It’s nearing the end of tomato season here in California and I’m always sad when this time comes. Soon, I won’t be able to simply walk outside, pick a plump favorite off the bush and maw on it with fervor. My husband professes that I have a freakish love for these nightshades and I unabashedly admit it — they are a perfect fruit that acts like a vegetable. Tomato sauce, Caprese salad, simply sliced with salt/pepper or in these recipes featuring tomatoes — I wallow in the beautiful yellow, red and green orbs all summer. I’ve been developing this paleo friendly gazpacho soup lately since this year’s massive crop has lent itself to tons of experimentation. The ingredient list might look long but this uncooked blender soup comes together in about 15-20 minutes. How easy is that? Add cooked shrimp to make it a complete meal.
Read more: Recipe: Paleo Friendly Gazpacho Soup
Back in 2007, when I was a full-time wine journalist, I spent a couple of days hanging around Flora Springs, a family-owned winery in Napa Valley. Sean Garvey, 3rd generation and a babe in the woods at the time, showed me around and expounded on the beauty of Napa Valley Merlot. So warm and welcoming, the Garvey and Kome families still hold a place in my treasured wine memories. They likely don’t know this, but, even after almost 10 years, I still recommend their wine and winery to Napa visitors. Because they’re awesome people with solid wines.
Read more: Wine review: Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot 2014
Rosés are my “thing” in summer (well, anytime, actually) but great wines aren’t just going to land in my lap — research is needed. And foresight, since the best Sonoma County rosé wines sell out quickly. I already missed the window at some wineries, like Cartographe Wines in Healdsburg, but maybe I can glom on to someone else’s forethought to buy some of theirs? Here’s hoping! On my journey to find the tastiest Sonoma County rosés, I did not want for incredibly fruit-forward, bone dry, well-balanced pink stuff in my ‘hood. I tasted my way through eight or so wineries (I could have gone to a lot more but I ran out of space in my wine racks and wallet) and uncovered many summer-worthy finds. But here’s the rub… you generally won’t find any of these on wine shelves, except maybe around Sonoma County, so you’ll need to order direct from the source.
Read more: Exploring the best damn Sonoma County rosé wines
Five ingredients… big, bang, boom. And this easy grilled zucchini is a simple pleasure anyone can afford and enjoy. With the brilliant advent of grill pans, non-stick or pre-seasoned cast iron, even those without a patio or with an evil, restrictive homeowners’ association can get in on some kitchen grilling action. One of the ingredients is a “luxury” item, lemon- or lime-infused olive oil, but worth investing in for salad dressing and drizzling over pretty much any vegetable, from steamed asparagus to sliced tomatoes. This recipes serves 2 people.
Read more: Easy grilled zucchini recipe with fresh basil
It ain’t easy being the underdog. When you have Chianti and Brunello as your big brothers and Super Tuscans as your sophisticated sister, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has to do a lot to get attention. Add to that some pretty tough Italian regulations about growing, blending and a helluva long name, it’s been a tough marketing road for this small, 76-producer, sub-region of Tuscany. But they’re making a delicious go of it with Sangiovese as the king pin. Established in 1966, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOC (Demonimazione di Origine Controllata) is comprised of 3,100 planted acres in the southeastern section of Tuscany, about 65 kilometers south of Siena. But grapes and wine have been in this region for millennia, with documents proving vineyards dating back to 790 AD. In 1980, the region was awarded a G on the DOC (Demonimazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), making them among the elite wine growing regions in Italy. This year marks their 50th anniversary of being recognized with quality Italian wine.
Read more: The new (old) wines of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
For me, breakfast is the most difficult part of adjusting to a whole foods lifestyle. No cereal or grains pretty much limits a lot of options. On AIP, a regimen I followed for 60 days to cure my food allergies, you can’t eat eggs and that kinda sucked, so I started experimenting. It was during AIP that I began developing this sweet potato hash recipe and still make it frequently as a satisfying breakfast or side dish. Thankfully, I learned I’m not allergy-sensitive to eggs and now serve it with a fried or poached egg on top (NB: many people are sensitive to eggs and don’t know it). This sweet potato hash is Paleo and Whole30 compliant too. Enjoy!
Read more: Sweet potato hash recipe: Paleo, AIP, Whole30 approved
Founded in 1980 as a partnership by Glen Browne and Brit visionary Tony Cartlidge, Cartlidge and Browne began as a négociant-type winery. The young entrepreneur Cartlidge searched the North Coast of California to sniff out vineyards that spoke to him and the type of wine he wanted to make. Instead of investing in fancy digs and hoopla, the partners sunk money into high quality grapes and a fairly simple garage winemaking facility in Napa Valley. Thus, the brand was born. Fast forward over 30 years later when their well-founded success was rewarded in 2011, they sold to a company called Vintage Wine Estates who has thankfully not ruined what the partners established.
Read more: Wine review: Cartlidge and Browne 2013 Merlot
Loads of bullshit surround how to take care of your health. I’ve learned that it’s crucial to dig deep into research papers and studies, especially who paid for them. Kinda hard to believe the results of a study on the benefits of caffeine when it’s sponsored by the coffee industry. This hasn’t happened (to my knowledge) but it’s happened in numerous other industries, from cigarettes to pharmaceuticals. But here are a few healthy guidelines which are, indeed, vetted and real. Some are pretty tasty too.
Read more: Five helpful health guidelines
If you own a slow cooker, a four ingredient slow cooker pork roast is as easy as it gets: place ingredients in the pot and turn it on. Eight hours later, you have an amazing outpouring of pork love. Doubling or halving the recipe is simple too… it shrinks and expands with the poundage of your Boston butt or pork shoulder. Both of these are the recommended pork cuts you should seek out for their delicious fat content.
Read more: 4 ingredient slow cooker pork roast
I still remember when I set eyes on Oregon’s wine country, Willamette Valley. It smelled of perfumey Pinot Noir… wafting up through the vineyards, wineries and through my hotel window. It was harvest of 2007 and I fell in love. With Oregon Pinot Noir. The love continues to this day. Willamette (rhymes with “dammit”) Valley is the main grape-growing area and one of the first wine regions (AVA) established in Oregon. It’s about an hour south of Portland, straddling the mountainous coastline. A major reason for Willamette’s success is the vast temperature fluctuations during the spring and summer growing season, allowing the fruit to develop acids — a crucial element in creating complexity in wine, especially Pinot. Over the years, distinct winegrowing regions have emerged and now the state has 17 AVAs that wineries often indicate on the bottle to educate customers. But many keep Willamette Valley on the label because they’re likely blends of several AVAs.
Read more: Impressive Oregon Pinot Noir