Sun Basket experiment – meal no. 1


1st meal: 

chickpea and quinoa curry with toasted naan

Chickpea an quinoa curry



When I first saw the ingredients, I thought it’s too little of everything. But then I remembered it’s just for 2 people. Although I’m a chef, I have a hard time to cook for just two (luckily we love leftovers).


ingredients for Chickpea and quinoa curry


The prep:

Description on the card was easy and detailed. I can imagine that even experienced cook wouldn’t have a problem to prepare it. I would use much more seasoning but I trusted the recipe and went with it as  written.

Cooking time: *****

The recipe card claimed 25-35 minutes and we had a meal on the table in 30 minutes. Following the recipe was easy and the result looked close to what it was on the picture. I would prefer my curry to be thicker. Perhaps less water, or use of coconut milk instead of water would do the trick and result in better consistency.

cooking chickpea and quinoa curry


Taste: **

I wasn’t excited.  To my personal (probably little spoiled) taste it was bland. It’s understandable that cooking for mass of people, you can’t make things spicy, but I’d expect curry to taste like curry and have at least some heat, even tiny. What I was missing was the debt of flavor when I cook other recipes for curry. The addition of dill, although adventurous and out of the box in my opinion didn’t elevate the flavors anywhere. Sorry …

I easily adjusted the heat to my liking (cayenne pepper) and added generous amount of cilantro. I also strained the last few spoons of curry so our resulted meal wasn’t so watery.

Portion size: ****

There was more than generous two portions of meal, we don’t usually make such large portions.

Overal:  **** 4 stars out of 5


Catch up on how it all started?  My Sun basket experience

See more meals reviewed:

Meal No. 2 – Steak and Eggs with Tomato Cauliflower Rice REVIEW

Meal No. 3  – Braised chicken with carrots, potatoes and thyme REVIEW


Corvina, Italy, Red blends, Red wine, Valpolicella Classico

Allegrini Pallazo della Torre 2006

Grape: 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella, 5% Sangiovese
Region: Valpolicella, Italy

Named by their beautiful Renaissance Villa and its vineyard in the town of Fumane, near Verona, this is my all time favorite from Allegrini wines. That doesn’t mean that I appreciate their Amarone or Valpolicella, or their superior La Grola or La Poja any less. But the Pallazo della Torre offers an unique blend, it reflects the high quality of all Allegrini wines for a very reasonable price.

Family Allegrini was involved in winemaking at the Corte Giara since 16th century. Today, Marilisa and Franco – and until 2003 also their brother Walter (who passed away unexpectedly), are carrying their ancestor’s art of wine making and the experience passed on them from generation to generation.

I had the honor to meet Ms. Marilisa Allegrini few years ago when she hosted a wine tasting of her family’s wines. I know how very passionate and hard working this family is when it comes to their wines. Most of the wines produced in Valpolicella use a Ripasso method. Allegrini family didn’t hesitate to invest into a brand new facility to innovate drying naturally, yet eliminating high risks that may occur when drying grapes outside.

I am proud that I worked for a wine distributor, that was the first who ever introduced Allegrini wines to the Connecticut wine market.

Grapes for Allegrini Palazzo della Torre came from the family vineyard of the same name. What is the most interesting about this wine is the wine making process. 30% of grapes were picked first to be dried until the end of December. The remaining 70% of grapes were harvested in October, de-stemmed and gently crushed, than fermented immediately. In the January the dried grapes were added to the young wine and it naturally provoked a second fermentation.

Wine than rested in oak barrels for another 15 months, bottled in 2009 and aged another 7 months in the bottles, before released to the market. Quite a labor with one wine, isn’t it?

This Ripasso method gives the wine a super silky, rich fruit expression, and extra body, balance and unique flavors. Palazzo della Torre can easily age for another 10 years. I just had 2006 vintage (the current release) and I must say – compare to what I remember, this wine is getting better and better every vintage!

Tasting notes:
Dark ruby red color, and beautiful aromas of wild berries, cacao and dried fruit. You have to let this wine breathe for at least an hour or decant it. It will reward you with an excellent balance and layers of great flavors. On the palate it reminded me of black cherry, raisins, black currant and blackberries. Some spices from oak and herbs in undertones.

Tannins are velvety and acidity is just right. Perfect wine for food pairing for under $ 20.00. It is a very consistent quality in comparison with previous vintages. A lot of wine drinkers will appreciate this. No matter which wine you chose from Allegrini, this Valpolicella house will never disappoint you!

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: around $ 20.00

Ideal food pairing:
Rich Italian dishes, sausages and peppers, Lamb burgers, stews, I had this wine with a Beef Chorizo (it definitely stood out to this rich dish as well), Flank steak with shitakee sauce,Easy pork chops with onions and peppers and many more

California, Napa, Red blends, Red wine, Sonoma

Artesa Elements 2005

Winemaker: Mark Beringer
Grape: 39% Tempranillo, 18% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Franc, 7% Garnacha, 1% Graciano
Region: 65% Sonoma county, 35% Napa, California

See other wines from this producers:
Artesa Cabernet Sauvignon Napa/Sonoma

I have never been in Artesa winery, but I was told by a trusted friend that it is one of the most beautiful wine estates in California, combined with a modern technology. If you visit their tasting room, please let me know how you liked it. The large portfolio of their wines are definitely worth to check out.

Imagine to combine a most typical grape varietals of the three major Old world’s wine regions – Bordeaux, Rhône and Rioja and put them in one bottle. That’s Elements. A very unique blend, isn’t it? I am not sure, but it might be the only blend of such a grape combination on the market.

Artesa’s winemaker, Mark experienced with all these varietals while working at Duckhorn Vineyards. When Duckhorn expended their wine production beyond Bordeaux grape varietals, Mark was leading their new wine project to launch Paraduxx, (an unique blend of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon). Paraduxx became an instant hit and was later followed by Goldeneye, the winery’s Burgundy style wines from Anderson Valley.

The San Francisco Chronicle named Mark Winemaker of the Year for his work at Duckhorn Vineyards.

The grapes for Elements were sourced from Artesa’s Alexander Valley mountain-side vineyard, Carneros estate Tempranillo and a Carneros Syrah and Tempranillo vineyard. This cool climate area produces wine with spice and leather characteristics. The Alexander Valley vineyard is a warmer region that participated with an aromatic and expressive fruit.

Each lot was hand harvested, de-stemmed and gently split open. Extended maceration of fruit followed the fermentation in open tanks, to extract a richer a deeper structure of different varietals for the final blend. Most of the varietals were pressed directly to the oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation took a place in French oak barrels (about 30% new oak) and wine then aged for 22 months.

Tasting notes:
Dark ruby color and lovely aroma of blackberry, raspberry and spices on the nose. On the palate it’s a rich, yet velvety red with a layers of different flavors, ripen dark fruit, plums, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate. This wine is developing richer and richer flavors as it opens up. Soft tannins are promising a good aging potential. Generously long finish that makes you reach for a second glass.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: around $ 20.00

Ideal food pairing:
Steaks, lamb, dark meats, artisan cheeses, Beef chorizo, Pistachio crusted rack of lamb, spiced sausages, ribs etc.