The beauty about living close to the the wine country in Santa Barbara is that we can walk on the beach in the morning and in the afternoon just drive over the hill in 40 minutes to enjoy the rolling hills dotted with majestic oak trees and neat rows of vineyards that reach as far as you can see. The tended rows made us feel like the world is still alright. Our trips up to the Santa Ynez Valley are a jaunt into nature with cows and horses grazing in endless green pastures and hawks flying overhead in the cerulean blue sky.
As the weather was gorgeous and warm, we decided to check out how the vineyards are blossoming on this lovely spring day. We drove up with friends, including sweet Paul who is our elected designated driver, and stopped at Brander Vineyard, which is known for a charming little pink Château and for Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is made by Fred Brander, who also owns the vineyard and was born in Argentina, and by Fabian Bravo the assistant winemaker, who was a former engineer. We have been going by there for many years now and love to peek into the winery to see what is being pressed at the moment. Fabian as always greeted us warmly and let us try a couple of yet to be released wines, which were truly promising, especially the Merlot. Back in the tasting room we of course had to review our old favorites and one that really caught our attention this time was the Cuvée Nicolas with it’s light citrus notes, hints of green, and silky texture. It is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and named after Fred’s son Nicolas. It is an ideal wine to enjoy with fish, lobster, or chicken.
Winemakers always love to talk about food and wine pairings and it didn’t take long until we were plotting new recipes with Fabian. Roast Garlic Chicken came to mind as we sipped the refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. Fabian liked the roast chicken idea, but cautioned us to not overpower the chicken with garlic, you still want to be able to taste the wine flavors. Over the years we have talked to many winemakers in Europe and in the States and all said the same about food & wine pairings – let the flavors compliment each other.
The dish that always evokes simple rustic elegance and herbal flavors of the wine country for us is a Roast Chicken with rosemary and garlic. We love making a Wine Country Roast Chicken after a day of touring wineries since it warms up the house with comforting smells and goes well with a lighter white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc that we just picked up from a winery. While touring and tasting you also get a little tired, so this recipe is fuss-free and it can all go into one pot, besides the carrots.
This scrumptious juicy chicken evolved in our Santa Barbara kitchen over the years, and what we both love and miraculously agree upon (without any argument) that this is a very simple and versatile recipe. If you don’t have all these fresh herbs handy you can use just parsley or coriander, cilantro or even green onions.
With the chicken happily roasting in the oven the aromas in the house got more and more enticing and Corina’s next question was ” what is for dessert”? In the fridge there were 2 boxes of lovely fresh raspberries and a few free range organic eggs from our last visit to farmers market so we whipped up our quick raspberry mousse, which is almost the exact shade of Brander’s pink Château! It takes only 10 minutes to make and the mixer is doing all the work. This recipe is from Hungary and our grandmother / great-grandmother god bless her she requested to be stirred for at least 30 minutes with a large wooden spoon in a brass bowl because the mousse would be only perfect that way. The recipe is explained here.
Fabian in the Brander tasting room pouring the Merlot, which we had a splash of in the Baby Carrots.
Brown Butter Baby Carrots recipe click here
Wine Country Roast Chicken
4 Cloves Garlic