Located at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Manresa utilizes wine to enhance its contemporary California fare. Wine Enthusiast talked with Chef-Proprietor David Kinch and Wine and Beverage Director Jeff Bareilles about the restaurant’s ever-changing Into the Vegetable Garden dish and its idyllic wine accompaniment.
Wine Enthusiast: The Into the Vegetable Garden dish is a beautiful composition. What was your inspiration to create it?
David Kinch: It’s a dish that symbolizes our [exclusive] relationship with Love Apple Farms; they grow all of our own vegetables. What we want the dish to be is an edible reflection of what’s available in the garden on that particular day. Certain times of the year vegetables will be more braised and more root vegetables will be present, and in the spring in summer it becomes very garden like, with a lot of raw leaves and tender shoots.
W.E.: What is the perfect wine paring for the dish?
Jeff Bareilles: Minerality is the key to the success of this wine pairing. The soil composition at Domaine du Salvard’s Cheverny Blanc vineyard is clay, limestone and sand, much like the soil composition of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and more specifically, Love Apple Farms, where the vegetables for Into the Vegetable Garden are grown. The second is the acidity of the wine and how it intertwines with the bitter, sweet and salt components of the dish. And finally, the addition of Chardonnay to the wine (15%) rounds it out and makes it perfectly balanced.
W.E.: When preparing a tasting menu, how do you modify your culinary technique to establish a better wine-food relationship?
DK: We create specific dishes not with a specific pairing in mind, but with the fact that we will be pairing it with wine. Sometimes [Barielles] will find a match that works really well, but it doesn’t really help with the [tasting menu’s] flow. [He] will ask me if I can change the order of the dishes, and I try to be flexible and do that. If it makes the food progression a little awkward, then I’ll make the adjustments on my end.
W.E.: What kitchen tools should every home cook own?
DK: A digital scale. More and more recipes are going away from volume measurements. Professional cooks have always used weight measurements not volume. A digital scale that works costs about $15–$20. I think it’s a great investment for people who cook on a regular basis. And a sharp knife.”