Last month, Dave and Krissy Tallent of Restaurant Tallent (208 N. Walnut St., Bloomington, 812-330-9801) packed their knives to slice and serve grub in Sonoma County at Mauritson Winery, where the duo whipped up a three-course dinner that was paired with Rockpile wines. The first course sounds like a heartbreaker: a porchetta complemented with a green garlic polenta, chicory salad, and wild fennel vinaigrette, all drizzled with zinfandel syrup. The second course, an Indiana beef brisket made with Smoking Goose andouille, was smoked with wood from some of the winery’s old barrels. The final course: a mascarpone tart topped with fresh cherries and lemon thyme.
How did this meal come to be? The Tallents met Rockpile winemaker Clay Mauritson years ago, when he came to Indiana to present his portfolio. They loved the wines and decided to visit the winery while in California for their five-year wedding anniversary. Mauritson took them for a picnic in his Rockpile Vineyards, and the Tallents became fast friends with Mauritson and his wife, Carrie. “It’s a great excuse for us to take a vacation to Sonoma County and to hang out with them,” says Dave Tallent.
While they were in California, the Tallents also scoped out the rich Northern California restaurant scene for inspiration. In San Francisco, they visited Baker and Banker, a cherished husband-and-wife restaurant in the Pacific Heights neighborhood (known for sustainable, seasonal cuisine–sound familiar?). They also spent an evening at SF’s rustic Italian gem, Cotogna (voted 2011’s Best New Restaurant by Esquire). Dave Tallent fondly describes their woodfired pizza topped with fresh burrata, capers, zucchini blossoms, and lime zest as a dish to remember. “The lime zest was really unexpected—it was one of my favorite dishes of the whole trip,” he says.
The Tallents head back to California in the middle of August to cook a lunch at Rockpile for Project Zin, a fundraiser benefiting the Down Syndrome Association, North Bay. But we look forward to tasting their inspiration back in Indiana.