Kath is off chasing a story on her favorite flowers, so you'll have to pretend you're in the convertible driving down Route 12 in Sonoma Countys wine country with me.
It's the day before Mothers Day, so scheduling an event today is a brave move. To my surprise, the parking lot is full, the wonderful California weather is cooperating and it's just five bucks for a beautiful wine glass and entry to the affair.
I had an idea of what to expect since Diana Bowland, Events Coordinator at Kenwood Vineyards, also plans this event for Valley of the Moon Winery. Kath and I had attended a food and wine pairing event last month at Kenwood Vineyards and wrote about it in the article IRS Blues. Just as at Kenwood, there will be more food and wine pairing events at Valley of the Moon Winery this year. The events are scheduled for June 8th, July 13th & 14th, August 10th, September 14th & 15th and October 12th. Valley of the Moons web site has all the details.
The similarity to Kenwood Winerys Special Events stops there. Valley of the Moon has a different ambiance, perhaps a little more formal in its food and wine pairing presentations and yet they seemed to be more excited about their wines. A very different and worthwhile experience from our introduction to Dianas brilliant concept at Kenwood Vineyards.
White Sale is a celebration of Valley of the Moon Winerys newly released and award winning white wines. The whites, along with some of their red wines, were on sale at 40% off! WOW.
Lets see whos here. At the first table they are pouring their just released 2001 Chardonnay paired with a delightful Asian Style Soba Noodle dish. The pairing was magic, and since they were so nice to provide the recipe, so will I:
Asian Style Soba Noodles with Grilled Chicken, Vegetables and Vinaigrette
1 package Soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)*
1 lb. Grilled chicken breasts, julienned
2 cups julienned snow peas
1 cup julienned celery
1 cup julienned red bell pepper
1 cup julienned carrot
1 cup julienned green onion
1 T fresh chopped garlic
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chiffonade**
1 bunch fresh mint, chiffonade**
2 T black sesame seeds
1 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup Honey Sesame Vinaigrette (recipe at right)
*Available at Asian Markets
**Shredded or finely cut vegetables
Toss all ingredients in a large bowl and serve well chilled.
Compliments of Chef Robin Lehnhoff, Delicacies, Catering by Korbel.
Honey Sesame Vinaigrette
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
2 T fresh grated ginger
1 T fresh chopped garlic
1 cup sesame oil
2 cups rice wine vinegar
4 cups peanut oil
3 T toasted sesame seeds
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Whisk all ingredients together.
You can see there's so much good stuff in this recipe even my dietician would approve. M M good and their Chardonnay brought out each and every lovely flavor.
Next came Vintage Sweet Shoppe of Napa, who were serving their famous English Toffee with more nuts than I've ever seen. I was told to try it with the 2001Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc being served over at a table in the middle of the tent. I got to visit this table often because many of the ensuing vendors said you have to try my food with their Silver Medal Pinot. Nothing new here for Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc except they were surprised that it wasn't a Gold Medal as usual. Heres what I meant about their paying more attention to pairing, it's a great Pinot!
Moving on, I found some great olive spread from Jimtown Store. You guessed it: Try it with the Pinot over there, said Tiffany, Jimtown Stores marketing director. Tiffany had a wide variety of spreads on display and, yes, the Pinot was just the right pairing with the Jimtown Store olive spread.
A few more steps and I was presented with a selection of O Olive Oil and Valley of the Moons Dipping Oils. Little bread sticks were just the vehicle needed to bring these wonderful flavors to my eager palate. Aged Balsamic Vinegar gave the dipping oils real depth. And, yes, more Pinot was needed.
Steve Stone welcomed me to his table where he was cooking up what looked like Quesadillas. His Yucatan Sunset Dry Rub and Picante Sauce kicked it up a notch and I was beginning to get full.
On to Mayacamas Fine Foods where the pasta sauces were delightful and Pasta Passion Pesto Genovese Marinated Mushrooms reminded me how much I love mushrooms. I received a warm welcome as they remembered me from IRS Blues last month.
Another warm welcome awaited me at Simas Sweets & Sours. I tried his Dillweed rice followed by his Chicken rice. More Pinot, and boy am I getting full, but I was told at the first booth that I had to save room for the Bread Pudding.
The next table had a stunning display of Irenes Import Crystals. All hand made in Italy, I've rarely seen so many beautiful glasses in one place.
I've finally made it to the Valley of the Moon 1995 Sparkling Wine table and the fabled Bread Pudding. This was the pairing that impressed me the most. Do you suppose it was the Bread Pudding? Here's the recipe:
Lemon-White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Fresh Lemon Curd and Raspberries
1 loaf French bread, no crust
1 cup gold raisons
1 cup chopped white chocolate chunks
3 egg yolks
1 cup fresh lemon curd
1 cup granulated sugar
1 pt. fresh raspberries
1 T lemon zest
a pinch of fresh nutmeg
Cut bread into one-inch cubes and set aside. In a large bowl whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, cream, zest and nutmeg together. Pour Lemon Curd over bread cubes and stir to soak. Add raisons and white chocolate chunks. Let rest for 30 minutes.
Pour pudding into greased 10-inch springform pan, cover with foil and bake in a 325-degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting. This pudding is best served warm with a dollop of lemon curd, a little whipped cream and raspberries.
4 egg yolks
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup melted sweet butter
Whisk yolks and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add juice, zest and butter. Place mixture over double boiler and cook until curd begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Strain curd and set aside to cool.
I sat down at a picnic table to savor this glorious pairing and then went over and thanked the lovely lady at the first booth for her good advice.
I've been here two hours now and I can't believe where the time has flown.
Up next my stomach gets a breather at Creative Beadworks display. Their web site describes what my eyes enjoyed better than my prose could. Give them a visit and see what I mean.
But we were not finished yet! In the center of the tent were four more tables with Smith & Riley offering their attention getting Mustards with cheese and salami with crackers, Santa Rosa Bread Company, the ever popular Pinot Blanc table and Porkys Original BBQ Style Onions. I'm so full now I pass on any more tasting and just say hi to the friends I made at the IRS Blues celebration at Kenwood Vineyards.
Finally, it's the last stop, and another food and wine pairing, once again with the Valley of the Moon 2001 Pinot Blanc. The recipe for the last dish paired with the Pinot:
Rock Shrimp and Mango Salsa with Tortilla Crostini
1 pound fresh rock shrimp, cooked and cooled
4 T capers and juice
2 mangos, skinned, seeded and diced
1 cup sliced hearts of palm
1 large red onion, diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 T chopped fresh garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in bowl and let rest for 15 minutes. Check seasonings. Serve in a large bowl with cut citrus around the rim.
1 package flour tortillas
Cut tortillas to desired shapes and lay on sheet pan. Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool completely before serving.
Phew. I can't believe I made the whole circuit. It's been over three hours of gustatory delight. What a delicious experience. Come check it out in June.
We look forward to your comments, suggestions and ideas.
Drop us an e-mail or call 707-566-8034.