Already dreaming of leisurely summer evenings on your patio? A fresh summer meal with a great wine? After the nearly never ending snow, I’m starting early – I’m planning my garden to pair with my favorite wines.
I often receive catalogs or emails from posh heirloom plant companies – I’m enthralled with their images. Row after row of brightly colored vegetables all neat and magically weed-free. While I may frequently daydream of planting something new, I often find my indecision regarding ‘what to grow’ lasts longer than spring in the Mid Columbia. I simply become overwhelmed with “What variety is best?” ”Will I be on vacation too much to grow that?” Before you know it – the planting window is over. I then hurriedly go with the most comfortable plants; a few tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and herbs. While convenient to have these tried and true options right out my backdoor,I of course want to kick myself when I visit farmer’s market. I purchase the lovely vegetables I could have planted myself, but didn’t.
Some people truly seem to have the fabled green thumb. One of my dearest friends has a sprawling and inviting garden that thrives each year with seemingly little more than a daily watering. In her 70’s now, she dons this fabulous wide brimmed hat to shield the sun and pauses frequently near the shady lettuce beds or under her almond tree to drink from a nondescript tumbler that experience tells me is filled with red wine regardless of the temperature. She patiently lets my small children wander around with little baskets picking everything from berries and kale to Thai peppers and Danish squash. Most of the time the kids now pick properly ripe fruit and vegetables but a few summers ago I had to admonish them repeatedly to “stop picking green (pear) tomatoes!” They just couldn’t prevent their own chubby little hands from pulling at the toddler level tiny green tear drops.
Perhaps at 70 I’ll also look jaunty in a big hat and have an overflowing and effortless garden to share with my friends and neighbors. It probably just takes experience, so this year I’m determined to follow her lead and grow a more diverse garden. Yes, I’ll even drink red wine while I water and pull weeds – maybe it’s the secret to mastery.
Try planting something different this spring too! For me, it will be Aubergine! (Okay, it’s simply eggplant but I do like the fanfare of the traditional term.) It is touted as moderately easy to grow and it will pair especially well with any of the Frichette Cabernet Sauvignons. In our region, it is most often transplanted rather than grown from direct seed planting. You can find the highest quality and varied varietals in locally owned nurseries. Check out this link from WSU for all the best eggplant growing tips.
Now, maybe the best part. How to serve and what to drink with eggplant? My family’s favorite recipe is Karniyarik; eggplant stuffed with lamb. American lamb tends to be high in fat and while this can taste ‘gamey’ when grilled alone, it is fantastic when balanced with eggplant, rice and a big red wine. Essentially, the protein calls for a tannic wine because the astringency of the tannin cuts through the viscosity of the fat. When the stuffed eggplant is grilled it becomes an even more perfect companion to the tannin, as the vegetables’ flavor mirrors the bitterness of the tannins and create a sort of flavor symmetry. Also, the richness of this dish, helps it stand up against higher alcohol red wine.
Here is one of my favorite Karniyarik recipes but there are thousands of Karniyarik variations online too. I like to make this ahead and reheat on the grill just before dinner.
Not a lamb fan? Anything from baba ganoush to eggplant parmesan is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Please stop in and let the Frichette Team know how your gardening adventures go this spring! We’ll help you find the perfect wine to pour with summer’s bounty.
Odds and Ends
What are we drinking this month? Punctual! I was shocked to hear that some wine club members still had theirs left from this fall’s Club release. If that’s the case, we hope you’ll enjoy a bottle today. Check out this chimichurri recipe to pair with it for a great dinner!
Chimmichurri is an Argentinian uncooked sauce traditionally served with grilled beef. However, in this region it is common to see people put it on everything; like American kiddos with ketchup or ranch. It is made of finely-chopped parsley, oregano, cilantro, minced garlic, lemon, red pepper flakes and olive oil.
The Giving Garden
It still stands, we love to grow more than just grapes on Red Mountain.
Last year, Frichette spearheaded a project called The Giving Garden Project where local wineries volunteered to grow fresh vegetables for the Benton City Food Bank, a food bank under the Tri-Cities Food Bank umbrella. The food bank provides emergency food to the needy residents of Benton City. The Giving Garden project supplied over 1,000 pounds of food to locals and with additional efforts provided two freezers for the food bank. And we are at it again this year! Be sure and stop in to Frichette to see this years Giving Garden and if you have any vegetables from your own garden you’d like to donate to the cause, please let us know.