We 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?
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!
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
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
I 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
This 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.”
Elissa 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
I 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
Kumamoto 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!”
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.
- 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
- 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.
- Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for ½ hour, then flip and cook another 45 minutes or until tender.
- Once removed from the oven, remove the skin and discard it and the cinnamon stick. Drain juice and set aside.
- 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.
- Cool and puree in a blender until very smooth
- In a small pan with the rice oil, fry 6 large sage leaves until crispy.
- Drain on paper towels and season with salt.
- Whip crème fraiche to stiff peaks with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and star anise.
- Combine blanched sage leaves, parsley leaves, and olive oil.
- Place in a deli container and freeze overnight.
- Once frozen, zap in Pacojet 2 times and strain (or use a purchased sage oil)
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!
We at Parker Sanpei are an adventurous bunch, but sometimes, the latest culinary trend just doesn’t fly with us. Here are some of our staff’s no-go foods.
Linda: CHICKEN WINGS
“All that fatty chicken skin, yuck.”
“With so many other good greens out there – spinach, arugula – why bother with kale? I think kale is a lie.“
“The balls. They creep me out.”
“Tell me again how I must not have had ‘good’ sushi and I will straight-up hurt you.”
“I’ve used it before in recipes…and then I’ve thrown those dishes in the trash. I just don’t like it.”
Google “Savor the Central Coast” and the first autocomplete option to comes up is “Savor Central Coast VOLUNTEER.” Indeed, everyone is trying to get in on SAVOR.
Co-sponsored by Sunset Magazine and the San Luis Obispo County Visitors and Conference Bureau, SAVOR the Central Coast calls itself a food and wine festival but it’s quite a lot more than that. SAVOR is a celebration of the fact that SLO County encapsulates what it means to live in the West. It’s educational, enlightening, and applicable. Looking to build or buy a chicken coop? SAVOR’s got the best models on display at the Main Event (complete with clucking inhabitants!). Want to learn how to save tomato seeds for next year’s garden? SAVOR offers workshops taught by passionate seed-savers. Want to experience an abalone farm in Cayucos? Or horseback riding in Cambria? Or foodie secrets in Arroyo Grande? SAVOR is your guide.
The Main Event is just what it sounds like: a big deal. Here’s how SAVOR explains it:
The Main Event invites you to experience an epicurean and adventure playground where you can taste, sip, and indulge. The historic Santa Margarita Ranch hosts this two day extravaganza on September 27 and 28 showcases celebrity and master chefs, Sunset experts, brew masters, as well as local fishermen and artisanal food producers from throughout California.
Enjoy unlimited food and wine tasting as you wander the Marketplace where over 100 wineries, restaurants, and food purveyors invite you to sample delicious food and drink. Relax with a locally brewed beer while you listen to live music in the Estrada Garden. Learn from the experts at the Farm to Table Stage or have fun with a mini tour through your favorite coastal region at the Travel and Adventure Stage.
Stroll through the Central Coast Pavilion and sample award-winning wines from the Sunset International Wine Competition. Make sure to reserve your spot in Chef Central and Winemaker Central, offering in-depth educational seminars throughout the weekend, allowing you to explore your favorite topic at a deeper level. Cost is $25 per seminar with the purchase of your main event ticket.
For more information on this year’s SAVOR the Central Coast, including a full schedule of events, please visit http://www.SAVORCentralCoast.com.