Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Glen Manor/Panzanella

Sunday September 7th was one of those beautiful fall days that we dream about all summer. After it being 93 degrees and nearly 100 percent humidity the day before, a welcome cold front blew through in the night bringing both rain and delightful temperatures. I noticed right away on Sunday morning when taking the dogs out that I didn't walk into a wall of water in the air as I had done the entire week before, the hottest and most miserably humid of the summer.

Based on that miserable weather, Ann and I had planned to picnic on Sunday up on Skyline Drive (which you can see just below the ridgeline in the photo below), up at elevation to get away from the heat. I had already put a bottle of Côtes de Gascogne Blanc in the freezer to chill for the picnic. But after we both went outside on the patio for morning coffee, I told her that the cold nip in the breeze was not white wine drinking weather, that it was decidedly red wine drinking weather and suggested that we scrap Skyline and go rather to Glen Manor and drink red wine and look up the mountain. No complaints from her!

Early Fall at Glen Manor (see the bird netting on the vines?)
We were the first to arrive at the tasting room, about 12:15 and got to spend about a half an hour catching up with Jeff and Kelly before people started showing up, at which point we took a bottle of T. Ruth red blend and our container of panzanella out on the lawn and pulled up a couple Adirondack chairs to take in the view for the next three hours or so. At times, the breeze was downright nippy, but on the whole, I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Our Mini Feast: Panzanella, Water, and T. Ruth
I had big plans to throw together a proper picnic menu. I was going to fry some quail, devil some quail eggs, and make a little potato salad. I was, I promise. But Saturday got away from me in that we had a bunch more prep at the restaurant than we had anticipated and so the end of dinner service Saturday night arrived with me having prepped nada for our picnic.

Serendipitous Panzanella
As I was packing away my station for the weekend, I noticed a container of croutons on the counter, unloved and unneeded, having been used as salad garnish some weeks ago when we actually had salad greens. August heat is most unkind to salad greens and it is very rare that we would have a green salad on the menu during that month.

And next to the bin of croutons were several balls of unsold fresh mozzarella that we had made right before dinner. [<rant>I'm just going to say it here: customers are knuckleheads. You can get Insalata Caprese at the restaurant for about 6 weeks a year. Order it when you see it!</rant>] And then I remembered that I had a bin full of chopped salad that would not carry through the weekend. And there you have it: instant panzanella.

You should have seen Ann freak out when I covered the croutons in water: she loves, loves, loves croutons! I soaked them for a minute and squeezed them out, diced the mozz and added it, and then poured over the chopped salad and gave the whole a big stir. A bit of salt and a touch more olive oil finished it.

The chopped salad is made from cucumbers; red, yellow, black, and green tomatoes; red, yellow, and purple peppers, a couple ears of corn, and sliced queen olives, all dressed with olive oil, sherry vinegar, minced garlic, and salt.

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