Saturday, December 22, 2012

Beginning of the World Mayan Dinner


Click here for an HD version.

I missed it.  The end of the world came and went.  I didn't even notice.  When I woke up on December 21st, I looked out the window at the rising sun and realized I would have to go to work after all.  My disappointment deepened at the thought of missing the opportunity to throw an end of the world dinner party, even if the world didn't end.

So if the 20th of December was the last day of our existence, it only stands to reason that the 21st is a new beginning.  I used this logic to invite friends over for a Beginning of the World Mayan Dinner Party.  The menu included guacamole, fresh Ix'ni Pec salsa, Mayan shrimp ceviche, and Tikin Xic grilled fish.  You can find all the recipes at Yucatan Adventure Eco-Cultural Travel Guide.  I made a few substitutions out of convenience, but stayed true for the most part.  We enjoyed every bit of it.

All of the components of this meal are light, and feature healthy acidity.  There is also a bit of piquance from the habanero peppers and achiote marinade.  I decided on a 2009 Ledson Winery and Vineyards Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  The body was perfectly matched, the acidity well balanced with the food, and flavors of pear, pineapple and citrus a wonderful complement to our meal.

I decided to take an alternative approach to the typical photography I post.  Christmas came a few days early, so I decided to shoot the entire event with my new GoPro.  It was fun.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Pastured Chicken Paired with 2011 Barboursville Vineyards Virginia Sauvignon Blanc

This is a hurricane Sandy special edition of Craig's Grape Adventure.  When a hurricane is bearing down on you, what do you do?  Me?  I open a bottle of wine and head to the kitchen!

This meal was inspired by a recent visit to P.A. Bowen Farmstead which is an "old-fashioned pasture-based, mixed species, soy-free farm that uses modern technologies and biodynamic techniques."  Spectacularly rich cheese made from raw milk is the crown jewel produced by the farm.  My eyes get all dreamy when thinking of this wonderful cheese.  But cheese is not the only product sold at their farm store.  Pastured chicken, processed on the farm weekly, is a prominent offering.  Last Friday, I visited the farm to photograph and video chicken processing.

After four hours of shooting, I purchased a freshly plucked chicken for this meal.  I settled on roasting the chicken with rosemary and garlic.  This is a simple preparation that allows the flavor of the chicken to shine through.  In the case of a pastured chicken, this is important.  Unlike the relatively flavorless industrial chickens from a big box grocer, pastured chicken from the P.A. Bowen Farmstead is abundant with flavor.  However, the flavor is difficult to describe.  As I contemplated the flavor and tried to find words, I finally settled on an analogy.  This pastured chicken represents the terroir of the pasture it comes from, much as exceptional wines express the region and soil where the grapes are grown.  The flavors of clover, and multiple grass species speak through the chicken.

The 2011 Barboursville Vineyards Virginia Sauvignon Blanc is a treasure.  Although Virginia is not known for Sauvignon Blanc, the folks at Barboursville have broken the code.  The nose is light and floral with herbal hints.  The subdued and refreshing aromas are reinforced by a similarly subtle flavor - much less "in your face" than California interpretations or those of New Zealand.  Dried apricot is the most pronounced with supporting flavors of stone fruits and a hint of pear.  The acidity is well balanced with the flavors - it does not distract and is consistent with the subtle nature of this wine.  The finish is surprisingly long and elegant with a pleasing hint of honeysuckle.  I am impressed with wines that do not scream for my attention but rather invite me to explore - a much appreciated restrained approach.  Barboursville has hit all the right notes in this somewhat softened version of Sauvignon Blanc.  Well done!

The restrained approach to roasting the chicken with rosemary and garlic mated perfectly with the similarly restrained Sauvignon Blanc from Barboursville Vineyards.  Neither demanded undue attention, but rather invited enjoyment of the well balanced combination.



  • 1 chicken
  • 10 red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary finely ground with a mortar and pestle
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 head cleaned garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry.  Allow to rest and continue to air dry for 15 minutes.
  2. Leave butter at room temperature to soften.
  3. Combine ground rosemary and minced garlic with the butter to form a paste.
  4. Season the inside of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, then stuff with the head of garlic and rosemary sprigs.
  5. Coat the chicken with the butter-rosemary-garlic paste reserving approximately 1/3 of the paste for the potatoes.
  6. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan (with grate).
  7. Put chicken in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
  8. Melt the remaining butter paste in the microwave and pour over the potatoes in a large bowl.  Season the potatoes with salt and pepper then toss to coat evenly.
  9. After 30 minutes in the oven, add the potatoes around the chicken and continue in the oven for another 60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 170-180 degrees.
  10. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.