Monday, June 15, 2009

Lemon Feta Orzo Pasta

I have been looking for the perfect summer pasta dish for quite some time—the no-fail dish that is great served cold at a picnic. And thanks to one of our loyal Local Pairings readers, I have found one that fits the bill. When I first tried this recipe, I was blown away by the fresh mint, combined with savory raisins, basil and zesty lemon. I added grilled chicken which is a great addition, but this would also be a perfect side to grilled salmon.

1 ½ cups orzo
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp dried oregano
2 1/2 ounces feta cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup yellow raisins
½ cup pine nuts or walnuts

Cook the orzo 8-10 minutes in a large pot of boiling water with some salt added. In a bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar and oregano.

When orzo is done, add warm orzo to bowl and mix with dressing. Let sit until room temperature. Mix in raisins, nuts, feta and fresh basil.

Pair with a white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Riesling.

Modified recipe is from Erica Sweeney, original recipe from The Newlywed Cookbook by Robin Miller.

A Name I Want to Remember

Travel the narrow, wooded and windy road into the heart of the Stags Leap District and you will find a winery of similar character – no straight lines, a deep connection with its natural surroundings and bright bursts of color are all part of the charm of Quixote Winery. When owner Carl Doumani decided to build Quixote Winery, he found inspiration in famed Viennese architect and artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The result is a whimsical winery that befits its legendary name.

Contrary to Don Quixote’s famous first line “In a place at La Mancha, which name I do not want to remember…”, Quixote winery is one that you definitely don’t want to forget. It took Hundertwasser ten years to design and build the winery. His philosophy of design centered around several rules that included among others, no straight lines and planting the roofs with grass and trees. Sadly, Hundertwasser did not get to see his completed work. He died in 2000, just before the completion of the winery.

Although you may visit Quixote Winery for the art, the wines are worth the visit themselves. The winery makes two wines under the Quixote label (which Hundertwasser designed for Doumani) and two wines under a second label called Panza. The wines are Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Syrah. All of the fruit is sourced from the family’s 27-acre, organically farmed estate vineyard. They Quixote Petite Syrah is my favorite – a rich, silky wine with deep and juicy flavors of blackberry, plum and blueberry.

Written by Linzi

Cupcakes for Adults

Photo by Lindsay Garvey, Lindsay Garvey Photography

What is it with cupcakes these days? A dessert that used to be relegated to kids birthday parties has now become a hip indulgence for those with a sweet tooth. Cupcakeries are sprouting up throughout the Bay Area with three recently opened in Napa alone. And the cupcakes they sell are no ordinary cupcakes. With names like Pink Champagne, Black Cherry Jungle and Raspberry Dazzle, there is something that is sure to please everyone.

I’ve never been much of a cupcake person but I now consider myself a convert, seeking out these deliciously moist and tasty mini cakes whenever possible. And luckily for me, Napa has many options. Sift Cupcakery, Gigi’s Cupcakes and Kara’s Cupcakes all opened within the past few months. The cupcakes are mouthwatering delicious and most use fresh, local ingredients.

Treat Yourself to a Cupcake

Gigi’s - At Gigi’s, the cupcakes are so moist and delicious that simple may be best. Go for the Chocolate Chocolate or Double Vanilla. Cupcakes are $3.25 each. 3261 Browns Valley Road in Napa

Sift: a cupcakery - the beauty of Sift is that it’s located inside a clothing boutique (Cake Plate) so you can do some shopping while enjoying your cupcake. They also have a location in Cotati. Be sure to try Pinking of You – a deliciously moist vanilla cupcake with pink buttercream frosting. Cupcakes are $2.75 each. 1000 Main Street in Napa and 7585 Commerce Blvd in Cotati

Kara’s Cupcakes - With five locations across the Bay Area, Kara’s is one of the more well-known cupcakeries. Their newest location is in Napa’s Oxbow Market. Try the Fleur De Sel, an indulgent chocolate cupcake with caramel filling, ganache frosting and fleur de sel. Cupcakes are $3.25 each.

Written by Linzi