Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Perfect Earth Day Wine Guide

Down to Earth: A Seasonal Tour of Sustainable Winegrowing in California pulls off quite a feat, managing to be part coffee table book full of gorgeous photography, part guide to the ever-growing world of environmentally-aware grape growing and winemaking, part cookbook with seasonal recipes. Just released by the Wine Institute (so, yes, it's truly a trade book in that sense), it still makes the case that California, as it so often does in so many fields, is leading the way in wine sustainability.

Want to read the rest then do so at the KCET Food Blog.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Earth Day Feast

(Given Farm photo)

It's easy to think of every day as Earth Day when you get to enjoy the bounty that abounds in Santa Barbara County. Just walk the booths of any of the farmers' markets, or even better grow some great produce or fruit yourself and you will know just what I mean--we live in an eater's paradise.

That point will get underscored this Saturday, April 26th at the first ever Farm to Table Dinner at Earth Day from 7-9 pm at Alameda Park. After all the other hoopla celebrating gaia, a group of people will partake in an outdoor pop-up unlike any other. Plus it gives people in town the chance to feast on the food of chef Jeff Olsson, known as the longtime proprietor of New West Catering, whose recently opened Industrial Eats in Buellton has been earning raves (if a bit too far away raves). His eats will be matched with wine from Buttonwood Farm Winery and beer from Firestone Walker Brewing Co., too, so no one goes thirsty.

The evening kicks off with a reception around the gazebo (so wonderful worker bees can set the meal up as partiers look on) that features artisan snacks by Isabella Gourmet Foods (the fine upscale market-almost-deli on Figueroa) accompanied by 2012 Buttonwood Grenache Blanc, Firestone 805, and Lori's Lemonade--lovely local drinks all.

What will follow is Olsson's four-course family style feast (so you have to rub elbows and talk and learn the pleasures of the table).

Course 1: minestrone of white beans, green garlic, and black kale with olive oil grissini (breadsticks, that is), accompanied by the 2012 Buttonwood Signature Sauvignon Blanc

Course 2: little gems with farm egg, crispy pancetta, and shallot-thyme vinaigrette AND Chapala Farms braised mustard greens with charred tomato, fennel, and basil, accompanied by the 2013 Buttonwood Syrah Rose

Course 3: heirloom beets with fresh favas, Drake Farms goat cheese and burnt honey-cayenne vinaigrette AND curry roasted cauliflower with hot chile, sweet onion, and mint PLUS New Vineland bread and crackers, heirloom tomato butter, Buttonwood Farm olive oil and tapenades, accompanied by the 2010 Buttonwood Cabernet Franc

Course 4: spring berry pudding with olive oil cake and Rancho La Vina walnut cookie, Green Star coffee

"With our festival theme this year of Local Roots, we wanted to drive a conversation around locally grown food," says Sigrid Wright, Earth Day Festival Director. "Our global food system is incredibly intensive in terms of water and energy, and yet three times a day we all have the power to make choices that are better for the planet. Eating locally grown, in-season food is one way to make Earth Day every day." (OK, maybe someone influenced my lead to this blog post a tiny bit.)

"We also wanted to create something at Earth Day that helps stitch the fabric of community," Wright continued. "Putting people at a table to literally break bread together is very powerful. The farm-to-table dinner is about giving thanks for the abundance of our region, exposing people to an exquisitely designed vegetarian-friendly menu, and ultimately building community."

Tickets are being sold for $60 a person and guests must be 21 or older. For info, check out the CEC webpage.

Wine Keeps On Sipping into the Futures

Wine events don't often come with 57-page spiral bound programs, but perhaps more should. Or that would be the easy assumption after sampling at the 2014 Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting this past weekend at Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant. This was the second year the instant hot spot in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone has hosted futures and they've quickly made it their own, especially when one of the stars of the tasting is a wine they helped create with Justin Willet: the Vallin 2013 Rosé (a 100% Syrah grape expression, beautiful pink going to gold with a lilting flavor to match).

Want to read the rest then do so at KCET's Food Blog.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Whole Foods' One Wine Program in Southern California

It seems that if Whole Foods comes a-calling you can't say no if you're a Central Coast winery. Make that even one in Temecula, as Fallbrook that far south has been part of the One Wine program. "We get to come in and cherry pick the barrels," Roger Fawcett, Whole Foods Market Southern Pacific region specialty associate coordinator, explains. "And then the wines we produce are exclusive not just to Whole Foods but to the region" -- you can't purchase these outside of southern California. Even better, the line is set up to keep wines moderately priced: no bottle breaks that $20 barrier that pinches the wallet a bit. And you're not going crazy if this sounds like a program Whole Foods did called "Collaboration" -- that was the just Santa Barbara-focused, and not quite as inexpensive precursor to One Wine.

Want to read the rest, then do so at the KCET Food Blog.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

9 Rules for Fun at Wine Fests

Not just flowers but festivals bloom in spring -- it's a prime time for wine regions to pull out all the corks, as it were. In just the next three weeks one doesn't have to wonder too far to attend the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend (it used to be just a one day fest, but now it's days of delight) April 10 - 13 mostly in the Santa Ynez Valley; the Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting at Les Marchands in Santa Barbara on April 19; and then the Paso Robles Cabs of Distinction Gala on April 26.

Want to read the rest then do so at the KCET Food Blog.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why Size Doesn't Matter

There are hundreds of reasons to go to wine festivals - often that's the number of wines you can have poured into your tasting glass - but one of the best is to get to meet and hear the winemakers talk their craft. We don't get to do this enough in the world, to hear artisans talk their way through what they do. Luckily, many winemakers are loquacious, like Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines, who at the recent Garagiste Festival held in Solvang March 28-30, let loose lines like, "The wonderful thing about wine is the answer is always, 'It depends,'" and, "With grapes as good as the ones from Larner Vineyard, I don't call myself a winemaker, I call myself a grape-herder."

Want to read then rest then do so at the KCET Food Blog.