Friday, March 25, 2011

spring ahead

Sometimes you have to go backwards in order to move forward. That was the idea, at least, when my husband and I drove up to the Berkshire Mountains of Massachussets last weekend. MA is about three weeks behind us in NYC as far as weather and the seasons go.
There is still snow on the mountains and nary a bud nor green shoot in sight. What we did see was plenty of raging streams which are a real Northern springtime phenomena caused by all the melting snow.
 The water was moving so quickly if you fell in you would be whisked out of sight in a blink.

While in the Berkshires we hiked in a state forest, went to visit two museums and ate in a couple of very nice restaurants.
Beartown State Forest offered up this pristine trail around frozen Benedict Pond. The air was so pure and the silence so profound I wanted to weep. While on the trail we met a group of young hikers on their way down the mountain from where they had spent the night camping outdoors to witness the Super Full Moon. We were very impressed!

The Clark Institute in Williamstown had a European Portraits show in addition to their fantabulous nineteenth century European and American paintings collection.  MassMOCA, the gallery and performance space in North Adams, dazzled us with an over the top installation of taxidermy and plastic flower sculptures by Petah Coyne.
I couldn't resist posing in front of this delightful site-specific spray painting by artist Katharina Grosse at MassMOCA. The colors just scream SPRINGTIME!

Dinner at  Castle Street Cafe in Great Barrignton was a warm respite from the cold. They have live jazz on the weekends and we caught the tail end of a set while we ate Linguini Provencal and French Onion Soup. On Saturday night we splurged and had an elegant meal at The Old Inn on the Green in New Marlborough. With a rustic yet formal simplicity, the decor, worthy of Emily Dickinson, transported us back a few centuries. It was about half way through the meal when I realized the entire dining room was lit solely by candle light. Dinner was nothing less than perfect, if perfection is your thing. I swooned over an appetizer of a single seared scallop topped with a chunk of lobster and surrounded by an insanely rich lobster sauce. Pretty darned good.

All this eating and drinking and hiking kept me too busy to think much about my own cooking. I am offering up this link to my friend and fellow chef Katie's recipe for Vegetable Stew cooked in Guinness. The idea really grabbed my interest. The stew slow cooks for four hours and the Guinnesss reduces down to a syrupy gravy. Sounds amazing!

Amanda. What would one drink with a vegetable Guinness stew if one was not drinking Guinness?

Deb, the pictures are beautiful and it sounds like you had an amazing time! The Old Inn on the Green sounds spectacular. I fondly remember a trip I took to Great Barrington with a friend and her family when I was 14. Many, many moons ago!

For Katie's Vegetable Stew cooked in Guinness, I would definitely stick with red. The Guinness I'm sure produces a wonderfully rich, flavorful sauce. So I would opt for something medium to full bodied with plenty of depth and complexity to complement the gravy. The gravy's syrupy texture combined with the full-flavors imparted by the Guinness call for a wine that is "big" enough to not be overpowered by the sauce. Cabernet Franc has a flavor profile I think would be perfectly suited to this stew. It is one of the main grapes used in Bordeaux. It is also used in other regions to produce Bordeaux-style wines, (Meritage) when blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This relative of Cabernet Sauvignon is widely planted in the Loire Valley, specifically Anjou, Saumur Champigny, and Chinon.

Typical aromas and flavors include tobacco, green pepper, raspberry, chocolate and cassis. While the most "classic" Cabernet Franc examples can be found throughout France, there are a plethora of fine domestic Cab Francs as well. The cooler French regions produce lighter versions of the grape while warmer regions such as California produce wines with greater alcohol and therefore more body. I'm thinking domestic for Katie's stew. St. Francis McCoy Vineyard Cabernet Franc is a reasonably priced ($19.99) jammy, spicey wine with hints of chocolate and a medium body.

So if Guinness is not what you're craving, ask you local wine shop for a recommendation on a great Cab Franc!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. Spammers have forced me to now review every comment before publishing. So please bear with me as I read through your comment. Thank you for visiting the blog!