By Robert Haas
One of summer’s greatest challenges for the Vermont gardener is keeping up with the zucchini production. So we need to find recipes in order to benefit from our garden and, of course, wines to accompany them. Here is an old standby recipe inspired by The Victory Garden Cookbook, by Marian Morash, published in New York in 1982 by Alfred A. Knopf. Mr. Knopf, a customer of mine at M. Lehmann, was a great lover of good wine and food, and a frequent publisher of works by knowledgeable food and wine writers.
2 cups grated zucchini
2 ears local corn, scraped off the cob
¼ cup flour
1 Tb melted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup coarsely grated VT cheddar cheese
2 Tb oil for frying
- Grate the squash on the coarse side of a box grater, put into a colander and salt to drain of excess liquid.
- Slice the corn off the cob and scrape off the milky residue with the back of a knife.
- After about 20 minutes, gently squeeze the liquid out of the squash with your hands, and continue with the recipe.
- Beat the eggs and combine with all remaining ingredients except the oil.
- Heat a well-seasoned iron or non-stick pan or a griddle and add the oil.
- Spoon the batter with a ladle into the hot oil and fry until crisp on both sides. Smaller fritters are easier to turn.
- Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
For the wine, ironically I discovered one from about the same vintage as the book: a 1981 premier crû Burgundy: Vosne-Romanée Orveaux of Jean Mongeard, tucked away in the cellar.
I brought it up expecting a gentle, elegant wine, albeit from a disregarded vintage. Wrong! The wine was rich and full-bodied, redolent of ripe sun-dried cherries, with a velvety palate and ripe tannins: unexpectedly intense, and at a perfect age, with a touch of that now unfashionable “barnyard" character which I learned to appreciate. It went beautifully with the fritters. I had put away several cases of 1981's from Mongeard and Ponsot in my Vineyard Brands days because both vignerons had beautifully farmed a vintage with heavy spring frosts, frequent storms during June and July and damaging hail in August. However, they saved their harvest of a tiny crop by careful navigation during a difficult September. The trade and the press wrote it off: “A vintage to forget.” I’m glad that I didn’t. And best of all, I still have some of the wines in the cellar.