Senior Editor, Frank Mangio, enjoying Brix on site food garden
Taste of Wine and Food (TOWAF) was excited to dine at Brix Restaurant during our Napa/Sonoma Press tour. It is clear to see with the raised beds on property that Brix is 100% committed to farm to table. In talking to Brix General Manager, Jamie Jamison, and server, Tyler, growing food on property allows Chef Cary Delbridge to change the menu to take full advantage of seasonal delicacies. In addition to the raised beds and flower gardens, the onsite vineyard is sourced for some of the owners' Kelleher Family wines. We started our dinner with the Kelleher Family 2016 Sauvingnon Blanc Block 21. The pear, guava and citrus notes were perfect for the seasonal Grilled Halibut with red pepper polenta, and grilled corn. Senior Editor, Frank Mangio, enjoyed the signature Kelleher Braised Shortrib with shaved asparagus ‘panzanelle’ polenta croutons, marinated mushrooms, and raclette fondue. The TOWAF dinner party also savored the Wood Grilled Smoked Salmon with lobster, shaved fennel, white beans, and lobster butter as well as the Coconut Lemon Grass with shrimp soup. Dinner ended with Butterscotch Panna Cotta topped with chocolate hazelnut bark, and white chocolate chantilly. Thank you Brix Restaurant team for a most enjoyable dinner.
Rico Cassoni (left), Mike Grgich (center), Frank Mangio (right)
My intuitions were correct when I was thinking that meeting the legendary, icon Miljenko (Mike) Grgich would be a highlight of Taste of Wine and Food's (TOWAF) Napa / Sonoma Press Tour. Taste of Wine and Food Senior Editor, Frank Mangio, has been a long time friend of Mike and Grgich Hills Estate. As the new Internet and Tech Director for TOWAF, I was super excited to visit Grgich Hills Estate to meet Mike. It was a living history lesson as we enjoyed the latest Grgich Hills Estate wines and were able to savor and enjoy Mike speaking about his accomplishments for the US wine industry and Napa Valley. I must admit that my notes were limited as I just wanted to hold onto every word that Mike said and not take notes. Some of the wines that we tasted included the 2014 Chardonnay, 2015 Fume Blanc, 2013 Zinfandel, and 2014 Merlot. Last and the most outstanding, although all were incredible, was the 2013 Yountville Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon representing some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the Napa Valley. Needless to say this was an exceptional wine. Thank you Mike and Grgich Hills Estate (Maria, Rebecca, and Yanich) for a memorable tour!
Rico Cassoni (left), Joe Wagner (center), Frank Mangio (right)
Taste of Wine and Food had the pleasure of meeting with Joe Wagner, Copper Cane Wine and Provisions owner. Joe is one of Napa Valley's most intriguing and innovative winemakers. We had great tastings across the Belle Glos, Boen, and Quilt brands. Note that the 2016 Boen Pinot Noir was one of Taste of Wine and Food's Top 10 Best for the first half of 2018. We loved our candid interview with Joe at his hunting cabin retreat. Joe shared his love of winemaking along with the science and finesse of his outside of the box thinking when he creates Copper Cane's wines. A truly inspiring meeting!
Thank you Joe and Lloyd, Copper Cane Guest Relations, for your time!
Taste of Wine and Food kicked off their Napa / Sonoma Press tour with a VIP tour of Rombauer Vineyards. Thank you Heather Rehnberg and Alan Cannon for an amazing tour of the property. As a techie geek, Rico loved to hear about all of the technology that Director of Winemaking, Richie Allen, incorporates in Rombauer's wine making to produce their consistently amazing wines. We all know about Rombauer's signature white wines, especially their Chardonnay. However, their could be a small handful of persons that do not know that their reds are equally as delicious. Great examples are the 2014 Atlas Peak and 2014 Stice Lane Cabernet Sauvignons. A highlight of the tour was meeting KR.
Great lunch at Pullman Kitchen in Santa Rosa. Great food, great service (Thanks Sean). Darren McRonald (owner) and John Trunk (chef) provide a lunch menu with great choices. I had the Croque Monsieur sandwich. Great balance of Black Forest Ham and Gruyere cheese on brioche toast paired with a 2012 Crux Zinfandel, smooth and silky with cherry hints. When the servers tempt you with desert, I HIGHLY, RECOMMEND the double chocolate budino with hazelnut biscotti. Pictured John Trunk (chef), Rico, and Sean. See more pix on the Instagram post. #tasteofwineandfood #ricotowaf #pullmankitchen #santarosa #cruxwinery #towafnapasonomapresstour
Will Staten (Justin Winery)-left, Chef Hilario (Seasalt)-middle, Owner Sal Ercolano (Seasalt)
Sal Ercolano, owner Seasalt Del Mar, repeats three in a row sold out wine dinners, this time with Justin / Landmark wines. The evening started off with Justin Sauvingnon Blanc and Chef Hilario's signature Hors d'oeuvres followed by Landmark Chardonnay paired with a seafood medley. Next came a pork belly with risotto and chutney along with Landmark Pinot Noir and then the main course veal sage with flagship 2014 Justin Isosceles, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvingnon , Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. The meal ended with a Gruyere Souffle and Justin Justification a Merlot and Cab Franc. Contact Seasalt to be part of the next wine dinner on July 26, featuring a Tour of France.
Carlsbad's Westin / Sheraton 7 Mile Kitchen management team (David Putnicki - Director of Food and Beverage, Westin and Sheraton, Steve George - Beverage Manager/Sommelier/Mixologist, Leah Fisher - Food and Beverage Manager, and Gil Manipon - Chef de Cuisine) launched their Grand Opening with huge success. A standing room crowd was greeted with a Welcome (Sangria) Cocktail and were able to enjoy 5 food stations (Meatballs, Veggies & Greens, Pizza, Sliders, and Chicken Wings) and 2 desert stations (Gelato, S'Mores) and a great band. I will sound like a teenager here in saying that the Pizza, Gelato, and S'More were my faves, but all the vittles were excellent. Look for the full article in the next couple of weeks in Coast News Group, Taste of Wine and Food column by Frank Mangio. See additional pictures in Instagram.
Rico was visiting Zion, UT and Avon/Beavercreek, CO (May 29 - June 7) ahead of the Napa/Sonoma Press tour as a preview launch. I was able to get in some great wine and food and meet some great GMs and Chefs.