Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Turning Water into Wine, Food and WIne Pairings along the Columbia River

Two Bud Pruning

early morning Walla Walla

Spring is almost here. We woke up, inhaled the sunrise, walked and stopped at Tertulia Cellar's Vineyards for a quick lesson on two bud pruning.
What is two bud pruning?  Pruning the cane of the vine down to two buds to determine the amount of fruit.
When vines are dormant in the winter it is time to prune. Pruning focus the growth of the vine where it is wanted, and determines how much fruit a vine will have. Each vineyard is different and the variety of grape, location, soil type and climate all play a role in pruning.
The earth's energy creates awareness on a morning walk - the puddles after a storm, the birds eating the worms every where, the grass brighter with more chlorophyll after rain,  why trimming and pruning- earth health is plant health.

rained all night

Pruning vines at Tertulia Cellars vineyarrd

the vines are cut closer, a two bud pruning, so the plant spends energy creating denser clusters

bud spur
cut vines
rain makes the grass green as it increases chlorophyll

the early bird

clouds coming and going

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Good Wines Begin with Good Soils

Good wines begin with good soils

Imagine a giant ice dam bursting, a dam that is miles high and wide. Suddenly this releases a 2000 foot deep wall of water, ice and rocks, roaring along at 60 miles an hour, beginning in Montana and ending up at the Columbia Basin, where the Columbia River heads west to the ocean. This wall carves gorgeous landscapes and floating giant erratic boulders as it thunders along, as recent as 10,000 years ago. This is awesome,  Perfectly. insIpiringly awesome.

Geologic cataclysms such as this are why parts of Washington State have rich and varied soils that drain well and are perfect for growing perfect grapes that become delightful wines. It is also why when in Eastern Washington you will see an enormous boulder sitting in the middle of the of a field. The boulder, called a glacial erratic, surfed down on giant ice rafts during the glacial ice age floods, as this event has become known. The cliffs along the Columbia River Gorge weren't smoothly worn down over time, the types of rock found and patterns created tell us they were from a series of tremendous events, the ice age floods.

These events carved out the Columbia River, and gave us the deep soils that form the foundation of the fertile valleys of Walla Walla and Willamette Valley, top grape producers and wine making areas of the Pacific Northwest. 
These soils from the terroir, or regional identities of these soils. 
These are soils layers from the Ice Age Floods

This canyon was exposed by a irrigation flood on a farmer's land in Walla Walla Valley

Walla Walla makes great wines because the part of the glacial floods create very light soils and silt. This canyon is in Lowdon, Washington, between Touchet and Walla Walla.

An irrigation overflow washed away soils and exposed these cliffs an amazing illustration of the glacial activity that occurred as recent as 12,000 years ago. Good wines begin with good soils. 

Bees and Polliantion

LeFore Honey Farms brings hives to the farmers to increase production, and ensure healthier blooms in the future.
One of the oldest and largest in the Oregon Washington Stateline area, LeFore Honey Farms brings in truckloads of hives to pollinate orchards and fields - increasing yields – by as much as twenty five percent.  As the warm weather flows north, so do the beehives. Into Oregon for the pear and many berry seasons including strawberry, blueberries, blackberries, marionberries, and raspberries.
As the months progress LeFore Honey Farms continues to travel north through Washington's famous apple orchards, bringing hives to work throughout the spring and summer.
As spring turns to summer, LeFore Honey Farms shifts east and travels through Idaho, Montana, and summers in the Dakotas. Once they reach their destination, employees add "supers" to the beehives to encourage honey creation and storage in each hive. An average hive can produce 25 pounds of surplus honey per year and strong hives up to 60 pounds each.

Once the honey is harvested for use, honeybees are prepared to winter over in their hives by checking for disease and viruses that they may have encountered - then treating them to ensure healthy stock for the coming year.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cherry Pie and Cold Brewed Coffee

Rainier Cherries backlit by the Sun

Shade in the afternoon is a summer treat
This is the easiest and best way to make a pie crust. Put a cup of water in the freezer to chill. Blend two cups room temperature butter with three cups flour, folding, not over working the dough. Slowly add the very cold water, and roll your dough in a circle on a floured bread board. Use a lovely rolling pin, a cotton cover over it helps.
Stem, and pit 4 cups cherries, mix with two cups sugar. You can go less on the sugar. Add a bit of kirschwasser if you want, to you or the mix.
Bake at 350 degrees for forty minutes.
Lay the crust in a deep pie pan, and crimp the top crust on, or sprinkle the dough like a cobbler.
Serve with cold press coffee. Put coffee grounds in French Press, let sit for ten hours, et voila, less acidic coffee, perfect for summer. This really has a smoother taste.
Now, the sun beckons.....breeze, ahhhh

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fresh Tomato Pasta with Blush Wine

Hanging Around Near Vantage, Washington in late June

Of course summer is the time to drink a rose, also called a blush wine, and Grocery Outlet has a great selection.
Have friends over, always preferable to dining out. To set the mood to cook, it is essential to watch this video from Vogue Paris, marking Emmanuelle Alt's ascension to Editor. It is supermodels covering Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.  It will give you all the energy you need to cook for loved ones, and you will know exactly what to wear. Watch the film here.
If you still feel like cooking, it must be something light and chic. And seasonal, as seasonal as white Levi's. Locavare is common sense, and common sense is comme il faut. Washington State can be full of surprises if you know where to look.
Wham! Here we go go!
Tomato Angel Hair Pasta
A classic favorite, it is simple and better without cheese. A great pasta sauce can be a light toss of fresh flavors from your garden or local market.
Seafood in a separate dish sauteed in garlic, oil, parlsey, and red pepper flakes goes well with this supper.
1 tbsp olive oil
4 plum tomatoes, finely diced
2 sliced garlic cloves
2 cups white wine
8 ounces angel hair pasta broken in half
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup fresh chopped oregano
In saute pan, heat oil on medium/high heat.
Add tomatoes and saute, stirring oftem, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute.
Add wine, pasta and oregano and stir to coat. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to meium. Simmer until pasta is done and liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with a bit of the fresh oregano. And white sneakers, no laces

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cherries and White Wine

Cherries are wonderful alone or with a sweeter white wine such as Reisling.
A graceful way to serve fresh cherries is to heap them whole, stems intact, on pretty dessert plates. Serve finger bowls of ice water with the cherries so the fruit can be dipped as it is eaten.
At mother's knee I learned her favorite way to prepare cherries. Destem the cherries, put in a large glass bowl or jug with a pound of sugar and two quarts vodka. Let it set, covered for a month or so, and voila, slivovitz, cherry brandy from Yugoslavia.
Or, for Cherries Jubilee pit and stem two pounds of cherries, poach them 1/2 sugar and 1 cup water. If that seems like a lot of water, decrease the amount and add kirschwasser or Grand Marnier.
Then heap the hot berries in a flame proof dish, add 1/2 cup kirsch or Grand Marnier and ignite, away from table. These taste great spooned over vanilla ice cream. No ice cream- then it's vegan! Either way, practice this dish before guests arrive. Coup de Foudre!
Here is an easy sorbet recipe - poach the fruit in booze, then puree and freeze. I did this today, and added fresh grated ginger and wild ginger- a lovely afternoon treat. Or a meal!