Archive for April, 2010

Orfila Vineyards & Winery

April 24, 2010

I may not live in California’s “wine country,” but San Diego is definitely not lacking when it comes to wine.  Last week I visited Orfila Vineyards & Winery for the first time and was blown away by the magnificent views from the winery—it was like something straight out of a fairy tale.  Or maybe it was just a fairy tale to me because my dreams involve someday working for a winery ;).  Either way, it wasn’t hard to appreciate the beauty.  Orfila is located in Escondido, California on top of beautiful rolling hills with a lovely view of mountains in the background.

This has already gone on my list of “top picks” for places I would like to get married!  Orfila happens to do a lot of weddings right in front of their vineyard and they also have a huge outdoor tent for receptions.  Seriously, it’s the perfect spot for anyone who wants a romantic outdoor wine-themed wedding.

Apart from weddings, they have an amazing selection of wines.  While they happen to offer all your basic varietals, they specifically grow traditional Rhone varietals.  The reason for this is because the climate in Rhone is most similar to our own.  Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Viognier show their highest expression when grown in a maritime climate like the one offered in the San Pasqual Valley, just 15 miles from the coast.

I tried their Merlots and their Syrahs, (yes they have multiples of each), but what I was really blown away by was their white wines.  Now, I may have mentioned on here before that I started out as primarily a dry red wine drinker, but as I began taking wine classes my tastes evolved and I began to appreciate more white wines as a result. I have been especially obsessed with finding buttery Chardonnays that are maloactic fermented.

What exactly does this mean? Well, a lot of times the way a grape is grown will affect the taste of the wine, but there are also wine-making techniques that can enhance and add flavors to wine.  Maloactic fermentation involves stirring in the dead yeast cells leftover from fermentation, called lees, into the wine to add savory flavors of dairy, butter and cream.  These wines take on a whole different flavor profile and are much different than your oaky or fruit-forward Chardonnays.

Orfila’s 2007 Ambassador’s Reserve Chardonnay is the perfect example of what an ML Chard should taste like.  Additionally it is aged in French oak, giving it toasty and vanilla flavors.  I highly recommend it! 🙂

Orfila is also well known for their Estate Viognier.  Now, I have never been a huge fan of Viognier but I was definitely converted after trying theirs.  It’s amazing how you can try a varietal several times, but until you try a bottle where the winemaker truly captures the grape and balances the flavors just right, you may never know it’s potential.  With just the right balance of crispness and fruit, Orfila’s Estate Viognier is the perfect summer white—not too sweet, but not too dry.  Also aged in French oak barrels, it develops flavors of vanilla in addition to it’s cirtus and floral notes.

Last but not least, I really enjoyed Orfila’s California Tawny Port.  It is by far some of the best Port I have ever had.  With flavors of raisins, caramel, licorice and orange, it pairs perfectly with the dark chocolate they serve with it.  I liked it so much I had to buy a bottle which I am waiting to open for a future blog!  I bought some Stilton cheese the other day at Trader Joe’s that goes perfect with Port—I cannot WAIT to dig in!

So, for $10 I was given 6 different tastes of wine and a souvenir wine glass, in addition to the $18 bottle of Port I brought home.  I give this place two thumbs up.  Get out there now—go drink vino!

Cheers,

Jess

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Rhythm and Vine Music & Wine Festival

April 19, 2010

Music @ Rhythm & Vine

I went to last night’s Rhythm and Vine, a music and wine festival in Escondido, California that benefits the Girls and Boys Club.  Rhythm and Vine is put on by Fast Forward Events, the event company that I interned for last semester when I helped out with the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.  It’s such a small world!  Anyway, I was there last night helping out my mentor, Lindsay Pomeroy of Wine Smarties, who was brought on to host a segment for Taste of Wine TV.

We basically got to go around and handpick restaurants, wineries, breweries, and spirit purveyors we thought would have the most compelling stories and bring them back to our booth for Lindsay to interview on camera.  Among the various exhibitors, we spoke with Fallbrook Winery, Orfila Vineyards & Winery, Cupcake Love, St. Petersburg Russian Vodka, La Jolla Pub & Brew House, and PaQui Tequila.

It was interesting to be on the other side of the fence as an exhibitor.  I got to spread my wings a little and experience the event as an attendee would.  I had so much fun that I didn’t get any pictures despite bringing my camera :(… but I still have my memories!

This event was much smaller than the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, but I think as a spectator some people may prefer it if they are looking to avoid big crowds and long lines.  Despite the size, I feel like this event still had a lot to offer in terms of wine.  Many of the wineries participating at this event were also a part of the SDBWFF so in terms of quality, you were getting a lot of the same great wines but on a much smaller and local scale.

I was really impressed with Fallbrook Winery‘s 2007 33 Degree North BDX.  This is their first wine made entirely from grapes grown on their Estate.  67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 8% Cabernet France and 100% delicious, it mimics the qualities of a red Bordeaux—smooth and enticing, it definitely leaves you wanting more.

Another favorite wine came from Ryan-Jake Cellars, a vineyard that grows and produces their wines up in Napa Valley.  I really enjoyed their 2007 3.SUM.  Strange name, but great taste!  Also a blend, this time of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Syrah and Zin.  They describe this wine as full-bodied and “packed with flavors of cherry, rhubarb, caramel and blackberry preserves, with undertones of cocoa and spice.”  Their 2007 Viogner was also quite delicious, but it was definitely not a match when compared to Orfila‘s Estate Viognier.

The emphasis at this event was definitely not on food.  SDBWFF is jam packed with amazing chefs from all over the San Diego fine dining restaurant scene, whereas the food at this event consisted of many more casual dining restaurants with a few big names like Harney Sushi and the Winesellar & Brasserie.  I enjoyed the lasagna of Lady Lasagna (San Diego), they had both a tomato and pesto lasagna that were delish.

Also the ladies of Hotcha Salsa (Carlsbad) were so cool—they gave me TWO free containers of salsa.  Their hot salsa is made with cucumbers, which I normally hate, but it was actually quite tasty.

Mmm... Hotcha!

And I can’t forget The Chocolate Traveler (Pasedena) for hooking me up with a free sample of their milk chocolate wedges… yum!

Milk chocolatey goodness!

In addition to wine, I got to try a variety of delicious beers.  Firestone Walker Brewing Company came down from Paso Robles to show off their beers which have won numerous accolades in world competitions.  I was blown away by their Double Barrel Ale, which is actually aged in oak barrels like a wine, leaving hints of vanilla and toasted oak on your palette.  I definitely recommend picking up a case of the DBA at your local Vons.  Another favorite came from North Coast Brewing Company (Fort Bragg, CA).  With 9% ABV, their Old Rasputin Imperial Stout punches you in the face with flavors of espresso and chocolate.  It was quite possibly one of the BEST stouts I have ever tried.  I’m going to have to keep my eye out for that one and see if it’s offered locally!

All and all this was a great event that I’d highly recommend to anyone with the money to attend.  With tickets at $75 (advance) – $100 (at the door) it can be a little pricey, but if you have the funds it’s a wonderful way to spend an evening while giving back to the community.

Cheers,

Jess

Crepe making 101 with “Chef” Nate!

April 5, 2010

My roommate Nate has been talking up his crepe making skills for awhile now.  All talk and no game, right?  Well, last Saturday I finally got to try his famous crepes and they were ridiculously good!  Nate was very kind to share his recipe with me and to demonstrate how to make crepes step-by-step.  Anyway, I will let the pictures speak for themselves… 🙂

First thing’s first… COFFEE!

Chef Nate

Didn’t you know coffee is the most important ingredient for any good recipe?  (Especially Starbucks coffee!)  Load yourself up on caffeine before you get started because you are going to need to pay very close attention to the rest of these instructions!

Dry Ingredients

First you will need to gather your dry ingredients and mix them together in a large bowl.  1 cup of flour, 1/8 of tsp salt, and 2 tsp of sugar.

Next gather up your liquid ingredients.  You’ll need 1/3 cup of water, 3/4 cup of milk, 4 tbsp of melted butter, 4 tbsp of brandy, and 3 eggs (1 egg, 2 whites).

Mmmmmmm… brandy!

Quick fact: Did you know that brandy is made from wine?  The difference between brandy and wine is that brandy undergoes a distillation process which concentrates the alcohol, turning fermented wine into what we know as brandy.

Next you want to add your liquid ingredients in this order:


Add water & milk, then mix!

Add butter & mix!

Add brandy & mix!

Add eggs & mix!

My roomie was feeling lazy and didn’t want to separate the egg yolks at the time, but you definitely want to make sure you use 1 egg and 2 egg whites otherwise the flavor will be a little off and the crepes will taste more “egg-y”.

After all the mixing is said and done, you want to coat your skillet with butter spray and scoop a generous portion of the batter into your ladle, pouring it into your skillet in a circular motion (think of a clock).  Cook on one side until the crepe begins to form and flip to cook on the other side using your spatula or do it Nate’s way by using your fingers.  Using your fingers will give you more control so the crepe doesn’t break.

Your finished product should look something like this!

That’s basically it.  The best part is getting creative and adding all of your toppings!  The sky is the limit when it comes to crepes!

I got a little excited and dug into my first crepe before taking pictures!  WHOOPS!  You can’t go wrong with Nutella and bananas 😉

Anyway… This is what a proper crepe should look like!

But I almost forgot the most important thing…

COFFEE!  Crepes and coffee make great companions.

And remember ambiance is everything!  Nate picked up some lovely flowers for our crepe extravaganza but you could just as easily use fake flowers, a candle, or nice dishware to jazz up your kitchen table!

Good luck everyone and let me know how your crepes turn out!

Cheers,

Jess