Chef's Blog

Solage Calistoga's Executive Chef Brandon Sharp shares his passion for cooking, life and all things Napa Valley.

By now you know we camouflage a lot of Southern food with Bay Area ingredients, none more so than in the two dishes we put on the menu last night.  This is a grilled pork loin (brined with rosemary and brown sugar) served over peach coleslaw with corn griddlecakes, green tomato compote, and black pepper gravy–not a milk- or roux-based gravy, but actually a sugo, an Italianate meat sauce made with fresh ground pork shoulder, browned off, then deglazed with wine and dozens of slow reductions of veal stock, all subtly infused with thyme, garlic, and bay leaf.

The green tomato compote I made up as I went along with fresno chiles, shallots, brown mustard seed, ground clove, salt, sugar, and cider vinegar.  I was happily surprised when I tasted the finished product–it tasted exactly like my grandfather Albert Graham’s pickle chips!  Something about the ratio of vinegar to sugar was right on the money.

This combination (of pork/cornbread/cabbage/sweet and sour) may not hit home for everyone, but I would eat these ingredients (with the addition of baked beans) in some form for my last meal, were I forced to choose one (about which see a provocative passage in [the otherwise forgettable]The Ask, by Sam Lipsyte, concerning the oft-greasy choices of real-life-fictional death row inmates, based not upon socioeconomic tendencies or even upon favorites, but upon proximity to their prisons of available restaurants).

Now for a shorter sentence.  And a photo.

The other item is peach-driven as well: peach ice cream with pecan-dark rum-brown sugar caramel and pecan sandies.  The pecan sandies are based on the french sable (picture an accentegue, sah-BLAY), or “sand” cookies, known for their almost-shortbread crumbliness.  The peaches are Red Haven peaches from Josh Anstey over at St. Supery (check out their Sauvignon Blanc).


One Response to “heads, carolina. tails, california.”

  1. Rachel Knowles says:

    Brandon Sharp! Been too long… Glad to find you here. Love the Carolina/California combination. Not a big fan of Lypsite’s The Ask. Why can’t you join FB so I don’t have to post on your blog in order to say hello?

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