Monday, February 8, 2010

monday, monday ... so good to me

Last night, since neither of us were forced to suffer the miseries of watching the Superbowl (sports, in my opinion, are incredibly boring to watch without actually participating), Julien and I felt like having a quiet, romantic dinner. And who wouldn't, so close to Valentine's Day? So I made us a delicious meal of lemon pepper paste with a personally homemade artichoke-caper sauce. Here are the exact ingredients for making the sauce, since I was so proud of it!

1/8 stick of butter
half a cup (or so) of extra virgin olive oil
dash of sea salt
meyer lemon juice (half a lemon, squeezed, seeds removed)
1 tablespoon capers
8-10 artichoke hearts
2 tablespoons creme fraiche

Here's a pic of some of the ingredients I used. As you can see, I am clearly a fan of Trader Joe's :).

I made the sauce in that order by first melting the butter, then putting in the olive oil and salt. I then let it blend together and simmer for a bit at middle heat. Afterwards I added the meyer lemon juice and let it simmer again for a bit. I then added the capers and let it simmer for about 3-5 minutes while the pasta was still cooking. I then added the artichoke hearts and lowered it to a low simmer, so they would cook without getting soft. 
Right as the pasta was finishing up I added the creme fraiche and let it melt with the sauce, creating a sauce that was light and sweet, but had the slightest bit of tang from the creme fraiche. I mixed the sauce and pasta together, then used the rest of the meyer lemon to create a fresh squeeze of juice on the top before tossing and serving. Absolutely delicious! I'm definitely going to make it again (and I'll take pics next time, for sure). If you ever try something like it at home, let me know how it goes! 
Well, with such a wonderful meal, naturally we needed to have a wonderful wine to go with it. And what else would be perfect with a lemon-caper and artichoke-hearts pasta then a fabulous Pinot Noir? In this case, the 2006 Pelerin Cuvee St. Vincent Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands ($40). Julien and I had the privilege of meeting the Pelerin winemaker during a special dinner at L'Auberge in Carmel.

Their wines are amazing, with gorgeous labels that appear to depict different Catholic saints. Apart from their Syrah, which is an excellently full-bodied and jammy Syrah, I've always loved their Pinot Noirs. This one is no exception. It clocks in at 14.1% alcohol but you can hardly tell. The color is a lighter brick red with a soft pink halo. It smells strongly of red cherry, red apple, cream and light herb. It also has a subtle note of truffle, specifically porcini mushrooms. The wine has noticeable flavors of sour red cherries, chocolate, custard - and, again, just a taste of those porcini mushrooms. But don't saw ewww, because they actually serve to enhance the wine quite a bit. Gives it a strong, almost meaty quality to it, especially on the finish, which is quite vibrant. This wine definitely benefits from a decanter - Julien put it in ours last night and it made a noticeable difference the next day. 
In the end, TRY THIS WINE. If you can't find their Pinot, definitely give their Syrah a go. Their Chardonnay is all right, but I definitely prefer their reds over their whites. Happy tasting!

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