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Lindsay Wicka
May 25, 2013 | Lindsay Wicka

Fritole Agli Agrumi con Uvetta e Pignoli // Citrus Fritters with Raisins and Pine Nuts

FrittersFritole Agli Agrumi con Uvetta e Pignoli // Citrus Fritters with Raisins and Pine Nuts
courtesy of La Cucina Italiana

Wine pairings: Felsina Vin Santo or Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito

Having a past career as a baker/pastry chef & my love of all things Italian, I can't even explain the depths of my saddness when I learned I could no longer have anything with gluten in it. I love fresh baked bread, freshly made pasta...and I could go on and on about my sincere love for cannolis. Determined not to have to give all that up entirely, I started my journey to recreate all my favorite things, but gluten free. It has been a challenge, but I have had several successes. My latest creation, Agli Agrumi con Uvetta e Pignoli from La Cucina Italiana, was so incredibly delicious and perfect, no one knew that it was made with gluten free flour blend. I will admit, I did a happy dance in my kitchen I was so excited. These little guys are just one example of street food that you'll find in Venice during Carnevale- a celebration treat if you will. Lightly fried, super moist, and oh so flavorful. Pair these fritters with an Italian dessert wine like vin santo from Tuscany, or sangrantino di montefalco passito from Umbria.

Here at City Wine Merchant, we have Felsina Vin Santo which is quite a lovely expression of this wine, and at a great price as well.

So go ahead, gather friends and family together and make this delicious treat. It is sure to put smiles on many faces!


45 mins plus rising. Makes about 80 fritters.

3/4 c raisins

1/2 c dry white wine

1 1/2 c whole milk

3 1/2 t dry yeast

1/3 c sugar

4 c flour (i replaced this with Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour) 

1/8 t salt

3 eggs

1 lemon

1 orange

1 c pine nuts

1 t grappa

1 qt vegetable oil for frying

confectioners sugar for dusting


In a bowl combine raisins and wine- set aside. In a small sauce pan, heat 1 c milk over medium heat to luke warm. Then remove from heat and add yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let stand until foamy (10 mins) (If yeast mixture does not become foamy, start all over. You will be able to tell within 5 mins)

In large bowl whisk together remaining 1/3 sugar, flour, salt. Form a well in center. Add eggs to well. Whisk together eggs incorporating a little bit of flour from inside rim of well.

Strain wine through a fine mesh sieve into bowl with flour mix, set aside raisins.

Add yeast mix and remaining 1/2 cup milk to flour mix.

Whisk the batter to combine.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let bowl rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. approx. an hour. Add reserve raisins, pine nuts, and grappa. Fold to combine.

Line two large plates with paper towels. 

Heat oil to 325 in a 4-5 qt pot on medium high heat.

Working in batches of 5-7 drop tablespoon size batter in the oil, turning once until puffed and golden. (2-3 mins)

Using a slotted spoon, scoop out fritters and place them on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy while still warm.

Time Posted: May 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Matt Cole
May 6, 2013 | Matt Cole

Grilled Pork Chops with Grilled Apples

paired with Chateau Cantelaudette Graves de Vayeres 2011

Only $12.74/bottle through the entire month of May!

Its (finally!) time to fire up the grill! This easy recipe is a crowd-pleaser & especially tasty with this awesome white Bordeaux!

-Serves 4-

Four – 1” Thick bone in Pork Chops 
1 Sprig of Rosemary
Juice of 1 Lemon
¼ cup of Olive Oil

3-4 Granny Smith Apples - halved, pealed, and cored


1. Pull the leaves off of the rosemary sprig
2. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and rosemary with salt and pepper
3. Place the chops in a shallow baking dish and cover with the marinade. Marinade for at least an hour.
4. Preheat your grill on high
5. Place the pork chops on the grill, flip every 3-4 minutes 4 times for a 12-16 minute cooking time depending on the chop thickness for a medium doneness
6. At the same time drizzle the apples with a little extra virgin olive oil, and place flat side down on the grill
7. Cook until softened
8. Remove the pork and place on a platter, and allow the chops to rest for 10 minutes.
9. Remove the apples and slice the cooked apples and place atop the pork chops. 
10. Enjoy!

Time Posted: May 6, 2013 at 2:20 PM
Eric Genau
April 4, 2013 | Eric Genau

Great Pairings at Ristorante Lombardo

I enjoyed a fantastic pairing diiner with a colleague last week at Buffalo's Ristorante Lombardo. Bravo to Tommy Lombardo, Jr. and his team for a great meal and great wine pairings. While Lombardo's remains one of Buffalo's classic Italian restaurants (over 35 years in business), Tommy is helping to transform the restaurant into an exciting vinoteca with one of the most exciting wine programs in town. He recently returned to Buffalo after spending time in New York City working around some of the hottest wine destinations in the city. He is clearly bringing a progressive approach with him, and I am excited to work with him and Lombardo's on wine events in the near future. In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out their themed wine pairing dinners. On our visit, we were treated to a partial preview of an upcoming Sicily-themed dinner. Some of the highlights were Murgo Brut Rose pairied with Blue Point Oysters and Horseradish Marmalata (one of the best pairings I've had in a long time), and Venturini Baldini Lambrusco with Tagliatelle Bolognese. Look for some of these wines at City Wine Merchant soon!

Our menu for the evening:

Murgo Brut Rose, 2009
with Tuna Tagliatta, blood oranges, fennel, arugula
and Blue Point Oysters with horseradish marmalata.

'Zagra' Valle dell'Acate 2011
with Grilled Octopus, pickled fennel, smoky white beans

'Quadrio' Valtellina Superiore, Nino Negri, 2009
with Wood Roasted Figs, gorgonzola, prosciutto

Venturini Baldini Lambrusco NV
with Tagliatelle Bolognese

COS Pithos Rosso, 2011
with Veal Marsala

Vigna la Miccia Marsala, Marco de Bartoli, NV
with Biscotti

Matt Cole
March 7, 2013 | Matt Cole

Lemon Cilantro Tarragon Salad

paired with Domaine de Terres Dorees Beaujolais Blanc 2011

Only $15.29/bottle through the entire month of March! 


-Serves 4-

4 Sprigs of fresh Tarragon
5 Sprigs of fresh Cilantro
1 Shallot
½ Tablespoon Honey
1 Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Heads of Boston Bibb Lettuce
1 Cucumber


  • The easiest way to make this dressing is to use a mason jar.
  • I also like to leave the lettuce leaves as whole as possible to cup this delicate and delicious dressing.

1. Peal and slice the cucumber and wash and dry the lettuce. Place in a bowl.
2. Mince the shallot and tarragon
3. Add the juice of the lemon and the vinegar
4. Add the mustard and honey
5. Season with salt and pepper
6. Add the olive oil
7. Shake the jar until the ingredients emulsify
8. Pick the leaves off of the cilantro and add to the lettuce.
9. Add the dressing to the lettuce and herbs. 
10. Toss and enjoy!

Time Posted: Mar 7, 2013 at 4:58 AM
Matt Cole
February 4, 2013 | Matt Cole

Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

paired with Hardin Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010


-Serves 4-

1 Whole De-boned chicken, wing tips removed
1 Stalk of Celery diced
2 Minced Shallots
8oz. of Chopped Mushrooms
3 Strips of thick Bacon cut into lardons
11/2 Cups Chopped and Pealed Chestnuts
Butchers twine


1. You can either de-bone the chicken yourself or have your butcher prepare it for you. 
2. Preheat your oven to 425°F
3. Add the bacon lardons to a cold pan and turn to a med/high heat and render out the fat
4. Remove lardons from pan
5. Add the shallots and celery, and cook until translucent
6. Add the chopped mushrooms, and sauté until softened
7. Add the chestnuts, and toss with the ingredients
8. Allow the stuffing to cool to room temperature
9. Place the deboned chicken skin side down
10. Pool the stuffing in the center of the cavity
11. Fold the skin over tucking in all the flaps
12. Tie with butchers across the length of the roast and then every inch widthwise down.
13. Place in a shallow pan and season well with salt and pepper
14. Roast in the oven until internal temperature reaches 165oF, it will continue to cook outside the oven
15. Allow to rest.  Remove the lengthwise string and slice at the remaining ties
16. You can deglaze the pan with some white wine for an instant sauce
17. Enjoy!

Time Posted: Feb 4, 2013 at 1:03 PM
Matt Cole
January 17, 2013 | Matt Cole

Butter Basted Strip Steak

Paired with Chateau Sainte Colombe Cotes de Castillon 2006

One of my all time favorite ways to cook a steak! Best to be done in a cast iron pan.
Serves 4


2 - 16oz NY Strip Steaks
4 - Sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 - Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
3 - Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
Salt and Pepper


1. Allow the steak to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes, then pat dry with a paper towel
2. Heat a cast iron pan on high to almost smoking
3. Season the steaks liberally with salt and pepper and place in the pan. 
4. Turn after about 4 minutes and cook on other side for an additional 4 minutes
5. Turn heat down to medium and add the sprigs of Thyme and Rosemarry
6. Add the butter to the pan
7. Slide the steaks to one side of the pan and tilt the pan so the butter pools on one side.
8. With a spoon baste the steaks with the frothy butter for about 1-2 minutes a side, making sure the butter comes in contact with the herbs and steak
9. Remove steaks and place on a cutting board and allow the steaks to rest for 5-7 minutes.
10. Slice in half inch slices and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Also, consider pairing this with Domaine Les Grands Bois Cote-Du-Rhone Cuvee Philippine 2010! Only $14.44 with our mix and match case discount!

Time Posted: Jan 17, 2013 at 10:29 AM
Matt Cole
October 19, 2012 | Matt Cole

Pinot Noir and Simple Roasted Chicken

2009 and 2010 have been stellar years for California Pinot Noir and I have enjoyed these past two vintages more than any other Pinot I have ever tasted from the region.  We have been able to procure some pretty awesome wines from both vintages and with the arrival of cool autumn weather, the timing couldn't be better - Fall is the perfect season to spend time sitting around the table with friends and famly, enjoying robust red wines and hearty dinners. 

Last week, I opened a bottle of Arista Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2010, which I knew I wanted to pair with one of my favorite recipes.  Arista is committed to sustainable farming, and owns some of the top Pinot Noir vineyards in Sonoma. They work closely with local growers that share the same philosophy to create this Pinot Noir, which is blend of grapes from different vineyards within Sonoma. The wine is defined by its refreshing acidity and floral aromatics, making it an ideal candidate to pair with food. It has flavors of raspberry, wild cherry, and some baking spices,  a full mouth-feel and integrated tannins with aromas of light smoke and cocoa. Only 850 cases have been produced, and as this month's featured recipe pairing, we're offering 15% off!  This is a great wine at $28.04/bottle

I made one of my all-time favorite things to cook -- simple roasted chicken.  One of the best tricks I have discovered is that if you line the roasting pan with a blend of mushrooms and leeks.  It makes an easy and delicious sauce to accompany the chicken, and allows a red wine to pair a little nicer with the white meat. 


Whole Chicken Roaster (5-6lbs.)
Blend of Mushrooms (1lb.)
White of 1 Leek Cleaned and chopped
8 Sprigs of fresh Thyme


1. As always, pour yourself a glass of Pinot Noir
2. Pre-heat oven to 450ºF
3. Truss the chicken, by taking about 3’ of butchers twine and wrapping around the breast, keeping the wings tucked in, around the legs and tie
4. Season the breast liberally inside and out with salt and pepper
5. Rough chop mushrooms and scatter around the bottom of the roasting pan with the leeks and the thyme
6. Place the trussed bird atop the mushroom leek mixture
7. Place in oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 160ºF (about 90 minutes) and allow the bird to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
8. Discard the thyme sprigs and serve with the formed sauce.


Time Posted: Oct 19, 2012 at 11:00 AM
Eric Genau
October 7, 2012 | Eric Genau

Wine Record: 1985 Chateau Lafleur at Rue Franklin

I dined with a colleague at Rue Franklin in Buffalo, one of Buffalo's longest standing restaurants. After spending years in the kitchen with longtime Chef and owner, Joel Lippes, Chef Corey Kley recently purchased the restaurant and has continued a tradition of excellent traditional cooking. I've always felt that the Rue was in somewhat of a unique category -- it is clearly one of Buffalo's more formal and traditional dining experiences, but it has the soul of a great neighborhood bistro. One thing is for sure, and that is that the Rue's food hasn't missed a beat under Chef Kley's ownership. Over the next couple of years, I expect that he will put some of his own touches on the food and overall experience. The room, while still one of the most elegant in town, could use some small updates. I would also be pleased to see an expanded, more interesting wine list, and perhaps an expanded focus on smaller producers and appellations. An update to the stemware would also add the overall experience for wine lovers. It is worth noting here that the Rue has one of the most beautiful garden patios of any restaurant I've visited. Sadly, it wasn't in the cards for this September visit.

My colleague shares my love for Right Bank Bordeaux. In fact, we both rank multiple vintages of Chateau Cheval Blanc among our all-time favorite wines. Tonight though, Pomerol (not Saint-Emilion) would be in the spotlight. I had mentioned to him recently that I had not had much experience with Chateau Lafleur, and this dinner and wine was his reaction to that. I was thrilled when he invited me to dinner and said that he wanted to share his bottle of 1985 Chateau Lafleur, a vintage he enjoyed in the past. As soon as our Filet Mignon arrived, we filled our glasses and spent a little time with the wine. 

This was an absolutely beautiful, powerful wine, still showing a deep garnet color. It exhibited aromas of figs, blackberries, licorice and leather. At the start, it reminded me of great Merlot from Italy - almost more like Masseto than Pomerol. After a few minutes in the glass, a dark cherry and mineral character took over. On the palate, it showed tremendous lift for a wine with this much weight. Layers of black and red fruit, figs, licorice and plum all follow through to an extremely long finish. There is something intriguing about this wine that made me want to hold the glass up to my nose again and again. Outstanding.

Located near the legendary Chateau Petrus, and across the road from Chateau Le Gay, this small estate clearly deserves to be mentioned as one of the world’s greatest wines. The vineyard (4 hectares) is planted with 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, and annual production is around 1,000 cases of the Grand Vin. Pomerol has no official wine ranking or classification, but it is clear who the stars are here: Petrus, Le Pin…and yes, Lafleur, all rank with the world’s best.

Vintage Wine Score Maturity
1985 Chateau Lafleur Pomerol 95-99 2012-2030

Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant as a guide to help readers discover new wines that suit their own palates. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience. 

Time Posted: Oct 7, 2012 at 9:43 PM
Eric Genau
June 29, 2012 | Eric Genau

Tasting Your Way Through the Tour de France

Happy July! It's time to gear up for Independence Day and the Tour de France...and it's one of the best times of the year to drink good wine. If you don't know already, I love wine and I love cycling. As always, the Tour's 2,200 mile, three week race, gives us an easy excuse to feature some of our favorite French wines. I've written before about how much I love this time of year:

I love this time of year.  The sun is out, flowers are in bloom, the new vintage of rosé is here for all to enjoy -- and the Tour de France rolls out on what also happens to be the birthday of our Country and my only son.  Pro Cycling is a pretty cool sport if you're a wine enthusiast.  Its three "Grand Tours" run through some of the world's greatest wine regions every year -- the Giro d'Italia (Italy), Vuelta a España (Spain) and the Tour de France.  Whether you ride or not, Le Tour is thrilling to watch.  The race itself is perhaps the most demanding athletic competition in the world, and the scenery is breathtaking.  There are few things more visually stunning than seeing a Peloton of color gliding through miles of vineyard roads.  It is inspiring in every respect, and it always makes me want to drink wine.

Peloton entering MaconKeeping with tradition, we will be following the Tour closely with a series of tastings to explore France's unique regions. As always, the race itself rolls through some of France's most well-known wine appellations. The early days will see the riders glide through Épernay in the heart of Champagne (although they will probably wait until the ride into Paris to actually drink Champagne on the saddle), and through the Vosges Mountains just west of Alsace. Stage 10 brings the Peloton back to Maçon, the southernmost city in Burgundy, just north of the hills of Beaujolais. Maçon will be a stage town for the fifth time, and has hosted important time-trials in the past. Look for some excitement here! If only because we're going to use this opportunity to open some awesome wine. And don't forget to plan your Bastille Day festivities around the Stage 13 ride out of the Rhone Valley and into the Languedoc-Roussillon -- this is one the French riders really push hard to win. 

For every appellation you've heard of in France, there are probably ten you didn't know existed (there are over 300 recognized appellations)! And so this is also a great opportunity to open some of our most oddball wines from France so you can get in touch with your inner wine-geek. This is going to be a fun few weeks! We kick it all off with some wines from Champagne and Alsace on June 29th between 5-7pm. Check out our Events Calendar as we update all of our Tour-themed tastings. 

If you really want to go crazy, come up with some sort of Tour de France Wine Game. Here's a creative one we sort of borrowed from (randomly) the Phoenix New Times:

•    Each time Phil Liggett says a rider is "reaching into his suitcase of courage", take a drink.
•    Each time Paul Sherwen says "The elastic has snapped!", open a new bottle, fill everyone's glass and take a drink.
•    Each time Liggett or Sherwen corrects the other on some incorrect fact or observation, take a drink.
•    Each time Bob Roll says "Tour-Day-France", feel ashamed to be an American and take a drink.
•    Each time Liggett or Sherwen remark on the riders taking a "nature break", go ahead and take one yourself.

Time Posted: Jun 29, 2012 at 7:57 AM
Matt Cole
June 21, 2012 | Matt Cole

Simple Couscous with Chablis

There is nothing quite as refreshing as a cool glass of white wine on the patio in the summertime.  Burgundy is my personal favorite region for white wines, and one of my favorite regions within is Chablis.

One of the most legendary producers of chardonnay in Chablis is Domaine Christian Moreau.  The Moreau Family can trace back their domain's lineage for six generations to its founding in 1814.  The domain is located in the very heart of Chablis country, on the left bank of the Serein River. They scrupulously harvest and sort this wine by hand and ferment in all stainless on lees for 10 months. There is a great texture to this crisp, clean wine.  Aromas of apple and white flower emerge, with flavors of lemon and crushed stone. 

Christian Moreau Chablis 2011 is a perfect pairing for summery fair, such as the grilled vegetable couscous recipe below.  I use this as a side dish for grilled fish or as light lunch in the warm weather.  It is great hot, cold, or at room temperature.   

Grilled Vegetable Couscous with Lemon Tarragon Dressing
paired with 
Christian Moreau Chablis 2011

1 Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper
3 Small Zucchini
3 Portabella Caps
1 Large Spanish Onions
1 Cup of Cherry Tomatoes
1 ½ Cups Mediterranean Couscous

1 Shallot
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
½ ounce Minced Fresh Tarragon
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Sugar
2 Tsp. Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to Taste

1. Make the dressing: Mince the shallots and the tarragon.  Zest and juice the lemon into a bowl and add: mustard, shallots, tarragon, sugar, salt and pepper, and whisk in the oil.

2. Slice the zucchini lengthwise, slice the onions into large rings, remove gills from the portabella mushrooms, and cut the bell pepper in half and de-seed.  Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Place on hot grill, turning until onions and mushrooms are caramelized and the zucchini and peppers are al dente. 

3. Move vegetables from the grill onto a cutting board and slice into bite-sized pieces.  Slice the cherry tomatoes in half.

4. Place the couscous in a heat proof mixing bowl, bring 2¼ cups of water to boil and pour over the couscous. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for five minutes.  Fluff with fork. 

5. Add the vegetables and the dressing and toss together.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.

Time Posted: Jun 21, 2012 at 12:06 PM