Hub’s Hints: Camper’s Comfort Carbonara 1


If you are a fan of “Comfort Food”, those dishes that warm the heart and nourish the sole, you will thoroughly enjoy this rich and savory Italian comfort food specialty – Pasta alla Carbonara. I mean, think about it; what could be more comforting than a combination of heavy cream, butter, cheese, bacon and pasta. Anyone who enjoys a delicious and satisfying “Mac & Cheese”, will find this dish a truly be a religious experience! Carbonara is a traditional Italian pasta dish that is based on eggs, butter, cream, cheese, bacon and seasonings. There are many variations of the ingredients and preparations but, once you prepare the following recipe, you may feel compelled to experiment in order to fully reward your adventurous spirit.

The origin of this dish (like many dishes worldwide) is rather obscure. There are numerous stories about its name but, most Italians believe that the dish was first made as a hearty meal for the charcoal workers in the urban areas south of Rome and in the regions of Umbria and Lazio. The derivation of the name Carbonara is from “Carbonaro” the Italian word for charcoal burner and it has even been suggested that the dish was created as a tribute to the “Carbonari” (the charcoal men, a secret society that figured prominently in the unification of Italy). In parts of the U.S. this dish is often referred to as the “coal miner’s spaghetti”.

Although, this hearty and savory dish can be enjoyed at home, the camping community may soon refer to this dish as the “Camper’s Comfort Carbonara”!



¾ lb of Thick, Center Cut Bacon – A variation of this ingredient could be pancetta and/or prosciutto or, consider a combination of the three – bacon, pancetta and prosciutto.

4 Egg Yokes * Separate the yolks from the clear liquid, place in a bowl to mix with other ingredients. Please consider purchasing only cage free organic eggs – for your own health and to support the care of the animals.

¼ cup of Heavy Cream

1 cup of Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese – Imported Reggiano Parmesan is recommended – variations of this ingredient for future consideration could be Pecorino Romano or Asiago, or a combination of the three – Parmesan, Romano and Asiago. Ultimately, it will be a matter of taste preference.

¼ cup of Diced White Onion

1 clove of Fresh Garlic Minced

½ teaspoon Salt

1 tablespoon of Freshly Ground Black Pepper

½ teaspoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

8 tablespoons of Butter – I recommend Kerry Gold, pure Irish butter made from milk from grass-fed cows (seems a bit against the grain to use an Irish component in an Italian dish but, it works extremely well).

1 lb of Thin Spaghetti – My recommendation is to use Barilla # 3 Thin Spaghetti ~ a variation for the pasta could be Angel Hair, fettuccine, Rigatoni, Penne or Bucatini style pasta.

1 cup Frozen, Early Harvest, Petite Peas


Fry the bacon until a firm texture (not quite crispy or hard) place on paper towel to drain off the grease. Cut the bacon or break apart into approximate ¼ inch size pieces and set aside. Pour off the excess grease from the pan, let cool – with a paper towel wipe out the excess grease and remaining bacon crumbs around the perimeter of the pan. Leave a bit of bacon residue in the center of the pan – add the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic on medium-high heat for approximately 3 to 4 minutes, remove from pan and set aside.

Cook the pasta “al dente”, pasta should never be fully cooked, soft and mushy. It needs always to be slightly firm and chewy but not hard. Drain pasta and have piping hot ready for the cheese mixture. Be careful not to let the pasta sit too long – it will stick together!

In the bowl, beat the egg yolks for a few minutes with a fork, add the cream and gently stir together, add the cheese, salt, fresh ground pepper – make sure the mixture is well stirred and mixed together before pouring into the hot pan with the butter.

In a large high sided fry pan or a pot large enough to hold all of the cooked pasta, heat the butter until golden (not brown) and bubbling (not separated). Pour in the egg and cheese mixture. Over low heat allow the egg mixture to partially cook in the heated butter. Make sure the egg mixture does not cook too much. The hot spaghetti will complete the cooking process. When the egg mixture is ready, add the spaghetti, crumbled bacon and frozen peas, mix the contents thoroughly. Keep over low heat while stirring. When the pasta is completely coated and all ingredients have been sufficiently mixed – Serve Immediately!

I sincerely believe that this Italian specialty will be warm and comforting, delicious, engaging and satisfying. Enjoy!




Description: The winery was founded in 1870 by Ilario and Leopoldo Ruffino. Immediately the foundation was established for Ruffino to become one of Italy’s most well-known and beloved labels. Although Ruffino is known predominately for superior quality Chianti, the winery produces a limited assortment of additional releases. The Orvieto is named after one of Italy’s most beautiful cities of the same name, located on a hilltop between Florence and Rome. “Classico” refers to the original delimited vineyard location that made the area famous. “DOC” (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) is the Italian assurance of authenticity and area of production. Ruffino’s Orveito is made from 40% Grechetto, 20% Procanico, with the balance of the blend – Verdello and Canaiolo Bianco. Taste: Flowery (meadow flowers) fragrance, pleasant, versatile, easy drinking and refreshing with a citrus and golden apple fruit flavors and possessing a hint almond and fresh sage.


Description: Since the 16th century, the Allegrini family has been engaged in the tireless pursuit of excellence and perfection in a winemaking area just north of Verona. Years of research, experimentation and meticulous attention to detail has established Allegrini as one of the true innovators and respected labels. Allegrini’s Soave is made from 80% Garganega (an indigenous grape variety) and 20% Chardonnay. The fruit is hand-harvested from 25-year-old vines grown in chalky and volcanic soils. The must is cold-macerated to preserve the fresh vibrant character and to add a fuller flavor extraction. Taste: The fragrant, wildflower aroma is complemented by a subtle and elegant citrus, white peach and grapefruit complexity and a lingering, refreshing minerality.


Description: This is one of Italy’s most respected, superior quality white wines that is intended to be consumed early but, is a wine that will improve with age. Gavi is made entirely of Cortese (meaning “courteous” in Italian). The grapes are grown in the commune of Gavi in the heart of Piedmont approximately 30 miles north of Genoa. La Scolca is known around the world as the paragon of Italian white wines. Taste: Bone-dry, high-toned and intense, crisp, rich and fine, with refreshing acidity and mineral notes.



Description: La Carraia was founded in 1976 by the Gialletti and Cortarella families. Riccardo Cotarella is one of the most respected authorities on the production of Italian wines. La Carraia produces a broad spectrum of wines intended to satisfy the palates of the casual but, demanding value-oriented consumers. This wine is made from 100% Sangiovese (the grape of Chianti) aged in Allier and Nevers (French Oaks) barrels for a rich texture and a refined smooth mouth feel. “IGT” (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) is an Italian wine designation (Law) identifying origin and traditional style of wine. Taste: Brilliant, ruby color, rich and lush layers of fruit with abundant ripe blackberry and currant with hints of chocolate, mocha, tobacco and sweet spice finishing with a vibrant and refreshing acidity.


Description: Valpolicella is an amiable red wine, velvety, fragrant, subtle and delicious. The wine is produced in an area in the northwest portion of Italy, just north of Verona. Le Ragose sources its fruit exclusively from estate owned vineyards, 1,200 feet above sea level and from vines that average 30 to 60 years old. The wine is made from 50% Corvina and 50% a blend of Molinara and Rondinella grape varieties. The fruit is hand-picked and carefully fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel casks. “Superiore” is a designation for aging – in this case 1 year in stainless and two years in Slavonian Oak. “Ripasso” is a production method involving the added fermentation of mat dried fruit – as is done with Amarone. Taste: This special Valpolicella is perfectly balanced, with the rich, luxurious complexity of Amarone and the softer mouthfeel of traditional Valpolicella. The wine has a bright acidity with plum and pomegranate flavors and a hint of ground spice and pine forest.


Description: Montepulciano is produced in the region of Abruzzi in the south-central, eastern portion of Italy (in the region directly east of Rome). Normally, soft, easy drinking and affordable wines come from this area. However, Monti produces something truly special. This is a small family owned and operated facility specializing in fine quality wines of pedigree and reputation. Baffo, meaning “mustached” in Italian, is the name of the family dog that appears on the label of each of the family’s wines. This delicious red wine is made from 95% Montepulciano (the red wine grape variety of southern Italy) and 5 % Sangiovese (the grape of Chianti). Taste: Dark, inky, ruby-red color, fleshy fruit flavors, intense ripe blackberry and cherry flavors with hints of herbs, licorice, black pepper and smoke – round, ripe tannins, a complex structure and delicate acidity.

The wines have not been listed in order of preference. It does not matter if you prefer white wines or if your taste leans more towards red, all of these wine selections would nicely complement this particular “Comfort” dish. Search for these wines at your local retail shop or consult with the resident wine specialist for recommendations of wines that are similar and/or that fit your pricing preferences and tolerances.


Hub’s Hints: S.O.S. 2


Are you tired of the “SOS” (same old stuff) or “SOC” (same old considerations)?  I have cleaned this up a bit!  If you are one of those people who is becoming increasingly less interested or satisfied with the “SOS”, wines that you have been purchasing and consuming; please allow me to provide a few, affordable recommendations that would (I believe) stimulate and reinvigorate your interest.

While traveling on the road and dining in the great outdoors, campers are often frustrated and bewildered regarding what style of wine to take on over the road excursions.  Most everyone has specific brand preferences when it comes to hard liquor and beer but, remain a bit uncomfortable regarding what type of wine / wines to take on a trip.  As a result, many consumers settle for the “SOS” / “SOC” or, the standard commodity wines available in general distribution.  There are literally thousands of wines available world-wide that would complement the camping / dining experience but, the following are my “NTSOS” (Not The Same Old Stuff) recommendations that you could enjoy at home or, on your next trip.

Generally (with the possible exception of Monica Bennett from Just 5 More Minutes, who creates extravagant and delicious gourmet dinners at camp sites across the Northwest (visit her site for inspiration and information), the type of food consumed while camping necessitates lighter, softer and less austere style of wines that would complement a wide range of foods.  The following selections (two white and two red wines) would be a welcome addition to your provisions on your next outing.



Gryphus is named after an ancient mythological creature with the body of a lion and the head and talons of an eagle.  This extremely pleasant and satisfying Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Valle de Rapel in the Central Valley Region of Chile.  The hand selected fruit is harvested exclusively from the hillside and mountain top vineyards, 2,000 feet above sea level.  This micro-climate is heavily influenced by the Andes Mountains and cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean.  A long cool growing season at this elevation allows the fruit to gently ripen and achieving a flavorful complexity.  Each of the Sauvignon Blanc lots is fermented separately by renowned winemaker Andreas Caballero.  Hands nurtured and carefully crafted, the final blends are assembled to insure a delicious layered fruit complexity and consistency with each vintage.  Gryphus brings Chilean white wines to a new level!  This wine competes favorably with high quality wines of pedigree and reputation and provides an alternative to escalating prices for California and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

DESCRIPTION: Made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc, bright and vigorous with a full ripe mouth feel and balanced fruit aromas, possessing a zippy, zingy acidity and pleasant minerality.  The wine is clean and fragrant with flavors of pineapple, peach, pear and tropical fruit.

FOOD: Consume as an aperitif or with Asian inspired dishes, sushi, delicate sauces, grilled fish and chicken.

*APPROXIMATE RETAIL RANGE: $8.00 to $10.00 per bottle.


Portugal is most well-known for Port.  Also as of late, dry red wines that are made from the same grape varieties that are used for Port have become very popular.  Vinho Verde is a light and fresh style of wine made in a region in the north of Portugal. Although this suggestion is white, wines from this area can be red or rose also.  Vinhas Altas comes from a Quinta (single estate) in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal.  Enoport, the producer of Vinhas Altas owns several single estates in the prime production areas of Portugal and the fruit for this Vinho Verde comes from the best quality vineyards.  Vinhas Altas employs a unique and special advanced technology that utilizes a process called “dessulfitador”.  This involves freezing the must right after harvest and unfreezing of the juice for each vintage.  The process preserves the youthful and fresh characteristics, ensuring vibrant aromas and a crisp refreshing taste profile.  Vinhas Altas is one of only two wineries in Portugal utilizing this very special technology.  Vinho Verde can be served as an aperitif of will complement lighter dishes.  Pinot Grigio fans will enjoy this special wine.

DESCRIPTION: Made from a combination of Arinto, Loureiro and Trajadura grape varieties.  The wine is clear and brilliant with greenish tones.  It is delicate and fruity with flavors reminiscent of pitted fruit possessing a tropical subtlety.  Slightly herbaceous, fresh and clean with citrus and white pulp nuances.

FOOD:Mediterranean, Chinese and Japanese cuisine – light dishes and grilled fish.

*APPROXIMATE RETAIL RANGE: $8.00 to $10.00 per bottle.



Malbec has gained a considerable following and is the current rage in America.  Malbec seems to be the new Merlot and consumers enjoy the approachability and soft flavor profile of this variety.  The majority of what has been available for general distribution has been from Mendoza, in the central portion of Argentina’s wine production area.  However, Inca (named for the ancient civilization that once ruled this area) is located in Salta-Cafayate in the Calchaqui area in the extreme north – one thousand kilometers north of Mendoza.  The grapes grow high in the Andes Mountains, 6,000 feet above sea level and the vines are nourished be pure snow-melt of the Andes winters.  The altitude (these are some of the highest vineyards in the world) provides pure unadulterated sunlight, a cool climate and a long gentle growing season.  These factors give the grapes a unique, distinctive and more concentrated flavor profile.  The winery founded in 1870 and has been producing quality since its inception.

DESCRIPTION:  100% Malbec from hand harvest fruit, with a structure and acidity of Bordeaux.  Rich and flavorful but easy-drinking, gracefully balanced, pleasant ripeness, robust red fruits, plums, raspberries, blackberries with a hints of licorice and earth and, a lingering sweet tannin finish.

FOOD: Grilled meats – hamburgers, sausages and brats.

*APPROXIMATE RETAIL RANGE: $7.00 TO $9.00 per bottle.


The Jaboulet family is one of the most respected wine families in all of France.  They have been producing wines with pride and passion and for almost two centuries in the Rhone Valley.  The enduring quality and high esteem is a result of a constant and consistent pursuit of meticulous vineyard management and winemaking excellence.  Paul Jaboulet Aine produces a full complement of exceptional wines from most ranges, domains and appellations in the Northern and in the Southern Rhone.  One of my personal favorite wines from Paul Jaboulet is: Hermitage “La Chappelle”, Grand Cru.

This Cotes du Rhone takes its name from the 45th parallel that runs through the cellars of Maison Paul Jaboulet.  The proprietary wine has been produced since 1950.  Parallele 45 is a genuine, quality oriented reflection of the appellation.  This wine will surprise and please!

DESCRIPTION: Produced from 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah using controlled temperature fermentation and matured stainless steel tanks.  The wine posses a deep, attractive brilliance, it is well-structured, round, flavorful and elegant with an aromatic red fruit and a spicy finish.

FOOD: Grilled and roasted meats – flavorful cheeses

*APPROXIMATE RETAIL RANGE: $10.00 TO $12.00 per bottle.

Considering stock available in the U.S. market, there can be different vintages available different markets.  Search for recent, fresh vintages (2010 & 2011 whites / 2009 & 2010 reds) of the above mentioned wines.

I am not purposely avoiding wines from America.  There is a plethora of fine quality wines produced in this country and I will be covering a number of them in future posts.  But for this contribution, I thought you might find few imported wines interesting and compelling.  I am confident that you will enjoy these selections at home or on your next camping excursion.



Hub’s Hints: Where To Go For Pinot Reply


Somehow it doesn’t seem right for me to be telling everyone (the esteemed public – respected visitors to this site) where to go.  But, in this regard, I need to do exactly that!  Often times, experienced, well-traveled camping enthusiasts share advice and information regarding desirable destinations and provide guidance to help send other adventurous travelers to special places.  In the world of wine, it is also important to know where to go (which appellations) to find the best quality.  Grapes grow literally all over the globe and many varieties flourish in a number of different areas.  But, with certain grape varieties like Pinot Noir especially, it is important to know which appellations and countries of origin provide the best opportunity for quality.

A side note here ~ Pinot Noir, assorted styles and favor profiles would be a welcome companion on any camping excursion.  In the text of this blog, we are examining red wine made from Pinot Noir not, white wines, sparkling, Champagne or rose from this grape variety.  This varietal (a wine named specifically for a particular grape variety) above many others, would compliment a wider array of dishes that are normally served at a camp site.  Pinot Noir goes well with assorted appetizers, soups, light dishes, grilled foods, barbecue – red meat, chicken and this variety is even one of the few red wines that will compliment many fish dishes.

So – – – where exactly do I send you to search out the best opportunity for quality oriented Pinot Noir and the greatest potential satisfaction?  Please keep in mind that even in the best locations, there are many different abilities, capabilities and winemaking philosophies that dictate to the ultimate flavor profile.  There are a myriad of styles that will address and appeal to different consumer desires and tastes.

The following will provide some guidance regarding Pinot Noir ~

First of all, let us pay homage to the single most prestigious and the most respected production area on earth for Pinot Noir!  This, the noblest of grape varieties, the “wine of kings”, reverently respected and highly touted, is at its best in Burgundy, France.  The Cote d’Or (The Golden Hills) is only 26 miles long and approximately 3 miles wide in South Central France and is host to the world’s finest quality Pinot Noir.  Infamous names like Clos Vougeot, Romanee-Conte, Bize-Leroy, Armand Rousseau and my personal favorite, Domain Dujac, produce Pinot Noir that is unparalleled and unexcelled world-wide.  If money is no object and you have an appreciation and appetite for the absolute best – this is your area!



There are numerous other regions of consequence for Pinot Noir.  Consult with your local wine advisor for suggestions and recommendations from the following countries of origin and appellations:

ARGENTINA ~ Patagonia, in the extreme southern portion of the wine production regions of Argentina.

AUSTRALIA ~ Victoria, off the southern coast of Southeastern Australia.

CALIFORNIA ~ Assorted special areas include: Carneros, Sonoma Coast, Russian River and Central Coast (Santa Maria, Santa Rita Hills, Bien Nacito).

NEW ZEALAND ~  Marlborough, popular for Sauvignon Blanc is the northern portion of the south island and Central Otago in the extreme south.

OREGON ~ Most of Oregon is conducive to Pinot Noir but, Willamette Valley especially with a Pacific Coast influence (Chehalem Mountains – Ribbon Ridge & Dundee Hills).

Pinot Noir is not limited exclusively to the above mentioned appellations.  But, you will have the best chance in these areas to find something to your liking.

I wish you luck in your search for the perfect Pinot Noir.  Please do not hesitate to request further information and / or ask for specific recommendations for your style of Pinot in the “leave a comment” section of this blog.  I would be pleased to assist you further.


Hub’s Hints: Proper Wine Temperature Reply


Many camping enthusiasts enjoy an occasional glass of wine or, they should!  I wholeheartedly encourage wine consumption as a cocktail beverage, to complement a meal or for any special occasion.  Wine consumed in the great out doors especially, will enhance the camping experience, add to the festivities, complement meals and stimulate recognition and appreciation of the picturesque surroundings (actually, enough alcohol related beverages of any type can make even the Wal-Mart lot more attractive).  Wine has the capacity to stimulate the senses, relax the mind and body and can put a person in a more peaceful and tranquil frame of mind.  This is an especially important following an 7 / 8 hour road trip under challenging circumstances and conditions and, after going through the riggers of setting up camp.

Weather one enjoys the space age technology of an extravagant fifth wheel (with multiple slide-outs) or the aristocratic comfort of a vintage or new “Airstream”; enjoying a glass of wine can contribute to a more enjoyable and meaningful camping experience.  The trick is to consume the wine at the optimum temperature for full appreciation and enjoyment.

Everyone, I believe, is aware that white wine and rose should be served nicely chilled and red wine is best enjoyed at room temperature.  However, a considerable amount of wines are consumed at temperatures not conducive to maximum enjoyment.  White wines are commonly served (consumed) entirely too cold while red wines are normally too warm for a pleasurable experience.  If wines are not consumed at proper temperatures, the subtle nuisances, delicate nature, layered complexities will be masked over and much of what is intended by the winemaker (in the flavor profile) will be lost.

If white wines are too cold they will be refreshing but tasteless and, if they are too warm the alcohol will be unpleasantly persistent and the wines will be somewhat “flabby” and listless.

If red wines are too warm they will be alcoholic and taste of vinegar and if they are too cold they will have an overly tannic bite and be lacking in flavor complexity.

Generally my recommendation is that you take white wines out of the refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes before meals / consumption and let them warm up ever so slightly.  I also suggest that you chill red wines for about 10 to 15 minutes before drinking.  But, for more exacting temperatures refer to the table below that I have assembled for your information.

Sweet White
Riesling, Chenin Blanc
40 to 45 degrees
Light & Fruit White
Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio
35 to 40 degrees
Full-bodied White
45 to 50 degrees
Classic White
White Burgundy
54 to 59 degrees
Champagne, Prosecco
40 to 50 degrees
Dessert Wines
Sauternes, Port
45 to 50 degrees
Soft & Fruity Red
Zinfandel, Gamay, Grenache, Beaujolais
54 to 57 degrees
Medium-bodied Red
Merlot, Shiraz, Malbec, Pinot Noir
57 to 60 degrees
Full-bodied Red
Cabernet Sauvignon, Meritage, Bordeaux
62 to 65 degrees

Please keep in mind that depending on the grape variety or wine, the country of origin, the producer and his /her wine making philosophy, some of the above mentioned wine types can fall into different categories.  This is a basic overview of the wines that most consumers will be familiar with.

* A special not here do not ever, under any circumstances, add ice to your glass of wine to chill it down to your taste (is my dear sister-in-law listening?).  The ice will dilute the flavor and taste of the wine.  It would be much more productive and rewarding to consume the wine at the optimum temperature.

On the road in whatever “rig” fits your fancy, it isn’t always easy to control the temperature of your provisions.  This is true with wines also.  To assist you with the maximum enjoyment of your treasured wine selections, I have assembled few “tools” that will aid you with controlling the temperature of the wine to the point of consumption.

Wine Temperature Thermometer ~

With a relatively small and compact device, you can measure the temperature of your wine to insure that you are consuming each wine type at the proper temperature.  See Wine Thermometer 9340 with a wood handle available at the Beverage Factory.  Be sure to pursue the site for additional devises that may be of interest.

WINE THERMOMETER – 9340 with Wood Handle – shown below. . .

Wine Temperature Thermometer Bottle Clip ~

With the previous thermometer, the bottle has to be open before you can measure the temperature of the wine.  But, this interesting contraption clips on the bottle and measures the temperature of the wine before opening the bottle.  Airstream owners will be especially pleased to know that this interesting device is constructed of high-quality stainless steel.  The marketing company of this thermometer offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.  Go to Compact Appliance and VinoTemp for details and to order one of these fascinating devices.

VTBOTTLETHERM – Vinotemp Wine Thermometer Bottle Clip – view below. . .

Trudeau Digital Wine Thermometer ~

This thermometer has similar features to the previous unit and will instantly alert you to your bottle’s temperature.  It is also stainless steel and expands to fit most bottles.  Visit Trudeau Digital Wine Thermometer for information and to place an order.


Rapid Beverage Chiller ~

The above mentioned units will measure the temperature of your wine in order that you may consume each and every type at the optimum temperature.  But with this “Rapid Chiller” you can take a bottle from storage and quickly chill each bottle to the desired and appropriate temperature.  The sleek space age design would be appealing, attractive on the counter of any motor coach, travel trailer, fifth wheel, truck camper or pop up.  The Rapid Chiller will go anywhere and function well, just as long as you have a power source.  This chiller is featured and offered at Crate & Barrel.  On this site there are a myriad of additional “wine oriented” tools for your interest and convenience.


Now that you are aware and will be consuming wines in the future at the optimum temperature, you will thoroughly enjoy each and every glass and bottle – whatever type or style of wine that strikes your fancy.