Chinese New Year Bites- Gung Hay Fat Choy!

We never need a holiday to enjoy Chinese food, but we always partake a bit more for Chinese New Year for good luck!  We started celebrating the Year of the Dog February 14th on The Connected Table Live! with guest, Hsiao-Ching Chou, author of “Chinese Soul Food.”

Hsiao-Ching’s parents, came to the U.S. from Taiwan and owned a Chinese restaurant in Missouri. She worked in the restaurant after school. After earning her college degree in journalism Hsiao-Ching became a successful food writer, most recently working at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for many years, Hsiao-Ching teaches cooking and shares her recipes on her blog,

Hsiao-Ching Chou's dumplings ("Chinese Soul Food")
Hsiao-Ching Chou’s dumplings (“Chinese Soul Food”)

On February 15 we attended Lucky Rice Founder Danielle Chang’s Lunar Year Celebration at Canal Street Market (NYC) which continues through February 28. Different food and drink stalls served bites that were more global than Chinese, like Silk Road Falafel Wrap with Pickled Cabbage, Scallions, Crushed Cashews, Ginger and “Silk Road” Harissa Sauce from Ilili Box and Miso Lucky Salad (Brown Rice Topped with Miso-Marinated Beets. Bok-Choy and Avocado with Sesame Seed Dressing (loved!). Danielle Chang will join us on The Connected Table Live April 4th.

Danielle Chang, Founder of Lucky Rice (center)

My favorite discovery at this event was the Lunar Year Kakigori from Bonsai Kakigori, which  created powdery shave ice topped with icy snow drifts of mango and ginger and cream. Theo Friedman, the cofounder of Kakigori showed me how his Japanese shave ice machine worked and let me taste another Kakigori topped with shave ice matcha green tea.

Mango-Ginger Kakigori (snow ice) from Bonsai Kakigori

Our February 16 visit was to Red Farm NYC on the Upper West Side, where Owner Ed Schoenfeld recommended some “long life” and “prosperity” dishes. Ed said he was heading to London this month to open a Red Farm there. It was fun to see families celebrating Chinese New Year together and their kids all dressed up. This place always is one of our favorites.

Black truffle chicken soup dumpling at Red Farm NYC

Here is a link to our Chinese New Year show with Ed Schoenfeld and Chris Cheung, East Wind Snack Shop which aired live in 2016. Now on iHeart:

Listen to our show with Hsiao-Ching Chou here:


Purchase Chinese Home Cooking now on Amazon:


Celebrating 50 Years with Trefethen Family Vineyards

“What were you doing 1968?” That was the opening question Kevin Zraly asked the group attending this week’s tasting at Corkbuzz Wine Studio to commemorate Trefethen Family Vineyards’ 50th Anniversary Retrospective. Kevin was joined by proprietors Janet Trefethen and her son, Lorenzo Trefethen, who shared the history and milestones of this family-owned winery located in Napa’s cool climate Oak Knoll district.

The tasting notes included a historical marker for our nation. Some were happy times: the growth of the American culinary revolution and California wine industry. Some noted the natural disasters that impacted the region, such as floods, earthquakes and drought. And the federal debt went from $316 billion in the 1960s to 20 trillion in 2010. The Good News is that the wines survived it all and each vintage we tasted was exceptional.

It was an afternoon to share family stories while enjoying the wines. Patriarch Eugene Trefethen purchased the Eschol Ranch in 1968 and planted vineyards with the intent to sell the grapes. Janet and John Trefethen met, married and started the winery in 1973 with Tony Baldini, as their first viticulturist. Janet noted there has been a Baldini family member involved with the winery since Day One. Lorenzo also underscored that Trefethen winery workers are treated like family with salaries and health benefits, no contract workers. Many employees have worked at Trefethen for years.

Chardonnay vintages from 1977 to 2016

Trefethen is world-renowned for its Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lorenzo noted with a smile that the family was unaware their 1976 Chardonnay- the family’s fourth vintage- had been named “Best Chardonnay in the World”  at the Gault-Millau World Wine Olympics in Paris until a CBS news helicopter landed to request an interview. Numerous awards and accolades have followed.

At Corkbuzz, owner Laura Maniec and her team poured first a selection of Chardonnays, vintages 1977, 1985, 1991, 2005, 2011 and 2016; and Cabernet Sauvignon, vintages 1979, 1986, 1999, 2006, 2011, 2015. Kevin Zraly wisely encouraged us to taste at our leisure to allow time for us to really savor and contemplate the wines.

Kevin Zraly, wine educator and raconteur

I (Melanie) like to play a mental game when I taste wine: I create personalities and stories for each vintage and style. For me the Chardonnays were a multi-generational family of pedigreed blondes, starting with elegant elderly dowager (1977) to the perfectly coiffed classic Bergdorf blonde (1991) to the more preppy and peppy 2012 and 2016. And, yes, drinking these wines I thought, “These Chardonnay blondes are more fun.” Each generation had its spirited personality.

Cabernet Sauvignon vintages 1979-2015

The same went for the Cabernet Sauvignons which ranged from my timeless idea of the “dreamy matinee idol” (1979) to the sophisticated “Rat Pack” (1986, 1999) to the ”Leonardo Di Caprio” (2011) and “Bradley Cooper” (2015). They were all stars with different appeal. For some reason I conjured all men for these wines.

Oh, there were plenty of wine terms tossed around to describe the wines, like the ABC’s of acidity, balance and concentration. But, inspired by the stories Janet and Lorenzo shared and Kevin’s always enjoyable remarks, I let my mind daydream about each generation of wine and its place in time and the remarkable family who brought them to life. Thank you!

Janet and Lorenzo Trefethen

Listen to our show with Janet and Hailey Trefethen broadcast from Napa Valley last year: