Monday, June 25, 2012

Chiarito's Festa di San Giovanni: Magruder Pig from Potter Valley, Roasted by Scopa's Ari Rosen, Oven and Wine by John Chiarito

I'm happy to share with you my photos from Sunday's Festa di San Giovanni at Chiarito Vineyards, one of my favorite Mendocino (or anywhere) wineries.

John Chiarito, whose winery I've blogged about in previous posts, is nobly growing, mostly by hand - and dry farming - southern Italian varietals perfectly suited to our Mediterranean climate - namely Negroamaro and Nero d'Avola - along with Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. The first two are my favorites.

Want to try some? Join the wine club - as simple as committing to a certain quantity per year - and you could buy 6 bottles for 30% off at the Festa - an offer which you might still be able to avail yourself of. (If, like me, you don't like getting wine delivered and want to save money on shipping, you can pick it all up at one time when you're in the area.)

Chiarito's annual wine club feast is cause for culinary celebration as Scopa chef and friend Ari Rosen comes to roast a pig. This year's pig hailed from nearby Potter Valley, where it was raised on the fourth generation farm of Mac Magruder, whose pork graces tables from Chez Panisse to Oliveto.

The half wild, half domesticated pig we ate originally weighed 240 pounds at about 8 months old (in contrast to the typical commercially grown 6 month old pig fattened on corn feed).

Scopa's Rosen and Chiarito collaborated on constructing the brick oven where Chiarito makes pizza (when Rosen is not roasting the annual pig).

Of course, the wines were delicious, too - to the great delight of all who attended what must be one of the most unique wine club dinners in California.

I met some lovely people at the event - a woman who used to run Slow Food Nation in SF and now produces the annual Taste of Mendocino event for the county association, and April Cunningham, who shared with me a wonderfully inspiring story about receiving an organic produce donation from organic grower Julie Golden (of Golden Vineyards in Redwood Valley) to help feed the nearly 500 children fed by Headstart in the Ukiah area fresh, healthy vegetables.

And the accordion played on, celebrating life in all its delicious forms - including, most delightfully, the vinuous ones.

The walk to Chiarito Vineyard (and home)

The littlest Chiarito and mom

Such a congenial gathering...perfectly framed by the trellis

A spectacular first course of traditional southern Italian foods

Seeing a whole pig roasted, with crunchy skin and lined inside with garlic and herbs, was clearly the high point of the festa. The pig came from nearby Potter Valley, from Mac Magruder's famous (4th generation) farm. His pork goes to many fine restaurants including Chez Panisse and Oliveto.

Trying to show you the glorious view and countryside - a worthy setting for feasting on this noble creature.

Scopa chef Ari Rosen told me he'd lived in Tuscany for three years, where he learned about porcetta. He and John Chiarito built the brick oven onsite specifically for roasting a pig in this annual feast.

Another beauty shot of chef and porcetta

The festivities were festive due to the fine accordion playing

And of course, let us not forget the star attraction - the wine! Chiarito's best wines, in my humble opinion, are his Nero d"Avola, traditionally grown in Sicily. and his Negroamaro, another typical southern Italian varietal - both suited to growing in Mediterranean climates like ours (versus Cabernet and Chardonnay, which are not). Chiarito basically dry farms his vines.

Chiarito home - the site of great hospitality and fine views!

No comments:

Post a Comment