Recently in Food and Wine Events Category

Tomatoes - Recipes and Wine Pairings

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Whether growing in your garden (lucky you!) or on the menu at your favorite restaurant, it's tomato season! Particularly tasty are heirloom tomatoes which are already in full bloom and in season. See some of our favorite recipes for using this lovely red fruit.

Kendall-Jackson celebrates the tomato season every year with their annual Heirloom Tomato Festival. This year the festival is on September 28, 2013 and will showcase more than 175 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, a chef competition, and of course, tomato-inspired dishes.

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Epicurean Winter in Healdsburg: Culinary Mecca

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healdsburgChamber_olives.jpgHealdsburg is literally a food-lover's paradise; a culinary mecca where chefs have access to fresh, local produce, sustainable seafood, and organic meats throughout the year. The town is home to some of the country's most celebrated restaurants, including two Michelin Star recipient Cyrus, Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen, and Zin Restaurant and Wine Bar, which uses produce and eggs from their own farm.

Now through March, "Epicurean Winter" offers an array of culinary festivals, special dinners, wine tastings and specifically geared toward the epicurean. There's something for every food and wine lover who wants to enjoy a relaxing, indulgent escape that's still close to home.

The Year of the Rabbit Joins The Food Truck Frenzy

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foodtruck.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

February 3, 2011 marks the first day of the Chinese zodiac's Year of the Rabbit.  People born in years of the Rabbit (1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, and 2011) are supposed to enjoy the good things of life, and have excellent taste.  In honor of this particularly noble year, Napa's Food Truck Friday will be featuring New Year's specials themed around the animal of the year.

Food Truck Fridays started in Napa last October as the semi-guerilla "Circle the Wagons" event, which gathered the first gourmet food trucks of Napa Valley all in one place, for one night only.  Phat Salads & Wraps, Crossroad Chicken, and Mark's the Spot all convened at Dim Sum Charlie's shiny silver Airstream trailer to support the fledgling food truck movement in wine country.  The night was such a success, they wound up making it a monthly occurrence on the first Friday of each month. 

Chocolate + Wine = Excellent February Weekend

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wine_chocolate_034.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Valentine's Day is just a few weeks away, but the folks at Rodney Strong Vineyards are starting the lovefest early.  The 22nd annual Wine & Chocolate Event is scheduled for Saturday February 5, 2011, from 1:00 to 4:00pm.  This event's raison d'etre has always been to savor the delicious union of two much-beloved aphrodisiacs, and in furtherance of this lofty goal the winery's Healdsburg barrel room will be bursting with delectable variations on the chocolate + wine theme.

Where to Watch the World Series

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By Deirdre Bourdet

giantsBaseball.jpgNAPA VALLEY, CA - The Giants are in the World Series! Join fellow fan-atics at these wine country spots to cheer on San Francisco's own orange and black.


Calistoga Inn & Brewery. Beer and baseball are a classic pairing, and this downtown Calistoga bar/restaurant/inn also boasts an award-winning microbrewery, which sells 100% of its beers on the premises. Crispy calamari and buffalo wings rub shoulders with steamed mussels, oysters, shrimp cocktail and Dungeness crab cakes on the appetizer menu, and bring a taste of the bay to northern Napa Valley.

With a pint of local brew and bowl full of seafood, you will be more than set for game time. 1250 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga.

Family-Style Dinners at Farmstead

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Photo by Kristen Loken
By Deirdre Bourdet

While some say the recession has officially ended, the focus on back-to-basics, close to home recession specials continues, unabated.  Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena recently launched a series of moderately priced, family-style dinners aimed at starting some new monthly traditions for this fall.   Whether you're a fan of fish fries, intimate winemaker dinners, or whole hog roasts, Farmstead has a dinner for you.  And as always at Farmstead, the ingredients for these dinners are entirely local, sourced from nearby purveyors and from Long Meadow Ranch itself.  

Tomato Time

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By Deirdre Bourdet

Anyone raised eating hydroponically grown tomatoes year round must, at some point in their life, attend a tomato event in an agricultural community. Conveniently, August and September bring with them numerous opportunities to taste the ubiquitous fruit in its full seasonal glory.

The first sign of tomato season is the return of Azzurro Pizzeria's locally-beloved BBLT manciata--a perfectly seasoned thin pizza crust served hot out of the oven, and topped with a mountain of bacon, blue cheese, iceberg lettuce, and tomato.  Hot, cold, salty, juicy, creamy, crunchy, meaty, cheesy, and 100% delicious, the cult following of this dish is explained with your first bite.

It's Never Too Hot To Eat

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gougere blt.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Sunday's Wine Women and Shoes event at HALL St. Helena had the largest, hottest turnout to date... literally.  The temperature felt like it was well into the triple digits, and guests were gulping down the white wine and water like camels at an oasis.  Fortunately, many of the participating food vendors anticipated the fiery June inferno and were dishing out cool, refreshing nibbles to reinvigorate our appetites, help us cool off... and inspire follow-up visits to the kitchens from whence they came.

Several savvy restaurants were offering chilled soup shots to down in between mouthfuls of sauvignon blanc.  The Restaurant at Meadowood offered up elegant shooters of their peak-of-the-season English pea soup with yogurt and hazelnut oil, a beautiful layering of earth, nuts, sweetness, and tang.  Zuzu Restaurant also went green with their avocado gazpacho, a naturally buttery, round and soothing little cold compress for your mouth.  I had to escort myself from the area to avoid stealing all the remaining samples from Betty Teller of the Register, who was womanning Zuzu's table that afternoon.

Sixteen Ways On Sunday: The HALL Cabernet Cookoff

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hallchef.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Last Sunday HALL Winery hosted their first annual Cabernet Cookoff, inviting eight professional and eight amateur chef teams to compete for cash donations to their non-profits of choice.  The challenge: create a dish to pair with the 2005 HALL Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, using primarily organic and sustainable ingredients.  After sampling each of the sixteen submissions, accompanied by plenty of the wine in question, guest attendees would cast their votes for the best amateur and best professional teams.

Restaurant Week Comes To Sonoma February 22-28, 2010

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By Deirdre Bourdet

The tradition of local "restaurant week" promotions dates from the last recession, post dotcom crash, when the nouveaux poor's continued need for high end dining and the high end dining establishments' need for continued business found common ground in a beautiful, prix-fixed way.  New York and San Francisco restaurants enjoyed such success with their Restaurant Week programs that they kept them in place even after fortunes were again flying high.

Yountville's Moveable Feast

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hemmingway.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Adding to the list of delicious off-season promotions, Yountville continues to buzz with the excitement of the first annual Moveable Feast--a self-styled "Seasonal Gastronomic Gallop" through the town's luxurious lodging, spas, and eateries.  Eleven hotels and ten restaurants have put together value-focused packages and prix fixes to lure visitors into the charming little foodie mecca.

Most participating restaurants offer either a massively discounted prix fixe menu (about $24-25 per person for lunch, $28-55 for dinner) or a special price on some of their greatest hits.  Bouchon Bakery hands away free chocolate bouchons with the purchase of any coffee, while Bouchon Bistro next door promotes its late-night scene after 10:00p.m.with a $20 two-course supper of oysters or French onion soup, and croque madame sandwich.  Bistro Jeanty offers one dollar oysters and foie blond paté during happy hour Monday through Thursday (3:30-6:30pm).

Cold-Weather Dining Deals

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By Deirdre Bourdet

Winter is traditionally the off-season in wine country, though it's always been one of my favorite times to visit. Besides the lack of crowds, cold weather brings out local warmth and a slew of discounted activities and menus.

Here are two restaurant deals that should not be missed this year:

Truffling Toward Ecstasy

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By Deirdre Bourdet

My butterlust is only exceeded by my passion for truffles. Funky, mysterious, and mind-blowingly delicious, a single taste of the real thing will alter your life forever.

Needless to say, I've had La Toque's black truffle dinners in my calendar as soon as the start date was announced, and am now counting down to January 8, 2010 with breathless anticipation.

Back Room Battle

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Back Room Wines 10.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The film Bottle Shock tells the tale of the 1976 "Judgment of Paris," where California wines beat out their French counterparts in a widely publicized blind tasting.  This week in Napa, three local merlots go head to head against three from Bordeaux at Back Room Wines' Thursday night tasting event. It won't be blind, but it will be delicious.

Upcoming Event: Old Town Food & Wine Festival

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joeDavidAuthor.jpgGet ready to Swirl, Sip & Sizzle at the Old Food & Wine Festival in Alexandria, Virginia on October 10-11th from 11am to 6pm both days. Meet local winemakers and taste Virginia's small-batch artisan wines. Tasting admission also includes a souvenir glass and all exhibits and seminars on the Viking culinary stage.

For the foodies, author Joe David, Gourmet Getaways (50 Top spots to cook and learn), will be on hand to share what he thinks makes your meals special. According to an excerpt from his book "One way to create an outstanding meal is to add the meal multiple layers of well-prepared ingredients that will enhance the essential goodness of the primary ingredient."  David, along with a local catering chef and a winemaker will have a wine and food tasting and food demonstration ~ Saturday, Oct. 10th at 1 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 11th at 3 p.m.

What: Old Town Food & Wine Festival
When: October 10 - 11, 2009; 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Where:
Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
Tickets: Tasting Admission ($35), General Admission ($15)
More Info: www.oldtownwinefestival.com

Open Studios, Open Mouths

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short_season_.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The sensory delight of Napa Open Studios begins September 19th. What better way to celebrate wine country's artists than with local wines and nibbles?

Although many venues are hosting special events, the offbeat G Studio in the upstairs of an old factory in Napa lets visitors meet the artists and their creations in the actual studio space where they work. The resident artists include Kate Salenfriend, Reuben Godinez, Katie Roberts, Deb Lubin, and glass maven Patti Wessman, whose fabulous tableware designs look straight out of that sexy wine country restaurant you've been dying to visit. Visiting artists Yvonne Henry, Heather King and Nancy Shapiro join the party for Open Studios this year. Walk around and chat with these crazy colorful characters about their inspiration as you sip seriously good wine (Bennett Lane, Bighorn, Tres Sabores, and many others), enjoy the late summer light streaming in the windows, and ponder the beauty of life.

The Bread from Ipanema

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cheesebread.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

A wave of anti-gluten sentiment is washing over wine country... everywhere you look, foods trumpet their gluten-free status, chefs dole out gluten-free recipes, and South American-Americans hawk their pão de queijo.

I first encountered Brazilian cheese bread at the Napa's farmers' market, where Alex Fochi of Sampas was handing out samples of her company's miniature versions behind a huge GLUTEN FREE banner. She makes her pão de queijo the size of Swedish meatballs or Asian fish balls, perfect for wine tasting snacks... or really any kind of snack. The traditional tapioca flour in pão de queijo means there is no gluten in the finished product, although the "bread" is puffy and chewy and much like a tender pizza crust in snack form. Since the cheese is completely incorporated into the dough, every mouthful has a smooth, sensual texture worthy of the Brazilian title. Napa-based Sampas does both the traditional plain (cheese) version, as well as rotating weekly specials like roasted garlic or black olive.

Napastille Day at the Oxbow Market

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bastille_day.jpgLiberte, Egalite, Block Parté

by Deirdre Bourdet

'Tis the season of Independence Day celebrations, and Francophiles in the Napa area will be fête-ing le quatorze juillet (aka Bastille Day) at the Oxbow Market - this year. Live music, dancing, games, and--bien sûr--a wide variety of frenchy food specials will celebrate 220 years of Gallic freedom in appropriately hedonistic style.

Starting at noon, Toni Cordioli and his Accordion Gang will roam the market and transport you to Paris, only without the b.o. and pushy donation collection. Cooper masters from Nadalie USA will be there from 2-6 to demonstrate the fine art of barrel-making--an entirely different kind of French toast we rarely get to see.

Build a Better Burger

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sutterBurger.jpgAre you the grill master of the cul de sac? Do your burgers evoke sighs of satisfaction and gushing praise from even the most jaded of picnic attendees? Do you dream of tender patties sizzling on the grill? Answer yes to any of these questions, and you just might have a chance at $50,000 in one of the nation's biggest and best cook-offs, The Build a Better Burger contest.

Oh sure, just about anyone who's lit a charcoal grill thinks they've got the secret to deliciously delightful burgers: onion soup mix, hickory chips, homemade relish, or perfectly grilled buns. Amateurs all, compared to the folks who've re-invented burgers from the ground up at the Sutter Home Winery competition that takes place each year in Napa, CA.

Winners in past years have had recipes ranging from simple portabella mushroom burgers, and a Greek-inspired burger with lamb meat, roasted eggplant and feta cheese, to Hawaiian tuna burgers with onion and lime salsa. Definitely not your everyday burgers.

The competition is already open (April 1 - July 29, 2009) so you better get a move on if you plan on submitting your top secret perfect burger concoction. CLICK HERE to enter. Ten finalists  will be selected to cook their creations at the Sutter Home winery next year, in addition to being featured on the Food Network. The pressure builds in the timed cook-off, where contestants are challenged to create their recipes in front of judges, cameras, press and other finalists for the $50,000 grand prize, or the $10,000 Best Alternative Burger category.

If you like to eat burgers rather than cook them, take the Burger Personality test and see what type you are, get the best burger recipe to match, along with a wine pairing suggestion.

A Hare-Raising Easter Brunch

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easter_bunny.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

You could say that everyone feels like a kid again at Safari West - and this Easter will be no exception. Come April 12, the exotic animal park that prides itself on cultivating "the spirit of Africa in the heart of wine country" will host "Hunt for the Hare," a unique Easter celebration that's sure to be a hit with kids both young and old.

Press Release: Saint Patrick's Day at Hurley's Restaurant

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Yountville, CA - Napa Valley Irishman Bob Hurley is getting ready to celebrate his own brand of Saint Patrick's Day at Hurley's Restaurant & Bar in Yountville. When March 17th rolls around most people come for the corned beef and cabbage - cured six weeks in house. But Chef Hurley also plans to get back to his roots in County Kerry and showcase what the Emerald Isle does best despite the short summers and rocky soil. He feels that the secret and beauty of Irish cookery lies in its simplicity. The menu, written in Gaelic, will feature Breac Bácáilte (whole baked trout with cockles, mussels, new potatoes and pearl onions), Gaelic Stú (Irish stew), Brat Caoireola (Irish farmhouse soup with peas, barley, carrots, onions and lamb), Ciste Visce Beatha (Irish whiskey cake) and of course his own corned beef and cabbage and more. Classic Irish potato preparations of the day will be Champ (mashed potatoes with melted butter and green onions) and Boxty (Irish potato pancake). For those who can't get enough of the restaurant's favorite dishes the regular menu will also be available.

Pigs & Pinot: The Perfect Pairing

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***Find 2010 info HERE. Event is March 19-20, 2010!***

HEALDSBURG, CA - Don't miss this year's Fourth Annual Celebration of Pigs & Pinot 2009 event, March 20-21, 2009 at Hotel Healdsburg. The weekend will include a series of intimate dining and educational events hosted by renowned Chef Palmer.

Tickets can be purchased directly online and there are several lodging packages available at Hotel Healdsburg which include access to all Pigs & Pinot events, including exclusive access to the Gala Dinner. But space is limited; so make sure you make advance reservations now!

Falling for Fallfest

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fallfest2.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

San Francisco Magazine's annual Fallfest festival of food and wine   goes down soon - October 11, to be exact - and is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated food events of the fall season. After all, any event that transforms San Francisco's waterfront into a European-style epicurean market is just fine by me, particularly one that features a bevy of the Bay Area's top restaurateurs, winemakers, eco experts and artisans as its hosts.

Food and Wine and Pebble Beach

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During a recent trip to the Pebble Beach area it struck me - this place is actually pretty nice. Sure, postcard views of the rugged coastline and storybook houses in the hills are a dime a dozen here. But beyond that obvious stuff, there's a lot going on in Pebble Beach. I took time in between watching actors act like they know how to play golf (who am I kidding, most of them are a hell of a lot better than me!), to explore some of the region's finer establishments for culinary delights and the occasional beer. The list can take a month's worth of columns to fill, and I will devote the necessary time to that venture in due course.

Chef Eric C. Maczko

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Chef Eric C. Maczko:

Pine Ridge Winery Chef
 

From "Appellations and Appetizers" to "Creative Culinary Combinations", Pine Ridge Winery, located in the historic Stags Leap District of Napa Valley, boasts an active culinary program to compliment their award-winning wines. Led by Chef Eric Maczko, the winery's food-focused events include a variety of cooking demonstrations, cave dinners and extensive wine tastings.

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