Thursday, June 28, 2012

Avocado, Zucchini and Roasted Corn Gazpacho and Spicy Garlic Foam Paired with 2010 Benziger Family Winery Sonoma Coast Wente Clone Chardonnay

There are few things more refreshing on a hot summer day than gazpacho.  And if you are trying to get back into "beach" shape or just eat healthy, it does not get much better than Gazpacho.  Neither of these are motivators for me - I just love the flavor and the feeling of being satisfied that I don't normally have following a bowl of soup.

Gazpacho is rooted in the Southern Spanish region of Andalucia and is traditionally tomato based.  The history of gazpacho in Spain goes back (in theory) to dishes introduced by the unwelcome visits of the Moors and/or the Romans that were adapted to local tastes to form what we know as traditional Gazpacho.  Since these times, creative cooks have introduced a number of variations that resemble gazpacho only from a fundamental perspective - a rustic and substantial cold soup made from uncooked vegetables.  With this long history of adaptation, gazpacho can rightfully or wrongly include any vegetable you can imagine.  Our adaptation (prepared by Chef Sue) takes full license to adapt - and is well worth it!

The principal flavors of this dish come from the creamy goodness of the avocados, texture and sweetness from the corn, added texture and mild flavor of the zucchini, and a touch of piquance from jalapeno.  To this, Chef Sue added a spicy garlic and cayenne foam.  To accompany our gazpacho, Chef Sue made grilled cheese sandwiches layered with goat cheese, gouda, and swiss with zucchini, pepper, and cucumbers mounted between fresh rye bread.  Ah, grilled cheese - a completely distinct discussion for another day.

With the spicy components of this dish, I would not normally choose a chardonnay - particularly one with notable oak, butter, or vanilla flavors that would likely clash with the spicy components.  However, the 2010 Benziger Family Winery Sonoma Coast Wente Clone Chardonnay acts more like a Sauvignon Blanc with crisp acidity, peach, pear, and pineapple flavors, and barely noticeable oak influence although the wine is oak barrel aged for eight months.  This is a truly refreshing Chardonnay that complements the cool refreshing flavors of the gazpacho.  Unlike many wine pairings, we left this meal feeling invigorated - not a common experience.

Based on this experience, and my opinion of the 2010 Benziger Family Winery Sonoma Coast Wente Clone Chardonnay behaving more like a Sauvignon Blanc, I would alternatively recommend a crisp, fruit forward Suavignon Blanc as a good choice.


Avocado, Zucchni, and Corn Gazpacho


  • 2 zucchini, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn, grilled, or oven roasted in the oven with husks on.  Finish under the broiler to add a light char.
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 5 cups cold water
  • season to taste with salt and pepper


  1. Put the zucchini, yellow onion, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno and garlic in bowl of food processor and pulse until the pieces are well chopped and short of being minced or pureed. 
  2. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large bowl. 
  3. Put 2 avocados in the food processor and pulse to puree while adding 3 cups of water.
  4. Dice the remaining 2 avocados and add to the bowl of vegetables.
  5. Add the avocado puree, fresh grilled corn, cilantro, lime juice, 2 cups of water, and season to taste after gently mixing with a large spoon.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until cold. 
  7. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with cayenne and garlic foam and cilantro garnish.

Cayenne and Garlic Foam


  • 1 pint of heavy cream
  • 2 cloves diced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 handful of cilantro chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon cream cheese


  1. Add all ingredients to a sauce pan and bring to boil.  
  2. Remove from heat and let cool.  
  3. Strain and pour into a culinary foamer.   Refrigerate for one hour.  If you do not have a culinary foamer, chill, add 1 tablespoon of lecithin granules and create foam with an immersion blender.  Serve over gazpacho.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


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