Two days. In a row... my family is so stunned that they didn't know what to do! My son Adam was born less then three weeks ago and it snowed that day in Maple Ridge. Today it was 16C but felt like 25. Brilliant right? I mean, what could possibly be wrong with a sudden spell of great weather?
Well asides from the melt-off that threatens to wash away my Editor in the Kootenays... try to stay dry Ian~! Asides from that, the more practical, chef-side of me has the kitchen and the fridge organized for pot roast, roast beef, pasta bolognese... you get the idea. But the change in weather demands a change in food and so off I went in search of appropriate victuals. The trouble is, just because the sun comes out, that doesn't mean the grocery store has any different fruits/vegetables then it did a few days ago when it was 2C and pouring cats-and-dogs.
Lucky us, here in BC, we have a fantastic resource of local hothouses/greenhouses; one of my favorite being Windset Farms ( https://www.windsetfarms.com/ ). Because of sustainably-focused farmers like this, I get to enjoy local bell peppers, tomato, cucumbers, eggplant and more long before my own garden is ready to produce even the smallest sprouts. Walking into the grocery store with my daughter and seeing all of this beautiful produce inspired me to make a perennial favorite of Italian Springtime: Pasta Primavera which literally means "the first green". Of course, you know I can't think about food without considering what wine to pair and Windset Farms artisanal approach to fruit and vegetables reminded me of another BC producer who is just as adamant about quality.
Wild Goose Vineyards ( http://wildgoosewinery.com/ ). It would be enough to appreciate that the Kruger family are amongst the true pioneers not only of viticulture in BC, having purchased their property in 1983 when there were less then 25 wineries in the entire province, but of truly World-Class winemaking here. Why do I say World-Class?
. Gold Medal: Okanagan Spring Wine Festival
. Gold Medal: Canadian Wine Championship
. Gold Medal: Northwest Wine Summit
. Lieutenant Governor's Award of Excellence
... and the list goes on. But to me, as much as I appreciate the opinions of learned wine-judges, I was more impressed by two things: my own palate and the fact that the Krugers have taken such pains to divide their (relatively) small production of Riesling into three lots: the basic "House Label" which is anything but basic, the "Stoney Slope" label which drinks much like Chablis; absolutely pure in its expression of the mineral-laden soil and the third, "God's Mountain Vineyard" which is full of ripe aromas and has (almost) rich Viognier nuances.
A small vineyard, divided into three separate labels? This my friends is top-tier precision in the vineyard found only in true craftspeople, leaders in the industry. When one speaks of Riesling, leaders like this are found in the Alsace area of France and in Germany for the most part. Wine from these regions, treated with such care, is an minimum of $35-$40 in the BC market. The Wild Goose wines run about $19-$20 at the winery, or about $22 in the savvy BC private stores. With prices like this, these are easily amongst the best values in white wine on the market today. And with Spring peeking its head around the corner? Time to stock up on the white wines!
90 points, EXCELLENT VALUE
$19 at the winery
. a soft yet concentrated bouquet of yellow and white Summer flowers, ripening peaches and apricots, with a keen minerality throughout. Acid is brisk yet beautifully approachable, with a lean palate that is an excellent representation of the aromas and of BC terroir. Great balance, structure and concentration - I'm hard pressed to think of any other Riesling on the market that performs as well. This is my choice for the pasta primavera I did with roast turkey, but is a natural fit for most any pork/turkey dish... what a treat with chicken pot pie made from scratch or tortierre!
91++ points, EXCELLENT VALUE
$20 at the winery
. an absolute purists expression of what Riesling is on rocky soil: intense aromas of crushed rocks/warm hay/Golden Delicious apples. The palate is mean and lean, almost aggressive with it's tightly wound acid and strikingly intense mineral/slightly spicy flavors... until I started to think of it as Chablis: that ultra-mineral driven, ever-so-lean Chardonnay grown in Burgundy. By allowing myself to be a bit more open-minded, I found I absolutely loved this wine! But the food pairings for this are very different to me: oysters being a natural, I would also use it with fondue/raclette/any cheese driven event. It's a racy little wine!
2012 "God's Mountain Vineyard" Riesling
$22 at the winery
. a bit of the first wine, a bit of the second, but all it's own creature. A Riesling with ripening stonefruit (apricot/peach) aromas, lush tones of wild flowers and grassy hillsides... hints of German-Riesling waxiness are in the background. The palate is as fresh as Spring, with inviting apple acids (like biting into a green apple), with all of the aromas coming through as well concentrated/well integrated flavors. Harmonious. As soon as I tasted this wine I thought of seafood: BC spot prawns, cracked crab, lobster... whether it's in a pasta, salad or otherwise the rich fattiness of great seafood will cosy up to the perky acids and create an even more perfect balance.
Want a really great Primavera?! To me, it's all about treating the different vegetables individually: to bring out more pronounced individual flavors. Roasting, grilling, steaming, raw... all enhance different flavors. Try using more of these techniques as a natural way to enhance what is already there in the food!
RECIPE (for 4)
1 white onion, finely diced
1 fl oz canola oil
2 fl oz white wine
2 cups 2% milk
2 cups 36% cream
salt and pepper to taste
cornstarch to thicken
1.5 lbs cooked turkey meat, cubed
1 lb pasta
1 fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb each: snow-pea, bell pepper-julienne
1/4 lb Crimini mushrooms
1 fl oz canola oil
1/2 fl oz white truffle oil *(available at Bosa Foods and other specialty stores)
1/4 wheel Boursin cheese (about 4 Tbsp)
- start by sautéing the onions in the canola oil on medium heat: the onions should sweat, or go translucent, not go brown
- deglaze the pot with the white wine, then allow the wine to cook until the pan is just dry - then add the milk and cream, bring up to just simmering. Season
- while the sauce is coming to temperature, cook the (optional) mushrooms... optional in my house as my 2-year old doesn't like them. Sauté in the pan with canola oil for 3-4 minutes, then toss with truffle oil and season - into the oven @ 350F for 5 minutes
- when the mushrooms go into the oven, toss the turkey into the sauce and thicken with cornstarch. Now you can focus on the pasta. When the pasta is cooked and drained, toss it in the EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
- only when the pasta is cooked do you steam the veggies! These only take 60-90 seconds and so merit your full attention.
- Plate, then top with a tablespoon wedge of Boursin... just because life is good
So enjoy your pasta with great wine and family or friends. Treat yourself, spoil someone else, and above all: savor the moment~! Many thanks to the Kruger family and Wild Goose Wines for the sample bottles. http://wildgoosewinery.com/
As always, I look forward to your thoughts, comments and questions. Here, or:
on Twitter @AStudentofWine
on Facebook @