By Kimberly Noon
Special to The Dagger
When I think of the holidays, thoughts of locally harvested vegetables, freshly baked breads, hot crispy turkey basting and warm apple pies on racks cooling to adorn the table come to mind this season.
Early American pilgrims, harvested the summer crops to produce an abundant feast to share with friends and family. A local sojurn recently took me on a journey to meet and greet our local winery friends in Harford and Baltimore counties this month to see what scrumptous recipes and food and wine pairing ideas they had to share this holiday season.
My journey started at Boordy Vineyards, in Hydes, in Baltimore County. Boordy Vineyards is owned by Julie and Rob Deford and first opened its doors in 1945. Since its first opening, Boordy produces over 20 styles and varieties of wines. I recently attended one of Boordy’s summer concerts and was amazed at the selection of food options at the winery festival. The recipes crafted at Boordy seemed innovative and also paired well with the wine I sampled at the concert. I did not realize it at the time, the tasting room manager at Boordy Vineyards is also a pastry chef with a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America. (CIA) Allison Leono specializes in pairing wine with food and has decided to share some of her culinary delights with us. Allison selects a wine then crafts her recipe around the flavors and the aroma of the food she is making. “Thanksgiving is a great meal to create, Allison went on, because all of the wines at Boordy, are made for the table.” The comparison Allison makes refers to the food friendly character of select Boordy Wines.
Complimentary Food Pairings
Allison explained when deciding which wines to serve with a holiday meal, think about the flavors of the food you are serving first, then focus on the contrast of flavors you want to accentuate. This Thanksgiving, Allison created her Sourdough stuffing with sausage, apples and golden raisins. The Vidal Blanc is a naturally semi-sweet wine which mimics the sweet flavor of the golden raisins in the dish so this dish is harmonious and the flavors complement each other. The unique bite of Sourdough combined with tart Granny Smith Apples, and sweet golden raisins compliment the semi-sweet Boordy Vidal Blanc beautifully. What is the Vidal Blanc grape? Vidal is a hybrid grape from France and is a wine that is mildly sweet and a great wine to complement Allison’s Sourdough stuffing.
A complimentary classic pairing with chocolate during the holidays Allison pointed out would be to pair the Boordy Port with a plain chocolate wafer. “Chocolate is naturally suited to port wine, the flavors just blend together in your mouth,” Allison said.
If you want a classic pairing for turkey, most people would naturally select Riesling, however, Allison enjoys the Cabernet Franc as a light bodied wine that is well structured and mild enough with white meat and versatile enough to combine with all the varied dishes and flavors on your holiday table.
Contradictory Food Pairings
The opposite flavors coming together between a food and a wine is called a contradictory food pairing. Allison incorporated a contradictory food pairing at Boordy during the Valentine’s Day promotion this year. Allison used two different food pairings with opposite flavor profiles. Her Black Vinegar truffle was used on a thin chocolate wafer in between samples of the Boordy Shiraz. “The sour vinegar truffle cuts through the flavors nicely in the Shiraz, when you take these opposite flavors and match them together, the contrast actually works to match up the profile,” Allison says.
Allison did not reveal all of her holiday recipes, but was busy serving up a sourdough and sausage stuffing with sausage, apples and golden raisins when I called her yesterday afternoon, she generously poured into bowls for her co-workers on a beautiful sunny November afternoon. But Allison, did admit that all of her recipes are crafted in house and the ingredients found at local dairy producers and the Farmers Market in the summer.
If you happen to stop by Boordy this fall, Allison will warmly greet you at the tasting room door with lots of food and wine pairing ideas and may even tantalize your palate with a new idea she is working on, a jalapeno cheddar biscuit to cleanse your palate in between samplings of Boordy Riesling. I was even more intrigued with Allison’s Hot Spiced Wassail she served up heated in a crock pit with seasoned spices she adds to the brew, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. This recipe is steeped in tradition, Allison says, and is called hot mulled wine. What better way to warm up this holiday season? I could not think of a better way to spend the afternoon.
My afternoon travels pulled me back on track quickly and I made one more stop on the way home to Harford Vineyards on West Jarrettsville Road in Forest Hill. Harford Vineyards did not officially open the retail tasting room till Oct. 2009. They established their humble first beginnings in Harford County as Commercial Grape growers. Also before 2009, Harford Vineyards supplied amateurs, winemaking equipment, supplies including grapes and juice from MD, CA and Italy in the fall and from Chile in the spring. This is still a service that Harford Vineyard’s offer.
Harford Vineyards began to commercially sell their wine in 2009 at which time, they changed their focus to bottle and produce 12 styles of wines including the Vidal Blanc awarded the Governor’s Cup Award in Sept. of 2011 and the Piedmont Pleasure, a mild Gewürztraminer style rose. Their Crimson Moon is a full-bodied Bordeaux style blend of carmenere, syrah and malbec with soft flavors of fresh plum, boysenberry, nutmeg and eucalyptus. The wine is medium bodied and will pair nicely with steaks, pulled pork, stews and chili. The Crimson Moon was awarded a silver medal at the WineMaster Choice Award this year. Harford Vineyards will release a Cabernet Franc later this month.
Presently, Harford Vineyards is open to the public as a winery with a full service tasting room. There operating hours are Friday – Sunday for wine tastings. The tasting room hours operate on Friday from 12 to 6, Sat from 10 to 5 and on Sunday from 12 to 5. The tasting room fee is $3 to taste all their wines, or $5 for the tasting with a souvenir wine glass to take home. The winery will also offer a warm sample of Harford Blush heated up in a crock-pot with mulled wine spices added to the brew this fall.
Harford Vineyards also will open during the week for private tastings with a minimum guest count of 10 or more guests on a scheduled appointment basis. The vineyard is situated on rolling hills and is available for picnicking and relaxation. Many guests pack a picnic and purchase some wine to sit back and enjoy. Harford Vineyards’ recently expanded the distribution and sale of their wines available in local retail wine shops for purchase. A complete listing of all of the stores’ that sell Harford Vineyards’ Wines are listed on the website for Harford Vineyards and Winery.
Roxanne Mooney indicated to me while the Viognier is a great Thanksgiving wine, it is still her favorite wine to serve up with Maryland steamed crabs and mussels. “Our Viognier is clean and crisp and light with citrus flavors, it is one of the few wines you can eat with a bucket of steamed crabs and mussels,” Roxanne Mooney said. As for Thanksgiving, the semi-dry Vidal Blanc reveals an impressive bouquet of apricot, peach and floral. The flavors mingle with clean fruity flavors of orange zest, grapefruit and a clean finish. The wine is perfect to serve with turkey as well. Chef Wendy Preisinger, makes chicken corn chowder with Harford Vineyard’s Sauvignon Blanc added to the soup base which she gladly shares with winery guests.
A sampling of Holiday Recipes Provided by Boordy Vineyards and Harford Vineyards this Holiday Season
Sourdough Stuffing with Sausage, Apples and Golden Raisins, (Crafted by Allison Leono, Tasting Room Manager at Boordy Vineyards)
1 1/2 pound loaf sourdough bread, crusts removed, bread cut into 1/2 -inch cubes (about 13 cups)
2 pounds bulk pork breakfast sausage
2 large onions, chopped (about 4 generous cups)
2 cups chopped celery (about 5 stalks)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
6 cups 1/2 inch cubes peeled Granny Smith apples (about 28 ounces)
3/4 cup golden raisins (about 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 large eggs
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Spread bread cubes in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer bread to very large bowl.
Sauté sausage in heavy skillet over medium high heat until cooked through, breaking up into small pieces with back of fork, 8 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl with bread cubes. Add onions and celery to drippings in skillet, sauté until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread -sausage mixture.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium -high heat. Add apples, sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread mixture and mix in raisins.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons sage, stir for 30 seconds. Add sage butter with bread-sausage mixture, toss to blend. Season stuffing with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Do Ahead, Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and Chill.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Generously butter 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk broth and eggs in medium bowl, add to stuffing and toss to mix. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake stuffing uncovered until top is golden and crisp in spots, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes and serve.
Chicken Corn Chowder, Prepared by Wendy Preisinger, for Harford County Vineyards
5 bacon slices, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
3 carrots peeled, sliced into coins
1 cup Harford Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
1/2 jalapeno minced
2 T. all purpose flour
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups 1/2 inch cubes peeled seeded butternut squash (cut from one 3/4 pound squash) or the flesh from 2 roasted festival squashes
3 russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1 16-ounce bag frozen corn kernels
1 cup whipping cream
2 cups diced skinned roast chicken
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Cook bacon in large pot over medium – high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot. Add butter to pot, melt over medium – high heat. Add onions and carrots. Sauté onions, about 10 minutes. Add flour, stir 2 minutes. Deglaze with wine. Mix in broth, then squash, potatoes, 1/2 bag corn, jalapeno and thyme, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer uncovered until squash and potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add cream and puree with hand blender until creamy. Add remaining 1/2 bag of corn. Simmer until corn is tender, about 10 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead, Cool. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before continuing). Add chicken, 1/2 cup green onions, and all but 2 T of cilantro, simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle chowder into bowls; sprinkle with remaining green onions, crumbled bacon, and remaining 2 Tablespoons of cilantro.
Dagger Wine Columnist Kimberly Noon will appear Friday, December 9 at 8 a.m. on the WAMD 970 AM Morning Show with Maynard Edwards and Cindy Mumby to discuss her holiday wine and meal selections.