The Pepper and Bliss

Hot, hot, hot. Maybe it wouldn't feel so hot if there had been a transition period. Isn't that what spring is for? To let your body have time to acclimate to the weather before Mother Nature turns up the thermostat? One day it was raining and still a little chilly and the next I'm cursing at my AC. Since right now I feel like every action requires a shower and a nap, it's hard to find the motivation to cook anything for dinner let alone walk to the kitchen. Although my son would probably enjoy subsisting on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during the hot months, I require unique foods and vegetables to keep me sane and happy. During my last visit to Beresan, my dad (Tom Waliser) graciously gave me a leg of lamb and my mom threw in a bottle of the 2010 Carmenére, a year I had yet to try. Only one obstacle prevented this ambrosial feast: oppressive heat. Looking ahead at the forecast, I spy one day amid all the 90s that looks promising for a roast. Lamb & Carmenére Day arrives and I wake up exhausted. Due to poor planning on my part, I had to wake up multiple times during the night to check on foods I was dehydrating for backpacking meals. I force myself to go for my morning run before it gets too hot and the catcalling college kids emerge. I eventually return home and pull out all the needed coffee paraphernalia only to find my coffee grinder has mysteriously died during the night. Inwardly weeping, I make tea and lazily lounge on the couch the majority of the day. Eventually the time comes to unstick myself from the couch and be productive. First of all the leg of lamb is small; weighing in at only three pounds, I struggle to find any guidelines for bone-in lamb that size. I'm too tired for perfection, so I take a shot in the dark and throw the seasoned lamb and some carrots in the oven for an hour. In the meantime, I make rice pilaf and wonder if the local meteorologist just drew his prediction out of a hat. With the oven going at 400° and the outside temperature at 95° it's a veritable broiler in my kitchen. I spend as little time by the oven as possible and my usual 5 year old assistant is hiding from the heat elsewhere. Amazingly, the lamb comes out of the oven perfectly cooked and the carrots beautifully caramelized. After a day of disappointments, sitting down to my favorite meat, vegetable, and wine all in the same meal seems like bliss. Carmenére and red meats go together like green eggs and ham and the 2010 doesn't fail to disappoint. With a raspberry and cranberry backbone, a hint of nuttiness,  and bold peppery finish, you'll find that no matter the vintage, Carmenére pairs beautifully with red meats, spicy foods including curry and Cajun, and hearty vegetables. Although I may have suffered through the day, it was worth it in the end to enjoy my favorite foods and delicious wine with a welcome evening breeze flowing through the window.