Monday, September 16, 2013

A Drinker's Notebook #10: Cakebread Kitchen, Apres-Dinner

Many of us who love food and wine enjoy a taste of getting as close as we can to the real thing - a night on Islay watching and smelling the grain being roasted at Bowmore over a peat fire, gathering truffles in Umbria, sitting in the kitchen at Talula's Table in Pennsylvania as the chefs do their magic. So I especially savored my last evening at Cakebread Cellars' annual American Harvest Workshop, when I and 10 other foodies and winos helped five professional chefs prepare a dinner for 65 guests seated outside on Cakebread's Pecan Patio in the warm Napa Valley September evening air. The real chefs of Cakebread were Greg Biggers of Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, Jim Severson of Sevy's Grill in Dallas, Brad Turley of GoGa in Shanghai, Marc McDowell of Makena Beach & Golf Resort in Maui and Eric Haugen of The Lambs Club in NYC. I was assigned to Chef Haugen, a personable young man who teaches as well as he cooks. For about three hours, I chopped, peeled, seeded, cut and mixed for him along with another amateur cook. As the last course was being plated, we started bringing out our glasses and the partial bottles of various Cakebread reds that were coming back into the kitchen. That's Chef Biggers, glass in hand, as we wrapped things up and a few minutes later all toasted to an evening spent with the grown-ups. What was I drinking? I never looked at the labels at this point - just as long as it was red and Cakebread.

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