As a chef, travel can often be very inspirational. I recently spent a few days in Los Angeles visiting family, and made sure to check out a couple of my favorite taquerias in LA. What I’m often struck by is how different many of the Mexican offerings in Southern California are from those in the Bay Area.
As is often the case with any immigrant group, one pioneer sets off from a puebla, establishes himself, and then more members of the village follow. In San Francisco, many of the restaurant workers are from the Yucatan and Chiapas. Although we have folks among our staff at Comal from many regions of Mexico, there are large contingents from Guerrero and Guanajuato. Due to the close proximity to the border, much of the immigrant population in Los Angeles hails from the northern state of Sonora that borders California and Arizona. Sonora is cattle country; much of the state composed of the Sonoran desert.
One variety of tacos that I had on this last trip was composed of flank steak that was stewed with green chiles and tomatoes. I found it to be particularly satisfying and representative of the Sonoran region, and have put together a version that is a fresh summery take on the muse: tacos made with flank steak guisado, grilled corn-cherry tomato salsa and avocado.
On Tuesday, June 9th Comal will welcome back Wind Gap’s owner and winemaker, Pax Mahle, for another special dinner showcasing a selection of Wind Gap wines paired with dishes by Comal’s executive chef Matt Gandin. Dinner guests will have the opportunity to engage in conversation with Pax and learn firsthand about his winemaking approach.
Wine lovers know Pax Mahle from his first winery – PAX – which garnered high scores and much notoriety. Though he has always been influenced by French styles of winemaking, it was the bold, powerful syrahs that first brought praise and attention to Pax in his new chapter as Sommelier-turned-Winemaker.
At PAX, fruit was sourced from a number of different vineyards within Northern California. One year, a particular vineyard had an unusually cool growing season. Fermenting the fruit in single barrels, Pax found that the wines produced from this cooler site had the alluring freshness he had always loved in French wines. He believed they were the kind of wines one could drink every night with dinner, regardless of season. Pax continued experimenting with fruit from cooler growing regions and began harvesting at lower sugar levels, resulting in the creation of the Wind Gap label in the mid-2000’s as an outlet for his new direction. According to Pax, “Wind Gap is all about classically styled wines that represent the new California.”
This is the latest in an ongoing series of wine producer dinners (previous dinners have featured Bedrock, Arnot-Roberts, Unti, and Donkey & Goat) held in Comal’s private dining room, Abajo. All previous events have sold out in advance.
DATE/TIME: Tuesday, June 9th at 6:30 PM
PRICE: Tickets are $110 inclusive of food, wine and gratuity
RESERVATIONS: Space is limited – to purchase tickets, follow this link: http://www.ticketfly.com/event/863011
ADDRESS: Comal is located at 2020 Shattuck Avenue (at University Avenue) in Berkeley
Cured local anchovies capers and chile arbol-oregano oil Chenin Blanc, North Coast 2014
Peruano bean-quelite soup Soif Red Blend, North Coast 2014
Hoja santa wrapped grilled wild king salmon corn, black olive, and cherry tomato salsa Skinny Jeans, Sonoma Coast 2013
Ribeye steak asada grilled summer squash and green rice Syrah, Sonoma Coast, “Nellessen Vineyard” 2013
Oaxacan chocolate budin whipped crema