Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wining in Valencia...with Burgers!

Just a lazy Sunday (well, lazy for JD and me) at the Valencia Wine Company, where Guy and Jeff and Julie were running around like very busy wine people, while pairing some exquisite wines with burgers and sandwiches.

I never actually got the name of the folks whose truck was there doing the catering - and as soon as I get it, I will publish it.  They were great! Follow-up note - info just in from Julie:  The caterers were Elvis and Einsteins.

Cabernet Blue Cheese Burger with Cabernet peppercorn sauce - Blogger extraordinaire Eve Hammond Bushman and I each had one, along with crazy delicious crunchy garlic fries with Parmesan cheese and arugula.  This was paired with a 2006 Crescendo Cabernet Sauvignon.  O. M. G.  If you look at the photo, there is an olive wrapped in bacon and deep-fried tooth-picked to the top of the burger, which also included lettuce, tomato, bacon, and red sauce.  Just the best burger I have ever had.

Billion Dollar Bite -  bib lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, Smoked Gouda,topped with a tomato jalapeno relish

Shoreline Club - Grilled Chicken breast with provolone, bacon, avocado,tomato, bib lettuce, with a Tomato Port aioli

Bruschetta Burger - Marinara Goat Spread, Marinated Tomato basil

The Wildcard - Grilled Sirloin Burger with Ginger BBQ Hot Mustard Sauce, Shrimp Fritter with Sweet Soy and Spicy Mayo.  JD enjoyed one of these babies, paired with a 2005 Pope Valley Merlot.  After he pulled off the offending tomatoes and peppers, he settled in and finished it off.

We needed more wine, and we were sitting outside, where it was getting very hot, so we got an icy Bellussi Prosecco.  It was crisp and very fruity, and sort of reminded me of those fruit-flavored sparkling waters.  JD and Steve W. (new friend) and I really liked it, but Eve thought it was too sweet.  Or something.  Oh well.

It was just lovely to sit and chat, especially sharing a table with Eve, who knows pretty much everyone in Santa Clarita and Valencia!  The place was bustling, everyone seemed happy - a darn near perfect day!

Tomorrow, I start 2 days of intensive instruction about Spanish wines.  Stay tuned!!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wining in Thousand Oaks and dining in Westlake...

We were supposed to meet Marya at the Cornell Winery at 10 a.m. on Father's Day, but Saturday evening brought an email canceling the date due to illness.  So we slept in a bit, made coffee, read the paper, and suddenly felt that we really needed to get out of the house.

So we showered and dressed, grabbed a handful of peanuts to stave off the pangs, and headed north to Thousand Oaks.  Specifically, The WineYard, a charming wine bar and store, and the official tasting room for Four Brix Winery.  We had met Steve and Laura Simonsgaard previously, and liked them and their wines, and wanted to know more about them.

After a somewhat challenging drive up the 101 - Sigalerts on Sundays just don't help - we pulled into the parking lot for the WineYard, and were welcomed by Larry, the man behind the bar.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wining and teaching at La Bruschetta...

After having an amazingly busy and wine-y week and weekend, I took a step back to consider what I'm trying to accomplish with this blog, and it kind of stopped me in my tracks. But just for a few days!

I had seen that my friend, Rico Mandel, was advertising a luncheon at La Bruschetta Restaurant.  There would be cooking instruction, plus wines from some yet-to-be-named winery, plus a surprise dessert - very similar to previous luncheons he had organized at other terrific restaurants. Because he had not named the winery, I had not signed us up, and then he emailed me and asked if I would handle the wine tasting for the event.

After a few emails and phone calls, I realized that he was going to leave it all up to me to choose the wines to taste and drink with lunch.  I was thrilled - and a little terrified.