The pandemic and shelter-in-place orders have led to a long list of changes to everyday life — including how we eat. With outdoor dining available once again, some are now donning layers to eat al fresco. Others have upped their takeout budget in an effort to support local restaurants and get a break from the stove. Whatever your approach, you’ve likely become better acquainted with your kitchen during the past year.
Local chefs have been forced to develop their own set of Covid-19 kitchen survival skills. Committed to rolling with the pandemic punches, Executive Chef Shane McAnelly and his culinary team at Bricoleur Vineyards in Windsor have launched a Wine & Food To Go program to put delicious dishes on our home tables.
“We wanted to find a way to cook for our friends and neighbors and still entertain to a certain extent, even when we couldn’t host them at the winery,” said McAnelly.
With a half-dozen Bib Gourmand distinctions from the Michelin Guide, McAnelly is well known from his days as Executive Chef at Healdsburg restaurants Chalkboard and The Brass Rabbit. Now at the helm of the culinary program at Bricoleur Vineyards, he continues to hone his skills and evolve his dishes. This includes adapting to pandemic-era restrictions.
Although chefs and restaurant staff have been working overtime to make up for the absence of in-restaurant dining, some foods just don’t translate well to takeout. So when McAnelly set out to design a cook-at-home meal kit, quality control was a top concern.
Throughout McAnelly’s years in the kitchen, pasta and pizza have remained favorite dishes to prepare. This is reflected in Bricoleur’s menus as well as its cook-at-home meals. The burrata agnolotti arrabbiata paired with a rosé of pinot noir and the gnocchi bolognese paired with a pinot noir have been the most popular kits so far. There’s also flash-frozen, wood-fired pizzas paired with zinfandel (McAnnelly’s favorite), and mushroom and spinach lasagna or pork and cabbage tortellini in brodo, both paired with chardonnay. (The kits require very simple prep: boiling pasta, heating up lasagna, putting garlic bread in the oven, and tossing dressing on salad).
“He gained a reputation for his true passion — creative pasta dishes — and they’re at the heart of all of our menus, whether folks order Wine & Food To Go, or join us here at the winery for dinner, or a Sip & Savor tasting,” said Mark Hanson, CEO and co-founder of Bricoleur Vineyards.
Located in the Russian River AVA, Bricoleur Vineyards released its first vintage in 2017. The tasting room opened to the public last June, amid pandemic and ever-changing Covid-19 safety requirements and precautions.
There’s more to the newly-opened 40-acre wine estate than just grapes. Dozens of fruit trees, an olive grove and a vegetable garden, close to an acre in size, add to the scenery and help shape McAnelly’s menus. As spring produce starts to become abundant, he expects pasta dishes will take advantage, giving diners fresh dishes to look forward to.
“The thing I like most about our Wine & Food To Go program is the simplicity and the quality,” said McAnelly. “I am proud that the final product at home is easy to make and tastes as good as if I were cooking it for the guests here at the winery.”
Wine and food packages range from $62 to $88 dollars and serve two. All options include salad; pasta dishes also come with garlic bread. Meals are available Thursday through Monday and can be ordered online or by phone. Placing orders 24 hours in advance is recommended, but same-day pickup can often be accommodated. Along with curbside pick-up at the winery, delivery is available to Sonoma County addresses within a 20-mile radius for $20. The menu is expected to be available through March.
Pandemic Wine and Food Offerings
Bricoleur isn’t the only winery that’s getting creative with food offerings during the pandemic.
Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery is offering Taste at Home Self-Guided Wine Experiences. Along with wine, vineyard and tasting notes, the winery recommends cheese pairings available for purchase from local favorite, Cowgirl Creamery.
Clif Family offers a number of curated gift boxes that include wine and bites. The Napa Valley Happy Hour box includes a bottle of both red and white wine, and a number of cheese-plate-friendly munchies like nuts, jam and crackers. You just add the cheese.
Guerneville’s Big Bottom Market is delivering picnic lunches to nearby AutoCamp Russian River and a number of wineries including Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol and Paul Mathew Vineyards in Graton.