Livermore Valley

19/10/2014 13:56

Side Dish: Short Rib Papa Rellena at Café Garré

Small Livermore winery produces the best pairing.


It wasn’t celebrated Concannon. It wasn’t award-winning Wente. The winner of Livermore Valley’s Taste Our Terroir wine pairing contest last week was—shhhh—Garre Winery and Cafe Garre. The wine? Profound Secret. The dish? Deep fried mashed potatoes.

To be precise, it was chef Robert Sapirman’s tomato-and-olive braised beef short ribs encased in buttermilk whipped potatoes, deep fried in a panko crust, and finished with a gastrique made from Profound Secret—a lush Bordeaux blend produced by winemaker Wayne Re.

If that last sentence was exhaustive, imagine a blind tasting of 18 Livermore wines paired with 18 local chef’s dishes (I was one of three judges). There were several standouts but when all was said, sipped, and done, Garre—an underdog to be sure—came out on top.

For those who haven’t been, Cafe Garre is an unassuming lunch-only restaurant off Tesla Road, one of Livermore’s main rural country roads. Garre’s casual, come-as-you-are style captures the kick-back atmosphere that distinguishes Livermore from its Napa and Sonoma Valley brethren.

Below is the full list of winners. On the food side, First Street Ale House’s “tacos” and Posada’s “tostadita” were particularly good.

Cafe Garre, 7986 Tesla Road, (925) 371-8200,

Judge’s Best Classic Pairing

*Vasco Urbano Wine Company: 2012 GSM “The Sheriff”, Livermore Valley (Winemaker: Collin Cranor)

*Zephyr Grill and Bar: House-cured lamb bacon BLT (Chef: Nick Musser)

Judge’ Most Innovative Pairing

*Cuda Ridge Wines: 2012 Cabernet Franc, Livermore Valley (Winemaker: Larry Dino)

* Posada: Braised boneless pork ribs simmered in a tomatillo-cilantro sauce topped with charred creama, garnished with pickled cactus, carrots and sweet onions served atop a corn tostadita (Chef: Eduardo Posada)

People’s Choice Best White Wine Pairing

*Longevity Wines: 2013 Pink Pinot Grigio, Livermore Valley (Winemaker: Phil Long)

*1300 on Fillmore (in San Francisco): Barbecue Shrimp N’ Creamy Grits: Anson Mills course white grits with pan seared barbeque shrimp, topped with garlic, shallots, herbs and white wine cream sauce (Chef: David Lawrence)

People’s Choice Best Red Wine Pairing

*Wood Family Vineyards: 2012 Big Wood Zinfandel, Livermore Valley (Winemaker: Rhonda Wood)

* First Street Alehouse: Molé pulled pork tacos with chipotle lime slaw (Chef: Ethan Muritori)Live