Category Archives: Lifestyle

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!

BottleRock Napa Valley to feature Major Culinary Stage with Star Chefs & More

BottleRock Napa Fried Chicken

BottleRock Napa Valley has announced its star-studded culinary lineup and the addition of a fifth stage – the Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage. BottleRock Napa Valley will deliver a lineup of chefs, restaurateurs, winemakers, sommeliers, and craft brewers that is unparalleled in the music festival world. Michelin stars fly among the musical stars at the 3-day festival, May 29 through 31, in downtown Napa, California.

BottleRock Napa

One of the stages at BottleRock 2014 (Photo: BottleRock)

 “BottleRock Napa Valley is all about blending great music, food and wine,” – David Graham, CEO of Latitude 38. 

President of Williams-Sonoma, Janet Hayes adds, “Williams-Sonoma’s Culinary Stage will showcase some of the country’s top chefs and sommeliers with musicians and celebrities. We are excited to create unique culinary experiences for festival attendees that will differentiate BottleRock from all other food and music festivals.”

Ca Momi Pizza

Centrally located in the Whole Foods Restaurant Garden of the festival, the Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage will be hosted by the Bay Area’s “Foodie Chap,” Liam Mayclem of KCBS, and will feature celebrated chefs, vintners, actors, professional athletes and sommeliers participating in entertaining demos, performances, and other hi-jinx. The chef lineup includes Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Mina of the Mina Group, Iron Chef Marc Forgione, two Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn, Top Chef Michael Voltaggio, Larry Forgione of the Culinary Institute of America, Top Chef Mei Lin, Michelin-starred chefs Brandon Sharp of Solbar, Ken Frank of La Toque, and Robert Curry of Auberge du Soleil, 11-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, Bryan Forgione of Buddy V’s, Rick Moonen of rm Seafood, Oenotri’s Tyler Rodde, and Dario De Conti of Ca’Momi. Joining the fun will be the Williams-Sonoma Chef Collective featuring Sarah Simmons of Birds & Bubbles, Matt Jennings of Townsman, the Bon Vivants of Trick Dog, and Jason French of Ned Ludd.

The Cure BottleRock Napa

The Cure – one of my favorite bands at BottleRock 2014 (Photo: Kara Murphy)

Many of the region’s best chefs, vintners, and breweries will also showcase their talents in the VIP areas and Platinum Lounge. Noted Napa Valley restaurants including REDD and Redd Wood, Goose & Gander, and Atlas Social will provide exclusive offerings for Platinum guests, paired with rare and cult wines presented by Master Sommeliers and wine experts including Ian Cauble, Sur Lucero, Jay James, Gilles de Chambure, Mark de Vere, Jimmy Hayes, Robert Bath, DLynn Proctor, Willi Sherrer, Chris Blanchard, and Desi Echavarrie.

Food Fashionista Mika Takeuchi BottleRock Napa

We are rocking the shades at BottleRock

 All festival guests will enjoy a global tour of culinary offerings, featuring Japanese, Indian, Italian, Spanish, Mexican, American, Mediterranean, and Vietnamese cuisines. Mouthwatering dishes include Morimoto Sticky Ribs, wood-fired pizzas, pork belly sandwiches, Vietnamese shrimp rolls, barbecue, fried chicken, vegetarian, vegan and more. Culinary hotspots to be showcased include Morimoto Napa, Ca’Momi, The Thomas at Fagiani’s, Whole Foods, La Condesa, Tarla Grill, Taqueria Rosita, Eiko’s, Fume Bistro, Il Posto Trattoria, Eight Noodle Shop, Ristorante Allegria, The Q Restaurant and Bar, Bui Bistro, Napa Palisades Saloon, Smoke Open Fire, Jax White Mule Diner and food trucks like Bacon Bacon, Curry Up Now, Kara’s Cupcakes, Mark’s The Spot, MeSoHungry, Drewski’s, and Napa Valley Crust, among others.

 

Many of the regions finest wineries will be sharing their finest vintages, including Miner Family Winery, Robert Mondavi Winery, Silver Oak Cellars, Del Dotto Family Vineyards, Schramsberg Vineyards, Rombauer Vineyards, Clos Du Val, Gia by Gia Coppola, Goosecross Cellars, Round Pond Estate, Aviary Vineyards, Hill Family Estate, Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, JaM Cellars, JW Thomas Group, NakedWines.com, JCB by Jean Charles Boisset, Ca’Momi Wines, ONEHOPE Winery, Piazza Del Dotto, Starmont Wines, Twomey Cellars, and Vezer Family Vineyards.

There will be A LOT of wine at BottleRock 2015 (Photo: BottleRock)

There will be A LOT of wine at BottleRock 2015 (Photo: BottleRock)

Wine cabanas and beverage bars will be conveniently located throughout the festival grounds. All bars will be stocked with delicious pours from title wine sponsor Miner Family Winery and other premium Napa Valley vintners, dozens of craft beers, along with artisanal cocktails made with premium spirits. The craft brew garden will feature 20 brews from premium brewers and distillers such as Lagunitas, Crispin Cider, Boston Beer, 21st Amendment, Pyramid Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, Green Flash, Ninkasi, Heretic, and local favorite Napa Smith brewery. Fan favorites including Coors and Blue Moon Brewing round out the brew selections.

For more info on BottleRock Napa Valley, including a full lineup of 90+ music and culinary artists on five stages over three days, visit www.bottlerocknapavalley.com.

(Photos: BottleRock, Mika Takeuchi, and Kara Murphy http://bit.ly/1DzG2wr)

Feeding the Soul and The Senses – Todi, Italy

Food Fashionista Torre Olivola Todi Italy 6

Being aligned with Mother Nature makes my soul feel alive, whether hiking unpaved dirt paths in the Hawaiian rainforests or swimming in the crystal clear, aqua blue waters of the Caribbean surrounded by sea turtles. When I am in close proximity to my environment – whether it’s on land or in the sea – I feel nourished from the inside out. In fact, I believe that the way the earth nourishes us is Mother Nature’s greatest gift to us all.

I’ve tasted food all around the globe, from three­-star Michelins in Europe, to the break­-of­-dawn sushi counters at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo to ripened, organic Japanese persimmons from my Uncle’s backyard in California. Although each of these three experiences varied considerably, they are all linked by a common thread: the of use of fresh, high­-quality ingredients. There is something so invigorating and satisfying about enjoying a meal straight from the source, with food that is seasonal and locally grown in the region where you are living or visiting.

Food Fashionista Torre Olivola

On a magical, unforgettable visit trip to the region of Umbria, Italy, I felt a strong connection to the surrounding land and all that was cultivated on it. Not only did I gain a full understanding and knowledge of what it was like to live off the land, but I learned what it was like to live abundantly off the land. At a dear friend’s twelfth­-century villa, Torre Olivola in the medieval town of Todi, I was surrounded for miles in all directions by landscapes you would only see in the most picturesque paintings.

Food Fashionista Torre Olivola Todi Italy

Lush, well­-tended gardens of fresh fruits and vegetables, just steps from the historic country side villa, were lit up with the vibrant colors of the tomatoes, radicchio, eggplants, bell peppers, and blood oranges. In every area of this vast, serene, tranquil paradise were perfectly placed benches or sets of tables and chairs where one could sip morning tea or cappuccino while basking in the glory of it all. It was a heavenly way to start the day, with the toasty sun rays shining down upon you, the sound of chirping birds, the rustling foliage, and the breath of the crisp, unpolluted wind whispering sweet nothings and reminding me this was all real, not a dream.

Food Fashionista - Torre Olivola

A five­-minute walk led me to a honeybee colony where these hard-working, vitally necessary, tiny buzzing critters would labor all day, 24/7, creating their sweet pollinated gifts from the floral nectars. This magnificent honey, golden in color, with a creamy, yet thick and silky smooth consistency, was delectable on the artisanal walnut bread, produced by the local Italian baker, or drizzled over yogurt and fresh bright peaches, plums, and strawberries in the morning. I felt true appreciation towards the worker bees for all their generous and hard work. With one drop of magnificent zest from the luxurious honey, you could tell they put their heart and soul into their sweet creation.

Food Fashionista - Torre Olivola - Todi Italy

In Italy, they love to eat. The whole visit, I knew I was in the right place. Slow food, real food, good food – that is what our days consisted of from morning to night.  Even though we were eating three­-to five­-course meals for lunch and dinner daily, I never felt overly stuffed or uncomfortable, and I never regretted eating anything – none of this wonderfully tantalizing food was “bad” for me.

Food Fashionista - Torre Olivola - Seafood

In addition to our mealtimes, the Europeans have this lovely thing called siesta, which in my opinion is a politically correct term that other nations should freely adopt. If more people had it, there would be a greater sense of enjoyment to one’s day and life. Siesta is a time for rest after a mid­day meal. It allows you to have enough time to come home during your work day and enjoy a real meal, instead of being rushed, stuffing your face as you stand looking at the clock ticking away the last dreaded second of your sixty­-minute lunch break. It allows you to have time to prepare a quality meal and to spend that time with the people you love, so that when you go back to work later in the afternoon, you feel rejuvenated, satisfied, and ready to get back to your duties.
Food Fashionista Torre Olivola 5

Torre Olivola was surrounded by leafy, branched olive trees that provided shade from the sunlight that stretched across Umbria to the Tuscan border. More importantly, these olive trees produced the most succulent olives that were hand­-picked and later cold­-pressed, yielding the finest­-quality, extra-virgin olive oil in varying rich green hues. We savored the olive oil with a number of accompaniments, such as fresh crusty Italian bread, tomato and garlic bruschetta, and pasta (al dente, of course). We also brushed it over fresh local seafood and vegetables, like sautéed mushrooms, grilled eggplant, and blanched green beans. The tasty, fruity aromas of succulent, high-quality olive oil are not its only reward; the health and beauty benefits attributed to olive oil, with its polyphenols and anti­oxidants, are a welcome added bonus of this Italian staple as well.

Food Fashionista Torre Olivola Todi Italy 4

As far as the eye could see, and from a glance out of almost every window at Torre Olivola, were breathtaking views of stretches of vineyard. Grapes are known as “the fruit of the gods” and in Italy, wine is not only enjoyed, it is worshipped. At this ancient fortress where I was staying, the vineyard grapes were delicately hand­-picked, produced, bottled, and aged at just the right altitude in the finest oak barrels. These barrels were stored in the villa’s remarkable underground cantina, creating the most magnificent 100 percent merlot. Along with the villa’s main dining room, it was here in the cantina with the wood­-burning stove and the hanging, curing cinta senese (Italian black pig) that we clinked each other’s wine glasses over the most incredible rustic home­-cooking. The meals were also a rich visual feast with tables adorned with colorful Grazia majolica ceramic dishes from nearby Deruta, and organic centerpieces created from the gardens’ harvest.

 

Food Fashionista - Torre Olivola Todi Italy 2

About a mile away was the property’s farm of free­-range black pigs that produce the most superior charcuterie. These free­-range pigs are acorn­-fed and are considered the most elite of the swine. Even the top local restaurants purchased the meat from the villa’s farm. Nearby farms supplied parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino, provolone, taleggio and sheep’s milk cheese along with hand­-crafted, preservative­-free butter. My favorite cheese, burrata, which is a creamy mozzarella was picked up at an unassuming, yet wondrous spot just off the highway on the way to Todi. Cheese was a part of every meal: shaved parmesan over vegetable soup; warm taleggio, provolone, and sliced pear crostini; and the classic caprese salad with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.

Food Fashionista - Todi Italy Torre Olivola

Of the four seasons in Italy, there isn’t one that doesn’t hold some allure for me, but a particularly cherished time of year is “truffle season” ­­- months when the underground growing fungi reach maturity, and are ready to be discovered by well­-trained dogs or sniffing hogs. These tartufi (as the Italians call them) come in several forms, including the more prevalent black, and the rare, highly sought­-after, and pricey white form. Umbrian black truffles are usually hunted from November to March, while white truffles are usually found from October to December. I absolutely delight in the fragrant white truffles and always feel so blessed when I can consume them in any way, over tagliatelle or atop scrambled eggs. With a touch of white truffle, I never want or need any other spice to conflict with the pure aphrodisiacal taste. It’s like superior­-quality raw fish;  you don’t want to mask or drown the flawless essence of flavor with soy sauce. Truffles are a true gift from the earth, definitely one of the highest on the food chain as far as I’m concerned.

food fashionista torre olivola wine

Besides the astounding natural company I was surrounded by – honeybees, olive trees, grapevines, black pigs, fungi growing underground, and a multitude of vegetative growth – the time spent at Torre Olivola was made even more ideal by the authentic, loving, fellow gourmands who shared this edible genuine splendor with me.  They were inspirational people who had lived fully and well, and I aspired to be like them. We delighted each day in fascinating conversation that ranged over such topics as art, music, travel, politics, and the list goes on. Not only was my stomach being well­-sustained, but my mind was actively feasting during our daily meals together. From hearty farro soup, to warm radicchio salad with parmesan slices and balsamic vinegar, to the vibrant seven­-item tuna salad that resembled a garden party, I held dear to the fact that great company makes great food taste even better. This was and will always be a treasured time with awe­-inspiring friends over excellent meals and wine.

food fashionista - torre olivola Todi Italy Salad

So what did I bring back home from this experience that can be applied to everyday life? While eating sustainable, unprocessed food has always been my priority, my time in Torre Olivola reminded me that simple is often superior. The key to optimal cooking starts with quality ingredients. Never underestimate the value of mealtime and treasured time spent with loved ones. I understand that not everyone can dine in a twelfth­-century castle with a neighboring farm of black pigs and vineyards; that’s not my daily reality either. But I constantly aim to make conscious choices about the food I am purchasing and putting into my body since that is my castle. No matter where one lives, you can establish a habit of supporting your local farmers, and even growing your own produce. Eating fresh, healthy, and well-balanced meals is easier than you think and it truly does feed the soul and the senses.

Mika Takeuchi Food Fashionista Torre Olivola Todi Italy

This essay originally appeared in the book “Creating a Meal You’ll Love” with all proceeds going to Share our Strength – the leading nonprofit organization ending childhood hunger

Michelin InTIREnational Art Contest – Vote Now!

Michelin Inspired Tires

In its second year, the Michelin InTIREnational Art Contest challenges participants from South Carolina Upstate schools, businesses, non-profit organizations and the art community to create a unique piece of art with an international theme using up to four scrap tires donated by Michelin. This year, two winning works of art will be selected out of the 26 participants.  Each of the winning entries will receive a $5,000 donation to a charity, school, or non-profit of choice. One winner, the People’s Choice, will be awarded to the entry that receives the most votes on the contest’s website that is open to all members of the public. The second winner will be selected by a panel of judges based on these four criteria:

Overall design and execution

How creative is the overall design? How well did the participant(s) execute the concept?

Tire usage

How well did the participant(s) use and incorporate scrap tires into the overall design?

International theme

How well did the participant(s) communicate an international theme through the artwork?

Upstate connections 

How well did the participant incorporate a connection to the rich international diversity in the Upstate?

Michelin Inspired Tires

The InTIREnational Art Contest is part of Upstate International 2015 (upstateinternational.org), a month-long series of community events and activities that celebrate the cultural diversity of South Carolina’s Upstate. Michelin’s U.S. headquarters are based in Greenville, South Carolina.

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Voting is open to the public through March 27, 2015 and the winners will be announced at an event at Michelin’s corporate headquarters on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. See the creative and inspiring Michelin tire artwork and be sure to cast your vote for your favorite at InspiredTires.com