Kendall-Jackson’s “untasting room” set to open in Healdsburg
Micro-cider producers use heirloom apples from the region’s lost orchards to create uniquely-flavored hard ciders
International awards announced for wine biz: Plenty of locals
I cooked this steak – with a simple red wine-honey reduction and a creamy parmigiano-peppercorn salad – in honor of one of my especially snarky fans, someone who objects strenuously every time I buy something from a supermarket for what I’ve billed as a “cooking locally” weblog. I’ll stipulate the point, but my money says I’m not the only parent in the County who’d like to serve their kids a decent, healthy steak for a few less bucks. But is it a decent, healthy steak?
If you like local food and wine, and the idea of watching an entire pig morph from carcass into dinner doesn’t scare you, then you could do worse than a Sunday afternoon spent eating and drinking alongside 5 local winemakers, 5 local chefs, and their 5 porcine victims – all from heritage bloodlines, all sustainably raised by local farmers – at COCHON555. The main event will surely be the rainbow of piggy plates...
As a rule, I wince when I hear the words artisanal and Pinot Noir in the same sentence, conjuring as they do the pretension of restaurants that proclaim “house-made” and people who’ve watched the movie Sideways more than once. But exceptions prove rules, and every so often I’m lucky enough to be reminded of the origins of the term, the idea that wine-making is as much craft as science, and that small lots, made...
Forgive the hackneyed analog, but I’ve just eaten a Lennon-McCartney harmony of food and wine over at J Winery; OK, maybe that’s too much, but a solid Bee Gees, at least! Seriously, if we wore socks on our teeth, then Chef Mark Caldwell’s Lobster Bisque, together with winemaker George Bursick’s Hoot Owl Vineyard Viognier, would knock them clean off. And I don’t even like Viognier, as a rule.
I have mixed feelings about school fund-raisers: On the one hand, like most parents, I have kids in public schools that fall chronically short of financial resources; on the other, I believe that I already pay more than enough in taxes to expect a properly funded system of public education, that the root of the problem is not the quantity of money available, but rather the means by which it is allocated. In any case, on the morning after our Pigs ‘n Pinot fund-raising dinner, I am hungover, fat, and happy all the same.
I confess, I’m a total sauce slut: My wife could legitimately accuse me of infidelity, if only she had thought to proscribe lustfully leering at the 5 mother sauces in our vows, and I might happily eat a shoe, if only it were first slathered with a demi glace of sufficiently high quality.
The degree to which this – a Salade Nicoise, sans tomates – is, in fact, a Nicoise salad remains debatable. What is incontrovertible is that, while I won’t eat out-of-season tomatoes, I’m not waiting around until next summer for the league leader in salads-as-meals, and this, my Jack Frost version extant, still tastes damn good.
Chicken/egg, TV/commercial, show-me-yours/I’ll-show-you-mine; which came first, the food or the wine? In our house, such questions carry weight, a seriousness you might consider more properly reserved for electrocardiograms, or matters of national security. The thing of it is, in wine country, the ordinal structure of food vis-a-vis wine matters, not least because you’ll neither be fed nor drunk until we’ve settled the matter. To wit, a wine that my wife adores and that Presidents Obama and Bush Jr uniquely agree upon, because it’s been spilled on the official tablecloths of Republican and Democratic White Houses alike…
Another drive-by post, but worth the rapid-fire detour, at least if you like your wine local, good, and cheap, because I just found two ridiculously cheap wines that won’t last – a $25 RRV Chard for $10, and a $35 Sonoma Mountain Pinot for $12.50 – and if you’ve wasted any time at all on this site, then you won’t want to miss them, because we probably agree that to suggest that one can have too much good, cheap, Sonoma County wine is oxymoronic.
Think of the very best “cult” wines from the Napa Valley floor, shoot them up with enough steroids to power the Tour de France and Major League Baseball combined, and then somehow balance all that bulging, bronzed muscle with enough subtlety and grace to keep everything harmonious – imagine The Incredible Hulk dancing a perfect Swan Lake, or The Situation passing abstract algebra – and you’ll have some idea of what Quilceda Creek’s freak-of-nature wines are all about.
For a brief and ill-advised moment, I considered describing the luscious and outrageously good Chardonnays being crafted over in the Alexander Valley as phat rather than fat, mainly because pretty hot and tasty summarily describes the better ones, but also because I’m hopelessly ignorant when it comes to the etymology and demographic appropriateness of modern slang.
Coaching basketball at the professional level, managing a United Nations peace-keeping mission, and getting kids to eat something for the first time – a category generally construed to mean anything with so much as a twig of the family tree in the Vegetable Kingdom, but often including everything not already vetted and approved via previous personal experience (a logical circularity seemingly lost on my own children) – all depend as much on the application of politics as of force:
We’ve talked about Costco before, a conversation in which I argued that monolithic, small-business-destroying category killers still have a place in the kitchen, even proximal kitchens, if for no other reason than because saving money on staples allows us to allocate a larger share of our budget to the locally produced goods of premium quality (and, let’s be honest, at a premium price), that we like to cook with. But what about buying locally produced goods at the Big C?
I may live in the Russian River Valley – indisputably, home court to any number of world-class Chardonnay winemakers – but I’m here to tell you that, if well-made, sexpot Chards are your thing, then you need to get your Chard-guzzling booty over to the Alexander Valley, and stat. You won’t find nearly the selection (the simple math is fewer wineries making less wine), you’ll drive a few extra miles...
Google “ABC Anything But Chardonnay” and you’ll get something on the order of 19,000 hits in the first few tenths of a second. The oldest reference I could be bothered to find dates to 1995 in a column by Frank Prial for the NY Times, but as recently as 2008, someone actually took the time to write a book with the same dated and misguided tag line, so