With so many wineries and interesting places to eat popping up in Santa Barbara proper these days, it’s sometimes easy to forget about the superstar chefs and talented vintners who are powering up newish projects in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Two of the most exciting of each camp pair up this coming Wednesday, January 29, when Ryan Deovlet brings his Refugio Ranch wines to David Cecchini’s Cecco Ristorante in the heart of Solvang. The $65 pairing dinner features five courses, including a crispy branzino served alongside the “Ineseño” roussanne-viognier white blend and a suckling-pig ragù with goat cheese gnocchi alongside the “Escondrijo” syrah-grenache-petite sirah red blend. Click here for tickets and more details.
Deovlet and Cecchini both answered a couple of quick questions via email for me last week.
As a chef, how do you approach winemaker dinners?
DAVID CECCHINI: I like to experience the complete package of a winemaker’s arsenal of wines. It’s an opportunity for me as well as the guests to gain insight to how the winemaker approached the process of making the wine. As the chef, I am here to complement Ryan’s wines, and hopefully with some careful nuances on my cuisine, it will complete the dining experience for the guest.
Are there taste-tests involved?
DAVID CECCHINI: Absolutely. That’s the best part of the prepping process … if you know what I mean.
Aside from the sauvignon blanc on the menu, your wines for this dinner appear to be blends. Does blending wine make it better for food pairing?
RYAN DEOVLET: I don’t necessarily think that blending wine is better for food pairing than single varietals, but I love the idea that through the nuances of several varietals in one wine, the chef can work with the layers of the wine to not only enhance the complexities in the wines, but allow multiple dimensions in the food to be accentuated.
What is it about David’s cooking that you think will work with your wines?
RYAN DEOVLET: I think David’s attention to traditional recipes offering great quality and taste, while preserving the original simple ingredients, will balance beautifully with our wines and allow each to share their place equally at the table.
Have you two worked together before?
RYAN DEOVLET: No, this is our first dinner together, and I’m really excited to pair our wines with his food and culinary background.