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Wine holiday EuropeWith the throngs of summer upon us, it is a good time for a mid-summer reality check. Have you been relishing in all summer has to offer? Exploring new parts of the world? Embracing the gift of longer days, lazier nights and a slower pace of life? Certainly you’ve tasted the bounty of summer foods and explored new flavors in wine, right? If not, grab yourself a glass and set your plans for exploration because after all, you deserve it! If a summer holiday is out of the question, there is no better way to discover new terrain than through flavors of wine. Why is this? Well, by its pure essence, wine embodies distinctive characteristics based upon its region of origin. It’s a concept known as terroir (from terre,”land”).  Terroir can loosely be translated to a “sense of place.” 

In this blog post, we’ll be discovering some of the finest terroir of Europe, including: Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Grab your virtual passports as we explore four must-try and should-buy European wines, compliments of contributions from our friends at Wine Elite. 

The Wine Elite is a nationwide consumer resource for Sommelier-Guided Wine Tasting Experiences, Education, Public Speaking and Wine Expertise.

Sommelier Jörn Kleinhans is a certified specialist of wine, and the owner of the Wine Elite Sommelier Company. Erik Brown is the firm’s specialist for market and consumer communications.

“What to buy” recommendations in this post were kindly provided by Kevin Hart, sommelier, Boca Restaurant Group in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. 

Let’s jet set to Europe… 

GERMANY: Riesling 

gerRienhold Haart

First stop, Germany. Here, we are tasting the region’s famous Riesling. This is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are seldom oaked. As of 2004, Riesling was estimated to be the world’s 20th most grown variety at 48,700 hectares (120,000 acres) (with an increasing trend), but in terms of importance for quality wines, it is usually included in the “top three” white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc. Riesling is a variety which is highly “terroir-expressive”, again, meaning that the character of Riesling wines is clearly influenced by the wine’s place of origin. (source: wikipedia)

“A Riesling is known for its sweetness, high aroma, and high acidity,” says Erik Brown. 

What to buy: Rienhold Haart

brown-oneX2 

FRANCE: Chardonnay from Burgundy

Next up, France in the Burgundy region where we are sampling Chardonnay.  This is a green-skinned grape variety used to make white wine. It originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand. For new and developing wine regions, growing Chardonnay is seen as a “rite of passage” and an easy entry into the international wine market.

The Chardonnay grape itself is very neutral, with many of the flavors commonly associated with the grape being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France to New World wines with oak, and tropical fruit flavors. (source: wikipedia)

“A fantastic food wine, it’s clean, mineral taste pairs well.” – Erik

“A perfect expression of Burgundy itself.” – Jörn

What to buy:

  • Jean Marc Roulotjean-marc-roulot-meursault-cote-de-beaune-france-10441375 
  • Anotine Jobardjobard 

    “If you like Meursaults that are big, broad and oaky, and are as yellow as French headlights, then this may not be the domaine for you. However, if you like Meursaults that are taut, mineral, complex and refined, then François Jobard is your man.”

SPAIN: Tempranillo

ftempranillouk

Tempranillo (also known as Ull de Llebre, Cencibel, Tinta del Pais and several other synonyms) is a black grape variety widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain.Its name is the diminutive of the Spanish. Temprano (“early”),[1] is a  reference to the fact that it ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes. (Source: wikipedia).

“This has the signature signs of Spanish wine making with notes of American oak and dark cherry.” – Erik

“This is the most important grape of Spain, it will give you a good sense for the Spanish style of wines.” – Jörn

What to buy: Lopez de Heredia

tempranillo2 

ITALY: Sangiovese from Tuscany

stelladicampalto

In Italy, Sangiovese (san-jo-veh-zeh) is the most widely planted grape variety. It derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jove“. Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavors of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavors when aged in barrels. While not as aromatic as other red wine varieties such as Pinot noirCabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, Sangiovese often has a flavor profile of sour red cherries with earthy aromas and tea leaf notes. Wines made from Sangiovese usually have medium-plus tannins and high acidity. (Source: wikipedia).

“This rustic taste pairs wonderfully with rural Italian meal. This wine has flavors of dark cherry and soft vanilla.” – Erik

“This is perhaps the most know grape varietal from Italy, since the underlying wine is Chianti.” – Jörn

What to buy: Stella di Campalto

stella 

So go ahead, be adventurous. Even if you can’t travel physically to these fine regions, you can experience their distinctive wines and let your palate travel the globe. And best yet, you can do it in the comfort of your own home. As Rick Steves would say, “keep on traveling” even if wine is your destination. 

*This post was created in partnership with Wine Elite.
http://www.WineElite.org
info@WineElite.org

*“What to buy” recommendations are compliments of Kevin Hart, sommelier at Boca Restaurant Group.

Ciao wine lovers, 

Terrah Kocher

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In an effort to make your holidays a little brighter, I’m excited to share some cocktail cheer compliments of Kathy Casey, celebrity chef and renowned mixologiist. Casey’s “Liquid Kitchen” has teamed up with Martin Miller’s Gin to concoct easy recipes and tips to spice up your holiday party with simple, original craft cocktail recipes.

From frothy concoctions flavored with a homemade cranberry ginger syrup to well balanced holiday Ruby Spiced Martinis, Kathy Casey’s five Martin Miller’s cocktails will enchant your guests all season long. Complete with simple tricks to pre-batch cocktails for large gatherings, these recipes for inspired fall and winter libations are sure to bring holiday magic to your palette this year. Enjoy!

Snow DriftImage

Housemade Cranberry Ginger Syrup adds holiday flair to this festive and frothy cocktail. You can also mix the syrup with sparkling water and a squeeze of fresh lemon for the holiday party designated driver.

This recipe easily doubles or you can pre-batch large amounts of this cocktail by changing ounces to cups. Then blend 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of the pre-mix with 1/2 cup of the ice.

Makes 4 cocktails.

4 ounces (1/2 cup) Martin Miller’s Gin

1 1/2 ounces (3 Tbsp.) fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 ounces (3 Tbsp.) Cranberry Ginger Syrup (recipe follows)

1 1/2 ounces (3 Tbsp.) pasteurized or organic egg white

——————————-

1 cup ice

Garnish: candied ginger and cranberry on a pick (optional)

Measure cocktail ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend on high until ice is totally blended and drink is frothy. Pour into coup glasses. Garnish with candied ginger and cranberry on a pick if desired.

Cranberry Ginger Syrup

Makes about 20 ounces or enough for 12 cocktails.

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

4 tsp. finely grated orange zest

4 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

Place ingredients into a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer for 1 minute then turn off heat. Let steep for 30 minutes. Then strain through a fine mesh strainer—pressing out the cranberries. Store in a pretty bottle refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®.

Citrus SparkleImage

Who wants to be tied to the bar during their party? Making a pre-mix for your signature cocktail saves precious time so all you have to do is squeeze in a little clementine, shake and top with bubbly.

Makes 1 drink.

1/4 of a clementine, tangerine or mandarin

3 ounces (about 1/3 cup) Citrus Gin Pre-Mix (recipe follows)

——————————-

1 1/2 ounces (3 Tbsp.) brut champagne or sparkling wine, chilled

Garnish: small rosemary sprig or orange twist

Squeeze and drop the clementine into a cocktail shaker. Measure in the Citrus Gin Pre-Mix, fill with ice, cap, and then shake vigorously. Strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne and garnish with a small sprig of rosemary or orange twist.

Citrus Gin Pre-Mix

Makes enough for about 10-12 cocktails.

2 cups Martin Miller’s Gin

1/2 cup Cointreau

1/2 cup simple syrup*

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Combine the pre-mix ingredients. Funnel into a pretty bottle. Store refrigerated, for up to 7 days.

*Purchase simple syrup at well stocked liquor stores or in the bar section of the grocery store. To make homemade simple syrup: combine 2 cups water with 2 cups sugar together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat immediately remove from the heat and cool. Store refrigerated for up to 1 month.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®.

Honey Gin Thyme FizzImage

Fresh thyme in the elixir adds an herbalicious dry note to this cocktail and compliments the botanicals of the gin. Using local honey incorporates sustainable regional flavor.

The make-ahead elixir will keep up to five days refrigerated, so you have plenty of time to make it before your next party.

Makes 1 cocktail.

1 1/2 ounces (3 Tbsp.) Martin Miller’s Gin

2 ounces (1/4 cup) Honey-Thyme Grapefruit Elixir (recipe follows)

———————————-

1 – 2 ounces (2 – 4 Tbsp.) soda or sparkling water

Garnish: fresh thyme sprig and thin slices of grapefruit

Fill a Collins or tall glass with ice. Measure in Martin Miller’s Gin and the elixir. Top with a splash of soda. Stir drink with a bar spoon. Garnish with thyme and grapefruit.

Honey-Thyme Grapefruit Elixir

Makes about 20 ounces – enough for 10 cocktails.

1/2 cup local honey

1/3 cup warm water

1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit ruby or pink grapefruit juice

6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

6 sprigs fresh thyme

Combine the honey and water in a bowl or pitcher. Whisk to combine. Then stir in the grapefruit and lemon juices. Funnel mixture into a pretty bottle and add in the thyme sprigs. Let thyme mingle for at least 8 hours before serving and store refrigerated up to 5 days.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®.

Ruby Spiced MartiniImage

A sassy holiday gin-play on the Manhattan crafted with Martin Miller’s Gin, pomegranate liqueur, an easy to make spiced sweet vermouth, and a dash of bitters. For some fun bling, dust the cherries with edible gold Luster Dust available online.

Makes 1 cocktail.

2 ounces (1/4 cup) Martin Miller’s Gin

1/2 ounce (2 Tbsp.) PAMA pomegranate liqueur

1/2 ounce (2 Tbsp.) Spiced Vermouth (recipe follows)

1 dash Angostura or your favorite bitters

Garnish: orange zest twist and an Amarena cherry

Measure the gin, liqueur and Spiced Vermouth into a mixing glass. Fill three-quarters full with ice and add bitters. Stir with a bar spoon until well chilled. Serve strained up in a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist and cherry.

Spiced Vermouth

For a video on how to make this, visit www.LiquidKitchen.tv.

The longer you let this sit, the more the flavors marry. This is also delicious in a Martin Miller’s Gin Negroni or Martinez cocktail.

Makes 16 ounces.

2 cups sweet, red vermouth

1/4 cup spiced rum

6 strips orange peel

8 pieces clove

4 pieces allspice

2 slices fresh ginger

1/3 cup fresh OR frozen cranberries

Combine all ingredients in a pretty bottle. Let infuse at least 24 hours. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Store refrigerated for up to one month.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®.

Martin Miller’s Gin Party PunchImage

Punches are great to serve for a large crowd. Make ahead and chill up to 3 – 4 days before your party. Present in a punch bowl over an ice mold studded with sliced mandarins and pomegranate seeds. Or serve up over Bitter Ice Balls (method follows) in pretty glasses. Check gourmet stores and online for fun and unique ice molds.

Makes about 16 – 20 servings.

3 cups water

3 Orange Pekoe Tea bags

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

———————————-

1 bottle (750 ml) Martin Miller’s Gin

1 cup pomegranate juice

3/4 cups fresh orange juice

3/4 cups pineapple juice

1 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. Angostura or Peychaud’s bitters

Garnish: if in season – sliced mandarin or oranges and/or lemons

Bring water and tea bags to a boil. Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Remove from heat, let steep 10 minutes, then strain and cool.

To the tea, add Martin Miller’s Gin, pomegranate, orange, pineapple and lemon juices, and bitters. Stir together and chill until ready to serve. Add sliced mandarins or oranges and pomegranate seeds to punch before serving if desired. Serve in ice-filled glasses grated with fresh nutmeg.

 
Bitter Ice Balls

Makes about 20 Ice Balls.

10 cups water

2 Tbsp. Angostora or Peychaud’s bitters

In a pitcher, measure out water and stir in bitters. Place water evenly in ice ball molds. (This will have to be done in batches depending on the size of your ice mold containers.) Put ice molds to freezer. Check in 12 – 24 hours. Remove ice from molds, and transfer to a container. Keep frozen until ready to use.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®.

 

About Martin Miller’s Gin

Martin Miller’s Gin is the original super premium gin featuring a classic flavor profile with perfectly balanced notes of citrus and juniper. Martin Miller’s Gin is the only gin made from pure, live Icelandic Spring water. It is the best, most awarded gin on the market and the most expensive gin to produce — offering consumers the greatest overall value of any premium gin. With a global presence in more than 55 countries across all continents, Martin Miller’s is the biggest independent gin brand in the world.

 

If you love food, wine and travel, you must visit California’s Northern Coast for a tour of Wine Country. The world-class wines of Napa Valley and Sonoma County, CA will satisfy the most discerning pallets and even if wine isn’t your thing, there is still plenty to do, see and experience during your visit.

Napa Valley:

The first Napa Valley vineyards were planted as far back as 1836 and since then the region’s wine growing popularity has steadily climbed, surviving the roughest of conditions, including prohibition, disease and vine killing pests. However, in 1976, Napa Valley became an overnight sensation when a Napa Valley Cabernet dominated a French Bordeaux in a blind tasting at an international wine competition on Paris, France. Today, there are over 300 wineries in the region, plenty to visit during your trip beyond city limits.

Although most known for full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignons, the award-winning wineries in the Napa Valley produce a range of grapes including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, among others.

Sonoma County:

One of my personal favorites, Sonoma County is just north of Napa and far less commercialized. This region boasts over 370 wineries – from wine castles and the winery resort of Francis Ford Coppola, one of Hollywood’s most famed directors, to simple and rustic tasting rooms, according to Sonomacounty.com.

The region also offers incredible farm-to-table dining and more than 50 miles of stunning Pacific Coast, replete with world-renowned spas (compliments of its abundant natural mineral springs) and lots of open country air. Sonoma County is a bit more sprawling than Napa, so it is recommended that you map out your trip ahead of time to optimize your time.

With so many wineries and restaurants to choose from in both Napa and Sonoma, I sat down with local wine expert, Kevin Hart, part of WineCRAFT and on-site sommelier at Cork n’ Bottle, to get his list of personal favorites. Here is Kevin’s abbreviated insider’s guide to Wine Country.

Napa Valley Wineries:
(Note: the information below is sourced from each winery’s and restaurant’s website.)

FAILLA

“#1 Wine of the Year” – Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Wines for 2008. Tours and Tastings available by appointment. Phone: 707.963.0530, web: www.faillawines.com

DUNN VINEYARDS

Dunn Vineyards produces two labels, Howell Mountain and Napa Valley. Both wines are one hundred percent cabernet sauvignon. Phone- 707-965-3642, web: www.dunnvineyards.com

SCHRAMSBERG VINEYARDS (Sparkling)

Located in Calistoga, Calif., Schramsberg Vineyards offers five tours daily between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The tour, which usually takes about an hour and 15 minutes, costs $45 per adult (visitors younger than 21 and pets are not allowed). For more information, check out the vineyard’s website – www.schramsberg.com/

Napa Valley Wines, cont.

DOMAINE CARNEROS (Sparkling Wines)

The Art of Sparkling Wine Tour – $30* Offered Daily at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 & 3:00 p.m. On their signature experience, you’ll be guided through the process of creating fine sparkling wines in the traditional method. This journey begins in the vineyards and continues through the Chateau while you enjoy a tasting of our classic sparkling wines. At the completion of the tour, you will also enjoy a seated tasting of a red wine selection. Allow approximately 90 minutes for the tour and tasting.

For reservations within 24 hours, please contact the Tour Coordinator at (707) 257-0101, ext. 161.

PRIDE MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS

Pride Mountain Vineyards sits high atop the Mayacamas Mountains straddling the Napa/Sonoma county line. Located at the site of historic Summit Ranch, where wine grapes have been grown since 1869, this beautiful setting includes wine caves dug deep into the mountains and the haunting ruins of an old stone winery dating to 1890.

Hours: by appointment, from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM. Closed Tuesdays.

4026 Spring Mountain Road, Saint Helena CA 94574.
Call: 707-963-4949

JARVIS

One of the Napa Valley’s Best Winery Tours. A visit to Jarvis Estate is an extraordinary journey like no other into the world of exceptional winemaking. The country’s first winery built entirely underground offers an intimate glimpse into the meticulous steps that go into producing lush Chardonnays, rich Cabernet Sauvignons and velvety Merlots among others.Tastings, daily by appointment. $60 per person. To book a tour, please contact the winery at 1-800-255-5280 ext. 150

CALDWELL

They host a very small number of tastings each month. Please email info@caldwellvineyard.com
call 707-255-1294 for availability.
www.caldwellvineyard.com

EMERSON BROWN

Best known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.
4281 Dale Drive, Napa, CA 94558
Tel: 707-363-0693
info@emersonbrownwines.com
www.emersonbrownwines.com

CIMMAROSSA

Cimarossa ‘Red Hilltop’ is one of Howell Mountain’s most scenic estates, with terraced vineyards and olive groves climbing the hillsides.

1185 Friesen Road, Angwin CA 94508
For tastings, please call: 707-307-3130

NEYERS VINEYARDS

Tasting at Neyers Vineyards – Open by appointment for private tours and tastings seven days a week. $10 per person fee, waived with purchase. Maximum 6 people per party.
2153 Sage Canyon Road, St. Helena, CA 94574
707.963.8840
info@neyersvineyards.com
www.neyersvineyards.com

Napa Valley Restaurants:

REDD WOOD

Redd Wood is a superbly stylish Italian-inspired eatery. Reddington, of Michelin-starred Redd, brings a new sensibility to this laid-back wine country destination: a polished, chic restaurant with a voguish vibe and hip playlist coupled with an osteria-styled menu and Napa/Sonoma favored wine list. 6755 Washington St. Yountville, CA, 94599, (707) 299 5030, web: www.redd-wood.com

KITCHEN DOOR

A one-of-a-kind social gathering place located in the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa, serving ingredient driven menu of handmade multi-ethnic comfort food created with local and seasonal products selected to complement wine regions and meant for sharing. 610 1st Street, Napa, California. Call: (707) 226-1560, web: www.kitchendoornapa.com/

THE FRENCH LAUNDRY ($$$$)

The French Laundry is a perennial awardee in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World (having been named “Best Restaurant in the World” in ’03 and ’04), and since 2006, it has been awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide to San Francisco. It has also been called “the best restaurant in the world, period” by Anthony Bourdain. Every day, the French Laundry serves two different nine-course tasting menus, none of which uses the same ingredient more than once. The most-current menu has priced their meals at $270 per person, including gratuity for the base meal. The food is mainly French with contemporary American influences. Yountville, CA 94599, phone:(707) 945-1050, web: www.frenchlaundry.com

MEADOWOOD

Fine dining at the Meadowood Resort. The Restaurant at Meadowood offers a casually elegant dining experience featuring a modern approach to Napa Valley cuisine by Chef Christopher Kostow. Approachable, dynamic, evocative and playful. *Michelin 3 star rating

900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena, CA 94574
Tel (877) 963-3646
www.therestaurantatmeadowood.com

GOTTS ROADSIDE (breakfast & burgers)

Great for breakfast and burgers.
Breakfast Menu: Served 7-11 a.m. Main Menu: Served 10:30-close
933 Main St., Saint Helena, CA 94574
707-963-3486

BOUCHON

French Bistro and Bakery near French Laundry
534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA, 94599
NO. 707.944.8037
http://bouchonbistro.com/

COOK

Cook specializes in simple but elegant Northern Italian cuisine made from local and seasonal ingredients.

1310 Main Street; Saint Helena, CA 94574
call: 707.963.7088

Sonoma County Wineries:

(Note: wineries in Sonoma are much more spread out, so plan your day accordingly for an optimum experience. – Also, Sonoma is known for having some of the best spas, compliments of its natural hot springs, so take advantage after a long day of sipping and swirling.)

HIRSCH

Hirsch Vineyards is recognized as one of the premier sites for pinot noir in the new world. David Hirsch planted his vineyard overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the extreme Sonoma Coast in 1980. By appointment only. Web: www.hirschvineyards.com<p>

PEAY

Wines: Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay. Peay is the northernmost winery in Sonoma County. Using sustainable farming practices, they produce 8,000 gallons of Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay each year, as well as small batches of Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne. 207A N. Cloverdale Blvd. #201 Cloverdale, CA 95425, email: andy@peayvineyards.com, web: http://peayvineyards.com

LIOCO

The focus is on vineyard-designate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as an old-vine blend of “under-dog” California varietals (including Carignan and Petite Sirah). To schedule your appointment, email Jim Kuhner at jim@liocowine.com with your desired tasting date, time and number of people in your party. www.liocowine.com


MEDLOCK AMES

What to Buy:
•’10 Chardonnay – $35
•’08 RED – $32
•’08 Cabernet Sauvignon – $52

3487 Alexander Valley Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Phone: 707.431.8845,
Email: info@medlockames.com
www.medlockames.com

REPRISVery private, tasting tours three times a day, Must have reservation, Wine cave tours.
1700 Moon Mountain Road, Sonoma, CA 95476
707.933.8514
www.repriswines.com/

DREW

9000 Hwy 128, Philo, CA 95466
Tel: 707-877-1771
www.drewwines.com


Sonoma County Restaurants

THE GIRL & THE FIG

The girl & the fig features a wonderful antique bar with French aperitifs, unique and traditional cocktails, an award-winning Rhone-Alone wine list, a seasonal menu, cheese & charcuterie platters, and outdoor garden patio seating. 110 West Spain Street – Sonoma, CA, phone 707.938.3634, web:www.thegirlandthefig.com

MADRONA MANOR

A very romantic destination with inventive cuisine, a stunning backdrop and impeccable service. Upon entering the restaurant, guests are enveloped by the elegant, yet lively atmosphere. Attention to detail, superb wine and good cheer is woven throughout every culinary experience. Madrona Manor captures the rich culture of wine, food and nature inherent to the region. A stellar wine list expresses the varied bounty of the local vintners as well as global sources. Reservations: 800-258-4003, web: www.madronamanor.com
BARNDIVA

Barndiva is a celebration of all things local. Their food is sourced from farmers, ranchers and small batch purveyors who live and work in the area.
231 Center St., Healdsburg, CA 95448
707.431.0100
www.barndiva.com
CAMPO FINA

More casual than its sister restaurant Scopa, Campo Fina is serving up Italian staples such as pizzas and wood-fired meats. The focus of the menu is on simple Italian dishes.
330 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, CA
707.395.4640,
http://campo-fina.com/

BIG BOTTOM MARKET (for lunch)

Artisanal food, wine and micro brews to inspirational retail items. From jams, honey, coffee table books, vintage style picnic and camp gear and an amazing cup of pour over single origin coffee to locally sourced cheeses, breads, meats and prepared foods.

Guerneville, CA, 95446
(707) 604 7295 |
info@bigbottommarket.com

SCOPA

Italian tratorria, Favorites: Sauces, confits, and ragùs stand out, including the wild-boar Bolognese served with house-made tagliatelle.

109A Plaza St. Healdsburg, CA, 95448
TEL: (707) 433-5282
http://scopahealdsburg.com/

Share some of your favorite places to visit in Wine Country with our readers.

Salute, Terrah

It’s Christmas cookie time!  My girlfriends and I are doing a cookie exchange; everyone bakes enough cookies for the group and then gets to take home a mismatch of everyone else’s magical creations.  I’m literally going to have enough cookies to bring my husband and entire family into the New Year – probably Valentine’s Day if they’d last that long.  I have a few cookie recipes up my sleeve, but I’ve also reached out to fellow co-workers, friends and scoured a few blogs  for new recipe ideas.  Here is my little recipe book of Christmas/holiday cookies for you to enjoy.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays!  Share your recipes, too!

Fresh from my Bitchin’ Kitchen 

Aunt Diane’s Faux Reeses Peanut Butter Fudge: 

Do all of these steps in order for perfect PB fudge

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 cup of peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
  • 16 oz. bag of powdered confectioner’s sugar (or 3 ½ cups)
  1. In a medium saucepan,  melt the two sticks of butter over low-medium heat until fully melted.
  2. Add peanut butter to saucepan and stir until melted (using a wooden spoon or spatula).
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and slowly add the entire bag of powdered sugar until all sugar is incorporated; your mixture will thicken.
  4. Pour fudge into an ungreased 8×8 (or larger pan for thinner pieces) and refrigerate for an hour (*see optional chocolate topping).
  5. Once the fudge is hardened, cut into small squares and serve.

*Optional: For a truly authentic Reese Cup flavor, melt 1 cup of milk-chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips and drizzle or spread over the fudge before refrigerating.

Suggestion for improving the recipe/method from a co-worker:

“The only thing I would do differently – wait to cut until they warm up a bit from the fridge (since left in more than an hour). And, at Andy’s suggestion, add 2 cups of chocolate on top instead of one.”

Grandma Minnesota’s Snowballs:

Grandma Minnesota's Snowball recipe

Grandma Minnesota’s Snowball recipe

1 cup of soft butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar to coat snowballs

(Optional: 2 cups finely chopped pecans)

Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees; Mix butter, granulated sugar, vanilla; add flour and salt; chill; roll into one inch balls; and bake for 10-12 min. Roll cooked snowballs in 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until well coated. Enjoy!

Shared Recipes from Friends

Peppermint-Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Martha Stewart Peppermint Chocolate Sugar Cookies - photo by Johnny Miller

Martha Stewart Peppermint Chocolate Sugar Cookies – photo by Johnny Miller

This might just be the ultimate Christmas cookie. It has a great peppermint flavor, chunks of chocolate, and a super-sweet glaze, plus it’s topped with the iconic red-and-white peppermint candies. What more could you want? Compliments of Martha Stewart – CLICK HERE

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3-5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 12 round peppermint candies, crushed, for decorating

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract on medium-high until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in egg, then flour mixture on low. Stir in chocolate chips.
  2. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and place, 2 inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are lightly golden, about 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks and let cool completely.
  3. Stir together confectioners’ sugar and enough cream to make a spreadable glaze (if you like a strong mint flavor, stir in up to 1/4 teaspoon extract). Spread a thin layer of glaze on top of each cookie and sprinkle with candies. Let dry completely on racks.

Cook’s Note: Store in airtight containers, up to 3 days.

Lemon-Pistachio Wreaths

Lemon-Pistachio WreathsfAnother Martha Stewart Specialty, Scalloped rings topped with pistachios add a little color and zest to ordinary shortbread cookies. Click here for recipe. Yield: Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients:
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 5 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled unsalted pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Put butter and granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in yolks, lemon zest, and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture. Shape into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to a generous 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch round fluted cutter, cut out wreaths. Reroll scraps, and cut out. Cut out centers of wreaths using a 7/8-inch round cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Bake until just golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks.
  3. Stir together confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Dip surface of each cookie in icing, and sprinkle with pistachios. Let set on wire racks.

Note: “I made these cookies a few years ago and they were a big hit. I think I used orange rind in the cookies and orange extract in the frosting. I did not add the pistachios (only because I did not have the time). They were refreshing and a big hit. Good luck at the cookie exchange! What fun!”

Blogger’s Delight

Maple Bacon Oatmeal Cookie      Maple Bacon Cookie - The Nest v2

I found this divine recipe on a blog called “The Nest.”  Who doesn’t LOVE bacon!?  Now you can have it in a cookie!

POSTED IN: Food and Drink

Before you start:

These cookies spread.  Be sure to leave plenty of space.  We placed two rows of four on our standard baking sheets.

Use REAL maple syrup.  The taste of it and the other brown, sugary liquid stuff do not compare.

You can bake two sheets at once.  At the halfway point, just be sure to rotate tray from top to bottom and from front to back.

The cookies must cool on the paper because they are still quite soft in the middle when hot.  After the sugar cools and does its magic you will find them simple to peel from the paper.

The ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup bacon drippings
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 8 strips bacon

The method:

  1. Cut bacon in half lengthwise.  Cut strips into ½ inch pieces.
  2. Cook bacon and strain over a small bowl to reserve drippings.  Place drippings in the freezer to cool slightly.
  3. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.  Set aside.
  6. Place butter in the bowl of your mixer.  Beat on medium high to make smooth for about 30 seconds.  Add cooled bacon drippings.  Beat for 30 seconds more.
  7. Add both sugars.  Beat on high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  8. Add eggs one at a time mixing until fully incorporated after each.
  9. Add syrup and mix until fully incorporated.
  10. With your mixer on lowest speed, add dry ingredients gradually mixing only until just incorporated.
  11. Add oats and bacon pieces and mix just until combined.
  12. Using a medium scoop, place dough on parchment lined sheets at least 2 inches apart.
  13. Bake until lightly browned on the edges but still soft in the middle (about 18-20 min.)  Rotate trays at about 9 minutes.
  14. Cool cookies completely on parchment paper.  When cooled, peel cookies from paper and store in an airtight container.

Please share your recipes for delicious Christmas/Holiday cookies here for our readers.

Mele kalikimaka!

XO Terrah

There is a new wine bar in town and the owners have done it so right! UNWIND, located at 3435 Michigan Ave., is directly behind the Hyde Park Fire Station. To enter the building, guests will walk past a large outdoor seating area, which will be perfect for sipping and swirling in warmer months. Indoors, a glass wall opens up to the grand lounge where a massive stone fireplace is a welcoming focal point. The bar is sleek and elegant and guests will find a more secluded area on the opposite side of the room, ideal for private parties and intimate gatherings. In addition to wines by the glass, or bottle, light bites are also available. UNWIND truly is the perfect place to relax and connect with friends, a date, co-workers, even strangers. check it out! you won’t be disappointed.

website: http://unwindhydepark.com

LOCATION: 3435 MICHIGAN AVENUE, CINCINNATI, OH 45208

Hours: 11AM – 1AM Daily

The concept of Unwind was based on creating a place to connect with others, meet with friends, plan date nights, schedule pre-dinner and late night drinks or just spoil your dinner with our amazing appetizers We wanted the experience to start when the guest enters the bar with intimate ambience, warm and welcoming staff, and a feeling of getting away from it all and entering the wine country of many vineyards blended together.

un·wind

/ˌənˈwīnd/

Verb
  1. Undo or be undone after winding or being wound: “Ella unwound the long woolen scarf from her neck”; “the net unwinds from the reel”.
  2. Relax after a period of work or tension: “the Grand Hotel is a superb place to unwind”.
Synonyms
uncoil – unreel – unroll – undo – unfold

Apple season is here! On farms across the Midwest to your neighborhood markets, apples are bursting on the scene, making their final appearance before winter. The orchard on our family farm near Oxford, Ohio is a colorful bouquet of deep ruby red honeycrisp apples, neon green Granny Smiths, Ginger Golds and beautiful multi-colored Paulia Red apples. It is a beautiful thought to know that my grandfather planted the orchard using tiny seeds of his favorite fruits. Today, years after he has left the earth, we are still reaping the “fruits” of his labor.

Mixed apples from the orchard

It only took me about 15 minutes to pick a basket of apples. This batch yielded about 5-7 baggies of applesauce.

ImageImage

With the diverse apple, there are endless recipes to be made; warm cobblers and pies to cinnamony sauces, chunky chutneys, and more. Harvest season has always marked a special moment in my family’s life. A time when the Italian women come together in grandma’s kitchen with aprons, bushels of (insert fruit/vegetable name here), canning products and stories from the past – to spend a day picking, peeling, boiling, mashing, grinding, flavoring and canning home-grown flavors that would last through the winter.

My grandma’s applesauce recipe, which I call Sunset Acres Applesauce (my mother’s version is Sunflower Applesauce), is incredibly simple and it makes a great gift for friends, family and other loved ones.  *A special thank you to my mamma bear, Jayne, for making a huge batch of applesauce with me and passing on the family recipe.

What you’ll need:

  • Bushel of mixed orchard apples: If you are making enough sauce to harvest for the winter (or give to friends) buy a bushel of apples (preferably Red Delicious, honeycrisp, Fuji) – mix them up and get them from an orchard or real farmer’s market :). A bushel is about 40 lbs. of apples. According to http://www.pickyourown.org, you’ll get about 12 to 16 quarts of applesauce per bushel of apples.  Count on 12 or 13 quarts per bushel. More on apple measurements below.

-OR-

  • 2 lbs. of mixed orchard apples: for smaller portions, use about 2 lbs. of apples. Again, use Red Delicious, honeycrisp, Fuji small tart apples. Mix them up and get them from an orchard or real farmer’s market 🙂
  • 1 large pot (at least 8-quart size or larger) for boiling water
  • Large spoons and ladles (wooden preferred)
  • Sieve – they look like this:Image(Macy’s sells Martha Stewart sieves)
  • Plastic baggies for freezing (*Optional: Jars – *a longer more tedious method not covered in this post. For jarring methods, click herehttp://www.pickyourown.org/applesauce.htm)

Ingredients: (told you it was simple)

  • Apples (mixed orchard apples)
  • sugar
  • cinnamon
  • cloves

Step 1: Wash and slice apples into manageable chunks, keeping skins on (the skin will be separated in the sieve. Remove the core and seeds.

Image

Step 1: wash apples

Image

Image Slice apples, removing the core and seeds

 

Step 2: Boil water in large wide pot at a simmering boil. Turn the heat down and place apple slices in hot water for 20-25 minutes or until the apple skin appears to be separating from the apple flesh. The color of the apples will turn from a crisp/ripe apple to a brackish/brown color when ready – they should be soft and mushy if you stick them with a fork.

ImageImage

Step 3: Add the boiled apples to sieve and churn, placing a ceramic dish beneath the sieve to catch the sauce.

Image

Sieve the boiled apples

Image

stir the handle of the sieve to separate the flesh from the skin with a bowl beneath to catch the sauce.

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Step 4: Flavor the apples. First, place the ceramic pan with the sauce over low heat. Using a wooden spoon, mix in your ingredients (metal adds bad taste when you mix with acidic apples).

  • add 1/2 cup of water at a time to the applesauce mixture until the sauce reaches a consistency you enjoy (less water for thicker sauce. More water for runnier sauce)
  • add a clove to taste (remove before bagging)
  • add 1/2 cup of sugar.  if you like your applesauce sweeter, add another 1/4 cup more at a time until it reaches a sweetness you enjoy
  • 1 tsp. of cinnamon (more/less or none).

Step 5: Remove applesauce from heat and begin to ladel into the plastic freezer baggies.  I use about 5-7 scoops/ladels per baggie.  The applesauce only lasts a week once removed from a freezer, so use portion sizes according to your needs.

ImageImage

Step 6: Toss the baggies into the freezer and when you are ready to enjoy them, simply defrost and eat within a week.

You can serve your applesauce warm with any meal or pour over ice cream as a topping.  Either way your family and friends will enjoy this homemade delicious treat. Salute!

More on apple measurements:
How Many Apples in a Pound and How Many Apples in a Bushel? 

(Source:http://www.pepinheights.com/apple-info/weights-measures.php)

1 pound equals:

  • 3 medium apples
  • 2 cups sliced

3 pounds equals:

  • 8-9 medium apples
  • one 9 inch pie

1 peck equals:

  • 10-12 pounds
  • 32 medium apples
  • 3-4~ 9 inch pies
  • 7-9 quarts frozen
  • 4 quarts canned

1 bushel equals:

  • 42-48 pounds
  • 126 medium apples
  • 15~ 9 inch pies
  • 30-36 pints frozen
  • 16-20 quarts canned

Types of Apples:

Image

By: Terrah Kocher

Vine + Table: Seven Travel-Savvy Tips
For the July 16th 2012 issue of my column, Vine+Table, in Cincy Chic, I shared tips for finding a luxury summer vacation online without getting burned.

071612FOOD
Terrah at the Grand Riviera Princess Resort

With literally hundreds of online travel sites screaming for your attention, and biased bloggers promoting vacation deals for places they’ve never been, how do you know that your dream vacation will turn out to be as picture perfect as it appears online? Fortunately, there are reliable sites (I personally recommend tripadvisor.com) and some simple steps you can take to ensure your dream getaway doesn’t turn out to be a mirage.

Step 1: Make a wish (a wish list, that is)
Write down your goals for the trip. This will allow you to stay focused when bombarded by a barrage of travel deals. If they don’t align to your vacation goals, then move on. What are you looking for in a vacation? Adventure? Relaxation? What type of resort do you want? Boutique? Adult-only? All inclusive (my personal recommendation)? What is your maximum budget? How much time do you want to spend traveling? Mexico is a personal favorite because a direct flight to Cancun takes under three hours where if I were going to Bora Bora, that flight is over 20 and costs significantly more. Do you want to spend all of your time and money in the air or are you willing to stay closer to home and save all around?

Step 2: Do your homework
You can find the best deals online, but you have to look for them. Some of my favorite sites allow you to select multiple criteria (location, travel dates, budget) in addition to showing you current deals. Check out these sites: tripadvisor.com,travelzoo.comAppleVacations.comBookIt.comCheapCarribean.com,SunsetBeachVacations.comUnitedVacations.comeurotrip.com, andVacationExpress.com.

Step 3: Call your agent
Another way to find travel deals with a personal touch is to call your travel agent. They can tailor your vacation and often give personal testaments to favorite destinations and advice on where to avoid. It doesn’t mean you have to book with this agent, but she might share vacation deals that aren’t available online.

Step 4: Trim the fat
Use your wish list to narrow down your search to your top five locations. Now it’s time to do some research.

Step 5: Check with your advisor
tripadvisor.com offers unbiased, real reviews of hotels and vacations from travelers, including photos and travel advice. Simply search for the hotel you are considering and start reading. Based on real reviews and ratings, you can get a good feel for the hotel on your list. I recommend reading as many reviews as possible (good and bad) and making your choice wisely. Be cautious of reviews from competitors and employees. You’ll be able to sift through these pretty easily. The forum also allows you to contact any posting traveler if you have a question.

Step 6: Book it
Now it’s time to book your trip. If you are purchasing a package from a travel site, I also recommend using Google to see what others say about the company. If they have a bad reputation online, steer clear. Also, be sure to read all the fine print and invest in travel insurance. Anything can happen on vacation, including bad weather, sickness, and flight delays. You’ll want to make sure you are covered in any event.

Step 7: Give back
Now that you’ve visited the resort, experienced the culture and sampled the food, it’s time to return the favor. Let other travelers know about your vacation by logging into your account on trip advisor and giving them an honest review (sooner the better so you don’t forget the details). Would you recommend this resort to a friend or family member? Did the hotel represent itself honestly online? Did you feel safe in the city or country? Don’t forget to tell other travelers about the café with world’s best clams and that dive bar where all the locals hung out. Your review will help someone else make the right choice for their vacation investment.

Keep reading to hear about my tried-and-true online vacation find at all inclusive,Grand Rivera Princess, All Suites and Spa Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

TRIP BREAKDOWN
Budget: $2500, all inclusive (2 adults, seven days)
Vacation Wish list:
Luxury resort (min. 4 stars), direct flight, beach, all-inclusive (food, drink, airfare, transportation), on-site spa, oceanfront suite, safety, top shelf liquors, multiple dining options, adult-only options.

 

The Deal
After all the research and reading through real life horror stories of holidays gone bad, I finally honed in on a vacation destination that met all of our requirements. VacationExpress.com was promoting 6 days, 7 nights at four-star all inclusiveGrand Rivera Princess, All Suites and Spa Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, only an hour from Cancun for $670, all in. The all-inclusive plan at the Grand Riviera Princess was plentiful for the price, including luxury room accommodations; unlimited meals and snacks; unlimited beverages including domestic and international alcoholic drinks; in-room mini-bar with soft drinks, bottled water and beer. Honestly, even after all of the research I’d done, I was still hesitant about the legitimacy of the deal. However, the hundreds of positive reviews on trip advisor (1,318 out of 1,896 positive reviews to be exact) led me to believe that this was the real deal, and it most certainly was. After our weeklong stay at Grand Riviera Princess, my expectations were exceeded and here is what I found to be tried and true.

 

The Resort: 
In all of its glory, the opulent entrance to Grand Riviera Princess is breathtaking, floor to ceiling marble, open-air foyer filled with vacationers from all over the world, a magnificent bar and immaculate gardens. At check in, we were greeted with hot towels, and our platinum plus suite upgrade (highly recommended) afforded us two flutes of welcome champagne and speedy check-in. Before long we were whisked off to our ocean front suite. A spitting image of its online portrayal, and even more magical in person, our room was everything I’d hoped for. A huge living and bedroom opened up to a balcony, which overlooked the Caribbean Sea. Our suite had not one, but two Jacuzzi tubs; one in the bathroom and another on the balcony. We also had a stunning fruit arrangement, chilled bottle of champagne (there is a theme here), and fully stocked bar (no additional cost) waiting for us. Our concierge made dinner reservations in advance; the only thing left for us to do was kick-off our shoes and enjoy the start of a relaxing vacation.

 

Amenities:
The resort is huge over 1,500 fully-equipped rooms and plenty of activities to keep everyone in your group happy. 12 swimming pools (8 main swimming pools for Adults and 4 for Children). Outdoor tennis courts and a health club are featured at the resort. 12 outdoor swimming pools are on site along with a children’s pool. Other recreational amenities include a spa tub, a sauna, a steam room, and a fitness facility. Free introductory scuba lessons, archery, Disco lunge, live entertainment nightly.

 

Food: 
One of my favorite parts of the trip – food and wine. The resort offers a wide range of on-site dining options to choose from, including seven thematic restaurants presenting rich and varied options from Mediterranean, Mexican, Swiss, Italian, steak and seafood. Less formal choices were also available at the international buffets. In the morning and afternoon we indulged in delicious and healthy meals; y the pool, we enjoyed specialty cocktails and Mexican beer, all without ever having to pull out our wallets.

 

Spa:
I can’t think of a better way to relax than getting a massage on the beach with the ocean lulling you to sleep and the breeze caressing your suntanned skin. Beach massages are just one option offered at the resort. Other services include facials, body scrubs, and body treatments. The spa is equipped with a sauna, a spa tub, and Turkish bath/. A variety of treatment therapies are provided, including aromatherapy and hydrotherapy (a manmade waterfall gently pounding on your neck and shoulders for a massage like therapy).

All said and done, this vacation deal is real and for the price, you get your money’s worth, and so much more. Let us know about the travel deals you find by posting them on our Facebook page and including a link to this column.

 

Find the full article in Cincy Chic

Terrah Kocher –

Terrah Kocher is the food and wine columnist for Cincy Chic and owner of TK PR & Marketing in Cincinnati, specializing in online marketing for small businesses, non-profits and gourmet food and wine stores.  Contact her at Terrahk@gmail.com.

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