Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Taste Of Camarillo 2015 Preview

I’m planning to go to my fourth A Taste Of Camarillo this year. Both the Wine Auction Gala and the Festival are always a good time. The selection of wine, food, and beer at the festival is impressive and the music always keeps it lively. Many of the winemakers, brewers and chefs are available to learn first-hand about their goods.
This year the entertainment theme is Celebrating Our Troops and the atmosphere and entertainment will be a throwback to the big band era and earlier times. Famous comedians Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and Red Skelton will be brought to life once again by Lynn Win Roberts. Lynn will perform a quick preview of his act on Saturday at the Gala and then perform as all three comedians (probably not at the same time though) at the Festival on Sunday.  
Jon Stanger's Jazz Trio will be playing on Saturday at the Gala. The trio includes Jon Stanger on saxophone, Kevin O’Neal on piano and Donnell Lambert on upright bass. They will play a medley of the Armed Forces tunes as well as other music.
Dan DeLurgio's band is scheduled to perform on Sunday and they will be covering the 40's war/big band era through the 60's classic rock/Vietnam era.
ATOC Silent Auction 2014
The Live Wine Auction (in addition to Silent Auction items) at the Gala will be a Tom & Sandy production, so it should be entertaining and fun.  The Silent Auction at the Festival will have entertainment items, like tickets to San Francisco's Pier 39, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Magic Castle. Additionally, there will restaurant gift certificates, jewelry and gardening accessories.

Herzog Wine Cellars will be the official festival winery this year and many other wineries, breweries and food purveyors will be providing samples while you shop for awesome deals at the Silent Auction. 

It looks like there will be a lot of wine, beer and food to sample on Sunday at the Festival! I'm looking forward to the opportunity to try new wines, new brews and tasty food samples.


Buy your tickets online at, print them at home, and enjoy your weekend in Camarillo. See you there!

Email, Like, or Tweet Taste N Trip... 
Twitter: @TasteNTrip

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Santa Barbara Wine Festival 2015

I enjoyed the wine festival at the Museum of Natural History in Santa Barbara recently. It was held along Mission Creek behind the museum in a rustic area during a slightly overcast day. Perfect weather after recent heat waves, and it finished with a few sprinkles of rain just as the festival ended! Perfect for a drought-stricken state, but not really enough rain for the flowers or even enough to rinse your wine glass.
In addition to the winemakers from Santa Barbara County and beyond, I always see lots of friends at this festival, which makes it an even better occasion. 

Starting at the southwest part of Mission Creek I followed it back to the museum, as I do every year. The route northeast back across the bridge over the creek to the museum isn't a very long walk, but it can take three hours if you're tasting wine and enjoying plenty of great food along the way!

I managed to start out tasting just white wines, but I couldn't resist the great reds so I doubled back before I got very far along.
I enjoyed the following six white wines best (out of the 14 I tasted):
  • 2013 Dierberg Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, Dierberg Vineyard 
  • 2013 Jaffurs Viognier, Santa Barbara County, Bien Nacido Vineyard
  • 2013 Tablas Creek Vineyard Côtes de Tablas Blanc (Traditional blend of white Rhône varietals: 39% Viognier, 29% Grenache Blanc, 20% Marsanne, 12% Roussanne)
  • 2013 Melville Chardonnay, Estate - Sta. Rita Hills
  • 2013 Brewer-Clifton Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills
  • 2014 Tercero Albariño, C5 Vineyard
These were all very good as well:
  • 2012 Rancho Sisquoc Chardonnay, Santa Barbera County
  • 2014 Larner Malvasia Bianca, Ballard Canyon
  • 2013 Ken Brown Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, Vogelzang Vineyard
  • 2012 Brewer-Clifton 3-D Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills
  • 2012 Fiddlehead Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
  • 2014 Tatomer Meeresboden Grüner Veltliner, Santa Barbara County
  • 2013 Babcock “Top Cream” Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills
  • 2013 Sunstone Vineyards & Winery Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County. An interesting blend of 84% Chardonnay, Goodchild Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, 12% Grenache Blanc, El Camino Real Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, 2% Viognier, Verna's Vineyard, Los Alamos, and 2% Marsanne, Buttonwood Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley.
I enjoyed the following seven red wines best (out of the 24 I tasted):
  • 2010 Larner Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
  • 2010 Larner Elemental GSM
  • 2011 Jaffurs Syrah, Santa Barbara County
  • 2013 Falcone Family Vineyards Syrah, Paso Robles
  • 2011 Fiddlehead Cellars Seven Twenty Eight Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Fiddlestix
  • 2012 Area 5.1 Celestial (65% Merlot, 25% Pinot Noir, 10% Petite Sirah).
  • 2010 Tercero Syrah, White Hawk Vineyard
These were all very good as well:
  • 2009 Feliz Noche Mi Pasión, Santa Barbara County Red Wine (Tempranillo, Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sangiovese)
  • 2011 Falcone Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, Mia’s Vineyard
  • 2013 Palmina Dolcetto, Santa Ynez Valley
  • 2012 Grassini Family Vineyards Equipo Red Wine, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
  • 2008 Mosby Seduzione, Central Coast, Lagrein. Lagrein is an ancient grape variety that was originally grown in northeastern Italy.
  • 2013 Andrew Murray Roasted Slope. Blend of co-fermented Syrah and Viognier.
  • 2013 Margerum Wine Company M5. Chateauneuf-du-Pape style blend using five grape varieties from Santa Barbara County: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Counoise, and Cinsault. The “M” is for Margerum and “5” is for the five grapes used.
  • 2012 Blair Fox Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Happy Canyon Vineyard
  • 2013 Municipal Winemakers Dark Red
  • 2012 Brander Vineyard Merlot, Mesa Verde Vineyard
  • 2012 Point Conception Pinot Noir, Solomon Pico, Santa Maria Valley
  • 2012 Qupé Syrah, Santa Barbara County
  • 2008 Clendenen Family Vineyards, “The Pip” Nebbiolo, Bien Nacido Vineyard
  • 2011 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir, Mt. Eden Clone, El Jabalí Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills
  • 2013 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
  • 2012 Beckmen Syrah, Ballard Canyon, Purisma Mountain Vineyard
  • 2009 Alexander and Wayne Cuvee P (78% Merlot & 22% Petit Verdot).
This year the food selection was extensive and there were more  restaurants and caterers than the sixteen I photographed. My favorites were the savory ones:
  • Michael’s Catering - Chef Michael Hutchings served Braised Short Rib Meatballs with poor man’s truffles and pinot demi glace, plus Porcini Mashed Potatoes.
  • San Ysidro Ranch
  • Tartisan handcrafted artisanal pastries that are sweet or savory. The Lamb pastry was great.
  • The Funk Zone Patio, The Cutting Room. The pulled pork BBQ was very good.
Some of the other tasty selections were from:
  • Arch Rock, Santa Barbara
  • Barbareno Central Coast Cuisine
  • Bob’s Bread, Los Olivos
  • C’est Cheese, Santa Barbara
  • Cinnies 100% Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
  • Coveted Cakery
  • Larry's Loaves (along with Tercero wines, of course)
  • Omni Catering and Events - Creamy Polenta with Italian Braised Pork
  • Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro
  • Santa Barbara Tamales-To-Go - Prepared and served by Richard Lambert & Lola Paredes
  • The Berry Man, Inc.

Devon,  Leslie,  Tricia
Not everyone has the same taste and style preferences in wine, so I've added in selections from culinary and wine experts Devon, Leslie and Tricia. They all know more about wine (& food) tasting than I do!
Devon’s favorites: 
  • 2012 Alma Rosa El Jabalí Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills
  • 2014 Tablas Creek Dianthus, Paso Robles. A rosé blend of 46% Mourvedre, 41% Grenache and 13% Counoise
  • 2014 Tatomer Meeresboden Grüner Veltliner, Santa Barbara County
Leslie’s favorites: 
  • 2013 Tatomer Riesling, Kick-on Ranch, Santa Barbara County
  • 2014 Larner Rosé
  • 2014 Transcendence Rosé
  • 2010 Flying Goat Rio Vista Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • 2013 Brewer-Clifton Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
  • 2012 Foxen John Sebastiano Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • 2009 Vogelzang Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2011 Falcone Family Wines Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2012 Melville Verna's Syrah
Tricia’s favorites:
  • 2014 Tatomer Meeresboden Grüner Veltliner, Santa Barbara County
  • 2014 Tablas Creek Dianthus, Paso Robles. A rosé blend of 46% Mourvedre, 41% Grenache and 13% Counoise
  • 2014 Larner Rosé (very yummy!)
  • 2013 Palmina Dolcetto, Santa Ynez Valley
  • 2013 Andrew Murray Roasted Slope. Blend of co-fermented Syrah and Viognier
It was a great time and everyone found their favorite wine and food!

You can see the rest of the fest in this CoonToonStudios video by CLICKING HERE.



Email, Like, or Tweet Taste N Trip... 
Twitter: @TasteNTrip

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Calabasas Malibu Food & Wine Festival 2015

The Calabasas Malibu Food & Wine Festival was a great time last Friday night at the Calabasas Country Club. 

These are a few of my random notes from the event...
Moreno BHLV California Sparkling Wines
Natural Leopard with Triple Swarovski
A blend of Mendocino Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and French Colombard Grapes create a rich expression of balanced ripe exotic fruit, not too dry not too sweet, with a light honey apple nose and smooth finish. Adorned with Swarovski elements.
Rosé Prive Triple Swarovski 
Mendocino Pinot Noir Grapes create a lively expression of assertive fruitiness and fresh summer berries with a light rose nose, creamy texture and smooth finish.

Canyon Crest Winery Chardonnay with a custom wine label for the Calabasas Malibu Food & Wine Festival.
Gagnon Cellars from Temecula makes wines from Sonoma and other northern California vineyards. I enjoyed sampling all of their wines.
2013 Reserve Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
2013 Red Wine Blend, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County
2013 Syrah, California
2013 Petite Sirah, Single Vineyard, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County
2013 Single Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Clara County

Cielo Estate had a variety of white and red wines. The 2011 Cielo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Woodstock Collection Non Vintage Kaleidoscope were tasting good.
Tommy Booth of Harmata Family Wines poured his 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, South Coast and the Rosé Cabernet Sauvignon, South Coast. These are unique, small production wines.
Spellman Family Vineyard - Bridle Trail Wines poured a 2013 Cab In Cabernet Sauvignon, Malibu Coast.
Aldabella Winery with their Syrah - very nice!
Vino Vargas winemaker Pedro Vargas and Sommelier Victoria Vargas poured their El Taxi Cabernet Sauvignon, Matador Merlot, Rio Ruso Pinot Noir, Toro Tinto Tempranillo, Olé Chardonnay, Del Sol Roussanne, Costa Rosa GSM Rosé. Great wines!
A very nice discovery for me was Turiya Wines from the Lompoc Wine Trail. Winemaker Angela Soleno produces red wines and specializes in Bordeaux varietals. Red Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese are produced. The 2009 Malbec, Solana Vineyard, was excellent.

Stonehaus Wine Club had a variety of whites and reds from wineries you’ve probably never heard about.

Beers were poured by Stella Artois, Goose Island Beer Company, Elysian Brewing Company, MacLeod Ale Brewing Company, and Aldabella’s Westlake Brewing Company

The Elysian Space Dust IPA was my favorite. This totally nebular IPA from Seattle was 8.2% ABV and had a 73 IBU rating. Elysian also poured their Blood Orange Pale. The Goose IPA was good too.

MacLeod Ale Brewing Company, a “Traditional British Ale Brewed Fresh in Van Nuys,” poured a Middling Spree Pale Mild that was made with English hops, lots of invert sugar, flaked maize, and pilsner malt. This recipe may seem unusual to most, but the blend was more common than you'd think, and it creates a flavor profile rarely seen in modern beers.
New local brewer Westlake Brewing Company poured their Westlake IPA, Coffee Vanilla Porter, and Honey Blonde. These very good beers are available at their testing room in Westlake Village across from the Four Seasons Hotel.
Kona Ice, California Crisps Dehydrated Fruit Slices, Just Nuts Foods (raw, organic nuts distributor), and Baklava Factory.
M. Cigars with Luis rolling them on demand!
Silly hats from photo booth.
Vino & Bling Rhinestone Embellished Wine Glasses - “Wine Flies When You’re Having Fun!”
Academy of Culinary Education (ACE) with celebrity chef Cecilia de Castro served:
Rosemary Focaccia, Smoked Turkey, Cheese Pesto, Veggies
Lavender Infused Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis & Strawberries
Cappellini with Chicken, Lemon, Caper Sauce
Dates Stuffed with Cheese, Wrapped in Apple Maple Smoked Bacon.

Roy’s Restaurant served several seafood appetizers that were excellent.
Barone’s Pizzaria - cheese or pepperoni?
Celebrity chefs DJ Seals, Tené Harris, Eddie G and Matt Dhillon were also serving their special creations.
Backyard BBQ chef Max Bobritsky and crew had awesome BBQ, like the pulled pork.

Pierre’s Catering served up a substantial line of appetizers.

Calabasas Country Club served a fantastic portobello mushroom with cream sauce, basil oil, grated parmesan cheese and micro greens. I could have had another!

Q Kabob catering served some minty lamb wraps.

Fig bars of various flavors from Nature’s Bakery.

Feel Good Desserts Vegan Gluten Free Bakery had some awesome cupcakes and brownies, even if they were vegan and gluten free.

GG’s Gourmet Toffee had very tasty toffee treats.

DeLeón Tequila - Made from the finest 100% Highland Blue Weber agave sourced from the rich earth of the Los Altos region of Jalisco.

Pochteca Liqueurs had samples of their Almond, Blackberry, Chocolate, Coffee, Mango, and Pomegranate.

Sin Rival Tequila from Tequila Tres Mujeres had samples of their Silver, Añejo and Extra Añejo.

Real Irish Whiskey attracted a crowd with their blended Irish whiskey.
Pama poured Pomegranate Liqueur. 
Zyr Vodka - Russian Vodka made from wheat and rye was rated 100 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Infuse Vodka poured their corn-based vodka with flavors of Mango, Chili Pepper, Cinamon Apple, Peach, Lemon and Orange Clove.

Ventura Limoncello Company poured shots of their Originale and I finally tried it. I think it would make a fantastic Arnold Palmer!

Many more pictures in the video...

Email, Like, or Tweet Taste N Trip... 
Twitter: @TasteNTrip

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Santa Monica Grand Tasting

The Santa Monica Grand Tasting Event was held on the Santa Monica Pier where guests were able to sample the ultimate in pairing menus. 
Numerous well-known chefs and restaurants were featured. Guests enjoyed the iconic pier from 7-10 pm as they took a tour through an array of scents and tastes that celebrated LA's top culinary talent. Guests were entertained with live music as well as DJs and a wonderful view of the Santa Monica Bay from the Pier.
Net proceeds from this event go to benefit The Chill Foundation.

Celebrity Chefs
The food was fantastic and I managed to catch a few chefs preparing their plates.
Cecilia de Castro (middle) - ACE Academy
Matt Dhillon (middle)
Susan Feniger (middle) - Border Grill
David Hands (on right) - Bouchon
Brian Hill (on right) - MyTable
Keven Lee - My World on a Plate
DJ Seals
Nobody put on a tasting event like Keven Lee of "My World on a Plate." This sit-down pairing of small plates and Tequila, Wine and Beer was the most entertaining of the evening and a great way to experience his very fine small bites with shots of recommended drinks. 

The other food offerings from Border Grill and Bouchon were fantastic!

Border Grill - Green Corn Tamales with Sour Cream & Salsa Fresca

Bouchon - Shrimp & Oysters
The rest of the chef line-up included:
  • Tamara Anderson - Sugar and Spyked
  • Diane Dimeo
  • Raj Dixit - Stonehill Tavern
  • Adam_Fleischman - Taco Teca
  • Chris Rosenberg - Taco Teca
  • Eddie G - Coast to Coast Cuisine
  • Vazgen Ghahremanians - Q Kabob
  • Adrian Giese - Mastro’s Steakhouse
  • Michael Ginor - Hudson Valley Fois Gras
  • Adam Goldberg - Fresh Brothers
  • Michael Goldberg - Fresh Brothers
  • Scott Goldberg - Fresh Brothers
  • Phillip Jung - Organic Corner
  • Phillip Frankland Lee - Scratch Bar
  • Bradley Ogden - Ogden Hospitality
  • Denise Portillo - Forking Good Café
  • Luke Smith - Fiamme Pizza Napoletana
  • Eve Stephens - Eve Chocolatier
  • Adam Steudle - Rooftop Lounge
  • Kimmy Tang - 9021PHO
  • Stephane Treand - St. Patisserie Chocolat
  • Richard Webster
Wine Tasting And More!
Ahnfeldt Wines poured some very fine wines. It’s great to taste wines from Napa Valley!
2013 Provocative Chardonnay, Sonoma County
2012 Merlot, Napa Valley
2012 Provocative Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Kreuse Canyon Vineyard
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Napa Valley

Gagnon Cellars is a small winery in Temecula that makes some very nice wines from Sonoma and other northern California vineyards. I sampled these:
2013 Reserve Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
2013 Red Wine Blend, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County
2013 Syrah, California
2013 Petite Sirah, Single Vineyard, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County
2013 Single Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Clara County 

Harmata Family Wines poured their 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, South Coast and had their limited Rosé Cabernet Sauvignon, South Coast on display. Luckily, I have a bottle of both at home in my wine cellar. 

In addition to wine tasting I enjoyed several of the beers from the Icelandic Einstök Beer Company and the Bavarian ABK (Aktienbrauerei Kaufbeuren) founded in 1308.

I enjoyed both the Einstök Beer Company’s Icelandic White Ale and Icelandic Toasted Porter, but I wasn’t a fan of the Icelandic Arctic Berry Ale.
ABK poured a Rose, Frisch; Edel, Spezialbier, Premium Lager Beer; and a Hell, Das Blaue, Lager Beer. My favorite was the Edel.

And More!
I also managed to have a sip of Infuse Vodka (Chili Pepper), a Dirty Tequila Margarita, plus some 1921 Tequila Blanco (100% De Agave) and 1921 Tequila Cream Liqueur.

Twitter: @TasteNTrip