When Andy and I visited San Jose a few weeks ago, we dined at a Brazilian churrascaria called Fogo de Chão (pronounced fo-go dée shown). It’s located in Santana Row close to Hotel Valencia, our host hotel for that weekend. A churrascaria is a place where meat is cooked in churrasco style (Portuguese for ‘barbecue’), and it’s pretty much like Paleo heaven. :)
If you have never dined at a Brazilian steakhouse before, there is a procedure to the meal, and it’s really quite fun. After being seated, diners are given a cardboard token (looks like a drink coaster) that is green on one side and red on the other. This token is used to signal the gaucho chefs to begin meat service to your table. But first, it’s off to the salad bar!
The salad bar features premium items such as 24 Month, Aged Parmesan, Aged Manchego Cheese, Prosciutto, Brazilian Hearts of Palm, Artichoke Bottoms, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Smoked Salmon, Italian Salami, Jumbo Asparagus, Tabbouleh and Shitake Mushrooms, not to mention at least large bowls full of different lettuce mixes to use for the base of your salad. It would be easy to get full on just the salad bar alone, so pace yourself.
When you are ready for the meats to be served, turn your token green side up, signaling that you are ready for our gaucho chefs to begin tableside service. This continuous service is known as “Rodizio” style.
There are 16 cuts of fire roasted meats to choose from including top sirloin, filet mignon, rib eye, bottom sirloin, beef ribs, lamb, chicken, pork ribs, pork loin (encrusted in parmesan cheese and linguica (a Brazilian-style, cured pork sausage). The gaucho chefs are very attentive and efficient. I would advise you to come not only hungry, but starving! Below are some of the meats the gaucho chefs serve on a nightly basis:
Pictured from left to right: Lamb (cordeiro), Chicken (frango) Pork Ribs (costela de porco), Pork Loin (lombo), Pork Sausage (linguica), Top Sirloin (picanha), Beef Ribs (costela), Bacon Wrapped Filet and Bacon Wrapped Chicken. Wow! So very Paleo! :)
When you are full, you flip the token to the red side until you are ready for more offerings.
The meal also includes limitless service of traditional Brazilian side dishes, including: pão de queijo (warm cheese bread), crispy hot polenta (like polenta fries), garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized bananas. (not so Paleo) :(
Fogo de Chão is a recipient of the prestigious Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence for eight consecutive years. I chose a reasonably priced Cabernet made by Trapiche (a label I had at least heard of before). It was quite good.
Below, the gaucho chef serves Andy a bacon wrapped filet mignon, and a bacon wrapped chicken.
Then, after we had signaled we were done with our meal, one of the gaucho chefs brought out this cake to celebrate Andy’s birthday. What a fun dinner! Thanks so much to the staff at Fogo de Chão, San Jose for taking such good care of us! :)
Lunch at Fogo de Chão San Jose is $34.50 | (Salad Bar Only – $24.50) and is served Mon-Fri 11:30-2:00.
Dinner is $54.50 | (Salad Bar Only – $29.50) and is served Mon-Thur 5:00-10:00, Fri 5:00-10:30, Sat 3:00-10:30, and Sun 12:00-9:00.
Children 6 and under are complimentary. Children 7 to 12 are half price. Any beverages, desserts, tax, and gratuity are additional. An 18% gratuity is added to all parties of 6 or more.
I can say in all honesty that out of the whole year, I love the months of September and October most. There are several reasons for that. One of them is the weather. It starts to cool off just enough and the mornings are perfect for running. Another reason is that it is harvest time–more importantly to me, crush time in the vineyards. It’s also getting to be around the time I met Andy, and I am very excited to celebrate our 3rd anniversary this year.
September is also California Wine Month and the month Sacramento celebrates Farm-t0-Fork week from September 13th-28th, featuring several events to celebrate the local sustainability and food production of the Sacramento region by featuring the farmers, chefs and culinary community that make the Sacramento region the Farm-to-Fork Capital of America.
One of the not-to-be-missed events is Farm-to-Fork Legends of Wine featuring wines selected by Darrell Corti and David Berkley. It takes place on Thursday, September 18th 6pm – 8:30pm on the State Capitol West Steps.
Darrell Corti, who was recognized by Saveur magazine as the man “Who knows more about food and wine than anyone else in the world,” and David Berkley, once recognized as “the man behind the White House wine list,” will host an evening of great wines and cheeses during Sacramento inaugural Farm-to-Fork Week.
Paired along-side artisan cheeses and breads, this event will offer free tastes from some of the region’s most celebrated wineries listed below:
Sierra Starr Vineyard & Winery
Six Hands Winery
Michael David Winery
Sobon Family Wines
Casey Flat Ranch Winery
New Clairvaux Vineyards
Terra d’Oro Winery
Dancing Coyote Wines
Putah Creek Winery
Terre Rouge & Easton Wines
David Girard Vineyard
Jeff Runquist Wines
Scott Harvey Wines
Vino Noceto Winery
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards
Seka Hills Wines
To purchase tickets ($50 per person) head over to the Farm-to-Fork website and the Legends of Wine event page (click here).
You can keep up with all the events during the Farm-to-Fork celebration by liking their Facebook page here and follow SacFarm2Fork on twitter here. If wine and fancy dinners aren’t your speed, there is a free festival on September 27th featuring food demos and fun for the whole family!
Lake County is a wine region that might not have the cachet of Napa Valley, but I can definitely tell you they are making wines of Napa Valley caliber. Currently, Lake County has over 8,400 acres producing winegrapes. There are now 167 growers and 32 wineries in Lake County. I was first exposed to a large cross-section of wineries who call Lake County home at the Wine, Tunes & Classics event held at the California Automobile Museum last year.
The event combined a showcase of classic cars, music, and featured wineries from the Lake County Winery Association. There, I was able to taste and find several wines I really enjoyed. I was also told about the People’s Choice Wine Tasting that was held in 2013, and unfortunately already had plans for the weekend.
This year, however I am excited to attend the People’s Choice Wine Tasting this coming Saturday at Guenoc & Langtry Vineyards (21000 Butts Canyon Rd, Middletown, CA 95461). The event will begin at 1:00 PM and ends at 4:00 PM.
It will be an afternoon of wine, music, and fun. Music will be provided by the popular band “The Special Guests”. The Yuba College Culinary program will be featuring some of their sweet treats, and food trucks will be onsite to satisfy your culinary cravings and stop by the photo booth to create a lasting memory of the event.
Tickets are $35 per person ($25 if you buy before June 10th with a special promo code–see below). Designated drivers encouraged and will be admitted for free. You must be 21 or older to participate in this event.
The Lake County Wine Competition is open to wines that contain at least 75% Lake County winegrapes and bear a Lake County appellation on the label. Lake County’s reputation for both high-quality wines and high-quality winegrapes continues to grow. The 2013 competition drew more than 120 wines to be judged. This number is expected to increase this year.
People’s Choice Wine Tasting – Special Offer
Treat your favorite Dad to an afternoon of wine, food, music, and fun and celebrate Father’s Day at the People’s Choice Wine Tasting on Saturday, June 14th. Eighteen of Lake County’s premium wineries will be pouring their award winning wines at Langtry Estate and Vineyards. Use promo code “4dad” to get $10 off the ticket price. This offer expires on June 10th. Tickets will be available at the door for $35. For complete details or tickets, go to www.lakecountywineries.org/choice
It was less than a year ago when we last visited Mundaka, a small plates restaurant nestled in the heart of downtown Carmel. Since then, the restaurant has continued to thrive and recently celebrated its 5th anniversary!
During our recent stay at The Vendange Carmel Inn and Suites Andy and I were honored to be invited back to Mundaka for dinner to try some new items on the menu, as well as some of our favorites from last time.
Please excuse the photos in this post. They are rather dark as was the room in which we were seated. ;)
We began the meal by ordering the Bravas: Fried potatoes, brava sauce, aioli. It happens to be one of the most classic tapas in Spain, and a must try at Mundaka.
Of course the Bravas were excellent, but I think the Crudo was the first new thing on the menu that caught my eye. When the plate came out, I was surprised to see such a beautiful presentation of multi-colored julienned vegetables: Carrots, Brussels sprouts, beet purée, candied walnuts.
The juxtaposition to the Crudo dish was the Charcuteria! Time to get our fat on! The plate was composed of Serrano ham, Iberico sausages, house cured lomo. Slice upon slice of meaty goodness. And there was more to come!
I guess you could say our main event was the Carne: Hanger steak, truffle fries, free foie butter. The hangar steak was tender and flavorful, and cooked a perfect medium-rare. The fries were the very skinny variety–like matchsticks, if you will–they soaked up the foie butter that had melted onto the plate from the steak.
Next up: A pan fried sole, salad of baby poached potatoes, grapefruit, arugula, saffron vinaigrette. This was probably my least favorite dish of all, but I still liked it, so that’s not much of a complaint. I just felt like the potatoes were a little clunky and didn’t belong on the plate with the fish.
Dessert #1: Huevo: Fried duck egg, crispy Iberico bits, toast. It was such a simple dish, but the quality of the ingredients and the richness of the duck egg combined with the Iberico was very rich and indulgent. Highly recommended as a starter dish or for a grand finalé!
Dessert #2! Again with the eggs, ha! Tortilla: Potato, egg, onion, sea salt.
So maybe we worked backwards, but my one of my favorite foods is egg, so these plates were like dessert to me. If you’re more into sweets and coffee for your finalé, Mundaka has a dessert, coffee, and digestives menu, pictured below:
What to drink? Mundaka serves a “Party Wine” house wine (red blend) poured from a giant bottle for $5 a glass (if you don’t ask what is in the blend). We enjoyed 2 different cavas (one, a rosé) and switched over to the Party Wine later in the meal. (Below is a photo of the bottle of sparkling rosé that Andy ordered and the glass of cava that I ordered).
Mundaka uses organic, local, free-range, line-caught, sustainable, fair-trade ingredients, and DOESN’T use ingredients containing hormones, pesticides, high fructose corn syrup, or anything artificial. That’s so Paleo!
Mundaka is located on San Carlos Street between Ocean and 7th Ave and open daily from 11am-5pm for coffee/lunch/pintxos and open daily at 5:30pm for Tapas/pintxos. You can download a sample menu here. You can find Mundaka on Facebook here. You can make a reservation at Mundaka via Open Table here.
A big thanks to Mundaka for their hospitality during our second visit. Always a delicious and memorable meal! :)
So I am pretty sure that the wine event I am promoting today was specifically designed for me. See, Tempranillo is my favorite red varietal, and the most extensive tasting of domestically produced Tempranillos and other Iberian varietal wines, featuring nearly 40 TAPAS member vintners is about to take place at the seventh annual Grand Wine Tasting held at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio in San Francisco on Sunday, April 27, 2014. I’m in! :)
Trade and consumers will be able to taste Tempranillos, Albariños, Garnachas, Verdelhos, Tourigas, and many other varieties, in a casual walk-around setting where they can chat with the growers and vintners. Explore the diversity of grapes and styles produced across the western United States. Many TAPAS members are limited-production, family-owned wineries and will be pouring small lot wines that are not widely available. Many of the wines will also be available for sale at this event.
This year’s event will highlight Tempranillo’s aging potential with a Kickoff Seminar comparing pairs of Aged and New Tempranillos from the same vintner. See one of the reasons why Tempranillo is the fastest growing variety worldwide!
The event schedule is:
Tickets are $95 and include early admission to the Consumer Tasting.
2:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Consumer Tasting. In conjunction with the walk-around tasting, the TAPAS Wine School (included with admission) will feature these informative consumer-oriented seminars and guided tastings:
Tickets to the Consumer Tasting are $60.
TAPAS President Stuart Spencer noted, “The TAPAS Grand Tasting is a unique opportunity for you to discover, savor and celebrate this treasure chest of exotic and delightfully food-friendly wines. You will gain appreciation for what some visionary winegrowers are doing here on American soil. Don’t miss it!”
About TAPAS: TAPAS started at the 2004 Unified Symposium, when Tempranillo winegrowers from California, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Arizona met for the first time to discuss their avocation. Since that first visionary group pointed the way, the organization has incorporated and grown to over 100 members. The first Grand Wine Tasting was held at Copia in Napa in 2008, and has continued annually since then, as one of many initiatives to promote Tempranillo and other varietal wine grapes native to the Iberian Peninsula and wines produced from them in North America.
To purchase tickets, click here.
Oops. So I haven’t posted anything since last Wednesday, which was also Wine Wednesday. Well, this one comes from my friends at HALL Wines. Their 5th Annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff is on Sunday, May 18th, and here’s a press release I received to tell you all about it:
The fifth annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff features an all-star line-up of both San Francisco and Napa Valley based Chef teams vying to win a culinary pairing challenge. Bringing together local foodies and wine for a good cause, over 15 chef teams will compete for a local charity as judged by industry judges (including Sacramento’s own food and wine writer Chris Macias) by creating small bite dishes paired with the recently released HALL 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. During the event, guests will be invited to taste farm-to-table dishes from each chef team paired with the wine and vote on their favorite for the People’s Choice Award.
The 2013 HALL Cabernet Cookoff drew more than 480 culinary and wine lovers and raised $30,000 for the top four winning team’s sponsored charities.
5th Annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff combining a bevy of well-known culinary teams competing in a food/wine pairing challenge. Chef teams participating in the HALL Cabernet Cookoff include:
- Tyler Rodde, Oenotri
- Victoria Acosta, The Grill at Meadowood
- Rodney Worth & Audrey Perrone, The Pear Bistro
- Corrie Beezley, The Farmers Market Pantry
- Christopher Ludwick, Earth’s Bounty Kitchen & Winebar
- Valentina Migotto & Dario De Conti, Ca’ Momi
- Jesse McQuarrie, Feast Catering
- Brian Overhauser, Jamieson Ranch
- Jason Toji & Spencer Weiss, Press
- Will Wright, Bounty Hunter Smokin BBQ
- Nenad Stefanovic, Intercontinental Mark Hopkins
- Kara Lind, Kara’s Cupcakes
- Mark Dommen, One Market Restaurant
- Alex Marsh, Yankee Pier Larkspur
- Daniel Capra, Paula Le Duc Catering
WHEN: Sunday, May 18, 2014, from 11:00am – 2:00pm PST
WHERE: HALL Wines, St. Helena: 401 St. Helena Hwy. South St. Helena, CA 94574. For more information, please visit www.hallwines.com/cabernetcookoff or via social channels using #cabernetcookoff. To purchase tickets to the event, please visit CellarPass.