2010 Domaine du Grand Montmirail Gigondas Cuvée Vieilles Vignes
I think I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again— Gigondas (jhee gohn dahs) is one of my favorite wine words to say, second only to Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (mon tae pul chee AH noh dah BRUTE so). Throw in a little Vielles Vignes and you might just feel un peu français, at the very least you’ll be drinking a nice glass of wine. The Southern Rhone region is known for rich, warm and spicy blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre— it’s my favorite region in France. According to the Rhone Report, the 2010 Montmirail Gigondas is ‘loaded with classical aromas of wild herbs, pepper, spice, and leather, as well as copious amounts of licorice drenched bing cherry and blackberry styled fruits, this hits the palate with a full-bodied, decadent, and layered texture that coats the mouth. Despite all of the fruit, it has solid underlying structure and plenty of freshness. While no doubt superb now, it will be even better with a handful of years in the cellar, and shine for 10-12 years. 93 points’.
This 15-year-old cheddar was my first introduction to Fromagination in Madison. Bob and Kelly brought a hunk of this crystalline, smooth cheddar to Bayfield and I was hooked. I knew I had a seriously good reason to drive 6 hours south (Jack’s going to school down there) but the idea of an entire store devoted to cheese sealed the deal. 15-year-old cheese and a 19-year-old freshman— I’m going to be spending some time in Madison.
I don’t have much of sweet tooth, more of a cheese tooth, but these little chocolates gave that 15-year-old cheddar a serious run for its money. They are from a shop in Madison called Candinas (another reason to make the journey) and they were little nuggets of smooth, chocolatey goodness wrapped up in the most beautiful packaging I’ve seen.
I’m back after a hiatus due to a pinched nerve in my neck and a numb right arm— I have a whole new appreciation for the phrase ‘a pain in the neck’, heating pads and Ben-Gay. I have to admit, I really missed taking pictures and writing about my dinners, dogs, waterfalls, photo safaris and all the other pieces that make up the mosaic of a Mary Dougherty day. The good news is it forced me to (kind of) clean up my hedonistic eating habits and I’m proud to say I throw back a quart of green smoothie every morning. And there’s even more good news— before my nerves staged their insurrection in my neck, I made these beautiful little quiches with Sassy Nanny chevre and Northern Smokehaus pancetta. There’s something about my red tartlet pans that makes my heart go pitter-pat (and it doesn’t hurt there was pancetta and chevre involved).
I feel like I’ve catapulted myself over into ‘I have a rolling-pin and I know how to use it’ land every time I make my own shortcrust pastry, it’s not as hard as I thought and nine times out of ten, it actually works out. When I find myself in ‘what the hell am I supposed to do with this rolling pin’ land, there is a package of Pillsbury pie crusts in the freezer that’s perfectly acceptable and flaky. I used a recipe from Rachel Allen (recipe here) but use whatever recipe (or refrigerated pie crust) you feel comfortable with— it’s really all about the filling, in my opinion.
6 tartlet pans
3 tbsp butter, melted for the tartlet pans
1 batch of shortcrust pastry or a package of refrigerated pie crusts
3/4 cup red onion, chopped
3/4 pound of pancetta or bacon
1/2 cup of Parmesan, shredded
3/4 pound Sassy Nanny chevre
4 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium sauté pan, cook the pancetta or bacon until crisp, remove from the pan and set aside. In the same pan you cooked the pancetta, add the red onion and cook until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside with the pancetta. Brush the interiors of the tartlet pans with butter and place rounds of shortcrust pastry in each pan. Press the dough firmly into the sides and bottom of each pan, sprinkle the parmesan over the bottom and set aside. Divide the chevre into 6 equal portions and add it, along with pancetta and onions, to each pan. Combine the eggs and cream, pour into each tartlet pan (until it’s about a 1/4 inch from the top of the crust) and sprinkle the rosemary over each pan. Bake in the preheated 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until filling sets and top of quiche is lightly browned. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.