Right in line with the popular proverb, March has come in like a lion this year. It may well go out like a lamb, but the bigger question is, “When exactly in the month will it start exhibiting lamb behavior?” By all accounts, the lamb-like weather is coming soon. This is great news. It gives us all the more reason to celebrate the three events coming up this month: St. Patrick’s Day, the First Day of Spring and Easter. Somehow, they’re more festive when the weather cooperates!
First up: St. Paddy’s. Do you need a break from green beer this year? We have a solution. We’ve decided to celebrate Ireland’s famous wild cherry trees this year. Yes, Ireland is famous for more than just whisky. For centuries, its wild cherry trees have been an abiding presence in the east and the midlands. And this month, you can find our newest release of Field Stone Cherry Fruit Wine back on the shelf! So be sure and get some! Over at Calgary Farmers Market, we will be featuring two fruit wines for 10% off . We’re open Thursday to Sunday from 9-5.
Of course our Cherry Fruit Wine pairs well with many great foods, not the least of which is appropriate for this month. Each March I think about traditional Irish food and bring out this foolproof and delicious recipe:
Traditional Irish Lamb Stew
• 3 to 4 lbs leg of lamb, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup chicken broth
• 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon thyme, crushed
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 2 cloves garlic, mashed & minced
• 4 medium potatoes, quartered
• 8 small white onions, peeled
• 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
• 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
• 1 cup milk
• 1/3 cup flour
Over medium heat, brown lamb in butter and oil in a large pot. Add water, broth, and seasonings; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove surface fat. Add potatoes and onion; simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add peas and simmer for 5 minutes. Combine milk and flour; stir until smooth. Add to simmering stew and simmer for about 1 minute, or until thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serves 6.
As one famous Irishman, George Bernard Shaw, once said, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” It seems to me he should have added, “… paired with a good wine.”…
Just a reminder that there is lots to be part of at Calgary Farmers’ Market’s St. Paddy’s weekend events. Enjoy live entertainment on the main stage, or guess how many coins fill the pot of gold with a chance to win $100 in Market Bucks! So put on some green, come on down and celebrate. For more information, visit www.calgaryfarmersmarket.ca. It promises to be a great time for all ages.
Of course, right on the heels of St. Paddy’s, we have the First Day of Spring – this year on Tuesday March 20th. One of my favourite days! Should you be looking for something special to toast the day, well, nothing ever says celebration quite like a Kir Royale. One ounce of Black Currant Dessert Wine and two ounces of Prosecco is all it takes to say “Hello Warm Weather”! Cheers!
I think it no coincidence that the first day of Spring shares the week with Calgary’s excellent wine event – The Spring Grape Escape. Held at the BMO Centre on Saturday, March 24th, this is Calgary Co-op’s signature tasting event beginning at 5pm. Truly one of Calgary’s favourite festivals, with over 100 booths and thousands of products to sample. It’s not just wine .. you can try local beer, spirits, cocktails and even nibbles from food trucks. Grape Escape sells out so get your tickets early online at www.coopwinespiritsbeer.com. Hope to see you there!
Finally, March brings us our most anticipated spring holiday – Easter! For many, it brings thoughts of tulips and daffodils, turkey and ham, accompanied with thoughts of Spring. As already mentioned, our latest release of Cherry Fruit Wine is now available, and ready to be paired with roasted ham on tables everywhere. Also, with the tremendous harvest of sour cherries in Alberta this past summer, I know many of you have a stash in your freezer. You may want to try this simple Cherry Sauce for a great little spice-up with your ham…
Sour Cherry Sauce
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup Wild Black Cherry Dessert Wine
1/4 cup minced shallot
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 cup chicken broth
1 pound sour cherries (about 3 cups), pitted
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
In a heavy saucepan boil the vinegar with the sugar over moderate heat until the mixture is reduced to a glaze. Add the wine, the shallot, and the cinnamon stick and boil the mixture til reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the broth and the cherries and simmer 5 minutes (more if you prefer a softer consistency). Stir the cornstarch mixture, add enough of it to the sauce, stirring, to thicken the sauce to the desired consistency, and simmer the sauce for 2 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick, stir in the lime juice and salt and pepper to taste, and keep the sauce warm, covered.
No matter what you serve this Easter, think about serving local fruit wines alongside. Don’t be afraid to try on a new pair! Nothing says “Spring” like the tastes of summer.
For more ideas on how to enjoy fruit wines all year round, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And if you have a new recipe to share, or a new pairing to tell us about, please get in touch. We’d love to share it!
Finally, in honour of all things Irish this month, I’d like to leave you with an Old Irish Blessing:
May you have only pleasant hours
To melt your cares away,
And the warmth of Irish laughter
To bring gladness to each day.
May your heart be light and happy
May your smile be big and wide
And may your pockets always have
A tinkle of gold inside.
Happy Paddy’s , Happy Spring, and Happy Easter everyone!
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