A Toast to the Calendar Girls of Insalata’s

By Kaye Cloutman

The term “Calendar Girls” has taken on a whole new meaning at Insalatas Restaurant in San Anselmo and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Thirteen fabulous female winemakers will grace the restaurant with both their presence and wines for an entire week every month, coupled with Chef Taylor Carnes’ and Chef Mariko Wilkinson’s superb, moderately-priced dishes. It’s a real gem of a find especially because you get a 3-course meal of this caliber for only $29.00.

The gorgeous Sarah Quider, white wines winemaker for the Ferrari-Carano Winery in Healdsburg, Sonoma was their most recent guest. Her knowledge and passion for gentle wine making techniques really distinguished and elevated her blends, and were everything we loved about the region in a bottle.

Our food and wine pairings

The fantastic Bruschetta with chard, hard-cooked eggs & Boquerones was paired with the Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc. This wine has grapes grown in multiple vineyard sites in the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valley. With wonderful aromas of guava, peaches, pineapples and mango – it’s a very tropical Sauvignon Blanc. “One of the things we do that’s unique in this wine is that one-third of the fermentation is in barrel and two-thirds in stainless steel so you have that creaminess from the barrel but also the nice sprite acidity from the stainless steel fermentation which gives it a nice balance. This bottle pairs very well with seafood as well as chicken & pasta dishes” added Sarah.

Another white wine we tried from Sarah that evening was the Ferrari-Carano Pinot Grigio from a very cool growing region in the Russian River Valley as well as Dry Creek. “We stainless steel ferment this wine to capture the essence of the fruit. We stir the lees on the tank once a week just to try to get as much body and structure on it. This Italian-style Pinot Grigio which is 100% Pinot Grigio has beautiful aromas of apples, peaches and pears and great acidity because we don’t put it to malolactic fermentation – so it retains the citrus and lemon which adds brightness to the wine” Sarah explains. “Oysters and shrimps are best with this bottle. People love it because of its nice acidity and minerality so seafood is absolutely fantastic with it.”

Other enjoyable dishes we tried are the –

Trio of Hummus – Three Dips with warm pita

The Cataplana – manila clams, tomato, chorizo, grilled bread, rouille

The grilled Salmon (cooked perfectly) with red lentil-bacon ragout, horseradish-chive aioli, paired beautifully with the Ferrari-Carano Siena Sangiovese.

The Sorbet Duo – Scoops of Mango and Blackberry with crescent shortbread

The Hazelnut Gelato Sundae with house-made toffee sprinkles and shortbread –

February Winemaker Sarah Quider

“My goal is to make complex, intense and seamless wines that are balanced in both richness and delicacy,” said Sarah. “We have such tremendous diversity in our vineyards because we are located in various appellations, each with unique micro-climates, soils and clones. It’s my desire to express that diversity in our wines.”

(L-R) Chef Taylor Carnes, Chef Mariko Wilkinson and Winemaker Sarah Quider

Check out the Insalata’s Calendar Girls for 2013

January – Susie Selby of Selby Winery, February – Sarah Quider of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards, March – Krisi Raymond of Five Vintners Wines, April – Eileen Crane of Domaine Carneros, May – Kristin Belair of Honig Winery, June – Susan Pey of Pey Winery, July – Laura Werter of Toasted Toad Cellars, August – Amelia Ceja of Ceja Vineyards, September – Suzanne Hagins of Horse & Plow, October – Susan Lueker & Megan Schofield of Simi Winery, November – Shawna Miller of Luna Winery and December – Joy Sterling of Iron Horse Vineyards.

For reservations call, 415-457-7700.

Visit their website www.insalatas.com