We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Visit to Iron Horse Vineyards and No Bake Cheesecake

My Traveling Tales by Linda

This no bake cheese cake just might be the most delicious that you have ever tasted.
It is quick and easy to make and is perfect to pair with sparkling wine.

The stunning view from the outdoor tasting bar at Iron Horse Vineyards, Green Valley, California.
Iron Horse is renowned for their excellent sparkling wines.
   I used to pass by the turn off to Iron Horse Vineyards on my daily commute until this past year when I moved a short distance to Petaluma. I had visited the vineyards once about six years ago, but I have a renewed interest in wine tasting lately because my friend Amy is the new Wine Specialist at the Whole Foods Market where we both work. Amy is on fire to learn all she can about wine, so we have been on tour to the producers of the wines she is selling from her shelves. It has been fun getting out and taking advantage of the sights and tastes of the amazing area in which we live.  This week we headed to Iron Horse Vineyards near Sebastopol, California.

Amy takes in the view from Iron Horse Vineyards. You can see all the way to Mount Saint Helena.
   Iron Horse Vineyards, the famous maker of award-winning sparking and still wines, sits atop a hill that offers panoramic views of Sonoma County stretching out to Mount Saint Helena. They have been growing grapes in the Russian River Valley since the 1970s, and they are a part of the Green Valley appellation. This pastoral Russian River Valley location is just 13 miles from the ocean, and is cool and foggy much of the time. This I can personally attest to after having spent five damp years living on the Russian River. Their soil is a neutral-sandy loam with excellent drainage. These conditions add up to making a perfect combination for growing excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

Lisa, at the outdoor tasting bar, sets us up with side by side tastings of the sparkling wine.
It is my favorite way to taste.
   Upon arrival in the morning, we met Lisa who poured wines for us to taste. We were early, and I think she was still a little sleepy from being up late the night before. Iron Horse had hosted their Sparkling Summer Seafood SoirĂ©e the previous night. Being lovers of all things seafood, Amy and I were sorry to learn that we had missed it. Lisa grew up on the East Coast, as did Amy as a child. They had fun chatting about lobster, clam bellies and oysters. All of which pair perfectly with sparkling wine.

Shucky durn! We missed the Sparkling Summer Seafood Soiree. (Sorry, bad pun!)
   Iron Horse makes a number of outstanding sparking wines. The classic example of a sparkling wine is Champagne, but this wine is exclusively produced in the Champagne region of France and many sparkling wines are produced in other countries and regions, such as the Russian River Valley. One of Lisa's suggested pairings with sparkling wine besides seafood, was cheesecake. And that got me to thinking about the cheesecakes that we sisters make.

The Iron Horse Summer's Cuvee, with hints of stone fruit, was my favorite.
   I posted my favorite cheese cake recipe previously, however,  I discovered Nigella Lawson's unbaked version a couple of years ago. We think it is perfect for summer since it is of a lighter texture. This cheesecake has received heaps of praise on the occasions that I have served it. It is delicious plain, or with a topping of fresh seasonal fruit. Berries are a perfect match. and so are fresh peaches. You can't go wrong pairing it with your favorite bubbly.

No Bake Cheesecake 

  The recipe is adapted from sexy Brit, Nigella Lawson. Prep took 20 minutes... tops. Juliette said this version of cheesecake has the consistency of mousse. This cheesecake was the easiest if have ever made, and it received rave reviews. It is lighter than regular cheesecake, which everyone appreciated after a large lunch. I will definitely be doing this again because it was delicious and so easy.

1-½ cups of graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsps granulated sugar
6 Tbsps butter
20 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tbsps powdered sugar
2 tsps vanilla
2 tsps fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
fresh fruit garnish, or one 10-ounce jar of fruit conserves ( I use Bonne Maman® Blueberry)

1 10-inch springform pan

1. Pulverize the graham crackers in a food processor until beginning to turn to crumbs, then add the sugar and butter and whiz again to make the mixture clump.
2. You can use a bowl and wooden spoon to mix the butter in, with the sugar added if mixing by hand.
3. Press this mixture into a 10-inch springform pan; press a little up the sides. Set aside.

4. In the food processor bowl mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon juice.
5. In a large bowl whip the cream into soft peaks, but firm enough to hold its shape. Fold in the cream cheese mixture.

6. Pour into the springform pan, cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Best if refrigerated overnight.

7. When ready to serve, unmold and slice. You may need to wipe the knife with a towel to keep the edges clean between slices. Top each slice with a dollop of the fruit conserves and dig in.

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