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Rub Recipe for Grilled Shrimp

I’ve been letting my blog posts fall behind over the summer and since it’s Labor Day—the default end of the season—I thought I’d squeeze in a BBQ shoot that we did earlier this spring for the Rioja Tames the Flame recipe booklet. For me grilling doesn’t end with summer, I grill as long as I don’t have to shovel that much to get to the grill. In fact when I drove down to the North Fork of Long Island from Vermont to do the shoot I had to weather a major nor’easter snow storm and was questioning my sanity by being on the roads. Luckily on the day of the shoot the clouds parted and we had an enjoyable day at the grill and in the kitchen. This was one of 5 recipes we shot over two days and this rub will work just as well with fresh fish or vegetables. Be sure to Visit VibrantRioja.com for more info on their fantastic wines and pairing suggestions.

1 tablespoon dried lemon peel
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients. To use on shrimp , add shrimp to bowl and toss until well-coated. To use on fish, pour spice mixture onto a plate or cutting board; press skinless side of fish into spices to create a crust. White fish works best. Allow to rest at least 20 minutes before grilling. This rub may also be used on vegetables.

Shrimp1 Shrimp2 Shrimp3 Shrimp4 Shrimp5 Shrimp6


Rioja Rosado Pairing—Spring Orecchiette

This recipe assignment for Rioja wines was a lot of fun. For more info go to www.vibrantrioja.com

“Spring Orecchiette”

This is a dish that is easy to throw together at the last minute, but also can be made ahead of time and served room temperature—it’s always a crowd pleaser and great for entertaining. The grassiness from the parsley and the saltiness from the sheep’s milk cheese make a fantastic companion to a Rioja Rosado. Note: if you can’t find orecchiette, you can substitute fusilli, penne, rigatoni, etc. The olive oil you use to dress the pasta should be the best you can find, it is the element that will bring everything together. Serves 6-8 as a first course or side dish.
1 lb orecchiette
1 cup walnut halves
3/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 lb ricotta salata, shredded (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil plus two tablespoons
salt, to taste

1. Over medium high heat toast walnuts in heavy bottomed skillet, tossing occasionally to ensure even browning, about 3 minutes. Transfer toasted walnuts to a bowl and salt immediately. Set aside.

2. Cook orecchiette about 11 minutes, or until al dente, in pot of well-salted water (salty as the sea!) that has reached a boil.

3. Once cooked, drain pasta immediately. Transfer to bowl and toss well with 1/2 cup olive oil.

4. When ready to serve, garnish pasta with walnuts, ricotta salata and parsley. Toss well and finish with remaining two tablespoons olive oil.


Gastroarte Restaurante

I had the opportunity to shoot a Vibrant Rioja sponsored awards dinner for the Tempranillos al Mundo international wine competition culminating at Gastroarte Restaurant in mid-town NYC this past week. And in addition to some fantastic Rioja wine pairings, Gastroarte lived up to their namesake with the fantastic presentation and a flavorful four-course meal which featured Eggplant and Fried Oysters, Serrano Wrapped Monkfish, Suckling Pig with Fingerling Potatoes, and the desert was simply named Almond-Vanilla-Lime, all of which I was just as happy to eat as well as shoot. For more information on the chef and founding partner Jesús Nuñez, who was clearly passionate about his creations, click here http://gastroartenyc.com/about.html.

Comfort Food—Mac and Cheese

I just finished back-to-back, all-consuming photo projects. One of which was a recipe booklet for foods paired and created with Rioja wine, with a dozen delicious and creative recipes by Jill Paradiso.

So when I looked down the list and saw the mac and cheese recipe, I couldn’t wait to start. My wife Colleen and I like to experiment in the kitchen with homemade pizzas, and her mac and cheese is always evolving as we try different ratios and types of cheese and other ingredients such as bacon and fresh veggies.

In addition to the wine pairing, this recipe may not be for the younger kids—due to the kick of the cayenne pepper and onions—but for us big kids on a cold winter’s day, there is nothing like a nice Crianza and a warm kitchen filled with the smells of melting cheese and onion. A special thanks to Colleen for agreeing to “model” while I turned our kitchen into a photo studio 😉

More food shots and recipes to come from this tasty project!

Mac and cheese

A sample page from the Rioja "At Home" recipe book

Yield: serves 8 as a side dish
1 lb elbow pasta
¼ onion, finely chopped
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika
1 ¼ cups grated manchego (5 ounces)
1 ¼ cups shredded white cheddar cheese (5 ounces)
2 slices white bread
sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put large pot of water to boil and salt well. Melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, and stir in flour to coat onion well. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes minutes, stirring frequently. In a steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.
2. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until mixture in thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, cayenne or paprika and 1 cup of each cheese. While sauce is reducing cook pasta for 8 minutes. Drain and reserve.
3. Toss pasta in cheese mixture and transfer to a 9×13 baking dish. In a food processor, pulse bread until large crumbs form. Toss together with remaining 1/4 cup each of cheddar and manchego, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes.
Rioja Pairing:
The creaminess from the cheese and the spice from the paprika or cayenne would do well with an aged red, whether it be a Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva.


Lobster Scramble “Ostrich Style”

I had the honor to shoot at David Burke’s Townhouse Restaurant in NYC this summer, and I am constantly impressed with the creativity and artistic presentation that chefs on top of their game are cooking. Not only was the lobster and ostrich egg scramble with Shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, creme fraîche, and American sturgeon caviar amazing to look at when it was brought to the table (served in an egg shell nestled in a beautiful copper pot), but this “appetizer” was incredibly delicious. Chef Burke was very gracious to go along with the fun concept for the Vibrant Rioja ad, and he juggled the ostrich eggs like a pro. He treated us for lunch after the shoot as the lunch crowd quickly filled the restaurant to capacity, and his Executive Chef Sylvain Delpique delivered dish after dish of apps to the table where we tried as much of everything we could, forgetting that the main dishes were still to come!

Lobster Scramble "Ostrich Style"

Chef David Burke

Chef Noah Schwartz

I recently had the opportunity to travel to the north fork of Long Island to the town of Greenport, NY to shoot for one of the Vibrant Rioja AD campaigns. Despite a rough ferry ride from CT to Orient Point with heavy rain and wind, the following morning cleared and we were able to do two location shoots with Chef Noah Schwartz of Noah’s, who graciously agreed to model for us on his one day off. Here are a couple of my favorite portraits of Noah as well as his delicious food and wine pairings prepared back at his restaurant in downtown Greenport.

Chef Noah Schwartz with baby goat at Catapano Dairy Farm, Peconic, NY

Chef Noah Schwartz with a baby goat at Catapano Dairy Farm, Peconic, NY

Beet and Chevre Risotto with Rioja Blanco

Chef Noah's Beet and Chevre Risotto with Rioja Blanco

Chef Noah Shwartz at Pipe's Cove Oyster Farm, Greenport, NY

Chef Noah Shwartz at Pipe's Cove Oyster Farm, Greenport, NY

Pipe's Cove Oysters with Rioja Blanco

Pipe's Cove Oysters served fresh at Noah's restaurant with Rioja Blanco