Wine in the Summertime


We still have plenty of fine weather ahead of us here in The Bay Area and while I’m partial to sangria for a refreshing treat, opening a bottle of wine is often an easier option.

In the June issue of Sunset Magazine a reader from Reno -where it gets upwards of 90F- asked:

“What white wines are especially refreshing? And my husband actually prefers red wines- would any work in our heat?”

Well, bless her hubby. I red over white any day. Sunset’s advice was to try a Sangiovese specifically mentioning Washington State winery Claar Cellars’ 2009 as an excellent choice. For whites they say Sauvignon Blanc is the classic warm-weather white and recommend Clif Family Winery’s 2013 Rte Blanc.

I was surprised there was no mention of the trendy Rosé so I did a little more digging and found a couple more lists of wines to enjoy when the weather is fine.

From the New York Times: Summer’s Winners: 20 wines for $20. : A suggested a Broc Cellars 2013 Sonoma County White Zinfindel that is actually quite pink.

Epicurious has a nice list with pairings that include meat and meatless. Their choice for rose is Tapeña Rosé Tierra de Castilla 2008 from Spain to go with Baja fish tacos and/or horseradish potato salad. I always thought a Pinot Noir was on the heavier side but they chose one and say “Pinot and pork are perfect partners” (should be easy for me to remember at a restaurant). They picked La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2008 from California.

Do you have a go to wine for summer?

I’m trying to become more knowledgeable about wine and how to pair it with food. This post is one of what I hope to be a series on wine.

Simple Recipe: Squash blossom quesadillas

Squash Blossom Quesadillas

Squash blossoms have been a surprise hit with us this summer. I’ve made them stuffed with goat cheese and sautéd as a side dish. But this has been by far the easiest, tastiest treatment. Just spread goat cheese on tortillas, fan out the squash blossoms, sprinkle some cheddar and jack then top it all with another tortilla. I just put them in a pan to melt the cheeses together and they were perfect. Grilling would probably work wonderfully.

Noodles Chill Out: Japanese Version of ‘Pasta Salad’


Our recent “Cook-Up” club had the theme of “food memories.” I have so many memories around food, mostly heavy, comforting holiday foods. But we were in the middle of a heat wave and I didn’t want to go near any of those. My mind kept wandering back to the heat of Summer in Japan when I ate cold noodles for the first time.

In my memory was a small shop in the mountains where there was a cold running stream that would carry the noodles to us. We would catch the noodles with our chopsticks and put them in the chilled dipping sauce.

When I told Mario about it, he expressed his doubts. So I started to think a little harder. He mentioned that it would be really difficult to catch slippery traveling noodles with chopsticks. And I agreed my memory must have been wrong. We must have used a scooping basket of some sort to grab the noodles. It was almost 30 years ago and I have been mis-remembering things lately. And he wasn’t questioning the noodle catching, just the “with our chopsticks” part.

The memory was so vivid: coming in out of the pressing heat and humidity to a cool cave-like restaurant and the sound of a running stream. And then to find the stream carried the noodles. I wanted to relive that delightful experience, so I searched around.

It turns out “nagashi somen” is somewhat of a “tradition” not just a restaurant gimick. And I found video! (I love the internet)

Take a look:

nagashi somen from kitsune-kun on Vimeo.

And they do use chopsticks! Makes me miss Japan.

Here’s the recipe (bamboo river is optional)


Chilled Somen: Light, flavorful and perfect for a warm day.

5 bundles of dried somen noodles (about 1 per person)

2 cloves garlic crushed
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 cup Japanese soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Mix all dressing ingredients together and chill. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add somen noodles and stir. Bring the water back to a rapid boil and decrease heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain somen and rinse under cold water.

You can add the dressing or serve it along side a bowl of noodles as a dipping sauce. Serve it over ice to keep it cold and refreshing.