By Jessica Yadegaran
Monday, July 27th, 2009 at 11:39 am in Corkheads.
I am officially welcoming myself back. Last week was rough. I wrote a record five stories then hit the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma, which had spotty Wi Fi. More on that in my next post.
But first, we must dish on Livermore’s annual Taste of Terroir, which happened on Thursday July 23. While ticket sales were down this year – the economy or that feisty Kathy Griffin who was performing down the highway at Wente? – the chefs and winemakers still brought the goods.
I judged the competition alongside Sara Schneider of Sunset magazine and Evan Goldstein of “Perfect Pairings.” With the exception of one or two safe dishes (salmon and Chardonnay, anyone?), I felt that all 14 chefs in the Tri Valley made a splash as far as quality and creativity goes.
I’ve been of the mind lately that we’ve gotten carried away with food and wine pairings, but these clever chefs and winemakers reminded me of the power of pairing: Balance yields pleasure. I was floored at how much better and simply more quaffable some of the wines were when washed down with the right nosh.
For instance, I found the Wente Vineyards 2007 Nth Degree Pinot Noir too big and high in alcohol to be true to varietal, but paired with Chef Arthur’s (of the Restaurant at Wente) fantabulous House-Cured Duck Proscuitto, it was the very definition of harmonious yum.
Not only that, but he used six – count them, six – local ingredients in the dish. The red onion and basil was from the restauran’ts own garden. Most chefs stopped at two ingredients. Some didn’t use anything local. Props to him. If you haven’t chowed at the restaurant, I suggest you do.