To Odessa Piper, the chef and owner of L'Etoile in Madison, Wisconsin, the farmers at the Dane County Farmers' Market are stars. Piper is a big supporter of their methods: planting heirloom varieties, using few or no chemicals and harvesting fruits and vegetables only when they are ripe are all practices that lead to high-flavor foods. L'Etoile's farmers' market dinners are big draws.
The Maryland-based wine importer Terry Theise is equally passionate about his suppliers--German and Austrian vintners who make small, handcrafted, concentrated batches of wine. So when the couple met in 1993--at a special L'Etoile wine lunch--they made a stellar match. Now that they're married, each continually draws on the other's expertise, even when they're apart.
One of the best times to catch this partnership in action is in the fall, when Piper and her staff set about preserving the abundant local harvest. Drying vegetables and reducing cider, as in the recipes that follow, dramatically intensify their flavor and sweetness, making Piper's dishes a great match for the crisp, aromatic wines that Theise has suggested.