For the reimagined menu concept at Maude, chef Curtis Stone is taking his culinary cues from the wine world. His first stop: La Rioja, Spain
“Since opening [Beverly Hills-based] Maude four years ago, I have been absolutely blown away by our wine program and finally arrived at a place where I said, ‘Let’s start with the wine and then create the menus around it,’” says chef Curtis Stone. “I love Australian, Italian and French wines (our second current menu is inspired by Burgundy), but I’ve always been fascinated with Spanish culture and think that it has completely changed the way we think about modern gastronomy, so we decided to start with a research trip to La Rioja.” Here, Stone’s travel diary, in his own words:
After landing in Bilbao, and checking in to our accommodations, we explored the region’s capital city of Logroño, and its butcher shops, markets and wine vendors. Then we decided to divide and conquer: Ben Aviram (Maude’s director of restaurant operations) and Justin Hilbert (executive chef) headed to Viña Ijalba Bodega (ijalba.com) and Nivarius (nivarius.com/en), an exclusive white winery, while I checked out Bodegas Muga (bodegasmuga.com/en) to learn how they make and “toast” their own wine barrels.
The following days brought us to more incredible wineries: the Count of Creixell, Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, hosted all of us at Marqués de Murrieta (marquesdemurrieta.com) winery (the collection here dates back to 1852, when La Rioja first started producing wines). We had tastings at Marqués de Cáceres (marquesdecaceres.com), which produces Bordeaux-style tempranillo, and Bodegas Juan Carlos Sancha (juancarlossancha.com) in the town of Baños de Río Tobía, where we also helped prepare a family-style meal of beans, tomato and cheese salad, and eel smothered in mayonnaise. Then there was Bodegas Campillo (bodegascampillo.com) in the medieval town of Laguardia; the iconic Bodegas López de Heredia Viña Tondonia (lopezdeheredia.com) on the right bank of the Ebro River in the town of Haro; Campo Viejo (campoviejo.com), Bodegas Vivanco and Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture (vivancoculturadevino.es/en), and an underground winery in Briones.
Of course, we also found time to savor and study the local cuisine at places such as Venta Moncalvillo (ventamoncalvillo.com) and Restaurante Alameda (restaurantealameda.net/en) in Fuenmayor where we had a delicious chuletón (steak), which we recreated at Maude. We did a “tapas crawl” along Calle Laurel around Logroño (including stops at Torrecilla and Laurus), learned how they make cheese at Queso Tondeluna (turismorioja.com), chorizo at Embutidos Pisón (embutidospison.com/en), and the art of meat smoking at Mesón Egües (mesonegues.com). One morning, we even went mushroom foraging with chef Francis Paniego, owner of two-Michelin-starred El Portal de Echaurren (echaurren.com), where we later had an epic 30-course dinner.
Marqués de Riscal (marquesderiscal.com) really sums up the whole place: It’s a centuries-old winery with bottles that date back to pre-World War II, and they hired Frank Gehry to design the new hotel building, which is really incredible and wild. That’s what I love about La Rioja: the balance of old and new, which is exactly what we strive to do at Maude. 212 S. Beverly Dr., B.H., 310-859-3418; mauderestaurant.com.
Written by KELSEY McKINNON.
Photography by MIKAEL VOLJINOVIC.