Monday, May 24, 2010

A Culinary Plunge into Sonoma County with Sheana Davis

We first met Sheana Davis in mid-2008 when Alex, Cass and I took a class that Sheana taught at the Cheese School of San Francisco on “Cheese and Wine of Sonoma County.” It was a great class and gave us an introduction to a range of wonderful cheeses and wines that were produced within a drive of an hour or so from San Francisco. Sheana – a fourth generation Sonoma resident - has a tremendous knowledge of the history of the area and who is producing top quality food products. Our class – together with a couple of more we subsequently took with her with a locavore focus – was like a culinary tour through the county.

At the time of our first class, Sheana was just getting started with the production of her Délice de la Vallée cheese blending cow and goat milk, and we have enjoyed that cheese ever since (as have many others – among Sheana’s customers is the French Laundry!).
When we decided to spend this week vacationing in Sonoma, one of the first people I contacted was Sheana. She not only gave us a wealth of suggestions about things to do during our week here, but also offered to come over to the house where we were staying and cater a wine and cheese tasting for us. Needless to say, we jumped at her offer.

So, yesterday after our return from our brunch at The Girl & the Fig, we girded ourselves for Sheana’s arrival with a bit of whiffleball, lounging and hot tub time.

Around 3:00 Sheana’s heavily-laden car came up the drive and the event kicked off. Sheana had decided on the following cheeses for our tasting:

~ Délice de la Vallée – cow and goat
~ A bloomy rind cheese by a mystery producer - sheep
~ Formagella - Nicasio Valley Cheese Co. (Lafranchi family) - cow
~ Estero Gold - Valley Ford Cheese – cow
~ Sonoma Toma – Bleating Heart Dairy (Seana Doughty) - cow
~ Shamrock (Ana Cox) – Crottin – goat

As always a very interesting selection including many cheeses we had not had before, and a couple that were so new that they still do not even have names. In keeping with her enthusiasm and knowledge about Sonoma County, each item was presented with a story about exactly where it had come from and who had produced it.

In addition to the cheeses, Sheana brought a number of accompaniments and other treats:

~ Duck rillette
~ Romesco paste (a roasted red bell pepper based paste)
~ Marcona almonds
~ Dried fruit
~ Strawberries (the kind that let you remember what strawberries really taste like!)
~ Glen Ellen honey
~ Bread and crackers

Below: Estero Gold, Sonoma Toma and Crottin cheeses; a combo - Délice de la Vallée, duck rillette and Romesco paste; the amazing strawberries.

And finally there were the wines - and more wines – two whites and four reds:

~ Highway 12 – Sauvignon Blanc - 2008
~ David Noyes (Pagani Vineyards) – Tocai Friulano – 2008
~ B.R. Cohn – Panel Wagon – Pinot Noir - 2008
~ Spann Vineyards – Mo Zin – 2007 [Zinfandel 57%; Mourvèdre 30%; Petite Syrah 10%; Syrah (3%)
~ Unti Vineyards – Petit Frere – 2007 [Syrah 44%; Grenache 38%; Mourvèdre 18%]
~ Rimerick Ridge (Smothers Brothers) – Cabernet Sauvignon - 2001

Do we look like we had a good time?

Since we had been a bit concerned that we might still be hungry after the wine and cheese tasting, we had also asked Sheana to bring along a bit of dinner. And so after all that had gone before, before she left Sheana assembled the following to tide us over until breakfast:

~Ravioli Stuffed with Délice de la Vallée cheese with Swiss Chard and Basalmic Vinegar
~Roasted Gleason Ranch Chicken with Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
~Fresh Sausages simmered in Mo Zin and Verjus
~Oakhill Farm Green Salad with Green Garlic Aioli Dressing
~Fresh Baked Butter Cookies

Just in case we might be feeling a bit of Sheana-withdrawal, we have made arrangements to stop by here Epicurean Connection store tomorrow morning for some coffee and pastries! See you then Sheana, and thanks again!

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