I usually blog on Mondays, but Pank and I decided to take last week off and unplug. A large majority of our time was spent planting cool weather crops. Chard, kale, turnip greens, arugula, spinach, beets, carrots, radishes, quinoa and an extra cover crop of oats and peas were set last week. We even planted blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. I still have garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and strawberries to go. With all the cucumbers that ran out my ears during the summer, Emma made sure that we didn’t get rid of the ones that have volunteered for the fall late one evening. It looks like we shall have cucumbers for Thanksgiving if the frost doesn’t kill them.
Many restaurants are closed on Mondays, but not Pomodoro East. General Manager, Michelle Miles and her team are always so sweet to us and make us feel at home. This is why we love having date night there from time to time. Charlee has a delicious cocktail menu and Chef Casandra and Red are really kicking butt in their Northern Italian kitchen. Charlee shared her favorite new whiskey, Brenne with us. This French single malt whiskey aged in cognac barrels was just released by Allison Patel last year in New York and now in Nashville. Due to the Nashville Whiskey Festival this past weekend, Patel was in town. Charlee was kind enough to invite Pank and me to come hear Allison present Brenne to the Pomodoro East staff Thursday afternoon. What a treat! Grown in an organic vineyard, the Brenne barley is one of the rotation crops between the vines. Then this fruit forward, little luscious gem is aged for five years in oak barrels and finally finished in cognac casks. I tasted citrus and apricots at first, but then the cinnamon, vanilla and black peppercorns got me on the end. As Patel’s grandmother says, “Brenne, Brenne, it’s not just for men!”
Pank and I also took a day to travel to a couple of wineries off the beaten path in Hampshire, Tennessee. We started with Keg Springs Winery where their Vidal Blanc was enjoyed on the deck over- looking a beautiful valley. Full of pear and grapefruit notes this wine makes for a great sipper or would also pair well with a bean and ham stew for this fall. Amber Falls Winery is just down the road and offers a very beautiful place for a picnic and quite a creative wine list. Time was limited and we had our sights on Natchez Hills Vineyard and Bed and Breakfast. Former roadie to such legends as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Alice Cooper and ZZ Top, John Susi is their winemaker. The man knows what he’s doing! We enjoyed the Merlot Reserve. Even Miles, from the movie and book Sideways would like this one. With a full body, this merlot offers a little bit of the wild side and would pair well with all the hearty flavors of fall and winter. Hell, who am I kidding! We drank the whole thing before we realized we needed some cheese. Owners, Jim and Karen Odom have a passion for music, wine and organic gardening. Pank and I had the rare treat of hanging with John and Karen that afternoon on their beautiful patio. Jim was working, but their son and dogs came by to visit for a minute. Every part of this place and family are just simply charming! We will definitely be returning for a weekend getaway at their B&B. Music, wine and food are right up our ally! Meanwhile, we took home a bottle of their Riesling. I wish I could say I saved this crisp, honey and pear off-dry juice to pair with my pumpkin soup, but….
Curried Pumpkin Soup
(This would pair wonderfully with any of the aforementioned libations)
2 cups diced and roasted pumpkin
½ pear chopped
1 carrot diced
1 chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger minced
2 tbsp. + a few drizzles of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of cream
3 cups of chicken stock
1 tbsp. of curry
Toasted pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil and few cracks of pepper in stock pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrot and ginger until soft. Stir in garlic, pear and pumpkin with curry and a pinch or two of salt. Once the ingredients have been sautéed for a few minutes, puree them in a food processor. Return to pan and add stock. Let simmer approximately 15 minutes. Stir in cream and simmer for another 5 minutes. Finish with a quick grate of fresh nutmeg, a few pine nuts and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.