Monday, June 15, 2009

"I beg your pardon...

(Celebrating my BFF's birthday in late May at The Wine Authorities. That's why she got to hold the gnome- it was all about her!)

I never promised you a rose garden."

Well, at least that's what Lynn Anderson sang back in 1970. (Ah oui, in Spruce Pine my dad listened to that one quite a lot... or maybe it was my mom who chose that particular song!)
For today's research, I googled idioms with rose (once again, what on earth would I do without the internet and googling). Here are the results thanks to

  • a bed of roses
  • come out smelling like a rose
  • come up smelling like a rose
  • a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet
  • smell like a rose
  • there's no rose without a thorn
  • not all moonlight and roses
  • be no bed of roses
  • everything's coming up roses
  • put the roses in someone's cheeks
  • rose-coloured glasses
  • rose-tinted glasses
  • red as a rose
One of my top 10 favorite songs of all time is Louis Armstrong's rendition of "La Vie en Rose." If you have never heard it, go straight to iTunes and give it a listen.
And pink just happens to be my favorite color. I hate to shop, but whenever I am wandering around Target wasting time, pink sweaters or t-shirts automatically grab my attention. (My standard uniform tends to be black and white, therefore a pink scarf is the perfect accent! That's my fashion tip for the decade.)
Here's what I got when I googled pink:

  • in the pink
  • seeing pink elephants
  • tickled pink
  • a pink slip
  • pink collar job
English can be a very colorful language. So what's the point of all the rose/pink talk this morning? Lynn Anderson may not have promised a rose garden, but I found a rosé garden recently at the Wine Authorities. Notice the accent, the wonderful little mark over the e in rosé. Accent marks drive my students crazy. The word is misspelled without them and, oui, bien sûr, I take off points when they are missing or the poor kid has chosen the wrong one. Personally, I think they look cool. That particular one, accent aigu, placed on a final e causes it to be pronounced. Therefore the correct pronunciation is ro-zay.
Rosé wine seems to have picked up a bad reputation in the États-Unis through no fault of its own. If you stand in the wine aisle in a typical supermarché here and check out the bottles, you do see something known as white zinfandel. Now, I am no expert, but is there such a thing? The zinfandel grape is red. I became fairly well-acquainted with this grape on a trip to California. I went out to Folsom for computer training a few summers back. (I even got to visit the prison made famous by Johnny Cash's song. Merci, Verle, you sure know how to show a girl a good time!) I finished my work a little early and had a day to play so I decided to go to Lodi to visit wineries. Lodi is famous for its zinfandel grapes and wine. There are about 70 wineries in the area. I went first to the visitor's center where I found a map of local wineries. The first one I went to was Jewel. The young woman working there was incredibly helpful, marking a map for me of 5 or 6 wineries I should visit given my limited amount of time. I was just beginning to learn about wine at that point. I was hoping to be hired part time at Chatham Hill Winery, near RDU airport. I remember Jewel and Woodbridge, Robert Mondavi's large scale operation. Tasting room personnel tend to be very friendly folks and I was soaking up all I could about wine and winemaking. I became a fan of zinfandel. Marek Wojciechowski, at Chatham Hill, makes a great zinfandel with grapes from Lodi (I even hear that Marek is releasing a Reserve Zinfandel soon... more research needed... They did hire me, by the way, and I worked for Marek and Jill off and on for a couple of years-- maybe I'll get back behind the tasting bar one of these days!). But white zinfandel? Please. Not the same as the lovely dry rosé I fell in love with in Provence.
The New York Times has been full of stories lately about a movement in the European Union to allow winemakers to blend red and white wines to make rosé, a process I, the wannabe high priestess of rosé, think is blasphemous. The last I read, this idea was voted down, thank goodness.
Rosé is made from red, typically grenache, syrah and carignan, grapes that grow well in the hot, dry conditions found in Provence, along the southern Rhône River. The red grapes are crushed and the juice is briefly (2-3 days) left in contact with the skins, giving the white juice (all grape juice is white, whether the grapes are red or white) its pink color. Most of the rosés that I have tasted come from southern France since I spent 8 months living there. I visited several wineries in the area with Chef Érick and clients. The rosés of Domaine d'Eole and Jean-Paul Cabanis were staples of our summer picnics. I have also tried lovely rosés from the Loire Valley, southwest France and Austria. Some areas that come to mind are Tavel, Bandol, Bergerac, Côtes du Rhône, Gigondas and Fronton. When in Champagne, I discovered that Veuve Clicquot makes a beautiful rosé champagne (around $70 a bottle-- a bit pricey for me). I later read that back in the day a lot of champagne was made from the pinot noir grape and was rosé colored (I wonder if there is any of the Austrian Michlits Pinot Noir Frizzante Rosé left at Wine Authorities??).
I've also had really good rosé made from 100% cinsault grapes. We found it in Pic St. Loup, a marvelous region for wine in southern France.
In the kitchen in Arles one day, I noticed a fairly large plastic container marked gris sitting on the counter. I had no idea what the liquid was. Gray what, I wondered? I watched Chef Érick pouring it into an empty wine bottle and started to catch on. We drank it with our lunch. Come to find out, vin gris is a very light rosé wine (really not pink to tell the truth)- very inexpensive and sold at the market. You can bring your own plastic container and have it filled up or the merchant will lend you one. Is France a great country or what?
Rosé is the perfect wine for warm weather. Chilled, served with a mild goat cheese (at the DFM on Saturday, I bought a spread made from goat cheese, figs and honey from Elodie Farms), perhaps warm pissaladière right out of the oven (recipe in July 20, 2008 post), sitting on the deck, watching the sunset and decompressing from the day. A chicken salad made with roasted chicken, grapes and almonds would pair well (the French say they marry well- se marier bien) with rosé... think light, picnic fare and the summertime possibilities are endless and so délicieux.
At this very moment, there is a bottle of 2008 Château de Ségries Tavel rosé chilling in my frigo. It is from a region between Languedoc and Provence in southern France. It is 50% grenache, 30% cinsault, 15% clairette and 5% syrah. I am making grilled mozzarella sandwiches (recipe below) to accompany it.
So come on, ya'll, if you've never tried a glass of dry rosé, what on earth are you waiting for? Seth and Craig at Wine Authorities donate a portion of the proceeds from each bottle of rosé sold to the Triangle Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research (over $1600 so far).
Everyone knows what we girls think of the color pink, but what could be more appealing than a confident man sipping a chilled glass of rosé on a warm evening? In Arles or in Durham...

Mozzarella Grilled Cheese
(Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence of The Food Network)

Serves: 2 sandwiches
4 slices thick-cut sourdough bread
1 ball (1 pound) fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 plum tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 cup fresh basil pesto, recipe follows
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Basil pesto:
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

To make pesto:
Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Combine pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still rough-textured.

To make sandwiches:
If you have a panini press, turn it on to warm up; otherwise, set a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Assemble sandwich by smearing insides of bread slices with pesto. Arrange a layer of sliced tomato and season with a few turns of fresh pepper. Layer the mozzarella slices over the top and then place another piece of bread on top to make the sandwich. Drizzle olive oil over skillet's surface and place sandwiches on the hot skillet or panini press. If using a skillet, place another heavy skillet over the top to form a "press". Turn after 2 to 3 minutes and replace weight. The sandwich is ready when golden brown and mozzarella has melted around the edges.

Copyright 2009 Television Food Network G.P., All Rights Reserved

Bon appétit et à votre santé!

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