Gerard Craft grew up in Washington, DC, eating lots of Maryland blue crab. Here, he creates a very simple and delicious starter by tossing sweet crabmeat with fresh mint and lime juice, then spooning it over mashed avocado on toast. You can make the toasts or buy store-bought ones to save time.
Pairing: 2009 Grgich Hills Estate Fumé Blanc
Rare Roast Beef with Fresh Herbs and Basil Oil
Adapted from a recipe in author Patricia Wells's latest cookbook, Salad as a Meal, this rosy roast beef with basil oil seems decadent but contains only two grams of saturated fat per serving.
Pairing: 2007 Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Pan-Fried Skate with Brown Butter and Parsnip Puree
Blanched almonds complement the parsnips and pan-fried skate nicely.
Pairing: 2009 Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Chardonnay
Roast Brined Chicken with Raisin and Pine Nut Agrodolce
"Brining isn't imperative," says Michael Chiarello, "but it adds juiciness." Before roasting, he rubs the brined birds with a spice mix and brushes them with butter; the flavors are even better at room temperature, making this a stellar picnic dish.
Pairing: 2008 La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Roasted Artichokes and Prosciutto
Artichokes are notorious for making wine taste bitter. To prevent that, Michael Chiarello slow-roasts artichoke hearts in extra-virgin olive oil to bring out their sweetness, then serves them with prosciutto, an ingredient that matches particularly well with wine.
Pairing: 2009 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc
Carolina Pulled Pork
Traditional Carolina barbecue begins with a whole hog smoked over coals; here, Sean Brock cooks pork shoulder for 12 hours in a 275° oven before smoking it for about 1 hour in a backyard grill.
Pairing: 2006 Daniel Gehrs Syrah
Creamy Clam and White Bean Chowder
White beans substitute for the usual potatoes in this chowder, made with sweet butternut squash, briny littleneck clams and smoky bacon. Rancho Gordo cellini beans give the soup a buttery richness, but Great Northern beans are terrific as well.
Pairing: 2008 Clos Pegase Mitsuko's Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
Chilled Cucumber Soup with Salt-Roasted Shrimp
Jim Burke's cucumber soup with lime, garlic and ginger is light, refreshing and restorative; his kitchen staff jokes that it's like a mini spa treatment. For extra substance, Burke adds salt-roasted shrimp, avocado and a hit of spicy chile oil.
Pairing: 2008 Bonny Doon Vineyard Ca' del Solo Muscat
Butcher's Ragù with Fusilli
This sauce, an ever-so-slightly creamy ragù made with ground beef, pancetta and ham, is flavored with tomato paste instead of canned tomatoes.
Pairing: 2006 Clos Du Val Merlot
Grilled Halibut with Smashed Fingerlings and Tomato Butter
La bauge au-dessus means "the wallow up above," a reference, perhaps, to the wine's high-elevation origins. It's dominated by berry and cherry flavors with an alluring, green tea–like, savory edge.
Pairing: 2007 Au Bon Climat La Bauge Au-dessus Pinot Noir