Thursday, October 31, 2019

Provençal Vegetable Tian #WorldVeganDay

Normally, I turn these ingredients - eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, tomaotes - into ratatouille which, my version at least, is very fast and very loose. Here's one I did with the kids at school: click here. It's a veritable celebration of a garden's bounty...all tossed together in a pot. But for World Vegan Day with Valentina, of The Baking Fairy, at the helm, I wanted to try something a little bit different for her event.

Here are the groups' offerings...

Provençal Vegetable Tian
Now this looks like the dish that was called ratatouille in the movie by the same name. We can thank Disney for the culinary confusion. Well, for some of the culinary confusion. But who can forget how a single bite of this dish transports the restaurant critic to his childhood? That is a powerful dish. But, unfortunately, this is not ratatouille.

Ratatouille and tian do have a commonality: their origin. Both dishes are from Provençe and use some of the same seasonal produce - tomatoes, zucchini, onions, eggplants. In a ratatouille, the vegetables are cooked in chunks while it is the tian that uses those overlapping rows of sliced vegetables that are so pretty.

  • olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3 eggplants
  • 4 zucchini
  • 3 yellow peppers
  • 1 to 2 C fresh tomato sauce
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh herbs (I used parsley, thyme, oregano, and marjoram)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rub baking dish lightly with olive oil, then spread 1/2 of the garlic over the bottom. Slice the vegetables as uniformly as you can so that they will stack nicely in a pan. In a small saucepan, bring the sauce to a simmer and season with remaining garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Arrange the vegetables in the pan, alternating between the eggplant, zucchini, and peppers. Drizzle the sauce over the vegetables, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the vegetable tops begin to caramelize. Serve hot though it's also good cold.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Thai Larb for the Team, Flat Stanley, and Annoying Person Shifts #FoodieReads

I have been trying to curtail my Amazon purchases for the sake of our family budget. Since books are my biggest indulgence, I applied for a library card and am usually at my local branch at least once a week, swapping out books. On a recent visit, I perused the shelves near the front with the books for sale and immediately honed in on Around the World in 80 Dinners: The Ultimate Culinary Adventure by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison.* You can't beat the price or the fact that the funds benefit the library. Win for both.

Annoying Person Shifts

From the title, this seemed like the kind of book I would adore. And it was...all except for an annoying habit the authors have of mixing first person and third person in the same paragraph and sometimes even in the same sentence. At first I stumbled over the phrases, trying to figure out what was jarring my eye. Then I realized it and couldn't unsee it. Oye. It annoyed me every single time they did it, which was often, unfortunately.

An example: "In India, the whole enormous country enticed us. Cheryl made a strong pitch for Agra, the site of the Taj Mahal - 'How can we miss, on a twentieth anniversary trip, the world's most famous monument to love? - and Bill pushed Khajuraho, where Hindo art reached its apex in the erotic sculpture of the numerous temples - 'Talk about love, this place is like a three-dimensional version of the Kama Sutra.' Both of us wanted to visit Rajasthan..." (pg. 10).

If they want to talk about themselves in the third person, it really should be "...the whole enormous country enticed them. ...Both of them wanted to visit...." Does that irritate anyone else's grammatical sensibilities?!

In any case, this book follows the Jamisons as they travel around the world on a three-month adventure to celebrate their 20th anniversary. I was completely unaware of the Jamisons before I read this. But it's clear that they are prolific writers and even have a few cookbooks to their names. Additionally, they are seasoned travelers who have favorite haunts all over the world.

Flat Stanley

One of my favorite parts was the Jamisons' (mis)adventures with their grandchild Bronwyn's Flat Stanley. It seems a fabulous thing that traveling grandparents do for their grandkids. When my boys were smaller, they had a healthy fascination with Flat Stanley. We read, probably, all of the books. And when my parents were planning a cruise to Alaska, R asked my parents to take his Flat Stanley along for the ride. They did and Flat Stanley all sorts of places in Alaska. He visited the Mendenhall Glacier in 2010.

Then we all went - minus Flat Stanley, that time - in 2012 to celebrate my parents' 40th anniversary!

R's Flat Stanley didn't have any misadventures as the Jamisons' Flat Stanley. Bronwyn's Flat Stanley was snagged and assaulted by macaques in the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud. "Cheryl spots a group of successful supplicants gulping down bananas, stand Stanley in front of them a sensible distance away, and focuses the camera. Before she has time to snap the shutter, another macaque leaps from behind her and kidnaps Stanley, ripping him limb from limb and eating as many body parts as he can stuff in his tiny mouth" (pg. 22).

The Jamisons decide to embrace the Hindo rite of cremation to free the soul and let it return to earth in another form. In this case, murdered Flat Stanley returned as triplet Stanleys. "...'We can redraw him on another kind of paper, freeing us from the need of a book, and add color with crayons from Bali. The rescued arm and leg give us the right dimensions for everything.' As an art major in college, as well as a suspected accomplice in the homicide, Cheryl takes on the responsibility of giving birth to Stanley the Second. She actually delivers triplets, so we've got the Third and Fourth on hand for future insurance purposed" (pg. 23).

On the whole, Around the World in 80 Dinners: The Ultimate Culinary Adventure was a worthwhile read for those who love food and love travel, but it's not for the easily bored.

Thai Larb for the Team

When the robotics team travels, I try to make sure that we eat as a team. It's important to converse and interact over something other than that robot! And mealtime interaction is a great way to accomplish that. When I can, I cook for them. For a recent trip to compete in Elk Grove, I was heading up and arriving just in time for dinner. So, I brainstormed about what could be cooked ahead of time and served cold or at room temperature.

Because I was just in the middle of the Thai portion of the Jamisons' trip, I immediately thought about larb. It's not one of the foods they mention among the plethora of other Thai dishes, but it's one of our favorites and fit my requirements for a team meal.

I enjoyed this description of Thai cuisine: "...we loved the Thai enthusiasm for eating, a facet of life that we see again in abundance with Vithi. He introduces us to an incredible range of new tastes, not all personal favorites for us, but each characteristic of northern cuisine and intriguing to sample. Some of the dishes thrill us with their complex and bold flavors, especially khao soi. Many others - such as meang kum, the roasted rice in bamboo, wing beans, lemongrass juice, stuffed chiles, and more - delight us in simpler ways..." (pg. 109).

Ingredients serves 12 
(this allows for about 1/4 pound of meat per person, adjust serving size as needed)

  • 2/3 C freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1" knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 t finely chopped lemongrass (or I've discovered fresh lemongrass paste)
  • 4 T fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1 to 2 T maple syrup (usually I use brown sugar, but I was out)
  • 1 to 2 t hot sauce, as needed

  • 3 pounds ground meat (typically I make this with ground chicken, but I used ground pork for this version)
  • 1 C chopped organic red onions
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 T finely chopped lemongrass (or I've discovered fresh lemongrass paste)
  • 1 small red Thai chile, thinly sliced
  • 2 T fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 3 T peanut oil or canola oil, divided
  • freshly ground salt, if needed
  • Also needed: washed and dried romaine leaves, fresh cilantro, green onions, lime wedges for serving, hot sauce for serving

Whisk together all ingredients in a small or medium bowl. Set aside until ready to serve.

Place meat, garlic, lemongrass, chile, fish sauce, and 1 T peanut oil into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well-blended.

Heat remaining 2 T peanut oil in a heavy skillet over medium–high heat. Add red onions and sauté until slightly softened, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the meat mixture and sauté, breaking browned meat into small pieces with the back of a spoon. Brown meat until cooked through, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Stir half of the dressing into the meat. Adjust seasoning with salt, if needed. Mine didn't need any. Let cool and serve at room temperature.

Place lettuce leaves on each plate. Spoon meat mixture into the leaves. Let diners garnish with cilantro, green onions, and freshly squeezed lime wedges on their own. Serve with more dressing and hot sauce, if needed.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Click to see what everyone else read in October 2019: here.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Moqueca: A Dish That Fuses Old World and New World Ingredients

I still don't really remember how the conversation started. All I know is that D asked if I would help his friends cook a dish that used old world and new world ingredients...for their AP World History project. I never say 'no' to kids wanting to cook something. Initially D wasn't involved; he just asked me to help R and J. Sure thing!

Then, because they have the same teacher (albeit at different periods), D managed to ally himself with their project and Mr. Bourgeois said he could present along with them. Because time was short and they had a full day of robotics on Saturday, our dinner had to be on Sunday. The only problem: we were supposed to be having my parents over for their birthday dinner that night. A phone call later, I had convinced my mom that she and my dad wanted moqueca for dinner...and D convinced his friends that they were going to cook my parents' celebration dinner and get their assignment done. Phew.

So, I bought the ingredients. And, after we got home from taking my parents to see The Current War, two of the three kids got to cooking. The third was at a family function for the weekend and did come in just in time to try their dish. But J did the heavy-lifting as far as the presentation goes. And we have a whole other pot of moqueca that all three are bringing to serve during class today.

The version of moqueca that I know is Brazilian. D says the dish originated in El Salvador; I suspect it has roots and iterations in almost every Central American and South American country. As they cooked, R and D told me that the tomatoes were the only New World ingredient. They explained from where all of the ingredients came. I think their presentation is going to go just fine!

 Ingredients makes one pot, serves 8
  • 2 to 3 pounds of seafood (we used a combination of mussels, shrimp, squid, and cod)
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • olive oil
  • 2 C chopped celery
  • 2 C chopped onion
  • 2 C plantain, sliced into coins
  • 3 to 4 large tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • pinch of red pepper chile flakes
  • other spices, as desired (not really sure what else they put in there, but it was tasty!)
  • 5 C water or stock (we used chicken stock + clam juice)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 C fresh cilantro chopped + more for garnish
  • fresh green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced for garnish
  • Also needed: cooked rice (we used Jasmine rice), fresh limes for squeezing

Prep all of the ingredients as listed.

Chop and dice the celery and onions.

Peel the plantains and slice into coins.

Slice the tomatoes into wedges. Once all the ingredients are prepped, you can head to the kitchen.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large soup pot. Add in the celery, onions, and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent.

Add in the plantains and tomatoes and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in the paprika, chile flakes, and other spices. Pour in the liquid (we used chicken broth and clam juice).

Bring to a boil and stir in the seafood in order of how long it takes to cook. They did shrimp first, then fish, and squid and mussels last; the mussels were pre-cooked and out of their shells already. Stir in the coconut milk and heat till it's warm. Adjust seasoning as needed.

To serve, the kids wanted to serve family-style at the table. So we brought the whole pot of moqueca, a large bowl of rice, and people served themselves.

I like to place a scoop of rice in the bowl and ladle seafood on top of the mound of rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro and green onions and top with a squeeze of lime.

Here are the three chefs of the day! I hope that they enjoyed making moqueca and that the other kids in the class - and the teacher - enjoy the small sample they are serving in class today. I love when learning involves food! And remember: a cooking school in my home might just be my retirement plan.

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Girl Who Drank the Magical Blue Moon Matcha Cocktail #LitHappens #FoodieReads

This month for our Lit Happens book club, Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures picked The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.* Though that is not a cook-from-the-book kinda group; I always find some kind of inspiration to create an edible of some kind! But first, the book...

On the Page

I put in the request at the library at the end of last month. But something happened and I didn't get the email that I could pick it up until the middle of this month...just before we were heading out of town for a robotics competition. I picked up the book while brownies were baking for the team. But I didn't have a moment to myself to read during the trip. Not. One. Single. Minute. As soon as I was off duty as a chaperone, I was sleeping. Really.

It was an exhausting, but exhilarating trip. No matter. Once I returned home, this was a quick and delightful read.

I'll admit that I am almost always wary of books that have won awards. And this one won a Newbery - honoring 'distinguished contribution to American literature for children' - in 2017. But I dove right in and I was hooked. This has everything that other modern fairytales sometimes miss. This is nuanced and charming. It's reflective, lyrically written, and ends just when it should. Best yet: I do not think that adults feel as if they are slogging through a children's book and children wouldn't be frightened by the thread of a dark mystery. What a gem!

The Girl Who Drank the Moon might be one that I pick up every Halloween from now on. It's fantastical as well as fantastic. It's a good versus evil story filled with witches, dragons, monsters, and fairies. Luna, a young girl with a crescent moon-shaped birthmark on her face, became enmagicked as a baby when she drank the moon. She lives in an enchanted forest with Xan, a good witch who rescued her after she was abandoned as a sacrifice in the woods, and Glerk, a kind and gentle bog monster. Her constant companion is a tiny dragon named Fyrian who thinks he's bigger than he is. Do you remember Mulan’s quirky, funny dragon companion? That’s Fyrian.

This is a rich, magical story with unforgettable characters. I look forward to reading it again next Halloween season.

My favorite passage: "There was a memory here. A beloved person. A loss. A flood of hope. A pit of despair. How many feelings can one heart hold? She looked at her grandmother. At her mother. At the man protecting his family. Infinite, Luna thought. The way the universe is infinite. It is light and dark and endless motion; it is space and time, and space within space, and time within time. And she knew: there is no limit to what the heart can carry" (pg. 364).

In My Glass

Because of the book title, I started searching for drink recipes that had the word 'moon' in them. I came across an entire set of drinks called 'moon milk', a warmed milk drink inspired by a centuries' old Ayruvedic belief that warm milk helps induce restful, deep sleep. There were recipes for moon milk that included spices, herbs, and more. I was particularly intrigued by a blue matcha moon milk.

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you'll know that I love matcha. I've made Matcha Krispies, Matcha Beignets, and even Matcha Panna Cotta. So, I was dying to know what blue matcha was.

Turns out, blue matcha is not actually matcha in the sense that it's not a powdered tea. Blue matcha is a powder made from pulverizing the butterfly-pea flower; it has nothing to do with the tea leaf bush! But it is a stunningly beautiful color. I have used the whole flowers to make Magical Nam Dok Anchan (Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade) before. So, I ordered some blue matcha* and was determined to make myself a cocktail with it. First, I did try the blue matcha moon milk...

As gin is usually my booze of choice - and because I wanted to make sure that the cocktail had citrus in it to activate the magical color-shifting properties of the blue matcha - I leaned towards a riff on the gimlet. A gimlet is a cocktail that is typically comprised of two parts gin and one part lime juice. In the 1953 novel The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, he writes that a real gimlet is half gin, half lime juice, and nothing else. Then I had to throw in some tonic because, well, gin and tonic. So, this is neither a genuine gimlet nor a gin and tonic. But it was tasty and it fit the theme I wanted: magical blue matcha.

Regarding Luna's magic..."Each day the magic became more unruly. Luna bumped tables with her elbows and accidentally transformed them to water. She transformed her bedclothes to swans while she slept (they made an awful mess). She made stones pop like bubbles. Her skin became so hot it gave Xan blisters, or so cold that she made a frostbitten imprint of her body on Glerk's chest when she gave him a hug. And once she made one of Fyrian's wings disappear in mid-flight, causing him to fall. Luna skipped away, utterly unaware of what she had done" (pg. 64).

"It was starting early. Her magic. All that power - the great surging ocean of it - was leaking out. He had no way of knowing whether the child meant to do it, or even noticed it happening at all. He remembered when Xan was young, how she would make ripe fruit explode in a shower of stars just by standing too closely. She was dangerous then - to herself and to others. As Luna was when she was young. As she likely was now" (pg. 235).


Blue Matcha Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 C water with 2 T water taken out
  • 1/2 C cane sugar
  • 1 t blue matcha powder
  • also needed: matcha whisk (or a ballon whisk will work, if you don't have a matcha whisk)
Lime Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C cane sugar
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice
Sparkling Lime Ice Cubes
  • 1/2 C freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 C water
  • also needed: edible glitter (optional), silicone ice cube try
Cocktail makes 1 drink
  • 1/2 ounce lime syrup
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce blue matcha syrup
  • 3 to 4 lime ice cubes
  • tonic, as needed 
  • also needed: edible glitter, if using

Blue Matcha Simple Syrup
Place water and sugar in a small sauce pan. Place blue matcha powder in a mason jar and add 2 T water. Whisk until smooth. Bring the water and sugar to a simmer. Swirl the pan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk in the blue matcha. Once cooled, jar until ready to use.

Lime Simple Syrup
Place water and sugar in a small sauce pan. Bring the water and sugar to a simmer. Swirl the pan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk in the lime juice. Once cooled, jar until ready to use.

Sparkling Lime Ice Cubes
Mix lime juice and water together until well combined. Pour into ice cube tray and freeze until solid.

Place ice in a glass. Pour in lime syrup. Pour in gin. Pour in blue matcha syrup. Top with tonic water. Swirl before sipping.

Garnish with edible glitter, if using.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

And I am adding this to my #FoodieReads list for the month.
Click to see what everyone else read in October 2019: here.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

(Gluten-Free) Coffee Chocolate Cake #TheCakeSliceBakers

Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through. This year it is The European Cake Cookbook by Tatyana Nesteruk*. We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes! 

Follow our FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the links below to take you to each of our cakes. If you have a blog and are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details. 

The Cake Slice Bakers also have a new Facebook group called The Cake Slice Bakers and Friends. This group is perfect for those who do not have a blog but want to join in the fun and bake through this book.

Our choices for October 2019 were ~
Prague Cake
Chocolate Mint Mousse Cake
Almond Pound Cake
Coffee Chocolate Cake

    (Gluten-Free) Coffee Chocolate Cake
    moderately adapted from Nesteruk's book

    On the night I planned to make this, I had a full house of teenage boys. Well, four. But it sure sounded like a full house. And one of the boys has a gluten-sensitivity, so this had to be gluten-free. Then I failed to read the instructions carefully before I went to the store. So, instead of coffee custard, I made coffee caramel. Oh, well...this was a delicious departure. Also, I just used my fail-safe buttercream which is adapted from the Lemon Lavender Blackberry Cake that we made for the May Cake Slice Bakers event. Because this cake was such a hit, I might have to try it again with the recipe as written next time. Whoops.

    • 3/4 C butter, softened
    • 1 C organic granulated sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 T instant espresso or instant coffee
    • 1 C milk, room temperature
    • 1-3/4 C flour (I used a gluten-free flour for my guest)
    • 1/4 C cocoa powder
    • 3 t baking powder
    • pinch of salt (I used vanilla salt)

    • 2 C organic granulated sugar
    • 12 T butter, cubed
    • 1 T instant coffee or espresso
    • 1 C organic heavy cream
    • 1 T fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt)

    Chocolate-Coffee Buttercream
    • 5 large egg yolks
    • 1/3 C water
    • 1 C organic granulated sugar
    • 1 T organic corn syrup
    • 2 C butter, softened
    • 1/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 t coffee extract (use vanilla if you don't have this)

    • chocolate chunks for garnish, optional


    Place sugar in heavy saucepan that holds, at least, two quarts. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking as it begins to melt. The sugar will begin to form clumps. Keep whisking and they will melt back down.

    Once all the sugar has melted, swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar continues to cook.

    Cook until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should have a slightly nutty aroma and be almost a reddish brown. Using a candy thermometer, cook till it reaches 350 degrees F.

    As soon as the caramel reaches 350 degrees F, add the butter cubes all at once. Be careful because the caramel will bubble up. Whisk the butter into the caramel until completely melted. Stir in the instant coffee.

    Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, take care because the mixture will bubble up again. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel. Whisk to incorporate.

    You can use this sauce warm, but I let it cool until it was spoonable and held its shape. Then I used it to fill the cake.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter pans and set aside.

    In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Dissolve the instant espresso or coffee in milk, then add that to the batter.

    In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until just moistened.

    Divide the batter between the two pans and place in the oven. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes. The top should spring back when pressed gently. Remove from oven and let the cakes cool completely before assembling the cake. You can use the layers as is or slice them in half for a four-layer cake! 

    Chocolate Buttercream
    Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl and beat on high until they are thick, pale, and ribbon off the whisks.

    Combine water, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. You can attach a candy thermometer to the side; I just kept testing until it reached soft-ball stage. If you're using a thermometer, heat until it reaches 238 degrees F. For testing otherwise, dip a spoon into the syrup, then into ice cold water. The syrup should immediately set up into a soft ball. Mine took about 8 minutes to reach the correct consistency.

    Once the syrup is ready, remove it from the heat. While one hand hold the mixer, use the other hand to pour the syrup into the yolks. When all of the syrup is added, turn the mixer up to high and beat until the yolks have doubled in size and have reached medium peak stage. The bowl should be cooled and just lukewarm to the touch. Mine took about 9 minutes.

    Begin adding butter, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. The more butter you add, the more firm the buttercream will be. Once your buttercream resembles what you think of as buttercream, add in the cocoa powder and extract. Beat until just combined.

    Once the cake layers have cooled completely, use a serrated knife to cut the layers flat. Spread a generous amount of buttercream and two dollops of softened caramel between the layers and place them on your serving platter.

    Smooth the buttercream over the top and along the sides. Use a piping tip and bag to add decorative dollops to the top, then press a chocolate chunk into the drops. Refrigerate to let the buttercream harden.

    Remove from the fridge at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

    *This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

    Friday, October 18, 2019

    Château du Cèdre Extra Libre 2018 Malbec + Cider-Braised Chicken Thighs #Winophiles #Sponsored

    This is a sponsored post written by me in conjunction with the October #Winophiles event.
    Wine samples were provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.

    This month the French Winophiles are headed, virtually, to Cahors. Though hosted by Nicole of Somm's Table, Jill of L'occasion was able to line-up some wine samples for the group through the UIVC (Union Interprofessionnelle des Vins de Cahors). Merci beaucoup!

    I received three bottles: Château du Cèdre Extra Libre 2018 Malbec, Château de Gaudou Le Sang de Ma Terre 2018 Malbec, and Château Lamartine Cahors 2016. All of which were new to me.

    If you are reading this early enough, join us on Saturday, 19 October at 8am Pacific time for a live Twitter chat. Use #Winophiles so that we can see your comments. Otherwise, take a look at the French Winophiles' virtual trip to Cahors this month...

    In My Glass

    I put all three bottles on the table and I asked Jake which one he wanted to open first; he read the labels and chose the Château du Cèdre Extra Libre 2018 Malbec. When I asked why, he pointed to 'vin naturel' on the label. This one was made with organically grown grapes and bottled without added sulfur. Sounded good to me!

    A little bit about's a town that lies equidistant from the the Atlantic Ocean - to the West - and the Mediterranean Sea - to the Southeast. So, the area is influenced by many climate factors. It's also an Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP), producing some of the richest, darkest red wines in France, primarily using the Malbec varietal which is sometimes referred to as 'black wine. When you pour one, it's easy to see why it's called that.

    The typical Cahors wine is darkly hued, verging on black, and has a hearty, herb-heavy aroma.

    In the early 20th century, Léon Verhaeghe left Morsleede, Belgium to settle in southwestern France. Léon 's son Charles and daughter-in-law Marie-Thérèse started a farm in 1958 and began adding vines to the property slowly. They bottled their first wine in 1973. Now, Charles and Marie-Thérèse's sons are at the helm. Château du Cèdre is run now by Pascal and Jean-Marc Verhaeghe and the two brothers who have banned all herbicides and chemicals from their family's estate.

    They now cultivate 27 hectares of vines, including both white and red varietals which the vines aged between 20 and 60 years. But 90% of their red grapes are Malbec. Before a year ago, when looked at Cahors before, I associated Malbex with Argentinian wines. It was then that I learned the grape was originally grown in France. In fact, as far back as the 1300s, the Brits praised the 'Black Wine of Cahors.'

    I'm always happy to learn more about wine and this group definitely stretches my knowledge every single month. So, to begin our current Cahors exploration, Jake and I opened and poured the Château du Cèdre Extra Libre 2018 Malbec.

    A blend of 90% Malbec and 10% Merlot, this 'vin naturel' is made without added sulfites. The grapes macerate for 30 days before allowing malolactic fermentation to occur in concrete tanks. Then, it's barrel-aged for a year.

    This wine was rich, but approachable. I got the perfume of berries and Spring blossoms on the nose and some hints of pepper and lemon zest on the tongue. This was an elegant wine that paired nicely with an everyday meal.

    On My Plate

    On the day that we poured this, I was in the middle of recipe testing for an event centered on apples. I thought that the sweetness of apples would match well with the wine.

    Click here to go to my Crispy Hot Cider Tea-Brined Chicken Thighs. You could, if you wished, swap out the soy sauce and use red wine instead!

    I will write about the Château de Gaudou Le Sang de Ma Terre 2018 Malbec and Château Lamartine Cahors 2016 tastings later. And, next month, the French Winophiles will be looking at 'Rasteau with Thanksgiving' with event host Michelle Williams of RockinRed Blog. Stay tuned for that!

    Find the Sponsor
    on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram

    *Disclosure: I received sample wines for recipe development, pairing, and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.