(sponsored post) Canadian dog food brand, Open Farm, to recycle ALL of their packaging. Also, for every empty bag sent in, they will make a donation to the sender’s favorite animal charity or rescue organization. As of this week, I … Continue reading
by Paige Donner This Valentine’s Day why not indulge in a bit of self-love? Yes, I mean CHOCOLATE! The good thing about eating chocolate is that it’s actually included in the grouping of Nature’s Super Foods. Gotta love nature! If … Continue reading
Just when we were all getting comfortable with kale… along comes watercress to mix everything up. So what is all this fuss about watercress packing more of a nutritional punch than kale? Based on a study carried out by researchers … Continue reading
The Avocado tree is native to Mexico and Central America… The vitamins and minerals contained in this recipe can do everything from speeding cell turnover (to reveal healthier skin underneath) to protecting skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Get plenty of moisturizing vitamin … Continue reading
by Paige Donner What better time than summer to 1. Eat Healthier 2. Spend less time in the kitchen 3. Transform your body to Fantastically Fabulous With these three goals in mind, is it any wonder then that Fast Food … Continue reading
Christmas is right around the corner, once again, welcoming all the gourmet treat lovers with its festive sweets. Suchard has on offer this season a gift box sure to please you and every chocolate lover on your Gift List … Continue reading
by Paige Donner Corton Grand Cru – Charlotte Dumay Recently I was privileged to taste some of the great Hospices de Beaune (Burgundy) wines. These were the 2012 vintages, so not only are they “babies,” they are still infants. Which … Continue reading
[re-posted from Press Release] For Immediate Release: October 24, 2012 Los Angeles — As supporters rallied in front of Los Angeles City Hall today, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting Proposition 37, the Right to Know … Continue reading
Excerpted from From Le Figaro (English)
Monsanto must pay for French farmer’s pesticide injuries
A French tribunal found Monsanto, the leading producer of agro chemicals, responsible for serious neurological effects suffered by a French farmer after his exposure to poisonous pesticides. Monsanto must pay for all damages suffered by the farmer.
This win may set a precedent for other cases. The MSA (mutuelle sociale agricole), the French mutual insurance system for agricultural workers, reported that they receive about 200 files a year from agriculturalists who confirm being poisoned by pesticides.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s book of recipes for “Family and Friends” was released by Marabout Books in May. It is a delightful book filled with basic dishes, healthy and flavorful, that will gather your friends around you as you putter in the kitchen.
The dishes are good go-to recipes for “Mothers of The Family,” as well, as there are no refined sugars used. Following the foreward by Mario Batali, Paltrow lists two full pages of essential ingredients to have on hand and stocked in the refrigerator. These include: Dark Agave Syrup, Light Agave Syrup, Brown Rice Syrup, Maple Syrup, Honey…
Illustrations include beautifully photographed prepared dishes alongwith family photos of Gwyneth as a child and a baby, and then as a mother herself with her own children. Wonderful summer dessert recipes await you at the end of the book such as Seasonal Fruit Crumble and Fresh Red Fruits With Caramelised Cream.
by Paige Donner Bordeaux is the ideal-sized city to just wander around. In this sense, it is a bite-sized city that still offers enough funky and charming little neighborhoods to give you the feeling that you are exploring. Chartrons is the … Continue reading
by: Paige Donner
After taking a series of cooking classes in Paris last Winter, I realized that it was time to have some dinner parties chez moi to show off my new masterful (!) cooking skills. So when I realized that my one pan large enough to fry one egg in wouldn’t suffice for my dinner guests, I went shopping for new pots and pans.
The first thing I noticed was that since I’d last scoured the market, a whole new line of cookware had made its presence known on the store shelves. The most intriguing of these are the ceramic-lined cookware. I first did some window shopping in various department and specialty cooking stores and then placed my order with Beka whose Eco Beka line of 100% “Chef Eco-logic” line of ceramic-lined pots and pans had merited the 2009 prestigious Design Plus Award.
To really test the efficacy of the both products, I ordered one pan the identical size of the one pan I already had. My old pan was teflon-lined steel – not a cheap version but just last generation pan. The new shiny white pan from Eco Beka came lined with a beautiful slate gray ceramic.
It heats super fast, the hollow handle, metal, stays cool when cooking, I use a tiny drop of oil for non-stick and to steam vegetables I only use a 1/3 of the water.
What makes Eco Beka so efficient not to mention aesthetic?
- 100% environmentally friendly and worldwide exclusive treatment of eco hardened aluminum surfaces.
- PTFE and PFOA-free thanks to the water-based ceramic coating.
- No release of toxic substances – neither in production, nor when overheating.
- Natural color of the pan is preserved: no chemical dyes used
- Hollow, thermal handle: Fewer materials used which benefits the environment (this keeps the handle cool, unless used in the oven).
- Beka makes a whole range of Eco Beka. Take a look at the line of pots, pans and casseroles online.
And two more things: Super easy cleanup of the nonstick surface. Also, I swear that the fact that they sponsor the Top Chef TV show had no bearing on my decision to purchase Chef Eco-logic 100%. After all, I’m not a Top Chef, I just pretend to be one when I’m cooking at home.
by Paige Donner
Paris is catching on to a wildly popular UK dining custom called “Secret Dinners.” In certain parts of the U.S., such as L.A. and NYC, they are popular, too. Essentially, they are moveable feasts where the people, the food and, most importantly, the locales are never the same.
Parisian foodies will nod and smile and confess that they have no idea why the Secret Dinner trend hasn’t quite taken hold in their city. It might be partly because when you do a search on the internet under Paris Secret Dinners this huge article of a catacomb tribe who held seances (not really, much tamer than that, but it’s fun to spread these blasphemous rumors, isn’t it!?) in the secret tunnels below the Trocadero surfaces.
In Paris there are a few who are carrying on the UK tradition of Secret Dinners and Secret Lunches. One goes by the name New Friends Table and another by the name Miss Lunch. Neither wanted their photos published or even too much written about them, given that it’s all, well, you know, Secret!
The concept is a good one for travelers or transplants to a new city. Anyone can eat out at a restaurant, but how often do you get the chance to be invited to someone’s home where you can share a meal, meet other people, talk to locals, and generally get an authentic glimpse into how people live in a given city. Well, you might, if you have an old college roommate or a cousin living in a foreign city, but if you’re off for a romantic weekend or on business overseas for a week, you likely won’t get that opportunity.
As a single woman, it provoked some thought to agree to attend a Secret Dinner where an address isn’t provided until a few hours before the start time and where you must swear to secrecy about the identity of the people putting on the dinner.
So when a Secret Picnic was alternately proposed, I felt confident that this was the better choice. Sunshine and spring weather on a Saturday afternoon in a Paris park is paradise on Earth. Add to that a picnic basket filled with some of the best delights Paris has to offer, in the form of cheeses, bread, wine, olives, chocolate, traiteur salads and cold dishes, and a couple of outrageously decadent desserts all delicately spread out on a colorful flower tablecloth on the grass and you’ve got yourself a Picnic a la gourmand…secret or not.
Sightseeing is tiring. And while shopping for cheese and wine can be fun, you might not know where to get the best stuff when you’re in Paris for 72 hours. It’s also time consuming to make the pilgrimages to the various arrondissements to gather the truly famous goods.
You have the option of either joining in on a Secret Picnic already planned or you can order your private picnic for two, as you desire. Now you’ll just have to try to figure out who the Secret Picnic people are. Good LUCK! Hint: they arenot in the catacombs under the Trocadero.
Vancouver, BC, April 1st, 2011 – The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival announced this year’s trade competition winners at the 8th Annual Awards Lunch on Friday, April 1st, 2011. “The trade competitions give the Festival an opportunity to honour and celebrate those professionals who have developed and enhanced the extraordinary wine and food culture of our region,” says Festival Executive Director Harry Hertscheg. In honour of the awards, guests enjoyed lunch prepared by culinary talent Blair Rasmussen, Executive Chef to the VCC, and toasted winners with wines from Spain, this year’s Festival theme region.
SPIRITED INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL (SIP) AWARD The Spirited Industry Professional Award annually honours an individual who has made a significant contribution to the sales, service or promotion of wine in British Columbia. The sixth annual SIP Award goes to internationally acclaimed food and wine critic, Jurgen Gothe. Gothe has seen his columns run in over 100 publications over the past few decades, and is currently the weekly wine columnist for the Georgia Straight. After 23 years hosting CBC Radio Two’s DiscDrive, Gothe retired as the station’s only double-gold-medal winning program host. Today, he does weekly spots for CBC on everything oenophilic, and can also be found on The Peak FM airwaves commenting on BC’s local flavours.
SOMMELIER OF THE YEAR AWARD
The 11th annual Sommelier of the Year Award recognizes outstanding wine knowledge and wine service. This year’s award goes to Owen Knowlton for his 500+ wine list at West restaurant, which also took one of the most coveted accolades in the trade competition: the Platinum Wine List Award. Driven to provide West guests wine that is high in value and quality (with a splash of boutique bottles and sommelier favorites), Knowlton has been sipping, spitting, and perfecting his wine knowledge over the last decade. The Sommelier of the Year is awarded based on votes by key members in the industry and is also included in the May Restaurant issue of Vancouver Magazine.
WINE PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE
The Wine Professional Challenge gives sommeliers and wine professionals a chance to compete for the coveted Puddifoot Award. Currently in its sixth year, competitors were required to rotate around 5 judging stations and speak for 3 minutes on topics related to technical and varietal distinctions, flight tasting and customer service. This year, the challenge winner was Jay Whiteley of Hawkswort
Vancouver’s top chefs vied for gold on Wednesday night at Fetzer Great Beginnings, Flavours of the City. Chefs from Bearfoot Bistro, One Hundred Nights at OPUS Hotel Vancouver, Cibo Trattoria, DiVino Wine Bar, Sandbar, Diva at the Met, Prestons, Terminal City Club, and Uli’s Restaurant all vied for top prize from a panel of judges that included the city’s top food and wine journalists. This year’s award for best food and wine pairing went to Diva at the Met Executive Sous Chef Jeff Kang.
QUADY DESSERT COMPETITION
The Quady Winery of Madera California hosted the 23rd Annual Quady Dessert Competition, inviting British Columbia’s top pastry chefs, cooks and students to complement their orange muscat dessert wine, Essensia. At stake was a Grand Prize trip for two to California, as well as Silver and Bronze Prizes and C
WINE LIST AWARDS
Celebrating the best food and wine pairings in the business, restaurants in Metro Vancouver, Whistler, Vancouver Island, the Interior and Alberta have all been recognized for creating wine lists that complement their establishment’s unique menu and concept. Candidates submitted their wine and menu lists, and were then visited by judges who reviewed their programs. The top restaurants were awarded Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, or commended with an Honourable Mention. The Wine List Awards are sponsored by Vancouver Magazine.METRO VANCOUVER
Blue Water Café + raw bar
Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
Wine Room at Joey Bentall One
Au Petit Chavignol
Salt Tasting RoomSilver
Cactus Club Cafe
The Salmon House
Zest Japanese Cuisine
ShuRaku Sake Bar & Bistro
Poor Italian Ristorante
Lift Bar Grill View
Yew Restaurant + Bar
Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House
Goldfish Pacific Kitchen
Hart House Restaurant (Burnaby)
RimRock Cafe Whistler
Araxi Restaurant + Bar
VANCOUVER ISLAND AND GULF ISLANDS
The Pacific Restaurant (Victoria)
Nautical Nellies Restaurant
Stage Small Plates Wine Bar (Victoria)
Veneto (Victoria)Honourable Mention
The Landing West Coast Grill (Nanoose Bay)
The Marina Restaurant (Victoria)
La Bussola (Kelowna)
Emerald Lake Lodge (Field)
Local Lounge . Grille (Summerland)
Whitetooth Mountain Bistro (Golden)ALBERTA
Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro (Calgary)
River Café (Calgary)
Vin Room (Calgary)
The Ranche Restaurant (Calgary)
Ric’s Lounge and Grill (Calgary)
Ric’s Grill S
ABOUT THE PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL
The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, Canada’s premier wine show, runs from March 28th to April 3rd, 2011. The Playhouse Wine Festival is one of the biggest and oldest wine festival events in the world. In 2011, the theme region will be Spain and the global focus, Fortified Wine. The Festival features a week of special events including the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, wine seminars, wine minglers, winery dinners, and lunches and brunches at fine restaurants and hotels. The Playhouse Wine Festival is produced by the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival Society, which has three mandates: provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and Festival partners; and raise funds for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company. Since its inception in 1979,
Posted by Mathew Wright
Comox, BC – Shellfish lovers have the chance at winning one of two getaway contests to the BC Shellfish Festival this June in the seaside town of Comox to enjoy all the sights, sounds andflavours at the largest shellfish festival on the West Coast.
Contest#1 – Not open to residents of Vancouver IslandTwo return tickets on Harbour Air from downtown Vancouver direct to Comox on June17, 2011, returning June 19, 2011 (45 min flight)Two night’s accommodation in a one-bedroom suite with jacuzzi at the Crown Isle Golf& Resort Community, June 17-18, 2011 Two tickets to the Chefs’ Dinner on June 17, 2011 featuring chefs Robert Clark of CRestaurant in Vancouver; Andrew Springett of Black Rock Oceanside Resort in Ucluelet; Andrew Stigant of Crown Isle Golf & Resort Community; Garrett Schack of Vista 18 in Victoria; Richard Verhagen of Market Street Grill on Salt Spring Island and Belinda Jonesof Gatehouse Bistro in Cumberland Two tickets to the BCSF Festival Day event at Comox Marina Park, Saturday, June 18,2011 featuring cooking demos, live bands, the BC Oyster Shucking Championship, localfood and more
Deadline to enter is May 1, 2011 Entry details at:
– Open to allTwo night’s accommodation at the Crown Isle Golf & Resort Community, June 17-18,2011Two tickets to the Chefs’ Dinner on June 17, 2011Two tickets to the BCSF Festival Day event at Comox Marina Park, Saturday, June 18,2011 featuring cooking demos, live bands, the BC Oyster Shucking Championship, localfood and more
Deadline to enter is May 16, 2011Entry details at: http://www.discovercomoxvalley.com/promotions/contests.htmMore information about the festival and all the events taking place can be found on ourwebsite at www.bcshellfishfestival.ca and our FB Page at <a href=”http://www.facebook.com/BCShellfishFestival.
by Paige Donner
Rarely do you get such a glimpse of how basic an element wine is to French culture than at something like the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants. At an event like this one, you really get the feel of how wine is actually a basic food group for the French. It’s not a luxury or something that needs to be “mastered” but rather as elementary to daily life and basic needs as is water.
As a tourist or even as a resident foreigner, this Wine Salon is something I plan trips around and mark on the calendar months in advance. Held this past weekend at the ginormous Expo center that is Porte de Versailles in Paris, I had the chance to sip and taste new and just released vintages from over 250 independent wineries and winemakers from all the regions of France. The question was not a matter of access (entry cost 6 Euro) or accessibility (all the wineries were pouring). The question was whether I had the stamina to last a whole day. If I were a real pro, I would have gone over the course of each of the consecutive five days and prolonged the learning and the enjoyment, the listening and the tasting, stretching it out for every last drop.
The Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants is something that everyone even remotely interested in wine must attend at some time. As a window onto wine and French culture, it’s unsurpassed. It’s also no-frills. And it’s held twice a year – in the Fall and in the Spring. The only people I envied as I roamed the alphabetized aisles, were those who were savvy enough to have come with their rolling suitcases which they packed full of bottles and cases of France’s most excellent and affordable wines.
Here’s a sampling:
Champagne Philippe Martin
They are located right in the heart of Champagne just between Reims and Epernay in Cumieres. They grow their chardonnay and pinot noir grapes on 10 hectares and produce 6 crus.
Cuvée de Réserve Brut – dry, frothy bubbly. At 14.40 Euro per bottle at the Salon it stands up to any of the internationally known brands.
Millésime 2002 – aged and made with pinot noir grapes as well as chardonnay, the richer, fruitier grape is detectable as soon as the elixir hits your tongue. At 22 Euro per bottle, you can see why I wish I’d had my rolling suitcase with me.
Domaine Gerard Metz “The power of harmony”
The Salon tipplers tended toward the Alsatian wines, I noticed. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Paris had just seen its first snowfall of the season this weekend. It’s easy to think of a spicy Gewurztraminer and heavy spaetzle and sausages when it gets cold outside – all things that come from Alsace.
Gewurztraminer Vielles Vignes 2009 at 9 Euro per bottle this tending toward almost sweet gewurz tasted of the grape. In the sense that I almost felt like I had popped a whole grape into my mouth and was drinking of it, and a splash of alcohol.
Gewurztraminer “Cuvée Mégane” 2009 This guy was just shy of a late harvest wine. Its gold color spoke of its autumn, rich flavors even before it made itself known in the mouth. It sells for 13.50Euro per bottle.
Bourgogne – Chablis
It’s just too novel when you come to the realization that these wines you’ve long loved come from an actual place. In this case, Chablis.
Moreau Naudet at 5, rue des Fosses, Chablis offered Petit Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru and Chablis Grand Cru on offer. He ages his white wine for 24 mos. in barrel.
Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2007 was smooth and classy; its light golden color reminded me of summer in California. 26 Euro
Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2008 had lively acid playing throughout the mouth. Well-balanced and a white you can keep for a few years and still enjoy. 26 Euro
Domaine Millet “Intensement Chablis”
The winery is in Tonnerre, still within Bourgogne. The Petit Chablis L’Angelus and Petit Chablis were noteworthy, all 2009. They also had their Chablis Vieilles Vignes and Chablis 1er Cru Vaucoupin for sale and to taste. The maturity of the old vines tend to be the wines I gravitate towards. www.chablis-millet.com
Côte du Rhône, St. Joseph
Domaine du Mortier, Saint Joseph by Didier Crouzet. What’s a wine tasting if you don’t indulge in a bit of the sacred St. Joseph? Part of the geography of Côte Rôtie, a St. Joseph can take good care of you through the Winter. On 10.5 acres Mssr. Crouzet cultivates his vines of character.
Domaine du Mortier, St. Joseph, 2008 A little light. Not often found in this wine or appellation, it can offer a more drinkable alternative to what is usually paired with a good steak or winter roast.
Domaine du Mortier, St. Joseph, 2009 is a considerably more powerful wine. 2009 vintages, like the 2010 harvest, will have legs for years to come. Dark fruit, some wood, wine with a backbone.
In this cluster were three domains that are run by the same winemakers and which are all independent. The majority they’ve brought to market this year have won a medal or an award or even a “coup de coeur” from the Guide Hachette des Vins 2011.
Domaine de Fussiacus Pouilly-Vinzelles 2008. These grapes are from 30-40 year old vines. This lovely tinted yellow gold nectar won the Medaille d’Or Paris et Macon 2010. It was selling for a mere 10.30 Euro.
Domaine Chateau de Chaintre Bourgogne Blanc 2008 is the one which you’ll find in the Guide Hachettes des Vins 2011 listed as the Coup de Coeur. It is burgundy chardonnay and its well-balanced, proper notes and aromas make it a perfect choice for a dinner with family and friends.
Domaine de Fussiacus Vielles Vignes Pouilly-Fuisse 2008 had a nose of citrus and a delicious mouth of calcaire and mineral hints. Another one of those wines I wish I’d bought a case of. 15.10 Euro per bottle.
From this region down near Perpignan which is still part of Languedoc-Roussillon you will find wines that have the garrigue in their molecules.
Abbaye de Fontfroide
A husband and wife winemaking team, Nicolas de Chevron Villette married his wife, Laure d’Andoque de Seriege, whose family has owned the Abbaye de Fontfroide and the vines that surround it for centuries. They have a tasting room, a restaurant and they offer vacation stays. It is also just 15 km. away from the region’s only 3 Michelin star restaurant run by France’s Best Chef 2010.
Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Deo Gratias 2007 A finessed red wine that speaks of the region and the terroir. The nose is aromatic, the mouth hints of the garrigue.
Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Oculus 2009 Though this is a white, it boasts a nutty mouth and an aromatic nose. At 7.10Euro a bottle, it is an elegant wine to serve at table with roasted poultry and new potatoes for example.
Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Deo Gratias 2009 The grapes are Roussanne, Marsanne predominantly and the juice is new barrel aged. 12.90 per bottle. www.fontfroide.com
TODAY’S SPECIAL is a heartwarming comedy with a culinary flavor starring Aasif Mandvi (Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Last Airbender), and renowned Indian actress and best selling cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey.
Samir (Mandvi) is a sous chef who dreams of becoming the head chef at an upscale Manhattan restaurant. When he is passed over for a promotion he impulsively quits and lets his co-worker Carrie (Jess Weixler, TEETH) know that he intends to go to Paris and apprentice under a master French chef. Dreams must be put aside though after his father Hakim (Harish Patel, RUN FAT BOY RUN) has a heart attack and Samir is forced to take over Tandoori Palace, the nearly bankrupt family restaurant in Jackson Heights. Samir’s relationship with his parents and his heritage is immediately put to the test. He has been estranged from his father since the death of his older brother, and his mother Farrida, (played by legendary cookbook writer and actor, Madhur Jaffrey), is consumed with finding a wife for her remaining son.
While Samir is being forced to forsake his dreams, he is desperately trying to master Indian cooking to salvage the family business. Luckily, he crosses paths with Akbar, a taxi driver, passionate chef, and worldly raconteur (portrayed by the icon of Indian cinema, Naseeruddin Shah, MONSOON WEDDING). Akbar inspires Samir and teaches him to trust his senses more than recipes; to stop measuring his life, and to start truly living it. With Akbar’s guidance, Samir has a chance to rediscover his heritage and his passion for life through the enchanting art of cooking Indian food.
TODAY’S SPECIAL is produced by Nimitt Mankad’s Inimitable Pictures and Lillian LaSalle’s Sweet 180 (Loggerheads, Sweetland). The film is directed by Sundance alumni David Kaplan (Year of the Fish) and is written by Aasif Mandvi and Jonathan Bines (Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel).
Rating: R. Running Time: 99 minutes.
Also…some Tips for A Healthy Holiday Kitchen:
|French Cuisine at Unesco! [Courtesy Paris Daily Photo]
You probably noticed it if you came to France, food plays a really large role in our culture. Everyone knows how to cook – at least a little – and when you go to any restaurant you expect the food to be good! Of course things have changed (a lot of restaurants use ready made dishes now), but the demand for quality is still there. So I guess it’s no that surprising that, as you may have heard, Unesco officials just declared “French cuisine” as part of the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” (read more on the NYT)! It’s probably a little far fetched, but it’s good for our nation self esteem. And to illustrated this, here are some zucchini roulés. What’s good, must also look good 😉
Everywhere where Thanksgiving is celebrated, we have a favorite recipe that each of us takes out, dusts off, – often from our Grandmother’s recipe book – and cooks up each year to share with our friends and loved ones.
And while Thanksgiving has become a Food Fest for most of us, it is firstly a celebration of gratitude. With gratitude as the cornerstone ingredient for manifesting abundance, this is, then, a powerful recipe: Thankfulness + Good Food = Abundance.
Thanksgiving is also a time of sharing. Back on Plymouth Rock, it is significant to remember that the Mayflower Pilgrims would not have survived that first winter had it not been for the Native Americans sharing their knowledge and abundance of the land and native foods such as corn and beer. (Yes, beer!)
So, yes, Thanksgiving is a time for families and food. It is also a time of sharing and gratitude. So…what was your grandmother’s favorite recipe? Mine was whipped yams baked with mini marshmallows. I think I’ll start practice cooking it now again in preparation for the big day…!
Help for the Holidays
If your family is one of the many struggling this holiday season I would urge you to research the non-profits in your area that can help meet your needs. I have listed just a few of the many valuable organizations serving the residents of the 23rd Senate District.
- FOOD Share, Ventura County
- Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles
- Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Los Angeles County
- Manna Conejo Valley Food Bank, Ventura and Los Angeles County
- Valley Food Bank, San Fernando Valley
21st Annual Malibu Pie Festival
Kara Seward with her pie entry for Malibu Pie Festival, October.
The Malibu United Methodist Church hosted their 21st Annual Malibu Pie Festival last month. The proceeds from pie sales and silent auction items went to support the church’s youth and family programs and service projects. I am proud to announce that my staffer for the Malibu area, Kara Seward, entered her family’s blueberry pie recipe and won third place in the Fruit Pie category. Congratulations to all the entries!
Through her unique style of winemaking, Beth Cutler hopes to bring obscure grape varieties out of the underground, making them more wildly recognized and respected by both winemakers and consumers alike. Where some might use varietals like Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouchet in small proportions for blending, Bear Flag allocates a hearty 20% of the bottle.
The bottles’ artwork is another distinct touch that sets Bear Flag apart from the rest. The colorful cartoonish collage put together by Argentinean artist Eduardo Bertone has an eclectic punk rock aesthetic that perfectly illustrates Bear Flag’s mission, and Cutler’s style of winemaking. Read MORE on BRAND X…
La saison des vendanges commence! [Transl. = Wine Harvest is Here!] TWITTER.COM/LOCALFOODWINE FACEBOOK/LOCALFOODANDWINE
By Paige Donner
Corsica, off the French south coast, produces delicious dry white and subtle rosé wines that are best drunk chilled, young and fresh as an aperitif or to accompany light meals of seafood, salads, tapas.
Wine of Corsica is the common appellation to all the wines of Corsica, with the following AOC classifications related to either the soils or the villages in which the vineyards are grown: Ajaccio, Calvi, Coteaux du Cap Corse et Muscat du Cap Corse, Figari Patrimonio, Porto-Vecchio, Sartène.
While Corsica is definitely “south of France,” it does not fall under the newly minted branding of “Sud de France,” a term that is being used by the region of Languedoc-Roussillon as they voyage forth once again onto the world export stage with their wines and other agricultural products.
Corsican wines are one of those “well-kept secrets.” The island, which the French call “L’île de Beauté,” produces some great wines but they aren’t exported much overseas…yet. Set in the Mediterranean Sea, many of the island’s wines originate from Italy. The sun’s reflection on both white rocks and the Mediterranean brings even more energy to the vine which, combined with low yields, will eventually produce a very concentrated grape.
- Cap Corse Wine This white wine is pretty rare and much appreciated by winelovers. Many agree that it is the best white wine in Corsica.
- Sartene Wine This is an excellent wine, and the red San Michele is definitely a must-taste. These are fruity and warm Corsican wines.
- Patrimonio This wine is as famous as the classic Corsican appellation and its quality is constantly growing. Corsican reds and whites are increasingly famous even out of the island. Patrimonio rosé wines are also fine wines. Patrimonio wines have a pretty strong character that originate from the soil, which is composed mostly of clay and limestone. This Corsican wine is full-bodied but still light and fruity.
- Ajaccio The Ajaccio French wine boasts the distinction of being the most elevated wine region in France. Most of its vineyards are located 500 m and above. This Corsica wine benefits from the warm weather, and the sea air provides it with a very particular flavor too. This French wine fully benefits from the Corsican environment thus it is light coloured, fruity and has a pronounced pepper flavor in the mouth. The Ajaccio soil is mostly granite.
They also have excellent beaches in Corsica!
May long weekend was one of those where the sun cooperated with the clouds and both were in harmonic concert with the calendar. Which is to say, May long weekend was spectacular for wine tasting afternoons.
The Naramata Bench always invites,…perhaps it’s the lake views, the easy meandering route – in via one road, out via the same road – or, just maybe, it’s the wines themselves that consistently beckon.
A quick easy snack of Eggers at The Bench specialty market and cafe’ as I started my journey provided fortification for the enjoyably foreseen alcohol consumption. Most days I spit, today I had decided to swirl. There’s something grand about being on vacation in wine territory and not the designated driver…
The few outdoor tables at The Bench Market hosted clusters of Gelato lickers and some chowing down on their more substantial wraps and sandwiches. The little specialty cafe’ that sits at the doorway to the Naramata Bench is such a fun place to poke around. I love looking through their tray of Naramata Handmade Seeds and imagine what it would be like to plant some Cape Gooseberry, perhaps some Togo Trefle, or even some Gigantesque or Ste. Lucie. All the seeds are “open-pollinated, grown in Naramata by natural chemical-free methods.” At $3.00 per packet, they make great gifts and garden projects. You can also find Okanagan Harvest Cake here. It comes vacuum-packed so you can take this deliciousness home for savoring later if you wish (and if willpower permits).
The Naramata Bench can be as much a treasure treat hunt as it is a wine tasting trail. With this thought, the first stop was in at Poplar Grove where they make, and sell, cheese and wine. The ever popular Poplar Grove boasted a packed tasting counter. The clamor for cheese could be heard even above the soft patter of the wine sippers. Fairly early in the day still, there were only three rounds of their Naramata Bench Blue cheese left. Fortune smiled on me that day as I was handed one of the precious rounds. Seems their 20% off sale on the cheese had precipitated a cheese run throughout the day.
But, first things first, so I made my way through their tasting flight. Outstanding is their Cabernet Franc ’06. They hold their wines longer than anyone in the valley and this Cab Franc lives up to its, “Black Forest Cake In A Bottle,” reputation. Ripe, red fruits, silky cocoa. Their Ogopogo label also caught my eye from a design perspective but once you taste their ’06 Cab Franc it’s kind of hard (sorry!) to remember what came before that. As I worked through my purchases, I was delighted to see that the cheese came out to only $6. That was the deal of the day.
Back out on the main road I saw that the Marichel Vineyards’ sign was proclaiming they were open. I had been wanting to stop in for some time, even just to take in the iconic Okanagan Lake views from their patio. Funny, but the definitive pictures you mostly see of the Okanagan are actually of Vaseux Lake and not the Okanagan.
Twice in the course of an afternoon, fortune blessed me as the sun was high overhead and the views from Marichel Vineyards patio were, well, iconic Lake Okanagan. Marichel’s exquisitely trimmed vineyards that sit on the “Bench,” or bluff right there delight tribes of quail. It would be easy enough to spend a whole afternoon just watching the quail and their little quail babies weave through the manicured vines and talk to Richard and Elizabeth Roskell, Marichel Vineyard owners and winemakers.
Marichel’s ’07 Syrah is melt in your mouth good. If Syrah could be a dark chocolate in a bottle, this is it.
Marichel’s tasting room is like one you’d find in Argentina. The comfortably-sized room opening up onto the outdoor veranda is furnished with a tasting table, a big wooden picnic table with benches that invites you to have a seat, take a moment, and enjoy the experience of tasting wine. The Roskells were the first on the bench to plant Viognier, so their vines now are 11 years old – and beautiful!
Their property features a gulch on it which serves to divide the acreage into “eight little different vineyard blocks, with different soils even,” explains Elizabeth. She remembers all too well when she and her husband Richard were out auguring the soil with a pickaxe to get the young vines in. She laughs and says that, yes, they are always open, it’s just that often they are in the vineyard working. But they enjoy very much meeting and hosting people for tastings; It’s just best to call ahead if you want to be sure to be greeted at the gate.
Their Syrah is well worth making the appointment for. Richard has planted six different Syrah blocks, and they expect each to be signature different. As you gaze out their veranda onto the golden afternoon sun-drenched lake you see a lone pine tree on the bluff, that is where they’ve planted their Sunset Block of Syrah.
On the afternoon I stopped in Elizabeth was pouring Marichel Syrah ’07. As she poured the dark berry hued wine into the full, stemless tasting glass I could already see that I was in for a treat. I cupped the glass in the warmth of my hand and swirled the ripe juice to aid its flavor release. I could almost feel it melting in the glass. Elizabeth was telling me how one of her pastimes is baking and that she makes a dark chocolate cake where she soaks the cherries in this Syrah before cooking them in the cake.
Time to taste: Marichel’s ’07 Syrah is melt in your mouth good. If Syrah could be a dark chocolate in a bottle, this is it. Its nose, ever so slightly brisk, belies the full-bodied maturity of the vintage, hints of leather, a whiff of Autumn leaves. The mouth is full, velvety, smooth, round, well-balanced, specialized, with red fruits and a Godiva dark chocolate finish.
A few moments at Marichal Vineyards and you’ve carved into memory indelible images of Naramata taste, sight and sunshine.
It’s said that laughter is the best therapy, so a must-stop was Laughingstock Vineyards. A table with crazy fun hats was on display to greet tasters. But really crazy hats, and big mirrors, to try them on and see which ones fit. Hats came in varietals like a WWII fighter pilot with goggles, Jimmi Hendrix afro wig, pointed Merlin’s hat, Argentine Bolero, a witch’s black hat, a chicken-o-your-head hat…and more.
“It’s to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously,” stated the lady pouring Laughing Stock’s tasting flight, explaining that it’s only for special occasions that they put out the hats.
Not to miss in their flight is their Portfolio ’07 which is a blend of 56% Merlot 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot. Vines magazine calls it one of Canada’s “icon wines.”
Out in mid-June is their Pinot Noir ’09. Looking forward to trying it as they did not release a Pinot Noir for ’08. Also worth noting is their Syrah, with a Viognier blend, will be out soon. Now that sounds interesting…
Lunch on the patio at Hillside Estate Winery is a Bench landmark. Their new chef began back in April and even simple dishes of steamed mussels in a red sauce with some dipping bread can showcase why it’s so great to be alive.
Hillside Estate Winery is one of the only wineries in the Valley to do a Muscat. They are also the only winery in all of Canada to do a Muscat Ottonel. The original owner of Hillside Estate Winery brought her 6 vines of Ottonel over in her backpack from Czechoslovakia. “She probably would have gotten into trouble, had she been caught. But she wasn’t, so now we have this beautiful Muscat and thousands of Ottonel vines,” explained the tasting room pourer.
Kathy Malone is their winemaker and I wouldn’t leave Hillside without trying their, Muscat Ottonel ’09, ’07 Reserve Merlot and also their ’09 Gewurztraminer. The tasting room at Hillside Estate is always going to be full on weekends, so just hang in and press on ’til it’s your turn at the tasting bar. Then dig in and enjoy.
A day of laughter and wine wouldn’t be complete without a sojourn at Therapy Vineyards and Guesthouse. Therapy Vineyards’ winemaker, Steve Latchford, makes a Malbec that’s been getting people talking. He uses grapes grown down in Oliver. On the Naramata Bench, they have 7 acres under cultivation, though the property is so impressive, down there at the end of the Bench, that it’s easy to think they have vast more under cultivation. Their Malbec is the first wine in Canada to feature a hockey player on the label. Go figure!
People flock in for the Freudian Sip; Aged eight months in French Oak gives this Chardonnay a strong spine. Their “Pink Freud,” rose’ is also a crowd pleaser. Therapy Vineyards is one of the few wineries on the Bench that has a Guesthouse. It’s a tough choice between there and the Naramata Heritage Inn And Spa. On a sunny summer weekend, it’ll probably just come down to whoever has the first, or last remaining, opening.
by Paige Donner
Pinot noir is a very fickle grape, requiring the utmost attention and respect in every phase of the winemaking process. Winemakers are the first to testify to this, claiming that grapes that have been handled too much can end up making wines that lack flavor and harmony.
Clearly, Pinot noir is a risky (and more expensive) proposition for the winegrower, the winemaker, and the wine drinker. But it is precisely this high-stakes gamble that makes pinot noir all the more alluring and rewarding.
There is much debate as to the origins of the variety, although one currently popular theory is that the Pinot noir grape is an offspring of Pinot meunier and Gewurztraminer. This union helps explain the characteristics behind the beloved Pinot noir. As author Stuart Pigot notes in Planet Wine, “Pinot meunier gave Pinot noir its bright, berry aromas and initial charm, while Gewurztraminer its silkiness, extravagance, nobility, and fickleness.”
The name Pinot Noir is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” in reference to the varietals’ tightly clustered dark purple cone-shaped bunches of grapes. Therefore, Pinot noir refers both to the grape varietal as well as the wine that it produces. The skin of the Pinot noir grape is relatively thin, making it a tricky, albeit rewarding, candidate for wine production.
As mentioned by Karen MacNeil in The Wine Bible, “Winemakers adopt a minimalist approach, and often a percentage of the grapes is not crushed. Instead, whole grapes are put directly into the fermenting tanks, which also helps maximize fruity flavors in the wine. To keep those fruit flavors dominant, many wine-makers are also extremely careful and sparing in their use of new oak for aging.”
Oregon, inspired by the similar climate characteristics of Burgundy, staked its reputation on Pinot noir with much success. Thanks to ocean fog, California has shown that it too has no shortage of spots cool enough to keep Pinot grapes on the vine as they develop fine fruity flavors and texture. Notable Pinot regions in California include Los Carneros, the Russian River Valley in Sonoma and Santa Maria north of Santa Barbara.
Pinot noir is what put Oregon on the map internationally, and is the most planted in the state by far. Wineries in Oregon tend to be small family affairs. Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot gris follow. Oregon has no such thing as cheap, bulk wine. The climate is distinctly cloudy and cool, especially in the Willamette Valley where most of the wineries are clustered. This gentle climate, which highly resembles that of Burgundy, allows for wines of good acidity and balance, moderate alcohol, and an ideal degree of flavor.
Summer Wine Reads: Johnson, Hugh. The World Atlas of Wine, Ed. 4. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994; MacNeil, Karen. The Wine Bible. New York: Workman Publishing, 2001; Pigott, Stuart. Planet Wine. London: Mitchell Beazley, 2004; Robinson, Jancis. Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course. London: BBC Books, 1995.
by Paige Donner
Aboriginal Feast and Wine Pairings. Doesn’t just the sound of that say it all? The evening of fine dining and entertainment is the brainchild of a partnership between Theresa Contois and chef Ben Genaille, owners of Kanata Cuisine.
Kanata Cuisine was formed in the last six months when Theresa was noted for her exquisite “front of house” hospitality skills while putting the finishing touches on her training at Vancouver Community College’s Aboriginal Culinary program. Chef Ben Genaille, an expert in Aboriginal Cuisine, and Theresa got to talking and Kanata Cuisine is the result of their pairing strength with strength.
Much like the pairing of Nk’Mip’s outstanding wines with Kanata Cuisine’s tasting menu. If you are one of the lucky ones to opt in for this culinary adventure, your tastebuds and senses await delight.
Nk’Mip Cellars winemaker, Randy Picton, has chosen versatile pairings for the cuisine, including selections from their critically acclaimed Qwam Qwmt, known in the vernacular as their Q2 selections.
“Qwam Qwmt means the best of our Reserve Tier wines. QQ Chardonnay, for example, is one of our upper tier wines. It starts with the grapes in the vineyard,” says Randy. “I know going into it that this crop of grapes will be giving us our Reserve Tier wines. These wines we put into French oak,” he explains, noting their toasty vanilla and butterscotch essences.
Picton was the pioneer in the Okanagan who began the method of picking the grapes at different times in the harvesting season. “Even three weeks later, so there’s an evenness in the wine/grapes,” he explains. He began at Nk’Mip Cellars, the celebrated first winery in North America to be aboriginal owned, in 2002.
Nk’Mip is known for their Pinots and Chardonnays. Picton is the first to admit that pinot, at least in the Okanagan, can be a “fussy” grape to grow well. Their $20 bottles of Merlot are very popular choices however the winery is shifting their portfolio focus to upper tier wines. They are capped at about 18,000 cases per year production so they are looking to focus on, for example, a Q2 Riesling and a higher end Meritage that will retail for approximately $50-$60 a bottle.
The menu for the Kanata Cuisine Aboriginal Feast includes:
*”hot rock” poached spot prawn, cattail heart cream with wild onion oil.
*fire roasted corn soup, oolighan oil [used as a dipping oil with bannuck, aboriginal bread]
*salmon duo candied & sausages nass river/ seaweed bannock crackers
*crisp duck glazed halibut, mushroom hazelnut ragout, potato, chives
*Rhubarb ice [delightful in both taste and texture]
*braised bison short ribs, watercress, parsnip mash
*cranberry bannock bread pudding “Indian ice cream” with maple sap ice wine reduction
Anette’s Chocolates of Napa Valley used to make the chocolate sauces for the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory. These are the sauces that are now made for over 100 different wineries across the US. Each winery’s particular wine is included in the making of the sauce, and then specially co-labeled.
When Anette took over this long-standing chocolate shop over 18 years ago, it was already a local anchor, having stood on the very same spot for some 40 years when it was previously called Patrick’s. The current owners, Anette and her brother Brent and his wife, Mary, recall stopping off at the candy store on their way home from school.
When they first took over the candy shop, master candy maker Ed Ratcliff stayed on to teach Anette and her partners his 40 year craft of candy and chocolate making. Most of their customers had been buying their candy from the shop since the 60s and 70s.
Brent and Anette made it a habit to ask their employees, most of whom they kept on when they took over the long-running business, what the assortment should be made up of. Brent explains that the long-time employees are the watchdogs for some of the older candy flavors.
The dark chocolate they use and make themselves, is approximately 62%. And Brent will readily tell you that their wine-infused sauces are actually made with a lot of wine. They count themselves blessed to be asked to participate in the many events around Napa and Sonoma including wine and chocolate pairings and wine auctions.
They focus mostly on truffles. Their boxed chocolates make elegantly beautiful gifts and memories for special occasions. They have over 120 different kinds of candies and chocolates on offer. Anette’s rich burgundy boxes can be filled with as many as 30 pieces and come with gold satin hinges, vellum liners, all finished with a gold taffeta ribbon.
Looking for something tantatalizing?…how about Caramel Brandy Sauce?…Chocolate Martini Ganache?…Dark Chocolate Merlot Fudge?…or how about their signature Chocolate Wine and Liqueur Sauces.
On First Street in Downtown Napa