Category Archives: Wine

Easy Drinking Vinho Verde

Golden with a tinge of green, Vino Verde is made to be enjoyed young.

Golden with a tinge of green, Vino Verde is made to be enjoyed young.

 

I’ve been intrigued by Vinho Verde since taking an illuminating wine class a couple years ago at the International Culinary Center in Campbell.

Among the discussions we got into was the best wine to accompany sushi.

I’d had my share of sake, Sauvignon Blanc and Chablis with my nigiri. But when our instructor, Master Sommelier Jesse Becker, mentioned he loved Vinho Verde with sushi, that was a new one on me.

The Portuguese wine is not a particular varietal per se. Instead, the name refers to “green wine,” meaning a young one, meant to be enjoyed readily, rather than tucked away in a cellar for years.

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Add Robert Mondavi Cab to That BBQ Sauce, Why Don’t You? (Plus A Food Gal Giveaway)

Cabernet Sauvignon in barbecue sauce -- what's not to like?

Cabernet Sauvignon in barbecue sauce — what’s not to like?

 

What’s better than sipping a nice wine while enjoying a summer backyard barbecue?

Adding some of that wine to the actual barbecue sauce, that’s what.

And that’s exactly what Woodbridge Wines by Robert Mondavi has done.

It’s added a good glug of its Cabernet Sauvignon to create a limited-edition Daddy Sam’s & Woodbridge Wine ‘Cue Sauce. Texas-based Daddy Sam’s has been making barbecue sauces for generations.

You know it’s a good sign when the Cabernet Sauvignon is the first item listed under the ingredients list. The pourable sauce is at once smoky, tangy, sweet, savory and just a little bit spicy, thanks to molasses, tomato puree, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, cayenne, and jalapeno.

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Sacramento — America’s Farm-To-Fork-Capital

Chef Ravin Patel holds cute little mason jars of baby root veggies in edible "soil.''

Chef Ravin Patel holds cute little mason jars of baby root veggies in edible “soil.”

 

When one thinks of California’s top food cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles come to mind immediately.

As for Sacramento? Not nearly so readily.

In fact, a publicist for the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau told me that when arranging a tour recently for an out-of-state food writer, the visiting scribe’s first question was, “Is there an airport there?”

Why, yes, there is. It is the Golden State’s capitol, after all.

Indeed, Sacramento is home to nearly half a million people, as well as 1.5 million acres of farmland. With a year-round growing season, it produces more than 120 different crops that are enjoyed not only locally but abroad.

It grows more sushi rice than any other place. In fact, chances are if you eat any sushi in California, the rice was grown in Sacramento. The city produces 80 percent of the nation’s caviar. The breadth of the bounty includes everything from almonds to Kobe beef to wine grapes.

The fork in Farm-To-Fork.

The fork in Farm-To-Fork.

Even the table was decorated with freshly grown provisions from Sacramento.

Even the table was decorated with freshly grown provisions from Sacramento.

I was reminded of just how crucial Sacramento is to our plates when I attended a special private dinner last week in San Francisco that spotlighted the city’s culinary treasures. It was a Sacramento roadshow, as Executive Chef Oliver Ridgeway of Grange Restaurant & Bar and Chef Ravin Patel, chief culinary officer of Selland Family Restaurants, trekked down from Sacramento to EatWith’s South of Market event space in San Francisco to prepare a multi-course feast for a dozen food journalists and bloggers. All of it featured fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood sourced from Sacramento.

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An Amuse Bouche to the 2015 Pebble Beach Food & Wine

Southern ham done in the style of Iberico jamon -- served on a magically appears during a hiking tour of Post Ranch Inn.

Southern ham done in the style of Iberico jamon — magically appears during a hiking tour of Post Ranch Inn.

 

When you get a group of esteemed Master Sommeliers together, you know there’s going to be an abundance of fine wines uncorked.

When you get them together at Big Sur’s gorgeous Post Ranch Inn as a prelude to next spring’s Pebble Beach Food & Wine extravaganza, the drinking and dining are of the highest order and pretty much go on non-stop.

That’s what I was lucky enough to be privy to when I was invited as a guest to the soiree and to Post Ranch Inn a few weeks ago.

A room with a view at Post Ranch Inn.

A room with a view at Post Ranch Inn.

The Nest -- a sculpture that you can cocoon away in.

The Nest — a sculpture that you can cocoon away in.

Sierra Mar restaurant.

Sierra Mar restaurant.

Among the other guests at the two-night affair were: David Bernahl, founder of the Pebble Beach event; Lara Sailor Long, executive wine director for the event; Kim Beto of Southern Wine & Spirits; Shayn Bjornholm, education director for the Court of Master Sommeliers; Ian Cauble of SommSelect; Dominque DaCruz, wine director of Post Ranch Inn; Christie Dufault, former wine director at Restaurant Gary Danko; Seth Kunin of Kunin Wines; Jordan MacKay, wine and spirits writer; Carlton McCoy, wine director for The Little Nell in Aspen; and Larry Stone, estate director of Huneeus Vintners in Rutherford.

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St. Helena’s Press Welcomes A Most Appropriate New Chef

The very clever carrot "hot dog'' at Press in St. Helena.

The very clever carrot “hot dog” at Press in St. Helena.

 

Earlier this summer, Press in St. Helena welcomed a new executive chef — Trevor Kunk, who was the chef de cuisine at Blue Hill New York for seven years.

It’s a most apropos choice, given that Blue Hill is renowned for its almost painstaking use of locally grown ingredients, including those from its own farms, and the fact that Press is very much a root-to-shoot, nose-to-tail steakhouse with the bulk of its provisions coming from its 13-acre Rudd Farms and Chef’s Garden.

In Kunk’s hands, the food at Press embodies the garden even more so now, as evidenced by my recent dinner there when I was invited in to dine as a guest of the restaurant. My dinner was a week ago, prior to last Sunday’s 6.0 earthquake in Napa. Fortunately, no damage occurred at Press, which is operating as usual.

Press was founded by Wine Country mover-and-shaker Leslie Rudd, who also owns Rudd Oakville Estate and Dean & DeLuca. The graceful restaurant was designed by Howard Backen, who has been responsible for the look of the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, Archetype in St. Helena, Kokkari in San Francisco, and a slew of premiere wineries including Harlan Estate, Ram’s Gate, Dana Estates and Bond Estates.

You can't miss the sign on Highway 29.

You can’t miss the sign on Highway 29.

The beautiful, light-filled dining room.

The beautiful, light-filled dining room.

The soaring barn-like restaurant fills with natural light, lending a casual but elegant ambiance. With an old-fashioned, hand-crank grape press as its logo, Press takes wine seriously. There are more than 1,500 Napa Valley selections, with a specialization in Cabernet Sauvignon, that you can thumb through on an electronic tablet. Or just put your hands in Sommelier Angela Stem’s hands. After all, with a surname like that, how can you go wrong?

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