The farmers market tour. Photo by Steven Brown.

Bread & Roses Dinner at the Wine Cask

Last year we were honored to be involved with The Fund For Santa Barbara’s annual Bread and Roses event. The Wine Cask generously donated a special Chef’s Counter Tasting Dinner and Farmers Market Tour with Edible Santa Barbara publishers as guest hosts. The lucky bid winners, Julie and William Smith recently scheduled the dinner with their friends, (Kim Stevens, Royce Adams, Jane Brody and Greg Baker) and we were thrilled to be there to photograph and document the market tour and dinner.

First we met up with Executive Chef David Rosner and Chef de Cuisine Nik Ramirez at the Farmers Market. We gathered around the enormous Wine Cask cart for a photo op at the start of our tour. Since we are in the midst of of our Eat Local Challenge for the month of October, I explained a little bit about the Challenge and handed out Eat Drink Local Challenge buttons to our group. Then it was time to shop.


We got to know Chef Rosner and what he looks for at the market as he shops. He was also listening to what the group was interested in and based on our market tour, he was planning to create a custom menu designed for us.


It didn’t take too long for the cart to fill up and they headed back to create the menu and prep for dinner. We had a little break and then we all met back up at the Wine Cask. We were greeted by Sommelier Branden Bidwell who created the wine pairings for the menu that Chef Rosner had just put together.


The Chef’s table was beautifully set, as Branden poured the bubbly and told us a little of what was to come.


We were started off with an Amusé of Dragon Fruit with Wild Arctic Char, Caviar Lime and Pea Shoots. It was paired with 2011 Riverbench ‘Blanc de Blancs’, Santa Maria Valley. Earlier we had tried the caviar lime at the market and seen the chef buying dragon fruit, but it all came together in this dish. The dragon fruit was cut into rectangles that made it look like black sesame crackers and the mild fruity flavor was the perfect foil to the tangy roe and cavier lime with the fresh crunch of pea shoots.


With our appetite whetted, we were ready for the First Course of Cardamom Cured Salmon with huckleberry and fresh carrots from Roots Farm. This was a slight exception for my Eat Local Challenge since the salmon was from Oregon, but I was happy to try this exquisite salmon that was complemented with another Orgegon treat—huckleberry. It just goes to show that local ingredients go well together. And I was pleased that our locally grown carrots almost stole the show on this delicous course. Brian chose the 2012 Foxen Chenin Blanc, Santa Maria Valley to pair with this course and it did seem that the bite of salmon that I took after sipping the wine took on even more flavor—exactly what should happen when wine is paired well with food.


Our main course was Local Sea Bass and Braised Pork Belly with Pumpkin and Baby Bok Choy. This was truly a representation of autumn flavors right down to the pomegranate garnish. Every bite was exquisite, and the Syrah that Brian picked out for us hit all the marks—2012 Straight Line “McGinely Vineyard” Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley. Although I was completely satisfied, we still had dessert…


How can you resist a dessert that looks as beautiful as it tastes? And this Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Hibiscus Syrup Topped with a Macadamia Florentine was just what we needed. The tartness and smooth silkiness of the panna cotta was refreshing and went down easy. And the crisp Florentine satisfied our need for something a little crunchy. How many of us often order a dessert wine with dessert? Probably not many, and yet it makes sense. The 2013 Storm Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley that Brian paired with this held its own agains the sweet and tart flavors of the dessert.

The conversation flowed during the entire dinner. We talked about recent trips to Italy and Sardinia and the upcomming Bread and Roses and, naturally, we talked quite a bit about food and wine.


Prolonging the conversation and the evening, a lovely cheese plate was brought out along with a bottle of winemaker Doug Margerum’s luxury Cabernet Sauvignon, Ten~Goal under his Barrack label.


Then who should show up but Doug Margerum himself. He dropped by to meet our group and to hear us rave about our dinner and the wine. I hope that never gets too old—to hear how much people enjoy the experience that the Wine Cask creates. We saluted Executive Chef David Rosner and wished the Chef de Cuisine, Nik Ramirez, best of luck on his upcoming move to Bangkok. And we expressed our deep thanks to Sommelier Branden Bidwell for his creative and nuanced wine pairings and wonderful hospitality. And our many thanks to Mitchell Sjerven for making the donation to the auction at Bread and Roses.

If you would like information on the next Bread and Roses event, please visit The Fund for Santa Barbara website here. And for information about the Farmers Market Foodie Stroll and Chef’s Table, visit the Wine Cask here.

Categories Category: Food