Carl Kanowsky | Tasty food and wine at Somm’s Kitchen

Carl Kanowsky on Wine


So, for $125 to $200/person (occasionally higher), you and your companion join 12 other folks for a lunch or dinner at a nondescript location on a busy street in Paso Robles for a meal prepared by someone who denies being a professional chef. 

At first blush, what’s your reaction? Does this description make you eager to drop $400? Not too sure? 

Well, I can tell you that unless you make plans at least three months ahead of time you will miss out on one of the most unique dining experiences you can have in California. Because this place is sold out months in advance, which has been true for years. 

Ian Adamo runs Somm’s Kitchen on 13th Street in Paso. When he’s not busy putting on one of his spectacular feasts, he’s traveling the globe teaching the world about wine, going from the State Department to tech companies to the U. S. Army to Cambridge University on his mission to get folks informed and consequently passionate about wine. 

Ian’s route to hosting banquets he’s prepared is a circuitous one, mainly guided by wine. He received his sommelier education at many restaurants, as well as formal training in the Masters of Wine program in London. He went from there to judging wine competitions in Hong Kong and being a guest sommelier in Paris. 

Next in his career, Ian moved to working at great restaurants, including the acclaimed James Beard-winning Lampreia Restaurant in Seattle. Eventually he wound up in Paso, where he opened Somm’s Kitchen a few years ago. 

At Somm’s, Ian generally takes famous wineries, obtains some of their exclusive bottles, and tailors a five- or six-course meal around them.  

Terry and I got to join a luncheon in August featuring two of the best New World producers of chardonnay and pinot noir, Marcassin and Aubert. Both are so well-regarded that you must sit on a waiting list for several years before they will even agree to accept your money. 

Along with the highlighted wineries, Ian also served several Champagnes. I get the distinct sense that this may be Ian’s favorite style of wine, as he pours excellent Champagnes at all his meals. 

What with the many wines and the quite different food, I will need two columns to provide the entire experience. 

The first round presaged what was to come. For food, Ian (who essentially did all the work himself, from serving to bussing dishes) plated king salmon and poached asparagus with a lobster sauce, soft and creamy with a taste of dill. Excellent!  

Alongside the salmon were two delightful Champagnes. (Remember, only sparkling wines that come from the Champagne region of France can be called “Champagne.” Everything else is sparkling wine.)  

Ian started with the 2012 Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs, with yeasty, toasty smells and sourdough flavors. Terry really enjoyed this, saying it had a citrus and granite nose with citrus tastes and sparkle at the front of your tongue. 

Then came the 2012 Pol Roger Rosé, highlighted by a beautiful salmon color (to go with the salmon?) with tight bubbles. While it’s challenging to go behind the effervescence, the Pol Roger smelled of tropical fruit and bananas, with both a nose and a taste of grapefruit and an excellent acidic balance. 

Thus ended the first round of Ian’s distinctive manner of pairing food and wine. My next column will wrap up this engaging lunch. 

Carl Kanowsky is an attorney, a fledgling baker, an enthusiastic cook and an expert wine drinker.  

Ian Adamo of Somm’s Kitchen in Paso Robles. Photo courtesy of Carl Kanowsky.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS