Adventures with Summer Snackies and Sippers
Sally and I always enjoy our summer snackies and sippers on the side porch or on our circular brick patio in the back yard. In the summer, it is one of our favorite evening time rituals as we relax before dinner.
Sally and I took this past July 4th week off, thoroughly enjoying several days with our son’s family and two grand children. After they headed to Maine for the remainder of the week and we had the house to ourselves again, we worked on organizing for our coming move, spent a few hours in the office and did some serious “summer snackies and sippers” relaxing on the side porch.
I got it in my head that I wanted to teach myself how to make bruschetta, and New England style lobster rolls. Nothing fancy… Just good summer time fare.
Summer snackies and sippers: Adventure #1
I first researched bruschetta, looking in a few of Sally’s old cook books such as Romagnoli’s Table and on the web where I found several recipes. I should not have been surprised at the number of variations and spins on what I thought was a very simple tasty treat, but I was. Romagnoli’s was the simplest – grilled/toasted bread, garlic, salt and pepper.
After looking at the recipes, I freestyled my own version. I wanted to taste the Tuscan toast, the olive oil, garlic, burrata, tomato and parsley/basil. Why gunk it up, right???
Of course at this point, the wine guy in me kicks in and I find myself wondering, “ What might pair/taste good with the bruschetta.” I LOVE the “flavortown” adventure, especially when you don’t quite know where you’re going to end up… So I ran down to the basement to see what I could find in my “extensive collection” of wines of about 48 bottles of wine in a wine rack made 2 x 4’s, tucked in a dusty corner of our basement. (Sally calls me a “Collector”. I call myself a “Consumer”.)
Now it’s confession time. Each summer I go on a personal quest to find the perfect summer wine. I‘m like a kid in a candy store when I’m in a wine shop. I’m dangerous – always picking up random bottles of wine to try out. But The Quest gives me Purpose, because there’s gotta be more out there than chardonnay, right???
It turns out, bruschetta is easy to make.
- Chop/slice/cut up the tomato, mozzarella and parsley or basil.
- Toast the toast.
- Rub half a garlic clove on each side the toast.
- Drizzle olive oil on toast.
- Salt and pepper toast to taste.
- Add layers of tomato and mozzarella or burrata. I tried both.
- Garnish with chopped basil or parsley.
Now the fun part. Eating and tasting… And where it got interesting… Neither wine felt like it was happy with the bruschetta’s acidity. I had hoped the roundness of the fruit in the wines would compliment and it wasn’t quite working. Time to experiment. More olive oil or earthiness perhaps? So I tried a little drizzle of white truffle infused olive oil. Meh… A touch of balsamic vinegar, perhaps? Winner, winner!!! The wine and bruschetta came alive and had lively conversation with each other! Particularly the Zenato. I haven no idea what the chemistry is that’s going on between all those ingredients, but the balsamic vinegar was the missing link.
Summer snackies and sippers: Adventure #2
Fast forward a few hot humid days. Neither one of us wanted to do any dinner prep that involved heat. I suggested I run over to Rowand’s, our local fish market, pick up fresh lobster meat and I’d make bruschetta and New England style lobster rolls. Veggie? Chilled asparagus with hollandaise sauce. Wine? TBD.
Sally loved the idea.
I rummaged around thru our cook books and the web and came up with a recipe for New England lobster roll stuffing. The following ingredient list makes filling for two 8” sub rolls.
- ½ pound cooked lobster meat cut into bite size pieces. (Be sure to ask for two claws to top the roll when assembled.)
- About a tablespoon of mayonnaise. (Just enough for the lobster meat to stick together.)
- Teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Combine the above.
- Add a light teaspoon of chopped fresh parsley, a heavy teaspoon of minced green scallion tops, 1/8 cup chopped celery stalks, salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix and set aside. (I covered and put in the fridge while we prepped the rest of dinner.)
- Grille buttered rolls in an iron skillet or flat top just before serving.
- Some people like a bed of chopped lettuce on their lobster roll. Sally and I like a layer of sliced ripe avocado before we add the lobster meet to the roll.
What about the wine??? The conventional wisdom says a nice buttery chardonnay. I felt that was the easy solution. After digging around on the web for a bit, I came across the suggestion of a dry South African Chenin Blanc. Why not give it a go? We had our wines. 90+ Cellars California Chardonnay Lot 152 and a Neethlingshof Estate Chenin Blanc.
With the lobster roll filling set aside to chill, I made buschetta while Sally started making the hollandaise sauce, which turned into a two person operation. While Sally stirred, I poured the clarified butter into the mixing bowl… Success! No lumps!!! Dinner was ready to be served!
We quickly assembled the lobster rolls, drizzled the hollandaise sauce on the chilled asparagus, arranged the bruschetta on our plates and sat down to dinner in our favorite room the house, the side porch.
It quickly became apparent which wine was our favorite with the meal – the Neethlingshof chenin blanc. While the chardonnay was good, the chenin blanc made the meal come alive. It danced in your mouth. Rounder, fuller. The fruit of the wine played beautifully off the subtle softer flavors of the lobster and avocado and the brightness of the parsley and scallion. It’s finish lingering in your mouth. It made you slow down and savor each bite of bruschetta and lobster roll. Neither wine played well with the asparagus and hollandaise sauce, although the chenin blanc faired better in my mind’s eye. Asparagus is always a tough one. Perhaps if the chenin blanc had been a sparkler??? Sounds like a repeat performance of summer snackies and sippers is in order.
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