“To say that the Bewildered Pig is the valley’s best restaurant is not to insult the area competition: soon enough, it may be the best restaurant in California.”
— TRAVEL + LEISURE
One winter morning in January, I made my way west on Highway 128 heading into the Deep End of Anderson Valley. Winter is a magical time to be here. Baby sheep graze the lush rolling hills, and coastal fog hangs over the green vineyards, waning by late morning. During winter we see many rainbows and fewer crowds, and it truly is an amazing time to be in wine country!
On this day, I was particularly excited to be filming a recipe video with Chef Janelle Weaver of The Bewildered Pig. Janelle’s culinary experience is rooted in Napa Valley. She was a restaurant manager at Meadowood and the Executive Chef for the famed San Francisco restaurateur Pat Kuleto at Kuleto Estate Winery. This rustic and fully sustainable Napa Valley ranch was influential in cultivating her farm-to-table food and wine foundation. She concluded her time as the Executive Chef for Peter Michael Winery before venturing west to Anderson Valley.
Daniel Townsend is co-founder of The Bewildered Pig, and his roots are also from Napa. He was the designing artist behind the compelling grounds of several unique properties in Napa Valley that include Nickel & Nickel, Far Niente, Dana Estates, Alpha Omega, Shibumi Knoll, and The Martini House Restaurant (now Goose & Gander). He has big visions for the future of The Bewildered Pig and the surrounding grounds!
The relocation of this dynamic culinary duo to the Anderson Valley is one of the best things to happen to the food and wine scene. Fortunately, Janelle graciously offered to demonstrate how to make a simple boudin, specifically to be paired with Gewürztraminer, to celebrate our annual Winter White Wine Festival. This event is held the third weekend of February, and she often makes boudin to serve the festival weekend.
This boudin is made with farm-raised rabbits, but Janelle talks about a few other proteins that also work. We highly recommend you set aside an afternoon and give this recipe a try!
The bonus to her take on the recipe is that it can be made days in advance and quickly served up when you are entertaining.
When I arrived for the chef demonstration, Daniel had the grounds looking absolutely beautiful, as he always does! The signature fire was crackling in the rustic outdoor seating area. The towering San Pedro form a vibrant barrier around the restaurant’s perimeter and were fresh from the morning dew. Culinary herbs, flowering citrus trees, and a melody of flowing water from several handmade fountains captivated me immediately.
Surrounding the restaurant are ancient redwoods that extend for miles in every direction and ultimately end at the Mendocino Coast (about 15 mins away). This winter morning, there was sultry music from the 1940s playing in the dimly lit restaurant. Without WIFI and cell service, I immediately disconnected into the warm and rustic vibe.
They now offer artisan products in a quaint specialty market with house-made pâte and a variety of cheese and wine. Local goods include cooking oil, sauerkraut, and fresh farm produce. There are culinary and sensory distractions in every corner, which helps to contribute to the paradigm shift that happens every time I visit. It is easy to forget about the world outside of the San Pedro walls, a welcomed escape and thoughtfully curated by Janelle and Daniel.
The demonstration took us about three hours, largely due to a slightly extended filming process and many questions. Our Navarro-based videographer Kellen Lim did a fantastic job summarizing everything you need to know about making this method of boudin in this ten-minute video. Enjoy!
Gewürztraminer is her preferred wine for this dish, but other white wines will also work. Gewürztraminer is one of the early grapes planted in Anderson Valley. There are currently nine Anderson Valley producers producing Gewürztraminer, and styles range from dry, off-dry, sparkling, and dessert.