Wines of the Week: Spring is the Perfect Time for Chablis!

The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping and sunny days are steadily replacing the gloom of winter. Spring is upon us and one of my favorite wines to enjoy this time of year is Chablis. These wines should not be confused with the low quality, jug wine made infamous in the 1970’s. In fact, quite the contrary, authentic Chablis... Read More

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Wines of the Week: Spring is the Perfect Time for Chablis!

Chablis, Burgundy, Wine Atelier, The Glamorous Gourmet, Stephanie Miskew, Jean-Francois Bordet

Jean-François Bordet & Moi

The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping and sunny days are steadily replacing the gloom of winter. Spring is upon us and one of my favorite wines to enjoy this time of year is Chablis. These wines should not be confused with the low quality, jug wine made infamous in the 1970’s. In fact, quite the contrary, authentic Chablis is all about freshness, elegance and purity.

Chablis is the northernmost wine district of Burgundy, one of France’s most acclaimed wine regions. This is undeniably white wine country and Chablis’ signature grape is Chardonnay. Unlike Chardonnay produced in warmer climates such as California, Burgundy’s cool climate produces wines which are light and lemony, and known more for their lively acidity and minerality than opulent fruit and spice. These wines are perfect for sipping on a bright, sunny Spring day or paired with a wide variety of cuisines.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a Chablis tasting in Miami at La Mar by Gastón Acurio located in the tony Mandarin Oriental Hotel. This chic Peruvian eatery strategically overlooks both the beautiful Biscayne Bay and dramatic Miami skyline. Since it was a beautiful sunny South Florida day, we enjoyed our tasting al fresco, guided by our charming host, Jean François Bordet, President of the Chablis Wine Board and proprietor of Domaine Séguinot-Bordet, his family’s winery founded in 1590.

Chablis, Burgundy, Kimmeridgian limestone

Burgundy’s hallmark Kimmeridgian limestone

Our tasting involved a selection of wines from three of Chablis’ four appellations which are: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. When sampling Burgundian wine, the concept of terroir is always at the forefront (for more information on “terroir” please click here). Terroir essentially refers to the intersection of soil, grape variety, climate and winemaker influence and how these factors come together to create wine that is unique to a specific place which cannot be produced anywhere else in the world. Key to this theory are Climats, or designated plots of land with specific geological and climatic conditions, which impart their own unique impression on wine.

Domaine Seguinot Bordet, Chablis, wine, France, Burgundy

The soils of Chablis are legendary for their limestone content and were formed long ago in the Kimmeridgian period (Upper Jurassic era). This unique soil contains millions of fossils of oysters and other marine creatures and is primarily found in the Chablis and Chablis Premier Cru appellations. Petit Chablis is situated on soils formed more recently, which contain limestone from the Portlandian period. The Chablis Grand Cru vines grow on steep slopes rife with Kimmeridgian limestone as well as an extremely rich subsoil.

La Mar, Mandarin Oriental, Miami, Ceviche, Chef Gaston Acurio

Chef Acurio’s Cebiche Nikei

Our tasting featured a selection of wines which beautifully represented their respective appellations. Chef Acurio prepared an assortment of delicious dishes to pair with each group of wines which were served in three consecutive flights.

Our first flight featured one wine, the 2013 Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Chablis Vieilles Vignes. Vieilles Vignes means “old vines” which, in this case, are 78 years old and located on the family’s 40 acre estate in Maligny. The wine was fermented in oak barrels (15% new) and stainless steel (85%) resulting in a fresh, lively wine that was classic Chablis! It paired beautifully with Chef’s dishes which included Cebiche Nikei with tuna, red onion, nori, avocado, daikon cucumber, and tamarind leche de tigre; Causa Congrejo featuring beet causa, crab, avocado, huancaina sauce, fried kale, cherry tomatoes and quail egg; and a perennial favorite, Empanadas with pork adobo and pepian de choclo, chalaca, and huacatay sauce. Chef Acurio’s dishes were as much a feast for the eyes as the palate and the wine definitely held it’s own amidst the onslaught of deliciousness. It’s hallmark acidity tempered the richness and variety of textures while also allowing the flavors of the food to shine through.

Chablis, Burgundy, wine, Miami

The second course featured three Chablis offerings from the Premier Cru appellation which is comprised of 40 individual Climats, 17 of which are most prominent. These wines generally exhibit more complexity and structure than basic Chablis and have good aging potential as well, approximately 5 to 10 years. The words “Premier Cru” and the name of the Climat of origin may be added to the name Chablis on the wine’s label.

Quinoa Caprese, La Mar, Chef Gaston Acurio, Miami, Mandarin Oriental

Quinoa Caprese

The three wines in our second flight included the 2011 Maison Simonnet Febvre Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons; 2011 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre; and the 2009 Domaine Oudin Chablis 1er Cru Vaugiraut. This collection of wines provided an insightful snapshot of the Premier Cru appellation. The Simmonet Febvre Vaillons had notes of white peach and citrus with a clean, racy acidity and lengthy finish; the Billaud-Simon Montée de Tonnerre was a study in elegance with floral and mineral aromas accompanied by vibrant citrus, limestone and gunflint; the Domaine Oudin Vaugiraut was slightly older than the two other wines and had a slight oxidative quality in addition to notes of gunflint, minerality and citrus. Chef Acurio’s Quinoa Caprese was beautifully colorful with heirloom tomatoes, basil, red quinoa, burrata cheese with an aji amarillo vinaigrette which paired best with the Domain Oudin Vaugiraut. The Seared Scallop Conchitas with lomo saltado sauce, garlic chips and crispy sweet potato strings paired brilliantly with the other two wines.

Seared Scallop, La Mar, Chef Gaston Acurio, Miami, Mandarin Oriental

Seared Scallop Conchita with Lomo Saltado Sauce, & Garlic Chips

The third course featured two wines from Chablis’ Grand Cru appellation which consists of seven Climats: Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur and Vaudésir. These wines represent the jewel in the crown of the Chablis region. They also have the most aging potential (usually around 7-10 years), a more generous mouthfeel, lengthier finish and more complexity which is usually manifested in notes of spice, honey, almond and dried fruit.

Amazon Fish, La Mar, Chef Gaston Acurio, Miami, Mandarin Oriental

Amazon Fish with Tamarind Chorillana Sauce, Yucca & Smoked Bacon

Drouhin Vaudon Vaudésir, Chablis, wine, France, Burgundy

Our third flight consisted of two Grand Cru wines, the 2010 Maison Drouhin Vaudon Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir and the 2009 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot. The Drouhin Vaudon Vaudésir, served en magnum, is a product of thirty year old vines whose grapes were manually harvested and gently pressed to preserve the quality of the fruit. The wine was fermented entirely in oak (0% new) for 12 months and the resulting wine offered a complex array peach, honey, spice and almond with a lengthy, mineral-tinged finish. This nuanced wine had a rich texture yet was also was bright and lively with plenty of finesse – a beautiful effort! The Domaine Laroche Blanchot, a product of 45 year old vines, was also manually harvested and fermented partially in stainless steel (60%) while the remainder went into French oak barrels (15% new) for 14 months. The resulting wine was also lovely and layered with notes of peach, apple, limestone and honey which continued to evolve in the glass over our third course. To enjoy with our Grand Cru Chablis, Chef Acurio prepared a mouth watering Amazon fish with tamarind chorillana sauce, yucca and smoked bacon – a truly divine pairing!

Chablis, wine, BurgundyI hope you feel inspired to explore the wines of this very special region this Spring! For more information on the Chablis region, please click here. For pricing information or to purchase any of the wines mentioned in this post, please click here to go to the Wine Atelier.




Which Wines to Pair With: Florida Stone Crabs!

This time of year in South Florida we are obsessed with Stone Crabs, a delicacy only available from October 15th through May 15th. While these crustaceans can be found in waters as far north as Connecticut, the best are widely believed to come from Florida. The world famous Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami’s South Beach is the authority on these... Read More

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Which Wines to Pair With: Florida Stone Crabs!


This time of year in South Florida we are obsessed with Stone Crabs, a delicacy only available from October 15th through May 15th. While these crustaceans can be found in waters as far north as Connecticut, the best are widely believed to come from Florida. The world famous Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami’s South Beach is the authority on these crustaceans, also known as Menippe Mercenaria (Menippe = Greek, meaning force or courage and Mercenaria = Latin meaning something of value).

Unlike most other crabs including Maine’s Peekytoe, Chesapeake Blue, or the Pacific Dungeoness, only the claws of the stone crab are harvested and the crabs are not killed during the process. These crabs are captured in baited traps and only one claw per crab can be taken so it can still defend itself against predators. The claws make up about half the weight of the entire crab and once harvested, the pricey appendages are classified and priced according to weight – Colossal size claws can weigh up to 25 ounces or more! Once harvested, the crab is returned to the water where the claw will regenerate in approximately 12-24 months.

stone crab, nirvana, mustard sauce

The stone crab gets its name from their extremely hard shells and the claws must be cracked prior to eating – an art form in and of itself! Stone crabs have a delicious, sweet flavor and their texture is somewhere between the delicacy of crab and the decadence of lobster. They are traditionally served with a mustard sauce which complements the delicious meat although many prefer to eat them plain with nothing at all. Many establishments are know for their mustard sauce and there’s some debate as to which type of sauce is the best. Some folks lean towards a spicy mustard sauce (like us!) while others tend towards sweet with the addition of some honey. Which type of mustard sauce do you prefer if any at all?

Wine pairing suggestions: In order to complement the texture and flavor of the crab as well as the tanginess of the mustard sauce, opt for wines with notes of citrus and stone fruit with a racy, cleansing acidity. Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, and unoaked Chardonnay are wonderful choices to pair with Florida Stone Crabs. Here are our recommendations available at The Wine Atelier:

1.) Champagne Ayala Brut Majeur, Champagne, France, NV ($44)a light, fresh style of Champagne which will complement the texture of the crab meat beautifully!

2.) Round Pond Estate Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford, California ($20) notes of juicy citrus and white flowers characterize this California beauty!

3.) Banfi La Pettegola Vermentino, IGT Toscana, Italy, 2013 ($20)light and bright with notes of green apple, apricot & grapefruit with a racy acidity!

4.) Drouhin Vaudon Chablis, Burgundy, France, 2012 ($25) Notes of apple, citrus, and white peach characterize this mouth watering Chardonnay!




“Let the Good Times Roll” this Mardi Gras with Florida Jambalaya!

For all my Florida folks who won’t be making it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras today, this recipe for Florida Jambalaya will allow you to laissez les bons temps rouler without ever leaving our fabulous state!

I discovered this recipe in Bon Appétit magazine about twenty years ago when I was just learning my way around the kitchen. After making this dish for the first time I  thought, “Wow, I actually made that!” and I was officially hooked on cooking. This recipe has been one of my signature dishes ever since and over the years I’ve had the chance to make it for friends from Denver, Colorado to New York City and it has always, I repeat, always garnered rave reviews.

The word jambalaya has French origins, stemming from the word “jambalaia” which, according to Merriam-Webster, originated in Southern France as part of the Occitan language. This recipe for Florida Jambalaya differs substantially from the two traditional styles of Jambalaya, Creole and Cajun. Creole jambalaya hails from the French Quarter of New Orleans and originated as an attempt to make Spanish paella in the New World. Saffron, an intrinsic component of paella, was not readily available so tomatoes were substituted instead. Creole jambalaya also involves the essential component of Louisiana cooking called the “trinity”, a mixture of celery, onion and green pepper. This incarnation also calls for a combination of meats including chicken and/or andouille sausage as well as seafood. Cajun jambalaya, on the other hand, originated in the rural, low lying swamp country of Louisiana where crayfish, oysters and turtles were plentiful. It is smokier and spicier than Creole and does not call for tomatoes. The meat in the dish was usually browned to give the dish its color which is why it is often referred to as “Brown Jambalaya.”

Florida jambalaya is just that, Florida’s take on this Louisiana classic. It is, at best, loosely based on the traditional preparation in that it calls for sausage, seafood and rice. Instead of andouille sausage, this recipe calls for kielbasa and for the shrimp, Key West pinks make a delicious choice. The recipe itself is pretty straightforward and only takes about an hour to make which includes cooking time. As for a dry, white wine to use in the recipe, I like something with a French twist such as the Michel Redde Sancerre “Les Tuilieres” from the Loire or the Maison Joseph Drouhin Vaudon Chablis from Burgundy. In addition to imparting delicious flavor, both wine make excellent choices to enjoy paired with the finished product.

In addition to making a delicious accompaniment to your Mardi Gras festivities, Florida Jambalaya is also a delicious meal at any time of the year. I hope you enjoy it tonight as you and your guests laissez les bons temps rouler!




Florida Jambalaya
Serves 4

3 Tablespoons salted butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 lb. Polska Kielbasa or other smoked sausage cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 cup long grain white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
2 1/4 cups canned chicken broth
1 4 ounce jar of sliced pimientos with juices
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Melt butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until just soft, 3-5 minutes (be careful not to let the garlic burn). Add the kielbasa and cook until it begins to brown, approximately 5 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat. Mix in potatoes, broth, wine , pimientos and turmeric. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Bring to a boil and stir well. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover and cook until the rice and potatoes are tender and liquid is absorbed, approximately 25 minutes.
Mix in shrimp and cilantro. Cover and cook until shrimp are cooked, 5 minutes. Serve on a large platter and garnish with more chopped fresh cilantro.

A Burgundy-Inspired New Year’s Eve Dinner!

Lately, folks have been asking me what I’ll be making for dinner this New Year’s Eve, and what could be better than a meal inspired by a recent trip to France’s Burgundy wine region?

Last September we had the pleasure of spending a truly delightful day in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, with Marjorie Taylor and her daughter Kendall Smith Franchini, Founders of The Cook’s Atelier. Originally from the US, Marjorie and Kendall followed their bliss to France and started their new venture five years ago. Kendall had been living in France for ten years, going to school and then working for Christie’s Auction House and wine importer Kermit Lynch. Marjorie was co-chef proprietor of the award-winning restaurant and cooking school, Ruby Beet Gourmet, in Phoenix, Arizona prior to making the move overseas. She had also studied at La Varenne cooking school under noted teacher and cookbook author, Anne Willan. Together, this mother daughter team decided they wanted to be on the same side of the pond and now offer market tours and hands-on cooking classes to students lucky enough to score a spot in one of their highly coveted classes. And for good reason, the “Market Tour & Lunch” class we experienced was hands down one of the highlights of our entire trip.

Many people had recommended we see the Beaune market during our visit and we considered ourselves very fortunate to have Marjorie as our guide – there was so much to see! As we made our way through the vast marketplace, Marjorie introduced us to her favorite purveyors of produce, meats and cheeses. Everything from Bresse chickens to Truffe de Bourgogne beckoned – it was truly a feast for the senses. After we had procured the ingredients for our lunch, we took the short walk through the charming town of Beaune to the “atelier” (French for studio or workshop), a small but very elegant and inviting space. A beautiful zinc-topped farm table was the room’s focal point as well as a large chalkboard featuring the day’s menu. Two generously sized windows allowed sunlight to stream in, giving the space an ethereal feel and making for ideal food photography (coincidence?). To the right was the kitchen, already appointed with work stations where we would all help prepare the day’s meal. Everyone got to participate and Marjorie was a very relaxed and patient instructor not to mention the lady can cook!

Once finished, we were treated to chilled flutes of Crémant de Bourgogne, Burgundy’s sparkling wine, paired with Marjorie’s delicious Gougeres which, up until that day, had always seemed too daunting to make. They were warm and divine right out of the oven and took the edge off of our hunger which we were just starting to notice. Soon after we sat down to a beautiful meal of Escargot with Parsley Butter followed by Monsieur Vossot’s Filet of Beef with Late Summer Vegetables and Roasted Potatoes with Thyme. By the time our dessert of Summer Butter Cake with Soft Cream arrived at the table we had become fast friends with our fellow students, also visitors from other countries around the world.

With our meal we enjoyed local wines made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (Burgundy’s specialty!) and since we also visited Maison Louis Jadot and Maison Joseph Drouhin during our trip I’d like to suggest a few of their wines to pair with this delicious meal. Burgundy is generally a pricy proposition, however, if you’re looking for two great values, try the 2011 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis ($25) a citrusy, flinty Chardonnay with a racy acidity which will pair nicely with the rich escargot. For a red, try the 2010 Louis Jadot Chateau de Jacques Morgon ($32) with notes of black cherry and currant with a lovely minerality and supple tannins. If you’re looking to kick it up a notch for New Year’s Eve, try the 2010 Louis Jadot Meursault ($54), a rich, mineral-tinged white made from 100% Chardonnay, which would make a lovely pairing for the escargot. The 2009 Joseph Drouhin Clos de Mouches ($95), a delicious, cherry and spice-laced red with silky tannins made from 100% Pinot Noir, would complement the filet of beef beautifully. By the time we had finished our “lunch” it was around 5pm, and we were in no rush to leave the “atelier” with its deliciously inviting atmosphere. Reluctantly, we eventually said our goodbyes and made our way back to our hotel. All in all it was a pretty fabulous and memorable day!

I really look forward to recreating this meal for New Year’s Eve and I hope you enjoy it as well. All of the wine recommendations are available through The Wine Atelier and to access the recipes, just click the recipe names in the above paragraphs which will take you directly to The Cook’s Atelier website. If you plan on traveling to France in 2014, I highly recommend a visit to The Cook’s Atelier. If you’re a foodie I think you would thoroughly enjoy it. Wishing you a very Healthy and Happy New Year!