Thursday, December 29, 2016

December 2016


As soon as we start getting any rain in West Sonoma, we are anxious to see mushrooms growing.

A fair amount of rain is needed to saturate into the very dry ground after months of summer warmth. This has been a great season so far. A few of the recent years the drought has made a huge impact with little mushrooms to be found or picked.

This Fall started well with the porcini's. This is a meaty mushroom and a favorite to many. I find them not as versatile.

After the Porcini season is up and running, we start looking for black trumpets. I find these easy to locate as they are often on the sides of roads and trails and don't take as much scouring the ground. Plus they often appear in beautiful bouquets and large mass. These are wonderful on pizza with just a little herb's and cheese. The less you add the more of the trumpet flavor there is. One of my favorites!

Harder to find and so delicate, the belly button hedgehog's. Another beautiful mushroom with flavor that should not be masked. Great in risotto. Another favorite of mine!!!

The more famous big brother, the Chanterelles. We have had some incredible harvests of white and less of gold. They can grow big enough to a pound in weight. Years passed that we hardly found any, but this 2016 Winter has been very solid so far.

 Once you've recovered from the excitement of finding all these wonderful mushrooms, the hard part comes. Cleaning is a chore. To make it easier, you should remove as much dirt, foliage and leaves as you can while out in the forest. Keep Hedgehogs separate as the teeth are difficult to get dirt out of.
For the black trumpets, we use a salad spinner, soak and spin a few times.

And the best part really is the eating enjoyment but, you need a good chef and worthy recipes.
Risotto's, Lasagna, pizza and potatoes are all perfect vessels to allow the delicate flavors to shine.

Here are a couple

Our Annual mushroom Foray for our wine club is extremely popular, selling out months in advance.
The group has always enjoyed the camaraderie of the hunt as much as the lunch, wine and of course the mushrooms.
Happy hunting, cooking and enjoying.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December Celebration 2016 - Sunday Dec. 4th

Our 8th Annual Celebration Dinner happens once again with great company, a fabulous pig roast and a lot of magnums of Paul Mathew Wines.

We started this cold evening with 3 magnums, 2 cheeses and hot butternut squash soup.
The magnums were 2007 Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, 2002 RRV Pinot and 2006 RRV Pinot.
Guests of the evening were thrilled by the 2007 Chardonnay. A gold rich wine with great creamed corn, buttered nuttiness and wonderful apple flavors. The 2 Pinot's were showing well with many more magnums to come for the evening.

Throughout the year visitors to our tasting room ooh and ahh at our dining room. The tables, the chalk board wall and the art that fills the chalk board by Iva Hladis. We use it often but only our attendees see it in action.

Toma cheese from Pt. Reyes is a favorite. Rich and mild at the same time, perfect to pair with our
wines. We also served ewephoria which is an excellent cheese with Pinot's.

Butternut squash soup with a dribble of truffle olive oil warmed the hands and the tummy.

Guests sat down to our redwood plank tables filled with of glasses and platters of prosciutto and burrata to pair with our 2013 Brut Rose'. The celebrating begins here.

Greens of arugula with hazelnuts and blue cheese

From here we went into 6 magnums from various vintages Chardonnay and mostly Pinot Noir.
Root vegetable salad, cauliflower macNcheese and the high light a whole roasted pig.

The four Pinot's we served from 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 were all sourced from different sites. The 2009 Horseshoe is a show stopper but the 2010 TNT and 2012 Bohemian won out for pairing best with the pork and persimmon agro dolce chutney.
The best shot of the evening....

The end of 2016 is very bitter sweet. The end of Obama era and to the unknown 2017. We celebrated to life, love and enjoying food and wine. We will always have that.

Monday, November 28, 2016

November 2016
CRAB Season in Sonoma County  

We love crab and our season usually starts right around thanksgiving. It is a common tradition for locals to celebrate the first of the crab season for thanksgiving before the turkey. We are right along with this tradition.

There are so many different ways to prepare crab and we love to try them all. Also very fun to pair different wines which we recommend.

Mat's favorite recipe is very popular, roast crab. We'll have it 4 or 5 times in the first few weeks before we start trying other's.

 Chilled crab with delish sauce ( mayo, meyer lemon, lemon zest ) great with Sauvignon blanc and Brut Rose'.
Roast crab ( recipes on the web site ) Crab lightly cooked tossed with chili flakes, garlic, thyme, fennel and olive oil. Pairs really well with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and good Riesling. I would lean towards a pinot that is lighter with less earth notes, higher acid and bright fruits.
 Crab Timbale combines the crab with scallions, jalepeno, red pepper, avocado and mayo. We enjoy the Brut Rose' or Sancerre.

Tortilla chip with crab mix and guacamole paired with Chardonnay.

On this wonderful start to the 2016 season, Mat was invited to go out to off the coast at Bodega to catch crabs. This opportunity is such a thrill hauling the max per person, 10 Dungeness crabs.

A friend purchased an auction item at a local fundraiser for 15 live crabs which we agreed to co host the last Sunday.

What a delicious gift from our ocean.  A very social food, great to pair with many wines and so many great recipes to try. We will continue to search, taste and pair.

Friday, October 7, 2016

 Sept. 2016            

 Pinot, Pinot and more about Pinot

As we do for many months of each year, we discuss, taste and share a product of focus. Yes, this beautiful month of harvest we reflected on Pinot Noir.

Our first ever Library Tasting and Sale offered for a weekend in September and the following weekend , a sit down tasting of five vintages and food to pair.

The Library sale was a huge success as many of our fans don't have the room or experience with cellaring wine in hopes of a great return in flavor.
We offered ten wines from 2005, 2006, 2007 and the 2008 vintages. We had a wide range of favorites!
Some smaller lots sold out quickly and a few larger lots we still have some remaining. Nothing too much left as  we only hold back 10 cases each year and the amount gets dwindled away through the years.

So many of our guests were really thrilled to see a ten year old Pinot tasting so wonderful.

The Dinner the following weekend focused on all TNT Vineyard. We started with the 2006 to taste and then moved into all four vintages 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 with a five course pairing dinner.
2009 and 2012 wines come from a fairly warm vintage, the wines are still tasting full while the 2010 and 2011 vintages are  more on the elegant side.

We love curry with Pinot so, the first course the chef created a curry vegetable pizza with goat cheese. the 2010 TnT Pinot was the favored wine with the 2009 coming in 2nd.

Second course was a pasta with fresh wild mushrooms and a light gorgonzola sauce, surprisingly great with the wines. I was certain the boldest of the Pinot's would be best to cut through the richness but in fact the 2010 won the best pairing wine. ( sorry no photo )

Next up, classic Pinot pairing Duck Confit from our local farmer Liberty Farms. Rich and beautiful duck cook in it's own juices, so good with Pinot. The winner of this evening was the 2009.

 Pork Loin with a Pinot reduction sauce and Faro salad. Without the sauce this dish pairs with a lot of wines. But, the Pinot reduction brought the fruit component to match. The 2010, 2011 and 2012 were all favorites paired with this dish.

We finished the evening with a rare favorite that yes, does go with pinot. We discovered this years ago with our friends Ali and Jim. She is a great home baker and loves to perfect a recipe. Through a lot of taste testing we found the Russian Tea cookies filled with Raspberry jam pairs with Pinot. What a great way to finish a Pinot focused dinner.

The favorite dish of the evening was the Duck Confit and pasta with mushroom sauce second.
The favorite wine of the night was a tie between 2009 and 2010. This just reirates our constant need to taste and talk about what we're eating and drinking and pairing. It's just so much fun too!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

August 13, 2016

                               Celebrating the Gravenstein Apple

This month our featured food product is the Gravenstein Apple. What fun to see the trucks pass the tasting room with loads of these wonderful mostly green with red stripe fruits being transported.

The Annual Gravenstein Apple Fair falls on this weekend as well. A fun family fair full of apple opportunities, arts and music.

We here focus on foods that will pair with our wines. And we follow up by explaining what really did pair best from the groups evening of samples. The dishes prepared are all from the Farm Trails "Apple Cook Book ' which is a collection of recipes from the Fair's competitions over the years, the participating farmers and the Farm Trail team. A really nice collection of sweet and savory recipes.
We are featuring the savory....

#1 Belgian Endive stuffed with apple, goat cheese and walnuts. This was my personal favorite course, I will prepare this for a party or 1st course in the future. Light and flavorful, easy to make. A nice blend of ingredients placed in a endive cup. The wine pairings were really fun too, the winning pairing was our 2013 Chardonnay with Brut Rose' coming in second.

Chardonnay pulled chicken sliders with Gravenstein Apple slaw. What's not to love with this spicy and probably healthier that most sliders. The crunchy apple slaw makes it extra special.
We tasted four wines and unanimously our 2013 Bohemian Vineyard Pinot Noir won. All the wines were enjoyed with this course.

Apple Risotto, what a treat and unique dish. The risotto was made with apple juice instead of stock and chunks of apple. We discussed how great it would be as a side to grilled pork or seared scallops. The wine pairing was a real mix, the Gewurztraminer, Valdiguie and Pinot Noir were evenly enjoyed by the group. There was no single winner. That's not so common.

Braised Duck  with Apple and Cabbage, the favorite course of the evening and favored with our very special Bohemian Vineyard Pinot noir.

Filo Triangles with Gravenstein Chutney and Cheddar, also tried blue cheese. What a fun food and wine pairing! Both the Brut Rose' and the 2012 Syrah were fabulous! A great finish to a flavorful dining experience.

A special addition, our Forestville Bakery, Nightengale, Gravenstein Bread which is a special made only once a year. We all loved this savory bread and will be excited for it's return next August.

Any of these recipes can be requested but we will only add a couple of them to our recipe page.

The #1 take away was the versatility of the apple ingredient. The array of wines that worked. Another very nice food and wine learning experience.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Saturday June 25th, 2016

Oyster Heaven Foodie Seminar

Definitely one of our favorite foods to prepare, eat and pair. So many different ways to cook these wonderful morsels and we did many.

400 oysters, 15 people, 2 shuckers and a lot of wine: makes for a very fun night of pairing.
We had 3 different mignonette's: Hogwash, Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn that was finished with our Brut Rose'.
Not surprising, the Brut Rose' wine was chosen best pairing and the Hogwash was the favorite with the pink peppercorn second.

On the grill BBQ oysters are amazing with wine, which wine was the winner?
Valdiguie, yes it was #1 pairing.
I recommend you try it. Next visit to Hog Island Farm take one with you!
We did grilled in the shell oysters with a garlic, butter, parsley and chardonnay sauce. The nightingale bread was so great to soak up the sauce! And the #1 pairing was Chardonnay. Our 2013 Chardonnay is elegant and bright with a delicate oak influence and a perfect food pairing due to the apparent acidity level and lower alcohol.

Chowdered, rich and creamy with plump poached oysters was next, I thought the Chardonnay would be the best pairing but preferred Brut Rose'. The group consensus was the Chardonnay, although it was a really mixed response. The RRV Pinot and Valdiguie were favored by many.

The next oyster prep was ' The Real Oysters Rockefeller ' from the Hog Island Oyster Lovers Cookbook. Scrumpcious and rich with no photo and favored by all with our 2012 Ruxton Pinot. It was a extra special treat that we had a Ruxton Family member at the table too!

Fried oyster is dessert for oyster lovers! Fullfilling does not describe these but after a meal of many oysters and a full belly, it is easy to finish with a few of these. We had 2 sauces, siracha mayo and a Meyer Lemon aioli, oh so good. No wine needed really but the Brut Rose' was pretty darn good to clean the palate!

At the end of this beautiful West Sonoma County warm Summer evening, the backyard and the fountain were a perfect closer. A little bit more Pinot Noir, stretch the legs and a great day done.

The chef needs a break, off to MI he goes until the next time.