21 November, 2016

Discovering More to #SeeEatLove in Oakland

See. Eat. Love  offers  you a fun way to get to know Oakland in  the most delicious way possible: through food, beverage and the companionship of kindred spirits.

For the past the two years since leaving a corporate marketing job,  owner,  Raquel Navarro has been refining the walking tour experience.  Today, she showcases three Oakland neighborhoods and brings forward all her wonderful discoveries in a delicious and fun three hour package.

The East Bay Wine Posse (@thegourmez, @wineharlots, @sftownie and @brixchik_Xan) was lucky enough to try out the Oakland Warehouse District Walking tour,   With all the planning taken care of, we were free to taste, learn and laugh our way through discovery

Our meeting place was Dashe Cellars, This Oakland wine production facility and tasting room was started by Anne and Mike Dashe. Both are winemakers and their logo shows the nexus of their different sides.
Anne and Mike via Fish and Primate

Anne, who studied at the University of Bordeaux, is from Brittany, while Mike is from Tarzana, CA.  Represented by the fish and the primate, their styles mesh in some interesting wines.  2013 saw their first production of Grenache Blanc. We detected the notes of oxidation and learned that Grenache Blanc had a tendency towards this.  The inaugural vintage was unfined and unfiltered and the grapes were allowed to express themselves with exuberance, which resulted in aromas of apple pie with a gamy note, along with tropical fruit and an astringent kick to the midpalate.

My favorite wine of the day was the 2015  Les Enfants Terrible Zinfandel from Heart Arrow Ranch. Mendocino fruit is coaxed into a balanced wine with fruit, minerality and complexity.  Carbonic maceration as well as time in neutral oak brings up delicious, almost delicate, Zin. We tried the wines with an assortment of well paired cheeses that complemented the wines.  This was the first course of our progressive lunch.  The opportunity to taste through the offerings with the knowledgeable staff helped me come away with a much deeper experience of Dashe Cellars than on previous visits.  Like The Terminator, "I'll be back".

Our next  stop was nearby Urban Legends Winery. They poured a nice Carneros Chardonnay, which paired well with the
Javi's Empanadas.  This modern tasting room is set up to help you learn while you taste.  Urban Legends does some interesting blends, so tasting through unfamiliar combinations is encouraged.  Relax and enjoy the experience.  Relaxation among other patrons may have been pierced by our squeals of delight when we heard Javi's  Emapanadas filled the main course slot of our progressive lunch.  Javier Sandes, Javi, perfected the tender crust and sumptuous filling in his miraculous empanadas.  I had a Ham and Cheese with salty meat and a rich sauce of gooey mozzarella and savory Fontina.  The  Pork was paired with chunks of pineapple and spices.  Rabbit, Mushroom and Classic ground beef are other flavors.  You can order online, chase the food truck or have frozen empanadas shipped to you.  As the holidays approach, who couldn't use a crowd pleasing hit readily in the freezer?  Warning:  the juicy fillings will try to catch a ride on whatever you are wearing. With volume as an indicator of enjoyment, our tour was leveling up at this modern spot.  Growlers adorned with Oakland sights were a favorite souvenir.

Not admitting saying we were wobbling more than walking towards our third and final spot, Jeff Cohn Cellars but when our happy band of food explorers entered, we were warm and giggly and ready to try these wines.  The winery specializes in Rhone varieties.  I loved the fresh, floral taste of the Viognier, Stagecoach Vineyard, Atlas Peak, Napa, CA.  A collaboration with Yves Gangloff from Condrieu, getting to taste a local version of French favorite was fun.  We also enjoyed some lovely Zinfandels from the Shake Ridge in Amador County.  Dense and lovely, lit with the juiciness of Amador County it reminded me I need to go back.  And of course, ending our lunch with a dessert of We The Minis was a spectacular way to end the progression.  We the Minis not only produce delicious, toothsome macarons, powered from within by intense flavors in this case the succulent cinnamon of Churros, but they also donate 5% of their profits the end family homelessness.  Whenever I can eat well and do good at the same time I am all in.  And best of all, these macarons were insanely tasty. My teeth broke a subtle crunch, that was followed by an explosion of creamy cinnamon flavors calling back a churro, while I celebrated all that is delicious with macarons.  How perfect an ending can you get?

The warm feeling inside was intense satisfaction in my hometown of Oakland as well as an appreciation for the good taste and organization of Raquel Navarro.  As the holiday season gears up and you are looking  for something fun to do, make time for a walking tour and take time to See, Eat and Love Oakland.  You get a little exercise, time with your friends and a new (or renewed) appreciation of the delicious East Bay Food scene.

For information on how to book a tour click here

Many thanks to Raquel Navarro and See. Eat. Love for gifting us this tour.  

04 November, 2016

Congratulations, Chicago! Go, Cubs! And Go Drumbar! #CocktailsandChill

Photo Credit Murway-Drumbar
If you're in Chicago and you are celebrating (who isn't?), Drumbar has just announced the launch of their fall cocktail menu, #CocktailsandChill. With cool, clubby furniture and a plethora of delicious cocktails, they channel the best of speakeasy spirit.   Tempt yourself by reviewing their full menu here Caution: the whimsical mixology  will make you want to run to the rooftop bar atop Chicago's luxe  Raffaello Hotel.  Happy hour is 8pm - 10pm.

With "Game of Thrones", on extended hiatus, my new heroine is Whitney Morrow,  Drumbar's beverage manager, who, with the Drumbar team, developed a range of cocktails based on various Netflix shows. 

Genius.   Inspired by Chicago’s upcoming winter hibernation and unavoidable Netflix binging, they ranked each cocktail on a five star scale from chill to boozy, with five stars being the most alcohol-infused. Additionally, each beverage reflects its corresponding show either in personality or in appearance.

My favorite binge-worthy show, Orange is the New Black,  represents with a  bright orange cocktail made with Rhine Hall Mango Brandy,  lemon,  salted sweet potato syrup and Grand Marnier. 

Thai Bitters give this drink a hot and tangy flavor, which contrasts with its fall-spice top notes.

Drumbar was kind enough to share the recipe below:

Orange Is The New Black Recipe

.75 oz Rhine Hall Mango Brandy
.5 oz grand mariner
1 oz salted sweet potato syrup
.75 oz lemon juice 
Dash angostura bitters
Dash Thai spice bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin (aka cocktail shaker), shake and then strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice. 

Rhine Hall is a distillery located right in Downtown Chicago.  Small batches  of fruit brandies made with quality ingredients are the hallmark of the brand.  

It sounded so delicious I gave recreating it a shot and was delighted.  I paired it with a show called "The Code" and some Pumpkin Spice Mochi.  Hibernation comes naturally to me---especially after a couple of these boozy treats.  The sweet potato gave it a roundness, the spice and heat piqued my taste buds and my housemade mango-whiskey elixir was Taystee.

As the season for celebrating gets underway for everyone, not just Cubs fans,  sharing a cocktail and an episode or two (or four) with friends who finally have time, is a great way to make an event out of a rainy Wednesday.  Many thanks to Drumbar for the inspiration, recipes and invitation to experience these cocktails by your crackling fire.  I might just take you up on it!

02 November, 2016

Boozy Frozen Sabayon

Frozen Sabayon paired with Dessert Wine

When I have people over, I love making home made ice cream.  It's easy to make in advance and adds a special touch.  I can try exotic options like Rose Petal, Heritage Peach, Dried Cherry and Port, the list goes on.

My go-to ice cream base takes two days to make, what with the custard making, base chilling, etc, so I  experimented with a quicker recipe that lets me go from cravings to savorings in about an hour.

The hardest step of this recipe is tempering the eggs, which requires beating the yolks over a double boiler enough to make them safe but taking care to prevent scrambling.  This step is a pain but necessary as home made ice cream can present a Salmonella risk otherwise.  More about that here

At this summer's International Food Blogger Conference, I met the great team from Davidson's Safest Choice Eggs.  Their wonderful product makes my recipe easier, safer and faster. Now I have more time to come up with cool flavors.  One of my favorites is adding a white dessert wine and Tawny port, so a natural food pair is made when you serve the dessert with the remaining wine.  The alcohol helps keep the texture of the gelato super soft

Frozen Sabayon
6 Davidson's Safest Choice Egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar separated into 2 tbs and 4 tbs
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (separated)  sweet white dessert wine like Sauternes or Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
1 tbsp tawny port (you could also use an orange liqueur if you want to bring up orange notes)
1 tsp finely chopped orange zest
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Beat 6 eggs yolks with 2 tbs sugar with an electric mixer until the mixture is pale yellow and very thick...about 4-5 minutes. Whisking vigorously with a wire whisk, add the 1/4 cup of wine  into the egg yolk. Then add, the orange zest and the remaining wine as well as the port.  Add the liquor slowly while whisking continuously.  When the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon it is done.

In separate bowl, whip cream into soft peaks. Add remaining sugar and continue beating until well mixed but stop before the cream gets too stiff or turns to butter. Once sugar is mixed in, fold in sabayon. Once the two mixtures are loosely incorporated, pour into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturers direction. I usually take it out of the ice cream maker at a soft stage and place it in a freezer container to set.  The texture will be softer than commercial ice cream.

Use the leftover Davidson's Safest Choice Egg whites to make meringues.  For an exotic flavor already in your pantry flavored them with Cracked Black Pepper.  These are easy, fun treats and you can have 100% confidence they are as safe as they are tasty.

I am posting this as an entry for a Davidson's Safest Choice Egg recipe contest that has a $4,000 prize, but I already feel like a winner with even more food safety and time savings when I make my boozy gelati!