Men Who Like to Cook - David Latt

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Race to the Finish in West Texas: In Pursuit of the Best BBQ and Bone-In Ribeye

After his trip to Austin checking out the local food truck culture, our traveling foodie, David Latt, liked Texas so much he headed back in search of great barbecue and steaks. On a short visit, he took the long view and ate in twenty-five restaurants in thirty-six hours.

I hadn't gone shooting since I was a kid, so the instructor's saying the shotgun "will kick a bit" was good to know.

Overhead, the sky was deep blue.  You could hear traffic from the interstate a few miles away, but otherwise the air was hot, still and quiet.
Hands sweating, two shells loaded into the shotgun, one eye squinted closed, the other aimed down the barrel, I was ready. "Pull," I said and from the left, the hockey sized puck flew into the sky.

I moved the barrel of the shotgun to follow the skeet as it arced in the sky. The puck seemed to move in slow motion when it reached its highest point. That's when I slowly squeezed the trigger and...missed.

Luckily I had a full box of shells and the afternoon to spend on the beginning of a fun four day trip in West Texas that started at the Wildcatter Ranch, a working ranch on top of a plateau overlooking the small town of Graham, an hour from Fort Worth and Abilene.

The trip was about barbecue and bone-in ribeye steaks, West Texas style. I only had a few days to cover a lot of territory and a lot of eating to do.
'Cue Joints and Steakhouses

The Wildcatter Ranch was a lot of fun.

Besides skeet shooing, there's archery, horseback riding and river rafting. Not a dude ranch, the rooms are nicely supplied with Western memorabilia, cable TV and Wi-Fi but the grounds are scruffy, reminding you this is a working ranch and I definitely knew I wasn't in the city when I saw the warning signs outside my cabin--"DANGER Rocks Snakes."
Texas Barbecue Lesson #1: Dry Rub Only, No Wet Sauce

During a cooking class with chef Bob Bratcher, he made it clear that the first lesson of West Texas barbecue is dry rub is king. No wet sauce touches the meat during cooking. Sauces are available but only applied by the diner.
Chef Bob's baby back ribs are dry rubbed and cooked until tender and smoky. 
Likewise his mesquite grilled ribeye has a great dry rub-grill crust and tons of flavor. The 16 oz. steak comes garnished with a Texas star carved out of a thick slice of pineapple just in case you forgot where you were. 

BBQ by the side of the road

On the road near Wildcatter ranch, we experienced every foodie-traveler's dream.

We discovered a gem of a restaurant on a dusty, god-forsaken highway,  Hashknife on the Chisholm Trail in Peadenville (population 6, no fooling', that's really the whole population) at the junction of Highways 281 N. and 254.
Big Jim McLennan and his wife Lesa are proud of their restaurant in the middle of nowhere. "We have a little menu and what we do, we try to do well," Big Jim told us as we're hunched over paper plates filled with brisket, sausage, pork ribs, ribeye steaks, chicken fried steak and "big ole burgers."
On his menu, Big Jim has found a happy balance of barbecue, country cafe and steakhouse dishes.
His 'cue was first rate. The pork ribs were sweet with the proper amount of fat. Along with the extremely large portions, we were encouraged to have a big cup of sweetened iced tea or a long neck Lone Star, which local Brian Briscoe told us "tastes better in a bottle than on tap." Several bottles later, we couldn't agree more.
One of the best dishes at Hashknife isn't meat at all but poultry. Big Jim puts his barbecue smoker to good use when he makes a delicious smoked chicken salad sandwich on toasted white bread.

Another treat was a special dessert made by his wife Lesa. Her banana cake was moist with lots of flavor. Surprisingly, she uses plantains instead of regular Chiquita bananas. A break with tradition and a good one.


From tiny Peadenville, I headed to Abilene for the next stop on my mad, barbecue dash across West Texas.

A must-stop for any encounter with old school 'cue is Harold's Pit Bar-B-Q.
The restaurant is about as stripped down as you could imagine. Florescent lighting brightens up the rectangular cinderblock interior. The smoker and serving counter are all the way in the back. In between are picnic tables filled with people eating big plates of food.
You won't find steak, shrimp, chicken, fish or chicken fried steak at Harold's. The menu focuses on barbecue classics: sausage, ham, pork ribs, brisket, turkey, cornbread, cole slaw, pinto beans, collard greens, flat green beans, potato salad, fruit cobblers and sweetened ice tea.
The sausage and thick sliced ham were nicely smoked, sweet and chewy with a salty finish. The beans have heat. The ribs were tender and fatty. The sweet and creamy potato salad had a good relish-crunch.

In his heyday, Harold would come out from behind the counter and sing for the customers. He loved people and they loved him back. Unfortunately, these days Harold is taking it easy and doesn't come by much, but the food's the same, watched over by Harold's son, Russell.

Texas Barbecue Lesson #2: Fatty Brisket Reigns Supreme

If you visit Abilene you also have to stop at Joe Allen's with two dining rooms, a spacious good-time bar, big game trophies on the walls and twinkle lights circling the room.

The restaurant has the feeling of a rambling, Texas roadhouse. Just the sort of place you want to sit and spend time talking, drinking and eating 'cue.
The fatty brisket was delicious. Sweet and juicy with a perfect balance of tender meatiness and smoky tang and seasoned only with dry rub and enough black pepper to make your tongue tingle.

As explained by Joe's son, Josh Allen, the general manager, the brisket stays in the smokers 12-16 hours depending on the size of the cut. Slow cooking is the best way to coax out the meat's deep flavors.

Texas Barbecue Lesson #3: Only Use Mesquite 

With very few exceptions, in West Texas the only wood used in smokers and grills is mesquite. 
The tricky part of barbecue is the balance of smoke, heat, fat and seasoning. Too much smoke over-powers the flavor of the meat. Too much heat and not enough fat, the meat dries out. Too little seasoning, no kick.

At Joe Allen's, they get that balance pitch-perfect right.

Bone-in Rib Eye Steaks and Chicken Fried Steaks

If you're in Texas, you'll be tossing your fears about high cholesterol levels out the car window. This is cattle country, after all, and nothing is as good as a steak cooked on a hot-as-hell grill or a breaded piece of beef that's been fried to perfection.

A favorite of locals in the area and always crowded, the Beehive Restaurant has locations in Abilene and nearby Albany. Primarily a steak house with steaks cooked on an open pit, mesquite fired grill or as chicken fried steak, the Beehive has an upscale, clubby feeling, the kind of place that attracts friends wanting a big meal and some cocktails, families with their kids, and couples out on a date.

10-14 ounce filets, ribeyes and New York strip steaks are grilled with smoky flavor on the blazingly hot pit in the kitchen. 
Owned by the Esfandiary brothers, Ali and Neiman, who arrived from Iran decades ago and, incongruously, decided to open an American-style country cafe. The story goes that the day before they opened the original restaurant in Albany, an elderly woman came in to eat. Sorry, they told her, they weren't open until tomorrow. Before she could leave, they asked if she could settle an argument they were having. Which part of the chicken, they wanted to know, did you use to make chicken fried steak?
As Ali tells the story, the woman said they were idiots and dragged them to her house for a lesson in Texas-cooking. Chicken fried steak, as everyone knows, is made with beef. From the long lines waiting to have lunch and dinner, they were clearly quick learners.

Buffalo Gap
Buffalo Gap is only a few miles south-west of Abilene. The small town (population 463) has a fascinating Historic Village, a must for any western history buffs.

The jewel of Buffalo Gap is Perini Ranch Steakhouse. Located down a twisting dirt road, the steakhouse is in a converted barn with an outdoor patio cooled by lazily turning overhead fans.
Perini's is the brainchild of Tom Perini (on the right in the photo), born and bred a Texas cattleman. He loves cattle ranching but confesses there is no money to be made that way.
Faced with losing the ranch because he couldn't earn enough raising cattle, his mother told him to turn to cooking, something he had been doing for years on cattle drives. Everyone loved his down-home, ranchhand-pleasing dishes.

That's what you'll get at Perini's. Steaks, fried chicken, ham, chicken fried steak, hamburgers, catfish, and ribs come out on huge plates, designed to satisfy the hungriest of cowboys.
There are all the usual sides you'd find on the barbecue trial--corn, flat green beans, corn bread, mashed potatoes, red beans and biscuits--as well as some excellent additions like black bean and corn salad, romaine and head lettuce salad with blue cheese and minced bacon and delicious, creamy green chile hominy with bacon and cheddar cheese.
For dessert, locals insist the bread bread pudding is a must, the combination of Jack Daniels whiskey sauce, sourdough bread croutons and pecans is to-die-for. I had some myself, so I can testify to the truthfulness of that statement.

Perini's serves lunch and dinner and--a really great way to experience the setting--Sunday brunch. Locals testify to the pleasures of a leisurely Sunday morning spent at the ranch, a cowboy bloody mary with horseradish and pickled okra in one hand and a piece of crispy fried chicken in the other with the prospect of enjoying more of the chuck wagon favorites outside on the patio buffet.

If I lived in the area, I would happily make Sunday brunch at Perini's a weekend tradition.

Fort Worth

More often than not, people have heard about Fort Worth but haven't visited Dallas's little sister. 
Since this is Texas, if you aren't eating beef, you're watching them walk by.

One of the most popular attractions in Texas, the Fort Worth Stockyards looks back to a time when railroads and cattle ruled the west. Commemorating that rich tradition, twice a day at 11:30 am and 4:00 pm, a symbolic cattle drive of 15-20 Texas longhorns ambles down E. Exchange Avenue to the delight of families with kids and travelers from all over.

To build up my appetite and take a break from beef and barbecue, I stopped at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth to check out its small but excellent collection.  As enjoyable as the art, the museum building itself is amazing. The geometric lines of the galleries and ponds outside are soothing, helping visitors enjoy a few hours of quiet contemplation and self-reflection.
If I had had more time, I would have liked to have visited the other museums nearby in the Fort Worth Cultural District, a complex of art and science attrractions as varied as the Amon Carter Museum of American ArtKimbell Art MuseumMuseum of Science and HistoryNational Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Botanic Garden & Japanese Garden.
Our next stop was a ramble through the restaurants in the middle of the historic district.

Around the corner from Stockyards on North Main, Cattleman's Steak House opened just after WWII. The dark wood interior and long bar announce Cattleman's as a great place to hang out. A casual, friendly, a no-tablecloth kind of restaurant. The kind of place where strangers will reach out to one another with "Where you folks from?" as if everyone in the restaurant could be a neighbor, no matter where they are from.

Because Cattleman's and the other stockyard restaurants cater to travelers, the large menus throw barbecue together with steakhouse and country cafe cooking: barbecue pork ribs, lamb fries (rocky mountain oysters), chicken fried steak, grilled pork chops, fried catfish, chicken fried steak and steak just about any way you could imagine: sirloin strip (New York 10 oz., K.C. 13 oz. and Texas 18 oz.), porterhouse, t-bone, ribeye (bone-in or boneless), tenderloin, pepper, teriyaki and filet mignon.

On E. Exchange Avenue, H3 Ranch adds Mexican favorites like guacamole, nachos, tacos and quesadillas to a menu similar to Cattleman's. Steaks are offered from a petite 9 oz. filet mignon to a 32 oz. porterhouse for two or, as the menu says, "One Hungry Cowhand". 

For fans of barbecue, brisket and pork ribs can be ordered at H3 Ranch with sides and on combination platters of grilled chicken, sausage or shrimp. Rounding out the menu are hamburgers, chicken fried steak, rainbow trout, spit-roasted pig and chicken, fried catfish, Alaskan king crab, cedar planked salmon and prime rib. In a phrase, something for everyone.
H3 Ranch is also open for breakfast, a good time to enjoy the expansive interior with a collection of cowboy art and many mounted animal heads, including a trio of buffalo who loom over the booths in the dining room.

Part of the restaurant, Booger Red's Saloon has a long bar where half the stools are topped with saddles so even a barfly can ride the western spirit without walking outside.
With two locations on E. Exchange, Riscky's--a family run dynasty with more than half a dozen restaurants in Fort Worth--has long been a destination for visitors to the Stockyards District.

Riscky's Barbeque has a large, covered patio cooled on blisteringly hot days with cold water mists. Inside, the restaurant looks like everybody's image of a roadside joint, a big rambling shamble of a space with a honky-tonk, neon-laced bar on one side and the crowded restaurant on the other.
All the barbecue favorites are available: pork and beef ribs, brisket, smoked sausage, turkey and ham, as well as barbecued shrimp and bologna (bolonga, yes, you heard that right!).

To round out the menu there are Mexican tacos and country cafe fried pickles, cheese sticks, onion strings, okra and corn as well as a variety of green salads, potato salad, cole slaw, red beans, mac n' cheese, green beans, french fries and rocky mountain oysters again, called "calf fries" here.
Down the block, steaks are the focus at Riscky's Steakhouse. There's a friendly rivalry between Riscky's, H3 Ranch and Cattleman's. Their menus share a love of Black Angus Beef.  Steaks are grilled the way you want them with lots of sides, salads, soups and "surf"--lobster, shrimp and catfish.

Like so many restaurants in West Texas, Riscky's Steakhouse is a big, casual, friendly place to eat a bunch of food, hang out and have a cocktail or a few bottles of Shiner Bock.
North of downtownAngelo's Barbecue has that same comfortable, big room feel. Like Harold's in Abilene, Angelo's focuses on barbecue classics.

On the trip, in the parking lot near the entrance smoke billowed out of a rusty oil barrel.  Assistant Manger, Lowell Brown explained that they burn off the still smoldering ash from the wood fire pits in the oil barrel.

Was this good houskeeping or a sly marketing ploy to attract more customers? You could smell that delicious barbecue aroma for miles around.
Inside, Angelo's was all business. No wait staff serves you. If you want food, you'll get in line at the chest-high counter, sliding your tray along, cafeteria style, waiting for your turn in front of Lowell and his helpers.
He asks you what you want. You choose your meat. Lowell slices or dishes it out. One of his helpers adds your sides and two pieces of white bread. You reach up and grab your paper plate of food, put it on your tray and settle your bill with the cashier.

The first time you visit Angelo's you might be distracted by the hundreds of mounted animal heads on the walls. The next time you come, you probably won't even notice.

You'll be too focused on eating your plate of fatty brisket and the excellent mashed potato salad with poppy seeds, relish and red pepper. Like me, you'll dig your fork into the creamy cole slaw made with red and green cabbage and you'll never look up at the buffalo, elk, deer and elk staring down at you.
Needing no sauce whatsoever, the pork ribs were, for me, the best dish at Angelo's. The ribs were cooked until tender, with enough smoke to bring out the meat's sweetness.
The fatty brisket was good too but best enjoyed as a sandwich with a generous helping of homemade sauce. In any other context, white bread is bland and uninteresting but here it complimented perfectly the spicy, smoked meat and tangy sauce.

For the last stop on the West Texas barbecue-steak trail, we ate at El Asadero Mexican Steakhouse and Seafood, a mile and a half south of the Stockyards District. The down-home, neighborhood Mexican cafe serves a big menu of Mexican dishes as well as a great steak, the bistec ranchero.
Often chewy and a bit tasteless, chuck steak shines at El Asadero.

The bistec ranchero was pounded thin and charbroiled on a gas grill. The enormous steak arrived at the table covered with caramelized onions and, if I wanted (I didn't), jalapeno peppers. The bistec came with a good sized helping of rice, refried beans, tortillas and a salad. All for $10.99.
The meat was juicy, tender and full of caramelized carne asada flavor, smoky and sweet. Eaten by itself, the steak was delicious. Even better was using the steak to create a taco. I cut off pieces of the succulent meat, placed them in one of the hot tortillas and aded onions, rice, beans and salsa and chowed down.

Hard to believe after so many stops in such a short amount of time I was still hungry. El Asadero's bistec was a great away to end a remarkable trip.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Farm-to-Table Finds a Home in Spokane and Northern Idaho

Heading inland from Seattle, a city he knows well, our foodie adventurer, David Latt, explores Spokane and Eastern Idaho in search of restaurants that fly the flag of the farm-to-table movement. 

Like fashion, food delights the soul but is often subject to hype. "Organic," "Natural" and "Low Fat" have been co-opted by marketing campaigns, obscuring the true intent of the words.
When we think of "farm-to-table," we imagine a farmer driving a beat up 1980's Ford pick-up to the back door of a neighborhood restaurant and unloading wooden crates filled to overflowing with leafy bunches of arugula, round and firm beets, thick stalks of celery, fat leeks, freshly laid eggs, plump chickens, freshly cured bacon, ripe apples, dark red cherries and juicy peaches.

The high quality product inspires the chef who quickly writes the menu for that day's meals. 

In the ideal, a farm-to-table meal reconnects diners with the seasons and the land. Such a meal delights all our senses and becomes a grounding experience, locating us in time and space.

We would eat tomatoes only when they are in season and their acid and sweetness are in perfect balance. Spring lamb would be exactly that, "spring" lamb, tender and moist. We would enjoy trout only when it was freshly caught, the clean taste of snow melt clinging to its skin. Eggs laid that morning by chickens treated humanely and raised on sustainable, organic and natural feed would have bright yellow yolks. And peaches picked at the peak of maturity would have melt-in-the-mouth sweetness. One bite and we would remember summers as a kid when a simple thing like a ripe peach could make us happy.

That's good farm-to-table. 

Bad farm-to-table is a marketing campaign that pays lip-service to the fantasy. The produce may be procured locally but the quality isn't good. Or the produce is local and good quality, but the chef doesn't have the talent to prepare delicious meals.
On a recent food tour of Spokane and Northern Idaho, enjoying the beautiful scenery with clear running rivers and crystal blue lakes, I discovered a handful of restaurants that are living up to the promise of farm-to-table. 

Spokane, Washington

In Spokane, our group of fifteen sat down at a long table at Italia Trattoria. Chef and co-owner Anna Vogel talked about the abundance of small farms within a hundred mile radius that supply the restaurant with the majority of its produce, cheeses, poultry, eggs and meat. 
She and partner, Bethe Bowman, were attracted to Spokane's small town, cosmopolitan feeling. A small enough version of Seattle where their restaurant can, as she said with a smile, "change the way Spokane eats." 

If I lived in Spokane, she would certainly change the way I eat because I would come as often as I could.
We had several salads, the best, a charred octopus salad. The bits and pieces of pepper crusted octopus contrasted perfectly with a light mix of local produce--Italian parsley, thinly sliced new potatoes, celery and red onions, tossed in olive oil flavored with roasted tomato essence and lemon.

A second course showed off chef Vogel's skill with potato gnocchi. The soft, pliant dumplings were coated with a sweet-tart tomato sauce and topped with shreds of bright green basil.
A risotto, similarly dressed with a roasted tomato sauce, the perfect compliment to the fresh dungeness crab from Washington State's coastal waters. Decorating the risotto were thin parasols of heirloom tomatoes from Beanie Blues Farm located on South Hill in Spokane.

Trained in Europe and in some of Seattle's best restaurants, chef Vogel knows to source great ingredients and then get of the way. 

The duck breast spoke for itself. Blood red and tender, the thick slices were accented with a crust of dusky cocoa nibs, accompanied by a corn potato hash and crisp whole green beans for contrasts in texture and flavor.
Thickly cut flap steak cut easily and tasted earthly and beefy-rich. Like many talented chefs, Vogel knows that sides are not an after thought.

As quickly as we devoured the beef, we attacked a deliciously full of flavor, roasted, skinless whole tomato. A potato croquette seasoned with parmesan cheese was fried to crusty perfection. They challenged the beef to compete with their veggie-wonderfulness. 

We sampled local Washington State wines as we ate, enjoying a preview of the wineries we would visit on the trip. 

We were offered the dessert of the evening, a lemon cornmeal cake with cherry compote, but we apologized we are too full. We simply could not eat another bite, fearing like Mr. Creosote in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, we would explode with delirious happiness.

The next morning, barely recovered, we descended on Santé Restaurant & Charcuterie in downtown Spokane.  

Santé's rustic vibe is accentuated by wooden plank tables and refrigerated display cases filled with executive chef Jeremy Hansen and sous chef Jeff Vance's housemade sausages, sides of bacon, assorted charcuterie and jars of homemade pickles.

We pressed against the display cases to get a better look at the pickles and charcuterie as if we were kids outside a toy store.
"Think Globally Eat Locally" is printed on the menu. Not just a marketing slogan, chef Hansen pursues the best ingredients he can find from local farms and throughout Washington state. Using French and Italian techniques, he creates dishes with a rustic American point of view. 
From the charcuterie and cheese menu we sampled cheeses, house cured smoked trout gravlax, pork and duck prosciutto, sopprasetta, salami, toast rounds, flavored mustards and a selection of those pickles we had been eyeing appeared. We happily shared and compared notes on each as they were passed around. 
Because this was breakfast, we had wheat berry French toast, sausages, duck and chicken eggs fried sunny side up--the better to enjoy the brilliance of their deep yellow yolks.

To sample chef Hansen's lunch/dinner menu, we ordered the charcuterie quiche and, my favorite, his gnocchi with crisp slices of guanciale on top. The gnocchi were coated with a deeply nuanced sherry glazed cream sauce. Luckily there are still slices of the toasted baguettes so we could enjoy every last drop of the sauce.
In a nondescript mini-mall, chef David Blaine at Latah Bistro serves an Italian inspired menu. His risottos, pastas and crostini are topped with produce from farmers in the area. On Monday they call Blaine and tell him what they are harvesting that week. Doing quick culinary math, he plans his weekly menu and puts in his orders.

The resulting dishes change weekly and even daily, grounding his customers in the seasons.

Just outside of Spokane, we visited Masselow's Restaurant in the Northern Quest Resort & Casino where chef Bob Rogers showed us that even a large organization recognizes the benefits of using local ingredients, sourced from small farms practicing sustainable agriculture.
Using one of his high tech kitchen toys, Rogers served a delicious piece of Washington beef cooked at low temperatures in a sous vide machine and finished on the grill. Tender, moist and delicious, the beef was paired with spaghetti squash, Swiss chard and a barley risotto.
For me, chef Rogers' best dish was a simple salad of lentils with lettuce, a bit of goat cheese with a vinaigrette flavored with the juice of an oven smoked tomato. Simple, elegant, delicious and all the more fun, because we had bought the Palouse lentils ourselves from the Moscow (Idaho) Food Co-op.
While we were in Moscow, we ate at Nectar, a wine bar distinguished by chef Nikki Woodland's cooking. Located in rich farmland, Woodland buys her produce from local farmers, explaining that the key to her cooking is a sentiment heard frequently on the trip, "I like to source great ingredients, treat them simply and let people enjoy them without too much fuss.

Farm-to-table gets personal when you pick the food yourself.

When I was growing up outside Los Angeles, my mother loved to take the family to Cherry Valley where--you guessed it--we would pick cherries. For a couple of dollars a farmer would let families descend on his orchard and pick the hard to reach fruit. Armed with ladders and pails, we would look for a tree still loaded with fruit. By the time we had finished, half the cherries we picked would be in our pail, the other half in our stomachs.
At the Green Bluff Growers cooperative, just outside Spokane, you can spend an afternoon visiting dozens of farms.

Many are u-pick where the farmer will teach you the proper way to harvest a crop, like Mark Morrell of Walter's Fruit Ranch who showed us to "grab the apple by the bottom and raise it up to keep the stem attached so it won't go bad." Good advice. We happily practiced his lesson by picking Honey Crisp apples and eating them standing in the orchard. I guess that was farm-to-mouth.
If you want a more immersive experience than just an afternoon picking apples, drive two hours north of Spokane to the city of Rice, where you can live up to five days on a farm while you learn how to make Quillisascut goat cheese and practice culinary skills in cooking classes taught by Lora Lee and Rick Misterlys.


Farm-to-table means wine as well as food.
To go on a winery road trip, we didn't have far to go in Spokane. In the heart of downtown, in an alleyway next to the elevated train tracks, we stopped at Barrister Winery. The Wine Enthusiast Magazine credits Barrister's Cabernet Franc, Merlot and  Sauvignon Blanc with 90+ points, helping expand the winery's fan base beyond the local clientele.

With freight trains passing nearby, the tasting room vibrated as we sampled Barrister's wine.

Mark Rogers of Arbor Crest Wine Cellars just outside of Spokane explained the intimate relationship between winery and vineyard, "We're all about Washington growers. I shake the farmer's hand I buy from."

Because of a difficult climate and poor soil, most wineries in the area buy grapes from vineyards in other parts of Washington State. Trezzi Farm is an exception.

Half an hour north-east of Spokane, Davide and Stephanie Trezzi have a small tasting room in the middle of their vineyard. Trusting to nature, they dry farm and so, in drought years, risk losing their entire harvest, which they did in 2010 and 2011.

With young vines and a short growing season, their wines need several more years to reach their potential.
Relying on Davide's excellent cooking, Trezzi Farm survives by selling frozen ready-eat-to-meals and catering as well as winemaking. As part of their tastings, Davide sometimes serves food to go with his wine.

By the time we reached the winery we were hungry again so he served helpings of his polenta with a butter, cheese, garlic and tomato sauce. His delicious food definitely paired well with his Barbera.
After two states, four days on the road, five wineries and seven restaurants, we had discovered that farm-to-table works when the food is fresh-tasting and well-prepared by a skillful chef. We experienced the obvious, that farm-to-table isn't a marketing label, it is a way of thinking.