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EVOO Cooking School



Our town just experienced SAVOR CANNON BEACH WEEKEND 2013. This wine and food festival started three years ago to attract folks to town for wine thinking, drinking and seeking-good wine, that is. The culinary side of the event is not yet as well developed but none the less, it is a very robust event including a wine competition, blending throw-down and opportunity for the guests in town to taste the wining wines. The event brought in forty five wineries to town for a very long wine-walk where the true wine aficionados can be picky; while wine walkers “do” as many wineries as they can in the two hours.

So we had high hopes of attracting some wine geeks, not walkers, to our wine blending class on Saturday afternoon.  We wanted our guest to experience the art of blending wine. A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of blending our very own private blend. We met Jonathan Oberlander, wine maker and owner of J. Scott Winery, half way between EVOO and the winery, at our wine distributors, Jacqueline and Stephan’s, home. Jonathan brought several of his own wine varietals and even some he bought from Washington state. We got started and had so much fun developing formulas; mixing blending tasting as we went. Some of us were spitting and some were swallowing. Shortly it became pretty obvious who was doing what. Anyway, the blend we liked was finalize a little more than an hour into the effort. Jonathan was very supportive and really let us do what we wanted to do. What we ended up with was a blend we dub, Bordeaux meets Rhone. Very French.

Before saying good-bye and heading out for a great lunch with our hosts, Jonathan agreed to bring some wines to Cannon Beach to help Bob with a wine blending class during Savor weekend, March 8 & 9. Our guests would have the opportunity blend their own and taste ours. When Jonathan came, he threw us a curve; he said he wanted to blend a little variation of the one we did, because he thought it would be even a little better. You see our wine isn’t bottled yet, and he was kind of setting up a throw down between his proposed new version using the same varietals and the one we decided on a few weeks earlier.

Our guests were to follow Jonathan’s recipe, by remove the varietals in the right proportions with a pipette and dropping it into a clean wine glass. Thus the new formulated blend. He then asked them to taste the one he brought already done and compare with the new blend. Guests definitely had a preference, though we heard votes on both sides. Everyone seemed surprised at how a little variance in the amounts made such a noticeable  difference. They told us that while the one they had blended was pretty good by itself, the other one was best with the cheese and bread, so in other words with food.

Little did they know, this was the affirmation we were hoping for. We set out to make a wine that would become a food wine. One that gets better with food and the food gets better with the wine. And so you might say, our blend won Jonathan’s challenge.

To get this wine to market we need to design a label. But first we actually have to become a new d.b.a to be compliant with Oregon wine label laws. Our new d.b.a. is called CHEF NERONI’S  WINE BLENDS. We have asked our designer to come up with a Neroni family crest as the subject of our label; we asked that ours be more personal than the ones we find on the internet that already exist for the Neroni name. So though our crest isn’t finished yet, we can tell you you will know it is ours. We’re not sure if it is the toque that replaces the traditional helmet at the top of the shield, or the poodles adorning the sides that will give it away.

Stay tuned–we will let you know when our wine is on the market. The date we are hoping for is SPRING UNVEILING 2013, which is our town’s art festival which again means art galleries hold an open house with wine and food to show off the work they have collected over the winter.  This happens May 3 and 4. So you might say we will be unveiling our winter’s work then too.

Pictures: Left-top, Jonathan removing wine from the bottle with a pipette. Right -top, Bob uses pipette like a straw to get the right amount of a varietal. Bottom-left, some of our guests; looks like Julie started blending hers already; Bottom-right, dueling pipettes!


Pictures may tell the story but let me just describe our first course of the March menu and see if you miss the picture. Lenore says the broth and vegetables are crazy good alone, but there is so much more to the dish. Starting with the aromatics, shallots, onions, carrots and celery, I get a little sweating action going by crowding the pan and adding a bit of salt. In go the previously blanced red potatoes, skin on. Then I add the first defining flavor, that of the Navarre Spanish Sausage, which has been diced about 1/2 inch. Next more defining flavors are the white wine, about two cups, and when that is reduced a bit, the fresh halibut stock itself. For herbs, a pinch of about .5 grams saffron, oregano, parsley and chives. Then I let it simmer just long enough to pan-sear the bias cut halibut fillets to get a nice brown crust, which I then add to the simmering broth just to finish the job before placing in the bowl. By now those vegetables are to the tooth done, the broth a subtle gold from the saffron and beautiful against the white bowl. The fillets are just done and still crisp from the pan sear. But wait there’s more! While the simmer was going on, I refreshed the Dungeness crab stuffed piquillo peppers in the oven just to warm through and placed them on top of the stew, garnished with anchovy aioli and that bright red and yellow on top of the dish just pushed it over the top! Oh and sop that up with my crusty bread.

first course in March Dinner Show 2013


Roast lamb loin with wild rice lentil pilaf cake & Dessert of Apple soup, apple sorbet, walnut strudel & apple chip
Second course in March Dinner Show 2013