Sunday, September 26, 2010
A day in the vineyards
Cooking for 30 people sounds a lot easier than it actually is. This past Saturday, Rebecca Lang and I prepared a wine dinner for 30 guests at Persimmon Creek Vineyards. We prepared for 3 days before we drove almost 2 hours to finish everything off on site.
We started the dinner with three appetizers. We served half-dollar pimiento cheese sandwiches, smoke trout spread with crudite, and jalapeno deviled eggs. The pimiento cheese was delicious and so simple! Made with only three kinds of cheese, mayonnaise, pimientos, and toasted pecans it had the perfect balance of textures and flavors. All of the appetizers were simple in ingredients, yet had an upscale feel.
Rebecca Lang is known for her use of Southern flavors. In her new book she keeps her recipes quick and easy, but completely sophisticated. We served them to 30 dinner guests, but they could easily be made at home and served to a family for a casual dinner.
To highlight the season, we served a baby spinach salad with blueberry and lime vinaigrette. We topped the spinach with strawberries and feta cheese. The sweet and salty flavors help make this dish work.
For our main courses we made shrimp and grits and then a mustard and sage pork tenderloin with roasted okra. Rebecca’s grits are unbelievable. The secret behind them is the use of chicken broth and then cream cheese and Monterey Jack cheese. They are unbelievably creamy and flavorful. The pork was almost a disaster. Because of the limited oven space, the pork was not cooking correctly. We were afraid we would still have raw pork when it came time to serve! Luckily we rearranged, moved the shrimp to the stovetop, cranked up the oven, and crossed our fingers. This method worked and the pork turned out perfectly, just the right shade of pink.
Our final course was a red velvet cupcake and key lime ice cream. The tanginess of the ice cream went well with the richness of the cupcake with the sweet cream cheese frosting. Such a great ending to a delicious wine dinner.
Persimmon Creek is a fascinating place. We got to walk through the vineyards and see where they grow their Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Riesling, and Seyval Blanc. They even bottle an ice wine, which can only be made from grapes that are frozen on the vine. Run by a family, you can feel the love that they put into each glass.