Dinner Salad with Farro

dinner-salad-with-farroLast week, Charles and I went to the Alsace Festival in Anderson Valley, something that has become a yearly tradition for us. It’s always a wonderful weekend filled with equally wonderful wines and sumptuous food, but after a few days of rich food and maybe a little bit too much wine… it’s good to have simpler fare.

For us, that usually means lots of greens and other healthy options. In fact, our bodies were craving tons of leafy greens and whole grains, so I threw together a salad which revisited our plates a couple more times during the week while we recovered from our libations. Other than lots of layering, this salad is about as easy as they come. We paired the salad with a lovely Muscat Blanc from Navarro. While we didn’t pick it up on this trip, it was an amazing Anderson Valley wine and was a nice companion to the many savory and sweet flavors of the meal.

Dinner Salad with Farro

  • Difficulty: super easy
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Serves 6

1 1/2 cups farro
12 cups mixed baby greens
1 pint fresh blueberries
4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (for a savory, almost cheesy flavor)
1 pint white button mushrooms
1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes
5 oz. soft goat cheese (optional) (I used Truffle Tremor for a compliment to the mushrooms and nutritional yeast.)
12 green olives, sliced
6 Tablespoons slivered almonds
extra virgin olive oil
pear balsamic vinegar

Place farro in a fine sieve and rinse under cold water. Drain and put in a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook over low heat for thirty minutes. Remove from heat and drain any extra water. Rinse under cold water to cool down the grains and let drain completely.

Evenly divide all ingredients (except olive oil and vinegar) onto six plates. Drizzle salads with olive oil and vinegar to taste and serve. This is a dinner that will make your belly feel good!

Int. Alsace Varietals Fest. 2015

Alsace festival 2015One thing that’s a must-do each year for Charles and me is attending Anderson Valley’s International Alsace Varietals Festival. Not only is there a lot of amazing wine to try, there’s also an educational aspect to the event, which just makes it that much greater.

This year’s highlights included a discussion on how pressing/skin contact and early intervention influence wine flavor, differences in vintage and vinification of single vineyard Pinot Blanc, a food and wine pairing showcasing Gewurztraminer, an appellation discussion about a family winery in Alsace — this was so great! — and a food demonstration of seared steelhead on a pool of cauliflower puree with caramelized onion butter by Chef Francois de Melogue.

As always, each tidbit of the event was amazing, from the education to the Grand Tasting to the winery open houses the next day. It’s one of the highlights of our year, and we’ll make sure it stays in our yearly planner. Thank you so much to the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association for putting on such an amazing event!

For a list of the places where we stay, eat, and drink, check out last year’s post. I’ll leave you with a collection of my photos from this year’s awesome festival.

Alsace Festival 2

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Alsace Festival 5

Lemon Rosemary Cornish Game Hens

Cornish Game HenSome weeks are so full of so many tasks, when everything finally winds down, a little comfort food is in order. While baked chicken is always a winner, I wanted to change things up a bit, do something more individualized. I’ve always wanted to cook Cornish game hens. They’re so small yet fancy. When served with roasted carrots and an Anderson Valley wine, our cares just slipped away.

We paired our hens with 2012 Husch Renegade Sauvignon Blanc. The way the wine picked up the rosemary in the bird was dynamite! I savored every mouthful.

Lemon Rosemary Cornish Game Hens


Serves 4

2 Cornish game hens
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, cut in half
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup chicken broth (I just used some broth I had frozen in ice cube trays and scattered the cubes around the pan.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Season birds, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Squeeze juice from half a lemon into the cavity of each bird, then place the half inside the cavity. Place the rosemary sprigs inside of each bird. Rub hens with olive oil and place them on a rack inside a roasting pan. Place garlic around birds.
Roast for 25 minutes then lower oven to 350 degrees. Pour the wine and broth into the pan and roast about 30 minutes more or until the birds are golden brown and the legs begin to fall away from the body.
Cut hens in half and serve.

The International Alsace Varietals Festival

Alsace FestivalLast weekend, we attended the International Alsace Varietals Festival in Anderson Valley, California. It was our second year attending, and something we plan to repeat each year. As I’ve mentioned a few times, Anderson Valley is one of our favorite areas in the world. It’s one of those places that feels like home, and the festival is a great reason to visit.

Alsace varietals that are focused on for the festival are Riesling, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. (Also in the Alsace varietals are Pinot Noir and Sylvaner as well as Auxxerois, Chasselas, and Chardonnay, via WineFolly. Anderson Valley has a separate Pinot Noir Festival in the spring.)

Last year’s focus was a bit more farm-oriented, and we learned a lot of interesting things about the challenges of growing grapes. This year was a bit more varietal focused. The first panel was about Riesling and the second about Gewurtztraminer. That meant we got to start sampling wines right away – score! – as well as learn about farming those specific varietals, environmental effects, bottling and closure choices, and fermentation practices. I loved it and took copious notes. The wine geek in me rejoiced.
food pairingThe third panel brought even more fun, focusing on food pairings from frog legs to stinky cheese. Flammekueche, Salad Truite Fumee, Terrine de Cuisses (frogs legs), Charcuterie et Moutarde, Goose Liver Pate, and Alsace Munster Cheese with Caraway Seeds and Sugared Walnut created a meal unto itself. Chef Lars Kronmark made excellent choices for the pairings, and all of the wines were amazing. Maybe because of my Super Taster-ness, maybe because I’ve never been a liver lover, but as beautiful as the chef made the goose liver sound, I couldn’t enjoy it. It was way too strong, but I enjoyed everything else, especially the smoked trout (Truite Fumee) and the Munster/sugared walnut pairings – delectable!

After filling our bellies with amazing food and wine, it was on to a cooking demonstration. Chef Francois de Melogue showed how to make Moroccan Sea Scallops to pair with Gewurztraminer. It was a gorgeous plate, and he was quite entertaining. If I’m ever in La Quinta, I’ll be visiting FIGUE, the restaurant where he’s the Executive Chef.

Then it was on to the Grand Tasting in which we enjoyed the craft of many wineries and continued to eat awesome things like pork belly and pizza. I love me some Anderson Valley Alsace wines, but there were also awesome options from Michigan and the Finger Lakes region of New York. Charles and I were quite taken with the wines of Fox Run Vineyards from Penn Yan, NY.
Husch VineyardsTo top off the weekend in extraordinary fashion, Sunday was spent traveling from winery to winery. We started with our absolute favorites, all three of which we’re wine club members: Handley Cellars, Husch Vineyards, and Navarro Vineyards. From there we ventured to Balo Vineyards, Esterlina, Phillips Hill Winery (At Phillips Hill I also learned that 1)my One Pan Meal is actually a traditional Alsatian meal and 2)it pairs amazingly with Alsace whites), and finished with a visit to Brutocao Cellars. We have never gone to so many wineries in a day, but it was so worth it. Everything we tried was terrific, proving once again that Anderson Valley wines are a force to be reckoned with. Man, I love them! If you’re a wine lover, especially of Alsace varieties, and have never had Anderson Valley wines, what are you waiting for? You won’t be disappointed, and you will be quite pleased to add another region to your go-to list for great wines.

We ended our final evening in the valley with a dinner at Aquarelle. I had a sumptuous swordfish that was absolutely delightful. The vibe was rustic/modern and like all good Anderson Valley things, casual and comfortable. The food was gourmet and very reasonably priced and was the perfect way to top off the weekend. We fell into bed that night quite satisfied with our festival experience and vowed to visit more regularly. We really do love it.

Other don’t-miss places while you’re in the valley besides the ones already listed:
Mexican food at Libby’s
Booneville General Store for an amazing breakfast or lunch
Mosswood Market and Café for great coffee and amazing empanadas
Coq Au Vin for lovely French Country cuisine
Lauren’s Café for an awesome home-style dinner (and the owner is SO NICE.)
Lemon’s Market and Deli for a quick but very tasty sandwich
Anderson Valley Brewing Company for some of the best beer anywhere (I had an ESB this trip — OMG!)
and where we always stay:
Anderson Valley Inn (the owners are awesome and do so much for the community)