Here, There, and Everywhere

Inspiration can come at the most surprising times, from a variety of places. An idea takes seed, and in the right conditions, can flourish. What are those conditions? Who is to say? For me, it varies but usually requires a combination of space, time, and heart. Space to tumble around and gain momentum, time to plan and accomplish,  and a pull of the heart strings, the reason to pull it together.

In this circumstance, it was a visit from an old friend, a trip to the library (alone!) and a rainy school day. The forecast called for comfort. Company meant make ahead. I was thinking a tagine. Browsing the shelves in the cookbook section, I found Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. His photos alone can inspire even the most listless chef. Honey Roasted Carrots with Tahini yogurt looked divine. I thought the menu was planned.

But, as it often does here in Texas, the weather shifted. So a tagine became grilled chicken with lemon and herbs, the carrots remained. A starter of beet hummus and a salad with frisee, pumpkin seeds, and dried cherries. We had bubbles to celebrate my WSET Level 2, Armadillo’s Leap Viognier/Roussane blend and Pala I fiori Vermentino with dinner. The Vermentino was fun, crisp, citrus and green with interesting savory notes (mustard seed?) on the finish.



But there was one more idea I couldn’t get out of my head.

So, as I usually do, I looked up recipes, but couldn’t find one that felt right. So, I borrowed the bones of several and came up with my own (see below):

Rosewater Panna Cotta on Raspberry compote with Pistachio brittle.

And I’m so glad that I did.

Without question, it was the highlight of the meal. Maybe it was the wine we’d already opened or maybe Bacchus whispered, but I remembered a bottle we’d held for nearly a decade. Wellington Vineyards Sonoma Valley White Port.  It. Was. Perfect. Giddy good. Smiling the next day good. Patting myself on the back good. It was good.


When Ottolenghi cooks, he pulls inspiration from all over the world. His Israeli heritage, his London home, Tunisian spices, his trips around the world. The elements of our meal had origins equally diverse. Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian. The wines from Sardinia, Sonoma, Texas. Herbs from our garden, guests from California. Sometimes inspiration comes from  variety of places, in a most surprising way. But when you are sharing a meal with people you love, everyone can flourish. Here, there, and everywhere.


Rosewater Panna Cotta on Raspberry compote with Pistachio brittle.

Dissolve 1 tsp. gelatin in 1 tbsp. cold water

Warm 1 cup heavy cream and dissolve 2 tbsps. of sugar in cream.

Pour both in a bowl.

Add 1/3 c. plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsps. rosewater

Mix until smooth.

Pour in ramekins to chill.

Cook down one bag frozen raspberries with 1/3 cup water, Tbsp sugar until thicker consistency. Cool.

Heat 1/8 c sugar until browned and liquid. Add chopped pistachios. Remove from heat to cool.

To serve, put raspberries on the plate. Dip ramekins in hot water to loosen the Panna cotta. Invert on plate. Top with pistachio brittle.

Beet Hummus

1 clove garlic

1 cup chickpeas

4 small beets, cooked.

2-3 Tbsps Tahini

Juice of 2 lemons

Salt to taste





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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

3 thoughts on “Here, There, and Everywhere

  1. “It. Was. Perfect. Giddy good. Smiling the next day good” – great wine description Alissa! That’s how you make people want to try the wine 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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