Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Menu

Last week I received a couple of bottles of lovely Sauvignon Blanc, courtesy of Thirsty Girl and New Zealand’s Villa Maria.  I have mentioned this in the past, but wow, I love getting wine in the mail…just really hard to beat.  For this dinner I wanted to do a summer-inspired menu that would go well with crisp, fruity white wines, so I decided to do a barbecue pairing meal.  Since both wines have layered fruit flavors, with some pronounced citrus, I went with some dishes infused with salt-preserved lemons.  Salt preserving mellows the acidity of citrus and gives it a complex flavor and umami reminiscent of green olives.  We always have a jar in the fridge, and they add a beautiful flavor note to seafood, vegetables, and marinated salads.

For the starter, I paired the Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with a grilled zucchini salad that I dressed with preserved lemon, olive oil, sheep’s milk feta, and some crushed Marcona almonds.  The clean flavors of the wine balanced well with the rich layers of salty, crunchy, and pungent in the salad.  For the dressing I rinsed a wedge of preserved lemon really well (when working with the lemons, remove as much salt as possible), cut it into a fine dice, and stirred it into some fresh lemon juice and olive oil.  Brush part of this on the strips of zucchini before grilling, then toss the warm salad with a little more of the dressing just before serving.  No additional salt will be needed.

Since I was playing around with the lemon theme, I made some preserved lemon butter.  For this, I carefully washed half of a preserved lemon and tossed it in the food processor with a stick of unsalted butter.  I pulsed this until it was well blended, spooned the mixture onto waxed paper, and rolled it into a log.  Freeze this, and cut off pieces as you need them–it will keep well in the freezer for a month or two.  I used some of this to pan saute some shrimp, which I also tossed with some Turkish saffron (provided by my dear friend Sally, who brought it back from Turkey, just for me!).

These would work well as a starter course, but I served them with some grilled Ono filets, along with some more of that preserved lemon butter, melting on top.

Ono is a great fish for the grill because it has a firm texture and holds up well to the heat.  If you cannot find Ono, Mahi Mahi would be a good substitute.  I sprinkled the fish with a little salt and white pepper, grilled until just cooked through, and then served with the Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.  I really loved the rounded citrus and berry notes of this wine, and it worked so well with the grilled fish.

Preserved Lemons
6-10 organic lemons, preferably with thin skins (I like to use Meyer lemons, but any type will work)
coarse salt
a clean, dry quart jar with a lid

Rinse your lemons and let them air dry.  Cut each lemon into quarters or sixths, and remove any obvious seeds.  Sprinkle a thin layer of salt on the bottom of your jar, and layer in some of the lemon wedges.  Repeat with more salt and lemons, being generous with the salt.  Make sure the surface of each piece is coated with salt.  No additional liquid is needed.  Cover the jar and refrigerate for at least a week.  The lemons will begin to break down and look softer and darker in color, and liquid will form in the jar–this is what you want!  After a week or two they are ready to use.  To use, remove the amount desired and rinse very well, then mince or cut into strips and add to your dish.  These keep well for several weeks.

I am heading off on vacation as of tomorrow, so plan to see some Puerto Rico food and travel pics, coming up soon.

Legal stuff:  I received free wine but was under no obligation to discuss said wine, and all opinions are, as always, genuine and my own.

Thanks for reading,


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