What does it mean to share and enjoy food and wine with family? It is a question I ask myself often, as I come from an Italian family, and food and wine are never far out of reach at any gathering.
I had a recent opportunity to reflect on this idea when my mother-in-law came into town to stay the night with my husband and I. An avid Chardonnay-lover, my mother-in-law will never turn down a glass when the three of us are together. And as an amateur chef, I’m excited by the opportunity to whip up something delectable for us to feast on.
Upon arriving home from work, we popped open an approachable bottle of Rosé to start the evening. Crafted by Château Minuty, and zesty and full of life on the nose, this crisp Rosé brings together citrus and under-ripe strawberries on the palate. It’s got zip and zest wrapped up in a medium body, and is certainly a quaffable bottle that disappears before you know it!
As my husband finished up some work, my mother-in-law and I sat across from each other at the dining room table. Snacking on hummus and crostinis, while sipping our Rosé, we chatted about life. Everything from her recent visits with friends to what it means to be an American. We shared smiles and laughs, moments of reflection and connection. It had been a while since the two of us have had time to simply enjoy each other’s company over a glass of wine.
Roasted chicken was in the oven for dinner and we opened a second bottle. By this time, the kitchen smelled amazing and my husband had joined us at the table. The second bottle we opened was Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards‘ 2013 Chardonnay—perfect for pairing with the roasted chicken. Very aromatic with perfumed notes of ripe fruit, the 2013 Chardonnay was certainly not shy. Notes of pear, green apple, honeydew melon and lemon zest grace the crisp palate, which is full of zesty acidity balanced by a gentle, round mouthfeel.
Discussion continued and the three of us mused on my husband’s recent teaching experiences, my mother-in-law’s exciting former life in France, and my recent wine discoveries and stories. With each tender bite of roasted chicken and vegetables, and each sip of lovely Chardonnay, life felt complete in that moment of being together—connected through food and wine.
*Originally published on Feast it Forward.
Ending the Napa Truffle Festival on a High Note!
Closing out four full days of the Napa Truffle Festival, Feast it Forward and Sunset Magazine’s Truffleluxe event ended the truffle-filled weekend on a high note. This curated affair brought together the butcher, the baker and the Napa winemaker for an afternoon of tasting, sipping and culinary education!
Hosted in a private event space just outside of the Oxbow’s main building, Truffleluxe featured four Napa Valley wineries, plenty of truffle-infused cheese to go with deliciously fluffy bread, as well as two cooking demonstrations with the Oxbow’s very own Cate & Co. and Five Dot Ranch. In conjunction with our very own Feast it Forward Founder, Katie Hamilton Shaffer, the cooking demonstrations allowed guests to get up close and personal with preparing cuisine that utilized fresh truffles.
From Cate & Co., a tasty Salute Santé grapeseed oil-infused frittata with fresh truffle shavings on top provided a delectable bite for attendees. A step by step demonstration was given while members of Cate & Co. passed out the recipe for guests to take home (see recipe below). During the butchery demonstration with Five Dot Ranch, they showed guests how to properly cut various cuts of beef with sharp cutlery from Tahoe Kitchen Co., and then served a delicious bite of puff pastry stacked with Wellington-style steak, mushroom mousse and a thick slice of truffle. Delicious!
In between the demonstrations, guests mingled about in the convivial atmosphere, tasting wines, taking nibbles of truffle cheese and wandering out to Feast it Forward’s luxury Ultimate Airstream lounge—“Sophia.” Fully prepared for luxury lounging, Sophia provided the right destination for those looking to get off their feet for a few minutes between tastings.
As for the wines, a range of styles provided for an afternoon of pleasant variety. From Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, the limited production 2013 Double Lariat Cabernet Sauvignon was served. Aromas of raspberry, blueberry and chocolate enticed palates; dry on the entry, this wine’s luscious palate boasts juicy raspberry and cherry cola flavors, with notes of tobacco leaf and cocoa, wrapped up in pleasantly grippy tannins. This wine was a real crowd-pleaser!
From Webster Cellars, a true Right Bank Bordeaux-style wine was served and received with much praise. Made using only neutral oak and with majority Merlot, Webster Cellars’ true-to-Bordeaux style 2012 Right Bank spent 24 months in neutral oak before bottling. Dry in style and showing beautiful raspberry and cherry fruit, these flavors give way to more terroir characteristics, such as earthy, soil-like qualities and granite, with very distinguished and nuanced texture. Of course, all of the wines showed well in their Bordeaux-style Stolzle glassware—no matter what the context, remember, the glass always makes a difference!
But the “luxe” didn’t stop there. The owners of Bos Wine also joined the FEAST, pouring their boutique Napa Valley portfolio alongside another diamond in the rough, Reid Family Vineyards. The star of Feast it Forward’s show, “Drinks With A Twist“, Christopher Long of Libations Unlimited served a unique gin infused cocktail with lemon, rosemary and bergamot oranges. Certainly the most expensive drink one may ever enjoy. I’ll have a second, please.
For those who have an affinity for furry friends, there was even a truffle hunting demonstration with a fully trained truffle hunting dog from Truffle Dog Company —who was quite the celebrity by the end of the afternoon, posing in pictures and selfies with dog-loving guests!
From start to finish, the well-orchestrated and enjoyable Truffleluxe was a great success, and the perfect way to end the full four days of Napa Truffle Festival events. Given that this was the premier Truffleluxe event, I think it is safe to say that all in attendance are looking forward to the event’s return to next year’s lineup of truffle activities!
Potato & Cheese Mini Frittatas
*Originally published on Feast it Forward.
California's large Central Coast appellation stretches all the way from Santa Barbara County in the south to the Bay Area in the north; in the sub-appellations that span this expansive grape-growing region, cool-climate grape varieties rein. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are by far the most widely planted along California's Central Coast, and while Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards is no stranger to these grape varieties, they recently released their inaugural bottling of Pinot Gris.
A lesser-known grape variety, Pinot Gris dates back to the Middle Ages in France's Burgundy region. Today, it is grown in Austria, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and California—just to name a few. Pinot Gris is a mutant clone of Pinot Noir and therefore grows well in climates that Pinot Noir favors. Along California's Central Coast, Pinot Gris is aptly suited to the coastal terroir of the region's sub-appellations.
Wild Horse Winery & Vineyard's inaugural 2014 Pinot Gris from the Central Coast is crafted with balance in mind by Winemaker Chrissy Wittmann. Comprised of 83% Pinot Gris with 7% Chardonnay, 6% Malvasia Bianca, 2% Verdehlo and 2% Orange Muscat, this wine exhibits a range of aromas and flavors. Twenty percent of the final blend was aged in neutral oak for five months, while the remaining percentage was aged in stainless steel; this combination of aging vessels brings together body, texture and crispness on the palate, and the wine's flavors reflect the unique combination of grapes in the blend.
Quite aromatic, the 2014 Pinot Gris expresses aromas of peach, honeysuckle, kiwi and pineapple on the rather tropical nose. The palate begins with nice spice that sticks to the tip of the tongue, while the smooth body fills the mouth; at mid-palate, touches of the neutral barrel aging are detected in its delicate richness and spice, with flavors of peach, under-ripe pineapple, nectarine and lemon zest. Synergizing with the fruit is a kiss of residual sugar, which will be a welcomed taste for those who prefer a touch of sweetness in their whites. The wine finishes with good length and is dry and zesty with citrus notes. This inaugural release is a very approachable and straightforward Pinot Gris with a lot to like—it's a wine that's easy to sip and will surely disappear fast!
*Originally published on Examiner.