Bin 36 Wine Flight

Wine & Cheese Tasting Chicago Style

Bin 36 Wine FlightLast week I took a trip up to Chicago to visit my sister and we wined and dined ourselves at some interesting and tasty restaurants. And one of the most fun adventures was our wine and cheese tasting at Bin 36.

Bin 36 is just a little off Michigan Avenue and is a popular place for early evening get-togethers. The restaurant is very spacious with tables for dining, at least 2 bars and a private party area upstairs. They have a menu which groups both cheeses and wines into regions where you can pair the wines with similar area cheeses or just order individually. We decided on a flight of wines, each to our particular tastes, and shared a cheese flight as well.

Cheese Flight BoardOur cheese flight, better known as Positive Algebra, consisted of 4 cheeses, Cocoa Cardona from Wisconsin, a creamy, mild goat cheese dusted with cocoa powder (excellent), Bella Vitano, also from Wisconsin, with a nutty flavor and bathed in balsamic vinegar (oh so excellent), a Spanish manchego marinated in olive oil and rosemary (again an excellent choice) and lastly Barely Buzzed from Utah, a heartier cheese with an expresso crust. All this is served with green apple slices and wonderfully crisp crostini.

2011 Hacienda Los Haroldos MalbecMy wine flight consisted of 4 red wines from Argentina & Chile. I have to say that the first wine was really the best of the four. The first was a 2011 Malbec from Hacienda Los Haroldos. The bouquet was not as evident as I would like but the fruit forward taste was definitely enjoyable. Flavors of dark cherry and plum were most prominent with balanced tannins and notes of vanilla, chocolate and toasty oak.  I would rate this a 3.5/5 and would order again. Purchase at the store for around $9 a bottle.
2012 Merino SyrahMy second wine was a 2012 Merino Syrah, a medium weight red wine from Chile. This was another fruit forward wine with a nice balance and some acidity. Not as rich in flavor as I would have liked following the Malbec but I could detect tastes of blackberries and raspberries with a long minerality and spiciness at the finish. Rating of 3/5. Purchase for around $17 a bottle.
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Crios red blendThird was the 2012 Crios Red Blend from Argentina. A long name for this varietal that encompasses the Malbec plum flavors (40%) with the cherries and raspberries from the Bonarda (40%), the blackberries and blueberries from the Tannat (15%) and spicy black pepper and cloves from the syrah (5%). As you can see it is a veritable fruit cocktail and is slightly different than your average blend, however it does hold its own and the finish is enjoyable. Rated 3/5 or maybe 3.5/5 and averaging about $12 per bottle.
2010 Morande CarmenereLastly was a 2010 Morande Carmenere from Chile. This red was the most complex of the four with flavors of ripe blackberries and hazelnuts and an earthy texture with hints of green peppers and smoke. It had a rounded mouth feel with soft tannins and a somewhat long finish but didn’t sit well on my palate. It also seemed out of order with the flight choices. Rated 2.5/5 and runs about $12 per bottle.
Cheers!
Linda's Signature
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Tipsy Tuesday – A Kicked Up Strawberry Lemondade

My daughter and her husband recently went to the theater with my husband and I and they served us one of the most delicious and fresh tasting drinks I have had in a long time. I just had to try and make a similar version at home. Here was my take on a Strawberry Lemonade.

Strawberry LemonadeStrawberry Lemonade

Ingredients:

For Strawberry Vodka:

  • 1 pint organic strawberries
  • 1/2 bottle (750ml) Vodka (can use inexpensive brand)

For Strawberry Lemonade:

  • 2 parts strawberry vodka
  • 4 parts lemonade
  • Slightly crushed strawberries
  • Lemon slices

Directions:

For Strawberry Vodka:

Use only organic strawberries as vodka acts as a solvent and you want to extract only the juice of the berries not additional pesticides or chemicals.

Rinse strawberries. Remove stem and cut into quarters.  Place cut-up strawberries in a large glass jar that comes with a lid. Pour in the vodka and secure lid. Shake well. Store in a cool dark place for approximately 3-7 days, shaking jar once a day.  You can check to see if the flavor has been absorbed on day 3.  If the strawberries are white and the vodka pink, extraction is complete.

When ready, strain with cheese cloth and discard strawberries (they should not have any flavor left). Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or keep in freezer for longer.

For Strawberry Lemonade:

In a cocktail glass, add strawberry vodka and lemonade, a couple tablespoons of crushed strawberries and 1-2 lemon slices. Serve over ice with straw and enjoy!

Linda's Signature

Caviar Kisses

caviar @2CookinMamasLooking for a great standout appetizer or a romantic treat for two?  This recipe is sure to be a big hit!  Go ahead & splurge a little – today is National Caviar Day!

For even more flair – pair with your favorite champagne from France.

Caviar Kisses

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • small cucumber, scrubbed well
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon dried dill weed
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 jar red salmon caviar
  • fresh dill sprigs, garnish
  • 8 thin slices whole wheat bread
  • butter

Directions:

Slice cucumber into 1/4″ rounds.  In small bowl mix sour cream, dill, and pepper.  Place one teaspoon of the sour cream mixture on each cucumber round.  Top with caviar and dill sprig.  Toast bread, cut into shapes using your favorite cookie cutter, and butter.  Place toast shapes around outside of serving platter, cucumber rounds in the center, and serve immediately,.

Christina Russell @2CookinMamas

Two Amazing Tropical Smoothies

We just returned from the El Dorado Royale Resort in Tulum, Mexico where one of their featured lunch restaurants, Health Bar, had an out-of-this-world smoothie bar.  Here are two of my favorites that I will be trying to recreate at home.  Now, where can I find some cactus?

Tropical Shakes @2CookinMamasTropical Protein Shake:

Strawberry, Banana, Mango, Pina Colada & Protein Powder

Fiji Tropical Smoothie:

Jugo de Toronja, Nopal, Apio y Perejila or Grapefruit, Cactus, Celery, & Parsley

Salud!

Christina Russell @2CookinMamas

Cocoa Almond Milk Iced Latte

A decadent latte with 1/2 the calories!

Cocoa Almond Milk Iced Latte

Prep – 10 minutes – Chill – 1 hour – Serves: 8

Ingredients:  Cocoa Almond Milk Iced Latte @2CookinMamas

  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup espresso (or French) roast coffee
  • 2 cups organic almond milk (unsweetened vanilla, chocolate, or plain)
  • 2 packets instant hot cocoa mix (gluten-free mixes available)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Ice cubes

Directions:

Brew coffee, with 2 cups cold water, in drip coffeemaker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Stir in milk, cocoa mix, and almond extract until well combined.  Refrigerate mixture for 1 hour.  Serve over ice.

Only 50 calories per serving!!!

Christina signature 3