Maestoso is Pure Food Passion – Co-owners Michelin-trained Executive Chef Marco Maestoso and Director of Business Operations Dalila Ercolani have created a unique Italian food experience in Hillcrest. Maestoso’s features Pinza (Pizza) ($17), La Pasta ($17), and Home Staples ($9-28) and a Passaggi cart pushed around by one of six other chefs as well as an extensive Italian wine list with many by the glass options (Red, White, and Rose). The chef manned Passaggi cart offers small plates (~$7) with ~9 weekly staples and ~5 daily specials in lieu of appetizers. The rotating Passaggi menu items allow the mastermind chefs to keep their creative juices flowing.
One can set at the chef’s bar and watch food come alive. A highlight was watching Chef Marco make a pinza or hand cooking a duck breast with torch. Speaking of pinzas, their dough consists of 17 grains imported from Rome, hand mixed with rice flour and finished in semolina and is leavened for 100 hours resulting in an airy, light, and crunchy crust. The extended leavening prevents bloating after eating pizza.
Frank and Rico enjoyed a La Mortazza pinza featuring mortadella and tomato medley and Melanzana di Casa pinza with eggplant. We then had Tagliatelle with house tomato sauce, sundried tomato emulsion, and cherry tomato tartare and Strozzapreti con braised oxtail, diced mirepoix, wine and confit tomato stock, and bitter cocoa. The handmade pastas perfectly cooked al dente style were just as impressive as the pinzas. Next, the Risotto Milanese with saffron, fork split veal ossobuco, and a red wine demi-glaze and a Passaggi plate of coffee-rubbed beef carpaccio with blue cheese, onions, and capers. Dinner concluded with Pancetta in an Italian meringue hand torched with lemon glaze and Guanciale (pork cheek). It looked like a perfect sunny side up egg with bacon crumbles but instead an amazing pancetta. Our evening was paired with Symphae Monferrato and Pedres Vermentino white wines and Batasiolo Barbera and a Cascina Langhe Nebbiolo red wines. Thank you Chef Marco and Dalila for an amazing evening of passion and excellence. #tasteofwineandfood#franktowaf#ricotowaf#hillcrest#sandiego#maestoso
Jordan 2016 Chardonnay and 2010, 2012, and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignons
Taste of Wine and Food ended our Napa press at Jordan Winery. Lisa Mattson, Director of Marketing and Communications and Claire Smith, Guest Services Manager, greeted us with the 2012 Brut Ar Lenoble. This Brut has only been in production for 2 years. It has soft notes of apple and pear and a hint of citrus. After our bubbles, we met with winemaker, Rob Davis, for a cavier and cheese pairing with the 2016 Chardonnay and 2010, 2012, and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignons. Rob's passion for winemaking was obvious. We love being around passionate winemakers - always a wealth of knowledge. Under his guidance, Jordan produces wines in a burgundy format with lower alcohol at 3 to 4 tons per acre vs many vineyards that shoot for 7 or more tons per acre. This produces minerality without bitterness. All grapes are hand picked at night for best results. The Cabs were all Alexander Valley with blackberry and black cherry notes aged in primarily French Oak for maximum tannin extraction. Rob's favorite was the 2012 and TOWAF agreed. Jordan's goal is soft and silky reds based on 85% of wine being consumed within 2 hours of purchase. Rob was also a big fan of magnums. He said that there can be a large difference in taste based on the different air to wine ratio in the bottle. Additionally the Jordan Magnums are delayed for two years further allowing the wine to soften and use more American oak (about 30%). A great way to end our press tour. Thank you Rob, Lisa, and Claire! #tasteofwineandfood#ricotowaf#franktowaf#jordanwinery#napavalley #alexandervalley
Tom Walsh, VIP Tour Program Director, explaining Silver Oak's fruit and processes
The last day of our 4 day wine tour, Taste of Wine and Food (TOWAF), was able to visit Silver Oak Napa Valley and were in the great hands of Tom Walsh, VIP Tour Program Manager. Tom is a wealth of knowledge and knows everything about Silver Oak. He mentioned that Silver Oak is special wine for special occasions and I could not agree more. Their Cabernet Sauvignons made them legendary. The 2013 (current) vintage comes from either Alexander Valley or Napa Valley. Both are aged for 2 years in the barrel. Silver Oak is fairly unique in that they blend the wine and then age in American Oak only with pumping every 3 months, whereas, most wineries age in French Oak and then blend. Keep up the great work Nate Weis (the 3rd wine maker in Silver Oak's 42 year history). Their two Cab Savs 2013, Alexander Valley ($75) 15 months in the bottle and Napa Valley ($125) 24 months in the bottle, both benefit from Silver Oak's berry sensory analysis that includes 8 tests - TOWAF sampled both. Of note is Silver Oak's commitment to the environment. They are rated a Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the 1st in the world. Throughout the property one saw solar panels and learned about how they conserve water to be good stewards of the environment. In addition to the 2013 Cab Savs, Tom spoiled us with a library 2007 Napa Valley Cab Sav. Tom noted that Silver Oak's goal is to achieve 14% or less alcohol so that the wines are smooth when released, but equally good if not better when laid down. Great visit and wines!
2008 Caymus Special Collection Cab Sav, 2014 Caymus Special Collection Cab Sav, 2016 Caymus Cab Sav (left to right)
Small Details Make Amazing Wine - Chuck Wagner has been making Caymus wine for over 45 years. Today Caymus is joined by Conundrum, Emmolo, Mer Soleil, and Red Schooner as the Wagner Family of Wines collection. Chuck's children Charlie and Jenny are heavily involved in the family's winemaking. Charlie produces Mer Soleil and is the Director of Winemaking for the Conundrum line that includes Conundrum White, Red, Sparkling and Rosé. He is also the creator of Red Schooner, a rich, dark Malbec made from grapes grown in the Andes Mountains (Argentina), shipped chilled to Napa Valley and produced in the same style as Caymus. Jenny is winemaker for Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot grown in Napa Valley. A highlight of Taste of Wine and Food's visit was us speaking with Jenny Wagner and Susan Orenstein, Head of Communications. I was amazed by Jenny's love, passion, and detail for wine making which included hand brushing the Sauvignon Blanc to decluster for the perfect number and quality for each cluster. IMPRESSIVE and is what makes Wagner Family Wines so exceptional and was reflected in the reserve 2015 "Plumerai" Sauvignon Blanc sampled with notes of melon. Quantity is limited so get it while you can! We also got to sample the 2015 Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay with Santa Barbara grown fruit. Picking based on acid vs sugar levels (BRIX) results in the wine's crispness as well as the 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir sourced at Santa Lucia Highlands known for gradual ripening of the grapes allowing strong structure, amora, and flavors. We ended our visit with Caymus Cabenet Sauvignon that included the 2016 Napa Valley, 2014 Napa Valley Special Collection, and a library 2008 Napa Valley Special Collection. It was a special treat to experience these three exceptional wines and savor the subtle changes from year to year wine making and mellowing of tannins on the 2008. All three had Caymus' signature dark fruit and cocoa influence.