Category Archives: Wine

Sacramento — America’s Farm-To-Fork-Capital

Chef Ravin Patel holds cute little mason jars of baby root veggies in edible "soil.''

Chef Ravin Patel holds cute little mason jars of baby root veggies in edible “soil.”

 

When one thinks of California’s top food cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles come to mind immediately.

As for Sacramento? Not nearly so readily.

In fact, a publicist for the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau told me that when arranging a tour recently for an out-of-state food writer, the visiting scribe’s first question was, “Is there an airport there?”

Why, yes, there is. It is the Golden State’s capitol, after all.

Indeed, Sacramento is home to nearly half a million people, as well as 1.5 million acres of farmland. With a year-round growing season, it produces more than 120 different crops that are enjoyed not only locally but abroad.

It grows more sushi rice than any other place. In fact, chances are if you eat any sushi in California, the rice was grown in Sacramento. The city produces 80 percent of the nation’s caviar. The breadth of the bounty includes everything from almonds to Kobe beef to wine grapes.

The fork in Farm-To-Fork.

The fork in Farm-To-Fork.

Even the table was decorated with freshly grown provisions from Sacramento.

Even the table was decorated with freshly grown provisions from Sacramento.

I was reminded of just how crucial Sacramento is to our plates when I attended a special private dinner last week in San Francisco that spotlighted the city’s culinary treasures. It was a Sacramento roadshow, as Executive Chef Oliver Ridgeway of Grange Restaurant & Bar and Chef Ravin Patel, chief culinary officer of Selland Family Restaurants, trekked down from Sacramento to EatWith’s South of Market event space in San Francisco to prepare a multi-course feast for a dozen food journalists and bloggers. All of it featured fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood sourced from Sacramento.

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An Amuse Bouche to the 2015 Pebble Beach Food & Wine

Southern ham done in the style of Iberico jamon -- served on a magically appears during a hiking tour of Post Ranch Inn.

Southern ham done in the style of Iberico jamon — magically appears during a hiking tour of Post Ranch Inn.

 

When you get a group of esteemed Master Sommeliers together, you know there’s going to be an abundance of fine wines uncorked.

When you get them together at Big Sur’s gorgeous Post Ranch Inn as a prelude to next spring’s Pebble Beach Food & Wine extravaganza, the drinking and dining are of the highest order and pretty much go on non-stop.

That’s what I was lucky enough to be privy to when I was invited as a guest to the soiree and to Post Ranch Inn a few weeks ago.

A room with a view at Post Ranch Inn.

A room with a view at Post Ranch Inn.

The Nest -- a sculpture that you can cocoon away in.

The Nest — a sculpture that you can cocoon away in.

Sierra Mar restaurant.

Sierra Mar restaurant.

Among the other guests at the two-night affair were: David Bernahl, founder of the Pebble Beach event; Lara Sailor Long, executive wine director for the event; Kim Beto of Southern Wine & Spirits; Shayn Bjornholm, education director for the Court of Master Sommeliers; Ian Cauble of SommSelect; Dominque DaCruz, wine director of Post Ranch Inn; Christie Dufault, former wine director at Restaurant Gary Danko; Seth Kunin of Kunin Wines; Jordan MacKay, wine and spirits writer; Carlton McCoy, wine director for The Little Nell in Aspen; and Larry Stone, estate director of Huneeus Vintners in Rutherford.

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St. Helena’s Press Welcomes A Most Appropriate New Chef

The very clever carrot "hot dog'' at Press in St. Helena.

The very clever carrot “hot dog” at Press in St. Helena.

 

Earlier this summer, Press in St. Helena welcomed a new executive chef — Trevor Kunk, who was the chef de cuisine at Blue Hill New York for seven years.

It’s a most apropos choice, given that Blue Hill is renowned for its almost painstaking use of locally grown ingredients, including those from its own farms, and the fact that Press is very much a root-to-shoot, nose-to-tail steakhouse with the bulk of its provisions coming from its 13-acre Rudd Farms and Chef’s Garden.

In Kunk’s hands, the food at Press embodies the garden even more so now, as evidenced by my recent dinner there when I was invited in to dine as a guest of the restaurant. My dinner was a week ago, prior to last Sunday’s 6.0 earthquake in Napa. Fortunately, no damage occurred at Press, which is operating as usual.

Press was founded by Wine Country mover-and-shaker Leslie Rudd, who also owns Rudd Oakville Estate and Dean & DeLuca. The graceful restaurant was designed by Howard Backen, who has been responsible for the look of the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, Archetype in St. Helena, Kokkari in San Francisco, and a slew of premiere wineries including Harlan Estate, Ram’s Gate, Dana Estates and Bond Estates.

You can't miss the sign on Highway 29.

You can’t miss the sign on Highway 29.

The beautiful, light-filled dining room.

The beautiful, light-filled dining room.

The soaring barn-like restaurant fills with natural light, lending a casual but elegant ambiance. With an old-fashioned, hand-crank grape press as its logo, Press takes wine seriously. There are more than 1,500 Napa Valley selections, with a specialization in Cabernet Sauvignon, that you can thumb through on an electronic tablet. Or just put your hands in Sommelier Angela Stem’s hands. After all, with a surname like that, how can you go wrong?

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Bay Area Chefs Event, New Seafood Restaurant Coming to Mountain View & More

Chef Ross Hanson is one of the featured chefs at the benefit gala for Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

Chef Ross Hanson is one of the featured chefs at the benefit gala for Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

“Star Chefs and the Wines and Spirits They Love”

Enjoy gourmet noshes by 15 Bay Area chefs matched with wine and cocktails at the annual “Star Chefs and the Wines and Spirits They Love” fund-raiser, 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 13 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

The participating chefs are:

Executive Chef Ross Hanson, Oak & Rye Restaurant
Executive Chef Philipe Breneman, Lexington House
Executive Chef John Burke, Liquid Bread Gastropub
Executive Chef Jeff Fitzgerald, Dio Deka
Executive Chef Jarad Gallagher, Chez TJ
Chef de Cuisine Anthony Jimenez, The Table
Executive Chef Brad Kraten, Park Place
Executive Chef Lan Le, White Shallot
Executive Chef Randy MustererSushi Confidential
Executive Chef Justin Perez, Justin’s Restaurant
Head Baker Avery Ruzicka, The Manresa Bread Project
Executive Chef Josiah Slone,  Sent Sovi
Executive Chef Nanci Wokas, Hewlett Packard
Executive Chef Chris Yamashita, Brown Chicken Brown Cow
Bee Whisperer Tim Dauber, Bee Friendly

The best dishes will receive a People’s Choice, Chefs’ Choice and Judges’ Choice award. Yours truly is proud to be one of the judges for the evening.

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Macy’s Valley Fair Welcomes the Food Gal and Centonove For a Cooking Demo

MacysCentonoveAd

If you’re a fan of great Italian food and wine, you won’t want to miss the next cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara at 6 p.m. Tues., Feb. 25. (Excuse the date typo in the ad.)

That’s because I’ll be hosting Chef Carlo Ochetti of the charming new Centonove in downtown Los Gatos, who will demonstrate how to make one of his prized Italian specialties. A native of Italy, Ochetti grew up cooking with his mother, before going on to attend culinary school. He’s the former chef of Il Fornaio in San Jose.

Also joining us will be Lisa Rhorer, Centonove’s owner and sommelier. She’ll not only discuss the finer points of Italian wines, but bring along the specific wine she’d most pair with Ochetti’s dish. Yes, folks, this is a two-fer: You’ll not only get to taste food but also the wine that best goes with it. How’s that for a deliriously good time?

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