Poached Pears – Moshin Potion Style

I love desserts that are fruit based. Grilled peaches with lemon soft cheese in the center & drizzled with aged honey balsamic in the summer. For fall I generally head for pears with a little more citrus in the winter. I was inspired by my cocktail creation last month & all things pear as of late so I carved out the early part of Superbowl Sunday to make poached pears. I have made this dessert many times & finally typed up the recipe a few years back. I’ve even served it to the winemaker that makes the wine I use & promised to get them the information a bazillion times, well maybe not that much. So, why share now? I finally took the time to make it so I could take pictures because we all know that one dines with their eyes first. Not aiming for stellar photos, more like any photos here is one of my favorite cool weather desserts.

Vanilla & Cinnamon Poached Pears

  • 2 cups white wine (I like late harvest sauterne style, like a Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus extra to prevent pears browning
  • 4 pears, peeled and cored (I prefer the natural vanilla hints in the Bosc pears)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 1 – 8oz container of mascarpone

In a saucepan, combine wine, water, vanilla bean, cinnamon and lemon juice. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add pears to poaching liquid and poach for 8 minutes.

Remove pears from poaching liquid and continue to reduce sauce until a light syrup consistency.  Use 3 Tbs (or until your desired sweetness) of poaching liquid to gentle whip into mascarpone until smooth & place in refrigerator until slightly firm.

Continue to reduce poaching liquid down until caramel consistency.  I like the look of the drizzled caramel, but another variation would be to plate pears and pour reduced poaching liquid around each one. I understand the low & slow method of creating caramel can take a while at times.

I like to warm the pears briefly before plating then spoon the mascarpone into the center of the pear.  Drizzle the caramel over the top of the pear for desired look & taste. You will likely have caramel left over. I have added a little to the rim of a glass or kept handing to drizzle on other desserts. Maybe even sneak a small spoonful when no one is looking. I like to serve this dish with a small glass of the wine used to poach the pears in so make sure you have back up bottles so you & your guests can enjoy.

Word about the wine, I use Moshin Vineyards Moshin Potion that I have to pry out of my husband’s death grip because it’s his favorite. He watches over me like a hawk as every drip leaves the bottle. You can purchase it HERE under dessert wines.

That being said, if you are unable to get this elixir a sauterne dessert style wine or a late harvest sauvignon blanc/Semillon combo is my preference. Feel free to play with whatever late harvest wine you choose. I also use bosc pears in this recipe because they have a vanilla hint of a note in flavor naturally, but play around with other pears until you find your bliss. I like to say this wine is an expression of the chosen wine through & through. From poached pear, to flavored mascarpone to the caramel finale. However, you chose to create this sweet end to a meal remember one thing, enjoy!

Cheers to all of that goodness!

 

 

 

Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 3 Continued – Going Underground, Mob Style

Last year, when I first decided that I could not let anything get in the way of us going to Vegas Uncork’d we decided to pad the event by a day ahead and a few days later. I had not been to Las Vegas for a few years, choosing to enjoy more international travels, but I could feel the beckoning of this vivacious city calling me back. One of the items we put on our to do list outside of shows and dining was a visit to the Mob Museum. The location is closer to old town, offered a military discount that I could take use of and within the walls contains the fascinating story of the mob, how it began, how it worked, ways they made money in less than legal fashion, historical details and exhibits of items that were around that time. After a few hours watching videos, reading walls, viewing exhibits and learning all my brain could take in before squirrel thoughts need to be chased, we decided to check out the gift shop. As we perused phrases on various magnets or shirts in the gift shop to stock up on, including some books and fun swag, we noticed a sign to a bar called the Underground located down a stairwell. We were told that we could take the elevator down to check it out as part of our tour.

Now I’m not one to turn down too many invites to fun bars, so downstairs we went. The Underground is styled as a Prohibition era speakeasy. With rich red velvet looking walls, a wood bar showing exhibits of items one may run across in that era including a Tommy gun and the fantastic feeling of being tucked away into a secret hidden time, I was sold. To one side you can see the distillery, complete with a working copper still that produces their vodka and moonshine, which we purchased before leaving. You can find stories of bootleggers and those lawmakers that doggedly focused on shutting down operations. After viewing the full scene, we decided it was time to belly up to the bar to enjoy the craft cocktails from the Prohibition era of time and what kind of silly girl would I be if I didn’t try the cocktail called Giggle Water. My husband’s drink was delivered in a hollowed-out book (a Bible with naughty libation twists) and as we spoke with the bartender, we learned that the Vegas Uncork’d event had taken over the bar a few nights ago as they were part of the scheduled fun. Being only a few months old at the time, I could just imagine what an enjoyable welcome that was. In that moment, I told my husband that if the Underground was in the event schedule for 2019, we were going. Another reason to pass up on a dinner option. I started following them on Instagram where they announce the password to get in should you decide to walk down the outside stair entry for an entertaining evening of jazz music, cocktails and shenanigans.

As part of the Bon Appetite co-hosted event, Vegas Uncork’d, I was excited to see what they would have in store for us this year. So, we waited to be allowed down the outside staircase to knock on the door, have the sliding peep hole opened and offer our password for the event. With wrist bands attached we walked in and enjoyed the sounds of jazz, occasionally with a modern twist as the musicians seemed to play the game of, are people really paying attention. There was a table filled with vegetables, charcuterie, cheeses and scrumptious items and then to deliver a little over the top love, delicious passed bites that moved around the room in well-oiled time as to not leave a person in need of food as the drinks generously continued to flow. They had a smaller drink menu for the event than the normal options, but a good highlight from what we had experienced the prior year. They also poured a tasting of the moonshine and flavored moonshines in the distillery area for people to try, but one should take note of why this stuff was called fire water and not over imbibe.

They appear to primarily keep their cocktail menu lively with drinks you could have made during the 1920s. Some of the cocktails enjoyed were similar to things I had loved previously with the right twists and some I had yet to discover. Giggle Water is a delicious blend of seasonal fruit infused vodka, lillet, bitters and sparkling wine which seems a twist off a French 75. Another cocktail that I visited is the Corpse Reviver #2 which was a blend of gin, curacao, lillet, lemon and absinthe, I could not help myself from following with another Giggle Water afterwards. My husband seemed to follow suit with one of the cocktails I can’t get enough of over the past year with the Underground Old Fashioned. The version that they make contains bourbon, vanilla bean, brown sugar and bitters. I snuck a sip or two and enjoyed the brown sugar add, nodding to the well-played cocktail crafters. Rock n Rye was my husband’s next cocktail and was served inside a book for that perfect touch of old school ambiance with rye whiskey, cherries, citrus, spices and rock candy making it the new school meets old school flavor of choice.

Naturally how could this be a proper part of the event without food so I will explain in photo the varied taste options that were provided. The primary, I can’t have enough of this item, was the salmon canapes, especially with the Giggle Water. Of course, I could not feel well about myself as a cheese lover if I let the mini brie en croute pass by me with raspberry and not partake of a few. A person must balance fabulous food in an effort to play well within one’s body full of cocktails. A fun bite was the Not Just Shrimp Cocktail with a shot of bloody Mary cocktail sauce that you squeezed in gently prior to eating. Gently so that you didn’t hose yourself with red sauce, after all, let’s not be too messy and spill everywhere creating a mob hit scene. Actually, thinking of it that way, I may have laughed if I “shot” myself with cocktail sauce. Another dish that seemed a great hit with attendees was the mini lamb chop with rum glaze, but by the time they passed around me, I was quite satiated.

 

After our first visit, but even more after our second, I tell everyone that is heading towards a Vegas get away that they should check out this lively tucked away bar and enjoy stepping back in time. It has become a must stop location whenever we have the chance to land in Las Vegas. Cheers to your next fabulous Vegas get away. Don’t forget that if you want to sneak off for Mother’s Day weekend, should they stay on that schedule, please check out Vegas Uncork’d and enjoy eating your way through town!

Bottoms up and I am planning to see you next year Vegas Uncork’d, you deliciously fabulous event!

Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 3 – Getting Baked for Brunch with Christina Tosi

Let them eat cake, but first let us enjoy a few glasses of champagne, Veuve Clicquot to be exact. After the relaxed and laughter filled time at last year’s brunch with Giada de Laurentiis, at her namesake restaurant in the Cromwell, which you can read more about HERE , the need to attend at least one brunch was a must. When I viewed that the 2019 schedule had an interactive brunch with Christina Tosi, I figured I would score some points with the husband by bringing the sweets! He is a sweet tooth kinda guy while I lean towards the savory side of life. So, whilst he could attack a box of chocolates, which I am no longer allowed to purchase such gifts for him, I rather pounce on the bag of chips…should we actually buy some. Any who, after watching how kind Christina Tosi was with the youth on Master Chef Junior, I decided this would be fun experience. For those that know me, I wasn’t going to pass on the idea of a champagne brunch either. Bubbles for everyone, I say.

We joined with friends we made from last year after checking out the Milk Bar location in The Cosmopolitan. Due to space needs, the Rose Rabbit Lie Restaurant was the host location for the truffle making event. I will need to check out the restaurant on a later date for sure. The event kicked off with a welcome class of Veuve Clicquot Brut then opened to a festive brunch array and spritz station. Move over mimosa, I prefer this champagne to sing solo in my glass, well, until I moved to cocktail lane later. We listened to a quick history of the Champagne House and traded notes with wine maker, Gaelle Goossens, on how we prefer our bubbles in a large Burgundy glass for optimal aromatics. I love to bury my nose is a big ole glass bowl, taking in the wine aromas almost more than drinking it at times.

The brunch space was lively and the food included some of the usual breakfast fare with stepped up ingredients plated in photo ready fashion.  Some of the dishes included chorizo hash and eggs; various charcuterie platers; smashed avocado toast with heirloom tomatoes, pea tendrils and California olive oil; bagels and lox with chive cream cheese and smoked salmon as well as other assortments of fruit, french toast and such. It was enjoyable to dine, mix and mingle fashion, before the doors opened and guests divided into teams to make cake truffles. I decided to join the lemon and strawberry table so that I could optimize some of my favorite champagne pairing flavors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christina Tosi provided a demonstration on how to make the cake truffles in a playful assembly line fashion, then Christina with her team, bounced around the room to assist and mingle. She was such a pleasure to engage in conversation with and she had such a fun open personality which truly made everything seem effortlessly enjoyable. Christina has this Tigger vibe that reminded everyone how creating in the kitchen is about playing and learning that mistakes can taste so good! I had a blast getting my hands (gloved hands here) dirty and rocking in our little team. After our creations all guests had the opportunity to travel around the room filling their truffle boxes with the other teams’ goods in any other flavors they desired.

The event concluded with milkshakes from the Milk Bar and a swag bag. Included was the Milk Bar All About Cake, cook book by Christina Tosi which had the cake truffle recipes we just worked on in its contents. Throughout the event Christina, graciously shared stories, signed cookbooks and aprons. We also received some cookies from the Milk Bar because, in Las Vegas you never know when you will need a quick snack. I know my husband was down for some cookie swag.

Since we had nothing else on the schedule until the evening, we lingered for a smidge longer than usual and shared our gratitude and said our good byes to our friends then decided to walk off brunch. We needed to get our goodies in our rooms refrigerator so after walking around a bit, back and forth to our hotel, people watching and last minute shopping we decided it was time to check out Eataly for an early dinner or snack really. We enjoyed watching a mozzarella making demonstration and fresh pasta being made in a few of the vendors around us. I felt that comfortable at home feeling with all the food and libations in our midst.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year our events seemed to focus more on dinners, while this year I decided on a bars and brunches theme, unintentionally, of course. No matter how you choose to mix and match the various events, I know I already have an idea how I may split it up next year, but when the schedule launches it can all change again. I must confess that eating around Las Vegas has really improved since I originally visited so many moons ago, but even in the last ten years it seems to be growing more fabulous bite by bite.

Cheers for now!

Next up: Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 3 continued – Going Underground, Mob Style

Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 2 – Sushi Perfection with Chef Nobu

Oh dang, if my dad was still alive to see me now, he just may have passed out. As a youth, I was what some refer to as a finicky eater and literally ate maybe five different staples without question, well three really. If I watched someone cook and there seemed a questionable item, there was no way I would attempt to acquaint my taste buds with such flavors or textures. My father would attempt to get me to try sushi or many other dining options at the various restaurants he took me too, but I would realize the menu type, then think of my minimal list. In this case, I would have attempted to find teriyaki anything and raw preparations outside of salads would be a hard no. Somewhere in the last fifteen years my sense of adventure took over my palate and there has been no looking back.

My entry into the delicate and divine world of sushi was at Hana Japanese Restaurant, a local gem in Rohnert Park, California. It was here I would initially swoon for the texture and flavor of otoro, the highly desired fatty bluefin tuna belly. This would eventually lead me to one of the best dishes I have had the pleasure of enjoying, the toro tartare at Morimoto, Napa. This dish was served as part of the Omakase tasting menu that we indulged in for the new year a few months after the restaurants initial opening. We felt extra fancy as David Beckham and Gordon Ramsay sat behind us with their wives and children. I have been back to this restaurant a few times and always make sure that the toro tartar is part of my menu choices. I generally like to pair this dish with the Copain Wines rose when it is available on the wine menu because I can be comfortable that the wine plays well with other items on the Omakase menu, should I choose a tasting menu over individual dishes.

In the beginning of the year, for my husband and my collective birthday dinner, I chose PABU Izakaya in San Francisco, which is part of the Michael Mina empire of delicious restaurants. It is here I discovered the dish called the Happy Spoon. At this location, the oyster is presented with uni, ikura, tobiko and ponzu creme fraiche. I can say that the variety of textures and flavors on the varied iterations I have tasted at this and other restaurants is a joyful dance upon the palate. So, to the topic of this article, the only place left on my immediate bucket list for Japanese fare was Nobu. For the years of following Vegas Uncorked I would see offerings from lunch to dinners with a glimpse into the magic of Chef Nobu. For those that say they are hungry after small plate courses, I am unable to relate. I actually had to take small bites and share a few of these dishes with my husband as I was beyond satiated at the conclusion.

This year the Master Series lunch called Beyond the Blade with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa was decided as a not to be missed event when we finalized our Vegas Uncorked itinerary. Quite honestly, we decided the prior year we would attend any Nobu option, should it be offered. As we waited in line we ran into some lovely ladies we met last year at the brunch with Giada (read that prior post HERE) and enjoyed catching up. Upon entry to the restaurant we decided to sit together for the dance of precision we were about to witness. Greeted by a lychee martini our friend wished she could bathe in; we were salivating with anticipation. Our new Vegas Uncorked friends had experienced this event in prior years and the fact they returned was noted in my memory as I recalled dietary preferences from last year. Yes, I have that kind of memory. Names, not so much in my wheelhouse. Faces, more my skill set. I also have an uncanny memory of flavors too, but I have fallen off track.

As the chefs began their preparations in front of us, Chef Nobu discussed his view of sushi and how one should enjoy these dishes freshly and promptly. With intense focus and quick movements each individual plate was created then delivered to each person at the table. My only sadness was that the dishes arrived in a more rapid pace than I was able to notate. First dish, first sake and with that being said I will proceed with photos.

As lunch concluded, we were gifted a polite box of chocolate and the second we saw the packaging we knew it was from Le Belge, a chocolatier in Napa, California. We’re fans, what can I say. So grateful to have enjoyed this whirlwind feast we were suddenly happy that we decided to forgo the Grand Tasting event this evening in order to attend a Cirque Du Soleil show instead. This way we could walk off all those bites we consumed. We may have gone back to our suite to enjoy a little nap since I had slept lightly the prior evening and I laughed as this was a first for me. Napping is a foreign concept to me, but this one had me feeling refreshed in the evening and ready to enjoy a show. After the show we decided to peruse Mandalay Bay’s shark exhibit as I had always wanted to see it. Full of food, I must have appeared to be delicious to the piranha because they all eerily stared at me. Creepers!

As I entered the room with rays and jellyfish, I may have begun to sing the Sponge Bob theme song as I viewed the jellyfish. That induced a giggle from my husband, but we do enjoy a daily laugh even in the oddities. Later, as we entered the final shark tank my tune changed to one that my niece enjoys…any guesses. Yup, Baby Shark. I may have got a few giggles from others as this jingle passed my lips quietly.

All silliness played in my mind as we began our return to our room, we had a quick snack on our way, then off to rest up for the next day’s brunch. I found the days unplanned ending full of swimming fishes sickly humorous considering the beginning of the day dining on seafood. I do love a good shark steak! Sorry to my more squeamish readers.

Sake full cheers to under the sea!

 

Next up: Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 3 – Getting Baked for Brunch with Christina Tosi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 1 – Vanderpumped

We had such a great time last year during Vegas Uncorked, hosted by Bon Appetite, that we planned a do over as soon as we returned home. We knew the approximate dates are usually around Mother’s Day weekend, per a kind tip from a celebrity chef, so we blocked off the time on the calendar for 2019. We already have friends planning to join us for 2020 and at this point we have made a few friends along the way that we hope to see again. May is my second favorite month, as all the spring growth is beginning, vacation vibes hum, post tax season calls for my soul to rest and it’s my anniversary month. Being that my husband and I met Memorial Day weekend, we celebrated each anniversary of the day we met, it was only appropriate to keep the date from escaping my mind by getting married five years later. Since we met around dancing and fun, Las Vegas is a good fit sixteen years later.

This year’s event schedule released in February and I immediately scanned it for event options, narrowed by times and prior experience, then discussed with my best half in order to optimize the plans. Our hotel was booked for a while so that was not of any concern. My husband has little amusement in the Beverly Hills Housewives franchise, but was aware of how much I admired and respected the work Lisa Vanderpump is doing for dogs in need with The Vanderpump Dog Foundation. I enjoyed the Vanderpump Rose during the Wine Bloggers Conference the year it was in Santa Rosa and was ready for my wine-soaked food love to pair with philanthropy and beauty I could stand behind. I pounced on the event for Lisa Vanderpump’s Roses and Rose because I like pink wine and I cannot lie (especially the sparkly kind, but I digress).

Life seemed quite busy for the Vanderpump brand as Lisa was on Vanderpump Rules and the Beverly Hills Housewives as well as opening two restaurants, with the most recent being the Vanderpump Cocktail Garden in Caesars Palace. The space required the move of some slot machines and is located between the casino floor and the entry to the glamorous Forum Shops. I was so impressed with the beautiful garden appeal that had an English charm with mesmerizing industrial fixtures. A little secret about me is that I am a wee bit in love with lighting and various options, this place did not disappoint. As we were close to the front of the line, we enjoyed watching the finishing touches of event set up as well as the arrival of the guests of honor. Ken Todd arrived with Puffy in tow, while Pandora & husband Jason Sabo arrived seeming to dot I’s and cross T’s before Lisa Vanderpump appeared.

As people began to arrive it became difficult to truly capture the scene in photo, but that’s why marketers have professional photos online to view if you decide to visit. After a long drive that began in what I love to call, oh shit o’clock in the morning, we had stopped by Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips when we arrived in Las Vegas for a snack a few hours before this event and I was definitely a little thirsty for a glass of sparkling or still wine. Ladies greeted the guests with the option of Vanderpump rose, Ferrari rose sparkling or The Vanderpink Margarita (which I did have later in the evening). So, glass of rose in hand for me and into a small line for photos with Lisa we went. She asked if my hair had red pink hue for the occasion or always and we made small talk regarding dogs and congratulations on the restaurants opening success. The glory of being the first in is that while everyone looks for their seat of choice, I look for opportunity to take in the space and mingle.

As Vegas Uncorked is a food event, we enjoyed the dishes being passed around throughout the evening. From manchego stuffed bacon wrapped dates with citrus micro greens to the famous goat cheese balls with Belgian endive salad and poppy seed dressing heard about on Vanderpump Rules being served at SUR restaurant. There was plenty to take in with visually fun and palate enticing flavors. Most dishes where nice and light without the heft to make one sleepy after a travel day. One of my favorite bites was the goat cheese beet towers, though my husband says beets taste like dirt, I choose to say they have flavors of terroir. The best bite to pair with the rose for me was a coin toss between the ahi tuna tartare crispy plantain tacos with chili ginger citrus glaze, avocado and crispy capers or the spicy salmon tartare cones with caviar and micro chives. For flavor I vote ahi tacos with the crispy plantain crunch touched with citrus brightness yet, for more glamour I lean towards spicy salmon cone that had the beauty only fresh salmon can with the salinity caviar dances upon the tongue.

 

Note to self, do not write about delicious food when you have not had lunch. Drooling!

The hours flew as we mingled with other guest, finding out what brought them to the event, how they heard about it and details of their joie de vivre for Vegas. We were surprised to learn, as Lisa was addressing everybody, that Pandora’s birthday was the day before and she was presented with a lovely cake that brought delight upon seeing her pups’ photo was on it. I cannot say enough about how gracious, kind and charming the whole family was and I didn’t realize until I was talking to him later that Jason was the kind gentleman that asked if I would like to take a picture with Ken earlier. As the event concluded we lingered for a few more cocktails before being surprised by a late rain shower on our way back to the room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should you decide to check the place out I highly recommend the following cocktail, not previously mentioned, A Sidecar Named Desire with the divine texture of egg white (no mustache please), Remy Martin 1738 and Asian pear. If you desire something with a spiced note to keep you peppy, than the Checkmate Bitch was fun with the party on your palate flavors of grapefruit liqueur, jalapeno vodka and pink peppercorns tempered in hushed tones by fresh pineapple and vanilla. Whether you chose a cocktail and a small bite in the garden area or want to keep the libations flowing by the bar this is a great spot to enjoy, sip and savor. Take a peek for yourself HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers! Next up will be Vegas Uncork’d 2019 Day 2 – Sushi Perfection with Chef Nobu