Friday, September 23, 2016

Sobreiro de Pegões Portuguese Red Wine Review

Sobreiro de Pegões Portuguese Red Wine Review

Simply put: Spectacular!

I rarely review alcoholic beverages here on The Gluten Free Blog. In fact, the last such product review was for Carolyns Irish Cream liquor in 2010, and before that some various gluten-free beer reviews.  But, my wife and I came across a wine that we think is absolutely fantastic, so I figured why not post a quick review?

Sobreiro de Pegões Red Wine from Portugal

To begin with, we are not generally wine drinkers, in fact, before now, I hardly ever finished more than 4 ounces of wine in one sitting, and rarely even drank wine... I just did not get into it.  Furthermore, I have tended to quickly tire of the taste of any particular wine. But, that has all changed, thanks to this fantastic Sobreiro de Pegões Vinho Tinto from Portugal — a lovely deep-bodied red wine that is just wonderful!

We now regularly consume a bottle of this Sobreiro de Pegões red wine per week, and on occasion, as much as two bottles. For wine drinking enthusiasts, this may still not sound like much wine, but for us it is truly quite a bit. And, having now consumed this particular wine (both the 2013 and 2014 vintages) for 6 months or more now, we still both enjoy it as much now as we did during the first tasting.    

Although my wine experience is somewhat limited, I have never tasted anything like this in the USA previously, and I have tried all sorts of wines from various regions of the world in hopes of sooner or later finding something I truly enjoy. My prior wine experiences have ranged from bargain-basement "Two-buck Chuck" (i.e., Trader Joe's Charles Shaw brand), to regional wines from across America, to some foreign ones from England, France, Italy, Australia, and Brazil to name a few. I have even tried some rather fancy wines that friends have served, and yet never really got into any of them. Along the way, I have found some to be "OK", but never anything I could really enjoy repeatedly over long periods of time.  But, my search for a truly repeatedly reliably delicious and satisfying red wine is over, with Sobreiro being my all time favorite.

Taste and Profile

Smooth and balanced is an understatement. It is not overly sweet nor overly dry, it is somewhere in the middle, and at just the right point on that scale in my opinion. And, it is so complex in its tones and finish, all in a desirable way. It has a finish of caramelized sugar and vanilla or such. Fabulous. And, the initial hit is very much fresh red and dark berries, with a middle tone sequence of, heck, I dunno, tobacco or spices or something (I need a real wine snob to come up with a good description) but incredibly mild and wonderful with the deep tones of ripe berries among the grapes. It is just really good! 

Now, keep in mind, I am not a real wine critic by any means.  I just know that we are really enjoying this wine a lot.  Though, I have also noted that other reviewers have given it rather high marks. If you want to read how the producer describes their wine, click this Google-Translate of that Sobreiro de Pegões webpage in order to come pretty close in English (the original site is in Portuguese).

Note: I am assuming this is gluten-free, as most wines should be, having not found anything to indicate otherwise and having not had any reaction at all to it after repeated exposure.


This is where the wine becomes even more amazing.  We have been paying approximately USD $3.00/bottle when we purchase the Sobreiro de Pegões wine on sale. Local sellers have shown list prices of up to $10-$11 USD per bottle, but there have been some truly deep-discount sales on this wine: twice in the past 6 months we have encountered these sales at the Continente Hipermercados stores.  So, when it goes on sale, we stock up.

The price alone makes the quality of the product even more incredibly hard to believe.  I have tasted $40 wines in the USA that can't match this $3.00 wine. Sadly, the one thing I do not know is whether this wine can be purchased anywhere in the United States. I have seen it sold throughout the EU, Hong Kong, and even New Zealand per my online searches, but I cannot determine if any United States dealers are carrying it. If you know of any, post a link here.  But, maybe you can get together with a few friends an import a pallet of 420 bottles at a time directly from the company (I noticed their packaging details on that same web page)... it only weighs 555Kg! (a mere 1200 pounds).


Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Easy Gluten-Free Fig-Paste Recipe

Homemade Gluten-Free Fig-Paste Recipe

Last week, I posted a blog entry about how fresh figs are now in season along with some recommended preparations and uses for these figs, one of which was to create your own fig paste.  After harvesting some 20 pounds or more of figs in the past week, it became quite clear that I had to get busy...

Step 1: Wash the Figs, Cut in Half, place in Vitamixer with cinnamon...

After rinsing them off, I cut each fig in half just to make sure there are not any invasive bugs (e.g., worms) in any of the figs.  Luckily, bugs were very rare, and I only found one fig among my entire harvest into which a bug managed to burrow, and it may have been a fig I picked up off the ground instead of directly off the tree.  I could fit perhaps 3 pounds of halved figs in the blender at a time.

I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon onto the figs at this point, just to make sure it mixed in well. Do this only to your personal preference.  I will add additional ingredients later...

With my blender container loaded with figs, I added between 4 and 6 ounces of water to assist the blending along, and...

Fresh Figs, halved, in blender.

Step 2: Blend, but don't fully liquefy

Although the resulting fig mixture is not the best looking, here is a picture of it.  I didn't quite fully liquefy or fully puree the figs, as there are still some discernible bits of the green outer portion of the figs, and all the fig-seeds are quite noticeable.   I blended on a somewhat low speed until I was satisfied with the consistency...

Blended Fresh Figs, ready for cooking.

Step 3: Place blended figs in pot, add other ingredients, and cook it down

I had a very large batch of figs, of which I used perhaps 8 or 10 pounds of figs, and had performed step 2 (above) three times, creating just over a gallon and a half of blended fig liquid that I would next cook down.

To my pot full of blended figs, I added (do to taste, with each being optional) a bit of vanilla, some fresh-squeezed lemon juice, a few tablespoons of molasses, and a few tablespoons of plain white sugar.  The figs have quite a bit of natural sweetness already, depending on how ripe they are, and my goal was primarily to just enhance the flavors slightly using the citrus and molasses tones.

The fig mixture is surprisingly thick before boiling, thanks to all the natural fiber in the figs. But, for my fig paste to be ideal, I want it to be even thicker.  So, I carefully bring the mixture to a low boil and maintain the boil for up to half an hour or so, stirring regularly enough to prevent any burning.  The mixture will thicken considerably as steam escapes.

Cooked Gluten-Free Fig Paste
The fig mixture will not reach a consistency of being a "paste" while on the stovetop, due to the heat... but, once it cools, it should set up in the refrigerator quite nicely.  This full pot of cooked figs took most of the day (8 hours) to cool down to the point where I then placed it into various jars that I keep in the fridge, as well as into some containers that I froze for use later in the year.

This fig paste recipe may be a bit different than some other alternative recipes, but this is the fastest and most efficient way I have found to process large batches of fresh figs into fig paste.  I will use this paste in other recipes (I even used it in my gluten-free pancake batter the other day) as well as an accent added to other foods and desserts.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Fresh Figs in season, and delicious gluten-free recipes using them...

Figs, fresh-picked from the trees

I really enjoy this time of year when figs are ripening on the trees and plentiful.  Yesterday I came across a small cluster of fig trees growing wild on a tiny strip of public land where a couple streets meet at an intersection (barely a 2-foot wide area between an alley and a larger road). These trees, which are approximately 15 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter must each literally have a thousand figs on them right now!

I only noticed the trees because so many figs had fallen to the ground that they caught my attention when I accidentally stepped on one and it squished everywhere. It only took a few minutes to harvest some five pounds (2-3 Kg) of fresh figs...
Fresh Figs from the tree
Although these figs look rather green in color yet, the ones that were just slightly more yellow in color than some others were quite soft and ripe already, and their inner seeds are already turning a brown-sugar brown color...
Fresh Fig : center showing ripeness
Of course figs are safe for a gluten-free diet,... they are just a fruit, and a really tasty fruit at that.  And, figs are quite versatile and can be included in a wide range of gluten-free recipes in addition to being consumed fresh.  These figs have a wonderful natural sweetness, and are naturally high in fiber (~14% by weight, raw).

The only thing that may take a bit of getting use to is the rather light, fluffy texture of a fresh fig.  If for any reason you do not care for the texture of fresh figs, simply consider frying them or baking them, or cooking them down into a lovely fig jam or paste.  Since I will have more figs than I can possibly consume fresh (they tend to quickly ripen!), I will certainly be cooking some of them.

Recommended Preparations / Uses for Figs

You can dry / dehydrate the figs for longer term storage, if you have a way to do so.  I generally purchase my dried figs from the store.  I really like dried figs in my morning granola or for simple snacking.  But, I also like to prepare fig paste: simply cook the whole figs down in a sauce pan, add just a touch of cinnamon and vanilla, and keep a jar of this around, like jam, to add to greek yogurt, use as a spread to accompany various cheeses, or even place on top of a square of nice dark chocolate!  This fig preparation can even add a nice tone to some salad dressings.

Next, try baking or frying some fresh figs.  I typically do this in a cast-iron pan either on the stove top or in the oven.  Split the figs in half, vertically, place them cut-side down in a pan that has been lightly sprayed or coated with oil, and sprinkle just a light dusting of cinnamon over them.  Fry or roast until the sugars in the figs caramelize nicely.  If for some reason the natural sweetness of the figs is not sufficient for your liking, just add a slight bit of brown-sugar.  Optionally, instead of a light coating of cooking spray, use a bit of butter to enrich and enhance the flavors.  The end result (the lovely baked / fried figs) can be served as is, for a dessert item, or provide the finishing touch to fancier and more complex desserts or dishes — perhaps over ice-cream, on top of your favorite gluten-free cake, or even as a salad accent.

For pricing purposes, if you cannot find fresh figs just growing wild, I have seen them in the local grocery stores in the area lately for between EUR 3 and EUR 5 per Kilogram (i.e., in US Dollar terms, that is essentially $1.50 - 2.50 per pound), and keep in mind that the figs are not terribly heavy. They are delicate when ripe, so remember not to pile other groceries on top of them unless you want raw-fig-paste accidentally.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Pomegranate Cocoa Lemon Gluten-Free Antioxidant-Rich Snack

Pomegranates as the basis for a tasty GF treat

One of my favorite fruits is the wonderfully delicious pomegranate — a fruit that requires a bit of patience when it comes to retrieving all the individual edible berries (seeds) from within its thick reddish skin and the inner near-white pulp. I have tried repeatedly over the years to improve the efficiency with which I can harvest those little single seeds inside, moving along as quickly as possible without bursting each flavorful juicy bit during its extraction.  Yet, a good sized fruit (which may reach the size of a medium grapefruit) takes me perhaps 10 minutes to fully shuck and disassemble.  I have tried methods that claim to be faster, but nothing really works better than careful deconstruction, especially if you want to keep the seeds intact.

Fresh Whole Ripe Pomegranates

Good plain, and fantastic in various gluten-free recipes too...

As good as the pomegranate fruit tastes on its own, I also have experimented quite a bit with various gluten-free recipes and combinations of ingredients mixed with pomegranate seeds.  I especially like simple recipes!  One of my perennial favorites is mixing pomegranate seeds, plain Greek yogurt, almond butter, and a few drops of vanilla (if for some reason you desire added sweetness, honey is my recommendation due to the flavor it adds). I further vary that formula with things like hints of cinnamon, some cocoa, and some citrus (I prefer lemon, but orange can be nice too, with the almond butter especially).

Recently, I have settled on a super-simple and healthy gluten-free snack that is nothing more than the pomegranate seeds, drizzled with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and then tossed about in a heaping teaspoon or so of plain cocoa.  The resulting "dish" may look a bit unusual, as the next image demonstrates:

Cocoa-Dusted Pomegranate Seeds with Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juice Binder
The lemon juice serves two purposes: it makes more cocoa stick to the pomegranate seeds, and furthermore it imparts a lovely sharpness and slight sourness to offset the sweetness of the pomegranate.  In fact, this snack is all about contrasts.  Textures contrast substantially, ranging from the crunch of the seeds inside each little pomegranate berry to the juicy popping of each berry as you bite into them, and the powder of the cocoa is quite different and contrasting as well.  Tastes range from that sweetness you would expect from the main fruit, to the tangy and sour taste of the lemon, to the slightly-bitter flavor of the bold cocoa powder.

In my opinion, it all combines nicely. It may be an acquired taste, but it is something that can be experimented with in a small batch (just a few seeds) to see if you like it before using the entire pomegranate.  I'd recommend playing around with other complementary flavors and combinations of your own too.

Furthermore, this gluten-free snack has a nice range of nutritional elements from vitamins to minerals to antioxidants and polyphenols / flavonoids (e.g., the theobromine of the cocoa), which makes it a bit of a super-food combination.  Hope you enjoy yours!

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.