winter beet salad

Those who know me know how much I enjoy gardening. We had a long
fall, but it's almost December and gardening in Pennsylvania is pretty
much done.

A few root veggies were still in the ground in my garden: little baby
carrots and a few beets that at this point weren't going to grow much
more. But sometimes these little findings can make or add to a great

Some say that what grows together goes together. In this case it did!
I cooked and cleaned the beets. Blanched the carrots and put them over
a little romaine lettuce dressed with miso dressing. Sprinkled feta
cheese over it, and it was great!

Buen provecho!

consider yourself paired!

Tortilla de Patata Wine Pairing by
Charlie Adler, Author of "I Drink on the Job"

Thanks for having me as the official wine pairing pro for DinnerwithDaniel blog, looking forward to many fun matches! As a wine and food professional, I always like to break down pairings into simple component parts:
originating region of cuisine, cooking technique, balance of flavors and spicing, the body of the dish, and the seasonality of the dish are all major points to consider.

So here's my breakdown of pairing for Tortilla de Patata:

Region: Spain - this dish is prepared in various ways in Spain and is a common and traditional tapas (small plate).

Cooking Technique: this dish is cooked in oil and then sautéed. Depending on the cooking heat, there can be some caramelization of the onions and browning of the potatoes and eggs. Daniel tried to make this a very simple preparation of the dish (I've seen a recipe where the onions are slowly caramelized for 40 minutes, but you need so much patience!) and the sweetness from caramelization is minimal - so it's not really a factor.

Balance of Flavors and Spicing: think fat, and lots of good fat of the olive oil kind! Fat coats your palate and adds richness and mouth feel to a dish. This is especially significant when you add rich eggs to the dish--now you can pair a red wine with low to medium tannins and the fat will offset them. The blend of herbs make the dish more flavorful, and Rosemary tends to be a red wine herb, but this really depends on personal preference. Traditionally this dish has smoky Spanish Paprika added which adds a "smoky" component, but Daniel didn't do so in this recipe so it's not a factor.

The Body: this dish has quite a bit of richness and body from the oil, the cooking technique and the eggs. I consider this dish medium-bodied in flavor because the olive oil and eggs add weight, but there is no red meat, mushrooms or rich vegetables like eggplant to move it up a notch on the richness level - it's not meant to be a heavy dish (try this dish for breakfast the next day after sitting in the fridge overnight, it sure beats an Egg McMuffin!).

Other factors: This is an all-season dish and none of the flavor components are overwhelming such as sweetness, acidity or spicing.

Wine Pairing conclusion: after breaking down the dish (and becoming famished in the process!), I would pair this dish with a medium bodied white or red wine, and I would try to stick with the region of Spain. Tempranillo is a red varietal that is relatively inexpensive and with low to medium tannins would be excellent, this is in fact what Spaniards would most likely drink with the dish, there are many good ones produced in Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro. On the white wine front, an Albariño from Rias Baixas in the North west of Spain would be excellent, but since I consider this dish an excellent brunch food, a wonderful dry or off-dry Cava (sparkling wine) from Penedès in eastern Spain would work great as well. Some fun alternatives would be Cabernet Franc from Virginia, Tempranillo from California, Malbec from Argentina, Sangiovese from Italy and Pinot Noir from Oregon or Burgundy. The only wines I would shy away from are "oaky" Chardonnays and overly rich red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Australian Shiraz. This dish is simple country fare and the wine paired should be rustic and inexpensive - there's no reason to spend more than $20 a bottle or so.

Consider yourself Paired!
Charlie Adler, Author
"I Drink on the Job" (Release date: January, 2010) Twitter: @idrinkonthejob

Charlie Adler, President
ph. (202)244-3700
Mobile (202)607-6036
1028 29th St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

Author of "I Drink On the Job"
Early 2010 Release

Tortilla de Patata

The tortilla de patata or Spanish potato omelet has to be the most traditional Spanish dish. If you travel throughout Spain, you'll probably find many different recipes for the tortilla de patata--and if you ask anyone, the best one is the one they make at home.

Basically it's a very simple recipe. You only need these ingredients: potatoes, onion, eggs, and a little salt. Well, and if you want to do it the right way, some good olive oil. This is it. So, why so many different recipes, then? Everyone wants to make it how they like it, make their own. Some might like to add a little garlic, some a little chorizo, some might cut the potatoes into cubes, some into slices, some might add some aromatic herbs, some might even fill them with all imaginable delicious combinations. As many combinations as you can think of for an omelet or a frittata, this is what a tortilla de patata is.

In the recipe I explained how to make the most simple tortilla de patata. I leave it up to your taste and imagination to change it as you go.
Making it this way at first, will allow you later on to decide what else you would do or add to it.

Flipping the tortilla de patata requires some practice, and if you lose some of it at first, don't feel bad. It has happened to me before, and I'm sure it will happen again. Have fun and buen provecho!

See recipe at: tortilla de patata

tortilla de patata


  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh herbs(oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary)
  • a dash of red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 cups olive oil
  • salt and black pepper

Heat up the olive oil. Dice the onion and add to the oil. Bring oil to a boil and reduce heat. Stir to make sure onions aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan. Dice potatoes. Soak in water for a few minutes to get rid of some of the starch. Drain well, salt the potatoes and add to oil. Again bring oil to a boil and reduce heat. Stir from time to time to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and whisk lightly. In a mortar, crush garlic, herbs, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. If you don't have a mortar, simply chop the herbs and garlic and mix with red pepper flakes and pinch of salt. As soon as the potatoes are soft, turn off the heat! (You don't want your potatoes to get too soft--they'll cook some more in the sauté pan.)

Stir the herb mixture into the oil. Remove the potatoes and onions from the oil. Use a skimmer to move potatoes from oil into egg mixture. You want to drain as much oil as you can. The 10-inch sauté pan should be warming on medium-low heat, make sure it doesn't get too hot. Stir potatoes into eggs and then pour this mixture into the sauté pan. A nonstick pan works best, you can also spray it for extra safety. Distribute the mix evenly throughout the pan. Let it cook at slow heat. You will see the edges of the mix get done first. It should be ready to flip in 15 minutes.

Put a 10-inch plate on top of the pan and flip onto it. And then quickly slide back into the sauté pan. Push down the edges of the tortilla with a fork. Let it cook at low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. When a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, it's done! At this point repeat the plate/flip operation. Put a clean 10-inch plate on top of the tortilla and flip onto the plate.
A little bread and wine and you'll be enjoying one of Spain's most traditional tapas.

Buen provecho!

See Charlie Adler's wine pairings for this recipe!

Asylum Coffee Bar Opens 10-10-09

Family & friends,
RiverCity Java LLC is excited to announce the opening of Asylum Coffee Bar! Join us on Saturday, October 10, 2009 when we open the doors for the very first time at 9am!
Asylum Coffee Bar's menu has something for all, featuring 14 unique specialty lattes & mochas, our custom Asylum Blend coffee, and a vast selection of single-origin coffees from around the world provided by the fantastic Iron Star Roasting Company, owners of your local Coffee Tree Roasters coffeehouse. If beans aren't your thing, warm up with some Harney & Sons tea, Ghirardelli hot chocolate, or Mountain Cider Company apple cider - or stay cool with a fat-free, Vitamin-C infused green tea fruit smoothie.
Asylum Coffee Bar is also thrilled to announce that we have reached an agreement to feature baked goods & desserts from Dozen Bake Shop! This Pittsburgh-based bakery is exploding and we're happy to be partnering with them to bring you some phenomenal treats. If you aren't familiar with Dozen, check out their website at
We've also reached an agreement to offer a great lunch & dinner selection - Spanish Pies! Daniel Aguera, another Pittsburgh-based (born in Spain) chef has a fantastic selection of empanadas that we will be featuring daily - until they sell out! You can learn more at his website:
In addition to these great offerings, we're proud to offer GIVE Water & GIVE Energy drinks. Besides the taste, the best part of this product is that $.10 from every can or bottle you purchase goes to a specific charity, based on your selection, that include Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Friends of the Riverfront, The ALS Association, and more. The story behind GIVE is phenomenal - check it out:
Finally, many of you have been asking about buying coffee, t-shirts, mugs, and more - I assure you, they're coming. In fact, we've got a VERY limited supply of red Asylum Coffee Bar t-shirts in stock now! You will also be able to take home our custom Asylum Blend any day of the week, in addition to our other offerings, in 1lb bags. Special orders are also welcome. Our new website is in development and will launch soon - and with it will come our online store, where you can order these items from home!
Saturday, October 10, 2009 - the day I've been looking forward to for a very long time. I hope to see you all throughout the next few weeks and at our Grand Opening event in late October. Stay tuned for details as we're making some big plans!
In closing, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this possible, everyone who supported us, everyone who has followed us to this point, and hopefully beyond: Chip Fetrow, the Swoope Family, the Hoover, Bogus & Titler families, the residents of RiverCity Flats, our Facebook/Myspace/Twitter fans, my very best friends, and the many new ones made along the way. Thank you.
See all of you soon!

Matt Hoover
Co-Founder & General Manager
Asylum Coffee Bar
1919 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Cell: 412.877.1906
Work: 412.281.5369

hungry honey bees

Apiculture has always fascinated me. I find bees very intriguing, and honey is a favorite of mine.

I have a pear tree in my backyard and a few pears have been gathering on the ground around the tree. Bees, hornets, wasps and the like have been all over them. Somewhere I've read that honey bees will collect the fruit juice fromfruit they encounter.

Bob Steffes, co-founder in charge of apiary operations for Burghbees, tells me that his bees were particularly hungry this fall. Bob thinks that this season's nectar was very poor this year. He finds it unusual for his bees to go for fruit, but, whatever it takes to stock,he ponders.

As I take all of this in, and of course basing it on my limited apiculture experience, I wonder if this is only more encouragement from nature herself, to have more gardens, farms, and parks in the city.

Golden Hill Farms

Many of you have probably heard all kinds of things about the current situation with the beef that we find at the grocery store. Most of it is corn fed, and who knows what else has been fed to these poor animals. Don't get me wrong, corn is a symbol of pride in this country and it has many uses, some very delicious, but all must know, cows don't like corn!

That's probably the shortest explanation you've ever read. I'm not saying any more about that either. OK, maybe I'll say that what's killing Americans is not the amount of beef we eat (other countries eat more beef) but what's in the meat.

A cow is a herbivore and a ruminant. It likes grass. These animals eat grass and it turns into healthy delicious beef. Think of it as another miracle of nature.

I grew up on grass fed beef. I know what's good for me and my family.

There are a few grass fed beef options around the Pittsburgh area. Golden Hill Farms is, perhaps, not one of the closest. It's about an hour and a half drive northwest of Pittsburgh. Long drive, but it was a beautiful fall drive.

The farm sits on acres and acres of luscious green grass. The cows seem so happy with it, they don't even care about your presence.

Bob and Saundra Rose have owned and operated this farm for over forty years. Nicest people you'll ever meet.

Bob and I talked about cows, beef, farming in the area, cattle rotation for best grass use and much more. Bob is very proud of his cows. I learned many things about the grass fed industry. Things like, dairy farmers selling their day old Jersey/Holstein dairy calves that have been fed milk replacer, and then they are put to pasture and hay for two years. In this period of time and because these cattle don't have as much muscle mass as the beef cattle, they only weigh around seven hundred and fifty pounds. The quality of the beef is poor and at best only good for hamburger.

We went inside the house where we met Saundra.

The farm house is tastefully decorated with many of those farm items, like pickling crocks, we city folk don't know what they are for. We were told not to remove our boots when we went in. "This is a farm house," Bob said. But, trust me, everything was kept very clean.

We sat at the kitchen table and had a slice of pumpkin roll while we talked about the life at the farm. I felt like I had known the Roses for a long time. They made us feel very comfortable. The Roses are very customer oriented, and they won't let you go home with a cut of meat you don't have use for.

On our way out, cheese graters made into light fixtures edged the walkway. It is indeed a special place, this farm.

We could really tell how much they care. We'll be back.

You can contact them at:

Bob and Saundra Rose
20405 Lauderbaugh Road
Cochranton, PA 16314
(814) 425-7063 home
(814) 720-5864 cell