Dining Reviews

All Hail Kale

diningA nuanced kale salad recipe, holiday wine pairings, and local finalists in the 2015 Good Food Awards

Tired of that delicious but predictable green bean casserole? Bored with a salad that doesn’t fit in with stuffing and mashed potatoes? How about an updated kale salad this Thanksgiving?  Stay with me. Dried blueberries could be the new cranberries. After my fling with blueberries and kale salad at the Philadelphia airport, I have been hankering to try something at home, so I converted a terrific kale salad recipe I got from enlightened home chef Dee Vogel and here is the result:

4-5 tbsp dried blueberries—soak them overnight in 10 tbsp white balsamic vinegar. Next day, drain the blueberries and set aside.

2 small heads of dino kale. Remove central spine and shred into a micro zest.

Mix together:

2 tbsp white balsamic

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1-2 tbsp honey

1 tsp salt

OK, now you’re ready to toss the dressing into a big bowl along with the shredded kale, the blueberries and, 4-5 tbsp toasted pine nuts. Have a chunk of parmesan reggiano handy to grate on top of your salad.

Toss everything together 20 minutes or so before dinner.

Mix it all together obsessively (i.e. a lot!) and then taste. You will want to grate lots of parmesan into this, allowing the sweet, tart, and salty to create what will be your favorite kale salad ever. This is the perfect partner for turkey. Make it often, and try substituting cranberries or currants for the blueberries. They’re all good!

Holiday Wine Pairings

Turkey, ham, or some creative vegetarian entree—all Thanksgiving meals love to have a wine that romances the main dish. But this isn’t quite the occasion for that heroically, big-shouldered Cab. I’m thinking Rosé. Beautiful pink wine looks great with a holiday meal, and among my favorites are the splendid Vin Gris de Cigare 2013, from Bonny Doon Vineyard. This beautiful blend of Rhône grapes just doesn’t quit looking good and tasting lively. It has an under $20 price point, too. If you like something a bit more serious, as in “this is a serious wine!” then zero in on the BDV flagship, Le Cigare Volant. Laden with spice, earth, fruit and complexity, it could be the ultimate holiday wine. This lovely creature—2009, 2010 are great vintages—will help smooth over any glitches in the Big Dinner. Who has not suffered near-death experience over lumpy gravy, cold mashed potatoes, indifferent stuffing, or drier-than-the-Sahara turkey? Yes, I’m talking to you. Simply pour another glass of this splendid blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault and you’ll be able to look your mother-in-law in the eye without blinking. More ideas next week, but start planning now.

Local Kudos

El Salchichero, Garden Variety Cheese, Verve Coffee Roasters and Venus Spirits are among the finalists for the 2015 Good Food Awards. Selected from over 1,400 entries nationwide, these local food and drink artisans were recognized for creating signature products of quality, superior taste and also for being made within a sustainable business environment. Congratulations to all! The winners will be announced on Jan. 8—stay tuned.

Over the Top?

You be the judge. While looking online for a hotel in Berlin (don’t ask), I wandered into the Regent Hotel’s restaurant menu and found this dessert: For $28, “Sweet, fruit-tea smoked celeriac, candied black olive sponge cake, and lightly jellied woodruff. With pecan nut and Tahitian vanilla ice cream.” Does this mean that a mere seasonal tart is too obvious? Too simplistic? Go ahead—read that dessert description again. Can you say “apocalypse?” PHOTO: KALE SALAD 2.0 Our food writer wants you to trade out those cranberries for dried blueberries or currants.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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