The theme has been summer nostalgia and letting go post-Labour Day weekend. Yesterday, when I admitted that every season has an end, I also came to terms with a too-aged bottle of wine designed to drink young. It was heavy and cloying and a lack of freshness suggested that it had oxidized.
It was one of those sunny and versatile summertime wines, namely the Frescobaldi Albizzia Chardonnay Toscana 2005, and it showed that its limits were as clear and well-defined as summer -- Montreal's shortest and most sudden season. (It turns out that the Albizzia cuvée is very appropriately named for "usually small trees or shrubs with a short lifespan"... just check Wikipedia for the proof.)
That was then, this is now. This post is about the food I often served at wine-curated picnics over the last three months, and it's entirely true that the picnic pictured here featured those Albizzias, so sunny and versatile then, as well as that rosé you see.
What I served is a simple dish, so versatile with wine and yummy on its own, that's been plenty on demand around my place. I've received requests for the recipe in person and on Facebook. So it's about time I quite stalling and fess up: It's roasted vegetables, people. The most amazingly good and amazingly simple food fixing known to man.
Roasted vegetables, antipasto-style
- Choose 1 (or 2) of: cauliflower or broccoli florets, fennel, onion, tomato, mushroom
- Add a generous splash of olive oil and mix to generally coat everything
- Roast in the oven uncovered at 450 F for 20 minutes, stirring once
- Let cool momentarily in mixture of butter, capers and garlic, or instead, fresh mint and salt and pepper
- Serve! And save leftovers for an enjoyable cold lunch
(Note: Cauliflower takes 25 minutes; tomato and mushrooms take 10.)
I hinted in my last post that this kind of recipe would fade in the weeks to come but I don't believe it now. For one thing, I would drink pretty much any wine with this other than your most delicate whites and most tannic reds. On top of that, hardy vegetables continue to be plentiful into the fall and the heat your oven gives off to make this dish only becomes more pleasing as the days shorten. Plus, as I look ahead to the short-term weather forecast, I see that the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday of September are scheduled to be summer's most formidable heat wave. It's summertime again. Get picnicking.
My Italian wine over-consumption two weeks ago when I was a tasting panelist has paid lovely dividends. I figure nicely in Bill Zacharkiw's latest column on the (Montreal) Gazette's Wine with Bill Zacharkiw website. Check out the site -- it's growing rapidly as Bill's tenure takes off since replacing veteran critic at the newspaper Malcolm Anderson -- but also note this direct link to the goods I helped sample: Valpolicella Classico, Ripasso, and Amarone wines.
It's been said about Bill before but let me say it again: no one has the know-how and the knack for identifying a wine's key attributes and instantly matching them up in appropriate food pairings. His writing readily conveys this, so it is a joy to read his reviews, which are totally mouthwatering and score-free to boot.