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Musings on Marriage, Moruno-Spiced Burgers, & L'Ecole's 2017 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon #Sponsored

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of L'Ecole.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own. 

This month kicks off a series of monthly posts that I'll be doing in collaboration with L'Ecole Winery.* Once a month, I'll participate in a virtual tasting with their marketing manager, the winemaker, and the general manager. Then I'll post a pairing that I've created to go along with the wine. Some months I hope to share more than one pairing with one being posted on my Culinary Cam YouTube channel, such as the Savory Goat Cheese Truffles + L'Ecole's 2019 Sémillon video: here.

Musings on Marriage
Under the wedding maple at Owen R. Cheatham Redwood Grove, Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park

Musings on marriage in a wine pairing post, you ask?! Has she gone completely off the deep end? Well, perhaps. But it is Valentines' Day and during the virtual tasting Marcus, Constance, and Marta all used the word 'marriage' to describe some part of their 2017 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon which is the focus wine for this month. So, it got me thinking.

L'Ecole's 2017 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The grapes for this wine come from a large assemblage of vineyards all over the Columbia Valley: Candy Mountain, Estate Seven Hills, Alder Ridge, Klipsun, Summit View, Bacchus & Dionysus, Pepper Bridge, Stone Tree, Loess, Yellow Jacket, Estate Ferguson, and Stone Valley. And some of those vines are half a century old. 

The resulting wine, they characterized as a beautiful marriage of clones and sub-appellations. Additionally, the wine benefited from a marriage of oak barrels, including 25% new oak and 75% neutral. Marcus noted that they used French, American, and Hungarian oak bottles akin to how you use spices in the kitchen since they all impart a different flavor quality. That image really appealed to my foodie side.

You can order the wine on L'Ecole's website: here. Suggested retail price is $29.

So, marriage. Jake and I will be married twenty-one years next month; and we've been together twenty-three years this month. So, I feel I have some experience with defining 'what makes a marriage.' When I've thought about the definition, I've asked  myself, is a marriage the pledge between two people that happens on a single day? Or is a marriage a daily choice to be with a person? I think the answer is that it's both. 

For wine, I think marriage refers to a deliberate coming together of everything that goes into the wine: from the selection of the grapes to the harvesting, crushing, blending, aging, racking, and bottling. In both cases - with people and wine - it's about making the right choices to get the result that you want. And, in both cases, marriage takes a lot of work! But it's also well worth the efforts.

L'Ecole started making Cabernet in 1989 and this 2017 Columbia Valley is a classic. In the glass, this wine pours a rich inky red with flecks of gold on the rim. On the nose and on the palate there's a lot of black fruit balanced with hints of chocolate and herbs. 

I cannot wait to see how the other content creators use and pair this wine. I suspect we'll all be leaning towards meat. We were talking about steaks and osso buco, short ribs and braises. Oh, my. My mouth was watering during that virtual tasting.

Moruno-Spiced Burgers on Sourdough Beet Buns with Goat Cheese, Orach, and a Preserved Lemon Relish

In the end, I decided to make a special Valentines' Day burger that included a marriage of flavors! I made some homemade sourdough burgers buns colored with beet powder; I spiced the patty with Moruno; and I topped the burger with creamy goat cheese and earthy orach, which is a purple spinach. This was such a fun pairing. Enjoy.

Moruno is a Spanish spice blend with Moroccan influence. It's one that I always have on my counter because it adds beautiful aromas and complex savory notes to anything it's in! You can mix it yourself or there are some companies that sell beautiful, delicious blends. You can make it as complicated or as simple as you like. Mine depends on what I have in my cabinet, but I always make sure it has saffron and cumin.

Ingredients serves 4

You can make these with any kind of ground meat, really. I added in some ground bacon with the beef and knew that it would make for one tasty burger!

  • 16 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground bacon
  • 2 Tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, approximately 1 Tablespoon
  • 4 teaspoons Moruno Spice (recipe below)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Moruno Spice

  • pinch of saffron
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika (you can use sweet paprika also)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preserved Lemon Relish
  • 2 Tablespoons preserved lemon rind, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons capers
  • 2 Tablespoons cured black olive, pitted and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon harissa

For Serving
  • buns (my recipe here for Outlaw Salted Sourdough Beet Buns, use whatever hamburger buns you like)
  • goat cheese, crumbled
  • orach (this is purple spinach, use whatever greens you like)
  • aioli for spreading on the buns
  • romesco sauce for spreading on the buns


Preserved Lemon Relish
Place all of the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Toss to combine completely. Set aside until ready to serve.

Moruno Spice
Place the saffron, fennel seeds, and dried oregano in a spice blender (I use a coffee grinder) or a mortar and pestle. Grind until those three are they form a powder. Place them in small mixing bowl. Add in the other ingredients and stir to combine completely. Place whatever spice you don't use for the burgers in an airtight jar for future use. Use within three months.

Add all of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Mix until well-combined. Form the meat into 4 equal size patties, these were about 6 ounces each. Place on a parchment-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then set aside until ready to cook. 

Cook, as desired, on a grill or on the stove with grill pan.

To Serve
Slice open your burger buns and toast, if desired. Smear aioli on one half and romesco on the other. Place the burger on the bun. Crumble goat cheese on the patty. Top with preserved lemon relish. Add orach and serve immediately.

Find L'Ecole No.41 on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter
*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the sponsor.


  1. I'm digging that lemon relish...and I'm drooling over that burger too....I'll bet it was a wonderful pairing.


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