Friday, July 3, 2009

Two Best Friends, Wild Mushrooms and Melon

Vickie was here last weekend for a pottery workshop and we filled the rest of the time with great food, fabulous wines and just hanging with Colleen. Saturday evening was the first evening spent 'on the deck' this year.... it finally stopped raining. And while you may think "oh yeah, it always rains in Oregon", it DOESN'T rain on the east side of the state very darned often. But rain was what we got this year and while you can't complain about it in a town that is dependent on agriculture (beef, potatoes, mint and the best hardneck ORGANIC GARLIC in the free world)- we can get very excited about cloudless blue skies!!


One of the gifts from those laden clouds were tons of beautiful Morel and Boletus mushrooms. I've still got a few left and will probably do something fungus oriented for my 4th of July petit dejeuner!
I've got company this weekend and am looking forward to fixing a very celebratory meal to start the holiday!

Last Saturday evening began with sauteed Boletus (Porcini) mushrooms and garlic. Nothing says love like homemade pizza! I layered Sexton Ranches Merguez sausage (I adore the aroma and flavor of this Moroccan spice inspired meat and use it in many of my favorite recipes), Fresh Mozzarella, capers, roasted red peppers, and a few chopped olives and a a bit of chevre on top with fresh herbes from the garden.
We'd finished of a bottle of Clouet Champagne before I went to the cellar to pick something for dinner and was so thrilled to find the VERY LAST BOTTLE of '99 Panther Creek Cellars Melon and a Vino Nobile de Montepulciano from Corte alla Flora (my favorite wine from this property, it's the 'old' part of the estate!)
Anyways, it was awesome to open a ten year old Oregon white wine that I knew would be absolutely stunning. The color was still brilliant and young, the aroma reminiscent of the best Viognier in the world (think Chateau Grillet) and the complexity of flavors and the lush, creamy mouthfeel took me back to some of my best Willamette Valley memories.
I'd loved the intensity of working crush (the harvest) at Panther Creek Cellars. I would sort grapes, punch caps, measure brix and then rush to clean up, put on a tuxedo and go to work on the 30th floor of the bank tower at Atwaters.
(And I usually stopped at Laube Market for a super juicy peach on the way! Another great food memory!)
Good memories, great friends, and a wonderful way to really learn about the wine I love to share!
The Melon (prounounced May Loan) was perfect with the wild Boletus mushrooms on the pizza and the Vino Nobile was savored as we laughed, took pictures and spent the rest of the evening 'catching up'.
And the food got even better as the weekend continued!

On Sunday, I roasted my fresh beets with Walla Walla Sweet Onions and some local baby red potatoes. I like beets, but roasted beets, garlic and olive oil are a magic trio and the result is always beautiful and incredibly good! After roasting, I chill the beets and then toss them with feta, roasted hazelnuts and a bit of Honey Mustard Vinaigrette. I also 'threw together' a fresh rhubarb pie (in a Pate Brisee crust made with Ginger Beer) and we went up to Colleen and Joe's cabin for dinner and a creative work party!

Joe's mom Leah dreams of a true Cantina in the walkout basement of the cabin- you walk out to a breathtaking view of the Elkhorns under the shade of the deck above. The room is delightfully cool and knowing Leah, it's going to be the grooviest Cantina this side of the border! She wanted stucco walls, so we polished up our trowels and opened two enormous buckets of sheetrock mud and a couple of bottles of chilled Vinho Verde, the 'green wine' of Portugal that is perfect for summer sipping and stimulating creativity! An hour later we had completed texturing nearly 2 entire walls of the cantina space. When it's finished, painted and decorated I'll take a photo and share!
We moved up to the deck, enjoyed Elk Burgers, salads and fresh rhubarb pie as the sun dropped down behind the Blue Mountians. Life is good!
But I'm saving the best for last!

Sunday night was just Will and I - and a tiny bottle of Croatian Black Truffle Oil... aromatise'e! A friend from Pendleton is now importing wines, Olive oils and truffle products from Croatia and had just sent me a 'first look' at the stuff.
Oh my!
I was thinking potato tart - but wanted to try something completely new.
Here's what I came up with and I have to say, it's one of the best meals I think I have ever made. The truffle oil is divine and I should have it in stock at BELLA within the next week.

Porcini Tartufi Torta
2 yukon gold potatoes, julienned finely
2 T. olive oil
2 boletus mushrooms, sliced
1 T. butter (optional but delicious)
small bunch of arugula and spinach, shredded
4 fresh eggs, beaten
2-3 oz. grated fontina or provolone
sea salt, pepper
black truffle olive oil
1. Preheat saute pan, add oil and potatoes. Toss until evenly browned.
2. Add mushrooms and butter, toss until mushrooms are tender and browned.
3. Preheat broiler.
4. Add green, saute' until tender and stir to evenly distribute greens and potatoes in pan.
5. Season with a bit of sea salt (I'm loving Himalayan at the moment) and a bit of fresh cracked pepper.
6. Pour eggs evenly over potatoes. Sprinkle grated cheese over top. Cook until set but still very wet on top.
7. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes. Pull from oven as soon as egg mixture is puffy and no longer runny. Divide torta into 6 servings, sprinkle a few drops of tartufi oil over each wedge immediately.
8. Serve with fresh green salad, crusty bread, crisp white wine. The aroma of the tartufi is amazing and you'll find yourself swooining over your dinner!

More to come about the Elkhorn Classic - my first bike race!


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