WineCountry Staff: March 2008 Archives
Just like a plump ripe fig, the girl & the fig food is fresh, healthy, and bursting with flavor. With a seasonal menu featuring garden vegetables, herbs, and an abundance of creativity, the rustic Provençal-inspired cuisine allows earth's true and natural flavors to shine.
By Courtney Cochran
Spend enough time in a wine country brew pub and you'll sooner or later hear the favorite mantra of wine country bartenders, "It takes a lot of good beer to make great wine." And while beer's popularity with the winemaking cognoscenti may not come as a huge surprise, its affinity for cheese probably does. That's right, like wine beer can pair beautifully with an array of fromages from Muenster to Morbier, and often does so even more gracefully than vino itself.
Breakfast in a gulp, lunch on the go and dinner on the run. Life in the fast lane seems to have bypassed the slow, ancient pleasures of the table. However, an amiable group of gastromes hopes to put an end to our nuke-it-and-eat-it culture.
With a charming chiocciolina (small snail) as its mascot and a philosophy that advocates the defence of pleasure, Slow Food, an international organization with 30,000 members in 35 countries is helping members rediscover the flavours of regional cooking and fresh local produce. The group believes that small doses of sensual pleasure preserve us from the fast and frozen food, the enemies of contemplative cuisine.
Although Cabernet Sauvignon is often heralded as the perfect foil for steaks, a wine such as Merlot, with softer and fruitier notes and lower acid, is a better match for beef prepared with saltier, sharper and more savory marinades.
- Two 10-12 ounce New York steaks
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Chef's Recipe Notes:
This simple chicken dish has subtle touches of porcini and aged Parmigiano Reggiano, both of which add a light earthiness and nuttiness to the dish. The Parmigiano and the wine also add balanced saltiness and acidity to round out the dish.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 pound fresh porcini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (reconstituted, dried porcinis can be substituted, as well as other deeply flavorful mushrooms)
- 1/4 pound Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shaved thinly with a vegetable peeler
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 pound spinach
During a recent trip to the Pebble Beach area it struck me - this place is actually pretty nice. Sure, postcard views of the rugged coastline and storybook houses in the hills are a dime a dozen here. But beyond that obvious stuff, there's a lot going on in Pebble Beach. I took time in between watching actors act like they know how to play golf (who am I kidding, most of them are a hell of a lot better than me!), to explore some of the region's finer establishments for culinary delights and the occasional beer. The list can take a month's worth of columns to fill, and I will devote the necessary time to that venture in due course.
Recipe by Chef Andrei Litvinenko
Heirloom Black Bell eggplants are sliced thin, brushed with garlic olive oil and grilled. We then layer our roulade with roasted sweet Italian heirloom peppers, sun dried tomato pesto, sweet basil leaves and Matos Family St. George cheese. The combination of the concentrated flavors and smokiness of the vegetables with the aged cheese pairs well with the rich tannins and complexity of the Highland Estates Grizz Ridge Merlot, as well as our Stature Merlot.
Janine Falvo's passion for food stems from a family deeply rooted in culinary tradition. Today she enjoys being the Chef de Cuisine of Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar for The Lodge at Sonoma. Raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, her childhood years were filled with memories of berry picking, seasonal harvest canning and celebratory holiday feasts. After years of showcasing her culinary prowess to her family and friends at such gatherings, she decided to hone her skills and make a career out of her life long passion.