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« Class for the Locals | Main | West*Pinot*Corsica »

31 July 2006

The Few, The Proud, The Combiners

Combinationslogo_2_4 Great movements don't always begin with a bang.  For example, take Combinations.  The July installment only had a few participants.  Yet, I'll take quality over quantity any day of the week.  The theme for July Combos was 'go green.'  I challenged all d.i.y. Sommeliers and chefs to create a menu based on fresh herbs out of their own gardens, from a farmers market, or green grocery.  My Combinations menu was an Italian-influenced exercise in Iron Chef-ing.


The herbal building blocks for this menu all came from my humble herb & tomato garden.  I selected rosemary, basil, sage (two varieties: 'common' and yellow-leaf) and sweet grape tomatoes.  Out of this green (& red) bounty, I created the following:

Fried Sage Leaves - If you've never fried up a little sage, you are missing out on a highly addictive appetizer & garnish.  Many of the fried sage recipes I found call for veggie oil as the frying liquid.  Instead, I decided to 'shallow' fry these tasty leaves in butter.  Make sure you fry the leaves until crisp.  Soggy leaves are just sad.  Fatty and high calorie?  Oh yes - deliciously so.

Linguine with Pancetta, Sauteed Grape Tomatoes and Fresh Basil - I based this pasta dish on a familiar epicurious recipe.  Seeing as how my grape tomatoes are considerably sweeter than your average cherry tomato, I opted to up the crushed red pepper and basil content of this easy-as-pie pasta entree.

Pan-Fried Boneless Pork Chop - Nothing terribly creative here.  However, before adding the pork to the hot, shimmering olive oil, I infused the oil with fresh rosemary.  This had the effect of adding just a hint of rosemary flavor to the finished chop.  I also discovered that a fried sage leaf is the perfect garnish for pork chops.  The two pair quite nicely together.


Continue reading for the wine combos..

I tested my green Combos menu with two candidate wines: Wolffer Estate's 'La Ferme' Chardonnay 2004 ($14) and Lunetta's (by the Italian wine behemoth Cavit) Prosecco NV (~$13).  Lunetta Prosecco is a decidedly modern take on this northern Italian bubbly.  Traditional Prosecco is usually dry as dry can be.  However, Lunetta possesses a distinctly off-dry (read: slightly sweet) palate & finish.  In fact, I'm convinced that the Lunettans have added a right good bit of Muscat/Moscato grapes into this wine, as it has the telltale grapey flavor of Italian Muscat.  However, according to Lunetta, the wine is made from 100% Prosecco. Hmm.  Seeing as how this soft bubbly was slightly sweet, it was the perfect match to the Linguine.  The sweet grape tomatoes reflected the crisp, yet slightly sweet character, of Lunetta. 

Wolffer's Chardonnay was a hit with the fried sage leaves.  The buttery & lemony flavors of the sage are echoed quite nicely in this fresh and judiciously oaked expression of Chardonnay.  I also discovered that the flavors in the pork chop, including the subtle rosemary accent, were best magnified by this wine.  Track down this win and give this combo a try - it's incredibly easy.

The Other Brave Combiners
Roasted baby roma tomato and feta tarts + Bor Forras (Hungarian wine) - by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at least once

Prawns & fresh herb dip + Gavi (Italian wine) - by Andrew of Spittoon

Squid, rocket, mint, coriander and basil salad + Soave (Italian wine) - by Edward of Wino Sapien

Bison hangar steak + Languedoc red (southern France) - by Ann of Chicken in Every Granny Cart

French Bread Pizza + Beaujolais Villages - by Benito of Benito's Wine Reviews

Stay tuned for next month's Combos back at Spittoon!

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I must admit to forgetting the home grown bit of the challenge. But as I have only been in this hole for a few weeks and moving again (to somewhere more permanent and lovely) in a few days I have an excuse not to have grown anything. Ask me again in a year and I promise...


Hey! You forgot my entry:

Sorry if I sent it to the wrong e-mail address.



Thanks for the job of hosting.
To all my fellow wine bloggers - this is actually pretty satisfying monthly activity - see you all next month. . .


All of these sound great, and I'm eager to start deep-frying my thousands of massive sage leaves, but I may wait until the 95-degree humid weather in Michigan abates.

Looking forward to participating in more seasonal conditions.

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