"The simplest things in the world make for great entertaining."
The Napa lifestyle Michael Chiarello devotees follow is inspirational, rather than aspirational. Visual presentation and flavor are the intense notes from which most recipe writers exclusively compose. Step into the pages of any Chiarello venture and find yourself in the confluence where all the senses are stirred and roused.
Michael advises, "Have a relationship with food. (It should be) visceral with the entire body... heart and mind...Taste with your fingers. " It isn't just what you serve, but how. "
At the Costa Mesa book signing for his latest cookbook Bottega are breadboards laminated from what appear to be purple heart, walnut and maple boards- a display of how merchant-Michael honors the precept.
Back at the bar, brother Kevin's eyes rolled back with pleasure when in Michael's rare cooking demonstration he held up a jar of emollient cherry red Silafunghi chili sauce. Little brother betrayed the emotional power of food as he formed the words of how the fiery pepper flakes lubricated in olive oil as "Better than life itself." While Michael described the sauce as "Calabria catsup"- be warned- this stuff is Kim Kardashian hot. As in smokin'. Now, go ahead. Fall ridiculously in lust with the condiment.
Bartender duties for the evening were generously performed by Jim Borsack. He is justifiably proud of the two wines featured at the NapaStyle tasting. The wines are called logically by the "brix"- a term aficionados recognize as wine style based on sugar content.
Blend 23 is an unconventionally racy blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier that begs to be served with spicy Asian food, particularly shellfish. With a distinctive pucker- keep this one away from the dessert.
Blend 24 is a Super Tuscan style with a peppery style that queued the aha moment. B Cellar wines are designed to be served with food. A passionate cook, Jim has prepared "way north of 7,000 recipes." To reinforce the point, on the company Internet site you can go to recipes to find food and wine pairings.
First with partner Duffy Keys and later when joined by one of the world's top winemakers Kirk Venge, the trio is committed to producing, " exceptional artisan wines, season after season, by employing a multi-vineyard strategy' and, " by blending wines from mutually complementary varietals.
From what I tasted- the goal has been reached.
|Michael signing a Christmas present on my behalf|
There is something about wine that encourages shopping. Which is why the Christmas list came with me. Since some of the people reading this will receive- my lips are sealed. Just like they are about the big secret Kevin prematurely announced, a secret I pledge to honor):- When Chiarello fans find out- remember you didn't hear it here FIRST!
* Food & Wine Magazines 2005 honoree as “One of the Top 20 New Winemakers in the World”