Thursday, March 11, 2010

We'll be back!

Having lived in Manhattan for nearly my entire life, I know that island like the back of my hand. From a childhood on the Upper West Side, high school in Harlem (Music and Art High School, now known as Laguardia), and adulthood in the West Village, there is barely a street I don't know and have walked on.

Then I moved to Queens five years ago. The culture shock has still not quite worn off. My new borough seems incredibly homogenous to me architecturally. I have never seen so many brick house, all built from THE SAME BRICK, anywhere else in my life. It really unnerves me sometimes and makes navigation a perplexing challenge. But, ah, the cultural diversity, yes the diversity. It is wild and wonderful and also takes a bit of getting used to. So many cultures here in Queens, no one really knows what any one else is about exactly, but there are plenty of ways to find out.
A longing look at Manhattan from Queens. Behind me is Socrates Sculpture Park, a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

For someone willing to explore there is a lot to be found. Over the weekend we celebrated a dear friend's birthday at an Argentine restaurant in Long Island City that I chose by doing a little research on the internet. The idea was to find a place to eat after an evening ice skating at the new indoor rink City Ice Pavilion (that place is fun and should be checked out if you skate or would like to skate.)

The restaurant La Vuelta is located on the very quiet western end of 44th Drive. A charming room (brick!) and a tempting menu of Argentine specialties, La Vuelta, which roughly translates as a return visit, suited everyone in our party.

At La Vuelta, Michele thinks about what to order next. The chalkboard listed all the daily specials. 

Admittedly, Argentine cuisine, known for it's steaks, doesn't do much for vegetarians. There were cheese empanadas and sun-dried tomato quesadillas for the meatless eaters, all very fresh and tasty. AND the very best plantain chips with a cucumber-dill dipping sauce that we ravenously attacked.  The food was good (my husband raved about his skirt steak and mashed potatoes), the atmosphere was very relaxed and the prices reasonable. La Vuelta was a winner.

We liked the wine too, an Argentine Santa Isabel Malbec 2009. Amanda do you think that is a good choice for my version of sun-dried tomato and black bean quesadillas?

Sun Dried Tomato and Black Bean Quesadillas
8 flour tortillas
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
2 cups grated cheddar or monterey jack cheese
1 cup of cooked black beans roughly mashed

Lay a tortilla in a hot pan and cover with 1/4 of the cheese, beans and sun dried tomatoes. Place another tortilla on top and flip the quesadilla in the pan after about 5 minutes, when the tortilla begins to brown and the cheese has melted. Cook for another 5 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients to make 4 tortillas. Serve immediately with chili onion relish.
Chili Onion Relish
1/2 onion
2 jalapeno peppers
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbs. Cilantro
3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 teas. salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend.

Well, thank you Deb, for giving me one less thing to think about today - what to have for dinner! This recipe looks wonderful and simple. It is particularly appealing to me as it doesn't require a big trip to the market. Most of the ingredients I already have on hand which makes it all the more attractive. The only things I need to pick up are some sundried tomatoes and cilantro! Then I'm good to go!

Your choice to enjoy an Argentine Malbec with this recipe was spot on. Malbec is produced around the world, and is stylistically different depending upon its origin. In Mendoza, the largest wine region in Argentina, the grape produces rich, dark, juicy wines.

In France, Malbec is used as primarily for blending, particularly in Bordeaux. In the southwest of France, in Cahors, the grape produces bigger, more robust wines with greater tannins. Argentine Malbec however, has great concentration of fruit, which will allow the wine to withhold the heat of the Chili Onion Relish. And, the typical mocha and spice flavors of the wines will make an interesting, and mouthwatering complement to the black bean component of the quesadilla.

Recently, I tried some Malbecs from La Posta Vineyards, located in Mendoza. I was very impressed with their 2007 Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec. At $14.99, this ripe, juicy 100% Malbec is a great bargain. Red berry flavors abound, and the wine displays beautiful aromatics as well. Argentine wines are absolutely worth seeking out as the represent a terrific bang for the buck. Impressive Malbecs can definitely be found in the $10 and under price range.

For other expressive, outstanding Argentine Malbecs look to Susana Balbo and Bodega Catena Zapata.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. Spammers have forced me to now review every comment before publishing. So please bear with me as I read through your comment. Thank you for visiting the blog!