Wine Trail - Cook's Edition

About Us


e have several thousand cookbooks.... We've known Doug Nalle for a very long time. It has to be a long time now, we remember explaining websites to him. They were new back then. It seems that, for us, food and wine and the Nalles's were destined to come together. We have friends who own one of the oldest 'modern era' vineyards in San Luis County who make wines meant to go with food. Their thinking has always been to keep away from the high alcohols that the industry fell in love with (and maybe as this is written is finally starting to return from).  We think we read about Doug making similar wines,  the sorts of wines we like. And never a bottle above 13.9 percent alcohol. Certainly we aren't leading any temperance charges, it's just that, to our mind, lower alcohol wines go better with the food we're eating. So the next time we were in Sonoma we visited Nalle Winery. We used to think our friends were about the smallest winery around, but you don't get smaller than one person. In a Quonset hut sort of building with sod on top. There was Doug, all alone.  We met Lee Nalle later. And now his son Andrew makes the wine, as far as we can tell, exactly as Doug would (Doug's still around, of course).

We cook. We think we cook pretty well. We are not chef's. We'd never win on 'Chopped'. We do watch Top Chef. We get mad when cooking shows spend all their time talking about petty battles, or other nonsense and not showing COOKING. We watch to learn. (We don't know how legitimate IRON CHEF was--we're talking about the one from Japan (dubbed)--but you could watch and learn and have a fun time. The American Iron Chef? Hasn't really been on in a while. Food Network maybe should get back to its roots. There are people who want to cook again.) We don't go out to eat much because mostly we think what we can cook is at least as well.  And certainly we then know what is going into our mouths. (But good restaurants CAN get ingredients that just are mot easily available to the general public, and can get them cheaper.  Buying a truffle is not something most home cooks do.)  Did we mention we have several thousand cookbooks? And we still keep buying them even though there is an infinite amount of recipes on the internet. Many of our recipes are from cookbooks which we might follow closely or deviate from in our own way. We'll give credit to any recipe we're talking about to the original author (if there is one) and encourage you to buy their books! We even have (very heavy to read in bed) The Food Lab Cookbook (Amazon link) by J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats (well it is far more than a cookbook), even though you can see all the recipes on line. Cookbooks are good. And Mr. López-Alt and the Serious Eats crew know far more than we do. Buy the book; use their site.

The approach we want to take here is not precise. It just reflects a long time of learning and trying to prepare interesting and good food. We once did a Chinese Banquet while visiting friends.  Ended up taking ALL day and the pots and pans of two households and we didn't eat till 10pm (that wasn't the plan). It still is something to talk about.

We like science. We have the original (and the updated)  On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee (Amazon link) . Cooking is both art and science and knowing a little about both helps. We remember the very first Good Eats episode that we saw (the one on rice, Season 1, episode 19). Alton Brown's show was genius. And he introduced us to Shirley O. Corriher who wrote another great science cookbook: CookWise: The Hows & Whys of Successful Cooking, The Secrets of Cooking Revealed (Amazon link). There are others of that ilk. There are also some really old cookbooks that still 'work'. There are restaurant cookbooks. There are celebrity chef cookbooks. There are some celebrity chefs who live by their celebrity and not by their food. But there are a lot of celebrity chefs who are really good. We'll just mention one right now because we really like his recipes. Rick Bayless  who has a bunch of great (generally Mexican, though we're really partial to our variation on his chicken and dumplings in a book he did with his daughter) cookbooks and some really good restaurants in Chicago.  We've met him several times over the years. He's a nice guy. And the first time was pretty much before he was a 'celebrity' (if we recall correctly, it was before the internet and certainly before the food network. He came to be a guest chef at a local restaurant). We've even met the great Julia Child. Get any (or all) of her books. Though she was at an event autographing her then latest book (The Way to Cook), she kindly autographed one of our favorite recipes, the French Onion Soup in a book we brought to her event: Julia Child and More Company (out of print, but you can still get it, or just use one of her other books that is still in print).

A while back we were at Nalle Winery and met April who was about to have Andrew and her first child. A year later we were back and saw April and the baby and she was about to have their second child). We talked a lot about food. Here was this newlywed with a couple of kids who likes to cook. And we'd previously sent Andrew some of our favorite recipes. So we sent her some more recipes that included a lot of information and tips we'd learned.  And then she asked about knives. We sent her pictures of what we have and where we got them.  She thought we should do a food blog. We didn't think so. There are too many already. But then she asked if we could give her recipes and food pairings for the winery's mailing list. Sure, why not?  But then the way we write (what you see here) is long winded, conversational and hopefully more than just recipes. You can't do that without pictures and maybe more space than she might want to use. So here we are. A website to chronicle the recipes. For Nalle Winery. And maybe more. We'll see.

By the way, you can find more winery recipes (some are even ours) at our Paso friends' website in the food section. They also make great wine and love to cook.

We hope this is informative and most importantly gets you cooking the way you want to cook.

Cheers and bon appettit!


We'd love to hear from you. If there is a question we think we can answer, we'll probably post it. Mistakes or problems? Please let us know! Write us at:

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