Thursday, May 22, 2014

#TheCrossingSTL #PastariaSTL #halfandhalfstl Taste of St. Louis, Missouri!

Nice pic with my trusty iPhone! I made Natalie go up in the Arch!

Last weekend after hosting our gourmet dinner club and jumping up early Sunday morning to ring handbells in all three services, I left Dallas that evening to meet my oldest daughter in St. Louis. As everyone knows now, she and her family are moving there from Bakersfield, CA at the end of May. AND she is very excited to say the least!

I arrived at 9:30pm knowing that her flight had been delayed in Houston until who knows when. But she Ubered it out to HOU, jumped on another airplane and made it to STL about 11:15. I waited for her at the Airport Marriott Hotel in the bar, the only thing opened late a night for food.

Lobby of the Marriott

We had three and a half days to look for homes, private schools, apartments if we couldn't find a home, and SHOP! Private schools being the top priority, then shopping, we quickly found both! Our home search was in vain, but places to eat, shop and go to school we scored!

Upscale shopping in STL
My focus in this blog are the many restaurants and wines we tasted while in STL. The first chance to dine was Monday at Pastaria in STL (sorta close to Italy)! 

We had crispy risotto balls, a chopped salad, and a shaved kale salad. With that we had a 2012 Cantele Chardonnay ($10) from Italy. Notes of lily, magnolia, juniper, and linden are followed by ripe fruit and herbaceous aromas. A very good wine.

Another day we ate lunch at The Zodiac in Neiman Marcus. There we had the wonderful popovers and strawberry butter with our salads. We had the most wonderful mimosas made with St. Germaine I have ever tasted. The waitress gave us the recipe for it.

For Cinco de Mayo, we discovered a restaurant near our hotel called the Canyon Cafe. After a movie, we had a late snack of table-side guacamole, chips, and salsa with amazing margaritas!

Another day we drove over to St. Charles, a nearby suburb of STL. This is where Mr. President Bowers' hospitals are located. Natalie took me to a historic part of the town near the river on Main Street to a wine bar and tapas called Bella Vino

 I read the reviews on Yelp and every bit of it is true. This is not a place to be missed. The wine list is excellent and the flavor of the foods offered are fantastic in every way! We had a bottle of 2012 Bastianich Pinot Grigio ($14). Natalie and I had had this in Bakersfield at Luigi's Restaurant last year. So good with hints of ripe apple and pear!

Another restaurant we ate at was one ranked by Urban Spoon to be the #1 restaurant in Clayton. The Crossing is fine dining at its best combining French and Italian influences and techniques and using the best local produce, vegetables and meats available. Seafood is hand selected fresh daily. Check out the wine lists! We chose one of the three unique tasting menus along with a French rose'.

2012 Commanderie de la Bargemone Rose' ($16) A very pale rose' but loaded with flavors of melon, orange peel, and flowers. Oh my, so fine!

Our last morning, we ate breakfast at Half & Half, a place that serves breakfast, lunch and brunch. Cute, upscale, small downtown winner!

 They have amazing foods, cocktail, and beer-just check out the menus! We had mimosas, blueberry pancakes, bacon, egg white omelets, fresh fruit with fresh whipped cream and a ham biscuit! UGH! Full to the brim!

St. Louis is a fun place with MANY things to do and the people were so nice everywhere we went. At least my granddaughters will be closer now. 

630 feet above the city!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Jimmy's Food Store Wine Dinner-#KellereiKaltern #Caldaro in Italy

Where Wine is One of the Family

I recently attended a wine dinner at Jimmy's Food Store on Bryan and Fitzhugh and invited Natalie's friend to go with me (Natalie lives in California). We had a great time tasting wines with food from Jimmy's. They always know exactly what to pair with the wines that are featured.

Tobias Zingerle was the representative for the winery that evening. He explained  how the Kaltern Estate sits in one of the most beautiful corners of the Dolomites, overlooking Caldaro Lake, in the Alto Adige region of Italy. Alto Adige is a unique pocket within Italy, close to the border with Germany, and the German influence is strong in the customs, language, food and wine styles. It is one of the world's oldest wine-producing areas and receives the largest number of Tre Bicchieri (three glasses) ratings, which indicates the highest rankings. 

Here's what we tasted:

2012 Caldaro Pinot Grigio Alto Adige ($15) A very delightful wine, lively, fruity, fresh and well structured. I bought this one, which I give three glasses!

2012 Caldaro Gew├╝rztraminer Campaner ($28) Dense, rich volume on the palate, very clean and direct. This is an utterly juicy Gew├╝rztraminer. 

2012 Caldaro Pinot Nero Alto Adige ($18) "Sunny herb garden scents infuse this peppery red, its light spice cool in the end" states Wine & Spirits Year's Best Alto Adige Pinot Nero!

2011 Caldaro Pinto Nero Saltner ($28) A stunning wine with a rich dense cherry red color and deep complexity. A velvety first impression leads to a wonderful bright cherry, raspberry, rose hip and fruit-tea overtone with a soft, smooth finish.

 2012 Caldaro Lagrein Classico ($22) Lagrein is one of the three indigenous grape varieties in Alto Adige. It is distantly related to the Syrah. Typical for this species are the dark red color and fruity berry flavors that are paired with spicy notes of chocolate, tobacco and forest floor.

2012 Caldaro Schiava Campaner ($19) is from a grape that produces a light red wine with low tannins, moderate alcohol content, and exhibits characteristics of its growing area. It is a brilliant ruby red color in the glass, fruity on the nose, with a velvety texture giving way to a full round finish. Serve with light dishes.

And last but not least was a Moscato Giallo ($16) which is a off-dry version, lightly sweet and silky in texture with juicy acidity for balance and exuberant flavors of bold orange sorbet, candied pink grapefruit, star flirt and zesty spice. 

I was very disappointed that we didn't get to try the one wine Kaltern is known for-a Cabernet Sauvignon, which Tobias kept talking about. Several people asked for it, but obviously he didn't have it at this dinner. I read about it online and it sounds delicious! Oh well, I guess I'll have to look for it in Dallas!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tasting at DCC with Tate Wines #DomaineWineCo #JDrouhin

Pic via the internet 

A fews weeks ago, Natalie's friend Misty and I attended a wine tasting at the Dallas Country Club. It was a small wine tasting followed by dinner in the 19th Hole with Don and Cullum. They chose to play a few holes of golf while we tasted a few rounds of wine. Even trade-off I think! A lot less work for sure!

Pic via the internet
David Tate is the proprietor and winemaker for Tate Wines. He is also the winemaker and manager for a well-known boutique winery in Napa, Barnett Vineyards, which I have blogged about several times. He has traveled and worked all over the world in the finest regions of the world. He graduated from Brock University with an honors degree in Enology and Viticulture. His research has been published and he helps teach wine education in his free time.

Pic via the internet

A small crowd gathered in the Founders Room for the tasting at 5:30pm. We visited with David and a few people we met there while tasting the wines. Here's what we tasted.

We began with a Barnett Vineyards Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but I want to feature David's wines. A side note, all of David's wines are currently sold out. But stay in touch with the website here. These are VERY delicious wines!

2011 Joan Ellen Merlot ($40) 

2011 Joan Ellen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($50)

2011 Jacks Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($70)

There are no tasting notes on his wines online yet, and I didn't take notes that evening. All I know is that they were extraordinary wines! Tres Bicchieri!

We headed to the 19th Hole, but the guys weren't off the golf course yet. So we had a real glass of wine (meaning not just a taste). I chose a

2011 Joseph Drouhin Saint-Veran Chardonnay ($22) grown at a site on the southern end of Burgundy, just north of Beaujolais. This wine is stylistically like a Pouilly-Fuisse with its golden hue, its greenish reflection, and its refreshing taste.

We had a great time that evening! Thanks for going with me Misty!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Gourmet Dinner Club-Cinco de Mayo!

It's been a very busy May and it isn't over yet! It started with teaching the last three days of April and the first two of May. Then it proceeded to Gourmet Dinner Club at our home. The next morning I rang bells in three church services, and last flying out the same day to meet Natalie in St. Louis, Missouri-her new home in June! And it's only May 10! May 16th, I'm headed to Bakersfield for nine days, return for 36 hours and head to Beaumont for ten days! Whew!

First, the Gourmet Dinner Club! We hosted the supper club at our apartment, which was a Cinco de Mayo themed dinner. Recipes were chosen from a cookbook that my BFF had in her kitchen in North Carolina, so I ordered one for myself! I highly recommend this book and the other 10 books in the series. 

Recipes for our dinner included our Black Bean and Corn Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds served in colorful bell pepper halves. 

Our Eggs Diablo were to die for! 

One of the couples made Zucchini Pancakes

Our meat dish was a Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Serrano, Cheese, and Pinons

The dessert, provided by another couple, was a Mexican Chocolate Tart.

Each couple was responsible for bringing wines to pair with their recipe. Here's what we had! First, we made a White Sangria.

 Like traditional sangria, this blend of fruit and wine was a refreshing drink on a warm evening and it went well with Southwestern foods. Here's the recipe for the sangria.

The wines that were served are as follows, not necessarily in this order:

2011 William Selyem Papera Vineyard Zinfandel ($52) from the Russian River Valley. 93 points by Stephen Tanzer. 

2013 Christian Salmon Sancerre Vieilles Vignes ($18) from France. This is a fine expression of a Sauvignon Blanc!

2012 Marques de Riscal Rueda ($14) from Spain. This is a white wine made from Verdejo grapes complemented by a small percentage of Viura. Marques de Riscal is a classic Rioja winery carefully producing high quality wines. The link is to a 2013 varietal. 

2009 Marques de Riscal Proximo, Rioja ($10) is a Tempranillo from Spain bursting with dark blackberry fruit with notes of rich ripe plums.

We had a wonderful time with our friends. 

The table before it was laden with foods and wine!

If anyone wants these recipes, I can take a photo and send it to you! Just let me know!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Part 2-Travaasa Austin Weekend-Red Wines at the Tasting!

At Travaasa Austin, you can experience a peaceful, relaxing stay or take part in many fun activities that I mentioned earlier last week. I didn't show the casitas last week, so here's a peek of the property!

See that throw on the bed? One of the most comfortable throws I have ever slept with! And organic sheets too! Pillows larger than me, and comforters to keep you toasty warm while you crank down the air to 61 degrees (which ours was on for some reason)!

Pathways to the seven casitas-42 rooms total!

Now for the red wines we had during our wine tasting (all activities have to be signed up for in advance to participate).

Our sommelier Edward, put both wines side by side and we had to figure out which one was the California wine and which one was the French wine.

This is a 2010 Leviathan "Red Blend" from St. Helena, California. A deep ruby red color with aromas of dried black fruit, red purple flowers, lavender, chocolate, mint and dill. Flavors of black and red berries, cassis, chocolate, and sandalwood with vanilla, dill, currant, and spice box. A long, dark fruit finish that is balanced and layered. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc-Leviathan means unusually large or formidable. I'd say this wine is pretty large and keep in mind that these grapes were chosen from all over California. So while you might be able to pick out each variety as you drink it, Leviathan has a uniqueness all its own.

The bottle above is the 2000 Chateau Lanessan Haut-Medoc, from Bordeaux, France. This winery dates back to 1793 when Jean Delbos, a Bordeaux wine merchant, bought the property. His granddaughter married the Etienne Bouteiller. Their son, Jean, increased the size of the vineyard to 80 hectares (200 acres). So after eight generations of Bouteillers, a young woman took over the management of the estate. Many changes were made bringing it up to a sustainable and environmentally friendly, high-tech winery.

This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot. It is amazing and I would recommend it. No price is given on the website. Good luck finding it! Try Specs!

One more thing about Travaasa Austin-the Fireside Room/library is full of cookbooks scattered around on the shelves along with some pretty amazing photos of historic Austin and those who remind us of that area. Here are pics of what I saw!

Downtown Austin in the 60's

Kris Kristofferson

Dairy Cone

This resort is for ages 16 and up. So don't plan on taking your younger children. It IS a place to relax and unwind! Visit there soon! It's fabulous!