Spring is here. It's time to lighten up our wardrobes, menus and beverages.
If you're a red wine drinker in the winter and a white wine drinker in the summer, it's time to bridge the gap and drink the pink. By that I mean dry Rose from the Finger Lakes region. This is the season the pink- and cherry- and salmon-hued wines are released and celebrated. There are plenty of new choices each year, as more and more Finger Lakes winemakers embrace this style of wine and put their best red wine grapes into it -- Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Lemberger, Merlot and others.
Finger Lakes dry Rose doesn't threaten to topple Riesling from its throne any time soon, but it is gaining momentum and appreciation. The Discover Dry Rose promotion was introduced in 2013 with just over a dozen participating wineries. This year, 30 wineries are represented -- from Anthony Road Wine Company, near Penn Yan, to Zugibe Vineyards, in Geneva. Click here for participants and visit the individual websites for promotions and deals.
I visited the New York State section of one of our neighborhood liquor stores (Liquor City) recently to see what they had in the way of Finger Lakes dry Rose. Unfortunately, the answer is: not enough! They did have dry roses from Fox Run, Anthony Road and -- happy surprise! -- the signature label dry Rose by Kelby James Russell, the winemaker at Red Newt Cellars.
The best place to find these wines is at liquor stores with excellent regional selections, like Ryan's Wines and Spirits, in Canandaigua, and directly at the wineries. Spring is a great time to hit the wine trails -- there's elbow room in the tasting rooms and the busy tourist season is just gearing up. Billsboro Winery, five miles south of Geneva on the west side of Seneca Lake, offers a rose of Merlot and rose of Pinot Noir. Silver Thread Vineyard, on the east side of Seneca Lake, has an off-the-beaten path location and tasting room that is well worth a visit. Through the end of April, enjoy a complimentary sample of Silver Thread's rose of Pinot Noir, paired with a local cheese.
If you think white zinfandel when you think of pink wine, think again. Dry Rose from the Finger Lakes isn't sweet. These wines are crisp, refreshing, fruity and a friend of all foods. Try them with cheeses, cured meats, salads and vegetables, poultry, shellfish, seafood, pizza, pasta, paninis, fruit desserts -- just about everything.
They would be perfect for a picnic. Don't forget the corkscrew.
I've never met a chip I didn't like. And I also love salsa. I almost always have a jar or two of Primo and Mary's salsa on the pantry shelf. It's a great local product created by Tina Conte McPherson, of Cazenovia, who works tirelessly to develop her recipes and products and sell them at local markets and in stores.
SalsaCuse (all-natural premium salsa) is one of Tina's newer products. I hadn't tried it yet and thought about opening a bag of chips -- but decided to go down a healthier road and make some Southwest-style stuffed peppers with it. The recipe is below.
In addition to the original (black bean and corn salsa, the Primo and Mary's line now includes Three Sisters (black bean, corn and squash) and the SalsaCuse. Find them at local markets and stores, including 20/East in Cazenovia, Side Hill Farmers in Manlius, Natur-Tyme in DeWitt and others. It's on deck to be carried at Wegmans soon, too.
Southwest-Style Stuffed Peppers with CNY Flavor
6 large green peppers or a mix of colors, seeded and cored (save the tops for other use) 1 cup brown rice, prepared according to instructions on package 1 medium onion, diced 1 pound ground beef 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground in mortar and pestle 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (optional) Crushed red pepper to taste (optional) 1 16-ounce jar Primo & Mary's SalsaCuse (divided use)
1 14.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed well and drained 1/2 to 3/4 cup corn kernels 2 small Roma tomatoes, diced 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1 cup Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Optional: Steam the peppers for a few minutes if you prefer a stuffed pepper without much crunch. The only drawback to this is the peppers will lose some of their vibrant color.
Otherwise, Place peppers in a lightly oiled 13-by-9 inch baking dish.
Prepare the rice according to package directions and set aside. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add some olive oil then add the onions and a big pinch of salt. Sweat the onions about five minutes, then add the ground beef. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, breaking it up in small pieces. Add the jalapeño and crushed red pepper (if using) and the cumin and cook a minute or two. Add the garlic and cook it just briefly. Remove pan from heat and add the rice, black beans, corn, diced tomatoes and about half of the jar of salsa. Mix well, adding more salsa as needed. Add about two thirds of the cheese, saving remainder for garnish.
Stuff the peppers with the rice filling, tamping the filling down with spoon and filling to top. Top peppers with a spoonful of salsa and some shredded cheese. Cover pan loosely with foil. Bake for about 40 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 servings.