Friday, October 26, 2007

Using the CSA Produce and our new favorite merlot

Merlot is one of the few red wines that I have never been enamoured with. I might drink the occasional glass at a wedding or dinner banquet, but never go out of my way to order a glass or buy a bottle. That has all changed with the Avila Merlot. I tried this first while having dinner at Skye. I was looking for a suggestion on what wine to pair with my dinner, and the waiter brought me a taste of this. A generous pour later, I offered one tiny sip to Scott. This was a good move, as he promptly called the waiter over, and ordered us each another glass.

Since that night I have scoured the valley to find it retail. My old stand-bye is to call AZ Wine Co. It was a special order. I started with one bottle, to avoid the syndrome I have of over buying wine, and not having any more room in the wine fridge. Also, we wanted to make sure it tasted as good as we remembered.

We opened it Sunday night with this salmon dish. It was definately as good as I remembered it tasting at the restaurant. It's a big merlot, that is bursting with ripe fruit, almost jammy like a zin. But, it turns into a nice mix of tannins and toast. The rich berry flavor melded perfectly with the salmon, which was topped with brown sugar and dijon. To make the pairing even better, the salmon was grilled on a cedar plank, which brought out just a little "woodsiness" of the wine.


I served the salmon with a mix of braised black eyed peas and grilled asparagus. We are on the third week of getting our CSA produce. Some of the vegetables are new to us and are getting us to expand our veggie horizons. For instance the fresh black eyed peas are something I had never cooked before. Not to mention the turnips, okra, and daikon. It is fun experimenting with new recipes to use some of the new-to-me produce. Not only did I use the black-eyed peas from the CSA in the side dish, but I made good use of the tops of the turnips by adding them as the "greens" in this braised dish. I didn't really follow a recipe. The black-eyed peas were braised in a chicken broth, scallion, garlic and onion mix for aproximately 45 minutes. I added the turnip greens and a dash of sherry vinegar. After turning the heat off, I threw in a generous handful of goat cheese.
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Unknown said...

Wow I am so impressed! Your dinner looks fantastic and you have me willing to try Merlot again if I can find a bottle of this. I started drinking reds with Merlot, years ago...and as my tastes have changed I've avoided Merlot as well in favor of Shiraz, Cab, Syrah, etc.

Kirsten said...

WOW!!! You really did well with the CSA veggies. This is going to be fun to experience with you how to use new and slightly unusual vegetables.

Love the Merlot tip too - I have had some good ones, but from what I understand everyone started making Merlots and lot of not-too-complex or single-note wines emerged, giving them a bad name.

But hey, good wine is good wine. :)