Everybody has some fall-back meals. Easy things that you keep the ingredients for in the pantry. For me, quesadillas and nachos involve having chips or wheat tortillas on hand, and some tasty cheese. From there on out is where it gets interesting.
I was invited to make a salsa at the Mill City Market’s Salsa Fest, and I was mulling over my options. Sure, tomatoes are great right now. But I think your average locavore has been making tomato salsa for a while now. Gazing over at some lovely local cantaloupe that I had handy, I thought, hey, I make a great melon salsa. Adding to my inspiration was a bottle of wine that had been given to me by a friend who knew that I was seeking out great local finds.
The wine, a Frontenac Gris from the St Croix Vineyards, was a white, described as having notes of peach and pineapple. Hmm, a fruity combo, one that might just accent my fruity salsa and cheesy nachos perfectly.
St Croix Vineyards is located out by Stillwater, on Manning avenue, and they have a tasting room for anyone who wants to come on out. It’s right next to Aamodts apple farm, which also offers all sorts of apple tastings as well, so if you are in the mood for a Napa-style tour of the scenic area over by the river, its a great destination.
So, I made my cantaloupe salsa, adjusting the acidity, adding some jalapenos from my garden. Opening the wine, we poured some and gave a sniff. All that fruit was there, and then some. A sip revealed a little sweetness, so I added a drizzle of local honey to my salsa to keep them even. I scattered my Whole Grain Milling corn chips on a platter, and grated a lively blend of Cow Caviar Cheddar and some Stravecchio for an aged tang. The cheeses and some scallions made a toasty blanket over the chips after a few minutes in the oven.
So how was it? The salty, savory chips, the sweet and fruity wine and the sweet and sour salsa were a great summer meal. The quaffable wine and the munchable chips kept our tastebuds jumping, and the nutty cheese brought it all back to earth.
If you are a locavore who has not tried local wines, give them a shot. The U of M and the local winemakers put alot of effort into making grapes that will flourish in our decidedly not-Napa environs.
Try my salsa, or come see me make it at Mill City Saturday, 8/28 at 10 AM.
Depending on the sweetness of your melon, you may need more lime, or a drizzle of honey.
1 1/2 cups finely chopped cantaloupe
1-2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro or mint, chopped
2 chopped scallions
1 pinch salt
Stir the ingredients together and adjust for taste, think about the meal and the wine and make it sweeter for a sweeter wine, or add more lime for a dryer wine.