Winemaker Joe Hurliman greeted us in the tasting room at Herzog Wine Cellars. Herzog is the state’s largest producer of Kosher wine. The funny part is, Hurliman is not an Orthodox Jew, so he can’t physically be around the winemaking equipment. Other staff members will bring him barrel samples so he can see where the wine is and make adjustments as needed. It’s also how he determines the proportions that go into his blends. He is exuberant, passionate and a joy to be around. After a full tour of this impressive facility, we tasted and enjoyed several of his wines. As were were leaving, manager Joseph Herzog came out to greet us. We were made to feel most welcome and I relish the thought of a return visit.
- 3-4 ounces of thinly sliced tellagio, asiago or (for a milder taste) provolone
- 10 dried mission figs, halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
- 1 goat cheese log
- 1/8 cup dry sherry, marsala or port
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1-2 large Spanish onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 9 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (3-4 inches long)
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- baguette, thinly sliced (for gluten-free, substitute gluten-free crackers or sliced pears)
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Crumble the goat cheese into a medium sized oven-safe dish. Set aside.
- Put sliced figs in a small saucepan. Add sherry and a little water to cover. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Set aside.Dried figs will plump and absorb sherry flavor.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, rosemary sprigs, salt and pepper. Sautée, stirring often, for 10-12 minutes, until onions are lightly browned. Removed plumped figs from pot using a slotted spoon and add them to the onion mixture. Stir to combine. Remove thick woody rosemary stems from mixture and heap the caramelized onions and fig mixture on top of the cheese. Top with tellagio, asiago or provolone. Make ahead. At this point you can cover and refrigerate the dish for a day or two. When you are ready to serve it, let it sit at room temperature for half an hour before continuing.
- Just before serving, bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until cheese is hot and starting to bubble at the edges. Serve hot, surrounded by baguette slices or crackers. Enjoy!
Oxnard is an easy drive from nearly anywhere in Southern California. Enjoy this gem. I loved it.