||Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Master Sommelier Emily Wines of the Fifth Floor Restaurant conducts a series of classes called “Wines on Wine”. This evening’s focus was wines with spices from Le Sanctuaire.
Lemon and cucumber slices acted as palate cleansers as we went from the wine rack to the spice rack with a spectrum of fragrant flavoring elements.
Tomatillo salsa with cilantro for a green herbaceous hit, fermented black beans and garlic for umami, smoked sea salt for a campfire fragrance, Vadouvan (an Indian and West African spice mixture) for a shallot, garlic and lemon peel enhanced complexity, a mixture of ground white, black and Indonesian pepper in oil, a North African spice mixture with turmeric and paprika called Chermoula, Basque Espelette pepper (which we were instructed not to snort despite its configuration on our plates), wasabi and pickled ginger insured that all sectors of our tongue were twisted.
Our glasses were filled with a 2005 Domaine Fournier Sancerre Grande Cuvee - a high acid, light Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, a low alcohol 2007 Schmitges Riesling Kabinett (which proved to be a crowd favorite), a floral 2006 Domaine Roland Schmitt Gewurztraminer, an herbal light red 2005 La Pialade Cotes du Rhone, a juicy red 2006 Justin Vineyards Syrah and (our fave) a dark, spicy 2005 Domaine Labranche Laffont Madiran.
After ranking each pairing possibility we discussed our findings:
This evening’s group included regular attendees as well as us first timers and the vibe was relaxed and friendly.
We had a great time and would recommend this event to both experts and neoflights. But regardless of how knowledgeable each guest was when they arrived, they were well seasoned at the conclusion of this spicy seminar.
Here’s the line up for Wines on Wines when it starts up again in the fall:
October 7: Sensory Evaluation
October 21: Pairing with Cured Meats
November 4: Food and Wine Pairing 101
November 18: Big Red Wines for Winter
December 2: The Joy of Bubbly
Check the website for details as fall approaches.
Fifth Floor Restaurant and Lounge
12 Fourth St.
San Francisco, CA
||Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The Golden Gate Club was a Mendo scene during today’s Taste of Mendocino event.
We were bowled over by the 2007 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir-Comptche Ridge:
This spicy star anise and cardamom glass had a nice balance of ant-acidity.
The un-oaked 2007 Harmonique Chardonnay:
... made by Robert Klindt hit a clean note of green apple while his 2005 Delicace Pinot Noir had a catchy baseline of raspberry and the 2005 Nobel One Pinot Noir rang our bel with its cherry percussion.
We ad-Meyered the lush 2004 Meyer Family Cellars Syrah:
This is the winery that will host the Yorkville Highlands Festival that we mentioned after tasting Bink’s drinks earlier this week.
Among the nosh from the North was Laureen Picciani’s assortment of baked goods:
... which she made with wine in mind. Her pepper permeated chocolate cookies with a lustre dust:
... buttery Cheddar crackers and Benician fruitcake added marvelous mastication mortar to the brix.
The 2006 Goldeneye:
...Gowan Creek vineyard Pinot Noir:
... gilded our tongues with dark berry deliciousness.
Organic and biodynamic bottles were abundant at this event of Mendocino County appellation appreciation.
Mark your Calendar
When the Giants are away, the less you will pay during Acme Chophouse’s new happy hour starting on April 16th. A fin will get you apps like Dungeness crab fritters, 5 hour baby back ribs or house made salumi. Specialty cocktails are a fiver too.
starting April 16th 4:30-6:30 p.m. on non-game days
24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, CA
||Monday, April 6, 2009
Spirited discussions distilled to a final industry tasting during this afternoon’s closing event of the 6th annual Brandy Distilling Conference.
Condense-sation stations set up in Hangar One were anything but still with producers pouring their potent potables for mixers and shakers.
St. George’s Kold-Draft machine:
... displayed an undiluted interest in spotlighting the sauce rather than unintentionally watering it down.
... poured his Osocalis:
... a wonderful alambic brandy that he makes in Soquel with California fruit. Osocalis is the native American name for Soquel. I figured that if I drank enough of this elegant elixir I would learn my native American name too.
We were gripped by the Stillwater Grappa:
... made in Petaluma from Cole Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon and found the off the Hangar numbers tailored to our tastes:
Tamale Girl fortified our bellies with pork and chicken masa mits:
... She also had a vegetarian variety, but confessed that it was “really a pork crowd.”
Allison from Square One:
... brought her new botanical blend rye spirit with pear, lemon verbena, lavender, coriander and rose which you can find flourishing in drinks at Nopa.
The “Government Warning”:
... from Tuthilltown Spirits displayed their rye sense of humor with a label restricted to law abiding, cautionary constraints with spicy flourish directed to the enjoyably smoke kissed contents.
This was an excellent opportunity to bandy about brandy with artisanal authorities:
... while savoring their wares.
6th Annual Brandy Distilling Conference
2601 Monarch St.
Mark your Calendar
Sure, the San Francisco International Film Festival:
... has great films, but they also know how to throw a party. This year’s awards night includes honors for Francis Coppola, Robert Redford and James Toback but if black tie galas aren’t your thing, you can check out the blackened room events with a film.
San Francisco International Film Festival
April 23- May 7, 2009
||Sunday, April 5, 2009
The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant wines were flowing:
... as guests nibbled on Acme’s asparagus focaccia:
Prather Ranch sliders:
...and McEvoy tapenade crostini at the inaugural Festa di Primavera at the San Francisco Ferry Building this evening.
The Hot Frittatas:
... egged on the crowd with Italian tunes to accompany Cowgirl Creamery cheese:
... San Francisco Fish Company seafood:
... and the latest from Boccalone:
...a Calabrian style salame called Nduja (pronounced “en-doo-ya”):
This sensational, spicy spreadable:
... will appear on the salumeria sandwich menu soon.
... paved the road to chocolate satisfaction with their Asphalt Jungle Mix of chocolate cherries, peanut butter, almonds and hazelnuts.
This Festa was a great way to kick off Spring with friends, wine and chow.
Festa di Primavera
San Francisco Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA
||Saturday, April 4, 2009
When Gale Gand’s Brunch! cookbook:
... arrived at the cyberhutch, the photo of the tempting strata caught my eye and the bacon waffles beckoned but when I came to the page with the soft pretzel recipe my choice was made. We chomped ours down with some mustard, but they were good plain too.
Soft Giant Pretzels
makes 20 pretzels
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/3 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
5 cups allpurpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
Unsalted butter, for the pans
1/2 cup baking soda
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the 2 tablespoons warm water with the yeast and stir by hand until the yeast is dissolved. Stir in the remaining 1 1/3 cups warm water and the brown sugar. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and set the bowl on it. Mix on medium-low speed, gradually adding the flour and salt. Continue mixing until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it until it is smooth, about 5 minutes.
Heat the oven to 475 degrees. Butter two baking sheets.
Combine 2 quarts water and the baking soda in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil.
Cut the dough into golfballsize pieces. Roll the balls into 1/2-inch thick worms. Form each worm into a U shape; then cross the ends, twisting them at the middle. Fold the ends back down to meet the bottom of the U, and press to secure the dough. Drop the pretzels, a few at a time, into the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Then fish them out, using a slotted spoon or a spider, and place them on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat with the remaining dough.
When all the pretzels have been boiled and salted, bake them for about 8 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Reprinted with permission from Brunch!
by Gale Gand with Christie Matheson, copyright © 2009.
Published by Random House Inc.
Cover photo credit: Ben Fink © 2009
||Friday, April 3, 2009
Narsai David’s final “Narsai Toast” benefit for the Berkeley Repertory Theater took place at the Ritz Carlton Hotel this evening:
...but don’t make the mistake of thinking his culinary trajectory is coming to a halt. Whether as a restauranteur, purveyor, vintner, media personality or event host, the man:
... redefines redefinition.
This “Bon Voyage” event included not only swell chow:
... but some lovely wines like the lush, blackberried glass of Cakebread Cellars 2005 Red Hills Lake County Zinfandel:
... which we enjoyed with kobe beef tartare:
We were seriously impressed by the Los Danzantes Mezcal:
This spirit isn’t for mixing spring break cocktails directly in your head - each sip unearths a mez-merizing complexity created through mesquite roasted agave that is distilled with some cacti solids in addition to the juice.
In addition to ticket sales, raffles:
... and silent (and not so silent) auctions boosted Berkeley’s bank balance.
This annual gala raised millions of dollars for the Berkeley Repertory Theater over its 17 year run under Narsai’s guidance. The show must go on again next year, but it is yet to be determined who will be cast in the leading role.
Narsai Toast 2009
Berkeley Repertory Theater
Ritz Carlton Hotel
600 Stockton St.
San Francisco, CA
||Thursday, April 2, 2009
Crushpad was the launch pad:
...for the Wine 2.0 Expo this evening.
There were some samplings of local wares such as the lush, cherry charmed Midsummer Cellars 2004 Cabernet.
TCHO had some of their fruity varietal on hand as well.
Segue Cellars 2007 Russian River Pinot Noir:
...had a nice acidity to its earthy orbit.
The Bink team made a wonderful medium bodied 2005 Pinot Noir:
... in the Yorkville Highlands appellation of Mendocino County.
There were also potent potions:
... on hand for foreign Highlands enthusiasts.
The most interesting part of these events is the conversations with the producers:
...and of course enjoying the wine.
2573 3rd St.
San Francisco, CA
Mark your Calendar
The wines from Bink will be among the 30 local wines poured at the Yorkville Highlands Wine Festival. BBQ boar and lamb, Highland games, music and a grape stomp will mark the 10th appell-versary.
Yorkville Highlands Wine Festival
tickets $40 before August 1st, $60 after
Saturday, August 29, 2009, 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.
at Meyer Family Cellars
Between Cloverdale and Boonville on Hwy 128
||Wednesday, April 1, 2009
A box of Charles Chocolates Easter Collection treats arrived at the cyberhutch!
Honey Bunnies (aka black button sage honey bittersweet chocolate ganache filled rabbits):
... hopped into our mouths followed by the fleur de sel collection of bittersweet chocolate and classic caramels:
... as well as an insane caramel pecan rocky road:
We are officially chocolate-filled Bunrabs.
Order by Friday, April 3rd to get these excellent expressions of Easter to your chick or bunny in time for the holiday.
Charles Chocolates Easter Treats