At Ridge Vineyards, we don’t stage all that many truly large-scale events, but when we do, we always opt to go all-out, and our annual summer events are just these sorts of happenings.
We present two themes every year — “Zins, Blends, & BBQ” and “Farm to Grill” — and we swap them on an annual basis between our two estates. This year, it was Farm to Grill for Monte Bello, and the event took place on June 29th & 30th, right here on the mountain.
Please enjoy the following short, featuring highlights from Farm to Grill 2013 at Monte Bello!
When assembling an event around a Farm to Grill theme, your chosen culinary team is of absolutely vital importance, for not only will they develop — and ultimately prepare and serve — the dishes, but they are the ones who will assemble and coordinate the farm partners. This is perhaps the most foundationally relevant component of all, and it’s a big part of why we selected Foxtail Catering as our culinary partner for Farm to Grill 2013.
Foxtail has a tremendous vision, a tremendous team, and they create tremendous menus. Their Misson Statement pretty much says it all:
Founded by Chef/ Owner Tommy Halvorson, Foxtail Catering and Events is in the pursuit of perfection. Created by the desire to produce timeless and unforgettable events at a level truly worthy of the Bay Area’s world-renowned aesthetic and food culture, we are redefining what is possible in the kitchen and reimagining the landscape of event planning and catering. With a full suite of capabilities ranging from the simplest request to the most extravagant and the ability travel throughout the entire Bay Area and beyond, we are constantly striving to create beautiful, stress free event experiences for every client that not only enables them to enjoy their event, but also makes them the star of the show.
And beyond all that, they have tremendous relationships with Northern California’s farming community, and for our event, they gathered together a veritable who’s who of local growers and producers. Check out this incredible roster:
Marin Sun Farms
Tomales Bay Oyster Company
Blossom Bluff Orchards
Happy Boy Farms
Marin Roots Farm
The process of developing a wine & food pairing menu is an intensive one, to say the least, and as particular as we at Ridge are, Foxtail is just that particular as well, so the Dance of the Pairings was accordingly choreographed with no small degree of intensity. The end results? Behold!
*Grilled Tomales Bay Oysters
wine forest sea bean & wild ramp ‘salsa verde’
We paired this with our 2011 Ridge Vineyards Estate Chardonnay:
Evidencing all the briny freshness of the sea, and highlighting the brightness of the season with a playful vivacity and crispness, this dish is an ideal complement to our Estate Chardonnay, drawing out all its elegant minerality, and showcasing in full force its lean and focused acidity; that the oysters are grilled affords a uniquely connective companionability to the fleshier components of the wine, making this a deceptively complex dish that still retains its simple summer pleasures.
*House-smoked Marin Sun Farms Bacon ‘Hushpuppies’
blossom bluffs bourbon-soaked peach / macerated red onion / ecopia micro-mint
For this, a little something special from the library: our 2004 Ridge Vineyards Geyserville!
Grilled peaches in summertime? Yes! With Zinfandel? Yes!!! Essentially, the goal with this pairing is to mirror, in the dish itself, the complex flavor components present in the wine. So, there is some sweetness, but of a modulated sort, with the peaches being grilled. And there is some savoriness, coming courtesy of the bacon. And the hushpuppy itself, decadent in all its starchy fried goodness, lends the salt, oil, and sweetness that makes this Southern-by-way-of-Northern California dish so supremely appealing; mellowing sweetness, burgeoning savoriness, salty goodness, all matched against an increasingly soft, complex, and earthy zinfandel? Yes!
*Orichiette with Lamb Ragu
marin sun farms lamb neck / happy boy rabe / calabrian chili / marin roots rucula flower
In what we felt to be a delightful subversion of archetypical pairing paradigms, we opted for our 2011 Ridge Vineyards Buchignani Ranch Carignane for this dish:
An excellent example of how a great pairing begets unexpected sensorial rewards; you have the tanginess of a tomato-based sauced matching lively acidity, and calabrian chili lending spice perfectly balanced against restrained heat, and yet, despite the sweeping richness of the dish, the overall effect is one of refreshment, with the intense depth of flavor actually serving to highlight the racier aspects of the carignane, making this a fantastic way to showcase a comparatively heartier offering, in seasonally appropriate fashion.
*Ecopia Baby Radicchio & Heirloom lettuces blossom bluffs grilled plums / marcona almonds / vanilla-cabernet vinaigrette
Continuing on with our oeno-culinary subversions, the lettuces were received in the arms of our 2010 Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (which, for my money, was the sleeper success of the event!):
The grilling of the radicchio is at the heart of this dish’s success, as it is the primary complement to the tannin architecture in the cabernet. Without the grilling, radicchio is certainly full-flavored, but it can veer to the bitter; bring it off the grill however, and away goes the astringency, leaving the delicious chariness to embrace the cool-climate mountain complexity of the cabernet. Add in the vanilla-cabernet vinaigrette, and the palate experience becomes ever more silky and sweet, and the tanginess of the fruit then becomes third in the flavor trinity, affording the pairing a complex resolution that is smoky, sweet, and tangy in equal measures.
andante dairy goat cheese fonduta / happy boy toybox tomatoes & padron peppers / brentwood sweet corn / ecopia and micro-basil & pepper flowers
Specifically to highlight the magic interplay of padron pepper potentially, we selected our 2008 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Estate Syrah for the flatbreads:
It’s all about padrons with this pairing. Grilled, and served on top of the flatbreads, these special little peppers serve to bring out the smoky, earthy side of Syrah, while also playing up the herbaceous components simultaneously. As a recent blog post on the Happy Boy Farms website recently noted, padrons have a “smoky-almost-inky flavor” and a “melty-silky texture”; descriptors that could readily be applied to our Syrah as well! And when you add to the mix the goat cheese fonduta (both rich and piquant) the sweet corn (sweet and creamy) and the ecopia and micro-basil (fresh and herbaceous) , you’ve got a fully realized pairing that expands on all native flavors present in this excellent vintage of Syrah.
*Aidell’s Pork Sausages
grilled with wineforest porcinis /grilled Sishito / scallions
Lastly, for the sausage dish? Merlot! Our 2010 Ridge Vineyards Estate Merlot, to be precise. A total classic:
Practically as classic a meat & wine pairing as one can envision; an almost do-the-math rendition of culinary companionability. Pork sausage (sweet, spicy, savory) + porcini mushrooms (earthy, savory) + sishito peppers (sweet, spicy) = sweet, spicy, earthy, savory. Add 2010 Estate Merlot (bright acidity, brambly fruit, savory herbality), and what do you get? Two sweets, one spicy, three savories, and one each of bramble, herb, and acid. Which adds up to? Delicious!
I hope you were able to join us for Farm to Grill 2013, it was such a lovely happening!
If you were here, I thank you, and I hope you had a fantastic time! And if you weren’t?
Then I hope something I’ve shared with you here entices you to join us next year!
And with that, stay tuned for a follow-up post on this past weekend’s Zins, Blends, & BBQ event at Lytton Springs!
For more about our upcoming events, please find our calendar here.
And for an early look (and RSVP opportunity!) at our Fall Release events, please see below!
|Fall Release Events at Monte Bello & Lytton Springs
Join us as we celebrate the release of our newest fall wines. Our winemaking teams will be on hand to discuss the vintage and sample a variety of wines with you, paired alongside several delectable dishes. The culinary themes and library wine features will be unique at each property.
Categories: Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Chardonnay, Events, Food & Wine Pairing, Lytton Springs, Merlot, Monte Bello, Offerings, Syrah, Tasting Events/Opportunities, Tasting Flights, Tasting Notes, Tasting Rooms, Varietals & Blends, Video, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine & Food Pairing, Zinfandel