Saturday, October 9, 2010

California's Grape Harvest Running Late

I was up in the Central Coast of California this week to pick my Chardonnay grapes for Little Anthony. Grapes all over the region are still hanging on the vine. However, this can mean even better wine.
My colleague, friend and wine expert, Patrick Comiskey, wrote an excellent article about the late harvest.
*Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times by Renee Nault

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Trends in Cheese

Patch dot com came in the store the other day and asked us about the history of The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills and what the trends are in cheese. Here's a short video from their visit with us.

"The gourmet world is fashionable just like clothing, shoes, cars, movies...."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Roses and Apple Cider Balsamic Salad Dressing

I've been asked what wine will excite a summer of laid back, easy to fix fare.
Roses are the perfect wine for summer since they're light,
excellent chilled on ice or in the fridge.
They especially go great with seafood, salads and light goat cheeses.

Three great Roses* to drink right now:

Palmina Pinot Grigio $21
Central Coast of California
Fermented on the skins for 15 days, the wine has a beautiful, pinkish hue.
It's an excellent example of how Pinot Grigio is related to Pinot Noir.

Saint Andre de Figuiere 2009 $18
Cote de Provence
Very Elegant and Pretty Wine
This is the poor mans Domaine Ott @$45
Domaine Phillipe Gilbert 2009 $28
From the Menetou-Salon area, next door to Sancerre, in the Loire Valley
This rose is made from Pinot Noir grapes and is hard to get.

How Rose Is Made
Roses are made from the skins of the red, black or purple grapes used to make red wines, but taste more like a white wine.
Don't confuse rose with zinfandel just because they are both light pink in color.
Zinfandels is made from the zinfandel grape and white grapes, and it's usually a bit sweet and not dry, unlike white wines which are more dry and not usually sweet.
The difference between white and red winemaking is white wines get crushed, pressed and fermented, while red wines ferment on the skins.
Dry, yet flavorful, roses have gotten better over the years
because now they're made on purpose. They used to be a by product of red wine.

During saignee (French for the word bled and pronounced son yeah), the correction process of the fermentation of the principal wine varietal,
or "bleeding off the vats" the lighter colored juice was allowed to ferment.
Now roses are made more often with maceration, which is direct contact with the skins of the grapes.
The red wine grapes are crushed and and the skins and the juice stay together for a designated period of time, days or weeks, depending on what the vintner is
trying to accomplish.
The color and the flavor are the result of how long the skins and the juice are allowed to stay together.
That's why rose has the characteristics of a white wine but it's made with red grapes.

goat cheese,chevre,adante dairy

Two Chevres
Minuet Goats Milk Cheese from Andante Dairy in Petaluma, California
(great served with creme fresh)
A former biochemist and dairy scientist, Soyoung Scanlan is the cheesemaker.
Le Chevrot, from the Loiree has a little bit of the barn aromatic.

Edmund Fallot Mustards

Simply Summer Dinner
Goat Cheeses*
Light Seasoned Salad of Mixed Field Greens
Apple Cider Balsamic Dressing*
Edmund Fallot Dijon Mustard*
Grilled Herbed Whole Fish

Prepare the fish:
Pack with aromatic herbs in the cavity (think south of France)+
Sprinkle salt, pepper, drizzle with olive oil
Bake or Grill

Apple Cider Balsamic Salad Dressing
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - we have a very special olive oil from the Raffanelli Vineyard
Grown in the Dry Creek Valley AVA and pressed from hand-picked, estate-grown olives, the oil is unfiltered and the hand-crafted hobby of David Rafanelli. It seems like he spends more time making this oil than he does making his wines, it's that good!!
(Speaking of Zinfandel, we are the only ones who carry their Zinfandel,Cabernet and Merlot.)
Edmund Fallot Dijon Mustard
Shallots - thinly siliced or minced
Add a little Lemon Juice and a little bit of
the Apple Bouqet Methode Balsamique from Normandy
* Product available at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills
*Photo Credit Anya Wabnig


More About The Herbs Used in the Cuisine of The South of France.
This perfect explanation is from the We Love France Blog:

"The local Provence cuisine exploits the profusion of regional herbs such as lavender, thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, savory, fennel, marjoram, tarragon, oregano, and bay leaf and they are included generously in all the dishes in one combination or another.

Herbes de Provence (Proven├žal herbs) is a mixture of dried herbs gathered in the Provence countryside invented in the 1970s to meet the ever rising public interest outside of the region. The mixture typically contains rosemary, marjoram, basil, bay leaf, thyme, and sometimes lavender flowers and other herbs. The proportions vary by manufacturer but thyme usually dominates the taste produced by the herb mixture. These mixtures are predominantly used to flavor grilled foods such as fish and meat, as well as vegetable stews. The mixture can be mixed with olive oil and added to foods before cooking to infuse the flavor into the cooked food, or during cooking, but they are rarely added after the cooking is complete."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Secrets of Sonoma and The Wine Road

I wanted to share some highlights of my recent tasting tour of Sonoma County and give you a sneak peek at what we’re going to have in the store soon.
I started at some Russian River wineries during Sonoma's annual Winter Wineland. This gave me an opportunity to participate and observe the wine industry as a customer, versus a buyer.
Three American Viticultural Areas (AVA) or appellations, Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and the Russian River Valley, provide the perfect growing conditions for a wide range of varietals.
Many wineries in this northern part of Sonoma County are part of The Wine Road. The Wine Road isn’t a specific road, it’s a group of wineries in these three valleys.

I took a tour of Hansel winery, given by the owner, Steve Hansel.
According to him, “This location is ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as the nights and mornings are cooled by coastal fog yet the mid-days warm up to perfect grape ripening temperatures. Temperature swings of 40 degrees are very common.”

Two of my Hansel Favorites
07 Chardonnay Estate Cuvee Alyse
It's affordable, fantastic, lean, well-structured and crisp, as in not over the top.
07 Pinot Noir South Slope
Is round and rich on the finish.

Then I went to over to Woodenhead. Their tasting room was packed.
Woodenhead's wines are tasty and priced right.
Two Woodenhead Wines I Like
07 Pinot Noir, Humbolt County
06 Zinfandel, Braccialini Vineyard, Alexander Valley

Christopher Creek

The Wasserman Family know how to grow things. Their website says the winery, in addition to growing grapes, has been farming oranges and olives in the Central Valley of California for the past 35 years.
I liked the 2007 Viognier, Russian River
You can read their own wine notes here:

Littorai is located over in Western Sonoma County
From their website:
Littorai: a plural noun formed from the Latin word litor-, which means the coasts.
Ted Lemon, co-founder of Littorai, says, “The property where the winery is located is farmed biodynamically, using only organically certified materials. It is farmed as a self sustaining, integrated and diversified farm.”

We'll be getting these two excellent wines made in the classic burgundian style.
In fact, these two wines are rarely seen at retail, and since they are really food friendly, they usually make an appearance on restaurant wine lists.
These wines are exceptional with cheese.

07 Savoy Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley
08 Les Larnes Pinot Noir, also from Anderson Valley

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year, I'm Off To The Fancy Food Show!

Hi Guys,
Happy New Year to You All! The last few weeks were busy and successful and I thank each and every one of you who came in for a little or a lot of holiday cheer.
I'm off to the Fancy Food Show to find new and exciting things for you. If you haven't heard of it, here's a link. This is one of the largest food shows in the world, a real feast for the palate!
Then, as if that wasn't enough adventure for one person, I'll be in Napa and Sonoma for one week to see old friends and new things.
We also have the winners of the sixth annual American Artisanal Treasure Awards. I'll post the announcement with a photo of the winners.
FYI, if you missed the Hooks 15 year aged cheddar or want more, we have a waiting list going for the next batch that comes out in March, email
You can read about Hooks and other "Wow Factor" cheeses we carry at
Oh, and just to tease you, there will be soon be an update on our barrel of Hospice de Beaune!
Until next time, enjoy January.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Autumn Braised Chicken Dinner

The weather finally turned true to the season with cooler days and nights.
Keep on grilln', but it's time to get the stew pot out!

You'll need an aluminum rectangle tin foil pan or a Le Cruset (Sur la table is even having a sale right now!) or other French stew pot. Let me know how it turns out.

Chicken: Choose thighs, breasts and legs and season with your favorite poultry or bbq rub.

Mix the following ingredients for the sauce:
garlic - minced or chopped to taste
ginger - chop up a small chunk and then as the sauce cooks down, you can add more to balance out the flavor.
orange juice - 2 to 1 to the red wine
sliced shallots or finely chopped onion

Grill the chicken until it is almost done - to get some color on it and to seal it.
Move chicken to the tin foil rectangle roasting pan and add the sauce.
Place the foil pan on the grill, and braise chicken on low heat, flipping occasionally, until the meat is falling off the bone.
To finish cooking in your stew pot instead of a tin foil pan, transfer the chicken to a Le Cruset or other stovetop cooking stew pot, add the sauce and finish braising over low heat on the stove.

Season with salt & pepper if desired.
Serve with roast fingerling potatoes, grilled fennel and grilled asparagus

Pair with a red wine, chilled slightly. Something from the south of France, a
rhone varietal, like a Vacqueyras.
Vacqueras is a bit rustic. See if you can taste the herbs and minerals of the terrior of the region.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Don't Heat Up The Kitchen Chicken BBQ Dinner

It's Labor Day Weekend and I don't need to say it, but I will, it's hot hot hot!
Here's a simple meal I put together to avoid heating up the kitchen
in triple digit weather.

- no, I don't measure things out. It's a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
  • Chicken Breasts, Thighs and Legs
  • Your Favorite BBQ Rub
  • Finely Chopped Onion or Slivered Scallions
  • Shredded Ginger
  • Chopped Garlic
  • Red Wine - I use some of my leftover garage wine -Little Anthony Syrah
  • Aluminum Pan - Make a rectangle pan out of aluminum foil, large enough to hold all the meat, or use a disposable aluminum pan
Cover the chicken with the rub and grill until it's almost done.
Let the coals cool down a bit or turn the grill on low.
Put chicken and ingredients in the pan and back on the grill.
Flip the chicken occasionally, add a little red wine as the sauce cooks down.
Cook until the meat is falling off the bone.

Serve with grilled asparagus or fennel and roasted fingerling potatoes

Wine Pairing - slightly chill some Pinot Noir or Vacqueryras (made from Syrah and some Grenache)