Summer may be coming to a close, and pumpkins are already everywhere, but there's still plenty of time for one more delicious warm-weather meal, served on the patio with a chilled white and a sunset on the side.
We could make like the Mazzas did in August, when a group of 35 wine experts from the Palatinate wine region in Germany, touring the eastern Canadian and U.S. grape-growing regions, stopped off in North East because among the group was Helmut Kranich, who started work there as the Mazzas' first winemaker in 1972.
The winemakers joined the Mazza family and team members for a dinner Aug. 7 when they opened a bottle of "traminer" (gewürtztraminer) from 1973.
Mario Mazza, who is running the majority of the Mazza operations now that his father, Robert Mazza, has semi-retired, said the visit with Kranich was a special night.
"Speaking for my dad, it was nice for them to see each other, and reconnecting with someone integral on starting something for us," Mario Mazza said. "On a second level, as winemakers, it was special as well." He said the German contingent visited Chautauqua Cellars as well as Five&20 Spirits in Westfield, New York.
"It was very much an educational trip," Mario Mazza said.
Dan Kern, chef of Bird, the cafe at Mazza's Five&20 Spirits, offered two recipes designed to pair with Mazza's riesling and gewürtztraminer: Shrimp Ceviche and Crispy Thai Chicken.
The Shrimp Ceviche goes well with the riesling because "the citrus and mineral notes of the wine would work very well with the green, herbaceous and acidic elements of the ceviche," Kern said.
The Crispy Thai Chicken goes with Mazza Chautauqua Cellars' gewürtztraminer, "whose floral aromas and off-dry finish is an amazing pair to the heat of the chiles umami flavors."
Well, then. I can say for sure that both the ceviche (seh-VEECH-ay, a dish where the shrimp is "cooked" in lime juice for a couple of hours) and the chicken wings (marinated and deep fried) were out-of-sight delicious, and they were both very good with the bottle of riesling I opened for dinner the night I made them. And I just might make them again. Because summer ain't over yet.
Four things I learned:1. Ceviche is made by "denaturing" shrimp or fish in citrus juice. "Denaturing" means breaking and rearranging the chains of amino acids in a protein, which is the same thing that happens when you cook it with heat. It's kind of amazing. I chopped my raw shrimp and poured the lime juice over it and stuck the mixture in the fridge. When I pulled it out two hours later, the shrimp was whitish pink and firm, just as if I'd sauteed or grilled it.
It's important to use seafood that's really fresh for ceviche because this method of "cooking" does not destroy bacteria. Many people make ceviche by partially cooking their seafood before soaking it in the lime juice. Just don't cook it all the way, or you're defeating the purpose of the citrus soak.
Also, make sure to rinse the shrimp after soaking so the lime flavor is not overpowering.
2. Kern called for 8 ounces of Goya mango juice. Sounds like a reasonable request. I just wandered into the Latin American section and found the Goya juice section and — found an empty spot on the shelf where the mango juice was supposed to be. Hmmmm. So I began to wander. To the Indian aisle, the natural food section, to the juice section, the beverage section, the refrigerated section, back to the Latin American section. A gazillion square feet of groceries and no mango juice? I refused to accept defeat.
Finally, on my third pass through the Indian section, after a long scan, there, on the bottom shelf, I found a 32-ounce carton of mango juice and lifted it in the air like my fist at a rock concert. I didn't even care if someone was watching.3. I needed the mango juice, well, at least 8 ounces of it, for the "aguachile," a bright-green sauce for the ceviche made with the juice, a jalapeño and cilantro. It pulled the whole thing together: The shrimp, cucumber, avocado and red onion, making almost a chopped salad out of it all. Once I had the salt and pepper balanced, the dish was positively addictive.
We didn't have any warm tortillas, like the recipe says, on account of I thought we had tortillas at home and we didn't. So we just ate this stuff out of bowls with a fork. Wait. Stop. I have to stop thinking about this stuff. It's making me hungry.
4. As for the Crispy Thai Chicken, these are spicy marinated chicken wings. Mine weren't terribly spicy because I also overestimated my home supply of red chile paste. But that didn't keep them from being devoured by the two hungry young men I was feeding. They made such short work of them, I almost didn't get to taste them myself. I got one. I want more.
I used fresh wings, which came whole, so they needed to be separated at the joint, a technique which I have not perfected. First I bend them between the drumstick and the flat wing portion until I feel something come loose and then run a knife through the middle of the joint. It works, but it's ugly to watch and probably not entirely safe. It might be better to buy them already separated, even if that means they're frozen and you have to thaw them out first. Just DO NOT put frozen wings in hot oil. That could start a grease fire which would seriously screw up your day.
Shrimp Ceviche with Aguachile1 pound of wild shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed12 limes, divided use8 ounces mango juice1 bunch cilantro, washed to remove sand, divided use1 jalapeñoKosher salt and freshly ground black pepperExtra-virgin olive oil1 seedless cucumber, diced1 avocado, diced1 small red onion, juliennedWarm tortillas
Using very fresh shrimp, rinse shrimp and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Juice 10 limes over shrimp, stir and place covered in a refrigerated space for 2 hours.
While shrimp is curing, place mango juice, ½ bunch of cilantro, juice of 2 limes and jalapeño in a blender. Blend until bright green and smooth, seasoning at the end with salt and pepper. Reserve the aguachile in the refrigerator until needed.
To finish the dish, pour off lime juice from shrimp and rinse lightly in cold water. In a bowl with the shrimp add a tablespoon of olive oil, cucumber, avocado, red onion, picked cilantro leaves. Mix delicately and season with salt and pepper and place on the middle of a plate or shallow bowl. Pour the aguachile around shrimp and serve with warm tortillas.— Dan Kern, Bird
Crispy Thai Chicken2 pounds medium-size chicken wings (about 12), split at the joint8 garlic cloves, peeled1 teaspoon kosher salt¼ cup warm water½ cup fish sauce½ cup soy sauce½ cup superfine sugar1 tablespoon fermented red chile paste (found in Asian section)1 tablespoon sambal oelek chile paste (optional if you desire more heat)Vegetable oil (for frying)1 bunch of cilantro1 seedless cucumberIn a large bowl combine chicken, garlic, salt, water, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and red chile paste and sambal oelek chile paste if using. Place covered in a refrigerator covered for 3 hours to marinate.
30 minutes before eating, remove the chicken from the fridge and drain off marinade really well. Heat vegetable oil in a dutch oven or small fryer to 350 F.
With tongs and being extremely careful, place chicken a wing at a time in hot oil and fry until crispy and cooked through to 165 F. Place on a plate with sliced cucumber and garnish with cilantro leaves.— Dan Kern, Bird— Jennie Geisler can be reached on Twitter: @ETNGeisler.