Monday, January 26, 2015

Where Everyone Knows Your Name--Tally's Silver Spoon

Nestled on a corner of downtown Rapid City and tucked behind the statue of a younger President Ronald Reagan, the neon “Open” sign of Tally’s Silver Spoon glows as a welcoming beacon to all who are walking the busy historic streets.  Chef Benjamin Klinkel has found the perfect blend of the homey environment of a traditional diner and the chic food of a modern eatery. One almost expects people to yell, “Norm!” when walking in the doors, which was the chef’s goal when he purchased the traditional diner Tally’s and paid homage to Rapid’s venerable café--first opened in 1930--by keeping Tally in the name.  Though delicacies such as foi gras and mussles can be ordered, this definitely does feel like a restaurant where everyone knows your name.
With Ronald Reagan and the neon sign, Tally's has invited customers in since 1930.

Tally’s Silver Spoon is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is the perfect spot for each meal.  Breakfast is served all morning and until 2:00 p.m., so whether an early meal or a true brunch is desired, the food here meets all needs.  Using fresh and local ingredients, the pancakes, eggs, breakfast burritos, and omelets are all great traditional choices.  I personally loved the eggs Benedict and a signature mimosa—my truly perfect brunch.  However, if a more unusual or unique breakfast is what is craved, the lox plate or the duck confit can be ordered. 
Mimosas...the most important part of brunch!

So gone!
For lunch, the traditional burgers are great choices, coming in both the smaller size—Rosie, quarter pound—and the larger size—Dick, half pound—to cover all appetites.  Onions, peppers, blue cheese, cheddar, ham, swiss, etc. can be added.  A buffalo burger is also an option.  There are, of course, other sandwiches and salads as well, but what customers won’t see on the table is a ketchup or mustard bottle.  This is where the “silver spoon” part of the name comes in; condiments are brought out separately and individually in small ramekins at customers’ requests.  House-made, fresh pastas are also available for the lunch and dinner crowds.

Supper is when Tally’s really comes to life as an upscale bistro.  Yes, the burgers and sandwiches are still available, but many other interesting items are worth a look.  Begin with the curried mussels—the signature starter.  For the entrée, try the Black Cow, a coffee-encrusted steak recommended by the server to be cooked medium-rare (is there any other way it should be cooked?!) or the Autumn Oak Pheasant, on a bed chestnut stuffing and Brussel sprouts.  Both are great dishes worth trying.  If these options aren’t unique enough, try one of the pork options for which Tally’s is known.  Tuesdays are Pinot and Pork nights, with a different pork dish every week paired with Pinot Noir.  Tally’s chefs have won the South Dakota Pork Producers competition on several occasions, including being named restaurant of the year by the group again in 2015—they know their pigs!  Tally’s is the only place (or one of very, very, very few) in the Black Hills that has foi gras on the regular dinner menu—yes, silver spoon for sure!  There is also a chef’s tasting menu called the “Indecision Menu” that can be ordered with two, three, four, or five courses that can then be paired with wines. 

The Black Cow

Beautiful Autumn Oak Pheasant, with burning leaf on top--don't worry, that part isn't eaten!
Speaking of wines, Tally’s wine list is impressive for a small diner.  To start, there are fourteen white wines and twenty-one reds for by-the-glass options.  Port, late-harvest, and ice wines are choices for dessert.  Then there are many quality and unique whites, reds, sparklings, single-varietals, and blends for by-the-bottle purchases.  As I already mentioned, Pinot Noir has a special place in Chef Benjamin’s heart, and though the entire wine list is impressive, the list of quality Pinots impressed me…a real Pinot Noir lover. Of course, all wines are served in Riedel stemware, showing that this establishment takes its wine drinking very seriously. 

Whites and reds on the list, all served in beautiful Riedel stemware. Yes, I'm a wine glass snob!
No good meal would be complete without dessert, and Tally’s hits the mark here, too.  There are multiple options for sweets after the meal—if a diner has room to eat more!  The ‘Smores Pot de Crème was a rich, sweet treat; however, Date Night was over-the-top delicious!  Date cake, date ice cream, caramel sauce, and toffee bits (ALL house made) are served in a bowl with a purple salt rim (the salt is tinted purple so it is easily seen and added to each delicious bite taken).   Truly a sensation for all of the senses, I enjoyed every last bite of this. 

Date Night and 'Smores Pot de Creme

Get a bit of salt with every delicious bite!
Chef Benjamin has done a perfect job of pairing an inviting ambiance with contemporary, excellent food.  Keeping the familiar name Tally’s and the familiar feeling of friendliness, Tally’s Silver Spoon is a must-stop for all Black Hills area foodies.  Ronald Reagan and the neon sign welcome all to the historic Duhamel Corner, no matter what time of day.  For breakfast, lunch, supper, dessert, or drinks, Tally’s definitely feels like the place where everyone knows your name. From the Le Cordon Blue culinary institute to Rapid City, Chef Benjamin Klinkel—who also owns the currently-being-remodeled Delmonico Grill—has made his name known for excellent food!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

In the Family Way--Prairie Berry Winery's Anna Pesa Wines

Walt Disney once said, “A man should never neglect his family for business.”  However, what if a woman spent her entire career attempting to honor her family?  That is exactly what Sandi Vojta of Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City, South Dakota has done.  She was the fifth generation wine maker when she joined her father Ralph in the commercial endeavor of making wine in the Midwest.  She started by primarily making fruit wines from the “berries of the prairie” like her ancestors.  Over the past ten years, Sandi has expanded not only her wine production but also the ways she honors her family in every aspect of her profession. 

Though Sandi has been using different Vitis Vinifera (traditional winemaking grapes) for several years in addition to the hybrid grape and fruit-based wines for which Prairie Berry is so well known, in 2012 she began production of the new line of Anna Pesa wines—a unique brand with a specific taste profile in mind, a taste that would honor Sandi’s goals and her family’s traditions. 

Anna Pesa was Sandi’s great-great-grandmother who immigrated to the Dakota Territory in 1876.  Before coming to the United States, Anna lived in Moravia, Czechoslovakia, where she made wines using traditional grape varieties found in that country.  Over one hundred years later, Sandi is using Riesling, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Cabernet to make a style of wine much like her Grandmother Anna would have. 

Because of South Dakota’s harsh winters and shorter growing seasons, most Vinifera grapes that Sandi’s grandmother would have had the ability to access don’t grow well here; hybrid grape species that didn’t even exist in the late 1800s weather the Midwest conditions best, so Sandi had to leave the state of South Dakota to source the grape varieties similar to what Anna might have fermented.  Much like Anna did, Sandi sought the best fruit possible to create the style of wine the Prairie Berry winemaker envisioned.  Sourced along the West Coast, Sandi has long-term contracts with many growers that she has worked with for several harvests already.  Because she is a South Dakota wine maker, her concern in choosing fruit is not about expressing the terroir of where the fruit was originally grown; instead she wants to express a specific style of wine after production—a style she believes her grandmother would have appreciated.

Cultivating relationships with the growers is the first step in the process of making these wines for which Sandi proudly exclaims Prairie Berry has “pulled out all of the stops” to produce.  Getting the fruit is definitely a long-term, committed relationship, as it takes a year for growers to nurture the grapes to harvest before Sandi and crew then spend up to two years turning the fruit into wines that they hope leave a lasting impression on consumers.  Having multiple sources of fruit is actually a benefit Sandi has that many winemakers don’t.  She is not “putting her eggs in one basket” if one growing area has a vintage that doesn’t meet Sandi’s standards.  Though these grapes grow thousands of miles away, Sandi works with farmers at every step of the way.  She has input into choosing the yield (amount of grapes) per vine, pruning of the vines, thinning of the shoots, and even managing the canopy of leaves (covering the fruit).  These specific growing techniques lead to grapes with the particular sugar and acid content that Sandi wants for the style of drink honoring her grandmother’s wines from the old country.  Modern technology and shipping systems have also made cross-county grape growing easier for the South Dakota businesswoman, as juice samples can be sent to her at any time. 

After the fruit arrives at the winery outside of Hill City, Sandi begins the painstaking work of creating these labor-intensive wines.  The recent production expansion at Prairie Berry was finished specifically for Anna Pesa wines.  They are handled and fermented in smaller lots; then these two, three, or four smaller batches are blended to achieve the style and complexity of Sandi’s vision.  The wines receive old-fashioned production treatments from beginning to end:  battonage, stirring the lees (dead yeast cells) into the wine; delestage, racking the wine from one vessel to another; and punching down, stirring the cap of seeds, stems, and skins back into the wine.  Though these practices are very hands-on and time consuming, they enhance the structure, mouthfeel, complexity, aroma, and flavor of wines.  The additional production space has also allowed room to age these wines with barrels from different cooperages (barrel makers); the differences in oak also adds to the complexity of the final blended wine.  Sandi’s work with and passion about wine has definitely paid off in the end product that meet her stylistic goals, her family commitment, and her grandmother’s memory. 

Anna Pesa 2013 Riesling:  Listed as a semi-dry Riesling, this is a Riesling for those who believe Riesling is just a juice for novice drinkers of sweet wines.  This serious Riesling will renew faith in the grape.  On the nose, it smells of the traditional slight petrol, stone, and apple aromas.  On the palate the green apple and acid with minimal sweetness make it reminiscent of dry styles from Germany or New York State—some of my favorites!  So unique yet so Riesling, it would be a wonderful food-pairing wine.  This is a wine worth buying on multiple occasions.

Anna Pesa Riesling--a serious, dry Riesling. 
 Anna Pesa 2013 Chardonnay:  I enlisted my Chardonnay-loving friend to give me a more objective stance since Chard is not necessarily my favorite grape.  However, this is also an old-world style wine.  Buttery herbs are on the nose, yet the palate is very surprising with zippy acid and golden-delicious apple flavors.  Not an over-oaked California type and so much more complex all the way to the finish.  A Chardonnay that I didn’t need any help assessing—and my Chardonnay-loving friend gave rave reviews too! 
Anna Pesa Chardonnay--a Chard for those looking to escape the butter bomb style.
Anna Pesa 2012 Zinfandel:  Aged a year longer than the Anna Pesa whites, the Zinfandel was very spicy on the nose, with black pepper, dried herb, mushroom, and earth coming through.  A beautiful, deep garnet color, the spice carried through on the palate with great tannins.  No big, over-ripe Zin sweetness comes through, so if a big California wine is the expectation, that is not what will be experienced with this wine.  This has a light berry essence that is more pronounced on the finish.  Good balance between the tannin, acid, and fruit.
Anna Pesa Zinfandel--a more restrained, spicy Zin.
Anna Pesa 2012 Cabernet:  Ruby red, chokecherry in color, this wine is a more robust wine than the Zin but definitely more restrained than a bold California Cab.  Dried sage and boysenberry on the nose, its fruit is the first taste on the palate.  Then the strawberry and blueberry mellow out through even tannins to a slight white pepper on the finish.  It would be one of the easiest Cabernet Sauvignons to pair food with because of the balance between tannin and fruit.  When I first tried this line of wines, I liked the more reserved Zin better than the Cab.  This time, on the second tasting, I liked the more fruit-forward Cab.  This shows my appreciation of both wines. 
Anna Pesa Cabernet Sauvignon--the most robust of the Anna Pesa line, yet still old world style restraint.
Though the first vintage has only been released a few weeks, future vintages are already in the works, including these same four varietals in addition to a 2014 Anna Pesa Chenin Blanc currently fermenting.  In further attempts to emulate Grandmother Anna, Sandi would love to source a traditional Moravian grape like Blaufrankish to make a wine.  However, these varieties are very obscure and hard to find in this country since few Americans have heard of or tried this grape as a single varietal.  Even if she could find Blaufrankish grapes, Sandi would have to get special TTB approval to bottle it as a Blaufrankish (as it would have been called in Moravia) and not a Lemburger.  Then she would need to convert Merlot drinkers to Blaufrankish wine!

            Sandi has paid tribute to her family with every step over the past two years as she has loved these wines into the bottle.  Sip after sip, the old-world influence of these wines came through.  When drinking the end product, it is evident that European wine making was the inspiration, even if the grapes came from the U.S. West Coast.  Sandi Vojta has spent over a decade doing a great job of mixing family and business.  As the fifth generation to make wine, she has worked to honor her ancestry while meeting her own stylistic goals.  Her newest wines not only pay tribute to her great-great grandmother, they are reminiscent of an old-world style that make her Czechoslovakian roots very proud.  Anna Pesa and her other descendants are smiling down on Sandi…probably with a glass of Moravian wine in hand. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Cheese Stands Alone--Monte McIntyre

“The farmer in the dell.  The farmer in the dell.  Heigh-ho, the derry-o, the farmer in the dell!”  This children’s nursery rhyme and game tells of a long series of events, with the farmer taking a wife, the wife taking a child, the child taking a...well, everyone knows this popular chorus.  However, at the end, the cheese is standing alone.  This may be a bit of a stretch, but it really is what came to mind when I visited with twenty-five year cheese making veteran Monte McIntyre, who now lives in the Black Hills after retiring from his years of making sure cheese could stand on its own.

            Born and raised on a dairy and cattle ranch south of Gregory, South Dakota, it wasn’t necessarily a stretch that Monte was a professional cheese maker for twenty-five years.  However, the road Monte took to get to this profession was a lengthy one.  After high school graduation and attending the University of South Dakota for one year, Monte did not know what he wanted to do as a career, but he did know what he wanted to do as a hobby…and that was travel!  He went to Colorado but landed in Mexico for a period of time doing “mission work” (which is what I am sure he told his Catholic mother), but in all actuality, he had a lot of fun “bumming” around the beautiful, tropical country. 

Still unsure of a career path, Monte enlisted in the Army, which offered him many more opportunities for travel.  In the late 1960s, he ended up in Europe on an “extended vacation” and traveled through France, Spain, and Portugal, enjoying the excellent food, cheese, wine, and beer.  After the Army, Monte again enrolled in USD, this time choosing history teaching as his major.  After a teaching assistantship at the university, he decided that vocation wasn’t for him either.  He ended up with a business degree, working first for an electronics company, then in ag-related business.  The agriculture crash of 1983 devastated most of his rancher clients, and Monte’s business crashed at the same time. 

He was then divorced from his first wife and looking at starting over from scratch.  Yet there was something that had always in his life—the love of agriculture, food, wine, and cheese.  Monte met Beth (his current wife of nearly thirty years), who was the program director for the South Dakota Dairy Council.  Through her, Monte saw numerous “kids” in agricultural-based educational programs getting jobs left and right.  Monte decided his stint in construction (the job he was working at the time) was over and enrolled in South Dakota State University, graduating in 1990 with a degree in diary manufacturing—finally finding an occupation that blended all of his interests. 

Monte took his first job at Maytag Dairy Farms in Newton, Iowa, making Maytag Blue Cheese.  He enjoyed this job, but left after a decade to take on a new challenge: being the cheesemaker for a brand new company just getting started.  Monte—with Beth, of course—arrived in California on July 4, 2000, to begin making cheese at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company.  The first vat of cheese Monte made at Point Reyes was in August but was not quite ready for consumers.  In December of 2000, Point Reyes chees hit shelves, first at farmer’s markets in San Francisco, where the high-quality cheese sold out in less than two hours. 

A wonderful cheese plate, including some blue cheese.

In northern California, where artisan products were a way of life, cheese makers like Monte were almost treated like celebrities.  He would try to keep his job a secret when he and Beth went out to dine because if he was found out, restaurants would comp their entire meal!  This was an environment in which “people were interested where food came from,” and Point Reyes' cheeses did very well.  The cows milked for the cheese were right on the same farm where the cheese was produced.  Consumers loved this; it was part of the lifestyle where fresh oysters, artisan baked goods, and boutique wines were around every corner.  Though the days of a cheese maker were filled with long hours and hard work—often starting at 2:30 a.m. with actual cheese making, then a break for lunch before going back to the “office” to fill orders all afternoon—Monte and Beth loved the lifestyle and environment in which they lived.

However, as the cheesemaker at large companies, Monte’s housing was always provided.  When he and Beth moved to California, they never purchased and invested in a house of their own, so once it came time to think about retirement, they had no house to sell to reinvest wherever they were going to live out their golden years.  Then, in 2008, like so many others, the McIntyres’ 401ks took a hit and looked more like “101ks”--as Monte said--so returning to the Black Hills where he and Beth had already purchased a house for future retirement living was not yet an option.  Instead, after ten years at Point Reyes, he became the cheese maker at Swiss Valley Farms in Wisconsin.  The large operation made excellent cheese, some that can even be found in shops in the Black Hills.  Finally, after almost five years there, it was time to officially retire.  Monte and Beth (also a South Dakota native) arrived in Hill City the week after Atlas, the crazy blizzard of October 2013, dumped several feet of snow on their home. 

Retirement has been more of an adjustment than the weather, as Monte originally had thought to open up a commercial cheese production facility here in the Hills.  However, there is no dairy farm close enough to produce the amount of milk necessary for a large-scale business; also, the upfront capital needed to build a cheese factory was not in Monte’s retirement plans.  He does still make small amounts of cheese for his personal use…and some to give to family and friends.  (I can tell you from experience that Monte’s house-made blue is some of the best I have ever tried.  I was lucky enough to receive a chunk on two separate—very lucky—occasions.)  Beth also has gotten in on the at-home cheese making.  She often makes mozzarella, ricotta, and fromage blanc; she and Monte even taught a cheese making class at Someone’s in the Kitchen, Beth’s current employer. 
Chef Beth's quiche--with caramelized onion, bacon, and cheese (of course!).

A light lunch prepared by Beth, with cheese and a fresh baguette as a large part of the meal.
Testified by the fact that Monte still makes it, blue cheese has always been his favorite cheese to produce.  He also considers white cheddar and goat cheeses some of his preferred cheeses to make.  However, he loves to eat all sorts of cheeses.  He loves Affinois, a Brie from France; Vella dry jack and mezzo secco, from a Sonoma cheesemaker he personally knew; and Bellwether cheeses, made from sheep’s milk.  A true blue cheese connoisseur, he only likes blue cold, not warm or cooked in other recipes.   Beth, on the other hand, also loves blue cheese, but in any form!  She makes a wonderful blue cheese and honey crostini that used to sell out at her Maytag (appliances) cooking demonstrations.  Beth, the chef of the family, uses many different cheeses in a multitude of ways—in salads, soups, Italian-style pastas, homemade mac and cheeses, and (of course) grilled cheese sandwiches.  Still, both Beth and Monte love to let the cheese stand alone, with a great glass of wine, usually from their favorite producer—Mettler Family Vineyards (a winery in Lodi, California with a family connection to Beth’s ancestors).  In addition to Mettler wines, they both enjoy (mostly reds) from Kenwood, Coppola, Louis Martini, Brown Estate, and J Lohr (fellow South Dakota native), among many others they were able to experience while living in California.   
A small glass of Mettler Petit Sirah.

Monte and a block of his house-made blue--a wonderful cheese!
            Even in retirement, cheese has a major role in daily life for cheese maker Monte McIntyre and his wife Beth.  The road to cheese making was a long one, but this long road led to a lengthy career in a field which Monte found somewhat later in life.  He may have been born as the son of the farmer in the dell in Gregory, South Dakota, but retiring to the Black Hills after twenty-five years in cheese production is a very unique way to wrap up a lifetime of occupations related to agriculture.  Yes, for Monte McIntyre, the cheese truly does stand alone. 

How to Make Cheese…For Amateurs

I had Monte explain the basic process of how to make blue cheese.  I would say this was how to make cheese for dummies, but since I was the one asking…well, you know.  Anyway, Monte said that making cheese is all about ph and time, depending on the cheese and the cheese maker.  Here are the basic steps.

1.       Purchase all cultures, molds, milks, etc. before beginning. There are businesses that specialize in the selling of all things cheese making.

2.      Add starter cultures to milk. 

3.      Heat milk to a medium heat—around 95 degrees.

4.      According to those magical factors of ph and time, add blue cheese mold.

5.      According to ph levels, add coagulant. 

6.      Cut into various size cubes.

7.      Set for a certain amount of time, then stir.

8.      As curd firms, check ph.

9.      Draw out whey.

10.  Put in forms, usually of four to six pounds; cheese now in chunks.

11.  Turn the chunks for up to three days.

12.  Salt for three days.

13.  Pierce holes in the cheese to aerate so mold will grow.

14.  After mold develops, seal cheese in bags or wax.

15.  Put in long term storage, anywhere from three to eight months.

16.  Cut, serve, and enjoy!

*It is important to note that all of this is done by hand (by most artisan cheese makers, anyway), so it is a very labor-intensive process. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015


This is my entry for the wonderful monthly wine writing challenge to which many self-abusing wine bloggers and writers subject themselves.  I have joined the fun on several times but had taken a bit of a hiatus.  Well...I'm back!  Click here for more information:  #mwwc14.

I grew up in a very small, tight-knit family.  And when I say small, I mean small.  My dad had one sister; my mom had one brother.  In grand total, I had four first cousins, only three that I actually knew.  This family also lived very close together.  So close, I actually lived about thirty seconds walk from my grandma’s house on our family ranch. 

This time of the year, I often smile to think of what a wonderful childhood I had with this close family.  Though we had specific holiday customs, my family also had traditions all year around.  Sunday dinners at my grandma’s house.  Christmas Eve opening of presents.  Fires in the fireplace.  Hunting and cutting live Christmas trees.  Games after holiday dinners.  Hide and seek with the cousins.  The list goes on and on. 

One item missing from this list of traditions is noticeably wine.  My family was not a family of wine drinkers.  They really were not a family of drinkers at all.  Except for the “pork chop in a can” my dad would drink when he opened up his cheap beer, alcohol wasn’t a part of my family rituals.  Food, on the other hand, food was.  Not only was food there at all of the above instances, but food was usually the center of and focus for these occasions. 

My grandma was a fabulous cook, especially of homemade, traditional fare:  all items made from scratch, many items from recipes passed to her from her mother or grandmother, most items eventually committed to her memory not even requiring her to look at an actual list of ingredients as she cooked.  This was a very special trait about her, a trait she also passed on to my dad. 

Now that I have lost both of my parents and this food-loving grandma is in a nursing home with dementia, I have spent the past several years attempting to recreate or find recipes as close to those original ones as possible.  My grandma’s oyster stew and her egg noodles are dishes that I have either found a recipe close enough to pass as hers or have adapted what I know she used and got the taste as close to hers as possible.  The beef stew and dressing I still don’t have a written recipe for—they are both a dash of this and a pinch of that, even with me cooking.  I plan on writing these down before my memory begins to fade, so my kids will have something when they cook.  I indeed count myself lucky that the bread dough recipe for rolls I have just as Grandma used it, written down in the exact amounts of ingredients needed.  Of course, now that I am the head of a wine-loving family, each of these special, traditional foods has a wine custom linked to it.  

My well-used recipe and cook books of traditional recipes.

Homemade Bread

Scald 1 cup milk with 2 tbsp. butter; let cool to luke warm.
Stir 2 packages dry yeast into ½ cup warm water until dissolved.
Mix 1 egg, 6 tbsp. sugar, and 1 tsp. salt well.
When milk is cooled to lukewarm, mix the above ingredients together in a large bowl; add ½ c. cold water.
Add 4 cups sifted flour, two cups at a time. Using 1 cup additional flour, knead the dough into it on a flat surface.
Place dough in a greased or oiled bowl and let rise until double in size, about an hour.
Knead. Shape into loaves or rolls. Place in a greased pan. Let rise until double in size again.
Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes, until golden brown.

 These rolls are served at every Thanksgiving with turkey and dressing. I serve a dry Riesling and a bright Pinot Noir with the turkey dinner.
A wonderfully dry Riesling and bright California Pinot Noir, perfect with turkey dinner.

Egg Noodles

 2 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
2 beaten eggs
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. olive oil
In a large mixing bowl, mix flour and salt. Make a well in the center.
In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, water, and oil.
Add egg mixture into the well and mix until combined.
Sprinkle kneading surface with extra flour and knead dough until elastic—8-10 times total.
Let dough rest for ten minutes.
Divide dough into fourths.
On a lightly floured surface, roll each fourth to about 1/16 inch thick.
Roll each quarter up, slice about 1/8 inch wide, and separate noodles.
Let noodles dry for up to four hours.  

Add to chicken stock for chicken and noodles.

Oyster Stew

2 cups whole milk
2 cups light cream
2 dozen oysters
2 tbsp. butter
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Celery salt to taste
Heat milk and cream together in kettle; do not boil.
Drain oysters; reserve all juice.
Place oysters in a sauce pan; add 2 tbsp. oyster liquor, butter, and Worcestershire.
Heat oysters until plump and edges begin to curl.
Bring remaining reserved oyster liquor to a boil; stir into cream mixture.
Add oysters; season with salt, pepper, and celery salt.
Serve immediately.

 The chicken noodles and oyster stew are our traditional Christmas Eve meal; I serve a Chardonnay with both, either buttery California style or more acidic Burgundy style. I will often mull a sweeter wine for the kids and non-wine drinkers.

A buttery Napa Chardonnay pairs well with both chicken noodles and oyster stew.

As the holidays wind down, I put away my cookbooks and clean my kitchen, yet again, after incorporating these traditional family recipes from my childhood into my adult celebrations.  I don’t use the term blessed lightly, but I truly do feel blessed when I think back on my close family.  My grandma was an excellent cook, and I like to think that I have gotten a little bit of this from her.  No, I hope I got a lot bit of that from her.  Though my family’s traditions today are quite different from when I was young, I hope my children look back on these years when they are adults and have the same fond feelings I do.  Yes, food will definitely be a part of their memories; however, I am guessing wine will also be a major part of their recollections as well!