We first met Nic about 10 years ago when he was working in the wine industry in Austin, TX. He is one of the funniest people we know and has a wonderful palate. Hanging out with Nic looks a lot like the picture below - lots of wine and lots of laughs! He now resides in Los Angeles where he is a sommelier, chef, bar guy. We've been admiring his beautiful food on IG and are so excited he has shared not one, but two recipes with us. They are fresh, delicious and perfect for the beginning of spring.
You're going to want to follow @grandmas_thirsty
LR: Where do you cook?
NV: I have my own popup that is on a little hiatus while I reorganize called Smokin' Hot Grandma - otherwise, I mostly cook for my girlfriend, Whit, and our friends in my backyard. I’m working on writing a cookbook so I get to treat everyone like a Guinea Pig and that’s kind of fun.
LR: Why do you cook?
NV: Cooking brings me peace and it's a creative outlet that I understand. I also just enjoy feeding people and spreading the hospitality love.
LR: How would you describe your cooking style?
NV: I cook in a very Mediterranean way - let the ingredients mostly speak for themselves, but I use a lot of Middle Eastern spices and approach - veggie forward, lots of spreads, lots of grill and smoke.
LR: What are 5 ingredients always found in your kitchen?
NV: Cumin, coriander, lemon, dill, oregano
LR: What do you listen to while cooking?
NV: I listen to a lot of instrumental stuff like Felbm and tons of space jazz like Sun Ra, I love the band TOLDEO, and then there's always Jerry Jeff Walker - a Texas staple.
Nic's Cooking Playlist
LR: Any recent best bites?
NV: It's hard to top that uni and caviar bite at Bell's in Los Alamos.
LR: How does Lorenza make you feel?
NV: I've been drinking Lorenza for years and it always hits the spot. It's the perfect blend of everyday crushability and well-made delicious wine has a place at any table.
Peas + Carrots + Halloumi (serves 2-4)
'I love to prepare and eat super springy simple bright snacky salad-like dishes. This is a perfect example that just sings with a glass of Lorenza.' - Nic V
1 block of halloumi cheese sliced into 1/4 inch slices - 3 slices per serving
3 carrots sliced diagonally
1 lb snap peas sliced into even pieces - thirds or halves
1 shallot sliced thinly and rinsed (then let sit in red wine vinegar while prepping everything else - it's a quick pickle)
a couple pinches of za'atar and torn dill for garnish
1 Tbsp honey
1 lemon juiced
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp good olive oil
- First thing - thinly slice your shallot, rinse under cold water. and cover in a bowl with red wine vinegar. This will make you a little quick pickle while you do everything else. The leftovers you can store away for the other recipe included here!
- Whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside.
- Heat a stainless steel pan over high heat and add a glug of olive oil.
- Add the sliced peas and carrots and sear for 2-3 minutes tossing. You don't want the veggies to get too soft - just get a little color and retain their crunch - set aside.
- Add your slices of halloumi to the still hot pan and sear on both sides until they are crispy golden brown and a little bit melty. Plate these immediately.
- Add your peas and carrots to the plate and spoon over the vinaigrette.
- Sprinkle with za'atar and garnish with some of your pickled shallot, torn dill, and a pinch of sea salt.
- Serve immediately, with a healthy glass of Lorenza Rosé - a match that goes together like - well - youknow.
Crunchy Herbaceous Cabbage Salad w/ tinned fish (serves 2)
'Cabbage is easily one of my top 3 vegetables. It lasts forever, you use it in a million different ways, and it's particularly handy to have around when you're craving a super crunchy salad. Add tinned fish to the mix and you're in business.' -Nic V.
1/2 head of green cabbage thinly sliced
1 Tbsp Cumin seeds ground
1 Tbsp Coriander seeds ground
1 tsp Fennel seeds ground
1 Tbsp dried Oregano
2 tsp salt
1 Serrano pepper diced
1 avocado cubed
1-2 Tbsp Feta cheese
1-2 Persian cucumbers sliced into quarters
1-2 thinly sliced radishes
a few of those pickled shallots from before
a handful of cilantro
a handful of dill
a good tin of fish (I used Tuna belly here, but whatever suits your fancy)
a few pinches of nigella seeds (if you don't have nigella feel free to use black sesame)
extra torn till and cilantro for garnish
1/3 cup of Lorenza Picpoul Blanc
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp good olive oil
- Make your dressing first by whisking ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Grind the coriander, cumin, and fennel in a mortar and pestle.
- Add shredded cabbage, cucumber, and radishes to the bowl with your dressing but don't mix yet.
- Sprinkle one tsp of salt over the cabbage, cukes, and radish.
- Add ground spices, herbs, serranos and toss.
- Add avocado and feta and gentle toss one more time - (we do a couple tosses b/c you don't want the Feta and the Avocado to get too banged up here)
- Plate the salad and top with the tinned fish of your choice.
- Garnish with pickled shallots, remaining cilantro and dill then finish with sprinkling of nigella seeds or black sesame. If you like a little more heat add some more serranos as well.
- Enjoy your lunch with a delicious glass of Lorenza Picpoul!