Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A vineyard lunch

Geoff begins planting 6000 Pinot Noir vines at Pebblebed Vineyard, Ebford (just a mile or so outside of Topsham) this weekend. We've invited Vino members and supporters to come and help and dangled the carrot of a good vineyard lunch to entice them to join us.

Yours truly is helping to prepare the lunch. What to give a troop of hungry vine planters? It needs to be good, easy-to-prepare, easy-to-eat, but not quite so good that the 'workers' who show up for an extended lunch end up never getting back into the vineyard to work...

As there is a mountain of vine prunings from the winter, it seems obvious to me that we ought to make a big fire in a half-oil-drum BBQ, let it burn down to embers and then cook steaks 'aux sarments'. I'll therefore pick up a slab of ribeye that I can cut into reasonably thin steaks à la francaise. These can be simply seasoned, then quickly seared over the fire of vine embers to stuff into baguettes. I'll make a red wine and shallots jus, a sort of faux sauce bordelaise to spoon over the meat and bread: this is food to eat standing up, that you can tear into with your bare hands and wash down with a tumbler of full, gutsy red wine, our Cascina Fontana Dolcetto in fact.

But what else? What else is easy to do, easy to eat? Don't really want to turn it into fork-and-knife nosh. Maybe some new potatoes, scrubbed, boiled, dressed in new season olive oil and a crushing of Maldon sea salt. A salad of cherry tomatoes, mini mozzarella balls, torn leaves of basil dressed in olive oil and balsamic. Perhaps a tub of guacamole and a pile of wheat tortillas to heat up over the fire - the guac could be spread on the warm tortillas, then some thin slices of the grilled meat, a squeeze of lime...

Any other ideas?

And if anyone cares to join us this Sunday, to help plant or to cook and eat, you are very welcome!

Pebblebed Vineyard, Ebford, Devon



Blogger John Whiting said...

A tub of guacamole indeed! To turn out such quantities I dump avocado, roughly chopped onion, tomatoes, roughly chopped garlic, chili (or tabasco sauce), olive oil, sea salt, lots of fresh coriander and a decent cheap balsamic (like Aspall organic) in a food processor and whiz briefly. (Or use a heavy-duty blender stick to do it all at once.) Is it authentic? No. Does it have exactly the right texture? No. Is it tasty? Yes indeed! For one thing, it accommodates a wide range of avocado ripeness, from soft to hard.

Dealing with rock-hard avocados, which is often all you can buy: I give them quick bursts in a microwave, checking each time, until they start to soften. (I once suggested this to an eminent Mexican chef and his eyes lit up.) For guacamole, you can get away with it. And what hungry vine planter would complain?

May 03, 2005 2:37 pm  
Blogger Marc Millon said...

John, just rustled up some guac as per your instructions - roughly chopped with the Bamix stick blender. Sensational! I used the dark and hard-skinned hass variety of avocado, which are always difficult to tell when ripe. These were ok, by no means rock hard, but not yet fully ripe either. I peeled, chopped coarsely and gave a zap in the micro, about 45 seconds. They emerged warm and definitely softer, though perhaps 45 seconds was a tad long - there was a slight cooked taste that is by no means unpleasant. Lots and lots of lime plus generous handful of coarsely chopped cilantro and some pickled jalapeños brought the whole medley to life.

May 05, 2005 7:04 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home