Magazine article Sunset

Wine Country Pool Party

Magazine article Sunset

Wine Country Pool Party

Article excerpt

When a winemaker barbecues, the tri-tip's a corker

Even though Erik Olsen is the winemaker at mammoth Clos du Bois Winery in Sonoma Countyone of the leading producers of Chardonnay in the United States (about a million cases of it)-the value of wine for him lies in good times with family, friends, and great food.

"Dad, look, I can do a backflip!" demands 5-yearold Alexandra Tett. Her friend Caroline Olsen, age 6, is an avid witness, while their brothers, Porter and Christian (3 and 4, respectively), are more interested in sucking unlucky insects into their new bug viewer.

With the kids absorbed in water matters, their parents attend to oyster and Pinot Grigio detail. Erik and his wife, Deborah, have joined their friends David and Carolyn Tett at their home in die hills overlooking Dry Creek Valley in Healdsburg, California, for the afternoon. "I'm always the guy at the barbecue," explains Erik. Today he's grilling a tri-tip roast marinated in Shiraz; bell peppers dunked in the same sauce are sizzling alongside.

Parts of this spread cater to more sophisticated palates-those oysters on die half-shell, for instance, with a rice vinegar, cilantro, shallot, andjalapeno sauce. Others are designed for the kids: an appetizer platter of melons, mangoes, snap peas, and cucumber for dipping into yogurt mixed with honey and lime. A retro macaroni salad in a tangy, old-fashioned boiled dressing goes bodi ways.

When the tart crowned with peaches and blueberries comes out, Alexandra misapplies a cliché, but nails the point: "It looks so good I could eat it!"

Shiraz-Soy Tri-Tip

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 35 minutes, plus at least 2 hours to marinate

MAKES: 8 to 10 servings

NOTES: Brush some of the marinade on bell peppers and onions; grill them next to the meat for about 15 minutes. (Stop brushing on marinade at least 5 minutes before veggies are done, so heat can kill any bacteria from meat.)

WINE: A fruity Shiraz or Syrah (the same grape) with a hint of sweet pipetobacco smoke.

¾ cup Shiraz (Syrah) wine

2/3 cup soy sauce

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons Worcestershire

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1½ teaspoons minced garlic

1 beef tri-tip (about 2½ lb.), fat trimmed, rinsed and patted dry

1. In a gallon-size zip-lock plastic bag, combine Shiraz, soy sauce, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire, mustard, and garlic. Add tri-tip and seal bag. Chill at least 2 hours or up to 1 day, turning occasionally.

2. Lightly oil a barbecue grill over a solid bed of medium coals or medium heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 4 to 5 seconds). Lift tri-tip from marinade and lay on hot grill; discard marinade. Close lid on gas grill. Cook tri-tip, turning every 5 minutes, until rare in center of thickest part (still pink; cut to test), 125° to 130° on a diermometer, about 25 minutes, or until as done as you like.

3. Let meat rest 5 minutes, then cut across the grain into thin, slanting slices.

Per serving: 151 col., 38% (57 cal.) from fat; 21 g protein; 6.3 g fat (1.9 g sat.); 0.8 g carbo (0 g fiber); 342 mg sodium; 59 mg chol.

Farmers' Market Salad

PREP TIME: About 20 minutes

MAKES: 8 to 10 servings

In a salad bowl, whisk together ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon minced shallot. Add 4 quarts rinsed and crisped salad greens; 2 cups red flame grapes, cut in half; 1 cup toasted walnut halves; and 1 cup crumbled blue cheese (3 oz. …

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