spring

Yes, we’ve survived what seemed to be a never-ending Winter. At last the first birds have come out of hiding, along with flower buds ready for a kiss of sunshine. It is almost time for Spring celebrations, from Easter and Passover to simpler salutes to the warm weather we have craved for so long. With that in mind, our Spring Feast is a cacophony of delicate flavors and bright colors, simply prepared to let the ingredients shine.

Ah, sweet Spring. You are a temptress like no other, offering a fleeting appearance, then returning to your hiding place as we wait for you to emerge in full.

HORS D’OEUVRES

Minted Pea Purée Canapés in Puff Pastry Vol-au-Vents

Suggested wine varietal: Riesling
This grape loves to grow in cold climates, and when it does, it can exhibit exquisite delicacy and elegance with light peachy/minerally flavors, perfect to start a Spring Feast.

FIRST COURSE

Silky Spring Beet Soup

Suggested wine pairing: Burgundy or Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a delicious choice for this dish — either a French Burgundy, such as a Côte de Nuits, or an Oregon-style Pinot Noir. It’s extremely versatile and food-friendly.

MAIN COURSE

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Balsamic Reduction

Suggested wine pairing: Côtes du Rhône or Shiraz
An Australian Shiraz is a natural combination with lamb of all types, but it is especially good with the herb-crusted rack of lamb as its forward fruit will enhance the flavor of the mixed herbs.

DESSERT

Champagne Apricot Sorbet

Suggested wine pairing: Late-harvest Riesling or Ice Wine
You can’t go wrong with a German Riesling for a wonderful dessert wine. If you prefer to enjoy a wine from the U.S., look for a late-harvest Riesling, or an Ice Wine from the Niagara region.

A NOTE ON WINE PAIRINGS

One of the challenges in suggesting wine pairings is that we may have the perfect wine to match a particular recipe, but your local wine merchant may not. As a result, we are pairing this month’s recipes based on varietal (Riesling, Pinot Noir, etc.), so you at least have a guideline.

Our enthusiastic recommendation is for you to simply take the menu to the wine store, show them what you’re serving, and ask for recommendations based on a price range. We rely on this method regularly, as our wine merchants make it their livelihood to continually taste wine and expand their knowledge base, so we make good use of their expertise. If you are in a rural area and/or do not have a local wine merchant, these suggestions should at least help you to choose a wine in your supermarket or other local store.

If you prefer not to buy one bottle of wine per course, it is perfectly fine to choose one or two courses during which to serve wines. Note that our Riesling recommendations for the first and last course are for two different wines, the latter being much sweeter.

It is not absolutely necessary to serve a dessert wine if you are not partial to sweet wines. You can simply serve dessert, then move on to coffee afterward. (We recommend that you resist the American urge to serve coffee with dessert, as it can interfere with the flavors of your sweet finish.)

Thanks to Paul and Warren from Virginia Wine Time for their pairing recommendations.

MISE EN PLACE

For those curious about the meaning of mise en place, it is a French culinary term for “set in place.” If you have ever watched a cooking show, or been inside a restaurant kitchen, you will notice that next to the cooking area, things are set up just so. Ingredients, sauces and critical elements are ready to be used, whether pre-cooked, pre-chopped, or ready as a garnish. This kind of organized setup enables a cook to focus on the actual act of cooking itself without distraction. Our intention with this section is to use the same approach at home, enabling you to host your own special occasions with flair.

{ 0 comments }

Silky Spring Beet Soup

Thumbnail image for Silky Spring Beet Soup

This simple yet hearty soup serves as a lovely color counterpoint to the Spring green of the other courses in this month’s menu.

Springing Into Action

There is nothing quite like hearing the first bird of spring. That sweet little chirp means the snow is gone, and soon the blossoms will rear their pretty heads to greet us with the colors of a new season. At last.

Spring Vegetables

Small things always seem to have an air of cuteness, don’t they? A baby carrot is adorable because it is trying to look like a grownup, but can’t quite get there.