Tra Vigne Cookbook
Seasons in the California Wine Country
Michael Chiarello with Penelope Wisner (Chronicle Books)
bets are on that you'd think you were in Italy if you dined at chef
Michael Chiarello's restaurant Tra Vigne in St. Helena, in the heart
of Northern California's famed Napa Valley. That's because the restaurant
is made up of vine-covered arbors and faded stone buildings that
pull off looking centuries old, wild flowers surrounding washed-out
posts that mimic lush vineyards and antique-looking elaborate stained
and the food, too: Bread like Chiarello's mother used to bake in
a clay oven, vegetables like she used to pick from her garden and
gnocchi like his grandmother prepared. That feeling of being transported
definitely pours over into The Tra Vigne Cookbook: Seasons in
the Wine Country, his substantial, beautifully photographed
cookbook that is so much more than just a companion to his PBS show
"Season by Season with Michael Chiarello."
book is divided into seasons and then by vegetables. But with year-round
choices like potatoes showing up in spring; corn, tomatoes and bell
peppers in summer; mushrooms, onions and eggplants in autumn and
broccoli in winter, there's certainly the possibility for crossover.
Asparagus is one of the only truly seasonal (spring) vegetables
covered. When it's available, do take full advantage of Chiarello's
magic: grilled asparagus with tangerine mayonnaise; asparagus risotto
with shiitake mushrooms; asparagus pesto with tiny potatoes and
pasta; roasted asparagus bundles and whole-roasted fish with asparagus
and extra-virgin olive oil.
can see from those choices that you're definitely eating healthfully
(multiple vegetables and/or fruits in one dish, accented by olive
oil) when you convert to California wine country Mediterranean-inspired
cuisine, a fact that has been hammered home by virtually all the
books that now make up that quickly growing category. Eat as Chiarello
advises through the seasons and you should definitely notice more
spring in your step.
delicious health fest continues with such choices as fettuccine
with mustard greens and mushrooms, swordfish with onion, raisin
and tomato agrodolce (a classic Sicilian sweet-and-sour sauce),
pastina risotto with English peas, prosciutto bits and carrot broth
and pasta with fresh fava bean sauce. That recipe is an example
of how Chiarello marries his delicious heritage with his successful
present. "This is a version of a sauce I learned while visiting
my mother's hometown of Calabria," he writes. "When I asked what
was in it, the reply was a shrug. No one could understand why I
was curious about a sauce of fresh fava beans, pasta water and salt.
Yet is has a delicious, delicate flavor and I put it on the menu
as soon as I returned home."
to his restaurant are grateful for the many such authentic additions
Chiarello makes to his menus, as are viewers of his television show
and now, undoubtedly, too, readers of his scrumptious book.
with Mustard Greens and Mushrooms
Sicilian Harvest Salad