Rosé Roundup {Summer 2013}

DSC_0793This summer, I’ve discovered rosés. I used to think that rosés were just the kind of wine that the ladies on Real Housewives drink to fuel their catfights. I thought that they were all sweet, and not very interesting. In reality, rosés get a bad rap due to sweet California Zinfandels and you know, Boone’s Farm Strawberry wine. I’m going to let you in on a secret. Rosés are actually awesome. The dry ones are made from grapes that you’d recognize from red wines, like pinot noir, grenache, cabernet sauvignon, and malbec. (Just so you know, the ladies on Real Housewives are fueled primarily by Pinot Grigio, or “pinot grish,” as they say.)

DSC_0777These 5 rosés have been my favorite this summer. I would like to say, upfront, before we really get into this, that I know NOTHING about wine. Really. I’m just consolidating things that I’ve read online and mixing it with my own experience a little. But mostly, I don’t know anything. I got these rosés from Total Wine, Southern Season (thanks, Mommy!), Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods. From left to right, they are Rosé D’Anjou from the Loire Valley of France, Crios Rosé of Malbec from Argentina, Domaine Houchart from Coté de Provence, Conte Priola Rabosa Rosé, and J.L. Quinson from Coté de Provence.

Rosé D’Anjou
Location: Loire Valley of France
Year: 2012
Tasting Notes: This rosé is a little sweeter than most, but in a good way. It’s definitely not sticky sweet, just a cool, crisp sweetness that opens up into fruit flavors (peach, strawberry, sweet cherry). It’s round and generously fruity, but definitely dry and doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste. It would be good with a dish like pad thai, or a cool noodle salad with cilantro. I wouldn’t stand up to much spice, but it would be good with strong earthy flavors.



Crios Rosé of Malbec
Location: Argentina
Year: 2012
Tasting Notes: This one is about as heavy and rounded as you’d expect from a rosé. It’s deep in color, and would absolutely hold up to spicy foods. It’s better chilled a little less than other lighter rosés. It’s characteristically fruity–but dark fruits like blackberries and plums, raspberries, too. It kind of reminds me of very ripe strawberries, but without the sweetness. Just deep red berries with lots of earthy flavor. It would be good with snacks and appetizers and is nice to drink alone.

Domaine Houchart 
Location: Coté de Provence, France
Year: 2012
Tasting Notes: This rosé seems like it’s pretty typical of the coté de provence. It’s definitely a fruit-forward wine, but mildly so. There is almost a little citrus note to it, but fleetingly, followed by ripe strawberries and a tart finish. It’s almost a little herbal–isn’t that what you think of when you think of Provence? I don’t really know what herb, maybe rosemary or thyme. It could even be lavender, just slightly. I think that this wine would be good cold and by itself.

Conte Priola Rabosa Rosé
Location: Veneto, Italy
Year: 2012
Tasting Notes: This rosé is bright, zippy, crisp, and a little bubbly. This one is the wine that I think would be great with hamburgers and hotdogs on a sunny evening on the porch. It’s strong enough for heavy foods like burgers, but still subtle enough to enjoy alone. It’s very good when it’s very cold. It’ll leave your mouth feeling puckered and dry more than any other rosé I’ve tried.


J.L. Quinson
Location: Coté de Provence
Year: 2012
Tasting Notes: This rosé is the lightest in color and flavor that I’ve tried. It’s very simple, but interesting nonetheless. It’s gently sweet at first, with strawberry and sweet cherry notes. Later, it’s a little buttery and creamy. True to the region (apparently), it’s easily drinkable and a little acidic. I think it would be really great with grilled chicken and asparagus.

DSC_0799In my research, I’ve learned that rosé are best when they’re younger, so this year, 2012 is the year to look for. If you’re looking for a dry rosé, look for a French, Spanish, or Italian wine. You can find good dry ones from South America or California, but they’re more likely to be sweeter than their European counterparts.

Did I fool you? Does it seem like I know ANYTHING about wine? Well, Google is a big help. Enjoy some pink wine this summer–it might be better than you think!




Raspberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta

DSC_0704Let’s be straight up about panna cotta. When I serve it to people, and they ask me what it is, I don’t know what to say other than “milk jello,” which sounds disgusting. Then I have to assure them that it’s actually really good, and not like what you’d expect from milk jello at all. In reality, panna cotta is a mild, only slightly sweet, summery dessert. I’ve made panna cotta before, but this is the first time that I’ve been really satisfied with the texture and taste. Not too jelled, sweet without overpowering the subtle tang from the buttermilk. This time around, it was perfect.

DSC_0699This is the kind of dessert that doesn’t require the oven being turned on, and can be made as many as three days in advance. It would be the perfect dessert for a barbeque. I’m slowly developing the menu for the ideal summer backyard party–and it includes these homemade hot dog buns, these burgers, this panna cotta, and a bunch of big, dry rosés. You’re invited. Don’t worry.

DSC_0692I think that you could do any summery fruit in this panna cotta. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches. They’d all be good. Raspberries work particularly well–I think because they’re tender and delicate like the panna cotta itself. But if you have a bunch of fresh peaches, that’s your game. Go with it.

DSC_0715Here’s the recipe:

Raspberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta
(yields 6 ramekins, 6oz each)

1 pint raspberries, washed
1 1/2 buttermilk, shaken well
2 1/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1/4 c sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 1/2 c half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 t black pepper
pinch koster salt

Find six glasses that can each hold 6 ounces of liquid. In the cups, evenly divide the raspberries. Then, chill the glasses. (I like to put mine on a cookie sheet for easy transportation.)

Put 1/2 cup of the buttermilk into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Then, over medium low heat, stir in the sugar and stir until both the gelatin and sugar are dissolved. When everything is dissolved, remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the remaining buttermilk, the half and half, the vanilla, salt, and black pepper.

Pour the mixture into the chilled glasses, over the raspberries. Make sure it’s mostly even. Cover each glass (I like to use jars so that they have lids) and chill them for a minimum of 2 hours and up to three days. Serve cold, with a spoon!






Cherry Galette with Rye Crust

DSC_0590Making pie is one of those things that never changes. It’s always the same; cold fats meet soft flour, giving way to a dough that just holds together. Fresh fruit warms in the oven, softening slightly. You can count on pie. It’s predictable. Pie is one of those things that I turn to when things don’t seem to make sense. I’ve been away from my blog for a few weeks, and in that time, I needed pie. I needed to use my hands to bring the dough together, to create something predictable.


Cherries and rye crust are maybe made for each other. The cherries are earthy and sweet, and the rye crust is soft and flaky, nutty with a little tang. Together they are perfect. I think a galette with ragged edges is the way to go here. A pie is too formal–a galette is casual. It doesn’t need a pan, just a cookie sheet. Also, it doesn’t need a cherry pitter, despite what you might have heard.

DSC_0546I totally thought I came up with this idea, but lots of people in the internet world have done it before. I used a beer bottle, placed each cherry on the top of the bottle, stem facing up, then pressed a plastic straw straight down, through the cherry. It catches the pit, and leaves the rest of the cherry whole. You’re left with a beer bottle full of cherry pits (which you can’t recycle, sadly).

DSC_0565Aside from my original (not original) cherry pitting idea, I think I have finally perfected my pie crust recipe. It’s a butter/crisco crust, but there is more butter than crisco, but it’s easier to handle than an all-butter crust. It holds a crimped edge, makes a lattice that’s easy to handle, and still bakes up into a soft, buttery, flaky crust. Add an egg wash and sprinkle it with raw sugar, and you’re in business.

DSC_0576Cherry Galette with Rye Crust recipe

For the crust: (makes a double crust, halve it for this recipe)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1 cup butter, cold and cubed
1/4 cup crisco, cold
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
5-7 tablespoons ice water

Whisk together the flours and salt. Then, using your fingers, break up the butter and crisco into the flour. Work it gently until the largest pieces are no bigger than a pea, and the smaller ones are the size of oat flakes. Pour in 5 tablespoons of the ice water, and use a fork to combine the water into the dough. If needed, add the extra 2 tablespoons. The dough should just hold together if squeezed into a ball.

Divide the dough into two equal rounds, wrap each one in saran wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the filling:
4 cups cherries, pitted but still whole
4 tablespoons cornsarch
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Toss everything with the fruit and let the fruit sit for an hour or so to release some of their juices.

1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon warm water
2 tablespoons sugar in the raw

Whisk the yolk and water together to make the egg wash, brush it on and then sprinkle the crust with the sugar

To assemble the galette:
Roll out the chilled dough until it’s about ten inches and mostly round. Place it on a cookie sheet, the edges overlapping. Pour the fruit mixture into the middle of the dough round, then fold the edges up, holding the fruit inside. Brush the crust with the egg wash and then sprinkle the sugar on top.

Bake the galette at 375 degrees F for 40-50 minutes, or until the fruit is jammy and bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Let the galette cool completely, then slice and serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

DSC_0600I hope that making this pie brings you the kind of peace that only pie can offer.