Category Archives: Food
Congratulations to our CellarMaster Recipe Challenge Winners! We had many wonderful submissions for our first ever members’ Recipe Challenge and our staff culinary team had to narrow down the submissions to four category winners in each of the categories: appetizer, salad, main course, dessert. We are delighted to share their tasty recipes, each paired with their selection of a Chateau Montelena wine.
Our four finalists are as follows:
- Amy Weinberg, for her appetizer, “Amy’s Crab Cakes with Lime Aioli and Fennel Grapefruit Salad”, paired with Chateau Montelena Sauvignon Blanc
- Jack Douglas, for his salad, “Vanilla Lobster Salad”; paired with Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay;
- Rob Hopkins, for his main course, “Rib Eye Rolls”, paired with Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon;
- Patrick Blondin, for his dessert, “Dark Chocolate Upside Down Cake”, paired with Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our category winners are all invited to schedule a private tasting, vineyard tour, and catered lunch on the islands for four people – all with our compliments and congratulations.
Our Grand Prize Winner is Jack Douglas, for the oh-so-sumptuous Vanilla Lobster Salad, which swept the challenge in the final taste-off. Jack and up to seven guests are invited to come to the Chateau, use our Private Residence kitchen to cook up his dish, and sit down to enjoy the Vanilla Lobster Salad and an additional three-course luncheon prepared by our in-house chef – each course will be paired with Chateau Montelena wines.
We encourage you to try the recipes for yourself and perhaps share some of your own favorite pairings. Who knows? We may ask to share your recipe on our blog! Better yet, become a CellarMaster so you can participate next year and submit your own recipe in next year’s challenge.
We’ll reveal each of the winning recipes over the next few weeks so that you can make them and taste for yourself (and, of course, enjoy with your favorite Montelena wine).
Oh, how we love the 2011 Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling with Asian cuisine! The traditional sweet and spicy flavors in Thai sweet chili sauces, along with a smidge of Sriracha hot sauce, provide a perfect dipping companion to this easy Tofu Tempura dish! The irresistable floral notes and bright acidity of our Potter Valley Riesling compliment the rich taste and texture of any tempura.
- (14-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained
- 4 cups (1 quart) safflower oil or peanut oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups club soda, chilled
- ¾ cup prepared sweet chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon sriracha , or to taste
- Slice block of tempura into thirds. Place tofu slices on several layers of paper towels; cover with paper towels. Top with a heavy skillet; let stand 30 minutes. Discard paper towels. Cut each tofu slice into bite size cubes. Hold at room temperature on paper towels while oil is heating.
- Clip a candy/fry thermometer onto the side of a medium deep skillet or large (2 quart) saucepan; add oil to pan. Heat oil to 380°.
- Combine flour, cornstarch, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add club soda, stirring until smooth. Using a slotted spoon, OR long chopsticks,dip tofu in batter. Gently place tofu in hot oil, and fry 1 minute or until golden, turning once. Fry cubes in small batches; do not crowd pan. Remove each batch of fried tofu with clean slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Make sure oil temperature remains at 375° to 380° during each batch.
- Plate with dipping sauce, and serve. (Keep tempura warm in oven for up to 20 minutes before serving.)
Our members have an exclusive experience waiting for them when they reserve their CellarMaster Tastings here at Chateau Montelena. Members enjoy a semi-private, hour-long educational experience in which our library and Estate wines are sampled alongside local artisan cheeses selected for their unique flavor profiles. Set in the private quarters of the winery’s private residence, our members have an opportunity to taste and purchase select wines available exclusively to them. Members are welcome to reserve one of the islands for the day to picnic before or after their tasting. If you haven’t been to visit us in a while, please call us at (800) 222-7288 and reserve your tasting soon; this is the perfect time of year to enjoy the Chateau and the beautiful grounds! CellarMaster Tastings are offered twice daily, Thursdays through Sundays, at 10:20 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
We look forward to seeing you!
Judy Tischler, Wine Club Ambassador
So what is a “summer wine?” Well, the snarky (but accurate) answer is that a “summer wine” is whatever happens to be in your glass from June 20th to September 21st. However, most of the time we’re talking about anything that is light, crisp, and refreshing – a wine that can benefit from a bit of time in the refrigerator (or even – *gasp* – the occasional ice-cube in the glass). For me, most often that means Sauvignon Blanc nice and frosty right out of the ‘fridge. In fact, I think one of the things I like the most about this wine is that whenever I have a sip of it, no matter what time of the year it may be, it always conjures up visions of relaxing on warm summer evenings with family and friends.
Close runners-up for summer time R&R are Riesling and Rosie – little known fact: we make a fantastic rosé, but it isn’t available for purchase, sorry, we make it just for our owners and employees – which are both exceptional end-of-the-day thirst quenchers and also pair beautifully with that other great American summer tradition, barbeque! Try the Riesling with some Memphis style ribs – you’ll be pleasantly surprised; the Sauv Blanc, on the other hand, is a great match for barbequed oysters. As far as the Rosie goes, it is a small production rosé of Zinfandel that is great with grilled pork chops. Maybe someday we’ll make enough to share… Now, don’t worry, I’m not leaving out the Chardonnay, and no it is not 4th place on my summer (or any other) list, but it is far too versatile to be pigeon-holed as a “summer wine.” I love a cool glass of Montelena Chardonnay anywhere and (just about) any time – with delicate sable (butterfish) in August, or herb crusted roast chicken in January – it is always a great choice.
What will you fill your glass with this summer?
I’m sure by now most of you know we have a tasting room in San Francisco at the Westin St. Francis. But, did you know we have a great presence throughout the city in other venues where you can enjoy CM wines? Here’s a list of few standouts you need to visit:
- 5A5 Steakhouse on Jackson St. – Set in a beautiful neighborhood, this unique restaurant features Wagyu beef (graded at various levels) and you can order your steak by the ounce to your specifications. Remember, Wagyu beef is rich; you don’t need to order typical American sizes of like a 28 oz porterhouse to truly fill you up. Hip, vibrant, great food (don’t forget the Hamachi shooters to start), and our Napa Cab by the glass!
- Four Seasons – For those who have not dined in a high-quality hotel before, let me explain (since I used to be in hotel business, I know!), some of these hotel restaurants offer the best quality of food you can get. They might not have a flagged celebrity chef behind it, but trust me, their quality of ingredients are second to none. These hotel restaurants are often loss leaders as far as the hotel ledger is concerned, but they provide this as part of the service to their guests who demand quality. What’s great is that you don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy this. I had the privilege to dine there last week – they easily match, if not top, some of the well- known eateries in town. Yes, you can also get our Napa Cab by the glass there too!
- John’s Grill - Comfort food with tradition. The old Dashiell Hammett (of Maltese Falcon fame) hangout is one of the oldest restaurants in the city and still serves up a blast-from-the-past menu.
- WaterBar – On the Embarcadero. As part of Pat Kuleto’s restaurant conglomerate, you know the ambiance/setting will be spectaular, and that’s even before you take in a breathtaking view of the Bay Bridge. Some of the freshest seafood/oysters that go perfectly with our Chardonnay.
- Wayfare Tavern – Tyler Florence’s presence on Sacramento Street was a hit from the start. True tavern food, lively setting, and service that is both thorough and formal while being personal and fun. Contradiction, you say? Go there and you’ll know what I mean. And use it as your cheat day and order the fried chicken.
- Oak Room – Set within the Westin St. Francis (see above, Four Seasons). Another hotel restaurant that promises some top quality food using some of the best ingredients. It’s a shame how so many visitors clamor to the famous restaurants in the city and ignore these gems within the hotels. Trust me, stop fighting the crowds, and dine in the hotels…
So you see, I love my wine, but I just can’t get enough of the city and food!
Bon Appetit and cheers!
Well, it’s not what you think – not from the alcohol, but from the end of another Movable Feast. After a year of planning, it came down to a four-hour party. By my calculations, that’s about 520 hours of planning for every one hour of partying….wow! Ok, ok, I didn’t spend the ENTIRE year planning, but towards the end, it sure felt like it! Anyhow, for those who came (and there were a lot of you), it looked like a good time was had by all. Look for pics coming soon.
Now comes the fun part; thinking about next year’s theme! Just when you’re ready to come up for air, you’ve got to get back up on that horse and start running again. If you have any fun ideas for next year’s Feast, send them my way. My brain is on temporary freeze.
We have just a few days left before the biggest event of the year – our Annual Movable Feast. This year’s theme: The Rat Pack and a throwback to Vegas. The front of the Chateau will come alive with costumes, music and decor – in all the glorious, if not a bit tacky, splendor of Las Vegas like yesteryear. Even the food is themed to those simpler times. Of course, we’ll have some great wines flowing throughout, including some new and never-before-seen items, such as a 2009 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, exclusively available to our club members.
So this isn’t a pitch to come join us; we’ve been sold out for weeks. Look for the pics, the stories, and most importantly, get on board early if you want to join us next year. My brain is already churning for next year’s theme.
Well, I’m off to a dubious start already on my New Year’s resolutions.
1st Resolution: Be on time with my commitments. Ok, so my first blog of 2012 is a week and a day late. Not good.
2nd Resolution: Go to the gym at least 3 times a week. I’ve been once since Jan 1 and I sort of waved over the machines on that visit.
3rd Resolution: Eat better; do a juice cleanse. Does wine count as a juice? Let me wipe my fingers from the chicken finger grease before I wreck my keyboard and write more excuses.
4th Resolution: Watch less tv; be more productive; go to the library; read more. How can I when I’m in the middle of Top Chef Texas, Walking Dead, Modern Family? No to mention that new episodes of Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain are just coming on! Do magazines count as reading?
5th Resolution: Learn more. Ok, let’s stop with this one.
As you may have read in a previous blog, I was ranting about having to go back and study for my CSW and how I thought I gave that up in college, and never wanted to look back – forgoing any more “tests and exams” in the future. Oh how I hated that stress! Well, now looking back, I was truly productive during the studying! I learned a lot, found myself covering 3 of my 4 resolutions above because of it, and that was without even trying. So, with a little discipline/self control, my commitment is to learn a new language. I’m traveling to Italy in the summer, so I figure, why not Italian? Being in the wine industry, I love our wines; no doubt, but what makes me appreciate it more is knowing what else is out there, including the Italian stuff. So here’s a resolution I intend to keep; and I know that it will help me with all the others. Check back with me in a few months; I’ll tell you if Rosette Stone is really worth the money. Ciao.
For those of you on my Christmas shopping list, a word to the wise: resist my constant requests to give me your Christmas wish list. If you give me your list, you’ll get something predictable. But if you don’t, you’ll stress me out and I’ll keep thinking about an ideal gift, wait until the last few shopping days and buy something beyond my budget just to get it over with.
So yes, I’ve just finished my holiday shopping, and those who procrastinated with sending me their wish list are the true benefactors of a highly expensive gift. Will they like it? Hard to say. The tough thing for me is, most of my friends love Montelena, but that’s too easy of a gift from me. That’s the low hanging fruit of shopping: too easy, too predictable. They’d love it, sure; but they also know I didn’t put a lot of effort into shopping beyond the workplace!
And you’d think that all of us working here at the Chateau are tired of the good juices. Well, we had our holiday luncheon last week with the (in)famous White Elephant gift exchange. Who would’ve thought it would be all the good boozy stuff that people kept stealing…. Nothing warms the soul more than the gift of booze, unless it was stolen from your co-workers.
Anyways, Merry Christmas to all…eat well, drink well; then we’ll all think about a good New Year’s resolution after we indulge.
I just spent a week on vacation after finishing another high season here at the Chateau and it was just what the doctor ordered; Thanksgiving in Boise, Idaho with some of my closest friends. I often get a funny reaction when I tell people I’m going to Boise for vacation. The consistent reaction I get is, “Why!?” My answer is always the same, “Have you ever been to Boise?” And the answer from all those who ask is always, “No.”
My friends have lived there for 20 years now, have built a beautiful home, have started a business, and know just about everyone you need to know in town. Boise is a city with a small town feel: it’s comfortable, easy to navigate and has great food and shopping. Did I mention the great food?
For breakfast, Goldie’s is a must: corned beef hash, farm fresh eggs – ohhh sooo good. Lunch/dinner: Fork was a standout; I went there twice in one week. I was there once for a burger (they use fresh brisket in their meat) and the other time for perhaps the best BLT (with egg on top) I’ve ever had. We were tempted to go back a third time! The only downfall there? No Chateau Montelena … Keep going back; we’ll get them to carry it!
For wine shopping, the Co-Op is as good a wine shop as I’ve seen in the best Urban cities. The selection from country to country, price point – all great. And, yes, they do carry CM!
Moral of this story: Before you poopoo a city you’ve never visited, give it a shot! Sometimes you just have to get out of your vacation comfort zones (i.e. New York, Hawaii, San Francisco) and head for a small town for true Americana.