Maria’s Cuisine: Gumbo & Wine

My friend Maria is a chef who migrated to Sonoma from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She has an amazing story which you can read about on her blog, My husband wanted to learn how to make Gumbo, and I was interested in some of her light and health(ier) dishes, so we coordinated a cooking & pairing class which turned out to be a blast. Not only did we have fun cooking (and sipping along the way), but the fun ended with an amazingly flavorful meal and some good drink.

Maria’s Menu:

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo over Mashed Potatoes

One thing you may immediately notice is this Gumbo was not made over rice, which is the better known version. According to Maria, this is the true way to have Gumbo. I believe she said this version is the real version for those living in the Bayou. The important thing to note here is that it was delicious. The mashed potatoes added a different texture and blended in with the saucy gumbo, making it a thicker type of stew. If you are a mashed potato type of person, this is the version for you. An additional preparation note is that it was made with shrimp stock, so you can bet on tons of flavors.

Coconut Lemongrass Curry with Snapper and Mango Rice

Maria insisted that we did not need to time or measure the rice. I swear she just started pouring rice into a pot and had me stir to feel the weight of the rice in the water. She believes there is excess stress in rice preparation, so she just cuts the crazy and starts cooking – no measuring & no timing. What? Well, I tasted it, and it was perfect. The mangos and cilantro in the rice made the meal just sweet enough and the coconut lemongrass curry felt creamy, light and crisp all at once. As I mentioned in this video, I could have eaten the sauce like a soup – it was delicious.

Both were paired with Selby Sauvignon Blanc
When I was at the recent barrel tasting, another winery we stopped at was Selby, in downtown Healdsburg. I’ve been to this boutique winery before and am always delighted with their wines. I chose to pair both of the dishes with their Sauvignon Blanc. It was light bodied and very clean tasting. It went well with the dishes since it didn’t compete with the flavors. Plus it was a gorgeous day – perfect for a chilled glass of white wine.

As a side note, I also purchased a bottle of Selby’s Chardonnay. I am not as much of a Chardonnay fan, but this one definitely was unique in that it was light-bodied and had a honey finish. This will be a great summer wine to look forward to.  

Event of the Day: Cooking Class with Maria
Wine of the Day: Selby Sauvignon Blanc
Quote of the Day: I could eat the sauce like a soup
* For more info on coordinating your own cooking class with Maria, check out

Leave a comment - What do you think?