Taste of COPIA
Last week I had the pleasure of finally experiencing a piece of wine country that I’ve been meaning to visit for years: COPIA, the American Center for Wine Food & the Arts, a nonprofit organization located in downtown Napa.
Fellow SacFoodie, Amy Kull, along with a small group from our San Francisco office (COPIA is a new and very exciting client for FH), came together for a day of meetings. We got to mix business with pleasure when we broke for lunch and joined the public for that day’s Taste of COPIA event.
COPIA describes these weekly lunches as “part cooking demonstration, part feast” and I would add that it contains equal part wine education with a pinch of comedy – it was a blast! Taste of COPIA is a lunch that is held every Friday and an occasional Saturday/Sunday, with a culinary theme that changes monthly. For the month of January the theme was From Here to the Next County: Sonoma.
We walked into the theatre-style room that features a beautifully staged demo kitchen. Each seat was set for a three course meal with three full wine glasses at each setting. The interactive cooking demo began with Jacquelyn Buchanan, director of culinary programs, who introduced the theme and various local ingredients that she would be using in that day’s meal. The full menu included:
- Dungeness Crab Bisque
- Cheese Tortellini with Roasted Butternut Squash, Goat-Cheese Walnut Sauce and Arugula
- Blood Orange and Campari Granita
While Jacquelyn began cooking we watched her via overhead flat panel TV screens that showed the view from cameras focused above the range. Lily Peterson, wine educator, introduced the wines and explained several different pairings that she would like us to explore during the meal. Like most of the ingredients, the wine also came from Sonoma Country: a sparkling J Cuvee 20 Brut, Landmark 2005 Overlook Chardonnay and Emeritus 2005 Pinot Noir. I was excited about the Emeritus because it was an inaugural vintage from the founder of Sonoma Cutrer: it was subtle and fruity and a fantastic complement to the walnut sauce in the main dish.
Jacquelyn prepared each dish as we were eating it; she answered questions regarding ingredient substitutions, cooking techniques, and where to find certain ingredients locally. At the same time Lily explained the wines in an approachable manner – why she chose the three varietals, how to pair wine with food, and how to identify certain characteristics in each – she also shared fun facts about the wineries themselves. Lastly, Nick Landino, the kitchen manager for Julia’s Kitchen, came on stage and prepared the Blood Orange and Campari Granita and accompanying Hazelnut Campari Biscotti while it was being served. Each attendee is given copies of the recipes to make at home. Our group loved it all: the food, wine, personalities, presentation – bravo!
Taste of COPIA is a great way to get to know wine and food and the relationship they have with each other. I can’t wait to take my next out-of-town guest, adding COPIA to the “Moravec special wine country tour.” Check here for the current month’s theme and menu; cost is $50 general/$40 member and well worth it. The theme for February is “A Mardi Gras Feast: Let the Bon Temps Roll!”
On a side note, COPIA grows ingredients in its on-site organic garden for use in the lunches, as well as in the menu at Julia’s Kitchen. It was raining the day we went, but here are a few fruit/garden shots:
This crazy-looking fruit is part of the citrus family. It smells fabulous and is called Buddha’s Hand.
Winter Citrus Fruit Bowl