Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Girls Night Done Right

So I decided to go down to Richmond to visit my best friend and have a wine and dinner night. This being the first day I’ve had an appetite in two weeks, I decided to cook something simple that I haven’t tried before and drink one my favorite Virginia wines, Toscarora Red from Rockbridge, a vineyard on the way to Charlottesville. Since the recipe was a light pasta dish I also decided to pick up the Toscarora White as it is semi-sweet and goes well with most pasta dishes. It also happens to be my best friend’s favorite.

Toscarora, for both the red and white, is both semi-sweet and semi-dry. I love the red because it has a subtle spiciness that awakens your taste buds but the finish is sweet yet clean. Being medium bodied, I would be hesitant to pair it with a heavily seasoned steak, but it’s great with burgers.

With the white wine we were too impatient to allow it to chill, so instead of its usual crisp finish it took on sweet buttery notes. I’ve had both wines many times before, and I recommend the white version paired with pasta and potato salads. Both wines are great for bbqs and summer outings.

The recipe that we tried tonight was a garlic, basil and goat cheese pasta. I was craving something with bell peppers and goat cheese and I found this recipe online, but I’ve altered it some. Here is what we came up with:

On low heat, brown two minced cloves in two tablespoons of olive oil for one minute. Throw in half a cup of chopped onions (I used sweet onion because I’m not a big onion fan and would normally go with green onion but I thought it would be too light) and sauté until softened. Take one red and one yellow bell pepper and cut to your liking (I chose strips, but chopped would have worked) and cook on medium heat for five minutes. Take 1/3 a cup of your favorite dry to semi-dry white wine… such as Toscarora White, and throw it in the pan to boil and reduce by half. Season with salt and pepper to your liking and shred about half a cup of fresh basil into the mix and let the basil wilt. Meanwhile you should be cooking your pasta, and we used rigatoni. When draining your pasta, save 2/3 cup of the water to mix with approximately 2 oz of goat cheese so that it’s a creamy consistency. I made the mistake of throwing all the water into a bowl with the cheese rather than adding the water slowly, which made it very soupy. Mix everything together (creamy cheese, pasta and sautéed veggies) and top with as much goat cheese as you like. We threw in some extra garlic pepper and oregano, but it was almost overkill on the seasoning, so use your seasoning wisely.

Since we used the wine in the food, it paired fairly well, but switching to the red felt right to me because it’s spicy and it finished off the meal quite well. Later on we switched to Horton Vineyard's Raspberry wine, which is a Cabernet blended with fruit juice and the best flavored wine I've ever had. The best part is that it's not too sweet and it comes in quite a few different flavors, such as blueberry, strawberry, blackberry and peach. It was the perfect switch because after a few glasses of the Rockbridge we weren't going to be able to fully enjoy the flavors of another wine, but it was like dessert.

So within the next few weeks there are wine festivals and seminars that I plan on attending, so stay tuned because if I take anything good away from them you’ll be the first to know!

-Wine Chic

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