For the time being, it seems at-home dining is here to stay. Without a doubt, many of us have been spending more time exploring our kitchens, cooking and cleaning much more than we’re used to. For me, it’s so easy to fall into preparing my comfort foods and enjoying dinner in comfy clothes. But, with the past few months forcing us to stay at home, I’m truly craving to put on a nice dress, dorn my favourite heels and dine out at one of my favourite restaurants.
That’s why I’ve pulled together these helpful and easy ways on how you too can create a restaurant experience, right in the comfort of your own home–with the help of California Wines.
Below are a variety of tips, wine recommendations and delicious recipes you can create to help bring a wonderful California inspired restaurant dining experience into your very own dining room.
Here’s 5 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your at-Home Dining Experience:
1. Get Inspired
Pick a destination to inspire your dinner plans (like, San Francisco, the birthplace of so many culinary trends and innovation) and use this as the framework for your very own “At-Home” Restaurant dinner vibe.
2. Elevate Your Pairings
When it comes to your wine and food choices, upgrade today with a bottle of California wine. It’s worth the splurge on a bottle that’s exciting, new and premium. Pick-up from your local liquor store, or a local restaurant’s California wine list today. A great wine will inspire your entire dinner menu, place setting and overall vibe!
Even if you’re looking at dining in and ordering from a restaurant menu instead, pick a place whose California wine list selection excites you. Let the wine take the lead on your menu.
3. Use a Restaurant Grade Recipe
Right now many chefs are offering up recipe videos on IGTV, or even recipes on their own websites. You can also find amazing recipes on WanderEater.com. Below is a recipe for Seared Ribeye with Bok Choy, Pickled Honey Mushrooms, Radish and Black Bean Bagna Cauda that perfectly fits with California Cabernet Sauvignon, created by Chef and restaurateur, Nick Liu.
Get fresh ingredients delivered to your doorstep, put on your apron, and tackle something new in the kitchen. Whether it’s learning how to make red wine mushrooms, or a red wine jus, find a recipe that uses the wine you’ll be drinking at dinner in the recipe. Usually recipes only call for a splash, so you don’t have to worry about using too much of the wine in your cooking, so you can enjoy it with your meal too! Remember, using a high quality wine in your recipe as well as in your glass, really does enhance the food and the overall dining experience.
4. Set the Mood with an Elevated Table Setting
When it comes to dining at home it’s always about the details. Make sure to impress (even if it’s just yourself), by adding extra pizazz to the setting. Whether it’s a new quality table cloth, napkins or beautiful gold napkin holders and accents, these special touches will add texture to your table with colour and fabric. Just ask one of our favourite Canadian content creators and food/prop stylists, Abhishek Dekate—who did a great job with the place settings seen here.
That’s not all… make sure to have large, beautiful wine glasses and a decanter for your big, bold California wine, gorgeous water glasses, polished silverware, stunning centrepieces, and dimmed lighting. Better yet, try dining by candlelight. Set the table with one-of-a-kind plates from your favourite local pottery shop and turn on some romantic dinner jazz music.
In the photos you see here, we used an elegant china set paired with some textured mixed metal flatware, big bold Riedel Winewing glasses and tealights, all from William Ashley.
5. Present with Passion, Pride and Personality
Think about plating your dinner family style on beautiful harvest wood boards to show off your hard work. Whether you ordered-in or spent a few hours in the kitchen, present your food with passion and pride! Think about incorporating complementary colours to produce those “wow” moments on all your Instagram photos you’re going to take before sitting down to eat–use the #WECaliUpgraded for a chance to be featured on @WanderEaterMag’s Instagram! Show off your love for wine by decanting the big, full-bodied California Cabernet Sauvignon and pouring softly and slowly into big crystal glassware. Swirl the California wine you’ve chosen and cheers each other with personality and excitement for the dinner you just put together! Want to take it up another notch? Have dinner in an outfit that you’d wear to your favourite restaurant and put on your heels (don’t worry, you can take them off right after dinner!).
There you have it. You’ve just pulled together a restaurant grade meal, in the comfort of your own home… in 5 easy steps! If you’re looking for inspiration, below are four wine recommendations to elevate any table, along with a scrumptious recipe prepared by celebrity chef and restaurateur, Nick Liu, to inspire you to bring California dining into your home.
Expert Picks: 4 California Wines to Upgrade Your Wine Pairing Experience
#WECaliUpgraded and you can too… with any of these amazing California wines seen here–and more available from your local liquor store.
Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Open and be transported to Paso Robles, California. Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon is a welcomed taste for any palate. Juicy, full-bodied and filled with dark berry notes, baking spices, dark chocolate and violets, this wine will elevate and of your favourite fuller bodied meals. Try pairing a glorious tomahawk steak for a real delight! With a distinct and detailed aging regime, the wine spends 11 months in a combination of 10% new, 25% once used, and 65% in older French Oak barrels. As a whole, the blend is then aged an additional three months in 75% new and 25% in once used French Oak barrels—talk about detail! Vines are grown at 1,000M on fossils shell soils. This wine screams luxury!
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Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
Created as a tribute from father to son, Joseph Carr was raised in Upstate New York by hard-working parents of modest means. He discovered a passion for wine at an early age, starting off as a wine steward at a local restaurant. Joseph spent a decade serving as a world-class sommelier followed by another decade as a wine industry executive. After years of hard work, he left it all behind to pursue his dream: starting his own wine company, making wines from California. Fruit for this wine is sourced throughout California’s Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma counties. It is a beautiful ruby red colour and has aromas of violets, plum, blueberry jam and baking spices like vanilla and nutmeg. This wine is rich and round, with soft velvety tannins and a beautiful finish. You can find great recipes on their website for more exact restaurant-quality recipes like a burger with Grilled Portobellos, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Blue Cheese or Flank Steak with Josh Cabernet Chimichurri Sauce.
Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon
Named “5th Best Vineyard in the World” and “Best Vineyard in North America” by worldsbestvineyards.com, Robert Mondavi is one of the founding fathers of California Wines. Robert Mondavi established his namesake winery in 1966 with a vision to create Napa Valley wines that would stand in the company of the world’s finest. Mr. Mondavi believed that wines should reflect their origins, that they are the product of the soil, the climate, and the careful stewardship of those precious resources. They were the first to formally adopt a natural farming approach to the cultivation of estate vineyards, which extends beyond rules and structures of organic farming and considers overall wine quality and the impact on the greater environment. In 1998 Robert Mondavi became the first winery to receive an “Innovator” award from California’s Environmental Protection Agency.
Ghost Pines Winemaker’s Blend Chardonnay
This wine is named after the Ghost Pines Vineyard where the indigenous grey pines loom mysteriously along the hillsides. Native to California, the Ghost Pine can adapt to a variety of climates and thrives in various soils, much like grapevines. The winery sources grapes solely for quality and flavour from wherever they can find the best fruit. Made with grapes from Sonoma, Napa and Monterey Counties, Ghost Pines Chardonnay is a premium blend of truly great chardonnay grapes. This wine is filled with baked apple pie balanced with pear and citrus notes and gorgeously layered with notes of vanilla and cream. This wine offers deep and luxurious flavours from sur lie ageing and malolactic fermentation, so it’s so easy to fall in love with! Whether it’s grilled and buttered lobster or a thyme roasted chicken, this wine will upgrade any great food pairing!
Chef Nick Liu’s Seared Ribeye Black Bean Bagna Cauda and Pickled Mushrooms Recipe
Seared Ribeye Steak
- 1 12oz, aged ribeye steak
- 3 cloves, garlic
- 1 sprig, rosemary
- 1/4 cup, butter
- 3 tablespoons, canola oil
- Salt and pepper
- Using paper towels, pat both sides of the steak dry. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the canola oil coating the steak and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat a cast iron pan over high heat until very hot and add canola oil. Place the steak in the middle of the skillet, let sear for 2-4minutes, until a nice crust has formed, turn over and repeat on the other side.
- Reduce heat to medium low. Push steak to one side of the pan and add butter, garlic, rosemary to the opposite side of the skillet, tilting the skillet towards the butter and cooking until butter is foaming, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Spoon butter over steak for 1-2 minutes, turning over once, until it reaches an internal temperature of 120° for medium rare, or until desired doneness. Let rest 15 minutes before slicing.
Black Bean Bagna Cauda
- 3/4 cup, olive oil
- 8 to 10, garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons, fermented black bean (available by the can, or you can make it using this recipe)
- 1/2 onion, peeled and dice
- 1/8 cup, California Cabernet Sauvignon wine
- Salt and pepper
- Place oil in a small pot and place on low heat. Add the garlic and confit until soft and slightly golden brown. Take off the heat and put aside to cool. Pro tip: be careful not to get your oil too hot. If your oil starts to bubble, turn off your heat and let cool for a few minutes and then turn your heat back to low.
- In another small pot, add 3-tablespoons of the confit oil and the diced onion. On low heat, season with salt and pepper and caramelize until deep golden amber colour. Deglaze with wine, take off the heat, and add black beans.
- Add the confit garlic and oil to a blender and purée. Transfer puréed garlic to the onion and black bean.
- Mix all the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until assembly.
Bok Choy Salad
- 2 heads, baby bok choy
- 1 Watermelon radish, peeled and sliced
- Handful, Pickled honey mushrooms
- Soy Vinaigrette
- Remove only the mushrooms from pickling liquid and place on a paper towel to absorb excess liquid.
- Trim off and discard the end of the bok choy bulb and separate the leaves. Then rinse in cool water, carefully brushing away any sand or dirt on the leaves base. Spin dry and place in a bowl.
- Add all of the ingredients to the bowl and toss together. Stating the obvious- you may not need the full amount of the soy vinaigrette recipe. Add as much or as little as you like. The amount of vinaigrette should be to your personal taste.
- 1 tablespoon, toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons, soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons, fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons, canola oil
- 1 teaspoon, Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whisk all ingredients together until fully emulsified. Reserve for assembly. Stating the obvious, you may not need the full amount of the soy vinaigrette recipe. Add as much or as little as you like. The amount of vinaigrette should be to your personal taste.
Pickled Honey Mushrooms
- 1/2 cup, honey mushrooms
- 1/4 cup, cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon, sugar
- 1 clove garlic, cut in half
- 1 star anise
- 3 sprig, thyme
- 1 tablespoon, canola
- 1 dash, California Cabernet Sauvignon wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a small pan add oil on high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, anise, thyme, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 1-2 minutes and deglaze with a dash of California Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Add vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil and take off heat. Reserve for assembly.
Please note: the garlic, anise, and thyme are for flavouring only. Do not use them in your salad.
Assembly — Bring it all Together
Place the dressed salad on a wooden serving board, spreading it out to fill half of the board lengthwise. Slice steak and fan out across the empty length of the board. Drizzle the Bagna Cauda on top of the steak and enjoy! This recipe serves 2, but feel free to scale up as necessary.
Photos: Patrick Concepcion for STAMINA Group. Video: A STAMINA Labs production. Originally published on: Oct. 25th, 2020.