Category Archives: gourmet food

Monterey Wine Festival 2013

Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf


We had beautiful weather
this past weekend, so Lori and I set out for Monterey and the Wine
Festival.  To be specific, the
37th Annual Monterey Wine
.  Really?  They’ve been doing this festival for
that long?  We went on Saturday,
which was the chowder tasting day of the festival.  (I think Friday was oysters and calamari; neither are on
Lori’s top 10 list, or even top 100.) 



The festival was held in the
Custom House plaza, just a 2 minute walk from
Fisherman’s Wharf.  Seemed to be pretty well attended.  Probably other people looked at the
weather report and decided to come out. 
We met one couple that lived in Modesto.  They looked at the weather forecast – 105 degrees in
Modesto, 75 in Monterey – and dropped their 2 year old off with grandparents
for the weekend.  Well done! 


Here are my highlights from
the festival:



   US Foods, a food products supplier to restaurants,
had the my favorite traditional (New England) clam chowder.  Thick with real ingredients, not just
corn starch, great flavors, clams. 
Really good. 

a restaurant from Long Beach, had the my favorite non-traditional chowder.  Their chowder had the traditional base,
but instead of clams and potatoes, it was gravlox, asparagus and dill.  The gravlox gave the chowder a slightly
smoky flavor, the asparagus added it’s flavor as well as a nice crunch, and the
dill set off both. 


Gladstone’s table at the festival



Ranch Winery
2010 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, Meadowridge
Vineyard.  Nicely balanced, with
some fruit competing with a slightly earthly flavor, not too heavy a body.  It rocked when paired with the
Gladstones gravlox chowder.  There
are some nice Pinot Noirs coming from Santa Cruz Mountain vineyards; I’ll add
this to the list.  Their tasting
room and winery is a little off the beaten path in Capitola, next to Santa
Cruz; we’re going to drop in next time we’re in the area. 

2011 Montagna-Mare, California Central Coast.  Opolo is a Paso Robles area winery,
that we found a few years back when tasting Zinfandels from that area.  This wine is 56% Sangiovese, 44%
Barbera.  Not a wine to lay down
for years, but for drinking now – with pizza, maybe some pork or chicken
dishes, especially with some spices – this will work well. 


Look for this festival next
year.  Pairing really good wine and
food with Monterey is a great way to spend a day. 







Sauvignon Blanc, Lamb, Cabernet Sauvignon

My parents, who live in Los Angeles (still in the same house where I grew up), came up North recently.  There was a baby naming for our new grandson:  Winemaker B now has a 3 year old daughter and a newborn son.  With the naming on a Sunday, the parents came up on Saturday and stayed over.  Which meant a nice dinner Saturday night. 


So I went into my recipe file to see what I hadn’t cooked yet, and came up with Moroccan Lamb Pot Pie With Phyllo Crust.  Ground lamb, veggies, spices, into a casserole dish, cover with phyllo dough, then into the oven.  I thought it was going to be easy, and it was.  I thought the prep would be quick, and it wasn’t.  Fortunately we opened up a bottle of wine and some cheese while I was cooking, and since we have an open kitchen everyone could gather and chat while munching.  This initial bottle was a 2010 Armida Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  This was Winemaker B’s first harvest at Armida, and he made a Sauvignon Blanc that when initially released reminded us that he’d spent time in New Zealand.  But this Sauvignon Blanc has changed, has mellowed, has become a more balanced wine in the 2 years since it was released.  (We’ve opened another bottle of this since then, with the same results.)


So we were really enjoying the wine and cheese, and the lamb pot pie went into the oven after Lori did her thing with the phyllo dough (I don’t do dough), and it was time to open the bottle of red and decant before dinner.  The red was a 2002 Franciscan Oakville Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  And adding to my timing mistakes with cooking, I waiting too long to open the Cab, not giving it as much time as it needed to open up before dinner. 


But … all was apparently forgiven when the lamb came out of the oven and the meal was served.  The pot pie was great, the wine eventually did open up and went great with the lamb dish.  This is definitely a meal for special occasions, and we’ll cook it again.  But with better timing. 


P.S.  Thanks to our friends Peter and Diana for the Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon, which was a gift a few years ago for our 50th birthdays. 



Ceviche and Margaritas; Corn and Zucchini

I think I could live on ceviche and margaritas.  I’ve come close to trying, when Lori and I have spent time in Mexico, and I’m pretty sure I could do it.  Definitiely would be fun to try!

As you might have guessed by now, I’ve been thinking about ceviche and margaritas lately, so when I found out that our younger son and his wife and their 2 month old (Jacob and Brittany and Zinnia) were coming over for dinner, and that it was my responsibility for making dinner because Lori would be out of town until the night before, well … ceviche and margaritas.  But other people might need more than just that, so I went searching for something that would complement those flavors.  I found a recipe I had cut out of the San Francisco Chronicle 3 years ago for Peruvian-Style Corn and Zucchini.  A little bit of adding my own touches, and there we had what should have been a nice dinner.  

Well, it was a nice dinner.  Jacob got offered a new job about 30 minutes before dinner, which will provide a significant salary increase, and so we were celebrating. The margaritas were great.  And the corn and zucchini dish was great; highly recommended.  (You can find the recipe on our Food & Wine Pairing page.)  But the ceviche fell flat.  We went with small scallops, and I’m pretty sure they had been previously frozen, even though the fish market didn’t say so.  Texture was all wrong. 

So I’ve still got that ceviche and margarita craving, but we did have a great dinner.  



Plum Blossoms, Frittata and Rosé

Spring has sprung, the fruit trees (plum and cherry for us) are snowing pink and white blossoms down on our backyard, and it’s time to turn away from the heavy winter meals to lighter and fresher ones.  Spring also means fresh vegetables, going to the farmers’ markets, and some lighter wines to go with the lighter meals.  Some of those fresh vegetables include asparagus, green garlic, artichokes and other veggies that you can have fun with.  

So needing a little lift with the first decently warm day we had, a couple of weeks ago, we grabbed some asparagus from the market and thought about what to do with it.  Frittata came to mind, as did a rosé left over from last Summer.  They both hit the spot, with the rosé pairing nicely with the asparagus and bacon frittata.  We had a Quivira 2011 North Coast Rosé, Quivira consistently being one of the best rosé producers in California.  This rosé is
made primarily from Rhone varietals, including estate grown Counoise for the
first time in this vintage.  Nice
and bright flavors (not washed out like a number of rosés we taste), and great
with the frittata.  You can find the recipe on our Food & Wine Pairing page.  



California Wine Festivals in June, July, August and Beyond

This is an update of what is going on in the California wine
regions.  I’m not going to post what the individual wineries or wine
shops are doing, but I will post the wine festivals that I’m aware of. 
If I’ve missed anything, please inform me at, so I
can add it to the list.  Some future events are listed down below.


          Current California Wine Events June – August ’09

June 6th & 7th, 11-5pm – Santa Cruz Mtns. (western side) June 13th & 14th Santa Cruz Mtns. (eastern side) Santa Cruz Vintners Festival

June 6th, 1pm-4pm – Two Harbors, Avalon 8th Annual Wine Festival, Catalina Island

June 13th, 3pm-7pm – Historic Escalle Winery, Larkspur – 5th Annual Marin County Pinot Noir Celebration

June 24th-28 – San Francisco San Francisco Pinot Days 2009

June 26-28th, 11-5pm – MurphysCalaveras Passport Weekend 

June 28th – San Francisco Pino Days, Grand Festival Wine Tasting

July 9, 5:30-9pm – Sacramento California’s Grape and Gourmet

July 23, – 6pm-9pm – Livermore Taste of Terroir

July 26th, – 1-6:30pm – NapaJewish Vintners Wine Trail

July 26th,  1-4 pm – Camarillo22nd Annual Wine Food Festival

August 8th, 6pm-9pm – Paso Robles Winemakers Cookoff

August 8th, 12-3:30pm – Monterey 17th Annual Winemakers Celebration

August 14-16th – Sonoma County14th Annual Russian River Valley Wine Growers “Grape to Glass” Weekend

August 16th, 2-5pm – MoragaSaint Mary’s College Wine Festival

August 29, 10am-6pm, August 30th -10am 5pm – Bodega Bay Bodega Seafood Art and Wine Festival

August 23, 3-6pm – San Francisco – Family Winemakers of California

     Belly Dancers at Mounts Winery – 2009 Dry Creek Passport Weekend –   Live band at Martorana Winery

                                   Future Wine Events

September 4th – 6th,  Healdsburg – Sonoma Wine Country Weekend which includes TASTE of Sonoma

September 6th & 7th, 12-5 each day – Livermore – 28th Annual Harvest Wine Celebration

September 11 & 12, 11-5 each day – Fort Bragg, – 25th Annual Winesong!

September 27, 12pm-6pm – LodiTaste of Lodi

October 25th – Russian River, Sonoma County 6th Annual Pinot on the River

November 18-22 – San Diego  –The 6th Annual San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival

June 12th, 2010Russian River Passport Weekend – Sonoma County