Pairing in Paso: Tobin James "Blue Moon" Reserve Zinfandel paired with Mongolian Barbequed Lamb Chops by Celebrity Chef Cindy Pawlcyn
By Tina Swithin
Someone recently asked me for advice on “fun” wineries to visit when vacationing in the Paso Robles area. When I stop to ponder this, one winery in particular comes to mind. That winery is none other than Tobin James Cellars - located just eight miles east of Paso Robles on Highway 46 amongst 71 acres of gorgeous vineyards. Perhaps their website explains it best, “A magnificent setting for magnificent wines.”
When I think about Tobin James Cellars, I begin to reminisce about my first wine tasting experience almost ten years ago. Pulling your car into the parking lot of a winery for the very first time can be an intimidating experience. Not at Tobin James Cellars. I felt like I was entering a long forgotten era as I slowly pulled open the Western-style saloon doors and began to mosey up to the breathtaking, antique 1860’s Brunswick mahogany bar. The staff makes you feel right at home with their down-to-earth attitudes and charisma. The fun atmosphere isn’t the only thing bringing in gold medals. Over the years, gold medals have been pouring in as fast as the winery can pour wine.
Just when you think the staff at Tobin James Cellars can’t possibly be any more fun, I discovered that they host annual cruises. Imagine sailing the seas with celebrity guest chefs, exquisite food and wine. Could life be any better? I think not. If you’re like me and find yourself secretly wishing from afar that you were sailing the seas with the James Gang, I have the next best thing: a recipe delivered straight to you from a recent Tobin James Cellars cruise to the Caribbean with Celebrity Chef Cindy Pawlcyn.
Cindy Pawlcyn is considered to be a pioneer in the development of wine country cuisine and has a developed a national following. Cindy brought her 25 years of award winning cooking experience to the high seas and delighted everyone on board. Claire Silver, co-owner of Tobin James Cellars recently described the experience, “Chef Cindy's food pairings with our big reserve wines were the best I had ever enjoyed”. Claire was delighted to share the scrumptious, Mongolian Barbecued Lamb Chops recipe from Chef Pawlcyn that she paired with a 2007 “Blue Moon” Reserve Zinfandel from Tobin James Cellars.
The 2007 Blue Moon Reserve Zinfandel is a concentrated, complex wine and is known as the jammiest of all of Tobin’s Zinfandels. It has a deep, intense ruby color and the aroma of rich fruit and berries. This Zinfandel has a velvety mouth feel and a long, delicious finish that is rich with the perfect balance of fruit, spice and pepper.
If you can’t sail with the James Gang, at least you can pretend from the comfort of your own dining room. The best part – you won’t be bothered by sunscreen.
Mongolian Barbecued Lamb Chops
The chops are served like an hors d’oeuvre on a stick, except that here, the lamb chop’s bone is the stick. You should use only rib chops cut from the rack for this, and not the T-bone chops, and have your butcher “french” the chops for you. In a pinch, you can do this yourself: just scrape away all the fat and gristle to expose the last couple inches of bone on each chop. I prefer the taste of domestic lamb, which is a bit stronger than Australian or New Zealand lamb, but either will do. With domestic lamb chops, plan on one chop per person, or two at the most: with imported lamb, figure on two to three per person. Allow an extra day for marinating.
Eggplant is a great vegetarian alternative to the lamb chops. Chicken and pork tenderloin would both work well, too.
• 6 to 12 single-bone lamb rack or rib chops, frenched
• Mongolian Marinade (recipe follows)
• Chinese-Style Mustard Sauce- use 6 tablespoons (recipe follows)
• 1 cup loosely packed cilantro sprigs
• 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Place the lamb chops in a sealable plastic bag or shallow container and pour the marinade over them, making sure that all surfaces are liberally coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours, turning them occasionally.
To cook, grill over high heat to caramelize the outside, about 2 minutes at most on each side for medium-rare, longer if you like the meat well done, less if your grill is extremely hot.
To serve, lay the chops out on a long platter, with the bone ends sticking out so that your guests can easily grab them. Drizzle with mustard sauce, and sprinkle with cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons tamari
2 1/4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 1/4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 to 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, minced
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
3/4 teaspoon black bean chili sauce or hot garlic sauce
3/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 1/4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
For the marinade, whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a stainless steel or ceramic bowl.
Chinese-Style Mustard Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Colman’s mustard powder
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
For the mustard, combine the sugar and mustard powder in the top of a double boiler and mix with a whisk. Be sure to do this thoroughly, otherwise you will end up with lumpy mustard. When well combined, whisk in the egg yolk and vinegar. Cook over simmering water, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is thick enough to form ribbons when drizzled from the spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. When cool, fold in the crème fraîche. Keep refrigerated until needed.