Who Would Have Expected a Radish to Win? (Highlights from bASH 2015)

Garden Radish with Beef and Blue "Butter"

Garden Radish with Beef and Blue “Butter”

The stellar wines of Appellation St. Helena (ASH) recently took center stage at bASH 2015, the annual food and wine pairing competition where attendees’ votes determine the ultimate winners. Over 30 premium wineries from the appellation helped form separate contests for Culinary Institute of America at Greystone student teams and local professional chefs with diverse food dishes incorporating ingredients such as Foie Gras, Quail Eggs, Manila Clams, Beef Short Ribs and Duck Confit.

Thanks to the event we were able to savor outstanding ASH wines such as the Corley Family 2009 Yewell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, the Spottswoode Estate 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, the Taplin Cellars 2010 Terra 9 Cabernet Sauvignon, and both the Parry Cellars 2009 and 2011 Cabernet Sauvignons.  Napa Valley may be Cabernet Sauvignon country but the Appellation St. Helena wineries were also pouring Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel for the happy crowd. In fact, choices also included Rosés and a Port.

bASH First Place RibbonWe were pleasantly surprised when our favorite pairing that night won a First Place ribbon in the competition. The delicious wine was Trinchero Napa Valley’s 2011 Central Park West Petit Verdot, from winemaker Mario Monticelli, served with a Garden Radish with Beef and Blue “Butter” from CIA Student Chefs Ryan Paternostro (New Orleans, LA) and Nick Sobiek (Reno, NV).   They created their dish by pickling French Breakfast Radishes, stuffing them with a combination of Bone Marrow and Gorgonzola Dulce, and then garnishing the radishes with Dark Rye Bread Crumbs.  Visually, the presentation was a charming “planting” of the radishes in Rye Bread “dirt.”

Black Truffle and Bacon Wagyu Sliders

Black Truffle and Bacon Wagyu Sliders

In the other race, the winner of the competition for wines paired with dishes created by restaurant chefs, caterers, and winery executive chefs turned out to be the double threat of Del Dotto Vineyards’ 2012 St Helena Mountain American Oak U-Stave Block 2 Cabernet Sauvignon from winemaker Gerard Zanzonico and Black Truffle and Bacon Wagyu Sliders from the winery’s Executive Chef Joshua Schwartz.  The winery also served up some tasty Bresaola and Smoked Coppa.

Keep reading and we’ll tell you more about our favorite wines and dishes that evening.  To deepen your own understanding of this region’s offerings, please check out the wineries, their wines, and some of Napa Valley’s outstanding Chefs. We’ve also got plenty of student chefs whose career progressions you may want to start tracking.


Favorite Food and Wine Pairings at bASH 2015

At bASH 2015, it was clear once again that a lot of thought (and effort) had gone into the chefs’ creations of delicious and well-executed food offered alongside the wines.  There were 31 (!) Food and Wine Pairings at bASH 2015 and we’ve listed our personal favorites below (in addition to the two winners described above). Each time, we were impressed three ways: the wine itself, the food alone, and how well the elements of the food offering complimented the flavor nuances of the wine.

Shitake Stacks

Shitake Stacks (topped with a Quail Egg)

Benessere Vineyards 2010 Phenomenon (Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese) paired with Shitake Stacks (layers of Roasted Shitake Mushrooms, Cilantro & Yuzu Crema, Beef Tenderloin, Sautéed Swiss and Rainbow Chard, topped with a Fried Quail Egg and Maldon Salt) from CIA Student Chefs Ramona Nahapetian (Burbank, CA) and Gloria Riley (Puyallup, WA).

Clif Family Winery 2014 “Rte Blanc” Sauvignon Blanc paired with a dish of Manila Clam and Chorizo “Royal” with Herbed Panna Cotta and Lemon Mousse from the winery’s Executive Chef John McConnell.

Crocker & Starr 2012 Malbec paired with a Short Rib and Green Olive Empanada with Lime Crema from Archetype Executive Chef Ryder Zetts.

hope & grace 2011 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Braised Beef Terrine on a Rosemary Biscuit from CIA Student Chefs Brian Schofield (Warwick, RI) and Sam Nord (Olympia, WA).

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines 2012 Carol’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a Crostini of Duck Confit with Blackberry and Mixed Fruit Sauce, garnished with Microgreens from CIA Student Chefs Patrick Sheehy (Manhattan Beach, CA) and Christopher Wilbur (Camarillo, CA).

Robert Biale Vineyards 2013 Old Kraft Vineyard Zinfandel paired with 5-Spice Duck Confit with Plum Sauce on a Crispy Wonton from CIA Student Chefs Lorraine Adams (San Francisco, CA) and Lance Rood (Napa, CA).

Porcini-Rubbed Brisket

Porcini-Rubbed Brisket

Roberts + Rogers 2012 Louer Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a Porcini-Rubbed Brisket Slider with Strawberry-Rhubarb Chutney from CIA Student Chefs Kathryn Eaton (San Diego, CA) and Michael Zawisca (Kalamazoo, MI).

Rombauer Vineyards 2012 Stice Lane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a Chocolate Wine and Red Berry Tart (made with layered Chocolate Pudding, Cherry/Red Wine Gelée and Sea Salt) from CIA Student Chefs Esmé Nicolson-Singh (Sacramento, CA) and Jacque Pence (Tucson, AZ).


Other Favorite Foods at bASH 2015

In addition to the dishes described above, we especially enjoyed these other small plates during the bASH event as well:

Arancini with Spicy Italian Sausage Bolognese

Aged Cheddar Arancini with Spicy Italian Sausage Bolognese

  • Aged Cheddar Arancini with Spicy Italian Sausage Bolognese from CIA Student Chefs Jasmin Carpenter (Occidental, CA) and Hayley Cerone (San Diego, CA)
  • Braised Beef Short Ribs, Charred Spring Onion and Huckleberry Jus from Victoria Acosta, Chef at The Grill at Meadowood
  • “Foie Rocher” (Foie Gras Ganache, Chocolate, Roasted Hazelnuts, Huckleberry Gel and Venison Salt) from CIA Student Chefs Ivan Medina (Camarillo, CA) and Antonio Barbieri (Medford, OR)
  • Plum Wood Smoked Pork Shoulder with Rhubarb/Blueberry Chutney on Toasted Brioche from CIA Student Chefs Addison Girdner (Boise, ID) and Nick Rugen (Albuquerque, NM)
  • Ribeye Caprese Ravioli from Chef Jeanna DeMarco of Sweetpea Catering


Favorite Wines at bASH 2015

Appellation St. Helena WinesIf you are looking for excellent current wines from the St. Helena Appellation, we found many at bASH 2015 and highly recommend you seek these out in stores, at a restaurant, or from the wineries themselves. Please follow the links below to the wineries’ websites to learn more about wine availability and whether or not the winery has a tasting room open to the public. We’ve included the wines listed above, as well as our other favorite wines that the ASH wineries were also pouring that evening:

Plum Wood Smoked Pork Shoulder with Rhubarb/Blueberry Chutney

Plum Wood Smoked Pork Shoulder with Rhubarb/Blueberry Chutney on Toasted Brioche

For the fourth year in a row, we had a terrific time at Appellation St. Helena’s bASH, a convenient way to try wines from the appellation all conveniently gathered into one location. The wines were outstanding, many of the dishes made us want seconds, and we were excited to find highly effective and interesting pairings of food ingredients and spices with the flavor components of the wines they were partnered with.

Appellation St. Helena is a non-profit organization of over 50 winery and grape grower members who actively promote their wines and the local community through charity events, wine tastings, and community involvement. If you are interested in learning more about the organization and its activities, or to be one of the first to hear about bASH 2016, we encourage you to go here to get onto ASH’s mailing list.



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