As the long hot growing season draws to a close, shorted days and cooler weather transform northern Michigan into a kaleidoscope of Autumn colors. This is my favorite time of year and the perfect time to visit farmer’s markets and wineries to enjoy the fruits the harvest. More than a decade ago, Jason and I would venture up to northern Michigan every late summer to pick apples and follow the wine trails, tasting and buying cases of wines for the winter. One winery that always stood out in particular was L. Mawby and their selection of spectacular sparkling wines. Though his methods are traditionally French, Larry’s irreverent approach to sparkling wines shines through in their styles. With names like Green, Fizz, and Sex, Larry produces some fun wines with seriously good qualities that have made them very popular across the Midwest, earning him a reputation for excellence in winemaking.
In June, I had the pleasure of meeting Larry at the Michigan Wine and Grape Counsil’s – Michigan Wine Showcase. It was my second year covering the event, but my first chance to meet with Larry and shake his hand, so I was quite delighted to see that he still offers some of my longtime favorites along with an extensive line of excellent bubbles I hadn’t tried before.
While visiting Sutton’s Bay recently I stopped by the winery for a tasting and was greeted by a room full of cheerful guests, the clinking of wine flutes and laughter filled the air. Larry himself came out to greet us and lead us to a table outside overlooking the vineyard where we sat down for a brief interview that will appear in an upcoming piece.
Over the next couple of weeks I will be featuring a few of Larry’s favorite wines paired with recipes featuring seasonal local ingredients. This week I have paired his Cremant Classic with caramelized figs, and roasted red d’Anjou and bartlett pears topped with a delicate crème anglaise and a dusting of nutmeg.
Crement Classic is made from 100% hand-picked Vignoles grapes pressed in whole clusters and fermented in stainless steel to produce bright fruit flavors, then blended with oak-aged reserve wines to present spicy and nutty character and then bottle fermented. The result is an astonishingly aromatic wine in a classical Brut style that pairs perfectly with caramelized fruits. Classically trained in literature, each of Larry’s wines feature a poem on the label inspired by his his time traveling around Europe. Cremant Classic features an interesting turn of verse that hints at the pleasures of uncorking (wine as well as life) and compares the bubbles in wine to stars in the night sky.
Roasted caramelized figs and pears with Crème Anglaise
2 d’Anjou or barlett pears (cut into 8 wedges each)
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
6 fresh figs, sliced in half
Preheat oven to 450’F. Place sliced pears in a bowl and combine brown sugar, gently covering all sides. Place prepared pears on a baking sheet and roast until tender (roughly 8-12 minutes). Add figs with the insides faced down and roast until soften for 2-3 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the crème anglaise (See below).
Once your vanilla cream custard is done divide your fruit among 4 serving bowls. Top with the vanilla cream custard and garnish with a dash of freshly grated nutmeg. Serve immediately.
Crème Anglaise à la Vanille (Vanilla Custard Cream)
(makes a little over 2 cups)
2 cups of milk
2 vanilla beans
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
Fill a medium saucepan with cold water and dump it out, do not wipe it dry; this will keep the milk from sticking as it cooks. Make a cold water bath either in a shallow pan or in your sink and add a medium bowl and fine strainer to it.
Add the milk to the saucepan. Slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the tiny seeds out into the milk. In a large saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla beans and cook over moderately low heat just until small bubbles appear around the rim, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat together the egg yolks and the sugar, using either a whisk or a handheld electric beater. Beat until the mixture is smooth, pale, and doubled in volume. The electric beater should take about 5 minutes.
Whisk in half of the hot half-and-half in a thin stream. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over low to moderate heat, stirring constantly and gently with a spoon or spatula, being sure to scrape the bottom of the saucepan to keep the mixture from sticking. Cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to bubble. Remove spatula and run a finger across it’s back; if the track remains (instead of being immediately covered by the cream), the custard is finished.
Strain the sauce into the bowl in the cold water bath to stop the cooking. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the sauce. Serve right away or refrigerate until chilled.