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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chardonnay the Cape Cod Way

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

Here midweek on Cape Cod the temperature has dropped and we had a bit of rain, but the forecast for tomorrow is sunny and back into the 80-90s. The blast of cool air has me thinking about my fall wine selections for guest at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast. After the exciting “best bottle” tasting I blogged about last week, I have a renewed interest in both Merlot and Chardonnay.
What a stroke of luck, last Wednesday night’s Belfry wine tasting, co-sponsored by Cellar 55 Wine Merchants, was entitled “An Evening of Chardonnays”. The tasting presented four wines from various locations in California. Spencer from Horizon Beverage Company was our guide as he communicated how and why four very different styles of wines can be produced from the same grape. As he explained, Chardonnay is a grape that will reflect the region, the “terroir” as the French would say, which literally means the “soil”. In addition, the weather during the growing season and harvesting conditions influence each vintage. And finally, the finished wine will reflect the choices made by each winemaker. I always learn something new at these events and of course I get to enjoy some great wine and food pairings.  

We started the evening with a 2009 Valley of the Moon Unoaked Chardonnay. Many consumers may say that the key characteristic of a California Chardonnay is oak. The “big”, over the top, heavy oaked Chardonnays are equally praised and criticized for the effects of the oak on the true nature of the grape. Spenser suggested that this wine was similar in style to a White Burgundy, which is a chardonnay grape based wine that sees little new oak, i.e. is less influenced by oak; which helped explain to me why I like this wine. Last week at our best bottle tasting, I was very impressed by a 2001 Chassagne-Montrachet, a great white burgundy. To start with completely unoaked chardonnay was very educational.

The next wine was a 2006 Sonoma Cutrer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Sonoma Cutrer is a larger winery and may have more name recognition than Valley of the Moon. Both wines are made from Chardonnay grapes form Sonoma, but one more coastal and other more inland.  The Cutrer is also a few years older and spent time in new French oak. So we have two Chardonnays from Sonoma, but two very different wines.

The next wine was the 2007 Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Chardonnay from the Alexander Valley in upper Sonoma County. The source of the grapes was the Robert Young Vineyard. Some of us remember Robert Young from his days as a TV star on the 1950’s program “Father Knows Best”. He also knew a lot about wine, and clones of Chardonnay grapes he developed fifty years ago are still producing excellent wines. The last wine was a 2007 Chalk Hill Chardonnay also near Alexander Valley. Their website speaks to Spenser’s earlier point about terroir, …”At Chalk Hill, each vineyard block has been delineated and planted based on the accumulated knowledge of soil profile and chemistry, aspect (orientation to the sun), slope (vertical degree impacting potential for drainage), and overall climate. Terroir divines our plantings, without regard to what may be fashionable today.” The winery’s name suggests the strong dusty taste of chalk, which is found in each glass of this wonderful wine.

So, we had four California Chardonnays that each gave a unique experience based on the many factors that make winemaking, and thus wine tasting, so fascinating. I have added the Valley of the Moon to my list of wines to be served this fall to guests at our Sandwich inn. I am now in search of a merlot to combine with it as the weather cools. Wish me luck.
Happy wine-ing

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Monday, August 23, 2010

What's for Breakfast at our Sandwich Inn

In the eight seasons we have been serving breakfast to wonderful guests at our Sandwich Inn, my baked egg dish has been, and still is, their favorite. So many folks have asked for this recipe that I am putting it on our blog. I tweaked it several times until it worked best for serving at our Inn. I bake the eggs in ramekins that have been sprayed with Pam, so that I have one serving per guest.

Baked Eggs Prepped
Before I prepare the ramekins, I chop fresh basil and sun dried tomatoes and toss them with the cheese blend. I do this ahead and keep the mixture in the fridge because I bake these eggs so often. When you bake these, the length of time is what determines whether you have solid egg yellows or loose ones. It is strictly preference. The time I use is because I only serve eggs with solid centers to guests as it makes it easier for those who prefer not to eat the yellow of the egg. Occasionally guests indicate a preference for only egg whites at breakfast. You can make this dish using only egg whites but the cooking time will be a bit longer.

Baked Eggs Cooked
This is a great dish for experimenting with to make it your own. I have made this for the kids in our family and they love it too. If you are preparing these for lots of people, you can make them in a non-stick muffin pan. You can also prep them ahead, cover them, and hold them in the fridge until you are ready to bake them. I take them out a few minutes before so that they don’t go into the oven ice cold and it won’t take them as long to cook.

1750 Inn at Sandwich Center Baked Eggs

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Per serving:

-1 pat butter (about 1 teaspoon) (I place 3 triangles of butter in the bottom of a ramekin to keep the egg in the middle.)
-1 tablespoon cream
-1 egg
-Pinch sea salt
-Pinch lemon pepper (I use Trader Joe’s blend)
-1 tablespoon grated cheese blend mixed with chopped Basil & chopped sun-dried tomatoes. (I use an “Italian” pre-grated blend from the market and I chop fresh Basil and sun-dried tomatoes and toss this together.)
-½ Thomas’s Light High Fiber English Muffin (or any English muffin), toasted or wrapped in foil and heated through in the oven. ( I do them this way because they are softer and easier to cut through)
-Bake for 14 to 15 minutes for a firm egg center, less if you like the center loose.

-Spray ramekin with Pam.
-Place pat of butter in bottom of ramekin. (I cut butter into triangles and place around the edge so egg stays in the middle)
-Pour cream over butter,
-Crack egg in top of cream and butter,
-Salt and pepper lightly,
-Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of cheese blend on top of egg,
Baked Eggs Platted
-Bake at 350 for 13 to 15 minutes (depending on how well you want the yellow cooked),
-Allow to sit for about 5 minutes before serving,
-Toast or warm through ½ English muffin. (I use Thomas’s Light- High Fiber muffins),
-Run a rubber spatula around the edge of the egg. Then slip the spatula under the egg and lift it out of the ramekin and place egg on top of muffin and serve with herbed tomatoes and bacon or sausage.

Bon appetit!

Jan Preus, the Innkeeper, chef, and artist in residence at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wine With Friends: Best Bottle Night in Sandwich

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

In my never-ending search for great wines to serve my guest at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, I read Wine Spectator and other sources of information to stay current and help guide my search and I go to a lot of wine tastings. As I have said before, it’s tough work, but someone has to do it. 

Recently, some friends suggested we have a “best bottle” tasting night. Each couple brought two wines from their cellar that they wished to share with others who also appreciate good wines. What a great idea, I am sorry I did not think of it. I do not have a lot of old wines in my cellar because when I turned sixty, I stopped buying young wines that needed to be “aged”. I figured I was old enough and did not want to wait for the wine to mature, but I do have a few special bottles that I felt could live up to the best bottle challenge.

Wines enjoyed at Best Bottle Tasting

Our host started us off with a nice Prosecco to clear our palates and put us in a sparking mood. As is the traditional order of a wine tasting, we started with whites and went to reds; within the reds we went form the lightest in style, Pinot Noir, to the heaviest, Cabernet/Bordeaux. Within each group we went from youngest to oldest. Our only white of the night was a magnum of a great 2001 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru, La Dent De Chien (Cote d'Or), Jean-Pierre Cournut. This is a marvelous example of a fine French Chardonnay. A real leaning experience for me, I now want to try more French whites and compare them to California Chardonnays that I have liked over the years. A Chardonnay tasting could be in my future. We all agreed this was the best (and only) white of the night.  

Charlie & Friend with Bruce Perry
Papapietro-Perry Winery
We started to get serious as we moved to the reds. Food parings were not our main focus, so we ordered hearty pizzas from Emelia’s Pizza in Sandwich to give us nourishment for the work ahead. Our reds started with three Pinot Noirs; two from Oregon and one from Sonoma. The 2006 R. Stuart and 2006 Soter, though both Oregon and both 06, were very different. I liked the younger 2007 Papapietro Perry Pommard Clones, Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir, which I contributed. No surprise there.

Our only Merlot of the evening was Blackbird Vineyards, 2007 Illustration, Propriety Red Wine, Napa Valley. I have gotten away from drinking Merlots, but this great wine makes me want to try Merlot again soon. Our Cabernet selection was broader and took us through the rest of the evening. The youngest, a Beringer Private Reserve 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, showed well, but we all agreed it could easily spend another ten years in the bottle. Next we had my 1991 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon.   The 2008 wine tasting notes from the winemaker at the Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery, suggested it was near it peak then, in 2008. I agree, it was OK, but maybe a few years past its’ prime. It is sad to think I bought it in 1995 and held it for 15 years and just missed it at its best by a year or two. 

As the sun set over Cape Cod Bay, we moved on to wines from the 1980’s; a French 1983 Chateau Cos d'Estournel Bordeaux and a California 1983 Rombauer Vineyards’ Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were interesting, some of us tasters thought the Rombauer had almost moved to “port”. The highlight of the night was the oldest wines from the 1970’s, wines that were actually older than some of us tasting them. Again, going from youngest to oldest, we first tasted a 1978 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Bottled, from Healdsburg, California, and then a 1970 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux.  Both were wonderful, especially when you consider that they are almost 40-year-old wines. I have had the pleasure of tasting Jordan over the years, but I had never even seen or touched, let alone tasted a 1970 Rothschild. This bottle from our hosts, Anne and Ev, still had the original Trader’s Joe price tag of $16.50, a $400-500 bottle when Googled today.

The picture shows the wonderful wines, in the order we consumed them. We finished this most magnificent tasting with two delightful South Australian desert wines, a Mitchell 2005 Noble Semillon, Clare Valley and a 2005 Elderton Riverina Botrytis Semillon, the perfect wines to end a perfect evening of sharing great wines with good friends. I am already looking in my cellar to select my choices for our next “best bottle” night here on Cape Cod. 

 Happy wine-ing.

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sandwich Massachusetts - Beautiful in the Early Morning

C. 1640 Dexter Grist Mill
One of my most favorite things to do is take an early morning walk around Old Sandwich Village. Our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast sits in the heart of the village just across the street from the Sandwich Glass Museum. I slip out just after the sun comes up with my camera and head up Main Street towards Town Hall, the Dexter Grist Mill and Shawme Pond.

Artesian Well
This early on this beautiful summer morning the sun is just starting to show itself above the treetops. The shadows that fall on the Grist Mill and across Shawme Pond create the loveliest view. I never tire of watching as the rising sun changes everything. This morning I stop at Town Hall to get a photo of the “town watering hole”, the artesian well that bubbles continuously just outside Town Hall. People come here throughout the day and into the night to fill their water containers with water from this well. It is thought to be good for your health to drink this water. Occasionally guests staying at our Inn like fill a water bottle from this well.
First Church
From there I follow Main Street around in front of the First Church with its’ Christopher Wren inspired spire built by a colleague of renowned Boston Architect Charles Bulfinch. It is said that upon seeing this church for the first time, Elvis Presley was so taken with its’ beauty that he put a photo of it on the cover of a gospel album.

A little further up Main Street I walk by one of my favorite houses. It is the lovely little pink house that sits on the left side of the street. The yard is always pristine with its’ split rail fence and masses of beautifully maintained roses. The scent of those roses is heaven. This particular morning Peter and Martha, owners of this picturesque beauty, are just starting their morning walk. We have a nice chat and then off in separate directions.

At the corner of River Street and Main Street is the old Quaker Meeting House. This former church/doll museum was recently renovated and converted to a private residence, possible the most unique I have ever seen. It has a beautiful clock tower that can be seen from the living room windows of our Inn.
I take a left onto River Street which, although a very short street, is just beautiful. This particular morning the day lilies are glorious. Earlier in the season both sides of the road are fragrant with the scent of the lilacs that grow there. Farther around the bend in the road is a stream that flows from Shawme Pond and through this part of the village. The sound of the water bubbling along over the river rocks is music to my ears. Just around the bend and to the right is where the stream moves under the road and out to the marshes. This particular morning the tide is in and the marshes are filled with water. Through the marsh grass I can see the ducks taking their early morning bath. I pause to watch and to take a few pictures. This is really breathtaking and it is difficult to tear myself away, but duty calls and I am headed back to the Inn to make breakfast for our wonderful guests.

Come walk with me again soon. There is a lot of Sandwich to love in the early morning light.

Jan Preus, the Innkeeper, chef, and artist in residence at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oh What a Night - For Wine on Cape Cod

Me with Joseph Car (C) and Chris Wilson
 Charlie’s weekly wine-ings

 A few weeks ago, Jan and I had a night off from our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast and used it to see Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in concert at the Melody Tent in Hyannis, Massachusetts. I first saw him in August of 1964 in Chicago; I guess we both have changed a little since then. Frankie Valli’s song, “Oh! What a Night”, came to mind as I was enjoying a very special wine tasting last Wednesday evening. It was a perfect Cape Cod summer night on the patio at the Belfry Bistro. Cellar 55 Wine Merchants co-hosted this special tasting of the wines from Joseph Carr Napa Valley, and Joseph was in attendance.

I have talked about formal and informal tastings and last week, even a “tasting in a bag”, but this was very special. Joseph Carr himself was presenting his wines. You really appreciate a wine more when you meet the wine maker and feel their enthusiasm for each wine. A representative from a distributor or retailers can give the facts about a wine, but only the winemaker can give you their passion that goes into each vintage. Joseph Carr entertainingly told his story of how he accidentally became a wine steward in his college days. He was a very bad waiter, but the restaurant owner liked him and made him the wine steward. That set the course for the next twenty years of his successful career as sommelier and international wine industry executive. The establishment of his signature winery is the culmination of lifetime of experience and the fulfillment of his dream. He also lives part of the year on Cape Cod and part of the year in Napa Valley.  To us Cape Cod wine lovers, it sounds like the best of all worlds.

During the course of the evening we tasted the 2008 Joseph Carr Sauvignon Blanc, the 2008 Josh Cellars Chardonnay, the 2008 Joseph Carr Pinot Noir, and the 2007 Joseph Carr Cabernet Sauvignon. Josh is a second label dedicated to his father who was called Josh by his friends. After the official tasting, Joseph also shared with a few of us a very special bottle of his newly released 2008 Joseph Carr Sonoma Coast Chardonnay Reserve.

On the back the bottle of each of his Joseph Carr labels, he has a simple message “SHARE”. At this tasting he graciously shared his wines, his knowledge and his passion. Take every chance you get, to attend a tasting that feature the winemaker; it will greatly enhance your experience.

Happy wine-ing

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wine Notes, Sandwich Bed and Breakfast Opines

 Charlie’s weekly Wine-ings

The great weather continues here on Cape Cod and guests at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast love it. With the heat, I am still serving what I think of as light and refreshing wines in the afternoon. I have been serving Rossopesce and Borsao for reds and SeaGlass and Pine Ridge for whites.

I continue to search for the next nice, light wines to serve during this wonderful August weather.  My search took me to Cotuit Liquors and their 4*2*Go special. This is a nice idea from Wendy, their wine consultant, who selects red and white wines of varied price points and mixes them to come up with a reasonable overall price per bottle. It comes packaged in a nice reusable cloth bag that holds four bottles. It lets you try some different wines at a low average entry price point.  It’s a tasting in a bag. I picked the 4*2*Go Red, that includes a French Pinot Noir, a Napa Merlot, an Australian Shiraz, and a Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon. You can also select from an all white or mixed red and white 4*2*Go bags.   So far I tried only the 2008 Le Grande Noir (Black Sheep) French Pinot Noir.

I enjoyed it with a stripped bass meal at the Sesuit Harbor Café with Jan and some friends. The wine was good and the setting was great. The Sesuit Harbor Café is a quintessential Cape Cod fish shack that sits at the entrance to Sesuit Harbor. To order, you stand outside in the winding line in the parking lot next to the marina, often moving to let boaters back up to the nearby boat launch. One of us, usually me, stands in line with the group’s order while the others secures one of the canal side tables with the great view of the boats entering and leaving the harbor. The wait in line is more bearable if one of your friends will bring you a glass (plastic cup) of wine. The Café is BYO, which means you can have a great bottle of wine or two with your meal as long as you bring it. Once you place your order, you can retire to your table, relax with your wine, and watch the passing flotillas. Servers call out your number and deliver your order to your table to be consumed from paper plates with plastic utensils; a true picnic-like experience.

As is often the case, the wine was more memorable because of sharing it with good friends over a great meal in this magnificent Cape Cod setting. Come stay with us at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast and I’ll help you replicate this unique Cape Cod vacation experience. I always have wine suggestions and will loan you one of my bottle carriers, complete with corkscrew and cups, to keep you wine at the correct temperature on your journey.

Happy wine-ing

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cape Cod Vacation Packages, Value Added Get-Aways

It’s not too late to take advantage of the great weather and the Cape Cod Vacation Packages at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast. August and September are great months to spend time on the Cape. The weather is beautiful, wonderful local cuisine is available in restaurants and at what is quintessential Cape Cod, the seafood shack. Envision yourself sitting on a harbor watching boats come and go as the tide ebbs and flows while you sink your teeth into a lobster role or some fried clams. Charlie absolutely wallows in a lobster roll at the Sesuit Harbor Café in Dennis every chance he gets. Mentioning Sesuit Harbor elicits a Pavlovian response from him.

One of the most popular attractions for Cape Cod visitors is a Whale Watch Cruise. Our guests come back bubbling with excitement about what they have seen and eager to share their whale photos. There are two options for these cruises, both of which are included in the Whale Watch Package we offer to guests who stay at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast.

Another great package that many of our guests have booked is Sandwich by the See Summer Fun which includes tickets to many Sandwich attractions and a romantic dinner for two and Cape Cod’s most unique bistro.

If you have never been to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, you should consider our Sea and See Island Hopper special, which also includes a wonderful 3-course dinner. If you are planning a week-long vacation on Cape Cod, it will be difficult to find a better value than our 2010 Special.

Whether you book one of these value added vacation packages or just come stay at our Inn for a few days, you will enjoy a hearty and delicious breakfast each morning and sample some great wines from Charlie’s cellar. You can book online from our website or just give us a call at 508-888-6958. We hope to see you soon.

Jan Preus, the Innkeeper, chef, and artist in residence at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts