As the winter weather drives us into the kitchen seeking refuge from the cold, it’s a good time to find comfort in new cookbooks. One of the books providing an escape to lighter, brighter places is Kitchen Gypsy, Recipes and Stories from a Lifelong Romance with Food by Joanne Weir.


If you love wine and food pairing, make sure you’re familiar with Joanne Weir. I’ve long treasured my well-worn copy of Joanne’s book, More Weir Cooking in Wine Country with its easy to follow recipes and recommended wines for each dish. I watch her cooking shows on PBS with the same dedication that my friends reserve for watching a drama series. Glued to the TV, I eagerly await the moment when Joanne reveals what wine she is pouring to complement her dishes!

When this chef unleashes her energy on a recipe, it’s hard to look away. Her enthusiasm for everything – every ingredient, every source of inspiration, every memory wrapped up in each dish – makes me want to spend more time in the kitchen. Unlike some cook books on my shelf that are there for the pretty pictures, Joanne’s books are active participants in every day meals at our home, as well as the source for go-to dishes for  dinner parties.

When Traca Savadogo the author of Seattle Tall Poppy, extended a special invitation to a “Cook the Book” style party with the author to celebrate Kitchen Gypsy‘s release, I jumped on the opportunity! My first question was, “May I bring wine?”

Then, realizing that the format of the dinner party meant that a prepared dish from Kitchen Gypsy would need to accompany me to the party, I settled in with the book and began perusing the options. It takes time because each recipe includes a fascinating back story as to how it led Joanne down the path to where she is today. Finally, I decided! My chosen recipe would be Roasted Carrot Hummus with Vegetable Chips. As with many Joanne Weir recipes, this one delivers so much flavor for so little effort. Basically, roast some carrots and throw them in a food processor with the other ingredients. Whir them together, and voila, it’s party time!

Carrots have some sweetness. When I sampled the dish at home, I paired it with a Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Water Creek Riesling a friend had brought over. With a little bit of residual sugar to match the sweetness of the dish, it was a delightful accompaniment.


When I arrived at the party, Joanne greeted me by name. Swoon! As she prepared the Almond, Anchovy, and Fennel Toasts, I uncorked the wines I’d brought from EFESTE. The Oldfield Estate Rosé is always a safe bet when pairing with a variety of foods. Rosé has a brightness that is a wonderful complement to the vibrant flavor of the mint in the appetizer.


Another guest, Jason Price author of the Hungry Dog Blog, served up Carrot Soup with Anise. Having seen Joanne’s cooking shows, I know she favors sauvignon blanc. So, the Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc was in the mix and a nice contrast to the soup.


As we perused my wine selections to pair with the Autumn Salad, Joanne mentioned a riesling would be great with it. Sadly, I left the riesling at home! Never fear, the Oldfield Estate Rosé came to the rescue.


As we moved on to the main courses, Arroz con Pollo and Beef Kefta with Blood Oranges, I filled my glass with Emmy, a spicy Mourvèdre blend. After all, there always has to be red wine at a dinner party. The spicy characteristics of the wine play well with the spices in these dishes.

The party is over, but there is still a lot of exploring left to do with this book. Join us, and let us know what wines you serve with Joanne’s dishes!


Full disclosure:  the author works at EFESTE. The winery provided samples for the event.