Category Archives: Lifestyle

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lifestyle, Wine

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuisine, Lifestyle, Wine

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuisine, Lifestyle

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Cuisine, Lifestyle

Have Degree, Will Travel

It’s graduation season, so we thought we’d take a look at how graduates in recent years are bridging the gap between college and entering the work force. Economic uncertainty, greater numbers of graduates and an ever-growing job shortage don’t make jumping directly into a professional career a reality for everyone. Instead, greater numbers of grads are embarking on life-changing journeys, volunteering, and getting creative before jumping at the first job that comes their way. Here, we look at how modern grads are making delicious lemonade out of lemons from the fallout of the recession.

GAP YEAR

Our own Jaime Lewis on gap year in Italy.

Our own Jaime Lewis on gap year in Italy.

An established tradition in the UK and other parts of the world, the “gap year” is a year-long sabbatical taken for travel. The gap year is often taken between graduation from college and professional life, but many professionals who have already established a career opt for a year-long sabbatical in the same spirit. “Gappers” have been known to immerse in language course programs, work on organic farms for food and lodging, and take paid or unpaid internships. Although these gaps are meant to be stops along the career path, they often become forks in the road, taking graduates down a different, better path than any they had imagined while in school.

VOLUNTEERING

care a vannersWith needs so great across the globe, many recent grads find meaning in taking time out to support a good cause before leaping into the rat race. Programs like Global Work & Travel Co. set volunteers up with projects in countries like Africa, India, Nepal, Thailand, Morocco and Vanuatu for anywhere from two to twelve months. Projects range from rescuing wild animals to caring for orphans, wildlife photography and teaching preschool. Other volunteering projects include working with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing for those at home and abroad. Habitat projects like Global Village involve raising funds for building initiatives across the world, while the RV Care-A-Vanner program rallies people of all ages who travel in recreational vehicles to join affordable house-building projects across the United States, wherever they may roam. The best part? No previous construction experience is required.

PLAY-SLASH-WORK

Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard

Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard

Sometimes the only chance to pursue a passion occurs after college, when the ink is still fresh on the diploma and the first loan payment bill hasn’t yet arrived. Plenty of recent grads pick up a hobby like candle-making or letter-pressing, or (ha!) winemaking…and then the “side job” becomes the job-job. Stranger things have happened! Examples: Randall Grahm, Mark Zuckerberg, and a whole lot of other very successful-slash-crazy entrepreneurs.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Lifestyle, Travel

A Perfect Three-Day Weekend, Four Ways

Still making plans for Memorial Day? Haven’t even started? Don’t let the holiday find you splayed out on the couch bingeing on Game of Thrones and eating Cool Ranch Doritos. Get out there! Eat something special!

Easy for us to say, eh? Here, we asked each member of the Parker Sanpei Team to share how they want to spend this Memorial Day Weekend.

Elissa WieseElissa Wiese, Account Manager
Cocktails With Girlfriends

My weekend plans somehow always include: bathing suits, baseball caps or big hats, the beach, Ray Bans, and cocktails with my girlfriends.  We rarely all drink the same thing, so here are three ideas that would please a group.

Memorial Day Cocktails

Aloha Sparkle

  • 1 oz. Skinnygirl White Cherry Vodka
  • 4 oz. sparkling water
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • Garnish: pineapple wedge, cherry, mint sprig

Combine all ingredients in a glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a cherry and mint sprig.

Mister Three Step

  • 1½ oz. Campari
  • 1½ oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1 dash celery bitters
  • lager beer

Combine all ingredients except beer in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with lager beer.

Red, White, & Boom

  • 1¾ oz. SVEDKA Stars & Stripes
  • ¾ oz. lemonade
  • ½ oz. triple sec
  • 1 oz. cranberry juice
  • 6 limes, juiced
  • 12 c. ice
  • Garnish: blueberries and strawberries

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher filled with ice. Garnish with blueberries and strawberries.

Kyndal KennedyKyndal Kennedy, Acct Manager
Leisurely Staycation

Long weekends call for time in the kitchen (and the beach, of course) cooking up something special for me and my man. Here’s my ideal menu that is simple enough to save time from slaving over a stove, but gourmet enough to know you’re doing something right:

 

Breakfast
Strawberry Shortcake, hold the whip cream…or not.
Eggs Benedict
Mimosas

salmon-asparagus-salad-cl-lLunch (Picnic on the Beach)
Shrimp and Beef Skewers with Soy and Scallion Butter. Add skewers of fresh veggies and you’re set!
Sun Tea
Prep everything at home and take along with a small charcoal grill to the beach.
(Don’t forget shelter from the sun!)

 

Dinner
Keep dinner light and simple after a day of sun, fun and food!
Grilled Salmon and Asparagus Salad
Parrish Family Sauvignon Blanc

Jaime LewisJaime Lewis, Copywriter
Family Chill Time

A long, sunny weekend with kids calls for plenty of time poolside with friends, a date at the drive-in for mom and dad, and at least one glorious dinner from the grill.

Delicious poolside snack to share: Chimichurri Popcorn

  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix together  first seven ingredients for chimichurri and let rest. Pop popcorn kernels in vegetable oil. Once popcorn is popped, mix the chimichurri sauce into the popcorn to evenly coat. Spread out onto a baking sheet and let cool. Pair with Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale.
sunset-drive-in-theatrePerfect Mommy/Daddy Date: Time with kids is awesome, but Mommy and Daddy need to be able to look each other in the eye and finish a sentence every now and then. For this, adouble feature at the drive-in, Indian food, and a bottle of dry German Riesling or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has been our go-to date since time immemorial. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s tasty.

 

Delectable Family-Friendly Dinner…(in just one hour!): Pancetta CheeseburgersBalsamic MushroomsWhite Bean and Tomato SaladCoconut Cupcakes.

LiLindanda Parker Sanpei, Principal
In the Lap of Luxury

The kids are grown and we are free to do whatever we want! My perfect long weekend could go one of two ways:

bernardus1) Spent at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley.  Bernardus is a sort of one-stop-shop for me. I love its terrific spa, super food, great shopping nearby and near-perfect year-round weather. A couple’s massage, a glass of the lodge’s proprietary Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir by the pool, shopping at The Barnyard, and a dinner of Sonoma Duck would absolutely fit the bill…

 

SARoompanorama

2) …If I wasn’t flying to Puerto Vallarta with a handful of other couples for an indulgent getaway weekend! I would reserve the 5-bedroom Villa Paraiso at Villa Amor in the tiny fishing/surfing village of Sayulita, just outside PV, and plan for plenty of communal barbecuing, stargazing, swimming, exploring, hammocking (is that a word?), and laughing into the night with a glass of something delicious in hand.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuisine, Lifestyle, Travel, Wine

INSIDE TRACK: Paso Robles Wine Festival

Calling one’s self an expert is both bad form and an invitation for ruin. But if we at Parker Sanpei are experts at anything, it’s navigating Paso Robles Wine Country.

PRWCAAttend the annual Paso Robles Wine Festival to celebrate the taste, tradition and triumphs of wine ambition in Paso Robles Wine Country.

 – www.PasoWine.com

The 32nd annual Paso Robles Wine Festival is May 15 through 18 this year, and events take place across Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Region of 2013, the diverse and beautiful Paso Robles AVA.

Events run the gamut from winemaker dinners to educational seminars, a Grand Tasting, and myriad open houses at over 130 wineries across the appellation. Here are a few of our must-attends:

  • Winemaker Dinners at Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Bar and Il Cortile RistoranteHow does one choose between a dinner of Grilled Quail Ras El Hanout paired with a 2012 Austin Hope Grenache and Braised Buffalo Short Ribs paired with The Farm Winery 2009 “The Big Game???” That’s exactly what you’ll have to do if you’re interested in Wine Fest’s winemaker dinners on Thursday, May 15.  Two of our favorite eateries, Thomas Hill Organics and Il Cortile will be offering sumptuous menus paired with Paso Robles wines sure to reinforce your love for all things Paso.
  • Reserve Event and Auction at City Park, Paso Robles: On Friday, May 16 from 4 to 6:30 PM, you will find us sipping reserve wines from over 40 participating wineries paired with fare from local restaurants. We think the charm of downtown’s City Park, the warm weather, and the company will push the good vibes over the edge.
  • Winery Open House: Barrel 27 and McPrice Myers: We are huge fans of these somewhat off-grid producers, and we’re pumped that they’re opening their doors throughout the weekend to share elegant wines alongside tri-tip, pinquito beans, and more cooked up by the godfathers of Santa Maria-Style BBQ, the Santa Maria Elks. Don’t expect rolling vineyard views or posh digs. These guys are young, obsessed, and legit.

For prices, tickets, and more information on any of these events and others, please visit www.PasoWine.com. See you there!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuisine, Lifestyle, Wine

Racing for Good Reason

Team Il Cortile

Team Il Cortile

We at Parker Sanpei are so proud of our friends at Il Cortile Ristorante in Paso Robles. Last weekend, 13 riders from the restaurant, including Owner and Managing Partner, Carole MacDonal, raced with 150 cyclists in the Tour of Paso to raise funds for the Central Coast Cancer Support Community. Nearly doubling their contribution from last year, the team at Il Cortile Ristorante raised a staggering $20K in support of the Cancer Support Community’s free resources to local cancer patients and their families. Charitable contributions for the event totaled over $100K, up $30K from last year.

Fundraising at Il Cortile included proceeds from a special “reverse wine dinner” menu crafted by Chef Santos MacDonal and his kitchen, as well as proceeds from the sale of complementing wine, L’Aventure Optimus 2011 Zinfandel. Additionally, servers at the critically-acclaimed restaurant generously donated all tips from the dinner toward Il Cortile’s efforts in support of the Cancer Support Community.

Santos & Carole MacDonal

Santos & Carole MacDonal

This year marks the third that Il Cortile has contributed toward and participated in the Tour of Paso. In 2012, the team raised over $5K, and $12K in 2013.

Thank you so much to all of those who participated in the event, especially our friends at Il Cortile. Your generosity is making a difference in our community. Bravi!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuisine, Lifestyle, Wine

Favorite Food Tattoos

Years ago, we saw something in the dearly departed Gourmet Magazine that read thus:

gourmet radish…And ever since then, we’ve made a mental collection of food tattoos. Here, a little scrapbook of our favorites.

1 Comment

Filed under Cuisine, Lifestyle, Wine

Three Wines for Three Wedding Styles

Perhaps we’re just wedding-crazed around here, but lately, it seems that trends for the Big Day are seriously rolling high. We at Parker Sanpei recently investigated a few common wedding styles – contemporary, rustic, and modern – and paired wines from one of our favorite wineries, Laetitia Vineyard & Winery. Have a look.

Classic Glamour

GlamourFor their big day, some couples go truly big with timeless glamour and touches reminiscent of old Hollywood or a night at the Ritz: ruby red lips, white roses, long trains, and tall cakes. For a classic nuptial, the best wine is a classic sparkler like Laetitia Vineyard & Winery’s Brut Cuvée. Tiny streams of bubbles bring convey notes of red apple, lemon chiffon and juicy pear laced with aromas of fresh-baked challah bread. This festive sparkling wine – comprised of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc – is delightful sipped alone, paired with hors d’oeuvres, risotto or vegetable dishes, or poured specially for a toast to the happy couple.

A Rustic Affair

RUSTIC

A rustic-chic wedding can feel as comfortable and authentic as a favorite pair of blue jeans. Maybe the bride wears vintage; maybe the reception is held beneath twinkling lights hung high in a country barn. But however rustic the event leans, wine from Laetitia’s sister brand, NADIA, is always an elegant match. Comprised of the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard’s finest Bordeaux and Rhône-variety grapes, NADIA Wines eloquently express the remarkable high-elevation terroir of the Sierra Madre Mountains in limited-production lots. For flavor-forward cuisine like charred meats or grilled pizza, go for the NADIA Cabernet Sauvignon, which offers notes of concentrated dark fruits, a hint of clove and toasty graham cracker, balanced tannins and a long finish.

Thoroughly Modern Marriage

MODERNToday’s contemporary weddings blend high design with playful touches that run the gamut from brightly-colored and patterned cakes to outlandish tropical floral arrangements. Fresh, locally-sourced cuisine that’s big on flavor pairs perfectly with Laetitia’s Reserve du Domaine Pinot Noir. Marked by notes of juicy red berries and rich earthiness, the Reserve du Domaine Pinot Noir boasts flavors and aromas of vine-ripened boysenberry and smoked truffle flavors that contribute to the wine’s firm structure and supple grip. Pair this playful Pinot with succulent veal or fresh ratatouille for a meal – and a day – not quickly forgotten.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cuisine, Lifestyle, Wine