Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer And Stonecrop

We have fired up the barbie and put the umbrella up, summer is almost here and soon we'll be eating the delicious Montauk striped bass, perfect timing as our 2009 Sauvignon Blanc is now on the shelves. After a winter of cooking hearty soups and stews I am ready for crisp, clean and zesty food and a much repeated simple summer dinner in our house is pan-fried striped bass served with fat slices of tomatoes and mesclun from the garden, no frills, no fuss. Tomatoes dominate our vegetable garden - we do fuss over them because we have had some spectacular failures, last year I harvested about three, but 2009 wasn't a good year for tomatoes, it was however a great year for our grapes.

This year's Stonecrop harvest was a happy event, the rain held off and we had exceptional fruit; both the sauvignon blanc and the pinot noir and a very good picking crew, even the loading of bins occurred without incident - oh, the stories we could tell.

Having a foot in both hemispheres we are constantly connected to the changing and opposite seasons, we monitor wind and rain, the heat and the frosts. In the summertime when we are picking tomatoes, cutting herbs and pulling mesclun from our Montauk garden, thousands of miles away in Martinborough on Dry River road at our Stonecrop vineyard, the vines will be pruned and then all will be quiet for a while during the winter months. Then when it's bakery hot here in August there's a chilly wind blowing through Martinborough coming from the cold southerly Tasman sea and when we are blanketed in snow here in Montauk the grapes are ripening and glistening in the late New Zealand autumn sun.  
Summer in Montauk for us is about fishing, barbequing, tomatoes, salad greens, flowers and herbs - going to the beach early in the morning before the crowds, although one can always find a beautiful deserted beach in Montauk in the middle of summer in the middle of the day, it just requires a bit of a hike. Most of all summer for us is about sharing fresh food and our wine with friends; Montauk friends, city friends, faraway friends.

And the stories - it's all in the bottle - the handpicked grapes, the seasons, the blood, sweat and tears and the love of the land.

Note: The picture of the tomatoes was taken in 2007 - it was a good year for tomatoes.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blooming Good Time

The shads are flowering early this year, last week the one in my backyard was a bare-naked winter tree and now it is donning a pretty white bonnet. To see the landscape packed with shads is breathtaking - gentle clouds of white and restful hues of green, a beautiful spring tapestry quietly rolling over the hamlet. A friend has a party every year to celebrate the blooming shads and the view from her deck is spectacular; high up on the hill, shads as far as the eye can see, all the way down to the water. Celebrations for blooms, for seasons, for the kind of party, my dad used to have a potato party - the potato barrels were emptied in front of an enthusiastic and rowdy crowd, sometimes there was a glut but more often just a few measly spuds were unearthed (much applause and cheers) anyway it was always a good party, and potatoes seemed like a good enough reason for a knees-up.

I made deviled eggs for the shad party, I wanted to make something jolly looking and spring-like, my fellow shad lookers approved.

This is a beautiful piece about the shads in Montauk written by Hilary Ostlere.

Deviled Eggs

10 hard boiled eggs
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
a couple of splashes of lea and perrins
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
a splash of fish sauce
salt and black pepper
cut chives
smoked paprika

Cut the eggs in half and gently remove the yolks into a bowl, mix in the remaining ingredients, (except the chives and paprika) until you have a smooth and creamy paste, spoon mixture back into the hollowed egg whites, add the chopped chives and sprinkle  with smoked paprika.

A note about smoked paprika - I am going to sound like Simon and Minty on 'Posh Nosh' (love them!) but.....I used hot smoked paprika from Le Vera region of Spain, it really is exceptional, oaky and smokey without knocking your socks off - Kalystan's in New York have a vast selection of smoked paprika.

These little devils are divine with champagne and pretty good with Stonecrop 2009 Sauvignon Blanc too - more about the new vintage in the next post.