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Category Archives: Food

Easy Do-Ahead Gougères

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Wanting to pull out that 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet at sunset for friends? A perfect small bite to pair with this sumptuous red is a plate of warm gougères just out of the oven. Gougères traditionally are made with a choux pastry base. But who wants to fuss with making the pasty when guests are on the way over? Puff pastry sheets fit the bill. The versatility of this product should never be underestimated! The pastry sheets thaw quickly and can make easy work of impressing family and friends.*

Faux Gougères

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and center a rack in the oven.

Thaw one sheet of puff pastry in fridge or on the counter as directed on the package.

On a lightly floured stone counter top, roll the pastry to an 8 x 12 inch rectangle.

In two separate bowls, mix:

-one egg white and 2 T. milk

-any mixture of 3 T ea: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram, madras curry, dried dill, minced dried onion or shallot. Put together what pleases you. Add to this bowl: 1/3 c. grated gruyere or dry Vella Jack cheese, and a dash of black pepper or cayenne.

Brush the rolled square of pastry with the egg white mixture; then liberally sprinkle the mixture of herbs, seeds and cheese over the pastry. Press gently with your rolling pin, using a light touch.

Using a very small cookie cutter (1.25 inch diameter, or the top of a shot glass), stamp out the shapes. This should yield at least 2 dozen gougères.
Bake on a silpat mat or ungreased cookie sheet for 18-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden. These yummy bites freeze beautifully for up to a month…cool completely before wrapping and freezing. Reheat frozen gougères @ 400 degrees on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes, until warm and slightly crisp.

*Tip: Keep the boxes of puff pastry frozen until you’re ready to use. You can put a box in the fridge up to a day ahead if you like, but after a few days the sheets will develop a sour taste and will fail to rise properly.

SF Party Oct 13: Did You Get the Golden Ticket?

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So this Thursday, Oct 13th, at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square in San Francisco, we’ll be celebrating the unveiling of our new tasting room in the city which is situated in the lobby of this historic hotel.  This hotel has a special place in my heart for a few reasons:

1:I used to work there.

2:It defines San Francisco and its storied past.

3:There are some wonderful people who work at that hotel; and have so through decades.

US Presidents, foreign dignitaries, movie stars, sports teams have all passed through the hotel’s doors.  So, it was only natural that one of the historic wineries of California should partner with this hotel to be the first (and only?) winery to have a remote tasting room in the city.  The party will celebrate the opening in style with current and library wines, an amazing array of canapes from the Culinary team, and all our closest friends at the winery.

Sorry to say it’s by invitation only, but if you have one of the  golden tickets, be sure to RSVP now before it’s too late (which it will be tomorrow morning).  The tasting room is open to the public from 1-8pm Wed-Sat.   If you’re one of our Cellarmaster club members, your benefits will apply at our new location just as if you were visiting us here at the Chateau!  Be sure to say hi to Ryan or Jonnie when you stop by…


House Party 2012 – Rock & Rotisserie

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We’ve been hard at work planning a new bash for the New Year.  Introducting: House Party 2012 – Rock & Rotisserie.  On January, 28, 2012, we’ll open up the Chateau for our first-ever House Party, where our guests will have the run of the place (and the first glimpse at our newly renovated cellar).  Upstairs, downstairs – there will be food and wine around every corner.  We’ll be featuring slow-cooked rotisserie meats (think: pig, lamb, poultry and beef) to enjoy along with the Montelena classics, a special collection of older vintage wines from our library, and even a few limited-production winery-only wines.  Join us to eat, drink and be merry and then stay to party the night away, dancing to the music of San Francisco’s Wonderbread 5, at the first great party of the New Year.  Rock and Rotisserie 2012we hope to see you there.

Tickets are on sale now – reserve yours today.  It’s a perfect gift for someone special; a perfect occasion to celebrate once all the holiday parties have died out; a perfect excuse to come enjoy the beautiful Napa Valley for a weekend getaway; a perfect opportunity drink some great wine, dance to your favorite 80′s and 90′s hits and be merry.  Whatever your reason for joining the party, we can’t wait to see you here!

Early Autumn Carrot Ginger Soup

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There is nothing better for a do-ahead recipe than this easy-to-prepare carrot ginger soup. Of course, we have the 2010 Riesling in the chiller for warm harvest season nights …who wouldn’t love this off-dry lovely first glass alongside a starter of early autumn carrot soup? The ginger, lemongrass and orange zest pick up the natural bright floral notes and spicy finish of our crisp and refreshing Riesling.  Serve them both chilled on a warm harvest evening!

  • 1 large Vidalia or Maui onion large dice
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin floral green olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp of minced fresh ginger
  • 2lb. carrots, large dice
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 qt. chicken stock
  • ¼ c. orange zest
  • ¼ c. cilantro
  • 2 T. lemongrass paste
  • sea salt and ground white pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat in the bottom of stockpot. Add onions and cook until translucent; reduce heat as needed. Add celery, ginger and carrots and cook until soft and fragrant, about 7-8 minutes. Add stock, orange zest, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes, covered, on very low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lemongrass and allow to cool to room temperature.*

In batches, puree soup in blender (an immersion blender works in soup pot).

Thin with additional broth as needed. Season to taste with sea salt and white pepper.

*Do ahead tip: This soup is easy to make and very little prep is needed…refrigerate in a microwave-safe container for up to three days, and reheat to serve warm. In summer, this soup is delicious when served chilled with a dollop of greek yogurt or low fat sour cream, and, of course, our 2010 Chateau Montelena Riesling!

Fall’s Arrival

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We’re kicking off the last, official week of summer (though the temperatures in Napa Valley yesterday didn’t seem to indicate the change in seasons!) and transitioning into fall…which makes me very happy.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy summer and sipping great, light wines on the patio, because I definitely do!  I just happen to love fall a little bit more.  I like everything that fall represents – Halloween, Thanksgiving, cooler weather and cozy weekends, pumpkin spice lattes, boots and coats, warm soups and stews and the beginning of ski season.  Most importantly, as a wine-lover, I am looking forward to the change in seasons because we’ll soon begin harvest here at the winery and that’s always the most exciting time of year.  Sure, we’re a little late this year, but we’re expecting another great vintage as the grapes begin to come in.  Fall of 2011 also marks the completion of the cellar upgrade and the Barrett family’s 40th vintage – so there’s a lot to celebrate this year!  As the days begin to get a little shorter and the nights begin to get a little cooler, I’ll be embracing this new season and putting my patio wines away.  I’m now looking forward to hearty meals, comfort foods and comfort wines.  For me, that means our Estate Zinfandel – a great partner for chili, soups, roasted meats and spicy pastas (just a few of  my favorite cool-weather meals).  What are you looking forward to as summer turns to fall?  What is your comfort wine in the cooler months?



Garden Entry, Part Two

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So, a few weeks ago I mentioned the abundance of harvest from my garden.  Well, it continues…  Now, the tomatoes are  coming in fast and furious just as squash is finishing up the growing season.  And yes, I’ve found the most creative ways to get rid of squash – number one: charities.

I definitely had those heavy ambitions when we planted the tomatoes.  Over 40 plants. I figured, ‘Eh, they’re small.  We’ll see what we get.’  The more veteran farmers looked at me with a bit of disbelief, saying they planted 2 or 3 for their families, and that’s probably more than they’ll need.   Ok, so now I am hauling away bushels of these beauties, and making lots of friends and family members very happy by sharing the bounty.

In one sense, it’s great – there’s nothing better than vine-ripened tomatoes.  Even more so when you go to the store and see them at $5/lb!

I’ve learned my lesson…but next year, I’m sure I’ll do it all over again the same way!


House Party 2012 – Save the Date!

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On January, 28, 2012, we’ll open up the Chateau for our first-ever House Party, where our guests will have the run of the place (and the first glimpse at our newly renovated cellar).  Upstairs, downstairs – there will be food and wine around every corner.  We’ll be featuring slow-cooked rotisserie meats (think: pig, lamb, poultry and beef) to enjoy along with the Montelena classics, a special collection of older vintage wines from our library, and even a few limited-production winery-only wines.  Join us to eat, drink and be merry and then stay to party the night away, dancing to the music of San Francisco’s Wonderbread 5, at the first great party of the New Year.  Rock and Rotisserie 2012we hope to see you there.

Food Truck Movement Coming to Calistoga!

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Well, if for only a day at least…

Yes, some of you may wonder, George is up early; he never blogs before 2pm…  I’m trying to give you the opportunity to get up to Calistoga and take advantage of our two month promotion as we’ve partnered with two fabulous truckies in San Francisco – starting today.

Seoul on Wheels will be here handing out Korean bites to go with our wines from 11am-2pm just today.  Julia, the owner, is a full-of- life personality (you may have caught a glimpse of her on Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Eats: San Francisco episode earlier this year).  What she and her crew are able to do in tight confines results in sheer magic on your plate.

I met with her in the city with our wines to make sure her dishes will pair well – no brainer.  Wait till you try the beef rib eye with our Napa Cab; the spicy pork with the Zin; the grilled chicken with our Chard!    Darn it, my mouth is watering and it ‘s only 8am.

Anyways, hope to see you up here today.  Put on your calendar for the next one: Oct 4; Curry Up Now!



Chateau Montelena 2011 Alaskan Adventure Wine Cruise

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Recently I was extremely fortunate to represent Chateau Montelena Winery along with our winemaker, Cameron Parry, on our most recent wine cruise.   We sailed the inside passage of Alaska from June 25th through July 6th, starting in Anchorage and ending in Vancouver, Canada.   We along with our 50 guests, some of which are CellarMaster club members, spent some wonderful time getting to know one another during our wine seminars, receptions and dinner.  My next few blog entries will be postings of this adventure along with photos of the scenery, the events and our wonderful guests.     

I hope you enjoy the entries and maybe I will see you on our next cruise in 2013?

No trick photography here. The iceberg calves are really that color.

A sample of some of the yummy Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon we poured, (1994, 1996, 1998, 2000).

My Journey Past the Orange Curtain

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 So I leave tomorrow down to Orange County, home of Disneyland, TV shows like The OC, Real Housewives of OC.  I’m there to do some wine dinners starting Wednesday with my friend Pascal at his restaurant in Seal Beach.   The restaurant, Thai on Main, a block from the pier, is amazing; and therefore, always busy.  How does someone named Pascal own a Thai Restaurant you’re wondering?  Well, Pascal’s background is Cambodian/Chinese, but he was raised in France.  He speaks fluent French, Cambodian, and English.  His family owns Chinese restaurants in Grenoble, France; his mom the Chef who created the recipes.  Thai food has been another passion for them.  And best of all when visiting is that Pascal’s hospitality is second to none. I’ve had the privilege to travel to France and Cambodia with him and his family.  I can tell you, I’ve never eaten so well and so much as on trips with his family.  They are always looking over my plate and piling it on when it gets half empty.  Their genuine care for other’s enjoyment is very visible at his restaurant when you see the customers’ faces.

Thursday I’m in Newport Beach at 21 Oceanfront.  This is as classic as it gets.  When you want the dishes of yesterday that continue to live on, it’s nice to go to a place that does it right.  Not to say that’s all they do; their chefs have been innovative keeping up with new culinary trends; but it’s nice to go back and know you can get some of the classic favorites they’ve had there for decades.  Sadly, this dinner is sold out; but we may add another one Friday! 

In any case, if you can’t make it this week, don’t let that stop you from visiting them another day.  Just cause I’m not there, doesn’t mean the hospitality and quality stop. They don’t.

And if you’re afraid to get through the Orange Curtain, don’t be.  I’ve lived there for over 20 years, and those were some of the most memorable years of my life.  There’s a reason those shows based their themes there.  Its beauty, conveniences (and shopping) are arguably second to none in this country.


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About Our Authors

Kristina King

Born in Colorado and led a nomadic life until the ripe old age of four. Kristina loves to travel, eat, drink wine, and enjoy the outdoors. One of her mottos is: Life is an adventure - enjoy!

George Blanckensee

An expert event planner and an avid basketball and sports fan, George can tell you about all the best off-the-beaten path eateries.

Cameron Parry

Winemaker since 2008, Cameron has been an integral member of the winemaking team at Chateau Montelena since 2004. He and his wife live in Calistoga with their two beautiful daughters.

Kali Clark

A Napa Valley native, Kali returned to the area after a stint on the East Coast and can be found documenting the latest happenings at the Chateau. When not behind the camera, she likes to experiment in the kitchen, travel, and enjoy the outdoors

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