29 July, 2016

Glorious Bites Appetizer Challenge - Win $5000

Oysters a la Brooke
I am here at the International Food Blogger Conference learning about all things food and blogging.  It's so much fun to meet all kinds of fascinating fellow bloggers!

Here is a public service announcement for all you food stylists on a cool opportunity to win:

Put together one beautiful perfect bite.
Write your recipe so it inspires salivation and tempts taste buds. 
Make sure it pairs with Gloria Ferrer Sparkling wine.

Last year, one of the hosts was Brooke Williamson, a Top Chef Finalist and overall kitchen badass.  I got to try her oysters a la Brooke that paired the citrus effervescence of Gloria Ferrer with salty chorizo and briny oysters.  So delicious. Truly a glorious bite!

Details on entering here Click here for more details

Brooke in action

28 July, 2016

Arnaud Saget on Saget-La Perriere: Wines for All Seasons

Photo Credit Saget -Laperriere

Arnaud Saget, General Manager for Saget - La Perrière has experienced the world in the context of wine in a way that is informative  and delicious.  Speaking as eloquently on "chimerized marl", the vagaries of by-the-glass programs, marketing and AOC cheese, the conversation was as inspiring as the wine is delicious. His background, from University in Burgundy to working in Ireland, as well as his experience working with his family's business sparked the conversation.  Arnaud's passion for marketing and wine draws from a spirit of hospitality marinated in tradition,

At $11.99 this Suavignon Blanc is for ll seasons
For nine generations, the Saget family has worked to bring wines of the Loire Valley to life and to your table.  They grow fruit as well as contract with growers to foster relationships that results in tasty wines at many price points.  Their explorations even include creative cellaring practices of aging Sauvignon Blanc ten meters deep to see if the silent depths would enhance the flavors.  Spoiler alert: it does.

Arnaud's parents had a contemporary vision of how to arrange their efforts to produce wines of consistency and excellence across price points.  Leveraging the Vin de France designation, they further this philosophy by working with growers to maintain consistency and supply as well as deliver great value to consumers.

Deliciousness counts.  The La Petite Perriere line of wines brings the consistent sourcing and textures of the Languedoc region to blend with fruit from the Loire Valley, which alone can get too grassy. The Vin de France  designation rules on labelling make it easier for non-French consumers by using varietal names. The Saget family's deft hand with vinification makes it even easier to love.  What is value without great taste?
The rose of Pinot Noir has a smooth summery taste with floral notes and is the most beautiful shade of pink.  The Sauvignon Blanc had a lovely texture and was an amazing match with oysters.  I was amazed by the value these bottles provided.  The average retail price is about $13. Wine.com will bring it to you for only $11.99

Muscadet with Oysters
Brixchicks have always loved the Flagship Saget product.  You can read Xandria's take on the 2011 Pouilly Fume here  le-domaine-saget-pouilly-fume. Arnuad spoke of the soil and geology that goes into producing the wine.,  The 2012 was a bright lemon yellow with rich leesy notes and strong minerality .  The texture was smooth.  It was lovely to revisit a favorite wine with "director's Notes" from the producer.

I also flipped over  two of the other wines.  Saget purchased the Loiret Frères Company located in Le Pallet, in the heart of the Muscadet Sèvre & Maine AOC. They now offer this 100% Melon de Bourgogne based wine.  With a lovely texture and amazing aromas of tree fruit and white flowers I slurped this lush treat with oysters.

100 % Cabernet Franc Chinon
My favorite red wine was the Marie de Beauregard Chinon 2014.  Cabernet Franc grapes are coaxed into this luscious wine.  The winemaker takes care to avoid vegetal notes.  The finished wine has perfumey notes of vanilla and ambergris along with touches of berry and eucalyptus.  It was a delicious complex wine.

I also loved hearing the story of the family and they way they work to produce and market these wonderful wines.  Arnaud's passion for wine, marketing and quality made for a fun way to learn about the Loire and French wine in the best way possible: through the flavors.

Best of all, these wines are perfect for any time of year, which is convenient here in the Bay area, when the weather cannot decide if it will be hot or cold.  These wines go with both.

Many thanks to Pasternak Imports and Saget-LaPerriere for hosting me at lunch.
Saget La Perriere wines, Arnaud Saget and a delicious fun lunch

05 July, 2016

Armchair Travel to Greece via the Wines of Ktima Gerovassiliou and Cuisine of Kokkari

Kokkari's spit roasted meat
Maybe a Greek vacation isn't in the cards for your 2016.  You can still armchair travel via a bottle of amazing authentic wine.  Even better, if you can pair that wine with food that matches.  Both in flavors and sensibility, food and wine can transport you safely and conveniently, if you know where to go.

Recently, I was lucky enough to be a guest of  Ktima Gerovassiliou as they poured their new releases at the wonderful  Greek restaurant Kokkari in San Francisco.

"Ktima" means "estate" in Greek.  This 138 acre parcel in the north of Greece close to Thessalonika at the edge of the Epanomi region  is where they grow fruit to vinify delicious wines.  To fully armchair travel, imagine yourself on these sandy clay slopes with a view of bird-rich wetlands on one side, the Aegean on two sides and facing Mt. Olympus.  The maritime effect as well as mild climate are ideally suited to growing grapes, with that tricky alchemy of balancing ripeness and acidity.  They make it look easy

Thrass Giantsidis, whose smile is a welcoming as Greek sunshine and whose handshake is definitely farm strong,  headed up a team to showcase their wine and also highlight how food friendly these offerings are.  No better setting than Kokkari in San Francisco' s FiDi, to feel transported to the Mediterranean.  Bonus: no interaction with the TSA.

Estate White/Ktima Gerovaissiliou
We started with an array of Greek appetizers and Greek wines.   2014 Ktima Gerovassiliou Malagousia expressed floral notes in its aromas and a touch of salinity on the palate, which I loved.

The next wine was the  Ktima Gerovaissiliou 2014 Estate White ($24).  This blend of 50% Malagousia and 50% Assyrtico has aromas of white flowers and exotic citrus that burst from the glass. It had refreshing acidity and smooth texture with its lemony flavors and finish.  Kokkari served it with taramasalata, which is a Greek meze of carp roe , olive oil, lemon and a starchy base that when blended becomes a creamy, briny delight. With lemon as the bridge ingredient and acidity contrasting with the creamy texture, this was a delicious and harmonious pair.  I could not get enough. This wine is available at K&L Wine Merchants in SF for $23.99

Avaton/Ktima Gerovaissiliou
I have a confession: Lamb is not my favorite thing.  I always try it and usually do not enjoy it.  However at Kokkari, the lamb is of exquisite quality, as mild as authentic Grecian lamb and purveyed whole.  After dry aging, the meat is prepared in wood fire, which produces delicious results.  More delicious to me, when paired with the luscious Ktima Gerovasilliou "Avaton" ($60).   This red blend is made with 50% Limnio, 25% Mavrotragano & 20% Mavroudi, which are all red Greek grapes.

 Limnio is credited with being the oldest Greek variety as it was mentioned in the works of Aristotle.  Flavor this delicious is how things get to be classics.  Definitley a great match for the grilled and smoky lamb, this plush wine had wonderful complexity with flavors of plums, earth, tobacco and also firm tannins to make the overall body match.  Separately, these varieties can be harsh. But when blended together and carefully co-fermented in large foudres, the result is a pleasing blend and a natural match for grilled meat, especially lamb.  I love it when experimentation works.

You can try for yourself as this is available at Craft beer and Wine in Alameda.  We met the owner and can vouch for his authentic love of Greek wine.

So when vacation envy of my friends that *did* manage to get to Greece this year sets in, I know I have a place to go where the food is authentic.  And for my home cook stylings, great wines to grace my table and invoke a sense of a classically beautiful and delicious place: Ktima Gerovassiliou

Many thanks to the Ktima Gerovassiliou team and to Feast PR for the invite and dinner