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March 27, 2015     Cape Gazette
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March 27, 2015

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96 FRIDAY, MARCH 27- MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2015 Cape Gazette 'hen it snowed late last week, Jack's sister told us, "Mother would have called this an onion snow." Although not exactly sure what it meant, she supposed it had something to do with planting onions, which turned out to be a good guess. This is a strictly Pennsyl- vania Dutch colloquialism that describes the last snow to fall before spring begins. snowfall is light and melts q kly from streets and walk- ways, leaving just a dusting on the grass. The timing coincides with the thaw that leaves the soil defrosted enough to plant onions. There are two other types of snowstorms that have curious names in local lore: the sapling- bender - a heavy, wet snow, strong enough to weigh down tree limbs, and the crack-stuffer = a free, dry snow accompanied by a brisk wind. But back to the onions. These pungent, juicy bulbs used in countless culinary ap- plications have been enjoyed since prehistoric times, making regular appearances in Egyptian tomb paintings. Botarfically, onions are members of the al- lium family, and today there are hundreds of varieties ranging widely in size and flavor. Onions come in several col- ors, from deep purple to golden to pure white (see photo). They also can be harvested based on whether you want to use just the bulb or some of the green stalk that grows up from the ground, like leeks and green onions (sometimes called scal- lions). Both garlic and shallots are also members of this family, and you can tell they're past their prime when they start to send out shoots. There's a charming cultivar called tree onions or walking onions. As the green stalk grows, it forms another miniature bulb at the tip. Once it's heavy enough to drag down the stalk, the new bulb plants itself and continues the process. Sweeter varieties of onions include the Vidalia, Maui and Walla-Walla. More colorful types are the red Bermuda, which has a mild flavor and does best when served raw in a salad, since cooking drains its bright color. The most common onions ONION VARIETIES: (clockwise from lot, sliced Bermudas; (rear) leeks and are Spanish onions, which are seen in both white and yellow forms. Next time you reach for a yellow (sometimes called brown) onion, be sure to save the papery skin. Throw it in your next pot of broth to add a lovely golden color. And, when you start to peel and chop onions, try keeping them under running water. They release the volatile and ir- ritating substance called allicin when cut, so either drown them or chill them thoroughly before cutting. Cooking onions will trans- form their harsh bite into an bottom left) pearl white, yellow, yellow globe, green onions. almost sweet flavor thetis even more pronounced in the hybrids developed especially for their sweetness. Caramel- izing onions is the process of transforming their starch into dextrin and sugar, and creating a lovely brown color. Onion soup is one of the simplest ways to feature the complex flavor of slow-sim- mered sliced onions. The best liquid ingredient for this dish is veal broth or vegetable broth; beef is too strong and chicken is too light. I prefer this without the floating bread and melted cheese, which overwhelm the JACK CLEMONS PHOTO red Bermuda, Spanish white, shal- subtlety of the rich flavors. If you see the term soubise on the menu at a French restau- rant, you may expect a sauce of slow-cooked onions thickened with rice. Although the recipe takes some time to cook, the steps are quite simple and the results are a delicious comfort-food side dish. Since she so deftly incorporated onions in so many recipes, these are both based on Julia Child's versions. One bite and you'll be ready to plant more onions. Continued on page 97 et's start with the possibil- ity of a good deal from reader to you. Laura contacted me. She acquired a 1982 Chateaux Mouton with a g0od Picass0 label. She told me she could not possibly drink a wine that was so expensive. I explained that Zachys in White Plains, N.Y., was expert in evaluating and auctioning fine wine. When she contacted them they asked to her send or deliver the bottle for inspec- tion. Laura told me she does not drive, and getting to New York would be problematic. She lives in Podunk, Md. on the far end of a very lonely dirt track and asked for help. If any of you are interested in that bottle of wine, please email me and I will provide Laura's phone num- ber. You can make your own deal with her. The wine is still relatively young and should last into 2030. Most rated this above 98, and Jancis Robinson wrote 19/20 good through 2035. This is your lucky week. I sampled two inexpensive, well- rated lovelies you can locate in our area. Bodegas Abanico Hazana Vinas Vie]as Rioja (75 percent Tempranillo) 2012, 92 RP points can be found under $10 when buying a case and about $11.50 as a single. Aged 12 months in oak, it shows very dark ruby with a complex bouquet comprising currants, graphite, cedar, spices and va- nilla. Opens to full-bodied fruit and a bit of oak-driven vanilla on the palate. Pleasing clean fin- ish. 92 McD, 2 price points. Will cellar five years or drink now. Tanzer, Galloni and WE all touted 2013 Andrew Murray Syrah Tous les ]ours, and I did too. Pretty dark gamet-colored, mixed bouquet of cherry, blackberry, lavender and white pepper opens to flavors of black cherry, anise, violet and orega- no, 92 points, buy under $15. Amanda Hathaway of Wagstaff Worldwide showed me two luscious recent Ros releases. Both may sell under $10. I'm hoping some of our local stores pick them up. Great summer sippers! Mezzacorona Ros Dolomite 2014 is pale ruby with a violet tint. Nose is ber- ries, roses and geranium. Made of 100 percent Lagrein. Left on lees for four to five months. The fruit/acidity balance is excep- tional; it's 12 percent alcohol by volume for those who want a little lift in their porch swing. The Stemmari Nero d'Avola Ros 2014 is vinifled from 100 percent Nero d'Avola. It is also 12 percent ABV and left on lees four to five months. This wine won 94 points at Ultimate Wine Challenge and gold at Concors Mondiale in Brussels, but the American press only rated it in the upper 80s. Shame on them! This is a delicious wine that deserves better. The nose is strawberry and cherry with mineral hints. On the palate, red fruit flavors riding a balanced acid/mineral frame. Clean, long , finish. Lovely summer sipper but will stand up to fish, white meat and summer veggies with pasta, 91 McD points, under $11 add a price point. Prompt your wine store buddy to bring this in. A delightful wine, Stemmari is the same winery that produc es Dalila, which I recommended last fall. If any readers did not buy the Concha y Toro Don Melchor 2010 Cab, please keep your powder dry. Since it was award- ed No. 9 on Wine Spectator top 100 in 2014, prices have spiked. Keep in mind these wines are cellared in Chile before release. If you are interested, put it on your list. DM's normal release date is in early May. They are reporting a good release. The 2011 were rated best from the Alto Maipo region and are nowhere to be found. at a reasonable price. Enrique Tirado is the winemaker, but his collaborator since 1987 when things began to take off was Bordeaux consultant Jacques Jacques Boissenot, winemaker of the decade in 2010. Sadly he passed in September 2014 at 75. His demise has prompted great interest in DM and has dried up supply. I'm guessing the most recent vintages will be collector's items at auction. The 2009-13 were rated 93 and up by most critics, with 2010 and 201195+ and best of region. Go here to read of an excellent pairing din- ner for the 2009 produced by SAHMmelier: https://sahmme- dinner-with-the-don/. Email John McDonald at chjonmc@yahoo. corn,