For better or worse, here I am—trapped in paradise. As long as I continue to live in this vital, inimitable spot on the globe,

I will continue to seek out the unique…the delicious…the innovative products, services and traditions of San Luis Obispo County.

Stay posted for a few of my favorite things.

About Me...

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A wanderlust at heart... captivated by the California Central Coast. Join me on my culinary and vino-infused adventures as I explore and discover the regional novelties of San Luis Obispo County that make living here...easy to stay...and hard to leave.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SLO Wine Cooked

SLO = San Luis Obispo
Vin = Wine
Cuit = Cooked
The contemporary world shrinks a bit each day. As modern technology brings us all closer with the click of a mouse and the bright globe we live on continues to grow smaller, perhaps the events of this past week further demonstrate how connected we really are, even when separated by thousands of miles. During a recent visit to San Luis Obispo by my brother Matthew and his wife Viviane (who live in the beautiful wine region of Rolle, Switzerland), Matthew amused me when he shared that their local Swiss grocery store sells several wines from Paso Robles. How appropriate then, that he and Viviane brought us a traditional Swiss ingredient—Vin Cuit ("wine cooked," or "cooked wine" if you prefer)—transporting a slice of French-Swiss culture across the world to SLO County.

On the first night of their visit, my mom opened the carton of thick, syrupy Vin Cuit and followed a Swiss recipe provided by Viviane's sister, Nadine, to construct a traditional dessert that yielded a rich, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth pie with lingering tastes of fruit and raisins. Curious about this dark, molasses-like ingredient, we went online and found that the name is misleading, as Vin Cuit contains no wine. According to Wikipedia, this concentrated fruit syrup common in the Swiss Alps, made from pear, apple, or sometimes grape juice, is used in place of sugar in several desserts. Manufactured in large cauldrons and slowly heated for 12 – 36 hours, the juice cooks down to a viscous concentrate, resembling the consistency of molasses and exudes a strong, intense fruity smell.

Further curiosity led me to attempt to replicate Vin Cuit, SLO-style. The process was indeed slow and I warn you that this recipe is not for the impatient-minded cook—I spent several hours in the kitchen this weekend, hovering over my Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon grape juice concoction as it toiled and bubbled down to its desired syrupy-like consistency. The next time I have the inclination to simmer juice into Vin Cuit, I'll prepare a quadruple batch to keep on hand, as it will keep for at least a few weeks in the refrigerator.

But the fruits of my labor paid off. After the pie was set and cooled, I cut a piece for myself and took a bite of this delectable, one-of-a-kind dessert, deeming my efforts a success. How sweet to meld a traditional Swiss recipe with the local flair and vibrant flavor of Paso Robles wine grapes, connecting two regions across the globe. As the dessert melted in my mouth, I thought about how much everyone enjoyed Matthew and Viviane's recent visit, and couldn’t help but feel grateful for having the best of both worlds—a wonderful life in beautiful SLO wine country, and future visits to look forward to in the equally-impressive Swiss wine provinces.

SLO Vin Cuit Pie
(Adapted from Nadine's Swiss recipe brought to us from her sister, Viviane)

3 cups wine grape juice
(I went SLOCAL: Mill Road by Monahan Family Farm, Paso Robles Winegrape Juice, Cabernet/Syrah)
1 cup verjus (see past article)
Dash or two of cinnamon
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 ready-made pie crust dough

In a medium saucepan, bring grape juice and verjus to a boil. Reduce to a light simmer and stir frequently to prevent scorching, for 3 – 4 hours, until mixture reduces to a thick syrup (you will be left with about 1 cup). Add cinnamon, stir and remove from heat and cool. Pour into glass jar and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until the consistency thickens. After cooling, whisk 4 tablespoons of SLO Vin Cuit with sweetened condensed milk and whipping cream until thoroughly incorporated. Set in refrigerator for at least 1 hour (or overnight).

Although the traditional Swiss Vin Cuit is thick enough to cut with a knife, mine produced a consistency thicker than syrup but not quite as heavy as molasses; delicious nonetheless.

When you're ready to make the pie, heat oven to 400˚F. Shape pie-crust in pie pan, cover with a single layer of dried beans (to prevent crust from puffing up so that you end up with a flat, smooth surface for this delectably creamy filling) and bake in pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Remove crust from oven and discard beans. Pour SLO Vin Cuit pie mixture in crust and bake for an additional 8 - 10 minutes (until center is set). Cool, slice and serve at room temperature along with fresh grapes and your favorite glass of Port. Voila!
Matthew and Viviane brought their own Swiss-American creation on their recent visit—my little nephew Kylian! What a blessing!

Matthew in Switzerland, wandering the lush orchards and vineyards.

Swiss-terraced vineyards near Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).

All Text and Photos Copyright © 2009 by Elizabeth in SLO. All Rights Reserved.


Fresh Local and Best said...

You've peaked my curiosity with vin cuit. I'm looking forward to experimenting with this in the near future.


Joanne said...

Your version sounds luscious!

Camille said...

Thanks for stopping by! I will definitely be checking out your site from now on. I am hopeful that hubby and I will live in SLO someday, but for now, I'll have to live vicariously through the internets and occasional visits! :) Stay in touch and keep up the great work!

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