Category Archives: Lifestyle

Hearst Castle and Thomas Hill Organics party like it’s 1922.

Last weekend, our beloved friends at Thomas Hill Organics presented a winemaker dinner with DAOU Vineyards at Hearst Castle that took our breath away. And we’re not just talking about the view.

Chef Christopher Manning and his team offered one of the most beautiful menus we’ve ever encountered – and we’ve seen quite a few – from a mobile kitchen with no running water. (The term “glamping” was mentioned more than once.) The theme for the dinner was The Great Gatsby, which everyone ran with, guests and hosts alike. Each element was perfection, from the weather to the setting, the wine, and especially the food. Thanks to Debbie Thomas and Chef Manning for allowing us to crash this once-in-a-lifetime event!

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Good reads for food/bev lovers.

While fall isn’t exactly in the air here on California’s Central Coast, it’s definitely on the calendar, and that means we at Parker Sanpei are yearning to cozy up with a good book. Fortunately for those of us obsessed with food and drink there’s no shortage of fascinating reads on the subject. Below, a few of our favorites.

heatHeat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany, Bill Buford

We’ve loved Bill Buford since the first time we read him in The New Yorker. But this book, about his (mis)adventures in Italian cooking, is by far our favorite of his works.

PubMan Walks Into A Pub: A Sociable History of Beer, Pete Brown

Called “an extraordinary tale of yeast-obsessed monks and teetotaling prime ministers; of exploding breweries, a bear in a yellow nylon jacket, and a Canadian who changed the drinking habits of a nation,” this book feels like meeting a friend at the pub – an incredibly knowledgeable, interesting, and funny friend who happens to love beer.

ParisThe Judgement of Paris, George M. Taber

California vs. France. And the winner is? We all know the story of the famous Paris tasting of 1976, but this book by the only reporter present brings the whole scene (and the fallout) vibrantly to life.

provenceProvence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste, Luke Barr

This book is like our culinary/literary fantasy come true: a table set in the South of France surrounded by iconic figures James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones. Only this actually happened, and it changed the course of American cuisine forever.

ReichlComfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, Ruth Reichl

If Provence, 1970 was our fist culinary fantasy, Berkeley, 1978 is our second. In Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl details her relationships with Alice Waters, Colman Andrews, and Wolfgang Puck, among others, woven together with personal remembrances and epic meals.

napaNapa: The Story of an American Eden, James Conaway

From our friend Jim Conaway comes the remarkable story of what made Napa the kingdom of American wine that it is today, including stories from the many families who built its foundation (Gallo, Mondavi) to the new aristocracy.

Homemade LifeA Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, Molly Wizenberg

From the author of one of our favorite food/life blogs, Orangette, comes this beautifully crafted collection of stories and recipes from her childhood in Oklahoma, years abroad in Paris, and working-girl-singlehood in Seattle.

 

 

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Emergency preparedness, Wine Country style.

It’s unfortunate that it takes a 6.0 earthquake in Northern California to remind us how important emergency preparedness is, but Wine Country is also Earthquake Country and Fire Country. Our hearts go out to all those who were injured,  lost treasured belongings and the wineries who lost so much fine juice.

We at Parker Sanpei talk a lot about living the good life, and that includes living informed and prepared for when disaster strikes. Here we revisit what to do in case of an emergency and how to prepare in advance.

The American Red Cross, recommends a 3-step approach to emergency preparedness.

red cross ready

1. GET A KIT

We love the American Red Cross’ spreadsheet shopping list for building your own preparedness kit (Emergency Preparedness Shopping List), but you can also purchase one directly from their website. Either way, your family’s kit should contain items that enable you to provide comfort for everyday scrapes or treat life-threatening emergencies.

A standard preparedness kit should include the following items (see here for more a more detailed list):

  • Water
  • Food
  • Medications
  • Radio
  • First Aid Kit
  • Personal Documents
  • Contact Info
  • Map
  • Money
  • Clothing
  • Sanitary Supplies
  • Pet Supplies
  • Tools

2. MAKE A PLAN

Planning ahead will help you have the best possible response to disaster. We like the Red Cross’ PDF on making a plan to share with family. In short, when preparing for a disaster, always:

  • Talk with your family.
  • Plan.
  • Learn how and when to turn off utilities and how to use life-saving tools such as fire extinguishers.
  • Tell everyone where emergency information and supplies are stored. Provide copies of the family’s preparedness plan to each member of the family. Always ensure that information is up-to-date and practice evacuations, following the routes outlined in your plan. Don’t forget to identify alternative routes.
    Include pets in your evacuation plans.

As an element of your preparedness plan, choose an out-of-area contact for all family members to call in case of an emergency. Include the contact on your Emergency Contact Card. Your contact should live far enough away that he or she will not be affected by the disaster. You should also:

  • Predetermine meeting places to save time and minimize confusion.
  • Select two meeting places:
    • Right outside your home; e.g., in cases such as a home fire.
    • Outside your neighborhood or town, when you cannot return home or you must evacuate.

3. BE INFORMED

Get info: During a disaster, it’s important to understand the different ways you can obtain information. Make sure you and each member of your family is familiar with the following ways to receive information:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • NOAA Weather Station
  • Printed Notices
  • Telephone/Text Messaging
  • Local Emergency Warning Systems
  • Person to Person

Know your region: Learn what disasters or emergencies may occur in your area, and what to expect from them. If unsure, call your local American Red Cross chapter for more information.

Action steps: If you find yourself in an emergency situation, stay calm and follow these emergency action steps:

  • Check the scene and check the person
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number
  • Care for the person based on the conditions you find (to find CPR and First Aid classes in your area, click here).

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What we learned: Wine apps

It’s never been a better time to buy the right wine. With so much content available so quickly, we’ll never again wonder what to drink with our osso buco on a Friday night (…or mac ‘n cheese on a Tuesday night!).

We’re talking, of course, about wine apps. At the recent Wine Bloggers’ Conference we polled our fellow wine folks about which apps they use to make buying and tasting decisions. Here are the big winners:

298_298_cor-kz-top-apps-for-wineCor.kz: Powered by CellarTracker.com, Cor.kz allows you to type in the name of the wine you’re considering (or even scan the bar code!) and gain access to over 2,000,000 notes and ratings from experts and from the huge CellarTracker community of wine drinkers. $1.99, available for iOS and Android.

47f1aadf-d960-48dd-8611-fbcddf1eb54cVivino: “Never pick another bad wine.” So says this app that identifies wine labels from a photo snapped on your device and immediately accesses reviews, rankings and price comparisons – right there in the grocery aisle or wine shop. Vivino also claims to be “the world’s largest community for everyone who enjoys wine.” Free, available for iOS and Android.

icon_256Delectable: Like Vivino, this app immediately recognizes whatever wine label you snap with your camera and offers reviews and buying info, but has a social side that allows your own personal friends to weigh-in along with leading winemakers, critics, and sommeliers.

icon_256 (1)Guurgle: While Guurgle is still very California-centric, they benefit from being powered by people who really know and love wine. This app is terrific for touring California wineries and includes maps and events listings to inform your next excursion.

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Singer-songwriter A.J. Croce comes to Wine Country

salon roux logoWe at Parker Sanpei have always loved the people and service at Salon Roux in Paso Robles – but now we love them even more.

This full-service salon and spa located in the heart of wine country recently announced a special benefit concert to celebrate its fifth anniversary featuring singer-songwriter, A.J. Croce, with special guests, The Janks, to benefit Studios on the Park’s “Kids Art Smart” program. Presented under the stars at Castoro Cellars Winery, the concert will be held Saturday, August 23. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

ajcroce_salon_roux_concert

Croce, son of legendary singer-songwriter Jim Croce, began his career at age 18 opening for B.B. King, and has since spanned genres from jazz to Americana to blues to pop. He has been seen and heard on national television including Jay Leno, David Letterman, and MTV, and received glowing press from The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone and People Magazine. Croce’s eighth studio album, “Twelve Tales,” was released by Compass Records and recorded with six legendary producers including: Allen Toussaint (Dr. John, Eric Clapton); the late “Cowboy” Jack Clement (Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash); Mitchell Froom (Crowded House, Los Lobos); Tony Berg (Fiona Apple, Bob Dylan); Kevin Killen (Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel), and Greg Cohen (Tom Waits, John Zorn). Additionally, “Twelve Tales” includes a song Croce wrote with legendary songwriter and musician, Leon Russell.

Croce’s last performance in Paso Robles was in support of Jon Anderson of YES. He’s received stellar reviews including a sentiment by Willie Nelson who said “The future of entertainment is in good hands.” Salon Roux Proprietor and Concert Coordinator, Jacque Leonard, calls Croce’s music, “jaw-droppingly, amazingly great.”

A. J. Croce

A. J. Croce

“Salon Roux holds a party every year to celebrate our anniversary,” said Leonard. “For our fifth year, though, I wanted to do something that gives back to our community that has supported us. The ‘Kids Art Smart’ program brings children to Studios on the Park to paint, draw and get creative, Monday through Friday. I know that if I hadn’t been in art classes through school, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Our goal is to raise enough support for “Kids Art Smart” through this benefit concert to cover their costs for the coming school year.”

“Kids Art Smart” brings local elementary students to Studios on the Park in Paso Robles, directly utilizing the artists studio setting for unique art education studying and creating works of art in mediums such as ceramics, collage, oil pastels, printmaking, and watercolor. Since 2011, more than 4,000 public elementary students have visited Studios on the Park for hands-on professional art classes completely free of charge and during school hours. Ordinarily these students (47 percent of whom are considered low-income and at-risk) receive no formal arts education.

Individual tickets to the benefit concert are $50 each. VIP tables include wine and dinner, and are $250 for two people, $500 for four people and $750 for six people. Tickets are available for purchase at Salon Roux by calling 805.239.9499 or by emailing info@salonroux.com.

Additionally, Thomas Hill Organics Bistro will be serving a dinner consisting of Paella accompanied by organic mixed greens, roasted seasonal vegetable and date flan tartlets for $15. Castoro Cellars wine will also be available for purchase.

For more information on this must-see concert, please visit http://www.salonroux.com/concert.html See you there!

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WORLD CUP: I’ll drink to that!

BrazilOur post from June 4 shared how our friends at La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant in Paso Robles are celebrating the World Cup with flavors from this year’s host country, Brazil. We also mentioned that the popular eatery would create an ad hoc cocktail menu for the quarter finals, which are now well underway.

For Tuesday’s match, the cocktails included

Brazil
Caipirinha – caçacha, St. Germaine, limes, turbonado syrup

vs.

Germany
Vitus Shandy – Vitus Hefenweizen, lemon juice, simple syrup

And for yesterday’s match, the competitors were

Argentina
“Frenet About It” – Frenet Branca, Coca-Cola

vs.

Netherlands
Nethertini – brandy, citronage, lime juice, simple syrup, orange bitters

La-Cosecha-Bar-and-RestaurantThis Saturday, the match is between Brazil and the Netherlands, and Sunday, it’s Germany vs. Argentina. The team from Parker Sanpei will be at La Cosecha, showing our spirit with a cocktail that roots for our favorite team! To learn how to join in the fun, visit http://www.LaCosechaBR.com or call 805.237.0019.

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Showing (Culinary and Mixology) Spirit for the World Cup

719px-WC-2014-Brasil.svgAs teams across the globe prepare to compete in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this month, our friends at La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant in Paso Robles are preparing to mark the occasion by offering authentic Brazilian dishes paired with Brazilian cocktails. Additionally, during the quarter finals, fans will be able to order cocktails inspired by the country for which they are cheering.

“We wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the culture of Brazil and some of the other countries represented at the World Cup,” said Owner and General Manager, Carole MacDonal, whose husband and partner, Chef Santos MacDonal, is of Honduran decent. “As a restaurant showcasing Latin-inspired cuisine and cocktails, it made sense for us to celebrate accordingly!”

As he does whenever he opening160creates a new dish at La Cosecha, Chef Santos hunted down the freshest, most authentic ingredients for recreating his Brazilian fare for the World Cup menu, including the famously hot malagueta pepper and the pequi fruit, which is hard to find of outside Brazil.

For the months of June and July, guests to La Cosecha may choose from a menu of three Brazilian cocktails which includes the Traditional Caipirinha (cachaça, limes, sugar),

Seasonal Caipirinha (with local, seasonal berries and a splash of St. Germaine), and La Batida (cachaça, coconut cream, lime juice and turbinado syrup), in addition to a selection of Brazilian beers. When the quarter finals begin on my fav10July 4, the bar at La Cosecha will also offer an ad hoc menu of cocktails originating from the countries still in competition. (Imagine Spain verses Argentina.)

As for cuisine, Chef Santos has crafted an elegant and authentic menu of Brazilian dishes including:

Brazilian Seafood Stew
Mussels, clams, shrimp and white fish in a savory fish broth and coconut milk, served with white rice and malagueta pepper sauce

Chicken from the Cerrado
(Cerrado is a vast tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil that stretches into the states of Goiás and Minas Gerais.) Braised breasts and thighs in a savory sauce with cachaça and pequi, served with rice.

Coconut flan

For more information on La Cosecha’s World Cup menu or to make a reservation, please visit www.LaCosechaBR.com or call 805.237.0019.

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