My favorite eating season is always the next one. In fall, all I can think of is icy, cold nights with big bowls of wine braised beef, platters of raw oysters, and gumbos studded with andouille. In the dead of winter, I crave green fava beans tossed in mint, chili, and salty cheese sitting alongside crusty lamb chops. Springtime brings on urges to grill corn and toss it with plump Creole tomatoes, slivers of jalapeno, shallot, and lime juice to go with crusty skirt steaks coated in garlic. And now that summer is here, naturally all I want to eat is bowls of crimson colored chili, cornbread, and platters of pork.
Which is how I found myself roasting a pork tenderloin coated in rosemary, garlic, and lemon zest on what was an otherwise scorching summer day. Also, into the oven went a fluffy, filling spoonbread straight out the Frank Stitt playbook. Wishful thinking, I guess.
Of course, Mad Max's selection made this brief journey to fall even more enjoyable. Bob Foley has been handcrafting wines in Napa long enough to be able to do whatever he wants. In his 2008 "The Griffin" he combines a few traditional California grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with some less well known varietals, Petite Syrah and Charbono. The result is a wine with fruity berries and well-rounded spice which retails for $29.99. You can find it at August, NOLA, Le Meritage, Delechaise, Bouche, Martin's Wine Cellar, Acquistapace, Wine Country Bistro, and Calandro's. Note: the next morning, I was reminded it is still summer with the red wine foggies.
Roasted Pork Loin and Spoonbread
In a mortar and pestle, food processor, or blender combine, 3 cloves of garlic, a good three fingers pinch of fresh rosemary, a pinch of dried oregano, 3 pinches salt, the zest of one lemon, and peppercorns. Drizzle in a quarter cup of olive oil and blend until smooth. Rub this all over your pork loin and let it sit for about an hour or more. You can tie it up or not.
Heat a cast iron skillet to just smoking and then sear the loin on all sides. Then place in a 350 degree oven until cooked to your desired doneness. I like my pork to be blushing like Bloggle at a red head convention. Allow meat to rest, the slice into quarter inch medallions. There should be some good juices in the pan. Adding say a touch of coarse mustard and some stock would be a good idea. Pour that jus on top.
For the spoonbread. Buy this cookbook. Seriously don't make me tell you again. You need to own that cookbook.
Here is to the quick arrival of fall, football, and the longing for winter.