2nd Annual Kendall-Jackson Mardi Gras Gumbo Smackdown
I think that I may never have actually tasted true “gumbo”- so this is my time to try it- and in many incarnations! Arriving at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center, I am given a purple Mardi Gras necklace of beads which I am supposed to bestow upon the chef of my dreams by putting them around their neck. Each restaurant chef has a table with their personal best, paired up with an incredible Kendall-Jackson wine. The room is gaily decorated and also features an oyster bar- something that I also have not tasted in years. I notice that okra features prominently- a vegetable with which I have had little, or perhaps, no, experience.
For the novice, c’est mois, d’accord, a bit of Gumbo Background scored off of Wikipedia:
Gumbo is a stew or soup which originated in south Louisiana. It consists primarily of a strong stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable “holy trinity” of celery, bell peppers, and onion. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the vegetable okra, the spice filé powder, or the French base made of flour and fat, roux. The dish derived its name from a West African Bantu tribe’s word for okra, which is “ki ngombo”. Creole gumbo generally contains shellfish, tomatoes, and a thickener. Cajun gumbo is generally based on a dark roux and is spicier, with either shellfish or fowl. Sausage or ham can be added to a gumbo made with either fowl or shellfish. Gumbo originated in Louisiana in the 18th century and combines ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures, including French, Spanish, West African, and native American (Choctaw), and later influences came from Italians, Germans and other Europeans. The dish is a derivation of the French dish bouillabaisse.
A very enjoyable time on a winter afternoon- the spices in the gumbo, as well as the lovely fire in the K-J fireplace heat the room up! Delicious pairings with Kendall-Jackson VR and GR wines make the dishes even more memorable- over by the oysters, a taste of the brand new K-J Chardonnay, Avant, green apples, crisp, tasty, is available.
Gumbo attendees start to bestow their beads on their chosen chef! The temperature rises!
The heavy purple beads are ceremoniously and carefully removed from the chefs- the counting is done- perhaps by Price Waterhouse, or someone similar, I am sure. We wait with gumbo scented and baited breath- THE WINNER IS!:
Justin Wangler, and crew, Kendall-Jackson, Executive Chef! Full bragging rights for one year!
Onward to Mardi Gras!
Here’s looking at you, kids.