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MM and I are staying at our favorite “Serenity” cabin in Big Sur this week, as we do every year to celebrate our anniversary. We usually stay over Fourth of July weekend (as I mentioned in my last post), but this year we arrived on the day of our anniversary, and we will stay for three nights before heading down to Malibu for Lucifer’s wedding.

I love this cabin and I look forward to staying here all year long. It is one room with a raised bed, fireplace, reclining chairs, dining table, and a sizable well-equipt kitchen (with a 4-burner gas oven!). There is an outdoor shower, toilet and bathtub in the back of the cabin that faces into a valley of redwood trees. It may not be Post Ranch Inn, but I think it’s one of Big Sur’s best hidden secrets.

One of my favorite things about the cabin is the fact that I can cook nice dinners here (though, we will continue our tradition of going to Big Sur Bakery on our last night). To celebrate our anniversary last night, I made a nice spring pasta (my mother’s recipe) paired with a 2009 Wrath Pommard 4/777 Pinot Noir from Monterey, also the year I met MM. Everything was delicious, and the wine opened up beautifully into an elegant Pinot with a touch of earthiness. Even MM noted that the wine tasted less acidic later in the meal than when he first tried it – he’s a good learner!

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage (serves 2-4)

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 10 oz orecchiette
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe (Rapini)
  • 2/3 lb ground sausage (or 2 uncooked links, casings removed)
  • 1 tsp salt

Boil a large pot of water with the salt. On another burner, heat olive oil in a small skillet. Once hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for about one minute, then remove from heat.

Trim and rinse the broccoli rabe. Cut about 1/2 of an inch off the stems, then cut the rest of the bunch crosswise into 2-inch pieces. All of the broccoli rabe is edible, and has a pungent, slightly bitter taste to it (it sounds weird, but it’s delicious). Set aside into a colander to drain excess water.

Heat another larger skillet over a high-medium flame and add the sausage. In my case, I used two hot Italian chicken sausage links with the casing removed. I think Italian sausage works best in this dish, but you can really use any type of sausage you want – as long as the flavors aren’t competing too much with the broccoli rabe (for example, I wouldn’t suggest Thai flavored sausage). Cook the sausage until it turns brown and crispy, and break up into small pieces.

Meanwhile, your water has boiled. Add the pasta and cook until it begins to tender, about 8 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, stir and cook for another 3-4 minutes until pasta is fully cooked but a little al dente. Drain and transfer to serving bowl. Toss in the garlic oil and sausage and serve with grated pecorino Romano.

Once the Pinot opened up, it went perfectly with the pasta. The slight earthiness of the wine complemented the bitter flavors in the broccoli rabe, and smoothed out the spice of the sausage. When we finished eating and continued to work on finishing the bottle, I noticed more flavors of cherry and plum, which lead nicely into the Cockburn Port that MM insisted on buying at Safeway (we’re in the beer aisle and MM says, “Pick whatever beer you want. I’m going to look at the wine,” and he pushes the cart away. This was probably the funniest example of role reversal in the history of our relationship). And I must say, for a young, inexpensive Port ($21.99 with Safeway Club card), it wasn’t too bad. We still have a little left over, which I am looking forward to finishing tonight.

All in all, the evening was the best, and most serene anniversary celebration to date. I wish we never had to leave our little cabin in the woods.

About Kelsey

Kelsey is a food and wine lover residing in Napa, California, where she does marketing for a boutique wine collective. She previously lived in San Francisco for over six years, where her blogging journey began. She loves to cook seasonal meals and experiment with new wine pairings. She has been drinking and learning about wine with her father since she was 14, and cooking in the kitchen with her mother since she was 6. Both of her parents taught her well about seasoning and flavors, and she continues to learn more with every meal that is made.

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