May 21, 2017

Wines best friend, Alle-Pia Salami

We recently had the pleasure of touring the facility where the most amazing delicious cured meats are made. The facility of Alle-Pia. Look, we love wine! We also love our cured meats and cheeses to go with it. Then there is the lovely meals that enhance our enjoyment of wine. But we digress. There are not too many things as wonderful as enjoying a wonderful glass of wine and partaking of the deliriousness of cured meats and we have found none better than Alle-Pia. We went to visit the facility when they first opened a few years back and were impressed with not only the product but the passion with which they peruse the making of fine food, whether at Buona Tavola or now Alle Pia.


For over two decades, Chef Varia has delighted residents and visitors with his inventive Northern Italian cuisine in his Buona Tavola (meaning "good table") restaurants. Alex Pellini, Chef Varia’s nephew, came over from Italy in 2009 to help with the restaurant operations and has been instrumental in the creation and supervision of the salami production. Maria Pia Allesina was Chef Varia's mother and he named the company Alle-Pia as a tribute to her. It was a tradition in Italy to make salami each winter with their entire family. Antonio thought using her name would be a nice way to honor her memory. We agree.

The fresh, natural pork comes from a supplier that guarantees vegetarian fed, crate free animals and no hormones or antibiotics are used. Ingredients are locally sourced when possible and all products and facilities are USDA inspected and approved. In fact, a USDA inspector is on site each and every day to constantly monitor and observe.

We were taken on a tour by Alex and discovered that every batch of salami requires careful supervision and timing to ensure the perfect taste and consistency. We were also given a taste of a few employee favorites. Alex explained that they only use the finest spices from a local supplier, Spice of Life and imported Italian paprika. Local wines from Paso Robles and imported wines from Italy add distinctive flavors. 

As well as buying a few of our favorite salami's to take home with us Alex gave us a Luganega Piccante - Spicy Pork Sausage (tasted amazing). They also have other Italian meats and products for sale.

The process is monitored and controlled at every step with state of the art Italian equipment to produce consistent quality and flavors. They have recently expanded their capacity to double the production to better serve their customers as well as to continue to have these great products available at the two Bouna Tavola Restaurant's.

Join their Club!
Thanks to Alex for taking the time to show us around and give us a tasting of all those tasty cured meats. Stop on by their shop in Atascadero and get some for yourself. 

Happy Wine Food Adventures,
Cheers,
WineWalkabout


You can find all of their meats and fine foods, fresh,
 right from the source 5 days a week.
Give them a call or stop by and say hi. 
They love to meet their customers!

Visit Us at the Emporio Alle-Pia

8390 El Camino Real
Atascadero, CA 93442
Phone: (805) 461-6800
Email: info@allepiasalumi.com

We're Open
Monday: 9AM - 3PM
Tuesday: 9AM - 3PM
Wednesday: 9AM - 3PM
Thursday: 9AM - 3PM
Friday: 9AM - 3PM
Sat/Sun/Holidays: Closed

One of our favorites.

May 14, 2017

Monterey Wines 25th Winemaker Celebration



What could be better than tasting good wines while sampling good food with good people on a beautiful day in a beautiful setting? The simple answer, is not much.

In the beautiful hamlet of Carmel by the sea, with some great local chefs serving small bites complemented by Monterey Wines make the 'Monterey Wines 25th Winemaker Celebration' a very enjoyable event. This is one of Monterey’s premier wine events. The event showcases both the established and small production wineries of Monterey County and its sub-appellations, including Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley, Chalone, Hames Valley, Monterey, San Antonio Valley, and Santa Lucia Highlands.

This year we were privileged to be given complimentary VIP passes from Monterey Wines. As VIP's we gained early access at 12:00 noon for a more intimate experience by being some of the first in. New to this year's VIP experience was valet parking. Valet parking was a wonderful addition to the experience and a real classy touch. Another classy touch is the availability to get a designated driver ticket and because of all the great small bites not a bad event for the non drinkers and those that sacrifice for the good of the team.

Traffic was light and the easy convenient VIP parking meant we were way early and so a stop in to visit the lovely ladies at Caraccioli Cellars for a starter glass of bubbles was in order. As we sipped our bubbles we watched as the last of the setting up was completed.

Having attended this even a number of times there were no great surprises (a good thing). The wines and food are always satisfying and the event well run. This year we made an extra effort to taste all the whites and not get drawn in too early on the reds and miss some good white wine experiences. After all there are a ton of different ones to taste. Monterey has 53 different wine grape varieties, 30 of which have more than 20 acres of vineyards per varietal. Chardonnay (40%) and Pinot Noir (15%) are the two largest wine grape varietals grown in Monterey County and there are some world class ones made here.

On the food side there were a lot of options but a couple of our favorites (we like simple foods) were the pork belly and beans from La Balena in Carmel and a Salmon and wild rice from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Oh and the potatoe chips from 400deg Burger. On the dessert side, the cannoli's from Little Napoli right there on Delores and the Mini Bunt cakes from Nothing Bunt Cakes were lip smacking good!



Tasted a number of good wines, really good wines. Finding some that stand out would be easier if the event was not so much fun. With that being said a couple of the wines that stood out. On the white side there were -
Caraccioli Cellars Brut Cuvee - Joyce Vineyards Albarino and Dry Reisling - Scratch Wines Dry Reisling - Odonata Wines Sparkling Rose - Blair Chardonnay - Manzoni Wines Chardonnay and Wrath Wines Sauvignon Blanc.

On the red side Wrath Wines San Saba Pinot Noir - Manzoni Wines Syrah - Scrath Wines Grenache and the most amazing breakfast drink was a breakfast bloody Mary to get one through the day from Mulligans Public House. These are just a few of the wonderful wines we tasted.

Against what the weather reports had predicted it was a spectacular day, and we thank Monterey Wines for giving us the hook up. We look forward to this event every year as somehow it just seems to get better. The Monterey Wines 25th Winemaker Celebration was truly a celebration of wonderful Monterey Wine and Food and an event not to miss.

Happy Wine Adventures,
Cheers,
WineWalkabout 
















May 7, 2017

A Red wine reduction sauce... You are welcome


What is the biggest difference between your home cooked steaks and the ones you get at a restaurant?
A RED WINE REDUCTION SAUCE!

For having a little of that restaurant taste at home when you want to step it up a notch... You are welcome! Whip this up and enjoy...

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 red onion, fine diced
  • 2 stalks celery, fine diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Cracked Pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • 3/4 cup red wine (Cabernet wine for a more earthy taste, Shiraz for a fruitier taste.)
Directions:
Sauté the onion, celery, garlic, and rosemary in the butter over low-medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour in red wine and bring to a simmer until about half the liquid evaporates. Serve over your meat of choice (New York Steak is our favorite). 



Happy Wine Adventures,
Bon Appétit,

WineWalkabout 

May 2, 2017

Summer of 2017 Europe, two different trips



So no trips to Australia or New Zealand this year! WHAT!!! This year is the year of Europe. Specifically a tour around France and a river cruise from Paris to Prague. Each of us is looking at the advantages and disadvantages of taking a small group with us next time and trying to decide which trip gives the best value and experience.

Ideally we would both be on both trips but the bank accounts have limits as does the amount of vacation time available.

So for the tour of France, Chris (Kiwi) has enlisted the help of our French connection, Duncan. Duncan has previously helped out with tastings and as a bonus has an enviable collection of french wines and a much better knowledge of France. The two couples will be doing a loop through the country and hitting some real highlights.

This is the itinary,
DEPART SFO to PARIS CDG
DAY 1 May 6th
Paris, St Germaine for 4 days
DAY 5 May 11th for 2 days
Bayeux, Normandy
Day 7 May 13th 3 days
Amboise, LoirValley
Day 16 May 16th for 3 days
Sarlat, Dordogne Valley
DAY 19  May 19th for 2 days
Bordeaux City
DAY 21 May 21st 1 day
Charles DeGalle, Paris
FLY HOME

For Trev's adventure, a small group river cruise with Viking River Cruises. The cruise selected was done so for timing, length and availability.
The selected trip, Cities of light, Paris to Prague.

DAY 1
Paris, France
Tue July 18, 2017 Flight in AM. Wandering Paris
DAY 2
Paris, France
Wed July 19, 2017
Morning A Taste of Paris Shore Excursion
DAY 3
Paris, France
Thu July 20, 2017
Day trip to Versailes
Late Dinner at 58 Eiffel Restaurant (Tower)
DAY 4
Paris, France
Fri July 21, 2017
Morning Paris City Tour Shore Excursion
DAY 5
Trier, Germany
Sat July 22, 2017
Afternoon Luxembourg City Tour & American Cemetery
DAY 6
Trier, Germany
Sun July 23, 2017
Morning Trier City Tour Shore Excursion
DAY 7
Cochem, Germany
Mon July 24, 2017
Morning Cochem Walking Tour & Reichsburg Castle
DAY 8
Koblenz, Germany
Tue July 25, 2017
Morning Marksburg Castle Tour Shore Excursion
DAY 9
Heidelberg, Germany
Wed July 26, 2017
Morning Heidelberg Full-Day Excursion with Student Lunch
DAY 10
Würzburg, Germany
Thu July 27, 2017
Morning Würzburg Residenz & Walk Shore Excursion
DAY 11
Bamberg, Germany
Fri July 28, 2017
Afternoon Franconian Countryside Tour Shore Excursion
DAY 12
Bamberg, Germany
Sat July 29, 2017
Morning Nuremberg City Tour Shore Excursion
DAY 13
Prague, Czech Republic
Sun July 30, 2017 Morning Prague City Tour Shore Excursion
Afternoon Jewish Prague Shore Excursion
DAY 14
Prague, Czech Republic
Mon July 31, 2017
Prague breakfast - Fight out. 

Follow along on Instagram and see if you may wish to join us (sign up to show interest on the Travel Adventures tab) in the next year or so on another magical wine adventure.

Happy Wine Adventures,
Cheers,
WineWalkabout 


Apr 16, 2017

Make A Magnifique French Pear Tart

Oh what a lovely pear...
In celebration of our impending visits to France (both of them) we though this might help us share the excitement. Yes we are both going, but at different times and on different types of trips to try to decide what kind of tour to organize for the future. So here you go... bon appétit

Make A Magnifique French Pear Tart
It's no secret that the French have turned baking into an art form. As we anticipate our upcoming cruise, we thought you might like to create your own artistic expression using sliced pears and Frangipane, a sweet, almond-flavored pastry cream, to enjoy.

Ingredients

3 firm ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears
PASTRY DOUGH:
1¼ C (156 g) all purpose flour, additional for dusting Pinch of salt
4 T (48 g) baker's sugar
½ C (115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 lg egg yolks
¼ tsp (1 ml) vanilla extract
1 T (15 ml) cold water

FRANGIPANE:
⅓ C (76 g) unsalted butter
¾ C (144 g) granulated sugar
3 lg eggs
¾ C (64 g) ground almonds
1½ T (12 g) all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp (½ ml) almond extract

GLAZE:
¼ C (80 g) apricot jam
1 tsp (5 ml) lemon juice
GARNISH:
2 tsp (10 g) slivered almonds 

Directions

PASTRY DOUGH:

Sift together flour and salt; make a well in the middle. Put sugar, butter, egg yolks, vanilla and water into well and work together gently to form a firm dough. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Roll out gently on a lightly floured surface to cover a 9-inch (23 cm) fluted quiche or tart pan. Press dough firmly into pan, cutting off any excess. Prick bottom of dough with a fork several times. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line dough with parchment or foil and place a layer of pie weights or dry beans on bottom. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Lower temperature to 375°F (190°C); remove paper and weights and bake for 5 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat and let cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (176°C).

FRANGIPANE:

Mix butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, ground almonds, flour and extract; stir to combine. Spoon into crust.

Peel, core and slice pears. Arrange slices in an attractive pattern over top of frangipane. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until pears are tender and lightly browned. Remove from heat and let cool on a wire rack.

GLAZE:

Melt jam in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in lemon juice. Remove from heat and push mixture through a sieve. Brush glaze over pears then sprinkle with slivered almonds.

SERVING SUGGESTION:

Serve with crème anglaise, fresh raspberries or vanilla ice cream.
  • Prep time: 25 minutes.
  • Chill time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.
  • Cook time: 57 minutes.
  • Nutritional info per serving:
    • Calories 485
    • Fat 31 g
    • Cholesterol 211 mg
    • Sodium 37 mg
    • Carbs 49 g
    • Protein 8 g 
They say this makes 8 servings but we think its more like 4... bon appétit

Happy Wine Food Adventures,
Cheers,
WineWalkabout