Happy Birthday, Big Poppa!

You may not know it, but that’s Rich’s nickname around here. And you also may not know that yesterday was his birthday! It was a wonderful, wacky day, despite the constant rain clouds and occasional complaints from the boys about it being the last day of summer vacation. Regardless, we made the most of it! Between showers, we even found time to fire up the grill. For his birthday dinner, Rich wanted tuna steaks, which we had with basmati rice, diced jalapeños and shitake mushrooms. As for a salad, we went totally unconventional and had watermelon topped with spring greens, queso fresco, cucumber julienne, chopped green onion, grilled tomatillo (as a sauce), sea salt & crushed pepper, and red chili olive oil. Oh, and the boys had macaroni and cheese (though two of them consented to try the tuna, and actually liked it!) We paired our tuna with a 2009 Burgans Albariño. We kind of love Spanish wine, and this was a very good one. It’s quite fruity (in a peachy/apricot way) without being overly sweet. It has a nice, crisp finish, and went beautifully with the meal. For dessert, a chocolate dome. I once made the mistake of referring to this particular dessert as a “chocolate boob” in front of the boys, and thus it shall always be known in our household. In between photo shoots, Rich found time to play Black Ops with the boys, and later, to cuddle on the couch with me. Yeah, it was a good day!

Watermelon queso fresco salad.

2009 Burgans Albariño.

Seared tuna steak...ready for its close up.

Tuna by candle light.

The chocolate, um, dome.

A fun red and a fungi makes a great meal.

It was suggested to us to try the 2006 Atwater Cabernet Franc with grilled portobello mushrooms. So…we did!

I find  portobellos to be a light, healthy, yet extremely flavorful, substitute for beef. They only take a few  minutes for each side on the grill….coated lightly in olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill a few small peppers at the same time. Slice them on a platter when done and throw on some blue cheese, letting it melt. Plate over a bed of arugula blend and thinly sliced red onion. Top with balsamic vinaigrette and you have a satisfying, healthy meal.

New York State doesn’t get a whole lot of credit for its red wines. The Atwater Cabernet Franc is one of the best ones I have had, so I think we’ll have to explore a few more. We thought the wine would pair well with almost anything grilled (including our mushrooms), not to mention the strong, earthy cheese. Its light tannins, blend of red fruit flavors, and slight earthiness made it very drinkable and a food-friendly wine.

It was a fabulous treat all around, and a great selection for a nice warm spring evening.

2006 Atwater Cabernet Franc.

Grilled portobello mushrooms over arugula blend. (click for bigger fungi)