Across the USA: Regional Raves

One of the best parts about wine country is exploring the endless variety of restaurants, food artisans, wineries, and breweries. Join us as we take a tour across the USA and find dishes that define the regions.

Published: 6/27/2017

Traverse City, Michigan

The pure natural beauty of Northern Michigan is undeniable. It has a rich agricultural history and four distinct seasons that yield an exciting variety of flavors at their peak. Many great restaurants, food artisans, wineries, and breweries are thriving here because they work together and inspire each other to produce truly amazing cuisine.

Smoked whitefish pâté or dip 

Smoked whitefish is almost a staple in Northern Michigan. First the whitefish is cured and then slowly cooked in a smokehouse. Once chilled, the skin is removed and the fish is mixed with a creamy binder and spices. It's a delicious spreadable concoction with a sweet and smoky taste.
PAIR WITH Dry Riesling

Baked raclette

It’s believed that the name “raclette” comes from the French word, “racler,” meaning “to scrape.” In Traverse City, raclette is a popular cheese made with whole cow’s milk. It has a distinct, aromatic flavor and melts evenly, which makes it a good cheese to bake.
PAIR WITH Pinot Grigio

Duck with cherry relish

Known as the nation’s cherry capital, Traverse City produces many varieties of cherries. In July and early August, the countryside is dotted with roadside stands selling little cartons of sweet, dark cherries. Enjoy them straight from the box, but if you’re having company, a more elaborate choice is roast duck with cherry relish.
PAIR WITH Pinot Noir

 

San Francisco, California 

From snacks, to drinks, to haute cuisine, San Francisco draws its culinary magnificence from its rich cultural history. Immigrants from Italy, China, and beyond brought along their traditional family recipes as well as a willingness to discover new tastes. San Francisco has always been both a trendsetter (think Asian fusion cuisine, exotic leafy greens) and an inventor (think Popsicles, fortune cookies).

Cioppino  

Considered an Italian-American dish, cioppino is a flavorful stew of crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, squid, and market-fresh fish, blended with fresh tomatoes and a dry red or white wine. A baguette, preferably sourdough, is essential for sopping up the broth.
PAIR WITH Barbera

Chop Suey

Popularized by Chinese immigrants during the California Gold Rush, shap sui (chop suey) means mixed small bits or odds and ends. Traditionally, it consists of small pieces of meat, chicken, or shrimp stir-fried with celery, onions, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, and mushrooms, served with soy sauce over rice. But today, chefs around town are reinventing it.
PAIR WITH Chardonnay

Sourdough Bread

Although Americans readily identify this type of bread with San Francisco, sourdough is one of the oldest forms of leavened bread dating back to ancient Egypt. A lactic acid bacteria called lactobacillus Sanfrancisco gives sourdough its sour to tangy flavor.
PAIR WITH Sauvignon Blanc

 

Lake County, California

Home to the largest natural freshwater lake wholly within California and an impressive number of vineyards, livestock ranches, and orchards, Lake County is a magnificent source for fresh food. In the late summer and fall, you can pick your own produce and practically live off what you find in local markets.

Poached pears

The excellent texture, uniform ripeness, and exceptional sweetness of Lake County pears deserve to be celebrated. They are packed quickly and travel well, so they can be enjoyed across the USA. Delicious on their own, they become an elegant dessert when poached in white wine and apple juice and sprinkled with lemon rind and cloves.
PAIR WITH Pinot Gris

Roasted walnuts

Loaded with omega-3s and vitamins, walnuts are as good for us as they are delicious. Lake County has been growing English walnuts since the late nineteenth century and produces several varieties. They’re great in salads, quick breads, cakes, and pies, but when paired with wine, we like to keep it simple. Set walnut pieces on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and rosemary. Roast until golden.
PAIR WITH Sauvignon Blanc

Bison burger

Ranch land is plentiful in Lake County, and it’s not unusual for red meat eaters to get a hankering for a good burger. You’ll find bison burgers on a number of menus here. Bison is leaner than beef and generally has more protein, beta carotene, and fewer calories and cholesterol. Its flavor is more delicate, its texture more tender, yet is satisfyingly meaty. A full-bodied Lake County wine with firm tannins will complement bison beautifully.
PAIR WITH Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Gold Country, California

Once a promised land to prospectors who hoped to find their fortunes, California’s Gold Country remains a treasure trove for visitors seeking rolling foothills, rushing creeks, and stunning vista views. Here, dining is a genuine experience, whether the decision is barbecue, Italian comfort food, or farm-to-table gourmet.

Smoked trout

The first smokehouses in Gold Country were used to preserve the fish. But once that heady smoky flavor slips into your mouth, it’s hard to forget it. Smoked trout is a delicacy to be savored on crackers, in salads, or with pasta. Or just enjoy it by the forkful. The moist, flaky meat slips right off the bones.
PAIR WITH Vino Noceto Riserva Sangiovese

Buttermilk fried chicken

Buttermilk sounds rich, but traditional buttermilk is actually the liquid remaining after butter has been separated from milk. When used as a marinade for chicken, its lactic acid gently tenderizes the meat and keeps it moist. The result is pure gold: super crispy outside and super juicy inside. A green salad and a wedge of golden cornbread round out the meal.
PAIR WITH Andis Sémillon

Apple pie

A range of apple trees grow in Gold Country. In fact in El Dorado County, apples are the leading crop. As summer days shorten and the leaves turn to yellow, red, and orange, a wedge of apple pie and a glass of wine warms the evening. Tart apples yield pies that are not too sweet and pair nicely with wine, as long as it’s as sweet—or sweeter than—the pie.
PAIR WITH Mt. Aukum Viognier


As seen in the issue Summer/Fall 2017 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.