This summer has been markedly different from last summer in more ways than one. I’ve been hosting many outdoor lunches for friends and family and have even taken part in a few larger virtual tastings for different groups and organizations. It’s a welcome change of pace that makes me excited for what lies ahead.
We have completed the design and plans for the Bungalow in Downtown Napa and should be filing for permits with the city this week. The exterior esthetic is all Craftsman; however, the interior will be a bit loose with the Craftsman look, quirky, personal, with a lot of off-key surprises.
The key element will be a production/commercial/test/demonstration kitchen right in the middle of the space. The opening keeps getting pushed back and now looks like early 2022. Hey, at least I have a contractor lined up, they seem hard to come by right now.
My social engagements haven’t been limited to just wine. The accordion continues to get a workout as I practice and rehearse with Steel Jam for our number on August 22 with Yountville’s Music in the Park Series. Steel Jam is playing “Nunca es Suficiente” and I have the pleasure of popping in and out with a few brief accordion solos. Jeff promises to get pictures and video and I’ll be sure to post those on Instagram.
I am a third of the way through my UC Davis course, Viticulture for Winemakers, and am happy to report that I’ve been able to keep up with the homework even with my other summer engagements.
As if my educational reading wasn’t enough, my friend Gaby gave me the book “Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way To Civilization” by Edward Slingerland.
The inside cover reads, “A deep dive into the alcohol-soaked origins of civilization…” I’m about a quarter of the way through. Slingerland already makes some interesting arguments about how our evolution may have depended on the availability and consumption of beer, wine, and other drinks.
It is a fascinating read for someone who makes wine as well as for the people who drink it.
Two weeks ago, the troops were rallied into a familiar assembly line and over 500 cases and three varieties of wines were bottled.
If you ask Slingerland, I’m contributing to further the evolution of humanity one way or another.
If I have had you over for an outdoor lunch lately, chances are I’ve made my Summer Berry Clafoutis. This recipe is my adult adaptation from my own experimentation over the years and pulling from the ideas from others.
This is very fast, easy to make, and an impressive summer dessert.
I eat berries each morning for breakfast so I seem to always have all the ingredients on hand. You could use a full cup of whole milk, omit the crème fraîche, and bump up the flour to ½ cup if you don’t have crème fraîche on hand. I like the extra creamy texture with the moitié-moitié of milk and crème fraîche.
I make my own crème fraîche and use that but sour cream works equally well. I admit to having used it instead multiple times.
You can make the batter ahead, fill the cast iron, and set aside. It takes about 35 to 40 minutes to bake which allows you to have it in the oven during the meal. It is nice to serve from the oven so it doesn’t need time to cool, another time saver. You’ll want to serve it warm but hey, I’ve eaten it cold and have been thoroughly satisfied. It has a soufflé-like puff straight out of the oven and is a nice presentation on the table.
To make this a little more adult, I macerate the berries in either Chambord or Grand Marnier. Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur and gives the clafoutis a deep, dark accent. Grand Marnier is all about concentrated oranges. Take your pick, I’ve used both.
A little orange zest is a nice foil for the Chambord and a nice compliment to the Grand Marnier.
I usually bring back the Rosé or the Chardonnay to have with the Summer Berry Clafoutis.