Category Archives: Food + Drink

Del Dotto Vineyards in Napa Valley – A Lot More Than Just Wine

Del Dotto Winery Dinner - Food Fashionista

On a recent California weekend, I escaped to a Venetian-estate setting in the heart of Napa Valley for a 2012 Pinot Noir release dinner. St. Helena’s Del Dotto Vineyards is a close-knit, family-owned winery which has been making estate grown, cave-aged, premium Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast wine for 20 years. And while most wineries can only boast about their wine, here at Del Dotto, it is paralleled by an impressive culinary program headed by executive chef Joshua Schwartz. His talents are a synergistic match with the award-winning wines creating an incredible food and wine pairing program which he has developed through a great deal of time spent tasting and conferring with the winemakers all year long.

Del Dotto Farm Napa Valley

Chef Schwartz finds inspiration through the property’s 5-acre culinary garden and he is a true artist of pairings. His food is elevated – and more representative of fine dining with a cooking background of 12 years at Chef Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry and Per Se.

Chef Joshua Schwartz Del Dotto VineyardsChef Joshua Schwartz and team preparing for the Pinot Dinner in the Del Dotto Kitchen 

This Pinot Noir winery dinner I attended at Del Dotto Vineyards was indeed a delightful and entertaining one. We started off with Del Dotto’s passed appetizers including:

Smoked Whitefish on Everything Bagel Potato Cake w Trout Roe, Bronze Fennel & Verbena – inspired by Chef Schwartz’ childhood food memories. 

Foraging Del Dotto Garden

Del Dotto’s Pete Kirkpatrick picking fresh herbs in the garden for the evening’s winery dinner. 

Del Dotto Chef Joshua Schwartz

California Lamb Chops with Garden Chives, Fleur de Sel and Olive Oil were so tender and flavorful I couldn’t help but enjoy at least four or more of them. 

Del Dotto Winery Dinner
Casatiello Napolitana Crema de Lardo & Speck (smoked Prosciutto) 

Tony Incontro Salumist Del Dotto VineyardsDel Dotto Salumist Tony Incontro heads the artisanal salumi program which includes an impressive aging room with a signature boars head at the entrance. 

Del Dotto Caves Napa ValleyAdjoining the tasting room is the estates’ wine barrel cave, with 300 year old terracotta tile ceilings, and 130 year old cut Varreggio marble walls, and a collection of imported Venetian Murano glass chandeliers which were hand assembled on site.

Del Dotto 100 Point WineThey call the wine in the cage The Beast – a Cabernet Sauvignon created from a blend of all of Del Dotto’s top vineyard holdings. It was rated 100 pts by Wine Advocate. The Beast has abundant richness, incredible density and generous notes of blackberries, black currant liqueur, graphite, licorice, truffles and incense.

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Following passed hors d’oeuvres and the private cave tour, everyone took their seats for dinner which began with thunderous music and jovial entertainment from a band, and not just any band, but a 50-plus piece marching band. I learned very quickly right then, that when the Del Dotto family throws a party, it’s a full-on celebration. The band definitely got the party started!

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Pan seared scallop w garden parsnip purée, English peas, tone’s pancetta & black truffle syrup – a beautiful, well-balanced dish that complemented the smooth and rich in fruit notes of the 2013 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 

Del Dotto Garden Napa ValleyA local bee enjoying a California Poppy and sunshine in the Del Dotto Garden 

Hudson Valley Foie Gras n’ duck breast w white asparagus, wild rice pancake, acacia honey gastrique and fresh arugula just picked from the garden. Paired with a 2013 Estate Pinot. 

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Executive Chef Joshua Schwartz putting the finishing touches on a winery dinner course 

There are a number of wineries in Napa Valley, but if you find yourself in the St. Helena area and looking for a winery that offers exceptional food along with its wine, you can’t go wrong at Del Dotto Vineyards. Their food and wine options are a satisfying choice for discriminating and varying food and wine palates. Another fact I’ve noticed about the Del Dotto culinary team, is that whether it’s an on site, special collector’s dinner or a local food festival like Heritage Fire or Eat Drink SF, Chef Joshua Schwartz and his team always deliver a high quality product and impeccable service. In fact, the first time I was even introduced to the Del Dotto brand, was at a local Wine Country event where they were serving their signature cured meats and intricate bites to the throngs of guests. I was impressed by both the high standard of cuisine served at a festival, where most restaurants lack and the fact that they never ran out of it. It was to my surprise, that it was not a restaurant, but a winery that was offering these distinctively satisfying bites. That is when I knew I had to make a personal visit to Del Dotto Vineyards and I’m sure glad I did.

See more of my Del Dotto Photos at https://flic.kr/s/aHskiNGLsp

Chef Joshua Schwartz

Chef Joshua Schwartz’ Pork Shank and Beef Brisket in Brioche at Heritage Fire  

Delicacies by Del Dotto (St. Helena): $75 per person – Offered again starting November 2015 http://bit.ly/1U5BHiP

Available from Thursday through Saturday at the Venetian Estate and Caves. The opulent five-course tasting menu indulges in premium ingredients such as caviar, truffles, lobster, Mangalitsa pork, Wagyu beef, and Michelle Cuizel chocolate. The tasting menu is paired alongside five of Del Dotto Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast Del Dotto branded wines, such as the 2010 Brut Sparkling Wine, 2012 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2012 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. Before the pairing, guests are guided on a barrel tasting of four wines in the Venetian Cave. The Delicacies Tasting is $75 per guest, and is available at 10 am or 1:00pm, Thursday to Saturday. Please note their menu is subject to change.

For Del Dotto Wine Tasting Reservations: http://bit.ly/1BSWfvF

Del Dotto Winery and Tasting Rooms Information 

Venetian Estate and Caves, 1445 St. Helena Hwy South, St. Helena, CA 94574

Napa Historic Winery & Cave, 1055 Atlas Peak Rd., Napa, CA, 94558.

Piazza Del Dotto, Highway 29, Yountville, CA – Coming Soon

Winery appointments can be made online (DelDottoVineyards.com) or by calling (707) 963-2134. The winery is open daily from 11am to 5pm, every day of the year.

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Lord Stanley Opens in San Francisco

Lately, there seem to be a lot of new restaurants popping up in San Francisco, but only a few where the food entices me to return. The recently launched Lord Stanley in the city’s Russian Hill neighborhood is one of those few. The husband-and-wife owners and co-chefs, Rupert and Carrie Blease met twelve years ago in Oxfordshire, England, while working at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, the two-Michelin-starred, Relais & Châteaux restaurant by world renowned Chef Raymond Blanc. Since then, they have worked in notable restaurants across the globe including Per Se and Blue Hill in New York City and most recently Central Kitchen and Commonwealth in San Francisco. Their refined cuisine is modern, yet simple utilizing the best local, seasonal and sustainably-sourced ingredients. Everything is made in-house daily, including bread, butter, juices and infusions.  In addition to the a la carte menu, there is a frequently changing tasting menu and a beverage pairing option. The wine list is curated by Wine Director Louisa Smith with a selection of hand-picked, unique wines from all over the world including a focus on small family farms that use organic and biodynamic practices. Beer and sake are also served.

Begin with a Champagne Cocktail including one with rhubarb bitters

I loved these delicate, but full of flavor Onion Petals with Sherry Vinegar 

    Blistered Sweet Peppers with Salt Cod 

 Olives with lemon verbena

   Starting off with snacks – order them all and share with friends and don’t forget the Pickled Shellfish with fennel and dill (center right)   

   Marinated Tomatoes on pain d’espices with black garlic tapenade and panteleo 

   English peas with fresh curds, carrots and dill – look at those natural colors

    Beef tartare with seaweed, cucumber and nori cracker – loved the delightful presentation and enjoyed the use of both European and Asian influences

Fresh greens with colorful nasturtium 

Housemade bread and butter 

Slow Cooked and grilled lamb shoulder with alliums and lemon 

Black Cod with wax beans, avocado and curry 

   Wagyu…why not?

Poached Hen with sweet corn, hazelnuts and mouserron mushrooms 

 Cheese with granola and poached stone fruit 

  Red Fruit with elderflower ‘Eton Mess’ – this was my favorite dessert. Absolutely loved it. 

    Grilled Peach with castelvetrano olives and chilled lillet 

Chocolate Pouch with creme chiboust and cherries 

After this meal, I’d have to say…Praise the Lord Stanley!

Lord Stanley is open six nights a week for dinner; Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday 5:30 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 11 p.m. Also note, that they’ve adopted the European style of service in which gratuity is already included with the menu items.

Lord Stanley

2065 Polk Street | San Francisco, CA 94109

415.872.5512

 

Moët Chandon Ice Impérial – Champagne on the Rocks

Moet Chandon Ice ImperialMoët & Chandon Ice Impérial is the first ever Champagne created to be enjoyed over ice. And although I prefer my Champagne chilled in an ice bucket, this is a refreshing beverage option for the warmer months lounging poolside or at an outdoor picnic or BBQ. The tropical, fruity wine consists of a combination of Pinot Noir (40-50%), Pinot Meunier (30-40%) and Chardonnay (10-20%). I was introduced to Moët’s Ice Impérial at Bite Silicon Valley where they were serving their #MoetMoment with fresh mint leaves and Driscoll’s raspberries. Moët’s other suggested pairings include lime or white grapefruit zest,  cucumber peel, sliced ginger, cardamom seeds, and strawberries.

Moêt Chandon Ice Imperial

For more information, visit Moët & Chandon

Truvée Wines Luncheon with the McBride Sisters

Sens Restaurant - Paella

Paella w chicken, spanish chorizo, prawns, clams, roasted peppers, saffron rice and Truvée Red Blend

Last week, I had the pleasure of lunching with the McBride Sisters, the first African-American sisters to own a wine company – Truvée Wines. Fittingly derived from the French verb “to find,” each bottle of Truvée embodies the McBride Sisters’ wonderful story of growing up continents apart, completely unaware of each other’s existence before uniting over a mutual passion – their love for wine. With Truvée, they’ve crafted an affordable and contemporary wine sourcing grapes from multiple premiere vineyards throughout the Central Coast of California.

Sens Restaurant

Meditteranean Spreads – cucumber-dill tzatziki, feta-aleppo pepper, hummus, smoked eggplant paired well with the Sangria

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Tasting the clean and crisp Truvée Chardonnay with the family-style starters 

Sharing the same father, but raised by different mothers, the sisters both grew up in emerging wine regions—independently fostering appreciations for the craft of winemaking. Growing up continents apart in Monterey, California and Spring Creek, Marlborough, New Zealand, both were unaware of the others existence for nearly half of their lives. Their father’s final wish before he passed away of cancer was to connect his two daughters. The sisters were united for the first time in 1999. Their inspiring story honorably exemplifies  ”to find what matters most.”

Truvee Wines Mc Bride Sisters and Mika Takeuchi Food Fashionista

with Truvée Wine founders Robin McBride and Andréa McBride

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Truvée Wines Sangria – perfect drink for a poolside BBQ or summertime dinner with friends

Truvée San Francisco Sangria Recipe

Serves 12

1 750 ml bottle of Truvée Chardonnay

6 oz. bottle Ketel One Citroen

6 oz. elderflower liqueur

6 oz. Stellina di Notte Prosecco

Garnish:

Raspberries

Peaches

 

Join us at Cuyana Conversations: Gastronomical Delights 5/21

Cuyana Fewer Better Gastronomy Panel

If you’re around this Thursday, I’ll be moderating a thoughtful, food-focused panel at the ultra-chic Cuyana showroom in San Francisco’s downtown Union Square. The name Cuyana means ”to love” in Quechua and this gastronomy panel is one of the featured topics in the Fewer, Better Series. The panelists include an incredible group of food folks from the Bay Area. Hope to see you there!