Thursday, September 5, 2013

2012 Artazuri Rosado And Figs Baked With Blue Cheese

Today, we bring you a little food and wine pairing.

Chateau Gilbert is blessed to have a mature fig tree, one that was planted many, many years ago, and gives us a fig harvest of Biblical proportions every August.   It is easily two stories tall, and at its widest maybe thirty feet in diameter.   Most of the figs are unreachable, and go to feed the birds and squirrels, and honestly, I don't mind.   The low hanging fruit is easily picked, and provides me with enough figs to make lots of appetizers, smoothies and snacks,  not to mention, enough fig preserves to fill my larder and land me a guest spot on Doomsday Preppers. 

This is a quick and easy appetizer, and one of the many ways I like to use my figs.  It is also easily modified.
1 Tablespoon molasses or cane syrup
1 Tablespoon sweet soy sauce (not the salty, thin stuff you're used to.  This is more viscous and sweeter)
Good quality Blue Cheese, cut into small squares, or crumbled
Pinches of black sesame seeds
A dozen figs

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Slice the figs in half, or cut an X in their top, smooshing them down a little to open a cavity in the fruit, and spread on a baking sheet.  Mix the sweet soy sauce and molasses together, and put just a drop or two on top of the figs.  Neatness counts.  Place the Blue Cheese on top, and sprinkle a bit of the black sesame seeds on top.   You could also press the BC squares into a small dish with the sesame seeds, giving them a more positive contact, before placing the cheese on top of the figs.   Put it in the oven for 15 minutes and serve hot on a nice cracker or toast round.

Want to dress this recipe up a bit?   Wrap a thin slice of prosciutto around the composition before placing in the oven.  Want to take it to the next level?   Omit the sesame seeds, soften the Blue Cheese and mash it together with some crispy bacon crumbles.  Form that mixture into squares and press it into a dish of coarse raw sugar before placing it on the figs.  Run it in the oven for 10 minutes, and hit it with a brulee torch when it comes out, and there you are, Blue Cheese and Bacon Fig Brulee!  You can go in a lot of directions with this.  Substitute balsamic vinegar and honey, instead of molasses and soy.   Drop them into a vol-au-vent and bake until golden.  You get the idea.

While an appetizer is good and everything, you're probably going to get a bit thirsty.  This is a great rose' (or Rosado, as they call it in Spain) that I picked up for $8 and change.  I've talked about my love of rose' wines before, and considering that the warm weather is coming to a close (I hope), I figured it would be timely to review one more rose' before autumn arrives and Oktoberfest beers start to dominate this page.

We paired the 2012 Artazuri Rosado with the above baked figs for an appetizer course the other night.  This wine is made from the Garnacha grape, which is one of the signature varietals of the Navarra region in Spain.  It's a grape that loves sun and warm weather and does well in Mediterranean climes.  It also has a lot of synonyms, considering that it is grown in so many places: the Sardinans call it Cannonau and the French call it Grenache, and there are countless other local names for it throughout southern Europe.   And while the region of Navarra is closer to the Atlantic Ocean than the Mediterranean, the conditions there are optimal for its growth. 

It has a deep salmon color that reminds me of blood oranges, and is a shade darker than little-girl-ribbon pink.  It has stunning clarity.  On the nose there is an abundance of fresh red fruit:  red currants, strawberry and, of course, raspberry and cranberry.  A youthful and fresh wine, this has a medium plus acidity and a medium body, suggesting a little bit of time on the skins.  The flavor suggests raspberry sour candy, but it has an assertive finish that hangs on for sometime.  The wine has a moderate 13% ABV, and is quite food friendly, but also good for just cocktail hour or sipping on the porch, watching everyone in your neighborhood do their yardwork on a Saturday afternoon.  As I like to say, rose' is Summertime In A Glass!

This pairing works really well because the sweetness of the figs and the molasses are counterbalanced by the salty funkiness of the blue cheese, which in turn is a counterpoint to the acidity and red fruit notes of the wine. 

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