Seven friends, beautiful equinox weather, candle lit conversation that went on well after dark....and of course, lots of food and weirdly named wine. A magical experience here on the 30th parallel. We have so little fall weather that we appreciate it very much. The high yesterday was about 90 degrees but by 5:30 or so, it was about 80 to 85 in my backyard.
We started with the Bitch wine with appetizers. I don't necessarily buy wine based on its name or label. I did, however, buy my first bottle of Bitch wine as a gag gift. It turns out that this grenache is a great wine for about $10 to $11. It got its name because wine makers sometimes say that the grape is a bitch to grow and the wine is a bitch to make. This is a light tasting red wine that goes with so many different foods that it could have been called Slut. It is pretty good by itself, too.
Dinner began with a fresh green salad. The entrée was eggplant stacks consisting of slices of eggplant which I lightly sautéed before layering them with homemade ricotta mixed with Parmesan and fresh basil and oregano. I put these in a baking dish and baked them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes before pouring a marinara sauce over them and topping each one with a slice of homemade mozzarella. Then I returned them to the oven for a few minutes to let the sauce get warm and the mozarella melt. A side of linguine in a butter/olive oil sauce with garlic, a few pine nuts and some colorful bell peppers completed the main course.
The wine was Vampire Pinot Noir. Stephen's sister owns a kitchen store in Brevard, NC. She and her husband also sell wine. We had this wine a couple of years ago when we were there in October. It comes from Transylvania and Brevard is in Transylvania County. They always get some and have a tasting near Halloween. It is a lovely wine. They would not sell if it weren't good. It goes wonderfully with tomato-based sauces. It holds its own and doesn't clash with the acidity.
Dessert was an apple streusel made with Medina apples and generously laced with calvados topped with Amy's sweet cream ice cream.
Another feature of this dinner was that most of the ingredients were local. I used a jarred sauce and, of course, the pasta and wine were not local. Almost everything else came from the farmer's market or was made here in town. The milk for the cheeses most likely came from near Waco. The farthest it would have come from would have been Hopkins County which is about six hours away. The apples are from about three hours away and Amy's is a local ice cream shop that is so good that we have decided not to buy our own ice cream maker.
The guests included a couple I met through blogging, another couple who are musicians, artists and authors, and one of my best hippy girlfriends. An eclectic and wonderful mix.
Thanks to Konagod for the photos. Here is the one from Cooking Light magazine that was the inspiration for this alfresco dinner.
Soundtrack for this post: Laura Nyro's Stoned Sould Picnic