The Easter weekend is just past, and regardless of one’s religious traditions surrounding this holiday, this time of the year is about Spring, rebirth and the renewal of life. In Wine Country the vineyards are starting to come back to life, with buds swelling and some new shoots breaking out of their hibernation and growing toward the sunlight.
For me this past weekend has always been about family and the tradition of enjoying Spring-inspired meals around the family dinner table. One of my most cherished memories of an Easter family meal comes courtesy of my adopted family in France. I spent a considerable amount of time living and working there.
One year I was invited to spend the Easter holiday out on the Brittany coast in a village called Ploubazlanec. The prefix “Plou” in the Breton language means Parish, and many of the towns throughout this area begin that way.
The weekend was a stunning culinary adventure, with each evening being hosted by a different group of the invitees. Our night we prepared fresh, steamed shrimp and broiled lobster, sourced from the nearby port town where the fishermen would come to shore and sell that day’s catch.
The standout meal of the weekend, though, was the Sunday dinner that started with spiny lobster (langouste). We don’t see this kind of lobster very often and it was delicious. And then, as is so often the way in France, just when you think you understand what the meal was about – it’s main course, so-to-speak – they wow you with the next round.
An entire roasted leg of lamb came out. It had been roasted in concert with about two pounds of butter and dried plums. It was to die for. The French speak of the beurre de Bretagne as the best butter that can be found anywhere, due to the local salt used in the process, and the milk of the local cows. There, I’ve just linked another agricultural product to terroir: butter also shows terroir.
Finally, no meal in France would be complete without an abundance of great wine. Our troop had brought in many white wines from the Loire region, which we had passed on the drive over from Paris. I remember some Saumur and Muscadet wines that were phenomenal with the seafood. We were also flush with Bordeaux wines to go with the lamb.
I, personally, love to pair roast lamb with Merlot. The Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Merlot would have paired incredibly well with that roasted leg of lamb. The bright acidity would have cut right through the fat of the lamb meat, and the racy fruit would have danced with the dried plums.
So, after reminiscing about all these wonderful food and wine memories, of course we ate lamb yesterday.