Friday, December 12, 2014

December Celebration  Dec. 7, 2014

This eighth annual Celebration is one of our favorite events of the year. We are so lucky to feature the chef of former Mosaic Restaurant from Forestville, Tai Olesky.

The evening reception in itself is special: we pour all the 2013 newly bottled Pinot Noirs. These wines won't release for 10 months to 16 months from now. Upon entering, a welcome taste and palate prepper of the 2013 Chardonnay is the 1st wine of the night, which just released Dec. 1st.
A perfect accompaniment to the mussel soup being passed. A rich blended and creamless bisque like shot glass on a Fall evening.

The guest are seated at 7pm in the Tasting Room that has been transformed into a dining room. The only reminence of the room is the bar and wines. A long table seating twenty people is laid with burgundy glasses and silverware.

Our 1st course of the evening, a beautiful chestnut soup. So good, licking the bowl was discussed.
Two wines to pair, our 2010 Chardonnay and 2007 Horseshoe Bend Pinot Noir. They both went well although the Chardonnay in itself was showing so well, people were drawn to it.

Next up, a crab salad accompanied by Satsuma, heart of Palm and Blood Orange Puree . Two Pinot Noirs to pair, both from the 2006 Vintage, Ruxton Vineyard and TNT Vineyard.

The infamous mushroom dish from Mosaic days followed. This dish won the hearts of the consumers then and tonight was no different. For the guests that remembered this dish, it's a main reason for coming tonight. And the guests that missed out after the Restaurant closing in 2009, were thrilled to get a taste of the past. Served with grilled Nightengale baguette and Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam, the warm combination of local mushrooms sautéed in a hot pan with madera, herbs and cream. What's not to like. It's hard to share this dish as it was served family style. Paired with 2 Pinot Noir's, one from 2008, Horsehoe Bend Vineyard and the second out of magnum from 2010, our Russian River Valley blend.

The main course, braised lamb served with polenta and more two Pinot Noirs. This time both from 2009 vintage, TNT Vineyard and Ruston Vineyard. The rivalry between Mat's and my favorite vineyard's ruled the conversation. Ruxton is typically our lamb pairing although tonight due to the preparation and influence of polenta, the TNT won the best pairing.

A finale of petit fors from Patisserie Angelica and the introduction of the chef and his team providing the plates received a standing ovation. The consensus from the full bellied crowd was that they require the 1st notification of next years event date.

Another fun filled evening of food and wine "ala"' Paul Mathew Vineyards wines. We are so lucky to not just to have such fine wines but great friends to share them with.

Thank you to Susan Adler photography for supplying such quality shots to reflect back.

Friday, November 7, 2014

October 2014              OYSTER HEAVEN

Our final Foodie Seminar for 2014 was a great consumption and success!

I started out the morning with a coffee "to go" for the drive to the coast. A beautiful Fall morning with the sun shining and oysters in my future. I was not alone at the entrance of Hog Island that day. The few of us with BIG oyster plans were anxiously awaiting our Oyster alotments, coolers ready filled with ice. Mat G. thriftly shucked a few samples and just like that, instant gratification. What a way to start this fun day!

We had a chef assist for the evening of six different oyster preparations. A lot of shucking experience is needed with this line up. And so it began...

1. Raw Oysters on the half shell with raspberry mignonette
2. Oyster Stew
3. BBQ Oysters ( Hog Islands recipe )
4. Oysters Rockafeller
5. Flash fried oysters with sriracha aioli
6. Oyster pattie ( similar to Vol au Vent )

We were all in good company, knowing that anything oyster was game. No questions, no holds, no dietary concerns. Shuck'em, suck'em, eat them hole was the motto.

We focused on 4 wines for the evening of pairings: 2013 Rose' of Pinot, 2011 Chardonnay, 2013 Valdiguie and 2011 TNT Pinot Noir.

The pairing winners were as follows:

1. Raw with Rasp mignonette - 60% Rose',  due to the Mignonette, Chardonnay was #2 pick
2. Stew - 75% liked the Valdiguie best, 25% Chardonnay - No on the Rose'
3. BBQ Oysters = 98% Pinot Noir, one person voted for Chardonnay and one also for Valdiguie
4. Rockefeller - Now this pairing was very pleasant with each wine. We had a 33% tie for each    
          Chardonnay, Valdiguie and Pinot Noir
5. Fried Oyster was favored 50 / 50 between Valdiguie and Pinot Noir
6. Oyster Pattie : once again great pairing with each of the Chardonnay, Valdiguie and Pinot.


We rarely have multiple ties but, this evening was a real surprise to many. The Valdiguie won or tied with Pinot Noir on 4  different courses. I consistently expect to see Pinot lead in many cases and this evening was a different experience. The one course of BBQ oysters was the obvious Pinot pairing winner, expected but the rockefeller could have won and didn't. If you are not familiar with the Valdiguie grape, it is no surprise. With less the 1% of  this grape planted in Sonoma County, very few Wineries produce it. We have been bottling this fun varietal for 10 years and spreading the word.

The consensus for this fine oyster filled evening was that, if you love Oysters, you love them prepared any style.

What we learn from these fun and interactive evenings is that one needs to try different wines and think outside the box. With many years of pairing experience, it never ceases to thrill me to discover new flavors and pairings.  Mat and are always happy to share our love of Food and Wine. It is an endless good thing!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sept. 27,  2014          Tomato Talk with Michele Anna Jordan

We all LOVE Tomato season in Sonoma County! So many friends grow them and share them. It's wonderful to be the receiver of a box of these colorful treats.

The local menu's flourish with tomato talk in September and why not, we have an abundance of them and chef's to prove their worth.

Tomato Talk for our Sept. Foodie Seminar was perfect in many ways. Michele Anna Jordan, our local Food Writer was available to share her stories, her recipes and prepare samples.
We had four different plates: Golden Gazpacho, Tomato and Burrata, BLT on a skewer and Warm Tomato Vinaigrette on pasta.

Our usual set up, multiple glassware for each person to taste every course with a selection of  wines. And then we share our results.
Course One: Golden Tomato Gazpacho with a Skordalia
                     (coated Crostini with a wonderful greek paste)

We focused on Rose' of Pinot, Chardonnay and Valdiguie. There was a great response to the Rose' and chardonnay as expected. It seems that people who like a certain wines will always like it with food.

Rose' has acquired a huge fan base, old and young. Never liked it, never tried it, use to hate, now LOVE it, it's great. As a long time lover of Rose, I find it pleasantly humorous when people are surprised how much they like our Rose'.

The actual pairing with the gazpacho was across the board equal, everyone enjoyed the Rose' , Chardonnay and Valdiguie with it. Personally I liked the chardonnay hands down and I was surprised, I expected to be Rose' all the way.

Next up, Tomato / Burrata. A favorite dish of simplicity, authenticity and purity.

The pairing continued:
#1 - 90% Chardonnay
#2 - Rose' with Tomatoes ONLY
Valdiguie was the favorite by 2 guests

The pleasant smell of bacon arrives and the quote of the evening "every dish gets better with bacon".
or " Add bacon to any dish and then it goes with Pinot ". Bacon has become cult status! Where and who you get it from is a common discussion ( as I await a pork belly dish ), Yes, the BLT done every which way tonite is grilled on a skewer. In reality there is no "L" lettuce, one of my favorite components. But, there is bacon, tomato and bread.

This dish is interesting, nobody commented on what I thought: each bite is limited to each bite, there is not a blend of components. I like this idea of BLT for social situations but not to discuss wine pairing. The group never commented on this so, I kept it to myself. They voted and I listened. Here is what they said...
#1  - Pinot Noir / Cab Franc   50% / 50%

The last course was a fresh pasta served with Warm Tomato Vinaigrette recipe link below. This was an excellent example of beautiful simplicity of Tomatoes ( there is no photo). The flavor pairing had less components to influence but yet the group was successfully divided.

#1 - Cab Franc 70%
#2 - Pinot Noir 20%
#3 - Valdiguie 10%

Although there is no conclusion of the evening, other than we all love tomatoes and wine and Michele Anna Jordan is the prefect advocate of both, we had another wonderful night of food and wine.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 23, 2014

Nutrition and Vegetarian with Chef Alaina Barron

The inspiration for this evening derived from all the vegetables that we receive from friends gardens at this time of year.

What to do, needing ideas and Chef Alaina's life journey has focused on cooking and serving vegetarian dishes with a strong focus on nutrition.  Who doesn't need a little lesson on nutrition while eating great food paired with wonderful wines?

The three courses served with three wines to compare:

1) Lettuce wrap
2) Quinoa stuffed avocados
3) Cauliflower Burgers

1) 2013 Rose' of Pinot Noir
2) 2011 Chardonnay
3) 2012 RRV Pinot

With a full group of partakers in this evening, we delved into each course tasting all three wines one course at a time.
The start was amazing. So much flavor in the dish and each wine enhanced a different ingredient. The group was evenly divided into thirds. Devotees of Pinot will rarely budge and so, 30% of the group liked Pinot best. A third of the table were thrilled at the chardonnay pairing and Mat and I alongside the remaining 30% felt the Rose' won hands down. The citrus bounced with the walnut ingredient.
What a fun dish to eat with so many flavors and apparently easy to prepare. A very social course and obviously versatile with the wine pairing response. Could easily be served family style.

Next up, the avocado with quinoa. This very colorful dish could be served as a side dish to Chicken or Fish. The group was divided in two for the best wine pairing, 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot.
My thought was there are so many flavor combinations that it didn't really work perfect with any wine. I would classically put Chardonnay or Viognier with avocado but the quinao's nutty character could be thought of as perfect for light reds. I would like to try this dish again with Sparkling wine, vermentino or many other wines, just a thought.

The third course was an impressive Cauliflower cake that resembled a crab cake and could easily be transformed into a Cauliflower and crab cake. There was a clear wine pairing winner with this wonderfully textured dish, Chardonnay. With an ingredient of capers, Chardonnay was the most successful collaborating profile. Pinot came in second with the Rose' last. One guest commented that the Chardonnay pairing tied them up and held them hostage. This dish won many hearts for the presentation and impressive flavors. Who thought cauliflower could be so good.

We did discuss the amazing benefits of eating many of the ingredients. Quinoa being a "super food" Gluten free and high protein. Walnuts being a brain food that assists with keeping our mind sharp. Mushrooms have selenium that help prevent cancer. Cauliflower has Vitamin C. This is just an example of the benefits from adding these ingredients into your diet. Of course wine in moderation after you discover the perfect pairing after several samplings.

The consensus of this fun evening of nutrition and vegetarian cuisine, we didn't feel the need for meat as each dish was so fulfilling and flavorful. None of us are vegetarians but happy to include more meals that omit meat for the health benefits.

Chef Alaina is available and happy to do private dinner parties and share her passion and knowledge of vegetarian cuisine. "Inspired food to inspire health "

Thursday, July 17, 2014

JULY 2014

PINK Party - all Rose' wines and the foods to pair

Rose's are an interesting topic. Great for summer, hors d'oeurves, pre dinner, sunsets, picnics, brunch... I could go on for ever.  We've been fans for decades.

So many people are uncertain about Rose's, mostly because of style. Our Rose' is 100% Pinot Noir made from the Saignee method of bleeding small amounts of juice from the Pinot Noir within the first hour of going into tank. There is also a small amount that drips off the sorting table added.

We process the juice in stainless steel to retain all the natural acidity. Our Rose' is just off bone dry.
I like high acid bone dry but as it turns out our customers like just a touch of natural sweet.

For our Rose' seminar, we decided to show three rose's. Two still wines from: one from the current Vintage 2013 and the other from 2012. In the process of our growth, Mat & I, huge fans of sparkling wine, are now producing a Brut Rose'. We did a trial year which was not disgorged and no dosage added. It is a bone dry sparkling, this was the third wine of the evening.

As per our usual set up for the Foodie Seminars, each guest has 3 glasses lined up in front with the three different wines. And then each course is introduced individually for everyone to taste with each wine. The line up of  food pairings for this Rose' evening is as follows:

We picked the classic raw oysters on the half shell with a Raspberry mignonette to start.

Second course, Smoked Salmon Mousse

Third course - Mediteranean Frittata

Fourth course - Strawberry and Goat Cheese Sandwich

The results of favorite pairings is always so much fun. To see how people discover something surprising and new to them. How much this attention to pairing can enhance all your dining pleasure.

The favorite wine of the night was our Sparkling Rose, not for sale. Our 2012 Brut Rose will release sometime in 2015. Still needs to complete second fermentation, disgorge...

1) Oysters - 70% liked the Sparkling best
2) Salmon Mousse - 2013 Rose' won the next pairing with 2012 coming in 2nd
3) Frittata - 2013 Rose' won this also, Sparkling 2nd and then 2012.
      It was discussed that depending on the bite each wine had it's opportunity.
4) Strawberry / goat cheese Sandwich - 2013 won again Although Sparkiling and 2012 were tied closely for 2nd.

We all chatted about how each Rose' had a relavence to each dish and the dish was enhanced from each wine differently. How much food changes wine and vice versa.

Another fun night!

We finished with fresh strawberries served with shaved bitter sweet chocolate.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 7th, 2014

Slider Party

We were invited to a friendly slider party competition. The invitation read that almost anything was game as long as there was 2 outsides and an inside. A wine pairing with the dish was part of the rules.

Mat set off to try several ideas. Starting with a long list of 10 different protein ideas, we crossed off 50% for several reasons and began sampling ideas. We tried an Oyster poor boy, roast duck with cherry sauce, a chicken wing slider and a filet with cambazola, which is what we ended up doing.

The night was to be organized by the group in terms of 1st course and following by intensity. We offered ours to be last except for dessert which there was one.

The day of the last couple to arrive blew us all away, knowing they'd present 1st, they came complete, plated, trayed, cold sparkling and beautiful. WOW, what a start!

Scallop Slider with cold slaw paired with Brut Rose'

The 2nd team started prepping and grilling moments after we all bounced back by the bar set from the team one.

Salmon with fruit salad and another sparkling was served. The pairing was spectacular and the champagne alone was wonderful, who needs food? Well, it was another great pairing.

We were off to such an impressive start the conversation was lost on the intensity of the competition.

Up next was our team of gracious hosts. Seared tuna with a ginger wasabi slaw paired with Pinot.
We had moved inside at this point and the sky had turned to dusk. The plates were placed, wine was poured and the lights became dim.
The coolest thing about each transition of course, the wine pairing appropriately grew. We all love Pinot Noir and this pairing worked so great with wasabi and ginger going head to head with the Pinot. It worked!

With bellies getting full, Mat stepped up to the grill with his onions carmelized, filet grilled and the Nightengale bread ready to plate. Main course is served with Paul Mathew Cab Franc. I must say after three seafood courses the filet was a welcome change. Intense and worthy.

Our final team, not as foodie centric as the rest of the group, did the finale justice! Right from the current Sunset Magazine pages, a vanilla ice cream sandwich with fresh blueberries and plated to perfection. Served with late harvest Sauvignon Blanc and class!

 Team 5 did make a wonderful finish to a spectacular evening of friendly competition. It was decided that everyone was a winner and we all were worthy of an award which the host so graciously gave.

My personal opinion was the same although, I do offer my personal awards:
Team 1 - best presentation
Team 2 - best side
Team 3 - best pairing
Team 4 - best slider
Team 5 - best service

And voila, are you jealous? Hire us to entertain you!
West County Supper Club

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 17th
Freestone Artisan Cheese and Paul Mathew Wines

Omar is such a delight to listen to, owner and cheese monger of Freestone Artisan Cheese. His cheese chatter is entertaining and insightful.

The selection of cheeses for this evenings tasting ran the full range, all local plus one from Wisconsin. Sheep, cow and goat were all present. Soft, gooey, semi and hard, all represented as well. To pair, we poured 2013 Rose' of Pinot, 2011 Chardonnay, 2012 Valdiguie and 2011 RRV Pinot.
The toughest job was to keep the crowd focused and get through tasting each cheese with each wine.

We did it!!!!!  The results are fascinating. The real truth is cheese is a very difficult subject for wine pairings, many don't work. My rule of thumb, where it's made. ie: Sancerre ( sauvignon blanc ) and goat cheese. We don't make a SB, so the closest, our 2013 Rose' of Pinot. Stainless steel fermentation, dry and crisp. Yet, this didn't really work with the goat cheese but the Pinot Noir did. We're not in France. The rules don't really apply because in CA all the cheeses are made in Sonoma / Marin Counties from all different milks. And our Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays and Pinot Noir styles run a full range as well. So, here are the results from out tasting....

Pugs Leap ( goat ) - semi soft. Went OK with Rose' which was expected to go best. Chardonnay was the favorite pairing with this cheese.
The Bomb by Bohemian Creamery ( cow ) - Rose' was the winning pair although Pinot came in second.
Gypsy ( goat ) - Non were great/ all were OK. The cheese was FAB!
Weirauch ( cow ) - What a wonderful cheese! We agreed that the wines were once again all OK but
Pepato, Bethweather ( sheep ) - One of the favorite cheeses and well paired with Pinot
Marissa from Wisconsin ( Sheep ) - Hard cheese that did pretty well with the Pinot. Mat G. liked it with the Rose' too.
Camembert - yummy, creamy not so great with any wine but wonderful with Nightengale Baguette!!!

The greatest quote of the night "Wine and cheese are two Diva's struggling for the title". Thank you Omar for enlightening us with fabulous cheese and some great cheese banter.

Never stop tasting cheese and wine or wine and cheese, whichever way you prefer to view it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

March 2014  Cheese, cheese & more cheese talk

We kicked off the 8th Annual Artisan Cheese Festival with our sold out "Foodie Seminar" featuring
'Mac & Cheese' by Laura Werlin.

Four recipes from the book were tasted one at a time with a line up of Paul Mathew wines.
We enjoy the discussion more than anything, as every time new pairings, surprising pairings and group conclusions never seize to amuse.

We started with a big winner from page 42, Truffle, cream and mushroom

#2. South of the border, page 127 - a surprising winner for me.

#3. Sonoma mac & cheese, page 33, which is loaded with our fabulous local cheeses.

#4. Cheddar, bacon and roast tomatoes page 16.

The results are usually divided but a group consensus verses my personal choice. So I give you both.

The line up of wines were Rose' of Pinot 2013, 2011 Chardonnay, 2012 Valdiguie and RRV Pinot 2011. We added a Cab Franc taste with the final recipe for fun.

Truffle, cream and mushroom was the over all winning recipe and the group decided that the dish went with ALL the wines, excluding cab franc which we did not taste. The rich combination of truffle and locally sourced mushrooms would be expected for Pinot Noir. The Rose' and chardonnay tied first place for me although much of the group liked the Valdiguie best. Agree to agree that there was not a bad pairing.

South of the border was the real thrill for me. A green tomatillo influenced dish that I loved with our Chardonnay and Rose'. A perfect summer dish which I don't usually associate with mac and cheese.
And then the die hard Valdiguie fans would not budge on this favorite pairing.

Sonoma mac and cheese influenced by Pt. Reyes Toma and Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam is so rich and wonderful. A true mac and cheese lovers recipe. Valdiguie was the #1 pick for wine pairing and then there was me solidly sold on Chardonnay. This is amazing because I am truly not a Chardonnay grape fan but I am a fan of perfect pairings.

Cheddar, bacon and roast tomatoes changed things up. The addition of meat brought on the Cab Franc taste which tied 50/50 with the Pinot. Group consensus, no seperaters on this.

All in all, another fun filled night of food and wine banter.

And then Friday, Saturday & Sunday Artisan Cheese Festival fun...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    Winter Wine Land

Our 1st official Winter Wine Land was a huge success!

We featured 2 local products paired with Paul Mathew wines.
Redwood Hills cheeses, Chili Chevre, Crottin & aged Cheddar.
Plus Earth Bounty Chardonnay onion jam.
The pairings were as follows:
                 2012 Chardonnay, Weeks Vineyard - Crottin & onion jam
                 2011 Pinot Noir, TNT Vineyard - aged Cheddar
                 2012 Cab Franc, Alegria Vineyard - Chili Chevre

People responded so well to the pairings and it was fun focusing on local products that we believe in.

These products can be purchased locally as well in our Tasting Room.

This was the kick off to our Tasting Room stocking 'picnic foods' in our new fridge.
You nay come by for a tasting and stay for a picnic. No need to stop on your way.

Winter Wine Land was a beautiful sunny January that more resembled Spring in Graton than Winter.
So it was kind of a Spring Wine Land in Graton and our backyard.