Fitness, Food, Wine & Travel

Posts tagged “events

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!

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.


A Look Inside the Farm-to Fork Pear Bridge Dinner on the Delta

Photo by Skyler Stanley

Photo by Skyler Stanley

Last Sunday, not one but two dinners took place on a bridge to celebrate Farm-to-Fork and the amazing bounty we are lucky to enjoy living in the greater Sacramento region.

One of those dinners took place on the Deadhorse Island Bridge and was hosted by the California Pear Advisory Board. The menu featured locally grown produce, namely pears, in almost every course, and the signature beverage of the evening was a pear martini crafted by Jay Yoon of Dawson’s Steakhouse.

From the moment I heard this dinner was going to take place for people who were unable to attend the Tower Bridge Gala dinner, I was very excited for the organizers, and very interested in attending. Especially when I heard my friend and fellow blogger (Munchie Musings), Catherine Enfield would be attending.

It’s really something when you anticipate something so much and it turns out to be everything you expected, but so much more. On the evening of September 27th, we arrived in Walnut Grove and the Dead Horse Bridge (given its name from retired work horses who spent their last days on the island), located across the water from Giusti’s (a local restaurant responsible for the main course to be served that evening). The table and the bridge were beautifully decorated for the guests slated to dine there.

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Soon Andy and I were mingling amongst the other guests, as well as Catherine and her guest. The starter was a pizza from Hot Italian in Sacramento, featuring pears and gorgonzola cheese, their Murino pizza.

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Being gluten free 95% of the time did not stop me from tasting the appetizer and I enjoyed it with a pear martini, crafted by the aformentioned Jay Yoon of Dawson’s Steakhouse. If you haven’t been to Dawson’s, you’re missing out. Dawson’s is one of the most underrated restaurants in Sacramento. If you’re a wine lover, check out the wine dinners they have every few months. Here’s Jay making my martini!

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I loved the addition of the pizza and the pear martini. It was such a touch of class, and made the Dead Horse Bridge Dinner seem so much like a private cocktail party. Then there was the wine, all provided by Bogle Wines and the beer, provided by Sudwerk Beer. The sodas were provided by River City Sodas, and the drinking water was even infused with pear. I could tell the organizers were beaming with pride and showcasing their product (pears) in the best way possible.

On display were several works of art (photography) by Skyler Stanley, including the piece below. Skyler was also the event photographer and took all the photos that were made into a video slideshow of the event that can be viewed by clicking here.

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Soon it was time for the main event, and we were seated at our assigned places, at an enormous table that spanned the length of the bridge. I’m guessing that it sat about 200 people.

Then the courses began. First, a Delta Islands organic tomato and basil with fresh mozzarella salad. The Bogle Chenin Blanc was a perfect pairing with this salad and the next salad to come.

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The next salad we enjoyed was an endive salad with pears, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, and candied walnuts.

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The first salad was a traditional mozzarella salad, but the endive salad really showcased the pears. Blue cheese and walnuts are a classic sidekick for pear. and the platter of salad didn’t last long amongst my table mates.

Then following the salads was the main course: A barrel-roasted pork rib roast with caramelized pears. Some meals just go down in history as the best you have ever had, no matter how simple the preparation. This meal was headed that way, and the pork we had next only added to my enthusiasm.

It’s really the atmosphere and the company with which you share your meal that makes it great, but it doesn’t hurt to have one of the best pieces of pork you have ever had in your life in front of you as well. The pears in the dish gave a sweet element that danced with the well-seasoned pork. Guests were also served sweet corn-on-the-cob from Dixon with the main course. Bogle’s Petite Sirah and Phantom Red Blend rounded out the wine selections.

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OK, so I was all ready for seconds. I really was. But next came dessert, a delightful array of items from Golden State Fruit including dark chocolate crumbs, dried and fresh pears, almonds and Fiscalini cheddar cheese. It was like I was in charge of the dessert plate because it was a stunning combination of all of my favorite things on a plate!

golden state fruit dessert
With the dessert items, Bogle’s Petite Sirah Port was also served.

bogle port

The words amazing and incredible can’t even describe my experience. The Pear Bridge Dinner was such a great success, but could not have been without the help and donations of time and goods by the following people… I want to give a round of applause to the chefs who put the meal together: Mark Morais of Guisti’s and his team –Sam Rainwater, John Baranek and Katie Morais. More thanks goes out to J.B. & Jeannie Morais of Delta Islands; Sudwerk Brewing Co.; Rich Collins, California Endive; Jim Boyce, Produce Express; Dixon Ridge Farms; Bogle Vineyards; Rivermaid Trading Company and all of the local Delta pear farmers, as well as Golden State Fruit.

More kudos goes to Chiles Wilson, Daniel Wilson, Chiles Wilson Jr., CJ Jensen, and Dixie Wilson for the use of her bridge. Rivermaid Trading Company was responsible for set-up, serving and clean up before, during and after the event. Big love to Jay Yoon and his assistant, Susan, from Dawson’s Steakhouse in the Downtown Hyatt for the delicious pear martinis. More thanks to Jody Bogle, Janice Lucas, Steve Lucas, Tim Lucas and Judy Rhea for pouring wines and beverages. Emily Allen of EJA Designs created the beautiful flower arrangements for the event.

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The proceeds of the dinner were generously donated to the victims of the Lake County fire.

To say the Pear Bridge Dinner was memorable evening is simply an understatement, and if you’re reading, one I hope you’ll take part next year. To keep up with future events, you can find the California Pear Advisory board on Facebook here, follow them on Twitter here, on Instagram here and on Pinterest here.


Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction and Beer Garden Event 25th Anniversary, October 10th, 2015

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I can’t believe it’s been four years since I met Andy at the Curtis Park Wine Tasting and now we live here in Curtis Park together. We are really looking forward to taking our annual walk over to the Sierra 2 Center in a few weeks to enjoy food, wine and friends. 🙂

I am happy to share information on this event (which happens to be one of the best food and wine tastings of the year in Sacramento) put together by the Sierra 2 Center, and I hope you will join us for the 25th Annual Curtis Park Wine Tasting!  -cg

The tradition continues at the 2015 Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden Event on Sacramento, October 10th, 2015 4-7pm.

Building on the success of 24 previous years, this event showcases more than 50 wineries, 20 restaurants and handpicked craft brews by owner & operator of Curtis Park’s own Pangaea Bier Cafe.

The Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden Event is the biggest event of its kind in Curtis Park. Event proceeds benefit SCNA, Bret Harte Elementary School and McClatchy High School. The event takes place at the Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th Street, Sacramento, California 95818

Bring your friends with you, or come meet some new ones. This year we’re turning 25 and we’re celebrating in a VERY big way.

Event Highlights:
• Raw Oysters on the Half Shell (Scott’s Seafood on the River)
• Dad’s Kitchen
• Freeport Bakery
• Lucca Restaurant & Bar
• Localis (apart of the Broderick Restaurant family)
• Sugar Plum Vegan Bakery
• Tower Café
• Tapa the World
• Taylor’s Kitchen

Event Sponsors: Cook Realty, McDonald Plumbing, Joseph F. Eschleman, Black Pine Communities, Melissa Heede (Remax)

Advance until 11:59pm, Oct. 7: $40 (SCNA Members)/$45 (Non-members) Membership can be purchased or renewed during your registration process. Online ticket sales will close at 11:59pm on Oct. 7. After Oct. 7: $50 all online tickets available until 11:59pm, Oct. 7. After Oct. 7, tickets available at Sierra 2 Center office and at the door the day of the event. Tickets are also available for purchase by visiting the Sierra 2 Center office at 2791 24th Street or by calling 916-452-3005 prior to 5:00 p.m. Friday, October 9, 2015. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door prior to the event.

You can follow the Sierra 2 Center on twitter here and find them on Facebook here.


Farm-to-Fork Pear Bridge Dinner on the Delta September 27th at 4pm

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If you didn’t get tickets to the Tower Bridge Farm-to-Fork Gala dinner, I have an alternate dinner (also on a bridge!) for you to attend at the same date and time!

On September 27 at 4 pm, a dinner coordinated by the California Pear Advisory Board will take place on the historically-named Dead Horse Island Bridge on the Delta near the community of Walnut Grove. Attendees will mingle with other guests and local California pear farmers while enjoying a scenic view in the heart of one of the largest pear-growing regions in California.

The event will include locally-raised meats, Delta-grown crops such as corn, tomatoes, endive, and, of course pears. The dinner will be catered by Giusti’s Place, a great local restaurant located next to the bridge. An appetizer and cocktail from the Farm-to-Fork Pear Recipe Contest that was held in August will be featured: Grilled Pear Bruschetta from Taste Restaurant and Jay Yoon with Dawson’s Steakhouse at the Hyatt will be serving his House Pressed Bosc Pear Martini (shown below). Delta area wines and local beers will also be served.

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Each person will be allowed to reserve no more than four tickets at a price of $125 each. To reserve tickets, please send an e-mail to the California Pear Advisory Board at info@calpear.com. Please note the event is for people over the age of 21.

The California Pear Advisory Board is a non-profit organization made up of farmers who grow pears in California. The cost of Pear Bridge Dinner tickets is meant to cover expenses only. Any money remaining after costs are covered will be donated to a local charity.

If you’d like to try some special pear dishes at local restaurants you can CLICK HERE to find out what’s being served and where.

You can find the California Pear Advisory board on Facebook here, follow them on Twitter here, on Instagram here and on Pinterest here. See you on the bridge on September 27th!


Nevada City Uncorked, a Historical Food and Wine Walk, is August 29th, 1-4pm

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Can you walk and drink wine and the same time? 😉

Next weekend, get uncorked in downtown Nevada City on August 29th! And thanks to my friend Rod Byers (wine educator and the event’s organizer) I have a press release to pass all the details along to you! -cg


Nevada City Uncorked is a unique wine and food tasting event, taking place on August 29 in downtown Nevada City. The town’s Victorian charm and historical architecture is the perfect backdrop to showcase Uncorked, a walk-about-town style format that includes 21 different venues throughout the downtown area.

Each location, whether it is a retail shop, restaurant, B&B, winery tasting room, or historic spot, includes wine or beer tasting, and food sampling.

Nevada City Uncorked features 18 members of the Sierra Vintners Association, and two local breweries, Ol’ Republic and Three Forks. All of the wineries will be offering samples of their favorite wines as well as showcasing their newest release in celebration of the upcoming 2015 harvest.

This year’s event also encourages a connection between the local farmers and participating restaurants and caterers. Whether it is wood-fired pizza produced with locally sourced toppings, slow-roasted locally raised pork, artichoke pesto quiche with locally grown basil, house-made ricotta topped with a tomato-pasilla chili jam, or grapes from vineyards dotting the local landscape, Uncorked is a celebration of the agricultural bounty of the northern Sierra Foothills.

Uncorked offers the opportunity to stroll through time in historic Nevada City. The National Hotel, California’s oldest continually operating hotel, was the base for the creation of the Pacific Gas & Electric Company in 1898. The National Hotel’s bar and upstairs hotel lobby remain must-see windows into Nevada City’s past. The view from their second-story balcony, an Uncorked venue, endures as one of the best in town.

In one of history’s more tidy circles, Emma Nevada, considered one of the finest sopranos of the late 19th century, lived in the Emma Nevada House, sang her first solo concert in the Powell House, and later performed in the Nevada Theatre. All three historic buildings are venues this year during Uncorked.

Check-in for Uncorked will be at the lower level of the Nevada City Veteran’s Building at 415 N. Pine Street where people will pick up their wine glass, event map, and food tasting tickets.

There is also the opportunity to purchase wine through the Uncorked Wine Store, open that afternoon only, featuring many of the wines poured around town that day.

Nevada City Uncorked is collaboration between the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and the Sierra Vintners Association. Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 on the day of the event, and $30 for Wine Club Members of participating wineries (contact your winery directly). Each ticket includes a wine glass, unlimited wine/beer tasting, and five food tickets.

Click on www.nevadacitychamber.com for information or call 530.265-2692 to purchase tickets directly. To purchase tickets online click on www.sierravintners.com.

KNOW & GO
What:
 Nevada City Uncorked
Where: 21 venues throughout downtown Nevada City.
Check in at the Vet’s Building, Lower Level, 415 North Pine Street, Nevada City
When: Saturday, August 29, 1-4 pm
Cost: $35 in advance. $45 on the day of and $30 for Wine Club Members of participating wineries
Information & Tickets: Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, (530) 265-2692 www.nevadacitychamber.com
Online Tickets: www.sierravintners.com.

P.S: For a look at last year’s event, you can refer to my experience at Nevada City Uncorked here!


Legends of Wine Returns September 17th, 2015

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It’s been Farm-to-Fork insanity here at cavegrrl.com headquarters! Andy and I are scheduled to attend so many events and dinners in celebration of this very special time of year in Sacramento. One of my favorite upcoming events is Farm-to-Fork’s Legends of Wine. I’m am thrilled that my mom will be coming out to visit during that week and will be going to Legends of Wine with us.

Legends of Wine provides the unique opportunity to sample and discover more about some of the region’s most celebrated varietals, as selected by two of Sacramento’s internationally recognized culinary powerhouses—Darrell Corti and David Berkley. Set against the backdrop of California’s majestic State Capitol, guests will sip a wide array of award-winning wines paired and presented with artisan cheeses and local delights.

If you’ve never attended Legends of Wine, here’s a brief look at last year’s event—some of my favorite wineries, along with some pictures of the impressive fruit and cheese arrangements we enjoyed.

First up is Bokisch Vineyards! They caught my attention at the first Legends of Wine in 2013 with their Tempranillo (one of my favorite varietals), and last year they served an Albariño.

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I was very impressed with Capay Valley Vineyard’s line up—their sparkling viognier was my favorite. 🙂

 

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Another notable winery was Casey Flat Ranch—their Estate Red Wine is excellent.

 

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Aaand… always a favorite of mine… Matchbook. Their entire flock of wines are both affordable and delicious. Maybe this year they will bring their Arsonist Chardonnay?
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Here’s one of Andy’s picks from last year: Michael David’s Sauvignon Blanc. Looking forward to trying more from them this year, and perhaps they will bring their Inkblot Tannat! 🙂

Along with the wines, there were fabulous displays of fruits and cheeses for the pairing:

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This year’s Legends of Wine is September 17th from 6:00-8:30 p.m. on the west steps of the State Capitol. Tickets are $59 each. To purchase tickets, head over to the Farm-to-Fork website here. See you there!

To keep up with all the delicious Farm-to-Fork events, click here, “like” Farm to Fork on Facebook here, or follow them on Twitter here.


Heritage Fire Napa Delights Guests with an Exceptional Display of Artisanal Cookery

It was a meat lover’s paradise at Cochon Heritage Napa, an event in the Cochon 555 series that took place on August 2nd, at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena.

One highlight for me included Tyler Florence’s Fried Chicken (mainly because I don’t always eat fried chicken, but when I do, it’s made by Tyler Florence.) I smiled and giggled like a schoolgirl when I picked up my portion of juicy crispy poultry garnished with garlic and herbs and a lemon wedge and Tyler urged me to “squeeze that lemon all over it”. Pretty tasty for sure.

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Sorry to gush over celebrity chefs there for a moment. Anyway, it was also great to see Sacramento’s own Michael Thiemann, who is just about ready to open Empress Tavern on K Street. Here he is preparing meats that would go into a special Hawaiian-themed plate with turkey, rice and macaroni.

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Here’s a shot of Brad Cecchi, formerly of Sacramento restaurant, Grange. Good to see him out there as well.

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It was fun to visit the “Tartare Bar”, where I got to participate in the “Tartare Hand Job”, um…their title, not mine ;)—raw meat was placed on the back of my hand, seasoned with a “chive bomb!” and I was supposed to eat the portion all at once. Let’s just say I’m not that good at shooting food in one big bite, but the tartare was excellent. 🙂

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I can’t fail to mention some of the fabulous wineries present: Cameron Hughes, Inglenook, Lombardi, Del Dotto Wine, Wines of Germany, Faust Wine, Prager Port Works, Clif Family, Leaf and Vine, Antica Wine, Cornerstone, and of course Charles Krug.

Some other favorite bites of mine came from the charcuterie station… plenty of prosciutto and sausages to be had, as well as several fresh figs and smoked almonds. I also enjoyed some artisan cheeses and an assortment of heirloom vegetables. By the time Andy and I left the event, we were stuffed!

All pictures except for the one of Tyler Florence were taken by Catherine Enfield of the Munchie Musings website. Thanks for allowing me to use your photos, Catherine! 🙂

Next up for me in the Cochon 555 series is Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 05:00pm at Magnolia Brewing @ Dogpatch in San Francisco. You can purchase tickets for Cochon’s other upcoming national events here. More information on the San Francisco’s Heritage BBQ event to come soon.

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


Matteo’s Wows a Sold Out Crowd with Rombauer Wine Pairing Dinner

Last Wednesday evening, Matteo’s Pizza and Bistro hosted a sold out Rombauer Wine Dinner, that was one of the most fun and memorable events I have attended since I have been writing this blog. It was very special because it was Andy’s birthday and we shared a table with some close friends of ours (who are also Matt Woolston fanatics) to celebrate.

chardonnays
The evening began on the patio with a vertical tasting of the 2013 and the 2014 Rombauer Chardonnay. I enjoyed both vintages (the year age difference of the wine alone made the two unique), the 2013 a softer mellowed wine and the 2014 a more vibrant, food-friendly wine.

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While we were tasting the two Chardonnays, there were a trio of appetizers being served to the guests. They included:
Bruschetta with grilled fig, whipped brie and balsamic local honey glaze

fig and brie crostini
It’s the perfect time of year for figs, and the pairing of the cheese and balsamic glaze is always a fun combination. I love August because figs are in full swing. It’s just another example of how Matteo’s and Supper Club Catering really adopt the Farm-to-Fork concept by choosing to use in season ingredients and elevating their flavor.

Another passed appetizer was Torched Wild Salmon with white miso marinade on sesame wonton crisp

salmon
This Asian-inspired appetizer was another example of an ingredient that is currently at it’s best: wild salmon. Salmon is one of Andy’s favorite foods, so I was happy to see it on the menu. It was a perfect bite with the miso marinade and the crisp of the wonton chip. The kitchen also prepared a version of this appetizer on a spoon without the wonton chip. It was a great variation and a beautiful plating arrangement as you can see.

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

BLT
I am always pleased with the food creativity at Matteo’s and Supper Club Catering, and with this appetizer, you can understand why. The bits of foie gras were crisped up to act as bacon in this mini play on a BLT. This was a very popular appetizer with the entire crowd.

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

corn soup
This was one of my favorite courses. The chef explained to us that the soup is actually vegan and then he “went and messed it up with bacon.” No mistake there—the crispy bacon was a lovely highlight to the dish both visually and in taste. The soup was sweet and spicy and rich even without the addition of cream.

First Course Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Sauvignon blanc 2014, Napa Valley, the first new varietal introduced in more than 20 years and only the second white wine in Rombauer’s 35-year history. I recall it being more round in flavor, and by that I mean not so astringent. Instead of the grapefruit one would typically pick up in a New Zealand-style Sauv Blanc, there was more stone fruit (peach, apricot) essence that matched up quite well with the sweetness of the corn in the soup.


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

rabbit pizza
OK, I realize this website focuses on gluten free, but Andy and I are not actually celiac or gluten intolerant, so we occasionally enjoy foods that happen to have gluten. It’s just part of a wine dinner more often than not, and because we don’t attend wine dinners every night, it’s fun to splurge when we do. That being said, when you don’t have a real slice of pizza for a few years and then have a slice at Matteo’s it makes the slice all the more delightful! 🙂  I truly enjoyed this crusty, cheesy bread topped tomato, one of my favorite cheeses, fontina, and rabbit leg confit. By the way, they nailed it on the pairing—a juicy, but not overly fruit forward Merlot.

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

lamb
I have to say this course was one of my favorites. I loved the bed of greens the lamb was sitting on. I am a pistachio addict and the chards of the parmesan made me so happy. Then there was the lamb. Lamb two ways, actually. And lamb leg happens to be my favorite. Thanks, Matteo’s. I loved this plate (I didn’t eat it by myself, FYI) 😉 because there  were so many textures going on. Lamb crisps should be put in a bag and sold!

Third Course Wine Pairing:
Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley. Cabernet is a phenomenal choice to pair with lamb.


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

burgers fries
I can officially be quoted as saying that this burger is the best one I have ever had from a restaurant. (Though I have heard Formoli’s is also quite good). If you never go to Matteo’s to try anything else, go there for the burger. The meat is sourced from Lucky Dog Ranch, another high quality ingredient. The fried green tomato was a decadent garnish, as well as the blue cheese. Everyone at our table went crazy for the fries, doused in truffle and asiago. It was so delightful to see a burger paired with a high end wine like the Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Selection. Such great ingredients deserve such a stunning wine.

Fourth Course Wine Pairing:

Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Selection 2011, Napa Valley. A softer cab than the previous one, velvety and rich, just like the burger and fries. Heavenly.


I didn’t get an acceptable picture of dessert, but my favorite part of it was the peanut brittle cookie on the plate with the terrine. It was a bit like tasting peanut butter and jelly– the jelly part being the Rombauer Zinfandel pairing.

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

If you haven’t visited Matteo’s just yet, here’s a good excuse: They’ll be hosting a wine tasting event on Wednesday, August 12th 6-7:30 PM featuring the ollowing wineries:  Alfaro, Lexington Winery, Mount Eden Estate, Sonnet, and Windy Oaks. It’s $15 per person to participate. If you would like to attend, contact Wine Shop Dave at wineshop at pizzamatteo.com or call (916)779-0727.

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


Have an Offal Day Returns Sunday, August 16th 2-5pm!

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Last Sunday, I ran into Catherine (of Munchie Musings) at Cochon Heritage Fire Napa (held at Charles Krug Winery). She was happily grazing the wonderful offerings at the annual festival of all things grilled meat, just as Andy and I were. Over full bellies, we discussed some of the upcoming food events in Sacramento. While chatting she mentioned her festival Have an Offal Day 3, and I agreed I would pass the information about the event to you! 🙂

Have an Offal Day #3 takes place on Sunday, August 16th from 2 to 5 p.m. at Mulvaney’s Next Door (1215 19th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811).

What is Have an Offal Day? Well, it’s a day that honors offal. You know, the nasty bits. The parts of animals that are left when all the pretty and prime parts are butchered and sold. It’s things like hearts, kidneys, blood, intestines, from animals such as lambs, ducks, chickens, beef, and pigs, well, you get the idea.

The lineup of chefs this year includes:
Carina Lampkin (Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery)
Danny Origel (Roxy)
Tyler Bond (Dirty Feet Dining, Kru)
Keith Breedlove (Culinerdy Cruzer)
Patrick Mulvaney (Mulvaney’s B&L)
Brian Mizner (Hook & Ladder)
Brenda Ruiz (Biba’s)
Brock MacDonald (Block Butcher Bar)
Wes Nilssen (de Vere’s Pubs)
Don Dickonson (Yang’s Noodles and instructor at IOT Culinary School)
Andrea Reiter (Capital Dime, soon The Patriot)
Hank Shaw (James Beard winning author)

TICKETS are $68 (no additional fees)

Your ticket price covers the venue and other event expenses, as well as benefitting the Food Literacy Center. Thank you to the chefs that jump at the chance to play with offal for a day and to the audience willing to try it! 🙂 That’s so Paleo! Thanks, Catherine for all the meaty details.


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.


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).

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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.

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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! 🙂


Urban Wine Xperience Takes Over Oakland Waterfront on Saturday, August 1, 2015

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In honor of Wine Wednesday, I am excited tell you about another upcoming food and wine event—this time in Oakland!

East Bay Vintners Alliance presents the 10th Annual Urban Wine Xperience on Saturday, August 1, 2015, from 1:00-4:00pm.

The event will take place at Market Hall in Jack London Square. More than 20 urban wineries from the EBVA will pour a wide array of white, rose, red and dessert wines for you to taste and enjoy.

In addition, local eateries and food purveyors will team up with the various wineries, creating delicious bites that pair beautifully with the EBVA’s wine portfolio. No need to travel to wine country when you can experience the ultimate wine tasting in your own urban backyard!

Participating wineries include: Aubin Cellars, Carica Wines, Chouinard Vineyard and Winery, Dashe Cellars, Jeff Cohn Cellars, Mead Kitchen, R&B Cellars, Rock Wall Wine Company, Rosenblum Cellars, Stage Left Cellars, Paradox Wines, Urban Legend and Urbano Cellars with more wineries set to join.

Last year’s event was sold out and tickets are expected to go fast for the 10th anniversary event. Tickets are priced at $45 before June 1, and will be $70 at the door. Wine Club members’ tickets are $35 with promo code. Designated drivers receive discounted tickets at $15. You can purchase tickets by clicking here.

New this year for the first time, UWX ticket holders will receive a $5 coupon at the door, applicable to any wine purchase at the event. A portion of the proceeds from wine sales will be donated to the Alameda County Food Bank.

You can find the East Bay Vintners Alliance on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.
Make it a social experience by using the hashtag #UWX15! See you there 🙂


Kathryn Hall Cabernet Release Party Set for September 12th, 2015

Here’s a little press release from my friends at HALL! We can’t wait to attend the Kathryn Hall Cabernet release party in September! You can read about last year’s party here.

kathryn hall pic for party

HALL’s Annual Harvest Party Celebrates Release of 97 pt 2012 Kathryn Hall Cabernet

HALL St. Helena has announced the date for its annual Kathryn Hall Release Party releasing the 2012 vintage of its flagship Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The event will take place on Saturday, September 12 and will include a unique Vertical Tasting prior to the event hosted by award winning winemaker, Steve Leveque.“2012 is one of the most exciting vintages this Valley has seen in a decade,” says vintner, Kathryn Walt Hall. “We are thrilled with how Steve and his winemaking team have consistently crafted this wine each year, maximizing each vintage to produce the best possible result. This is truly the best fruit Napa has to offer.”Bringing together winemakers, wine-lovers, fans and foodies alike, guests will be invited to enjoy a sun-filled afternoon outdoors to sip on the newly released 2012 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was recently rated 97+ pts by Robert Parker.

In addition to the main event, a rare Vertical Tasting hosted by Steve Leveque will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the historic Bergfeld building. The experience will include a tasting flight of Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon (vintages 2007 – 2012).

Country music entertainment will be provided and guests will be served farm-to-table bites, western style. Additionally, Kathryn Walt Hall will be available during the event to sign bottles. The Kathryn Hall Release Party takes place on The Great Lawn in St. Helena located at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains facing HALL’s Bergfeld Estate vineyard.

Think daytime. Think Texas BBQ. Think Kathryn Hall, Y’ALL. It’s going to be the ultimate harvest showdown with 800 friends set on the Great Lawn at HALL.

Ultimate Harvest Party Shindig: It’s Kathryn Hall Y’ALL
2012 Kathryn Hall Release Party

WHEN:
Saturday, September 12, 2015
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m (Vertical Tasting hosted by Steve Leveque)
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. PST (Main Event)

WHERE:
HALL St. Helena
401 St. Helena Hwy. South
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 967-2626

Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite at http://bit.ly/1LiII7v.
Prices for the Main Event are $75 for Early Bunny (purchased before Aug. 17) and $90 thereafter including at the door the day of the party. Ticket price for the Vertical Tasting is $200 and includes admission to the Main Event. For more information, please visit www.hallwines.com or follow their social channels on Twitter @hallwines and on Facebook here.


The Santa Monica Grand Tasting featuring Chef Susan Feniger is June 13-14th!

santa monica Evian, BADOIT, and The St. Regis Monarch Beach present The Santa Monica Grand Tasting! 2 Chef Susan Feniger of Border Grill heads the festivities as a featured chef, along with 100 of LA’s top chefs participating in the kitchen presented by the Santa Monica Whole Foods Market. Participating Chefs include: Raj Dixit of Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern, Tacoteca (Adam Fleischman), Bouchon (David Hands), 9021pho (Kimmy Tang), Fattoria del Vicario (Matt Dhillon), Scratch Bar (Phillip Frankland Lee) , Fiamme Pizza Napoletana (Luke Smith), Q-Catering (Vazgen Ghahremanians), LA Sweet Tooth Confections (Paula Solis/Leslie Z), Chef DJ Seal (DJ Seals), Sugar & Spyked (Tamara Anderson), Chocolatier (Eve Stephens), Ace Culinary Academy School (Cecilia De Castro), My Sweet Beginnings (Tene Harris), Chef Bryan Hill, Hotel Erwin (Adam Steudle), My World On Plate (Keven Lee). IMG_9529 Other Participating Brands: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Kerry Gold Cheese & Butter, Choctal, GG’s Toffee, Cutco, Fresh Brothers, Nature’s Bakery, Gourmet Blends, and many more. The event will take place on the Iconic Santa Monica Pier to sample the ultimate in pairing menus, where numerous well-known chefs and restaurants will be featured. This is the first time an event of this caliber will be held on the pier. 3 Guests can enjoy the iconic pier from 7-10 pm as they take a tour through an endless array of scents and tastes that highlight and celebrate the diverse culinary offerings LA has to offer. Free rides offered by Uber.com to event participants and after parties at the Hotel Erwin. For more information on the event, visit their website: http://santamonicagrandtasting.com What: Santa Monica Grand Tasting Why:   Supporting the Chill Foundation When: June 13-14 Time:   7PM-10PM Location: Santa Monica Pier


NakedWines.com Tour Makes a Stop at Sacramento’s Vizcaya on May 13th

Wine lovers, you won’t want to miss this!

Over 7,000 bottles of wine will be uncorked on NakedWines.com road trip across California, and this coming Wednesday, May 13th, the tour makes a stop right here in Sacramento at the Vizcaya!

More than 30 of your winemakers are hopping on the Naked Tour Bus and roaming around California to share their best wines with all the people (like you!) who funded them.

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So, how is this different than any other wine tasting?

Every wine you’ll taste was crowd-funded by regular wine drinkers, and the winemakers didn’t pay to attend and share their wines. We recommend going up to a table and asking one of the winemakers to explain it. (They’ll be wearing blue shirts).

Who is behind all of this? 300,000 wine drinkers realized they could get better wines at better prices if they supported winemakers to cut out all the costs you can’t taste, like marketing. They weren’t rich enough to do it alone, so they teamed up and invested people like Ken, Tom and Carmen below.

After winning fifty 90+ scores for his wines at Flora Springs, Heitz and Joseph Phelps in a 4 decade long career making Napa Cab, Ken is finally striking out on his own with a personal range of Napa wines at unbelievable prices. Even reserve barrel-­aged Napa Cabs for under $30.

ken

One of our first thousand Angels revealed a hidden talent for making world-­class wines in his garage at home. 75,000 Angels teamed up to invest in Tom’s first professional range of wines made with award-­winning fruit from Pickberry Vineyards.

tom

Carmen is an amazingly talented winemaker, but she had a hard time getting funding as South Africa’s first black woman to graduate in oenology since Apartheid. Angels saw her qualifications and immediately agreed to fund her personal project in exchange for exclusive access to these delicious treats.

carmen

To purchase tickets to the event, you can go here. The Vizcaya is located at 2019 21st Street, Sacramento, CA 95818. The event begins at 6:30pm and goes until 9pm.

You can find NakedWines.com on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.


TAPAS Tempranillo Tasting is April 26, 2015 at the Presidio, San Francisco!

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If you like wine at all (especially wines made in a Spanish style), don’t miss this event:
TAPAS is pleased to announce the most extensive tasting of domestically produced Tempranillos and other Iberian varietal wines. Join nearly 40 TAPAS member vintners for the 8th annual Grand Wine Tasting held at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio in San Francisco on Sunday, April 26, 2015.

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.

The year’s event will feature a Tempranillo Shootout starting at noon – watch the website for details!

The public event schedule is:

  • 12:00 Noon – 1:30 p.m.  – Tempranillo Shootout.  Tickets are $75, and include early admission to the Consumer Tasting directly afterward.
  • 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.  – Trade/Media Tasting.  Qualified members of the wine trade and media may register using the appropriate link below:
  • 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Consumer Tasting.  In conjunction with the walk-around tasting, the TAPAS Wine School (included with admission) will feature informative consumer-oriented seminars. Tickets are $55.

Tickets to the Tempranillo Shootout and Consumer Tasting are now on sale at tapas15.eventbrite.com.

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!”

To me, this is one of the best wine tasting events of the year and a nice walk off the beaten path of common varietals. It’s fun to taste lesser known wines like Touriga Nacional (originates from Portugal) along with wines like Albariño, Garnacha, and Verdelhos which are slowly gaining domestic popularity. I walked away from the event last year with a better knowledge of wine in general and a few new favorites. I am looking forward to this year’s event and a day at the scenic Presidio in San Francisco. 🙂

About TAPAS
TAPAS, now in its eleventh year, 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.


Recipes from the 1st Annual Ladies Holiday Party and Gluten Free Cookie Exchange Sponsored by Challenge Butter and Bob’s Red Mill

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Special thanks to the suppliers of our ingredients for the First Annual Ladies Holiday Party and Gluten Free Cookie Exchange: Challenge Butter and Bob’s Red Mill.  As you can see above, our ladies put together quite a spread with your line of products.

Challenge Butter sent all baking attendees coupons for their butter and new cream cheese products. Bob’s Red Mill sent 4 packages of coconut, almond and hazelnut flours our way as well. We used these products to make and share the following cookie recipes (I’ll also be sharing other treat and savory recipes using Challenge and Bob’s Red Mill products throughout 2015 as well!):

Grain Free “Oatmeal” Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients
1/4 cup Challenge Butter
1 large egg at room temperature
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond flour
2 Tbs Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp finely ground flax seeds
3/4 cup finely shredded coconut
1/2 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

Procedure
Preheat oven to 350°F
Place the Challenge Butter and the egg in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream for 1 minute on high. If you don’t have a stand mixer you can use an electric hand mixer.
Add the honey and vanilla and mix for another minute.
Place the cinnamon, nutmeg, Bob’s Red Mill flours, baking soda, salt, and flax seeds in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Slowly add the dry ingredients


Gluten-Free Orange-Cinnamon Lace Cookies

susan

Ingredients
1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoons grated orange rind (zest)
5 tablespoons unsalted Challenge Butter
1/3 cup Pyure Organic Stevia
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon orange extract, optional
melted dark chocolate for drizzling, optional

Procedure
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

In a small bowl mix together the flours, salt, cinnamon, and orange zest until well blended.

Combine the Challenge Butter, Pyure Organic Stevia, and honey in a medium saucepan set over low heat. Stir until the butter melts and the stevia dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and bring just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat.

Stir in the dry ingredients into the pan, followed by the orange extract.

Drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheet by teaspoonfuls, spacing the spoonfuls 4″ apart from one another. Bake no more than six cookies on a pan.

Bake the cookies for 7 to 9 minutes, until they’re an even golden brown. Transfer the cookies, on their parchment or foil, to a rack, and let them rest until they’re completely cool and crisp.

Bake succeeding batches while the first batch is cooling.

Once the cookies are completely cool, drizzle them with melted dark chocolate, if desired.


Caramel Date Thumbprints

kristy

cookies
Cookie Base
Ingredients
1 1/4 cups pecan halves
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill almond flour
1 1/3 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped plump Medjool dates
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted Challenge butter, softened
¾ cup Pyure Organic Stevia
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Procedure
Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor. Remove dough from food processor and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour to firm up the dough. You can also place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to speed up the process.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Shape cookies into little balls and press your thumb into them to make a deep impression. Bake at 350°F until they are golden brown. Take out the cookies and carefully (as the cookies are still hot) press them back down in the center to make sure the impressions are deep enough to hold the caramel date filling.

Caramel Date Filling
Ingredients
20 medjool dates soaked in hot water and drained
2 Tbs Challenge Butter
sea salt to taste
2 tsp vanilla extract
Procedure
Pulse in a food processor until the filling becomes a caramel texture.
When cookies have cooled, use a pastry bag to fill them with the caramel.

Chocolate Drizzle
Ingredients
2 cups chocolate (chips or semisweet)
2 Tbs coconut oil
Procedure
Melt the chocolate and the coconut oil in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring in between. When chocolate is melted, drizzle it over the finished cookies and set aside to dry.


Thanks again to Challenge Butter and Bob’s Red Mill for their awesome product supplies. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here. You can find Bob’s Red Mill on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.

If you would like to sponsor the 2015 Ladies Holiday Party and Gluten Free Cookie Exchange, you can contact me here. I am looking for wine sponsors, gluten free cookie ingredients, catered items for guests, and goodie bag items for attendees.


12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover: Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon Duo

josh duo
It’s day ten of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover and today’s pick comes from Josh Cellars. It’s their duo of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

These are inexpensive to mid-priced wines, and a great gift for your boss, co-worker or neighbor. They are also wise choices to bring to Christmas dinner to share with the family.

The Sauvignon Blanc is a drink now and pairs well with a starter salad, cheeses and seafood, and the Cabernet Sauvignon you can enjoy now with a main course like this Salt and Pepper Crusted Prime Rib with Sage Jus! There are also definite aging capabilities on the Cabernet if you have the patience to wait. 😉

The Sauvignon Blanc costs around $17 and the Cabernet Sauvignon around $16. Both can be found at Total Wine and More.

For every bottle you purchase until Dec 31st, they will donate $1 to Operation Homefront and their special Holiday Meals for Military program.

Operation Homefront’s Holiday Meals for Military ensures troops and their families have what they need for a healthy and plentiful holiday meal. In 2014, they will be distributing 8,000 meals in 21 locations across the country.

About Operation Homefront:
A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity watchdog groups, nationally, 93 percent of total donations to Operation Homefront go directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to www.OperationHomefront.net.

About Josh Cellars:
California vintner Joseph Carr’s line of Josh Cellars wine is named in honor of his father – a passionate stock car racer and war veteran who was as unassuming and approachable as the wines that bear his name. Josh Cellars offers bold, complex and approachable wines handcrafted for drinking with family and friends. Sourced from vineyards across the Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Mendocino County, and even the Central Coast of California, Josh Cellars offers six California varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and a new red blend, “Legacy.”

You can find Josh Cellars on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.

Tune in tomorrow for day eleven of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! Cheers 🙂


12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover: Domaine Chandon’s Limited Edition Blanc de Noirs, Holiday 2014

The countdown rolls on with day four of 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! For day four, I’ve selected Domaine Chandon’s Limited Edition Blanc de Noirs, Holiday 2014.

chandon

Wrapped in chic winter-white and emblazoned with the golden phrases “The Party Starts Here,” “Pour on the Fun” and “I Am the After Party,” these Limited Edition bottles are as fun to give as they are to pour.

I’ll be serving this sparkling wine at my Gluten Free Cookie Exchange holiday party sponsored by Challenge Butter, Bob’s Red Mill and Whole Foods Market (Roseville) this weekend.

The wine retails for $24.00 per bottle (standard 750mL) and $19.20 per bottle for wine club members.

Head over to Domaine Chandon’s Estore to purchase. They’ve got a special offer on ground shipping with the purchase of a case and if you use ground shipping (enter code BUBBLES12), you can still get the wine in time for New Year’s Eve if you order by 12/18.

Also, check out Domaine Chandon’s entertaining and hosting tips over on their site!

I hope you’ll check back tomorrow for day five of my 12 Days of Christmas Picks for the Food and Wine Lover! Cheers!

You can find Domaine Chandon on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.

 


The Hot Chocolate 5 and 15K Warms Up San Francisco on January 11th, 2015

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How will you be making a start to the new year? I’ll be heading to San Francisco to take part in RAM Racing’s Hot Chocolate 5K & 15K on Sunday, January 11th, 2015.

Join me and make 2015 the year you achieve your fitness and health goals!

America’s Sweetest Race, the Hot Chocolate 5K & 15K, is coming back to San Francisco on Sunday, January 11th.

Enjoy a beautiful run through Golden Gate Park with over 13,000 runners and then celebrate crossing the finish line with indulgent chocolaty treats at the unforgettable post-race party!

Known for their amazing swag bags, all participants receive the official 2014-2015 season swag bag and new for the season, all 15k finishers will receive the official Hot Chocolate Finisher Medal. In addition, runners can sign up for the “Go the Extra Mile” program to raise money for charities. Ronald McDonald House Charities are the official charity of choice for each Hot Chocolate 5K & 15K race.

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2014HC_Medal_HomeGB_SF

The Hot Chocolate Series is the fastest growing 5k and only 15k series in the world. The series is produced by RAM Racing, the nation’s premier race production company based in Chicago who strives to give participants an emotional, unforgettable race experience.

You can read about my Chicago experience here.

For detailed information on the race, please click here. To register for the Hot Chocolate 5K & 15K, click here. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Thanks to RAM Racing for sponsoring my race and see you in San Francisco! 🙂


Farm to Fork Wine Dinner Series: Piatti Presents Matchbook Wines, Spectacular from Beginning to End!

rose
If you missed Piatti’s last wine dinner for the year featuring Matchbook Wines, I feel really bad for you! It was even more than I thought it would be––even though I knew it would be amazing. Piatti is one of my long time advertisers, and I have always been a fan of their food, but I never knew it could be pulled off like this. This dinner was probably one of the best meals I have eaten there. I think it’s mostly due to Chef Lance Carlini who combines his take on Italian cuisine with Farm to Fork/seasonal and brings it to a whole new level.

And then there were my wonderful table mates. So, at the Piatti wine dinners, patrons are sat 6 to a table, so you prepare to make new fellow loving wine friends–at least for the night! I was lucky enough to sit with Sharon, Tamara, Eduardo, and James and be a fifth wheel. 🙂

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We were sat fountain side with illuminated trees surrounding us. We had been welcomed with an opening glass of Matchbook’s Rosé of Tempranillo as John and Lane Giguiere (owners of the winery) were making the rounds and introducing themselves to each table.

Then it was onto the opening dish: A wood fired spot prawn with Grass Valley polenta and a hatch chili chimichurri. It was paired with the wine we were already enjoying: Matchbook’s 2013 Rose of Tempranillo, Dunnigan Hills.

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As you can see. the plating was flawless on this dish. My favorite element was the chimichurri (a green sauce made of chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white or red wine vinegar) which I love on anything from seafood to chicken to beef or pork.


The second course presented to us was a Riverdog Farm Potato Gnocchi served with fall squash, Apple Hill apples, lacinato kale and cream. It was served with the 2012 ‘Arsonist’ Chardonnay, Dunnigan Hills. The upfront nose on the wine revealed aromas of toasty oak, caramel apple and crème brûlée. It was an automatic match with the plump buttery gnocchi and apples in the cream sauce. Gnocchi is the only pasta I even missed post-Paleo, so this was like eating dessert for me!  Also, lots of wonderful comments from my table mates––they also loved the squash and apples in the dish. It was the essence of fall! Great pairing, Chef Carlini! 🙂

gnocchi copy copy

Then it was time to get serious. The third course presented to us was a Tinto Rey Red Braised Short Rib with Thyme Toasted Mushrooms and fresh Horseradish paired with the 2009 Tinto Rey Red Blend, California. The Tinto Rey is a red wine blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Graciano, Tannat and Cabernet.

So, if you didn’t gather from the course description, the short rib was actually braised in the wine with which it was paired. We didn’t even really need a knife on this one, just a fork to pull apart the meat. Again, the plating was gorgeous and the pairing was genius.

short rib copy

Dessert came soon after that: A Milk Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate Cake, Sea Salt Caramel and Hazelnut––topped with Pomegranate arils. It was paired with the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County. I boxed up the dessert to take home to Andy, but took full advantage of the Cabernet. 🙂 The Matchbook Cabernet Sauvignon has vibrant ripe red fruit characteristics followed by layers of spice and earth and chocolate and that’s enough dessert for me!

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I was completely wowed by this wine dinner and I was seated with the best company! Thanks to the marketing and management at Piatti for the great partnership we have had over the years. And thank you, Chef Lance Carlini! Amazing job. 🙂

As of October 25 this year, Matchbook now has a tasting room located in Zamora here.  GO VISIT THEM! 🙂

You can learn more about Matchbook Wines here. You can find them on Facebook here and their parent company on twitter here. You can find Piatti on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.