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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Vinnie Hansen is the author of the Carol Sabala mystery series and a 2013 Claymore Award finalist for the next release in the series, Black Beans & Venom. Learn more about Vinnie and her books at her website. 

Throwing a party? If your friends are like mine, they are not fussy. The ordinary chardonnay and Brie will be fine. However, as a mystery fan, you might prefer to serve an element of surprise.

In Art, Wine & Bullets, my sixth Carol Sabala mystery, I offer provocative wine and cheese combinations from a self-described “culinarian.” To a recent NorCal Sisters in Crime meeting, I took the combination featuring a dusky Malbec or Shiraz with La Tur cheese, Marcona almonds, and figs.

For this occasion I selected Kaiken Ultra Malbec from Argentina, not because I know wines, but because it was an expensive wine on sale at BevMo. This wine turned out to be a deep, rich, full-bodied sensation.

“That’s divine!” said my sister-in-crime, Ana Manwaring.

The La Tur is a soft Italian cheese made with goat, sheep and cow’s milk. Warning: It is aromatic! I purchased the cheese a few days in advance of the Sisters in Crime meeting. My husband opened the refrigerator and said, “I think we have something going bad in here.” I was reminded of my teaching days when my freshmen read Twain’s “The Invalid’s Story,” which finds its humor in the combo of a dead body and Limburger cheese. I brought Limburger cheese to the classroom so my students would fully grasp the humor. One girl pinched her nose and jumped up and down on the desk seat.

As I warned our hostess, Terry Shames, about the “stinky” cheese, she declared, “I love stinky cheese.” So did many others at the meeting.

Because of the season, I used dried figs for this presentation, although sliced fresh figs would be more succulent and visually arresting. The one advantage of dried figs is the ease with which one can spread cheese on top of them. 

Recently re-released, Art, Wine & Bullets includes three creative wine and cheese pairings. Serve up a wine and cheese sensation the next time you entertain! Savor a good mystery to boot. Bon app├ętit!

Art, Wine & Bullets
An innocent visit to a premiere Santa Cruz gallery turns into a nightmare case for Private Investigator Carol Sabala. The strangled body of the gallery owner offers an opportunity to cement her reputation and to save her employer from insolvency. But precious time spent assisting her photographer boyfriend impedes her investigation, while his sudden obsession with photographing her impedes their relationship.

When Carol plunges into an art world offering urban graffiti to paintings of polka-dotted cats, she confronts the age-old questions: What is art? What defines an artist? She also confronts what defines a successful private investigator as she unravels much more than a murder case.

Buy Links
(available in paperback in June)


Cindy Sample said...

Vinnie, I love the new cover. I'm entertaining some ladies on Thursday so I think I need to read ART, WINE AND BULLETS first so I can enhance my appetizer selections. Good luck.

Chris Beal said...

Totally fun! What a great idea for a story.

Vinnie/www.vinniehansen.com said...

Thanks, Cindy!

At my next event I am going to try a full-bodied Pinot Noir served with Kokos Dutch coconut, cow's milk Gouda (that all describes the cheese) and Valhrona dark chocolate.

Vinnie/www.vinniehansen.com said...

Hey, Chris, thanks so much for dropping by!

Patty Denke said...

hey, hello! From the world where "UNIQUE" cheese means havarti with jalepenos....
Looking forward to the next installment.
And ---- MY MOM is getting a Kindle!!! I know this because it is on my table waiting to be filled with "Good Stuff".
Keep writing, so I can keep reading!

Vinnie said...

I hope that "good stuff" includes a mystery or two by moi.

Love ya for posting!

Kirsten Weiss said...

Yum! I'm headed to BevMo!

Vinnie/www.vinniehansen.com said...

If I'd known how good that Malbec would be, I would have stocked up while it was on sale!

K.B. Owen said...

So cool, Vinnie! And look how much you can drink/eat in the name of research, right? A friend of mine did a nice dried pear/brie combo that was really tasty, so I can imagine the dried figs would be yummy. :)

Vinnie/www.vinniehansen.com said...

Thanks for checking in, K.B. I think we are in the same Cozy Cookbook. I can't wait to check out your entry!