General: January 2011 Archives

By Deirdre Bourdet

Wine country's dramatic beauty and sensual delights make it an ideal destination for romance at any time of year, but I tend to think winter is one of its finest seasons.  Chilly temperatures seem to amplify our enjoyment of food and wine, and also encourage the wintry inclination to cuddle up closer with our person of choice (plus, there's also that holiday in the middle of February that tends to prompt some romantic gestures).  Here are some suggestions for dining à deux in wine country when the barometer runs low, but passions run high.

Cozy Up By the Fire. Everyone knows one of the best ways to fan the flames between you is to cozy up by a fireplace.Start the evening off right (or just make a night of it) in the lounge at Cuvée in Napa, which offers great happy hour discounts on drinks and globally inspired appetizers during the week.The fireside tables at Brix tucked away in a discreet corner of the restaurant behind the bar, also make a great place for shameless flirting over dinner.   In Sonoma County, the low lighting, plush textures, and dramatic stone fireplace of John Ash's front lounge provide the perfect ambience to make your move.

Up & Away Ballooning Quiche

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UpAwayQuice.JPGChef: Mike and Patty Kijak of Up & Away Ballooning

We serve this homemade quiche to our riders after each flight. Accompanied with chocolate dipped strawberries, local cheeses,  fresh fruit, low calorie coffee cake (just kidding about the low cal. part), Champagne, juice etc.

  • Hand made pie shell or pre-made
  • One and half cups grated Swiss cheese
  • One and half cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • Grated onion
  • salt/pepper
  • nutmeg
  • other ingredients at cook's discretion

Restaurant Month in California

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All around California, restaurants are celebrating the month of January with fabulous dining specials and savings for lunch and/or dinner. Splurge, savor, and save is the name of the game. See if your favorite restaurant or one you always wanted to try is on the list in the regions below.

Gold Country. You may not find gold, but with savings on food like these, you might as well have! Restaurant Week in Gold Country is January 32-30 with a grand finale on January 30th where the area's finest chefs will offer a unique opportunity to be an El Dorado Epicurean in a countywide progressive dinner. More Details

Monterey County. Catch some fresh seafood in Monterey during Restaurant Month. Participating restaurants are offering prix fixe dinner menus for $20.11 all month long. More Details.

Napa Valley - see our Food Writer's top restaurant picks for deals and steals. Or see the full list of Napa Valley restaurants and their specials here.

Santa Barbara Wine Country
  • Santa Barbara -Dubbed "Film Feast", the prix fixe restaurant program coincides with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival all happening January 27-Feb 6, 2011. Film goers and foodies are invited to choose from "Short" (two-course), "Feature" (three-course) and "Epic" (four-course) length seasonal menus at participating restaurants. MORE DETAILS.
  • Santa Ynez Valley - The foodie fun begins January 23rd and ends January 29th. It's this region's first time participating in Restaurant Month and they will be featuring special 3-course tasting menus for $20.11. A list of participating restaurants is listed, but you will need to contact restaurants directly for specific days, dining hours and to make reservations. MORE DETAILS.

Potato Gratin

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potatogratin.jpgBy: Executive Chef Christopher Ludwick, Grapevine Catering Company

Submitted by Flora Springs Winery

  • 1 # Yukon Gold Potatoes (peeled)
  • ½ ea yellow onion (julienned)
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Fresh herbs (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Butternut Squash Fritters

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fritters.jpgSubmitted by Flora Springs Winery
Executive Chef Christopher Ludwick, Grapevine Catering Company

  • 2 cups Butternut Squash (grated)
  • 1 ea red onion (chopped)
  • 1 ea red pepper (chopped)
  • 1 ea carrot (grated)
  • ½ bu Italian Parsley (chopped)
  • 1 ea egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2T sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Panko