Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Drink 1800 Wines at Boston Wine Expo (Feb 18-19)

This weekend is a good weekend for wine lovers in Boston, thanks to the Boston Wine Expo bringing 1800 wines from 200 producers to the World Trade Center.

Some well-known wineries will be there, including Duckhorn, Louis Latour, Martian Ranch & Vineyard, and Bonny Doon Vineyard.

This is also a great chance to try some unusual (for America) wines, including Georgian wines (which I fell in love with during a recent tasting), Lebanese wines, Romanian wines, and even one closer to home from Brooklyn.

In addition to more wines than you can taste, the Expo will also feature some fortified wines (think Vermouth and Sandeman Port) and spirits such as BarSol Pisco, Junipero Gin, and Glenrothes scotch. Some food vendors will also be there, so you can pair your wines with cheeses (like ones from Finland). Or cinnamon rolls, because why not? Local restaurants participating including Davio's, Del Frisco's, Doretta Taverna and Wine Bar, Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca, El Pelon Taqueria, and more.

Tickets are $110 for the Saturday Grand Tasting ($160 for VIP) and $100 for Sunday ($150 for VIP). Seminars are priced and ticketed individually. Get tickets here.

If you need some guidance on which wines to taste / which booths to visit, fellow blogger Passionate Foodie has gathered a nice list to start you off with here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Learning About the Wines of Georgia

I recently attended a tasting of wines from Georgia (the country, not the US state) and discovered there was much more I did not know about the world of wine! Traditionally made Georgian wines are unique, and if you've never had wines fermented in a qvevri, these wines would be completely unexpected for you. Most of the wines produced in Georgia are typically home winemakers who have been making wine for decades. There's no terroir codification and commercialization began pretty recently.

Just look at the colors, for instance:
Georgian Wines
Qvevri is an unlined terracotta vessel. They are buried in the ground and is cleaned after each vinification cycle. Since the vessel is unlined, there is air exchange happening through the pores of the terracotta throughout the fermentation. Prior to 2003, there was no commercially produced wine that uses qvevri, but then some producers decided to preserve the tradition.

Our wine tasting was led by Taylor Parsons, the sommelier from Republique in Los Angeles.

The first two wines I tasted were two Rkatsiteli from Niki Antadze. Niki Antadze is a tiny wine producer, with 3 hectares of vineyard in the Manavi, Kakheti regions. The Rkatsiteli is one of the main white grape varietals in Georgia.

Both Rkatsiteli were fermented in qvevri but without and with skin contact. You can see the colors are strikingly unique too.
Georgian Wines

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Previewing the Nantucket Wine Festival

It's almost time for the ultimate New England island-style food and wine celebration. It's almost time for Nantucket Wine Festival. I recently got to preview some of the food and wines that will be at the 5-day celebration up at State Room, with a view of the Boston Harbor (you'll be getting a different harbor view on Nantucket!)

Nantucket Wine Fest Preview
The Nantucket Wine Festival will take place on May 18-22, 2016 and will feature over 50 events including various tasting seminars, breakfast on the harbor, and grand tastings in which over 600 wines will be poured.
Nantucket Wine Fest Preview

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Romantic Cavatina Heats Up The Sunset Marquis

A romantic, quiet outdoor dining just off of the Sunset Strip, Cavatina is currently flying under the radar. It's surprising that not more people know about this restaurant, which offers a solid menu of both food and wine.

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Not a lot of people know about this restaurant that is hidden inside the Sunset Marquis hotel, but it offers a gorgeous outdoor dining experience. Get a table on the outside that overlooks the man-made waterfall for a more romantic setting.
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Cavatina's cuisine is originally headed by James Beard winning Chef and Restaurateur Michael Schlow who has a restaurant empire on the East Coast. I've previously had a great lunch experience at Cavatina, but now I returned to try the dinner menu. The evening provided a very different ambiance as well!

Lamb meatballs, tomato, cumin, pine nuts ($12)
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It's nice that the tomato sauce here doesn't overpower the flavors of the meatballs themselves.

Homemade potato chips ($7) with green chile onion dip - this one's a mainstay on the menu that I've had during lunch before.
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Yellowtail, cucumber agua chile, pickled persimmon, masago ($19), a light and refreshing dish that highlights the texture of the yellowtail.
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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Provence Rosé Luncheon at Bar Boulud in Boston

Rosé. What comes to your mind when you hear about this particular type of wine? Summer? Lawn party? This wine is more than that.

Provence is the largest wine producing region specializing in dry rosé and they rosé very seriously and had even established The Center for Rosé Research in 1999, analyzing more than 1000 wines each year. The center is open to the public for anyone interested in learning more about this wine.
Provence Wine Bar Boulud
Provence extends from Marseille (the birthplace of rosé) to Nice and contains 3 main appellations: Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d'Aix en Provence, and Coteaux Varoix en Provence. It is believed that the earliest wines were originally rosé since the Greeks did not macerate wine with the skin for a long time to give the red color.

US is the largest export market for Provence rosé (even though France still has the highest consumption), yet rosé still has the reputation of being just a summer wine and Provence aims to change that. I recently attended a luncheon at Bar Boulud and tasted many different kind of rosé. The luncheon really showcased the diversity of this pink wine.

We were greeted with a glass of Hecht & Bannier Cotes de Provence Rosé 2014 ($18.99). This is perhaps the "typical" rosé: bright, crisp, fruity, with citrus notes and a clean short finish. Good to drink on its own yet versatile.

It was followed by Chateau Leoube, Rosé de Leoube 2014 and the first course was served:
Vivaneau Marine aux Agrumes (citrus cured red snapper, heirloom carrots, tapioca, lime, cilantro)

Bar boulud

Monday, April 6, 2015

Preview: Nantucket Wine Festival (May 13-17, 2015)

In May, wine lovers descend upon the small island of Nantucket for a weekend of great wine events. This year's Nantucket Wine Festival will take place on May 13-17 with over 50 tastings, seminars, and wine dinners.

The wine festival doesn't just focus on Nantucket wines, but yes, Nantucket makes wines. Many of the wine grapes are actually grown in Washington then made into wine in Nantucket, but there is one vineyard on the island that produces commercial wine, Nantucket Vineyard. I tried a couple during their preview event at Bistro du Midi and they were quite nice.

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Of course, there will be tons of chefs from Boston participating including Lydia Shire, Tiffani Faison, Michael Scelfo, Tony Maws, and many others.
Here's a sample of the events: Tiffani Faison will be grilling BBQ on the beach while you drink rosé wines from Chateau D'Esclans, Domaine de l'Ile, and Nellcôte.
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Or, you can learn to blend your own cuvee with Veuve Clicquot. You can also check out fancy private jets with the hangar party with event sponsor Wheels Up, a private aviation company. There's a white bordeaux and oyster pairing, and a lobster and champagne luncheon. You're in New England after all! And of course, there are grand tasting events on Saturday and Sunday.

Nantucket is located 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod and reachable by boat or plane (Cape Air). I've never been but I'm hoping to make a day or weekend and check out some of the wine festival events! Check out the full event listing here and be sure to buy your tickets soon as some of the seminars have started to sell out.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bacchus Bar and Bistro (Irvine, CA)

by guest blogger @btsunoda

I recently visited Bacchus Bar and Bistro in Irvine. It is an upscale wine and craft beer bar. They also have a small kitchen where prepare a selection of appetizers, burgers and entrees. The exterior of Bacchus is deceiving because it sits in a shopping center but once you step inside, you are in an inviting and spacious area with a wine bar on one side and a retail space on the other.
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Bacchus offers over 350 bottles from around the world and has a wine bar where they can pour up to 60 different wines by the glass.
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I learned that they received the Wine Spectator award in 2014. Bacchus also offers 6 craft beers on a rotating tap along with 20 bottled craft beers. Glancing at the list of twenty, only five were from California. Belgian beers were prominently featured; there was a selection from Iceland and one from Italy.

Like their wines and craft beers, geographic diversity seems to be the desire for the focus of their cheese offerings. France topped the list with five different varieties. Holland was second with two and the US only had a single offering: Barely Buzzed from Utah. Fans of cheese from California, Oregon and Wisconsin may feel snubbed to not make the cut. Nuts, olives and various crackers and breads were also available. I was intrigued with the yuzu marmalade and the fig jam offerings as they probably go well with the crackers and breads. Some items are gluten free.

I repeated what my server said, “lobster grilled cheese” several times thinking that he had it mistaken for lobster mac & cheese. Brie and cheddar were melted with pieces of fresh lobster and served on toasted sourdough. Brie cheese added to the ‘gooey’ factor making each bite a multisensory and delicious experience.
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Happy Hour at The Factory Kitchen (Downtown LA)

One of my favorite Italian restaurants, The Factory Kitchen in downtown LA, has started happy hour. The happy hour is on Monday-Thursday from 5-7pm and offers a variety of small plates, classic cocktails, and wines.

Among the food offerings was the roasted bone marrow with foraged mushrooms and herb salad for $11. There's certainly nothing to complain about when you have bone marrow for happy hour!

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The cocktails are only $8 each and includes choices like a well executed Boulevardier. This cocktail, invented in 1927, combines bourbon, campari, and sweet vermouth.
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The Factory Kitchen has an excellent sommelier in their Director of Wine, Francine Diamond-Ferdinandi, so don't skip over the wine offerings. Lambrusco is still a pretty rare find, but they have one (Cleto Chiarli) for $7 a glass.
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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Giveaway! Temecula Valley's World of Wine 2015 (March 7-8, 2015)

Love wine? You can spend a whole weekend touring and tasting the wineries in Temecula Valley during next weekend's World of Wine weekend!

With this 2-day event you get a passport that you can use for barrel tasting and food pairing at more than 30 participating wineries along Rancho California and DePortola Roads. It's taking place next weekend on March 7-March 8, 2015 and the participating wineries will be open from 10am-4:30pm.
It's a self-drive tour and you get the wineries to stamp your passport along the way! This winter barrel tasting gives people a sneak peek of the upcoming spring releases.

The 2-day passport is $99 or you can also purchase a Sunday-only passport for $79. You can purchase tickets or find out more information here. Or go here for more information on lodging or wine tour packages.

Now, on to the good stuff, though. A giveaway! Maybe all this sounds great to you - wandering around Temecula Valley while drinking wine, but you need a little push to go there ... well, from now until midnight on Wednesday you can enter to win two Sunday-only passports ($158 value)! Just follow the instructions below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Calivino Wine Pub (Anaheim, CA)

by: guest blogger @btsunoda

Sporting events and concert venues don’t typically serve cutting edge food and so I’m always on the lookout for restaurants that are situated near these types of establishments. Calivino Wine Pub opened its doors in May 2014; located on Katella Ave in Anaheim, they are ideally situated between the Honda Center and Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
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The interior of Calivino Wine Pub resembled a modern cafe: stylish chairs and tables, spot lights from ceiling and single seating by the bar. Colorful wine bottles adorned the wall of the bar area.

 I began with their bacon wrapped dates and a glass of Clayhouse Adobe White Blend.
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The saltiness of the goat cheese combined with the natural sweetness of the dates and honey paired quite nicely. The white blend was a good beginner’s wine.
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 The honey roasted brussel sprouts with pork belly had a crisp exterior and I thought that the sweetness of the honey combined with the salty and smoky nature of the pork belly was an effective way to serve an otherwise bland vegetable. I paired this with an Argentine Malbec: Elsa Bianchi. This soft wine is ideal for the person that isn’t fond of bold complex red wines and is well suited for appetizers.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Where to Dine in Mammoth: Rafters at Sierra Nevada Resort


Now that snow season is upon us .... Where do you eat when you go to Mammoth? For many people, the answer is probably back at their condos. The thing is, there isn't much by way of dining out in Mammoth, and while I've gone out there a few times now, I haven't tried many places noteworthy. The Sierra Nevada Resorts is looking to change things.

There are three different restaurants at Sierra Nevada Resort, and we tried the one called Rafters, which serves modern American cuisine and a large wine list.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Late Night Happy Hour at Fleming's Steakhouse

If you've shied away from dining at a steakhouse because of the price, head over to Fleming's Steakhouse for their "late night happy hour", which isn't all that late. Called "8 for $9 til 10", you can get 8 items for $9 each from 8-10pm. They also have a "5 for $6 til 7" which may be an even better deal, but the offerings are better for the later night menu.

The same deal is available at all Fleming's locations nationwide. Even better, at most Fleming's locations you also get happy hour prices on some drinks (8 wines and cocktails) including a flight of single malt scotches for $9! Alas, Boston doesn't allow alcohol happy hour (poor me) so I can only show you the food offerings.

First of all, even though you're only there for the cheaper food at happy hour, they still serve you the housemade bread - served with tomato basil butter and Chardonnay-infused gorgonzola sauce.

Flemings

Flemings
The $9 items that are offered are the same full size that you'd get from the regular menu and includes things like the Filet Mignon Flatbread (danish blue and monterey jack cheese, red onion confit).

The filet mignon was unusually tender for toppings you'd find on a flatbread. This is a steakhouse and it's filet mignon after all! This was probably my favorite of the things I tried.

For the $6 flatbread during the earlier happy hour, you get mushroom and artichoke instead of filet mignon.

 I didn't have the stomach room to try everything and had to skip the prime burger, which I am sure would make a great affordable dinner if you get off work late one day!
Instead, that evening I tried the lobster lettuce wraps (North Atlantic lobster, crumbled bacon, crisped onion strings, orange-fennel slaw, tarragon dressing)
Flemings

Sunday, October 26, 2014

November 10: Wine and Food of Spain at The Bazaar ( + Ticket Giveaway!)

On Monday, November 10, head on over to The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills for a taste of Spain's best wines and food. The event is called Spain's Great Match and will feature more than 200 Spanish wines. The wines will be accompanied by tapas from The Bazaar. We're talking 200+ wines with Chef Jose Andres' lauded food! Last year's bites include a taste of their famed molecular gastronomy techniques

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There will also be a Cava Bubble Lounge. I don't know about you, but I love my bubbles.

Sounds good? Even better, at the end of this post you can enter a giveaway for 2 FREE TICKETS to this event!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Tasting Room at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village

by: guest blogger @iam_robot

Considering how interest in all things food related has soared in recent years, many hotels have added chef-driven foods, French cooking class, wine tasting, botanical garden tour, and other culinary activities to entice younger epicureans. Surprisingly the Conejo Valley hasn’t caught on to this idea. If you’re like me, I’m sure you have noticed that Westlake Village is not exactly a hotbed for fine wines and farm to table cuisine. Having spent a chunk of my time there, I dreaded the days I can’t find good place where I can sip, nosh and disappear for a few hours. The Tasting Room Interior
A couple of weeks ago, I was very fortunate to attend the grand opening of The Tasting Room, located within the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village. Partnering with Malibu Family Wines, The Tasting Room will pour a variety of award-winning Semler and Saddlerock wines. Other notable Malibu Coast and California wineries will also be featured on a rotating basis. I thought the addition of The Tasting Room is brilliant not only because nearby hotels do not have high-end wine shops (let alone tasting space) in their lobby, but also because they have esteemed assortment and probably the best wine flight in the area, with surprisingly fair prices to boot. Wine flight ranges from $15 to $50.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Laurent Quenioux's New Menu at Vertical Wine Bistro (Pasadena)

It's the height of summer and Chef Laurent Quenioux has rolled out a new menu at Pasadena's Vertical Wine Bistro. I hadn't been in for a while but I'm always excited to try LQ's food, especially seeing fried quail on the menu.

Now, when Laurent Quenioux is in charge, you can't miss the cheese plate! For mine, I chose cheese that spanned the whole range: Brillat Savarin Frais (France, cow), Bucheron (California, goat), and Pecorino Foglie di Noce (Italy, sheep). Truffle honey is extra but a must try.

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The cheese plate is typically served with berry jam, bell pepper mustard, roasted hazelnut, and baguette, but like I said my favorite condiment is the truffle honey! Especially with the creamy triple-creme Brillat Savarin.

I couldn't settle on a wine, so my server put together a flight instead. I asked for a rose and two reds and received: 2011 Schnaitmann Pinot Noir Rose from Germany, 2012 Boson Pinot Noir from Carneros, 2011 Le Pich Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa
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Appropriate for summer, the menu features Watermelon gazpacho with lobster and mango ($11)
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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Zinque Cafe and Wine Bar in West Hollywood

The old Nishimura space across the street from Pacific Design Center was always closed off by a tall wooden gate. Now it has turned into Zinque Cafe and Wine Bar and the gate gave way to a charming outdoor dining area, complete with a fireplace.

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The food menu is small, but we tried some good things here, starting with the Cheese Plate ($16) which included comte, blue cheese, and epoisses
Cheese
Though you don't get to choose the cheeses, they're all good and come with fun accompaniments. Now, the server might tell you the one at the end is brie, but I was told Zinque is one of the few places in town that serves Epoisses. Instead of brie, we had a slice of the wonderfully stinky epoisses, even better with the honeycomb.
Epoisses

Friday, June 20, 2014

Oyster and Sauvignon Blanc Pairing with Matanzas Creek

Oysters and Wine
It's unusual for one winery to produce four different Sauvignon Blancs, but Matanzas Creek Winery took the challenge. One afternoon, I attended a tasting of their four sauvignon blancs, each paired with a different oyster. The tasting took place at L&E Oyster Bar in Silver Lake.

We started off with the Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc. In this one, there's high acidity and I definitely tasted the lime and nectarine. To produce this, the winery uses a lot of dry ice to keep moisture out during low temperature fermentation. The winemaker, Marcia Monahan, has moved towards picking the grapes based on color instead of brix.
Matanzas Creek
They paired the wine with Shigoku, a tumbled oyster from Willapa Bay in Washington. I learnt a lot about oysters during the tasting, too. So the Shigoku is the same species as the Hama Hama oysters, but farmers put them in metal tumblers. Being tumbled throughout their lives, the Shigoku develop more muscle and a thicker shell. Tumbling oysters are supposed to make them sweeter, firmer, and milder.

This was a very traditional pairing. With a high acid sauvignon blanc, it brings out the sweetness of the oyster and extract a stronger "sea" flavor. I like the Shigoku better the Bennett Valley, though.

Oyster

Thursday, March 27, 2014

April 6: Ninth Ultimate Wine Festival in Manhattan Beach (and 2013 Recap)

If you're looking for a wine event filled with big names like Opus One and Silver Oak, then you should consider the Ultimate Wine Festival, coming up on April 6, 2014 at The Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach. 

The event costs $125 pp with tastings from 3-6pm, or $200 to get into the Reserve Magnum Tasting from 2-6pm. Considering the ticket price of some of these wines, it's a pretty good value if you enjoy your wines!

There are around 50 wineries participating in all. Last year, I found old favorites like The Prisoner and Faust ...
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... and ome new ones including Villa Creek from Paso Robles, who makes Rhone varietals, and Chappellet from Napa.
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Monday, March 10, 2014

Amaya (La Jolla, CA)

It's been almost a year since Amaya opened their La Jolla location (the first is at The Grand Del Mar). 
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The fancy interior may seemed old school and stuffy, but the servers were very friendly and courteous, and the young female wine director walked us through a fun pairing throughout dinner.
Bread
Bread Bowl
The menu is quite promising, with a nice variety of seafood (lobster pot pie!) and game meats. We started dinner with an amuse of lobster bisque.
Soup
We ordered the half dozen chilled oysters, served with a carrot and ginger granita on top, which complemented the oysters very well. These were paired with an Alto Adige Chardonnay.
Oysters
She told us that Chablis and oysters is a textural, while this Chardonnay is similar to Chablis but crisp. It brings out notes of apples and oranges.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wine and Cheese Pairing at Miramonte Winery in Temecula Valley

Miramonte was one of the beautiful wineries I visited in Temecula, with an outdoor seating area overlooking the valley and vineyards.

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Miramonte opened in 2001, but they hired a new winemaker in 2008. The new winemaker is a UC Davis alum who used to work at Argyle in Oregon (great sparkling wines). His experience has brought gentler nuance to the wines. Miramonte has 9 acres which are all planted with Rhone varietals (Temecula Valley is said to be very similar to Rhone) and they have started planting some varietals from Argentina and Portugal.
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We had a nice little pairing outside, with the fine breeze and beautiful view. The pairing showcases some items from their food boards, from cheese to tapenades.
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The 2012 Grenache rose was paired with Spanish manchego and strawberries. The cheese made the wine less astringent.

Their 2012 Rousanne was paired with Apricot Stilton, poached peach, habanero infused olive oil. The wine had notes of apple and under-ripe pineapple. I didn't like the Rousanne at first because it was buttery, but it became much better with the pairing.

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