Recipe: Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Salad

spinachsalad
I have a secret: I’ve been religiously going to the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning for… well, years. I’m sure if I ever didn’t show up for a couple of weeks in a row, one of the merchants I shop with every week would file a Missing Person’s report for me.

When we’re developing recipes for the wine club, this farmer’s market is usually the inspiration for our creations. You can buy literally ANYTHING here, if it’s in season and grown within a 200 mile radius (with the exception of garlic scapes, which I’ve given up on). It seems natural that I’d name a salad after this magical place, the muse in my lifelong culinary adventure.

This beautiful, seasonal salad is full of top-quality ingredients from some of my favorite Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market vendors. The spinach is from Star Route Farms in Bolinas; the strawberries are from Dirty Girl Produce in Santa Cruz; the goat cheese is sourced from Petaluma cheese-maker Andante Dairy; the delicious crispy pancetta is from my favorite Hayes Valley butcher shop, Fatted Calf; the dressing comes from the market, too – the olive oil is from olive grower Sciabica & Sons, and the balsamic vinegar from Bariani. I’ll admit, even the sea salt used in the dressing comes from our very own San Francisco Bay. I feel very fortunate to have the bounty of California at my fingertips.

These ingredients converge to create a classic salad with a little bit of an Italian twist (I am part Italian, after all). It has all of the flavor components one could wish for in a salad; herbal, sweet, savory, salty, pungent, and creamy. They are a match made in heaven, and you can elevate it to another level by pairing it with the Grace Wine Co. Santa Barbara Highlands Rosé of Grenache, available in our online store. This superbly bright and aromatic rosé is the perfect compliment to such a salad, and I can easily imagine enjoying the two together every day for the rest of my life.

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Salad
prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:
1 basket sea scape strawberries
4 oz pancetta or bacon, diced
3 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2-3 big handfuls of baby spinach, washed and dried
for the dressing:
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. high-quality balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and cook the diced pancetta or bacon until crisped. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  2. Slice the strawberries in half lengthwise, into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a small jar, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Shake or whisk well.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the spinach and strawberries, then toss with the dressing.
  5. Transfer the dressed strawberries and spinach to individual bowls, and top with the crumbled goat cheese and diced pancetta or bacon. Serve alongside a tasty, fragrant rosé.

 

Winelandia’s Official Press Release

Now that Winelandia is out of BETA mode and the online shop has been battle tested, we are smashing into the local wine scene like the Kool-Aid man with our official Press Release!


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 10th, 2014
BAY AREA STARTUP LAUNCHES ARTISAN WINE DELIVERY SERVICE

San Francisco, CA – Winelandia is a new kind of wine retailer. It’s targeting busy, tech-savvy Bay Area wine lovers and startup office kitchens by delivering sustainably produced wines to their homes and offices. With no brick-and-mortar storefront and only an online presence, Winelandia is able to focus on customer service, product transparency, and convenience.

Initially launched in February of 2013 as a food and wine blog, Winelandia added a subscription-based wine club in November of 2013. In mid-February of 2014, Winelandia expanded its website and launched an online store that allows consumers to browse and purchase wines by the bottle. Within San Francisco and surrounding areas, delivery is done by hand – by the company’s founder.

The wines offered by Winelandia are curated by founder Tala Drzewiecki and blog co-author Colleen McGarry. Their selections are responsibly farmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts, and minimally manipulated in the winery. Tala & Colleen’s tastes showcase honest wines with elegance, texture, balance, affordability, and food friendliness.

Winelandia’s foundation is its wine club, which has grown to nearly 40 members since its launch. Winelandia develops recipes for each wine club shipment, along with food pairing recommendations and detailed production data for all of the included wines. Winelandia believes that food and wine go hand-in hand, and that they should be enjoyed together.

Whether consumers are just seeking to explore their palates, or if they are seasoned wine lovers that just want high-quality wine without any fuss, Winelandia is there to deliver.

ABOUT WINELANDIA
Winelandia was founded in 2013 by SF Bay Area native, tech escapee, and natural wine enthusiast, Tala Drzewiecki. Winelandia provides a curated wine delivery service to customers throughout California, focusing on small-production wines grown and produced as responsibly as possible. Winelandia is privately held and based out of Brisbane, CA and San Francsico, CA. Visit: https://winelandia.com/

Media Contact: Tala Drzewiecki
tala@winelandia.com
415-572-2493
Visit: https://winelandia.com

 

What’s Blooming, Bay Area?

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Is that the blue of the sky I see peeking through my window? Last night, it was raining pretty hard out here. We also had some wind, which was a little spooky since my honey is out of town. Not that I’m complaining; we really need all the “weather” we can get. I read in the news this morning that San Francisco is at 50% average rainfall for the winter – which is pretty good, all things considered. Another big storm is supposed to move in tonight, hopefully after my husband’s plane lands.

A couple of weeks ago, I went for a walk around town to capture some of the blooming things. This was after the first substantial rainfall of the season, and I was excited to see the hills start to turn green (for reference, I live in Brisbane, just south of San Francisco on the bay-side of San Bruno Mountain). If you live around here, then you probably recall the freaky dry-ness that’s plagued our normally beautiful rolling green hills.

P2130004Look at all that fresh green grass!

One of the things I love most about the town I live in is the abundance of flora. San Bruno Mountain is home to some of the rarest plants in the world, one of which is San Bruno Mountain Manzanita, which only grows here. It’s also home to the mission blue butterfly, whose host plant is the beautiful blooming lupine; the larvae will only feed on the leaves of this plant. It’s super bio-diverse here. We have coyotes, red-tailed hawks, rabbits, raccoons, and more wildflowers than you could possibly imagine. The mountain is protected by the state and largely undeveloped because of the rare and endangered plants and animals that call it home. Brisbane is my hidden little slice of paradise, 5 minutes outside of San Francisco. Don’t tell anyone, mmkay?

P2130007In addition to the abundance of indigenous plants and animals, we also have some invasive ones like the ice plant shown above. My husband hates this stuff; as a teenager, he spent one summer removing it from a hillside to help a friend with his Eagle Scout project. You’ve probably seen it choking out our coastlands, and while it can be rather pretty when it blooms, it’s still a nuisance. Brisbane isn’t free from the evil clutches of ice pant, either.

P2130008This pretty yellow-flowered plant, above, is known as Broom. It’s non-native and invasive in California, but covers our hillsides with beautiful yellow flowers in the spring. We have a lot of it in Brisbane. Kind of hard to get mad at such a pretty plant.

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Above is flowering acacia, which is also invasive and non-native. You probably see it at your local farmer’s market being sold as flowers in the spring. It’s gorgeous – the whole tree becomes covered in tiny pom-pom shaped blooms in the spring, which came very early this year. It’s used widely in the perfume industry since some varieties can be very aromatic.
P2130012We have some rather exotic-looking wildflowers, don’t we? I can’t figure out what this is – if you know, please let us know in the comments. I see this stuff all over the hillsides and I *think* its indigenous, but I am not 100% sure. It looks tropical to me.

P2130022Nothing is more iconic than California’s state flower, the California Poppy. Did you know it’s illegal to pick these? Who needs to pick something that’s so prolific all over the state. These guys spring forth from the cracks in the sidewalks around here. They make me feel a strong sense of nostalgia – I’ve loved them ever since I was a little girl. If I could, I’d have a yard full of them.

P2130038This California buckeye is waking up a little too early. Did you know these trees contain a neurotoxin? Native Americans used it to stun schools of fish and make them easier to catch. These are endemic to California, and have a lot of history behind them. In the fall, they are covered in big nuts that are inedible, but create quite a display when the trees are full of them and have no leaves.

I’ll take another trip out a week or so after these rains and see what else is blooming. I’m looking forward to seeing our San Francisco wallflower, sticky monkey flower, and blooming Manzanita.

Do you have a favorite wildflower? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe: Spring Lamb Chops with Herbes de Provence

P2010142Lamb is especially delicious in the spring, and this dish is meant to highlight the ingredient. The preparation is a snap, and the cook time is 10 minutes or less! High-quality lamb chops are not inexpensive, but they impress a dinner party, or a special someone. We got ours from Olivier’s Butchery, in the Dogpatch. We highly recommend their always-fresh products – they carry poultry, beef, pork, lamb, and include a variety of both well known and lesser-known cuts. Check ‘em out!

Mourvèdre is most often grown in the Provence and Rhone regions in France, and are described as having a “garrigue” quality. Garrigue is the scrub on the land in that area, similar to our chapparal in California. This dish is meant to pair with the 2012 La Clarine Farm Cedarville Mourvèdre. We use herbes de Provence, a French herb blend that evokes garrigue, as the spice on these chops. That integrates the flavor evoked by the wine into the flavor evoked by the dish, making them truly complementary.

Prep time: 1 hour, active time 15 minutes
Serves 4 as an entree
Author: Colleen McGarry

Ingredients:

8 lamb chops – about 2 lbs. (2 per person)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. herbes de provence
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil

Method:

  1. Peel, then mince the cloves of garlic. Sprinkle the salt over the garlic, then using the blade of the knife like a spatula, rub the salt into the garlic. Once the mixture resembles a paste, move the paste into a small bowl.
  2. Add the pepper, herbes de provence, and olive oil to the garlic paste and mix well.
  3. On a large plate or cutting board, lay out the chops flat. Pat dry if there is any surface moisture.
  4. Divide half the paste evenly onto the surfaces of the chops, and rub the paste to coat evenly. Flip each chop, and divide the remainder and rub to coat the other side of the chops. Set the chops aside on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour.
  5. Heat a cast iron pan or skillet on high on the stovetop for 5-10 minutes, or until it is searingly hot. Add 2-4 chops the hot pan, being careful not to crowd the pan you’re using. We did 3 at a time in a 12” skillet.
  6. After about 3 minutes, when there’s a brown crust on one side, flip the chops. Cook for 2-3 minutes longer, to achieve medium doneness.
  7. When done, move to serving plate and tent loosely with foil if you have additional chops to sear. Serve immediately.

Introducing our Winter Wine Club Offer

We’re pleased to introduce you to the wines in our winter wine club offering! Not a member yet? Get in on the action by signing up for our wine club! https://signup.winelandia.com
P1240064-webIt’s been pretty warm around these parts, so instead of offering heavy winter wines we are focusing more on wines with energy and verve. Evocative of the impending spring, these wines are fresh and rich. A Chenin Blanc from the Loire that tastes like pure bottled sunlight; a Müller-Thurgau from extreme elevations in northern Italy; a rustic and juicy old vine Zinfandel from a cool-climate Biodynamic vineyard in the Russian River Valley; a dry Brachetto that smells like a bouquet of roses; a funky & geeky red blend from a French-born producer in Chile; and a feminine & seductive Mourvèdre from the decomposed granite soils of the Sierra foothills.

The Lineup

2012 Frantz Saumon Minéral +, Montlouis sur Loire, France
2012 Radoar “Etza”, Alto Aldige, Italy
2012 Poco a Poco Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, US
2011 Matteo Correggia “Anthos”, Roero, Italy
2012 Clos Ouvert “Primavera”, Maule Valley, Chile
2012 La Clarine Farm “Cedarville”, Sierra Foothills, US

2012 Frantz Saumon Minéral +, Montlouis sur Loire

P1240048-webWinemaker: Frantz Saumon
Bio: Setting out to make wine representative of its appellation, Frantz Saumon purchased a small plot of land in Montlouis in 2002. Since then, he has acquired more land and most of the 6 hectares are planted with old growth Chenin Blanc, which is all farmed organically and by hand.
Region: France>Loire Valley>Touraine>Montlouis sur Loire
Vineyard: Organically farmed, various parcels
Blend: 100% Chenin Blanc
Aging: Stainless steel tanks
Production Notes: Minéral + is made with grapes from all of Saumon’s Chenin Blanc plots in Montlouis. Mineral soils help produce a wine that is full of distinctive Montlouis minerality. The vines average age is 40 years and they are planted in a blend of soils composed of tuffeau (limestone) and silex (flint). Every vintage yields a wine with a little bit of residual sugar, but the wines taste dry. The sugar lends a textural element to the wine which helps balance it. 100% indigenous yeast fermentations and aged in Stainless Steel tanks.
Tasting Notes: Stonefruit, citrus and mineral, medium bodied, elegant, and rich with a backbone and texture that will compliment a wide variety of foods.
Food Pairings: Smoked fish, spicy Asian food, pâte, chicken in cream sauce

2012 Radoar “Etza” Müller-Thurgau, Alto-Aldige

P1240056-webWinemaker: Norbert Blasbichler
Bio: Radoar is located near the border of Austria in Northern Italy. Norbert Blasbichler took over in 1997 and is the 15th generation to farm this land, which has been in the family since the 1300’s. Radoar is, first and foremost, an organic apple farm. They grow Golden Delicious apples, and create distillates such as brandy from the fruit. In addition to growing apples, chestnuts, peaches, pears, and walnuts, Radoar grows several types of grapes from which they produce wine and Grappa.
Region: Italy>Trentino-Alto Aldige>Alto Aldige>Valle Isarco
Vineyard: Certified organic. 3000’ in elevation, the estate vineyards of Radoar are 1.5km from the farm.
Blend: 100% Müller-Thurgau
Aging: Stainless steel
Production Notes:  Müller-Thurgau is a cross between Riesling and Madeleline Royal, developed in the 19th century. Organically farmed, direct-to-press, and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of citrus and white flowers followed by ripe peach on the palate with juicy acidity and a lingering finish. This is a great wine to serve with hard-to-pair vegetables such as asparagus and Italian cheeses.
Food Pairings: Asparagus dishes, brussel sprouts, artichokes, seafood, smoked fish, spicy Asian food, fresh burrata with olive oil & sea salt

2012 Poco a Poco Zinfandel, Russian River Valley

P1240053-webWinemaker: Luke Bass
Bio: Luke Bass’s family has owned Porter Bass Vineyards since 1980, when the family discovered the century-old vineyard. The land had been subjected to decades of farming-induced erosion, so they slowly brought it back to life through Biodynamic and organic farming. Luke grew up on this property, and was a winemaker before he even had his first paying job. Previously, he interned at Flowers winery, which evolved into a position as cellar master. He has also worked at Hirsch & Tandem in Sonoma, as well as Flagstone in South Africa and Casa Marin in Chile.
Region: US>California>Sonoma>Russian River Valley
Vineyard: Demeter Certified (Biodynamic). The vineyards are protected from winds by the surrounding Redwood and Fir trees, while the fog produced by the nearby Russian River helps cool the vineyard in the summer.
Blend: 100% Zinfandel
Aging: 12 months in neutral French oak
Production Notes: Old vine Zinfandel. Native yeast fermentation and spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Very little sulphur dioxide (SO2) added.
Tasting Notes: Blackberry, dark cherry, wild bramble, spice. Medium-to-full bodied with zippy acidity.
Food Pairings: Fried chicken, sweet BBQ, burgers, pasta with rustic sauce, pizza, root vegetables.

2011 Matteo Correggia “Anthos”, Roero

P1240045-webWinemaker: Luca Rostagno
Bio: Matteo Correggia died in a tragic tractor accident in 2001. His wife, Ornella Correggia took over winery operations and hired Luca Rostagno as the winemaker. Ornella has continued to grow the winery’s reputation as the benchmark producer in Roero, and has introduced organic & biodynamic farming and winemaking practices.
Region: Italy>Piedmont>Cuneo>Roero
Vineyard: Organic. Sand, silt, & clay soils at 900’ elevation. East/South-east facing slope.
Blend: 100% Brachetto
Aging: 8 months in stainless steel
Production Notes: Brachetto is a native Piemonte varietal normally used to produce sweet, sparkling wines. This version is totally dry and exceptionally elegant. Estate fruit, organically farmed. Fermented with controlled temperatures in stainless steel. Minimal skin contact during indigenous yeast fermentation. Manually harvested in mid-September.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of fresh roses dominate, with notes of herbs, strawberries, and cherries. Light-to-medium bodied, with delicate texture and balanced acidity. Serve slightly chilled on a warm California winter day and enjoy on the patio by itself or with Italian-style snacks.
Food Pairings: Antipasto, light pasta dishes, salumi, BBQ poultry

2012 Clos Ouvert “Primavera”, Maule Valley

P1240046-webWinemaker: Louis-Antoine Luyt
Bio: At the age of 22, Luyt set out for Chile under the guise of wanting to brush up on his Spanish. Luyt learned that Chilean wines were homogenous, and wondered if great wines could be made there. He went back to France and began to study viticulture & oenology in Beaune. During his studies, he befriended Mathieu Lapierre, and eventually worked with the Lapierre family at their winery in Morgon for 5 vintages. There, he learned about natural winemaking, a skill he became determined to bring back to Chile. Clos Ouvert was founded in 2006 by Luyt and two partners, who backed out of the project in 2010 after a massive earthquake resulted in the loss of 70% of their 2009 wines. Luyt pressed on and expanded, which now involves many different types of grapes and parcels.
Region: Chile>Central Valley>Maule Valley
Vineyard: Various parcels, organic & dry farmed
Blend: 40% Carignan, 30% País, 20% Cinsault and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Aging: 8 months in neutral French oak barrels
Production Notes: País and Carignan are carbonically macerated. The Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon are destemmed and vinified in a Burgundian style. The finished wines are blended to produce Primavera.
Tasting Notes: Full bodied, structured, lively, and full of mineral. Smoky elements give way to ripe fruit, herbs, and black pepper.
Food Pairings: Smoked or braised meats, grilled sausage

2012 La Clarine “Cedarville” Mourvèdre, Sierra Foothills

P1240059-webWinemaker: Hank Beckmeyer
Bio: Run by Hank Beckmeyer, La Clarine Farm is a principled stand out in California winemaking. A follower of Masanobu Fukuoka’s “Do Nothing Farming” methods, Beckmeyer has created a holistic vineyard and winery experience, trying to leave the grapes alone to, in a sense, make the wine themselves. Beckmeyer has been quietly making wines in the Sierras since 2001, and has a diverse lineup, comprised largely of Rhone wines, both white and red.
Region: US>California>Sierra Foothills
Vineyard: Cedarville. Organically farmed. Soils comprised of decomposed granite.
Blend: 100% Mourvèdre
Aging: 12 months in puncheons
Production Notes: This wine was made during an ideal vintage in California – lots of sun during the summer and no rain. Hank Beckmeyer decided to try something new this time around, and set out to make the wine more sensual by employing a new ‘recipe’. He shortened the length of time the wine spent on the skins, pressing early and letting the wine finish fermentation in the tank or barrel. The result is a brighter and more supple wine than the previous vintage.
Tasting Notes: High-toned tropical fruit and crushed red berries on the nose, with tart cranberry and mineral on the palate.
Food Pairings: Roasted poultry, braised root vegetables, grilled vegetables

7 Fun Ways to Survive the Drought in California

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a bit dry, wouldn’t you say?

Here in the Bay Area, we are accustomed to the major metropolitan areas being empty on the weekends during “ski season”. The entire Bay Area population seems to migrate north-east to Tahoe. Some of my friends I don’t see for a good 6 months out of the year. Well, we haven’t had much (if any) snow, so I’m going to put my money on you spending your weekends wondering what the heck to do with all this free time and abundant sunshine.

I’ve put together this list of fun, local daytime activities to keep you entertained while you quietly pray for snow.

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1. Visit a California State Park. Your hard-earned tax dollars help fund one of the country’s most prized park systems. Many of the parks are open year-round, and there’s no excuse not to go with all this great weather. Some of my favorites include:

  • Point Lobos State Reserve (above). About 2.5 hours south of San Francisco just past Monterey, this park is considered the “Crown Jewel” of the State park system. Azure waters, abundant wildlife, tidal pools, and stunning sunsets await you.
  • Redwood Regional Park. While this is not technically a State Park, it’s convenient to get to and beautiful. Did you know that you could hike through a shady redwood forest without leaving the East Bay? The main trailheads are located on Skyline Blvd. in the Oakland hills. There are tons of great day-hikes and many of the trails are dog-friendly.
  • San Bruno Mountain State Park. Just 5 minutes south of San Francisco, this practically unknown park has some of the most amazing views of San Francisco you’ve ever seen. Gorgeous wildflowers, sweeping views, picnic areas, and rare plants and animals are abundant here. There are about 8 miles of single-track and fire trails to hike and some of them (but not all) are bicycle-friendly.
  • Montara Mountain State Park. Climb a mountain in Pacifica and find yourself above the fogline. It’s just a few minutes down Highway 1 from San Francisco. Lots of mountain bikers and trail runners enjoy these trails as well. This 1800′ climb will get your blood pumping and show you some amazing ocean views.

golden gate2. Ride your bike across the Golden Gate Bridge with a friend, get lunch at Fish., and take a ferry back from Sausalito. Normally this route is completely overrun with tourists, but the off season should give you some respite from the sea of rental bicycles. Fish has some of the best sustainable seafood in the Bay Area, and their outdoor seating will give you an opportunity to enjoy some delicious craft beers the sunshine. I recommend ordering the Crab Roll. If you’re on a budget, order the grilled cheese sandwich off the kid’s menu (it’s really good and comes with a huge pile of fries). Then, take the ferry back to SF from Sausalito.

P11200213. Take a trip to Wine Country, using our handy Tasting Room Guide. Right now wine country is pretty quiet and it’s a great time to check out the local producers while they have time to spend with you. Most of the fermentations are over (while others are sleeping) and pretty much all that’s happening is pruning in the vineyards. Chat with the local farmers about the drought, and be sure to stop at Rosso Pizzeria in Petaluma for some delicious burrata and pizza on your way home.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4. Rent a paddle-boat and enjoy a picnic on your local reservoir before it disappears. Lots of places rent them. You can find them on Lake Merritt in Oakland, the Lafayette Reservoir in Lafayette (above), the San Pablo Reservoir in San Pablo… you get the picture. This is a great way to enjoy some sunshine, munch on some delicious food & wine, and get a little exercise all without creating any carbon emissions.
sailing5. Since we’re talking about boats, why not rent a charter boat and go sailing on the San Francisco Bay? There are tons of companies that will sell you a ticket for a “sunset cruise” for about $40. The water has been pretty calm lately, so it would be a great time to grab a ticket to cruise the bay on the Adventure Cat (my personal favorite), or any of the other various boats selling tickets along Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Don’t forget to bring a jacket, it gets windy out there.
pinnacles6. Head down to Pinnacles National Park. It’s east of Salinas and easy to get to for a day-trip. In the summer, this place is dangerously hot (temperatures can climb to 120F), but in the winter and spring it’s one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. An ancient volcano, the Pinnacles have been slowly moving up a major fault line over the last 3 million years. Giant spires of rock jut up out of the ground like fingers. You can hike all the way around the park in a day, and it’s about 9 miles total. Bring a flashlight because part of the hike requires you navigate through a series of pitch-black caves. There are also lots of California Condors, which have been brought back from the brink of extinction. If you decide you want to stay the night, there are camping options as well as The Inn at the Pinnacles – a wonderful bed & breakfast owned by the lovely Brosseau family. The B&B is on an organic vineyard that produces some really great Chardonnay from the Chalone AVA, and lies atop one of the largest limestone swaths in California.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA7. Head north to Hog Island Oyster Farm. This place is usually crawling with people, and I can’t guarantee it won’t be this time of year, either. Go anyway; pack up a picnic, a cooler, & your shucking knife. If they have tables available, hang out at the farm and shuck to your heart’s content (if you don’t know how, watch a youtube video and start practicing). If there are no tables, pack your cooler with oysters, then head to Point Reyes where you will find endless picnic areas waiting for you to use for free.

Yeah, it sucks we are in a major drought. Who knows what that means for our great state in the long run. I say, enjoy the sunshine while it’s here, because tomorrow it might be gone. Let’s all make the best of the situation. Take advantage of what our great state has to offer!

What are your favorite dry-season activities? Let us know in the comments!

Surprise Your Sweetheart on Valentine’s Day with Winelandia

P1140011-2Does your Valentine love wine and chocolate? Surprise them on Valentine’s Day at home or at their office with a gift pack from Winelandia! We put together this offer to help make V-Day convenient for you and special for your sweetheart.

Our gift pack includes a 10-pc assortment of locally-made truffles from Neo Cocoa, a Bay Area-based artisan chocolatier. These chocolates are the “hearts” of truffles – all silky ganache with no hard chocolate shell. They are finer and more delicate than a traditional truffle, and come in an assortment of great flavors such as lime zest and almond butter with smoked sea salt.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlso included is a bottle of R. H. Coutier Champagne from the village of Ambonnay in Montagne de Reims, Champagne. From the importer: “70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay Produced entirely from Grand Cru grapes from the village of Ambonnay, this stunning Brut Tradition shows rich, leesy fruit obtained through extended bottle aging prior to disgorging. Quite vinous in texture, it is full and long with crisp apple fruit notes on the finish and showing some toasty notes in the nose. Very low dosage levels allow the great Ambonnay fruit to shine.”

To top it all off, we will include a customizable love note on a greeting card from SF-based publisher Chronicle Books.

valentine_wrappedPrice for the Valentine’s Day gift pack is $75, excluding tax & shipping. Free Valentine’s Day delivery to your recipient’s San Francisco home or office. Delivery within 20 miles of SF is an additional $10 flat fee. If your recipient is outside of this area, we will charge you shipping at cost via UPS and do our best to ensure it arrives on Valentine’s Day or earlier. Please note that we currently only ship within California.

Supplies are extremely limited as Cupid (me) can only make so many deliveries in one day.

TO ORDER
New Customers: Fill out the form at https://signup.winelandia.com and select “One Time Purchase” from the Offering Selection drop-down. We will be in touch with you to finalize your order.
Returning Customers: Email orders@winelandia.com and we will bill the card we already have on file.

Locally-made Truffles from Neo Cocoa

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast month, I embarked on a chocolate tasting adventure. Why, you ask? Well, I was looking for the most exceptional chocolates in San Francisco to offer in a Valentine’s Day gift pack Winelandia is putting together. We have a strong dedication to the finest quality, locally-made products, and so I set out to find chocolates that fit this model.

It started with lots of Googling, Yelping, and asking around. I was already familiar with Poco Dolce, a chocolate maker in the Dogpatch that features hand-made dark chocolate tiles that will blow your mind. Poco Dolce is a household name in San Francisco, and their chocolates proliferate every speciality market in the city (for good reason). While I love these chocolates, I wanted to find something a little different.
P1090024I kept looking, and eventually caught wind of a local truffle-maker by the name of Neo Cocoa. After a little investigation, I learned that it was not only woman owned-and-operated, but that the owner got started in the La Cocina kitchen incubator program. La Cocina is an SF-based non-profit organization that helps low-income food entrepreneurs realize their goals through educational programs, use of a shared commercial kitchen, and by providing market opportunities. They are doing a really amazing thing for our local food community and I was pleased to find that Neo Cocoa got started this way.

I had the opportunity to taste samples of Neo Cocoa truffles when I paid a visit to the Crocker Galleria Gift Alley, an annual market during the holidays that features local food companies. It was a chocolate epiphany – you see, normally truffles are sugary, gooey messes on the inside with hard, glossy chocolate on the outside. The Neo Cocoa chocolates were totally different – they are the “hearts” of the truffle – pure ganache. They come in an array of inventive, unique, perfectly balanced flavors such as lime zest (my favorite), almond butter & smoked sea salt, toasted coconut, mocha cinnamon, and crushed cacao nib. They also make exquisite salted caramels (shown above), and a variety of seasonal flavors.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI knew instantly after my first taste that I had found my chocolates. They are truly exquisite and encompass everything I love about artisinal foods. High-quality, locally sourced ingredients combined with pure passion from the producer come together to create a product that can’t be described in words. The only way to experience this for yourself is to get some of these chocolates and put them in your face.

Winelandia will be featuring a 10-piece sampler box of Neo Cocoa Truffles for our Valentine’s Day gift pack, which will also include a bottle of Champagne (the real deal, from Champagne) and a personalized card that you can send to your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. Your very own Cupid (that’s me) will be delivering these amazing chocolates, delicious Champagne, and thoughtful card to your Valentine’s home or office on February 14th.  To get in on the offer, keep your eyes peeled for our formal announcement which will include a way to purchase one of these for your honey.

Support small, local businesses! By purchasing goods that are made locally, you keep more money in your community and provide people with the means they need to operate their businesses and live their lives.

Recipe: Nobu Miso Black Cod

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Most people who know me know that I am not much of a traditionalist. Although my father’s side of the family was devoutly Catholic and from Eastern Europe (tradition, anyone?), my mother’s side of the family was very much a bunch of rough-and-tumble ‘Mericans from Oakland, CA. I was the third generation in my family to be brought up in Oakland, and as a result I feel that most of the “culture” I have is a mish-mash of old-world sensibilities rooted in the soils of the Bay Area.

So, what does that mean exactly? For one, it means I don’t cook turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s a ridiculous holiday to begin with, and I cringe every time someone wants to go around the table to say what they are thankful for. Come December, my Christmas tree is adorned with disco balls, chickens, and Star Trek memorabilia. I shop for holiday wrapping paper in the Birthday section. My husband is Jewish, so every year we throw a Christmukkah party (although this year, it was Thanksgivingukkah). My point is, we don’t follow any rules, and we have a great time.

Today I am going to share with you one of my favorite Winter dishes. I’ve served it twice as the main course for Thanksgiving. Anyone who has spent T-Day with us and experienced this Miso Black Cod will tell you about the time a crowd of people stood in my kitchen after dinner was finished, picking the leftover scraps of black cod from the serving platter. I made it again this year, but with a more all-encompassing Japanese theme. Turkey can suck it.

The great thing about this dish is the ease of preparation. It may seem fussy (3 day marinade? Searing in the broiler?), but I assure you that it’s not as hard as it sounds. It’s all about patience and technique. The 3-day marinade changes the fish in a way that is hard to explain – it becomes firmer while still being melty, tender, succulent, and other-worldy. I’ve tried to speed it up and do a 1-day marinade, and it really isn’t the same. So give yourself as much time as you can – 2 or 3 days is ideal.

blackcod_freshThe most important thing to consider when making this dish is the freshness of the black cod. You are going to be marinating it for 3 days, and under normal circumstances I wouldn’t touch 3-day old fish with a 10 foot pole. My working theory is that the salt in the miso acts as a sort of cure, slowly drawing the moisture out of the fish. My advice is to get your black cod right from the source (fisherman), or as close to the source as you can. I get my fish from One Ocean Seafood – the owner does FREE home delivery, and if you work with him you can find out what days he gets his fresh-caught local fish on. My Thanksgiving black cod (from Monterey) was caught on Tuesday morning and served on Thursday evening.

Black Cod, also known as Sablefish, is a very oily fish that is not actually cod at all. Because of it’s high oil content, it is difficult to over-cook. This is a great recipe for people who are not normally comfortable cooking fish. We get it locally here from Monterey and Half Moon Bay – buy the local stuff if you can.

Anyhow, here’s the recipe. It’s from Nobu Matsuhisa, a celebrity chef who owns the high-end Nobu restaurant chain. If you’ve ever seen the $30 “Miso Black Cod” on the menu at any Japanese restaurant (many places serve variations on this dish), this is what you’ll get – although yours will be better and much cheaper.

Nobu Miso Black Cod

Ingredients:

For Saikyo Miso Marinade
3/4 c. mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
1/2 c. saké (Japanese rice wine)
2 c. white miso paste (aka shiro miso)
1-1/4 c. organic white sugar

For cod
4 black cod fillets, about 1/2 lb. each
3 cups prepared Saikyo miso

Method:

Make the Saikyo miso marinade

  1. Bring the saké and mirin to a boil, and boil for 30 seconds (this cooks off the alcohol).
  2. Lower the temperature to low and add the miso paste. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
  3. When the miso has dissolved completely, turn the heat back up to high and add the sugar.
  4. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  6. Reserve a small amount of the miso marinade for serving.


Prepare the black cod

  1. Rinse the black cod fillets and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Trim any ugly bits from the fillets.
  3. Place fillets into a non-reactive bowl or container and slather with the cooled Saikyo miso marinade.
  4. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator.
  5. Flip the fillets once during the 2-3 day marinade.


Cook the black cod (2-3 days later)

  1. Pre-heat your broiler.
  2. Remove the fillets from the container and wipe off the excess miso (but do not rinse).
  3. Cut the marinated fillets into 4-5 oz serving-sized pieces.
  4. Place the fillets skin-side down on a broiler-safe, foil-lined, low-rimmed dish or on aluminum foil.
  5. Place fillets into your pre-heated broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes, or until the tops of the fish begin to blacken and caramelize (see photo). Remove from broiler.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Place fillets into the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Remove the bones from the cooked fish with a pair of tweezers prior to serving, or just warn your guests that there will be small bones in the fish.

That’s it, really! You can serve this with a little bit of the miso marinade you reserved on day 1 on the side. Nobu recommends serving with a stalk of Hajikami, which I have never been able to find commercially (I make my own). You could serve it with pickled sushi ginger instead. This dish is also complimented well with cooked greens such as spinach. The slight bitterness is a nice counter-point to the sweetness of the fish.

As for wine pairing, any white wine with little or no oak would be great with this. I would suggest something with a tiny bit of residual sugar (but not a sweet wine) and medium to full body. Our 2012 Two Shepherds Grenache Blanc comes to mind. It would also be fantastic with Champagne.

Let us know if you have any questions about this recipe in the comments.

Pre-Order your Winelandia Holiday 6-Pack!

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, we are ramping up to offer a 6-pack of Holiday wines perfectly suited to the month of December. There will be celebrations with friends, office parties, holiday meals, gift-giving, and New Year’s Eve. We are putting together a collection of wines that will pair with all of your events, which will include three fuller-bodied red wines and three sparkling wines in the $20 range. The total price of the 6-pack will not exceed $125, excluding tax and shipping.

The best thing about the Winelandia Holiday 6-Pack is that you needn’t be a Wine Club member to buy it – it’s available as an a la carte purchase to everyone. So if you’ve been on the fence about joining our wine club and want to see what we have to offer before making a commitment, this is the perfect time to do it.

We are finalizing the list this week but we are taking pre-orders. We will be shipping & delivering early next week. Sign up at https://signup.winelandia.com. We will get back to you to finalize your order. Delivery within San Francisco is free and there’s a $5 delivery fee for orders within the Bay Area. If you are outside of the Bay Area, UPS shipping is billed at cost.

Support small businesses this holiday season and give happiness! Give wine!

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