It was really a very civilized way to unwind and we carried on the tradition when we got back to real life. We don't do it every day, but at the end of a long, hard week it's a nice little luxury, and when we have people over for dinner, nothing is easier to put out as an appetizer. As a result, Anson has become a rather gifted cheese plate maker, adding in fresh fruit, tomatoes from the garden when we have them, basil leaves, mustard, whatever strikes his fancy. My contribution has been these spiced, roasted almonds.Sonoma at Gloria Ferrer and Domaine Carneros. Both wineries served them alongside our sparkling wine and we wondered about it at each place. Curiously, there were no almonds in sight when we visited Pommery in France. We figured it must be an American wine country tradition, but whatever the case, we loved them and I can't stop eating them.
The first time I made them, I found some recipes on the web and used the guidelines they provided. I found that really none of the spices stood out (except for cinnamon) so now I just sprinkle a bunch of savory spices into a bowl, add some oil and it always comes out good. Like a lot of the recipes I post, this is a guideline, so feel free to customize it to your taste.
1/4 teaspoon of the following:
a dash of cinnamon*
2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil
2 cups of unroasted almonds
Mix it all together in a bowl, throw it on a baking sheet in a single layer, and bake them for about 35 minutes at 375°. Stir them half way through and take one out towards the end to test doneness. Keep a close eye on them too because they can go from perfect to burned really quickly. And like most things you bake, they will continue to crisp up a little after you take them out of the oven.
*I've found this is the only spice whose potency doesn't mellow as it roasts, so be careful not to over do it, unless you want to make cinnamon spiced almonds. If that's the case, add more sugar too.