Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Posts tagged “events

Cochon555 presents Heritage Fire Napa Lineup

Hello meat lovers! I’m working on a few blog posts myself, but in the meantime, here’s some information on one of my favorite food and wine events of the year from my friends at Cochon 555, Cochon Heritage Fire Napa, taking place on August 21st this year at Charles Krug Winery!

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA (June 30, 2016) — America’s cult culinary event, Heritage Fire by Cochon555, returns to Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena on August 21st, 2016. Entering its eighth year of existence, Cochon555 events continue to attract sold-out crowds nationwide, most recently at Heritage Fire Snowmass during the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. The greater goal of the Cochon555 family is to promote honest food prepared by singular artisans; to celebrate family farming; and to shine the gastronomic spotlight on the hard-working people who are responsibly (though often silently) raising heritage breed animals.

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The Heritage Fire event helps foster the relationship between local farming and emerging chef and restaurant communities, which grapple with having to pay premium prices in order to serve their guests safer, responsibly raised and flavorful food that is also raised locally. Heritage Fire – a premiere, whole animal, live-fire, and outdoor food and wine event – features whole animals roasted over open fires by local and national chefs. The event also benefits Piggy Bank, a farm devoted to providing free heritage breed pigs to small farms in exchange for transparent business plans that are posted online. The all-inclusive ticket is now available online at cochon555.com for $125 (includes beverage pairings, tax and gratuity), along with a mouth-watering  Heritage Fire trailer and video.

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Heritage Fire Napa Valley will showcase over 50 notable chefs and butchers, each grilling heritage breed animals en plein air amongst the area’s impressionistic hills and vineyards. The event features responsibly raised food and traditional outdoor cooking techniques, paired with free-flowing wines from more than 35 boutique producers, craft beers from Magnolia Brewing, and small-batch Common ciders. The list of heritage and heirloom foods includes dry-aged beef, whole pigs, lamb, goat, squab, rabbit, duck, fish, chicken, artisan cheeses, oysters, and heirloom vegetables.

Participating chefs include Thomas McNaughton and Evan Allumbaugh of Flour + Water (SF); Adam Sobel of Michael Mina Group (SF); Albert Ponzo of Le Select Bistro (TOR); Andy Ricker of Pok Pok (NYC); Cristiano Creminelli of Creminelli Fine Meats (SLC); Rafael Barrera of Puerto Rico; Marc Zimmerman of Alexander’s Steakhouse (SF); John Sundstrom of Lark (SEA); Jose Mendin of Pubbelly (MIA); Timon Balloo of Bocce (MIA); Kim Wiss of Antica Napa Valley; John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina (CHI); Greg Laketek of West Loop Salumi (CHI); Tiffany Friedman of Butter Root; Joshua Schwartz & Tony Incontro of Del Dotto; David Bazirgan of Dirty Habit (SF); Sacramento’s Ella Dining Room and Bar; Jason Kupper of Heritage Eats (NAPA); Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Zazu Kitchen (SON); Robin Song of Junju (SF); Peter Jacobsen of Jacobsen Orchards (NAPA); Michael Thiemann of Mother – Empress Tavern (SAC); Michael Ginor of Hudson Valley Foie Gras (NY); Jeff Weiss, Author of Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain (SF); Lars Kronmark of Culinary Institute of America Greystone; Trevor Kunk of Press (NAPA); Sophina Uong of Calavera (OAK); Nicolai Lipscomb of The Battery (SF) and many more.

“It’s always an honor to host Heritage Fire in St. Helena,” says Brady Lowe, Founder of Cochon555. “And to have amazing partners like Charles Krug, and the Napa Valley welcome us for this special weekend means things are really heating up this summer. We’re putting the spotlight on heritage species, responsible agriculture, and amazing chefs. St. Helena is now home to Cochon555’s best expression of live-event immersion in the good food movement featuring the best chefs, farmers and sponsors around the country. Guests can expect an epic culinary experience paired with the region’s best wines; this is eating and drinking for a cause.”

In addition to the meat-laden feast, the event also features The Pop-Up Butcher Shop featuring Rob Levitt of Butcher & Larder (CHI); Tracy Smaciarz of Heritage Meats (SEA); and David the Butcher of Marina Meats (SF) alongside Master of Ceremonies Billy Harris (LA) leading the butcher demonstration which raises money for Piggy Bank. Guests can help raise $5,000 by bidding on packages including rare bottles of wine, monster steaks, etched cutting boards and custom knives from Town Cutler. In addition this year, Wines of Germany presents the Wood-Fired Ramen Bar featuring a notable chef, a delicious Tomahawk Pop-Up served with Faust Wines, Wood-Fired Artisan Cheese Bar with California Artisan Cheese Guild and Foie Gras from Hudson Valley amongst many other delights. This is the eighth year in a row Heritage Fire has made its way to California. It is the nation’s only hyper-local, whole animal, live-fire outdoor culinary event cooking and serving 3,500+ pounds of heritage breed animals in celebration of agricultural and animal diversity.

Where: Charles Krug Winery, 2800 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574
When: Sunday, August 21, 2016
VIP Admission: 4PM
General Admission: 5PM
Tickets: $125 General Admission
$200 VIP – 1 Hour Early Entry, Reserve Tastings, and Seminar Invitations apply
Purchase tickets HERE

Heritage Fire Napa would not be possible without our amazing lineup of sponsors including, Williams-Sonoma, Wines of Germany, The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley, DRY Sparkling, Martinez Lacuesta, Creminelli, Lake Sonoma Winery, Faust Wines, Magnolia Brewing Co., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Alysian Wines, Common Cider, Antica Napa Valley, Hedley & Bennett, Cypress Grove Chevre, Coach Farm, Parrano, Sun Noodle, Rappahannock River Oysters, 34 Degrees, and Gulfish.

About the Cochon555 US Tour
The Cochon555 US Tour executes a yearly host of authentic, hyper-local food events focused on raising awareness for heritage breed pigs through the world’s first nose-to-tail pig cooking competition. Created in response to the lack of consumer education around heritage breeds, this epic pork feast visits 20 major cities in North America annually and stages over 60 events. The tour is comprised of an array of live-event expressions including Heritage BBQ (global cultures); Heritage Fire (live-fire event); EPIC Cochon (hyper-premium); All-Star Cochon (fan favorites); and Cochon Island; (agri-tourism). All Cochon555 events cultivate a long-term impact for heritage species raised by family farms, reaching the top culinary markets in North America, while promoting our sponsors’ messages to 16,000 guests by drawing from the biggest names in the hospitality industry, including 2,200+ chefs, 150+ family farms, and 16 culinary schools. Since 2009, 50,000+ consumers have experienced heritage pork for the first time, more than $500,000 has been donated to charities, and over $750,000 has been paid directly to our farmers. Together with winemakers, brewers, distillers, and craft food makers, they create authentic culinary events celebrating champions of the good food movement. For more details about the events and to see videos referencing all the events in the Cochon555 family, visit http://www.cochon555.com or follow @cochon555 on Twitter and Instagram.

About Piggy Bank
Launched in 2015 by Brady Lowe – founder of the Cochon555 US Tour and Taste Network – Piggy Bank is a pig farming sanctuary. Harboring a Noah’s Ark-worthy selection of heritage breeds, it provides free genetics and business plans to emerging family farms. Piggy Bank aims to change the future of food by creating a community in which small farmers can come to learn about safer, more responsible practices, and can benefit from the sharing of genetics, livestock, and the very information needed to not just survive, but to thrive as small businesses. Piggy Bank is dedicated to creating the first Open Source agricultural platform of its kind. The Piggy Bank farm, located in Missouri, raises pigs to be gifted only to communities dedicated to elevating the cause and expanding through a model of social and agricultural transparency. Piggy Bank is a project of The Giving Back Fund, Inc., a Massachusetts nonprofit corporation with federal tax exempt status as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3). Follow the Piggy Bank conversation on Twitter @PiggyBankOrg. For more information about Piggy Bank or The Giving Back Fund, please contact Kerith at piggy-bank.org, watch the video http://j.mp/PIGGY_BANK or visit www.piggy-bank.org.


Over $60,000 Raised for Charity at the 7th Annual HALL Wines Cabernet Cookoff and an Interview with Duff Goldman!

Here’s a little press release (combined with some photos I took that day and some of my comments) on the recent HALL Wines Cabernet Cookoff from my friends at the winery. After that, scroll down to read my interview with Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes and Food Network’s Cake Masters!

On Saturday, April 23rd, over 700 hundred wine and food aficionados helped raise over $60,000 at the sold out 7th Annual Cabernet Cookoff at HALL Wines in St. Helena. Thirteen impressive Napa and Bay Area Restaurants teamed up with a nonprofit of their choice with the goal to create the best dish to pair with 2013 HALL Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Competition was fierce, the wine was inviting, and the weather paired beautifully with this lively philanthropic event.

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“Our team is humbled that such talent, both in competing chefs and judges, clear their schedules each April to help us raise money for these noteworthy charities,” says Vintner Kathryn Walt Hall. “Thank you to our generous sponsors and loyal attendees for joining our efforts to make a difference in our community.”

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Five judges, Duff Goldman, Celebrity Chef from Food Network, Leslie Sbrocco, host of “Check Please!” Bay Area, Virginie Boone of Wine Enthusiast, Ian White, SF Magazine, and Ken Frank, Chef at La Toque, took on the impressive task of choosing a runner up and first place winner from dishes like “Cherry Marinated Skirt Steak with Broccolini, Point Reyes Blue, Chive Blossom” or “Black Currant and Rose Macaroon with HALL Cabernet infused Geleé”.

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Mark Dommen from One Market Restaurant in San Francisco took first place with his mouth-watering “Pancetta Wrapped Passmore Ranch Sturgeon Du Puy Lentils, Smoked Garlic, Thyme Jus” benefiting nonprofit Collabria Care of Napa (re-create here). Sorry for the obscene shadow!😦

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Ca’Momi placed runner up with a delectable “Heirloom Pork & Veal Agnolotti, Savoy Cabbage, Napa Valley Cabernet Pan Jus and Parmigiano Reggiano” aiding organization Do It For The Love of Napa.

Heirloom Pork & Veal Agnolotti
Judges Choice Runner Up Do it For the Love

Restaurants also had the opportunity to raise money for their charity through People’s Choice, a voting system by corks serving as the tallies. First place for People’s Choice was Napa restaurant, Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ, preparing “Fried Chicken with Spring Succotash” with the winnings benefiting Napa Humane.

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peoples choice napa humane

Paula LeDuc Fine Catering of San Francisco took runner up of People’s Choice with the “HALL Cabernet Roasted Strawberries with White Chocolate Crumble and Mascarpone Cream,” partnering with nonprofit St Helena Hospital.

Peoples Choice Runner Up St Helena Hosp

Proceeds of both ticket sales from attendees and 15% of purchases of 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Sauvignon Blanc and 2013 Coeur Cabernet Sauvignon were also donated to the participating winning charities. Sponsors of the event included at Magnum Level: San Francisco Magazine, Bright Event Rentals, Certified Parking Attendants, MyOffice Products, and Nixon Peabody. At the Harvest Level: Signum Architecture, DP&F, Benefit Marketing, Harvest Sanitation, Snap Fiesta, Napa Valley Tours and Transportation, Print Inkorporated, Frank Zimmerman and Co LLC, and Culligan Water. Bergfeld Sponsorships included Yelp, Alkar Staffing, UpOut.com, Napa Valley Engraving, Tre Posti, Barbier Security Group, The Lux Productions and Villagio Inn & Spa. Local radio station The Vine, 99.3 was on site to capture the excitement, led by personality “Good Morning Bob!”.

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For more information about the event, please visit HALL Wines. To re-create the winning recipe visit HALL’s Recipe section. Check out the exciting sizzle reel courtesy of Flynn Kelleher here or more pictures from the event available here. Next year, the 8th Annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff will take place on Saturday, April 29, 2017, tickets available now! The event sold out this year, so make sure to reserve your spot for next year.

I had the chance to sample many of the dishes at the event, but my favorite was the Cabernet Braised Short Rib with Cranberry Beans and Horseradish created by Brix on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I make short ribs with a wine sauce at home quite frequently, so this was just a dish I already like to eat.:)

short rib
I also had the chance to chat with Duff Goldman, star of several Food Network TV shows such as Cake Masters, Duff Till Dawn, Ace of Cakes, Iron Chef America and Kid’s Baking Championship.

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I asked him a few questions about the event and his latest show on Food Network, Cake Masters, which currently airs Monday evenings on Food Network at 8pm EST.

ME: So, how did you get involved with the HALL Wines Cabernet Cookoff fundraiser?
DUFF: Well, I’m not really sure, uh… you know, I went to school here, uh for culinary school (CIA), and I probably do (appear at) about 3 events in Napa every year and my name is around, I’m a friend of the valley, and this is the place where I became a chef.

ME: So your new show is Cake Masters. Please tell me a little bit about that.
DUFF: It’s a really cool show, it’s a lot like Ace of Cakes, you know, it follows my staff, we make big crazy cakes, uh, but it’s in Los Angeles instead of Baltimore, so we really up the stakes. So now what we do is partner with special effects houses, so these cakes are really just wild.

ME: Yes, I heard about the Fantastic Four cake, and that it was pretty cool.
DUFF: Yes.

ME: So what cake project were you most excited to do?
DUFF: Uh, well we just made a life-size working R2D2.

ME: That’s so awesome, that’s great. So you’re know for cake decorating, but what on the savory side do you like to make/cook?
DUFF: Well, right now I’m writing a book about soup. I’ve got a soup brain right now.
ME: Yes, I’m sure you probably have soup a lot living in Baltimore, especially during winter.
DUFF: We do, and I actually grew up in Cape Cod, so you know it’s a big soup country up there. It’s cold.

ME: I was reading a little bit about you, and found you started out bread making. How did you transition into making cake and not just cakes but cakes that are really works of art?
DUFF: Well, I was a graffiti artist when I was younger, and I started cooking to make enough money to pay for my spray paint. Uh, I got arrested a lot.
ME: Oh!
DUFF: Yeah, so I had to stop doing that. So then I started doing metal sculpture, bronzing, welding making giant things like that bunny out front (Duff is referring to Bunny Foo Foo, the large metal rabbit sculpture in front of HALL wines created by artist Lawrence Argent). And then, I started working on cars since a lot of my friends liked working on cars–and I was a really good welder, and they were like, hey can you come over and fix this thing, it’s like you know asking an artist to come over and paint your house, and I really liked doing it, so that’s how I kind of got into mechanics…I’ve been a working pastry chef my whole career and then I’d say when I was about 25, I was in a band in Baltimore and the band was doing really well, we were starting to get looked at by record labels.
ME: And you’re a bassist?
DUFF: Yeah, so I quit my job and I started selling cakes out of my apartment to try and help pay the rent while I was trying to be a full time musician.

ME: You’ve always had the pastry thing in the background and you were in Colorado for a while?
DUFF: Yeah, I used to carve ice out there.

ME: Well it was really cool to hear a little bit more about your background and I appreciate your time.
DUFF: Absolutely.
ME: My blog is kind of small and out of Sacramento…
DUFF: Well send it (the link) to me, I want to read it.
ME: *faints* (KIDDING!) Oh I will! Totally, totally. Thank you so much!
DUFF: Nice to talk to you.

Well, isn’t that something?:) Truthfully, I just didn’t want to take up much of Duff’s time, so I kept it short. It was really warm that day and we were standing outside in direct sunlight and he was wearing long pants and a long sleeved shirt so probably not the most comfortable place to be and get drilled with a bunch of questions from a nervous blogger. And yeah, I was nervous about interviewing Duff, I admit it. The funny thing is, I had met Duff before a few years ago at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco when he was kicking off his line of cake products (pic to prove it below!), and he was super nice and complimented me on my pink chef coat. But then I met Thomas Keller the next year (if you want to call it met) and I tried to ask him a question and he basically dissed me. So, the encounter with Thomas Keller (famous person) made me nervous that the Duff (also a famous person) thing would go awry. And well, I’d say it went alright. I want to thank Duff again for coming out to HALL and for putting up with me for about five minutes.:)

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I also want to thank HALL Wines for inviting Andy and me out again. We always have an incredible experience.

Don’t forget to visit www.hallwines.com or follow their social channels on Instagram here, Twitter @hallwines and on Facebook here. CHEERS!!


HALL Cabernet Cookoff Returns for 7th Year!

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We’re excited to be invited back to the HALL Cabernet Cookoff this year. This competition celebrates Bay Area chefs with 100% of ticket sales benefiting Napa Valley charities! Here’s a press release from my friends at HALL with all the details. I hope you can join us this year!:)

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NAPA VALLEY, CA – The HALL Cabernet Cookoff will return for its seventh year on Saturday, April 23. The annual event will feature an impressive lineup of both Napa Valley and San Francisco based Chef Teams vying for a chance to win money for a charity of their choice, by participating in a food and wine pairing challenge. 100% of ticket sales benefit Napa Valley non-profit organizations.

“This event is a sampling of Napa Valley lifestyle at its best,” says Vintner Kathryn Hall. “Guests get to enjoy the most delicious bites from Bay Area restaurants while sipping on our Napa Valley Cabernet. Each year, everyone involved with the Cab Cookoff comes out a winner.”

Chef teams involved create seasonal bites that pair well with HALL’s signature Cabernet Sauvignon and present it to an all-star panel of judges who vote for two Judges’ Awards. Chef teams are also judged by guests in attendance who vote for two People’s Choice Awards. All four awards are announced by Kathryn Hall, who presents checks to the winning chef teams and their selected charities, towards the end of the event.

The 2016 panel judges include celebrity Chef Duff Goldman from Food Network’s Ace of Cakes; TV Personality and host of Check Please Bay Area, Leslie Sbrocco; Wine Enthusiast Critic, Virginie Boone; San Francisco Magazine Wine Director, Ian White; and Michelin-rated Chef, Ken Frank of La Toque.

Additionally, KVON’s 99.3 The Vine and on-air personality “Good Morning, Bob,” will be broadcasting live during the event and feature real time interviews with chef teams, guests and non-profit organizations. Participating chef teams include The Grill at Meadowood, One Market, Harvest Table, The Patriot, Feast Catering, SIFT Desserts, Ca’ Momi, Paula Le Duc Fine Catering, Zola, Brix, Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, Kara’s Cupcakes, and more.

WHAT: 7th Annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff; a food and wine paring challenge with 100% of ticket proceeds supporting local charities

WHO: HALL and WALT Wines

WHEN: Saturday, April 23, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: HALL St. Helena – The Great Lawn, 401 St. Helena Hwy. S, St. Helena, CA 94574. For more information call (707) 967-2626.

TICKETS: Early Bunny Ticket: $70.00 (pre-sale ticket ends March 31), General Admission Ticket: $80.00 (March 31 – April 23, 2016), VIP Sky Loft: $125.00 (Access to historic Bergfeld Building, single vineyard Cabernets and small bites from HALL’s in-house Chef team) Tickets Available: www.hallwines.com/cabernetcookoff

The 2015 HALL Cabernet Cookoff drew more than 650 food and wine lovers for a sold-out crowd, and raised $59,000 for local charities. Last year’s winning chef teams included PRESS and selected charity, If Given a Chance, Capital Dime and charity, Food Literacy Center, One Market and charity, Napa Valley Hospice Adult Day Services and The Grill at Meadowood and their charity, Community Resource for Children. Since inception in 2011, the HALL Cabernet Cookoff has raised $250,000 for charities in and around the Bay Area.
For more information, please visit www.hallwines.com/cabernetcookoff or via social channels using #cabernetcookoff.


70-Year-Old Tonga Room to Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a Luau!

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Back in September, Andy and I attended the 70th birthday party of the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar, a legendary tiki bar located in the basement of the Fairmont Hotel. Walking into the room is like stepping back in time to the post-war days of exotic cocktails, food and all things Polynesian. A time when South Pacific food and culture were all the rage, along with the clothing styles to match. Originally, the room housed the hotel’s indoor swimming pool. The pool and its original tiles have been saved, but it’s now equipped with a floating stage for bands to play live music. Every thirty minutes, a thunderstorm erupts, and rain falls into the pool.

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The 70th birthday party featured an incredible buffet, cocktails and live music by the Island Groove band. It was surreal to be in San Francisco on a work night surrounded by so many fun people dressed in their best festive tiki attire, laughing and dancing without a care.

The Tonga Room is a true relic, surviving a threat of closure, and thriving to become what it is today. In 2013, the menu was redone and the drink recipes were given an update to match the more traditional style. It was an incredible experience to be part of the celebration.

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If you have never been to the Tonga Room, please put it on your list of travel destinations in 2016 or make arrangements NOW to celebrate with them on New Year’s Eve (details below)!!

Get a real taste of what the Tonga Room looks like and all the fun we had at the party. More photos from the 70th birthday celebration can be found by clicking HERE.

Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar New Years Eve Luau
Ring in 2016 in a tropical paradise! Tonga Room offers a decadent Luau buffet package featuring a sumptuous buffet, party favors, Mai Tai or Champagne toast at midnight & dancing to The Island Groove band from 7:00pm until 12:30am.

Details:
Tonga Room New Year’s Eve Luau: 6:00pm-close
Cover Charge: $30 per person
1st Seating 6:30pm ~ Dinner Buffet:
$89 per adult, $49 for children under 12

2nd Seating 9:00pm ~ Dinner Buffet & midnight toast:
$119 per adult, $59 children under 12

Tonga Room New Year’s Eve Buffet Menu:
• Raw Kushi Oysters with Rice Wine Mignonette & Wasabi Tobikko
• Chilled Crab Claws with Chinese Mustard Dipping Sauce
• Poisson Cru, Sweet & Hot Peppers, Lime Juice, Coconut Shell
• Chilled Soba Noodle Salad with Ponzu Dressing
• Tropical Green Salad: Toasted Macadamia Nuts, Shredded Carrots, Pickled Peppers, Hearts of Palm, Shaved Cucumber, Crispy Wonton Strips, Sesame Soy Vinaigrette, Rice Wine Vinaigrette, Miso Vinaigrette
• Kona Baby Back Ribs
• Assorted Steamed Dumplings
• Red Lentil Soup
• Chow Mein Noodles, Bok Choy, Oyster Mushrooms, Cabbage, Carrots
Mongolian Beef Stir Fry
• Lu Pulu Taro leaf wrapped Corned Beef with braised Cabbage& Coconut Milk
• Huli Huli Chicken
• Vegetarian Tonga Hot Pot
• Whole Roasted 3-day Hoisin-Brined Berkshire Pig:
• Kalua Pork & Tropical Fruit Stuffing, Sweet Molasses Glaze & Apricot- Star Anise Compote
• Mashed Sweet Potatoes
• Wok Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Black Garlic, Sesame Oil
• Chef Attended Sushi Rolling Station: Tuna, Salmon, Amber Jack & Hamachi with all the accompaniments

Dessert Station: Coconut Clafouti, Petite Pineapple Rum Cake, White Chocolate Matcha Mousse, Assorted Mochi

Note: Tonga Room will be closed for private events January 13 & 23.

To make arrangements at the Fairmont Hotel and for a glimpse of everything going on this holiday season, you can click here! You can find Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar on Facebook here and on Twitter here. For more information call (415) 772-5278.


A Majestic Ocean View Getaway Awaits at Hyatt Carmel Highlands

Have you ever just wanted to escape? I mean, just ditch everything and all of your responsibilities?
I was so ready to do that this past weekend!

carmel highlands view
Lucky for me, Andy and I got the chance to travel to Carmel Highlands and were hosted for an evening at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. It’s a destination hotel heavy on amenities and a sensory overload of picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean and Big Sur coast.

hyatt carmel highlands lobby
We were invited to stay there along with a few other writers–including L.A-based bloggers Kat and Kelly of Edible Skinny–and over the course of the weekend (which also included a stay at another Hyatt property) we were treated to dinners, massages, wine tastings and other fun things. For this chronicle, I’ll focus on the sheer excellence of the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and the meals we enjoyed at the restaurants located there. PS: Color me blessed and lucky for sure!

When we arrived at the hotel, we immediately joined up with the hotel tour already in progress. Sacramento is about 3 hours and 30 minutes away from Carmel Highlands. We were welcomed by the hotel staff and a woman from Holman Ranch Vineyards. She poured us a refreshing Chardonnay to sip during the tour. I asked the woman’s name because I thought she just might be “Hunter” for whom one of Holman Ranch’s wines is named, because I had spoken with her before on twitter. She confirmed her name and I laughed saying, “I thought that was you, you’re my favorite wine!” I have written about them before here.

holman ranch wines
The tour of all the meeting facilities was very interesting. The hotel is equipped with all different sized meeting/banquet rooms to fit different needs (4,945 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting spaces). Although the hotel can support any sort of indoor or outdoor business meeting you can think of and offers full service catering, as well as controlled heat, lighting and audio/visual systems, Hyatt Carmel Highlands is an even more ideal wedding and romantic getaway spot. Below is a picture of the gazebo (the setting for many nuptials).

balcony views gazabo
One of highlights of the hotel for me was the gym/fitness center, which many hotels in Carmel and Carmel Valley do not have. It is small, but adequate for a property of 48 rooms. From the elliptical machines, you can actually see the ocean. I spent a lot of time in that room during my stay!:)

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After our property tour, we gathered by the lounge and enjoyed some appetizers and Holman Ranch wine. Hunter told us a little more about Holman Ranch and their wines as well as the estate-grown olive oils.

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After a few rounds of appetizers and the fabulous Holman Ranch wines, our group relocated to the restaurant, just a few feet away from the lounge. The restaurant at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is called Pacific’s Edge, and oddly enough, Andy and I almost went there for my birthday in June, but we were staying in Carmel-By-the-Sea, and opted to eat somewhere within walking distance of our hotel. I was thrilled to learn we would be enjoying dinner at Pacific’s Edge with other travel writers that evening at the only restaurant in Carmel with a view of the ocean!

table view
I sat at the head of the table in an effort to shield others from my left-handedness, so the above photo is my view of the rest of the table as well as the below photo my view to the left.

another view
I felt so blessed to be with the person I love so much at what must be one of the most splendid settings in the world.

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dinner companions
Soon, we were served two new wines: a 2012 Chardonnay by Domaine Eden and a 2004 Austrian wine: Brundlmayer Cabernet Franc, “Vincent’s Cuvée”. Below is a picture of the Chardonnay. Andy and I had more of it with our dinner, as it was a better pairing with our food.

chardonnay

Everyone in our group was given a menu crafted just for us, just for that evening. We were told to choose one appetizer and one main course. For my appetizer, I chose the Zucchini Carpaccio with wild arugula, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, picked mushrooms and lemon olive oil vinaigrette.

zucchini carpaccio

Andy went with the Octopus “Confit” with fingerling potatoes, smoked paprika, extra virgin olive oil and Maldon salt. Since octopus doesn’t have it’s own fat to be a confit, the olive oil was used to slowly cook it, hence the name.

octopus confit

Then for our main course, Andy and I both ordered the same meal. We usually try to order something different, but this time we couldn’t resist the special being offered for the evening:

chilean sea bass
It was a line-caught Chilean Sea Bass with grapes and crispy sunchokes. It was one of the best fish dishes I have ever had. There were several layers of flavor and textures going on within the plate: flakey, creamy, crispy, savory, sweet, umami. It was everything I want in a bite of food. Comforting, but not too heavy. And so perfect I had to show you another picture:

chilean sea bass 2

We also happened to capture a picture of one of the other journalist’s dinners:

scallops dish
Maine Dayboat Scallops with asparagus, romesco sauce, shishito peppers and crispy basil.

Then came dessert: I chose the fromage plate and a glass of 2005 Château Guiraud Sauternes.

cheese plate
chocolate dessert
One of our fellow writers picked this chocolate creation (pictured above).

The next day, after a few hours in the gym at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands for myself—Andy opted to go on a 5 mile run—we were treated to lunch at another one of the hotel’s restaurants (open for breakfast and lunch): California Market.

view california market
It was bubbles for me (Domaine Carneros Brut) as I decided what I should order for lunch. The patio of California Market features space heaters to keep you warm when the sun is busy hiding behind the clouds, and gorgeous views of the ocean and the beautiful landscaping of the property. I took the picture below from my table at the restaurant.

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After snapping a few photos from above, I decided on the Cobb Salad and Andy ordered the Cioppino.

cobb saladCioppino
I order Cobb Salad a lot in restaurants because it has the trifecta of love: avocado, bacon and blue cheese!:) I ordered the dressing on the side (which was actually a very good Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette). It was the perfect low carb lunch after a long workout! The Cioppino was fragrant of mussels, clams, shrimp and cod with a spicy tomato broth. Andy jumped ship on the gluten free boat (momentarily) to enjoy the crusty garlic bread as a mop, catching every drop of the soup. What a satisfying lunch and sure to keep us full until dinner.

Following our meal, we said goodbye (reluctantly) to the staff at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands–one of the nicest stays I have had in recent memory. I think for me it was really all about the views and the cozy fireplace in our room. And OK, someone DID leave a bottle of my current favorite red wine in my room (how did they know about my love for Talbott Kali Hart??) accompanied by a cheese plate.:)

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our room
Indeed it was hard to leave, but incredibly excited to tour and stay at the next Hyatt property on our agenda for the weekend: The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, which I will be writing about in the upcoming week!

You can find Hyatt Carmel Highlands on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here and on Instagram here. You can find Holman Ranch on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Thanks to Hyatt Carmel Highlands for their generosity and hospitality.


Second Annual Golden Autumn Wine Fest On October 31st, 2015, Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm!

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I just found out about another fun food and wine event, this time featuring wine regions north of I-80. It’s called the 2nd Annual Golden Wine Festival and it’s going to happen on October 31st, 2015 from 11:00am-4:00pm at Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm in Wheatland. (Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm is located at 1415 Pumpkin Lane in Wheatland, CA).

Up to 25 top wineries and olive oil companies from the Sierra Foothills and Sacramento Valley will showcase their products.

This is an opportunity for wine lovers throughout the North State to interact directly with the vintners themselves while sampling a wide range of varietals and wine-making styles from this unique wine producing area of Northern California.

The event will take place in a beautiful hand-hewn, timber-frame barn, and will be accompanied by tasty hors d’oeuvres, a sampling of other locally-grown products and the option of Bishop’s famous barbeque lunch.

Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm will have its full facility open to allow adults as well as children to enjoy its corn maze, special baked goods, shops, miniature train, petting zoo and other down-home attractions.

Proceeds from the event will go to the Yuba-Sutter United Way to benefit grants for non-profit organizations providing services for “Healthier Children.”

Tickets are $25 — all tastings and hors d’oeuvres included. To purchase tickets, please CLICK HERE. If purchased before October 21st , the usual parking fee will be waived.

For more information, visit Yuba-Sutter United Way or contact Bob Harlan at (530) 743-1847. You can find Yuba-Sutter United Way on Facebook here.


Dawson’s Wine Dinner Featuring Pahlmeyer Winery

Last month’s wine dinner at Dawson’s Steakhouse featured Pahlmeyer Wines and a stunning five-course pairing.

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Andy and I attended the dinner as guests of the restaurant and were thrilled to be back at one of our favorite places to dine. I enjoy the wine dinners in particular because we always meet new people who are just as into wine as we are, as well as the wine representatives who are more than happy to talk about the wines in great detail that are featured in the dinner.

At a Dawson’s wine dinner, the evening typically begins at 6:30 in the form of a sparkling wine reception. Guests are given light appetizers and bubbly to kick off the evening and to open their palette and appetite for the incredible food and wine pairings to come.

appetizers
Soon after the appetizers and bubbly, the chefs and wine representative come out into the reception area to introduce themselves and explain the meal and wine pairings that will be served for the evening. Below, chef Jason Poole gives a rundown of what he’s created for the night.

Chef Jason
Following the menu introduction and the featured wines, guests are led into the restaurant to their assigned seats. There are a few communal tables and a few booths that are used for wine dinner guests. Andy and I were happy to be seated across from the wine representative as well as the wife of a well-known Sacramento chef.:)

Soon, the servers poured our first wine and brought out our first course of the evening: A Maple Glazed Pork Belly with a quail egg, pickled chanterelle mushrooms and green onion grits. This course was paired with a 2013 Jayson Pinot Noir. (Jayson is a secondary label of the Pahlmeyer brand.) Of course, Pinot Noir is a classic pairing with pork, and it was almost like an upscale breakfast for the first course with the pork belly (bacon), egg, and grits. I completely approve of that!

pork belly
Next up was the second course and wine pairing: Yellow Watermelon and Yellow Tail Tuna: Avocado cream, cocktail sauce, feta and cilantro flowers, paired with the 2013 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay.

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I loved the plating of this dish most of all and the fun flavors that resounded. Yes, feta really does go with almost everything, and it was great to have yellow watermelon (something I don’t get to enjoy that often) featured in a dish. The 2013 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay served with this dish could really stand on its own. I actually think I found a new favorite white wine.

Moving on to the third course, beef, a Wagyu Flat Iron. It was plated with butternut squash cream, charred jimmy nardello peppers, eggplant, quinoa and currants. It was paired with a 2012 Pahlmeyer Merlot.

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The beef course was my favorite because for me it was the most cohesive. Also, this was the best pairing—the wine did not compete with the food, but enhanced the flavors of its smoky eggplant and rich fruit (currants).

Rabbit
The fourth course brought us a Rabbit Saucisson (a sausage which originates in France that is typically made of pork, but here with rabbit and looked to have been made as a terrine). The saucisson was arnished with cornichons, white peach, pickled green tomato and a red wine mostardo.

This course was paired with a 2012 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red (a classic Napa style Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot). This full bodied wine paired well with the richness of the sausage, the boldness of the mostardo and the pickled items on the plate. Even a month later I remember how much I liked this particular dish and how unique it was.

 

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For dessert we enjoyed a caramel tart filled with a nut trio of almonds, pistachios and cashews and served with a vanilla gelato. The crust was much like a buttery shortbread, filled with a thin layer of chocolate ganache, followed by a thicker layer of caramel. It was one of the best desserts I have ever eaten in a restaurant, and that’s a high compliment, as I myself am a pastry chef who rarely indulges unless it’s just fruit or a cheese plate. Old Soul coffee was poured for guests to enjoy with their dessert. Depending on the winery, sometimes a late harvest wine or a port is served with the last course.

Up next for Dawson’s wine series is their wine dinner featuring Silver Oak. It will be on Friday, November 13th at 6:30pm, 5 courses for $95 per person. To make a reservation, call (916) 443-1234. Hope to see you there!:)

You can find Dawson’s on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.


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