bASH: basking in Appellation St. Helena’s bounty

Reconstituted Cherries on Whipped Goat Cheese Tart

Reconstituted Cherries on Whipped Goat Cheese Tart

If you don’t have anything planned yet for Saturday, April 19, you should go here now to purchase tickets for bASH, an annual food and wine event from Appellation St. Helena showcasing this northern Napa Valley community. What is the 2014 bASH?  Well, it’s basically a festive “bash” from 6:00 to 8:30 pm with over 30 premium wineries joining forces with local culinary talent.  But it’s more than just a wine tasting event: it’s a food and wine pairing competition where your votes help select the winners (and believe us, the competition is fierce).

In addition to being able to taste up to 50 wines that night, attendees can sample food offerings from local professionals as well as chef teams from the Culinary Institute of America made up of “Rising Star” students selected by the teaching staff.  The students design and develop customized dishes for the event only after tasting and analyzing the wine that they will be paired with.  This helps make the wine sipping and food tasting more fun, as you keep trying to figure out which dish (and team) deserves your vote.

Moroccan Spiced Waffle Cones

Moroccan Spiced Waffle Cones

We’ve been to a lot of food and wine events and bASH is phenomenal with respect to the pairing of food and wine and it is clear a LOT of thought goes into the chefs’ dishes. In the past, we’ve had Sliders, Tostadas, Cones, Crostatas, Ravioli, Croquettes, Lettuce Wraps, and even Breadsticks used as delivery methods for tasty dishes based on Beef, Pork, Lamb, Duck, Boar and a variety of vegetables.

Tickets for bASH are $90 each and that’s a pretty good price for what is basically a 30-course Chef’s Tasting Menu with wine pairings for each course. But you should move quickly before the tickets sell out. So, purchase your ticket(s) now – you won’t regret it.

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Top of the Valley: The Calistoga Food & Wine Event

Calistoga Food_Wine_LogoCome enhance your familiarity with northern Napa Valley wines at the Calistoga Food & Wine Event on April 11, 2014.  Solage Calistoga (755 North Silverado Trail, Calistoga, 707-226-0800) provides an elegant backdrop to showcase the world class wines from 30 of Calistoga’s premier wineries and the incredible food from Solbar Executive Chef Brandon Sharp, all accompanied by live music.  The event runs between 6 pm and 9 pm on the evening of the 11th and tickets are $75 per person.

This is a rare chance to enjoy many of Calistoga’s wines as you meet the families who built the foundation of the Calistoga AVA (established in January 2010) and the winemakers who make Calistoga unique.  The weather is expected to support the celebration in its inaugural year (as the high is usually around 70 degrees on this date).

Chef Brandon Sharp

Solbar Executive Chef Brandon Sharp

Chef Brandon Sharp, recipient of a coveted Michelin Star for five consecutive years at Solbar at Solage Calistoga, will host the program’s inaugural Grand Tasting event with savory small bites and live cooking stations featuring locally-grown seasonal ingredients. Chef Sharp’s signature dishes will include Grilled Pork Tenderloin al Pastor, Bruschetta of Homemade Ricotta and Delta Asparagus, and House-Cured Ham and Raclette en Presse.
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Spring Comes to Sonoma: The Sonoma International Film Festival

SIFF Rectangular LogoCome celebrate Spring by treating yourself to wine, food and a film festival in the heart of Northern California’s Wine Country.  Now in its 17th year, the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) takes place April 2-6, 2014 and will feature over 100 hand-selected films including independent features, documentaries, world cinema, shorts and a showcase of Spanish language films.  You’ll find everything on the schedule here: comedy, tragedy, drama, and even an animated macaw bird last seen in Brazil.

La Grande Bellezza posterSome of the highlights at this year’s SIFF are the opening night film Dom Hemingway (a notorious safe-cracker is back on the streets of London after 12 years in prison and tries to reconnect with his daughter), closing night film Belle (a mixed-race daughter of a British Naval officer and an African woman is taken to England to be raised as an aristocratic lady), the animated sequel Rio 2 (featuring the return of Blu and Jewel), and recent Academy Award® Winner for Best Foreign Language Film, La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) (after a man’s 65th birthday, he looks past the nightclubs and parties in Rome to find a timeless landscape of exquisite beauty).

This 5-day festival offers unforgettable cinema, world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from local vintners in downtown Sonoma.  The SIFF’s films are shown at intimate venues all within walking distance of Sonoma’s historic plaza and attendees from San Francisco can even take advantage of a free shuttle during the weekend.

Keep reading and we’ll tell you more about the films, parties, and passes at the 2014 Sonoma International Film Festival.
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Carmel Beckons: The Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest

Relais & Chateaux GourmetFest LogoWhen was the last time you were in the quaint coastal village of Carmel?   Given its charm, you probably don’t need another reason to travel (or return) here but Lufthansa First Class has decided to give you one anyway with GourmetFest 2014, an international food and wine festival featuring the talents of Relais & Châteaux Chefs from around the world.  It’s just a few weeks away, but luckily there are still tickets available.

Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest takes place March 27-30, 2014 and festival activities center around L’Auberge Carmel, La Playa Carmel, and the Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.  Attendees can choose between cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, off-site tour and lunch excursions, a wild mushroom hunt, a caviar seminar, and world-class dinners.  Celebrating the 60th anniversary of Relais & Châteaux, GourmetFest also offers an Opening Night Party, a Bordeaux-centric Dinner and a Seafood Grill with Champagne Tasting.

Justin Cogley

Justin Cogley, Grand Chef at L’Auberge Carmel

This inaugural event will feature 50 Chefs and Winemakers from around the world including Kale Anderson (Pahlmeyer), William Bradley (Addison), Véronique Drouhin (Maison Joseph Drouhin), Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood), Jean Michel Lorain (La Côte Saint Jacques), Patrick O’Connell (The Inn at Little Washington), Rajat Parr (Sandhi), Gary Pisoni (Pisoni Vineyards), Joachim Splichal (Patina), and Michael Tusk (Quince).

Keep reading for more information on festival activities, ticket prices, and auction items up for bid as a fundraiser for valuable non-profit organizations.
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Recommendations from the 2014 World of Pinot Noir

World of Pinot Noir GlassesEach year, attendees at the World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) come expecting gorgeous California weather, delicious gourmet food, and copious amounts of high quality Pinot Noirs.  This year?  Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

California is facing its worst drought situation in decades and winegrowers and wine lovers alike welcome any rain that comes our way.  That graciousness was tested a little when the 2014 World of Pinot Noir took place last weekend at the same time a rainstorm in Southern California delivered about 5” in rainfall.  So, the “Grand Tastings By The Sea” morphed into “Grand Tastings in Bacara’s Hotel Ballroom,” and with over 200 wineries present there were abundant quantities of premium wines available for adaptable and only slightly damp attendees.

Bacara Resort

Bacara Resort & Spa, site of the 2014 World of Pinot Noir

Each year at this event, we have the opportunity to taste the latest wines from old favorites (Alma Rosa, Freeman, Merry Edwards, Robert Sinskey and Soter) as we seek out new discoveries (at least, to us).  Our new favorites  from this year’s WOPN include AbiounessPatton Valley, Trombetta and Wren Hop.  Keep reading and we’ll tell you all of our favorite wines (and food bites) at the 2014 World of Pinot Noir.

By the way, if you’re looking for opportunities to revel in this varietal yourself, please go here to see our list of Pinot Noir-centric events in 2014 across the United States which could give you that last push to make travel plans to Los Angeles, Chicago, Sonoma County, or the Willamette Valley this year.
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Taste of the Nation San Francisco: Fun and Fundraising

Taste of the Nation SF LogoFoodies and funseekers should make their travel plans now for San Francisco in order to attend Taste of the Nation San Francisco featuring local favorites such as A16, Boulevard, Frances, Jardinière, and Quince on Thursday, March 27.  This delightful event and fundraiser will feature the San Francisco Bay Area’s best chefs, vintners, distillers, and brewers coming together to help support Share Our Strength’s goal of ending childhood hunger in the United States.

With over 50 restaurant and beverage companies participating and a Silent Auction offering fun and entertainment, you’re sure to enjoy yourself between 6:30 and 9:30 pm at City View @ Metreon (135 Fourth Street, San Francisco).  So come taste some of San Francisco’s finest dishes and pair them with the wine, beer, or cocktail of your choice.

A16 Restaurant LogoRestaurants and Chefs who will be present at Taste of the Nation San Francisco include A16 (Christopher Thompson), The Abbot’s Cellar (Adam Dulye), b. patisserie (Belinda Leong), Barbacco Eno Trattoria (Nick Kelly), Boulevard (Nancy Oakes & Dana Younkin), Bourbon Steak (Omri Aflalo), Campton Place (Srijith Gopinathan), The Cavalier (Jennifer Puccio), flour + water (Thomas McNaughton), Commonwealth (Jason Fox), Dosa (Anjan Mitra), Fifth Floor (David Bazirgan), Foreign Cinema (Gayle Pirie & John Clark), Frances (Melissa Perello), Gitane (Alicia Jenish), Jardinière (Traci Des Jardins), Prospect (Pam Mazzola), Quince (Michael Tusk), Spruce (Mark Sullivan & John Madriaga), Tacolicious (Telmo Faria), Waterbar (Parke Ulrich) and Wayfare Tavern (Tyler Florence). 

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Petite Sirah, We Loved You: Favorites at the 2014 Dark & Delicious

What the Cake?

An adorable (and delicious) cake from What the Cake?

Last Friday, we had fun celebrating a single varietal at the Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah™ event when it showcased Petite Sirahs during another outstanding wine and food experience.  After enjoying tastes from over 70 wineries, restaurants, caterers, and food purveyors, we ended the evening happy and satiated (and not coincidentally, quite full). Even better, part of the Silent Auction proceeds will go to further promote this delicious varietal to a wider audience.

We will let you know which wines were our favorites, in case you want to do some research, tasting, and purchasing on your own.  If you aren’t that familiar with Petite Sirah, please use the list below to guide your introduction.  We’ll also tell you which Bay Area food purveyors made our taste buds the happiest at the event.
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