Who doesn’t love a good taco?? And tacobout a good wine pairing with a yummy chilled Grüner Veltliner. Corny I know.
…ok I’ll stop. BUT if you want a crowd pleasing, easy for parties set up, do a taco bar and grab a few bottles of GV. Corn is in season at the farmers market and cheap AF. Plus if you find the right ears, you won’t have to deal with adding those corn on the cob thingy’s–you know what I’m talking about right? That you stick on either end?? Corn skewers? Cob holders? Those things you forget are in your drawer until after you’ve eaten your cob? You get the point.
So it’s a date: chicken tacos, tomatillo salsa, guac, street corn and GV.
IT’S ABOUT THE SLOW BURN: think about the corn like you’re trying to perfectly toast your marshmallow. You want to be turning the corn often, and if there’s a top rack, keep the corn up there once it’s about 80% done.
SIMPLE SEASONING: Chef just used salt, pepper and dried oregano on the chicken breast. Add some chili powder if you want additional spice.
HOMEMADE SALSA: it’s easier than you think! Char some tomatillos up, and combine with chopped white onions, jalapeños, heirloom tomatoes, salt and pepper.
SAME GOES FOR GUAC: add chopped onions, lime, cilantro and toms and s&p to season.
SIMPLIFY STREET CORN: just head up butter and chili powder. Coat the corn with spicy butter and toss with grated parmesan cheese.
BRING FLOSS: or toothpicks. Because no one likes stringy corn in their teeth.
LET’S A TACOABOUT WINE PAIRING
Grüner was an obvious choice for me because it’s usually a zesty, crisp glass of vino. Usually it has notes of lime, but goes down differently than a marg. And when choosing a Grüner aim to find an Austrian one. They’ll be nice and dry and less filling than a beer–perfect for a hot ass day. Oh, and don’t be scared of twist tops. Hello one less thing to worry about. And some of them might have a little bit of bubbly, who doesn’t like that?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve eaten more burgers and hot dogs over the past few weeks that I don’t know if I could do another for the rest of the week **drives to in-n-out tonight and immediately loses this battle**
Bottom line is, if you’re looking for a break from burgers/want a fun addition to any BBQ, roasted veggies are the way to go. Like Chef Adam said, prep is minimal (hell yeah!) and they can be added to pizzas, salads or stand alone. Here are a few quick grilling tips to make your veggies turn out like a pro.
GRILLED VEGGIE TRICKS
BUY IN-SEASON VEG! Easiest way to do that is at the farmer’s market, straight from the source. But you can always ask what’s fresh at the store. Eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, corn, and onions are all summer staples
FRESH HERBS FOR THE WIN! While at the farmer’s pick up a bundles of fresh herbs because they’ll really make your veggies sing. We got thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil.
SEASON THAT $#@+! Use olive oil or avocado oil liberally, along with the fresh chopped herbs and plenty of pepper and sea salt.
CUT THE VEG THICKER THAN NORMAL! This way it has less chance of ending up in the flames and more likely ending up on your plate.
LET’S TALK WINE PAIRING
Not only does roasted veg and rosé have a nice ring to it, but it’s easy to remember. There’s just something about the cold wine that really makes the roasted veg sing. As far as which one to choose, any lean, dry rosé will do the trick. I happened to pick up a super yummy bottle at Whole Foods, 2015 Mas de Cadenet Arbaude which is a Côtes de Provence rosé. But Italy, Spain, Austria and the US all make kick-ass French style rosé that is worth a try too.
I am thrilled that I get to share this series with you! One thing I love about summer is all the BBQs, and since 4 of July is right around the corner, I figured I’d start with the basics: burgers and dogs.
Now feel free to fancy up the burgers/hot dogs with cheese and other accouterments, but at the minimum, you’ll have ketchup and mustard on hand.
TOP GRILL TIPS
BUY GOOD MEAT! The better the quality, the better the burger. This also goes for the ratio of meat to fat. Chef (and I can vouch too!) says 80:20 is what you should look for on your ground beef labels. That way the burger will be juicy and not dry.
SEASON YOUR MEAT! You don’t need to get fancy, but a good dose of S&P is key!
TOUCH YOUR MEAT! And by meat, I mean the stuff that’s on the grill. Once the burger starts cooking, it will firm up. The firmer the burger, the more cooked.
LET YOUR MEAT SIT! Don’t throw it on the bun right away. By letting the burger rest on a plate for a minute it allows all the juices to settle and stay in the burger. You don’t want a one bite in all the juice is on your plate situation.
GRILL YOUR BUNS! Butter isn’t necessary and Chef didn’t use any…but hey I’m from the Midwest, so I’d add a little butter or EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
LET’S TALK WINE PAIRING
In general, I think red meat needs a red wine. With summer temps already getting up drinking a red on its own isn’t my cup of tea unless I’m in a very air-conditioned space. So solution is to CHILL YOUR REDS!!! Now I said light-medium bodied reds because anything too tannic/grippy (think big Cabs/Italian/Bordeaux Blends) won’t be your best call. But those wines that are smoother tend to chill up nice and easy!
I chose a ZWEIGELT, an Austrian red that will work perfectly for this scenerio. Be the unsung hero (but actually people will be talking because they’ll love it so much) and bring a few bottles pre-chilled to your 4th of July party. It pairs perfectly with the burgers and hot dogs, steaks too! If you can’t find a Zweigelt, I suggest getting a Pinot Noir, Gamay (Beaujolais), Sangiovese or any other smooth light-medium bodied sipping vino.
Where did this year go?? I mean more than happy to welcome SUMMER but my God! I haven’t even made 4th of July plans yet (better get on that)…speaking of- if you’re doing something rad, I’ll happily provide the party with some fantastic summer-approved sips!
Anyway, besides rosé, you can likely find me sipping on:
Like I said, usually a little more full bodied, these wines attain their orange-y hue because the winemakers leave the grape skins in contact with the juice for a limited amount of time (similar to the process of making rosé) They tend to be a little funkier and (in my humble opinion) more fun to sip than your average crisp PG or Sauv B. My favorite right now is THIS BABY (2016 Jolie-Laide Pinot Gris) from a really fun California winemaker!
PÉT NAT aka PETILLANT NATUREL
Hellooooo easy-money-drinking! These effervescent wines go with everything: a tan, the beach, lobsta, sunsets, front porch swings and date nights. Fab on their own too, these are less bubbly than a traditional sparkling wine and are likely unfiltered (it’s ok you’ll live I promise–look at me, I had 2 glasses last night and live to tell the tale!) The rosé versions remind me of a yummy Italian soda, you know those Pelligrino ones? Only there’s alcohol wooohooo. PARTAY. I was drinking THIS or try THIS
CHILLED RED WINE
THIS IS YOUR POWER PLAY!!!! Chill down your Pinot Noirs, Gamays, Grenaches, Sangioveses, Beaujolias..any light-medium bodied red can be served with a chill. Seriously refreshing AF. Perfect with grilled steaks and burgers. I was drinking THIS in my video, how can you say no to that simple label?!
Bottom line is: these are all easy drinking, mood lifting, fun vinos to bring to a BBQ, summer bash or open with friends (or yourself!). Any favorites? Share below in the comments!!
24 hours ago, I was holding a glass of champagne at a hotel in Kansas City that I could barely sip. Very unlike me! I was scrolling Instagram trying to distract myself as I waited for my Level One Sommelier test results to be posted. And by posted, I mean my name being read out loud in front of the 70 people who I had just taken this exam with–in alphabetical order! The news of the arrival of Amal Clooney’s twins momentarily distracted me, I even checked in for my flight back to LA, but my mind was still racing. Bottom line, waiting to hear my name was one of the more nerve-wracking things I’ve gone through in recent memory.
Anyway, during the two day course, I befriended two ladies who were fortunate enough to have last names that fell earlier in the alphabet. After both their names were called (congrats again Tess and Casleah!) they looked back at me and were like:
“what’s your last name?”
They were still in the H’s so I had a minute, but dammnnnn my ego almost didn’t want me to say my name out of fear. The P’s arrived and I kid you not it felt like there were 4 “Pa” names. They both turned looking concerned.
“it’s Pe” I managed to get out while thinking “it’s ok, you got this, you better get this, f***, f*** F*–“
—“Natalie Pelletier” the Master Sommelier read (pronouncing it the French way I might add!)
Thank GOD! “WOOHOOOOOO” I internally screamed and definitely did a weird shimmy dance to get my certificate and pin. Weight was off my shoulders and you better believe I was able to finish that champ right quick. Level 1 Sommelier Exam passed!
Soooooooo you might be thinking:
Ok Nat, cool (long story) but what the hell is a somm??
Riiiiight. Back to that business.
What is a Sommelier?
A sommelier, if you do a quick Google search, will define it as “a wine steward”. Some of you might have seen the documentary Somm and think it’s a group of pretentious douche-bags who sit in circles, drink and discuss wine; people who can throw out that “the wine smells like a freshly opened can of tennis balls, grandma’s blueberry cobbler or eucalyptus.” Or maybe you think it’s a person who can do a party-trick of tasting wine and can tell you down to the year and winemaker what they’re drinking. And while I stand by that wine can smell like pie or even weird elements, a sommelier is a person of service. A person to help a guest navigate the wine list, to –in everyday language– describe and bring the guest a bombass wine pairing or new bottle to enhance their dining experience.
Simply, a sommelier is a service based beverage specialist, a “Siri/Alexa/Ok Google” source to deliver the best sips to YOU.
There are levels too!
In the Court of Master Sommeliers there are 4 levels:
The level I just passed, Intro, involved a 2 day course before the exam. To say my brain was fried after the exam is very accurate. I don’t think I’ve ever received so much information within a 48-hour period. I also tried 24 fantastic wines “blind**” (spit most of it to help with info retention) to get my palate trained to know the difference between say a standard NZ Sauv Blanc and Loire Valley Sauv B.
**when I say “blind” I mean that I didn’t see the wine poured from the bottle. I wasn’t blindfolded, as seeing the color of the wine is a key indicator to help deduce the varietal.
Going in I knew a good deal, but there was plenty of newness thrown my way. Yes, I had the course book available to me from the moment I signed up, but did I look through it that much beforehand? Notttt really. I had planned on doing that two weeks leading up, but I booked a feature film (yayyy, more on that later this week!) so I was working on my script and not wine.
Anywhooooo, I digress.
Why I took it.
You know these wine videos I’m making? Well I decided it was time to get legit! I want to be a better teacher, so gotta go through the motions. Wine is something I find fascinating and like learning about, a hobby if you will. So, my plan is to study more, and continue on to level two so I’m “officially certified”. Of course I’ll keep the videos coming (potentially turn it into a show…) who knows! Knowledge is Power!!
Are you going to quit acting?
NOOOOO. Not at all. I’ve always aimed to live a full life; to pursue interests in conjunction with work. So educating myself in the beverage world is only enhancing how I’ve chosen to live.
Why did you take it in Kansas City?
The Level One classes were all full in the Southern California area for the rest of the year, so I decided to head out to the Midwest and visit a place I called home for 3 years. Shout out to my childhood bestie/friend from camp/family friends for taking me in and being THE BEST hosts. Katie, I will be sore for days from your spin/barre classes, thank you! (KC peeps go take her classes at Mojo and Bar Method!)
If you’re still reading…
That’s about all I got folks. I am so thrilled that I passed, but now your girl’s got a lot more learning to do in between acting gigs.
As always, cheers! And if you can get your hands on a glass or bottle of Austrian Strohmeier Schilcher Pet Natbuy it! It’s a tart sparkling rosé that reminds me of the soda Squirt- you’ll get those good grapefruit notes, but also sour cherry. It’s dry as hell and super refreshing!! Like a tart version of a good Italian soda.