Things are slowing down in the vineyard these days. The plants are going dormant in preparation for winter. All the cover crop has been laid and we’ve had our first rain, so no more irrigating until spring. The bit of ongoing works seems to be trapping the gophers, who enjoy dining on the fresh, young grasses popping up after the recent rain. The slow down of work means more time for friends. We’re looking forward to sharing our table with good friend Ken Brandt this weekend. Ken is bringing a beautiful Pinot Noir from the Whetstone Wine Cellars made with the grapes from his Bella Vigna Vineyard. It is always a treat when he and his wine graces our table.
I’ll be preparing a hearty country meal: Grandmother’s Chicken, a salad with the remaining heirloom tomatoes and peach pie. The chicken is a streamlined version of the classic French dish, poulet grand-mère. This roasted chicken dish cooks in a Dutch oven and includes whole, unpeeled garlic cloves. When served, the cooked garlic can be squeezed out and spread over hot, crusty French bread.
I’m a good cook, but I’m a marvelous baker. The peach pie will be lovingly encased in the best pie crust I’ve ever had. The secret seems to be the addition of cold vodka. The dough is wonderfully malleable and silky, without all that dry, crumbly texture. It’s so good that people look to snag any remaining bits of the crust rim that most diners leave on their plate.
There’s still work to be done around the ranch. But we’re going to treasure this quieter time before spring comes and the bud break of our first fruit to be harvested begins.