Backcountry with Ali Lev


As the seasons start to change, there is still a part of us that wants to hold onto the last season. In the Pacific Northwest, the end of February and the beginning of March is a great time to take advantage of the final snowy days on the mountain. Go out solo, with your partner, or with your pups, and of course, don’t forget to throw some Underwood cans in your pack. Our friend, Ali Lev, tells her story below.

Union Wine Co Backcountry Skiing

My name is Ali Lev and my husband’s name is Brad Hanun, and we have two Husky’s named Fiona and Tucker.

Tucker is very much a mama’s boy and very rambunctious but wants to do whatever I’m doing, and Fiona is a typical husky in being very independent and beats to her own drum and comes when she feels like it. But they’re both really good. One of the motivating factors to get me outside is to see them happy and running in the snow.

Union Wine Co Backcountry Skiing

When I was a kid, one of the things that I hated about skiing was being uncomfortable, whether it was being too hot or too cold or too tired or too windy.

I hated the constant fluctuation of discomfort.

And as an adult, I kind of have embraced the discomfort a lot more because I feel like that’s when I’m challenged and I am able to, like, feel those raw feelings more. As they say in back-country skiing, you’ve really got to earn your turns. And even if you’re only doing one lap, you really got to work for it and enjoy the entire day, not just the downhill part. Oregon has been a really pleasant surprise for both Brad and I.

Union Wine Co Backcountry Wine

There’s something really special about having so much greenery all year round. You just feel like there’s life around you at all times. I think that for myself and a lot of others that struggle with mental health issues, whether that’s anxiety and depression or other things, the outdoors is a place where you can let go of all the stresses in life and just be present; creates a sense of freedom that I often don’t feel in other areas of my life.

Union Wine Co Backcountry

It’s not always about going out and having big powder turns.

Sometimes you’re not going to get that, and it’s just about getting fresh air and getting the dogs exercise and being out with friends or your partner and just enjoying the day itself.

Union Wine Co Backcountry

Find a few mental health resources below:

NAMI Oregon
Better Help
The Loveland Foundation
Bigger Than The Trail

The Underwood Pinot Queen our take on PUNCH’s Red Queen

Underwood Pinot Noir Cocktail

This cocktail is the perfect end to winter. It tastes balanced and refreshing, while still including some winter notes of wine, whiskey, and herbs. We’ve been fans of Lo-Fi, who makes aperitifs in California, so we were excited to try their Amaro. An Amaro is a herbal liquor commonly made by European producers. Lo-Fi’s version is infused with anise, cinchona bark, orange oil bitters, hibiscus, grapefruit, ginger, bois de rose, and gentian root. The flavors round out nicely with subtle bitterness.

Lo-Fi Aperitifs

A few notes before we dive in.

You can purchase premade simple syrup, but it’s also very easy to make at home. It does need some time to chill, so a good thing to remember to do in the morning or the day before.

While sometimes garnishes can be an over thought, we say don’t skip this step. It makes your at-home cocktail feel like it came from a bar, and the smell of herbs and fresh lemon you get with each sip heightens the sensory experience.

Underwood Pinot Noir Cocktail

Homemade Simple Syrup

Combine 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Place it over medium heat and once it starts to simmer, stir until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat off and place the simple syrup in another container to chill. This can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge.

The Underwood Pinot Queen

Serving: 1

3 ounces Underwood Pinot Noir

1 ounce Freeland Spirits Bourbon

3/4 ounce lemon juice

1/2 ounce simple syrup

1/2 ounce Lo-Fi Gentian Amaro

Garnish: lemon wheels, fresh thyme, sage, rosemary

Underwood Pinot Noir Cocktail

Directions:

1. Combine the wine, bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and amaro in a cocktail shaker.

2. Add ice, shake, and strain over crushed ice into a tall collins glass.

3. Garnish with lemon wheels, fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary.

Underwood Pinot Noir Cocktail

Recipe by PUNCH

Introducing Everyone’s Table: Featuring Kareema Fernan

In the world of food and wine, we often hear the term “farm to table”. This beautiful partnership begins with amazing local growers and producers working to provide delicious goods for all of us to bring home. Most of us know a local farm or garden that we may have bought produce or goods from, or, maybe a nearby brewery or winery (cough, cough,) that we get our favorite adult beverages from. However, today we are going to take a closer look at our tables, the heart of the household, which for many of us is where we enjoy the meals we put so much effort into. This table might be in a grand dining room, or more realistically, it might the kitchen counter where you sit after a long day, decompressing with your closest quarantine companion.  

Wherever it may be, and whoever may be seated, this table is for all of us. This is a table that holds the recipes of all cultures and backgrounds. This is a table that fills us with delight as we try new flavors. This is a table where we all can grow and learn. This is Everyone’s Table.  

 

Today we welcome Kareema Fernan to the table. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the recipes. 

Hello Kareema, and welcome.  

UWC – Kareema, you are nothing short of a modern-day superhero: with a family and a full-time job, you are the chef for the household. All during a global pandemic. As we all tiptoe into this next year, can you share some of your feelings, concerns, hopes?   

Kareema – Wow! Those compliments sure feel amazing but they are also ingrained in me as pure survival. I am approaching the new year with a softened heart and extreme caution. A new year often allows us all to start fresh, or perhaps set a goal or two. I plan to accept our current evolving future. I plan to dig myself deep into cooking and nurturing my soul.  

UWC – You and your family are based in New York. Can you tell us what it was like as a young girl coming from Jamaica to the US? Especially in the middle of winter?  

Kareema – I can still remember how frozen my bones had become. I think the weather shock was far more extreme when compared to the sight of a brand new world. I definitely remember not quite understanding why we left home to start a new life. Picture a very cold island girl that wanted to immediately go home. 

UWC – For most of us, our diets have changed over the years. What was your favorite junk food as a kid?  

Kareema – Jamaican households are not known to have many varieties of snacks to offer. If you are looking for a 3-course meal that was leftover from Sunday dinner then you would be in luck. My favorite indulgence as a child was a McDonalds Happy Meal. What a world to live in to be rewarded with a new toy just to eat your meal.  

UWC – Fast forward to 2021, what recipe did you bring to Everyone’s Table first meal? Can you tell us a little about it? 

Kareema – I brought a recipe duo: (1) Good Food Fish Marinade and (2) Whole Roasted Red Snapper 

As I came up with recipe ideas for Everyone’s Table I knew that I wanted to focus on proteins that are a true staple to my Jamaican roots.  I wanted to highlight the simplicity of layering approachable ingredients that packed a great deal of flavor. My recipes come from my soul. I like to truly share a memory. A memory that is simply brought on by a good food experience. In Jamaica, eating a whole fish is second nature, meanwhile; in America, a filet-of-fish reigns supreme. I was raised with a mindset to eat the entire animal. If you raised the animal and killed it for your nourishment then you should honor it by not being wasteful.  

First, the Good Food Fish Marinade features Underwood Pinot Gris wine. I wanted to highlight the delicate fish and also showcase some fresh ingredients. I definitely did not want to “cook off” the wine, but utilize its delicate flavors to marinade the fish all the way to the bone.   

Second, the Whole Roasted Red Snapper recipe is simply roasting the fish with the marinade. The marinade first breaks down the fish and then adds a rich flavor. 

UWC – You’ve mentioned you try to get your food from as close to the earth as you can. How important do you feel it is to find the right ingredients?   

Kareema – For me, it is pivotal when cooking at home. I try to stock my fridge and pantry with ingredients that will enhance any meal. Here is a list of items that I cook with the most: thyme, garlic, lemon, lime, turmeric, scallion (green onion), nutmeg, onion, shallot, greens, and butter. 

UWC – It might not be possible, but if you could only have one spice for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?  

Kareema – I think it would be cheating if I selected one of my very own spice blends… 

Smoked sea salt would have to be my selection. I like to double brine my protein: wet brine to add moisture and dry brine to add flavor. Smoked sea salt would allow me to achieve a cooking preparation that runs far too deep in my veins to get rid of.  

UWC – The last year has inevitably led us all to spend more time inside and be closer together. What silver linings, if any, did you and your family find?  

Kareema – As a two working parent household, it allowed me to enjoy all the little things I normally miss out on. I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work from home, and in doing so, I eliminated a 4 hour commute time! The little things such as not waiting for the weekend to have quality family time, cooking a little every day, rather than meal prepping all day long, and, finding more time for myself. 

UWC – Kareema, we can’t thank you enough for sharing this beautiful recipe with us. It is an amazing, delicious, and beautiful dish. To close us out, if you could think of three words to describe your idea of “Everyone’s Table” what would they be?  

Kareema – Soul. Home. Clean Plate. 

 

Good Food Fish Marinade

Ready in 20 mins
Makes 3/4  cup

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 5 scallion (green onion) stalks cut in half
  • 1 small shallot sliced
  • 1/2 lemon zested (approximately 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 lemon juiced (approximately 1 tbsp)
  • 1/2 lime zested (approximately 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (seeds removed)
  • 4 – 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 c Underwood Pinot Gris wine
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Sauce Preparation

  1. Remove leaves from thyme. Place all ingredients into a tall glass jar or bowl. Blend together with an immersion blender.
  2. As an alternative, place all ingredients into a stand-alone blender or food processor.
  3. The sauce will become smooth and well incorporated after a couple of minutes.
  4. Use immediately or refrigerate and place in a tightly sealed container for up to 2 days.

Tip

This sauce is best used as a marinade for seafood. The acid and aromatics allow for the most desirable flavor combination with a slow-building heat.

Whole Roasted Red Snapper

Ready in 30 mins (inactive time 60 mins)
Makes 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 3  whole red snapper fish (approximately 1/2 to 3/4 lb each) cleaned, scaled, and gutted
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • Water
  • Parchment paper
  • Large bowl

Fish Preparation

  1. Place fish in a large bowl. Cut both lemon and lime in half. Squeeze citrus all over fish. Cover with water and soak for 20 mins.
  2. Pour off water and pat dry.
  3. Pour half of Good Food Fish Marinade all over fish. Rub the marinade on the inside and outside of each fish. Marinade for 30 mins. Flip fish over halfway through.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F. Lay out 3 sheets of parchment paper. Place each fish on a separate paper and evenly spoon the remaining marinade over the fish. Wrap parchment paper tightly around each fish.
  5. Roast fish for 20 mins.
  6. Remove from the oven, unwrap, and serve immediately. 

Tip

Whole fish with bones intact is absolutely the best way to eat this dish. The flavor is amplified from the citrus brine and marinade. 

 

Thank you Kareema Fernan!

For more delicious recipes and specialty seasoning blends go to https://www.goodcleankarma.com/ 

Easy Dinners, Amazing Pairings: Fried Chicken and Bubbles

Let’s face it – the holidays are hectic. The days between Thanksgiving through New Year’s can often be described as organized chaos, from shopping, family drama, unexpected guests, and meal planning. Throw in a global pandemic and it’s enough to make anyone a bit crazy. So you may be searching for easy meal ideas and ways to support the local Portland restaurant scene. Enter Big’s Chicken.

Somewhere throughout history, some brilliant guy or gal figured out that fried chicken pairs beautifully with sparkling wine. Pull out a bottle of Underwood Bubbles, place your order online through Big’s Chicken, and voila – a full dinner with drinks are served.

Big’s offers a wide array of options to put an easy and complete dinner on the table. First, let’s talk about the chicken. This post is all about the fried chicken, but Big’s also offers a grilled option. You can get a whole bird, half-bird, or just the wings. There is also a delicious fried chicken sandwich option. Watch out—the wings have a kick!

Now let’s talk sides. We opted for the classics of coleslaw and jo-jo potatoes, as well as the black-eyed pea salad (perfect for good luck on New Year’s Day). Word on the street is the fried Mac N Cheese Bites are to-die-for if you’ve got room for more.

And don’t forget the sauce! There is a variety of options in which to dip the crispy jo-jos or to pour over the chicken. Shown here are the Fresno Sauce (also used to marinate the wings) and the White Gold Vinaigrette (the same sauce for the slaw). The Fresno sauce will set your mouth on fire, so be sure to have a glass of Bubbles at the ready.  😉

This pairing of fried chicken and sparkling wine is the perfect dinner to keep it classy while keeping it real, and of course to keep those #pinkiesdown. Whether you are looking for an easy meal to ring in the new year, tending to a hangover on New Year’s Day, or just want to take a break from cooking, Big’s Chicken has you covered. Just don’t forget the Bubbles.

 From all of us at Union Wine and Your Neighborhood Restaurant Group – we wish you a safe and physically distanced New Year’s. 2021 can’t come soon enough!

  Photography & Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer) Food by Bigs Chicken

Mellow Holiday Celebrating: Warm Spiced Mulled Wine with Gelato & Shortbread

We all know that this holiday season is going to be very different in comparison with those of years past, but that is no reason to abandon tradition or the fun and festivities of the season. Of course, there will be less travel and a lot less entertaining, but you can still have fun at home, making some simple but special treats for a cozy night with your family, (or perhaps a couple of your besties), maybe even in front of a roaring fire, listening to Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas (my personal favorite) on the record player.

So we thought, what is simple but simply delicious for a cold December evening? Why mulled wine of course! And we were thinking that ice cream sandwiches might be a great compliment, but then I remembered an absolutely amazing gelato shop here in Portland, and instead of full sandwiches, which may be structurally difficult using gelato, we thought that making some shortbread cookies and topping them off with a big scoop of gelato would make for an interesting variation as well as really compliment the warm spiced wine.
And, when was the last time you can say you had an “open-faced” ice cream sandwich??

You will want to make the spiced wine just before serving, so let’s first deal with getting some gelato and making some cookies!

A few years ago, a gelato shop opened on SE Division St. with little pomp or circumstance, but before you knew it, they settled right in and it seemed like they had been there forever. It’s called Pinolo Gelateria and I personally think it could be the best Gelato this side of Rome.

They have a few adventurous flavors, but in general, they stay very traditional. For this project, I decided that their classic “Stracciatella” would work best (although I was tempted by the hazelnut!) Stracciatella, one of the most renowned Roman flavors, takes their classic milk-based flavor, “Fior Di Latte” and drizzles in chocolate creating little shreds, (this is where Stracciatella literally gets its name.)

Once this has been safely procured, it is time to make the shortbread cookies. Shortbread is one of the easiest cookies to make. Since there is no rising agent involved, what you see is what you get, so keep that in mind when forming the cookies. I recommend making them slightly on the thicker side, so they will support the gelato.

Classic Shortbread Cookies

1 C (2 sticks) softened, unsalted butter
1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2-3 TBS water—to be used just in case the dough is too flaky

STEP ONE:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using a mixer, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Add flour and salt until combined. Press together well with your hand, wrap tightly in Saran Wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

STEP TWO:

On a floured surface, roll out dough to your desired consistency, about 1/4” inch thick. If the dough is not holding together, add little drops of water and reform with your hands until it does.

STEP THREE

You can cut the cookies into any shape – I chose circular for this project. You can reform the extra dough to make more cookies.

STEP FOUR

Place rounds onto a sheet pan with parchment paper and bake until just turning golden, 18-20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through so they cook evenly.

Now that we have all that ready to go, it’s time to get to the fun stuff…making the mulled wine.

Holiday Mulled Wine

1 full bottle of Underwood Pinot Noir
1 Clementine or Satsuma Orange cut into chunks, plus one for garnishing glasses
Juice of 2 oranges
6 whole cloves
2 whole cinnamon sticks
3 whole star anise
1/4 C Bee Local Honey
1/2 C Cointreau

Put all ingredients into a pot and bring to the lightest simmer. Make sure honey is fully dissolved. Shut off the burner before it boils so you don’t cook the alcohol out of the Underwood and Cointreau. Allow it to sit, covered, for 10 minutes then strain out the liquid into a ceramic pot to keep it warm. Add more orange chunks if desired. Serve warm.

When everything is ready to go, ladle out a few cups of the warm mulled wine and garnish with a chunk of Clementine and a small cinnamon stick. Allow the gelato to soften slightly. (Be aware, this will happen pretty quickly.) Scoop a happy amount onto a few of the shortbread cookies and serve immediately with the mulled wine. The warm, spiced red wine will really compliment the cookie and creamy gelato.

From everyone here at the Union Family, we hope your holidays are safe and fun! As they say, ’Stay Positive, Test Negative.’

And as always, keep those #pinkiesdown.

Photography, Recipes & Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)
Cookie helper: Meredith Rizzari