Monday, 10 February 2014

Paraduxx Tasting

Is it a coincidence that my 200th post is about wine tasting? Seems fitting as it's one of the things I love so very much. I wanted to share one of my new favorite tasting spots on the Silverado Trail in Napa called Paraduxx. It's a serene space that's bound to give you a relaxed and personalized experience. The ambiance is really what makes it special…a fabulous outdoor space with sprawling vineyard views and a spacious tasting room.
We visited during our pre-Valentines Napa weekend before it started pouring rain all over the Bay (I know we need it, but it's just so dismal outside and my spirits are really affected by it). A friend had recommended Paraduxx (part of the Duckhorn wine label), and after reading some good reviews, we thought we'd give it a go. With our two for one wine tasting passes from Winery Finder, it ended up being a pretty good deal at $15 each. 
The tasting includes one white and four bold reds - although our fabulous sommelier gave us two extra reds and a white after I told her how much I loved a buttery Chardonnay. You also get cheddar cheese and a few mini toasts with your tasting. We were a little hungry so opted for the cheese/charcuterie plate which includes several cow and goat's milk cheeses, salami and prosciutto along with the most delicious dried cranberries and strawberries. 
Heavenly day with a glass of wine in hand…just doesn't get any better! 



Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Peasant Bowls

Meet your new perfect weeknight meal: the peasant bowl. I was introduced to this scrumptious concoction over the holidays by my sister and her fiance. They were on a roadtrip from Austin to Santa Barbara and stopped in Marfa, Texas for a few nights where they ended up trying these peasant bowls - a mix of quinoa, black beans, shrimp or chicken, salsa verde, tomatoes and avocado topped with sour cream. It's so flavorful and surprisingly healthy! I've made them several times already, and each time the recipe changes a little...it's one where you can add, subtract or substitute ingredients and it still ends up tasting really good.
Here's what you'll need for four peasant bowls:

1 cup plain quinoa
Freshly ground black pepper and salt
1/2 lemon (to squeeze over the quinoa)
1 15 oz. can of black beans
2 12 oz. jar of salsa verde (I buy the one from Trader Joe's and it's pretty yummy)
20 large prawns (make sure they're raw and deveined)
1 clove finely chopped garlic
1/2 white or yellow onion 
2 avocados cut in chunks
3 Roma tomatoes, diced or 1/2 basket cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Fresh pico de gallo salsa
Sour cream (opt for nonfat to make it a little healthier)

First, cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the box - it's usually 2:1 water to quinoa. Add a little olive oil and salt to the water. At the same time, start sauteing the shrimp in a tablespoon of olive oil, the garlic and the onion. Add a jar of salsa verde to the pan and let it cook for about a minute. Next, add the prawns and let simmer until they're pink. Place the can of black beans in a small sauce pan and turn on medium-low heat until they're hot. Once the quinoa is done, fluff it with a fork and squeeze half a lemon over along with some freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste. 

Make a little assembly station on your counter by the stove with the tomatoes, avocado, salsa and sour cream. Use a large pasta bowl and place one or two spoonfuls of quinoa in the bottom. Then, add a large scoop of black beans, followed by the shrimp (don't forget to add some of that salsa verde sauce). Top with a handful of chopped tomatoes, half an avocado, a little pico de gallo and then a generous dollop of sour cream. Serve immediately and ENJOY!



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