Cultivating ingredients on property and purveyor relationships locally.
Napa Valley in the springtime is a blurof fields filled with the golden blooms of mustard flowers. These flowers often are overlooked in many dishes, but Executive Chef Aaron Meneghelli sparked a renewed interest in this “condiment” last year with a special cooking demonstration that took guests through grinding and blending techniques to create their own mustard creations for enjoying and sharing at home. “It was a special event that sparked a lot of questions and really tied into the locality of things here in Napa Valley,” says Chef Meneghelli. “I even had guests return to Calistoga Ranch to share stories about the mustards they made at home.” The Mustard Movement will be held at the resort in March.
PRESERVING THE HARVEST
This April, head to the gardens tucked behind the Calistoga Ranch estate vineyard and discover what the real buzz is all about! With a second hive added last year, Chef Meneghelli and his staff have stocked the garden with produce that benefits from honeybees. “Melons and squash each have a deep flower that really needs that bee in there to pollinate them,” he explains. And the proof is in the yield.
While not everyone can have a beehive in his or her backyard, conversations about gardens in general seem to be a sticking point with many guests. “The garden was very important to me when I got here, and as a staff we have worked on becoming better planters. We have cover crops like fava beans that are rich in nutrients to help the soil recover. You have to think a full season ahead just to get soils ready for the plants, which in turn gets us thinking about what to do with those ingredients on the plate.”
Guests will join Calistoga Ranch’s resident horticulturist for an in-depth talk on the organic garden and the resort’s sustainable efforts, discussing compost, soil health, biodiversity, and more. After learning to prepare your home garden for the bounty of summer, Chef Meneghelli will lead a class on preserving the harvest—from pickling to making delicious fruit preserves.
“Not only are these great ways to touch our guests but also an obvious educational point for me too, from meeting new farmers to learning new gardening habits. And all of that ties into the locality of things, which is what food of place is really all about.”
FARM TO TABLE
“It’s important to me to have strong relationships with local farmers who share our same passion for a greener way of life,” explains Chef Meneghelli. “In many respects, the whole farm-totable concept is repetitive and expected in places such as this. So to create an interesting story about food of place, we want our guests to connect with the food through a hands-on experience by meeting the farmers, developing a real understanding for where their food comes from—from the soil on up—and asking important questions about organic farming and seasonal planting.”
Turning the dining concept into a tangible platform, this May Calistoga Ranch invites you to learn about the importance of enhancing and sustaining the health of the land, plants, animals, and people for the sake of a true soil-totable dining experience.
Taylor Boetticher, chef and owner of Napa’s Fatted Calf, will guide guests through the benefits of sustainably raised animals before leading a class on whole-animal butchery with a demonstration on how to break down a pig and form sausages from the meat. “Taylor makes amazing charcuterie and has solid relationships with animal farmers. We want to take it to the next level by teaching our guests about the advantages of learning to source products like meat carefully, which in turn goes back to why taking care of the land and the animal translates into a better product.”
A rustic Napa family-style dinner will be served in the Calistoga Ranch estate vineyard to showcase the bounty of the local produce and meats.
“The garden was very important to me when I got here, and as a staff we have worked on becoming better planters.”
—Chef Aaron Meneghelli
From Market to Kitchen with Chef Meneghelli
Join Executive Chef Aaron Meneghelli this June for a morning at the St. Helena Farmers Market to collect delicious, seasonal ingredients and then return to the kitchen to prepare a self designed multicourse feast using the locally sourced produce.
“We conducted this event last year, and it was a great success,” says Chef Meneghelli. “I introduced the couples I took to the market to several of the farmers, which ignited a great dialogue about seasonality that in turn led to questions about what to do in the kitchen based on their specific cooking needs. It was an interactive morning, and excursions like these really seem to grab our guests’ interest.” The intent is to have patrons leave not only with an experience that can be duplicated in their own region but also a heightened sense of intentional and healthy eating.
CELEBRATING FALLING FRUITS
With apples, pears, pomegranates, and persimmons abundant, join the culinary team at Calistoga Ranch this October to find out more about the fruits of fall. Learn how to make fresh-pressed cider from local apples to welcome the brisk autumn days. And what could be a better pairing than pie? The Lakehouse’s pastry chef will prepare a selection, and guests will take home cider and pie recipes to help recreate the memories.
YEAR-END OLIVE HARVEST DINNER
In December, enjoy Calistoga Ranch’s Fifth Annual Olive Harvest Party in the Wine Cave. An olive-curing demonstration will be followed by a delicious four-course dinner featuring olives throughout. “We got a pretty high yield of olives from our last harvest,” says Executive Chef Aaron Meneghelli. “I plan on showcasing a couple of different curing styles—a salt cure and a brine.” Guests will get jarred olives as a parting gift.