Friday, June 6, 2008

Sip and sup

Vintner dinners and demos show off local talent

Express Staff Writer

Cristina Cecceatelli and Chef Patrick Jam cook up a feast at Cristina’s in Ketchum. Photo by Kirsten Shultz

Enjoying a food and wine festival can simply be a dinner with friends and food lovers. A highlight of this year's Sun Valley Food & Wine festival are vintner dinners served by the valley's fine dining establishments. Sun Valley and Ketchum chefs know what's to eat in the valley and have long created the area as a special dining experience.

At Cristina's in Ketchum, owner Cristina Ceccatelli Cook and Chef Patrick Jam will present a "L'Abbuffata Toscana" dinner with wines from Tony Ciccarelli of Empson Selections, who is also Cook's brother. The dinner will feature Osso Buco di Maiale con Salsa di Ciliege Spinaci e Zucchine d'Estate otherwise known as pork osso buco with cherry sauce spinach and summer squashes. Cook is known for her two successful cookbooks "Cristina's of Sun Valley" and "Cristina's Tuscan Table." Food & Wine magazine editors picked "Cristina's Tuscan Table" as one of the top 25 cookbooks of the year.

"In Italy we like to eat and drink and think about friends and stuff ourselves with food," Cook said with a laugh. "We eat with abandon and do not count calories. But the vintner dinner will be a light dinner."

Cook and Chef Nadina Keller will hold a "Crepes Florentine" cooking demonstration on Saturday, June 7, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Cook said that they will be making Italian crepes with several delicious fillings from several fresh fruits to a chocolate hazelnut spread as well as savory fillings with chicken.

"I will use a flat top or my cast iron pans, which everyone can use," Cook said. "We do not need a crepe machine."

Cristina's restaurant vintner dinner is on Saturday, June 7, at 6:30 p.m., which will begin with appetizers on the deck. For reservations, call 726-4499.

Other local chef vintner dinners to experience are Chef Paul Dean's "Spring Flavors of the Northwest" at the Elkhorn Golf Club. Chef Dean will also host the VIP Laurent Perrier Champagne reception to kick off the weekend's events at the Elkhorn Golf Club. A VIP pass is required to attend. For more information, visit

"The new restaurant in Elkhorn is stunning and there will be some great artwork. It's a new venue of the valley," Dean said. "I think this is good exposure for the valley, and I would like to see the event become similar to others around the country, like Aspen. We are a wine and food cultured area, and we need something in June—it's important."

There will be plenty of champagne for the festival especially at The Knob Hill Restaurant, which will pair its multi-course vintner dinner with several Laurent Pierrer champagnes on Friday, June 6, at 7 p.m.

"The perceived value of champagne is very expensive, but there are affordable champagnes for $15 and $20 that are very good," said The Knob Hill Restaurant's Chef' Michael Zintner. "The bubbles really cut through rich dishes and champagne goes so well with everything. And, the bubbles go to your head, and it's more fun."

Other local chefs showing off their talents for the weekend will be Chef Scott Wamsley of the Sun Valley Lodge Dining Room. Chef Wamelsy will feature Winebow Importers for his five-course dinner on Friday, June 6, at 7 p.m. For reservations, call 622-2800.

In addition, winemaker Steve MacRostie from MacRostie Winery will be in attendance for a vintner dinner at Chandlers' Restaurant with Chef Christy Fox on Friday, June 6, at 7 p.m. For reservations, call 726-1776.

At il Naso in Ketchum enjoy wines from JM Cellars with Chef Doug Jenson on Friday, June 6, at 7 p.m. For reservations, call 276-7776.

On Saturday, June 7, enjoy winemaker Jamie Martin from Cold Springs Winery at Tom Nickel's Roosevelt Tavern & Grille. Nickel will serve several Idaho foods inspired courses including a "Tatertini." Earlier in the day Nickel will present "Ultimate Grilling" in Ketchum's Memory Park from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. He will demonstrate several grilling techniques, including a variety of marinades, dry rubs and easy sauces that anyone can do in their backyard. For reservations, call 726-0051.

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