Le Coq Rico – The Bistro of Beautiful Birds

This post is brought to you by Le Coq Rico, but all opinions are my own.


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Happy Wednesday, everyone! Yesterday I had the pleasure of experiencing the wonderful downtown restaurant, Le Coq Rico. The original Le Coq Rico (The Bistro of Beautiful Birds) is located on Monmartre's Rue Lepic in Paris. Each Le Coq Rico pays tribute to responsibly raised whole-animal poultry. This restaurant is Chef Antoine Westermann's ode to the local terroir, expressed through the flavors of wild and noble birds. Westermann spent more than a year traveling across the Northeast, particularly through the Hudson Valley and Pennsylvania, to meet farmers and learn their poultry raising philosophies. "Fowl is a world unto itself," noted Westermann. "The flavor and texture change depending on the region, breeder, age, and style of farming." The result of this exchange stands today as Le Coq Rico, NYC. Continue reading to learn more about my time at this attractive, chic bistro.

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Renowned French chef, Antoine Westermann was just 23 years old when he became the Chef and Owner of his first restaurant. In the twenty-five years that followed, he earned three Michelin stars. Then in 2006, he made the exceedingly rare decision to ask Michelin to remove his stars so his creativity would no longer be confined by the rules and regulations of the guide. Specializing in sophisticated poultry dishes, I was more than excited to try their Tuesday's plat du jour, coq au vin. One of my favorite French dishes of all time, they certainly did the bird justice. It was the best I have ever had!

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We started with lovely appetizers of deviled eggs in a bed of octopus, cabbage, and cumin salad along with a creamy mushroom soup with a confit of gizzards (YUM). For our main entrees, along with the coq au vin with egg tagliatelle, we also tried the succulent roasted chicken that is aged 120 days and is served with a side of seasonal salad. Delicious pairings of pinot grigio and pinot noir, we topped it off with dessert, their famous l'ile flotttante (Floating Island) which consists of soft meingue &  crême anglaise and three selections of ice cream: coconut lime sorbet, ginger, and vanilla ice cream. Even the espressos are spot on! A truly magnificent, fulfilling lunch! 

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The service was great, very friendly staff and super helpful when it came to making a selection. I'd recommend Le Coq Rico to anyone! But if you want to avoid the holiday crowds and nightlife scene, lunch is the way to go! And sit at the chef's counter, where you are able to watch the chefs cook for you up close and personal! The only problem with that is it might have your tummy rumbling as you wait! How many of you have experience Le Coq Rico? If you haven't yet, what are you waiting for?! ;)

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LOVE & XX'S,

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Voveti Blackberry Rosemary Cocktails

Thank you VOVETI for sponsoring this post. Elevate your entertaining this season with VOVETI Prosecco


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The other day I posted a cocktail recipe that included vodka and passionfruit. Many of you messaged me about a way to make the drink less rich in terms of liquor and also in sugar. So, in today's post, I've created a lighter recipe with VOVETI. VOVETI Prosecco is dry with hints of fruit on the palate, making it the perfect choice for an easy drinking aperitif, cocktail and to share with friends anytime. VOVETI has more bubbles than other Proseccos; the powerful pressure in each bottle creates millions of tiny bubbles, ensuring freshness and effervescence. VOVETI is a brut style DOC with tempered acidity and a fresh, graceful profile.The VOVETI bottle is sleek and modern with a unique shape that will bring chicness to any occasion. The name VOVETI is inspired by the Latin verb voveo, which means “to vow” or “to promise.” Signifying the vow are 2 orange rings, intertwined. The rings represent the harmonious marriage of classic Italian winemaking and modern luxurious taste.

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With the hints of fruit in the prosecco, I wanted to stay within that category when it came to fresh ingredients. And I've always loved blackberries with prosecco. Or any berry, as a matter of fact.To keep it from being too sweet, I worked in some rosemary. Its tea-like aroma and piney flavor definitely complement well with the blackberry and prosecco. And I've always loved them as garnish, I'm all about that evergreen decor. 

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photos + recipe by ©   Suzanne Spiegoski

photos + recipe by © Suzanne Spiegoski

Voveti Blackberry Rosemary Cocktails

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • Some blackberries

  • Few sprigs of fresh rosemary

Directions:

  1. Pour the Voveti Prosecco into champagne flutes, but don’t fill it up right to the top yet (leave some space).

  2. Add a few blackberries to each glass and use a teaspoon to lightly crush them, releasing their purple juices.

  3. Add a sprig of rosemary to easy glass and serve immediately.

And this recipe is easy-peasy. Just add a few berries into each flute glass and use a fork to gently crush them, releasing their purple juices for a touch of color. Then add the prosecco and rosemary garnish and you'll be good to go! What do you guys think of VOVETI and this blackberry rosemary cocktail? Don't forget to save this recipe for later and leave your comment down below! 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

LOVE & XX'S,

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Stuffed Mushrooms with Cameron Hughes Wine

Thank you Cameron Hughes for sponsoring this post. Capture the celebratory spirit of the holidays, and toast to the season with Cameron Hughes wine!

One of my favorite appetizers in the world are stuffed mushrooms. They can be of any kind. But paired with another fav, the glorious Thanksgiving side dish I go crazy for; stuffing, the combination is deliciously lethal. But anything that goes perfectly well with a nice hors-d'oeuvre is a really nice glass of wine. Exceptional wine, extraordinary value. Great wine doesn't have to be expensive and Cameron Hughes wine's mission is simple: Buy the best possible wine for the best possible price. Which is why I'm so happy to partner with this San Francisco-based wine company founded by Cameron Hughes! In today's post, I'm sharing my thoughts on three different bottles of wine from this brand including my very own quick and easy stuffed mushroom recipe.

The stuffed mushroom recipe literally consists of only 3 items, minus the butter and boiling water. Aside from that, all you need are white mushrooms, sweet Italian sausage (or any sausage you'd like to try it with), and Stove Top's 'Savory Herbs' stuffing. I do know how to make homemade stuffing, which I do almost every Thanksgiving, but it does require more time and it does always taste better cooked in the bird. All that flavor you're missing out on! But sometimes, for something simple and painless this recipe takes less than an hour to prepare + make on top of going well with either a red or white wine. 

photos + recipe by ©   Suzanne Spiegoski

photos + recipe by © Suzanne Spiegoski

Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:

24 oz fresh whole white mushrooms (about 28)

1/2 lb bulk spicy Italian sausage, cooked and drained

1 box Stove Top 'Savory Herbs' stuffing

Directions:

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove stems from mushroom caps; discard stems.

On an ungreased 15x10-inch pan with sides, place mushrooms, stem-side down. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until they just start to release their juices. Remove mushrooms from pan; drain. Remove any liquid from pan.

In a medium bowl, mix Stove Top (cooked) and sausage until well blended. Divide and spoon filling into mushroom caps, mounding slightly. Place mushrooms in the same 15x10-inch pan.

Bake 13 to 18 minutes or until golden brown on top and heated through.

My friends and I first tried the Chardonnay. The super fresh nose of honeysuckle, pear, and apple gains weight and complexity with a bit of air, adding papaya and orange creamsicle to the mix. Creamy and supple on entry, this wine really hits the “umami” button, with rich orange sherbet and vanilla notes riding that honeyed beam of acidity I find so thrilling about the Chardonnays from this region. Robust yet wonderfully complex even at this young age, it finishes in long waves of ripe fruit and creamy vanilla. Yum.

Next up is the beautifully balanced, complex Pinot Noir that will have broad appeal, providing ample punch but also carefully delineated flavors. Pale ruby in the glass, this Pinot starts with rose petal and earthy black cherry on the nose, opening up to reveal the warmer plum and brown baking spice notes with hints of pepper. Ample yet very refined on the palate, with perfect balance and emerging complexity that will definitely improve in the short term as this opens up in the bottle over the next month or two before settling in for long-term aging. Rich and concentrated on the palate with pretty yet ripe plum mingling peppery spice notes, this wine has plush texture and balance in a long, smooth, harmonious finish.

And lastly, no expense spared, icon-level winemaking. Aged in 50% new French oak, this opaque black wine is textbook, classic Rutherford Cabernet. Sumptuous and suave on the nose, it features a gorgeous mélange of blackberry, cherry, cassis, dark chocolate and mint underpinned with graphite and mineral wrapped in lavender florals. The palate is juicy and succulent, with red and black fruit and a finely knit but resounding kirsch/mocha punch. I have to say out of the three, the reds were my favorite, especially the Pinot Noir. What kind of wine do you normally drink with an appetizer? 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

LOVE & XX'S,

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Ultimate Cheese Plate with Wines of Garnacha/Grenache


European quality Garnacha/Grenache wines are not as expensive as some other styles of high-quality wines, making them the perfect wines to impress guests without breaking the bank. Their wide range of styles and aromas mean there is a European quality Garnacha/Grenache wine for any occasion or seasonal celebration.A symbol of European food culture, European quality Garnacha/Grenache wines are meant to be shared with others and enjoyed with delicious food and loved ones. Since the Garnacha/Grenache grape comes in all styles, European quality Garnacha/Grenache wines can pair with anything: Garnacha/Grenache's tannins are moderate enough as to not taste bitter when paired with sweet, sour, salty or spicy sauces, yet Garnacha/Grenache retains enough tannins to cut through meat fats; There is the umami factor, specifically, the reaction of salt and acidity when activated by foods high in amino acids (such as mushrooms, aged cheeses, sea vegetables), which reduces the sensation of bitterness. In today's food & wine post, I'm sharing my ultimate cheese plate (some of my faves) paired with wines of Garnacha/Grenache, in that both French and Spanish wines can go together very well with this assortment of nibbly food! Yum...

Obviously, with a cheese plate comes the cheese, so let's talk about which kinds of cheeses are my favorites and which ones go well with which wine. 

  • Emmental (Emmentaler or Emmenthal) is a yellow, medium-hard Swiss cheese that originated in the area around Emmental, Canton Bern. It has a savory, but mild taste. This cheese is produced in the central cantons of Switzerland. It is a traditional, unpasteurized, hard cheese made from cow's milk. It's hard, thin rind is covered by paper with producer's name on it. The aroma is sweet with tones of fresh-cut hay. The flavor is very fruity, not without a tone of acidity. Emmental has walnut-sized holes. It is considered to be one of the most difficult cheeses to be produced because of it's complicated hole-forming fermentation process. The cheese tastes delicious with a glass of wine, for example, Côtes du Roussillon.
  • Colby Jack or Cojack is a classic American combination of Colby and Monterey Jack cheese. The cheese was invented when Colby and Monterey Jack were blended together before pressing. A semi-soft cheese, it exhibits a unique eye-appealing marbled white and orange exterior that makes it a fun snack to eat on-the-go, and is probably one of my most favorite cheeses ever. The taste of Colby Jack varies from mild and smooth, to lightly sweet, to sharp and tangy. It groups well with deli meat, sandwiches, soups, sauces, burgers, dark breads like pumpernickel and rye, omelets, casseroles, steamed vegetables, baked potatoes and fruits like apples and pears. Perfect with red.
  • Camembert Marie Harel created the original Camembert cheese from raw milk in Normandy, France in 1791. Today, however, a very small percentage of producers make cheese from raw milk with the same process as Marie Harel would have used. Those who produce cheese using Marie Harel's method can legally call their cheese Camembert Normandie under the AOC guidelines. However, the production of Camembert cheese has now transcended the AOC designation. Very good varieties of Camembert cheese made from pasteurized milk can be found in Normandy today. The best of them is the Camembert Le Châtelain. The fresh Camembert cheese is bland, hard and crumbly in texture. Young Camembert has a milky and sweet taste. As the cheese matures it forms a smooth, runny interior and a white bloomy rind that is typical to Camembert cheese. It has a rich, buttery flavor. The rind is bloomy white caused by a white fungus, called penicillium candidum.The rind is meant to be eaten with the cheese. Goes well with red wine.
  • Gruyere is named after a Swiss village. It is traditional, creamery, unpasteurized, semi-soft cheese. The natural, rusty brown rind is hard, dry and pitted with tiny holes. The cheese is a darker yellow than Emmental but the texture is more dense and compact. Slightly grainy, the cheese has a wonderful complexity of flavors - at first fruity, later becomes more earthy and nutty. To make Gruyere, raw milk is heated to 93 degrees F and liquid rennet is added for curdling. The resulting curd is cut into small pieces which release whey while being stirred. The curd is cooked at 110 degrees F and raised quickly to 130 degrees F. The pieces become shriveled which is the cue to place the curd in molds for pressing. The cheese is salted in brine for 8 days and ripened for two months at room temperature or a quick method: 10 days at 50 degrees F. Curing lasts from 3 to 10 months (the longer the curing period the better the cheese). Loved this the most with the red Garnacha Las Moradas de San Martín.
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The Las Moradas de San Martín Garnacha wine was the winner in my book of all the wines I paired with my ultimate cheese plate. Their winery began in 1999 on the Madrid side of the Gredos range of hills, recovering the ancient Garnacha vineyards that have been cultivated since the 12th century in the municipality of San Martín de Valdeiglesias. Pago de los Castillejos is where the Madrid region meets the northern part of Toledo and the southern part of Ávila on the edge of the Gredos range. Its climate and special soils make it possible to make wines with plenty of personality and quality. A commitment to the future of people and this land. “Las Moradas” (known in English as “The Interior Castle”) is the title of the last book Saint Teresa wrote. The name is intended as a nod to literature, as the wine of this area is mentioned by the most important writers of the Spanish Golden Age, and we reflect this on the labels of our bottles. 

I also really appreciated the Côtes du Roussillon Les Vignes de Bila-Haut white Grenache wine as well. A little background on this wine: The Roussillon history is complex and compelling, and has at times been quite violent. Terraces on stony soil, with a rich geological background and a climate that man has adopted for his crops. The Roussillon was bound to attract Michel Chapoutier’s attention. He decided to locate his domain at Latour de France. Black and brown schist to give the wine a solar touch. Gneiss for minerality and freshness. Combination of Limestone and chalk for strength and balance. Three varieties of grapes grow on the land covered by Domaine de BILA-HAUT. Syrah, with its savage aromas of scrub and spice. Grenache, so full of surprises. And Carignan, for mineral wines with crispy tannic notes. The “Vignes de BILA-HAUT” and the “Domaine de BILA-HAUT Occultum Lapidem” are the main expressions of this terroir. The pale yellow color with green tints exhibits citrus aromas such as lemon & grapefruit with smoky notes. It has great acidity (perfect with the Emmental cheese) with a lot of freshness on the finish mixed with salty notes, which express the minerality of the wine. 

Other favorites included in my cheese plate are Saucisson Sec aux Herbes de Provence (cured sausage), Mousse de Canard au Foie Gras or rather, duck foie gras, duck liver and duck meat elegantly combined, then sweetened with fresh grapes, raisins, and Sauternes wine. (oh so lovely with the white wine), cornichons (miniature pickles... sort of ha ha!), and lots of bread and red seedless grapes to pair with everything together. What are some of your favorites choices in a cheese platter of sorts? And how do you like to pair your plate with what kind of wine(s)? Leave your comments down below with your favorites and don't forget to check out these delicious Garnacha/Grenache wines here and here! Right in time for the weekend :)

LOVE & XX'S,

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Kimchi Risotto

A rainy start to the work week, I wanted to create some new food content as a lot of you have been making several requests as of late. Plus, I've been going through a lot personally, and cooking has always been therapeutic, for me, at least. Eating well never sucks and having others enjoy the food I make results in me being happy, which also never sucks :) So let's talk about this wonderful recipe I tried out - it's nutty, buttery, and tangy with just the right amount of heat, and perfect for a chillier day like today... kimchi risotto! What the heck did I just say?!

Kimchi Risotto

photos by ©  Suzanne Spiegoski

photos by © Suzanne Spiegoski

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1/2c Kimchi juice (squeezed from kimchi)

1/2 Kimchi (minced)

3c Vegetable stock

2Tbsp butter

2 Cloves garlic (minced)

1c Sushi rice

3-4Tbsp Gruyére cheese (grated with a microplane)

Directions:

  1. Squeeze the juice out of the kimchi using your hands to make 1/2 cup of juice and then weigh out 100 grams of squeezed kimchi. Mince the kimchi.

  2. Pour the vegetable stock into a pot and bring to a simmer over high heat. Turn down to low to keep warm.

  3. In another pot, add the lard and garlic and saute until fragrant.

  4. Add the minced kimchi and continue sauteing until the kimchi is translucent.

  5. Add the rice and stir until the rice has evenly absorbed all the oil.

  6. Add the kimchi juice along with a ladleful of hot vegetable stock and stir the rice until most of the water has been absorbed.

  7. Continue adding vegetable stock a ladleful at a time and stirring until the rice is your desired consistency. You may not need all the stock.

  8. When the rice is done, add the grated Gruyère and stir into the risotto. Serve immediately.

I know, initially the idea sounded a bit peculiar. Swiss cheese with kimchi and sushi rice? But the combination of flavors go wonderfully within this dish, and though I've made risottos in the past, I've never tried a fusion recipe of this kind before. And the results were sublime, I'll tell you! One of my favorite dishes is risotto, which would make sense given I'm such a rice girl. But the creamy warm flavors delight my taste buds, as I'm sure they do yours. I love a mean, mushroom risotto, but this kimchi risotto certainly takes the cake! The flavors are really all there, you don't even need to add salt! 

I normally use arborio or baldo rice when it comes to making risotto, but I found sushi rice to be an interesting type of rice to use in this fusion recipe. Though this recipe is derived from here, I did a bit of my own tweaking in terms of measurements and the different use in rice. You could also try using a different form of kimchi, such as turnip/radish, which would still bring the acidity into the risotto. I'd love to give a zucchini kimchi a go, what do you guys think about the sounds of that? 

Here are a few tips to achieving the ultimate risotto: Number one - the broth you use to mix the risotto should be very heat, it better cooks down the rice giving it that smooth, creamy goodness that should be when making risotto. Number two - you can use lard instead of butter should you want a more rich flavor but I like to eat pretty healthy (not that butter is any healthier lol), should you not want to use butter at all, you can try making it with coconut oil! And lastly, when it comes to making your own risotto, try to live a little on the wild side. Mix up the flavors, try something you haven't tried before. Get creative. After all, that's part of the fun when it comes to cooking, am I right or am I right? :) 

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