Thursday, July 26, 2018

For the LOVE of Viognier                                                                        Saturday July 21st, 2018

Viognier is a grape varietal that many do not know, can't pronounce it, or one has an instant opinion of love or not. I love it in many cases but not all. This evening we explored the flavors of viognier from 5 regions and paired ours with 5 courses.

Our very first viognier from the 2017 harvest has turned many people on to this grape and changed others opinion about Viognier. A very clean, non floral, low mineral, stone fruit, neutral oak aged, balanced rendition we are very proud of from Russian River Valley.

We begin our discussion of Viognier with a tasting flight of five examples from the classic Condrieu, to Australian, Oregon, Southern Cal and our Sonoma County. Prices range from $15 - $72.

Commonly used descriptions – medium viscosity, highly perfumed bouquet, fresh pear, nectarine, honey, warm peach, honeysuckle and allspice scents, flavors of white stone fruits, clove, hazelnut, marzipan, white pepper, smoke and minerals, with a note of orange, Buttered citrus, honeysuckle, pineapple, and a kiss of saltiness

Now that we know what to expect from different regions and winemakers of viognier, we'll begin with our first course.....

..chilled carrot and orange soup. Another character that can be found in Viognier, orange zest.

Second course - Fresh peaches and Burrata. Pairing is mostly successful working on similarities or opposites. Peaches have a great flavor component that can often be smelt or tasted in Viognier. The Burrata mellows out the fruitiness and adds a creamy component.

 I love this Burrata...…

Third course - Scallops. Fennell dusted, seared and served with Fennell puree. Fennel is another flavor profile that can be found in Viognier. You're getting the theme, right?

Fourth course - sweet potato and chicken curry, mildly spicy. Love curry and our 2017 handles it perfectly. You get all the spicy, sweet flavors and the Viognier character is not lost.

Last course of our tasting, cheese. A duo of very different cheeses and a sweet treat surprise....a late harvest Viognier that will never be labeled or sold, sorry. Cheese accompanied by dried apricots, cashews and nightingale French baguette.

A great cheese with our Viognier. Good acid and texture, dense but creamy.

Late harvest Viognier, fermented on the skins. Beautiful balance of sweet with acidity and great fruit!
We loved the format of this dinner: doing the tasting flight and then the varietal focus food.
Next up, menu inspired by Charles Phan and the Slanted Door paired with Paul Mathew.
Happy eating & pairing

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Spring Fling 2018

Russian River Chamber of Commerce started this Annual Event in 2015 which is a wonderful showing of local Wine & Restaurants. Only in it's 3rd year, it is appearing to be a great success and favorite event for many local's coming from near and far.

             The Entrance with a beautiful blue sky although we did get a some April showers.

                                   Our awesome Front Entrance team, welcoming guests...

                   Nothing happens here without ALOT of volunteers helping. Wrist bands anyone.

We had a local food writer, Michele Anna Jordan selling her cookbooks and she hosted a VIP early entrance tour of the Vendors.

The walk around the perimeter was set up alphabetically so we'll start with Agriculture Public House.
                  Chicken meatball slider with parmesan cream sauce. Where's the Chardonnay?

                        Here's the Chardonnay on ice, from Boheme Winery in Occidental.

And next up our local market which features Biscuits plus so much more.....

Wine from our new Tasting Room on the strip, Equality Vines.

We're getting a treat from this local producer that doesn't have a Tasting Room yet,
coming in 2019 we hope.

New to the scene

            Super treat, local bubbles since 1883 I believe. This is a beautiful property to visit.

 Seaside Metal Oysters with your Bubbles.
 We like the fact that some of our local wine club members joined in the festivities today.

And we had local talent 'The Thugz' performing.

 Hiding from the 5 minute rain that snuck up on us and Thankfully went away and the sun came out.

Pat's Restaurant made a great appearance with their KFC, Korean Fired Chicken. Although currently closed for some remodeling, the reopening will be anticipated by locals for this favorite treat. And the history of Pat's Restaurant goes back along way

Our neighbor up the street Redcar Winery.
 Fairly new to the neighborhood, Scoop of Sonoma, ice cream, yes please.
This is a popular stop rain or shine

There was so much more to this great Event Spring Fling. El Barrio tacos, Cape Fear shrimp and grits, Twist Eatery smoked salmon cheesecake, Main Street Pizza. Woodenhead wines, Sheldon, Moshin Winery, Landmark wines, Fort Ross Winery and yes Paul Mathew was pouring three wines.

Look for this event in 2019, it's bound to get better each year!

Friday, March 30, 2018

CA Artisan Cheese Festival  - March 23 - 25, 2018

We have attended this event since the start, 12 years ago. It just keeps getting better and better.

For the first time, this event moved to Santa Rosa. More space, more parking, more central. We think it was a great move.

Friday evening, best bites competition starts it off for us. We had three wines ready to pour and pair. Before the crowds, I headed out to get some photos and taste.

This is such a nice sight, 3 wheels piled high of Pt. Reyes Blue. Love this cheese

Big boy blue has been a favorite in the past. We don't see it often locally, coming from South West Washington.

A new local cheese that has set up at the Barlow. Taken from a traditional English cheese style.
I will be visiting them very soon.
2nd Place by the judges: Sara Payne of Whole Foods Market, Napa
Big McKinley’s Apple Pie Bite with a Kick: Pie Crust Cracker base baked with Apple Crumble Topping, Pink Lady Sliced Apple, Caramel Infused Honey, Wm Cofield Cheesemakers Big McKinley Clothbound, Habanero Honey Drizzle
I liked it but wouldn't have ranked it as high

One of my favorite bites, anything with lemon zest...

I love the signage. The only salad bite of the night.
The Sierra Nevada Bellacapra goat cheese, tasty, firm

The winning bite voted by the judges...
1st Place: Chris Stone of Nugget Market
Bite: Fiscalini Cheese Co. Lionza on a slice of Olympia Provisions Chorizo Salami,
with a brûlée of Kelly's Jelly Marionberry Habanero Jelly

There was even cheese cones

Voted by the guests. I didn't try it because it was dessert. Not good for our wine.
Best Chef: Moustache Baked Goods, Healdsburg
Bite: Earl Grey Financier Bite with Fig & Date Butter and Beehive’s “Teahive” Cheese

Another of my personal fav's, Cousteaux Bakery: Brioche bun with egg salad top with
 Pt. Reyes, so good.

 Cypress Grove is awesome goat cheese producer in Humboldt County, north of us 3 hours. They had brulee cheese, which was really good. We use these cheeses a lot at home and for events.

A la Heart Catering, who did our wedding years ago, had beautiful cheese croquettes. So yummy.

 Another tasting treat although the cheese did not showcase.
 This display was well done. The lemons brought me in and the Rustic Bakery shortbread kept me coming back. Great combo.
 This next one was superb, topped with passionfruit and mint gellee
 Stuffed peppers on a crostini, nice balanced flavors.

Right behind our station and I never got the cheese name but this was a great idea and so good but not so much with wine. Cheese soaked in honey and coated with pistachio nuts. What a fun bite.
  A super great show from the Cheese Mongers! I wish I could have tasted all of the bites with the perfect wine. If you're a fan of cheese, put this event on your calendar for 2019.