California cooking, California dreaming: great meals @SottoLA and @StVincentSF

isabella pedroli chef los angelesAided by Sotto owner/executive chef Steve Samson and his team, chef Isabella Pedroli Giordano (above, left, with her mother) prepared an ASTOUNDING authentic Ligurian menu for a sold-out crowd on Monday. Los Angeles-born-and-bred, Isabella is slated to be the sous chef at Steve’s new Emilia-concept to be called Rosso Blu. I had a blast drinking Pigato and talking food with her at the end of the evening.

Unfortunately (fortunately?), I was too busy pouring and talking about Ligurian wines to properly photograph her excellent food. But I was blown away by the materia prima and the way she handled it. The California basil — used for her pesto — was enough to make you swoon.

california basilI was speaking to the waitstaff about the wines during lineup when the seductive aroma of freshly crushed basil leaves began filling the dining room as chef Isabella’s équipe put their pestles and mortars into action.

It happens every spring and summer when I visit my home state of California: once again I was floored by the bounty of high quality produce from in the El Dorado state.

best california tomatoesWhen I sat down for dinner on Tuesday night at St. Vincent, one of my favorite wine spots in San Francisco, owner and Italian wine sage David Lynch insisted (rightly) that I have the tomato and melon salad (above).

My beloved Golden State aside, few farming communities in the U.S. can deliver nightshades like this outside of Italy.

It was rivaled only the artichoke, butter lettuce, white peach, and almond salad (below).

microlettuces californiaPurely delicious, focused, and wholesome.

In other news…

It’s been tough to be away from the girls this week but I was cheered by the turn-out at my Franciacorta Real Story tasting yesterday in the Golden Gate City (below).

Thanks to everyone who came out to taste and chat Franciacorta.

Tomorrow we’ll be doing the same tasting — 14 wines — in LA and Saturday in San Diego.

Click here for details and RSVP info.

Only a few more days on the road before I get back to my ladies and some needed downtime. Wish me speed!

franciacorta tasting san francisco

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