Wine Country Cooking
When I mention it as my favorite style of cooking, along with Mediterranean cuisine, my European friends ask me to define “wine country cooking.” At first I would stutter something about food that goes well with wine. But that’s mostly everything, right?
I’ve heard the term from two main sources, Joanne Weir and John Ash, both well-respected California chefs and cooking teachers. And while she doesn’t speak of the specific term as much, another major influence for me is Alice Waters, arguably the “mother of California cuisine.”
For me, “wine country cooking,” “California cuisine” and “farm-to-table cooking” are nearly synonymous. They are influenced by the sun-kissed ingredients of southern Europe and the culinary traditions of the Mediterranean. They focus on pristinely fresh produce, cooked with a light touch, and served with regional wines.
The food is fresh, with a variety of textures, bright colors and flavors. It is generous with olive oil, nuts, and seasonal fruits and vegetables, grown as close as possible to where it’s prepared and eaten. It complements wine, and vice versa.
Bonus points if it’s enjoyed al fresco, with friends.