Twitter has been an enigma to me. I know I’m supposed to know all things social media, but Twitter uses a different language. Not just shorthand (limit my thoughts to just 140 characters!?!) but it seems so foreign! The @ symbol and the #hashtag, retweeting and following. Oh my goodness, my head is full enough without trying to take this on!
But out of curiosity – and at the prodding of various marketing experts – I have dabbled. Dipped my toe in a few times, so to speak. But still, no real Aha! moment making me finally get what all the fuss is about. Until the other day, that is.
Turns out that there is a “thing” on twitter, and by “thing” I mean a virtual “thing” where a group of people all decide to focus on, taste and comment on a particular kind of wine for one hour on Wednesday evening. It’s known as #winechat. So one Wednesday the topic might be New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, another Wednesday it might be Chianti – you get the idea. This particular Wednesday the subject of #winechat happened to be Oregon Pinot Noir.
I wouldn’t even have known that, but my new friend Tamara who is considered quite an expert in the Twitterverse (and also writes the Sip With Me blog) suggested that I host what’s called a “Tweet Up” in honor of the occasion. What’s a tweet up, you ask? (so did I, actually). Well, its when one gathers a handful of people, or more I suppose, offers them information – in our case a tasting of some our rarer Pinot noirs – and they tweet about it.
Okay, that sounded easy enough. I invited about a dozen people I know who are active in the wine industry and proficient in Twitter to come to our winery on that Wednesday evening and from 6-7pm (pacific time) taste wines, listen to Rob talk about them and simultaneously tweet their thoughts out to the world.
We lined up the 2009 Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs, Rob opened them one by one and talked about the winemaking that went in to them. And I made food, of course.
Wine is meant for food, and the food is my department. These friends were only going to be dropping in for about an hour, but still it was getting close to dinnertime. I wanted to make a few Pinot-friendly nibbles.
Mushrooms are always good with Pinot, so I sautéed some up with thyme, olive oil and garlic and served that on a crostini. Then I marinated some lamb chunks in a Pinot, rosemary, garlic concoction and later threaded them on a skewer and grilled them to medium-rare yumminess. Those were no-brainers – two of the most obvious Pinot-friendly foods.
But I also remembered a recipe I had earmarked in the beautiful vegetarian cookbook Plenty. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out the Caramelized Garlic Tart. Garlic, herbs and goat cheese? Again, all naturals with Pinot Noir. I felt for sure it would be a winner. And it was. I did make a few minor adaptations along the way, and they are reflected below.
The Tweet Up and the #wine chat were, by all counts, huge successes. The folks who came to our winery all loved what they experienced, and we got lots of positive feedback from their tweets. We’ve made many new friends out their in the Twitter-verse and I hope they’ll all enjoy our wine and food one day.
Maybe you’ll take the time to make this and nibble on it while you sip some Pinot Noir. Because no matter how much we flirt with the virtual world, there is nothing like the real thing.
Caramelized Garlic Tart
(adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty)
Serves at least 8
13 oz. puff pastry (I use Pepperidge Farm)
3 medium heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled (tedious, but worth it)
1 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
1/3 T sugar
1 t chopped rosemary
1 t chopped thyme
4 – 5 ounces soft creamy goat cheese, such as chevre
4-5 ounces hard, mature goat cheese (I used wine cured goat) shredded
7 T heavy cream
7 T sour cream
Ready an 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out the pastry in a circle that will line the bottom and sides of the pan, plus a little extra. Line the pan with the pastry. Place a large circle of parchment paper in the bottom and fill with pie weights or dried beans, Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the tart shell in the oven and blind bake for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and the paper and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, until golden. Set aside, but leave the oven on.
While the shell is baking, caramelize the garlic. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with an inch or so of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well. Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic cloves on high heat fo r2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme and a pinch of salt. Continue simmering over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark caramel-y syrup. Set aside.
Assemble the tart. Crumble the chevre and scatter in the tart shell. Scatter the grated cheese as well. Spoon the garlic cloves and their syrup over the cheese. In a bowl whick together the eggs, cream, creme fraiche, pinch of salt and some black pepper. Pour this custartd over the tart filling, making sure you can still see the garlic.
Reduce the oven to 325 degrees and place the tart inside. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the filling has set and top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit. Take it out of the pan, lay a few thyme sprigs on top for garnish and serve warm (It reheats well!).