A little Roxy Music humor, to celebrate the tastiest meal I’ve cooked in quite a while. The Long Suffering Husband was dispatched to the market with instructions to buy something “different,” and he came home with $18 worth of morels (about four decent-sized ones). I was a bit skeptical. The last time I used morels, they were tiny and not very flavorful. And who knows how long these had sat in the store? They felt a bit dry.
Still, I consulted some recipes, and concluded right away that it had to be pasta with a cream sauce. I rinsed and sliced the shrooms, which are odd-looking little guys, like penises equipped with brains. The ultimate contradiction, right? I tossed them in a pan with some chopped onion (not having shallots on hand), garlic, and plenty of butter.
After sautéing these bits, I put in a splash of wine (more on that below), sprinkled some flour over, and used one part vegetable broth and one part half-and-half cream to make the sauce. Once it thickened, some wilted baby spinach and a grating of Bellavitano cheese finished the dish.
We paired it with an interesting choice: Santa Barbara Wine Company Chardonnay 2009. This is a wine we bought for half price from a store trying to get rid of its older stock (original price, $17.99). Usually this is a mistake. Unless they are made to lay down, most white wines are over the hill after a few short years. And the passage of time increases the chance that any wine will oxidize due to leaks in the seal. But chardonnays do age rather well, we have found. A really mature chardonnay has a distinctive, rich, mellow flavor, like buttery toast with a char on it. It is a rare pleasure.
The Santa Barbara Wine Company has since changed its name to “The Santa Barbara Collection,” making itself sound like an upscale shopping center or a section in a department store. Ugh. But I wouldn’t mind trying more of their wines.
This bottle was pleasingly dry and had plenty of acidity to stand up to the cream in the sauce. Tasting notes online show that the wine originally had more citrus and floral notes, which have since transformed to deeper, more caramel-like flavors. Still bursting with flavor after seven years, it was a perfect match for the shrooms. The morels turned out to be powerful, yet delicate. Nowhere near as overwhelming as shiitake or porcini, and yet they permeated the dish. I understand why people become fanatical about hunting them down.