Finally, sunny days, rose wine and picnics beckon.
After the on-again, off-again rain and even hail we've experienced during the past couple months, it's finally beginning to feel like spring. On the first warm day on the last Saturday in March, we started to see rosé wine sales at summer levels, even though most of our 2018 rosés haven't arrived yet.
My fig tree is just now sprouting its leaves; in a few months we'll have fresh figs to make into fig tarts. By June our heirloom tomatoes should start ripening on the vine for use in salads and fresh pasta sauces.
At The Wine Country's gourmet store, there are always new things to report. Have you tried our amazing Georgia Sourdough crackers? We had a customer scoff at the $8 price "for crackers?" until she tasted one. That's all it took to throw a bag into her cart.
We just got in two incredible Italian extra virgin olive oils from one of our most important importers, one, Antico Castello Olio di Oliva $22.99 per liter, for cooking, and one for dressing salads and finishing meats and fish. The latter, 2017 Corsini Olio Extra Vergine Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Italy 750ml $29.99, is a favorite of the great Alice Waters, owner of Berkeley's iconic Chez Panisse.
"Alice bathes in it," says the importer.
We already had one of California's finest Tuscan-style olive oils, McEvoy Ranch from the border of Marin and Sonoma Counties. And we just added four award-winning oils from NUVO in Chico, California, made from olives from 125 year old Mission olive trees.
- Estate Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250ml $18.99
- Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250ml $18.99
- Expert Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250ml $21.99
- Lemon Fused Olive Oil 250ml $18.99
Sometimes I just want to cook something simple, but I still want it to be good. The Geometry of Pasta Linguini, Organic Orechietti and Organic Trofie have just arrived and they are very, very good. You do know how to boil water, don't you? When they are done, add salt, pepper and some olive oil, grate some good parm, and you have a side dish. Slice up some of last night's chicken, toss it in and you have a main course.
If you don't have time to simmer a fresh pasta sauce, we have a few good ones that make a good second choice. Dave's Gourmet has been making delicious pasta sauces for years, in Red Heirloom Tomato, Butternut Squash and Creamy Parmesan Romano flavors. Prices range from $9.99 to 11.99. Yo Mama's Chianti Wine Fresh Tomato sauce $14.99 has just arrived and we tried out the respectable Geometry of Pasta Pestos. (Making your own fresh basil pesto is best, of course, but we're talking long hours at work here and my feet hurt.)
For those of you who just want to turn on the oven and bake something good, try Sukhi's Coconut Chicken Samosas $9.99 for an appetizer. If you can't wait for the oven to preheat, there is always CedarLane's Three Layer Enchilada Pie $7.99 that you can zap in the microwave in a couple minutes.
If you have a sweet tooth, there are too many wonderful things to mention, from Brother's Ice Cream Bon Bons, to Dolcezza Gelati, to Dandelion chocolate bars to The Art of Caramel gourmet carmelized popcorn in Kentucky Bourbon Black Pepper, Bananas Foster and Vanilla Bean Cocoa Nib flavors.
Got a cookie jones? Finally, individually wrapped soft-baked biscotti have arrived from Marlo's Bakeshop in Original, Banana Bread, Chocolate Chip Brownie and Brown Sugar Coffee Cake flavors, each just $1.99.