Gifts that give back guide 2014.

Every holiday season, we at The Dish troll the universe for the most compelling, generous and elegant gifts that give back – everything from nail polish to iPhone cases and toys. This year, we went for simplicity and, as always, lots of heart.

71SXM2R8p-L._SY679_Three Avocados Coffee

Inspired by the gift of three avocados from a poor widow, Three Avocados is a non-profit organization that provides 100% of its net proceeds from the sale of coffee beans to educating and hydrating communities in need of clean water. Sourced from the very same places they serve, Three Avocados sells its rich and robust coffee beans, as well as tumblers, mugs and gifts to bring hope and health to those who need it most.

the-toucan-group-e0040c7e28d2cb536dd67042c37dc2e0Good Mouth

We love GoodMouth.com first for their awesome (and awesomely affordable) subscription toothbrush program, which delivers BPA-free, high-quality toothbrushes to your door on a monthly basis and then turns around to give two more brushes to someone in need.

good mouth

NADIA Quattro Wine

PRT_BNDQU4SD12_PRTMIDPIC_20140527_103801Our friends at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery released this beautiful wine (perfect for anyone’s holiday table, by the by) as a means for contributing to local charities. Thus, $1 from every bottle purchased will go to two selected non-profits each year. This year, those recipients are Woods Humane Society and Family Care Network, which builds and enriches the lives of families across the Central Coast.

From fruit grown on our Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, NADIA Quattro offers aromas of brambleberry, blackberry and saddle leather, and on the palate, strawberry rhubarb pie and cardamom interweave with black licorice and fine-grained tannin.

http://www.LaetitiaWine.com

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Four favorite foodie factory tours

Not that you asked, but when we were kids, some of our favorite Mister Rogers episodes were those that took viewers to factories that produce everyday things like crayons, graham crackers, or erasers. Today, we at Parker Sanpei are suckers for a good factory tour – they’re fun, educational, cheap (if not free) and if they have anything to do with food, there’s sure to be at least one delicious nibble involved. Here are our four favorites:

Tillamook_CheeseFactoryTillamook Cheese Factory, Tillamook, Oregon

Come hungry! Tillamook invites guests to tour its Oregon factory, where cow’s milk is delivered and converted into cheese within 24 hours of arrival. Perks include plenty of tastings (including a cheese curd tasting) and a cafe featuring grilled cheese sandwiches and Tillamook ice cream.

IMG_7164Monteith’s Brewing Company, Greymouth, New Zealand

The grey skies in aptly-named Greymouth on New Zealand’s west coast are brightened by Monteith’s, a popular mainstream brewer. Visitors to the factory get an all-access tour, including a cozy sit-down in the taproom and the opportunity to tap significant volumes of Monteith’s beer themselves.

Riedel Glass, Kufstein, Austria

Anyone who has ever witnessed the beautiful art of glass-blowing will appreciate this tour of one of Riedel’s Austrian factories. Tours include an in-depth look at the glass-making process and a comparative tasting in several different glasses.

Jelly_Belly_FactoryJelly Belly Factory, Fairfield, California

Considered by many to be the best factory tour in America, the Jelly Belly factory tour takes visitors step-by-step through the process of making its sweet treats with plenty of bean-sampling along the way. Afterward, grab lunch at the Jelly Belly cafe, which sells jelly-bean-shaped hamburgers and pizzas, followed by (what else?) jelly beans for dessert.

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Six disgusting wine tasting notes.

Bottle-with-question-mark-on-label-1024x731We taste a lot of wine at Parker Sanpei, and as much as we’d like to say they’re all perfect, the truth is that the occasional dud makes its way into our glass. (That’s the bad news. The good news is, living on the Central Coast, it’s very, very hard to trip over bad wine.) Looking back over old files, we recently came across some amazing tasting notes we wrote about some less-than wines. A few of the doozies:

  • “Smells like a service elevator in San Juan, Puerto Rico”
  • “Notes of 125th Street, Harlem during the second week of a strike”
  • “Tastes like I just walked up to the attic and licked a box”
  • “Like being punched in the face with a garlic sausage”
  • “Metallic overtones with an asphalt finish”
  • “Like liquefied charcoal cascading down my throat”

Of course, then we started thinking about disgusting terms we use for actually very good wines. Descriptors like barnyard, brambles, tar, petrol, forest floor and graphite are not things we generally enjoy eating…but they’re notes in some of our very favorite wines.

Who says wine is confusing?

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Harvest on the Coast with Claiborne & Churchill Winery

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As we do every year, we at Parker Sanpei are very much looking forward to San Luis Obispo Wine Country’s harvest event, called “Harvest On The Coast” this year, November 7 through 9.

Enjoy the transcendent sights, scents and flavors of this signature season as we present our annual
Harvest on the Coast Celebration Weekend, a rambunctious extravaganza of local food and wine.

The main event is an outdoor Grand Tasting and Auction on Saturday, November 8th featuring wine tasting, artisan foods, live music from local artists and live music by Cuesta Ridge. The auction features a broad selection of rare wines, culinary treats and SLO Wine Country destination experiences.  Along with the array of wine and lifestyle packages, you’ll have a chance to raise a paddle and support local non-profits during the fund-a-need live auction lot.

The festivities unfold throughout the weekend beginning Friday, November 7th with our collaborative winemaker dinner, “Crafted on the Coast” taking place at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Beach and featuring a surprise menu from Chef Gregg Wangard. Saturday, November 8th is the Grand Tasting and Wine Auction, with 60+wineries and restaurants paired up, with a live and silent auction.  On Sunday, November 9th you’ll enjoy complimentary Open Houses, across SLO Wine Country – all free with your Grand Tasting Ticket! Don’t miss this opportunity to dive into our harvest season—it’s the next best thing to making the wine yourself!

http://www.SLOWine.com

Claiborne-and-Churchill-logo

Included in that list of Open Houses is one of our favorite Edna Valley producers, Claiborne & Churchill Winery. On Sunday, November 9, C&C is opening its doors from 11am-4pm to celebrate harvest with a unique pairing of their signature Alsatian-style aromatic wines with Cataneo Brothers artisan sausages. Local musician Nathan Towne will also provide live music on the garden patio. The winery will also have a 6-pack sampler deal on offer including two bottles each of their 2013 Gewurztraminer (which won the Silver in Sunset‘s 2014 International Wine Competition), 2013 Dry Riesling and 2013 “Classic” Pinot Noir.

Claiborne & Churchill Winery
2649 Carpenter Canyon Road (Hwy 227), San Luis Obispo CA 93401
805.544.4066  http://www.claibornechurchill.com

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Our fave appetizers for holiday party season.

With Halloween just a week away, we’ve officially entered holiday season. And what better way to prepare than with a few tried-and-true recipes for appetizers? Here, the Parker Sanpei team – veteran party planners, all – share favorite recipes for starting any gathering off right. Bon appetit!

Kyndal Kennedy, Account Manager

pretzels1I used to make these pinwheels for parties all the time. They are filling and simple and easy to reheat in the oven. Perfect for when guests want a little more than cheese and crackers and dip.

The pretzel bites and beer cheese sauce is my friend Indi’s recipe and it is sooooo good. Plus, it’s kind if fun to make your own pretzels! And the recipe makes A TON so it’s good for a gathering.

Bonus tip from Kyndal: “Pair with IPA.”

Nathan Haydon, Account Assistant

Chardonnay_Napa Valley_websm2This isn’t an in depth recipe, but all the same, it is a simple and delicious appetizer.

Applewood Smoked Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

  • Pre-soak skewer sticks in a blend of melted butter, dash garlic salt, and soy sauce
  • Lightly marinate jumbo shrimp in the garlic butter and soy sauce blend
  • Wrap shrimp with bacon and skewer onto pre-soaked skewers
  • Cook on the barbecue until bacon is golden brown, top with cracked sea salt and enjoy!

Bonus tip from Nathan: “Pair with Castello Di Amorosa 2012 Reserve Chardonnay.”

93a36ac8fe9ddb1304338d209f936533Elissa Wiese, Account Manager

These bacon-wrapped chestnuts remind me of growing up in South Dakota, where they’re very popular. We usually eat them around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and everyone loves them.

Bonus tip from Elissa: “Pair with a beer – no question. Something simple like Blue Moon.”

Jaime Lewis, Copywriter

o-PUMPKIN-FONDUE-facebookI make this crazy-good roast pumpkin fondueevery year for Thanksgiving, but it would also work really well for a Halloween party. This isn’t a dish for your diet (cheese, cream, baguette) but bringing it to the table is an oooooh and aahhhhh-inspiring moment. a good bang-for-your-buck starter.

Bonus tip from Jaime: Pair with Condrieu, if you can get your hands on some. or a similarly succulent Viognier.

Linda Sanpei, Founder & Principal

4c704b823894e663c696fb5ee0a8793f_XLKumamoto oysters with a Champagne mignonette is the perfect appetizer for a festive night like New Year’s Eve. But it’s also an aphrodisiac, so it could work beautifully for an anniversary or special night in, too.

Bonus tip from Linda: “What to pair it with? Krug, naturally!”

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Crawling inside a chef’s head for fall.

Chef Christopher Manning

Chef Christopher Manning

We at Parker Sanpei are loving the work that new Executive Chef Christopher Manning is doing at Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Bar in Paso Robles. Born and raised in Montana, Chef Manning eventually landed as Executive Chef at the esteemed étoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon in Napa for seven years and, most recently, Peju Winery, also in Napa. In other words, Chef Manning is legit.

He’s also very generous: We recently moaned over his Butternut Squash Soup and he graciously shared the recipe. We thought our loyal readers might want to have it to rotate into their fall menus. Bon appetit!

Butternut Squash Soup

Chef Christopher Manning, Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Bar

Please note: This recipe is by a chef, and therefore it serves a restaurant’s-worth of people. To convert this recipe to your number of guests, please visit MyKitchenCalculator.com.

 Ingredients:

  • 3 Butternut squash, halved and filament removed
  • 6 Garlic, cloves
  • 1 pint Orange juice
  • 1 1/3 Sugar, dark brown
  • 1 Cinnamon stick, broken into 6 pieces
  • 1 pint Butter, sweet
  • 1 quart Leeks, chopped and white only
  • 1 pint Onion, chopped
  • 4 Apple, Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 gallon Chicken stock
  • 1 1/3 cup Cream, heavy
  • Sea salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste
  • 24 Sage leaves
  • 1 quart Rice oil
  • 1/2 cup Crème fraiche
  • Cinnamon, ground, to taste
  • Nutmeg, ground, to taste
  • Allspice, ground, to taste
  • Star Anise, ground, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Sage leaves, blanched
  • 1/4 cup Parsley leaves, blanched

Directions:

Soup:

  1. Lay butternut squash skin side down on foiled and lined sheet pans.  Add orange juice, 1 cup dark brown sugar, garlic, and cinnamon stick evenly to the open areas.
  2. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for ½ hour, then flip and cook another 45 minutes or until tender.
  3. Once removed from the oven, remove the skin and discard it and the cinnamon stick.  Drain juice and set aside.
  4. In a heavy bottomed stock pot, place sweet butter, leeks, onion, and Granny Smith apples.  Cook slowly over a medium flame, stirring frequently until very tender.  Do not allow to color.  Add chicken stock.  Bring to a low boil.  Add squash, and the squash juice.  Cook for 5 minutes and add the heavy cream and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Cool and puree in a blender until very smooth

Sage leaves:

  1. In a small pan with the rice oil, fry 6 large sage leaves until crispy.
  2. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

Crème fraiche:

  1. Whip crème fraiche to stiff peaks with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and star anise.

Sage oil:

  1. Combine blanched sage leaves, parsley leaves, and olive oil.
  2. Place in a deli container and freeze overnight.
  3. Once frozen, zap in Pacojet 2 times and strain (or use a purchased sage oil)

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It’s time for Harvest Wine Weekend in Paso Robles.

2014_PasoHarvest_Webpage-Header_949x173

Harvest Wine Weekend is such a lovely time to check in with our favorite Paso Robles producers once the frenzy of harvest has finally died down a bit. Where will you be October 17-19? To peruse your options, have a look at the brochure.

In case you’re wondering, we’ll be at:

  • Burbank Ranch Vineyard & Winery Friday night for happy hour (half-off wines by the glass and 20% off bottles) to enjoy live music by Loren Radis.
  • Saturday, we’ll be at Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery for a cheese and wine pairing class with “The Cheese Lady,” Zina Miakinkova-Engel, and Winemaker Matt Ortman, in which we’re promised the opportunity to taste over one dozen cheeses! Then it’s hayrides through the beautiful VSJ vineyards on a horse-drawn wagon care of Harris Stage Lines.
  • On Sunday, it’s time to visit Calcareous Vineyard for wood-fired pizza and live music, followed by the Annual Harvest Games from 1 – 3 p.m. Grape stomping, cork toss, etc…

See you in Paso!

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