I met a character at the Valley of the Moon Winery.
Hes an insurance salesman turned Chef named Steve Stone. I was fascinated!
Next thing you know Im following that Chef.
This is an amazing story. Steves a guy firmly implanted in mid-life who made a significant career change to pursue a life long dream. This only happens in America, folks.
His dad was a butcher who supplied San Franciscos finest restaurants with veal that was stall raised and corn fed before all the antibiotic craziness happened. He grew up with a strong desire to follow in his fathers footsteps. Steves dad said: Forget it! Get an education and find a real job. He took a 20-year detour through the insurance industry, finally woke up and went back to school to learn how to become the unique Chef he is today.
First stop, a B2B lunch for businesses in Sonoma at Bartholomew Park Winery. Folks from the Visitors Bureau and local Bed and Breakfasts were there.
I was intrigued by the winerys museum and tasting room. A collection of Eadweard Muybridge photos from his A Vintage in California series (1870-71) chronicles the viticulture of the time and is supported by murals and agricultural tools of the period. Old and historic, this is definitely not your typical tasting room. Bartholomew Park Winery also has wonderful picnic grounds.
Steve had everything ready to go by the time I got there but took me into the kitchen to show me his masterful preparation and presentation strategies.
I managed to survive a sumptuous lunch with six ladies. The Chardonnays of Bartholomew Park paired superbly with the entries that kept coming and coming and I knew something was a foot. Steve and the winemaker had spent a good bit of time designing this meal. Im sorry you couldnt make it. But, Ive got a treat for you. At the end of this article are the recipes and wines the winemaker and Steve paired for this gastronomic adventure of mine, and more!
Next, Im invited to a party for wineries at Schug Carneros Estate Winery in Sonoma. Its an affair held about monthly that rotates around the wineries in the Carneros appellation, and its no small event. At least 300 people from dozens of wineries showed up to show off their latest wines and celebrat the joy of winemaking.
Walter and Gertrud Schug and their staff seemed to be everywhere, pouring their fine wines, greeting guests and creating an ambiance that was just wonderful.
Schug Carneros Estate vineyards reached up the mountain to the west behind a huge tent set up for the occasion, with their beautiful gardens providing a backdrop for all to enjoy. Im struck by the majesty of the scenery. Inside, its all winery, not the tasting room youd expect. But, hey, this is a winery party, not a display of their tasting room. Besides, that would never have worked with a crowd this size.
I finally found Steve and his wife Susan who were busy putting on the finishing touches of another feast. Steve took time out to introduce me to the key people in attendance. It was clear he and Susan had everything under control. I was impressed and pleased to get the introductions. Despite some worries in the crowd, there was more than enough to eat and with the Schugs great Chardonnay everyone enjoyed the feast.
It was a real treat! Wine makers and owners were there, pouring their latest creations and comparing notes youll not hear anywhere else.
Walters great 2000 Carneros Chardonnays make my day and are paired beautifully with Steves herb seasoned grilled chicken entrée. Sorry, there is no recipe to follow. Steve says to do your favorite thing with spices. The only thing that would have improved his grilled chicken would have been marinating the chicken in this wonderful Chardonnay from Schug.
The music started, the wind blew, as it usually does here in the afternoon, (thank Godit was a 100 in the shade) and the party began.
I was blown away by a chef who can scale from 6 to 300 guests and not miss a beat in the quality of what ends up on your plate.
Finally, its off to Homewood Winery and the super hospitality of David Homewood. Susan Sutton is at the piano, and her band is entertaining a crowd at least as large as the Schug party. The band is playing upbeat jazz and Susans vocals are stunning.
David remembers me from the Schug party and makes me at home. Steve has added an oriental twist to his hors douvres and the dim sum is just perfect with Davids 2000 Odmann Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay.
Here are the recipes I promised:
Yucatan Sunset Ancho-Zinfandel Sauce
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup Yucatan Sunset Dry Rub
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cup zinfandel
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup basalmic vinegar
1/2 cup black currant preserves
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbs. tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened (about 2 minutes).
Add Yucatan Sunset Dry Rub and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring, for an additional 5 minutes.
Add one-cup zinfandel and cook over medium heat, whisking, until thick, 5-6 minutes.
Add next 5 ingredients and reduce, stirring frequently, until reduced to three cups, about 30-50 minutes.
Allow to cool and puree until smooth.
Mixed Bean Tuna Salad
1 cup dried great northern beans
1 cup dried black beans
2 6 ounce cans tuna
1/2 up chopped red onion
3 tbs. fresh lime juice (or lemon juice)
1 tbs. cidar vinegar
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano (1/2 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. dried, ground marjoram
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
4 cloves garlic, minced (1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
4 to 5 tbs. olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
1 tbs. yucatan sunset picante sauce (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
Pick through beans to remove rocks. Soak beans in separate pots for eight hours. Drain beans. Place beans back in their separate pots. Cover with water and cook until tender. Drain beans; allow to cool and combine in large bowl.
Add onion to beans and toss. Add tuna and flake into large chunks with a fork.
Combine first seven dressing ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly add olive oil while whisking until well blended. Add picante sauce to taste.
Add dressing to bean mixture and toss gently so as not to break up tuna too much. Season with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate for at least one hour. Garnish with parsley and cilantro and serve.
As a great variation on this salad use grilled tombo or ahi as a substitute for canned tuna.
Brie And Mango Quesadillas
1 maui or red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 tbs. olive oil
1 4-6 inch diameter wheel of brie cheese
1 ripe mango, peeled, seeded and diced
1 small can (approx. 3 ozs) green ortega chilies, drained
1-2 tbs. Yucatan Sunset Dry Rub
Bartholomew Park paired the Brie and Mango Qusadillas with their 1998 Chardonnay.
Heat oil and saute onion until light golden. Allow to cool.
Remove thick, tough outer layer from wheel of brie.
Crumple brie into a bowl
(this is easier if brie is cold).
Add next 3 ingredients and cooled onions to brie and mix well.
Place one tortilla on worksurface. Place about 2-3 tbs. Of brie mixture in center of tortilla. Place another tortilla on top and gently press down to spread mixture between the tortillas.
Using a non-stick pan or griddle, cook quesadilla on both sided until light golden in color.
Cut into 6 pieces, garnish and serve.
Yucatan crema (sour cream blended with
Mushroom Pecan Pate
1 lb. mushrooms, cleaned and chopped (a combination of button & portobello mushrooms)
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 cup pecans, toasted
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 cup grated dried romano
1/2 cup minced parsley
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup freshly toasted bread crumbs
2 tbs. chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp. dried)
3 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
(or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. salt
1/8 cup dry red wine
1/2 tsp. yucatan sunset
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a food processor, combine mushrooms, celery, pecans, ricotta, romano cheese, red wine and parsley. Pulse until coarse and mixed.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tbs. Butter. Add shallots and sauté until translucent. Add mushroom mixture, 2 tbs. Butter, bread crumbs, basil, oregano, salt and yucatan sunset. Adjust salt if necessary.
Butter a 2-quart loaf pan (or equivalent of smaller loaf pans); line with buttered parchment. Pack pate mixture into mold; cover top with additional buttered parchment.
Bake at 400 degrees until skewer inserted into center comes out clean (1 to 1 1/2 hour if in 2 quart loaf pan).
Allow to cool completely, then invert onto serving platter. Best served cool but not cool.
Yucatan Chili Con Carne
3 tbs. olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
2 lb coursly ground beef
(or beef stew meat if you like it chunky)
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large (28 oz) can peeled (or diced) tomatoes
1 large (28 oz) can tomato sauce
5 tbs. yucatan sunset dry rub
1 1/2 oz (1/2 disk) mexican (ibarra) chocolate,
6 ozs dark beer
juice of 1 lime
1 tbs. cider vinegar
salt, pepper and sugar to taste
grated cheddar cheese
grated jack cheese
yucatan crema (sour cream wisked with Yucatan Sunset Picante Sauce.)
In a large, heavy pot, sweat onion in olive oil and add beef. Sauté until beef is browned. Add garlic and briefly sauté, stirring constantly so garlic does not burn.
Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and yucatan sunset dry rub.
When pot reaches the simmer, add molasses, chocolate, beer, lime juice and vinegar.
Simmer, covered, stirring often for at least 2 hours.
Adjust seasonings (salt & pepper) and sweetness (with sugar). Serve with tortillas or over rice.
Yucatan Sunset Remoulade Sauce
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. whole grain or creole mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tbs. olive oil
3 tbs. minced celery
3 tbs. minced scallions
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. worcestershire sauce
1 &Mac195; tsp. yucatan sunset picante sauce
2 tbs. paprika
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. salt
This is an excellent sauce on shrimp or other seafood as well as steamed or raw vegetables. Also excellent as a garnish on eggs.
Combine all in a stainless steel bowl. Whisk well to combine. Cover and allow to sit, refrigerated, at least 4 hours.
Yucatan Gumbo Ya Ya
2 lbs. chicken thighs
water to cover
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup high smoke point vegetable oil
3 large onions, medium dice
7 stalks celery, medium dice
4 bell peppers, medium dice
12 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cayenne
pinch each of dried oregano, thyme & marjoram
4 bay leaves
1 1/2 lb. andouille, 1/2 inch slices
1 tbls. file powder
1 tbls. Yucatan Sunset Picante Sauce
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Homewood paired the Yucatan Gumbo Ya Ya
with their 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon
Cover chicken with water and simmer until chicken falls off the bone. Allow to cool and remove from the bone. Set aside. Strain and reserve cooking liquid.
In a heavy bottomed pot heat vegetable oil and made roux by slowly adding flour, whisking constantly, until the roux is the color of chocolate milk.
When roux has reached the desired color, add onions and sweat. Add celery and bell peppers. Scrape bottom of pot and cook for 1 minute. Add garlic, cayenne, oregano, thyme, marjoram and bay leaves. Slowly add reserved chicken stock with water as nnecessary to equal 2 1/2 quarts, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
Add sausage and allow to simmer for 2 hours. Skim fat from surface. Add chicken and simmer for additional 30 minutes.
Stir in file powder, whisking to avoid lumps.
Finish with Yucatan Sunset Picante Sauce to taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve over rice. Garnish with scallions.
Yucatan Sunset Pulled Pork
1 pork butt
Yucatan Dry Rub
Yucatan BBQ Sauce
Rub pork butt with Yucatan DryRub and allow it to sit at least three (3) hours to overnight, refrigerated.
Sear pork butt over hot coals. Move slowly off heat, surround with onions, and cook slowly until meat falls apart.
Shred meat, chop onions, and combine in a bowl with Yucatan BBQ Sauce.
Place on buns and top with slaw.
1 pork butt
Yucatan Dry Rub
tomatoes and potatoes, optional
Yucatan BBQ Sauce
Bartholomew Park paired this with their 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon and Homewood paired this with their 1999 Estate Mt. Veeder Merlot and 1997 Mt. Veeder Estate Zinfandel.
Rub Pork Butt with Yucatan DryRub and allow to sit at least three (3) hours to overnight, refrigerated.
Place Pork and Onions in a roasting pan. Place in preheated 400-degree oven for one (1) hour, fat side up.
Reduce heat to 340 degrees, add next two ingredients and cook until meat falls apart.
Shred meat and coarsely chop other ingredients. Combine with Yucatan BBQ Sauce.
Place on buns and top with slaw. Served with zin sauce (see above)
Yucatan Sunset BBQ Sauce
1 red onion, diced
3 tbs butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup orance juice
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tbs dijon mustard
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbs Yucatan Sunset Picante Sauce, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Saute onion in butter until just tender. Add garlic and saute one minute longer.
Add next eight ingredients. Simmer until thick, about 15 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Creole Style Cole Slaw
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbls. cider vinegar
2 tbls. whole grain or creole mustard
1 tbls. sugar
1 tsp. yucatan sunset picante sauce
1 head purple cabbage, shredded
1 head green cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, peeled and shredded
2 scallions, thinly sliced
kosher salt and white pepper to taste
Combine dressing ingredients and chill well.
To serve, combine cabbages, carrots and scallions. Toss with dressing and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Yucatan Honey-Jalapeno Glaze
Great On Ribs Or Chicken
1/2 cup chopped garlic (about 15 cloves)
3 large jalapeno chilies,
stemmed, seeded & chopped
1 tbs. ground cumin
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
(or orange juice)
1 cup honey
3 tbs. yucatan sunset, or to taste
Combine first 4 ingredients in bowl of food processor and puree well. Pour into a sauce pan and stir in honey. Cook over low heat, stirring, for 20 minutes.
Add yucatan sunset to taste and season with salt.
Brush over meat toward the end of the cooking process.
Yucatan Pork Tacos
3 tbs. yucatan sunset dry rub
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of allspice
pinch of black pepper
1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin in1/3 inch cubes
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 tbs. cider vinegar
1/4 cup minced cilantro
3 tbs. olive oil
avocado, mashed with lime juice
In a bowl, mix the dry rub with the cinnamon, allspice and black pepper. Add the pork, onion, vinegar and cilantro and mix well.
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the pork mixture and cook, stirring, over medium high heat until browned and just cooked through. Transfer to colander (or paper towels) to drain.
Transfer to a bowl and serve with tortillas and condiments.
Soulvlaki is a classic and very simple greek dish. It is ancient in that this it was what homer's troops ate outside of the gates of troy.
2 lbs. boneless lamb, pork or veal cut in
1 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups red wine
1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 tbs. dried oregano (preferably greek oregano)
salt and pepper
Schug chose their 2000 Carneros Pinot Noir to pair with this entrée.
mix together red wine, olive oil and oregano. Add cubed meat and allow to marinade, refrigerated, for several hours, stirring occassionally.
Remove meat from marinade and reserve marinade. Slip 4-5 pieces of meat onto 8-inch skewers.
Brush skewers with marinade, season with salt and pepper and grill over low coals, brushing frequently with marinade.
Serve with grilled pita bread.
Special thanks Steve & Susan Stone for their fabulous gourmet dinners.
I cant say enough about the amazing wines poured by Bartholomew Park, Schug and Homewood wineries and their many guests.
The personal experiences, recipes to die for and the privilege of following that chef, sounds like a tough job, but somebody has to do it.
I look forward to your comments, suggestions and ideas.
Drop me an e-mail or call 707-566-8034.
Steve Stone, Master Chef:
ET2BRUTE, P.O.Box 441, Sonoma, CA 95476
Phone/FAX (707) 939-6000