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Great (Paper) Plates – BBQ & Jam

R.E.'s pulled pork BBQ sandwich adorned with Michigan Tart Cherry jam from Slow Jams! Delicious-///
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.


(The Bottle In Front Of Me is a series of somewhat regular, brief tasting notes from the Rogue Estate’s resident wine guy, Ian.) HOY HOY HOY! I promised over a month ago to complete the comparison between a worthwhile west-coast Syrah, and the Aussie inspiration that I believe most Californians are chasing, and may someday perfect. G'Day mate. The Barossa Valley lays claim to the home of classic Australian Shiraz, but I also believe the non-corporate wineries there are functioning as great laboratories for the grape, perfecting the tannin and fruit balance, and considering aging potential. I enjoyed this inexpensive blend only slightly more than the entry level 100% Shiraz from the same maker.

St. Hallett 2008 Shiraz-Cabernet, a refined bomb.

  2008 St. Hallett Shiraz-Cabernet (About $13) Learn more about the winery: (Flash-heavy site) Learn more about the bottle in front of me: The winery seems to have moved on from this blend and currently offers no info. Cellartracker has 6 reviews:           SEE: Deep, rich medium ruby throughout, with great clarity SWIRL: Thin even slow coating of the glass, with stubborn slow legs SMELL: Jammy black raspberry and overripe strawberry upfront, with a background of light tobacco and dry forest. SIP: Rich, bright sweet fruit resolving to a mild warm spiciness. A full body and a pleasing burst of acidity. SAVOR: A faint touch of chocolate covered cherry on a relatively short but pleasant finish Final impression: A brilliant wine for the price (QPR = Quality for Price Ratio). Characteristic of the Aussie "fruit bomb" but showing some real depth and complexity, even at the low end of St. Hallett's portfolio. Pair with: Simple, powerful, familiar favorites. Burgers, takeout lasagna, bratwurst.

TBIFOM #05: Que Syrah, Syrah…

(The Bottle In Front Of Me is a series of regular, brief tasting notes from the Rogue Estate’s resident wine guy, Ian.) Que Syrah, Syrah... Lost Canyon Syrah had such promise. I recall several years ago when Syrah came to the attention of Cab drinkers as both an exotic being heavily marketed by Australia (AKA Shiraz) and as a funky Californian upstart (Syrah). It's always been a capable blending grape, good for adding some ripe dark fruit and syrupy mouthfeel to its sometimes more austere vinifera cousins. On its own, it yields a relatively simple but potentially very deep crowd-pleaser. The battle continues, Cali VS Aussie, MegaCorp VS rebel producer, to this day. I have few preconceived notions about the grape, or the wine it gives up. In my experience it's good with meat, sweet, and smoke. BBQ AKA the barbie. But I was sad to hear that we lost Lost Canyon (in its original incarnation) as a contender. 2007 Lost Canyon Russian River Syrah (About $15) Learn more about the winery: Learn more about the bottle in front of me: SEE: Dark, deep brilliant red through and through SWIRL: A nice heavy coating of the glass, with quick, striking legs SMELL: Rich blackberry and black cherry fruit, leaves, leather, vanilla, plums, and even smoked bacon, heat from the alcohol. SIP: Tart and tannic, black fruits, and vanilla from fairly new oak SAVOR: Chewy/meaty but not as syrupy as more common new world versions Final impression: All The classic brambly fruit notes, a bit tight, rough and young. Yet it's as good as any Syrah I've had at the price and a nicer alternative to cheap Aussie Shiraz. Next week I plan to test a comparable Barossa Valley Shiraz to compare. Pair with: BBQ with sauce, or any meats with grilled onions.

What’s For Dinner – Smoked Pork Ribs

Dinner on sunday was two racks of the most amazing ribs I've smoked to date. Sweet, spicey, juicey, fantastic texture, tender but not mushy - I'll definitely be sad when I finish the left-overs from this meal. I shared with friends Sam, a fellow foodie and exceptionally skilled chef and Tommy, who is just plain picky and hard to feed. Both gentlemen plowed through, declaring much finger-licking goodness. A meal well done. This was a two day process and well worth the advanced prep. The dry rub can of course be made any time and stored in an airtight bowl. THE GOODS: The Rogue Estate Dry Rub #2 contains the following dry ingredients, which may be adjusted to suit your own tastDry Rub Ingrediantses. note - all of the spices I use are sourced from Penzeys for the absolute best power and flavor of any dry spice:
  • 8oz dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt (kosher, iodized, sea, whatever. it's all the same rock, people.)
  • 3 tbsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tbsp oriental mustard
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tsp lemon peel
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
combine the dry ingrediants in a sealable bowl and set aside. Good for 3 to 4 racks of ribs, depending on how heavy you prefer to coat. I personally am not shy with the rub, so I get 3 racks from a single batch. Dressing the Ribs: first - wash them thangs. Cold water, scrub with your hands and rinse em good. lay the racks out to dry on paper towel and pat the meat dry until it's just tacky. dispose of the paper towel. A dry workspace is a good thing so wipe up any spills. Use a sharp knife to help you remove any obnoxiously large hunks of fat and other connective tissue that isn't very tasty. Flip the Rack over so it's face down and peel away as much of the membrane as you can and dispose of that as well. Leaving the rack face down, place 1 sheet of your cling wrap a few inches larger than the rack flat on the workspace behind said rack. Apply the rub to the meaty parts on the exposed underside of the rack. It won't take much. When those few spots are coated, flip the rack over onto the cling wrap. With the Rack now face up, apply the rub liberally to every bit of exposed meat, get it into every noook and cranny, on the ends and all around. Grab a second sheet of cling wrap and lay it over the now thoroughly seasoned rack and do whatever folding is needed to seal the two sheets together on al four sides to give you a nice neat package. move it to a shallow pan or tray to catch any leaks and put it in the fridge over night. Cooking day: I use a hardwood charcoal fire in a horizontal 35 gallon drum-type smoker with an offset fire box. Being that fuels and builds are debated with the ferocity greater than most religions, the aforementioned configuration is my personal preference and whatever you use will do just fine as long as you keep the fire separate from the meat and you keep it cooking slow and low. Plan ahead! The number one ingredient in any BBQ recipe is TIME and lots of it. We're doing these slow and low, so give yourself at least 5 hours before you plan to serve. Pull the ribs from the fridge and let them warm up to room temperature while you're out setting up your smoker and your fire. Set up your fuel so you have an area of indirect heat large enough to accommodate your racks of ribs. I like to keep my smoke space in the 185-200F degree range for most of the process and finish up just a little hotter at the end. With everything hot, place the ribs in the smoker, small end farthest from the heat source and add the first installment of applewood, close the lid and walk away. Have a beer. Come check the thermometers in 10 minutes to make sure your internal temps are holding between 185-200F degrees and that there is smoke happening. If all is well, walk away.the finished product Mow the lawn. Call your mom. Wash dishes. Whatever you do, don't keep popping the lid open every 5 minutes. The heat and smoke do their best work if kept inside the smoker where the ribs are. Add fuel and fresh wood chips as needed to maintain consistent heat and favor in your smoker. At the end of hour 3, switch from Apple wood to the Jack Daniels wood. Also if you're so inclined, pull out the leftover dry rub and give everything a light sprinkle. At the end of hour 4, do some spot checks with your meat thermometer. Your ribs should be right up there with the air temp in the smoker with the lid closed, 185-200F degrees. give a little pull with your fingers or a fork on one end - meat should come off easily. Using your tongs, move the ribs from the smoker to a cookie sheet or other service tray that can hold the racks and catch the drips. The meat is still cooking, so it's time to cover it with some foil and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Once rested, you can grab the big knife and split the ribs up however you prefer, stack them in your serving vessel and enjoy. I'm thrilled with this recipe. That said, I'm always eager to learn new things and improve my techniques, so if you have any suggestions or if you follow my recipe yourself, leave me comments below! -///
A consummate nerd, yet still plays well with others.