Prepping for a cheese and wine party

wine cheese pairingHow do you prepare yourself for a wine and cheese party?  What types of wine and cheese you ask? Well, before we get to that, there are a couple of stages before you get to the actual wine and cheese part.

  • Firstly, you need to make a budget. See how many people you invited and are coming so you know how to shop for.
  • Second, the venue needs to be big enough to host the amount of people you invited. Make sure there is enough chairs and tables also. For example: if you are hosting 20 people, you need at least 3 tables to serve on. 1 for drinks and 2 for food, having at least 12-15 chairs.  Have garbage pails around so people can discard their trash and you also have less to clean up later.
  • The shopping list. how do you shop for an event like this? You need to again, go back to your guest list and see how many people are coming. Here’s why: 1 bottle of wine can serve up to 5-6 guests.  100 grams of cheese, can serve at least 12 tastings. This way you don’t overspend on buying wines or cheese.
  • Part of your shopping list should also be dedicated to buying fruits, dried fruits and nuts. Why?  The juicy, tangy fruits go well with young cheeses like Brie. Sweet dried fruits are wonderful with salty cheeses like Bulgarit cheese. Buttery, bitter nuts are tasty with rich Cheddar. From fruity to sweet to nutty , these same pairing principles apply to wines, too. When in doubt, try to imagine which food would pair best with a cheese, and let that guide you toward a wine.

After we have gone over the basics on how to prepare for the party, now we can get to the actual pairings. How do we know what wine goes with what cheese? Here is a guide to help you prepare for a great party:

Fresh and soft cheeses

soft cheese

Fresh and soft cheeses love crisp whites, dry rosés and sparkling wines.   Avoid red wines like Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, and Bordeaux blends.

Cheeses: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Feta, Halloumi, Brie, Camembert.
Pair with: Riesling (dry to sweet), Gewürztraminer, Moscato, Champagne, Cava, Sauvignon Blanc, Lambrusco.

Semi-hard, Medium-aged Cheeses

gruyere

These cheeses have a firmer texture and stronger flavors. They need  fruity reds, vintage sparkling wine, and aperitif wines that offer a balance between acidity, fruit, and tannin.

Cheeses: Havarti, Edam, Emmental, young Cheddar, Manchego.
Pair with: Chardonnay, white Burgundy, white Bordeaux, Pinot Blanc, Viognier,  Riesling (off-dry), Gewürztraminer, Champagne, red Burgundy, Pinot Noir,Zinfandel, Merlot.

Hard-aged Cheeses

cheddar cheese

Harder cheeses love full-bodied whites and tannic reds. Their nuttiness also works with oxidative wines like sherry, and their saltiness makes them terrific with sweet wines.

Cheeses: Aged Cheddar, aged Gruyère, aged Gouda, Pecorino, Manchego, Parmigiano Reggiano.
Pair with: Aged white Burgundy or Bordeaux,  sweet Riesling, vintage Champagne,  red Burgundy, red Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, California red blends, Zinfandel.

When it comes to pairing, there are no firm rules, just guidelines that can get you in the right ballpark. The only way to know if a pairing works is to experiment and taste for yourself. Don’t forget to buy a lot of toothpicks and even a bad pairing can be educational!

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A trip to Shipuday Chen in the heart of Ramat Gan

A while back, me and my business partner found ourselves hungry in the gush dan area. I asked him if he’s hungry, and he said yes, but we aren’t from the area so we had no clue where to eat, and if it was even good. So, I looked on line for a place people like to eat and this is what we found.  In the heart of Ramat Gan, not far off the Ayalon Highway, there is a local steak house called Shipuday Chen(http://on.fb.me/1uyUyTu).

20130827_181750 Shipudey Chen

This place is unreal. It’s been around since 1973 (30 Years!!) and go through over 450 kilos of meat per day! That’s over 1 ton of meat! Crazy, right?! It is also nice and clean.

20130827_181613 Shwarma Shipudey Chen

What makes this place really great I feel is that it’s a real neighborhood joint. It’s not an easy place to find because it’s surrounded by buildings and not in an industrial area or mall. It’s a peoples place for locals to grab some great food. In my opinion they have one of the best shwarmas in the country. Now I’ve eaten a lot of shwarmas from eilat to metula, and honestly it was unreal. They also do shipudim, which are skewers of just meat and also unreal. Everything there is made fresh every day: the salads, hand cut French fries, the meat is butchered in house (except the shwarma). I mean they go through 220 kilos of shwarma a day which is those massive spits of heaven that slowly cook for hours to reach perfection in a lafa.

Shwarma

The prices there are very reasonable for a great shwarma (34 shekels) the skewers go from between 26 shekels in a pita to 85 shekels for a boneless rib eye steak on a plate. The staff there is very nice, they sort of speak english. The tables are clean, it doesn’t smell, and the bathrooms are OK. Also if you feel that you’ve eaten too much behind the place there is a shady cosmetics place that for a price will help you out.

So, if you are in Ramat Gan, go out of your way, look them up and enjoy a great meal that you won’t forget. I won’t.

Sweet&Spicy BBQ Beef Short Ribs Recipe

BBQ short ribsShort ribs are a great cut of beef. In Israel they go by Asado. The way to cook them is low and slow, and the result is a tender, juicy, succulent piece of meat. The way I make them here is a 2 stage process. Because most of us don’t own smoking devices in our back yard, here’s how I do it. Start in the oven and finish on the grill. It is able to cook through in the oven, and gets that smokiness from the finish on the grill. So, here we go! The dry rub here can go on any piece of meat you like too so make a batch and save for later use!( also great on potatoes)

Cooking time: 2 1\2 hours in the oven, 10 minutes on the grill

For the dry rub for the ribs:

  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1\2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1\2  tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • BBQ sauce of your choice
  • 1-1 1\2 kilos of short ribs, connected in 1 piece

How to cook:

Before anything gets done, the meat needs to be room temperature to get an even cook. That is the iron rule with any piece of meat!

  1. Turn oven on 150c\300f, and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the dry rub together and sprinkle on the ribs. Coat generously. (At this point, you can roast the ribs immediately, but for the best flavor and texture, refrigerate them for up to 24 hours.)
  3. Place ribs in the oven in a roasting tin, cover with foil for 2 1\2 hours in the oven.
  4. After 2 hours of cooking turn on your bbq on 175c\350f.
  5. After 2 1\2 hours remove from the oven and transfer to the bbq.
  6. Slather the ribs with bbq sauce on both sides and grill for 5 minutes on each side.
  7. Remove the ribs and let it rest for 10 minutes and then serve!

Enjoy!

My Surprising Lunch at Chooka

mychookaYesterday I had the pleasure to go out and have lunch with my wife. For a long time now I had been wanting and craving Asian style fast food. As we all know, sadly in Israel, they never understood the concept of Asian fast food. The Israeli weren’t able to differentiate between: Chinese, Thai, Japanese and so forth. So after living here for almost 20 years, I have come to peace with it, and  tried to enjoy it as much as I can.

Lately, for the past couple of years, the flavors in these fast food places have been amped up by so much MSG, that the taste of the food is purely based on soy and MSG. But, I have found a place that actually uses spices in their food, and not just MSG. The take out place is called Chooka (mychooka.co.il).  It is located  in the Hadar mall in Jerusalem. Their menu is split up into 3 categories: Stir fries, Sushi and beef or chicken dishes with a side of noodles or rice.

mychookaWhat is great about this specific take out is a couple of things: They call themselves an Asian Kitchen, so you know what to expect and not get disappointed They have an online takeout menu that you can order from! No more phone ordering!; They use fresh ingredients! They have an open kitchen so you can actually see what goes in your food.; The portions are HUGE! I needed to share a main course with my wife the portion was so big; The have a 10 shekel menu appetizer menu if you order a main course.

So what did we order? The business lunch for 50 shekels, plus an appetizer for another 10. We ordered Lemon Chicken strips that were battered and glazed beautifully, wit a side of Pad Kavu stir fried noodles that were just excellent. For a starter I asked for wings because I love deep fried anything. They also threw in for us a eggplant pancake that was just delicious. I know it’s just take out fast food but they really hit the nail on the head with their Asian flavor profile.

We didn’t order sushi but the menu looked really good and so did the sushi that they rolled out for other customers.mychooka

All in all, if you are looking for a decent priced Asian style take out, this is a great choice.

And remember, ” eat well, so you don’t get food poisoning”.