here for a certified vegan review)
Whew, now that it is just us carnivores, let me tell you about one of the best meals I have ever had. It was an annual Sportsmens Club Game Dinner. Just in case any pesky PeTA members are still reading this (hey, thanks for boosting my stats!) I am redacting all identifying information on the club from this blog post. Suffice it to say that it was an all American experience (well, there was ONE French guy ooohhhlala to quote other women from our table) that could have been a Norman Rockwell tableau - if Norman's relatives had hunted, killed, dressed, butchered then cooked that famous Thanksgiving turkey!
It was a Saturday night banquet with a cash bar. Hiding behind a forest of supermarket brand Cabernet at the corner of the bar were some discrete green bottles. I wasn't hoping for great wine at this dinner, and I briefly lamented not bringing a bottle of Tiburizi to go with the Bear, Moose, Elk and Venison that was being served, but when the bartender showed me the AOC Cotes du Ventoux label, well, I thought to myself, SCORE!
The wine was a mellow, delicious Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault, it was a great table wine - perfect for the evening, and at 14% ETOH, it was a solid pairing for the game; a subtle red with a lovely hint of spice, and a full finish. It was so easy to sip that I had polished my first glass off even before our table was called to the buffet for dinner.
This was a packed house of 250 Sportsmen and women who hunt for the sake of eating, and have a chef that transforms their game into haute cuisine to share with the community and raise money for local charities; it was the annual tasting of the year's bounty. After some amazing appetizers of Mini Bear Wellingtons, smoked pheasant, Elk and Wild Turkey Pate, and a special shout out to the Rabbit and Squirrel Ragout, my first glass was gone, and I was heading back to the bar for my second. All under the watchful gaze of a 11 point buck who more than likely could have been the sausage in that mini venison and elk sausage slider that I so eagerly savored. I said "Thank you" to the deer, and chewed on.
Drinking this French Rhone at a game dinner in a Sportsmans lodge made me feel connected to the past. And also connected to the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast. I may have been caught singing "No one hunts like Gaston" after the tall, dark, handsome Frenchman left our table.
I sipped my wine and surveyed my tasting plate (and cup of delicious venison chili) I heard rumors of salad, but for me, the greens on my plate were Fiddleheads. I love fiddlehead ferns, they grow on the banks of the stream back home in Maine, and every spring, I am reminded of just how wonderful they are. It was an amazing night. I'll leave you with a slideshow:
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Sunday, February 17, 2013
August 2012 The first cork was popped by Sokol Blosser's Jenny Mosbacher on the bus. (now THAT's hosptality!) I was traveling with my favorite wine professionals, Luiz, his wife Nanci #WINELOVER, Valerie #CHEZVINO, and forty or so other close wine blogging fiends (that is a freudian typo for friends!) from the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference.
The white wine that we sipped from plastic cups as we drove through Portland, Oregon to the Dundee Hills is lost to my distant memory, but was good, and a great way to introduce us to the amazing regon that is the Dundee Hills. I had already fallen in love with Anam Cara wine at Valerie's birthday party just days before, but little did I know what was to come....
The event was held in the bosom of the rolling Dundee Hills, at Sokol Blosser Family Estate. The area is beautiful, and good for growing grapes too. After a outdoor tour and lecture on the terroir (really, I just used the word terroir in a sentence, and my head didn't explode) from Argyle Winery's wine maker Rollin Soles, we were ushered into the Sokol Blosser fermenting room for a tasting provided by the local wineries.
I am biased to bubbly. The first wine I tasted was a sparkling wine from Argyle, their `09 Brute. I may have yelled at Rollin "Why don't you sell this in London?!?" It was my favorite of the night, and to this day remains my favorite American sparkling wine. It rocked my world (and I was still sober).
But why stop there? I love writing about wine because it affords me the opportunity to taste so many fantastic/uncommon/small production types. Lang Pinot Gris, Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir, they stand out as delicious wines that I really liked. What started as a Trader Joe's Wine Shop blog has turned into my own personal discoveries, and had led me on adventures that are ripped from the pages of romance novels. REALLY. But I write about those stories on my private "50 Shades of Wine Writing" blog.
Meanwhile, after a cold shower of Bronco Chardonnay... back to the tasting.
PINOT NOIR. Yeah, Oregon rocks it. The Stoller Pinot Noir Rose (no one can buy that anymore, it was delicious, and it went FAST). Whew, I went back for more. In between sips, I realized that I was living the life that Thomas Jefferson WISHED he could have had. I was tasting premium American grown and made wine from Lewis and Clarke's backyard. I have live in Europe. I have tasted the centuries old traditional wine, and it is great, as it should be. But in the Dundee Hills? I was drinking something distinctly American, Rollin is a man who wears a cowboy hat in the hot August sun, and looks the part, but he can hold his own with his peers from Maison Jaquesson. After all, they are ultimately farmers, just with a different accent.
Sure, it's roots are European, and that shows, but we now"own" it. As I sat with the LA rooted brand ambassador Lee Medina from Sokol Blosser over dinner on the patio with my Canadian, and Brazilian American friends, we were living Jefferson's dream, watching the sun set and planning for our futures. We've done it. There is great wine to be had, and we don't need to fly to France to taste it.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
We had adventure ahead of us. After a delicious breakfast of galley made hot biscuits, local jams, herbed scrambled eggs and locally made sausages, we took a shore trip for a walk to Black Dinah chocolates. Just as we were boarding Babe, the Tabor's yawl boat, Captain Barnes announced that he was going to make a call out to the local Lobster men and try to buy some lobsters for a lobster bake. (I know, they aren't baked, they are steamed.... Humor me).
Black Dinah Chocolates is a well known artisanal chocolate company run by some Silicon Valley escapees. They fled California for a remote, island off the coast of Maine, and they haven't looked back. (even though all of the chocolates are made on the island, they did open a retail store on the mainland - but most of their business is mail order thanks making good products and praise from Martha Stewart, they have a firm foothold in the market )
After an hour or so of wandering Isle au Haut, fueled by a delicious breakfast, and some chocolate, we made it back to the dock to wait for our ride back to the Tabor. But Becky and Andy (two of my favorite guests that week) were already chatting up a local lobsterman. Some of us rode back in Babe that yawl boat, and Becky, Andy, Will and Lindsay rode back with our luncheon main course on the lobster boat.
As soon as they pulled aside, Kat was hauling out the Tabor's lobster pot, Captain Barnes was talking business and I had the camera at the ready.
I was surprised that Captain Barnes didn't salt it up and start telling the story of wreck Island, especially after we found a deserted campsite that looked like it was fled from. (seriously, who leaves a full case of beer behind? Well, it was Miller Light) The fact is, Wreck Island is Haunted. Yes, Haunted with a capital H. Hey, we were only there for lunch, and I didn't tell the story, but just Google it. I was thrilled to be there, and even though I left stuffed to the gills, I never felt a chocking sensation (unlike the crew of the ship that mistakenly went ashore there in the 18th century...)
Enough about ghosts, let's talk wine and the food that pairs with it!!
The advance party set up the fire and laid out the appetizers. Epicurious FRENCH ONION DIP. No soup mix to be found, chef Anna made this dip from scratch, and I could have licked the bowl clean. (but someone beat me to it!)
I'll shut up now and just leave you with pictures of lunch:
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
January, 2012 - Glenwood (now Roslyn Harbor, NY): I'm a girl originally from Penobscot Bay, temporarily in Glenwood Landing. The Stephen Taber is a boat built and launched from Glenwood Landing (just at the end of the street) now making her home along the coast of Penobscot Bay. We both love food and wine, and we both had an incredible adventure for six days.
A few years ago, I wrote a short story about a magic iBook that when you set the clock on the computer, it would transport you in time. This adventure really is a variation on that story, only, it really happened. After a few e-mail exchanges with Jane, the NYC sommelier and captain's wife, then through the magic of a credit card, I booked passage on the Stephen Taber for the Maine Windjammer Association's Great Schooner Race in Penobscot Bay, Maine. 408 miles down east from Glenwood Landing, NY.
After some prep and final provisioning, we cast off from the dock. It was a quick sprint (even for a boat built to haul freight) past Vinalhaven when I took a look at the chart and realized that we were heading to the edge of Penobscot Bay, Isle au Haut. Captain Barnes out ran some nasty weather, we stopped in the sunshine for Beef Bourguignon, a fresh green salad, bread and peanut butter squares. This is where I should tell you that al though the Taber is Adventure Travel, it is an epicurean adventure.
The Taber partners with high end local providers and presents its guests with Michelin standard fare. All cooked on a wood stove in a galley on a boat built in 1871.
And so we sailed on to Isle au Haut. The coast of Maine is beyond words. We sailed close along the rocky coast, framed by pine trees beaten down by weather, surrounded by the cold Atlantic waters - it was July, but I still needed long sleeves. It was only fitting that as we sailed past a large house flying the American flag, they saluted us by firing their cannon. we were in a world where people still used cannons!!! There was no cell phone service, I was unplugged and FINALLY on vacation.
We anchored at Isle au Haut, there was plenty of wine being poured, and my pairing for dinner was a New Zealand Marlborough Valley Arona Sauvignon Blanc`10. Chef Anna presented us with a dinner of crusted halibut, broccoli with lemon olive oil and rice pilaf. It paired really well with this light crisp wine. I was happy.
Of course for dessert, Chef Anna had made a Boston Cream Pie, my favorite dessert. Even though the crew threw her overboard (a birthday tradition) Soaking wet and freezing, she was a pro and she still fed us.Over the course of the next five days, Anna Miller was my own personal hero.
Sunset, Day One: