Thursday, October 20, 2011

What should I pair with that?



I so love technology - especially the internet!  Anything I need to know, or want to learn is right at my fingertips. There is a great site called "stumbled upon", that helps you discover and share great websites that may be of interest to you and your friends.  Since this blog is about great things to eat and drink, I thought I would share a fantastic resource for food and wine.  Of course this is just a guide; there are really no steadfast rules when it comes to enjoying good food and a great bottle of wine! However, when it matters and you want to find the best wine to compliment your meal, then this a great resource. 

Remember that foods tend to go well with the wines they grew up with. So if you are having an Italian meal you may want to choose an Italian wine. Palmina winery, in Lompoc wine ghetto, would be my first choice for some exceptional Italian wines.

HAPPY PAIRING!!!


Mediterranean style pizza, stuffed paquillo peppers and a nice Ampelos Pinot from D'vine




Sparkling wines are delicious with chocolate. 'Flying Goat' cellars
in Lompc's wine ghetto has one of the best I have tried.



A lot of the wineries will have a dessert wine that will
 compliment your dessert or finish off your meal all by itself.
California Pinots pair wonderfully with salmon. We are lucky to live in an area that has so many wonderful wines. I have enjoyed every Pinot at every winery in the Lompoc wine ghetto.

Friday, October 14, 2011

SAARLOOS and SONS, together with ENJOY CUPCAKES

I really LOVE this winery! Saarloos and Son's combines two of my favorite things - cupcakes and good wine! Not just any cupcakes but wine-infused goodness, made by Enjoy; a gourmet cupcake company. The tasting room has a very vintage feel reminding me of times long ago. Tyler, our wine pourer, was delightful and fun. Their wine labels are so unique and are "a tribute to those that came before them". Labels feature family members with pictures dating back to 1945 (when their grandparents married). I got a feeling of strong family traditions that will be passed down for generations to come. With names like 'Father', 'Mother' and 'Son', I really loved looking at the pictures and getting a small glimpse of their family history......oh and the wines were really good too! I actually surprised myself and ordered a glass of 'Mother' after our tasting. A Grenache Blanc that was really fruity and crisp. Perfect for a hot summer day in beautiful Los Olivos. We opted for the wine and cupcake pairing so it was $10.00 for each. Enjoy creates a different flight of cupcakes each week and they pair nicely with Saarloo's wines. Be sure to 'Like' Saarloo's and Son's' on Facebook and 'Share' this great little find with friends. 


'ENJOY' .....Great name, great cupcakes! With 350 flavors to date I may have to go back a few more times! Their menu changes weekly but they always have their signature treat; a Chocolate sarah cake filled with dark chocolate fudge, blackberry frosting topped with a sarah soaked blackberry that has been rolled in sugar! YUMM!!! If you are in the area you must stop in and try the pairing. You will be glad you did.
Our wine pairing and they were all delicious. I think I might just have to try them all.
With 350 different flavors, it might take awhile! 





Tyler is great! Be sure to tell her Kim sent you.


'Mother' a delicious Grenach Blanc


I so LOVE their labels. 


Pictures dating back to 1949





The outdoor patio is perfect for sharing a glass of wine with friends.












Our cupcake flight. They were all delicious.




Their signature cupcake. DELICIOUS!

Monday, September 19, 2011

D'Vine Wine Bar and Tapas

Leave everyday life behind and escape into the exquisite beauty of D'Vine wine bar. Located in Old Town Lompoc, at the west end of Santa Rita Hills, is the quaintest little wine bar with a great selection of local wines -by the glass or bottle- and specialty beers for those that prefer something other than the fruit of the vine. D'vine is the ideal destination to enjoy great food and wine in a relaxing, friendly, atmosphere. When I walk through the door at D'Vine I feel like I have been transported to another place… Tuscany or Milan perhaps. The owner, Karen May, is there to greet you with a smile and help you pick out the perfect glass of vino. Karen features a different artist every few months, so she always has some very unique art pieces adorning her walls, and there is often live entertainment on weekends. Tonight I had the pleasure of listening to Jon Stephen Faget, on his guitar. Jon is an amazing musician and plays a very nice array of Spanish/Mediterranean style music. His CD, Kandugottu, Go to Flamenco Island, is available for purchase at D'Vine.

Such a great little place to hang out with friends and share a nice glass of wine -or beer- while enjoying some delicious treats. Chef A.J. makes a really superb, artisian cheese platter that is vey beautifully presented. It has the Chef’s selection of cheeses, sopressata (Italian salami), sliced bread with mixed sun dried black mission figs, baked macadamia nuts (oven roasted with sea salt and herbs de provence) and a  mediterranean medley olive blend. Delicious, and it went very nicely with the Turchi 2009 Pinot Noir, he recommended. A.J. also offers a nice selection of unique entrees sure to tantalize anyone’s taste buds. Besides one-of-a-kind Tapas prepared to perfection, he makes a Chili spiced chocolate torte, with candied applewood smoked bacon that is sure to delight. Yes,I said bacon! You will just have to trust me on this one and at least try it. Be sure to tell Karen that Kim sent you in to try A.J.'s very special chocolate torte. Another favorite  was the Cali Pizza; Spinach pesto with olive tapenade, tomato bruschetta, goat cheese and a touch of scallion. This particular evening, Russ and I shared the Mediterranean style pizza made with olive oil, mozzarella and parmesan with serrano ham, arugula with balsamic vinaigrette. I also tried the piquillo peppers stuffed with spinach and goat cheese and served on a bed of arugula greens with a citrus dressing (pictured below). The non-vegitarian is stuffed with chorizo and manchego cheese. DELICIOUS!


Be sure to "Like" them on facebook so you can be notified of all their special events. Wether it's pizza throw-downs,Thursday's ladies night, food and wine pairing-I loved the wine and chocolate truffles- or enjoying a scrumptious bowl of roasted butternut squash soup and mulled cider, while watching the parade go by, D'vine is the ideal destination to get away from it all. Certainly one of Lompoc's little treasures. 
















Sunday, August 21, 2011

WINE AND FIRE

Celebrating The 10-year anniversary
of the American Virticultural Area


Russ and I kicked off the Wine & Fire Weekend Friday night at D'vine Wine Bar in Lompoc. We got to try some fantastic wines from six of the local winery's and some delicious tapas (a variety of small savory dishes shared communally amongst friends) to complement our wine tasting experience. Chef A.J. prepared some interesting food combinations that were really quite delicious. For example, at Saturdays grand tasting event, he served a Grenache  chocolate torte topped with candied applewood smoked bacon - Who does that? Well Chef A.J.,  and it was out of this world. I had to sample three just to make sure I really liked it! LOL
The Saturday morning setting for the symposium was in the iconic El JabalĂ­ Vineyard at Alma Rosa. It consisted of a diverse panel of pioneers and newcomers, that gave us some very interesting history on the Sta. Rita Hills, and how it has evolved over the past 40 years.  As we sat there sampling some of the finest wines form the area, I could actually feel "the Pacific Ocean fighting with Summer." We got to hear from Richard Sanford (the "Grand Daddy of Sta.Hills") Rick Longoria, Kathy Joseph, Bruno D'Alfonso, Morgan Clendenen, Ryan Zotovich and Ryan Carr. I had heard about "the magic" of the Sta. Rita Hills and how it produces superior wines, but it was nice to hear the story from Richard Sanford himself, and how he discovered this remarkable geographic anomaly. The area owes this magic to an unusual mountain range that runs east to west, from the vineyards to the Pacific Ocean. This passage allows an ebb-and-flow between the mountains and the sea, making it uniquely susceptible to the oceans cooling influence. A typical day in Sta. Rita Hills starts with marine layer clouds and fog, which eventually burns off and then few hours of sunshine until the on-shore winds pick up, cooling things down again. If you are from this area, then you are very familiar with the early morning fog burning off mid-morning and the wind coming up later in the day. We may not love the weather at times but apparently the grapes do. The micro-climate, along with the sedimentary soils, make it one of the most diverse grape growing regions in the world. Although the movie "Sideways" put this area on the map for it's exceptional Pinot Noir, I think the future will see more varietals from this area. They are already planting some smaller crops of Syrah, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Voignier, Pinot Blanc, Grenache and Sauvingnon Blanc just to name a few. In 1997 there was 14 vineyards totaling 500 acres. Today there is approximately 59 vineyards totaling 2,686 acres. I am looking forward to the future of Sta. Rita Hills and all that it will bring to us wine lovers. All I can say is, Napa move over!     

Avant was the restaurant of choice for the venue and for lunch we had a choice of vegetarian, roast beef or chicken salad. I chose the chicken salad with cranberries and candied nuts (so good) served with delicious home-made potato salad. I made a mental note to self to make sure Avant Tapas and Winery, was our first stop on Sunday to try their brunch. 
The Grand Tasting Saturday evening at La Purisima Mission, consisted of over 25 wineries pouring their favorite Sta. Rita Hills selections and various restaurants serving grilled appetizers and deserts. We sampled savory foods from: The Hitching Post, Avant, (with their yummy seared ahi taco's), D'Vine, Ballard Inn, (that served a sumptuous pan seared duck breast and sweet potato puree), Floriono's, Homegrown Cowboy (with his delicious beans), and Rooney's Irish Pub, (that was serving Sta. Rita raised roast suckling pig). Russ and I enjoyed every bite and the weather couldn't have been more cooperative. Our passport allowed us complimentary tastings at many of the local winery's. We wanted to take full  advantage of the great opportunity but first stop was Avant Tapas and Wine in Buellton. After a wonderful brunch we headed out to try a few of the wineries on our list. What a fantastic weekend! Barbara Satterfield, who spear-headed the entire event, did a such a fabulous job and everything went off without a hitch. In fact Russ said and I quote "this was one of the best weekends we have spent together as a couple", "it was an orgy of food and wine!" Who could ask for more; great wine, wonderful food, excellent company, beautiful weather, and doing two of the things we enjoy most…photography and wine tasting. 


I will be adding pictures and blogging Avant in my next blog since we really enjoyed our visit and meeting Joe Padilla the general manager.



















The 3-Day Passport was $100 per person which included the "Grand Tasting." A combo ticket including the seminar was $175.


Participating wineries in the various events were: Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, Ampelos Cellars, Cargasacchi, Carr, Clos Pepe Estate, Cold Heaven, D’Alfonso-Curran, Demetria, Dierberg, Dragonette Cellars,  Fiddlehead, Flying Goat Cellars, Foley, Foxen, Gypsy Canyon, Hilliard-Bruce, Hitching Post, Huber Cellars, Ken Brown, Kessler-Haak, Lafond, Liquid Farm, Longoria, Loring Wine Company, Pali, Prodigal, Seagrape Wine Company, and Sweeney Canyon. 


Russ and I would highly recommend attending next years event which is hosted by the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance. It is not just fun and entertaining but also very educational. I know we are planning on being there! :) 



















Monday, May 16, 2011

Bridlewood Winery

If you haven't visited Bridlewood winery it should be top on your to-do list. The winery has a very picturesque landscape, that was once an Arabian horse farm and rehabilitation center. The design of the winery pays homage to California's missions, with a Spanish-style bell tower, and a fountain surrounded by a stone courtyard. Climb the stairs at the bottom of the bell tower to enjoy breathtaking views of the grounds and vineyards.


We stopped by the members lounge to pick up our wine and headed down to the lake to enjoy a nice picnic lunch. Freshly made sandwiches, chips and a home-made blueberry muffin from one of our favorite deli's, inside the Round up market. The bread and muffins are made locally and Russ had the jalapeno bread which was actually very delicious. 

If you are looking for a beautiful, romantic spot to enjoy a picnic lunch, this is it. You have to be a club member to have access to the lake and horses, so with the exception of the horse drawn carriage that went by a few times, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. This is truly God's country!