What I’m drinking now: Sherry on ice
The in-between season. Summer, it certainly is not, yet not quite fall, either. It is the time of year where I reminisce about the summer which is quickly fleeting, sad that long sunny days, picnics, dinners outdoors, and the vegetables of summer are all but gone. It is about now when my inner clock begins to sort of yearn for the crunch of fall leaves, that crispy feeling in the air, heartier food, red wine. Rain.
My cravings tend to also be a bit confused. My obsession with white wine is quietly, almost without my having thought about it, being replaced with a gentle hankering for red wine, but neither somehow sound perfect. So, I tend to often turn to my in-between season sipper…iced Sherry. The nutty, caramel flavors of a sweeter Sherry somehow manage to taste of fall; of roasted nuts, smokey fires, and slow-cooked apples, and when poured over ice, it is so yummy.
I recommend making a big deal out of serving it. Choose a festive glass, the best opportunity for that heavy crystal tumbler or that dainty French antique jelly jar. Just don’t use a wine glass. Fill the glass with plenty of large cubes and be sure to have a little bowl of herb-roasted Marcona almonds nearby. Find the recipe for my must-have apertif accompaniment here.
Gotta-have gadget: Nespresso machine
Most of you surely know all about my somewhat embarrassing coffee habit by now. My absolute love for the stuff borders dangerously on addiction, and I’m the first to admit it.
I love the taste, the ritual, and the caffeine, but mostly the ritual. I slow down, breathe, and actually take a few minutes just for myself over my daily post-lunch iced coffee; a few splashes of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon, please. Oh sure, that afternoon cup is a special part of my day, although there are not many things I look forward to as much as my first-thing-in-the morning latte. I often begin thinking of that first coffee the night before. Worrisome, huh?
I wake up insanely early most mornings and I am fairly confident that without the anticipation of that first warm, milky sip I would not have the strength to drag myself out of my warm, cozy bed.
I have spent years on the desperate, agonizing hunt for that ultimate at-home coffee-making system. I have tried multiple fancy Italian espresso machines — such an ordeal, such a mess — and I have brewed every imaginable coffee blend, from every imaginable country, in every imaginable way. No luck.
It wasn’t until my darling of a boyfriend surprised me with a gorgeous, shiny, little, pale green Nespresso machine that I truly fell in love. (With him and the machine, as it happens.) The Nespresso is ridiculously simple and manages to render the richest, most silky, most robust espresso that I have ever tasted from a home machine. In the pitch black of the early, early morning, I am able to stagger into the kitchen and whip up a swoon-worthy, coffeehouse-style coffee with the single press of a button. Oh my Nespresso, you are utterly happy dance inducing! Find several models of Nespresso machines locally at the Sign of the Bear.
At the market: Veggies on Watmaugh
We all know and love the little Watmaugh strawberry stand for its ruby-hued, outrageously sweet strawberries, but did you know that the charming, hardworking folks that farm that patch of land also grow an abundance of pristine vegetables as well?
What I love most about this little stand and their tasty veggies is that these vegetables are unique! About this time of year, when we could scream if made to eat one more zucchini or roast one more red pepper, the Watmaugh stand has Chinese long beans. That’s Chinese long beans with an exclamation point. And okra! Oh okra, how I’ve missed you, my little Southern friend.
Here, you might find tiny Asian eggplants or the massive deep purple European ones. The juiciest of white corn is grown right there, as are all of these interesting beauties. You might find summer squash as well, but it is those little heirloom ones in the most amazing shapes. Oh, and while you’re there, don’t forget to grab a few baskets of the world’s most delicious strawberries.
Herb Roasted Marcona Almonds
- 3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups whole Marcona almonds (not the ones in oil)
- 2 T. fresh thyme leaves
- 2 T. fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 T. sugar (I like the brown demerara or turbinado sugars)
- Plenty of coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Spread out on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Nuts store nicely in a sealed container for a week or more.
Kristin Jorgensen is one of Sonoma’s most passionate, food obsessed residents. In this weekly column, she covers all the delicious happenings, foodie events and restaurants in Sonoma, the rest of Wine Country and beyond. Email her with comments, questions, or your food related events at email@example.com.