Now in its 27th year, the Passport to Dry Creek Valley event this weekend promises to be a great time to visit and taste Pinots, Zinfandels and other Sonoma wines. If you fly to Sonoma (via Alaska Air), you’ll get to take home a case of wine free of charge. And if you wisely decide to take a bottle from a Dry Creek vineyard to dine at one of the participating charter restaurants, you’ll also get free corkage as a part of their culinary cooperative.
While I love wine, food and wine always taste better when together, so I’ve highlighted some culinary-focused opportunities at certain wineries to turn your attention to this weekend:
Let me take this first post in almost one month to deliver some pertinent upcoming event news. It’s now summer and thus, event season, here in sunny Southern California. Now that I’ve somewhat psychologically recovered from a huge picture-data dump from spilling a homemade cocktail all over my non-backed-up laptop, I’m finally ready to move into this crazy part of the year.
So here’s a rebirth of sorts; it’s an intentional start to the summer by tallying up the essential food events continuing into the fall (L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade is in September). One focuses on cocktails. One focuses on tacos. One focuses on ribs. Three are on the same day; thus, yes – I do wish that these were spread out, more. But practically all of them feature world-class chefs. So without further adieu, here’s where you need to be this summer:
As the Los Angeles “chill” continues, it’s only natural to crave the comforting foods in which we take refuge. Luckily, there’s Bar Pinxto, a tapas place that has reinvigorated the Spanish traditions behind the term that was once disgracefully applied to all “small plates.” The place has the most mom and pop feel of anywhere in the tourist hub of Santa Monica, and the reasonable price points, accommodating happy hour specials and prix fixe menu options clinch its status as a neighborhood favorite.
Starting tomorrow and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening only for a limited time (until March 2nd), you can taste a 16-course black truffle dinner at SAAM for the ultimate, seasonal private dining experience at José Andres’ The Bazaar. The masterminds behind the dinner are Think Food Group’s research and development Chef Aitor Lozano, Executive Chef Joshua Whigham and Sous Chef Holly Jivin.
I say bespoke because the act of stumbling into Heirloom was shockingly not via their famously flavor-packed, personal sized lasagna cupcakes found at farmer’s markets around town, but instead by luck of an invitation to a private dinner showcasing Bridlewood Wines in that said tasting room. Fortunately, they’ll be opening it up to the public a few days during the week, and I imagine the Eagle Rock community will meet that unveiling with elation. So bring on 2013, then. Continue reading →
Something special is coming up on Sunday – it’s so special it’s “to die for,” and luckily there are a few tickets left, so grab them quick. Yet again, there’s something brewing down in Long Beach – but for this 11th installment of Dionicess, you can forget it being holiday themed, and instead Walking Dead themed. Zombie themed. What-have-you.
To match, the series has been temporarily renamed as “Die”-nisis and will be serving food to accommodate their vision, including food and beer inspired by corpses, skeletons, brains and all of the above. Though they say it’s a 5-course dinner, if you’re familiar at all with their events, you know there will be some extras.
There’s enjoying wine, and there’s enjoying wine with food. And maybe you live or are near Melrose just for the moment, but you probably were looking for something a little less bro-tastic. While pairings have gotten increasingly more attention as of late, it’s hard to come by an expert without the expectation of spending an exorbitant amount as a result of access to that expertise. Thankfully, Colonial Wine Bar brings that luxury to Melrose diners at neighborhood prices.
Chef de Cuisine Ryan Otey, who has all of Patina, Tasting Kitchen and Villetta on his resume, is serving up some rustic dishes in the intimate wine bar. The bar itself lines the wall as your eye is caught by the glass-encased wine cellar in the back. The overall feel of the crown-molding-adorned place is casual with plenty of play available towards getting as serious about the food and wine as needed.
You’ll find familiar dishes such as deviled eggs, bone marrow, flatbreads, burrata and heirloom tomatoes on the menu, but not-to-miss is their lamb – whether as meatballs or a burger. Their mushrom risotto is also solid, appropriately buttressing the definition of “comforting wine bar” as Colonial stands. There are a few beer taps behind the bar, as well, where I pleasantly found Hitachino White Ale on draft.
You may be familiar with the Dionicess series bynow, or perhaps not.
Whatever the case, it’s time to get (re-)acquainted for the tenth installment of pairing sessions, because the boys are about to bring you an extravaganza of aged beers and foods for your enjoyment.
Yes, you’ll have to venture to Long Beach for this special event, but let’s be honest: There’s really no better reason to do so than Beachwood BBQ. At an all-inclusive $80 with 5 pairings and the proceeds going to Real Medicine Foundation, you know this particular summer Sunday will be more than worth it.
Some intel to get you excited:
The base beer by Julian of Beachwood BBQ is high-gravity and contains Green Cardamom and was fermented with a bunch of Blackstrap Molasses. Jeff Duggan of Portola Coffee Lab was given a sample of this base beer in order to craft a coffee that would lend the beer an “Armenian coffee” note. These beans were then placed in the beer a few days ago. Soon, oak chips that have been soaked in 25-year-old Armenia Cognac will be used to age the beer in time for the event. And the resulting product, dubbed “System of a Stout,” will be an exclusive to Dionicess X for the series’ tenth anniversary and for your tasting pleasure.
You’ll have Gev Kazanchyan, a public health professor; Randy Clemens of Sriracha Cookbook fame; Dave Watrous, “The Guezehound” of Beachwood BBQ; Gabe Gordon, Executive Chef of Beachwood and Julian Shrago, Brewmaster of Beachwood to guide the way. Because you’d expect nothing short of the experts to impart knowledge and tastes to your palate, now wouldn’t you?
Basically, everything you’ll be enjoying on this evening will have undergone an aging process of some sort – whether beer or food. And there will be a couple goodies to take home with you, such as a specially-bottled, limited edition Bourbon Barrel Aged Chile Sauce. Talk about swag.
Tickets are almost sold out, so it’d be a good idea not to sleep on this one and reserve your seats now… I’ll see you there.
We’re about due for another Dionicess event. Of course, these guys won’t stop outdoing themselves as they’ve brought a beer & booze pairing to fruition.
Matt Biancaniello of The Roosevelt Hotel’s Library Bar is brought into the fold with Randy Clemens, Dave Watrous and Gev Kazachyan as they pair five craft beers with five craft spirits. Prepare for a boozy evening in late October at Steingarten LA to benefit the Real Medicine Foundation for an all-inclusive $65 entrance fee.
And if you know anything about Matt or the Dionicess crew, you’ll automatically know this is something unique they have up their sleeves. Expect garden-fresh ingredients a la Matt with your spirits and beer pairings.
Beer Dinners: You can’t really have too many. Good thing City Tavern, the Downtown Culver City hangout with taps at the tables (a couple of them, anyway) is holding one with Ladyface Ale Companie next Thursday, September 15th.
There will be one seating at 7 PM (up to 7:30 PM, if you prefer) and included in your $46 cost are 4 courses + amuse bouche, each paired with a Ladyface beer. For the full menu, peep below:
3rd course Smoked cocoa-rubbed tri-tip sandwich and potato salad Picture city porter 6 oz., abv: 7.0%
Dessert Spiked watermelon and peppered strawberries Sazerac-oaked red rye 6 oz., abv: 7.2%
Â I had a lovely time at one of City Tavern’s other beer dinners, which was in conjunction with Eagle Rock Brewery. My favorite was a stone fruit salad, which was paired expertly with their Yearling Flanders Red Ale. If this is any indication, next Thursday’s beer dinner will be solid. It’s a great way toÂ support local business and beer while celebrating the end of summer (if that’s your thing).