Weekend Winos

Enthusiasts in search of quality libations to enhance weekends.


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Lake Tahoe 31st Annual Autumn Food and Wine Festival

img_9279Out with the old and in with the new! We’ve been going to this event on Saturday since 2009. Last wrote about it in 2014. We started to notice a different flow to the crowd last year. This year, for sure, it was a different event.  There were fewer wineries and brewers, lots more high-end jewelry vendors, the cooking demo at noon was The Mountain Kid’s cook-off finals, the Japanese restaurant did not have tables outside, and there were a lot less of our 4-legged friends.

Stella where art thou Stella?!? We missed our favorite brewery, usually they would have at least 2 stands at the event, and we always tasted some new flavor. The flip side is that we had the opportunity to taste new beers and more wine.  Also missing were the winery region exhibits (usually 3 or 4 in the seating areas around the ice rink).  The flip side is that we had places to sit, on an especially hot day, to enjoy the wineries and breweries that were there on Saturday:  Boeger Winery, Blue Frog Brewing Company, Bonterra Organic Vineyards, Coryelle Fields Vineyard, Gekkeikan Sake, MacLeod Family Vineyard, Mount Aukum Winery, Nick’s Cove, Sierra Vintners, Silkwood Wines, Skinner Vineyards Winery, Archer Brewery, Tin Barn Vinyards, and VGS Chateau Potelle.

We had a chance to talk to almost every vendor. Some of the standouts included the 2013 Zinfandel from VGS Chateau Potelle (we bought a bottle), the IPA from DNA Brewing and JOON a Rose Syrah from Coryelle Fields Vineyard.

We’ll take a close look at the program next year; maybe we need to break our pattern and try a Sunday instead of Saturday for the 2017 Food and Wine Festival at Northstar.

 

 

 


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Stroll The Alameda Part Deux: New Finds!

This year, our second time attending, we had no trouble convincing the winos to join us for a fun afternoon of wine & beer tastings as we visited the merchants on The Alameda.  Much like last year, we met early and endeavored to visit all the locales.

IMG_8803This is the sixth year that the Shasta / Hanchett Park Neighborhood Association and the Alameda Business Association organize The Alameda Wine & Beer Stroll. Armed with our wine or beer glasses and official yellow wristband we were off.  

We recognized some of the participants from last year:  Travieso Winery (should have been back at the tattoo parlor), Santa Clara Valley Brewing, Coterie Winery and The Wine Affair.  There were some new participants that made our day!

Umunhum-Brewery-LogoUmunhum Brewing:  Great Beer!   They say it is California’s first co-op brewery,  a growing group of dedicated members who are passionate about great beer, customer service, sustainability, and great food (supporting local and organic farms where possible). We were so impressed by the beer, we joined the co-op!

ZonaRosaSangria at Zona Rosa: The sangria was very good and at this half-way point we also sat down to enjoy their decadent guacamole (yes, that is bacon and nuts) and home-made chips.  We agreed that we would be back soon to the restaurant to try other items on their menu.  It is a small place and always packed.  Everyone there recommended we make reservations and insisted that we would not be disappointed with the meal.

Like we said last year…This is an event that we will add to our regular list.  Already looking forward to the 2017 Stroll, and in the meantime we will be back to enjoy the new acquaintances we made.


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Paella Feast

paella1

The group gathered for a house-warming party and what a treat to be part of it!  It was a large crowd and everyone had a great time.

The hosts hired  Hola Paella  to provide the delicious food and a fantstic show.  They cooked the paella as we all watched. Step-by-step they showed us how its done and our appetite just kept growing and growing. Gratefully the delicious appetizers (Serrano ham and melon mini-skewer; Manchego cheese, Spanish chorizo and Spanish olive stuffed with pimiento in a toothpick; and vegetarian empanaditas) were being served with wine, beer and sangria while we watched.

Making paella is an art form, and Chef Fernando and Team at Hola Paella sure have the experience and love that it takes to make this tasty dish.

paella7paella5The Paella Valenciana is my favorite with all the seafood (mussels, clams, calamari, scallops, peeled and devained shrimp), chicken, Spanish chorizo, pork sausage, timely prepared with rice and vegetables (sweet peas, green beans, garlic, onions, roasted peppers, Spanish saffron and spices. They also prepared, for any guests with allergies,  an All Meat Paella with rice, boneless chicken, Spanish chorizo, pork sausage and green and red roasted peppers, green beans, sweet peas, garlic, onions, Spanish saffron and spices. Both were served with a house salad (Mixed organic baby greens, red peppers, & walnuts served with honey Dijon vinaigrette dressing) & a French Baguette with Butter.

paella3paella9We all chipped in on the drinks and desserts and I assure you nobody left hungry.  The small donuts with dulce de leche filling were the first to disappear. The peanut butter pie with whipped cream was a close second.  Many guests asked to take some of the peanut butter pie home, because they heard it was good but had not had a chance to taste it.  I should have thought of that!

I must confess I did not pay much attention to the libations, my glass was always full with something special that one of the weekend winos had brought to share. I do know that I started with a delicious home made Sangria — must get the recipe.


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Lake Tahoe 29th Annual Autumn Food and Wine Festival

WoodworkI don’t know if it is the altitude, good friends, wine, beer, sake, cooking demonstrations or the art but….this event is fantastic! We try to get to The Village at Northstar for the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival every year.  Although we are tempted by many of the events from Friday to Sunday, we always default to The Village Wine & Brew Walk on Saturday from noon to 4 pm. And that’s what we did this year!

With more than 35 wineries, breweries and distilleries participating, we had a full schedule. Luckily the Truckee Sourdough Company and Fab Delights Chocolate Truffles were also participating. Their bread and chocolates are “oh so delicious” and a perfect intermezzo for the libations.  Wine merchants can not sell their wines at the event, this creates a more relaxed and enjoyable experience — the type of experience you’d expect in beautiful North Lake Tahoe.

SilkwoodOnce again, we uncovered some wines that we had not tried before, some that stood out included:

Silkwood Petite Sirah: In its third reincarnation, this small Modesto, CA winery had some very smooth rich wines.  They are proud to point out that they sell their wines in 21 states, Japan and HongKong.  In fact Japan Airlines selected their Syrah as the only American Red Wine to be served in First Class.

LucchesiLucchesi Zinfandel: From their “View Forever Vineyard” in the Sierra Foothills, Mario and Linda Clough produce some delicious wines.  We all agreed to make Grass Valley a destination trip to experience the View Forever Vineyard first hand and relax as we learn more about their collection of wines, their Italian heritage and their family escapades in South America.

Schug

Schug Pinot Noir: A family affair with German roots, the winery is located in the Sonoma portion of the Carneros Appelation. What a great family story and the wines are fantastic.  On our list for our next Sonoma adventure – a self-guided tour after learning more about the wines, buy a few bottles of wine, enjoy their picnic tables and the views.

No doubt the 29th annual Lake Tahoe Wine and Food Festival was an adventure we will always remember and now the countdown begins to the 30th annual event.  We’ll be there!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Antique Fair Led to Santa Clara Valley Wine Discovery

GoatHillThe group had the Goat Hill Fair on our “list of places to explore” for some time.  The vintage theme, antiques and hand-made items were primarily of interest to the ladies in the group……. then, we discoverd that there are more than 20 wineries around Morgan Hill and Gilroy so the gents were happy to join.  The Goat Hill Fair outgrew its origins in a real 14 acre goat farm in the Santa Cruz mountains and now takes over the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville, CA for a weekend each May and Novemeber.  With more than 80 vendors participating, there is something for everyone.  These are real antiques and vintage items, and we made the most of our afternoon at the Goat Hill Fair.

We knew we would not be able to visit all 20 wineries, and realized that we knew very little about the Santa Clara Valley Wineries.

FortinoThe website is very informative and reminds us that : “Silicon Valley” – it’s easy to forget this area’s role as California’s first premium wine production region – the Santa Clara Valley. Native Americans named it “the Valley of the Heart’s Delight.” French and Italian immigrants who settled here during the Gold Rush era recognized the rich soils and Mediteranean climate as the perfect New World home for their European grape varietals. And so it begins…

I must confess the decision of what wineries to visit was based on what time the tasting rooms opened, since we were, afterall, on our way to the Goat Hill Fair.  So we started at Fortino Winery, they opened at 11 am and then visited the others around Watsonville Road and Hacker Pass Hwy 152.   Solis Winery, Sarah’s Vineyard, Hecker Pass Winery were within walking distance, and 3 or 4 more were just up the street, but we wisely decided to make a point to return some other time to visit the rest.

The overall experience was fantastic and very realxing. There were no crowds,  people were friendly and very knowleadgeable and the wines were good.  Many of the vineyards are family owned and they mostly produce small lots that they are very proud of.  Unfortunatly our time was limited, but no doubt we will be back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Tourists at Home – SF Mission District Food Tour

Avital Mission District Food Tour. It was a 3 hour tour and just like they promised we had a blast eating and drinking our way through the neighbourhood and clocked 10,450 steps on top of it!   But I am getting ahead of myself.

SF MIssion District

While we enjoy getting together at our homes and relaxing while we research and enjoy some new libations, the early spring crisp air had everyone anxious to be outdoors.  Someone in the group knew about the Avital tours so we signed up and set off to the Mission District for our weekend adventure.

This area of San Francisco is know for its rich Mexican and Central American culture, colorful street murals, culinary options from taquerias to the original location of The Slanted Door (now at the Ferry Building) and Mission Dolores a few blocks from Dolores Park. We met our guide in front of The Women’s Building, it serves a variety of women’s organizations and provides meeting and activity space to the community.  The mural, MaestraPeace (1994), honors women’s contributions around the world.

 

First Stop, Hog & Rocks, San Francisco’s first ham and oyster barHog and RocksWhat a great place to start, the manager was very knowledgeable and told us about the different types of oysters.  The bartender served us a Calabria, a combination of bourbon, meyer lemon, bergamot, taverna, honey, bitters and ginger. They know their whiskeys and offer eight or more Old Fashioned options in their menu.

Second stop, Mission Cheese, known for their limited production artisan and farmstead cheeses.  We tasted  Landaff (from Landaff Creamery) and Golden Valley Pecorino (from Golden Valley Creamery) paired with a dark beer.  Cheese and beer?  Yes, it works!  Their menu has more than cheese – the salads, salumi plate and duck rillettes looked fantastic. And they also serve wine.

 

Venga EmpanadasNext, Venga Empanadas, where we toured the kitchen and met one of the owners.  They served us two different types of empanadas, the traditional argentine beef and a five pepper manchego cheese empanada.  A little glass of wine would have been nice, the tour included drinks!  On our way out we bought some alfajorcitos de maicena – oh soooo  good!  I’ll have to look up the recipe.

After a short walk by the Mission towards Mission Dolores Park, we stopped at Bi-Rite Market a grocery store that sells organic goods.  We were offered some delicious strawberries and quickly walked around the store.  It was small, full of people and expensive.  Our last stop was the Bi-Rite Creamery, people were lined up around the block.  Our tour guide walked in as if he owned the establishment and emerged a few minutes later with a plater full of salt and caramel ice cream for the group.  A generous tasting I must add, and it was delicious.  A great way to end the tour!


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Caipirinhas for Carnival

This weekend the winos gathered prepared with everything we had read and experienced about Carnival and Brazil. One couple had actually been to the Samba Parade in Rio and brought video from the event.  What a treat!

CaipirinhasFirst, the caipirinhas.  Most everyone had tried them before and yes they are very easy to drink. Caution!  Drinking too many  of them can cause a terrible hangover.

We did find the traditional natural cane Cachaca (it comes only from Brazil and is made form 100% fresh cane juice) at the local BevMo.  The alternative would have been rum or vodka, but we wanted to be as authentic as possible.  Cachaca, limes, sugar or simple syrup, and ice was all we needed.  Everyone set out to make their own and then we selected a winner to make the next pitcher.

In a rocks glass, we placed 4 lime wedges with 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar (some used simple syrup) and with a muddler we mashed the lime and sugar together.  Next the crushed ice (in a clean dish towel take ice and crush it) and 2 ounces of Leblon Cachaca. Shake or stir and garnish with a fresh lime.

The group preferred the stirred version and some who felt is was too sweet, topped off their glass with club soda.  We set off to make a pitcher for those who wanted a second glass and took the short cut of 2 parts Cachaca to 1 part fresh lime juice and 1 part simple syrup.  I liked my individual glass better, but the pitcher was more efficient for a large group.

feijoadaOur hosts took the time to research and make feijoada, many in the group had not tasted this traditional Brazilian stew of black beans with beef and pork.  The vegetarians in the group had been warned, and a beautiful salad was prepared for them.  Using Tyler Florence’s recipe from the food network the result was DELICIOUS. I looked up the recipe when I got home and truly appreciated all the effort that went into this feast.

With a cup of coffee in hand we sat around the TV and watched the videos from the Rio Samba Parade that our friends had attended a few years ago in Rio’s Sambodromo.  We learned that while it looks lavish and a lot of fun, it is a serious competition with more than 70 samba schools participating.  We all agreed that a group trip to Rio for Carnival should be on our list!