Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Irresistable Flavor Combinations Abound at Palm Desert Food & Wine Fest

The Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival is a terrific chance to try new bottlings and terrific eats, all while catching up with good friends.
This year's culinary offerings were hard to resist; everything from pizza to watermelon gazpacho.
Of course, with all that wine I'd been consuming...
I knew I needed to eat something before I fell sideways...that's where my restauranteur friend Mindy came in. The owner of Zin American Bistro and Zini Cafe Med in Palm Springs, Mindy dazzled me last year with a spicy lime shrimp dish.

As I approached her table this year, she handed me a plate of Zin's beyond decadent veal ricota meatballs and truffled mac n' cheese and said "try this with it." 'This' was a Clos Pegase Chardonnay, full of the sweet aromas of peach and nectarine..matched up with the sweetness of the meatball sauce and the velvety smoothness of cheese and truffle...its safe to say that this marriage started off with sparks worthy of a 'Do Not Disturb' sign for the hotel room door.
As I moved on to other festival discoveries, Mindy leaned over and dabbed me behind the ears with her truffle oil...don't try to tell me that's not a rite of passage...
There were many wines to discover, and among my favorite of the group were the Hahn Cycles Gladiator Central Coast Syrah. Black pepper and juicy dark fruit seemed to be just what I needed, and this wine delivered both.
A late festival find (literally tasted this one in the last five minutes) was the '07 Chateau l'Hospitalet Reserve from the Languedoc, one of my favorite regions for affordable, delicious bottlings. This one is a blend of 30% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 30% Mourvedre, three of my favorite grapes on earth. All I could think of were sweet tobacco and blackberries...if there had been an extra bottle of this stuff, I would have confiscated it...and then probably not invited back next year...but it would have been well worth it.
In my next entry, you'll meet a rogue wine guy who's relatively new to the business of making vino and is doing things his way..with success.
Follow me on Twitter @vinochick75.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Palm Desert Food & Wine Fest a Fashionable Amalgam of Flavors and Flair

It would be a gross understatement to say I'd been looking forward to the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival. This highly anticipated event that serves as a wrap up to Fashion Week seems to get more stylish each year, aging like the fine bubbles that greeted us upon arrival.
These white tents were surely made for exploring, and I wasn't looking for anything specific. Just some great new tastes and the fun of meeting up with friends and colleagues.
One of my first treats was a ripe and peppery Zin from Folie a Deux, the same folks responsible for Menage a Trois, the sister label that produces those popular, lower cost red and white blends. This particular Zin is crafted from old vines in Amador County, which immediately brought me to those languid summer backyard barbecues where sweet spicy ribs are served up by the plateful.
Then there was the '07 Pahlmeyer 'Jayson,' a gorgeous Bordeaux blend that instantly won Vino Chick's heart...lots of blueberry and chocolate...wowzers...judging from the looks of this bottle, i wasn't the only one experiencing wine drool...because yes, its THAT good.
I then met up with an unexpected, non wine-related treat when I encountered one of the soap opera world's all-time fan favorites. Tristan Rogers played the inimitable Robert Scorpio on General Hospital in the 1980's, and is apparently a wine lover himself. The affable Rogers can now be seen on the CBS sudser Young and the Restless.
Of course with all that wine, I needed to eat something before I fell sideways...in my next installment, I'll explain the story behind this decadent little pairing that I'm still dreaming about...
Follow me on Twitter @vinochick75.