I feel lucky to know people who are passionate about food and cooking, just like me.
Recently, my friends Julia and Yuri, true aficionados of fine cuisine, had us over for company. Julia’s elaborate multi-course dinners, complemented with her husband’s well researched wine pairings, always make me look forward to evenings at their house.
The theme of the evening was Healthy Gourmet. Pre-dinner wet bar consisted of several types of aperitifs, including Metaxa, a Greek distilled spirit that definitely deserves a sip, if you’ve never tried it.
The first course was awaiting us at the table, even before we sat down. The meal started off with a layered Goat Cheese Beet Napoleon in Balsamic Reduction and a fresh-baked flaky Fig Strudel.
Chilled Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho that came next tasted garden-fresh, with a nice fiery spike. Gazpacho was accompanied by a peachy 2009 Julian Chivite “Gran Feudo” Rosado Navarra that helped to cool the palate and balance the spiciness in the soup.
We were just getting started. Our next course consisted of Ponzu Tuna and Miso Kapahi Duo Tartare. Julia knows her fish well and matches the flavors and textures impeccably. This flavorful, yet delicate, dish was paired perfectly with Sho Chiku Bai NIGORI Unfiltered Sake. As someone who does not regularly drink sake, I was very impressed. Unfiltered, creamy and sweet, it went down smoothly and offset the salt in the dish.
To clean the palate before the main course, Julia brought out a scoop of sorbet, served in Champagne. Did I say “clean the palate?” Yes! Only at fine restaurants… or Julia’s house! The inspiration for this palate cleanser came to her during her travel in Eastern Europe. That is typically how Julia comes up with most of her recipes – she gets inspirited by dining at exquisite restaurants and then uses that inspiration to fuel her culinary creativity.
With our palates clean, we were finally ready for the main course. While 2008 De Morgenzon Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch was filling up our wine glasses, my favorite of the evening entered the dining room – rich and buttery Miso Seabass, served over wilted Georgian spinach, creamy brandied carrots and nutty red quinoa. Even the amount of alcohol consumed prior could not obscure the wonderful taste of that entrée. The soul of the food lover in me simply wanted to sing from joy.
What a night – our evening ended with a variety of seasonal berries, ice cream and other fancy deserts.
Julia’s Heirloom Red and Green Tomato Gazpacho
(serves 6 )
- 2.5 cups heirloom red and green tomatoes, chopped
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon green onion, minced
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 2 cups tomato juice or V8
- 1/2 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
- 1 croissant
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon white sugar (might omit completely, personal preference)
- Tabasco to taste (might omit completely personal preference)
Green zebra heirloom tomato, sliced thinly into rounds
- Roast bell pepper. If you have never roasted peppers, Allrecipes.com offers a really good tutorial.
- Remove the seeds and reserve the juice. (If you are really pressed on time, feel free to use jarred roasted bell pepper).
- In a blender, combine all the ingredients and puree until smooth.
- Refrigerate the soup until well chilled, about 1 hour. Season the gazpacho with salt and pepper to taste and ladle it into chilled bowls.
- Garnish the cold soup with the tomato rounds and serve.
Try this soup with fresh and fruity NV Le Grand Court Grande Cuvee Brut Rosé