A Taste of Alsace Wine and Swine

I have a confession to make. I don’t really practice what I preach. I might even be a bit of a liar. You see, I am constantly telling my kids to live outside their comfort zone. Try something new. Do something scary.

But me?

I don’t do that.

I run the same three mile route. (Because I know I can do it.)

I always order carnitas at Mexican restaurants. (They’re so delicious, why risk getting something not nearly as yummy?)

And I always (always, always) drink California wine. (Non-California wine = Scary!)

So, when I was invited to the Wine and Swine event at Terrine Restaurant featuring wines from the Alsace region in France paired with a variety of pork dishes,I figured it was a great opportunity to take a step (or two) outside my comfort zone. Oh sure, you’re thinking the only reason I went is because of the free wine and amazingly delicious food created by chefs Kris Morningstar of Terrine and Chris Oh of Hanjip, and to that I would say you are being very rude! I was trying to do something new and scary and outside my comfort zone. (Also, remember, I’m a liar, so you’re right, it was totally about the wine and food.)

Anyway…

Wines of Alsace was a terrific host. The day started off with a seminar titled Alsace 101 – an in-depth look at the region’s location, terroirs (that’s a fancy word for environmental conditions), culture and main varieties, led by Master Sommelier Brian McClintic of SOMM Films and ViticoleWine.com.

Alsace wine tasting
What a great way to start a day!

 

The seminar was informative and interesting, Brian was super-dreamy, and we tasted six wines: a dry Crémant d’Alsace, a fruity Pinot Blanc, a light Riesling, a complex Pinot Gris (my favorite), a sweet Gewurztaminer (my very-close second favorite) and a Pinot Noir that I was not a huge fan of, but I’m not a Pinot Noir girl, so I’m never the girl to ask about Pinot Noir.

Of course I enjoyed tasting the wines, but I also really enjoyed finding out about the region – its culture, its climate, its food. I’m pretty sure I need to vacation there. Soon.

After the seminar we retreated to the back patio for more wine tasting and the pork dish pairing. The pairing took place on Terrine’s iconic patio where tasting stations were set up for each varietal and the food was placed on tables in the middle.

Terrine Los Angeles patio wine tasting

 

The menu included:

Alsatian-Style Pork with Sauerkraut (Chef Morningstar made this sausage from scratch and in case you’re wondering, yes it is better than the pineapple bacon sausage you’re currently obsessing on from Costco. Like times one thousand. In other words: OMG! Best Sausage I’ve Ever Had!)

Cuban Sandwiches with Smoked Ham, Capicolla, Gruyere and Spicy Pickle Relish (Crazy good!)

Carnitas Tacos (These tacos were the bomb! Because, carnitas.)

Korean-Style Pork Lettuce Wraps – (Delish!)

Crispy Pork Croquettes with Sauce Gribiche and Frisée (Yum!)

Oh and there were servers passing around appetizers as well, including this burrata-to-die-for with mashed peas on toast (I might have had three. Or five. But who’s counting?)

Terrine-and-Hanjip-pork-dishes
As you can see, being a food photographer is not my specialty. (However, eating all this delicious food is.)

 

As my teenage daughter said the other day, “Don’t eat until you’re full. Eat until you hate yourself.” I kind of hated myself. But it was so, so good!

During this time there was a tasting of over 60 wines. (And no, I did not try them all!) But I may or may not have tried 10 different Pinot Gris (shh!),  7 or 8 different Pinot Blancs and a Gerwurztraminer or two. (Look, I’m talking the tiniest of sips.)

Oh, but I was not done. After the food and wine pairing there was one more seminar with my boyfriend Brian. (It makes no difference that he does not know he’s my boyfriend. )

Master-Sommelier-Brian-McClintic
Photographs of cute master sommeliers, also not my specialty.

 

The second seminar was titled Rocks & Riesling Retrospective. In this seminar we sampled a new and old vintage Riesling from four of Alsace’s top producers.

Trimbach Clos Ste Hune 2009 & 1997

Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Sainte Catherine 2014 & 1998

Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Grand Cru Saering 2012 & 2001

Zind-Humbrecht RieslingGrand Cru Rangen de Thann Clos Saint Urbain 2012 & 1993

Alsace Riesling Tasting
Two more glasses than the first tasting – whoo hoo!

I loved all of these wines and tasting the differences between the old and new vintages was a fantastic experience. The vintages tasted nothing alike. The older wines smelled sweeter and tasted thicker. The younger wines were crisp, grassy, fresh. (Yeah, my descriptions are spot-on aren’t they? I don’t think there’s any chance of me becoming the 24th female American Master Sommelier any time soon.)

I thoroughly enjoyed this tasting and actually learned a thing or two. I even found out that French wine isn’t (that) scary. The next time I’m out to dinner, I might even take a departure from the California wine section and take a trip to my new favorite French region.

#drinkAlsace

 

 

Bière de Ménage Release Party – For Beer and Wine Lovers Only

Raise your hand if you love beer. (Go ahead, no one’s looking.) Now raise your hand if you love wine. Okay, put your hands down – you look silly.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to mix the two together? You know, kind of like an Arnold Palmer – for grown-ups.

Arnold-Palmer
Iced tea + lemonade anyone?

 

Well, Figueroa Mountain Brewery and Margerum Wine Company -at the suggestion of Whole Foods- decided to do just that. (Add beer and wine together, that is.) The result is Figueroa Mountain’s Bière de Ménage.

Biere-de-Menage
Wa-la! Bière de Ménage!

 

How does it taste? I don’t know, but you’d better believe I’m going to find out. I like a little 7-Up in my beer (in Britain they call that a Shandy), it takes away the bitterness. Wine in my beer sounds even better.

And guess what? You can find out how it tastes too.

This Saturday night at Bar Rincon, right inside of Whole Foods Market in Oxnard, there will be a fabulous Bière de Ménage Release Party. I’m totally going. Would you care to join me?

Here are the details:

Biere de Menage Release Party 
Whole Foods Market Oxnard
650 Town Center Dr, Oxnard, CA 93036
Saturday, May 17 | 6-8 pm

 

Oh yeah, come 6:01 p.m. (I like to be fashionably late) I’ll be celebrating Whole Foods Market’s first-ever beer/wine collaboration with Figueroa Mountain Brewery and Margerum Wine Co.  You should come too. Enjoy a sample of Bière de Ménage and join in on the celebration with special food pairings and a festive atmosphere. (Seriously, you had me at beer + wine, but food pairings and a festive atmosphere? Who could say no?!)

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “How rockin’ can a party at a supermarket be?”

Well, I’ve been to a few parties at Whole Foods, and let me tell you, they’re pretty rockin’. Look how much fun I had the last time I came to a party here:

Whole-Foods-Bar-Rincon
Pretend the picture of me and Kim isn’t blurry, that I’m sucking my stomach in instead of poking it out, and that the photo of me isn’t crappy. (Please!)

 

How cool is that Airstream bar? (Answer: So cool!)

Also, the last time I was at a party at Bar Rincon I got to hang with these two cuties – the rep from Figueroa Mountain Brewing company and bartender Ken. My friend Kim might or might not have had an innocent little crush on one of them. (You might or might not be able to guess which one.)

Figueroa-Brewing-Company-Beer
I love it when cute boys serve me cocktails.

 

Are you intrigued? You should be. If you’d like to hear more about how the wine/beer collaboration came about read this story here.

If you’d like to find out for yourself what a beer/wine combination tastes like join me this Saturday night, May 17th at Whole Foods Oxnard for some beer/wine, yummy food, and a serious good time.

 

Biere-de-Menage-release-party
Join me won’t you?

Disclaimer: While this is a sponsored post for Whole Foods Market Oxnard, all opinions expressed are solely my own.

Photo credit of Arnold Palmer: Patrick Truby via Creative Commons

My Fantastique Wine Tasting Experience at Whole Foods Venice

While A-list celebrities were being fabulous around Hollywood on Saturday night at pre-Oscar galas and what-not, I was being fabulous as well at Whole Foods in Venice. Yeah, you heard me, Whole Foods.

My friend Kim and I braved the rain and the 405 Freeway on a Saturday night and left the comfort of our suburban bubble to hang out at the wine tasting bar inside of Whole Foods Venice for the Fantastique French Wine Tasting and Gildras Coudrais Art Show. (Wow! That was a long sentence. Have you caught your breath?)

Whole-Foods-Venice-wine-tasting-bar
Who knew grocery shopping could be so hip?

 

And ooh la la – it was fantastique indeed!

We got there just as the event started and were introduced to the artist, Gildas Coudrais. He claimed that his English wasn’t very good, but trust me, it’s a million times better than my French. (I can say: please, thank you , thank you very much, one, two, where is, good morning and good night. Poorly.) He was incredibly charming. And very talented. (Pretty cute too!)

Gildas-Coudrais-Whole-Foods-Venice
Kim and I with the charming and talented wine label artist Gildas Coudrais.

 

The artwork he created for the show was a drawing of the rabbit on the King Rabbit Malbec label with a quote from a famous person. Then the famous person’s name was crossed out and “King Rabbit” was written in it’s place. Very avant-garde. I thought the pieces were fabulous. If I had the disposable income I aspire to have one day I would have bought this one and hung it in my bedroom:

I-am-fucking-James-Bond
It’s quirky. I like it.

 

Or maybe this one…

I-came-I-saw-I-conquered
Would it be weird to have “I came. I saw. I conquered.” in your bedroom when you’ve been married for 20 years?

 

Gildas told us about his partnership with Whole Foods and how he worked with them and the wine makers to create his wine labels. (It sounded like there was a lot of wine tasting involved. Talk about a dream job!)

Gildas-Coudrais-wine-label-art

 

We tried all five wines and I liked them all. The wines are French, but developed in a style more pleasing to the California palete. They are only available at Whole Foods Markets and are a steal at $9.99. Magnifique! I wanted to buy them all, but I’m a girl on a budget, so I only bought two. (But I can guarantee that I’ll be back to my local Whole Foods quite soon to buy more.)

The wines I purchased were the Chantebelle Sauvignon Blanc which was crisp and delightful, and the Anciens Temps Cabernet–Syrah, an intense and bold-flavored wine. I like my red wine bold. (Like my men!)

wine
My fantastique autographed wine

 

And speaking of men – check out this picture:

French-film-makers
(Quit calling me a cougar!)

 

Okay, stop being rude and ignore the fact that I’m probably old enough to be their mother. These adorable French boys were filming the event. I’ll share the link when it’s up on YouTube.

The evening really was a lot of fun.

Delicious food…

Whole-Foods
Now this is my kind of party food! (Fantastique!)

 

Fabulous wine…

Eagle-Coq-Pinot-Noir

 

A cute and charming artist…

Gildas-Coudrais-Whole-Foods

 

Fantastique!

 

*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Whole Foods Market Venice. (But trust me when I tell you, the evening was quite delightful!)

Whole Foods Venice Fantastique French Wine Tasting & Art Exhibit (Ooh La La!)

Hey, my LA & Valley friends, what are you doing this Saturday night? That’s right, this Saturday night, March 1st. Binge-watching TV with a pizza? (Yawn, did that last weekend.) A little beer-pong and karaoke at the local dive bar? Dinner at Applebee’s? (I’m kidding!)

Can I make a suggestion?

How about something a little different? A little sophisticated even? Something that will get you out of your weekend rut.

Whole Foods Market in Venice is having a fabulous (make that fantastique) French wine tasting and art exhibit for only $10. (And the proceeds benefit The Whole Planet Foundation – Alleviating Poverty Worldwide Through Entrepreneurship.)

You will taste 5 value-priced ($9.99) French wines paired with petit fours (that’s a fancy French word for appetizer, in case you didn’t know, which of course you did, because like me, you’re very sophisticated) and get to check out the art of Germany-based French artist and wine label designer, Gildas Coudrais.

Fantastique indeed!

Fantastique French Wine Tasting and Art Exhibit
Are you cool enough to hang here?

 

I actually used to do cultured and sophisticated French-wine-meets-French-art stuff like this all the time. Okay, that’s not true at all. I’ve never done that. But I do go wine tasting quite often and do love French wine.

whole-foods-venice-french-wine-tasting-art-show
Fantastique wine at a Fantastique price!

 

And French men.

Olivier-Martinez
Olivier Martinez  – I might consider leaving Bradley Cooper for you!

 

And French fries.

French-Fries
How do you say “Get in my belly” in French?

 

And I’ve been to the Louvre. Twice.

Louvre
Yeah, I’ve been here!

 

Anyway…

Wanna know what you’ll be tasting?

wine-labels-by-Gildas-Coudrais
Ooh La La!

 

  • Chantebelle Sauvignon Blanc– a bright and brisk beauty with crisp citrus flavors. (Bring on the goat cheese!)
  • King Rabbit Malbec – with rich, black plums, berries and cherries dance smoothly on the palate. (I’ll take that with a rare steak, please.)
  • Anciens Temps Cabernet–Syrah – with robust flavors of black pepper and berries, and a vanilla-kissed finish. (Sounds like it needs a robust cheese – slice me a chunk of that blue!)
  • Eagle Coq Pinot Noir – boasts juicy red cherry and currant flavors pleasing French & California drinkers alike. (And they say it goes well with brie – I’m so in!)
  • Fantastique Pinot Noir – a bolder Pinot, with flavors of spiced black cherries. (Is it time for chocolate yet?)

Just so you know, I am not suggesting that this is the food -pardon me, petit fours- that the wines will be paired with, I’m just saying what I would be inclined to pair them with.

And even if it sounds too good to be true that French wines like this would be available at Whole Foods for under $10, it isn’t. Too good to be true I mean. It is true!

Anciens-temps-cabernet-syrah
$9.99 are you out of your mind?!

 

And remember, artwork of Gildas Coudrais, the wine label artist will be there. He’s had an interesting career – he designed theme cards for a French print company, taught art lessons to children and adults, and led an artist’s workshop for disabled people. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and two young daughters. His pop-art is pretty funky. I dig it.

gildas-coudrais-artwork
Translation: “which has miraculously powerful melody.”

 

I like that – I love you… which has a miraculously powerful melody.

So are you in? (I am!) If so, click this link and RSVP on their Facebook page. You don’t have to RSVP to attend, but there’s less chance of them running out of petit fours that way. (And nobody wants that.)

And if you really want to show them some love follow Whole Foods Market Venice on Facebook and Twitter. (I do!)

Hope to see you Saturday night!

*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Whole Foods Market Venice. (But my love of French wine, French cheese, French men and French fries? You can’t buy that!)

Photo credits: Olivier Martinez, French fries, & The Louvre

The Wine Sisterhood Shop is now Open

Last March I won a trip to Napa from Middle Sister Wines for the 2013 Wine Sisterhood Gathering by posting this silly picture of myself on Pinterest.

Pinterest-Contest-Winner
This may be a crappy photo of me, but it won me a trip to Napa!

It was a wonderful 3-day trip that was full of wine tasting, social media seminars, and ridiculously awesome foodie-food where I met some amazing women that I still keep in contact with. An experience of a lifetime for sure. There was so much packed into that trip I had to write three blog posts to cover it all.

In case you missed them and are curious about the fabulousness of this trip you can read them here:

Part 1…

Raymond-vineyards-barrel-room
If I died, this would be my heaven!

Part 2…

Chappellet-vineyards
Beautiful Chappellet vineyards in Napa Valley

Part 3…

Domaine-Carneros
The wonderful Domaine Carneros

One of the things we did on the trip was spend time in the Wine Sisterhood Sassy Suite. What is a Sassy Suite? It was a suite reserved to showcase the Wine Sisterhood wines and fabulous items for sale at the Wine Sisterhood online shop. So, if you are looking for a gift for a wine-loving girlfriend this is definitely the place to go.

Wine-Sisterhood-Shop
So much fabulousness at the Wine Sisterhood Shop

Check out some of the fabulous things they have for sale…

Looking for a place to store all of those wine corks? (You don’t throw them away do you?!)

wine-cork-barrell

Need something to help you out on a bad hair day? I have this hat and it sees the soccer field every Saturday morning. (7:30 on a Saturday is waaaay too early to do anything to my hair except put it under a hat!) I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten on this hat. Oh yeah, when a mom compliments me on this hat I know she’s one of my people!

Bad hair day hat

This needs to be in my wardrobe. Adorable! (Plus, you know, I just happen to have a hat that matches!)

wine hoodie

I brought my friend Jennifer on the trip with me and she bought me a beautiful necklace made from upcycled wine bottles while we were there. The Wine Sisterhood shop sells matching bracelets. (Hmmmm…..)

wine bottle bracelet

Speaking of upcycling, check out these gorgeous candles. LOVE them!

Upcycled Wine bottle Candle

And this necklace? It would look perfect on me when I go back to Stagecoach next year.

Cowgirl Necklace

Need a hostess gift this holiday season? What could be better than a corkscrew that says Wine Sisterhood? I have this corkscrew and love it. It works great! (Trust me, a woman can never have too many corkscrews!)

corkscrew

These coasters for the serious wine taster have a retro look and are so cute…

Wine tasting Coasters

Or maybe some delicious dipping oil. (You can’t go wrong with dipping oil!)

Olive Press Dipping oil

And I love these “I Am” roll on fragrances. I am peace. I am hot. I am blessed. (I have I am naughty!)

naughty fragrance

And this Wine Sisterhood handmade soap? So lovely. I cried when I used my last little sliver. (Definitely time to get some more!)

Wine Sisterhood Soap

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. It’s fairly obvious that this is the BEST place to shop for your wine loving girlfriends. Or wine loving moms. Or wine loving sisters. (Hey, I bet even your kid’s teacher loves wine! God knows that after a day spent in the classroom she sure needs it!)

So stay home from the mall and do all your girlfriend shopping by clicking this link here. And check this out: There is a 20% discount code – holiday20 – and a $5.99 flat rate ground shipping deal now through Dec 31st. Yeah, I know how to hook a girlfriend up. You are so very welcome!

*Disclosure: My links to the Wine Sisterhood Shop are affiliate links meaning if you click on the link and end up buying something I get a (very) small commission. But I live by a high moral code – I wouldn’t pimp this stuff if I didn’t think it was cool.

Wine, Olive Oil, Gourmet Food, Oh My!

Last Wednesday I received a text from my friend Kim. “Wanna come with me to a wine bar opening in Thousand Oaks?”

I was supposed to go to the gym. But my workout buddies had shifted their workout to the early morning (when I’m stuck at home slaving away over blog posts to entertain the masses dozens), so I wouldn’t be flaking on anyone. (Except for myself and my new commitment to fitness – but whatever with that, right?) And I had run four miles the day before.

So blowing off the gym to go wine tasting (for free) – not even a dilemma, right?

But If you want to know the truth, I was really, really tired. What I wanted to do more than anything was blow off the gym and spend the night of loafing around on the couch.

Fortunately for Kim I am a good friend and a trooper. I couldn’t let her taste wine alone. So I changed out of my work clothes into something a little less officey, put on shoes that would have made my friends Tina and (a different) Kim proud, and went out for a little Conejo Valley mid-week wine tasting.

Michael-Kors-shoes
Pretend I don’t have fat ankles and these gorgeous shoes actually look cute on me!

Kim had been invited to the opening of We Olive in The Oaks Mall. Part wine bar, part gourmet food shop, part olive oil tasting (yes, olive oil tasting!) shop and 100% FABULOUS.

We-Olive-Thousand-Oaks
Thousand Oaks’ newest wine bar (plus so much more).

We chatted with the franchise owners of the store, one of the food vendors, and with the very cute Josh from the parent company.

We-Olive-Franchise
I never give up the opportunity for a photo with a cute boy. (Even if I am old enough to be his mother. Sigh…)

The wine bar features small-production, boutique California wines and every wine I tasted was excellent. I especially enjoyed a Syrah from the vineyard Niner in Paso Robles. (I will definitely be visiting them on my next trip to Paso.)

The olive oil was wonderful – yes there is a difference (and it’s huge) in taste and quality from the stuff I usually buy at Costco. Josh gave us a tasting of a lemon-infused olive oil with aged balsamic vinegar that was to die for. (You sip it out of a little cup – kind of like tasting wine, except you take a MUCH smaller sip.)

We-Olive-Extra-Virgin-Olive-Oil
Extra virgin Olive Oil (EVOO for those in the know) and balsamic vinegar tasting – yes please!

Plus, this happened…

cheese platter
The people at We Olive certainly know how to make a beautiful cheese plate.

I will definitely be heading out to We Olive during the holidays to pick up some delicious party food (unique pestos that can be used as a base for some amazing dips), stocking stuffers for my husband (blue cheese Dijon mustard – hello), and of course maybe a bit of wine tasting. You know, to reward myself for all the tireless and selfless shopping for others I’m sure to be doing.

We Olive is sounding pretty awesome, right? Of course it is. It’s located just across from Forever 21 (in the newish outdoor section between The Oaks Mall proper and Muvico). So the next time you drive your teenage daughter to the mall, give her twenty bucks and send her to Forever 21 to buy something inappropriate for school on her own while you hang out at a lovely wine bar. Sample some pesto. Treat yourself to some gourmet olive oil. Buy a nice bottle of California wine. And remember to thank me for blowing off the gym so I could hang out with my friend Kim and discover this wonderful gem.

(You’re welcome.)