Wine + Dessert

I love a wine paired with an amazing meal. I also enjoy using wine in my cooking. It is a diverse indulgence and the perfect ingredient. When it comes to wine and food—well, they just go together in perfect harmony. So naturally, a dessert with wine in it peaks my interest.

After the fruit sherbets earlier in the summer, I decided to lighten things up with a sorbet. Sorbet has a palate-cleansing characteristic that makes it the perfect end to a summer meal. It’s not too sweet and has a refreshing tang that gives your taste buds a wake up call. With the abundance of summer fruits and access to a variety of wines, it is fun to create delectable pairings. Blackberries and Zinfandel?   Yes, please! Peaches and Reisling? That could work! The possibilities are endless.

The bounty of blackberries at the farmers markets right now, made it easy to focus in on the first recipe. We often hear bold red wines described with notes of blackberry, plum, and cherry. These notes provide a wonderful hint as to which wines to pair with which fruits. The same is true for the white wines with their citrus and pear notes. A little fruit, some sugar, some wine…and you have an amazing dessert that will have you sneaking back to the freezer for more!

Blackberry Zinfandel Sorbet

  • 4 cups fresh blackberries
  • ½ to ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup Zinfandel wine
  1. Puree the blackberries with the sugar in a food processor or blender.
  2. Pour mixture into a saucepan and heat over medium until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat promptly.
  3. Strain mixture by pushing it through a sieve. This should yield about 2-3 cups of syrup.
  4. Stir in the Zinfandel and chill for 4-5 hours.
  5. Process mixture in an ice cream maker until soft serve consistency. Place in a container and freeze.

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Simple Goodness: Tazza Kitchen

Simple:  Not fussy; the absence of complication; or without unnecessary adornment.  It’s the way I like my food.  The flavors shouldn’t compete. They should mingle together in a collaborative effort to make me say, “Oh, wow…that is really good.”

Every dish placed in front of me at Tazza Kitchen in the Cameron Village area of Raleigh, NC did exactly that.  Nothing fussy.  Nothing complicated—just regional foods prepared creatively and with a focus on flavor. Complementing the amazing food was a staff that worked together like a well-oiled machine.  Their passion for food and knowledge about each dish was welcome and a little surprising considering the restaurant had just opened.  It was a lovely dining experience; one I hope to re-create soon!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with bacon, crumbled egg, and a maple vinaigrette.

Marinara and goat cheese from Prodigal Farm.  The bread had the perfect wood-fired char.

Marinara and goat cheese from Prodigal Farm. The bread had the perfect wood-fired char.

Mixed greens salad with herbs.

Mixed greens salad with herbs.

Garganelli pasta with fennel sausage.  I could eat this DAILY.

Garganelli pasta with fennel sausage. I could eat this DAILY.

White Pizza with béchamel, smoked mozzarella, caramelized onions, and bacon.  A gift from heaven--I am sure of it.

White Pizza with béchamel, smoked mozzarella, caramelized onions, and bacon. A gift from heaven–I am sure of it.

Salted Caramel Gelato with flour less orange and almond cake.  Dessert could not have been more perfect.

Salted Caramel Gelato with flourless orange and almond cake. Dessert could not have been more perfect.

Reduce, reuse, recycle by decorating with wine bottles!

Reduce, reuse, recycle by decorating with wine bottles!

Wonderful, delicious things happen in there.

Wonderful, delicious things happen in there.

The homemade cocktail creations were an excellent start to my meal.

The homemade cocktail creations were an excellent start to my meal.

The spotlights show the way to memorable meal.

The spotlights show the way to a memorable meal.

Farm to Table

Farm-to-Table.  What does that even mean, you say? Well, it is more than a trend.  It is a way of life–a way of eating–that my family has taken seriously for the last 7 years.  It all started with my first visit to the Onslow County Farmer’s Market near Richlands, NC.  I had been to farmer’s markets before as a child, but this first adult visit sealed the deal.  Those tables filled with beautiful lush greens, crimson red peppers, onions, and plump tomatoes brought me back to my childhood growing up with a huge garden behind our home.  My parents were met with whines and complaints when my presence was requested in the garden.  Despite my protesting, I spent a decent amount of time planting seeds, weeding between the rows, and picking delicious crops such as green beans, squash, potatoes, and strawberries.  Now, I look back fondly on that time.  Funny how we often romanticize our memories, isn’t it?  Because of that experience, I know what a chore it is to grow something–turning the soil, amending the soil, planting, watering, praying for rain, worrying, weeding, harvesting.

I have great respect for people who do this tough work as a means to provide for their family.  I support local farmers because there is an accountability I do not get from selecting my produce at a supermarket.  When I shop at the local farm stand, I get to know the farmers, and they get to know me.  Agriculture on a more corporate level does not provide me with that type of relationship.  I am not anti-supermarket, just pro-choice when it comes to being a consumer.  I vote with my dollars, and my vote will always go to the local farmers for seasonal produce, honey, goat cheese, eggs, and pasture-raised meats.   Likewise, when my family and I dine out at a restaurant, we look for places that support local farms as well.  It isn’t always possible to eat 100% locally, but I like to say “every drop fills the bucket.”  Local farms depend on each dollar I spend with them.  The more I spend, the more they are able to continue providing quality seasonal produce.

I will be adding pages (see the tabs on the top left) with links to my favorite farmer’s markets, vendors, and farm-to-fork restaurants.  Here are a few photos to entice you to visit your local farmer’s market.  Just look at this beautiful abundance!

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Photos taken at the Durham Farmer’s Market, Durham, NC