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

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ojai Wine Festival 2015

I started the Ojai Wine Festival, as I do every year, with a glass of Barefoot Bubbly and a strawberry. It's a festive start after a commute up from Westlake Village.
The VIP Lounge was a great place for wine and food tasting, but I skipped the initial lines and went out to sample some of the other food for sale from caterers and restaurants. I found Feast Bistro and a yummy Pulled Pork Sandwich, which was excellent with a Figueroa Mountain Lizard's Mouth Imperial IPA (9.2% ABV, 90 IBUs).
I also enjoyed tasting these other beers:
TapIt S.N.A.F.U. Double IPA (11.1% ABV, 127 IBUs)
Firestone Walker Easy Jack IPA (4.5% ABV, 40-50 IBUs) 
Elysian Space Dust IPA (8.2% ABV, 73 IBUs)
Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (6.7% ABV, 65 IBUs)
Aldabella/Westlake Brewing Co. Kölsch (5.2% ABV)

The VIP Lounge
This is a true wine festival with plenty of wines from Paso Robles and the central cost of California. Wineries included:
  • Gainey Vineyard
  • Falcone Family Vineyards
  • Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyard
  • Ascension Cellars*
Ventura Spirits
Mala Noche Mezcal and Tequila Los Tres Tonos
and the ubiquitous Stella Artois & Hoegaarden beer.
I noticed the wineries from the Ventura County Winery Association were all in one area and they were pouring some of my favorite wines.
  • Strey Cellars
  • Magnavino Cellars
  • Cantara Cellars
  • Plan B Wine Cellars
  • Sunland Vintage Winery
  • Aldabella Winery
  • Panaro Brothers Winery 
I tasted many of my favorites, but didn't catch them all. I was able to enjoy tastes from these wineries during the festival:
  • Derby Wine Estates*
  • Summerland Winery
  • Ranchita Canyon Winery* 
  • Vinemark Cellars (not in the VC Winery Association?)
  • Rancho Sisquoc Winery
  • Midnight Cellars
  • Lone Madrone
  • Tablas Creek Vineyard
  • Nobelle Wines
Although I had tried them in the past (probably at the Ojai Wine Festival), I really enjoyed tasting the wines from Derby Wine Estates and Ranchita Canyon Winery. Excellent wines!
And a new winery to me was Ascension Cellars. They had some great wines (and well balanced). I especially liked their 2014 Halo Viognier, Cass Vineyard, Paso Robles and 2012 Soul Shaker Bordeaux Blend, Cass Vineyard, Paso Robles.
After hearing some oldies from the Sgt. Pepper band, playing Beatles tunes and other British Invasion artists, I headed over to the stage to catch the second act, Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries.  They were jumping around like crazies and playing their vintage tunes to a packed dance floor.  
Watch the Ojai Wine Festival video
from Taste N Trip here.

Photo by Kristy Ellison

Twitter: @TasteNTrip

Friday, June 12, 2015

The 22nd Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival

The California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo was a comfortable venue to sample wine & food & beer last Sunday. The assortment of California wineries, gourmet food and craft beer made this festival a great value and it all went to benefit a very good cause--the Casa Pacifica Centers For Children & Families.

In between a few craft beers and lots of tasty food I managed to sample these very nice wines. Devon tasted many of the white wines.
Calcareous Vineyard
2013 Chardonnay, Carver Vineyard, York Mountain
2012 Trés Violet, Paso Robles (45% Mourvèdre, 37% Grenache, 18% Syrah)
2011 Lloyd of Calcareous, Paso Robles (37% Merlot, 28% Cab Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot)
Clos Des Amis
2011 Pinot Noir - Bryman Vineyard, Ventura County (Camarillo)
Concannon Vineyard 
2013 Founder’s Chardonnay, Monterey County Cottonwood Canyon Winery
2012 Bistro Red, Sta Maria Valley, Pinot Noir-Syrah blend
2012 Siena, Sonoma County Red Wine (Sangiovese, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon)
Magnavino Cellars
2011 Tre Gemmé (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre)
Molly Dooker 
2011 Enchanted Path, McLaren Vale (71% Shiraz, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery
2014 Syrah Rosé 2012 GSM - The Crossing (Grenache 42%, Syrah 32%, Mourvedre 26%)
Sunstone Vineyards & Winery
2013 Chardonnay, SBC (84% Chardonnay, Goodchild Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, 12% Grenache Blanc, El Camino Real Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, 2% Viognier, Verna's Vineyard, Los Alamos, 2% Marsanne, Buttonwood Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley)
2014 Viognier, "Linda's Vineyard" (100% Viognier from Sunstone’s Estate Vineyard, Linda’s Block)
2014 Rosé (61% Syrah/Merlot, Sunstone Estate, Santa Ynez Valley, 21% Pinot Noir, Goodchild Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, 14% Grenache Noir, El Camino Real Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, 4% Sauvignon Blanc, El Camino Real Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley)
2013 Rapsodie Bordeaux Blend (50% Grenache, Bella Cavalli, 30% Syrah, Los Alamos Vineyard, 13% Syrah, Sunstone Estate, 7% Mourvèdre, El Camino Real Vineyard, SYV)

The Yummies Culinary Competition included celebrity Chef Duff Goldman, who along with Charm City Cakes, created a huge cake version of Casa Pacifica’s therapy dog, Archie.

Oded Fahr presented Yummie Awards to top 3 in Savory & Sweet categories.
Savory Winners
1st - Cafe Firenze - House Cured Pancetta with smoked charred shallots vinaigrette, frisee, and pepper pecorino.
2nd - Tierra Sur - Ancho Braised Beef Cheek Nugget with Jalapeño Jam, Pickled Onion, and Corn Mash.
3rd - The Cave - Bacon Jam Crostini

Sweet Winners
1st - Scoops Creamery - Mojito Sorbet with white rum, sugar, lime juice, sparkling water, and mint.
2nd - The Cave - Butterscotch Anti Griddle (flash freezing technique) ice cream with French toast sticks, chocolate cookie crumble, and vanilla bean whipped cream.
3rd - I Would Rather Be Baking - Chambord Raspberry Cupcake

Curtis Taylor presented The Best in Fest Beer Competition to The LAB Brewing Company with their winning entry of “Boris,” a barrel-aged Oatmeal Stout (9.6% ABV and 49 IBUs).
Second place went to Pure Order Brewing Company’s Santa Barbara Pale Ale.
And Institution Ale Company’s Delusions of Grandeur American Barleywine (12% ABV and 100+ IBUs) took third place, beating out the remaining five beers.
CLICK HERE for the TnT Blog Post about the 2015 Best in Fest Brew Competition.

When you have time, CLICK HERE to enjoy the sights and sounds of the festival in a Taste N Trip video.

The live music featured in the video includes:
Roni Benise and Band on the main stage.
Sound Effect Band in the VIP Lounge.
Wes Quave Live--Featuring Ariel Moore, Wes Quave and Noemi Del Rio performing on the main stage.

See you at the next festival!
Twitter: @TasteNTrip