Summer is HERE, friends! And I’ve got an an awesome new beach read for you, perfectly paired with some delightful Argentine wines! You might know that I’m part of a bunch of wine writer groups, and one of my friends (I’m lookin’ at you, Cam!) hooked us up with copies of a wonderful new book entitled, Sobremesa: a Memoir of Food and Love in 13 Courses by Josephine Caminos Oria.
And to complete the “words with wine,” we received samples of two Argentines wines to go with the book for the perfect pairing: wine and good reads (thanks, Kobrand!)
Let’s start at the beginning. Sobremesa is an Argentine word that means “table talk” — time spent at the table, sharing stories — all of the collective conversations that happen throughout a meal, often after the plates have been cleared and a hand or two is reaching for another bottle of wine. It’s the very essence of any good gathering! The sobremesa is where so many heartfelt conversation happen in the book and it just makes you want to fill your own table with great food and wine and friends and family.
The book is a memoir tracing the story of Josephine Caminos Oria and her large Argentine family, who split their time between Pittsburgh, Miami Beach and of course, Argentina. I won’t lie – I haven’t finished the book yet (I didn’t want to race through it because I’m savoring every page like a good empanada!) but I can tell you this: it’s one of the better memoir / cookbooks I have read (and I have read a lot of them). The writing is excellent, the stories keep you riveted and each chapter focuses around a beloved family recipe.
Having visited Argentina in 2006, I’ve been a fan of the food and wine from that country for years. I love a great piece of grilled meat with chimichurri (the herb-and-garlic-packed sauce built around olive oil and vinegar), and I’ve made my own empanadas (including the dough … I kind of wanted to shoot myself on that one, but they did turn out delicious).
Now, I have to confess that I made a critical error on part of this grilled steak adventure (hey, you live and learn, right?) – in that I bought a jar of dried herbs for the chimichurri (at least I got it from an Argentine grocery in my neighborhood) and I did not like it. Waaaaay to damn garlicky – ack! I should’ve just bought the fresh chimichurri from Tango Sur, my favorite Argentine restaurant. (Abeula Dorita, from the book, is cringing right now, I know.) But the meat was good and the wine was REALLY good, so I didn’t suffer too much!
Bodega Norton Privada Family Blend 2016 ($22) This big, bold red gushes with stewed black cherries and plums with a fresh herbal note (eucalyptus, I think), and an outline of cedar and pencil shavings. It’s rich and luxurious and cuts right through the fat of a great grilled steak to explode on your palate like a symphony of black, brambly fruits in a forest. I loved it! It’s a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot from some of Norton’s oldest vineyards (from 50-90 years old!) You can find this pretty widely online (wine.com, Wine Express, even Costco), so I would say, go get some, pick up a steak while you’re at it, and go nuts!
This wine would probs be delish with Mom’s Mushroom Sandwich described in Sobremesa (page 75) or the Beef Milanesa (page 118)
Bodega Norton Reserva Chardonnay 2019 ($20) Well, I love a Chardy Party any day, all the time, so I was excited to taste this one, and it is glorious! It’s loaded with ripe, sunny citrus and a rush of juicy tropical fruit in a nice medium-bodied texture. The winemaker exercised some nice restraint on the oak use, making this wine light, bright, lithe and lovely. It really wakes up your palate, and is super food friendly.
And fine, as long as we’re telling the truth, I paired this with a non-Argentine dish because… well, I just did. But now that I’m practically licking the pages of this book, I would pair it with the Ensalada de Palmitos con Salsa Golf (page 59), which is a hearts-of-palm salad (God, how I love them – just like Josephine’s mother!) with an Argentine dressing that blends mayo, mustard, ketchup, heavy cream and lemon juice and I am totally making it!
It would also be absolutely divine with the Tarta Pascualina, or Spinach and Egg Easter Pie (page 244)
But because I hadn’t gotten to those recipes in the book yet, I paired this delish Chard with Cauliflower Toast – and it was divine, but most definitely not Argentine! (It’s roasted cauliflower mixed with mascarpone, shredded Gruyère and chopped Prosciutto, piled onto toasted bread and broiled til bubbly.)
If you are looking for a great summer read that is heart-warming and sure to inspire you to cook some delicious dishes and gather your friends and family at the table – because we can now (if you’re vaxxed!), I highly recommend Sobremesa! You can purchase it here.
If you’re interested in the wines, try wine.com or ask your local wine merchant for them. Cheers, friends – and buon provecho!