Thursday, July 19, 2012

Surprising wines found outside Chico, California

On a recent trip to visit family in California, we decided to steer off the beaten path and visit some of the local wineries around Chico, California. What a great decision! If you're looking for the type of places where you can still meet the owners, winemakers and growers without spending a fortune than I highly recommend checking out Grey Fox Vineyard and New Clairvaux. These were our two favorites. New Clairvaux is an "Abbey community of Cistercian or "Trappist" monks that was founded in 1955 when the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky sent a group to California to begin a new monastery to relieve overcrowding at the motherhouse. New Clairvaux's land, history, and people make it an ideal site for 21st Century winemaking. Its Vina location is noted for its deep loam soils and mild climate, which enabled the site to blossom under the ownership of Peter Lassen during California's colonial days, and later as Leland Stanford's Great Vina Ranch, the world's largest vineyard, winery and distillery by 1890," says the Web site. While there, you should also walkover to check out the Sacred Stones project, the reconstruction of an 800 year old Chapter House from a Cistercian monastery in Ovila, Spain. Considered the most important room in a monastery, this historic structure is being rebuilt at New Clairvaux. And, it's gorgeous! At Grey Fox in Oroville, we were immediately met by one of the owners Jeanne. Jeanne walked with us into the tasting room which overlooks the hillside vineyard. After sampling some yummy Barbera's and Zinfandels, we enjoyed a picnic under the valley oak trees and continued enjoying the views. The soil around this part of California is perfect for Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Syrah and Viognier. If you're a cabernet lover, you may be disappointed.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

20 Hottest New Restaurants

LA's Ink, Nashville's Catbird Seat, and so many more great places are among the restaurants listed in RMGT Magazine's "20 Hottest New Restaurants." What's most exciting to me was to read that Seattle's Little Uncle was on the list. This tiny, and I mean tiny, Thai takeaway started out as a side project without a permanent address. Chef Wiley Frank, former sous-chef of Lark (one of my all time Seattle favorite restaurants), and his wife, first sold their cuisine in two restaurants and a farmers market for a series of pop-up restaurants before finally opening a permanent location in the Capitol Hill neighborhood at 1509 E Madison.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taste Everything: Secret is Homemade Noodles

It's snowing here today, and cold weather inspries warm hearty meals. The lasagna recipe below is a family favorite that we've adapted to make our own. When we make it for company they always rave about it's flavor. While my husband makes his own sauce - and we encourage you to do the same for this recipe - that's not our secret. It's homemade pasta. Making your own homemade pasta is quite easy; eggs, flour, water and a little olive oil. And, you don't need one of those fancy stand mixers which can be bulk and heavy, you only need a good old fashioned hand crank machine.




Here's what you'll need and what you'll need to do:

2 tablespoons olive oil1 cup chopped onion (1 onion)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey sausage

4 cups homemade pasta sauce

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cooked lasagna noodles

15 ounces ricotta cheese

4-8 ounces creamy goat cheese, crumbled (the more the better)

2 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling

1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
9x12x2 inch baking dish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large (10- to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute more. Add the ground sausage and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add your homemade sauce to the sausage, onions and garlic and bring to a simmer.



Simmer, uncovered, over low heat, for about 15 minutes for flavors to meld.



In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.


Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 x 12 x 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Next, add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one third of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.



Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Foodie Vacations

Tasting Table, together with Oregon Bounty, has put together an interactive list of some of Oregon's best farm-to-table vacations. From the Oregon Coast, to Portland, to the Willamette Valley, the list is broken out by region and provides seven short tasty itineraries for you to choose from.

The complete guide to "Oregon's Tastiest Trails" can be found here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Walrus & The Carpenter No. 3



Today, a foodie friend of mine in Virginia sent me a link to bon appetit's Top 10 Best New Restaurants. It's an exciting new list of places to visit and of course, try. What impresses me most about this list is its variety. From urban to elegant and low country to open country, the list is truly an eclectic mix of kitchens that doesn't skew to one type of dining experience or another.
Of course, it comes as no surprise that Seattle's own Walrus & The Carpenter ranked No. 3. One of own favorites! Below is the complete list:

No. 1 - Husk; Charleston, SC
No. 2 - Mission Chinese Food; San Francisco
No. 3 - Walrus & The Carpenter; Seattle
No. 4 - Travail Kitchen and Amusements; Robbinsdale, MN.
No. 5 - Ruxbin; Chicago
No. 6 - Talula's Garden; Philadelphia
No. 7 - Son of a Gun; Los Angeles
No. 8 - M Wells; Long Island City, NY.
No. 9 - Congress; Austin, TX.
No. 10 - Bondir; Cambridge, MA.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Camps for Foodies!

Send your kids to summer camp, but treat yourself to one of these decadent foodie camps this fall!



2011 Fall Camp Schramsberg, Sept.11-13

According to the agenda, Camp Schramsberg is a three-day sparkling wine adventure, led by Schramsberg's President and winemaker Hugh Davies and Chef/Enologist Holly Peterson. The Camp Schramsberg experience uncovers the mystery of how sparkling wines are born. Of course, meeting new friends and having fun is a part of it as well.


On Sunday Night, you will enjoy a sparkling wine reception and dinner in the historic J. Davies Vineyards, prepared by one of the Napa Valley's fine chefs. This is your Camp orientation and will prepare you for the two days ahead. On Monday, you will start with breakfast at Meadowood Napa Valley. Then it is off to the vineyards with Winemakers Hugh Davies, Keith Hock, and Sean Thompson, where you will harvest grapes that are literally "ripe for the picking". Learn how vineyard location, soil content, viticultural practices, and clonal selection play a critical part in creating the complex flavors in Schramsberg wines. You will also receive hands-on experience as you obtain an overview of the sparkling winemaking process - from harvest through bottling. For lunch, delicacies prepared by Meadowood Valley's chefs, will be used to illustrate how ingredients can complement and contrast wine flavors. A full afternoon of food and sparkling wine pairings follow, under the direction of Holly Peterson. Holly will guide you through basic to advanced component tastings, and will teach campers the art of sabering open a bottle of sparkling wine. Finish the day with an optional dinner at a local restaurant gem ($95 per person in addition to the camp fee). Tuesday starts with breakfast at Meadowood Napa Valley and is followed by a tour of Schramsberg's historic caves, a riddling demonstration, and working with the winemakers to create a personalized dosage for your own bottle of bubbly. Lunch, prepared by the Meadowood Napa Valley's culinary team, leads into a group sparkling wine menu creation contest. The program finishes with awards for the best menus and a chance to mingle with your fellow graduates. The fee for Camp Schramsberg is $1,200 per person (15% discount for wine club members). Lodging and travel to/from Napa is not included. A recommended lodging list is available by request and packages through Meadowood Napa Valley are available.



The Wine Harvest Camp, Oct., 17 - 21


Perfect for the person who loves food as much as wine. This four-day intensive camp offers a two-progned education. You'll spend part of your time in master cooking classes with master chefs, then head to nearby wineries like Scribe and Opus one to learn about growing grapes and pairing wines. The trip will culminate wiht a private dinner at renwoned French Laundry.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer in Season

Summer is here and so is berry season! Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries...you name it. And when they're this sweet, juicy, ripe and plentiful, they can also be fabulous in cocktails. Below is one of my favorite recipes from the Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. It's also very festive for your 4th of July festivities.

Stawberry Ginger Fizz:
For this cocktail it is best to use fresh ginger rather than making a syrup. We use a Champion Juicer to preserve the true ginger bite without adding that cooked quality. Add a nice Reposado Tequila like Corzo and the ginger serves to balance any of the typical Tequila earthiness. The rounded flavors of strawberry compliment the touch of oak from the Reposado as well. Pour over ice with fresh mint, top with club soda, stir, and you've got the refreshing Strawberry Ginger Fizz.

1.5oz Corzo Reposado Tequila
.5oz Fresh Ginger, juiced
1oz simple syrup
2 strawberries
1 lime wedge
Fresh Mint

Add the strawberries, lime wedge, and simple syrup to a shaker glass and muddle until the strawberry is broken down and the lime oils have been released. Then add the Tequila and fresh ginger, fill with ice and shake for 10 seconds. Double strain into an ice filled cocktail glass layered with a few pieces of fresh mint and top with club soda. Stir to incorporate.