What We’re Cooking Now: Italian Celebration


A few weeks ago we celebrated a late birthday for one of my dear friends with a dinner gathering at our house. We decided to keep it simple…well simple as we can be….and just throw some pizzas out, make an easy risotto and a salad and call it a day.

However, when I went to my local Newflower market for supplies I was inspired by the beautiful veggies I found in abundance and decided to add a caponata/ratatouille recipe I had been playing with in my head but hadn’t actually attempted yet. (I am so glad I did…sometimes playing in the kitchen really pays off.) A quick stop at Jimmy’s for pizza dough and we start our day of cooking. We had 9 over for dinner that night so all recipes served the group easily with lots of left overs.
With a focus on Italian we pulled a few bottles of Italian wine from our stash….a Pinot Grigio from Albino Armani, an Italian wine producer in the heart of the Veneto region of Italy for over 400 years and the maker of a delicious, food friendly Pinot Grigio. They leave about 10% of the grapes on the vine past the normal harvest for about 10 days to really concentrate the juice and give it the optimal amount of sweetness. The result is an elegant and very fruit forward wine.
We also pulled a Valpolicella from Tenuta Sant’ Antonio “Monti Garbi”. I love a Valpolicella, and it’s papa an Amarone, and knew from tasting this one previously that it would be a great match to the Capatoullie (caponata/ratatouille) recipe I was going to try, as it has bold leather and tobacco aromas and an amazing palate filled with dark cherry, smoke and dried fruit flavors.
Grilled Romaine with Parmesan and a Champagne Caper Vinaigrette
2 heads romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon + 1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow tomato
2 red vine ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup shaved parmesan
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons capers, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste Read More

What We’re Cooking Now: Dinner for The June Jone’s Foundation #1

First Course

Saturday night we cooked dinner for a group of new friends who had the high bid on an auction item Gary and I had included in the fundraiser Dallas Uncorked held for The June Jone’s Foundation on August 5th.  

One of the things I fell in love with early on when Gary I started dating was his generous heart and the giving of his time he gives to the charitable organizations he loves. 
For us to come together, as he says “making people happy with food” for a good cause has been a fulfilling and fun activity and June’s Foundation is one of the best we could give to. 

We started our day with the excitement we get when we have the opportunity to cook all day and set out for Tom Spicer’s FM 1410 for mushrooms and arugula. His garden was bursting with color, easily enjoyed while sitting on their newly installed back deck.  I love Spicer’s greens…maybe the best lettuces I have had.  It is really amazing the difference between fresh greens picked that morning and what you can get in most stores.  Arugula is one of my favorite greens, but often it tastes just like iceberg when purchased from your local grocery store.  This is peppery good. 

A quick stop at Jimmy’s Food Store  for Cento chicken stock and on to Central Market.  Our menu included arugula in a parmesan basket with vine ripe tomatoes paired with a chilled basil soup and a tomato tart tatan; truffle polenta topped with sautéed Chanterelle mushrooms and a perfectly medium rare beef tenderloin; and Gary’s crème brulee with chocolate shavings paired with my balsamic, mint and basil strawberries.  For appetizers I planned to make my somewhat signature brie with mushrooms and truffle, along with a basil pesto topped Beemster Gouda with garlic and basil.  Sometimes I make my pesto from scratch, but Central Market’s basil pesto in their prepared foods section is one of the freshest I have found.  Read More

What We’re Enjoying Now: Arista

Arista 2007 Mononi Russian River Pinto Gris
We got back from our Northwest food and wine adventure a week ago today and I told myself I was going to cleanse myself of wine for a while.  I had hoped for 10 days based on this crazy diet I was attempting forgoing all wine, cheese, bread and pretzels (almost like death for me) but alas, it is 7.  I know, 7 days shouldn’t seem like much for a person to go without wine, but keep in mind, my business is wine…I am a wine writer…I love wine….maybe there is some French in my very Scottish roots that make me want to enjoy a glass with dinner like all good Frenchmen do, maybe it is my Aunt Micki’s great influence that taught me that wine is a gift we all get to enjoy.  Either way, I am pretty proud of holding out for 7 days. 

So after a good workout and a long walk around the neighborhood with Yoda I decided I would indulge in one glass….one large glass.  The bottle of choice, Arista 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris.  It was cold and it is still hot outside, and this is a bit of a special wine (for this occasion.) 

Arista Gardens and Vineyards


I purchased this wine about 2 years ago when Gary and I ventured out on one of your first trips together to Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley.   

Visiting Arista came as a recommendation from my sister who had visited and promised it would be worth the visit.  Their stunning Japanese Gardens alone made the experience worth it, and their crisp whites and deep Pinot Noir heavy reds were excellent. 

The 2007 Pinot Gris is bright and crisp with lots of stone fruit like peach and apricot aromas with good minerality and a long finish filled with honeysuckle.  A perfect wine to enjoy while listening to Steely Dan and waiting for Gary to get home.  Cheers….

Red Wine with Breakfast

Every Glass Is An Adventure


Sommelier, Personal Chef & Concierge Creating Elegant Dinner Parties and Unique Wine Tasting Events to the Big Island of Hawaii

Cogill Wine & Film

Cogill WIne & Film and Cogill Consulting brings together the talents of Producer Gary Cogill and his wife, Sommelier Hayley Hamilton Cogill, working together, yet thriving individually, for a perfect pairing of wine and film.