"...I have no doubt some serious work went into getting the formula just right because no one flavor dominates, the spice and seasonings all meld together beautifully. I couldn't stop dunking my short ribs into this sauce. I'm convinced it would make just about anything taste good."

– Amy Sherman, Cooking with Amy

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Looking at Healdsburg Through BBQ-Colored Glasses

The drive from San Francisco to Healdsburg has always been a favorite of mine. Best enjoyed unhurried, sunglasses on, rolling hills, rolling by. Always a beautiful and scenic trip, it’s even more so viewed through the lens of a brand new wine country account. So, indulge me while I wax poetic about one of those special, slow-moving, dreamy kind of days that I didn’t want to end.

The official purpose of the trip was a sneak-preview of the new Jordan Winery Estate Tour, which I was accompanying John on that afternoon. We had decided to start our journey early, so we could spend a full day in one of our favorite cities anywhere. The timing was perfect, and it allowed us to do our delivery first, and meet the folks at our new account, Shed.

I felt instantly comfortable and welcomed walking into this two-story modern barn, where floor-to-ceiling glass windows impart a lit-from-within glow. The natural light washes over you and puts you at ease. Classes are taught, meals are served, drinks are poured, ice-cream is scooped, dinner-parties are imagined, and it’s obvious the wide array of offerings have been curated with great care.

I could have easily spent a good part of my day inside of this idyllic culinary petting zoo. I got to chat with the owner Cindy, who describes Shed as, “a place where people eat, gather, stock up and learn.” Needless to say, I feel fortunate that our sauce has been included as part of their offerings. If you’re in the area, this is a must-stop.

Once outside and back on the road, a sign for The Gardener caught our eye. Having visited another location before, we were easily lured in, car tires crunched gravel as we pulled in and parked in the shade of a sycamore tree. Walking in, under a canopy of trees, the late morning light was soft and slightly muted, as a slow moving swing caught a gentle breeze and greeted us with a wave. An even slower moving mobile lulled us inside the tranquil, undisturbed garden setting. We were the only ones there. Such was the setting as morning became afternoon.

Walking next to rows of pomegranate heavy with hanging fruit, red and ripe, low and tempting, within arm’s reach. Meandering down a path where huge sunflowers bent down and touched our heads, we sat side by side in weathered adirondack chairs, looking out at a sea of red dahlias surrounding a red barn. Before leaving, we purchased a baby finger-lime tree, and a purple succulent, and drove to Jordan – going from one Eden to another.

Our next task being to sip wine all afternoon, in and around the vine-covered castle that is the Jordan Winery Estate. When we arrived a small group had gathered in the shade, sipping water and juice, enjoying a few snacks while awaiting the winery’s inaugural tour to begin. After exchanging pleasantries, we boarded a small van, and began the tour.

Listening to the family’s history unfold while eating al fresco by a small lake, we enjoyed nigiri of apricot and plum with Jordan’s extra virgin olive oil, Sonoma honey, and arugula flower; followed by a spiced garden vegetable escabeche with Gravenstein apple vinaigrette and wild fennel, with sips of their delicious Chardonnay in between.

Then, it was up the mountain for more of Chef Todd Knoll’s sophisticated cuisine. Almost all the edible products used at Jordan are grown on the property, and the kitchen staff really knows how to show them off. We finished this near-perfect afternoon with a gorgeous walk through the overflowing gardens, and then it was time to reluctantly return to the car, and head home.

It was a magical day, and as we drove out of town, I couldn’t help but wonder how fast the sauce would sell at Shed, and how long it would be before we returned. I can’t wait.

How To Make Your Own Dry Rub 

Jordan Winery's Chef, Todd Knoll shows how to make your own variety of dry rubs. Great video!