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Last week I made a rare trip to Costco.  Naturally, I gravitated toward the the wine section where I ended up spending about a half hour perusing all the wines that they had.  I finally settled on the 2005 Domingos de Alves de Sousa Douro Quinta da Gaivosa.  I haven't had much wine from Portugal so I was curious.

Douro is mainly known for its port, but I was curious to see what a non-fortified wine tasted like from this region.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I found this wine to be extremely oaky with hints of coffee and blackberry.  This wine is pretty strong at 14% alcohol but I still found it to be well-balanced.  The wine lingers on the tongue and ends with a creamy, yeasty flavor that I normally associate with Sherry. Overall, I enjoyed this wine very much and am glad that I picked it up.
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 I was listening to Dinner Party Download on NPR yesterday on my way to lunch with my family.  Brendan was at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market talking to David Karp who had just written an article for the LA Times on a newly available Japanese variety of orange, called the Dekopon orange.  Apparently, these oranges have to be hand-picked because they are so delicate.  In addition, when the fruit is first harvested, the fruit is extremely high in acidity.  These oranges must be stored in a certain way so that the sugar content of the orange rises and the tartness of the fruit mellows.  The way David Karp described the fruit was intriguing to me, and it stuck in my mind as something that I would like to try one day. 

Fortunately, I was at Marukai in West LA today and I saw them there.  I immediately picked up a crate of them. 

I finally got home and was excited to try them.  The first thing I noticed is that they are incredibly easy to peel.  The thin skin sits very loosely on the flesh of the fruit.  The other great thing is that the oranges are seedless.  The flesh is also very tender.  Perhaps the best part of eating the fruit is the flavor.  It's very sweet, but it also has the intense citrus flavor of a tangerine.  I highly recommend these oranges. In fact, I've eaten three while writing this blog entry.

 Outside Bea's of Bloomsbury 

Bea's of Bloomsbury 

On my last trip to London, I was lucky enough to happen upon Bea's of Bloomsbury.  Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to do the full-blown afternoon tea when I was in London, but the scones at Bea's definitely made up for it.   I was so excited to try the scones there that I ran to the grocery store to buy some marmalade and clotted cream.  The crumb was so soft that the scones tasted like cake with the clotted cream.  The crust was perfectly brown and added a nutty flavor which contrasted perfectly with the delicate interior.

The owner of Bea's of Bloomsbury also just came out with a cookbook.  I think I'm going to buy it just so that I can get the scone recipe.


Bea's of Bloomsbury

44 Theobald's Road

London WC1X 8NW 


Red Velvet Cupcake and Scone 

Clotted cream 


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By Justin Chao 

Frying up some chicken in my iron skillet

Popo's fried chicken 


 I can't think of a better way to spend Valentine's Day than frying up some chicken.  My house still smells like fried chicken the day after.


Due to unexpectedly high demand, we have just sold out of Caramour.  Thanks everyone for trying out our new Valentine's Day Flavor! 


Every year, the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas, I make a fresh loaf of bread to eat Thanksgiving leftovers with.  In past years, I would never take to much turkey home because I wouldn't know what to do with it.  Now that I've started to bake bread, I've noticed that the turkey leftovers are gone within a day or two.

 I recently met Bill Disselhorst, the owner of Fiore Market Cafe.  He told me about Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery's recipe for a no-knead bread.  I rushed out and bought the book the next day because I was so curious about the recipe.  I've tried to make homemade crusty bread in the past but I've never had much luck.  I could never get the crust right.  

 This recipe is so easy and consistently makes a great loaf of bread.  The recipe calls for baking the loaf in a pre-heated cast iron pot.  The inside of the bread is incredibly moist and the crust turns out really crunchy and flavorful.


Click on the link below for the recipe:

New York Times Recipe for No-Knead Bread

By Justin Chao

Fresh Cherry Tart with Amaretto Creme Fraiche Bavarian Filling

Cherries are in season--and curiously, I have never seen a fresh cherry tart before.  After making my first one, I'm not sure why I've never thought of it before.  Fresh cherries are so good on tarts!  This tart has a lemon crust with almond cream baked inside of it.  On top of the almond cream, I put a layer of creme-fraiche bavarian cream that I laced with amaretto. 

Making this tart, I learned a little trick to pitting cherries.  Since I wanted the cherries to stay intact, I didn't want to use a pitter.  Plus, I don't really have room in my kitchen for anything else.  I just used a paperclip that I had unfolded into an "s" shape.  You can then use that to scoop out the pits.  It was quick and the cherries didn't bleed all over the bavarian cream.

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