Category Archives: Food
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!
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?
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!
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 2012 - we hope to see you there.
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!
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?
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.
In our second year of planting a vegetable garden here at the Chateau, we’re finding just how productive a squash plant can be. Every year, the Barrett family is generous to offer some land to any staff who wants to grow a garden. Last year, Gil, our Cellarmaster, and I set off to grow some tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, melons, and peppers. We did not see ideal warmth through much of the summer. Melons were few – and horrible. Cucumbers – barely a couple fruited. Peppers – just average. Squash? More than we could eat!
So this year, with optimisim of a nice, warm summer, we planted over a dozen varieties of tomatoes, 10 different types of squash, pumpkins, cucumbers of 6 varieties, peppers, and a number of beans. Also wild strawberries. So far, we’re off to a good year. Cucumbers are coming in fast and furious, tomatoes are starting to show lots of promise, peppers and pumpkins show vigorous growth; and the ever dependable squash: zucchini, scallop, crooknecks, sunburst, etc…are growing like weeds.
I’m finding new ways to cook the stuff. I’ve given so much away to friends (who may not be if I keep pushing this on them as often as they’re growing). It makes me wonder, with just how fast and full these plants grow, why aren’t more homes doing this? For the cost of some squash I’ve seen, as easy as it is to grow, cut and eat, we can reduce the hunger issues while encouraging healthy eating (provided they don’t only make fried zucchini fingers with Ranch dressing). I mean, two plants per household is ALL they need…trust me. Doesn’t take much space, soil has to be ok, sunlight is essential, but we all have that to some degree at home or nearby…
The beauty is, you don’t even really need to have a green thumb, and you can look like a veteran gardener with this stuff. So do yourself a favor; go buy a plant or two at your neighborhood store for a couple bucks; it’ll yield ten-fold what you paid for them in the end, and you will feel good about yourself…
Now that Heirloom tomato season is here, I’m planning meals around the ultimate tomato dish in our house…the Caprese Salad. But our summer meals with Caprese on the table most often go to Mediterranean flavors. Lately, I’m loving sipping our 2009 Sauvignon Blanc before sunset, with its crisp refreshing acidity and bright citrus notes. So I had to tweak the Caprese to pair with this wine and the light summer fare I serve along with it. It was an easy variation, of course. Instead of fresh mozzerella and snipped basil, I use deliciously salty and acidic fresh local sheep’s milk feta and fresh garden mint. Along with a splash of balsamic I layer a squeeze of lemon, and drizzle all with a lively green olive oil.
For four servings, you’ll need:
2 medium to large ripe heirloom tomatoes
6 oz. fresh sheep’s milk feta cheese
½ cup fresh mint leaves, washed and patted dry, then snipped
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
A splash of aged balsamic vinegar
A squeeze of ½ lemon
Fresh “green” olive oil, to taste
Slice the tomatoes and pepper liberally. Sprinkle the feta over the tomatoes, then top with snipped mint. Splash with the balsamic and lemon, then drizzle with olive oil. Serve at room temperature.
It is no secret that I love chocolate. I even have a “chocolate stash” in a secret compartment of my desk (saved only for those moments when the sweet tooth rages it’s ugly head, which is often…usually daily). I really enjoying discovering new chocolate brands and/or flavor combinations, particularly chocolate of the dark variety. Just this past weekend, I discovered this amazing little candy, made by Cadbury (because many of life’s most delicious treats are made by Cadbury – why is that?) called a “Crunchie” bar. Being milk chocolate, I wasn’t sure that I would love it…but this little piece of candy bar heaven is my new favorite dessert. The description: “golden honeycomb centre surrounded by delicious Cadbury milk chocolate” and delicious it is! I enjoyed this tasty little bar with a glass of our 2003 Zinfandel (Zin and chocolate – it doesn’t get any better).
So tell me, what is your favorite chocolate treat? And what do you drink with it?