Yes. I am insane. Just want to be crystal clear on this. I can’t think of any other insane person I know (and I know a lot) that would host seven World Series viewing parties for 20 to 30 people. I am tired now just thinking about it. But hey, San Francisco is a first class food city with a first class baseball team. We have to party the SF way.
So how are we pulling this off? Well…..
Make it potluck. Not just any potluck: San Francisco potluck. It has to be organized and fun and the food must be no less than World Series caliber. Just in case the game goes bad, we can always talk about the food. I usually like to do everything myself but, hey, I might be insane but I am not stupid. It has to be potluck.
• Make themes and give guidance. Here is what I sent out to the guests for themes:
Game 1 - Tuesday 10/21 - Indian/Moroccan
- Camachos: Curried Chicken Salad with Roasted Carrots
- Suggestions: Samosas, naan, curry and rice, kebabs
Game 2 - Wednesday 10/22 - American Grill
- Camachos: salad and foie gras hamburgers
- Suggestions: you know…. meats, hot dogs whatever you want to grill
Game 3 - Friday 10/24 - Italian
- Camachos: spaghetti and meatballs
- Suggestions: caesar salad, antipasta, pizza etc
Game 4 - Saturday 10/25 - Southern
- Camachos: Fried Chicken
- Suggestions: red Beans, Rice salad, shrimp, tomato corn bread salad, black eye pea salad
If it is not a sweep then…..
Game 5 - Sunday 10/26 - English Pub
- Camachos: Shepherds Pie
- Suggestions: cheese, bangers, pasties, tomato and goat cheese tart
Game 6 - Tuesday 10/28 - Spanish
- Camachos: Arroz con pollo
- Suggestions: Spanish Tortilla, tapas, anything pork, salad with romesco dressing
Game 7 - Wednesday 10/29 - Undecided (one guest commented it should be Alka Seltzer night)
• Parameters for guests: MUST be completely obsessed with SF Giants AND MUST be completely obsessed with food/wine, and I have to feel comfortable that I know them well enough that if my hostessing skills slip that they will not be offended.
• Have a great team. I don’t know what I would do without my husband and my daughter. We all had our routines down. I would wash two loads before bed and two loads in the morning, wash all the linens, iron and wipe everything down. Hubby would take out all trash, sweep and mop, and chill down all the beverages. My daughter kindly helped the younger guests, ran errands and even made dinner on Sunday while I was at the opera.
• Pace yourself. It's not a 100-yard dash, it's a marathon.
• Let some of the normal details go. Usually I like to get everything for guests, but this really is a pitch-in and help yourself deal.
• Wines… for white I reached a lot for bright whites and a few guests brought their favorite chards. On the reds, I found that Syrahs were pretty much the workhorse for the task at hand. Pinots are too light and cabs were just too big. One client texted me, and said, "Opened the good hope wine in 6th..,tasted great and worked!!! “ Love that! She was referencing The Winery of Good Hope that I just shipped. We drank that one, too.
• My lord, can my friends cook! Amazing dishes were brought as people have really embraced the themes. I will post some of the highlights on FB.
• Sign up for boot camp right after the World Series… Seriously, seven days of partying is hard on the waistline.
GO GIANTS, and I hope you clinch it tonight!
When I first began WU, I offered a case of wine I called “The First Aid Kit.” Basically, it had a wine for any food, occasion, or moment that might arise. I thought of it the other day when I got caught with my pants down… I didn’t have what we needed to make the meal better. Sadly, I didn’t heed my own advice and I was unprepared. I stopped selling these kits as a stock item because the sheets I would send along were logistically problematic, but I still on occasion help people “be prepared.”
The idea is simple: you have 6 whites and 6 reds (really I prefer 8 whites and 4 reds but customers like the idea of 6/6) with varying body weights, fruity vs earthy notes, and acid levels. This way if someone shows up at your house with anything from sushi to beef wellington, you are prepared.
Here's what you should have on hand to be fully prepared:
1. German Riesling > For sushi. The clean flavors and absence of oak echo the clean flavors of fresh fish. Try also with pork. It's a contrast in bodies, but it works.
2. Pinot Blanc or Pinot Auxerrois from Alsace or Gruner Veltliner from Austria > For Asian food. These will work with Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, etc. Also great with salads as the high acid levels can handle the dressing.
3. A sparkling wine, preferably Champagne > Do I really need to explain the need?
4. Sauvignon Blanc > You always need an aromatic that can echo aromatic foods like asparagus, goat cheese, or even curries. Also great with salads as it typically can handle the dressings.
5. Bordeaux Blanc > You want the aromatic and freshness yet a little more body than a Sauvignon Blanc alone. This is perfect with Mexican food as it works with guac and can work with light meats and fishes.
6. Chardonnay, either unoaked or balanced oak > Reach for this with fuller fishes like salmon and even chicken and pork.
1. Rosé > Tuna niçoise salad, picnics, apps… such a flexible wine.
2. Beaujolais > Works nicely with mushrooms and even some fishes. Can also handle soy sauce but be careful pairing with Asian meals.
3. Pinot Noir > Medium bodied and can work with salmon, chicken, pork, and earthier flavors.
4. Spanish Tempranillo or Rhône reds or Dolcetto > We all need something on hand to work with red sauces and weeknight meals. These are the workhorses of the red wine world.
5. California Zinfandel or a Syrah > Don’t we all BBQ?
6. Cabernet Sauvignon > The big daddy…with the big tannins, big body, big flavor. Pairs with big meat flavors.
Before you even ask… no, you don’t need to keep all those whites in your refrigerator. It only takes 15 minutes to ice a wine down.
I don’t know about you, but I am looking in my cellar tonight to make sure I am prepared.
I cannot believe that Wine Unleashed is 10 years old this year! I have loved getting to know people’s palates and their wine and lifestyle preferences. We are all so different in these preferences but yet all Wine Unleashed members have a common bond in that we like trying new wines, boutique winemakers, and good value.
I have a few things slotted to change this year, including an updated website (but that is quite a few months away). In the near term, I am changing the price points for Everyday Libation wines to broaden our options.
Wine Unleashed’s focus has always been to find interesting wines, value, uniqueness, and small production wines. Lately, I have found that wines in the Everyday Libation price range have shifted from $11-$18 up to $14-$21. Yes, of course, if I find wines that are under $14 that meet those parameters, I snatch them up. But we've been missing the boat on some spectacular wines that are priced between $18 and $21. I've been selling these for special parties but members have been missing out on some fun and compelling wines. Industry wide, I think this range is the most exciting. So the new range for Everyday Libations monthly shipment will hover around $65 (instead of $60).
Would love to hear from YOU. What works for you? What doesn’t work for you?
Chablis, a region in northern Burgundy, produces Chardonnay—and not like any other chardonnay in the world. Climate is the first element that is different: it is much cooler than other Chardonnay growing regions. The cooler climate creates juice that is less fruity and has higher acid levels. The second element that makes it different is that for the most part it’s naked… unoaked in other words. At Grand Cru and Premier Cru levels they might receive some oak, but at the winemakers discretion.
The result of the climate and the winemaking is a wine that is best described as “steely.” The acid backbone is as straight as a knife’s edge. Sounds yummy right? What makes this all palatable is that Chardonnay is naturally the most full-bodied white wine out there. Tension is created between the two (body and acid), and then throw in terroir. Jancis Robinson, my favorite wine writer, describes Chablis as the “purest” expression of varietal character. And almost all experts would agree that the aging potential of Chablis is well worth the wait.
The precision of Chablis may not be for everyone. It's akin to punctuating every sentence so carefully that you create a "sit upright" speech. Most people prefer to be carefree, say what they like how they like, and drink warmer climate Chards and not think about their punctuation or posture. That is fine… leave the Chablis for those who want to embrace good posture (we can’t slouch and relax all the time…that would get a bit droll after a while). Change things up! Embrace good abs and drink Chablis!
How many times have you been running late to a party and ran back into the house when you realized you needed a hostess gift. You are finally back in the car, relieved that yes, you do have matching shoes on, and armed with a bottle of wine as a gift. My version usually continues like this…by the time we pull up to the party I am rethinking the quick grab. I should have grabbed a different bottle. Erg!
A little preplanning can help avert this situation. Here are a few questions I like to think about before making a selection. Yes, some are obvious but sometimes the obvious is overlooked.
1) Do they like wine and drink it? If they don’t enjoy wine, move on. Try olive oil instead or tequila or whatever the recipient is into.
2) Do you know of any preferences? Red, white, California only, anything but Chardonnay, etc.?
3) What is an appropriate price point? Is it a special event, 50th birthday, or just a casual dinner party? If I know it's a special occasion, I try to find a unique and more rare bottle. It doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive, but I put more thought into the style (more on that in a moment). If I'm joining a casual group of friends, I usually grab two bottles of $15 wines. Less of a story about the wine, but it helps keep the party going.
4) What is the personality of the person? I usually try to reflect on the person’s personality in the wine choice, from the style of wine to the varietal. For example, if I know the person is adventurous and travels, I try to find a lesser known varietal. If I know the person is quiet and mellow, I will usually reach for Pinot Noir, or conversely, if they are loud and laugh a lot I would probably reach for a Syrah.
5) Everybody likes a story. If you know something about the winemaker or specific wine, share it with the recipient in a card or when they are not rushed. I love to give Elisabetta’s wine to people--I feel there is a transference of good energy. When people bring me bottles I always love to hear their story for the selection. One friend, likes to say, “It is our current house favorite,” and the spouse follows up with, “It is the current one on sale.” Needless to say, not all the stories need to be serious ones.
6) Should the recipient open and share it with you that evening? I get this question quite a bit, and the answer is no. Never expect to have a bottle opened at the event or when you are around. If you really want to have a taste of the bottle you are giving, etiquette would have you call the host prior to the evening and ask if it would be ok to bring this particular bottle to share. When I'm the recipient, knowing that many people do not know this piece of etiquette, I will ask the giver (without actually looking in the bag or at the bottle) if this bottle is something they would like opened that evening. I do on occasion have people that have brought something they want to share and am happy to make everyone happy.
In the end, all wine is good, and it is better to share it amongst friends and family.
What is Le dîner en blanc? According to their website:
At the last minute, the location is given to thousands of friends
and acquaintances who have been patiently waiting to learn the
“Dîneren Blanc's” secret place. Thousand of people, dressed all
in white,and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum,
elegance,and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a
Over the course of an evening, the diners enhance the function
and value of their city's public space by participating in the
unexpected. Beyond the spectacle and refined elegance of the
dinner itself, guests are brought together from diverse
backgrounds by a love of beauty and good taste. Le Dîner en
Blanc recalls the elegance and glamour of court society, and
diners engage one another knowing they are taking part in a truly
magical event. There are no disruptions: no car traffic, no
pedestrian traffic, except for the occasional amazed and
astonished looks from passersby at the scene unfolding before
them. And we, as they, wonder whether it's all not a dream...
Born 25 years ago in Paris...
Launched with just a handful of friends by François Pasquier
over 25 years ago, Paris' Dîner en Blanc now assembles nearly
15,000 people each year. The French capital's most prestigious
sites have played host to it: the Pont des Arts, the Eiffel
Tower site, Place Vendôme, the Château de Versailles, the
Esplanade de Notre-Dame, the Esplanade des Invalides, the
periphery of the Place de l'Étoile, the Champs-Élysées, Place
de la Concorde and this year: Le Louvre Pyramid and the
Trocadéro Esplanade at the ame time! The Paris police tend
to tolerate this ‘wild' gathering, if not perhaps even wishing
they could join in!
Enjoy my pictures from this wonderful evening. And many thanks to our hostess of the evening and for our team’s hard work.
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.
Life is too short not to be drinking GOOD Burgundy. The trick is to find affordable ones, so you can continue enjoying them for longer. Claudie Jobard is an 8th-generation wine maker. Her mother was head winemaker for Domaine Drouhin from 1973 to 2005. Her father is pépiniériste in Burgundy and is considered "in the know” in Burgundy.
The winery is organic with vines about 45 yrs old. Claudine is no stranger to oak and she knows how to use it correctly. Only 15% of her wines will go into new oak. As my colleague Anya said, “It was the 2011 Rully Montagne La Folie that got me oohing and ahhing and also thinking about those A-list California wines that I got to taste earlier in the day. What occured to me was that this Rully, in its composition and character, was exactly what I believe many domestic producers are trying to replicate but so often miss the mark because their fruit, though vinified dry, can taste sweet on the finish, whereas this Rully, with all its fullness and broad palate, finishes crisp and bone-dry. It’s fresh and vibrant and it begs you to take another sip.” I could not have said it better myself.
Be sure to check out the Company’s Coming selections: we are featuring a white and a red burgundy. The holidays are fast approaching and these are affordable winners for your dinner parties or gifts.
Yes, sadly at Casa Camacho we do have wine that is not finished after a few days. I was always saddened to pour these wines down the drain—it wasn’t their fault they had not been drunk. They are typically everyday wines or nice wines but definitely something we enjoyed. After some research I started to make red wine vinegar last year. The initial batch has a learning curve but after the second time (I am on my fourth), you realize it is so simple, why isn’t everyone doing it?
To start you need some leftover wine, a crock, a mother (the bacteria that transforms it), purified water and the ability to follow simple instructions.
Check out Clay Coyotee for instructions, crocks and where to buy your mother. I bought my mother here in town at San Francisco Brewcraft out on Clement Street. I still chuckle about my clever line when I purchased my mother, “So, that’s what my mother looks like.”
I stockpile my leftover wines in the wine cellar and after 3 months or so I bottle the vinegar and make more vinegar. I use red wine vinegar in simple vinaigrettes as well as punching the flavor in soups and sauces. Once you taste your own vinegar you will never buy red wine vinegar again. Let me know if you make some!!
Angela Camacho, a certified sommelier and author of a best selling wine tool, The Wine Wheel®, shares her obsession with wine and food.