Pairings Indeed – A Meal With Cabernet Sauvignon

Pieces of Soup and Cabernet Sauvignon


Inspired in part by cool winter weather and in other part by the success of a past pairing experience, we decided to cook an experimental meal with a hearty soup as the centerpiece alongside the 2010 Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon.  The ingrained impulse when considering a food pairing for Cabernet Sauvignon is generally to think: ‘Steak!’.  While we would not necessarily disagree, steak being a perfectly acceptable compliment to a hearty wine, in this instance we’ve decided to stray from the norm.  Keeping in mind that taste is subjective, we created a salad, a vegetarian soup modified from a recipe in this book, and a variation on Pissaladière with the intention of showcasing the versatility of 2010 Cabernet. 

Modified Mushroom Barley Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients:  8 cups Water, 5 1/2 cups sliced Mushrooms, 4 cups diced Yellow Onion (we substituted 2 extra cups of onion for the celery in the original recipe), 3/4 cup hulled barley, 4 tablespoons Olive Oil (substituted for butter), 1 head of Garlic (substituted for a few pinches of granulated garlic), 1 handful of Fresh Basil ripped into little bits (substituted for crumbled basil), 1 large head of Cauliflower (stem and flowerettes chopped and separated), 2 cups cubed Russet Potatoes, 3/4 cup diced Carrot, 2 cups Shelled Peas, 3 tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice (substituted for lemon), 1/4 cup Tamari

We’d suggest you start by heating the onions in a little oil along with the garlic before adding water and the rest of the first round ingredients.  To prepare the garlic, chop off the top 1/3 of the head and remove any particularly loose layers or roots .  Heat the onions and garlic in the pot you’ll use for the soup, stirring occasionally, while you prep and chop the mushrooms.  Then bring the water, mushrooms, onions, olive oil, barley, and tamari to a boil.   Now reduce the heat and add the basil before simmering, covered, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or until the barley is just tender.  Now add cauliflower stem, potatoes, and carrot before bringing it all to a boil once more.  At this point, reduce heat and simmer covered until the barley and vegetables are very tender (about 15 minutes).  Add the flowerette portion of the cauliflower and simmer another 10-15 minutes until they are tender.  Reduce the heat to low and add the shelled peas, heat gently for a few minutes before adding salt, pepper, and (we’d suggest) tapatio or sriracha or cholula to the degree you enjoy them.  Now serve!


To be Tart


For the second component we chose to revisit a recipe used for the Rosé Soirée back in August of 2012.  Instead of the anchovies we used for the more traditional Pissaladière, we decided to use thinly sliced, peppered, uncured bacon secured at New Frontiers of San Luis Obispo.  Because the onion tart was not the centerpiece of the meal, we decided to make just 2 of them.

Almost Traditional Pissaladière…with Bacon

Ingredients:  parchment paper, 2 large Onions, 2 large strips of Bacon cut into small thin bits, about 35 pitted nicoise olives, 2 9×9 pieces of puff pastry, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper

We caramelized the onions for the tart, cooked the bacon, and performed the initial bake for the puff pastry while the soup was in process on the stove.  Obviously we’d suggest exploring on your own to determine what order works best, but we found there was plenty of time between soup steps to keep the tart moving along as well.  Our puff pastry of choice is the seasonal offering in the frozen section of Trader Joes.  When this is not available, its Pepperidge Farm counterpart is generally available in grocery stores.  If you have the time and patience to prepare puff pastry dough from scratch, please come visit us, we are very impressed and would like to meet you.

Begin by slicing the onions and caramelizing them in a non stick pan.  Once you’ve achieved a healthy golden brown batch of flavorful joy, mix in a little chopped  thyme, pepper, and salt for flavor before setting the onions aside in a bowl.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the puff pastry squares on parchment paper on baking sheets.  While the oven pre-heats, cook the bacon in your preferred frying apparatus until it is near your ideal crispiness.  Bake the pastries for 12-15 minutes or until they are well risen and just barely beginning to brown.  Remove them from the oven and gently spread the caramelized onions around until the surface of each pastry is well covered, this will cause them to deflate.  Now place the bacon and olives in a grid pattern across each pastry before returning it all to the oven to bake for another 10 minutes or so.  Cut into squares and serve.


Green Puzzle


The third part, but the first piece we ate, took the form of a simple but delightfully zesty green salad in a simple olive oil and balsamic dressing.

A Simple Salad to Awaken Your Taste Buds

Ingredients:  a few handfuls of mixed greens, 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, 1 tea-tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, a pinch each of salt and pepper, 1/4-1/2 a Red Onion thinly sliced, a few pinches of fresh Radish Sprouts.

For this we’d recommend tossing the greens, onions, and sprouts in a large bowl, mixing the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and balsamic in a small bowl, and then adding the two together before tossing once more.  Keep in mind, the ratio of olive oil to vinegar is intentional given the wine pairing, a little more oil goes a long way in ensuring the vinegar does not interact poorly with the Cabernet.  If you are so inclined, a little blue cheese can take this simple salad from the delicious into the sublime.  Serve well mixed in a pretty bowl.


The Finished Line Up


So what is it about the 2010 Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon that makes it ideal to pair well with the whole meal above?  Acid.  The ancient seabed our vineyard rests upon is overwhelmingly alkaline in nature.  Those of you who garden (or who follow our twitter feed) are aware that alkaline soils result in higher acid (lower ph) when it comes to fruit.  The acidic profile of Cabernet from the Halter Ranch property, in concert with the inherent spice and dark fruit character of Cabernet in general work to make each of the pairings above a winning combination.  The reason acid is so crucial is the way it interacts with our anatomy, moving our mouths to salivate, opening up pores, enhancing flavor, and encouraging us to take the next bite.

As always, thank you for reading and if you have your own Cabernet pairing experiences, we encourage you to share them in the comments section!  Cheers til next time!

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