Profile: Winemaker Blake Adair Bachman
Blake Adair Bachman is a very good cook. “I’m Martha for hire,” he said on a recent overcast and chilly November afternoon, jokingly referencing the American lifestyle authority and describing his raison d’être: chef, party planner/decorator, caterer, gardener, florist, and newly, a winemaker.
We sat at a long, reclaimed-wood dining room table in Blake’s cozy house in Venice, California, which he shares with his sister and business partner, Laura. We chatted about food and sampled his latest creation, a just-released rosé wine—“salmon pink with copper highlights and bright, juicy citrus, strawberry, orange peel, and a touch of fennel flavor”—which he sells under the name Rose & Thistle.
“It took us about eight years to develop,” said Blake about the period during which he and Laura learned winemaking vocabulary, knocked on numerous doors in the Napa Valley to find their ideal producer, and eventually settled on a cabernet sauvignon/pinot noir composition sourced from seven different vineyards.
With its comely label hand-drawn by Blake (a true renaissance man, he’s also a painter and potter) and bottled in thick, old-school, cork-stopper bottles, their wine is now available, along with a sparkling version, in select restaurants in California, as well as at parties the siblings get hired to put together.
Blake started his party business with Laura about a decade ago, but he has been interested in cooking and entertaining since he was around four years old, when he would assist his mom, a talented cook, in their Camarillo farmhouse kitchen. A few years later, after watching episodes of The Frugal Gourmet and Julia Child on TV, he would make a Mother’s Day dinner from scratch—baked ham with pineapple, scalloped potatoes, fruit mousse with whipped cream—to great success. His first job as a teenager, selling produce at a neighbor’s farm stand, made him intimate with the origins of food and prepped him for his future job.
Today, he’s busy on both coasts and works for happy repeat clients—including Alice Waters, who “came to our party and loved what we did, so she started calling us to help with her own events”—who appreciate his laid-back style and unpretentious farm-to-table menus. A recent one included: ricotta-kale Meyer lemon toast with prosciutto, short ribs with scalloped squash and roasted radishes, and Italian wedding cake.
Hometown Venice Beach—fourth generation — Where do you live? L.A./NYC — Occupation Winemaker, chef, event producer, painter — Signature dish Whatever’s on hand — Who taught you how to cook? Grew up in a kitchen filled with cooks, farming, foraging. Cooking is naturally fun. Eating and partying, the reward. — Favorite kitchen tool A huge cutting board—almost everything else you can improvise. Kitchen fetish: Huge colanders. — Always in your pantry Eggs — Go-to snack Seeds. I save seeds from just about everything—lemons and melons and every kind of squash. — Favorite cuisine Anything unadulterated, with a sense of history and genuine nutrition. 19th-century Spanish, limited-ingredient old French recipes, old Mexico/California/Wild West. — Do you diet? I believe food is the best medicine, so I eat accordingly. I spend a lot of time pursuing the most qualified and current nutrition information. There have been a lot of advancements in nutrition knowledge in the last 150 years, but also a lot of detrimental “inventions,” such as margarine. They knew it blew out rabbit aortas 100 years ago, but people will still make it, and consumers will defend their “right” to eat it—to be offered it—and hospitals feed it to their patients and employees. Anyhow, I like to get smart on what goes into my and my loved ones’ bodies, and I actively pursue others’ access and interest in unadulterated food. — Food addictions Beautifully raised meats and anything on the Slow Foods Ark of Taste — Food allergies Anything proven to be inflammatory — Food fad pet peeve Pseudo-nutrition and the chefs and companies that put it into practice. They both need to know where all their ingredients are coming from and know what actually IS healthy vs. SOUNDS healthy. As consumers, voters, parents and caregivers, we need to demand unadulterated food in our communities, our institutions. — Who’s your sous chef? My sister and fellow rosé maker. She’s more of a master garde manger/pantry chef—salads, hors d’oeuvres, fruits—the beginnings and ends. — Drinking while cooking? Ginger kombucha and rosé — What’s for dinner tonight? Arctic char, scalloped squash, a leafed salad with scallion/tahini vinaigrette. — Do you ever cry over spilled milk? Managing/preventing waste is a crucial element in cooking; 40 percent of food in America is thrown out. The freezer is your friend. — Best meal you ever had Anything freestyle with Alice [Waters] or granny in front of a fire. — Contact adairbachmanwines.com
Shaved Broccoli Salad With Tuna
Here is a cool way to make raw broccoli toothsome and interesting—finely shaved, mixed with flaked canned tuna, and dressed with lemon, vinegar and serrano chili pepper.
“It is a super filling lunch or dinner,” says Blake of his favorite salad. “It certainly feels like you’re giving your system a clean boost, particularly when you’ve been traveling or eating out a lot.”
As with ceviche, the brackish and kicky dressing easily breaks down the normally tough broccoli fiber. The result is a light, juicy and crunchy salad, packed with A and C vitamins, calcium and iron—not to mention being gluten- and grain-free.
- Serves 2–4
- 1 shallot, peeled, finely chopped
- 1 serrano chili pepper, destemmed, deseeded
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Olive oil
- 1 can tuna or salmon, drained
- 3 heads broccoli
- In a large bowl, mix the shallot, serrano pepper, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, and salt.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the tuna. Flake the fish with a fork, and coat with the oil and the dressing.
- Using a sharp knife and starting at the crown, shave the broccoli finely, working toward the stem. Discard the stem.
- Add the broccoli to the bowl, and toss well with the other ingredients. Add more olive oil and salt to taste. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve. The salad will keep for up to 2 days, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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