Longtime readers know I'm lucky enough to participate in Cakebread Cellars' American Harvest Workshop every fall. The seminal vintner gathers chefs from around the country and introduces them to local producers (like Cowgirl Creamery, Hop Island Oysters, Soul Food Poultry, etc.) and two incredible dinners are planned using the chef's talents, the bay area's food and the Cakebread's booze. The wine is teamed expertely with the help of Michael Weiss, author of WineWise, who comes out from the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
This year resident chef Brian Streeter hosted a seminar on wine and bean pairings. I'd asked Michael Weiss about this years ago as a joke, but he without hesitation he tasted one of the beans and said "Pinot Grigio." I learned that these guys take their wine very seriously.
(Michael Weiss and Brian Streeter)
Now Brian's cuisine is one of my favorites and if I didn't think it would make you roll your eyes, I'd tell you how I think he understands "wine country" cooking better than almost anyone, almost defining the genre. So of course I was flattered and thrilled that he'd be cooking Rancho Gordo beans to show off the Cakebread wine.
Sauvignon Blanc with Ablubia Criollo beans (with manila clams, preserved lemon, arugula and fresh herbs):
Chardonnay with Mayacoba beans (bean puree on bruschetta with sauté of corn and gypsy peppers):
*Pinot Noir with Tepary beans (with gourmet mushrooms in a roasted tomato broth):
Cabernet with Yellow Indian Women beans (fritters like middle eastern falafel with eggplant dip and tahini):
Zinfandel with Ayocote Morado beans (in broth with Fatted Calf Chorizo):
What I particularly like about this (and all of the American Harvest Workshop) is that despite being a wee bit of a "know-it-all" when it comes to beans, I get to see what others come up with, without the "benefit" of my interference. I think of the beans as my kids and I want to make sure they go to good homes. Working with talented chefs like Brian assures me that I need to just relax a bit.