Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December Celebration 2015

Every year we hold a special dinner for our Wine Club featuring all library wines with a multi course paired dinner. This yeas we had an extra special twist, our newly released Brut Rose'.

For this evening, our tasting room becomes a dining room seating 40 guests. A team of chef's work all day and the service team arrives at 4 to set the tables.

The menu has been planned out for weeks starting with a caviar dollop on a potato chip paired with the sparkling wine.

Next is a delicious mussel soup with our 2011 Chardonnay, a perfect combination. A very rich cream soup with a strong essence of mussel with an austere chardonnay, very well paired.

Lobster in puff pastry paired with our 2007 Chardonnay from magnum. Both were spectacular and together even better!

A salad of winter greens, pomegranate with Redwood Hills Chevre paired 2 wines. Mat picked the 2012 Bohemian Pinot, the only non library wine of the dinner and I picked our 2014 Rose' of Pinot.

"Mosaic Mushrooms" are next up and very popular from the chef's former restaurant days. A combination of sautéed local mushrooms alongside cowgirl creamery Mt. Tam triple cream and grilled Nightengale Baguette. An oh so rich and wonderful dish paired with 2 wines.
2006 and 2007 TNT Vineyard Pinot to accompany this course.

Liberty Farm Duck confit for the main course with 2 Horseshoe Bend Pinot's, from 2009 and 2010 vintages.

We finished the evening with a new local business, Fabino Baking. A trio of cakes that was a perfect finish to a fabulous evening of celebration.

 What a night, we have a year to start planning the next Annual and a year to rest.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 7th, 2015  My Dinner with Ruth Reichl

As a huge self proclaimed foodie and wine fanatic, meeting Ruth Reichl was high on my list.
In fact 1 out of 2 female mentors, I've now met the second.

I was first introduced to Ruth via Tender to the bone in 2002 by a colleague and that was it. The first book took mere hours to complete the first time. I waited on any news of something to follow. A few years past and 6 books later, multiple Gourmet Editorials and here we are. I'm having dinner with her.

What an event, probably 100 other fans, but when she spoke it was just her and I. An eloquent and humble speaker with words of experience from the heart. A lot of her life was shared in her books so I feel like I know her. Questions about her son and husband's arose from the audience, none of it excluded. Her honesty of words blanketed the audience and the flavors filled our Foodie souls.

We sat down to a treasure trough menu, all recipes from her newest book: what happens after Gourmet Magazine. She was the editor for ten years when the end was announced. And she turned to food and then turned it into a FABULOUS book. The recipes that warmed her home and heart

The three course set menu gave the page # of each recipe so you could read along while enjoying the flavors.

                                                  Butternut Squash Soup pg. 32
                                                 Broccoli Rabe Bruschetta pg.66
                                           Hummus with toasted pine nuts pg. 220

                                                 Spicy Kale  pg. 16
                                     Buttermilk Mash Potatoes pg. 15
                                     Cider-braised Pork Shoulder pg. 14
                                       Jonathan Apple Sauce pg. 90

                                       The Cake that cures Everything  pg. 63

It was so delicious and worth every bite!
The evening was a glowing success for me. Savoring every bite and every word she spoke. An amazing lady that has put her heart and soul into her career. I love it. I'll cherish this opportunity for weeks and keep the memory alive with the book.
Highly recommend this book purchase for any foodie fan in your life. Maybe you'll get a meal and an explanation of the chosen menu in return, we all have our favorites. Dotties Spinach will be one of my sides and there will be many meals inspired from Ruth's year.

Can't wait to meet her in New York for lunch!

Monday, August 31, 2015

August 29th                 Duck, Duck, Duck, no goose

A favorite protein for us and perfect with Pinot! We have duck very regularly at home in many different preparations and shared this fun with our Wine Club this past weekend.

The menu started with Duck Rillette which we love to pair with our Rose' or
our newest addition the 2014 Gewurz. 
A fun Hors D'oeuvre as guests arrived in excitement of the Duck filled night.
This Duck Rillette was made from both Roast Duck and Duck Confit. Recipe coming to our web site.
We started with a new recipe that Mat loves to do, Vietnamese Duck jerky.
The recipe comes from Charles Phan's beef jerky substituted.
A soft jerky with great texture and flavor.
We lined up 3 very different pairing wines:
2014 Rose' of Pinot, 2013 Valdiguie and 2012 TNT Vineyard Pinot Noir.
We always recommend to taste each wine before pairing, and then to taste each wine with the dish.
This snack size course is packed with flavor and the wine preference was tied between the Rose' and the Valdiguie. My personal favorite was the Valdiguie, I had tried it before and believe it really works so well together.
3rd course is the classic, Duck Confit ( Duck legs cooked and store in their own fat ).
We poured three Pinot's with very different profiles:
2009 Horseshoe Bend, 2012 Bohemian Vineyard from Freestone and 2012 TNT Vineyard.
   The Confit course was the most difficult to choose the pairing because they all were great together but the table of attendees picked the Bohemian Pinot for 1st place.

Our 4th course was my idea and it was my least successful dish. The duck did not show case as I expected even though it tasted wonderful and the tortilla through off the wines. The winning pair was with the Bohemian Pinot.

Up next, our chef of the night being from New Orleans prepared Duck Gumbo. Using a whole roast duck with the classic recipe. The flavors were amazing and really great with Pinot! all the wines were great pairings but the boldest TNT Vineyard won the pairing.

 Duck breast seared with duck fried potatoes with no surprise. Three Pinot's and unadulterated duck flavors. There was no loser with this pairing. Individuals that love the 2009 Vintage picked that one and people who love the Bohemian picked that and the TNT Vineyard had it's followers as well. The great part is enjoying a fabulously perfect seared Liberty Farms Duck Breast and the wine that does so well with it PINOT!

Lucky for us we have a Wine Club member with great talents as a pastry chef who agreed to create a Duck dessert, Yes folks, the finale was fantastic!!! And no wine, just smiles.

Another fun evening with many of our great Wine Club members. A tight squeeze to have Mat available at the start of a very early harvest, but we did it. Now the next few months are focused on Wine Club Party and the December Celebration Dinner. Our Foodie Seminars will resume next year. Stay tune for 2016 Events.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

August 2015        Harvest is here...

Our 1st vineyard to be picked every year, Ruxton, was picked Monday August 17th. The average harvest date for Ruxton Vineyard is Sept. 7th. I think the average date has just been upped a week or more.

Punch downs and cold soaking are now a daily occurrence and gone are the days of golfing and kayaking, for a few months.

2015 is showing a lot of shatter from the growing season and with the drought, these 2 facts have influenced the beginning of harvest with small crops and early ripening.

We anticipate great quality from the small clusters with a good concentration although come bottling time next summer, there will be a lot less wine. It is always interesting to see what Mother Nature tosses our way.

Monday, July 27, 2015

JULY 2015         Oyster Heaven

After a brief break from our Foodie Seminars, we came back with a favorite focus, Oysters.

Oyster lovers get a special line up of prepared oysters, starting with fresh shucked on the half shell with raspberry mignonette. Three wines lined up: our unreleased 2013 Brut Rose got a sneak preview as this is a classic pairing. We also had 2014 Rose' of Pinot and 2014 Gewurztraminer.

Our 2014 Gewurztraminer is bone dry, the newest wine added to our line up. We first show cased this wine in Spring at our Wine Club party and officially started pouring in the Tasting Room in June.
We constantly have people not interested and with a little explanation they agree to taste, next thing they purchase a bottle or two or more. This is a special "Gewurz", coming from a 40 year old vineyard, stainless steel fermented and truly a great expression of this grape. Lychee nut, Jasmine, honey with minerality. We are changing peoples opinion of this grape daily, including mine!

  This was fun to taste but the winning vote went to the Brut Rose', hands down.

Second oyster of the night was smoked oysters, yippee! I grew up with these delicious morsels direct from the can. A special treat during the Holiday season, a can placed in each of our stockings so we didn't have to share.
Mat never really appreciating my affinity for smoked oysters, " yuck, keep those away from me" he'd say when I rarely open a can any more. But he did find a recipe to prepare these for our oyster pleasure this evening. And they were splendid, agreed by all even Mat. As for the was a 50/50 tie between Gewurz & Valdiguie.

Third course, Oyster Stew with the line up of 3 wines, Rose' of Pinot, Gewurz, Valdiguie.
Chardonnay would have been another option but we do like to keep new pairings and the less expected option available and this was one. Gewurz won 1st place. The stew had fennel and mirepoix with heavy cream, garlic, spices and topped with croutons.

Next on the menu was Oyster Rockafeller. Pancetta, spinach, pernod, tarragon, bread crumbs, garlic, shallot, green onion done on the grill. We decided to remove the Gewurz from the wine option and add Pinot noir and of course this was a crowd pleaser. Although the Valdiguie took this course as best pairing.

Next up, BBQ oysters, one of my favorite. The BBQ compliments the oyster so well and goes great with wine and the oyster flavor maintains. I do love our Valdiguie with this preparation and the group voted 50 / 50 down the middle of the table, the left side picked the Valdiguie while the right side picked Pinot

For the finale, Mat was out back frying the last 50 oysters of the night. While we patiently awaited the last course, we were entertained by one of our guest, Thank you Tim!
The line up of 4 wines offered were Rose' of Pinot, Gewurz, Valdiguie and Pinot Noir.
The plate was served with an arugula Caesar and a sirachi mayo. Throwing in some additional flavors although the flavor of the fried oyster really stands above everything and enjoyed with all the wines but, #1 was Pinot Noir.

An evening of oysters, wine and friends... what could possibly disappoint, nothing!
We'd repeat this all tomorrow if it wasn't so much work.

Friday, June 5, 2015

May 25 - 28                A trip to B.C.'s Okanagan Valley

It had been years, probably 17, since I had visited the Okanagan Wine Region and Mat's 1st visit ever. With a handful of appointments at the top food spots, hotel and winemaker visits, we began our experience.

People are friendly, the area is small and a lot of recommendations are available upon request.
Our best hints were being told the Valley is a 3 hour drive from top to bottom. So, we focused on the top section of the valley our 1st day, the second day we drove down to the middle area and the third day we moved to the lowest section of the valley and finished our trip there.

Our 1st day we arrived mid afternoon and hungry, Salted Brick for lunch was perfect. Local centric, owner / operator, a nice start, seasonal fresh ingredients. And for dinner Raudz is a great addition to what I knew of as a sleepy food scene twenty years ago. Crab cappuccino and preserved lemon risotto were our favorite items but there were so many that we didn't try.

The third day, we stopped in Penticton to pick up a picnic lunch. Brodo Kitchen on main street is owned by a former Four Seasons Hotel chef that I had worked. This stop was both fun and tasty. Knowing Paul's level of experience, I knew the food would be great. We had a chance to catch up while our lunch was being prepared and packed, which was very nice. I would highly recommend Brodo Kitchen for a casual lunch, catered event or a picnic. Another great food experience in the valley for us.

Kelowna is a town of 150,000 population that increases to 500,000 in high season, so we recommend going off season to enjoy the lake front view rooms, multiple restaurants, wineries and picnic areas without crowds.

The wine country is located around the lakes, really stunningly beautiful scenery and the growth of wineries is staggering. We visited many main stays that I've known from the early days but added in many new hot spots and a couple that were just on the way. We struggled to find the perfect map until the last day. Each small region has a map but to view the entire valley, the OK Falls directory has this full map on the back.

Our high light wineries were as follows.
 #1 Blue Mountain - South of Okanagan Falls
This was on the top of my list from twenty years ago. Their sparkling wines sold out regularly and the still wines were and still are so worthy, we brought more than a case home. We tasted with the son of the founders who is the current winemaker, Matt. Each of the wines has such a classic quality without a doubt of sense of place, 100% Estate. Driving to Blue Mountain Winery also assists with this, at the top of a hill at the end of the road, well removed from everything. Wonderful!

 #2 Tantalus - Kelowna
 One of our 1st stops of the trip and we had a connection from Sonoma from a few years ago. While tasting, David the winemaker came by and ended up chatting with us for the remainder of our visit. The wines which we had never tasted were solid. We even got to taste their limited production ice wine. Small production and 100% Estate, definitely worth a visit. We bought a bottle of the Sparkling to enjoy in our hotel, which was unique, searing acid and refreshing.

 #3 Quails Gate - West Kelowna
We started with an early lunch in their restaurant over looking the lake. A lot of wineries have restaurants which is not common in CA due to the laws. Kind of backwards to me with the height of Canadian laws but, this is the only winery restaurant that we ate at.
After our lunch we met with Nikki the winemaker, she invited us into the cellar to taste barrels. We tasted through Chardonnays, Pinot's, a few Bordeaux varietals and finished with a pallet cleanser Pinot Gris. Multiple cooperages all from 2014. It is so fun to hear the trials and tribulations from the cellar perspective, which tasting rooms don't really offer and Nikki has personality plus. Winemakers bonding.

We had our last night in Osoyoos, five minutes from the American border. We opted to stay in the town and search for our final valley dinner by foot. We found a nice little wine bar style spot that
we enjoyed, Dolci Social. All local wine by the glass and small plates over looking main street.

Three days was sufficient to get a lay of the land. We enjoyed seeing yet another different wine region than the one we live in. This trip proved to be a great refresher of the Okanagan and proof that it has upped it's game in every sense.