Last week found me solo-parenting a pair of unreasonably grumpy children while Jody spent a few days in the Central Coast, ostensibly helping our friends at Tantara Winery bottle their 2008 single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. He also hung out with many wonderful people; did a little pruning with Lino at Laetitia Vineyard; attended a dinner showcasing Grand Cru white Burgundies from 1992, 1996, 1999, 2001 and 2002; visited the fantastic Full of Life Flatbread restaurant, and drank wine from his birth year with our Winemaking Guru, Mr. Kevin Law.
Then, he came home. And it was my turn to cook.
Slightly Better Than Boxed Mac & Cheese
While I did, briefly, think of throwing the children at him and fleeing, I gathered my wits and resolved to cook Jody and the gang a meal that would (1) please everyone and (2) interact with wine -- any wine -- a little better than last week's fishy fish mess debacle.
These weekly (double) double-blind wine-and-food experiments typically send me recipe-searching online. I'm bored with our cookbooks and I like to make something new every time it's my turn to cook. Sometimes, I have an idea, and sometimes, I don't. This week, completely idea-free, I turned to Gourmet's archives, and, around 11 pages in, ended up with this: Lasagne in Bianco.
White lasagne with Parmigiano besciamella - OK, so maybe it's not a bold choice, but as I mentioned, trying to please everyone here.
I also crafted up a spinach salad with crisped shallots, bacon bits and a warm bacon-apple-cider-vinegar dressing. You know, to make up for all that rich, creamy white sauce and layers of Parmigiano, and ... oh, wait, I guess bacon doesn't really make up for anything. It does make for a most delicious spinach salad, though!
Shaved Parmigiano brings the dishes together. But I think there may have been a little too much stem inclusion on that spinach.
The Force Returns
Jody uncorked his brown-bagged wine in the kitchen, brought it to the table, and grinned. I gathered we were on a better pairing track than last week. (Not that it could get much worse.)
The wine was pale and brilliant, with a bright nose of green apple. Absolutely no trace of malolactic fermentation; just what we'd need to balance the lasagne in bianco. That apple characteristic carried through to the brisk upfront acid on the palate, where I immediately recognized Santa Maria, and chardonnay, and, hey -- "Is this Kevin's chard?" left my lips before I realized it was coming.
A perfectly designed secret food & wine pairing. (Whew!)
His poker face is better than mine, but Jody couldn't do much except laugh. I had nailed it. Our friend Kevin, of Winemaking-Guru, birth-year-wine-sharing fame, makes a tiny amount of wine under his own label, Luminesce.
2007 Luminesce Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley
Soon, he'll be able to sell it, and when that time comes, you should buy it. You can email him to get on his interest list -- if you're looking for super-small-production wine that's lovingly made with a restrained hand, not to mention impeccable fruit sources. Anti-flavor wine elites (and do click on the link if you don't get that reference), this is a California Chardonnay for you.
Except I'd never tasted Kevin's Chardonnay before. So I'm not exactly sure how I knew what it was. As I'm increasingly finding on this journey of making wine, and friends, and connections with the seasons of growth and dormancy, flower and fruit; sometimes, you just know.
That's all for this week. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Cheers!