My second favorite form of fermentation is sourdough. I started making sourdough bread 7 or 8 years ago using the Tartine Bread book recipe. Chad Robertson’s story about his quest for this particular boule alone was enough to draw me in but I found that the 24 hour long process became a kind of meditation. It’s a commitment to keep a starter alive (in truth, I’ve killed many) and to have it active when you are ready to bake. After making the levain there is not much to do for 8 hours or so making it easy enough to begin in the morning and pick it up again after work. From there, though, it’s quite hands on for the next 6 hours to get the dough ready to shape. Once that is done and the dough are in their baskets (the recipe makes 2 boules) the bread can go into the refrigerator to slowly rise until the next morning when they will be baked. Even after this long the outcomes range from damn that looks good to what the hell went wrong. That is to say, varying stages of beauty. But it always tastes good and it reminds me that while perfection may be the goal there is joy in the journey. More later…
Not so many days ago a buzz went through Winderlea. “The sheep are back, the sheep are back.” Granted a lot of the buzz came from Staci, Winderlea Ambassador, who is an animal biologist and loves critters of all types. I half expect to see her playing with them each morning in the vineyard behind our house. The truth is that we’re all excited to see them. We know it means they have completed their first pass at Worden Hill Vineyard and all that goodness has already been passed on to our soils. And we know the same will be true at Winderlea as they make their way around the grounds. It’s also just great to see them because they represent another part of the cycle of life; theirs, ours, and of the vines. We’re at the beginning of a new cycle of growth and all the optimism that comes with it. We’re looking forward to another season with our Winderlea family (and that includes you), new lambs, and a new vintage. There’s a lot to look forward to and we’re excited to begin. More later…
Today I saw a unicorn, or it might have been a snow plow, in Newberg, Oregon. If one of your pastimes isn’t following the weather out here (even after I showed you how to access our weather station) then you may not know that we’ve been enjoying some lovely ice storms and temperatures in the 20s. Ironic given that we basically had mud season while we were in Vermont. Storms like this are a rarity in this part of Oregon; enough so that many people can recount each big storm for the last two decades. They just don’t happen that often and as a result we are equipped to handle them about as well as the Deep South. That is to say not at all. Hence the snow plow / unicorn equivalency. We just don’t see them. In fact, this may be the only plow I’ve seen since we moved here in 2006. We’ve been closed for 4 days so it doesn’t feel the same as seeing the first robin in Spring, but it broke the monotony a bit. Fingers crossed we reopen soon. Anyone else getting cabin fever? Let us know. More later…
If you are reading this you may be a wine geek. Are you also a weather geek? Have you heard all the talk about terroir and wondered just what the fuss is? Did you know that a lot of vineyards have weather stations so you can see what the weather is at that micro-site? If the last few sentences got you even a little excited then you, like me, may need professional help. Or, you can just satisfy your curiosity by checking out a few weather stations. Many of us use Davis WeatherLink Stations and you can see current information by setting up an account at weatherlink.com. Search for Winderlea or any of your other favorite vineyards and a map will come up with a green and black dot if there is a station along with a black box with some info. Click the word “bulletin,” and it will open a page with a lot more information. Hint, if you zoom out on the map the other green and black circles you see are other weather stations. Compare them and you’ll see that there are real differences. Right now, for example, Winderlea is 2 degrees F warmer than Vernier Vineyard (what we call Worden Hill under 2 miles away from Winderlea). Imagine the difference that makes over a 180 day growing season. Have fun and if you see something interesting, let us know. More later…
As I write this I am sitting at a desk in Vermont looking out at a dusting of snow (the only snow since we’ve arrived) and rare for this trip, blue skies. Nonetheless, it has been great to spend time with family and to reconnect with friends. I also appreciate that this time of year because it feels like a reset. Now, I’ve been carrying around the same three resolutions for over 40 years now (play guitar, study French, and get fit) so it’s not about those, but somehow, to me, this time of year feels like we get to put down whatever weight we carried with us to the end of the year, and start again. I think we know that weight is still there, but putting it down lets us think about the future without bending under it. Whatever weight you may be carrying, I hope you are able to put it down for at least a bit and that your field of vision is filled with more blue skies than grey. Happy New Year. I look forward to seeing what 2024 has in store for us. More later…
As I write this we have just experienced the shortest day and the longest night of the year. This morning we woke up to a very beautiful Vermont sunrise and it is no exaggeration to say that it filled me with optimism. Because now, each day will get longer. Yes, in Oregon we still have 4 or more months of the grey and drizzly to get through, but we also get to experience the evolution of the 2023 vintage wines and will shortly begin imagining how they go together to create our different wines. As that is happening, bud break will occur and then the excitement of a new vintage will begin. Best of all, we have the excitement of a New Year with all of you to look forward to. Thank you all for your friendship and support. We look forward to seeing how the new year unfolds together.
- 1 cup organic wild rice
- 1 rack of lamb, sliced into individual chops
- 2 cups of red wine
- 1 Shallot, finely diced
- 2 Tbsp of butter
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Coarse Salt
- 3/4 Yukon gold potatoes
- Fresh chives, finely diced
Slice a rack of lamb into chops. Generously season with fresh ground black pepper and coarse salt on both sides. Lay on parchment paper, cover with foil, and refrigerate. In a small saucepan, cook the red wine and shallot on low heat for about 1 hour, reducing it by half. Add in the butter to thicken towards the end after the sauce has reduced. Turn the oven to 400 and preheat.
During this time make a generous serving of well-seasoned mashed potatoes. When the sauce is ready, heat an oven-proof large frying skillet over high heat. I use a cast iron skillet. Place 1 tbs. of olive oil in the pan after it’s heated and quickly fry each side of the chop for about 1 1/2 minutes. Cover and place in the oven for 12 minutes to finish.
To plate, place 2 to 3 tablespoons of red wine sauce in the middle of the plate. Mound a nice serving of the mashed potatoes over the sauce then place 3/4 chops on top of the potatoes making a crown interlocking the bones. Drizzle a few more drops of wine sauce on the chops. Decorate the plate with fresh chives diced finely over the entire plate.
I chose Mole Poblano to pair with the 2016 Bryan Creek Vineyard Pinot noir. The wine’s hearty yet bright profile mingles pleasantly alongside the mild chili spice and a bit of chocolate sweetness. Growing up, this was always on the table during the holidays along with rice and my grandma’s tortillas. It was one of my favorites then and I still can’t get enough of it. While I still use the traditional recipe of my childhood, I’m definitely pairing it with wine now! *Recipe modifications provided by the Lopez-Huskey family recipe.
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup white wine
- 1 ancho chili
- 1 pasilla chili
- 1 mulato chili
- ⅓ c peanuts
- 1 tbsp pine nuts
- 10 pecans
- ½ c sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp lard
- ⅓ c raisins
- ½ onion, chopped
- ½ plantain, very ripe
- ½ apple, chopped
- 1 slice bread, torn up
- 1 corn tortilla, torn op
- 3 oz mexican chocolate, chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 c chicken stock
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 small jar mole paste
- 4 chicken breasts
- Heat chili peppers in pan over medium heat for five minutes or until scorched on all sides. Remove from heat and place peppers in 3 cups of boiling water. Cook 5 minutes. Remove peppers and place in cold water. Cut lengthwise and remove veins and seeds.
- Using the same pan, toast seeds and nuts over medium heat for 2 minutes. Set aside. Using the same pan, heat 1 tbsp lard and add raisins, onion, plantain, apple, bread, tortilla, chocolate and de-seeded chilis, Cook 5 minutes on medium-low, stirring occasionally. Add 1 cup chicken stock and 1 tbs. salt, cover and cook 3 more minutes. Remove from heat. In batches, add nuts, seeds and mixture to blender or food processor, gradually incorporating 1 cup of stock, mixing until creamy and smooth.
- In a wok or large pan at high heat, add 1 tbsp lard and mole paste, stirring until paste is completely dissolved. Add blended mixture to wok with 1 cup stock and 1 cup water and continue to stir until well blended and beginning to thicken. Cover and cook on low heat 1 minute. Uncover and stir for another minute. Cover and set aside.
- Salt and pepper chicken and cook to your liking. Shred cooked chicken and add to your mole-filled wok. Distribute among four plates, top with sesame seeds and enjoy.
Being from the Pacific Northwest, I naturally love fresh salmon. I seek out new recipes all the time for this wonderful culinary delight! I love serving salmon with Pinot noir, especially the 2019 Murto Vineyard. The Herbs de Provence in this recipe complement the savory herbaceousness typically showcased by Murto. The fennel-tomato salad also provides a great match to the acidity. Be careful not to overcook the salmon! Ideally, I like to cook it to a medium or medium-rare temperature, which ensures it will be perfectly moist and delicious every time.
- 1 cup organic wild rice
- 3 – 4oz. filets of salmon (skin attached)
- 1 fennel bulb
- 4 oz. cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. Herbs de Provence, divided
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 5 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- lemon wedges, for serving
Cook the organic wild rice according to package instructions. This will take the longest, so it’s best to start it first.
While the rice is cooking, start the salmon. Rinse the salmon, pat dry and lightly coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Dust with salt, pepper and 1 tsp. Herbs de Provence. Core and thinly slice the fennel bulb and place in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the rest of the Herbs de Provence, sugar, tomatoes and a pinch of sea salt. Toss well and set aside.
Place a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the salmon fillets in the skillet skin side up, cover with foil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness. Remove the foil, flip the fillets and scatter the fennel and tomato salad over the fillets. Turn the heat down to medium low and continue cooking for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve the salmon and wild rice with lemon wedges, if desired, alongside the 2012 Maresh Vineyard Pinot noir. Enjoy!
Growing up, I was a pretty voracious reader of books thanks, in part, to the reading programs available at the time; Reading is Fundamental, SRA, Bookmobiles, and Libraries. I can remember spending afternoons in the main library in my city north of Boston reading about sports legends, effectively combining two things I loved doing. Later, as a History major in college with a predilection for taking Russian Literature courses, my love of reading helped me to keep up (my procrastination was a powerful oppositional force but that’s a much longer topic). Today I struggle to read books. I have four in various stages at the moment. I used to find it easy to concentrate on books, get lost in them actually. Now I find myself distracted by any shiny object served up to me by my phone or iPad (this may be part of the problem as most of my reading is on my iPad). I listened to an interesting rebroadcast of a podcast by the Ezra Klein this morning titled, “This is Your Brain on Deep Reading. It’s Pretty Magnificent.” I’ve decided to be more disciplined about reading (first thing in the day is good) and perhaps also, get actual books from the library, and thus reducing the number of shiny objects competing for my attention. I’ll let you know how that works. More later…