Pairings:Frank Family Vineyards 2016 Carneros Chardonnay soars with custard

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Our Wine of the Week, Frank Family Vineyards 2016 Carneros Chardonnay ($38), is a chardonnay lover’s wine. It delivers everything one desires from a California-style chardonnay, beginning with a warm, generous bouquet suggestive of a citrus orchard on a warm spring day and blossoming into a voluptuous texture highlighted by ample, almost hedonistic fruit flavors, including white ripe pineapple and white nectarines.

You’ll notice, too, tender brioche and buttery lemon curd resolving into pretty acidity spiked with cool minerality and the slightest suggestion of Dijon mustard.

The wine is delicious with clams, scallops, white shrimp, salmon, chicken breast and pork tenderloin slathered with apricot jam. It is also a good choice with mild coconut-milk-based curries and savory bread pudding made with brioche and golden chanterelles. Classic chicken Dijonnaise is a great match, especially when it is made with just breast meat.

Roasted garlic cream sauce flatters the wine, and you can have a lovely meal just by tossing pappardelle or fettuccine with the sauce or by slathering it over oven-roasted cauliflower.

Cauliflower in general is a good match. Today’s recipe is adapted from one in “My Bombay Kitchen” by Niloufer Ichaporia King (University of California Press, 2007). King speaks so tenderly of this dish, which she calls “Mother’s Wobbly Cauliflower Custard” and the delicacy with which her mother made it. I’ve added the ginger and turmeric, which heightens the compatibility with the wine, though it is the delightful silken texture and earthy flavors that inspire the match and make it soar.

Cauliflower Custard

Serves 4 to 6

3 cups half-and-half

3 thin slices of fresh ginger

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons butter, at room temperature

— Kosher salt

1 pound cauliflower

4 large farm eggs

3 ounces (¾ cup grated) St. George cheese

2 ounces (½ cup grated) dry Jack or similar cheese

— Hot water

Pour the half-and-half into a saucepan, set over medium heat and warm through; do not let it boil. Remove from the heat, add the ginger and turmeric, cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter the inside of a 1½- to 2-quart baking dish.

Fill a medium saucepan half full with water, season generously with salt. add the cauliflower and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until tender when pierced with a fork or bamboo skewer.

Remove from the heat, drain and let cool until easy to handle. Break the florets apart, cut the stem into small dice and put both into the buttered dish. Season lightly with salt.

Put the eggs into a large bowl and whisk well. Strain the half-and-half into the bowl, discard the ginger, add the St. George cheese and whisk until smooth and creamy. Pour the mixture over the cauliflower and top with the remaining cheese.

Set a roasting pan or similar vessel on the middle rack of the oven, set the baking dish inside it and add hot water to come about 2 inches up the side of the baking dish.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the custard is set but still “wobbly;” the top of the custard should have picked up a bit of color but should not be browned.

Remove the dish from the oven and let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.

Michele Anna Jordan has written 24 books to date, including “San Francisco Seafood.” Email her at

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