Monday, May 31, 2021


I've always been a voracious reader and can never refuse a book. Lately I've been reading plenty of biographies and business books and was looking for something lighter for bedtime reading. So when Cam from Culinary Adventures with Camilla offered a new book to preview, I was all in! The book - Sobremesa: A Memoir of Food and Love in Thirteen Courses by Josephine Caminos Oria - arrived accompanied by two bottles of Argentine wine from Bodega Norton, courtesy of Kobrand Wine and Spirits. Most definitely an ideal package of pairings for the summer.

Briefly summarised, the book is a poignant memoir of Josephine's life straddling two cultures: American and Italian-Argentine. But it's more faceted than that. It's also about Josephine's experiences with her culture and elders - in life and in spirit - and her encounters with them.

The book is full of ingredients of typical first generation American life: suburban everything, but with a thick layer of a specific culture, in her case, Italian-Argentine. We may agree or not, but so much revolves around food and the dining table. The dining table is where stories are swapped, the daily catch up happens, current events/travel plans/grades/life goals/any other topics are discussed, the food itself is oohed and aahed over, and then a few hours later it all moves from the dining table to the drawing room to talk through the rest of the afternoon or evening over dessert or a coffee/tea and perhaps a digestif. It is where children learn table manners but also how to socialise. This habit, common across most old cultures, is elegantly summarised in one word in Spanish: sobremesa.

As stories go, Josephine's is an intriguing tale of the spiritual world mixed into her daily life. Childhood in America, a stint in Argentina along with a romance that led her to making a family with the love of her life, lasting bonds with extended family in Argentina, return to America, and her business, all with the continued presence of her ancestral spirits and people dead and alive that influenced her life in so many ways. Read the book to find out more!

As is often the case, food evokes memories and memories are intimately tied to food. Josephine's vivid memories of food are chronicled throughout the book and at the end of each chapter she gives us a recipe. From salad to dessert, it's all there, and certain to inspire us to rustle up something in the kitchen.

The thirteen chapters of the book = as many recipes, each a different course. After a long 2020 of minimal social contact, we had our first party to inaugurate return to life as we've known it. We had friends over for a Memorial Day lunch-that-lingered-into-after-midnight and I made the Ensalada de Palmitos (Hearts of Palm salad) with the orange vinaigrette rather than the salsa golf. We had it with smoked baby back ribs and potato salad, baked beans, etc. The acid in the vinaigrette perfectly cut through the fat in the ribs and the citrus flavours brightened it all up. Definitely will be a regular!

Founded in 1895 by Edmund James Palmer Norton, Bodega Norton is one of the most awarded Argentine wine brands in the US. The estate has grown to over 1,750 acres of estate vineyards and over 3,000 acres of land holdings. It has been owned by Austrian businessman and entrepreneur Gernot Langes Swarovski, of the Swarovski Crystal company, since 1989. Their diverse portfolio of wines is sure to offer something for every occasion, every meal, and every cuisine.

We opened the sample of the 2019 Bodega Norton Reserva Chardonnay, which was superb with the ribs and salads, but also the snacks of spiced nuts and appetizer of grilled corn-ricotta dip with potato crisps and crudités.

The grapes for this Chardonnay come from 30 - 50 year old (mature) vines, and the wine is aged in 100% French oak for 6 months followed by 3 months in bottle before release. The wine is a pale gold colour flecked with green, and offers a complex nose and palate of ripe citrus+stone fruit, a rather faint hint of vanilla, and a long mineral-edged finish.

We almost never have wine without food but I can see this being an afternoon sipper, especially with a riveting book to keep company. I can certainly say that I enjoyed both, the wine and the book!


1 comment:

  1. Payal, thanks for joining the party. I love that you had a lunch that lingered till after midnight! Those ribs look out of this world. Cheers.