Destination I Do

Perfect Pairings

Words by Carolyn Gerin

Food paired with wine, like a couple joined in marriage, is about seeking the perfect balance: between beauty, sustenance, texture, and compatibility; a sublime combination that will carry you aloft for a lifetime. The presentation, flavors, ability to satiate, delight, and mystify is part of the dance between courses and libations (and couples). From the first champagne bubble and crostini, to the last amber drop of an indescribable dessert wine paired with a bitter chocolate soufflé, you might wonder how two unrelated things could fit together with such aesthetic symmetry. Perfect Pairings is about love and compatibility: the reason you and your betrothed have to be together is the same reason certain wines and foods do: it’s meant to be.

Many chefs, sommeliers and wine makers who come to California also feel that they are meant to be here: a perfect union of talent and ingredient. California is a magical mecca offering staggering natural beauty, clean air and water, purity and abundance of fresh and artisanal ingredients, and an appreciative and adoring audience, which puts food and wine center stage, and allows chefs and sommeliers to strut their stuff.

The Bay Area has also a proud fishing heritage, and is bordered by wine country, and organic farms up and down the coast. Chefs and sommeliers are like kids in a candy store, experimenting, creating, tasting, sipping, and having the time of their lives. The Bay Area culinary scene is one part think tank, one part lab, and 2 parts paradise -- you won’t find cuisine, wine, (or excitement about their pairing) at this level anywhere in the world, except for possibly Italy. There is a glorious, bombastic energy that our chefs and wine experts share: all flavor, and no pretense, with a dash of adrenaline. There is nothing precious or contrived -- the love, passion and the commitment is as authentic as the food and wines they join together. Kind of like the perfect marriage, non?

We have asked 4 top chefs, sommeliers and wine experts in the Bay Area to create their version of a model wedding menu. Use it as inspiration for your own fete, and raise your glasses to our creative culinary team….

 Bon Appetite!

Kimball Jones, Executive Chef, The Farm, Carneros Inn, Napa
Executive Chef Kimball Jones is a renaissance man: managing three Carneros Inn restaurants, creative director of Groth Vineyeards, and the author of 2 cookbooks. He achieved international acclaim for Wente Vineyards Restaurant, and in doing so enhanced the perception of Californian cuisine among foreign chefs. He loves his local ingredients and purveyors who grow his mushrooms, beans and everything else in his kitchen. His guiding principle is to create simple, elegant, and hearty food that highlights the wines of the region, and to support (and celebrate) organic and sustainable local agriculture. Whew! Jones is a tough act to follow (or keep up with), but Super Sommelier Naomi Steinkamp fits the bill. Young and confident, she makes bold picks that work like a symphony with the food. Her focus is boutique treasures made in small batch that don’t always make it into the mainstream mix but thankfully made it into my goblet. Her love for the wines she picks and the winemakers that craft them are evident in her anecdotes and insider knowledge. Jones and Steinkamp are a perfect pairing.


Hors d’Oeuvres

Artichoke-Leek Confit

on Crostini with Parmigiano-Reggiano

Tuna Tartare

With Lemon, Sesame Seeds and Scallions on a Potato Chip

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Skewer

with Red Pepper Sauce

Domaine Carneros, Brut Rose, N/V 


Duck Breast and Duck Liver Terrine

with Summer Fruit Relish and Brioche Toast

Ohlone Smoked Salmon

with Lemon – Asparagus Custard, Micro Arugula and Chervil

 Selene, Sauvignon Blanc, 2005


Seasonal Soups and Salads

Asparagus Soup

with Crème Fraiche, Meyer Lemon Oil and Spicy Croutons

 Endive Salad

with Pistachio Dressing, Fuji Apples and Point Reyes Blue 

Vine Ripened Tomato Salad

with Basil Oil, Fresh Mozzarella and Garlic Confit 

Robert Sinskey, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, 2006


Roasted Painted Hills New York Steak

with Potato - Thyme Gratin, Chard, Spring Onions and Rosemary Sauce
Seared Tuna

with Caramelized Onion Risotto, Sautéed Spinach and Citrus Aïoli 

Roast Leg of Local Lamb

with Grilled Summer Vegetables and Nicoise Olive Sauce 

Hyde de Villaine, De La Guerra, Chardonnay, 2005 


Scharffen Berger Chocolate Pot de Crème and Peanut Butter Cookie

Kaffir Lime and Coconut Tart with Toasted Coconut Sherbet

Wedding Cake sliced and served

Coffee and Tea Service 

Honig, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, 2005 (Napa)


Kevin Koebel, Executive Chef, The Rogue Chef, Halfmoon Bay

Chef Koebel is a chefs’ chef: the kind of guy you want to get a beer with.
An award-winning, sustainable cooking visionary, and farm boy, Koebel is pure of heart and ingredient, protective of, and political about, the family farm, all the while wielding a spatula and a chef knife. A “farm to fork” foot soldier, he works with what’s available, focusing on the honesty of the food. His purveyors are his friends and neighbors: growers, dairy farmers and winemakers. The restaurant features a warm, sexy, “Cali-Med cool” with an open kitchen format where diners can engage in conversation with the chefs with never a dull moment: the menu changes daily. It’s not unusual to see couples at the chefs’ table nibbling from each others plates, sipping, nuzzling, and reconnecting. Kevin concurrently serves as the restaurant’s Cellar Master, suggesting wine pairings from the Central Coast and Napa, all the while, imbibing in nip or two himself.
Rogue Chefs use no set recipes, rather, their five senses and what’s available that day to create dishes of exquisite variety and flavor that perfectly match the wines of the region. For bold, new directions in food and wine, Rogue Chefs is unforgettable.



Roasted Ramp & Potato Soup 

2004 Tohu Unoaked Chardonnay Gisbourne, New Zealand


Pinion Grilled Portabello Mushroom/ Caramelized Onion/ Buckwheat Sprouts/ Harley Chevre/ Porcini Reduction

2003 Marina Cvetic Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Abruzzo, Italy


Local Baby Greens/ Crumbled Point Reyes Blue Cheese/ Smoked Bacon/ Candied Lemon/

Banyuls-Honey Vinaigrette 

2003 Domaine Alfred Pinot Noir Califa Edna Valley


Baby Tat Soi Salad/ Shaved Pecorino/ Fresh Strawberries/ Candied Pecan/ Caramelized Red Onion Vinaigrette 

2005 Primosic Friuli Pinot Grigio Italy 


Heirloom Tomato & Prosciutto de Parma Risotto/ Mascarpone/ Italian Parsley Pesto Crostini

2003 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant Santa Cruz Mountains


Pan Seared Cornmeal Crusted Pork Loin/ Calvadoon-Black Pepper Applesauce/ Micro Greens Salad 

2005 Earl Pichot Vouvray France 


Dry Rubbed Roasted Flat Iron Steak/ Shredded Yukon Gold Potato Pancake/ Blackberry-Chocolate Reduction 

2004 Burrell School Cabernet Franc Santa Cruz Mountains


Pan Roasted Local Wild Salmon/ Baby Sunburst/Forbidden Black Rice/Lemon-Star Anise Jam 

2003 Chateau de la Gardine Chateauneuf-de-Pape Rhone Valley, France


Chocolate Souffle

Homemade Vanilla Pudding with Rasberry Puree 

 Martin Castillo, Executive Chef, Limon Restaurant, San Francisco
Martin Castillo, Executive Chef of Limon Restaurant, and Peruvian native, was recently voted Top 6 Chef in Peru and a Top 5 Chef in San Francisco. Limon is all about family, celebration, good food and wine. The Limon concept was born on a Sunday afternoon, a time where family and friends enjoyed Mama Luz’s family recipes, like ceviche, empanadas, lomo saltado, and of course spectacular Spanish and Peruvian wine. Courage, pooled funds, a dream, and a lot of hard work made Limon into a hyper-successful reality, and a top San Francisco destination restaurant. Mama Luz assists Chef Castillo with refining the recipes and the creative direction of the restaurant. While there are some that might consider Peruvian food to be a tad exotic for a wedding, Chef Castillo disagrees: “Peruvian food is perfect for weddings: you are celebrating love, exhilaration, and the blending of new families and new flavors - it’s dramatic, colorful and intoxicating!” Cellar Master Jesus Munoz adds, “it’s important to balance the heat, citrus, and spice of Peruvian food with wines that have sweetness and acidity to open up one’s senses to the love and pleasures of life.” Sounds like the perfect wedding!

Chicarron de Pollo: Marinated chicken pieces fried then served with salsa criolla
 and lemon vinaigrette
As Laxas, Albarino, 2006
Ceviche Limon: Fresh halibut with mixed seafood marinated in limejuice,
served with yam, Peruvian corn and mussels in a salsa criolla
Lietz Riesling, 2004
Main Course:
Lomo Saltodo: Traditional Peruvian dish of Top Sirloin slices sautéed with onions,
Tomatoes and fries, served with a side of rice
Catena (Malbec), 2005
Arroz con Mariscos: Clams, scallops, mussels, shrimp and calamari
cooked with saffron rice in a pepper shrimp sauce
Tobia (Rioja), 2003
Molten Chocolate Cake with Choclo (Peruvian corn) ice cream
Ferreira Port
Tres Leche Cake with Chirimoya Ice Cream
Vin the Galciere (Bonny Doon)
 Richard Samaniego, Banquet Manager/Chef, Sonoma Mission Inn

Richard Samaniego is a man after my own heart: he does French-influenced Napa style cuisine in East Coast portions –I could write a sonnet about his Cabernet braised short ribs. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy he has traveled (and surfed) his way through many well-known kitchens, notably, Mustard's Grill, and Heartbeat at The W Hotel. His sophisticated, rustic cuisine at the Sonoma Mission Inn, is a blend of classical training, and spending his childhood on his Grandfathers ranch, where food and family took center stage. According to Samaniego, “as soon as the breakfast dishes were being washed, someone was talking about lunch.” Mealtime was always a cornucopia of farm-fresh offerings, marinated meats, Latin flavorings, laughter, and a lot of people around the table. These days, Samaniego cooks for a bigger group, sometimes over 1000 at a time. But he always lets the ingredients speak for themselves, which means using them in their peak and season, and cooking them to enhance their flavors and maintaining their integrity. With sommeliers such as Eric Henson, pairing his exquisite picks with such elegant fare, the meal is certain to be unforgettable. 
Richard Samaniego Wedding Menu
First Course:
Lobster, Caviar and Spring Vegetable Salad, Lobster Mayonnaise
Domaine Carneros, La Reve, 2000, Carneros
Second Course:
Spring Garlic Veloute, Parsley Coulis
Flowers Chardonnay, 2001, Sonoma Coast
Third Course:
Poached Artic Char, Spring Onions, Chanterelle and Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Fiddlehead Ferns, Ramps, Beurre Rouge
Kosta Browne Pinot Noir, 2004, Sonoma Coast
Fourth Course:
Cabernet Braised Short Rib, Celeraic Mousse, English Peas
Tallulah, Syrah, Sonoma Coast, 2004
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn Green Wedding Cake
Banfi, Rosa Regale

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