow’s 2000 Late Bottled Vintage Port. While my dessert was pure dark chocolate heaven, my husband’s dessert (actually dessert drink) was a tasty discovery. He ordered Gelato Affrogato – house made vanilla gelato “drowned” in espresso. To drink he made a bold move and ordered a glass of Altri Grappa – Nardini Cedro (sweet Sorrento lemon). This was not a take-the-roof-of-your-mouth-off-turpentine variety of grappa; it was smooth, sweet, and lemony. What a lovely surprise and it paired well with the vanilla and espresso. Needless to say, once we got back to our hotel room, we slept very well.

We awoke to a cloudy, drizzly day with much cooler temperatures. We headed over to Georgetown with the obligatory stop at a corner Starbucks for a latte. After window shopping we walked over to The Fairmont on M Street. About 10 months ago my husband and I had a miserable dinner at Chateau Frontenac (a Fairmont property). They eventually sent us a nice gift certificate. We used it for lunch at Juniper in DC. For the majority of the time we had our own private dining room. This place does not draw the Saturday brunch/lunch crowd. We asked for the wine list and was first handed what looked to be the abbreviated lunch list. We were relieved that they did have a full wine list. After lots of wrangling we selected the 2003 Neyers Merlot, Neyers Ranch – Conn Valley, Napa Valley. This has got to be one of the best merlots that we have had in quite a while. Chewy, thick, fruity, in fact, gulpable. This is what good California wine is all about.

So, as we drooled over our wine, we ordered lunch. My hubby had to have the Hanger Steak with Frites. Good choice, given the wine. I decided in favor of brunch – Eggs Benedict with crab cakes and sautéed spinach instead of Canadian bacon. The crab cakes were all sweet crab. And the wine was so yummy, it paired well with all food choices (maybe, I was a wee bit enamored over this bottle?).

A long walk around the Washington Monument and then to the Freer and Sackler Galleries rounded out the afternoon.




For dinner we returned to Cleveland Park to Lavandou, an intimate boite with Provencal-style table cloths and charm. Unfortunately, the charm stopped here. We ordered a 2004 Chateau Martinet St. Emilion Grand Cru to drink. Somewhat weak in strength and flavor (but the Neyers was a tough wine to follow). The restaurant did have Salade Frisee – poached egg, frisee, bacon, and dressing, with a tiny wedge of brie. There was so much bacon in the salad that even I grew tired of it. My other half ordered Petit Basque cheese in pastry with salad greens. The heated cheese was extremely rich, but good. For an entree I chose the Medallions de Boeuf in a Brandy Peppercorn Sauce. While a traditional French dish, I’ve always enjoyed it. On this night it was mediocre. A pity. My husband went with the Fleur de Mer special with mussels, shrimp, scallops, and clams. The shrimp were nice and meaty, the slightly spicy sauce was a tad gritty, the mussels were so-so, and the clams “tasted like cow poo.” As the evening progressed, the service slowed to a snail’s pace. We were quite happy to leave without considering dessert.

Despite the misstep at Lavandou, we had a lovely weekend away from workday worries. Next time we will avoid the cow poo.


I'll leave you with a few more pictures of DC...






Sunday, March 25, 2007

Six Burner Sustenance

Last week we managed to squeeze in a trip to Six Burner (located at 1627 West Main St.) to support Benefit Thyme. Monday – Thursday the restaurant features a 3-course prix fixe menu for $19.95 per person. On Wednesdays it is also $10 carafe night. We happened to stop by on a Wednesday (how serendipitous!). The interior featured both white-clothed tables and booths. Brass accents gleamed at the bar. Thankfully, no one was smoking at the bar (the place is really too small for smoking at the bar). We went for the carafe of red. Bottles were actually opened to pour into the liter-sized carafe. The wine was not spectacular, but it wasn’t rotgut either. I believe the wine was a Solar Tempranillo, but I have not been able to find a wine label to confirm. In any case a bargain. We also chose the prix fixe menu, with both of us ordering the Corn Soup with Truffle Oil and the Hanger Steak with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Red Wine Sauce. We changed it up for dessert. I had the Cinnamon Panna Cotta; the hubby went for the Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Mousse.

When I mentally envision corn soup, invariably I think of corn chowder. This soup was not chowder. It was a pureed version of fresh creamed corn with a hint of corn meal on the finish. The truffle oil was more like truffle foam. Overall, an unexpected, but very tasty surprise. The hanger steak was tenderer than expected with a subtle sauce to accompany it. The potatoes could have had more garlic, but they were decent. My panna cotta had a very creamy, silky texture. The cinnamon was a little too strong for my taste, but for most, this would be a superb dessert. My husband’s dessert was knock your socks off. The peanut butter cake was an extremely moist pound cake bursting with flavor. The chocolate mousse was dark and intense with the chocolate flavor lingering long after swallowing. We decided to have coffee ($1.50) after our meal. Six Burner serves Illy. We had not had coffee this good since we were last in Paris. And this was a basic cup of coffee with cream and sugar. None of the frou-frou cappuccino stuff.

We will definitely return. The menu changes frequently, and the regular wine offerings list options from $19 - $60 a bottle.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Burgundy Wine Dinner at CanCan

Burgundy Wine Dinner

March 22, 2007


HORS D’OEUVRES


OYSTERS

Apple Horseradish Mignonette


SMOKED TROUT & LEEK CREPE

Crème Fraiche & Walnut Oil


PORK RILLETS

Whole Grain Mustard


2003 Cremant De Bourgogne Brut, Michel Freres

1ST COURSE

SAUTEED MONKFISH

Picholine Olives, Fingerling Potatoes & Orange and Rosemary Buerre Blanc


2005 Chablis Vielles Vignes, Jean-Claude Bessin

2ND COURSE


BRAISED VEAL

Salsify, Roast Cauliflower, Dried Currants & Horseradish Butter


2004 Gevrey-Chambertin, Les Jeunes Rois, Geantet-Pansiot

3RD COURSE


ROAST RACK OF LAMB

Wild Mushrooms, Artichoke & Red Wine Bacon Jus


2003 Marsannay, Louis Latour


A lovely wine dinner for $50 per person. The Smoked Trout & Leek Crepes were divine – smoky, but not too fishy. The crème fraiche added another layer of flavor sensation. The monkfish listed an orange rosemary buerre blanc. No hint of rosemary, but, no matter, the other combinations were a blend of in your face (olives) and subtlety (potatoes/monkfish). The best wine pairing of the night came from the green olives and the Chablis. The Chablis was acidic and flinty and stood up to the brininess of the olives. I’m not a fan of the Chardonnay grape and French Chablis is definitely not among my favorites, but this was surprisingly good (and one reason I try to go to wine dinners to broaden my palate). The best overall course was the 2nd course. The salsify was roasted, the veal was tender, the horseradish butter was very mild, and the currants added just a hint of sweet. The hint of sweet did very well with the Gevrey-Chambertin which showed cherry undertones. The only problem with this course was that we only had one glass of wine to drink. This wine reminded me of why I so enjoy good Burgundies. The last course was a bit of a conundrum. I’m not a lamb or mushroom fan. I liked the red wine bacon jus because it gave the mushrooms a smoky flavor. I did tire of the mushrooms, however. The lamb chop was at least medium rare and, if you like lamb, I think it would probably be heavenly. The wine was heartier than the previous red, thus, the choice of mushrooms and a bacon based sauce. Once again, cherry undertones were present, but after swallowing, the tip of my tongue tasted slightly bitter cherry skins. Upon leaving we were presented with a chocolate truffle to cap off the evening.


I like these events. It’s a great price. There are no more than 36 diners in a private dining area. CanCan does a great job of bringing a number of food flavors together in their dishes. The atmosphere is fairly informal and Bob Talcott, the wine director, leads brief discussions after each course to discuss the food and the wine. The next dinner will be May 17 and will feature the Loire Valley.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Kitchen Renovation Saga Part 4

We are at the half-way mark for the ceramic tile in the kitchen. Working only on weekends and waiting for mortar, grout, etc. to dry is requiring more patience than expected. The pantry walls, shelves, and ceiling are complete, however. And, I like it! The stain on the walls match the little blue floor tiles. I still have to organize my shelves (I have 5 large, deep shelves!), but the ample space and flexibility are much appreciated. We used aluminum sheeting on the ceiling that reminds me of crumpled foil. Color, space, and a wee bit of funkiness.

To be continued...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Benefit Thyme - Dine March 19 - 22 & Shop March 23 - 25

From a flyer I picked up:

Dine and shop during Benefit Thyme and participating restaurants and retailers will donate a portion of their proceeds to Breadwinners, the culinary business initiative of New Visions, New Ventures, a non-profit organization the helps women achieve economic success through financial education, job training, and entrepreneurship.

Dine Monday through Thursday (March 19 - 22) at:

Acacia
Mekong
Old City Bar
One North Belmont
Six Burner

Shop Friday through Sunday (March 23 - 25) at:

Belmont Butchery

River City Cellars

I'm definitely in favor of eating for a worthy cause.

What do you do with a leftover pork chop?

Last week my husband and I visited Avenue 805. I had a nice-sized pork chop and some rice leftover. Of course, I took it home. Now, what do I do with it? My solution was simple, yet delicious (in no small part due to the chef at Avenue 805!).

I diced up the pork chop into ½ inch chunks and threw the chunks back into the rice. In another bowl, I cracked two eggs, added salt, pepper, and a pinch of dried chervil, and then whisked to blend the egg mixture. In a non-stick pan, I heated a tiny amount of peanut oil over medium heat. When the oil was hot I sautéed the pork and rice. Once the pork was heated, I pushed the pork and rice to the side and added the eggs. I scrambled the eggs and then mixed everything together and served. It was very yummy.

I fixed this for lunch and had enough for both my hubby and myself. I would also prepare this for breakfast/brunch (okay, you can also eat this for dinner). Today, I only had two eggs in my refrigerator, but I probably would have added at least one more egg. If I had wanted to take more time, I would have chopped up and sautéed an onion to add to the pork and rice. I’ve also made a similar dish with leftover Kuban Roast Pork from Kuba Kuba (ahhh…pork and rice and black beans).

Kudos to Brick

This week Brick, featured local food bloggers. Online Epicureans by Greg Hershey includes not only this blog but other fabulous food blogs from Richmond. Check them all out!

And Greg, I don't know you, but I like you already! Thank you for spotlighting this area of the blogosphere. For me, it is indeed a labor of love.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Avenue 805

In the past week I’ve had the opportunity to dine at Avenue 805 twice. Avenue 805 is located on Davis Ave. behind the Pizza Hut facing Broad St. And as the clipboard menu warns – If you park in the Pizza Hut lot, you are being towed as you read this. Avenue 805 is small divided about equally between bar area on one side and an aisle of 2 and 4-top booths on the other side. Right in the front there are a small number of table and chairs. Art lines the dining space and is for sale. A small cozy space that lends itself to couples.

The first night we went it was Cheap Date Night. Here’s the scoop: For $35 a couple you can get salad, pasta with your choice of sauces, a dessert of the night to share, plus a bottle of wine. The salad and pasta are served family-style. Wow! Unfortunately, our cheap date night did not turn out so cheap, but it’s mainly because my husband had to have meat with his sauce, and the both of us can be a little wine snobbish, at times. For our Cheap Date Night, the red wine was a Beaujolais Nouveau. We had not been thrilled with this year’s production back in November, thus, this wine was not an option. But never fear, Avenue 805 had an alternative. We could pick out any other wine on their list and receive $10 off. We went for it and chose an Oberon Merlot from Napa. The wine is regularly listed at the restaurant at $30 a bottle. We thought $20 was a decent price. Now we needed to decide on a regular or Caesar salad. We opted for the Caesar. I also wanted pasta with the Puttenesca sauce (olives, capers, garlic, tomato). Since I chose the sauce my husband chose penne as the type of pasta and insisted that we add grilled chicken (an extra $5) because he wanted some meat. Our “cheap date” ended up costing $60 instead of $35. But in the end it was well worth it. The Merlot was fantastic. As we enjoyed our first sips, the waitress blessed us with a variety of breads (onion-rosemary focaccia, plain Italian slices, and a dense quick bread) to be dipped in olive oil. The salad, as promised, came in a big bowl and was generously portioned. The penne with puttenesca and chicken was lovely. Lots of black and green olives, and capers. I was a happy camper. My hubby picked over the capers (he’s not a big fan of them) and enjoyed the grilled chicken. Once again we were served a generous bowl and took home enough leftovers to feed both of us again for lunch. For dessert, Avenue 805’s menu advised us to trust them – they knew what they were doing. I had some trepidations. What if the dish contained raspberries or raisins or coconut or walnuts or several other things I don’t particularly like? My husband jokingly said that the dessert would probably be bread pudding (which he detests). Sure enough, it was bread pudding with an apple-cinnamon sauce and whipped cream. I scarfed up dessert while he pouted a wee bit.

The regular menu contained the pasta and sauce combinations for $10 a person and chicken ($14) or veal ($17) scaloppini with a choice of preparations (Milanese, Parmesan, Piccata, or Saltimbacco). The rest of the menu changed on a daily basis. We continued to be intrigued by the menu, and the wine prices seemed reasonable with quite a few from which to select. Thus, on Saturday night we decided to return – with one slight twist – we decided to walk (the weather was so delightful, we could not resist). It took us about 45 minutes to arrive (at a gentle walking pace). We arrived about 6:30 PM and can not tell you how glad we were that tables were still available. We sat all the way in the back (intimate, away from the door). This time we ordered a Marietta California Petite Syrah for $26. What a powerful and chewy wine. Great color and mouth feel. We had not run across this wine at the places we normally shop in Richmond and had really forgotten about it. We are now on a hunt for it. Of course, we were served a basket of bread. We ordered the Avenue 805 Winter Caprese Salad to share ($8) – Fresh mozzarella served over mixed greens and roasted red peppers. A few tomatoes were thrown in and olive oil and a Balsamic vinegar reduction were drizzled on the sides of the dish. Pesto topped the mozzarella. Except for the tomatoes, I reveled in this dish. My husband thought the pesto was too strong, but he raved about the Balsamic reduction (it had been reduced to a sweet syrup). Once we finished the salad, we sopped up the rest of the reduction with our bread. For entrees I chose Grilled Boneless Pork Chops with Andouille Dirty Rice topped with a Tasso Ham Sauce ($18) advertised as a “swine trifecta.” And true to the menu description, shear swine heaven. The chops were perfectly grilled. The sausage had just enough hint of spicy heat. The sauce was creamy and cheesy with tiny bits of Tasso ham. My other half went with the Veal Milanese – lightly breaded served over linguini and topped with a tomato-lettuce slaw. He did not having “salad” on top of his veal, even though it was tasty. He immediately pushed the slaw to the side of his plate. He thoroughly enjoyed the veal. The breading was just right. The linguini had a sprinkling of herbs and cheese and tasted like it had been briefly thrown in the veal pan to soak up any flavors right before serving. Next time he would ask for the veggies on a separate plate. We had no room for dessert (I took half of my entrée home for leftovers).

On both occasions we had very good experiences. We were lucky to have the same waitress both nights. She was attentive without being intrusive. And for a busy, small place, she had the time to come back and top off our wine glasses on both nights. On Cheap Date Night there was hardly anyone at the bar (which is the only place to smoke), thus, we were not bothered by cigarette smoke. On Saturday, we were very glad that we sat in the very back as far away from the bar as possible. If we had been seated in the front, we would have had a very unpleasant experience from a smoky fume perspective. I hope in the future Avenue 805 considers going completely smoke free.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I Love Me Some Mashed Potatoes

I love me some mashed potatoes. Always have. Probably, always will. And making the “real” stuff is relatively easy. I have to specify “real” because when I was younger my family dabbled with the instant variety for a time. During my mashed potato journey I’ve changed from using margarine to salted butter to unsalted butter; I now use cream or half and half instead of milk; I try to use only Yukon Gold potatoes instead of the white variety; I’ve change from an electric mixer to an old-fashioned manual potato masher. Oh, and occasionally, I throw in some garlic. Gravy for potatoes is only produced at Thanksgiving.

During the past several years, I’ve discovered another joy of mashed potatoes: Potato Cakes made with day old leftovers for breakfast. I have my mother-in-law to thank for this morning-time treat (of course, they would be good for lunch or dinner as well). My family either did not have leftovers or just reheated leftovers to eat.

My version of Mashed Potatoes and an approximate version of CW’s Potato Cakes follow:

Mashed Potatoes

5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced into ~ 1 inch chunks

3 garlic cloves (more or less to taste), peeled and quartered (make sure the garlic chunks are smaller than the potato chunks)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided into individual tablespoon pats

2 teaspoons cream or half and half

Salt and pepper to taste

Water for boiling

Place potatoes and garlic in medium-sized pot. Cover with water. Sprinkle with salt. Boil potatoes for about 25 minutes. Watch the pot as the potatoes boil. When the potato foam rises, turn heat down to medium-high. When potatoes are tender, drain and throw back into the pot. Add butter pats, cream, and salt and pepper. Mash with a manual potato masher until potato chunks are relatively smooth and the butter has been incorporated. Potatoes should be very stiff, not soupy. Serve immediately.

And if you happen to have leftovers…

CW's Potato Cakes

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes (refrigerated for at least a day)

2 eggs

2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon peanut oil or bacon grease (if you are having bacon along with your potato cakes)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl combine potatoes and eggs. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time and mix. The consistency should resemble thick pancake batter. Using a medium setting, heat oil or bacon grease in a non-stick skillet. Place ½ cup dollops of potato batter in hot oil. Cook 3-4 minutes and flip. Cook another 3-4 minutes. The outside of the potato cakes should be a golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Kitchen Renovation Saga Part 3

My husband starts laying ceramic tile in the kitchen today. Here is a preview...

Mekong Musings

Mekong, the Vietnamese restaurant on Broad Street, has been around for quite a while. It’s still my favorite Vietnamese place. Over the years, they have expanded capacity and established a killer beer and ale list along with a very nice wine list. I’m particularly fond of the Ace Pear Cider ($6.95 for 500 ml bottle) that is a great accompaniment to any dish served with nuoc cham (the slightly spicy, slightly sweet, vinegary fish sauce).

With any favorite place come favorite dishes. At Mekong I have one. The reason I only have one favorite is a bit embarrassing. Except for one occasion, I have only ordered one dish – Rice Noodle Salad with either the grilled pork or grilled beef and chicken. I know it’s insane, but I adore and even crave this dish at times. One day I’ll break out of my rut. I know Mekong prepares other fabulous entrees as well, but, I stuck to tradition last night…

Bun Bo Cha Nuong – Grilled beef and chicken rice noodle salad. Served with chopped lettuce, cucumber, bean sprout, pickled carrot, scallion, room temperature rice noodles, topped with crushed peanuts and served with nuoc cham on the side. I ordered mine minus the cucumber and bean sprout. The fish sauce (which I can’t rave about enough) last night was a tad spicier than usual, which both my husband and I appreciated. I liked the amalgamation of tastes and textures – fresh, grilled, sweet, sour, hot. And all for $6.95.

Other menu items are listed on Mekong’s website – www.Mekong-Restaurant.com. Check it out to find a dish you can rave about.

Farfalle with Roasted Shallots, Peppers, & Sausage

Farfalle with Roasted Shallots, Peppers, and Sausage

  • 6-7 shallots, peeled and cut in half length-wise (through the root)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in half and deseeded
  • ½ pound Italian-style sausage link (I used a Tuscan pork sausage with basil and sundried tomatoes from The Belmont Butchery)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6-8 ounces farfalle (bow tie pasta), cooked to your preferred doneness
  • Grated sharp Italian cheese (I used an aged Provolone)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an oven-proof dish pour in the olive oil. Add shallots and stir to coat. Place peppers in same dish, skin side up. Put in oven and roast for about 45 minutes, turning/stirring every 15 minutes. The shallots should be very soft and the skin of the peppers should be easy to remove. While the vegetables are roasting, place the sausage in another oven-proof dish and roast for about 30 minutes. The sausage should be firm (not squishy) when done. In the meantime cook your pasta in salted boiling water and drain. When the sausage and veggies are done, peel the skin off of the peppers, cut everything up into bite size pieces, and put into a bowl big enough to also hold the pasta. Add the cooked pasta and sprinkle the grated cheese. Mix together and serve.

What a yummy dish! I had roasted vegetables before, but had never cooked sausage in the oven. I can thank Tanya at The Belmont Butchery for this suggestion. The Tuscan sausage came in a braid. While I wanted to try it, I wasn’t sure that I could pan-fry it and ensure that the meat was done. And I did not want to boil the sausage. She suggested that I roast it. Oh, what a delicious idea.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Chicken Breasts with Garlic Tarragon Sauce

Chicken Breasts with Garlic Tarragon Sauce


2 bone-in chicken breasts, skinned

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons dried tarragon

1 ½ cups dry white wine

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Salt

Pepper

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of chicken breast. When oil is hot, sear chicken for about 5 minutes a side. Pour in white wine and scrape up any browned bits. Add garlic and tarragon. Reduce heat to medium. Let chicken simmer in wine until wine has reduced to about ½ cup, turning chicken over occasionally. Remove chicken from pan. Reduce heat to low. Add butter to wine and herb mixture and stir to incorporate. Ladle sauce over chicken breasts and serve.


For the wine I used a 2006 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand. This turned out to be a pivotal choice. The wine itself had a slight grapefruit taste with some pineapple/tropical undertones. When used with this dish as an ingredient, it imparted a lemony/citrus component. My husband swore that I had used lemon juice as an ingredient. When drinking the wine with the dish (which was a fantastic pairing, by the way), the grapefruit/citrus aspects of the wine dominated. I do enjoy a wine with hidden talents. And The Fresh Market carries it for $9.99.