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My Little Valentine

Valentine’s Day is coming up quickly.  While this traditionally has been a holiday I’ve shrugged off, my husband loves to go all out and give me roses and chocolates.  On one occasion, I got a teddy bear and the flowers.  Last year he gave me custom jewelry with his and my son’s birthstones.

Needless to say, he’s changed my attitude about Valentine’s Day.  I wholeheartedly admit I love flowers and candy.  To be given those things from him makes them even more special.

img_3421Usually I cook him his favorite meal for this holiday.  This year, I decided to do something different.

My husband is Cuban.  There is very little that he loves more than a pastelito.  We live walking distance to Porto’s Cuban Bakery, which has all sorts of Cuban and Cuban-inspired treats.  We used to go there all the time.  It’s cheap.  It’s delicious.  The food is fresh.  The coffee is strong.  The lines are…long.  Oh…that’s right.  It usually takes a minimum of an hour to get in and out of Porto’s, even if the items have been ordered ahead.

Regardless, I wanted to make him something.

Guava pastries are not difficult.  They are basically puff pastry, guava paste, and the optional cream cheese.  While they are always delicious, mine have not always been pretty.  In fact, it seems like no matter how hard I try, they always turn out pretty ugly.  For Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make him something beautiful.img_3431

I decided to make my husband a Cuban-inspired guava macaron with a guava paste center and guava/cream cheese frosting around the edge.  Macarons are ALWAYS pretty, right?

I experimented with this macaron during the holidays.  I wanted to gift them to his family and close friends.  However, the humidity and constant rainfall in Atlanta this last December made it so the shells cracked and wouldn’t form correctly.  They tasted great, but weren’t the right texture.  They were the perfect pink color img_3432with a dusting of sparkly rose gold.  Yet, the finished result looked sad.

I was so disappointed.  I tried twice.  I failed twice.  Finally, I gave up.  They got devoured anyway.

I hadn’t made a macaron since then, so I was trepidatious – especially since desert dry Los Angeles has been wet.

I took a breath and started to sift…

Happily, they came together!  My husband was so excited, he couldn’t wait until Valentine’s Day to eat them.  That’s fine with me.

 

BASIC MACARON SHELL (Click here for the recipe)

GUAVA/CREAM CHEESE FILLING

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Match the macaron shells into pairs and lay them out to fill.
  2. Place the cream cheese into a bowl for a stand mixer.
  3. Cut the guava paste into slices and place in a small pot.
  4. Add a splash of water to the guava paste. Heat on medium until most of the paste has broken down into syrup.  Keep stirring until there are no lumps.  Then let it cool slightly.
  5. Pour half of the guava syrup into the bowl with the cream cheese and begin to blend with the whip attachment.
  6. While the cream cheese is blending, place the remaining guava syrup into a piping bag and pipe a small circle in the middle of the macaron shell.
  7. Add the confectioner’s sugar to the cream cheese and blend together until completely combined.
  8. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into a piping bag.
  9. Pipe the cream cheese around the guava paste, leaving some space on the edges for it to spread.
  10. Top it with the matched shell and move on to the next one.
  11. Refrigerate macarons to keep fresh.

 

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The Cure for the Holiday Hangover

It’s January.  Most of us are trying to eat better and work out more.  However, it’s generally cold in the mornings and we’re all feeling a little sluggish from the holidays.

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January may be the time of resolution keeping, but it is also the time of the Holiday Hangover.  For that, I like nothing more than a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

My husband and I have been grinding coffee and brewing it up in our Italian espresso maker.  Add a touch of Splenda and some 2% steamed milk, we have the beginning of a productive day.  It’s our slice of morning heaven.

However, do you know what makes it even better?  A little treat.

That’s right – a treat.  An itty-bitty, something yummy is the perfect way to start the day – even if it isn’t on our diet.  That’s where the Coffee Cookie comes in!

I drink alcohol from time to time, as you may have guessed from the title of my blog.  On

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one boozy night, I had a hankering for some cookies.  It was around 2am, and we all know nothing good for us happens at that time.  That cookie craving I had wasn’t just a desire, it was a necessity.  Not only did cookies sound amazing, I knew we needed to have them to head off that morning hangover.

So, I made cookies.

Only, in my drunken haze, I forgot part of the recipe and put in way too much flour and cinnamon.  When I realized my error, I thought the cookies would all be ruined.  Thankfully, I was wrong.  Instead, the Coffee Cookie was born!

This cookie is denser than your average cookie and it’s not as sweet.  It is truly the perfect pairing for a nice hot cup of java.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter (softened)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Add Ins: (You can customize your cookie with any of these or add in your favorite cookie additions)

  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin (bake for a couple minutes longer)
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup dried blueberries
  • ½ cup shaved coconut

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Blend the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until completely combined
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon
  5. Add the flour mixture one spoonful at a time into the butter mixture until all of the ingredients are combined
  6. Stir in any add-ins
  7. Spoon the dough onto cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes
  8. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on a wire cooling rack

Bangladeshi Chicken Curry

Many years ago, in a time that seems more like a dream than reality, I lived in London for a spell.  It was a fantastic time of my life.  I had attended a summer session at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, home to such great actors as Sir Anthony Hopkins, Alan Rickman, and Sir Richard Attenborough.

That summer fueled a desire in me to really hit the pavements as an actor.  Having lived in Los Angeles my whole life, London called to me for a change of venue.  I was young.  I was eager.  I was a starving actor – literally.

Luckily, I became familiar with an area called Portobello Road, in Notting Hill.  Yes, the same Notting Hill as the movie, which showed the street on the weekends, when it became a bustling outdoor flea/antique market. The Portobello Road I knew, was the place to get good quality kosher meats and fresh-from-the-farm vegetables for cheap.

img_3070I discovered this area when a Bangladeshi actor friend helped me rent a small room at Bangladesh Center.  It was close to a Tube Station and was just a stone’s throw away from the market.  The room was about $20 per week.  Needless to say, I was thrilled to have the lodging in such a great locale.  I hung out with the other tenants and was immersed in their culture.  It was there that I learned how to make curry.  It was a hearty meal that could last for days, stretch the dollar (or the pound, as the case was), and satisfy a rumbling tummy.

Over the years, I’ve altered the recipe a bit and have made it my own.  This is so easy to do with curry, since we never measured ingredients and changed it up, based on what fresh vegetables were available at the time.  I always used chicken for my img_3067curry, but any protein should be fine.  In London, I purchased drumsticks because they were inexpensive and flavorful.  I would dump them into the stew with the skin and bone.  Now I usually buy breast or thigh meat and cube it to make it easier to eat.

This has become one of my favorite comfort dishes.  Not only does it remind me of my London days, but it is tasty and filling.  It is a lovely choice for a cold day.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 3 tablespoons Garam Masala
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1-2 fresh Indian green chilis, diced (optional – you can usually find these in an Indian market)
  • 2 pounds chicken
  • 1 onion, sliced in long pieces
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 small head of broccoli, chopped in small pieces (you want the broccoli to practically melt into the sauce)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • 4 eggs, boiled

Directions:

  1. Place all the spices, chilis and oil into a pot and mix into a paste.
  2. Cook on medium heat until it starts to sizzle and you can feel the spices in your nose and the back of your throat.
  3. Add in chicken and stir until coated and the outside is seared.
  4. Add in onions and stir until they start to become glassy.
  5. Add in tomato, broccoli, and potatoes, stir until coated.
  6. Pour in the water until it just covers everything in the pot. Bring it to a boil.
    1. For fast curry, keep it boiling for about 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Do not cover it.  Simmer until it reduces down to half (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally.
    2. If you have time to develop the flavors, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, uncover the pot and return the curry to a boil.  Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces to half, stirring occasionally.
  7. While the curry is being made, boil the eggs in a separate pot.  Turn off heat, cover and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Deshell the eggs and put them in with the curry.  I like to make small slits in the eggs so the sauce can get inside.
  8. Serve with rice.

Macarons – Those Temperamental Little B!+(#es

French macarons have been a long-time favorite dessert of mine.  I love the colors, flavors, and that slightly chewy, tender cookie with a fragile crust.  I heard they could be fussy, so I never tried to make them.  Instead, I left them to the French pastry experts.

That is, until I caught a video on making macarons.  It looked so easy!  What could go wrong?

Well, as it turns out, a lot of things.

Let’s start with this:  If you read my blog or know me in person, you know I am very bad at sticking to the recipe.  I enjoy “cooking with love.”  In other words, I like throwing things together and making something yummy.

The first time I made macarons, I followed the directions of the video I had watched.  These were very tasty, but the video left out a very important step:

Sift, sift, sift.  Then sift again.  If in doubt, sift.

E31C59FB-B4AC-4D3F-B4CA-016881608D2AAs I said, the first macarons I created were delicious.  However, they were grainy.  They were completely the wrong texture.  They were not smooth.  They were not shiny.  They didn’t have that beautiful, easily fractured crust.  Nor did they finish with a slight, chewy bite that dissolves beautifully on the tongue.  These were dense, with a typical cookie texture.  I was disappointed.

I tried the recipe again, this time sifting through once.  They had a better texture the second time, but still lacked the true qualities of that delicate macaron.

I decided to give up.

However, just as I made this decision, my friend Jenn asked if she could pay me to make macarons for a bridal shower she was hosting.  I was so flattered, I accepted.

Then I panicked.

Then I became obsessed.

I had to up my game!

My husband gifted me a book on macarons.  I “poured” over the pages and familiarized myself with the different techniques.  Apparently, I had used the Swiss technique before – the simplest one.  After talking with Jenn about what she wanted and consulting the book, I decided to try out the Italian method, where the sugar is cooked before pouring it into the meringue.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I am about to enlighten you.

In my research I came to understand that the shell of a macaron (the cookie part) is essentially a meringue, with almond flour (or any nut based flour) added to it.  This explains why the shell is so light and fragile.  This is also why it is absolutely essential to sift that flour and powdered sugar before adding it to the meringue.  Any clump, any larger grain, even any slightly unclean bowl, can change the texture of the shell and ruin that shiny, smooth finish.

Seriously.

As if that isn’t bad enough, I also discovered through trial and error that even something as simple as ridges on a baking sheet can change, not only the appearance of the macaron, but also the rise of it.  It can flatten out.

Exhausted yet?  Well, wait for this…

Then, even if you have sifted five times, cooked your sugar, made sure every bowl was pristine, AND used flat baking sheets, the temperature of the kitchen can botch a batch!

Seriously.

I made the mistake of having dinner prepping in the slow cooker one time.  The whole batch was ruined.  Well, not ruined.  Strangely enough, the macarons were the perfect texture three days later.  However, they were initially hard and many were cracked.01EA55AD-6FCE-4F0A-867A-D98DE5F1806E

Finally, I have a few more tips and tricks:

  1. Buy a food scale.  You need to weigh all of your ingredients for macaron shells to come out right (don’t worry about the filling – that is much less of a science and more of an art),
  2. Make sure you have older eggs, preferably bought the week before you’re going to make the macarons, and have them at room temperature before making the meringue,
  3. If you can, use a silicone baking sheet with circles to guide you. That way each shell should be close in size,
  4. Once the shells are piped, slam them hard on the kitchen counter about 10-20 times to get rid of any air bubbles,
  5. Give yourself time! Make the macarons about 2-3 days ahead of when you want them to be consumed.

In the end, the macarons for the bridal shower both looked and tasted great.  Some were not as perfect as I would have liked, but they were close enough.  Jenn loved them, and asked me to make them again for a Holiday Open House she was hosting for her jewelry business, Bella Sparkle.604DFFA4-22B9-4DE0-832C-AB2F64BE1FFE

Since my first time, I have experimented with a variety of flavors, including key lime pie, raspberry/lemon, and s’mores.  Once I got past the unpredictable and moody nature of macarons, I’ve had a great time coming up with different flavors and designs.  I even created a macaron for Jenn’s party with her favorite flavors (crème brulee) and color (turquoise).  I still think the shells are temperamental little b!+(#es, but I also think they’re fun.

 

BASIC MACARON SHELL – Italian Method

Ingredients:

 

Directions:

  1. Sift the almond flour 2 times.
  2. Sift the powdered sugar into the almond flour, then combine thoroughly.
  3. Sift the almond flour/powdered sugar 2-3 more times, put aside.
  4. In a stand mixer, whip the egg whites at medium speed with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
  5. While the egg whites are whipping, cook the sugar with the water in a small pot until it reaches 235 degrees, whisking while it cooks (you do not want this to burn). If you do not have a thermometer, you will know the sugar is ready when it is boiling rapidly for about 5 minutes.  Note:  This process will take much longer than you think it will!
  6. When the sugar reaches 235 degrees, quickly pour it down the side of the bowl with the egg whites while still whipping (the heat of the sugar can cook the eggs if you don’t keep them moving).
  7. Increase the speed of the mixer and whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. This will take about 8-10 minutes.  You want to be able to turn the bowl over and not have the meringue move.67CA1389-F6D7-451F-A51B-8036B6873874
  8. Create a well (or a hole) in the middle of the almond flour/sugar. Pour the meringue in the center.D5832821-2274-4C80-84F8-4D72772EF1C2
  9. Mix the ingredients together with a rubber spatula. Be sure to completely blend the meringue and almond flour and sugar so it’s flowing, but don’t over mix (those shells will crack!).  A124CC4C-9D8F-4120-8C6E-C7044481225D
  10. Add a couple of drops of food coloring and blend through.
  11. Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a round tip. (Tip:  Put the piping bag in a drinking glass – it will be much easier to fill).
  12. Pipe the meringue onto the silicone mat or baking sheet, making small, circles, about 1 inch wide (try to make them uniform – a guided mat or the squares on parchment paper should help you). Cover any extra batter with plastic until you are ready to pipe it.6C933736-DBDE-4705-9B6A-78786D7AE6BB
  13. Firmly tap the baking sheet about 10-20 times to release any air in the batter.
  14. Let the shells sit for 30-60 minutes, until you can lightly touch them without denting the outside.CC1AECBD-3466-45B9-A938-CBAAF872AE63
  15. Heat the oven to 300 degrees, then bake one sheet at a time, for 9 – 12 minutes, depending upon how hot your oven gets. Vent the oven once or twice throughout the baking process.  You want the air to get in there.
  16. Remove the shells and move the silicone mat to a cooling rack. After a few minutes, gently remove the shells from the mat.

 

For the filling, your imagination is your limit!  Just think:  lemon curd, lime curd, caramel, marshmallow, Nutella, chocolate ganache, guava, or even combinations of flavors!  Just enjoy and delight your senses!  Below is a very easy raspberry buttercream recipe.

EASY RASPBERRY BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
  • ½ cup raspberry jam with seeds

 

Directions:

  1. Blend together the butter, sugar and raspberry jam until completely combined.
    • If you would like it to be thicker, add more sugar.
    • If you would like it to be thinner, add some milk.
  2. Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag.
  3. Pair the macaron shells, matching them by closest size and shape.
  4. Pipe the buttercream onto one of the shells, leaving some space on the edges for it to spread.47A796BF-C71F-48FF-BCFE-2F00A256BA3A
  5. Top it with the matched shell and move on to the next one.
  6. Refrigerate macarons to keep fresh.
  7. Take a deep breath… YOU ARE DONE! Pour yourself a glass of wine and put your feet up.  Cheers!DF853D2A-9642-4306-9363-7DF0739B6009

 

 

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Bele Casel Prosecco ColFòndo

The natural wine movement is in full swing, and I’ve been on a hunt for a trendy “pét-nat,” or a sparkling wine that has used the pétillant naturel method.

What is the pétillant naturel method? Basically, it is the process of bottling a partially fermented wine and completing the fermentation in the bottle, which produces the bubbles. The wine placed in the bottle is raw and often unfiltered – it is “natural.” This is considered the simplest way to produce effervescence, but it also has the most risk.  Since the wine in the bottle is unfinished, it’s always a gamble as to how it will turn out.

Given the popularity of pét-nats, it was fairly hard to find one.  Finally, I found a cool, local wine store that had not one, but two pét-nats.  I purchased both and decided to try the Prosecco first.

However, I quickly found out this Bele Casel Prosecco is not a traditional pét-nat. This one is made like a Champagne, with finished (versus unfinished) wine completing fermentation in the bottle.  Unlike Champagne, there is no disgorgement of the sediment. Bele Casel calls this Prosecco “ColFòndo,” meaning “re-fermented in the bottle.”

So, after all this, you may ask how it tastes.  This is not the typical bright and crisp Prosecco.  This one is heavier, more full-bodied, and very yeasty.  It has flavors of baked bread and tart lemon.  The bubbles are fine and light.  This drinks more like a Champagne than a Prosecco.  It’s a very interesting wine and a good start to my investigation into natural wines.

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Featured Wine of the Week – Sextant Wines 2014 “Portolan”

I heard today is National Red Wine Day.  And it’s Wine Wednesday!  I love every type of wine and tend to drink mostly white wines due to allergies.  However, my favorite single varietal is Syrah.  There was one time when my wine collection had a ridiculous amount of Syrahs.  I’ve been told Syrah is a “wine drinker’s wine,” so this makes sense.  It seems it doesn’t tend to sell well in general.  Syrah is not a well-known varietal to those who don’t drink wine regularly,

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetSyrah is big and bold.  It’s an action-packed wine, filled with great fruit flavors, along with some spice.  It is definitely not a wine for those who want something that is simply easy drinking.  This may be one reason it’s not known well.  However, I like full-bodied wines.  I enjoy the character of them and the feeling that there is a story in every glass.

The wine I chose to feature today was given to me by a dear friend when I had to cancel a wine trip to Paso Robles.  She brought this back for me, and I’ve been waiting for exactly the right occasion to drink it.  National Red Wine Day seems like a good excuse…

Details:

2014 Sextant “Portolan”

100% Syrah

Paso Robles, CA

USA

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetTasting Notes:

Upon opening up this bottle, the crimson waxed cork is just a hint of what is to come. Deep purple crushed velvet in a glass, this wine is thick and syrupy, with long, luxurious legs.  Aromas of boysenberries, leather, sugared cherries, and violets await, as a silky mouthfeel, with flavors of blueberry, mint, cassis, and cinnamon greet the palate.  Like a lover’s kiss, the finish lingers, with beautiful, balanced acid.  Soft tannins dance lightly on the tongue and teeth, teasing, tantalizing, leaving the drinker to simply want more.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetDetails:

“Portolan” is Sextant Wines “wildcard.”  They select the most interesting Rhone varietal in the vineyard each year.  This vintage is 100% Syrah, single block, single varietal.

Featured Wine of the Week – Left Coast Wines Chardonnay

It’s Wine Wednesday, and it’s the season to drink white wine!  I had the opportunity to drink and share 2017 Left Coast Estate Truffle Hill Chardonnay last week with two of my closest girlfriends.

It was a balmy Southern California evening, and this was the perfect wine for such a night.  We dined poolside, where we caught up and told the type of stories that only close friends relate to each other. We laughed a lot and simply enjoyed the evening.

Without further ado, here are the details:

Description:

Left Coast Estate

Truffle Hill Chardonnay

2017

13% Alcohol

Rickreall, Oregon, USA

Willamette Valley

 

img_6623Tasting Notes:   This Chardonnay welcomes with a deep golden hue and gorgeous aromas of butterscotch, papaya, and elderflower.  Tropical fruit flavors of pineapple, lychee, and papaya are layered with creamy vanilla and poached pear.  There is bright acidity and a luscious, silky mouthfeel.  All in all, this is a delicious wine that is a great complement to any outdoor summer eating.

 

Estate Information:  Left Coast Wines prides themselves on being environmentally friendly.  They are certified sustainable and have 200 acres of natural vegetation, half of which is a 450-year old white oak forest.  They’ve partnered with the US Fish & Wildlife Service to help restore these forests.  On August 3rd, they are hosting the Fourth Annual Run for the Oaks at Left Coast Estate.  All proceeds from the race, including food and wine sales, are donated to the Oak Forest Restoration Project.

 

Featured Winery of the Week – Ampelos Cellars

I’ve been a longtime fan of Ampelos Cellars, but I had never been to their tasting room at the Wine Ghetto in Lompoc, California.  On my quest to discover more about biodynamic wines and farming, my Partner in Wine, Adrienne and I made a trip there and arrived just as they opened.  There is nothing better than having the tasting room all to yourself if you want to have a conversation with the person behind the bar.

img_6317The wine lineup did not disappoint.  We tasted through a Viognier, Rose of Syrah, two Pinot Noirs, Grenache, Syrache (Grenache/Syrah – read my review here), and a Syrah.  I hoped to try the new bubbles, but none were open.  The tasting notes provided were fantastic and fun with descriptions like, the Pinot Noir is “your best friend from childhood.  The one who never told your mom.”

Ampelos Cellars is known for using organic, sustainable and biodynamic farming techniques, and was the first vineyard in the US to be certified in all three. This means they focus on what is good for the environment as well as for the grapes.  They “follow the earth’s schedule,” and don’t use tools to measure the brix of the fruit at harvest. Instead, they look at the grapes and taste them to decide when the time is right.

img_6322We learned that Ampelos believes in showing the grape in its purest form, using a minimalistic winemaking approach.  The Viognier and Rose of Syrah were both fermented in stainless steel, with cold fermentation to retain the character of the varietals.  Whereas the Pinot Noirs, Grenache and Syrah were treated “gently” with cold storage, twice daily hand punch downs to extract the juice, a kiss of oak and bottle aging.

All of these techniques seem to work, because their wines were clearly well crafted and absolutely delicious.  There was not a bad one in the bunch!

 

Featured Winery of the Week – Liquid Farm

Happy Wine Wednesday! Today I’m featuring Liquid Farm and their beautiful new tasting room in Los Olivos.

🍷I first discovered Liquid Farm 7 years ago when I was working for a wine event company. At the time, I swore I would never touch a Chardonnay again. That is, until I tried Liquid Farm. They changed my mind and made me realize just how many ways Chardonnay can be crafted.

True to form, Liquid Farm offers up 5 different styles of Chardonnay at the tasting room. The first, White Hill Chardonnay from Sta Rita Hills, a Chablis style, which @adrienneastrology described as “salty lemonade.” The last was Bien Bien Chardonnay from Santa Maria Valley, a voluptuous, creamy Chard. My favorite was La Hermana Chardonnay, which was right in between these styles. However!! We didn’t just taste Chardonnay, we had 2 delicious Pinot Noirs and my personal favorite, a rosé of Mourvèdre (also known as PC, or “pink crack” to LF aficionados).

The tasting room has a delightful shabby/chic vibe with comfy couches, hanging plants, an electric fireplace, and best of all, a wall of bottles of their rosé. It makes for a relaxed tasting experience, and one I highly recommend. Cheers! .

@liquidfarm

#liquidfarm #pinkcrack #rosélover #roséallday #roséseason #chardonnay #chardonnaystyles #pinotnoirlover #pinotnoirfashion #mourvedrerose #winewall #losolivos #centralcoastwine #winewednesday #winedownwednesday #wineblogger #winelife #sommlife

Featured Winery of the Week – Story of Soil

 

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Story of Soil is a hidden gem located in a charming bungalow off the main hub in Los Olivos. It is tucked away and has that feeling of being a special place only few people know about. The rustic elegance inside alludes to the wines this place is dedicated to:  a balance of robust flavor with finesse.

The lineup of wines is impressive – not just for their quality, but also for the unusual offering of a few varietals: Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s native grape and a relative newcomer to California, as well as Gamay, a French varietal known for being used in Beaujolais.  All are small batch wines, with grapes sourced from local vineyards.  The average case count is 150 per wine, with a total of about 1,100 cases.d312847f-83c5-412b-8129-5746d65fd561

It’s clear Winemaker Jessica Gasca has dedicated her life to the crafting of wine.  From vineyard internship to apprenticeship to creating her own, her single varietal wines and winemaking style are undeniably a labor of love.

Wines include:

  • 2016 Sierra Madre Pinot Noir
  • 2017 Martian Gamay Noir
  • 2015 Gold Coast Pinot Noir
  • 2016 Duvarita Pinot Noir
  • 2017 Slide Hill Vineyard Grenache
  • 2015 Larner Vineyard Syrah
  • 2017 Mirabella Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2016 JSV Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • 2016 Duvarita Syrah

Demeter Certified Beckman Vineyards

My trip to Santa Barbara Wine Country began with a stop at Beckman Vineyards. This has been one of my long-time favorite wineries, but it also had been a long time since I visited. My partner in wine, Adrienne and I were also on a quest for knowledge about Biodynamic farming. So since this is one of the better known Demeter Certified producers, it seemed natural to stop by.

We got to sample some gorgeous wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Rosé, a SGMC Blend (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Counoise), and an remarkable 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon that didn’t have the faintest hint of actually being that young. Every one of them was well balanced, expertly crafted and absolutely divine! I had to resist both the temptation to join the Wine Club as well as not buy up every bottle I could (and couldn’t) afford. All told, I walked out with four bottles, but I am highly tempted to order more. And join their Wine Club…what? Yeah…

Anyway, we got some information on Biodynamic farming, but really just enough to whet our palates and leave us wanting more…

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@beckmenvineyards

@adrienneastrology

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