Mashed potatoes with garlic confit

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I discovered Paumanok Vineyards last January when the New York Cork Report team graciously invited me, my husband Marc and Markus Stolz (the guru of Greek wines) to join them for a lunch and tasting at the winery.

When we arrived, a large table had been set up in the winery itself, only a few feet away from the stainless steel tanks. More than a dozen bottles lay in the center of the table, most of them unlabeled – I felt my heart quiver.

The owner, Charles Massoud, and his winemaker son, Kareem, spoke for more than two hours about what it’s like to make wines in the North Fork of Long Island. Many stories were told, punctuated by laughter and pours around the table.

When my nose wasn’t in my glass, it was deep in my notebook. There’s much I’d love to share about what was said that day, and I’ll certainly do so in future posts. But today, my focus is on Paumanok’s delectable 2008 Cabernet Franc.

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Grilled cheese sandwich with garlic confit and baby arugula

What is it about melted cheese? Just about anything oozing with melted cheese tastes delicious – like melted mozzarella on a flatbread pizza; sweet, nutty asiago in a luscious mac & cheese; or earthy fontina in an unbearably sinful fondue with chipotle and tequila.

But perhaps the simplest recipe – the most adored of all – is the grilled cheese sandwich. When prepared with a crusty bread and stuffed with a cheese that melts to perfection, it is essentially irresistible.

Here, this beloved sandwich takes on a gourmet twist. The secret ingredient: garlic confit!

When garlic is gently poached in olive oil, it becomes sweet, with a subtle flavor. The cloves become so soft that you can spread them on your toast – or in this case, in your grilled cheese sandwich.

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