It is the middle of the hottest month of summer, and our apple tree is heavy with fruit. Yesterday, there were too many apples to ignore, so I snapped a dozen of them off their branches and chopped them up for applesauce. While the fruit was simmering, I wandered out to the garden and found some good-sized peppers, cherry tomatoes, bright green basil, and flowering oregano. I had an eggplant, zucchini and onion from the local farmers’ market. I was just a few mushrooms short of a ratatouille, as, I have no foraging friends, and we live in the very arid desert. With the addition of some olive oil, sea salt and garlic, the ratatouille was delicious even without the fungus.
Barbara Kingsolver, in her book, Animal, Vegetable and Miracle, defines ‘eating local’ as within a 250 mile radius. The bulk of my dinner came from within a few yards of my kitchen. But I would have to cross the Sierra for the wine. Lucky for me, there is some wonderful wine country within my 250 mile radius. Last night took me to Amador County in the Sierra foothills. Terra d’Oro makes a delicious Barbera. It has a nice vibrancy to it that played well off the ratatouille. But the warmth of the Amador sun gave those berries a fruity lushness that rounded out the wine really nicely. The flavor of dark cherries with just a hint of oak, a little acidity and not too much heat gave the wine a nice balance that was lovely to sip on a warm summer evening.
Eating locally in the summertime is an absolute pleasure. The burgeoning carts at the local farmers’ markets along with my messy, fruitful garden gives us lots of color and choice in our meals. I don’t feel limited at all. Even though 250 miles puts me within range of the Sierra foothills as well as Napa and most of Sonoma, I would hate to be limited to drinking locally. Part of the appeal of wine for me is the opportunity to taste wine from all over the world. Each bottle is like an invitation to come sit at the vintner’s table in a far off village in Australia or Chile or France. It’s not just a glass of wine. It’s a little piece of someone’s culture, tradition and land. Drinking globally is a beautiful way to see the world.