The Californio Dinner at Sutter Creek Provisions
A while back I was visiting my friend Lucy and we stopped at Sutter Creek Provisions. They have a great space and even better beer. Owners Casey and Darren are so excited to be doing good things and the next thing you know, we were planning a party. I write about Lucy often. She made a name for herself in Napa many years ago with Cafe Lucy. Now she's in Amador with Lucy's Spice Box. We met when we were both working the St. Helena farmers market and we've been fast friends ever since. We knew we wanted to do something that would showcase the Rancho Gordo products, Lucy's cuisine, Darren's beer and the historic aspect of Sutter Creek and the building that houses Sutter Creek Provisions. The Californio-era of our state's history was the inspiration. We weren't literal about it. It was a jumping off point. The best part for me was meeting all the Rancho Gordo fans, especially the Bean Club members, some who came quite a distance. Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago....I almost couldn't believe it except that we People of the Bean are known for our obsessions. MENU: Appetizers Upon Arrival... Mini Sopes with Rancho Gordo Midnight Black Bean, Queso Fresco & Two Salsas Plate of Fresh Radishes with Cumin Crema drizzle First Course... Fresh Butter Lettuce Salad with Shaved Carrots, Pepitos, Rancho Gordo Pineapple Vinegar Vinaigrette with Rancho Gordo Stone ground Chocolate infusion Family-style Dinner... Wood smoked local Dal Porto Spring Lamb with Mint-Chili Salmuera served with Tres Salsas Rancho Gordo Santa Maria Pinquito Bean slow braised in wood oven with Garlic Confit Rancho Gordo Wild Rice & Red Quinoa Pilaf with Roast Golden Beet, Orange, Walnut Picada, Fresh baby Beet & Kale Greens Escalivada of Seasonal Vegetables grilled on Plancha with Chili & Garlic Ensalada Nopales (Cactus Paddle) with first of the Season Tomato, Red Onion, Fresh Citrus, Queso Fresco Dessert... Dulce de Leche Flan "You really are going to take a photo, Steve? Really? Now?" For me, it was one of those magical evenings. You got the sense that everyone who attended felt the same way. There was wine but the real excitement came from Darren's beer pairings. Who knew?!? Of course I'm biased but one of the best courses was the Santa Maria Pinquitos. Guests kept asking me how she made them and I am clueless but I did get Lucy to promise the recipe later. Don't worry, I'll be following up on this. I came away feeling all warm and fuzzy. Amador County is a lovely place and you do worse than renting a house on a service like AirBnB, enjoying Lucy's take out at the Spice Box and passing lazy hours at Sutter Creek Provisions. (They also have a great retail store, including Rancho Gordo products, so cooking a few meals for yourself will actually be fun.) The wines are good and the area lacks the pretentious attitude that you can see in Napa but the food scene is just starting and there are some bad options. Best to hang with Lucy, Darren and Casey and accept their guidance. With any luck, we'll do this again soon.