Wait a minute, is it September already?
I was just getting the hang of summer, those splendid harvests filling the farmers markets, fog-kissed mornings and glowing afternoons. But the light has already begun quickening its pace, shortening the days, and even the deer know enough to graze fast while there’s still enough spring water and tender greens.
Speaking of grazing, one of the signs that it’s truly September is the 2016 installment of Grazing on the Green, ready to spread its tents at Aptos Village Park on Saturday, Sept. 24. I’m telling you early so you can get in on the Early Bird ticket price of $65 per grazer. It all starts at noon (ends at 4 p.m.), and your admission includes special souvenir wine glass and an afternoon of food, wine and beer tasting. Why is this event special? Any event out on the meadow laden with artisanal foods, craft beers, and the finest in our local wines has got to be special. Sponsors Coke Farm and New Leaf Community Markets have provided lots of goodies, along with specialties from top chefs and varietals from more than 70 wineries. Those stats should have your attention. Some don’t miss pit-stops: Cremer House, Laura Chenel, Shadowbrook, Zameen, and sipping from Bargetto, Discretion Brewing, Hallcrest, Muns Vineyard, Odonata, Uncommon Brewers, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard—this is an action-packed afternoon for late-harvest tastebuds. Foodies must not miss! And it all goes to support the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG). $65 adv/$70 door.
Purchase tickets at sccbg.org or New Leaf Community Markets.
Nonna’s Sunday Gravy
A full-bodied grazie to Santa Cruz author Leslie Karst, whose culinary mystery novel Dying for a Taste provides (in addition to a classic whodunnit caper) a few authentic Italian recipes from her family treasury. Well, as a 100-percent Scots/Irish Norwegian (non-Italian) gal, I decided to take the challenge, and last week I opened Karst’s book to the two-page recipe for Nonna’s Sunday Gravy. Mmm, baby, this was going to be good. I started chopping up onions, garlic, herbs, pork chops, short ribs and Italian sausages to form the basic structure of this colossal pasta sauce. A true East Coast-style Sunday Gravy, this recipe is absolutely loaded with the kind of serious beef and pork that will simmer into splendor. There are many other ingredients, as well—but for those you’ll need to consult Karst’s book itself. So after I browned all of the ingredients, I let the deep crimson sauce bubble for three-and-a-half hours. The house smelled positively Mediterranean. Then I added a crucial step: I put the sauce in the refrigerator so that the next morning the fat could be skimmed from the top.
Thus defatted, the sauce was slowly heated up a second time. Now comes the most surprising part of what turned out to be a memorable dinner: I actually made gluten-free spaghetti as the foundation for the sauce. Made from rice flour, the pasta was from Jovial brand (rated tops by America’s Test Kitchen). The results blew us away and had completely authentic texture—though there was a missing je ne sais quoi, a third dimension in the pasta’s flavor that remained fugitive. C’e niente! The dish was fabulous, loaded with fork-tender bits of meat, and aromatic with lots of garlic and herbs. The recipe made enough for two dinners, and three more for the freezer, so it was worth a morning of chopping, cutting, browning—righteous kitchen activity. Grazie tanto Leslie—and to your nonna as well. lesliekarstauthor.com.