Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Savorings-Napa Styling

"The simplest things in the world make for great entertaining."
-Michael Chiarello
Little brother Kevin watches over Michael signing his latest book
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. " 

Breadboards as usable art

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.

Jim Borsack, Principal of B Cellars
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!  
 Just when I thought the evening could not get better, store manager James Franklin pours a glass of Prager 'Nobel Companion' Tawny Port.  Remember the Savage Garden song "I knew I Loved You" with lyrics proclaiming, "I see my future in an instant...  I think I dreamed you into life" This port are those lines come to life. In a beverage, this "dessert in a glass" I could see the future. It is good. Very,very good.

* Food & Wine Magazines 2005 honoree as “One of the Top 20 New Winemakers in the World” 


  1. This looks like it was a very special time! The Book Signing, (You look like someone caught you doing somethimg naughty, great Wines and of course that Port! YUUUUUMMMMM!

  2. What a super tribute to your Michael Chiarello! I hope he reads it. It made me pea green. 'Port' is, to say the least, interesting. The right Port is inspiring, the wrong Port is, well, let's not go there. Thanks for the 'tour' and the photos. Yes, L, you do look like you at the very least are thinking naughty! xo

  3. I assume it's the Brit in me that makes me lovingly wrap my hand around a good port. Absolutely lovely ending to any special meal!

    Well, what can I say, you have teased us again with your mention of "the secret" of Micahel's future. Michael, and especially his brother who spilled the beans, but I'm sure they were gourmet Napa beans (LOL), are fortunate that it was you that he slipped up with; someone with character that keeps promises when they say they won't tell!

    I hope they both read this days blog. Maybe you can send it to them.


  4. Lydia,

    Excellent writing! This is probably one of your best written pieces that I have read.
    Oh my! Wish I could have taken you up on accompanying you to this event. Sounded absolutely charming! Michael is sure a cutie too! :) (You seem to surround yourself with handsome men!:)
    Love your photo! Looks provocative and sexy to me! Your hair looks wonderful!
    Thanks for the lovely read!

    Hugs, Trisha

  5. Lol- I think the naughty looks= was me just trying to hold in my stomach when the camera clicked!

    Not only am I surrounded by terrific looking gentlemen on a daily basis- I am blessed with the luxury of GOOD food. Year round. It is a wonder that I don't have to get on a cattle scale to weigh in):-

  6. Lydia truly is a woman of her word. Both Mike and I appreciate it. Kevin

  7. Oh Kevin! How FUN to know you read it.

    At least yours is a happy secret):-
    So many of the secrets I've had to hold over the past 2 years have been sad.

    When yours is ready to unveil- I plan to open a bottle of wine to celebrate.

    With warmest wishes for a prosperous and healthy New Year!


Comments are encouraging blessings! Please send your thoughts- unless you look like a robot, in which case you'll be ignored.