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TASTE: Heirloom tomatoes

parkersanpei:

Continuing on in our theme of celebrating FOUR YEARS on The Dish, here is our #3 most popular post of all time: a discussion of heirloom tomatoes including recipes for gazpacho, pico de gallo, and our favorite, tomato jam.

Originally posted on THE DISH by PSPR:

If your garden is anything like ours, you are seeing a lot of red these days.  Hooray for tomato season!

And not just any old tomatoes.  The latest and greatest varieties are actually heirloom tomatoes: unhybridized, open-pollinated cultivars with flavor concentration and texture to put that wan, mealy tomato in your grocer’s produce aisle to shame.  And with names like “Brandywine,” “Black Krim,” “Arkansas Traveler,” and our personal favorite, “The Mortgage Lifter,” it’s impossible not to wonder about the stories behind these characterful, pretty fruits.  They are living history.

Gary Ibsen of TomatoFest

Our friend, Gary Ibsen, ofTomatoFest is our go-to expert on all things heirloom tomato.  For this season, Gary offered a whopping 600 varieties of certified organic heirloom tomato seeds from his online shop, and every single seed was harvested by hand at the TomatoFest Farm.  That means he personally tastes every single tomato plant…

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Plumping up for Fat Tuesday

parkersanpei:

Keeping with our celebration of FOUR YEARS blogging with The Dish, we are re-posting our all-time most popular posts, including this history of Mardi Gras (which ends with a recipe for King Cake). Enjoy (again)!

Originally posted on THE DISH by PSPR:

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

I didn’t grow up celebrating Mardi Gras.  All it’s ever really meant to me is New Orleans, debauchery, beads, and college kids throwing up on my front lawn. 

But lately I’ve been intrigued by the roots of this strange holiday that’s celebrated the world over.  This year’s festivities take place this coming Tuesday, March 8th.  So, in preparation, here is a little history, care of my own curiosity and The History Channel website.

First, the origins of Mardi Gras:

According to historians, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of…

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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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A playlist to celebrate The Golden State.

We at Parker Sanpei are hard-core Californiaphiles. (Where else can you ski and surf in the same day, grow lettuce year-round, be in the movies, define the cutting edge of technology and make top-of-class wines?)

In homage, we recently brainstormed our favorite songs about this beautiful place. May this serve as your new go-to summer playlist!

 

21-atxlAnd here’s one from a favorite musician (who also happens to be Central-Coast-born-and-bred), Damon Castillo, called “California Minute.”

Happy California Summer!

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Love your mother.

Planning something lovely for Mom this weekend?

This video, entitled “A New Perspective For Moms” went viral last year and we have saved it all this time to share with you. So what if we’re a bit behind the curve? The sentiment still holds true that we mothers are too hard on ourselves while our children are far more gracious with us than we ever realized. The perfect reminder for Mother’s Day.

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Naming the Winery: What works, what doesn’t, and what shouldn’t but does.

Working in the wine PR/marketing biz, we talk to new winery owners a lot about their names and brand messaging. And while we had planned on disclosing our thoughts on this subject here, we actually hit upon a fantastic beverage marketing agency in British Columbia that shares our stance entirely and does the job for us.

Earlier this year I purchased a book of (non-alcohol-related) packaging design studies from a New York design company, R.Bird. This collection of studies inspired me to collect the various research that we have done about the various aspects of wine branding, packaging, web design, etc. into one place. We wanted to share this research in hopes that it will help anyone who is starting a new winery or considering a rebrand/repositioning of their existing winery.

 – Hired Guns Creative, “How To Name A New Winery,” November 18, 2011

Hired Guns has gone through an extensive analysis of winery names, the types of names (e.g. based on family names, based on geography, flora and fauna, music references, etc.), the advantages and disadvantages of each, and a few favorites. For example, check out their color wheel that references winery names based on color. (Notice: not a lot of winery names living in the turquoise or purple regions!)

So what makes for a successful winery name? In a nutshell: A true story, something easy to pronounce and easy to remember. (Unless, of course, you’re Sine Qua Non. See below.) Also, it should go without saying that the wine in the bottle needs to taste good. Without that, no amount of marketing will help.

Below, a few favorite winery names and a peek at the story behind them.

Field Recordings and FICTION Wines

Andrew Jones is something of a man-about-town on the Central Coast wine scene. As a Field Representative for one of the U.S.’s major vine nurseries, he helps plant and manage vineyards across the California and beyond. Having stood in nearly every vineyard in the state, Andrew has a knack for spotting untapped potential and makes stellar wines accordingly. The name “Field Recordings” came to reflect his almost scientific approach to capturing the essence of each place in his wines.

Field Recordings is the personal catalog of the people and places we value most. Diamonds in the rough: sites that are unknown or under-appreciated but hold enormous untapped potential. As friendships are made and opportunities are embraced, we produce small quantities of soulful wines from these unusual, quiet vineyards.

 – www.FieldRecordingsWine.com

The back label for Field Recordings wines is austere – no tasting notes or ostentatious descriptions of the finish – yet exhaustive, with plenty of details to geek out on.

Field Recordings

FICTION wines, which are also made by Andrew Jones, are completely different. Naming the label “FICTION” was in direct reaction to the factual, scientific nature of Field Recordings. “There is no fluffy story with Field Recordings,” he says. “The back label shares just the facts.  FICTION on the other hand is a mysterious blend or a whole bunch of random varieties from random places that we mention nothing about.” Hence, the tongue-in-cheek approach to FICTION’s back label.

field-recordings-fiction-wh

Cypher Winery

Cypher_winery_logoCypher Winemaker Christian Tietje is known for being a larger-than-life personality in the Paso Robles wine biz. So it surprised a lot of folks when he changed the name of his popular Four Vines label to Cypher Wines, implying something obscure and hidden. Thankfully, the Cypher Wines website sums up Tietje’s rationale in his signature, outspoken style:

The thought behind naming our new label Cypher was that the process of growing and creating a fantastic wine is like unlocking a puzzle or riddle. There is no play book, no recipe….whenever you deal with mother nature, you are certain to be thrown curve balls. Winemaking is no exception, and without blending enough art into the science you will fall short of extraordinary. Winemaking by the numbers equals boring, uninteresting, ‘safe’ wines. Yaaaaaaaawwwwwn.”

 – www.CypherWinery.com

Dark Star Cellars

Dark Star” was put on a long list of potential names for the winery because Norm [Norm Benson, Dark Stars’ Owner and Winemaker] believed it symbolized his goal of producing ‘stellar’ red wines, or ‘dark stars…’

Dark_Star_Cellars_PRWCA.Label (266x300)

“‘Angeli d’Altri Tempi,’ ‘angels from other times,’ symbolizes how people that you have come in contact with, your parents, siblings, and friends have all left some “imprint” on your personality and your values. Their influence, collectively, make you who you are today. The three panels that encase the dark star symbolize the past, the present, and the future. Dark Star believes you must never under-value, or forget the positive influence people have had on your life in the past. You should not take for granted the help and support you receive from the people in your present life, and of course, the mystery of whom you will meet in the future.”

 – http://www.DarkStarCellars.com

Autonom Wines

Autonom

“Autonom is a project of passion for Winemaker Paul Wilkins, which reflects Paul’s love for Rhône varietal wines and cuvées. This love was born during his work as a harvest intern in the cellar with John Alban at Alban Vineyards while he was still in college.Paul remained with Alban through seven celebrated vintages before opening his own agency, Wilkins Vinotech, which provides winery and vineyard consulting services to existing and start-up wine brands. In 2005, he joined in a business partnership with longtime friend James Ontiveros as Winemaker for Alta Maria Vineyards, which focuses on Santa Maria Valley-designate Burgundy varieties. In 2010, Paul débuted his own Rhône-focused brand with varietal wines and cuvées from contrasting sites throughout California.  The brand name, AUTONOM, refers to Paul’s freedom from a long history of working for other producers.

 – http://www.AltaMariaVineyards.com

Sine Qua Non

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Naming a winery after an obscure, impossible-to-remember-and-pronounce phrase from a dead language should have been economic suicide for Sine Qua Non‘s Owner and Winemaker, Manfred Krankl. But the contents of his bottles are so fiendishly sought-after that no one cares about the name; in fact, perhaps its obscurity makes it even more desirable. According to an interview with Krankl in Forbes several years ago, Sine Qua Non is

“Latin for something essential (literally ‘without which nothing’). Krankl claims not to remember how, or why, he and wife Elaine came up with it. (They pronounce it ‘sinny-kwah-non.’)”

- Richard Nalley, “The Krankl Cult,” Forbes Life, September 6, 2008

Even after 18 years, the literary, painterly Krankl still does his own artwork for each Sine Qua Non label. He and Elaine also still do their own marketing, which…really doesn’t look like marketing at all. Nor does it need to;With a microscopic waiting list, an annual production of 3,500 cases, and a handful of previously released wines that fetch north of $3,500, Sine Qua Non’s cult status is secured for the long haul.

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