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Pairing of Aces

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Pigs are so cute that it's difficult to justify eating them—if they weren't the most delicious of all land animals, that is.

On a recent tour of Devil's Gulch Ranch in Nicasio, ranch owner Mark Pasternak showed some of the Berkshire pigs he raises as part of a preview for Charlie Palmer's annual Pigs and Pinot event in March. The little ones, able to fit in the palm of one's hand, nestled up against mama pigs weighing in at over 300 pounds. If Dry Creek Kitchen chef Dustin Valette hadn't prepared a wonderful cassoulet with unsmoked bacon and a sous-vide porchetta finished in a piping hot pan to perfect the crispy skin, it might have been appropriate, at the very least, to show some ambivalence about eating what may have been that same adorable piglet's older cousin. But not one of the diners made a mention of it, nor much of anything, for that matter, during the meal—the ultimate compliment to a chef.

Wines paired by Courtney Humiston, including 2009 pinots from Dutton Goldfield and Sean Thackrey (both grown at Devil's Gulch Ranch) balanced the richness of the pork with fruity, airy lightness.

Tickets are on sale now for the public event, slated for March 21–22 at Hotel Healdsburg, but Pigs and Pinot sold out last year in four minutes, so call in every favor you have when tickets go on sale Thursday, Jan. 16, at 11am. Healdsburg Hotel, 25 Matheson St., Healdsburg. $125–$2,892. For tickets, see Pigsandpinot.com.

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