Pinot Noir and Food

I love Cabernet Sauvignon; which makes sense, I make a lot of it. But Cabernet doesn't pair well with everything. Call me traditional, but I'm NOT a huge fan of the philosophy of "drink what you like with whatever you like." Ian Fleming's James Bond taught us that you can often catch the villain at the table by just monitoring his wine choices.

While Cabernet doesn't pair with everything, Pinot Noir pairs with lots of different foods and lots of people are in LOVE with Pinot Noir.

I recently released a single-barrel of 2013 Pinot Noir and paired it with a wide variety of foods for an event I attended and served for in Visalia. I'll admit, my Pinot Noir paired well with mixed green salad and CAB sliders. Even the deep fried calamari paired up with Pinot, the salty, deep-fried breading and the acid of the Pinot balance themselves out. 

I managed to snap a few pictures of what I considered solid pairings of my Pinot Noir with some of the foods offered that night. However, Pinot Noir does NOT pair with bread pudding! Bread Pudding stands on its own! If someone is drinking Cabernet or Pinot with bread pudding, don't trust them, they may work for an evil global organization.

Pinot Noir pairs well with fried calamari

Pinot Noir pairs well with fried calamari

Pinot Noir pairs well with Mixed Green Salad

Pinot Noir pairs well with Mixed Green Salad

Pinot Noir pairs with CAB sliders and caramelized onions

Pinot Noir pairs with CAB sliders and caramelized onions

Pinot Noir does NOT pair with Bread Pudding

Pinot Noir does NOT pair with Bread Pudding

Christmas Feast Part 2

While I tend to believe that Christmas starts and ends with eating only ravioli and meatballs with a glass of Cabernet, there are others in the family that may not be as enthusiastic or set in their ways as I am.

So, several dishes for Christmas are made for the other 30 or so people that come over for dinner. A long-time favorite at Thanksgiving and Christmas is our grilled and sherry braised turkey. Now, don't get me wrong, I love our grilled turkey. I love using my cast iron Dutch oven to cook the whole 20 pound bird in, basically a version of Poulet en Cocotte. But turkey speaks Thanksgiving to me, not Christmas. 

Poulet en Cocotte

Anyway, cooking the turkey on Christmas is just a good excuse to burn a lot of oak staves, sit outside, drink Sangiovese (which pairs well with turkey, I do pick at the bird when I'm carving it) and utilize my Dutch oven. 

Mastro_Scheidt_BBQ_ Turkey

There is a vegan option (no one in my family is vegan, but my family does seem to like this gross blob of jelly): Canned Cranberry. I have no wine recommendations for canned cranberry and never will.

Vegan Option

There is a gluten-free option (no one in my family is gluten-free, we are more like Gluten Plus): Potatoes and Yams.

Christmas Feast

Tradition is the theme for Christmas at Mastro Scheidt, with emphasis on the MASTRO (Translation:Italian Tradition). 


Ravioli are traditionally made each year specifically for Christmas. Sure ravioli could be made any time of year, but the holiday requires that a very specific type of ravioli be made...the little ones. The filling (pictured below) is a combination of veal, beef, and spinach with onions pulsed separately in the Cuisinart and then blended together by hand.

Ravioli filling.png

Most ravioli you see in restaurants these days are larger, one ravioli can be roughly half the size of a new iPhone. But to my Southern Italian relatives, "those big ravioli have too much dough and not enough filling". 


Without question, the smaller ravioli are a little more difficult to make, using only a rolling pin, a ravioli form roller, and traditional cutter, every step of the process is hand-made. No machines, no fancy pasta roller, nothing but shoulder and tricep power rolling.

The results?


Merry Christmas! Yes, I was drinking my Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon with my Christmas meal.


Cial’edd in Dialect or Panzanella Salad to others

I love summer. I love tomatoes. I love bread. 

Cial'edd is one of my favorite dishes to assemble. I didn't say cook, because there is nothing to cook. One of the most simple preparations around.

Cut fresh, garden ripe tomatoes. Tear a handful of fresh basil. Use day-old bread and rip it into pieces. Add a hint of salt, a copious amount of olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar, a few slices of Pecorino and toss the whole thing through. Wait about 10 minutes for the flavors to meld together and serve.

Welcome to summer!

Allesina Barolo Salumi

I've been down in Bakersfield more in the last few weeks than I have in the last few years. Good thing too, there's some good quality food in the the Southern San Joaquin Valley.

Luigi's Deli has been providing high-quality products to the people of Bakersfield for over a century. One of many products they carry is Allesina Salumi from San Luis Obispo. 

After my drive back to Fresno, I sliced right into this little jewel. The smell of the outside is classic salumi, a bit gamey, moldy, yeasty...old world, old school. The inside has a wonderful combination of flavor of fat, meat and spice. All balanced. Really wonderful product.

I've been eating Creminelli products recently and they are equally as good. But the real test will be to eat them side-by-side. I'm looking forward to the challenge.

8 Guests, 8 Courses, 8 Wines

It was such a pleasure to get into the kitchen with Chef Tommy Chavez again. It was a fun night, but certainly not an easy one. Everything was cooked to order and from scratch. I even baked fresh fennel bread for the event. Chef Tommy and I were challenged by the glass cook top (not induction), but it was 10 times easier to clean up after than a gas range. Otherwise, things moved quickly and smoothly.

Long-time friend John Marihart made sure our eight special guests always had their glasses filled, their plates cleared, stemware polished and of course, gave the kitchen feedback on how the evening was progressing. Special thanks to Falina Marihart for taking all the pictures that night, cleaning dishes, utencils, stemware, and tasting all of our food before it was sent out. Non-stop for everyone and everyone did their part to make sure our guests had a great evening.

For your viewing pleasure, we've attached a slide show below, a brief history of the evening in the kitchen.

We would like to thank everyone who was a part of a wonderful night of food, wine, and celebration. Here's the menu and the wines for the event (And yes, I favored some Dry Creek Valley reds that night, but I'm biased). The Gruet, the only non-California wine, was served because one of our guests has a special connection to New Mexico. I have links to all of the wines and the wineries in the menu below, just hover over the wine for the link.



Gruet, New Mexico Blanc de Noirs NV




Caymus 2010 Conundrum White




Caymus 2009 Conundrum Red




Pine Ridge 2010 Chenin Blanc/Viognier




Lago di Merlo 2009 Dry Creek Valley Sangiovese




A. Rafanelli 2004 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel




Mastro Scheidt 2007 Proprietor’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon




Windwalker 2001 Orange Muscat



Pasta Video with Taste Fresno and Fresno Bites

It was a real pleasure to make pasta with friends and fellow bloggers, Charles Ciapponi and Alisa Manjarrez. I thought it would be a good start to make two classics, ravioli and pappardelle. The attached video highlights the 3-hour instruction and meal (through the magic of video in 5 minutes) we all helped to create. The recipes for the pasta and the sauce can be found on the Taste Fresno Website or in the Mastro Scheidt Recipe Gallery

I'd like to give special props to Alisa for here delicate work on each ravioli. I understand that she has recently graduated to making panna cotta

In addition, Chuck made one of the finest ravioli doughs I've used since I left Italy. Wonderfully smooth and workable, this dough was perfect for our stuffed pasta.

Taste Fresno - Episode 26 Pasta 101 from on Vimeo.

Special thanks also goes out to Enrique Meza for filming and editing this video. As far as I'm concerned, it's magical what Enrique did with the rough edit I saw. I will post some additional pictures in the Gallery taken by James Collier of Foie Gras and Flannel. James is another magician with his camera and lens. The picture of the flour dropping is pretty cool.

Cousin Marco curing Olives

Fresno and Healdsburg have slightly different weather patterns. Fresno is a little ahead in terms of grape and olive harvesting. Cousin Marco was hard at work in Fresno curing olives; an annual tradition. Meanwhile, Cousin David was harvesting grapes in Healdsburg for the 2011 Cabernet Vintage. Lots of harvesting going on. 

I've posted Marco's pictures of his olive curing in the Gallery and Facebook.