When you live in a colder climate that has a lengthy and oftentimes extended winter season, summer is one of those things that warrants celebration and elaborate shows of appreciation. Our “Yippie culture” (I say with a smirk and nod to my nerd-iness) dictates a fun combination of nature and high-brow entertaining. Thus, our annual Summer Solstice Wine Pairing dinner. This now fully ingrained ritual in our household means preparing a 7-course dinner, designed around local foods currently in season and available from Idaho’s Bounty (as much as possible), with carefully thought out wine pairings, for 16-20 of our best friends. Guests help by bringing wines chosen with sometimes vague and sometimes specific requests for the courses. Some lucky ones get to partake of the excitement in the kitchen by helping chop, flip, slice, and more!
We serve the meal outside (when the weather cooperates), complete with a bonfire on the patio to be enjoyed between courses and into the night, once the sun finally sets on the longest days of the year. This year, our 4th annual celebration, the weather behaved perfectly. It was quite a nice counterpoint to last year’s rain-out where we had to move the very very long tables into our teeny teeny house.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the highlights from the menu on this blog. (If you haven’t figured it out already, this is an evening that entails a general suspension of many of our normal diet rules–it’s a go nuts, full-on, eat your heart out party!) I hope you enjoy and take time to say thanks to the sun for bringing us this glorious season and all the amazing sustenance it offers!
To give you an overview, the full menu is below. Then jumping in to the aperitif…
2012 Summer Solstice Wine Pairing Menu
Aperitif: Bonsinger’s Silver Lining
Appetizer: Walnut Ricotta Bruschetta with Arugula, Asparagus, & Crème Fraiche
Soup: Chilled Spring Allium, Asparagus, and Fennel
Salad: Kale Salad with Avocado, Oranges, and Cress
Palate Cleanser: Green Herb Granite
Main Course: Grilled Lamb Sirloin with Potato Turnip Mash, Sautéed Morels & Sugar Snap Peas, with a Cherry, Jalapeno, & Mint Chutney
Cheese Course: Mixed Local & Imported Cheeses, Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs with a Honey Balsamic Syrup, and Fresh Cherry Jam with Lavender & Lemon Thyme
Dessert: Spiced Pancakes with Rhubarb Curd, Whipped Cream and Pistachios; Bittersweet Chocolate Cake w/Oaxacan Mole Ice Cream (both desserts are gluten-free)
Aperitif: Bonsinger’s Silver Lining
1 1/2 oz Lavender Infused Vodka*
3/4 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1 1/2 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Pelligrino
Mix first 4 ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour over ice in a highball glass and top with the Pelligrino. Serve with a small slice of grapefruit and/or a sprinkle of a few lavender flowers.
*Lavender Infused Vodka: I used a liter of Grey Goose vodka and added 1/4 cup dried lavender flowers (use fresh if you have them!) to the bottle. After 3 days, there was plenty of lavender flavor.
In addition to the terrific lavender smell, the flowers also introduce a bit of bitterness to the vodka which balances happily with the soft sweetness of the St. Germain and the bright acidity of the grapefruit. This was a perfectly refreshing and sophisticated summer drink! (Original inspiration for the recipe found on Gojee.)
Oh, and in case you were wondering, “Bonsinger” in the drink name is the silly combination of our two last names that we use for many fun endeavors…
Keep you eyes peeled for the next installment… Walnut Ricotta Bruschetta with Arugula, Asparagus, & Crème Fraiche. Yum!