When I think about entertaining and making dinner for friends, just as much as I think about the menu, I also think about the wines I want to pair with the food. The easiest way for me to do that is to think about the origin of the dish and then think about what wine comes from that region. If I'm in the Piemonte region of Italy, I love to have a few light nibbles in a wine bar with a chilled glass of Arneis, a crisp and slightly floral white wine grape variety that literally means "little rascal" because it is reportedly difficult to grow. A story in a glass! Then I love to make Agnolotti with Fontal, Fontina, Butter and Sage - and of course have a nice bottle of Barbaresco or Barolo to go with it. If you come cook with me in the Veneto region, we'll always start a meal with a glass of Prosecco from the Valdobbiadene region, and we'll drink it with some "cicchetti" or little snacks, kind of the Venetian equivalent to tapas, like my Rice Olives. If I'm tapas hopping in Seville, a chilled glass of fino sherry is the perfect match to the slew of tapas being served - anything from Albondigas (little meatballs) to Sizzling Garlic Prawns with Hot Pepper & Amontillado Sherry. At home in California, I always kick off a dinner or New Year's Eve party with a bottle of sparkling wine from Napa or Sonoma, especially if I'm serving my Celebration Pizza with Smoked Salmon and Caviar. I absolutely love to serve a luscious Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir with Pork Roasted the Way the Tuscan Do!
I am working on a new book about tequila that I am really excited about. It all started with a group of women I call the Agave Girls and is devoted to the appreciation of tequila. The book will be released May 2009 (Ten Speed Press) and includes 20 recipes for food and 30 cocktails!!!! Some of the recipes are Tequila-Mi-Su, kind of a take on Tiramisu using tequila instead of rum, Melon, Lime and Tequila Soup and Tacos with Spicy Grilled Prawns.