Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fine Dining (At Home!)

Yesterday my husband submitted a special request for dinner: chicken marsala with pasta and Red Lobster biscuits.

If you're thinking that biscuits and pasta are somewhat of an odd combination, I'd agree with you (though Red Lobster's biscuit recipe is technically to die for). However he doesn't make special requests very often, and I always try to honor them. So chicken marsala and pasta with biscuits it was.

In case you were wondering, marsala is a type of wine. (The recipe allowed for it to be substituted with chicken broth, but I wanted it to be legit.) I spent fifteen minutes wandering up and down the wine aisle, sorting through merlots, rieslings, cabernet sauvignons... In the end I realized that the marsala was with the vinegar. But my efforts in the wine aisle were not in vain: I discovered wine. And by discovered, I mean I acquired a curiosity.

So many wines, so many fun names, so many tasty-sounding flavors! Up until that point I had only tried chardonnay, champagne, white wine, light moscato... are you noticing a trend?

I was afraid to stain my teeth.

It was a rational fear. I have very poor enamel, and for this reason you would never catch me drinking coffee, tea, red wine, or anything colored. This is where the know-it-all's chime in and say "Oh, well, you just have to brush after you drink." "Oh, well all you need to do is use a straw." Really Captain Obvious? In years of depriving myself of anything but water you don't think I would have tried absolutely EVERYTHING? Not to turn this entry into a review, but it was only after I started using Pronamel toothpaste that I tried taking a sip of tea and realized that for the first time it had no instantaneous effect. So I'm hoping that as long as I use that toothpaste and keep the advice of Captain Obvious, I should be good to go.

Moral of the story: A whole new world has been opened to me.

And it occurred to me all at once in the wine aisle of Kroger's. I got kind of excited and had to restrain myself from grabbing random bottles off the shelf. But one bottle in particular caught my interest: a cheap red wine in a variety of flavors. I'd heard that red wine was good for your heart, and I was all about $4 a bottle. So I chose Blackberry flavor, put it in my cart, and could hardly wait till my husband was home and I was done cooking dinner to pop it open.

It smelled like cough syrup, but it tasted delicious. So flavorful. So sweet. So smooth. So cheap!

My choice was a kind of merlot, which as it turns out is very congenial in regards to food-wine pairing and is in fact recommended as an introduction to red-wine. Looks like I picked right!

What had I been missing?! Well, I guess since I'm 21 I haven't been missing much for very long. But seriously, I think I'm going to become a wino. (I learned that word from my brother over Christmas break and I look for just about every excuse to use it... it makes me smile.)

Even my husband, who rarely strays from Nesquik and Tropicana, found it to be delectable. The combination of the wine with the chicken marsala and pasta (and, ahem, biscuits) --- which all came out amazing, by the way --- was impeccable. Add some burning tapered candles to the mix (check!), and I would call that fine dining!

I wonder what kind I'll try next :)


  1. As a long time wino myself, my advice is as yummy as they may taste, the wines that are specifically labeled as a flavor are dessert wines and have tons of extra sugar. Almost like the grape juice of wine. Its a good place to start but if you really are interested in wine drinking my suggestion would be move up a little to the 9-10 dollar bottle range. At that level the wine is still sweet but you will start noticing the complexities in the flavor. White Zinfandel wines are amazing, you would totally love it. My favorite wine right now is called Fat Bastard Chardonnay which I also think you would enjoy. Since you love cooking I know you are gonna love the wine world because seriously they just go hand in hand. My favorite thing to do is drink a glass WHILE I am cooking :) Let me know how your wine exploration goes!

  2. I suggest you go wine tasting at local vineyards. It’s so much fun to try them all and find the ones you love in such a wonderful atmosphere. I too like light sweet wines and am always on a mission to find them at wineries and big wine stores. I have found a few out and about but I am not one to spend my money on a wine that I have brought home and hate, so tastings are a must! You might try Red Cat by Hazlett wineries (it’s a great sweet red, I am typically not a big fan of red but its very good!). I can’t find it in Oklahoma big surprise!! Also Riunite White Lambruscois is very good. My all time fav is Beringer's Moscato which I know you have tried (a must for all light sweet wine fans). I have visited 8 wineries here in OK and 2 in AZ, my next trip is to MO. Try a winery or two….You’ll love it!!

  3. Awesome! Thank you both for the advice.

  4. ok .. now i read your WHOLE post and got to the end to realize - you didn't post your recipes !! tsk tsk what are you thinking girl ?? :D i DEFINITELY need your recipe to the red lobster biscuits.. like absolutely-positively NEED :) and i would be ever soo grateful if you'd oblige me :)