“Getting innovative” or “Cedar plank cooking for dummies” Tolosa Pinot Noir 2015

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It got to nearly a hundred degrees yesterday, so hot I was afraid to take the kids outside and didn’t even consider going for a run. I did take the Jeep to get washed and waxed, and then took the top down. Like owning and old home, owning an old car has it’s downsides, but those of us who do so think it’s worth it.

I completed that task, got home, and started making dinner. Sonja and I have been meal planning lately, in part out of an innate sense of organization that helps defeat the chaos of life on some small level, and in part to try to do better at budgeting. It seems to work. Last night, I was tasked with salmon salad. The salad part is easy. Due to a recent request from a friend, I’ll share below the salad, step-by-step, with each ingredient being added.

This is easily one of the best meals I make, and it would be difficult to screw it up. (Thinking that the goat cheese is bleu cheese might be one way to do it.)  Prior to adding salmon, which could easily be shrimp, chicken, or pork, it’s literally six ingredients. Poppyseed dressing is my preference on this, and I feel utterly guiltless eating a salad as an entree. If you’re into salads, try this one, and let me know what you think.

But the cedar plank has always eluded me. If you’ve read previous posts, I tend to light them on fire. In fact, cedar planks are apparently so susceptible to spontaneous combustion that they carve instructions onto the plank itself, which include keeping a spray bottle nearby as you cook on it. Last time, I did successfully cook salmon on the plank, and the flavors were incredible, yet even though I soaked the plank for a few hours before using it, the sucker still caught fire and nearly scorched my dinner. Last night, I got innovative, and took a different approach. Here it is in pictures:

It’s fairly self-explanatory, no? Comment if you need assistance. I had worried that the foil might somehow taint the flavor of cedar in the fish, but not at all. The cedar that was imparted into the salmon was incredible, and the salads were amazing. I even cooked on a higher temp than normal, nearly 400 degrees, without a fire happening. And best of all, I had an amazing wine to pair with the salmon.

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The 2015 Tolosa Pinot Noir from the Edna Ranch in SLO (San Luis Obispo County) is a work of art, and the product of an innovative winemaker, Jean Hoefliger. Nine months on French oak, about thirty percent new, imparts a richness that this varietal doesn’t always display, while the warm climes of the region seem to have invigorated the wine substantially. Elegant and smooth, the wine is a surprisingly dark ruby in color, and boasts a flavor profile that walks the line between earthy and fruit-forward. Notes of black cherry, blueberry, hints of raspberry, and plum mingle with espresso, forest floor, hints of graphite and a touch of stage. I don’t think I often see this level of complexity from this varietal in California. It has the structure to age gracefully for some time, and paired brilliantly with dinner as well as after dinner conversation. I hope to visit the Tolosa estate one day, and highly recommend this wine.

I think I’ll try to fit a jog in before it gets too hot again today. I hope that no matter where you are this Memorial Day weekend, you’re enjoying yourself, eating good food and drinking good wine. You’re welcome to stop by if you’re in the neighborhood. As always, thanks for reading!

Cheers to innovation ,to long weekends, and great bottles of wine!

Mark

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