Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fresh Fettucini with Pesto

Fresh Fettucini with Pesto
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
Another day, another lunch. How I enjoy vacation time!

I can never find the pasta dough recipe, but it is really easy:

Fresh Fettucini with Pesto

3.5c flour
4 eggs
olive oil

Add 3.5 cups of flour to a food processor with 4 eggs. Pulse until mixed, but not to where a ball forms. Add a little dash of water if necessary. Turn out and knead into a ball. Let sit for 20 minutes. Cut into 8 parts and roll out on a pasta machine. For this, I rolled the pasta out to "1", or the thinnest setting on my machine (which I broke in the process of making this pasta, but that is another story).

Once you have sheets of dough, let them sit for ~20 minutes to partially dry out. Dust the dough with flour on both sides and roll up like a cigar. Cut off the frayed ends then cut into thin rings - when you unwrap them you will have fettucini (or whatever shape's thickness you cut them to). Put into salted, boiled water for 3-5 minutes and its done!

For the pesto, I took a little olive oil and infused it with a clove of chopped garlic by chopping the garlic and adding it to the cold oil in the pan, then turning it on to medium. As soon as it bubbles, I turn it off. The result is garlic flavored olive oil, with cooked garlic but not browned. I tossed the finished pasta in the garlic oil, then added some pesto, which I bought from Nugget. Then I ate.

I only made ~10 stands of pasta for my late, so if you were making the whole recipe, I would add more than 1 clove of garlic.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Spaghetti with Peas

Spaghetti with Peas
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
This morning it was really cold in my lab. I went in to do some experiments, but it was too cold to even work - the aroma compounds in wine volatilize as a function of temperature, and my experiments are done at a warmer temperature. It was 14ºC in there - 57.2ºF. So, being that I couldn't work, I went to the library to pick up some books. One that I picked up was The Art of Modern Cookery by Auguste Escoffier. It's amazing that there are literally thousands of recipes in that book. #19 is a recipe for roux. A roux is a combination of flour and butter used to thicken sauces. It is the base for béchamel and hollandaise. I decided that my lunch would be thickened with a roux.

I spent a few hours at Mishka's (not-)studying, trying to do some work. On the way home I picked up some English peas from the Co-Op. I once had a dish at Chez Panisse Cafe of Campanelle with Morels and Peas. That was the inspiration for this. My lunch came nowhere close the the delicate beauty of that meal, but it was still very tasty.

Spaghetti with Peas

Spaghetti, enough for one
A few handfuls of peas, shucked
1 tbs butter
1 tbs flour
1/2 c milk

Cook the spaghetti according to the package. In the mean time, shuck the peas. Put the peas in a sieve and cook in the boiling pasta water for 5 minutes, until bright green.

For the sauce, heat up a saucepan to medium heat. Add the butter and flour. Stir constantly, until the flour cooks out and turns a very light brown. Add the milk and whisk until the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper. Toss in half of the peas and cook a little longer. When the pasta is finished, drain off the water and add the pasta to the sauce. Mix through. Put on a plate, add the remaining peas, a dash of paprika and eat.

For a cold, rainy day like today, it was a nice warm lunch with a little bit of heft, but not heavy.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Leek and Mushroom Risotto with Shrimp

The quarter is finally finished. Now that I am done with classes and mostly done with my TA duties, I have time again to cook and take some photos.

On Friday night we had our annual "Repeal of Prohibition" party for our department. We decided this year to cater the event ourselves, so on Friday morning, 10 or so of us cooked for 150 people. If my calculations were correct, we made ~1800 pieces of food. The party was great; everyone seemed to have a good time. Of course, there was lots of wine - how could one celebrate the repeal of Prohibition without it?

After the party, it feels like I slept for 2 days. Finally today I was ready to start cooking again. Antonia and I went to the Nugget and I picked up some leeks and a few shrimp to make some lunch.

Leek and Mushroom Risotto with Shrimp

5 c hot chicken broth
2 leeks, white and pale green parts, sliced and rinsed
8 or so crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 1/2 c arborio rice
3/4 c white wine (I used a bit of Rd. 29 Chardonnay)
3 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil + 1 tsp olive oil
3 16/20 shrimp
4 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Heat up butter and 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat. Once melted, sweat/sauté the leeks and mushrooms until both are soft, about 7 minutes. Add in rice and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, just to coat the rice and let it heat up a little. Add the wine and turn down the heat to medium low. Once the wine is absorbed, start adding in the hot stock, 1/2 c at a time. Keep stirring. Add more stock once it is absorbed. After about 30 minutes, the rice will be tender yet toothsome and creamy. Take off the heat and add the cheese, stir to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Because the cheese is salty, it won't take too much salt. In a separate skillet, heat up the 1 tsp oil over medium heat. Season the shrimp and gently cook them. Do not over cook, if possible - they are so nice when they are still juicy and soft and just a bit crunchy.

I enjoyed my risotto with a glass of Rd. 29 Chardonnay. If you can find a bottle of this wine, you must know me :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Perfect Meal

The title of this post is "A Perfect Meal". The reason why it is not "The Perfect Meal" is because one can have more than one perfect meal. And it would follow, naturally, that if one can have more than one perfect meal, one can have an infinite number of perfect meals. I posit that the perfectness of a meal comes not from the dish itself, but the circumstances surrounding the meal. This meal attains its perfection from simplicity. The following is the ingredient list of this Perfect Meal.

Ingredient List
1 egg
1/2 porcini mushroom
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

How often, honestly, do you see a Perfect Meal with 4 ingredients or fewer? I can immediately think of one other (Prosciutto e Melone), but there may be others. Do you know of any others? Leave me a note, it would be much appreciated.

The idea for this meal started while admiring a post at Chez Pim titled Porcini (cèpes), persillade butter, and fried egg - or the lunch that wasn't. IWhen I read it last week, I immediately had a yearning for eggs and fresh porcinis, together on a plate. I, unfortunately, did not have access to fresh porcinis. That all changed this morning.

Antonia asked me if I wanted to go with her to Old Navy in Vacaville. I always want to spend time with her, but I did have an ulterior motive: I wanted to pick up a bottle of Amarula at BevMo. So, as a condition of my company, I demanded that we first go to the Farmer's Market before leaving to Old Navy. This was a demand, only in the most theoretical framework, as Antonia was more than willing to take a detour past the market before leaving Davis.

While there, the Solano Mushroom stand had beaucoup champignons: chanterelles, matsutakes, maitakes, portabellas, oysters, and of course, porcinis.

Honestly, how could I pass that up?

I subsequently bought half a porcini mushroom for $5.60 to use as I saw fit.

Here is the recipe for one of the few Perfect Meals that I have had in my life:

Porcini Omelette with Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 egg (with two yolks or an egg plus a yolk)
2 slices fresh porcini mushroom
butter, to lubricate the pan and coat the omelette
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Sautee the mushroom slices in butter. Set aside.

Make a one egg omelette.... (Aside)....

I have a pet peeve. Well, I have many pet peeves, but one of them is cooked eggs. Eggs cooked in a pan should never be brown. Under no circumstances. Well except maybe as a component of French toast. Omelettes and scrambled eggs should be free from brownness.

When the omelette is almost set to your liking, add one slice of sauteed porcini and some grated cheese. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Fold over the omelette in 3 parts. Place on a plate.

Rub the newly-folded omelette with some more butter, add the other slice of porcini, and sprinkle with some more cheese.

I had my omelette with a 2001 Petit Verdot made by a friend in Windsor, CA.

Porcinis are not often found fresh. They are often found dried in mixed wild mushrooms bags sold at the supermarket. While they impart a boatload of flavor once reconstituted, they do not have the light flavorfulness of a fresh mushroom. If you see them fresh, I recommend that you give them a chance.

Good luck finding one of your own Perfect Meals - they are out there ready to be eaten and enjoyed.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rd 29 Chardonnay gets it's first review!

"Universally liked, very lovely nose, floral and bright fruit, big size but not disproportionate, great and appropriate flavors. It didn't seem tank or barrel samplish, but indeed seemed finished--even without filtration good clarity. Very nice wine."

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rosemary Bread

Rosemary Bread
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
Tonight was the most successful bread experiment that I have conducted so far. The bread turned out nearly perfect. A nice hard crust, a soft, supple crumb. I decided that baking bread is much more economical than buying it; 2.49 for a demi-ciabatta is extortion, if you ask me. I remember being in Paris, paying 0.39 cents (Euro cents, for what it's worth) for a baguette. I am done with the Nugget prices for bread; I'm on my own.

I decided to make bread myself tonight. Here is what I did.

I decided that my previous bread trials were not satisfactory. I could not really decide what factor was making the bread less than acceptable for me, so I decided to start from scratch. As a scientist, I failed. I changed every variable at the same time. Oh well, the bread turned out great.

Rosemary Bread

2.5+ c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1.25 cups water, ~100ºF (lukewarm)
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs sea salt
1/4 c olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped fine

Take the water and add the yeast and mix them in after a minute of floating on the surface. After about 5 minutes, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve.

Add 1 cup of flour. Stir to mix. After one cup of flour is mixed, add the olive oil, salt and rosemary. I add these ingredients after a flour addition in order to keep the flour from being coated in fat. I want the flour/water to blend with the fat; I don't want little flour globs that are armored with oil in a sea of water.

After all of the flavorants are added, keep adding flour until a moderately wet dough is formed. I added about 3 c. of flour.

Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes.

A part of the new bread direction came from this website: Despite being somewhat commercial in nature, it gave a good overview of the theory of breadmaking.

Whenever I try to teach someone chemistry, it is much more important they they understand the theory than they do the law. What I mean is - it benefits you more to understand why something is happening than to see a list of consequences.

Therefore, I was very happy to stumble upon this website. It gave me a lot of useful information on why each step of breadmaking is done. Now, in the future, I can use this info to my advantage.

[End Digression]

The kneaded dough was then put into a greased bowl for 1 hour to rise. After 1 hour and 20 minutes, the dough was turned out onto a floured board but not punched down. The dough was cut into two pieces; one was shaped into a baguette and one into a round. They were were then placed on a cornmeal-dusted board to go through a second rise for 30 more minutes.

They breads were then transferred onto a pizza stone in a preheated 425ºF oven and allowed to bake for 30 minutes. In the first 10 minutes of baking, I used a spray bottle to shower the oven with water (about 4 spritzes, 3 times in the first 10 minutes) with water. This kept the crust from forming until later in the process.

After 30 minutes, the two breads came out and cooled. It was an exciting experience to try them - I had no expectations but Antonia and I were both very pleasantly surprised.

I have caught the bread bug and imagine that the next week or two (before midterms) will be filled with breadmaking. One website I found calculated that a loaf of bread make at home costs about $1.20. I think that that is much better than $2.49+ for a loaf at the Nugget.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Dinner Parties

Dinner parties are great things. The best thing about them (besides spending quality, non-work time with friends) is that they get easier with practice. Last week we had Antonia's mom, Freddie, over for dinner. While it was a lot of fun, it was a little stressful making the pasta while trying to converse and be social. Tonight, we are having Jesse over, a friend from the V&E program. I decided tonight to go try what I see all the time when Food TV personalities talk about entertaining: get as much done beforehand as possible.

Tonight I made the Turkey-Pesto Meatballs, the Pasta (bow ties, because Antonia enjoys formal dinners) and Curried Roasted Zucchini before Jesse arrived. In addition, Antonia made an Apple Pie that has little stars on top instead of a lattice. It looks wonderful.

Everything looks set to go. Jesse arrives in 18 minutes and I still need to put on pants!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Pappardelle with Tomatoes

Pappardelle with Tomatoes
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
I can't get over how good fresh pasta is. It's going to be tough to go back to dried pasta. I think I'll start a little side project - anyone who wants some fresh pasta, I'll make it for you for only $7/lb. (I'm only half-way kidding.)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Orecchiette alla Antonia: A step-by-step how to

Cutting the dough
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
Remember when your English teacher told you never to start an essay with "This essay is about...." They are probably correct. I am going to respectfully ignore their collective advice.

This post is going to be a step-by-step guide on how I made a dish that I think is good enough to carry Antonia's name. (Disclosure: The other reason that the dish carries Antonia's name is that she made the sauce.)

There are two parts: The sauce and the pasta. We started both at the same time. Most of the pictures that I was able to take are of the pasta, not the sauce, unfortunately.


Step 1: Chop up one medium onion and one carrot fine. Heat up 2 tbs margarine (we are generally a milk-free household) and 2 tbs of olive oil together in a pot. Once hot, add the onions and carrots and sautee for 2 minutes.

Step 2: Add 1 lb of ground turkey, stirring for 2 minutes until meat is brown. Add some salt and pepper. This can always be adjusted later.

Step 3: Add 1/2 c soy milk and 1/2 c water and a little bit of nutmeg. Cook down until the liquid is mostly gone. Add 1 c dry white wine (we used Sauvignon blanc, a wine usually good for cooking, in my opinion). Again, cook down until mostly evaporated.

Step 4: In a blender, coarsely puree a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes with the juice. Add tomato puree to sauce and lower heat to a very low simmer for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hrs. Stir occasionally.

At this point, the pasta can be started.


Step 1: Add 2 c semolina flour and 2 c all-purpose flour to a large bowl and mix it up.

Step 2: Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add 1 c lukewarm water and a big pinch of salt. Using a fork, slowly incorporate the flour into the water, forming a dough. Not all of the flour will incorporate.
A well in the flour mixture

Step 3: Turn out what dough did form onto a surface. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, adding in as much flour as the dough will take (I have never really understood what that means - I can keep adding flour and kneading until it forms a brick, so I guess it is a matter of practice). Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
Dough Ball

Step 4: Cut up the dough into 8 equal pieces and individually wrap the pieces in plastic wrap.
Dough balls

Step 5: One at a time, unwrap the dough balls and using any way that is comfortable, turn the ball into a log 1/2" wide and as long as possible (I could get to about 2' with the amount of dough I had).
Pasta doughPasta dough

Step 6: Cut the dough log into 1/2" pieces, being careful to separate them and not let them touch. Adding a little bit of the extra flour may help.
Cutting the dough

Step 7: Take a dough nugget and with floured hands, put the cut side down into your palm. Make a depression with your other thumb, doing a slight twist at the end. It took me a long time to figure out the appropriate pressure to make a good depression but not get the dough to stick to my hands.
Pressing the ears

Step 8: Place the little ears on a towel on a sheet pan. A little flour on the towel can't hurt.
Orecchiette 2

....Continue with all of the balls of dough....

Step 9: Wait until the sauce is done. You are in the home stretch! Get a pot of salted water boiling. Once boiling, add in the ears about 20 at a time. They only take 1-2 minutes. They will be done once they are floating. Add them into a bowl some of the sauce.
Sauce and pasta

Step Done: Eat!

"Orecchiette alla Antonia"

One last picture, just because I like it. This was the last log of dough after I cut it up.
Orecchiette arc

If these recipes look familiar to you, you must read a lot of food magazines! They in fact did come from We modified the sauce and the pasta is basically by the book.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mushroom Tart - An Experiment

Mushroom Tart
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
I decided that because it is summer and I do not have too much to do (I do have a lot, just not A LOT), I would start up some playful kitchen experimentation. One of the things I (and Antonia) made was a tomato tart (featured here). This gave me the idea to make a mushroom tart.

It is so mushroom-y because it is all mushroom!

Mushroom Tart

Savory Tart Shell (recipe to follow)

3 Cremini mushrooms
Splash of olive oil
Splash of red wine (I used a few day old Zinfandel)

Take two of the mushrooms and chop roughly. Put them into a food processor (I use a mini-chop) with the splash of wine and olive oil. Add a little bit of salt and pepper. Chop until a medium paste, pulsing if necessary.

Scoop out into tart shell. Distribute evenly with the back of a spoon or spatula.

Take the last mushroom and slice it thin. Using the largest slices from the middle of the mushroom, lay them down in a pattern on the top of the tart. Sprinkle with paprika

Bake in a 275ºF oven for 10 or so minutes.

Easy as pie tart and so tasty.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A View of Downtown

A View of Downtown
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
Downtown Los Angeles from the Griffith Park Observatory.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Suburban Fireworks

Suburban Fireworks
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
We sat in the corner of two suburban streets and watched the fireworks, which are launched from two blocks away. We were greeted not only to "Rockets red glare" and "Bombs bursting in air", but also a symphony of car alarms.

It was actually very relaxing - no jostling for position along the main road where hundreds of Woodbridgites vie for a seat as close as possible to the launch site. Another 4th of July in Irvine and nothing to complain about.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Better way to view flickr photos: PicLens

I ran across a TechCrunch article this morning on a browser plug-in called PicLens (Safari on Mac, Firefox on Windows. Why not Firefox on Mac? Probably something about graphics systems). It is truly a different flickr experience. It allows you to view flickr photos full screen and in a slideshow, which some may say is even better than the built-in slideshow functionality. I have tried some other things - Lightbox plug-in for Firefox, Flickrfox, but none of them were really any better. This is totally different.

Give it a try.

Additional screenshots and screencasts are available at the website.

Full Screen Web Photo Browsing with PicLens [TechCrunch]

Friday, June 15, 2007

Another Great Tasting

On Wednesday night, to celebrate the end of the year, we reconvened at Billo's house to taste some wines. There were two sections to the evening; first we tasted Bordeaux wines not blind, in an attempt to understand the differences between the communes. We had representatives from St. Emilion, Pomerol, Margaux, Pauillac, St. Julien and St. Estephe. We also had a white representative from Pessac-Leognan. The second part of the night was tasting blind, putting our new understanding of Bordeaux (and other regions) to work.

In addition to nice wines, we also had great food. We started off with Bacon-wrapped Dates. Billo and Jesse cooked up some Hawaiian Cowboy Steaks and a huge Leg of Lamb. Side dishes of Orzo and Couscous were present in abundance. We also had for dessert a Peach Granita, Strawberries with Creme Fraiche and Brown Sugar and a Blueberry Pie. Everyone had the same idea as I did - it's too hot for chocolate! Fresh fruit was the star of the desserts.

1. 1999 J Vineyards Sparkling Wine Brut, Sonoma
2. 2005 Rose Tablas Creek, Paso Robles

Non-Blind Bordeaux
3. 2003 Ch. Giscours, Margaux
4. 2002 Clos. Rene, Pomerol
5. 2003 Ch. Quinault "l'Enclos", St. Emilion Grand Cru
6. 2003 Ch. Carbonnieux Blanc, Pessac-Leognan
7. 1993 Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac
8. 2003 Ch. Gloria, St. Julien
9. 1900 Phelan Segur, St. Estephe

Blind Wines
10. 1990 Ch. Trotte Vieille, St. Emilion Grand Cru
11. 2002 Ch. Reignac, Bordeaux Superieur
12. 1976 Ridge Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains
13. 1982 Haut Batailley, Pauillac
14. 1996 Seavy Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
15. 1987 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
16. 1999 Wild Duck Creek Cabernet Sauvignon "Springlat", Heathcote
17. 1998 Rolf Binder/Veritas "Pressings" Shiraz, Barossa Valley

Another great night. I hope that summer is filled with great wine, find food and time spent with good friends.

Congrats all.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Next Year

So I have just about finished my first of two years in the UC Davis Viticulture and Enology MS program. It has been a fantastic year - I have met great people, learned from amazing professors, and drank amazing wine.

I was made aware this morning at a meeting that I have signed up for a laundry list of jobs for next year. I will:

be GSA representative with Scott
run Vitis with Jesse
be on the Executive Committee with Wynne
be DEVO secretary

I have a long year ahead of me.

Speaking of DEVO, the Dinner under the Winkler Vine got a glowing review from Bob Dunning, our local paper's most influential writer. Unfortunately, in their infinite (lack of) wisdom, The Davis Enterprise puts all articles older than ONE day old in a fee-based archive, so I can't link to the article, but here is a quote:

Because I have friends in high places on the UC Davis campus (the guy washing the windows at the Top of the Mrak) I found myself one recent evening sitting out under the stars with the Red-Headed Girl of My Dreams and dozens of others, being wined and dined in a most extraordinary fashion.

Yes, this would be the esteemed "Dinner Under the Winkler Vine," seventh edition, a major fund-raiser put on by the student-run group DEVO, the Davis Enology and Viticulture Organization. In other words, if you don't like wine, put your checkbook back in your pocket and go home.


The kids from DEVO are the grape growers and wine makers of tomorrow. I'd say we're in good hands.

-Bob Dunning, Davis Enterprise, June 6, 2007

Good work, DEVO. Hopefully things will go as well next year as they did this year.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

2007 Dinner Under the Winkler Vine

Each year D.E.V.O (Department of Enology and Viticulture Organization), the student group in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, puts on a benefit dinner to support the group. The dinner, Dinner Under the Winkler Vine, features five chefs who prepare courses to pair with five wines. This year was a great success. We had chefs from California and New Mexico pair courses with wines from California and Oregon. The menu was:

Shrimp and Scallop Mousse Crab Cake with Passion Fruit Vinaigrette / Smoked Salmon Hash with Mozzarella and Herb-Oil Crostini paired with 2003 Shramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blancs
Eric Frost - Brick Marble Bistro, Murrieta, CA

Lavender Honey Diver Scallop with Aprium Three Ways: Cranberry Chutney, Goat Cheese Quenelle, Fresh Fruit Brulee paired with 2005 Chehalem Dry Riesling Reserve
Sachin Chopra, Executive Chef - Mantra, Palo Alto, CA

Sweetswoods' Goat Cheese Orzo with Roasted Wild Mushrooms paired with 2005 Cakebread Napa Valley Chardonnay
Jennifer James, Albuquerque, NM

Local Squab Three Ways with Spring Vegetables : Crispy Breast, Confit Sweet Potato Agnolotti, Huckleberry and Pinot-Liver Emulsion paired with 2005 Saintsbury Brown Ranch Pinot noir
Mark Estee, Chef - Moody's Bistro and Lounge, Truckee, CA

Rack of Lamb with Blue Cheese Crust, Baby Root Vegetables, Celery Root Puree, Cabernet Rosemary Jus paired with 2000 Seavy Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Nicholas Johnson, Chef - Piper-Johnson Catering, Calistoga, CA

Pear Soup with Semolina Cake and Almond Panna Cotta paired with 2005 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Late Harvest Pinot gris
Mica and Robert Gott, Savoy Catering, Oakland, CA

The dinner went off without a hitch. We had great live and silent auctions. Five of my photos were featured in the silent auction and one sold for $220!

I hope next year's dinner goes off as well as this year's. Congratulations to D.E.V.O. for putting the event together and thank you to everyone who attended for supporting the mission of D.E.V.O.

If you are in Davis in May/June 2008 and want to attend, contact me through the blog.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A week of good wine.

The Wines
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
This week has been kind of crazy in terms of wine. I have had the opportunity to try the fabulous, the old and the rare.

It is late (early on Friday morning), so if I forget anything, I will come back and edit the post.

The wine week is broken into 3 main parts: Billo's house, 125L Savor and the Hungarians.

1. Billo's House

Billo had a few people over to his house to hang out with is brother, who is in town for a couple of days. After Wynne and I finished dinner with Antonia at my house, we headed of to Billo's place. When we arrived, we were a couple of wines behind in the brown bag tasting, so we got moving. Here are the wines:

1995 Meursault-Genevrieres Premier Cru, Dom. Latour-Giraud
2003 Chardonnay "Mitsuko's Vineyard", Clos Pegase, Napa Valley
2004 Pinot noir "La Cruz Vineyard", Testarossa, Sonoma Coast
2004 Cuvee Juveniles, Torbreck, Barossa Valley
2004 Valpolicella Superiore, Ripassa Zentao
2001 Pinot noir, Wither Hills, Marlborough
1997 Merlot, Pahlmeyer, Napa Valley
2003 Merlot, Duckhorn, Napa Valley
1996 "Alchemy", Canobolas-Smith, New South Wales
2003 Syrah "Wells Vineyard", K Vineyards, Walla Walla
1982 St. Emillon Premier Grand Cru, Ch. Beau-Sejour Becot
1985 Warre's Vintage Porto

So yeah. It was awesome. For me, the highlights were the St. Emillon and the Pahlmeyer, along with the Port. When Billo brought out the St. Emillon, he said that it was for my birthday, which he wasn't able to make it to. Every wine had something to offer. We played the "guess the grape/country" game and it actually went fairly well. All in all we were pretty respectable.

2. 125L Savor wines

This week, in our last week of lab, Hildegarde and Mike treated us to some wines that they found in the cellar. While cleaning out the education locker in the cellar, they came across a mixed case of old Sauternes. Wednesday's lab tried 6 bottles including the 1975 Rieussec, and we tried 6 bottles in the Thursday lab. Our flight was centered more in Barsac.
The wines:

1962 Barsac Premier Cru, Ch. Climens
1962 Sauternes Premier Cru, Ch. La Tour Blanche
1962 Barsac Preimer Cru, Ch. Coutet
1966 Barsac Premier Cru, Ch. Coutet
1967 Barsac Premier Cru, Ch. Coutet
1967 Sauternes, Ch. Filhot

These wines were so distinct. They were among the oldest Sauternes that I have ever tried. The first two, the Climens and the La Tour Blanche were stand out favorites of mine. The Climens actually tasted like Lyle's Golden Syrup, at least to me.

125L lab lasted from 1-4. At 6, the next even began.

3. Hungarian wine tasting

Each year (as far as I know), two Hungarians (Laszlo Kocsis and Gabor Sellyei) come to UC Davis to talk about and share Hungarian wines. Last year the talk focused on the dry wines of Tokaj (I think). This year, we learned about the red wine growing regions (there are 22) and then about Tokaj wines. We learned about the Puttonyos and how they turn botrytized berries (aszu) into Aszu Tokaj wines. There are 6 sweetness levels (1 puttonyos or p. through 6p.) and then the ultimate in sugary - the aszueszencia, which is the equivalent of >6p. We were extremely fortunate to try 5 red wines and 4 6p. Tokajs.

2006 Kadarka, Frittmann
2003 Kadarka, Vida
2004 Zweigelt, Wunderlich
2002 Bull's Blood, Monarchia
2003 Kekfrankos, Vesztergombi

We were informed that 2003 is the best year for Hungarian red wines in the last 10+ years. Remember that if you are ever faced with picking out a Hungarian red.

Gabor has aptly named the 6p. Tokaj wines the "6 star generals of Tokaj" in reference to the American military system. These wines come above 5 star generals in Tokaj. We had the great fortune to try 4 "6 star generals" three from the same vintage.

6p. Aszu-Tokaj

1993 6p. Marcatus
2000 6p. Patricius
2000 6p. Degenfeld
2000 6p. Dobogo

What a crazy week! It actually all occured within 24 hours, so really I can call it the crazy day of wine.

To close, here is a picture of the happy group at Billo's house: Jesse, Jen, Steph, Wynne, Billo, Kristy, Pinto and me.
Group picture!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dinner at Chez Panisse

Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
(Disclaimer: I have been waiting 6 years to eat this meal.)

A month or two ago, my dad called and explained that he was coming up to surprise my brother for his birthday and that I needed to make plans. I asked "Can we go to Chez Panisse?" - I was expecting one of two answers: 1) Ha ha ha ha ha ha... and so forth and so on, or 2) Sure, if it's you're treat. Needless to say, I was elated when the answer was "Sure, just make the reservations." 6 Years ago my dad and I tried to get reservations at the restaurant when he came up to visit me in my freshman year at Cal. There were no seatings on such short notice, so instead we ended up going to Rivoli, which may have been a blessing in disguise. It is another of my favorite Berkeley restaurants. I digress. So I looked up on the web site that they have a policy that reservations can only be made one month in advance. So bright and early on March 21st, the day that we left for our Oregon Spring Break trip, I called. They open at 10am for reservations - by 10:13am, when I finally got past the busy signals, I was given a choice of 6:30 or 8:45. I took 8:45.

Finally. I had done it. I was going to Chez Panisse Restaurant for dinner. I have to admit, I have been to the Café twice. Both times I had amazing meals, one of which was with my brother.

April 21st arrived and Antonia and I set off to Berkeley from Davis. We were being lodged at the Claremont, so we went in there and checked in. Wow. I had been in the lobby to go to a function once, but never to the rooms. They are really nice. Cozy, but elegant. I went to Oakland airport to pick up my dad and Janeen. We got back from the airport, went to the restaurant for a pre-dinner drink. I got a glass of Trefethen dry Riesling. Ok, but a little bit on the hot side. I called my brother and set up a meeting time and then we got ready.


We get to the restaurant and tell them that we are here. They needed a few more minutes to set up, so we went upstairs and hung out by the bar until the table was ready.


It was time. We went through the velvet curtains in to the restaurant and were seated. What a beautiful room. Cozy, woody and warm. I was transported to liminal space. I looked over at the kitchen and it was a full 2 times as large as the dining room. How wonderful that disproportionate juxtaposition appeared. Our waiter Gianni came and introduced himself and started us of with an aperitif.

Aperitif: Citrus-ginger Prosecco
Citrus and ginger are flavors that are often found together in Eastern or East-West fusion cuisine. It was interesting to see them together in an aperitif, but it worked magically. The ginger was not overpowering, but stood up to the citrus. The prosecco gave a little bit of necessary sparkle.

Gianni came back and suggested a Sancerre for the fish and an Bandol for the lamb. I perused the wine list and went with his Sancerre suggestion but decided on a Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-de-Pape for the lamb. What a great decision that ended up being.

2004 Sancerre, La Croix du Roy, Lucien Crochet

Roasted tai snapper with celery root

The first course, fish, came out shortly after the wine. It was a perfectly cooked piece for snapper, simply presented with a celery and celery root puree. It was well-seasoned with a salty skin. The flesh was buttery and cooked impeccably well.

Spring vegetable ragout with morel mushrooms
It must be morel season. They had a big bowl of morels at the entrance to the dining room. Last time I came with my brother to the cafe, we had Campanelle with Morels and Peas. It was a great pasta dish and I gained an appreciation morels, now my second favorite Ascomycete to eat (after truffles). The dish came out in a very simple sauce. That was the theme of the evening: Simple Sauces. Nothing was over-sauced. The ingredients were the stars and nothing was going to detract from that. I have a lot of respect for that viewpoint of cuisine.

The red wine came out next and I was chatting with Gianni while he was opening the bottle. I asked how many of the wines he had tasted, as I wanted to find out what he thought of the Chehalem Dry Riesling which was on the list. He hadn't tasted them all, but explained that every week they have a class where the waiters can come and try the wines and listen to the director of their wine program. What a great experience.

2004 Chateauneuf-de-Pape, Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe

Grilled rack, loin and should of Watson Ranch lamb with roasted potatoes, spring onions and garden lettuces

With wine in hand, the lamb arrived. The CdP was great - A little bit reserved but full of berries with good acidity and nice tannins. If I come into some money, I may start buying this wine. The lamb was cooked rare - perfect for lamb. All of the lamb parts were great. I enjoyed the shoulder the most, I think. It had a little bit more fat than the rib chop and consequently was a little bit richer. All in all an wonderful dish that celebrated lamb.

While we were having dinner, Gianni brought over Jonathan Waters, the director of their wine program. We talked a little bit about wine and I told him I was a grad student in the V&E program at UC Davis. His advice to me was to go to a cool region to grow grapes on the west coast. I think that is a fine idea. It was great to meet someone who has been in that job for 20 years or so - he has seen a lot of wine and a lot of people and a lot of food go through that restaurant.

Bittersweet chocolate and strawberry gelato cassatta

Happy birthday! This was a playfully elegant interpretation of Neapolitan ice cream - chocolate strawberry and pistachio gelatos sandwiched together. It was rich and flavorful, but light at the same time. A great way to end the meal.

We had assorted dessert wines with dessert - a port, a banyuls and a French dessert wine that I cannot remember at the moment. It was the greatest meal that I have had to date. It is going to be hard to top, but I will always keep an open mind when comparing future dining experiences to this one.

Thank you to my dad for helping me realize a 6 year old dream and to my brother for having his birthday during morel season.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Oregon Trail

(This was written on my last day of the Oregon Trip. It is now 4 weeks later. C'est la vie.)

As I sit in the dining room of a perfectly maintained 1928 Craftsman, drinking wine from a yet to be labeled bottle of 2005 Domaine Drouhin Oregon “Laurene” Pinot Noir, cool sunlight streaming in over the Coastal Range, I finally have a few seconds to reflect back on a wonderfully fast-paced vacation.

We arrived on Wednesday at the Portland Airport and were picked up by Wynne’s mom, Judy. After driving back to her house in SW Portland and pruning her table grapevines (Andy Walker would be proud) and meeting Dot the Dalmatian and Sadie the Blue heeler/pitbull mix, we headed up to NW Portland to seek out lunch. We ended up at Saint Honore, a charming bakery/bistro on the meniscus of the gentrification of the industrial part of NW Portland.

Saint Honore

Provence Panini – Greg and Lisanne
Seasonal Mushroom Fritatta Croissant – Greg and Lisanne
Brie Bartlett Panini – Wynne and Mandy
Coffee for all

Upon arriving back at Judy’s house, we met Andy Wipple, a local writer photographer who is about to have a book released. I chatted with him about photography before dinner, about our favorite lenses (primes) and the exciting foray into Photoshop. Soon, dinner arrived.

Judy Nedry’s House

Minestrone Soup with Sausage
Green Salad with Hazelnuts
No-Knead Bread
Plum Tart
Pecorino Luciano
Neal’s Yard Berkswell
Mixed Cow/Sheep’s Milk Cheese from Italy.

2002 Pinot blanc “Rosenberg de Wettolsheim”, Domaine Barmes Buecher, Alsace, FR

Soon after dinner, it was time to head out to Chehalem, Wynne’s dad’s winery just outside of Newberg, OR. We were given the grand tour, picked rooms, then got to the fun part – picking some wines to drink.

2003 Syrah “Saleyards”, Murdoch James, Martinborough, NZ
2004 Pinot noir, Elk Cove Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR

After a couple of bottles of wine, we saw a comprehensive selections of spirits and Eaux de Vie. We decided to try a locally produced whiskey made by Steve McCarthy at Clear Creek Distillery in Portland. Touching this drink to our lips would change the course of our vacation.

McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Pot Distilled Whiskey, Clear Creek Distillery.

This whiskey to me tasted unexpectedly similar to Laphroig and Lagavulin Islay Scotches. I was so impressed that an American distillery could get so close to the smoky peatiness of an Islay Scotch.

Soon though, the fun had to come to an end and we went to sleep.

The next day we woke up and were reminded that Thursday was Wynne’s Haircut Day. We hopped in the car and headed to Downtown Portland to get some coffee at Stumptown. This is a coffeeshop/roaster that I had previously heard about while reading the food blog Slashfood. I ordered a pound of coffee from them about a year ago – an Ethiopian Sidamo that tasted just like strawberries and cream. As soon as I met Wynne and learned that she was from Portland, I told her about my experience with Stumptown. She informed me that she too was a big fan of their coffee, as were most residents of Portland. We found some parking and headed in to a den of caffeine-fueled coolness that Mishka’s in Davis can only dream about.

Stumptown Coffee, Downtown Portland

Honduras El Puente Coffee

I had some reservations about going in and getting a refill of coffee. I instinctively knew that I would be scorned and/or shunned by the bicycle messenger hipsters when I waited in line for 10 minutes to ask how I ordered a refill. I should have observed the locals and used a bit of inductive reasoning to figure out the formula for getting a refill, but instead I took the shortcut and asked. Big mistake. The man behind the counter looked at me, snickered, and stated that the first refill was free, and then it was $0.50 to get more coffee. A friendly local waiting in line for a refill witnessed the psychological torture that I had just been put through and allowed me to skip in front of him to get a refill. Portlanders are a funny bunch.

We moved on to the Pearl District where Wynne dropped us off to go shopping while she got her haircut. Mandy and Lisanne went shopping at Diesel and Antropoligie while I contemplated where to… put all the coffee that I had just drank. After a bit of clothes shopping, we headed to Powell’s Bookstore where I found a bathroom and a book by M.F.K. Fisher.

We then got the call from Wynne that she was done with the haircut. She picked us up and we headed to Southeast Portland for the featured activity of the day: Dim Sum at Wong’s King. I had never participated in a Dim Sum food orgy before, but Wynne, Mandy and Lissane had. I should have inferred from the mental exercises that they were doing that I was in for an ordeal.

Wong’s King Dim Sum

BBQ Pork Buns, steamed
Rice Noodles with Shrimp
Rice Noodles with Beef
Friend bean Curd
Shrimp Balls
Water Chestnut and Pork Balls
Crab and Shrimp Balls
BBQ Pork Buns, baked
Fried Shrimp, Pork and Mushroom Balls
Fried Bean Paste Balls

After 13 dishes delivered to our plates, we met up with JP, Dan and Lauren, who had just landed. We were a little bit behind schedule and had to rush back down to the Newberg area to get to Beaux Freres, the first winery visit of our vacation.

Beaux Freres

2005 Pinot noir, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot noir “Beaux Freres Vineyard”, Willamette Valley, OR

We met the winemaker Mike Etzel at Beaux Freres who gave us a comprehensive tour of his vineyards. During our walk through the vineyards, he gave us a history of Pinot growing in Oregon and a history of the winery and vineyards, explaining along the way his move over to biodynamics. We learned that he considers himself more a soil farmer than a grape grower or a winemaker.

After leaving the winery with a supremely satisfied feeling in our cheeks, but not our stomachs, we headed to Fred Meyer, the Portland supermarket that sells everything from food to electronics to clothing. For dinner, we decided on a menu of two types of ribs.

While cooking and prepping dinner, we opened a bottle of Pinot gris to get us through the “hardship” of cooking dinner.
2005 Pinot gris, Martinborough Vineyards, Martinborough, NZ

My assigned job was dessert, an assignment that I undertook with tired efficiency.

Dinner @ Chehalem House

Barbeque Baby Back Pork Ribs
Cross Cut Beef Ribs, Asian Style
Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Paprika
Roasted Asparagus
Vanilla and Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

NV Domaine Chandon “Riche” Sparkling Wine
2003 Pinot noir “De Lancellotti Vineyard”, Bergrstom, Willamette Valley, OR
2002 Merlot, Pepper Bridge, Walla Walla, WA
1997 Pinot noir “Ridgecrest”, Willamette Valley, OR
2002 Pinot noir, Ribbon Ridge Winery, Willamette Valley, OR

After dinner we were treated by Harry Peterson-Nedry, Wynne’s dad, to a selection of Eaux de Vie from Clear Creek Distillery.

Pear Brandy
Blue Plum Brandy

After dinner and cleanup, we headed to sleep. Wynne and I had an early wake up at 6:00am in order to pick up Antonia from the airport at 7:50am the next morning.

Finally everyone was present: Wynne, Antonia, Mandy, Lisanne, Dan, Lauren, JP and myself. We started the morning off with a little bit of coffee and then headed to our first appointment of the day – Domaine Drouhin Oregon, or as the locals call it, “DDO”. Joseph Drouhin came to Oregon in the 80’s and bought the property up in the Red Hills of Dundee. The vineyards are planted 1mx1.3m, which yields… a lot of vines per acre (something around 2000). The facility is beautiful – all gravity flow, all French equipment, very elegant and simple on the inside. I do think they may have taken the Frenchiness of the place a little bit too far – the imported French doors and French windows for the winery. We were given a tour of the facilities and even saw a little bit of bottling action. They were bottling their premier Pinot noir – Called “Louise”, a wine which they only produce 350-400 cases per year, regardless of the yield of the vintage. We then went up to the tasting room and were treated to wines from both Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy and Domaine Drouhin Oregon.

Domaine Drouhin Oregon

2005 Chabilis Premier Cru, Maison Joseph Drouhin, FR
2001 Chambolle-Misigny Villages, Maison Joseph Drouhin, FR
2004 Pinot noir, Domaine Joesph Drouhin Oregon, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Pinot noir “Laurene” (yet to be released), Domaine Joseph Drouhin Oregon, Willamette Valley, OR
2003 Pinot noir “Laurene”, Domaine Joseph Drouhin, Willamette Valley, OR

After tasting those wonderful wines, we had a little bit of time to fill before our next appointment at Carlton Winemakers’ Studio. The plan was to get a bit of lunch, but we decided that because we were so close to Stoller Vineyards, we would stop by and say hello. Wynne and her family have a relationship with the Stollers, so it was nice to drop by and be so welcomed. We said hello to everyone and got a tour of their facilities. Another gravity flow operation, but seemed to be smaller than DDO. The winery was fairly new and was solar and on its way to being green. After reaching the nadir of the winery, we wound back up the stairs to the tasting room, a modernist foray into winery furnishings.

Stoller Vineyards

2006 Pinot noir rosé “ Junior Vines (JV) Estate”, Stoller Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Chardonnay “JV Estate Stainless”, Stoller Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Chardonnay “Senior Vines (SV) Estate”, Stoller Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot noir “JV Estate”, Stoller Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR

We left Stoller with less time than expected for lunch. In the back and forth of “Where should we eat, No you decide” that precipitated in the next few minutes, we finally ended up at a little Mexican restaurant that I had noticed in Newberg the day before.

Lunch @ Panederia and Taqueria Gonzalez

Tacos al Pastor – Greg
Burrito al Pollo – Antonia
Tacos al Pastor and Sope – Wynne

Various other combinations of plate and meat, including but not limited to tacos, burritos, enchiladas, sopes, tamales with carnitas, pollo, pastor, lengua, asada and pollo al pastor.

It was phenomenal Mexican food – the type that cannot possibly be made by anyone except an abuelita or one of her progeny. I think that it comes close, but does not match the flavor Tacos el Jalisciense in Woodland, CA, except maybe the tortillas, which appeared to be handmade and were exceptional. We all ate so fast while waiting for each other’s food that the other patrons suggested that we just take a seat at the booths, but we declined; we had more wine to drink taste.

We hurried back to the car and headed of to Carlton, OR to find the Carlton Winemakers’ Studio, a building set up a few years ago as a place for up-and-coming winemakers to use state-of-the-art equipment to make wine without financial concerns of starting a winery. When we arrived the gentleman who was supposed to give us a tour was not around, so instead we sat down at the bar and tasted a few wines before one of the men from the tasting room started an impromptu tour of the facilities.

2005 Riesling “Private Lumpkin”, Lazy River Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Early Muscat, Ribbon Ridge Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR

While we were inside we ran into the assistant winemaker, Grant, who worked for the man who owned the facilities. He is a graduate of the Fresno program, and understanding what we were doing in terms of our education, proceeded to give us an awesome tour of his wines. We tasted some Pinots in tank and in barrel. We also learned that he was in his last week on the job as he had just been hired as the assistant winemaker at Beaux Freres. For such a nice guy, it is going to be a well-deserved promotion in responsibility.

Finally our tour guide showed up and gave us the official tour, espousing the advantages that the Studio offers to its winemakers. The most interesting thing that I learned on the tour was that instead of acting as one bonded winery, there were actually ten different TTB bonds in the facility, one for each winemaker. Ten (!!!). The manager of the Studio has to reevaluate each year who is in residence and how much wine they expect to make and renew each of the bonds. It seems like a financial and administrative nightmare.

Our day was not yet over, however. We made our way back to Chehalem where Harry was waiting to give us a tour of the winery and taste through all of the whites just before they are bottled, which are being bottled as I write.

Chehalem White Wines

2006 Pinot blanc, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Chardonnay “INOX”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Pinot gris, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Pinot gris “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Riesling “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Riesling “Corral Creek Vineyards”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR

After tasting though the whites, we moved back to the barrel room, where all of the reds were soaking up some oak. Harry wanted us to understand the differences between the three vineyards from which he grows fruit. He gets fruit from Stoller Vineyard, Corral Creek Vineyard and Ridgecrest Vineyard.

The Ridgecrest Vineyard produced my favorite wine, but I will just have to wait until it is in the bottle to see how it turned out.

Chehalem Red Wines (Barrel Samples)

2x Corral Creek Vineyard
1x Stoller Vineyard
3x Ridgecrest Vineyard
1x 5 Acres
1x Wind Ridge

After tasting out of the barrels, we moved back into the tasting room, where we were treated to wines from near and far. We started off with Chehalem wines that had made it into the bottle, then we moved on to more… exotic fare.

Chehalem Tasting Room

2005 Riesling “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot blanc, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot gris “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2003 Chardonnay “Ian’s Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot noir “3 Vineyards”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Pinot noir “Ridgecrest”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Pinot noir “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2003 Pinot noir, Ribbon Ridge, Ribbon Ridge, OR
2005 Chardonnay “SV Estate”, Stoller Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR
NV Chardonnay “Ragapple”, Apple Lassie Vineyards, NC
2005 Chardonnay, Byington, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA

The wine tasting portion of the day had come to and end, but eating had not yet commenced.

We headed out en masse to Tina’s, Harry’s and Wynne’s favorite restaurant in Dundee, OR. Harry is a regular there, a fact corroborated by “Harry’s Wine List”, a wine list that restaurant keeps just for him, mostly of Alsatian Rieslings. It was hard to select an entrée from the menu at Tina’s. It took me until the last possible second, when the waiter was about to walk away from me, that I finally decided on the Short Ribs. This makes the second night in a row eating ribs. Mmmm……


Fried Walapa Bay Oysters with sorrel mayonnaise
Tempura Vegetables
Salmon Spring Rolls with spicy hazelnut sauce
Scallops wrapped in Bacon with lentils

Carrot-Ginger Soup
Salad with Hazelnuts

Cypress Grove Chevre Souffle
Braised Strawberry Mountain Beef Short Ribs
Grilled Beef Tenderloin Medallions
Pan Fried Skate Wing
Grilled Su Dan Farms Lamb Loin Chops

2005 Riesling, J. Christopher, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Riesling “Schlossberg Cuvee St Catherine”, Domaine Weinbach, Alsace Grand Cru, FR
2004 Pinot noir “Antoinette”, J.K. Carriere, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Pinot noir, Thomas, Willamette Valley, OR

Buttermilk & Lemon Tart
Chocolate Hazelnut Souffle
Quince & Apple Cobbler
Crème Brulee

Peppermint Tea

With fat stomachs, we moved to the parking lot. Karoake at Lumpy’s (the local dive bar) was considered, but in the end we decided to go back to the house and go to sleep.

The next morning we woke up early to make a 9am appointment at Argyle to taste some sparking wines. We also packed some pillows and blankets in the car to keep us warm at Wynne’s old apartment, where we were going to stay the night with her friend and old roommate, Eliza. The winemaker there, Rollin Stoles, was a classmate of Hildegarde Heymann, a professor in our department, when they were in our program. He showed us around his facilities, including his insulated fermentation tanks – they are housed in an insulated housing that requires minimal heating and cooling. He said that he could have a tank going through cold stabilization next to a tank going through ML and not worry about heating issues.

Argyle Winery

3x base wines (Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Riesling)
3x Chardonnay barrel samples
2000 Chardonnay, Argyle, Willamette Valley, OR
1999 Blanc de blancs, Argyle, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Pinot noir, Argyle, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot noir, Argyle, Willamette Valley, OR

Rollin was a really nice guy and had myriad opinions on the industry and his colleagues in California. His main message was “question the crap that wineries and winemakers feed you”.

We were running a little late for our next appointment, an adventure which I alluded to earlier. After tasting the Eaux de Vie from Clear Creek Distillery, Wynne got the number of the owner, Steve McCarthy, and called him up and made us an appointment to look around. After a quick trip from Dundee to NW Portland, we arrived back where we first stepped on to Portland soil, 4 blocks form Saint Honore.

Steve gave us a history and a tour of his distillery. Not having been to a distillery before, it was so interesting to see how other alcoholic products are made. He works with fruit that ferment to 5% alcohol, a situation which yeast are not so happy about, we learned. He showed us the fermentation tanks, German stills and barrel room. After the tour, it was time to taste.

Clear Creek Distillery

Pear Brandy
8 year Apple Brandy
Steve McCarthy Whiskey
Douglas Fir Eau de Vie

That’s right, Steve makes an Eux de Vie out of Douglas Fir buds. It is a drink unlike anything that I have had before. So strong and so fragrant. He manages to perfectly capture the fruits that he uses in his spirits. The aromas are not at all artificial-smelling. It is quite a feet. I think Roger Boulton should take his distillation class up to Clear Creek on a field trip next year (hint, hint).

After quite a few sips of spirits, we needed a good soak. Not wanting to go very far as it was now starting to rain a little bit, we headed back to Saint Honore.

Lunch @ Saint Honore

Croque Monsieur
Chicken Crudite Baguette
Brie Bartlett Panini
Chocolate Brioche
Apple pastry w/ Custard

This Croque Monsieur was the best I have had outside of France. The one from Champagne Bakery in Irvine is very good, but this one was better.

After lunch we walked around for a bit in NW Portland and split up. Some of us took a trip to the airport to drop off Mandy, who had to get back to California to entertain some family friends and/or family. Antonia, Lisanne, Wynne and I, upon returning back from the airport, headed to downtown Portland to do some shopping. Wynne and Antonia bought some clothes; Lisanne got a pair of shoes, as did I. I really needed some new shoes. My dock shoes would leak in water when it was raining and soak my socks, leaving me with wet feet all day. Wynne went to pick up the car – it was pouring rain at this point – and we headed of to dinner at Park Kitchen in Portland. Wynne originally booked a table for 8, but when the quickly expanded to 17, we were moved to the back room which we had to ourselves. It was set up as a tasting menu. I was expecting a few dishes. Not quite.

Dinner @ Park Kitchen

Appetizer Tasting Menu

Roasted beet with oranges, local fresh cheese and toasted almonds
Chickpea fries with pumpkin ketchup
House cured anchovies with preserved lemons and fennel
Braised lamb neck with chickpea ragout and sunchoke chips
Red kale ratini
Celery root remoulade with red lentils and duck ham
Poached razor clams “ceviche” with blood oranges
Gin and vermouth steamed mussels with leaks cooked in saffron and potato cream
Frito misto of salt cod, rabbit confit and duck leg
Braised pork belly with sauerkraut and pears
Duck confit ravioli with sauerkraut
Artichoke salad with sunchoke chips, salami and new potatoes
Sweetbreads with carrot sauce, butter and sauerkraut

Entrée Tasting Menu

Steak and eggs – Braised beef short ribs with acorn squash and Yorkshire pudding with a poached egg
Skate wing with spinach cream, lentils, carrots, leaks, fried cauliflower and mint vinaigrette
Rabbit loin and belly confit with salsify and escarole
Roasted artichoke
Pork two ways – pork loin roast and pork “dolmas” – pork shoulder, duck liver puree and cipollini onions wrapped in savoy cabbage

2003 Riesling “Beblenheim”, Marcel Deiss, Alsace, FR
1996 Buzet “Hommage a Nick Spanopolous”, Les Vignerons de Buzet, FR
1999 Toscana IGT “Maestro Raro”, Fattoria di Felsina Berardenga, Toscana, IT
1998 Barbresco “Bric Turot”, Prunotto, Langhe, IT

Dessert Tasting Menu

Chocolate sorbet with molasses cookies
Lemon pudding with macaroons
Caramel hazelnut tart with grapefruit and Camapri sauce

What a gastronomic orgy we had that night. I tasted so many new things (sunchokes, rabbit and sweetbreads) as well as beef ribs for the third night in a row (I’m definitely not complaining). After dinner we all headed to Apotheke, a club nearby where someone we had dinner with knew the DJ.

When we got to the second floor of the building where Apotheke was located, we were greeted with some electronic music and white. A lot of white. The whole bar was white –the walls, the tables, the floor, the chairs, the bar. It was like being in a Stanely Kubrik film. The bar was also themed – did not serve mixed drinks, only whiskey, aperitifs and digestifs. I saw a lot of pastis imbibed, as well as Chartreuse and an interesting spirit made from molasses. A few Clear Creek Eaux de Vie may also have been ordered. I did not have anything – I needed a break from putting anything else in my body.

After the club I drove us back to Eliza’s apartment, where we all promptly fell asleep.

After sleeping in until 11:30am, the latest I have slept in over 2 years, we headed out to breakfast. JP and Lauren woke up early, so they headed out on their own. The rest of us – Antonia, Lisanne, Wynne, Dan, Eliza and I found our way to Utopia Café after stopping in at the SE Portland Stumptown for some early afernoon coffee.

Stumptown, Southeast Portland

Rwanda Karaba Coffee
Espresso Macchiato
Espresso with hazelnut syrup
Izze Soda

Breakfast @ Utopia Café

Jo Jo’s Breakfast Burrito
Oatmeal, Fruit
Baja Scramble
Blue Corn Pancakes
Blueberry Pancakes
Tomato, Spinach and Feta Scramble

Orange Juice

After brunch, more shopping ensued, then we made our way back to the vineyard. We got back and a few of my compatriots passed out from lack of sleep, while the rest of us showered and did crossword puzzles. At around 7:30pm, we decided we should have something to eat, so JP and Lauren headed to Fred Meyer in Newberg to buy some groceries. Once again, cooking and drinking commenced.

Dinner @ Chehalem House

Angel hair pasta with basil, chicken, tomatoes, grilled vegetables, pinenuts and Romano cheese
Leftover beef and pork ribs

Ice cream sandwiches

1983 Riesling “Scharzhofberger”, Auslese, Bauer & Co., Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, GR
2000 Riesling “Smaragd”, Nikolaihof, Mawtern-Wachau, GR
2003 Pinot noir “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR

After dinner we read for a bit, then went to sleep. Antonia and I said goodbye to everyone, including Harry and Bala and Dimitri (the dogs).

When we woke up the next morning, we went to the airport and came home. The rest of the crew was going to Penner-Ash and to the beach (cold!).

That is the end of my Oregon Trail. I hope to make it back there soon. The winemakers in Oregon were wonderful people who really opened themselves up to Davis students. I thank all of them for taking us in to their wineries and vineyards and telling us about what the do and why they love wine.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Shafer Vineyards

Mustard in the Row
Mustard in the Row
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.

Last quarter we took a trip with our Winery Design class taught by Roger Boulton to Shafer Vineyards in Napa Valley. It was an enlightening experience to get to see the winery from the perspective of their winemaker, Elias Fernandez, through the lens of winemaking practices. This was the view from the winery looking back out west to the rest of the Napa Valley.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Brown Bag Tasting

Brown Bag Tasting
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
A couple of us got together at Billo's behest to have an impromptu blind wine tasting. We were charged with the task of picking a wine that was representative of the region or varietal of the wine and to mask its identity.
A few people brought some food, all of us brought at least one bottle of wine, and we had a great time.

Pre Dinner

2005 Pinot gris, Elk Cove, Willamette Valley, OR - Wynne
2003 Seyval blanc, Falconer Vineyards, Minnesota - Jesse
2005 White Bordeaux, Chateau Guiraud, Bordeaux, FR - Jen
2004 Pinot noir "Jermome Reserve", Lemelson Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR - Wynne
1997 Yves Cuilleron "Les Serines" St Joseph, Rhone, FR - Billo
2005 Syrah/Viognier D'Arenberg "The Laughing Magpie", McLaren Vale, AU - Billo
2005 Pinotage, Jacobsdal, Stellenbosch, ZA- Greg
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Provenance, Rutherford, CA - Billo
1990 Chateau La Tour de Pin Figeuc "Moueix", St. Emillon Grand Cru, FR - Billo

Beet, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad - Jen
Breadless Bruschetta - Laura
2 Color Beets with Blood Orange - Stephanie
Grilled Tamari Beef with Daikon and Shitake Mushrooms -Billo

Dessert Wines

2003 Banyuls (Grenache noir), Les Clos de Paulilles, FR - Kristy
2000 Royal Tokaji "5 Puttonyos Red Label", Hungary - Stephanie
2004 Riesling, Dr. H. Thanisch "Classic Qualitswein", Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, GR - Laura
1983 Vintage Port, Fonseca, Oporto, PT

(Note: I hope I remember everything - I didn't write dessert down, so this is from compromised memory -GH)
Grandma's Sunshine Cake - Laura
Chocolate Cake and Chocolate-Dipped Stawberries - Kristy
Tart Tatin - Stephanie

This was definitely an amazing tasting - thanks to Billo for hosting us all. Hopefully this will not be the last of our "Brown Bag" tastings; this should be the beginning of a great tradition. I had a wonderful time and I'm sure everyone else did, as well.

See you at the next "Brown Bag".