Chef David Tanis wrote the book (well, books, three of 'em so far, plus a bunch of columns in the NY Times) on simple cooking. We can all learn from his deceptively simple approach to food, in that his style is to source great ingredients, put them together with other great ingredients, and then he makes sure not to let the cooking get in the way of their greatness. That's not unlike the motivation of the wineries involved with In Pursuit of Balance, an California assemblage of oeno-evangelists dedicated to making wine that reflects its vineyard/appellation origins and are balanced in all aspects of fruit, tannin, and acidity. It's pretty much about getting great grapes and not messing with them in a way that puts the winemaker's ego ahead of the grapes' natural tendencies. These are wines that are about providing context to the overall food+wine+friends experience more than they are about pushing the boundaries of what sort of juice a grape can be turned into. Yes, it could be perceived as swapping one winemaking ideology for another, but this is way more benign (and way more food-friendly).
Thus it was a no-brainer to put IPOB together with Caroline Styne and Suzanne Goin at Lucques when the idea of this dinner arose. Caroline already had about half of these producers's wines on her wine lists at Lucques, AOC, and Tavern anyway, so it wasn't that big of a leap of faith to think that this wouldn't work. Minds melded in the kitchen and a spring menu was conceived, and now a formidable array of wine from IPOB producers are being shipped in for the supper (current list below). Whereas the annual IPOB tastings have been focused on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this evening will be a virtual free-for-all, variety-wise, with wines of all three kinds (red, white, & rosé) being poured during the family style service. There'll be no specific pairings, just the fun of drinking inspired wine with inspired food.
The one-seating dinner takes place on Thursday, April 3rd, with family-style service commencing at 7 PM. Cost is a mere $95 per person, including wine and a copy of "One Good Dish". Has there ever been a better way to spend a Thursday evening? I'll be there to answer questions about In Pursuit of Balance and about the individual wines, so think of it as an educational opportunity with dinner.
For reservations, call Lucques at 323.655.6277. Seating is limited to only 55 guests, so call sooner than later.
IPOB wineries providing wine for the evening include: Anthill Farms, Calera, Cobb, Copain, Drew Family Cellars, Failla, Flowers, Hanzell, Hirsch Vineyards, Knez, Liquid Farm, Littorai, Matthiason, Mount Eden, Native9, Ojai, Peay, Red Car, Sandhi, Soliste, Twomey, Tyler, Varner, & Wind Gap.
The evening's menu will include:
salty almonds with rosemary cashews and indian spices
grogonzola and walnut crostini
cheese in a jar
red beet salad with hard cooked egg
very green fish stew
tunisian meatballs with cous cous
quick scallion kim chee