At chef Curtis Stone’s Michelin-starred restaurant Maude in Beverly Hills, the 10-course tasting menu changes four times a year to feature the food, wine, and culture of a different wine region. Along with his fellow chefs and Maude’s wine team, the Australia-born Stone drove up the coast to find his next culinary muse in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, filming a special episode of his PBS series Field Trip with Curtis Stone along the way.
For previous menus, the team has also journeyed to Rioja, Spain; Burgundy, France; and California’s Central Coast. “We go and basically do a deep dive, some research and development on the cuisine, the culture, the attitudes, the music, the history—you name it,” Stone recently explained to host Soterios Johnson on the California Now Podcast. “And then what we try and do is develop a menu that sort of honors that wine region and then all of the wine pairings that go with the dishes come from the region.”
Below are four places Stone highlighted from this special region of the Golden State. To hear more about his trip, download the latest episode of the podcast.
Princess Seafood, Fort Bragg
On California’s North Coast, fishing is a way of life—especially for the all-female crew on the Princess fishing boat. The Maude team joined the women on the water and “got schooled” as they learned how to fish and properly filet each catch. “They have this very interesting respect-of-the-ocean attitude, which is something I think California does really well—understand its environment and try and protect it and take care of it,” Stone says. “I think whenever you get to see a product like seafood in its most natural environment then that's really special.” You can sample the sashimi-grade, sustainably wild-caught fish at the Princess Seafood Market & Deli in Fort Bragg.
Single Thread, Healdsburg
This three-Michelin-star restaurant, farm, and high-end inn quickly became a culinary destination when it opened in Healdsburg in 2016. Owner-couple Kyle and Katina Connaughton have created a menu that is “very Japanese influenced, but innately California—and that's what makes it so special,” Stone says.
“Normally when you meet someone that's achieved three stars, they started 20 years ago … it's literally a life's work. And I feel like what Kyle and Katina had done was really map out their dream and I think that that's a really interesting attitude to have. This is a restaurant that was purpose-built. No matter what it was that you pointed to or asked about, there was this incredible story about it.”
Littorai Wines, near Sebastopol
The crew was lucky enough to visit this family-owned winery during the crush—an extremely critical time for a winemaker. “For us to show up with our crew right in the middle of harvest was not ideal for them, but it was amazing for us because we got to see that whole process of picking,” Stone says. The team learned about Littorai’s intensive biodynamic practices used in producing its Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. “I think really understanding where the wine comes from and how much care goes into it, and when you see such a natural display of farming happening, then it really does give you a beautiful feeling about trying those wines,” he says.
Small Vines, near Sebastopol
The nearby Small Vines also specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Russian River and Sonoma Coast. Stone and his wine director, Ben Aviram, got in a tub and did some grape stomping during their visit. “I was amazed that that even still happens,” Stone says. “But I guess as a control, they do stomp just a small amount of the grape so they want to get a little bit more skin contact or develop the tannins in a certain way. So yeah, we got to partake in that, which was amazing.”