Writers: October 2009 Archives

Pumpkin Lovin

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Pumpkin Cupcake Karas 3.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

This time of year you can't turn around without a pumpkin or nine staring you in the face. Every storefront has trotted out at least ten or twelve for the window display, and the Stanly Ranch Pumpkin Patch is rockin' and rollin' with its hay bale maze, giant sunflowers, and pumpkins of every size and color. Though the decorative pumpkin frenzy will die down after Halloween, the edible pumpkin bandwagon is just getting going in wine country. It's one of my favorite seasons for sweets.

Spooky Salsa

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Ceja Tasting Rm2.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

In keeping with their reputation as the first family of fun, the Cejas are throwing a Halloween bash this year in their downtown tasting bar. This means far more than special pricing on the wine... though there will be by the glass discounts and a healthy 30% off all their bottles for the evening, including those to take home. No, Halloween with the Cejas means music, passion, drama, and dancing.

We Got the Beet

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beetBurger.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The avalanche of autumn produce in our markets is a sure sign that fall is here, notwithstanding some freak summer flashback days. Pumpkins, squashes, apples, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and beets of every color beckon with their earthy sweetness and sexy dark green leaves.

Like everyone else I hated the canned beets of my childhood, but I've since grown to love the silken texture, rich flavor, and eye-popping colors of the real deal. Beet greens also rank among my favorite leafy green vegetables of all time, but only appear in good shape in fall and winter. Easy to clean and quick-cooking, they taste like a more tender, earthier version of chard. Since you typically get the beet greens for free with the beetroot, a bunch of beets is also one of the best produce deals out there.

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.

Pica Your Poison...

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Pica-Pica-bar2.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Pica Pica Bar has opened in Napa's Oxbow Public Market! I was delighted enough to hear that they would be serving ceviche with wine and beer, but news of their ridiculously awesome happy hour made me make haste to the comfortable leather bar stools at the south end of the Oxbow building. From 3-6pm on weekdays, all alcoholic drinks (white or red sangria, most of the ten draft beers, Venezuelan-style fruit juices called batidos, and your choice of red, white or rose wine) are $3, and a varied assortment of ceviches and corn arepa "sliders" are also yours for the same price.

Butter is Forever

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By Deirdre Bourdet

Most ingredients go in and out of style, depending on the latest health craze or foodie fad. This doesn't of course affect their deliciousness, or deter the converted from continuing to use the items in our own cooking once they have fallen out of fashion with the rest of America.

So I'm sure I wasn't the only one whose heart soared when Julie & Julia hit the silver screen this year, trumpeting the timeless and unparalleled glory of butter to audiences near and far. Sweet vindication! I almost cheered at the scene where Julie sets a pound of butter in front of Julia's portrait in the Smithsonian.

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