Last Sunday, not one but two dinners took place on a bridge to celebrate Farm-to-Fork and the amazing bounty we are lucky to enjoy living in the greater Sacramento region.
One of those dinners took place on the Deadhorse Island Bridge and was hosted by the California Pear Advisory Board. The menu featured locally grown produce, namely pears, in almost every course, and the signature beverage of the evening was a pear martini crafted by Jay Yoon of Dawson’s Steakhouse.
From the moment I heard this dinner was going to take place for people who were unable to attend the Tower Bridge Gala dinner, I was very excited for the organizers, and very interested in attending. Especially when I heard my friend and fellow blogger (Munchie Musings), Catherine Enfield would be attending.
It’s really something when you anticipate something so much and it turns out to be everything you expected, but so much more. On the evening of September 27th, we arrived in Walnut Grove and the Dead Horse Bridge (given its name from retired work horses who spent their last days on the island), located across the water from Giusti’s (a local restaurant responsible for the main course to be served that evening). The table and the bridge were beautifully decorated for the guests slated to dine there.
Soon Andy and I were mingling amongst the other guests, as well as Catherine and her guest. The starter was a pizza from Hot Italian in Sacramento, featuring pears and gorgonzola cheese, their Murino pizza.
Being gluten free 95% of the time did not stop me from tasting the appetizer and I enjoyed it with a pear martini, crafted by the aformentioned Jay Yoon of Dawson’s Steakhouse. If you haven’t been to Dawson’s, you’re missing out. Dawson’s is one of the most underrated restaurants in Sacramento. If you’re a wine lover, check out the wine dinners they have every few months. Here’s Jay making my martini!
I loved the addition of the pizza and the pear martini. It was such a touch of class, and made the Dead Horse Bridge Dinner seem so much like a private cocktail party. Then there was the wine, all provided by Bogle Wines and the beer, provided by Sudwerk Beer. The sodas were provided by River City Sodas, and the drinking water was even infused with pear. I could tell the organizers were beaming with pride and showcasing their product (pears) in the best way possible.
On display were several works of art (photography) by Skyler Stanley, including the piece below. Skyler was also the event photographer and took all the photos that were made into a video slideshow of the event that can be viewed by clicking here.
Then the courses began. First, a Delta Islands organic tomato and basil with fresh mozzarella salad. The Bogle Chenin Blanc was a perfect pairing with this salad and the next salad to come.
The first salad was a traditional mozzarella salad, but the endive salad really showcased the pears. Blue cheese and walnuts are a classic sidekick for pear. and the platter of salad didn’t last long amongst my table mates.
Then following the salads was the main course: A barrel-roasted pork rib roast with caramelized pears. Some meals just go down in history as the best you have ever had, no matter how simple the preparation. This meal was headed that way, and the pork we had next only added to my enthusiasm.
It’s really the atmosphere and the company with which you share your meal that makes it great, but it doesn’t hurt to have one of the best pieces of pork you have ever had in your life in front of you as well. The pears in the dish gave a sweet element that danced with the well-seasoned pork. Guests were also served sweet corn-on-the-cob from Dixon with the main course. Bogle’s Petite Sirah and Phantom Red Blend rounded out the wine selections.
OK, so I was all ready for seconds. I really was. But next came dessert, a delightful array of items from Golden State Fruit including dark chocolate crumbs, dried and fresh pears, almonds and Fiscalini cheddar cheese. It was like I was in charge of the dessert plate because it was a stunning combination of all of my favorite things on a plate!
With the dessert items, Bogle’s Petite Sirah Port was also served.
The words amazing and incredible can’t even describe my experience. The Pear Bridge Dinner was such a great success, but could not have been without the help and donations of time and goods by the following people… I want to give a round of applause to the chefs who put the meal together: Mark Morais of Guisti’s and his team –Sam Rainwater, John Baranek and Katie Morais. More thanks goes out to J.B. & Jeannie Morais of Delta Islands; Sudwerk Brewing Co.; Rich Collins, California Endive; Jim Boyce, Produce Express; Dixon Ridge Farms; Bogle Vineyards; Rivermaid Trading Company and all of the local Delta pear farmers, as well as Golden State Fruit.
More kudos goes to Chiles Wilson, Daniel Wilson, Chiles Wilson Jr., CJ Jensen, and Dixie Wilson for the use of her bridge. Rivermaid Trading Company was responsible for set-up, serving and clean up before, during and after the event. Big love to Jay Yoon and his assistant, Susan, from Dawson’s Steakhouse in the Downtown Hyatt for the delicious pear martinis. More thanks to Jody Bogle, Janice Lucas, Steve Lucas, Tim Lucas and Judy Rhea for pouring wines and beverages. Emily Allen of EJA Designs created the beautiful flower arrangements for the event.
To say the Pear Bridge Dinner was memorable evening is simply an understatement, and if you’re reading, one I hope you’ll take part next year. To keep up with future events, you can find the California Pear Advisory board on Facebook here, follow them on Twitter here, on Instagram here and on Pinterest here.
It sure has been a wonderful past two weeks and another successful Farm-to-Fork celebration here in Sacramento. I feel especially grateful to live here during this time of the year. One of the key events during Farm-to-Fork Week is Legends of Wine, which took place last September 17th on the steps of the Capitol building.
I attended with Andy and I brought my mom with us, who was visiting from Ohio that week. It was a gorgeous, classic Sacramento September night, and we had a great time. We caught up with many industry friends and tasted dozens of labels—some familiar, some not so familiar—but all chosen by wine experts Darrell Corti and David Berkley to be at the present.
As always, I took pictures of my favorites and am presenting them to you here. I am not being compensated for my opinion, I just really like the wines you’re about to see, and I encourage you to try them if you have not already! :)
First up is a 2013 Semillon from Andis. If you attended Legends of Wine, you probably tried this wine, because they were one of the first booths of the event near the entrance. It’s a great wine to begin the evening. Bright, fruity and readies the palette for more!
My second favorite from Legends of Wine was the 2013 Séka Hills Viognier (shown below). Speaking of bright and fruity, this wine has the same descriptors. It’s a crisp, flavorful wine straight out of Capay Valley.
Near the Capay Valley lies Esparto and my good friends at Matchbook. Their Rosé of Tempranillo is currently my favorite domestic rosé. It will probably be on my table this Thanksgiving, it goes with almost anything.
Another favorite wine of mine is the 2014 Chenin Blanc from Revolution Wine in Sacramento. Craig Haarmeyer is the winemaker there and is making Chenin cool again. Check out Revolution’s tasting room and restaurant over on 29th and S. In their tasting room, don’t miss their Albariño and Malbec. They are by far my two favorite wines that Craig makes. :)
This Vermentino from Lone Acre (Simone Giusto Cellars) was one of Andy’s favorites. Vermentino is one of the most popular white grapes in Italy and is becoming more popular in California. The grape tends to do really well in warmer regions just like Amador! It might be time to roll out the red wines, but keep this one in mind for a starter glass before dinner.
We also liked this rosé by Uvaggio (Lodi). It’s a blend of Primitivo, Barbera and Vermentino, which is like the Italian grape version of The Three Musketeers!
For all you red wine folks, my last choice is Michael David’s Ancient Vine Cinsault. It’s very similar in body/taste to a Pinot Noir (cherry/berry). The Cinsault was planted in all the way back in 1885 by Joseph Spenker, which pretty much qualifies it as ancient vine, as it is Lodi’s oldest producing vineyard. I wish there were more Cinsault planted and produced!
I am already looking forward to next year’s Farm-to-Fork celebration and another Legends of Wine. To keep up with all the delicious Farm-to-Fork events, click here, “like” Farm to Fork on Facebook here, or follow them on Twitter here. Cheers! :)
If I had only one wine left in the world to choose out of the several that I enjoy, I would keep Pinot Noir because of it’s complexity and versatility. In this edition of Flights By Night, we feature a duo of Pinot Noirs paired with sliced duck breast (graciously sent to me by Maple Leaf Farms), with a pear and carrot sauce, on a crispy sweet potato nest.
The Pinot Noirs we shared with the duck include a 2012 Willowbrook Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) and a 2012 Gavilan Pinot Noir (Chalone Appelation). When Andy and I choose two of the same varietal for a pairing, it’s fun to choose two wines we have tasted before and already know are very different. The Willowbrook is a very pleasant wine to drink all by itself with all the characteristics of a soft pinot noir, but I find the Gavilan is a better wine when it is served with food. The Gavilan is slightly effervescent and has a fuller body. That being said, we obtained many bottles of the Gavilan at a very good price, and my tastebuds fell in love with it. It became my everyday drinker for a while. Now onto the food pairing…
The sauce served on top of the duck is a take on an Alton Brown recipe–I wanted to use pears in my sauce in honor of California Pear’s Local Pear Love campaign. The major switch I made is that I used carrots instead of parsnips in the recipe, the rest I kept (mostly) the same. :)
For the sweet potato nests, I shredded two sweet potatoes in the food processor, squeezed out the excess water in them, and placed the shreds on a parchment lined and lightly oiled sheet pan (I like using a coconut oil spray for this.) I baked the shreds at 400° until they were browned and crispy. Then I plated the shreds in a circular formation to resemble little bird nests.
To prepare the duck, I seasoned the breasts with salt and cracked pepper, then started them in a cold saucepan (skin side down). I slowly brought them up in temperature and rendered out the fat, getting a nice sear/texture and brown color on the skin. Then I flipped them over to cook them a bit more and finished them in the oven for ten minutes at about 200°F. (When you remove the breasts from the oven, allow them to rest about five minutes before slicing into them. They will stay nice and juicy that way!)
You can read about other food and wine Flights By Night here!
I can’t believe it’s been four years since I met Andy at the Curtis Park Wine Tasting and now we live here in Curtis Park together. We are really looking forward to taking our annual walk over to the Sierra 2 Center in a few weeks to enjoy food, wine and friends. :)
I am happy to share information on this event (which happens to be one of the best food and wine tastings of the year in Sacramento) put together by the Sierra 2 Center, and I hope you will join us for the 25th Annual Curtis Park Wine Tasting! -cg
The tradition continues at the 2015 Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden Event on Sacramento, October 10th, 2015 4-7pm.
Building on the success of 24 previous years, this event showcases more than 50 wineries, 20 restaurants and handpicked craft brews by owner & operator of Curtis Park’s own Pangaea Bier Cafe.
The Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden Event is the biggest event of its kind in Curtis Park. Event proceeds benefit SCNA, Bret Harte Elementary School and McClatchy High School. The event takes place at the Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th Street, Sacramento, California 95818
Bring your friends with you, or come meet some new ones. This year we’re turning 25 and we’re celebrating in a VERY big way.
• Raw Oysters on the Half Shell (Scott’s Seafood on the River)
• Dad’s Kitchen
• Freeport Bakery
• Lucca Restaurant & Bar
• Localis (apart of the Broderick Restaurant family)
• Sugar Plum Vegan Bakery
• Tower Café
• Tapa the World
• Taylor’s Kitchen
Event Sponsors: Cook Realty, McDonald Plumbing, Joseph F. Eschleman, Black Pine Communities, Melissa Heede (Remax)
Advance until 11:59pm, Oct. 7: $40 (SCNA Members)/$45 (Non-members) Membership can be purchased or renewed during your registration process. Online ticket sales will close at 11:59pm on Oct. 7. After Oct. 7: $50 all online tickets available until 11:59pm, Oct. 7. After Oct. 7, tickets available at Sierra 2 Center office and at the door the day of the event. Tickets are also available for purchase by visiting the Sierra 2 Center office at 2791 24th Street or by calling 916-452-3005 prior to 5:00 p.m. Friday, October 9, 2015. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door prior to the event.
In this edition of Flights By Night, we bring you a classic pairing of pork and Pinot Noir. A bone-in pork chop with an apple and onion sauté and an apple gastrique. Served with roasted Brussels sprouts.
The Pinot Noirs that Andy chose are some of the most delicious Pinot Noirs I have ever tasted and they are very reasonably priced. Wine number one is Handley’s 2012 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir (their self-titled “flagship wine”) and wine number two is Talbott’s 2013 Kali Hart Pinot Noir (which is my personal favorite red wine right now, because of it’s drinkability with or without food).
As for Handley, they couldn’t make a bad wine if they tried. Case in point, their Gewürztraminer ($20), but that is another pairing for another time. ;) Handley’s Anderson Valley Pinot retails for $32 via their website and Talbott’s Kali Hart Pinot Noir goes for ($21). However, you can find the wines at lower prices if you do a google search for them. ;)
The food pairing was a no-brainer because pork is always a perfect match for Pinot Noir. I quartered the Brussels sprouts and roasted them in olive oil. For the apple and onion sauté, I sliced the onions and cooked them in olive oil, seasoned them with salt, and then added 2 Tbs coconut sugar to help caramelize them. Then I added some chopped apples, and cooked the onions and apples down together until the mixture was browned and thickened.
Andy was busy with the pork chops on the grill and meanwhile I made the apple gastrique. It was such a simple preparation. I just used one part honey to two parts apple cider vinegar. I started with the honey in a small saucepan, and roasted over low heat until the honey turned darker. Then I added the apple cider vinegar and brought to a simmer, then turned down the heat slightly and reduced until the gastrique stuck to the back of a spoon (gastrique will thicken even more as it cools). Tip: You can serve the gastrique with pork, duck, or chicken. ;)
That’s it for today’s Flights By Night! Check back in a few days for another great food and wine pairing!
Today’s “Flights by Night” features a Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon matched up with my Spicy and Sweet Tomato, Beef and Mushroom Sauce over Roasted Spaghetti Squash.
A traditional pairing with any spicy red sauce would be a sangiovese, and we chose one by Luna Vineyards. Most sangiovese have an acidic body accented with bright, red fruit flavors, very similar to the flavor notes of a tomato (that of course would be the main ingredient in a red sauce). ;) The acid in the wine fends off the heat of the red pepper flakes in the sauce.
Speaking of the sauce… Sometimes when preparing a meal during a busy work week, one has to take some shortcuts. For instance, I used a jar of organic 365 Everyday Value Pasta Sauce from Whole Foods as a base for my sauce and added:
1 sauteéd onion
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbs dried basil (Litehouse Foods has a freeze dried basil I absolutely love!)
1 pound grassfed ground beef
Then, I wilted 1 cup fresh basil into the sauce right before serving.
The spaghetti squash was the easy part. I preheat my oven to 400°F, then I poke holes in the squash before microwaving for about 4 minutes (so that I can cut it more easily). I cut the squash open and remove the seeds, then put the squash on a parchment lined baking sheet. I also season the squash with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Then I bake the squash until it gets all roasty and browned on the edges. :)
You can also cook your squash in a crockpot—You don’t de-seed it until after cooking. Just poke holes in the squash, pour 2 cups of water in the crockpot, place the squash in the pot and let it cook on the low setting while you’re at work all day. If you make your sauce ahead of time, you’ll have dinner in less than 5 minutes! :)
The other wine we paired with dinner was a bottle of Nadia Cabernet Sauvignon. This makes sense because of the richness of the beef in the sauce. Also, most of our 2012 Cabernets are just getting old enough to enjoy now in late 2015, because they have aged for 3 years. Their tannins have softened and the fruit is lush. Besides, most wine produced domestically is made to drink sooner than later, so don’t wait too long to open that bottle you’ve been aging. Nothing is worse than opening a bottle that is over the hill (besides opening a bottle that is corked)! Cheers!
Pork and pinot on the next Flights By Night? Stay tuned… :)
Cochon555’s Heritage BBQ announces the chef lineup and official venue for their second annual friendly competition promoting heritage breed pigs and global grilling cultures. The culinary competition challenges five chefs to cook one whole, family farm-raised, heritage pig for a group of 20 notable judges. Chefs have seven days to prepare one whole pig and present a “Judge’s Plate” consisting of 6 dishes scored on utilization, global influences, cooking techniques and overall flavor. The winner in San Francisco will be crowned the “BBQ King or Queen” and takes home over $3,000 in prizes. In addition to sampling the competitor’s dishes, the all-inclusive ticket includes “BBQ Traditions”, a tasting inside the event where 10 notable chefs prepare one dish from their favorite BBQ culture in non-competitive spirit. If you love global flavors and star-studded culinary events, this educational event is like a top chef classroom including grilling-styles like Hibachi, Korean BBQ, Asador, Braai from Africa, Char Siu, Caja China, Churrasco, Barbacoa, as well as regional American BBQ styles from Texas to Kansas City.
Magnolia Brewery at Dogpatch will be the Official Host and Exclusive Brewery of Heritage BBQ, this year’s competing chefs include Dennis Lee of Smokestack / Namu Gaji, Geoff Davis of The Dock, Michael Rafidi of RN74, Nicolai Lipscomb of The Battery, and John Madriaga of Spruce. Each chef will be given a 180-pound heritage breed pig to create six dishes for a crowd of pork-loving enthusiasts. A group of respected judges including Dave McLean of Magnolia Brewery, David Bazirgan of Dirty Habit, and Richie Nakano of Hapa Ramen will be led by Brady Lowe in selecting the winner. Non-competing chefs cooking BBQ Traditions include Jason Wittek of Stem, Jeffrey Weiss of jeninni kitchen and Joshua Schwartz of Del Dotto.
As North America’s only “World’s Fair of Global BBQ”, guests will have the chance to pair spectacular wines, brews, cider and spirits with globally inspired BBQ dishes. The tour motivates grilling communities worldwide to support responsibly raised animals from local farmers. Participation of chefs, partners, consumers and media help create motivation for the BBQ restaurants to support the hyper-local movement and give us something we can sink our teeth into, honest food from real farmers.
The all-inclusive stand up tasting event features 1,400+ pounds of heritage pig, “pop-up” culinary experiences, premium wines, artisan cheeses, sustainable seafood, hand-crafted spirits, fine cocktails, and a very impressive selection of whiskies, ryes and bourbon. The stunning lineup of sponsors behind this celebration of heritage species include Williams-Sonoma’s local butcher demo, WilsonArt’s “Perfect Manhattan Experience” featuring Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Breckenridge Bourbon, Hirsch and Luxardo cherries, Magnolia Brewing Co, Common Cider, Creekstone Farms, Krave Jerky, Creminelli Fine Meats, California Olive Ranch and La Brea Bakery. A portion of the proceeds always benefit the local culinary school while building opportunities for local food producers. All tickets include endless drinks and tons of food and are limited to only 250 tickets per event.
“We’re incredibly excited to bring Heritage BBQ to San Francisco for the first time and pay tribute to global cultures by consuming local food the way BBQ was intended to be. Today’s BBQ restaurant doesn’t give us a choice to buy local, safe food with our hard-earned money and we’re on a mission to change that by hosting incredible events that honor the greatest social traditions on the planet, cooking over fire. This event returns the BBQ conversation to the original context of local meats, cooked with native spices, over fires and shared with a community. Therefore, the event will tilt the scales back towards creating long-term relationships for family farms and big protein buyers like BBQ restaurants. It’s only a matter of time until people demand better food choices when standing at the counter.” explains Brady Lowe. “We are standing right there with them, promoting honest food and a choice to buy safe food.”
Tickets for general admission start at $100, and VIP tickets for early admission are $200. To purchase tickets, visit the website here.
Where: Magnolia Brewery – Official Host of Heritage BBQ: 2505 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107
When: Sunday, Sept. 13, VIP doors at 4 PM; General Admission at 5 PM
About Heritage BBQ by COCHON 555
Started in 2012 in an effort to bridge the gap between family farms and all categories of BBQ restaurants, Heritage BBQ by Cochon 555, is the first national BBQ competition dedicated to supporting a new direction for heritage breed pigs by expanding the conversation to a global economy. Created by Cochon 555 Founder Brady Lowe, Heritage BBQ engages existing BBQ restaurants in the local and sustainable food conversation taking place nationwide while simultaneously breaking ground on a new hyper-local, globally-themed, farm-supporting BBQ.
About The Cochon US Tour
The Cochon US Tour executes a variety of unique, local food events that are focused on raising enthusiasm for supporting family farms with the world’s first environmentally conscious nose-to-tail pig competition. The flagship Cochon 555 event is celebrated as the world’s first nose-to-tail pig competition in the fine-dining community. Created in response to the lack of consumer education around “heritage breed pigs”, this epic pork feast visits 20 major cities in North America annually. The US Tour also includes other live-event festivals, these focused culinary expressions include Heritage BBQ (global cultures), Heritage Fire (live-fire event), EPIC Cochon (hyper-premium), and Cochon Island (agri-tourism). The events feature top chefs preparing locally raised heritage breed proteins. Together with winemakers, brewers, distillers and craft food champions, they create authentic culinary events celebrating the good food movement. Since its launch, the tour has supported responsible family farming by sharing heritage breed pig experience with over 50,000, by donating more than $450,000 to charities and culinary schools, and buying more than $1,000,000 in food raised by local farmers. For more details about the events, visit www.cochon555.com or follow @cochon555 on Twitter.