Monday, March 26, 2012

Hot Dogs and Garnacha?

Sunday, Kelley and Marco Due came out to the house first to give us some pointers on training Grace the Wonderbeast and then to visit Linden Vineyards. Many thanks to Mark for being the DD! This was Mark's first visit to Linden and Kelley's first since she came with us during our spring break two years ago. Ann and I were just there two weeks ago with Karen.

On the drive down, the red buds could not have been any more glorious! Entire sections of road were swathed in pink, just phenomenal! And the weather was nice enough, despite the brisk northerly breeze and the threatening rain, for us to sit outside to enjoy the spectacular view from the winery deck. With no windows between us and the outside world, we got an earful of cheerful spring bird songs, including a virtuoso serenade by a male bluebird.

Before heading outside, we did the obligatory tasting—Oh darn, another tasting? Twist my arm!—and this one yielded a couple of surprises for me. The 2009 Claret that was all angular and disjointed two weeks ago has really come around full circle and is drinking so well now. But there was something funky with the bottle of Vidal-Riesling: no nose and acid out of balance. It may just have been too cold because I tasted another sample from a bottle that was opened the day before and it was a lot warmer and a lot more open. So goes it. I am convinced that some bottles just develop differently no matter how careful you are.

After a plate of cheese and sausage, some bread, and a couple of bottles of 2008 Hardscrabble Red (I kept mumbling, "This wine is awesome!"), we headed back to Winchester and stopped by the restaurant for some provisions for dinner.

This is one time I wish I had a better camera with a faster lens. This is a great portrait of Kelley and Mark, but would have been better with a better lens. Oh well!

We started with a little guacamole from a bunch of avocados sitting on the counter trying to get overripe. It seemed like everyone pitched in bits of prep for the guacamole. You see it here with some tortilla chips that we had leftover from Saturday night dinner service at the restaurant.

And the main attraction! Some weeks ago, we were watching DDD on Food Network and just got a major hot dog jones going, seeing all the great dogs being served all over this country. So I asked my specialty supplier to see if he could locate some good dogs for us. And he did. We got a case of huge 4-ounce dogs from Berks of Reading, PA. The flavor of these dogs is just wow! I would have grilled them outside but it was dark and a bit rainy. Crisping them in a pan is not so bad either. The casing isn't the best, but without fail, everyone who tastes these dogs is just blown away by the flavor. And what wine to serve with a hot dog? Whatever you like! We opened a spicy Spanish garnacha that was just delicious with the dogs.

Ann wanted pasta so I grabbed some gemelli, goat cheese, roasted red pepper, and hard Spanish chorizo. I lightly caramelized some onions and slivered garlic, then added the chorizo, roasted red peppers and a touch each of basil and pimentón. Once the veg were good and cooked and the pasta was just al dente, it all went into a big bowl with 5 ounces of goat cheese and some salt and pepper. How simple and how fantastic!

Another great Sunday with friends!

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