Chewy Red Wine Sale and Soupe Americaine Au Pistou

A big Napa red, two Paso Robles beauties, rich Monterey County Syrah...here's your chance to finish summer with a BANG and stock up on delicious red wine for fall. These four favorites are in short supply so order today and you'll be enjoying them for Labor Day and the weeks that follow.
  • '03 Don Ernesto "Crescendo" (Napa, CA):
    Nose of smoky cherry and mouth of spicy red and black licorice with silky tannins. (Retail $24)
  • '03 Martin & Weyrich Nebbiolo (Paso Robles, CA):
    Dark berries, plums and raspberries in the true Italian sense of this varietal. (Retail $22)
  • '06 Peachy Canyon "Westside" Zinfandel (Paso Robles, CA):
    Sweet dark fruit, caramel, hint of smokiness, long juicy finish. (Retail $19)
  • '07 Carmichael "Sur le Pont" Syrah (Monterey County, CA):
    Warm, roasted chestnut quality across the mid-palate and a full finish. (Retail $18)
How could one not feel exuberant after seeing the new film "Julie & Julia"? It's great entertainment with a tour de force performance by Meryl Streep, lots of laugh-out-loud, clever dialog and, best of all, it's an unabashed celebration of cooking and food! And who could not love and admire Julia Child? I'll never forget one TV episode where she picked up a chicken as one would pick up an infant and patted its little bottom with complete affection. You could see how much she loved food, cooking and her show. The film "Julie & Julia" is wonderful in the way it describes the arduous work that went into her fame, the battle against sexism, and the tireless working and reworking of her first cookbook "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking". What she knew could not be learned in a year, but the food blogger played by perky Amy Adams was fun. It's inspirational to see two women who found personal fulfillment and professional success as a result of their obsession with food. So, as an homage to the great Julia Child, this week's wine pairing recipe is a modern, American version of her "Soupe Au Pistou" from "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking". This is not the same recipe but is in the same spirit of using fresh, in season vegetables. Most of the ingredients are what is available now in a home garden or farmer's market.
1 cup dry Great Northern beans
1 cup peeled, diced carrots
1 cup peeled, diced Yukon gold potatoes
1 cup diced onion
1 Tbsp. salt + more to taste
1 bay leaf
1 ear corn
spray olive oil
1 cup diced green beans
1/8 tsp. white pepper
pinch of saffron
1 large white roll, like a hoagie roll
about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 large tomato peeled and pureed, with juice
1 clove garlic minced then mashed with side of knife or in pestle
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Wash and pick through the Great Northern beans to make sure there are no pebbles and put them in a large bowl and cover with water. Let sit overnight, then rinse and drain. In a large pot, bring to boil 1 quart of water with the Great Northern beans, carrots, potatoes, onions, 1 Tbsp. salt and the bay leaf, then turn the heat down and adjust it so the water is just beneath a boil--just before bubbles break the surface of the water. Stir occasionally as it cooks, until beans are soft, about 40 minutes. There should be plenty of water, but add water if the water evaporates so much that the vegetables are not covered. In the meantime, spray oil on the husked corn on the cob and grill on the lowest temperature with a little foil tent as shown in the photo to keep the heat in. Turn now and then so all sides of the corn are cooked. A bit of char is fine. Prepare the Pistou by mixing the tomato, basil, garlic and olive oil then set aside. Remove bay leaf from the soup and add green beans, pepper, saffron and the corn cut off the cob and turn down the heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Slice the white roll diagonally and brush the top of each slice with olive oil, then sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Broil until bread is golden brown. Set one piece of the bread aside per serving (photo shows two slices). Chop the rest of the bread slices into small 1/8" cubes. Stirring continuously, slowly pour the pistou into the hot soup, then stir in the cheese covered bread cubes. Taste and add more salt and pepper to taste, then serve immediately with the bread toast placed in the soup bowl--it's yummy to dip the bread in as you eat the soup! Serves 4. Wine pairing for this recipe: the lovely French-style wine from Monterey County: the 2007 Carmichael "Sur le Pont" Syrah.

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