Last Saturday we were walking down Swift Street carrying wine glasses. If you had driven by, you might have been confused. We looked like people who had been thrown out of a dinner party, empty glasses in hand. But really we were participating in “Dare to Pair” — a food & wine pairing competition put on by the Cabrillo Culinary Arts Program and Surf City Vintners, the cluster of wineries on the Westside of Santa Cruz. After being given a ballot, a little food tray, and a wine glass, we traveled on foot to 12 wineries around the neighborhood, sampling wine and a dish that a pair of culinary students had created.
Three stations were especially notable — the smoked trout with green apple slaw and greek yogurt cheese that was paired with Trout Gulch Sauvignon Blanc. We were also impressed with a lamb and goat cheese samosa and blistered grapes that went beautifully with MJA vineyard’s 2005 Cabernet Sauvingnon. But our favorite was station number twelve. My brother Lars and his partner Jeremy made a delicious duck breast on brioche crostini with mixed greens and a cherry vinaigrette to go with Storrs Winery’s 2006 Wildcat Ridge Pinot Noir. The cherry vinaigrette tasted like spring, and added a bright acidity and sweetness that complemented the buttery brioche and the rich duck, and brought out the fruity notes in the wine. Bravo. 5 stars. I hope that this competition becomes an annual event. It’s a great way to support our local wineries as well as our future culinary stars, like my brother 🙂