Earlier this summer our tasting room manager, Kelly, approached me with an amazing opportunity to showcase Honig
outside of the winery. Ken and Susie, of The Cedar Gables Inn in Napa
, host cooking classes a couple of times a month. Each of the cooking classes is taught by a local chef and is paired with wines from a local winery. The Inn, which is a 19th century mansion, has an amazing modern commercial kitchen with ample tools and equipment and even provides each student with their own custom apron to take home. The week of June 9th, it was Honig’s turn to partake in one of the classes.
Since I have a culinary background, Kelly offered me the chance to go. Chef Malcolm de Sieyes came into Honig where we tasted through our wines. Chef Malcolm owns and operates StoneTree Farm in Napa, where he grows seasonal organic produce such as pears, strawberries, leeks, citrus fruits, and has chickens roaming freely providing farm fresh eggs. While tasting at Honig, we put our heads together and came up with a menu that catered to the produce in season on Chef Malcolm’s farm.
Here’s what we came up with: - 2011 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
: Stone Tree Farm Carrot and Ginger soup.
- 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Pink:
Sautéed Copper River Sockeye Salmon with Melted Leeks and Citrus Beurre Blanc. - 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Bartolucci Vineyard:
Semi-Boneless Napa Quail Stuffed with Fatted Calf Sausage, Creamy Polenta, Stone Tree Farm Glazed Carrots and Roasted Beets. - 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Late Harvest:
Goat Cheese Custard with Strawberry Sauce.
The night of the dinner, I met up at Cedar Gables Inn with Ken, Suzie, and Chef Malcolm. While waiting for the cooking students to arrive, I got the tour from Ken of the beautiful parlor, kitchen, and dining area, which was already set with fine china and crystal stemware. The only thing missing was the lovely four-course meal we were all anxious to get started. From the tour I joined Chef Malcolm in the kitchen to begin prepping workstations and arranging the menu’s mise en place. The produce that Chef Malcolm brought with him was superb, to say the least. All of the leeks, carrots, and beets were pulled from the earth that morning, and the strawberries were picked shortly after. To compliment the farm fresh produce were farm fresh cage free eggs, all coming from the wonderful Stone Tree Farm.
When the students arrived, each received a copy of the menu we were about to prepare and a custom Cedar Gables apron. Suzie, Chef and I all introduced ourselves and gave a little history about our lives and how we came to where we are today. The students then reciprocated. Most of the students were darling married couples on vacation in the Napa Valley, which is known for great food and wine. The opportunity to stay in a 19th century mansion that teaches cooking classes paired with a local winery is one I highly recommend taking.
After we were all familiar with each other, we broke off into groups. There were four courses to make, so each course had its own station. I was on the entrée course with a lovely couple from Sacramento. Chef Malcolm and Suzie were floating around the kitchen offering a hand to anyone who needed it. While everyone was preparing their part of the meal, we were enjoying chilled glasses of Honig Sauvignon Blanc.
To complete every component to the meal was a three-hour process, but with positive vibes, good conversation and good wine, the time flew by. Before we knew it, the first course was ready to be plated. Along with elaborate plates and shiny crystal ware, each place setting came with a handwritten name tag. Once we found our seats, the first course, Carrot and Ginger Soup, was run to us by some of the Inn staff. We all toasted to a meal well cooked and dug in.
The wines went absolutely perfect with each course. The crisp acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc held up nicely with the sweetness of the warm soup. The second course, the Salmon, and the Cab Pink were a match made in heaven. The soft floral notes of the Rose’ complimented the tanginess of the beurre blanc without overpowering the flavor of the beautifully seared salmon. There was the perfect amount of fat and creaminess in the Quail and polenta to cut through the velvety tannins of the Bartolucci Cabernet Sauvignon. Last, but not least, the sweetness of the Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc and the tart, luscious goat cheese danced in harmony on your palate until the very last spoonful.
The evening was a complete success. I would most definitely recommend checking out one of the Cedar Gables Inn’s cooking classes. After plates were cleared and bellies were full, I said goodbye to my fellow students and gracious hosts. I left Cedar Gables Inn with a big smile, great recipes, and even better memories. It was my first, but definitely not my last, dinner with Ken and Suzie, who I cannot thank enough for such an amazing opportunity.
Stay tuned for more Honig adventures!
Cedar Gables Inn, 486 Coombs Street, Napa, CA 800-309-7969 www.cedargablesinn.com