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Santa Barbara, CA, United States
I enjoy creating original wine-pairing recipes that are healthful and delicious. I work for Touring & Tasting a Santa Barbara based wine club and national magazine as Food Editor. However, I am not paid for this blog and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I received my Personal Chef Skills Competency Award from the SBCC's School Of Culinary Arts. In 2012, I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara with pal Lila Brown which features wine tastings with winery owners and winemakers. I also serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts group, which had Julia Child as one of the founding members and funds scholarships for SBCC culinary students in her name.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wesley and Donna Anderegg--ceramic artists and winemakers

by Wesley Anderegg
Cindy with a work of culinary art
Here's a great food/wine pairing: a young, light bodied Pinot Noir served with three-cheese quesadillas, corn salsa and spicy red pepper sauce--here shown by artist and friend Cindy Hoffman. We had this lunch in the adobe house of Wesley and Donna Anderegg: ceramic artists who also happen to be gourmet cooks and home winemakers. They produce around two barrels of Pinot on their farm which is in the windswept rolling hills of the Sta. Rita AVA, wine that is not for sale, but for personal consumption. The lunch was just one of the delights of a ceramic workshop in their huge, light-filled studio. Wesley's work is in numerous museums around the country; he makes sometimes whimsical, sometimes macabre but always visually arresting sculptures and paintings. Donna throws, paints and carves beautiful dinnerware.

Wesley and his charmingly helpful daughter Izzy showed us how he hollows out the basic head and body forms, then adds the features and appendages. He uses his own blend of clay that is low fire, but smooth, without the rough grog often found in earthenware clays. He blends it to be very moist; the clay is supple and smooth to the touch--easy to mold but requiring some delicacy in the handling. He formed this hand in just a couple of minutes, deftly adding the details like knuckle wrinkles and finger nails--he made it look so easy!

Before the workshop, he had made a delicious apple galette and we had the lunch described above, with the Anderegg Pinot Noir. We had the chance to pet their goats, marvel at the rambling adobe house and breathe the fresh spring air blowing across the verdant hills.

The Sta. Rita AVA is unique in the transverse (meaning east-to-west, rather than north-south) mountain ranges that funnel ocean air into the sunny interior of Santa Barbara County. Locals call it the "maritime throat" as it blows cooling fog, combining with the rocky soil to make perfect conditions for growing Pinot Noir, as evidenced by the high scores and acclaim won by many wineries such as Sanford, Longoria and Sea Smoke.

One of the pioneers in viticulture was Richard Sanford who planted the first Pinot Noir vineyard in the area in 1970. Armed with a degree in Geography, he researched land and climate across the state and discovered the Santa Rita Hills had similar terroir as Burgundy, France. He and his wife founded the eponymous winery and produced award-winning wines for 27 years before leaving Sanford to their partners and creating Alma Rosa winery in the same AVA. The Sanfords were instrumental in establishing the tiny (about 100 acre) AVA. Current majority partners in Sanford Winery, Anthony Terlato and his sons Bill and John, continue the legacy of producing highly-rated wines: Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, in addition to Pinot Noir. Sanford Winery is on the picturesque Santa Rita Hills wine trail. Stop in and taste wines in their showcase tasting room and winery, built mostly from recycled materials, including 15,000 handmade adobe bricks.

Wesley Demo
You may wonder why the proper name for the AVA is "Sta. Rita" instead of "Santa Rita" when the location is the Santa Rita Hills. This came about because a Chilean wine producer, Viña Santa Rita, which has been making wine in that country for 130 years, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Treasury (which overses the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives, and threatened to sue any winery that used the Santa Rita name. Richard Sanford met with the Chilean producer and was able to work out a compromise. The abbreviation "Sta." is historically accurate, since it was used for Mexican land grants in California's early years.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Mediterranean lunch on a rainy afternoon

My "baking buddy" Lila from the Culinary School came over yesterday to bake ciabatta, focaccia and small plates to go with the breads. Lila had a catering company in the Bay Area before moving to Santa Barbara and has attended culinary school in Turkey and Italy--and maybe other schools in her amazing world travels. She brought the cookbook Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume by Silvena Rowe to make an artichoke/squid salad and sweet-and-sour eggplant caponata--now two of my favorite recipes. I made the cucumber/shrimp salad with the addition of fresh fennel bulb and leaves, and tuna mousse (recipe). We washed it down happily with the perfect pairing of a ribolla gialla wine from the Friuli region that Lila brought: the La Viarte, which was light and nicely acidic.

Lila showed me how to clean squid:
1. Cut off the tentacles and set aside.
2. Use the back of your chef's knife to scrape the skin from the outside--moving from the tail towards the head. At the same time, the insides will be squeezed out.
3. Pull out the transparent bone. You should be left with a hollow tube of white squid meat.

Tama's Shrimp and Cucumber Salad:

1 Japanese or English cucumber with thin, edible skin, about 2 cups sliced
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon Mirin (Japanese cooking sake) or 1 teaspoon sugar
*optional 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
*optional sprinkle of fennel leaves
8 oz. cooked shrimp, cut into small pieces or 8 oz. bay shrimp
Slice the cucumber very thinly and place into a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt. Put the colander inside a larger bowl, cover and put into the refrigerator for half an hour. The salt will draw some of the moisture from the cucumber, making it crunchier. Whisk together the sesame oil, vinegar, soy, and sugar in a bowl. Adjust seasonings to taste--it should be slightly salty and vinegary but not unpleasantly so. Stir into the drained cucumber and shrimp.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Birthday Cake With Marzipan Strawberries

I made my first marzipan today--a cup of almond paste mixed with 1/4 cup corn syrup with the paddle attachment of my mixer, then with a cup of powdered sugar added in. I used colored gel instead of liquid food coloring which helped keep the marzipan the right consistency. It could have been a bit drier--next time I would cut the corn syrup a bit. I used the Joy Of Cooking recipe for boiled frosting--it's super thick and difficult to spread. I ended up wetting my hands and using my palms to smooth the frosting on.

I'm trying some cake decorating in preparation for entering the Edible Book Contest this year. Last year's contest was fun, but I think I'll try a cake this year...

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Toast To Antonio Gardella

Last week, Touring & Tasting's president Paul Arganbright and I had the chance to catch up with Antonio Gardella. If you're in the wine business in this town, you know Antonio and love him for his passionate enthusiasm for wine. He is a walking encyclopedia of wine knowledge and in particular, the history of winemakers and winemaking in Santa Barbara county, having been involved in the wine business since the 1980's when many of our iconic wineries and restaurants were developing. One of the first books on winemaking was written by local Ralph Auf der Heide, who founded the Wine Cask, which for years was the top venue for tasting and purchasing wine. Antonio attended Auf der Heide's classes, held in his home wine cellar. Antonio also found books on Napa, Sonoma and the Central Coast, visiting every winery listed during his vacations. He and a group of "cellar rats" met often to taste wines, with the group including Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat, Bob Lindquist of Qupé and Doug Margerum, of Margerum Wines who bought the Wine Cask in 1981 and developed the restaurant that became one of 74 restaurants in the world to win the Wine Spectator Grand Award.

Antonio was at the first meeting of the American Institute of Wine and Food with Julia Child and Robert Mondavi and was on the Board of Directors for the local chapter. He helped initiate the Grape Harvest Festival in 1986 which has morphed into the annual Harvest Festival at Ranch Sisquoc. To further his knowledge, Antonio worked in the vineyards at harvest, picking grapes at Babcock vineyards starting in 1983 and staying up all night with fellow wine enthusiasts and winemakers tasting and talking about wine. For five years, he worked as the maitre d' at Piatti, an upscale Montecito restaurant, hosting and suggesting wine pairing, then he sold wine for the distributor J. Eberle Wines. He then worked for Pearson & Hawkins, which was bought by Henry Wine Group, and has been one of the company's top sellers for the last 19 years. In fact, the Henry Wine Group renamed their Most Valuable Player award the Gardella Award. His work with Henry Wine Group has led him to travel in France, Italy, Spain, Chile and Australia, tasting wines and attending international wine events such as Vinitaly.

In addition, in 1985 Antonio founded the Companeros with Sid Ackert, Art Morel and Luis Goena, using grapes from the finest California vineyards and producing wines at Sid's expansive Gubernador Canyon property. Companeros wines have garnered hundreds of gold medals, but none of the wines have been sold. They have been given to friends and used to raise more than $100,000 for charities. Paul and I had the opportunity to visit the winery some years ago--it was a little piece of Italy in Santa Barbara. A quaint, picturesque spot complete with an arbor-covered patio looking out at the wildly beautiful canyon. Sadly, the winery burned during the terrible Jesusita fire in 2010. We were fortunate to taste Antonio's Companeros "Sid's Blend" Pinot Noir as well as the Donum 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that he brought to enjoy with our dinner--smoked salmon appetizer and a seafood stew with some of my garden greens, tomato, saffron, clams, scallops, shrimps and cod.  I will keep the Companeros bottle, as a memento of California winemaking history, and as a reminder of good times with friends. As Antonio says, the friendships that wine brings are even more important than the wine. Coming from someone who has devoted his life to wine, that says a lot about the depth of his friendships. A toast to Antonio Gardella!
Tama's Seafood Stew With Fresh Garden Greens
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, small dice
1/2 cup shallot, small dice
1/4 cup celery, deveined, small dice
1/3 cup carrot, small dice
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tablespoon thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups loosely packed collard greens, chiffonade*
8 oz jar clam juice
1/4 cup good red wine
750 gm (about 26 oz) good quality strained tomato, I used Pomi Italian brand
pinch of saffron
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade*
2 teaspoon salt
Heat the oil in heavy saucepan over medium low heat. Sweat (cook without browning) the garlic, onion and shallot until the onion is translucent. Add the celery, carrot, stock, thyme, and bay leaf and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the clam juice, red wine, tomato, saffron, pepper, marjoram, basil, salt and collard greens. Simmer for another 30 - 60 minutes (longer enriches the flavor), turning the heat to low if necessary so the broth doesn't bubble. The broth should reduce to 2/3 of the original volume. Add a bit more stock if necessary if it has reduced more than this. Stir in the clams, shrimp, fish and scallops. Cover and simmer another ten minutes or until the seafood is cooked and the clams have opened. Serve over rice or pasta. Enjoy with a nice glass of Pinot Noir!
*To chiffonade: roll the greens or basil into a roll and slice very thinly.