The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, also known as the "Judgement of Paris," really changed the wine world's perception of California wine. Recently we embarked with some friends on a "passport" tasting that was offered from five of the California wineries represented at the Judgement of Paris. I typically don't do these type of events but I found myself relaxing in the environs and getting to know these wineries' offerings better. In the end, it was great to experience the wines on premises and in their environment. Here are my thoughts on the wines from each of the wineries we visited:
So here are my overall rankings......
For the last six months we have found ourselves down in Los Angeles many times and finally discovering the good food that can be found down in LA-LA land. LA is much different culinarily speaking then I remember from many years back (or maybe we just never found what was good).
Top three things great about food in LA:
We are looking forward to enjoying more great eats in LA. If you have a favorite AND has a great wine selections let me know.
Being in the food and wine business, I am constantly asked for my favorites. During the summer, with many people coming into town, I got this question almost daily. Here's what I've been telling people:
• Dosa - Great Indian food with an adventurous wine list in a fun atmosphere.
• Piperade - Love the authentic flavors of this restaurant. Order the cheese/ham terrine..... insane! It is salty, creamy, crispy... just divine.
• Perbacco - A talented chef, who is also just the nicest, begets the best food and best service. Top down.... you have heard the phrase but so true here.
• Tadich Grill - SF tradition. Sit at the bar and order shellfish and a martini. Love the wait staff here: they are sooo no-nonsense.
• La Taqueria - Everyone needs favorite cheap places to eat. Order the carnitas quesadilla with salsa (flour tortilla).
• Rich Table - The vershizzle! Amazing and creative.
• Boxing Room - Love the low-key vibe, solid southern food with fantastic wines by the glass.
• Bar Tartine - This place inspires me—the food, the wine. Also, quite affordable.
• Nopa - Great city vibe, great owners, great food, great bar scene, great wine list.
• Nopalito - Same owners as Nopa.. love them! Authentic Mexican food without making it
precious. Takes traditional and makes it their own. A gourmands dream!
• A16 - Again, incredibly nice owners... Top-down people!!! Talent, authenticity, fabulous food, and a wine list that has me going back.
• Delfina - Solid staple in the restaurant scene and it never disappoints. Inspired food, no fuss, great wine list.
• Boulevard - Another solid staple in SF. Much prefer this Nancy Oakes place over Prospect. I always forget about it, and then when we go back I wonder why we don’t go there more often.
• Cotogna - Creative, affordable, inspired, with a fun wine list.
• House of Prime Rib - Best steak restaurant ever! This is a machine, managed well and delivering consistent tasty meat with great service. I also like that the wine markup is not super aggressive here.
• Piccino - New find... you can find parking here and it's authentic (again, without getting precious). Great wine list too!
Of course I have more, but these are my “go to” faves.
Dining out over the holidays was fun and a few were memorable. Living in San Francisco we become so spoiled as to what is at our fingertips that the unique and special sometimes become the norm. So when I stumble upon a restaurant that is really turning the crank on uniqueness, I sit up and notice.
The wine menu is equally unique and is concentrating on small producers and lesser known wines like Jacqueres. Of course, WU members are used to Jacqueres but trust me in that the mass is not in the “know”. The wine director is Maz Naba and he is doing a rock star job in meeting the match with the outstanding food.
Run. Don’t walk to the Rich Table. As a friend and chef said, “It’s the vershizzle”. AMEN!
I know, yes I am a wine lover, but I did cheat on wine the other night. The owner of Tacolicious and Mosta, Joe Hargrave, is a colleague of mine. He had a special tequila tasting with a visiting chef from Mexico, Donnie Masterson, who happens to be a mutual colleague and friend. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out Joe’s new space in the Mission and to see Donnie again. So with some friends we set our sails for the Mission on a tequila expedition.
Donnie’s food rocked and it paired well with the tequilas presented. He didn’t necessarily stick with traditional Mexican fare, but those flavors definitely prevailed. One of the passed appetizers was a pork and shrimp lollipop with a tamarindo glaze. A welcome modern “pop” to traditional Mexican food, it worked so well with the margarita, and the playful presentation was just plain fun. I actually found the last pairing of an añejo tequila with coconut tres leches cake the most interesting. I was shocked by how the cake brought out chocolate notes from the tequila.
My only complaint is that I wish I had ordered a Negra Modela earlier in the night, as sipping tequila alone just didn’t quench my thirst. After a few sips of the cerveza, my palate was cleared, my whistle was wet, and I could enjoy the intricate flavors of the tequila much more. So the next time you are presented with a tequila tasting dinner, order some beer as a companion.
You must check out Joe’s space in the mission or the marina. http://tacolicioussf.com
And the next time you find yourself in San Miguel de Allende, head to Donnie’s place http://therestaurantsanmiguel.com
I have been working on a fun project lately over at StoneTree Golf Club, a daily fee course, in Novato. We put together a special cellar list to complement the wonderful environs and delicious food being served in the club house. All the wines are from California and very hard to get—aside from the special care to properly store and the age of these wines. Some of the wines on the list are the likes of Kistler, Lokoya, Williams Seylem, Switchback Ridge, Robert Foley, Alban Vineyards, Martinelli and Opus One.
Make a day of it and head to StoneTree, even if you don’t play golf. enjoy a lunch or dinner and one of the special wines on the cellar list. All of your senses will be enjoy the day.
StoneTree Golf Club
9 StoneTree Lane
Novato, CA 94945
Angela Camacho, a certified sommelier and author of a best selling wine tool, The Wine Wheel®, shares her obsession with wine and food.