Fried Goat Cheese
Butter Lettuce, Green Apple, Almond, Borage
Sweet Meyer Lemon Cream with Cardamom
Le Cigar Blanc 2012
Bonny Doon Vineyard
Arroyo Seco, Monterey County, California
Spring Wine Sale
Rhône Blend white wines are a dream to pair with foods. Who can resist the tempting flavors of peaches, apricots, ripe pears, sweet spices and honey, or the seductive aromas of honeysuckle and tropical fruits? White wines from France’s Rhône tend to have these characteristics. Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, and to a lesser extent Picpoul Blanc – are the dominant varietals in the region. Many of the wines tend toward a creaminess that is rich but not heavy, with a refreshing acidity, and a pleasing minerality and nuttiness.
California Winemaker Randall Graham of Bonny Doon Vineyards has been a tireless champion of the grapes of the Rhône for decades. It is difficult to resist his stylish wines as well as his quirky sense of humor. This wine, Le Cigare Blanc (The White Cigar) is named after his flagship, Le Cigar Volant (The Flying Cigar), so-called in honor of the cigar-shaped flying saucer banned by decree of the village council of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It’s a true story, in 1954 the mayor and the council voted to ban alien craft from the airspace of their hamlet in order to protect their precious crops.
The 2012 vintage of Le Cigar Blanc is made of 48% Grenache Blanc, 44% Roussanne, and 8% Picpoul Blanc. The Grenache Blanc adds notes of green apple and lemon-lime citrus. The Roussanne brings honeyed notes with a rich mouthfeel and nutty aromas. These characteristics are highlighted and elevated by this salad’s rich goat cheese, sweet/tart meyer lemon cream with a hint of warm cardamom spice, allumettes of green apple, and lightly toasted almonds. Soft butter lettuce, creamy cheese with a toasty panko breadcrumb crust, and crisp Granny Smiths add contrasting textures.
This goat cheese salad and Rhône blend make a quite dreamy pair.
Fried Goat Cheese in Butter Lettuce Cups
Form fresh goat cheese into medallions and refrigerate. Dip chilled goat cheese medallions in a beaten egg seasoned with salt and pepper. Then press the cheese into panko breadcrumbs to coat. Fry in hot canola oil over medium-high heat, turning once. Tip the pan to make sure the sides of the medallions are cooked.
When the breadcrumb crust is golden, transfer medallions to a paper towel. Immediately season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
The key to pairing a salad dressing with wine is to craft the dressing so that it is less acidic than the wine, which prevents the wine from seeming dull or flat. Here, the ratio of 7 tablespoons of olive oil and cream to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice keeps the acid level in check. The dressing cannot be too sweet either, which would overshadow the fruit in the wine. Here I use only a tablespoon of honey, just to punctuate the sweetness in the meyer lemon juice.
Heavenly Sweet Meyer Lemon Cream (as a dressing on salad, steamed vegetable, fish, chicken)
- 2 T. meyer lemon juice
- 1 T. shallot, fine dice
- 1 t. meyer lemon zest, finely chopped
- 5 T. olive oil
- 1 T. honey
- 2 T. heavy cream
- dash of ground cardamom
- salt and freshly ground pepper
Steep shallot, zest, and 1/8 t. salt in juice for 10 minutes. Whisk in olive oil and honey. Gently stir in cream and cardamom. Season with salt and pepper.
- butter lettuce cups
- fried goat cheese medallions
- green apple, cut into matchsticks and tossed in meyer lemon juice
- slivered almonds, lightly toasted, rough chopped
- sweet meyer lemon cream
- edible flowers (optional)
Place lettuce on a platter. Place warm goat cheese medallions in the lettuce cups. Top with green apple and sprinkle with almonds. Dress with sweet meyer lemon cream. For an especially spring-y Easter presentation, garnish with edible flowers.
This dish can be served salad-style or as cups to make divine little goat cheese “tacos.”
Try a bite of goat cheese “taco” with a sip of wine to experience a pairing nirvana. And check out Grocery Outlet’s Spring Wine Sale for a shopping nirvana. Known as an extreme-value grocer, Grocery Outlet offers huge savings on high quality wine by buying overstock, selling aging wines that are ready to drink right now, and marketing wine with label changes. Grocery Outlet’s twice yearly spectacular wine sale runs this Spring from March 22 through March 26 featuring 20% off their already discounted wines.
Grocery Outlet Spring Wine Sale
20% Off All Wines in All the Stores Nationwide
March 22 through March 26
The elegant Le Cigar Blanc 2012, Bonny Doon Vineyard sells for over $20 elsewhere, on the shelf at Grocery Outlet for $8.99, and during the Spring Wine Sale selling for $7.19. It would make a lovely complement to many springtime or Easter dishes.
Whether looking for a nice bottle of wine for under $3.99 (wow!) or for a spectacular bottle of wine at an especially good deal (like Le Cigar Blanc), Grocery Outlet’s Spring Wine Sale is definitely worth the trip! Find locations here.
Pairing red wine with fish? Be sure to read about this stellar couple: Ahi & Pinot Noir here.
And just in time for Easter, my friends at Food Network are sharing some amazing side dishes. You might enjoy taking a peek at other fresh springtime recipes from some fabulous bloggers below…
#SensationalSides is a season long franchise where Food Network editors team up with bloggers to share recipes about everyone’s favorite comfort foods. This week’s comfort food features EASTER PRODUCE. And get even more inspiration from our very popular Pinterest Board with over 400,000 followers called Let’s Pull Up A Chair here.
The Lemon Bowl: Roasted Asparagus and Tangerines with Toasted Almonds
Devour: Have a Hoppin’ Easter with These Remixed Brunch and Dinner Dishes
Creative Culinary: Deviled Eggs with Lemon Zest, Capers and Chives
The Mom 100: Spring Greens Salad with Kohlrabi and Golden Beets
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Vanilla Pudding with Fruit Jam Topping
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Sauteed Broccolini With Garlic And Chile On Toast
Red or Green: Pasta With Kale, Garlic & Calabrian Chile
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Fennel & Cherry Tomato Salad with Toasted Pistachios
Healthy Eats: 5 Spring Sides for a Healthier Easter Feast
Taste with the Eyes: Butter Lettuce Cups with Fried Goat Cheese, Green Apple, Meyer Lemon Cream
The Wimpy Vegetarian: Creamy Feta and Asparagus Casserole with Orzo
FN Dish: 5 Side Dishes That Are More Important Than the Easter Ham