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Feb 22, 2010 10:57 AM

What should food should I make for a BYO Zinfandel tasting party?

As a fundraiser for my son's preschool, we're hosting a BYO blind Zin tasting - guests bring 1 or more bottles per person, we pour, they score, then reveal.

My job is to provide food - all the guests have been advised to eat before coming, since this isn't intended to be a meal - and I could use some suggestions / feedback on a selection of tasty things to offer

Stuff to know:

- I'd like it all to be premade, since this is also the big party night for the other kid's school, RSVP'd to long ago, and the other hosts will be busy with glasses, etc.

- Looks like around 20 guests? no solid number yet

- Need to consider that a number of the attendees are vegetarian

- I can get to San Francisco easily for pre-made items, but I'm fine with making most stuff myself since I cooked professionally for ~20 yrs

Some ideas so far:

- fried chickpeas with thyme & pepper
- fine chopped mushroom & onion saute with sour cream on toasts (maybe let them spread themselves so toast doesn't get soggy)
- leeks with vinaigrette
- platter of meats from Boccalone, esp. a good amt of 'njuda
- proper lasagne (meaning many many layers of delicate pasta, maybe with a pork & chard filling - most of those years cooking were with Italians)
- I have a lovely pork shoulder to slow cook, but don't know how it would do presliced & cooled off, since we usually eat it warm
- escarole salad with nuts, creamy dressing (ala Savoy & Otto NYC this last week)
- rich chocolate dessert
- cookies, maybe with fennel seed?


Any flavors I should consider working in?

Thanks for your suggestions....

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  1. Usually anything grilled or bbq goes well with a red Zinfandel. Are you tasting white zins as well??

    Do you have a chafing dish? You could slow roast your pork shoulder, and then shred it, sauce it, and serve warm in dish with small biscuits or slider buns cut in half for guests to make their own mini pulled pork sliders.

    I would make the lasagne vegetarian since that's pretty easy to do. Use some wild mushrooms to give it a meatier texture.

    If you want to do a meat at room temp, I would suggest a beef tenderloin roast, or even leg of lamb. Boneless is faster on the grill, then you can slice thinly and serve with usual greek & middle eastern accompaniments.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Phurstluv

      Oooh! I like the shredded pork with biscuits idea - it would hold well and be a big flavored, substantial dish. And probably very popular with the wine

      The lasagne is great when I do a very light tomato sauce + cheese between the layers ; if the pork dish is robust, I can do a lighter filling for the lasagne


      1. re: Phurstluv

        the lamb and roast are great ideas. I might suggest using a tri tip roast.

        1. re: Phurstluv

          Classic Burgundian accompaniment to red wine - and it goes VERY well with Zinfandel! - is gougeres, a kind of cheese puff. They require some vigorous arm work, though I think you could use a paddle mixer for the finishing part. Goes like this:


          From "Saveur Cooks French", with modifications:

          8 Tbs butter, cut into pieces
          3/4 cup milk, divided

          1 cup flour
          1/2 tsp cayenne
          1/2 tsp dry mustard
          1/2 tsp mace (original calls for nutmeg - you choose)
          salt and pepper

          4 large eggs
          1 1/2 cup grated Comté or other gruyère, divided

          Whisk together flour and seasonings. Heat 1/2 cup of the milk and all the butter in a pan until the milk boils and the butter melts. Remove pan from heat and dump in flour mixture all at once, then beat vigorously until paste pulls away from sides of pan. Return to heat, stir vigorously for one minute. Remove pan from heat and allow paste to cool to room temperature.

          Preheat oven to 400º. Beat eggs into paste, one at a time, until all are absorbed and dough is glossy. Fold 1 cup of the cheese into dough. With a plain tube on a pastry bag or with a spoon, lay the paste in small mounds on a nonstick baking sheet (or use Silpat or parchment) about 1" apart. Brush tops with reserved milk, then top with reserved cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes, then turn off heat and allow gougeres to dry out for a few minutes. Serve from a linen-lined basket.

        2. my thought is short ribs... BBQ... with this sauce...

          or perhaps a pork loin roasted with olive oil, garlic, thyme and sage...

          either served with polenta or potatoes with a mushroom ragout

          sauteed swiss chard

          celery root puree

          would you be interested in a light soup to start?

          i think a citrus glazed cake might be nice to finish along with some fruit salad tossed with lime honey?