The Tulip Festival street fair was this past weekend, which for many years has also meant our Annual Corn Dog and Pinot Grigio Wine Pairing Event. Unfortunately our friends no longer own a wine shop downtown, so we can’t pick up a hot, greasy corn dog at a street vendor and carry it through the crowded festival to the shop for our wine pairing. Instead we had a sit-down dinner party with storebought corn dogs (which it turns out you can eat a LOT more of than the greasy street fair kind), and I made macaroni salad and rhubarb custard pie to go with.
I don’t remember all the wines we tried this year, but the two (by far) best were an Italian bottle that was light, sweet and slightly effervescent, which held up well to the sweet corn dog coating, and a complex and astonishing 2007 Weingut Knoll Grüner Veltliner. Maybe it was cheating, since it wasn’t a Pinot, but dang, it was good.
For the pie, which was made with my first harvest of rhubarb for the year, and bright orange local eggs, we drank the last of some amazing tawny port. I would never have thought of the pairing, but it worked splendidly.
Not sure how everyone else did, but I only needed to take one Tums that night, which I thought was getting off easy.
The tulips are officially open up here in Skagit, and the annual Tulip Festival street fair came and went without any major disasters. The weather was a mite iffy, but there were enough sunbreaks to keep things lively and the traffic thick – and most importantly, it didn’t snow. We had to venture out onto the flats so I could tear down my photography and weaving displays at Pleasant Ridge Gallery, but otherwise we stuck to walking in town. We tasted curry sauce, admired handmade hats, and bought new hose guides from our favorite metalwork artist at Red Grass. It was too cold for ice cream, so we stuck to our primary mission of corn dogs.
As I’ve written before, every year our local wine shop features a flight of Pinot Gris, available to anyone who walks in with a corn dog during the street fair. I personally can’t resist this, and the pairings are generally amazingly successful. Haven’t tried drinking wine with a corn dog? You should.
Our corn dogs this year turned out to be oddly sugary, which was problematic with the drier wines, but we had excellent luck with a slightly oaky Oregon pinot gris – the oak and the sugar sort of cancelled each other out. Next year I feel like we should do a full testing of all the corn dogs on offer, though, so we can pin down the best ones ahead of time. Sugar in a corn dog is really weird.
Unfortunately for Maggie the Wine Shop Dog, we did not drop anything.
We helped out at Gretchens Cooking School last night for the first time this season. This one was a food and wine pairing, with Jim Kowalski of Farm to Market Bakery doing the food and Renee Stark of Noble Wines providing the drink. Jim has a really nice feel for flavors – if you haven’t checked out his place in Edison I sincerely urge you to do so.
The menu for the class included green salads with tomato-goat cheese crostini, handmade fettucine alfredo with fresh Dungeness crab, and pear-ginger tarts. The salads were drizzled with a maple syrup and balsamic vinegar dressing which was surprisingly delicious, and Renee’s choice of a light French rose was a good match with the goat cheese toasts. I’m not generally a huge fan of green salad, especially when the dressing isn’t tossed with the greens, but this was very good.
The theme for Casey Schanen and Tom Saunderson’s class at Gretchen’s last week was ostensibly Seafood with Wine Pairings. If you ask me, the real theme was Butter.
This was some of our mise en place – see that pile of butter pats on the plate? We used most of that over the course of the evening.
We put together an appetizer plate for the guests so they’d have something to nibble on right away. There were fresh radishes and turnips, Nell Thorn bread and rosemary crackers, all being dunked into an amazing dip of butter whipped with green olives. Yes, it looks like guacamole – but it ain’t. Caution is advised, as this stuff is addictive.
Another street fair has come and gone. This one had beautiful weather, which made a nice change after the last few years. A lot of vendors had given up on this fair after getting blown away or hailed upon, but there was still a good turnout of both vendors and customers.
I gave J a bottle of Vin Santo dessert wine last Christmas. I believe we had tried some at a wine tasting not long before, and been rather excited by it. But then the bottle lurked in our cellar all year, waiting for the appropriate occasion. Of late, though, I’ve decided that wine-opening occasions have to be created, not just awaited, so I went searching for possible accompaniments.
We recently bought ourselves a copy of What to Drink with What You Eat, so I looked up Vin Santo. Along with the usual recommendations of biscotti and nut-based desserts, I saw pears. Aha! We are definitely in the heart of fresh pear season around here, so I went digging for a recipe I remembered liking back in the mists of time – a pear custard pie that my mother used to make. She got the recipe at a farmer’s market meeting and then printed it in the Cashmere Valley Record newspaper’s recipe collection. Usually when we eat pears around here we poach them in sugar water and top them with pecans, brandy and sour cream. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with that, but pie sounded fun. Continue reading