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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

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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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Have you ever had a cocktail?  No, I mean a REAL cocktail – the kind made in the Roaring Twenties, when the bartender could whip up an Old Fashioned Gimlet without Googling its ingredients.  Today, Cincinnati bar-goers can get their Jazz Aged Sidecars and the Blackberry Brambles at the newly resurrected Japp’s on Main where Molly Wellmann, co-owner and ever-so-lovely damsel of drink, knows how to make a cocktail good enough to make Clara Bow blush (Clara Bow was a famous flapper/Hollywood starlet from the 1920’s). Here is a link to the full article in my column – Cincy Chic‘s Vine + Table.

In the next post I’ll feature the back of the bar, where Tazza Mia‘s Bob Bonder brews up your evening espresso with a splash of absinthe.

http://cincychic.com/content/view/3526/10044/

Vine + Table: Japp’s and the Return of Cocktail Couture PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terrah Kocher

071111FOOD1.jpgJapp’s on Main,  Tazza Mia071111FOOD2.jpg071111FOOD.jpg

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Written by Terrah Kocher
Sunday, May 08 2011
Vine + Table: Queen City Cookies
This local bakery produces a cookie so beautiful, so divine, that it belongs in a museum, but it’s much better in your mouth. Learn more about the lady behind these couture cookies.
It all began with a magazine — Martha Stewart Living’s December 2008 issue, to be exact – that transformed the trajectory of Peggy Shannon’s future. Inspired by a picture of artisan molds, a passion for baking and unbridled flavor combinations, her company, Queen City Cookies was born into existence.Fourteen states, 32 stores and various catalogues later, Queen City Cookies continues to break the mold of artistic, delicious, edible, perfection.

050911food.jpg

During my first encounter with the buttery shortbread cookies, I found myself in a unique predicament: To eat, or not to eat? I was holding the most beautiful confection ever – a hand painted cookie caressed with porcelain “fairy dust” icing, surrounded with white piping and shaped to perfection from an incredulously detailed mold. It was more than shortbread and sugar. I caressed a work of art; a hand-painted masterpiece. Carefully, I placed the artisan cookie between my lips. The soft, sugary icing with crisp tender buttery shortbread was exquisitely divine.

“Our ingredients are fresh, local and organic whenever possible,” says Shannon, whose cookies are made to order, from scratch, using prime, natural ingredients of wheat flour, rich European butter, sugar, farm fresh eggs, salt and Lemon zest.

Many say that the cookie is simply “too beautiful to eat,” but I profess that by not consuming this treat would be to miss out its true essence and artistic splendor.

“The cookies are a work of art, but I don’t think anything is ever too pretty to eat,” says Amy Hunter, Queen City Cookie’s publicist. “The beauty is part of the enjoyment. A perfectly ripe strawberry is beautiful, but no one would ever hesitate to eat it. What I love about Queen City Cookies is that because of the artistry you can taste the butter and in the case of my favorite cookie, the rich white chocolate icing. I love knowing that each cookie is handmade and packaged by someone who loves what they do.”

Shannon has a cookie design for everyone and every occasion. She even offers personalized molds. All of the information can be found on her Web site www.queencitycookies.com.

050911FOOD2.jpgRegarding the artistic expression of each design, Shannon’s Web site says it best:
 
We do not offer mass-produced products devoid of personality or artistry. Each cookie is meticulously created for you and should be considered an original work of art. Like an original masterpiece, each cookie expresses its own unique beauty. Queen City Cookies are hand made from replicas of historic molds carved by artisans as far back as the 14th century.”

Even the facilities surrounding the bakery contribute to the overall enchantment of the Queen City Cookie brand. Shannon’s business originally started in the basement of her home – a statuesque piece of Cincinnati history, one of three remaining Jergens’ Mansions, built in 1890, located on millionaires corner in eccentric Northside.

“As the company grew, we needed more room, and moving off the property just didn’t feel right,” said Shannon. “So we began the renovation of our carriage house, a beautiful space boasting 11 foot wide windows. The building overlooks a pristine yard blooming with 100 rose bushes, nine-foot wind chimes, and the dogs who come to work here, too; it’s a beautiful, peaceful, inspiring setting that translates into everything we do.”

050911FOOD3.jpgNo detail has been spared when it comes to the cookie’s brand. From the double-sided silk ribbon, biodegradable peanut packaging to the enchanting story on the back of every cookie clad greeting card. Every last detail is purposeful and well thought out, adding to the overall enchantment of Peggy’s products.

“I have the best graphic designer in the planet,” boasts Shannon of designer, Lisa Ballard. “Lisa completely brings such energy and beauty to everything we do in a way that reflects the fun and approachability of our cookies, all of my employees do.”

Blessings that Make up the Queen City Cookie Story

The success of Queen City Cookies is made up of chance encounters, talented artists and trustworthy confidants.

Averse to appearing vulnerable, one of Shannon’s greatest qualities is her willingness to say, “I don’t know,” and ask for help. This character trait led her to reach out to friends, even strangers, who ultimately helped shape the success of today’s product. Shannon noted that Doug Faulkner, co-owner of Take the Cake, recommended an icing that she says, “radically changed the design and flavor of our cookies, and I’m so grateful for his recommendation.”

050911FOOD5.jpgWhen it came to refining the overall flavor of the cookies, it was the honesty of a friend that made all the difference. “Anne Evans, Executive Director of the Governor’s Mansion for state of KY came in to pick up an order. I wanted to share our latest cookie with her. She tasted it and very honestly told me she hated the flavor. Instead of being devastated, I began brainstorming; this moment led to the shortbread base that make our cookies so popular today,” says Shannon.

And finally, when perplexed about how to go forward with new packaging, Shannon reached out to Liz Grubow, vice president/group creative director of LPK Beauty. “Liz kindly came in and gave me really great ideas about how to display cookies. Shrink wrapped as a piece of art, which really started the ball rolling on our designs and overall shelf-life,” said Shannon.

Today, the cookie is divinely perfect from its pristine packaging, to its tantalizing flavors and gorgeous moldings.

050911FOOD4.jpgPerfect for all occasions, including weddings, corporate gifts and fundraisers, cookies are made to order. Price is based on size and type, ranging from $4.50 – $10, even $20, per cookie.

Order online at www.Queencitycookies.com. Available locally at NEST Hyde Park on Michigan, Joseph Beth booksellers, Nordstrom’s e-bar, in Northside, at Sidewinder Coffee & Tea, and the Picnic & Pantry.

 WATCH THE VIDEO OF MY QUEEN CITY COOKIES BAKERY TOUR – http://youtu.be/IRBM9ihCkTw

Call (513) 591-0022 or email her at corporate@queencitycookies.com for gift suggestions and to place an order.


Terrah Kocher
About the author:
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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Last Updated ( Monday, May 09 2011 )

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At their very core, champagne and wine are simply grape juice, and meant to be enjoyed in celebration, versus fussed over.  Most champagnes are a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, from across several vintages. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind when you are pairing champagne, or sparkling wine, with food. Note: Only Sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne.

1)  Pre-Party! Champagne makes the perfect start to an evening of dining and will pair well with light bites such as shrimp, vegetables or cheese. The best cheese are aged, hard cheeses such as parmesan, gouda or cheddar. Goat cheese goes very well with blanc de blancs.

2) RED Alert! Avoid heavy tomato sauces, as they tend to clash with the high acidity of champagne.  lean more toward the creamy, buttery and mushroom sauces.

3) Seafood Hearts Champagne! Champagne pairs extremely well with fish and seafood, especially lobster.

4) A Pink Pair – Rose’ goes well with pinkish meats such as poultry, and game birds like duck.  Also with veal, pork, ham and lamb that is slightly pink in the middle.

5) Explore! – How do you know if the champagne you’re drinking will pair well with a particular food unless you try it?! Be open minded; play around with your pallet, and the food around you.  If it doesn’t taste right, then you’ll know not to pair these items together in the future.  On the other hand, if you bite into a piece of hard, dark chocolate, then sip your prosseco, and suddenly – magic happens in your mouth, then you’ll know you’ve found a match!

Other food and champagne pairings:

  • Sushi is best for direct brutes or blanc de blancs
  • Mexican with fruity extra dry champagne
  • nuts especially almonds
  • any mushroom dish,
  • Fried foods, popcorn and potato chips (same reason beer goes well with these foods)
  • scrambled eggs (mmm mimosas)
  • Pair with desserts that are low in sugar or tart such as berries, shortbread, pound cake, angel food, tart or lemony with demi sec.  dark, hard Chocolate with extra-dry or demi sec.

Several of my girlfriends are Champagne Chic, so I turned to them for their expert opinions. One girlfriend, in particular (Ashley McGuire), has a wine cellar stocked with an inventory of Vueve clicquot, so I promise you can trust her pallet!

Ashley’s Favs:

  1. Veuve clicquot
  2. St. Hilaire
  3. Emeri Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc (Ashley’s note: The Cremant region of France has so many gems at a reasonable price and the same type soil as the Champange region of France.)  Find this at the Dilly Deli
  4. Tissot Cremant du juraJean Robert’s Table in Cincinnati features this as their house sparkling. (*a fantastic bottle at an incredible price point, between $30-$40.)
  5. GRAPE: Liore Valley Chenin Blanc grape is a great, subtle easy drinking grape
  6. GRAPE: Pinot blanc grape is good too. xo Ashley, Fetish Boutique


Like any wine, champagnes range from sweet to dry.
Here are the labels to look for:

  • Demi-sec: The sweetest of champagnes, but not as sweet as a dessert wine. It means “half sweet.”
  • Dry: A shade drier than demi-sec.
  • Extra Dry: one step drier.
  • Brut: the driest form and the most popular. There are some special categories, which tend to be more expensive than the traditional champagne blend:
  • Blanc de Blancs — made only with Chardonnay grapes. It generally goes well with lighter foods, such as seafood and vegetables. Also good as a pre-dinner aperitif.
  • Blanc de Noirs — made solely from red Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, with a deeper golden color than the blanc de blancs. It makes a great pairing with full-flavored foods, such as meat and cheese. These champagnes tend to be rare … and expensive.
  • Rose: The color comes from the addition of Pinot Noir wine at the second fermentation, the point at which still wine becomes champagne. This type is one of the best to have with dinner, according to Ed McCarthy, author of “Champagne for Dummies.”

(Source: “Champagne for Dummies,” by Ed McCarthy, John Wiley & Sons, $16.99)

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My girlfriend, super-mom and super-woman, Elizabeth Barber, made delicious homemade burrito bowls and was nice enough to share the recipe with CorkStories! She made up most of the recipe as she went along (like a true chef),  and says it’s amazingly good. Note from the chef: “I didn’t have chipotle seasoning, which obviously means it wasn’t as spicy as the real Chipotle, but we hardly noticed. The recipe is for my typical order: rice, chicken, black beans, mild tomato salsa, lettuce, and a little cheese. Hope you enjoy!”

Wine recommendations for this dish from A Bottle or Two’s David Pustinger, are: *click the links to place your order on A Bottle or Two’s website.

  • Laxas Albarino – a Spanish white wine. Its grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks, thus creating a light, citrusy wine that pairs nicely with lime flavors in this dish.
  • Abad Dom Bueno Mencia – $17 Presentation of butterscotch, seasoned spices, black cherry and tobacco. A dry Mencia with a full body. You may notice tastes of cinnamon, black mulberry and blackberry preserves. We suggest having this wine with risotto, port wine and glace reductions or pot roasted half racks. *notes from A Bottle or Two
  • Louro do Bolo GodelloAnother Spanish white grape, round and aromatic with flavors of lees, pineapple and lemon in the nose, as well as a bit of smokiness and oak spice.
  • Gazela RosePortuguese wine, $7 (winediva.ca describes this wine as having “a prickle of vivace bubble on the tongue…aromas of juicy cherry, red berries, vanilla and hints of peach pit…juicy, lively acidity to balance the sweetness. The bright peachy/berry flavours return on the palate with a zesty finish.”  Sounds yummy!

You can read more about A Bottle or Two’s online wine services in my column, “Vine + Table” featured in Cincy Chic

From Snooth.com

Chianti Wines
The Sommelier Says: These light red wines are bright and earthy, making them excellent choices for pairing with this recipe

Viognier Wines from California

The Sommelier Says: These medium bodied white wines are aromatic and fruity, which allows them to work well with this dish

Arneis Wines
The Sommelier Says: These white wines are aromatic and dry, allowing them to work well with this meal
Read more: http://www.snooth.com/wine-pairings/better-bean-burrito/#ixzz1F6eLfAth

HOMEMADE BURRITO BOWL RECIPE (by Elizabeth Barber – blog)
Cilantro-Lime Rice
1 box white rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp. butter
3-5 dashes of lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro
Cook rice according to package directions using chicken stock instead of water. Add butter, lime juice, and cilantro before serving.

Seasoned Black Beans
1 can black beans
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 clove chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Combine ingredients and simmer on low 30 minutes to one hour, stirring frequently.

Grilled Chicken
1 chicken breast
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Add olive oil to grill pan and cook chicken on high until no longer pink and slightly charred.

Homemade Salsa (Recipe courtesy of Ashley Barden)
4 cans diced tomatoes with green chilis
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 lime; squeezed
3 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 onion; chopped
1 small green pepper; chopped
Sugar to taste
Blend ingredients in food processor. Pulse about 15 times.

Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
Chopped Romaine Lettuce

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