Located at the southern entrance to Sonoma Valley, Ram’s Gate Winery is an ideal stop—but plan to spend some time, because the space is as beautiful as its surrounding, expansive views. You can sit on a terrace or inside the lodge-like tasting area in absolute comfort while enjoying its wines. If you have time, we highly recommend the food pairings, as Chef Taylr Behnam puts a lot of time and thought into creating things your taste buds won’t soon forget.
We recently asked her to pair a recipe with the winery’s 2011 Carneros Chardonnay. She created a little gem salad with fava beans, pixie tangerine, crispy spring onions and goat cheese buttermilk vinaigrette—her favorite summer salad. “It works because this complex-but-uncomplicated dish features accents that echo the key flavors of the Chardonnay. Zesty citrus notes in the wine shine through when paired with a bite of tangerine. Fava beans and spring onions provide an element of weight to the dish, which complements the full body of the Chardonnay. The goat cheese buttermilk vinaigrette completes the dish, beginning with the same creamy mouthfeel found in the Chardonnay and finishing with enticing, mouthwatering acidity that seems straight from the wine itself,” she says.
The 2011 Carneros Chardonnay is 100 percent Chardonnay, aged on the lees for 11 months in both French and American oak barrels. Its floral nose blossoms into flavors of vanilla, citrus, hazelnut and spice on the palate, with a lush mouthfeel and balanced acidity. In a word: delicious.
Little Gem Salad
Baby little gems
Salt and pepper
Gently break the baby little gem leaves off, cutting at the base. Wash and set aside.
Using a sharp knife, cut off the Pixie tangerine skin, being sure to remove the white portion. When skin is removed, separate wedges, following the lines on the tangerine, and set aside.
Thinly slice the spring onions about halfway up the green. Toss with buttermilk and let soak for at least 10 minutes. Strain the onions and toss them in seasoned rice flour or all-purpose flour. Put about one inch of your favorite oil in a frying pan and heat to 300 F. Shake off excess flour and fry your onions until golden brown. Line a plate with a paper towel. Remove onions from oil and allow to drain and cool. (Note: you can also caramelize the onions if you prefer not to fry.)
Remove the fava beans from their pods. Bring water to a boil, adding salt to taste. Meanwhile, make an ice bath with 80 percent ice and 20 percent water. Place fava beans in boiling water and cook for two to three minutes. When beans are cooked, submerge them in the ice bath. Once cool, remove the outside skin of the fava beans. Set aside.
Goat Cheese Buttermilk Vinaigrette
¼ cup goat cheese
2 tbsp. Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a blender, place the goat cheese, egg, vinegar and honey and blend. While the blender is still running, drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To complete salad, toss all ingredients with the completed vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
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