Triple-Decker Baked Italian Cheese Sandwiches and Oregon Rosé

Some people search for the perfect wine to complement their food. We love to find the right food for our wine! The flowery, fruity notes of Oregon Rosé offer a pleasant flavor that instantly refreshes on those hot summer nights (or cold winter nights! It’s adaptable.) This triple-decker backed Italian cheese sandwich is an ideal accompaniment for a comfort-food indulgence any time of year.

Willamette Valley Wines | Oregon Rosé

Ingredients

8 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp. thyme leaves

2 loaves bread (Italian, Pullman, etc.), ends discarded and sliced into 24 ½ inch thick pieces

1 pound sliced provolone

1 pound coarsely shredded Fontina

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Gently toss the sliced tomatoes with half of the olive oil and salt and pepper, then arrange cut side up on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 1.5 hours, then sprinkle with thyme and bake for an additional 30 minutes until very tender.
  2. Increase oven temperature to 375. Brush 16 slices of bread with the remaining olive oil and arrange 8 of them oiled-side down on a baking sheet. Top with provolone and 8 slices of plain, unbrushed bread. Top the plain bread with the Fontina, reserving some of the cheese for later. Add the tomatoes on top of the Fontina, then top with the other 8 slices of oiled bread, oiled side up.
  3. Bake the sandwiches for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bread is toasted.
  4. Turn on the broiler. Toss the remaining Fontina with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and sprinkle onto the sandwiches. Broil for approximately one minute, or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

These sandwiches are good all by themselves, or you can serve them with crisp, tangy pickles and crunchy potato chips, or a green salad. Willamette Valley wines, with fruity and floral aromas, complement the rich cheese and sweet tomato flavors to round out the meal.

Fennel Garlic Pork Roast and Pinot Noir

You’ll definitely want to put this on the menu soon. The Mediterranean-inspired dish is delicious, versatile, and the bold flavors of fennel and garlic pair perfectly with a fine Oregon Pinot. Plan ahead, though, as it needs to brine overnight and then absorb the flavors of the rub for a couple of hours after brining.

Oregon Pinot | Rainstorm Wines

 

Brine Ingredients

¼ cup honey

2 tbsp black peppercorns

15 or so fresh bay leaves, or 5 dried

10 sprigs of fresh thyme

10 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley

2 heads garlic, halved horizontally

1 cup kosher salt

3 quarts cold water

4 lb. boneless pork loin

 

Rub ingredients

2 tbsp chopped fennel seeds

1 tsp crushed red pepper

6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp lemon zest

Pinch of salt

¼ cup olive oil

2 tbsp canola oil

 

Steps

  1. Make the brine by combining the honey, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, garlic and salt with 1 quart of water in a small saucepan. Stir to dissolve the salt, and then bring the mixture to a boil. Pour into a bowl and let cool. Add the remaining 2 quarts of water, add the pork loin, and refrigerate for 12 to 18 hours.
  2. Pull out your food processor or go old school with a mortar and pestle. Combine fennel seeds, red pepper, garlic, lemon zest and salt. Form a paste. Add the olive oil, stirring to combine. Rub half of the paste onto the lean side of the pork and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat the canola oil. When hot, add the pork, fat side down, searing for about 5 minutes or until browned. Transfer the pork to a baking pan with a rack, placing it fat side up. Slather on the remaining rub and roast for about 1 hour, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 140 to 145 degrees.  

Serve this tender and flavorful pork roast with some roasted or mashed potatoes, fresh green salad and crusty rolls. For a wine pairing, the earthy and complex flavor profile of a Rainstorm Pinot Noir is a perfect accompaniment.

Smallest Park in the World: Portland, OR

What do you think of when you hear the word “park”? Do you picture acres and acres of greenery? Maybe some benches and fountains, or playground equipment for the kids? Enjoying a picnic with some fine Oregon wine perhaps?

Smallest Park| Oregon Wine | Rainstorm

How about 452 square inches of land, complete with a tree and some ground cover? For reference, that’s roughly the size of a large manhole cover. And that’s exactly how big Portland’s Mill Ends Park — aka the smallest park in the world  — is.

Mill Ends came about almost by accident. The site, located across from legendary columnist Dick Fagan’s office, was originally intended to house a light pole.  As Fagan told it, he looked out the window one day and saw a leprechaun.

Ah, the luck of the Irish!

The newspaperman ran outside to catch the elusive sprite, and when he did, he was granted one wish. Fagan wished for a park of his own. But since he failed to specify the size, the leprechaun gifted him the 452 square inch hole in the ground. Fagan accepted this and planted the park’s first flowers. Two years later, on St. Patrick’s Day 1948, the site was dedicated as a park and became known as the “only Leprechaun colony west of Ireland.”

Today, the small park with the big reputation remains a local treasure among Portlanders. Mill Ends is located in the median of SW Naito Parkway, so it’s not exactly the most relaxing park to hang out in, but that hasn’t stopped visitors from popping by to take a picture or leave a memento. A swimming pool for butterflies has been added, complete with a diving board, and annual events, such as a St. Patrick’s Day celebration recognizing the park’s leprechaun colony, are popular draws.

If you’re ever in Portland, take the time to stop by Mill Ends. You can take a picture of this infamous Portland gem, or even have a mini picnic with a bottle of Rainstorm Pinot Gris. And maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of one of the resident leprechauns.