Summertime Wine and At-Home Pickling
A culinary blog series featuring seasonal food and wine from the restaurant servant perspective.
“86” the Hot Tea by: Roddy Browning
The sunshine always reminds me of Will Smith’s song “Summertime” and Jane’s Addiction’s “Summertime Rolls.” They always put a smile on my face. Nowadays, the sun reminds me of something else very special, Rosé. Yup, that pink stuff… and no, not white zin. All over Europe, Rosé has been very much a part of the changing seasons. It represents the transition from the colder winter temps to the much anticipated warm season. As Americans, we finally realize its food potential and well, its wonderful day drinking properties. I’d like to talk about two that I have been enjoying over the last few weeks.
First is the 40-ounce 2016 vintage Rosé and (as stated on the bottle) French wine. Everything about this wine speaks to America in a cult pop, slang kind a way. The packaging mimics a 40-ounce malt liquor bottle equipped with a screw cap. It’s hard to take this wine seriously. However, this is a fantastic example of great Rosé and it’s at a great price.
I like to refer to things that are inexpensive as cost effective or a good value. Remember cheap is cheap. You pay for what you get. We’ve always been told to drink whites and rosé chilled. Yes, but – and this is an important but, the colder the wine the less character you get out of them. This is very true for this particular bottle. The warmer, not to be confused with hot, the more expressive it is. The color is as you would expect with a pretty pink glow. The nose is fresh cut strawberry, touch of wet stones, herb blossom and the alcohol is not too aggressive. The palette follows through with the slight under ripe berry fruits; offering a touch of minerals with a slight tart pop right at the finish. Good length with medium texture. The tangy finish makes the mouth water a touch. I dig it! Pair with grilled veggies, dried meats, creamy cheeses, and at least one other person. The importer is Verity Wine Partners; they can point you in the direction of a local retailer near you.
Second we have the Les Hauts De Lagarde 2016 Bordeaux that is organic. This wine has a beautiful dark pink color that reminds me of cherry Kool-Aid. The nose has a touch of game which makes sense as the varietals are merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and malbec. There’s also a touch of honey comb, dried red fruits, and leafy greens. The palate focus is on the dried fruits, tangy citrus with medium texture. The alcohol is slightly elevated but nothing crazy; helping to give it texture. It has a nice smooth round finish with a slightly tangy zing. Very good! This should be paired with wine nerds as it has a bit of a gamey note that the more experienced wine drinker would dig. It pairs well with roasted beets, grilled chicken, and richer fish. The importer is Natural Merchants, they can hook you up with a local spot that carries it. Both wines should retail under $20 bucks.
Roddy’s children showing off the fresh produce grown on the family farm.
Yup spring time is here in SoCal! We grow some of our own produce at our family farm and I like to include those veggies on the menus of our two restaurant locations. Although I have a bit of a green thumb, farming is harder than you think. But get ready, it’s time for all the wonderful veggies to start flooding the local farmers markets. Look for spring onions, summer squash, beets, zucchini, strawberries, peas, avocados, leeks, tomatoes, lions, tigers and bears. Just kidding…I just want to make sure you are paying attention. Point is, we are in the part of the year that is the “funnest” time of the year for produce. Ah yes, beautiful produce aplenty. What you might be missing are things like fresh farmer’s eggs for example. They are available year-round and wow! There is nothing like a fresh orange colored farmer’s eggs. Don’t believe me? I triple dog dare you to do a side by side comparison. You’ll be drinking the farm fresh “egg Kool-Aid” in no time. There are folks that are already picking up what I’m throwing down. The point is; if you love food and yourself, try something new and fresh.
For those of you that are garden pros, I have a question. What do you do with the un-used produce? You’ve already given it to your neighbors multiple times and they’ve stopped making eye contact with you because they don’t want any more squash or your giant zucchinis. Well, as “Portlandia” would say, “Let’s pickle it!” Yup pickles. We all love pickles. If you don’t, I’d stop reading. Pickling is an excellent way to enjoy the fruits of your labor and patience of a personal garden. I’m not a big fan of canning. There is an exception for tomatoes, love them on a boat, with a goat…. You get the idea. Nothing against canning, just the texture can be a touch, well soft for my taste. Pickles can be made of just about anything. Keep in mind the firmer the texture of the produce the better “snap” you get from the texture. Oh yeah…bread and butter pickles, dill pickles, pickle relish, pickled peppers, pepperoncini, carrots, green beans, okra, peppers, onions, cauliflower (what, you’ve never had pickled cauliflower?), tomatoes, squash, broccoli and everything in between. Vinegar is an excellent pallet stimulator. Be careful as with anything aggressive, it can be overwhelming. I frequently use it in cooking. Pickling and brining….. Do you really want to go over this in more detail? If you do, here is my email address I’d be happy to chat with you about it, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Simple Pickling Recipe
- 2 cups vinegar (I prefer apple cider vinegar)
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 Tbs salt
This is the basic start. I always start with this and I add additional seasonal spices such as bay leaf, peppercorns, coriander, and dill.
About the Author:
Roddy Browning is the chief architect and owner of two innovative restaurants in Oceanside and Vista called, Flying Pig Pub and Kitchen. Browning started his restaurant career in a small spot called Burger Boy in Cedar Crest, New Mexico. Following a move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, he started working as a prep cook and a busboy at local eatery named Julian’s. That was the start of his kitchen experience. He developed an appreciation for cooking and has been hooked ever since. When he moved to Tucson, Arizona, he worked the front of the house and quickly fell in love with wine. He worked under a few very talented Sommeliers throughout his career. He has been a certified Sommelier for over 10 years and has over 20 years of experience combined with his wine studies.
Featured Image: Roddy Browning (left) and Chef Mario (right)