Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A WONDERFUL SUMMER TOGETHER


SETTLING IN

As I have not been a resident of Sonoma, California for very long, I am just starting to get to know my local community. I came here for its proximity to my family and my work in Napa. During my years away, learning to stand on my own, my family has accumulated quite the menagerie of friends.

I feel so blessed to be able to jump into this community of theirs. Everyone seems to live full lives well connected to the land, and the local food and wine culture. I am very much looking forward to getting to know everyone around me, their cooking philosophies, and their awkward animals. 

The other day we had our immediate neighbors, Suzanne and Phil, over for an early celebration of Susan’s upcoming birthday. Like a true wine lover, Suzanne broke into our bottle before the food made it to the table. My favorite Sonoma summers are defined by a crisp Sauvignon Blanc in one hand, local fruit in the other, the heat of the sun on my nose, and the vineyard covered hills behind me. We are right on track for a wonderful summer together. 


PAIRING

Kunde Winery was started in 1904 by a German immigrant, Louis Kunde. The winery is now run by fourth and fifth generation family winemakers, who operate the 1,850 acre estate. I greatly respect this winery because they often create wines meant to be consumed solely with food. On their own, some of their wines can come across harsh, or too demanding, but it is often these very characteristics that make them so much fun to pair with different food varieties. 

I ended up with their 2013 Magnolia Lane Sauvignon Blanc, due to its incredibly fresh and crisp finish. That was the wine I wanted to drink tonight, but my absolute favorite variety at the tasting room was their 2011 Reserve Century Vines Zinfandel, which I will come back for when the weather cools down. The Sauvignon Blanc was full of tight citrus notes, and a subtle green background. The green notes of this wine reminded me fresh grass, watermelon rinds, and cucumbers. It was these flavors I decided to expand upon. 

To complement the light green notes, I paired the wine with a cucumber and yogurt soup. The light, fresh taste of this soup was only made better by its easy preparation, and lack of actual heated cooking. The walnuts in the soup made it hearty enough to complement grilled lemon chicken, and a caesar salad. 



CUCUMBER YOGURT SOUP

The recipe is originally from the cookbook Soup; superb ways with a classic dish.

Serves: 5-6
Total time: 20 minutes

For the soup
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3-5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 piece of bread, toasted and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 2/3 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice

For the garnish
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped

  1. Peel and dice cucumber. 
  2. With a large mortar and pestle, smash together chopped garlic and salt. Chop walnuts and add them to the mixture. Toast the bread, crumble it, and add it to the mixture. Crush the mixture together until combined. 
  3. After the mixture is evenly mixed, add the sunflower oil, slowly. Mix well with mortar and pestle. 
  4. In a large bowl, combine the nut, bread, and garlic mixture, with the yogurt and chopped cucumber. Mix. Add the water and lemon juice. Mix. 
  5. Transfer soup into a blender or food processor and puree. Create a smooth mixture, but leave some texture through the walnuts. 
  6. Chill, and garnish with chopped walnuts and basil. 


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