Vine Grown Meets Wood Fired
Recently, on a beautiful summer afternoon, we traveled with Silver Oak Winery Chef Dominic Orsini to see our friend Andrea Mugnaini (pronounced Moon-Ya-Ee-Nee) at her Healdsburg, California cooking school. Andrea is a wine country entrepreneur who imports and sells a series of wood-fire ovens for both commercial and residential use. We met her at her cooking school where she conducts immersive training seminars for her clients and had invited us to see some of the ovens that she has been kind enough to donate to us for our 40th Anniversary Release Day celebration on August 4th.
Nestled among the hills of the Anderson Valley and between the rows of her own vineyard, Andrea’s cooking school is a study in all things Tuscan. From a sun-bleached stucco exterior, to a terraced patio wrapped in olive trees that frame one of her beautiful ovens, and a pool that overlooks her vineyards and the hills beyond; Andrea’s home looks like it was built in homage to Italian life. And in many ways, it is.
Andrea created a successful business of importing wood ovens after traveling through Italy years ago and observing the rustic method that many Italian families used to prepare their meals using a wood-fire oven. She marveled at how this practice seemed to draw the family together with the creation of such hearty meals and wanted to bring that lifestyle to America. Many years later, her line of ovens adorn restaurants and homes alike; perfect for anyone who desires the unique wood-fired flavor that these special ovens impart to food.
The partnership between Silver Oak and Andrea began when Chef Dominic purchased one of Andrea’s ovens for the kitchen at our winery which he now uses to cook everything from meats to fresh-baked bread and naturally, pizza. The relationship was fostered further when Dominic invited Andrea to one of our bi-annual Release Days to participate in a pizza competition. They have since remained friends and Dominic credits Andrea and her unique ovens with inspiring his own cooking philosophies and methods for preparing food at the winery.
On this particular occasion, Andrea invited us to her kitchen to demonstrate the versatility of her ovens. Over the course of the afternoon, Dominic and Andrea prepared a variety of dishes using the ovens including a barrel stave salmon, traditional steak Florentine and of course, pizza. We were surprised at the flexibility of the ovens, never imagining that the same appliance that baked our pizza to a perfectly golden crust could also cook and sear a thick cut of steak to juicy perfection.
The cooking done, it was time to enjoy the fruits of Andrea and Dominic’s labor poolside. The wood-fired character of the food paired beautifully with our Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; the toasted flavors of the meal bringing out the peppery notes and dark fruit flavors of the wine. We finished the afternoon toasting to great food and friendship.
To see more of Andrea and her ovens, be sure to visit her website or come out to our Release Day celebration on August 4th at Silver Oak’s winery in Oakville, California where she and her ovens will be on display.
You can also see video of Dominic and Andrea in action here.