a matter of taste

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A clip of Sunday's radio show is online now. (Just scroll down and click on "July 27.")

Is there anyone in the world who actually likes the sound of his or her own voice? I listen to this, and I feel like I sound like I'm 12.

I did get to eat some fabulous food during the broadcast, though. Check out these goodies that Bob Hurley of Hurley's Restaurant in Yountville made to pair with the new Reserve releases. My favorite was the venison (so much for eating mostly vegetarian) with berry sauce and a side of butternut squash flan, paired with the 2005 Reserve Pinot Noir.

we'll always have paris

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So I'm not sure how many non-industry or non-winegeek folks out there know about the Judgment of Paris. This is the tasting that basically set the stage for the California wine industry and opened doors for wineries and winemakers all over the world. Up until the Judgment, which took place in 1976, everyone thought French wine was the only type of wine worth drinking. (The French especially thought this.) This tasting -- a blind tasting that pit French wines against Californian wines -- changed everything. The judges, who were all French, couldn't figure out which wines were which, and they ended up choosing the Californian wines as the winners. Of course, this caused a huge uproar.

An uproar that is still roaring, over and over again. With re-enactment after re-enactment.

And now that good ol' Hollywood has made a movie about the tasting, everyone wants to experience Paris all over again.

I flew down to L.A. yesterday to represent our winery (yes, we were one of the California wines poured back in 1976) at one of these re-enactments. While they didn't have wines from all of the original participants, the wines they did have were pretty significant. For whites (Chardonnay, essentially), they had the 2006 Chateau Montelena, 2006 Chalone Vineyards, 2005 Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet and 2005 Beaune Clos des Mouches. For reds, our 2004 Reserve was joined by the 2004 Stag's Leap Cellars SLV, 2004 Chateau Leoville Las Cases and 2005 Chateau Montrose.

The tasting was interesting because the vast majority of people in the group were consumers -- just average, normal people (or so they seemed). But they took the tasting really seriously. And it was extremely cool to sit down and evaluate wines together -- I always enjoy listening to everyone's different descriptors and preferences -- it's like taking a peek into someone's food history. It's amazing the varied scents and flavors that people have in their memories.

Anyway, California won again -- Montelena for the whites and Stag's Leap for the reds (both the original winners in 1976). And yes, these results could be because our wines are indeed superior to the French.

Or because we are a bunch of Californians with palates for California wine. (I tend to agree with the latter -- I personally find it hard to say one country's wines are better than another's -- so much about wine is subjective.)

Either way, it was a fun event. And I am exhausted because I woke up at 4:30 this morning to fly home. (Can someone please tell me how and why I'm still awake right now?)

alien kitty

Sunday, July 27, 2008

But we love her so much anyway.

in print, on water, on air

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lots of media action at work lately, which is a good thing (except for the fact that I don't blog as often as a result). I've been sending samples out left and right -- Dr. Miller is tasting the Aussies this month, our new Reserve-tier wines are being released soon and a lot of writers seem to be traveling through Napa at this time of year.

We hosted Mr. Big Time a few weeks ago for an all-Cab tasting (pulled out the good stuff -- including the 1992 Stags Leap District Cab, which was fahab and could probably even age a bit more). And our famous wine writer was very gracious and humble and an absolute joy to be around, which made the tasting even nicer.

And last week I went out sailing with our founding winemaker (I know, rough job, right?) because The Men's Book is doing a piece on winemakers and their photographer wanted to shoot ours in an outdoor setting. So we sailed down from San Rafael to Tiburon, and the photog made the winemaker blow up his dinghy (not that dinghy, you dirty people), climb in and row back and forth with a glass of wine. Luckily, our winemaker is a good sport, and I think the photos are going to be great -- sort of like he is shipwrecked and only needs our wine to survive. Love it.

And yesterday we hosted a French wine writer who is working on a book about wines for the woman's palate. And this Sunday, a local radio show will broadcast live from the winery, tasting our new Reserves on the air, recommending food that will pair with the wines and promoting our upcoming toga party. (Yes -- toga.)

Busy times, busy times ...

I scream because of ice cream

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Today I stopped by Three Twins for a post-lunch treat. (This is my weekly ritual with Laura -- we go to Oxbow Public Market, where we order salads from Taylor's and then indulge in a scoop of ice cream for dessert.)

I like Three Twins because they always have interesting flavors -- cardamom, or strawberry ice cream that's made with balsamic.

And today they had tobiko ice cream. Yes, that's right -- ice cream made with those teeny-tiny, bright orange fish eggs that usually adorn sushi rolls. I like sushi and trying new food combinations, and I love savory flavors that are made into desserty items, so I immediately asked for a taste.

And started raving: This was fabulous stuff! Imagine the richest, most voluptuous, decadent vanilla base, with just barely a hint of saltiness (those who know me know I think salty-sweet is the best thing ever) and a very slight little crunch. Loved it!

I was going on and on about just how good the ice cream was when this older couple walked up behind me. The woman heard me praising the ice cream and announced:

"You must really like it because you're Chinese."

Wow. Oh, wow. Oh, good fucking wow.

I thought I left this stuff behind when I moved to the Bay Area. But apparently, I was wrong, and some people need a little educating:

1. I am not Chinese. I am Filipino. Asia is not made up of one single, all-encompassing country. In addition to China and the Philippines, there is also Korea (north and south -- oh my!), Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Burma (I don't want to call it Myanmar), Laos -- the list goes on and on!

2. Tobiko is not typically used in Chinese cooking; as I stated several paragraphs ago, you usually see it at the sushi bar, and sushi is Japanese. (Surprise!) Therefore, even if I were Chinese, this still wouldn't mean I would automatically like tobiko ice cream or even know what the hell tobiko was.

3. In fact, while this may be hard to fathom, just because one is Asian, this doesn't automatically mean one enjoys any sort of Asian food at all. I personally don't like pancit, a Filipino noodle dish, even though it was served at every single family party I ever went to throughout my childhood. (I know, it's extremely odd that I don't like it, and I will probably now get hate mail from Filipinos. But my point is that you don't have to like something even if it is supposed to be part of your food heritage.)

4. Tobiko ice cream was not created exclusively for the Asian customer's palate. A quick look at Napa's 2006 census estimate shows that only 5.9% of Napans are of Asian descent. Talk about niche marketing! I am pretty sure that the owner of Three Twins (who is not Asian, by the way) did not have this very small audience in mind when he came up with this recipe.

5. And finally: Is Tobiko ice cream really that weird? I mean, there is gumball ice cream (which I never really understood how to eat because you aren't supposed to swallow gum, so you'd have to stop eating the ice cream to chew the gumballs and then spit them out and this whole process would take forever and your ice cream would melt), avocado ice cream, lavender ice cream, even garlic ice cream (those of you who've been to the Gilroy Garlic Festival or the Stinking Rose know this is really good stuff). Any of these flavors could be considered "weird" to somebody! Seriously, if someone likes the damn ice cream and wants to eat it, let them!

Anyway, what pissed me off further was that this woman wouldn't try the ice cream. I told her (after explaining that I wasn't Chinese) she really should, but she absolutely wouldn't even think of it. So not only was she ignorant about race and culture, she was totally closed-minded about food.

And for that, I have nothing but the deepest of pity.

easily amused

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Yes, that's a curtain rod.

hot dog

Sunday, July 06, 2008


I was a pretty strict vegetarian in high school. (My diet drove my mother crazy, which I suspect I enjoyed.)

And then I went to college.

And of all the different types of meats that exist out there in this world -- the filet mignon, the charcuterie, the slow-cooked pulled pork, the thick-sliced bacon (ah, bacon!) -- it was the hot dog that brought me back to the flesh-eating world.

In other words, mystery meat.

Thankfully, I've discovered the organic grass-fed beef hot dog, so I can now indulge with less guilt. And believe me, I was all about indulging this weekend. While I'm no Black Widow, I did put away three of these babies (topped with avocado and bacon) Friday night.

Happy Fourth of July!

who knew

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

... that getting in and out of clothes could be so physically exhausting?
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