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September 6, 2013     Cape Gazette
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September 6, 2013

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.: Cape Gazette FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 - MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2013 8S We've just returned from San Antonio, where I (more or less) achieved my goal of eating only local cuisine during our stay. The "less" had to do with breakfast, which contained standard egg and bread prod- ucts found nooks everywhere. Lunch and dinner, however, gave me the chance to try a range of signature Tex- Mex foods. One of the surprises of a densely populated tourist destination was the freshness of ingredients compared to the just-opened-can quality I've encountered in many busy restaurants. Instead of the usual dense paste of refried beans, we were Served side dishes of well- seasoned pintos or black beans that still looked (and tasted) like beans. Unlike the Sussex County style of fish tacos where the shell has been deep-fried into a puff and filled with heavily breaded fish, we found hand- made corn tortillas spread with chipotle-infused sauce and filled with shredded cabbage and delicate flakes of grilled fish filets. On the theme of fresh in- gredients, we were delighted by the tableside preparation of guacamole at a Riverwalk restaurant called Boudro's (for those of you looking for the "ux" at the end of their name, they dropped the letters to convert their image from New Orleans style into San Antonio chic.) When you order this appe- tizer, a rolling cart is wheeled to your table and the server assembles a bowl of chunky guacamole from the colorful array of prepped ingredients. A few unusual additions include roasted peppers and tomatoes as well as a squeeze of fresh or- ange juice. Their recipe (below) is featured prominently on their website. Before we started our trip, we'd asked a Texan friend for restaurant recommendations. He advised making reserva- MAHI MAHI VERACRUZANA gets a tions at a place called La Fonda on Main, slightly north of the downtown area. Our server was .surprised to learn we'd never been there before; almost all his customers were regulars, and their families had been coming for decades. Always leery of oversweet margaritas, I asked if they had anything less sugary. We were warned about the pucker factor, but thoroughly enjoyed the mixture of lime juice and te- quila with a splash of triple see. My entr6e was the highlight meal of the entire trip: Mahi Mahi Veracruzana. Sometimes fresh twist with thinly sliced squash. called Veracruz, after the Mexi- can city of its reputed origin, this dish can also be made with any firm white fish cut into one- inch-thick filets. The fish is sprinkled with sea salt and marinated in lime juice while the sauce is saut6ed in a skillet. A spicy combination of tomato, jalapefio and onion is cooked with capers and sliced green olives. Once the sauce is reduced, the fish is grilled and served beneath a generous ladle of richly flavored sauce. Alternatively, you can place the marinated fish filet into the pan of sauce and bake until the fish JACK CLEMONS PHOTO is cooked through. What gave the dish such a frgsh twist was the addition of thinly sliced squash and the absence of thickened tomato sauce found in other versions of Veracruz sauce. You can find recipes that call for cumin or chile powder, but we found the jalapefio added enough heat without the heavy smokiness those spices would contribute. Between the tart cocktail that showcased the unique flavor of tequila and the bright sauce that perfectly complemented Continued on page 86 ope Labor Day was delightful. Some of our .out-of-town guests were in a foul mood due to the rain. Overall I thought the weekend was lovely. Barbara and ! shared a quiet time and several lovely family meals with sons Daniel and Connor. Of the wine we sampled, one highlight was a Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2011, Most rated it 92 or 91 but Wine Enthusiast only scored it 87 so I decided to look into it. WE was way off base. Although the wine was slightly closed, I attributed that to its youth. Allowed a half hour in the glass, and presto change- o, the bouquet blossomed. Light golden-colored with a slight green tinge, Beringer provides a good example of a typical old- line California Napa Chardon- nay. Lovely chardonnay nose with hints of vanilla and tropi- cal fruit riding a well-balanced frame that is very smooth. On the palate, citrus, apple, but- ter and oak-driven spice. The finish is crisp, tart and has some mineral qualities. QPR is outstanding when bought under $30. Will cellar at least through 2025 and two years will greatly improve. 93 points McD. Many are touting the Ridge Estate Vineyards Monte Bello Vineyard Merlot 2010 recently priced around $38. Avoid! Ridge makes great Zins and terrific Syrah, but you can do better with others' Merlots. Chateau Ste. Michelle from Oregon pro- vides Indian Wells, a consistent 88 points, Canoe Ridge 88-92 and Cold Creek 88-94 points single-vineyard Merlots. The first two are priced less than $20 and Cold Creek around $28. Best buys: 2007 Cold Creek, 94 points, $28; Canoe Ridge 2010, 92 points, under $24. Best QPR Columbia Crest Grand Estates Columbia Valley Merlot 2009 for $12. A lovely dark purple garnet-colored wine with a bouquet of berries, coffee, dark cherries and spices; the palate is lush and silky with chocolate and dark berry flavors sup- ported by good tannic struc- ture. Aged 14 months in oak (33 percent new); 13.5 percent alcohol. A whole lot of wine for the money. How about 2005 Bordeaux priced under $24 and rated 88- 90 points? Chateau de Francs Les Cerisiers is a special cuvee made from the oldest vines at the chateau. The 2010 is similar and can be had for $17. This 90-point (WS) gem is dark purple with reddish highlights, cherry nose, but a plum, pepper and linzer torte palate with some tobacco back notes. Nice soft finish - drink now through 2018, preferably with red meat. Three ideas stolen from a re- cent Snooth article: New York has just banned shipping of wine, bringing the total of fas- cist states who do so to 38. For those who think this practice is deplorable, take a look at a company named Naked Wines. Coravin is a company with a product that allows wine to be siphoned and replaced with inert gas without extracting the cork. They also claim the cork reseals the very small hole created. Most important is the founding of AWCC, American Wine Consumer Coalition, which you should join and support. AWCC promotes laws that encourage the unfettered interstate shipment of wine from wineries, retailers, auction houses and wine clubs, and fights for common-sense laws supporting BYOB and corkage regulations. Check them out at There is absolutely no reason for gov- ernments to prohibit sales of a legal product in licensed prop- -- erties or to the general public upon reaching maturity. The only results I have seen are to limit availability to gather more tax and to drive prices higher. Finally, a little love for Argentina's Cruz de Piedra Tiasta Torrontes. Yellow-gold in color with intense aromas of peach, citrus, honey and white flowers. Medium body with bright acidity to balance its slight sweetness, the wine feels soft, fresh and persistent on the palate with flavors of fresh citrus, peach, honey and anise. It is crisp and refreshing on the finish; 88 points under $10. Also Vicentin Family Wines Blend de Malbecs, $17, colored red to violet, on the nose, lilacs, violets, and the wine opens with a very sweet, smooth taste with round, smooth, tannins, red berries, cherries and ripe plum flavors. Barrel aging added hints of vanilla and chocolate. It- has a lon~-lastin~ elegant finish with mature tannins. Email John McDonald at chjonmc@yahoo.