< All Blog Posts

Good in the Kitchen

November 22, 2017

Wondering what wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner?  Learn from some of Paso Wine Country’s best cooks!

We caught up with William Carter, The Canyon Villa, Austin Hope, Treana and Hope Family Wines, and Paula Jussila, kukkula to learn what they are pouring with their Thanksgiving dinner and learned some tips and tricks.

William Carter, The Canyon Villa

Where did your love of cooking beginning?  My love of cooking started in the kitchen when my Mother shared her idea of how to prepare Spaghetti Bolognese.

What is your favorite cuisine to cook? Your favorite dish? My favorite cuisine to cook is Italian although I was classically trained by a Master French Chef. French is a close second. I have a lot of favorites but . . . Risotto with fresh Porcini mushrooms, duck, tomato, saffron, white truffle and Parmigiano Reggiano sends me, especially when paired with the wines produced in our area.

What inspires you in the kitchen? I find inspiration the farmer’s markets, the fields and my professional colleagues around the world.

What is your most unconventional food and wine pairing? Mourvèdre with oysters.

What variety of wine would you recommend serving with Thanksgiving dinner? Three directions, Rosé of Grenache (or Syrah), Grenache Blanc/Rousanne and Malbec.

Person you most would like to cook for? For my wife . . . she’s tougher to please than any former US President or other prominent USA families I’ve prepared meals for.

Any cooking tips? Stay organized and clean as you go. Life is much better!

Austin Hope, Treana and Hope Family Wines

Where did your love of cooking beginning? My love of cooking started in early in high school when my mother told me I had to cook one meal a week; she said I would not always live at home and I needed to know how to cook for myself. It quickly turned into more than one day and soon I was wanting to do all the holiday meals.

What is your favorite cuisine to cook? Your favorite dish? I actually don’t have a favorite dish, I just think of something and then go from there. I definitely am inspired by fresh ingredients and high quality sustainable grown proteins along with wild game. I tend to cook things with minimal ingredients as I feel the food should speak for itself but cooking it properly is key.

What inspires you in the kitchen? A good sipping tequila to start is how I always get inspired. I have to say ever since I put a salamander in my home I am inspired to cook everything in it!

What is your most unconventional food and wine pairing? I cook a Saffron Chilean seabass and pair it with a big Paso cabernet, but I do a Cabernet reduction sauce that I put over the fish when served and it totally works.

What variety of wine would you recommend serving with Thanksgiving dinner? I always serve my Austin Hope Grenache and my Treana Blanc with Thanksgiving. I have found it difficult to pair wines with the miss-mash of sides and a turkey that has subtle flavors. The Treana Blanc is a white Rhone that pairs outstanding with turkey and my Grenache is like a masculine Pinot that covers all the other flavors.

What’s your favorite indulgence after a long day’s work? Tequilla! …and I can eat good buttered popcorn for days!

Any cooking tips? Cooking is a very personal thing, and I feel it grounds you and connects you to the earth and all it supplies. The biggest tip is to not overcook anything from vegetables to proteins. Learning how to sear a good crust on proteins without overcooking it is probably the biggest thing one should master.

Paula Jussila, kukkula

Where did your love of cooking beginning? I guess it started with my mom– she was a great cook and all my siblings (there are 5 of us) are good cooks. I worked in LA in advertising in my 20’s and 30’s and got to eat at some great restaurants, so that helped. For the last 25 years, we’ve also lived far from takeout, so I have to cook every night!

What is your favorite cuisine to cook? Your favorite dish? I like to cook (and eat) all kinds of food and am not afraid to mix it up. I do follow recipes a lot, but have no hesitation in substituting or winging it.

What inspires you in the kitchen? Wine, of course–not really, I’d say I get the most inspiration from fresh seasonal ingredients. We’ve gotten a Community Supported Agriculture box for years, and I like trying to figure out how to use things I’m not really familiar with.

What was your worst cooking disaster? I can’t remember any true disasters (maybe I blocked them), but have had a few “challenges.”

The most recent “challenge” – Last February we were having the Madsen’s and the Achaval’s (from The Farm) over for dinner on Friday night and a dozen people for our kukkula experience brunch on Saturday. When the power went out Friday morning I wasn’t too worried. Plus, we have a backup generator. Of course, the generator battery was dead, and we didn’t know it until about an hour before guests were arriving. Luckily I had made the main course in advance and just had to heat that up. I had to bake a galette on the grill outside, and we had a very romantic dinner by candlelight. The next morning I absolutely needed an oven. The one in our tasting room is gas, so we were able to light it, and the morning was spent shuttling food up and down our driveway. It all worked out okay, but it wasn’t easy!

What variety of wine would you recommend serving with Thanksgiving dinner? I’d say the kukkula Aatto. It is a lighter red blend of Counoise, Grenache, and Mourvèdre. It’s a great food wine and works well with almost everything. But Kevin says Syrah with turkey, so open a bottle of sisu or noir too.

Person you most would like to cook for? There are a lot of people I wouldn’t mind sharing a meal with, but mostly I like to cook for my family–same quirky tastes, I know about preferences and there’s no judging.

What’s your favorite indulgence after a long day’s work? We drink a bottle of wine with our meal every night. Not an indulgence? Well, sometimes they are VERY nice bottles of wine.