Weekend Winos

Enthusiasts in search of quality libations to enhance weekends.

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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!


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Party in Your Mouth! SF Chefs 2013 Grand Tasting Tent

A Great Time under the Tent on Union Square in SF!

SF Chefs 2013 Tent

SF Chefs 2013 Tent


This weekend we started off with a little misunderstanding about the time we would be allowed in for the 5th Anniversary Friday Night Opening Celebration because the tickets were printed in such a way that caused much confusion (we were not alone).  Being the overachievers we are, we arrived early so we were first in line for the 7:15 pm (not 6:30 pm) entrance.  We put the time to good use, chatted with a charming, very polite and very apologetic greater who clarified the situation to hundreds who approached her, and also met people around us who had been before and gave us some very good tips.

We were prepared with what we learned: (1) the drinks are mostly in the center and the food around the perimeter; (2) to take our time because everyone is there all night and they just keep cooking and pouring; and (3) to enjoy the experience even when it is crowded.

At 7:15 pm sharp they let us in, they had been looking at us for 1 hour and 15 minutes so I had no doubt they would be prompt.  It was immediately obvious that what we had learned from our early-to-queue compadres was spot on!  Everyone got a lanyard (really, not another lanyard), this one actually held your wine glass which proved to be of great assistance as you savored all the tasty bites.

It is a big tent and it was crowded, so the group dissipated and inevitably met as everyone was doing the rounds.  I am pretty sure I remember the highlights we discussed to be as follows:

* Tyler Florence is even more handsome in person.

Tyler Florence

Tyler Florence

* Mixed drinks were one of the stars of the party, form Elixir To Go, Campari, Chambord, Rum, Gin, Bourbon,  even Stella was there.

* Wines were good all around. From Chile to Portugal , a good representation from California and Washington State,  and super rich and smooth Rhone Valley Wines, all fantastic.

* The food that stood out was the risotto from Kuleto’s and all the delicious poke and prawns from the restaurants around it , the ham and warm apple something or other from Wayfare Tavern and El Paseo, the caviar blintz roll from The Plumed Horse, something fantastic from The Beach Chalet and great lamb meatballs from a sponsor who also has I love lam chap stick ( I hope it was mint).

* Cakes and sweets, yes they were there and we were asked to vote for our favorite cake in the competition, which we could not do in all good faith.  With all respect to the pastry chefs, they were a bit lost in the sea of libations and mouthwatering bites.  Does no one in the group have a sweet tooth?

* Russell Jackson (Food Network Star Finalist) was also there without his Guilty Pleasures briefcase.  I wonder how many will be voting for him?

So how do you end a night like this?  Well….. with handfuls of  Fig Newtons and Port that also doubled as a breakfast of champions, the Fig Newtons of course with Starbucks.

See you all next weekend!