Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pinot Harvest 2014

You are alive!
We run our hands across you.
Your juices painting every finger,
We take you to your rest.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Summer corn and leek risotto for weekday dinner

What I dig most about my one-pot-risotto-for-dinner recipe is that it's totally adaptable. In the winter, I make it with cubed frozen butternut squash and shallots. Spring, fresh peas and asparagus. Top with sauteed prawns. Or sausage. Or toasted walnuts. You get the idea. 

I wrote this *summer* version for the Los Altos Town Crier.

I get a little giddy when sweet corn starts arriving at the markets. Served grilled or boiled, the veggie is a perfect expression of summer. Everyone in my house is a fan.
So when I found myself with lots of corn and a need for a quick weekday dinner, I decided to showcase the sweet kernels in a simple and satisfying risotto.
Round out dinner with a simple tomato salad alongside the risotto. Slice fresh tomatoes and place them on a plate. Salt and pepper the slices evenly, then drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with fresh chives.
Wine pairing
I like to serve a chilled white wine with this meal. The sweet corn can overwhelm many whites, so select one that is just as rich. My choice is full-bodied Viognier, a Rhône varietal grown outside of France now. Similar to Chardonnay, this lush wine has a soft mouthfeel and clean finish.
Because there is saffron in the dish – an ingredient that goes well with red and white wines – you could also serve an Italian red.
Sweet Corn and Leek Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto

  • 1 ounce prosciutto (3 ultra-thin slices)
  • 1 cup freshly cut corn from the cob (approximately 2 ears)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (scant more for pan)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium leeks, white parts only, diced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • Small pinch saffron
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Add broth, wine and saffron to medium stockpot and bring to low boil.
Heat large, flat-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add drizzle of olive oil. Once oil is glistening, add prosciutto. Cook until crispy on one side, then flip and cook until crispy. Remove from pan and cool on paper towel.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once oil is glistening, add leeks. Cook until slightly translucent (5 minutes).
Add corn and salt and pepper to taste.
Continue to cook for 5 minutes, then remove leeks and corn from pan. Set aside.
Add remaining olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to pan. When butter is melted, add Arborio rice and stir to coat. Let rice toast slightly in pan.
Slowly add 1 cup at a time of hot broth mixture, stirring pan constantly with wooden spoon. Adjust heat as needed to maintain even simmer. As soon as broth is absorbed, add another ladle. Cooking time should be approximately 18 minutes.
Dice prosciutto and set aside.
Fold corn and leek into risotto.
Add butter and grated cheese and fold through.
Serve immediately with diced prosciutto placed atop each serving.
Tip: After removing kernels of corn, I freeze the cobs, which are a great addition to a pot of clam chowder during the winter. Throw one in to flavor the chowder as it cooks and remove cob before serving.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Globetrotting – one glass at a time

(written for the Los Altos Town Crier)
I’m taking a trip around the world, and I’m not going to stand in a single airport security line. You can travel this way, too. Just swing by your local wine shop and pick up wines from various regions of the world. Then as the summer days go by, visit various countries with one night of international sipping each week.
More often than not, when we find a wine we really enjoy, we buy it again and again. I understand the value of sticking with what works and having a go-to varietal, but I’m also an advocate for spreading your palate’s wings.
For the rest of the story, head over to the Los Altos Town Crier.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Great skies

Stop for a moment and look at the sky. It is a pause that, much like taking your time when drinking wine, does lovely things to your mind and soul. 

This morning, I found myself flipping and re-flipping through the photos of summer skies I've paused to take recently.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Outside-the-box summer drinking

(written for the Los Altos Town Crier)

In summer 2013, I visited the village of Roujan in the South of France. My small group of friends and a horde of strangers were hooting and hollering in anticipation of the Tour de France peloton’s surge through the narrow avenue like a beautifully contained tsunami. It was thrilling.
The chilled and crispy Picpoul de Pinet I was sipping made the experience all the more bucket-list worthy. Delicate and fresh, the wine boasted a wonderful lemon zing. It was cold. It was invigorating. It was exactly right for the experience. And it was from a box.
That wasn’t the only time we drank box wine while in France. It was ubiquitous, with 3-liter boxes openly dispensed from bistros and bars. Boxes of locally made wines were sold to keen residents at grocery stores. On more than one occasion, we remarked how we Americans need to rethink our view of box wines.
For the rest of this story, head over to the Los Altos Town Crier.

grab some box wine

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Back to basics: How old ways of farming are revolutionary

For my brother, Steve, farming is a calling. His connection to the soil has been with him since we were children. Seeing him now, in his chosen profession, feels like watching him happily slosh around in his destiny. I had the chance to interview Steve about his biodynamic farming practices for my column in this month's Los Altos Town Crier.

pinot noir grapes doing their thing
Without meaning to, I wrote a love letter to the farming practices of yesteryear. Here’s what happened.
After hearing the results of the latest climate change report, I, like many people, have been thinking more about how the environment is changing almost directly before our eyes. Then, on the heels of the report, I learned of a pledge Sonoma County vintners made to become the nation’s first 100 percent sustainable wine region by 2019.
With these two news items percolating in my mind, I thought: Could caring for the environment result in better wine?
It seems the answer would be a clear yes. After all, when I think of green farming practices, I think of an approach to vineyard management that emphasizes quality over quantity.
Could kinder, more conscious farming produce a higher-quality wine? I didn't want to throw another buzzword-heavy article onto the pile of reasons that green is good, so I asked a vintner who practices biodynamic farming.
For the rest of the story, head over to the Los Altos Town Crier.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Wine of the week

I'm excited to be partnering with Ava's Downtown Market & Deli on offering Wine of the Week selections. 

This week's wine is 2010 Laura Hartwig Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Colchagua Valley ($12.99). Chile, a major player in New World wine for generations, now ranks as the seventh-largest producer of wine in the world. And over the years the quality has improved. 

I think that wines from Chile are often extraordinary values, with 2010 Laura Hartwig Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Colchagua Valley being a great example. 

Lashings of black fruit and soft tobacco. Plus there's that fun graphite quality that let's you say, "I'm getting pencil shavings." 

take chile by the hand!