Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bag
Posted: Fri 12/31/2010 03:12 PM
Chardonnay gets a bad rap. Whenever I suggest it as the grape of choice while in the company of either A) a man or B) a wine snob, the response is generally the same: a rolling of the eyes and followed by the declaration, "ABC!" (Anything But Chardonnay!)
Chardonnay carries the image of ladies who lunch and who prefer a bucket of buttery oak laden syrup with their chop salad. It evokes images of a gaggle of girls who like to shop and then hit the bar for a good gossip session over a Keg size glass of "chard."
Well, I'm tired of the misrepresentation. Chardonnay is one of the oldest and most versatile wines on the planet. It originates from the Burgundy and Champagne regions of France and is referred to as one of the "noble grapes" because it is one of the 6 varietals that create world class wines (the others are Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot). It is also referred to as Melon Blanc, and Chardonnay is one of the two grapes used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine (the other is Pinot Noir).
Chardonnay grapes can grow in the cooler climates of France or in the warmer temperatures of California. Buying a Chardonnay from either of those places (in California, the edge of the Sonoma coast in particular) is a good first step. I'm not such a fan of the Chardonnays from Australia (too heavy and obvious) or Canada (too green-tasting and expensive for what you get). If you like Chardonnay you might also like Chablis (which uses Chardonnay grapes).
I'm told Chardonnay can be fermented three different ways, and that plays a big role in the final product. Stainless steel fermentation highlights the acidic, fruity aspects of the grape. These Chardonnays go well with fish, white meats and mild cheeses. Next is the oak barrel aging, which brings out the vanilla flavors in the grape and creates a more mellow wine. And then there's malolactic fermentation, during which lactic acid is added to create a full bodied, buttery flavor.
Both oak barrel and malolactic fermentation systems produce wines that pair well with rich, salty, creamy foods, red meats and full bodied cheeses. Yum! Always serve Chardonnay cold. It's too bold for serving at room temperature and will over power your food.
Posted: Thu 12/30/2010 09:44 PM
Over the past few months I started noticing that the numbers on the bathroom scale were beginning to creep up to never-before-seen levels. And this, at the holiday season? Yikes. I was getting worried that in the New Year, none of my pants would fit.
My new favorite gadget - the iPad - has provided the unlikely benefit of helping me drop those few stubborn pounds.
We have all heard that keeping track of what you eat can help you lose weight. I decided to test that theory by downloading "My Fitness Pal" a free mobile app. (It's also available as an online tool too.) I figured a free app was a lot better investment than a new wardrobe.
How My Fitness Pal Works
Then you enter how active your daily routine is: are you a CFO at a desk all day, or a ballet dancer? All of this helps determine your recommended daily caloric intake needed to reach your goals. I decided to take the cautiously optimistic road and selected "lightly active" with the aim of losing a pound a week.
Now, the time-consuming part: I had to log everything that passed my lips every day. The app makes this very easy. Type in "bread" and the database gives you multiple suggestions on types and brands. A key part of the process is determining serving size. My electronic scale and measuring spoons have become permanent fixtures on my kitchen counter top. I'm now well-versed (and slightly disappointed) on what an ounce of cheese actually looks like!
The Calorie Countdown
The good news is you also plug in any physical activity you did that day. What you expend in calories is added back onto your total daily allowance. The more you work out, the more you can eat, obviously. Talk about an incentive to get to the gym.
But it is not just about counting calories. My Fitness Pal's vast database determines sodium, carbohydrates, vitamins, fat intake and the like. It's been rare that I haven't been able to find a food or close facsimile. And if you can't find it, you can create it. My favorite feature is "my recipes" - you can enter all the ingredients in a recipe and it will calculate the calories for you.
The Lessons are Multi-fold
Goal Set, and Met!
If you've got a favorite app, I want to hear about it!