Monday, April 13, 2009

Celebrate Spring at Poste

FINALLY. The chill of winter is (slowly) dissipating, the flowers are blooming, and (yay!) restaurant patios are opening once more. Why not thank the good earth for the return of spring with a garden party at one of the best restaurants in town?

On April 22 - Earth Day - Poste Brasserie will officially re-open its popular courtyard, dubbed "The Garden," with an outdoor soiree honoring FRESHFARM Markets. A $5 admittance fee lets you enjoy wine tastings from regional wineries (Poste is launching an all-Virginia wine list in The Garden - very exciting), cheese tastings from Cowgirl Creamery, a host of tasty punches, and samples of the truffle frites and warm gougeres from The Garden's new small plates menu. The cherry blossoms are great and all, but free food and outdoor drinks are pretty hard to beat.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sweet and Tart

Do you like going wine tasting in Virginia? I sure do. And do you find yourself in the same predicament as me, in which you get so caught up in the fun of wine tasting and the atmosphere of wine tasting and the, well, wine of wine tasing that you find yourself back at home that evening with a bunch of wine you wouldn't normally have bought and you don't really know what to do with? Good, I'm glad it's not just me.

This particular predicament is the cataylst behind this posting. I have gone to Linden Vineyards more times than I can count. I love the place, the people, and, usually, the wines. Linden makes a wonderful dessert wine, the Late Harvest Vidal, and while I am not really a dessert wine person - they usually taste like syrup to me - this one is extremely good (Linden says it has "dense, opulent and warming flavors of sweet nectar and persimmons"...ok). What's more, in the past they've served a gorgonzola tart alongside the wine to showcase how different it can taste when eaten with a more savory, cheese-focused dessert. It was a bit of a revelation to me, realizing how un-syrupy and complex a dessert wine can be when paired with the right foods. So of course I had to buy a bottle. And of course it's sat on my counter for a year, because when am I going to make a gorgonzola tart to un-syrupify it?

Well, I finally got motivated after another trip to Linden several weekends ago and tried my hand at a cheese dessert to go with my dear old Vidal. I added a bit of fig jam for sweetness, a bit of ricotta to mellow the flavor, a bit of pecans for crunch, and presto! A delicious pairing...though I don't think I'm going to wait for another dessert wine to collect dust on my shelf to make this tart again.

Gorgonzola Fig Tart

For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbsp pieces
1/4 - 1/2 cup cold water

For the filling:
1/2 cup gorgonzola
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
2 large egg yolks
Dash of pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried fig jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, add the flour, salt and sugar and pulse a few times to mix. Add in the butter and pulse a few times until the mixture looks grainy. Slowly, while pulsing, add the water until the mixture becomes dough when pressed between your fingers. Press the dough into a buttered tart pan and bake for 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cheeses, egg yolks, and vanilla. Fold in the nuts. Set aside. Spread half the dried fig jam over the bottom of the cooled pie crust, then pour in the cheese mixture, smoothing the top. Drop dollops of the remaining jam in several concentric circles over the top of the filling. Then, using a knife or toothpick, drag through each circle in alternating directions in order to form a pretty patten (see above). Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the filling remains firm when jiggled. Let cool, slice and serve.