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Save the Date! Rombauer Wine Dinner at Matteo’s Wednesday, August 5th at 6:30pm!

Matteo's Logo
Do you love Rombauer Wines as much as I do? If so, I have the event for you!

Matteo’s Pizza and Bistro’s Rombauer Wine Dinner featuring the New Release of the 2014 Chardonnay will be held on the patio at Matteo’s, Wednesday, August 5th, 2015, at 6:30 PM.

Their menu (to be served family style) was finalized just this morning and it is as follows:

Appetizers:
Bruschetta with grilled fig, whipped brie and balsamic local honey glaze

Torched Wild Salmon with white miso marinade on sesame wonton crisp

Foie gras BLT with pan-seared foie gras, basil lemon aioli, heirloom tomato and micro arugula on whole wheat walnut sourdough toast

Appetizer Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Chardonnay 2013, Carneros
Rombauer Chardonnay 2014, Carneros


First Course:
Blistered sweet corn soup in demitasse with Applewood smoked bacon shingle and harissa chili oil

First Course Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Sauvignon blanc 2014, Napa Valley


Second Course:
Pizza with shredded rabbit leg confit, braised fennel, olive oil poached tomato, Italian fontina and Dijon garlic white sauce

Second Course Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Merlot 2012, Napa Valley


Third Course:
Grilled leg of lamb and lamb crisps on baby field greens with goat cheese Parmesan, macerated stone fruit, toasted pistachio and plum mint vinaigrette

Third Course Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley


Fourth Course:
Grass fed Wagyu beef sliders with fried green tomato, house made portabello bacon, garlic aioli and cave aged blue cheese on Brioche bun served with truffle asiago shoestring fries

Fourth Course Wine Pairing:

Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Selection 2011, Napa Valley


Dessert:
Broken Banana Split: Bittersweet chocolate peanut butter terrine on berry coulis with banana foster ice cream, peanut brittle and bourbon vanilla bean whipped cream

Dessert Course Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Zinfandel 2013, Sierra Foothills/Northern California


The Rombauer Wine Dinner at Matteo’s Pizza and Bistro is $75 per person plus service charge and tax.

I had the great fortune of attending one of Matt Woolston’s multiple course dinners last year (The same creative force behind the wheel at The Supper Club Cateringwho Andy and I will be using as caterer for our reception!) and I can tell you it was incredible! (You can read about the dinner here). I’ll also be writing about the Rombauer Wine Dinner in a future blog post! :)

Reservations are required and the dinner is expected to SELL OUT, so please call 916 779-0727 or email margo at pizzamatteo.com to save your space at the table!

You can like Matteo’s on Facebook here or follow them on Twitter here.

Cochon Heritage Fire Napa’s “Meat Up” Takes Place on August 2nd!

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Heritage Fire is an annual wood-fired meat-laden feast featuring chefs and farmers working together to spotlight traditional outdoor cooking techniques.

This event takes place on Sunday, August 02, 2015 at 03:00 PM at Charles Krug Winery and features over 45 chefs + 3,000 pounds of sustainably raised, wood-fired meats! The event will also showcase over 40 wineries.

A portion of the ticket proceeds will benefit the St. Helena Farmers Market and The American Institute of Wine & Food. A group of celebrated butchers will host a Pop-Up Butcher Shop where 100% of the proceeds will benefit the students of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.

Heritage Fire features chefs and farmers working together to spotlight traditional outdoor cooking techniques paired with amazing wines, ice-cold brews, and crisp ciders. While Cochon’s flagship event, Cochon 555, brings chefs together in a friendly competition, Heritage Fire is a collection of culinary champions cooking together for a crowd of meat and wine loving gourmands. The list of heritage and heirloom foods to be featured include dry-aged beef, spit-roasted sturgeon, whole pigs, lambs, goat, lobster, squab, rabbit, duck, chicken, artisan cheese, oysters and heirloom vegetables.

“I’m passionate about promoting food sources that support a more natural, sustainable food system,” explains Brady Lowe, creator of Heritage Fire. “One event cannot change the system, but together we can celebrate the chefs and farmers who continue to tilt the scales back towards responsibly grown food.”

Tickets are $105.95 per person and are available here.

You can follow Cochon 555 and all of their events on Facebook here or on Twitter here.

We Conquered the Big Rib at the California State Fair!!

cavegrrl:

Here’s a little ditty from a few years ago!!

Originally posted on cavegrrl.com:

OMG! We conquered the big-*ss Rib Steak!! It was soooo good. We were able to order it right off the grill & medium rare without extra sauce! It costs about $16 and it feeds 2 people. It was perfect for the caveman and the cavegrrl… I am pretty sure we were the happiest couple at the fair sharing that big old hunk of meat! :)

And we landed in the wine garden (big surprise! ;)) with a mini picnic sponsored by one of my favorite food booths at the fair (conveniently located within the Wine Garden) Pignotti’s!! This year, they’re serving up my favorites again… the fruit plate, the salami plate, and the cheese plate. There’s also a meatball with pesto sauce that you should try.

Of course, we didn’t eat the bread on the plates, but I am showing you what you will get on the plate when…

View original 485 more words

My “Best of the Best” California State Fair Wine Winners

Now that the California State Fair is in full swing (July 10th-26th), and Save Mart Supermarket’s Wine Country is open for tasting, I wanted to give you a heads up on my favorite wines this year from the Winners of the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition.

Andy and I attended a media event a few weeks ago at which the 2015 Best of Show winners were announced, and here’s what we liked best:

Handley Pinot 2012 Mendocino Silver2
2012 Handley Pinot Noir (Mendocino County)
Andy and I discovered Handley Cellars at the Pinot on the River event last year in Healdsburg, and we have been buying their Pinot Noir ever since. Not a shock to see them win an award. They took silver for the pinot noir pictured above and their 2013 Anderson Valley Gewürtztraminer pictured below. Congrats to a well-deserving winery!

Handley 2013 Gewurtz Silver

Gold Hill Rose
The Rosé of Barbera pictured above from Gold Hill Vineyard took Best of Show Pink DOUBLE Gold 98. If you remember a few years ago, I told you it was hip to drink rosé, and I chose some of my favorites at Total Wine. You can read those picks here. If I were to rewrite my list of summer sippers this year, the 2014 Gold Hill Barbera Rosato would be one to buy!

 

Zucca 2014 Rose
Speaking of rosés, here’s one from Zucca Mountain Vineyards, the 2014 Belle Nipoti a rosé blend. This wine earned a Silver for Best of Class of Region.

 

 

2014 Robert Hall Orange Muscato
Upon the suggestion of California State Fair wine judge and co-host of the Bottle Talk with Rick and Paul radio show and podcast Rick Kushman, I visited the table where Robert Hall wines were featured. I found this Orange Muscat I liked very much, even though I am not typically a fan of dessert wines. It won a Gold honor for Best of California, Best of Region ‐ White.

 

Barsetti Sparkling Wine
I also found this sparkling wine made by Barsetti quite delightful. It was actually the first wine I tasted when we arrived at the event. What a way to kick things off. This wine scored a Gold Best of Class of Region.

 

 

Uphill Rose 2014 Primitivo Double Gold
This Rosato di Primitivo was Amador’s Uphill Vineyards first attempt at making a blush wine. Nice job there, because it made my list of wine picks and more importantly, took a Double Gold honor from the wine judges.

 

Matchbook Arsonist Chard Silver
Last but not least, we have a Chardonnay produced by one of my favorite local wineries, Matchbook Wine Company. You might remember my recent tour of their facilities. Matchbook’s The Arsonist Chardonnay won a Silver, and even though I knew exactly how the wine tasted, of course I had a little taste anyway. ;)

 

Andy and Rick
There’s Andy and Rick deep in discussion, no doubt. ;) Actually, Andy met Rick through running before he met me. And I met Rick through the whole Sacramento food and wine scene before I met Andy. So now it’s always fun to see him at events and get each others’ opinions on what we liked (and didn’t like) and why. Good times! :)

About the State Fair Wine Competition
The first State Fair Wine Competition was held in 1855. The competition is the oldest and one of the most prestigious wine events in the country. Top wines including Best of Region and Best of California winners will be featured at the State Fair in the Save Mart Supermarkets Wine Garden for visitors to enjoy July 10-26.

A complete listing of award-winning wines can be found at castatefair.org. Hope to see you at the fair (most likely in the Save Mart Supermarket Wine Country)! ;)

You can find the California State Fair on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.

Piatti’s Flair for Summer Fare Shines!

The flavors of summer are in full swing at Piatti!

Andy and I dined there just last night, so in this blog post I wanted to give you a quick peek at some of the items on the menu for the season.

It’s always a great evening on the patio at Piatti with my favorite person by my side and a starter glass of Prosecco.

Summer Menu

Carpaccio
The beef carpaccio is something we ALWAYS order. Every. Single. Time. We love it’s transformation in summer from a more traditional carpaccio with capers and dressing to a lighter style with blistered tomatoes and green olives. You’ll spot it on the appetizer menu, but next time I might order two of them for my actual dinner!

24 Brix Label Front
It happened to be Wine Wednesday, and at Piatti they celebrate by giving customers 50% OFF selected bottles of wine. (They’ll give you a menu with their selected bottles on it.) We chose the Winemaker’s Blend (a red mix of Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Merlot from 3 different California AVAs) made by Schmitz 24 Brix Wines.

24 Brix Label Back

For my main course, I chose a duo of plates. First was the ultra-stunning heirloom tomato salad that was so in-my-face-farm-to-fork it almost gouged my eyes! ;) Definitely one of the prettiest plates I have seen in a while, and it tasted just as phenomenal as it looks. I know you might be thinking, “Get a grip, it’s just an heirloom tomato salad,” but the special touches are that tomatoes and basil are REALLY in season right now and the mozzarella is made in house, cranking up the volume on flavor.

Heirloom Tomato Salad
My other plate was this trio of pork and ricotta meatballs (on the appetizer section of the menu). Reappearing in this dish was the lovely house-made mozzarella and a crushed tomato sauce. I guess I must really like tomatoes. The sauce was very flavorful and the mozzarella cheese finds a way to steal the show again, this time melted over the meatballs.

pork meatballs
Andy ordered the grilled rib eye (rare!) with romano beans and whipped potatoes, topped with blue cheese, mint and roasted figs. He was kind enough to pass over a few bites of his dish, and I was most delighted by the creative mint and blue cheese combination and the sweet touch of the roasted figs. If you didn’t think Piatti was the place to try a steak, think again. This dish was a knockout and the plating was almost as sexy as my date. ;)

Grilled Rib Eye
Thanks to our server, Alden, Chef Lance, and to Piatti for such an enjoyable meal.
You can find Piatti on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Set Sail at the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure in Buena Park

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Last week, I visited Anaheim, California (more specifically Garden Grove) to attend a conference hosted by the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

Since the conference took place during the day, I planned a few places before my trip to check out during the evening. Though I am not a really active Yelper, I looked on their site (Yelp.com) and it was very helpful in listing activities/restaurants close to my hotel.

sign outside
During my search, I discovered The Pirate’s Adventure Dinner (in nearby Buena Park close to Knott’s Berry Farm). The Pirate’s Adventure Dinner is an interactive dinner theatre where guests begin the evening in a reception area and are served passed appetizers (the night I attended it was fried zucchini, fried macaroni and cheese, meatballs, and crudité).

reception area
Drinks are available for purchase from two different bars at opposite ends of the room while patrons enjoy the appetizers and wait to be seated for the show.

fried zucchini

bar area

veggie station
Before the show guests are encouraged to cheer for their pirate (assigned by color upon arrival during check-in). I was assigned orange. The assigned color also designates what section of the theatre (which surrounds an 18th Century Spanish galleon adrift in a 250, 000-gallon lagoon) you will be seated.

seating area

my section's pirate
Upon seating, guests are greeted by their server for the evening, and the serving of food begins with a choice of vegetable soup or a salad. (You can get dressing on the side if you wish, as I did).

salad
The show begins as the first course is being served. The performance is a highly entertaining combination of swordplay, aerial artistry and acrobatics. The actors/pirates are quite talented and sing, dance and encourage the audience to join in. The plot of the show focuses on the “Tale of the Legendary Sea Dragon,” and there are lots of funny references to pop culture in the dialogue as well as pirate games and stunts in the 90 minute performance (no intermission).

action1
cast in action
The night I attended the show, we were served a quarter chicken, vegetables, and a beef and vegetable kabob on a bed of mashed potatoes.

dinner

I was most impressed by the aerialist who performed a beautiful cirque-type number during the show.

aerialist
We were served a brownie with ice cream for dessert, but I happily gave my portion to my neighbor and purchased more wine for myself to bring the performance to a close.

brownie dessert
As you leave, there is a gift shop in the lobby/reception area with all the essential pirate gear and souvenirs from the show as well as face painting for the kids.

facepainting
The Pirate’s Adventure Dinner is a great venue to celebrate a birthday, get together with a group of friends, have a girls’ night out, or even enjoy by yourself (as I did). If you find yourself near Buena Park, check out the show.

Cost Breakdown per person:
ADULT
(Ages 12 and older): $59.95
CHILD (Ages 3-11): $36.95
INFANT (Ages 2 and under): Free of charge
(Prices shown are as of July 2015 and do not include tax.)
There are seating upgrades available if you would like to be close (within the first three rows) to the stage.

You can find The Pirate’s Adventure Dinner on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here. They also have an Instagram account here. The Pirate’s Adventure dinner is currently offering a buy one, get one FREE promotion during the month of July 2015 with the code ON-715SOC. Call 866-439-2469 for details. Reservations are required. Call at least 3 hours in advance.

Thank you to the marketing department at The Pirate’s Adventure Dinner for arranging my visit! :)

Touring and Tasting with Matchbook Wine Company

in the vineyar
As a wine writer, I get invited to some of the most interesting events.

This time, it was a media/blogger tour and taste at Matchbook Wine Company in Dunnigan Hills. I was already a major fan of the Matchbook Wine label because of its quality vs. price ratio, so I was delighted to accept the invitation. Plus, I am an ex-employee of Toasted Head (special events sous chef and tasting room associate), so any excuse to head back to those Dunnigan Hills and I am in! :)

I actually managed to be somewhat outgoing (shocker) and met a few of the other writers, and after you read my blathering and reflections on my experience at the oasis just a few miles from the I-5 Zamora exit, you might want to read from their point of view here: Erin at Adventures in Nor Cal and Susan at Finding Our Way Now.

But first, a recap of my experience. It was a Friday night, and quite frankly one of the best happy hours (or two) I have ever spent. Just think of it: The moment Andy and I arrived at the new, beautiful tasting room, we were welcomed with a glass of 2013 Arsonist Chardonnay and introduced to some of the other writers (Lynn of Sacatomato was also there), tasting room associates, and the owners of Matchbook, John and Lane Giguiere.

I have followed the Giguieres for a while now, and have enjoyed their wines on several occasions, so it was nice to officially meet them and spend a bit of time with them instead of exchanging a few sentences here and there when I have met them at fundraisers/various wine tastings.

It was also great to finally see the tasting room (which has been open since October of last year). It’s an oblong shaped space with the tasting bar at one end and a large dining/board meeting table at the other. There is an impressively large chandelier that hangs above an island of items for sale. Out the back doors leads to a patio with a drop-dead stunning view of the vineyard. Nice digs.

TASTING SPACE

One of the most memorable and fun parts of the evening was speeding up and down the hilly vineyards in a golf cart with the winery’s owner John Giguiere at the helm. It was and his wife Lane who lead the tour, which included a tasting in the vineyard (the 2014 Matchbook Rosé of Tempranillo) and a look at some of the farming techniques being used on the grapevines, followed by a barrel tasting of several wines in the Matchbook/Arsonist portfolio.

the tour

Inside the barrel room, we tried 2 different wines that are used to make Matchbook’s “The Arsonist” Chardonnay. The first wine was big and buttery and would make even Rombauer and Falcor Chardonnay lovers fall to their knees. The second was a more fruit forward Chardonnay aged in neutral barrels. Together they make a stunning food-friendly wine that would best compliment a cheese plate, a chicken dish, or anything with an Alfredo sauce.

Wine barrel ine

After the barrel tasting, we returned to the tasting room (for more wine tasting, of course!) and enjoyed appetizers provided by Kitchen428 Restaurant and Mojo’s Lounge. We tasted the 2012 Arsonist Red Blend and the Matchbook 2011 Tinto Rey (a blend of Syrah and Tempranillo).
The two aforementioned wine along with most wines in the Matchbook Wine portfolio are so very conducive to enjoying with food—I am pretty sure that’s why I like them so much.

panoramic at matchbook

On a side note, you might remember my story on the Matchbook wine dinner held at Piatti late last year. You can find that here. If not, you can find Matchbook on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.

Thanks so much to Matchbook Wine Company for the invitation to explore their wines and their beautiful property. Both Andy and I feel truly blessed to have met with the group. Heaven on Earth, indeed.

There are five wines in the Matchbook portfolio including their Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Tinto Rey, Syrah, and Rosé of Tempranillo. You can find most of them in your local supermarket, but I’m going to encourage you to visit the winery and tasting room and figure out which one is your favorite there. Spend an afternoon on the patio with the beautiful view of the vineyards, and please tell John and Lane I said “Hello!!”.

vineyard one

 

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