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Tag Archives: Linden Vineyards

Grazing Meals

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Simple to set up. For those times when maybe you want a leisurely dinner, or you don’t want to cook very much, or you just want to try something different without a major commitment to one item.

Tonight, we did that. Overwhelmed by all the running around to get ready for this week’s projects in house repair and renovation, I just wanted something simple, yet really nice to eat.

Roots Market, Harris Teeter, my CSA, my freezer, and a couple of local wineries came to the rescue.

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I’m not sure if anything is as decadent as the contributions from Roots. Their mushroom pate. And their “Indian Candy”, a luscious smoked salmon. These two items were the inspiration today.

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The mushroom pate, vegan, made with walnuts, tamari, maple syrup, olive oil and thyme was perfect on their rosemary pistachio crisp breads.

The salmon, served with onion, lemon, capers, and fresh dill, on last week’s bread from She Wolf, courtesy of our CSA. Last week’s bread was a caraway rye.

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A plate of raw vegetables, the highlight being one of those watermelon radishes that Lancaster Farm Fresh has delivered twice now in our winter CSA.

Finally, fresh kielbasa from Pennsylvania. The last of the kielbasa purchased a few months ago on a trip to the Pittsburgh area.

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The fun part of the meal. Taste testing and comparing two local wines from Virginia. The latest offerings in Sauvignon Blanc from Linden Vineyards, and Glen Manor. Two of our favorite vineyards. Totally different styles. Glen Manor makes theirs in the style of New Zealand. Citrusy. Tart. 2014 was a good year for local wines. Then, there’s the Avenius single vineyard selection from Linden. Shari’s vineyard is situated on flint, giving her grapes the characteristics of a Fume Blanc. With those mineral notes, and much more austere.

It was interesting to compare and contrast how they paired against the three choices for dinner. You can’t go wrong with either wine with the salmon. The Avenius was a better match to the kielbasa. The Glen Manor to the mushroom pate.

If you want a great date night meal, find a couple of bottles of the same varietal wine. Pick up two or three things that go well with that varietal. Have your own grazing meal, relaxing and taking the time to savor the experience.

The Dark Days

The time of year when the sun is in the opposite hemisphere, and our daylight hours get shorter and shorter. On December 21st, we here in Howard County only get 9 1/2 hours of daylight. Then, thankfully, the days get longer after that day.

A few years back, I did a food challenge. Called the Dark Days Challenge. The challenge, simply, was to make a meal once a week in the winter that used almost completely regional, seasonal items, and/or items you preserved from the summer.

I found out we had lots of sources here in Central Maryland. I didn’t have to eat food flown halfway across the country or halfway around the world. I learned about the Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and DuPont circle year round markets. I found farmers in the area where I could procure local meats.

I found a year round CSA. Bottom line. I changed how I ate. I changed how I cooked. I reduced my carbon footprint by using more and more local foods.

Last night, I made dinner. Afterwards, I realized how that dinner would have rocked the Dark Days Challenge. Almost all of it was local. And I didn’t even work hard to do it. I had just changed my food sources over the years.

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My lamb stew dinner. Using Mt. Airy Meats lamb. CSA potatoes, turnips, onions and carrots. Friends and Farms kale, garlic and rosemary. Trickling Springs butter. Secolari’s olive oil and balsamic. Wayne Nell’s bacon ends.

And the wine.

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A 1999 Linden Glen Manor from Virginia. Like inhaling cherries. Dark, delicious. Nowhere near its peak. A bargain back when we bought it. A treasure to be savored with the lamb.

My husband declared I now make a braised lamb stew that rivals those that Marc Dixon used to make at Iron Bridge. Falling off the bone lamb. Simply cooked in the oven at slow cooker setting, with the potatoes, turnips, carrots and onions in a chicken stock I made last month.

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Yes, I know I need to clean the oven. Ignore that. I did the stew in one pan. Seared it first, added the vegetables and stock and cooked it for four hours at the 250 degree setting in the oven.

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The kale. Started out with scallions from Laurel Amish Market. Olive oil. Bacon ends. Added the kale and garlic. Sautéed until wilted.

So easy to eat fresh food around here.

The Linden Library Tastings

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2014 edition.

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This is the aftermath. This year we tasted cabernets and Hardscrabble blends.

What is a library tasting? Every year, Linden has two Sundays reserved to taste older wines. And, to hear the stories while asking questions of the owner/winemaker Jim Law. As a locavore/locapour I love Linden. For their dedication to serving local foods in their winery. For their passion that Virginia can be one amazing place to grow grapes and make wines similar to those found in Bordeaux.

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These were the wines poured. A 1989 and a 1991 cabernet. A reserve 1997, which was mostly cabernet franc. 2001, 2006 and 2009 Hardscrabble blends. All from the vines on the property. Plus, a 2013 barrel sample. Oh, and before we entered the tasting room, out in the main area, we sampled the current release of the 2010 Hardscrabble.

My favorites. The 1997 Reserve and the 2009 Hardscrabble. Library tastings let you see how the wine matures. If you should open those bottles in your cellar.

The 1989 was going downhill fast. This wine was older than the year of our first visit to Linden. Our oldest wine was 1990. Long gone from the cellar. So is our 1991 vintage. We drank the last one in 2006. Happy to say that this wine still has life in it.

We learn quite a bit at these tastings. New things for me. Green rock versus granite and what that means for white and red grapes. More about extraction, with anecdotes about the sharing of the winery with RdV’s French consultant. Vine placement, east-west or north-south. Which is better? Pruning timing. When is best to prune?

Jim spends 90 minutes for these tastings. Sharing stories. Answering questions. Reflecting on growing grapes in Virginia.

The library tastings sell out in one day. Only four tastings. 9 people maximum each tasting. Three dozen lucky case club members get to taste magnificent wines and increase our knowledge.

If you ever get the chance to do a vertical tasting, a library tasting or a reserve tasting at a local winery, you should do it.

Soup People

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Some are. Some aren’t. We obviously are. Considering the number of times I have blogged about soup.

Particularly, a good quick soup.

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Like bean soup, without all the preparations I used for the one above.

This one was simple. Because. It is cold and rainy. I didn’t feel like roasting a chicken today as I was out of the house too much.

But, I have my trusty pantry.

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You know. You can pull a couple of cans of beans. Today I used the cannellini beans. Two cans. I had chicken breasts cooked.

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I always have chicken in the freezer, from my two sources. Every week I find a day to bake or poach chicken breasts. To have them ready for lunches or dinners. They get eaten quickly.

Then, a little flavor. Today it came from a box of Pacific condensed cream of mushroom soup. And, a couple of cubes of my latest pesto. Right out of the freezer.

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Dump it all in a crockpot. With a little bit of water. Dinner in a few hours, with no stirring or pot watching. I did tonight’s batch on a high setting. It was perfect after two hours in the pot. Served with some naan. And a salad. And, of course, a glass of Linden chardonnay.

So Good …

… I almost forgot to take pictures.

But, then I remembered.

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This is my green tomato pasta. Revved up a bit. The original, from here. I have strayed far from this recipe. Yet I love the concept.

This is what I did.

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Created my tomato base. A half dozen green “yellow plums”. A large handful of underripe cherry tomatoes. Those two just less than ripe zebras from the Friends and Farms basket. Put into a hot, olive oil slicked sauté pan. With some scallions. And a large helping of stuff from Harris Teeter’s olive bar. Artichokes. Hot peppers. Sun dried tomatoes. Garlic. Mushrooms. All heated up to make one very awesome sauce.

I added a couple of cubes of this.

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My mixed greens pesto. Made with radish greens. Arugula. Carrot tops. African blue basil. Parmesan. Almonds. I never measured to make it. Just put in what looked good. Sometimes I think we need to cook by the seat of our pants. And not get hung up on measurements.

The pasta.

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Of course, it was Pappardelle’s, bought at Secolari in the mall. Cracked pepper this time. With a good bite. And just barely done. For that slightly chewy texture.

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Served with a lovely 2012 Chardonnay from Linden. Just the right touch to cut through the richness of the dish. A local wine. A locally sold pasta. My tomatoes. My homemade pesto.

Easy to make.

Doesn’t get better, and not that hard to do. Even while watching the football games.

Linden Al Fresco

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My favorite winery. A lazy, hazy Monday morning. The view, spectacular.

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There’s lots going on down in the vineyards, and the tasting room, and in the vines. Let’s start with the vines.

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The Chardonnay vines turn 30 this year. Original to the planting of the vineyard. Just outside the front entrance to the winery. There was a very informative article on the front page of the Washington Post food section last week, about the wine, the vines and the master of it all. Jim Law.

Jim also got a new building this year. There is a new barn you see as you drive up the steep entrance driveway.

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Built to use for maintenance and storage of all the equipment and machinery needed to tend the vineyards. Unofficially called the man cave by a few of us.

Other changes.

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Renovation of the second floor to include large windows to drink in the views. Front and back.

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The back ones, on the left, are harder to see around the trees. This newly renovated space will be used for those specialty events now held in the small addition off the tasting room.

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This room, used for meetings and library tastings, and other events is limited to ten people. The second floor will be a more open space, and we can’t wait to see what they will do up there.

Some other changes coming too. New doors and a new layout of the tasting counters will be coming soon.

All in all, it reflects that saying on their website. “Never content”. Always trying something new.

Monday we spent a lazy two hours there. Enjoying the view. Tasting the 2012 Chardonnay. Comparing the two versions of the vidal blanc and Riesling pairing. One sweet, one more acidic. We like the acidic one. Perfect for Asian foods.

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Some Firefly Farms goat cheese. Smoked salmon. Baguettes. Wine.

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Earthquake. The ash veined cheese from Everona. Lovely cheeses. And wine.

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With this as the view out the doors.

Believe me, it is worth the 90 mile trip from here. Just to sit and savor and enjoy one of the best wines made on the East Coast (and even beyond).

#hocofood

Beef or Wine?

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Trying to decide what was the star of tonight’s “mostly local” dinner. The fall apart tri-tip, or the fifteen year old VA wine.

I think it was the wine.

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That’s not to say the beef was underwhelming, because it certainly was a highlight of the meal. Slow cooked in the oven. With sliced onions and green peppers.

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I was going to do tacos, but we were in the midst of spring clean up and I needed a meal to cook all by its lonesome in the oven while we worked with the landscapers to get things all ready for springtime.

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Nice to be all mulched, weeded and swept up. In case spring every arrives here in Maryland.

I cooked the beef in a covered dish on a low (190 degree) setting in the oven. With a splash of red wine. A glug of olive oil. Peppers, onions, garlic. The peppers and onions and beef in baskets from Friends and Farms.

Late this afternoon I emptied a can of black beans into a small amount of beef broth, with about 4 ounces of corn (IQF, from Friends and Farms). Made a black bean and corn side dish. Microwaved a couple of potatoes.

Piled it all on a plate and served it with the local wine.

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Yes, this wine is fifteen years old. Yes, this wine is from Virginia. You wouldn’t know it though, if you tasted it blind. The equivalent in taste and nose, to a fine Bordeaux. Cherries all over the nose and the taste. No sense of age. No mustiness. Absolutely beautiful. Glad I have a couple more of these down there somewhere.

Jeff left Linden to head out on his own, years ago. Many of us love his wines at Glen Manor. Can’t beat something this special.

Who needs to go out and eat “meh” food at chain restaurants. Give me good food and good wines from around here and bring on springtime!

#hocofood