Jason’s Trip to Napa and Sonoma

Jason’s Trip to Napa and Sonoma

Jason T here to chat about my recent trip to Napa and Sonoma!

I was lucky enough to spend the last week visiting Sonoma and Napa Valley vineyards in California searching for inspiration for our next wine menu. For me, wine has always been an experience in faith. Shopping for wine for the restaurant we are told stories of faraway vineyards and wine makers with no emotional attachment to the bottle other that through smell and taste.  Someone would give a testimonial regarding the wine; “one of my favorites, you have to try this wine”, or “Wonderful wine from …Insert region here”. This experience in California was so much different.  To be able to meet the winemaker, stand in the vineyards, taste the terroir (the earth’s impression on the grape) and visit the cellars to taste the next vintage straight from the barrel creates a level of respect and emotional attachment to the wine I have never had before.

Sonoma evoked memories of Italy (or what my mind predetermined Italy should feel like, I have never been), old world rolling hills, chateau so expansive and posh it made my mouth drop as I drove on to the properties. Wines so big and luscious that the palate just craved more with each sip. Cabernet, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc were the staples of the area. Sonoma was the antithesis of commercial. I was in northern Sonoma, and would sometimes find it hard to get a cup of coffee. We (my wife and I, on our first escape without kids in 15 years), would venture out for 15-20 minutes in search of breakfast each morning with limited options in the area. The drive was not difficult to stomach though, views so beautiful I imagined them only in movies. Mountains rolling along the scenery, trees long and drooping over narrow roadways blotting out the sun, with vineyards every few miles on either side of the road. We visited Ferrari Carrano & Alexander Valley Vineyards during our one day touring Sonoma.

Napa represents everything great about the wine business.  Every piece of the spectrum, vineyards on mountain sides, vineyards on flat valley floors, elite chefs and restaurants, a commercially concentrated region predicated on accentuating their one staple commodity.

The valley floor is flanked by the Mayacamas Mountain Range on the western and northern sides and the Vaca Mountains on the eastern side.  These legendary mountains help to create what only 3% of the whole planet can replicate… a Mediterranean Climate. The perfect growing conditions for grapes. Ancient volcanic earth is soil that dominates the valley floor, and produces an old-world impression on the wine that sets the table for some of the most expensive grapes in the world second to only the famous Bordeaux region of France.

We visited: Round Pond in Rutherford, Crocker and Starr in Saint Helena, Italics Winegrowers in Coombsville, and Honig in Rutherford. Cabernet is king in Napa and it always delivers in highly alcoholic and fruit forward wines with bombastic tannins.

I am full of ideas, insight and inspiration for our next menu… please come and ask me about the trip, I would love to share the stories of our journey!  ~Jason Tognarina

Bountiful Winter Vegetables

Bountiful Winter Vegetables

It’s the time of year when we anticipate the farm-fresh veggies that will be coming our way in the spring time… but they’re not ready… not yet! At this time of year, I feel lucky to get to work with Harmony Ridge Farms to get in some heartier vegetables like kale, turnips and radishes. BUT, I have to say, my favorite things to cook in winter are celery root (Celeriac), parsnips and mushrooms.

I love roasting parsnips and celery root and also making purees with them – they accompany a meat or seafood beautifully. I often sauté mushrooms too, because they bring a wonderful earthiness and unique texture to a plate.

Here’s to those spring veggies that are on their way… but I will continue to delight in the bounty we have today!
-Chef Bill Schutz

In 2017, I will… eat more salads!

Happy New Year, friends! We’re so grateful to be a part of this Davidson community and we’re looking forward to a fun-filled 2017… with lots of celebrations, date nights, family dinners, meet-ups, and lunch gatherings.

BUT, now, before we get to the fun stuff, we have resolutions, don’t we? I know they can be hard to keep… so I wanted to highlight some of our delicious salads for you. Pictured, is our Kale & Quinoa salad with Kale, Quinoa, Candied Walnuts, Shaved Pecorino, and Honey Vinaigrette. I think you’ll also enjoy our NEW fried goat cheese salad with Sunny Creek Farm’s Field Greens, Beets, Red Onion, Pecans, and White Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Love your Brussels Sprouts? This ones for you… our warm Brussels Sprouts salad with Dried Cranberries, Shallots, Bacon, Pine Nuts, Champagne Vinaigrette.

Come join us, we’ve got you covered so you can eat smart and delicious-ly!

Big News: We have a Sommelier in the House!

Big News: We have a Sommelier in the House!

Whenever you can brag about a friend’s accomplishments, you may as well do it. And it’s my turn. Our Managing Partner here at Flatiron, Jason Tognarina, has successfully earned his Sommelier Certification.

He has long made wine a big part of what we do well here at Flatiron, and now, after months of studying and taking his two day exam… he has the pin, the knowledge, and the ability to help you understand more about our wines.

The exam was in Greenville, and he had to test on 32 different wines and be able to identify the grape varietal, region, sub region and vintage. Impressive stuff! We’re glad he’s on our team, and I’m sure he’d always be happy to steer you toward a delicious bottle to accompany your lunch or dinner.

NEW! Crispy Portuguese Octopus

NEW! Crispy Portuguese Octopus

One of my favorite parts of working in the kitchen at Flatiron is getting creative and switching things out on the menu. I absolutely love it. Right now we’re working up some new Fall menu items including this delicious Crispy Portuguese Octopus. I’m serving it with fingerling potatoes, micro cilantro and Chile Dressing. It will be available starting this week. I hope you’ll love it!
-Chef Bill

Welcome back students and faculty!

Welcome back students and faculty!

Students and faculty, welcome back to one of the most charming, inspiring small towns in America. If you stayed around here, you know summer was a hot one, but a delightful one… and filled, for us, with a trip to NYC, lobster nights, new menu items and our new complimentary monthly wine education night, (KnoWine), that’s held the first Tuesday of each month.

It’s been fun, but we love how the energy changes around here with Davidson being filled with excited young minds getting accustomed to a new home.

We’re glad you’re here. Come visit when you can… for lunch, dinner, dates, coffee, or drinks if you’re 21+.

Enjoy the start to a new year, see you soon!

About that New Pork Belly Slider!

About that New Pork Belly Slider!

Last month, I chatted up our delicious Salmon Belly, and I couldn’t overlook our other new addition, the Pork Belly Slider. Just like the salmon dish, I use the underside of the animal – that soft, tender, fatty part of the meat that brings about an amazing flavor that melts in your mouth – all on it’s own. Our Pork Belly slider is served with fresh cucumber, cilantro slaw and Hoisin.

Come in and try one of these savory treats. I know you’ll love it.

One little note of thanks for coming in to see us this summer… whether with family visitors, after a day at the lake or just as one of our regulars, we appreciate your business, and are so glad to have the honor to feed you delicious meals over and over again!

Delightfully NEW ~ Salmon Toro

I like to look at summertime as a great time to add new items to our menu at Flatiron. Recently, I’ve added the Salmon Belly (Toro) to the menu. As someone who filets salmon everyday, I know very well that the belly of the salmon is so thin and tender that if you cook it with the main filet, it will be cooked far before the rest of the fish.

As a chef, I strongly believe in respecting nature and using the whole animal as much as possible, so I am offering the belly as a separate dish. Here at Flatiron, I serve it with a Yuzu-Miso glaze, Jalapeno and micro cilantro. The glaze caramelizes on the grill and gives it a really nice flavor.

Ask our servers to help you pair your dish with one of our delicious wines, too. It’ll be even more beautiful.

Here’s to Spring!

It’s the time of year for tea lights, crisp wine flavors, and bright, fresh ingredients. All this spring fever brings on a tremendous number of people looking to have small events catered… for showers, wedding parties, and even home gatherings.

And we get why.

Catering an event allows you, the host or hostess, to get lost in conversation with your guests, savor sitting next to an old friend, and enjoy your time as much as your guests do.

At Flatiron we do a wide variety of catering, but probably my favorite is when I get to cook a six or 7 course tasting menu for 10-12 people in their homes. It’s an incredible opportunity to create a creative menu, paired with delicious wine and warm service.

Let me know if we can help you at your next event – whether in-home, in the board room or a simple office lunch. We’d love to be a part of it.

Happy Spring to all of you.

Thinking Sweet Thoughts

The aftermath of Valentine’s Day always has me thinking sweet thoughts… about dessert, that is. I love a dessert to cap off a meal. It’s fun. It’s delicious. And nothing says you treasured spending time with people quite like having that one next course. Here at Flatiron, my two favorite desserts to make in house are the Creme Brulee and the Caramel & Sea Salt Bread and Butter Pudding.

I’m a bit partial to the Bread Pudding though. I love the slight sweetness contrasted with the sprinkle of Maldon Sea salt. Come try it some evening… when you’re among friends, and the goodbyes can wait for a later time.

Blog of Chef Bill Schutz