During the month of December, getting away and spending a few days in wine country is always at the top of my to-do list. It’s a perfect way to relax and take a deep breath before all the holiday hustle and bustle, and the toughest decision is whether to while away the hours in Napa or Sonoma. While I have my favorite wineries and restaurants in both areas, this year Sonoma won out and I tend to favor the wineries located in the Alexander Valley; small, quaint, and staffed with friendly people eager to share their knowledge of good wine and this beautiful region they call home.
the view from Auberge on the Vineyard… a charming b&b surround by beautiful views and so peaceful.
The few leaves remaining on the vines were turning vivid shades of yellow, red, and orange.
Nature’s attempt to keep the grapes off the ground as the vines climbing tendrils wrap round and around and around themselves.
Good wine and a beautiful sunset. The perfect end to a perfect day.
The cheese available in the beautiful Sonoma countryside is oh so delectable. A good portion of one morning was spent driving to the Marin French Cheese Factory and I was pleasantly surprised at the flavors of brie available; jalapeno, bleu, tomato basil, peppercorn, garlic, pesto, and wild blackberry just to name a few. Being the cheese lover I am, I of course had to sample them all and after finishing the tour, came back to the shop and purchased a few faves. After arriving home, looking at all the wheels of brie inspired me to make baked brie with rosemary honey adapted from the recipe for grilled soft cheese, thyme honey and fresh figs I came across while reading one of my favorite foodie blogs not without salt.
recipe for baked brie with rosemary honey (figs optional) serves 6-8
1 small wheel of soft cheese such as brie or a triple cream
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary (or your favorite savory fresh herb)
1/4 cup honey
fresh figs 4-6 (or more if you prefer)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the cheese on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese starts to ooze but not melt.
Warm the honey to infuse it with the flavor of rosemary or the herb you are using. In a small saucepan add the honey and rosemary and heat on low. When the honey begins to simmer, remove from heat and set aside.
Half and quarter several figs and place on top of the baked cheese. Drizzle the figs and cheese with the rosemary honey. Cut several figs into 6-8 slices. Serve the cheese and sliced figs immediately with crackers.