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Notes from Florida’s First Coast on #TheConnectedTableROADTRIP

A year ago, we arrived on Florida’s Forgotten Coast in the Eastern Panhandle with a plan to experience Old Florida. Until then, most of our time had been spent in glitzier Palm Beach and Miami. The Forgotten Coast lies south of Tallahassee and runs from Panama City on its west end through Apalachicola to Alligator Harbor at the east end of Franklin County. It’s a land of soulful beauty laced with fragility. We saw remnants from Hurricane Michael, a category 5 that hit the coast in 2018, as we drove toward the western panhandle.

smoked fish dip
Smoked fish dip at Palms Fish Camp, Jacksonville, Florida

While there, we discovered Florida’s Shellfish Trail which runs the western coast roughly from Apalachicola to Yankeetown, both historically known for their oysters, though oyster farming in Apalachicola is on lawful hiatus for a number of years to allow for ecological regeneration of the region’s oyster fisheries. Along the way, we also discovered Steinhatchie scallops and Cedar Key clams. We learned Cedar Key is also a major supplier of stone crabs to places like Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami.

Fast forward a year and we’re back in Florida chasing fish. For the past three weeks we’ve spent time in the Jacksonville area exploring Florida’s “First Coast,” also home to St. Augustine, the oldest city in the country and the place where Spanish explorer, Ponce de Leon, arrived in the 1500s. Here you can find Spanish influences in dishes like Minorcan conch chowder, which uses the spicy Datil pepper (much like a habañero). The one we tasted and liked best was at the Conch House Restaurant.

This casual, dockside restaurant has been owned by the Ponce family for more than 70 years. We learned from the restaurant website that the Ponce family is one of the oldest families in the U.S.A., dating back 400 years! www.conch-house.com

Minorcan Conch Chowder tasted at The Conch House Restaurant, St. Augustine
Minorcan Conch Chowder tasted at The Conch House Restaurant, St. Augustine

We also discovered sweet, plump Mayport shrimp. Named after the settlement at the mouth of the St. John’s River, these shrimp are a northeast Florida favorite, and we could not eat enough of them! Fun fact, Visit Jacksonville has a “Mayport Shrimp Passport” with a list of restaurants and their shrimp specialties.

Mayport Shrimp (Visit Jacksonville)
Mayport Shrimp (Visit Jacksonville)

Jacksonville is a dynamic city with stunning beaches, recreational areas, and an interesting music heritage- both the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd bands originated there. It is home to many fun restaurants and cultural attractions. St. Augustine, Amelia Island, and Fernandina beach are a short drive away, and we explored them all.

In last week’s episode of The Connected Table Live! we discussed Florida’s diverse culinary heritage with Chef Norman Van Aken, who introduced New Florida cuisine to the American food lexicon. Based in Miami, Van Aken spent time working in Key West and is in the process of opening a new Norman’s restaurant in Orlando.

Norman Van Aken
Norman Van Aken

Van Aken is author of cookbooks: Feast of Sunlight, The Exotic Fruit Book, Norman’s New World Cuisine, New World Kitchen, My Key West Kitchen and Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen. He also wrote a memoir called, “No Experience Necessary,” proving his talent as a writer is on par with his skills as a chef.

We love this quote that sums up Norman Van Aken:
“Before the celebrity chef craze… before the start of Food Network, Norman Van Aken was starting a revolution. He was doing something unheard of at the time, taking local ethnic flavors, merging them together at restaurants where he worked.” – — The Smithsonian

If you missed last week’s edition of The Connected Table Live with Norman Van Aken, is the link:

Florida Cuisines Coast to Coast with Chef Norman Van Aken

 

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Eat Explore

Aloha from Maui- Our Go-To Dining Tips

We visit Maui and Kauai as often as we can. The brilliant blue of the Pacific Ocean, the scent of Hawaii’s many tropical flowers and spectacular sunsets always inspire and re-energize us. Our last visit was in November 2021 to celebrate Thanksgiving. While our stay in Kauai was limited to cooking in our condo – no rental cars available over the holiday!- we did some considerable exploring and dining out during our ten days in Maui.

For those of you planning a trip, here are some of our latest dining picks based on our recent visit:

A quick list

Ka ‘Ana Kitchen at The Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort (Wailea) Go for cocktails (Julie Reiner created the bar program), the food and the sunset! Listen to our interview with Chef Chance Savell on The Connected Table Live below.

Coconut clams with ulu (breadfruit)- Ka'Ana Kitchen
Coconut clams with ulu (breadfruit)- Ka’Ana Kitchen

Macadangdang (Kaanapali). Joey Macadangdang is a former show guest. His newest restaurant offers sophisticated Pacific Rim fare plus a sushi menu.

Joey’s Kitchen (Napili). Joey Macadangdang’s casual eatery serving homestyle Filipino-Hawaiian fare.

A’A Roots (Napili). Casual and small, serving terrific Buddha Bowls, Acai Bowls and other vegan dishes.

Acai bowl with fresh fruit at A'A Roots
Acai bowl with fresh fruit at A’A Roots

Fleetwood’s on Front (Lahaina) Rocker Mick Fleetwood’s restaurant has a spectacular waterfront view and sunset ritual.

Honu Seafood & Pizza (Lahaina). This restaurant is our special place to go our last night in Maui to enjoy the ahi bruschetta and local mushroom pizza.

Ahi Bruschetta with Avocado Cream at Honu
Ahi Bruschetta with Avocado Cream at Honu

Sea House Restaurant (Napili). Located at the luxury Napili Ka Beach Resort, this restaurant has one of the best happy hours and beach front dining.

Monkeypod Kitchen at Whalers Village (Kaanapali). Local restaurateur Peter Merriman serves up craft food and cocktails. Nice wine by the glass list and live music.

Star Noodle (Lahaina). A new waterfront location and COVID restrictions make this southeast restaurant a tough reservation to snag. Consider takeout. It’s worth it!

Castaway Café (Kaanapali). Go for breakfast/brunch for the macadamia nut-banana-coconut pancakes and the island’s best Bloody Mary. Beach side casual.

Macadamia nut-banana-coconut pancakes at Castaway
Macadamia nut-banana-coconut pancakes at Castaway

Listen to The Connected Table Live!

Meet Chef Chance Savell, Ka’Ana Kitchen, Andaz Wailea

Ka’ana means “to share” in Hawaiian. At Ka’Ana Kitchen at the Andaz Maui at Wailea, Chef Chance Savell creates shareable dishes using ingredients from local farmers and fishermen. An Arkansas native, Chef Savell has his special version of buttermilk fried chicken with pineapple on the menu alongside delicious mains of Big Eye Ahi, Prime Sirloin Strip and fresh caught fish. Enjoy a spectacular Maui sunset while dining and don’t miss the cocktails created by celebrated “mixtress” Julie Reiner.

 

 

 

Categories
Drink Explore

Provence Rosé Has a Place at the Table Year-Round at These Restaurants

When it comes to enjoying Provence rosé, it’s time to “drink French and eat global.” Provence rosés are dry and fruity, offering essences of wild strawberries, stone fruits, lime and herbal notes with hints of sea breeze and salinity, thanks to the vineyards’ proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. These wines may “speak French,” but they pair well with cuisines around the world.

Three appellations in Provence exclusively produce rosé wines: Côtes de Provence, Coteaux Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence. Each enjoys a climate with year-round sunshine, minimal rain and cooling breezes from both the sea and the mistral winds coming down from mountains. These conditions contribute to the enduring freshness and acidity of the wines. The traditional grapes used to produce Provence rosès include” Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre as well as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon. Some winemakers use a small amount of the white grape, Vermentino, called Rolle in southern France,

Provence rosé wines are finding a place at the table at restaurants coast-to-coast, and increasingly being consumed year-round. Here are a few restaurants to check out and the pairings they have featured.

New York City

Contento NYC

Contento, located in East Harlem, was named one of Esquire Magazine’s 40 Best New Restaurants in America 2021. “Contento” means “happy” in both Spanish and Italian, and that’s how you will feel after dining at this delightful restaurant. The menu is a mosaic of the flavors of Peru created by Chef Oscar Lorenzzi, a native New Yorker with Peruvian roots. An example is the Ceviche Clasico, a creative spin on one of Peru’s iconic raw fish dishes. Chef Lorenzzi selects fresh seasonal fish for this dish to cure in a leche de tigre with red onions, cilantro, sweet corn and sweet potatoes.

The pairing:

Yannick Benjamin, Managing Director and Beverage Director recommends La Bernarde Huts de Luc from AOC Côtes de Provence, a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Rolle. “This is the quintessential Provençal rose: a balance of salty, bright minerally, fresh, tart, peaches and a great acidity to complement the ceviche. It’s a wine you can enjoy on your own as easily as paired with a dish,” said Benjamin.

www.contentonyc.com

Marseille

Bouillabaisse is a hearty fisherman’s stew that originated in the port city of Marseilles, France. The word bouillabaisse is a compound of the Provençal dialect for bolhir (to boil) and abaissar (to simmer). Marseille’s Chef Daniel Drexler allows two days to simmer his fish broth to the desired consistency, saying “You can’t rush a great bouillabaisse.” Marseille’s Bouillabaisse is prepared with fresh monkfish, shrimp, mussels, potatoes, leeks, tomatoes and a small amount of Pastis. The ingredients are arranged in a bowl, and the soup is ladled on top. Enjoy with a side of rouille and slices of toasted house-made walnut-saffron bread.

The Pairing:

Marseilles and its sister restaurant, Nice-Matin (see below) both have a world-class wine list with many French selections curated by Beverage Director Aviram Turgeman. For this pairing, he recommends Sainte Magdeleine 2020 Rosé from AOC Côtes de Provence, a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, and Syrah. After all, what grows together, goes together, and nothing speaks “Provence” like a rosé!

www.marseillenyc.com

Nice-Matin

Nice-Matin provides the joie de vivre sensation of being the Cote d’Azur on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The Provençal bistro offers something for every palate with house-made pasta dishes a signature of the menu. Executive Chef Erik Starkman carefully runs wide strips of dough through his pasta machine several times to obtain the right consistency for his cannelloni pasta. Cannelloni Niçoise, is a heartier dish of the Provence region. The rolled pasta is filled with braised short ribs and cooked in a Provençal tomato sauce.

Nice Matin dish and wne

The Pairing

“Côtes de Provence roses tends to produce wines that are well balanced with a lot of acidity that pair well with the acidity in the tomato sauce. An example is Clos Saint-Joseph, 2019, Côtes de Provence-Villars sur Var, a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Barbaroux (a red grape local to southeastern France), and Rolle,” says Beverage Director Aviram Turgeman

www.nicematinnyc.com

OCabanon — Cave à Manger

In South of France, a Cabanon is a small shed where family and friends gather to eat, drink and talk. At OCabanon, a family-run French restaurant and wine cave in Chelsea, customers gather and linger for lunch and dinner to enjoy Provençal dishes like the Grand Aioli – cooked codfish with hardboiled eggs and seasonal vegetables served on a large plate or platter with a of side of aioli, a garlic-Dijon mayonnaise for dipping. This is a terrific dish to share.

The Pairing

A classic pairing for the Grand Aioli is a Provence rosé, which is dry and flavorful,” says Armel Joly, co-owner of OCabanon. Joly recommends Château Routas from Coteaux Varois en Provence. This small appellation in the far southeast corner of Provence known for its high elevation. The wine is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, delivering flavors of freshly sliced watermelon, ripe peach and wild strawberries and floral notes,

www.ocabanon.com

The Wilson

A popular gathering place at Innside at Melia in the heart of NoMad, The Wilson, serves seafood dishes inspired by the northeast in a chic urban setting. Executive Chef Adrienne Gutierri refers to the menu as “coast to curb.” Here one can start with mussels meunìere and then savor a decadent grilled lobster BLT on buttered brioche with tarragon mayonnaise served with generous side of frites. Don’t miss the back “yard” bar festooned with colorful umbrellas.

The Pairing:

Château de Berne Inspiration Rosé from Côte de Provence, a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, is crisp with bright acidity and notes of wild strawberry, citrus and Mediterranean herbs. “You can’t go wrong pairing rosé with fresh seafood,” notes Drew Campbell-Amberg, Lead Bartender.

www.thewilsonnyc.com

Chicago

Chicago is recognized as “the birthplace of the modern skyscraper.” These two contemporary restaurants both deliver great food and panoramic views in stylish settings.

Adorn at The Four Seasons

An elevator sweeps you to the 7th floor of The Four Seasons Hotel and Adorn Bar & Restaurant where award-winning Chef de Cuisine Jonathon Sawyer has created a menu inspired by his global travels in France, Italy and Japan with an embrace of local Midwest bounty. An example is his Crispy Zucchini Blossom Ratatouille: lightly seasoned and grilled chopped eggplant, squash stuffed inside zucchini blossoms which are coated with tempura batter and pan-fried to a delicate crispness. The dish is adorned with a delicate fresh tomato sauce last with a touch of fine herbs and rosé wine.

The Pairing:

Whispering Angel from Cave D’Esclans Rosé, Côtes de Provence is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Rolle. “You couldn’t ask for a more perfect Provençal pairing: a dry Côtes de Provence rosé with ratatouille, a dish that originated in Nice in the 1800s, shares Chef Sawyer, adding, “these two classics come together to be so much more than the sum of their ingredients.”

www.adornrestaurant.com

Travelle at The Langham

Named 2021 Best American Restaurant by readers of Hemispheres magazine, Travelle is a casually elegant restaurant & bar/lounge on the second floor of the luxurious Langham hotel, one of Chicago’s iconic skyscrapers designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Chef de Cuisine Qi Ai prepares dishes that are as beautiful to photograph as they are delicious to eat. One example is the seasonal artisan cheese board which features a selection of cheeses goat, cow and sheep cheeses embellished with house-made pickled ramps, eggplant and mustard seeds and served with slices of grilled sourdough bread.

 

The Pairing:

Director of Food and Beverage, Christina Boyd recommends enjoying the cheese board with a versatile Maison AIX Vin de Provence Rosé from AOC Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, a blend of Grenach, Syrah, Cinsault, noting “This wine has a beautiful aroma and high acidity, an ideal pairing.”

www.travellechicago.com

California

Mentone, Aptos, California

The sun-drenched Mediterranean coastline between the cities of Nice and Genoa inspired Chef-Owner David Kinch to create what he calls “Riviera cuisine” at Mentone, located in Aptos, about an hour’s drive from Santa Cruz. Kinch is also the owner of Three-Star Michelin rated-Manresa in nearby Los Gatos. The atmosphere at Mentone blends California casual with St. Tropez sophistication. Popular dishes include house-made pastas and Provençal pizzas like Tarte de Mentone, a “pissaladière” of slow cooked onions and olives topped with anchovies over a savory crust in a wood- burning oven.

The Pairing:

“Rosé wines should be enjoyed year-around,” underscores Wine Director Alyssa Papierneick “With our Tarte de Mentone, I recommend our Domaine de Sulauze Pomponette Rosé 2020 from Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Rolle. It has a kind of richness through the middle but also a hint of saltiness that complements the anchovies.”

www.mentonerestaurant.com

Caruso’s at the Rosewood Miramar Beach

You can’t have a better location than beachfront in southern California beach to enjoy a glass or two of rosé, especially when it is a five-star rated hotel in upscale Montecito. The Rosewood Miramar and its fine dining restaurant, Caruso’s, overlooks the beach and offers visitors an expansive view of the Pacific Ocean. Michelin starred Chef Malsimo Falsini spotlights the flavors of Mediterranean Italy at Caruso’s where customers can enjoy a prix-fixe four course menu with wines.

The Pairing:

“Rosé season is year around here at the hotel and a top-seller both by the glass and bottle,” shares Wine Director Daniel Fish, who singled out Château de Berne Inspiration 2020 to pair with the restaurant’s popular chargrilled Pacific Octopus with Cannelloni Cream Borlotti, Potato, Chicharrones and Absinthe. The acidity in the wine complements the richness of the octopus.

www.rosewoodhotels.com

New England

South Bay, Greenwich, Connecticut

South Bay with locations in both Greenwich and New Haven Connecticut is a lively seafood driven restaurant focused on flavors of the Mediterranean but also offers a few Latin accents. One example is Chef Daniel Atemiz’s Tuna Tartare with chipotle aioli, guacamole and house- made corn chips – ideal as either a shareable appetizer or entrée for a lighter meal.

The Pairing:

Domaine St Mitre 2020 from Coteaux Varois en Provence offers a light crisp, elegant rose with soft strawberry and floral notes to complement to the fresh tuna and Latin spices. The blend is Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Rolle,” shares General Manager Mauricio Andrade

www.southbayct.com/greenwich

Wildflower Restaurant, Stowe, Vermont

Planning a trip to Vermont? Consider a stop at the Gray Fox Inn in Stowe to dine at Wildflower. Co-owner David Cid envisioned a contemporary menu of American classics reflected the team’s blended heritage from the Caribbean, Central America and Asia. Chef Jonathan Shepard executes this vision impeccably with dishes like roasted chicken marinated in Latin spices served on a bed of sauteed kale with chimichurri sauce and a side of maduros (fried sweet plantains).

The Pairing:

Beverage Director Darnell Holguin recommends Bieler Père et Fils Rosé Sabine, 2020, AOC Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rolle “This dry rosé delivers a mix of floral, herbs and stone fruit notes that complement the savory and sweet spices of the roasted chicken.”

www.wildflowervt.com

Want to learn more about Provence Rosé wines?  Visit: www.vinsdeprovence.com

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A Visit To Tin City and ONX Winery- Paso Robles

Ever heard of Tin City? Not to be confused with “Sin City,” a nickname for Las Vegas, Tin City is a contemporary indie wine trail and artisan food and drink hangout built in an industrial park in Paso Robles. The name refers to the metal industrial warehouses that line this walkable area, now filled with winery tasting rooms and eating spots. Don’t miss the artisan sheep’s milk ice cream at Negranti Creamery!

There are roughly 20 small-lot production wineries with tasting rooms in Tin City which makes it a nice day visit. And that’s where we met up with Jeff Strekas of ONX wines to taste and talk.

ONX vineyards
The vineyards at ONX

Founded in 2005 by Orange County (CA) entrepreneur and real estate developer Steve Olson, ONX (pronounced “onyx”) refers to the onyx calcite deposits discovered in the mineral rich soil. The vineyards are located on a 127-acre property in the Templeton Gap District AVA. ONX cultivates 18 different grape varieties, mainly Bordeaux and Rhone white and reds but also Touriga Nacional and Tempranillo (we liked the Tempranillo “Indie Rosé”).

The lineup of ONX wines we tasted.
The lineup of ONX wines we tasted.

Jeff Strekas’s bio says he is a “general misanthrope and curmudgeonly spectator of the “Theater of Life.” We found him pleasant and deeply knowledgeable about the Paso Robles area. He was born and raised in Connecticut and caught the wine bug after traveling to Napa frequently when he worked as a biochemical engineer. After graduating U.C. Davis, he worked in winemaking in Napa and Australia and eventually in Paso Robles. He’s worked at ONX for more than a decade, originally in winemaking and now as Director of Operations and Wine Growing.

Jeff Strekas
Jeff Strekas

ONX’s winemaker is currently Drew Nenow, who worked at his father’s Robert Nenow Winery and aunt and uncle’s Behrens and Hitchcock Wines. Nenow could also be a body double to actor, Tom Cruise, with his wide grin and shock of dark hair.

Drew Nenow

Our visit to ONX included a two night stay at Briarwood Cottage. Owned by the winery, it’s a cozy, well-appointed place to rest your head, walk among the vineyards and write about the day. Info: Briarwood Cottage Vacation Rental — ONX Wines.

Briarcliff Cottage

Tin City is a must stop for your visit to Paso Robles. We wish we had more time to visit more of the tasting rooms and plan to do so when we schedule our return trip.

Here is a link to our podcast with Jeff Strekas on The Connected Table LIVE! Continue reading to learn what we tasted.

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Drink Explore The Connected Table SIPS

Virginia Wines on Our Mind!

There’s more to discover in Virginia than stunning mountain scenery, historic landmarks, expansive horse farms and miles of coastal Atlantic beaches. This beautiful state also has an impressive diversity of wines; many wineries are family owned. We recommend putting Virginia on your U.S.A. wine itinerary

A Little Virginia Wine History

Virginia’s wine history dates to the Jamestown Settlement in 1607. The Virginia Company of London made it mandatory for each male settler to plant at least ten grapevines as an economic venture. In the 1700s Thomas Jefferson, an oenophile after serving as Ambassador to France, tried without success to cultivate European grape varietals at his home, Monticello in Virginia’s central Piedmont region.

Good wine is a necessity of life for me. - Thomas Jefferson

In the nineteenth century, Virginia’s native Norton grape, the oldest American varietal, was named “best red wine of all nations” at the Vienna World Fair. In the twentieth century, Virginia’s wine industry stalled thanks to Prohibition, two World Wars, and the Great Depression. However, modern farmers and visionary entrepreneurs from the late twentieth century to current times have remained committed to making quality wine in the region and have made the necessary investments to make it happen. A turning point was 1976 when Italy’s Zonin wine family invested in Barboursville Vineyards in Central Virginia.

Virginia Wines Today

Today, Virginia has over 300 wine producers in eight designated AVAs. The most concentrated areas are Central Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley and Northern Virginia. While Bordeaux varietals dominate, notably Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot, one can also find Tannat, and some Rhone varietals (red and white). Notable whites include Chardonnay, Viognier and Petite Manseng, a grape better known in the southwest of France, and Vidal Blanc, a white hybrid. To be called a “Virginia wine,” the grapes must be primarily sourced from within the commonwealth.

Virginia wine country is an easy getaway for east coasters or visitors to Washington DC. Here are three regions to get you started based on our visits:

Monticello AVA

While Thomas Jefferson never managed to make quality wines at his home, Monticello, the AVA is a center for production, thanks to the region’s fertile, clay and granite-based soils. Base yourself in  Charlottesville to explore the dining scene as well as numerous historical sites.

Bottle of Octogan
Octagon is Barboursville’s iconic Bordeaux Blend

Barboursville Vineyards, Barboursville. Established in 1976, by Italy’s Zonin family, Italian varieties such as Vermentino, Fiano and Nebbiolo flourish under the watchful eye of Luca Paschina, the respected estate general manager/winemaker.  Barboursville’s Paxxito took top honors at Virginia’s 2021 Governor’s Cup Awards. Its signature wine is the sublime Bordeaux blend, Octagon.

Early Mountain Vineyards, Madison. Owned by former AOL executives, Steve and Jean Case, this winery features a large tasting room and small café where visitors can sample a curated selection of Virginia’s “best of the best” wines as well as Early Mountain’s selections made under the guidance of winemaker Ben Jordan. Try: Eluvium 2016, a Merlot-dominant (56%) blend with Petit Verdot (44%).  Here is a link to our interview with Ben Jordan (link to podcast)

Horton Vineyards, Gordonsville. (Pictured at top of article. Photo: Megan L. Coppage). The late founder, Dennis Horton was inspired by Rhone varietals he discovered while traveling in France, and this winery plants several as well as ancient varietals such as Georgian Rkatsiteli and the native Norton red.  We tasted nearly 20 wines when we visited! Try: Horton Petite Manseng, a fragrant white with a tad (5 %) Viognier and Rkatsiteli, named “Best in Show” at the 2019 Virginia Governor’s Cup Awards in February. the estate is now run by Horton’s wife, Sharon, and daughter, Shannon, whom we interviewed on The Connected Table in November 2020 (link to podcast)

Shenandoah AVA

The Shenandoah Valley stretches from Winchester to Roanoke. Driving the rural roads, one can’t help but pull over to take Instagram-worthy photos of historic farmhouses and pastures of grazing cows and sheep. In the distance, the Blue Ridge Mountains stretch to the east and the Appalachians and Allegheny Plateau to the west.

Bluestone Vineyards. The Hartman family makes small-batch wines from estate-grown grapes Try: Bluestone Chardonnay (100%), aged on lees and in French oak and Acacia barrels for perfect balance and texture and Bluestone Petite Manseng. We visited with family winemaker, Lee Hartman, in this edition of The Connected Table Live (link to podcast)

We recommend Bluestone’s 2019 Petit Manseng which is among the 2021 Virginia Governor’s Cup Case top 12 highest ranking red and white wines. Petite Manseng does well in Virginia, and this is one of our favorites.  Fermented in oak and aged on the lees for 10 months, this wine’s is a more citrusy versus creamy style of Petit Manseng with a nice, long finish and great minerality. SRP: $24.50.

Bluestone Vineuard
Bluestone Vineyards Manor House and Vineyards: Bessie Black Photography

CrossKeys Vineyard, Mt. Crawford. The Bakhtiar family named this palatial winery with an on-site café after the historic Cross Keys Tavern which served as a community gathering place in the 1800s and housed wounded soldiers during the infamous Battle of Cross Keys. Try: Fiore, a refreshing rosé made from Chambourcin and Cabernet Franc- a Silver Finalist for Virginia’s 2019 Governor’s Cup.

Middleburg AVA

Dotted with palatial estates and horse farms, it’s hard to believe the bustle of Washington DC is only an hour’s drive away.  Middleburg is truly a country retreat for the city weary and country squires.

Linden Vineyards, Linden. Owner Jim Law is one of the most respected vintners in the state. Located in the Blue Ride Mountains 60 miles west of Washington, D.C., The off-the-beaten path drive is well worth it the destination! Law produces stunning, limited edition Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Bordeaux blend reds. We chatted with Jim Law in this edition of The Connected Table Live (2nd guest). (link to podcast).

We recommend trying the Hardscrabble Chardonnay.  Produced from estate grown grapes from Linden’s signature vineyard, this wine offers aromas of ripe pear and grilled peach with vanilla toast and nutmeg with a creamy texture combined with balanced acidity. SRP $48.

Hardscrabble Vineyard at Linden Vineyards
Hardscrabble Vineyard at Linden Vineyards

Boxwood Estate Winery, Middleburg. One of Virginia’s earliest horse farms, this eighteenth century estate focuses on premium estate-grown wines in the Bordeaux style.

Slater Run Vineyards, Upperville. This 300-year-old family-run farm along Goose Creek focuses on making classic wines using French varietals under the guidance of French winemaker Katell Griaud.

Places to stay:

The Berkley Hotel, Richmond An upscale hotel centrally located.

The Red Fox Inn & Tavern, Middleburg. This luxury inn dates to 1728 and is in the heart of Hunt Country. Try the Virginia peanut soup!

Inn at Little Washington, Washington. This is a tiny town with a big reputation thanks to Chef/Owner Patrick O’Connell, who runs this luxury inn with a Michelin three-star restaurant.

The 1804 Inn at Barboursville Vineyards: The historic inn located on the expansive winery property is the perfect place to unwind after a day of tasting and sumptuous dinner at Palladio, Barboursville’s excellent Italian restaurant.

1804 Inn at Barboursville Vineyards
1804 Inn at Barboursville Vineyards

Planning a Trip The Virginia Wine Marketing Board has a helpful website listing wineries as well as producers of local ciders and mead. www.virginiawine.org

Learn more…..

In this episode of The Connected Table SIPS, Frank Morgan, Host of Virginia Wine Chat and Drink What You Like, discusses Virginia’s different appellations and a few standout grapes, including Petit Manseng, Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. We taste selections from three Virginia producers that we have visited: Bluestone Vineyards, Linden Vineyards and Barboursville Vineyards.

Frank Morgan, Host of Virginia Wine Chat
Frank Morgan, Host of Virginia Wine Chat

 

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A Must -Visit Museum For Southern Food & Beverage

For anyone curious about southern food and beverage culture, a visit to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (a.k.a. SoFAB) is a must-stop when you visit New Orleans. Located at 1504 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard, the museum is chock full of culinary culture and ephemera, ranging from the history of Popeye’s Fried Chicken and traditional New Orleans foods to the many foods, products and culinary curiosities native to each southern state. There is a demonstration kitchen; cooking classes and other educational programs are offered regularly. www.southernfood.org

Inside SOFAB. Museum hours are Thursday to Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

SoFAB also houses the Museum of American Cocktail (MOTAC), a fascinating history of America’s cocktail culture, and the John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library, containing over 11,000 volumes of culinary books, food and cocktail menus, pamphlets, archival documents and a growing number of important collections, other literature and ephemera, collected by and donated to SoFAB. It’s also home to the Nitty Grits Podcast Network, a selection of audio and video podcasts addressing food and drink topics.

The museum may appear small at first but, trust us when we tell you to take your time walking through the exhibits. There is much to digest, especially if you enjoy learning about the history of food and drink. The exhibits on New Orleans’ culinary history alone, ranging from the impact of Hurricane Katrina to the history of cooking with beans and a tribute to the late Leah Chase, offer much to reflect on.

Learn the history of New Orleans' famous Popeye's fried chicken and its dynamic founder, Al Copeland.
Learn the history of New Orleans’ famous Popeye’s fried chicken and its dynamic founder, Al Copeland.

Meet SoFAB’s Founder

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) was founded in 2004 by Elizabeth Williams, who wanted a place where the intersection between culture and food could be studied. The museum began with pop-up exhibits and was the first official exhibit for what is now the Museum of American Cocktail. Over time, individuals began donating family artifacts to the museum, requiring the need for more space. SoFAB has been at its current location since 2014.

Williams, who joined us as our guest on The Connected Table LIVE May 5th, was born and raised in New Orleans to a family with Sicilian heritage. She notes in her bio that she was “always fascinated by the way the lure of nutmeg and peppercorns motivated the exploration of the world.”

Elizabeth Williams, President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation
Elizabeth Williams, President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation

A lawyer by training, Williams has had a long career working with foundations and museums. She served as President & CEO of the University of New Orleans Foundation and UNO Research and Technology Foundation, Inc. working in foundation budget management and financing, development and fundraising and management for properties including UNO Studio Center, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the D-Day Museum, now the National World War II Museum.

Since 2004 she has served as founding President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation and established the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. She has researched and written on the subject of food policy and is coauthor with Stephanie Jane Carter of The Encyclopedia of Law and Food (Greenwood Publishing, 2011).

Over lunch at Café Reconcile, a nonprofit restaurant and hospitality training ground for at-risk youth ages 16 to 24, Williams shared some of her projects for the National Food & Beverage Foundation, which includes the cookbook library and culinary archives, the SoFAB Meat Lab, a state-of-the-art facility offering classes and demonstrations on everything meat-related, from butchering to grilling, and the Nitty Grits podcast studio and other programs around culinary history and education.

SoFAB’s repository library includes The John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library  which contains over 11,000 volumes of culinary books, food and cocktail menus, pamphlets, archival documents and a growing number of important collections, other literature and ephemera, collected by and donated to the Southern Food & Beverage Museum.  The collection is non-circulating but available for reference. The library also contains a collection of books written by members of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a nonprofit organization of leading women in food fine beverage and hospitality.

Williams is encyclopedic on food and drink culture, especially when it comes to New Orleans. Listen to our conversation on everything from Mississippi tamales and Alabama white sauce to New Orleans Krewe of Red Beans on this edition of The Connected Table. Click below or this link

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“Bald” Peanuts + Oysters in Apalachicola

“Ma’am, what’s your preferred rice?” the woman on the other end of the phone call asked? Confused by the question, my food-centric mind drifted to forbidden black rice or jasmine rice, my two favorites. I asked her to repeat the question. After all, my call was to schedule COVID-19 tests for David and myself. Why would rice matter? Third attempt to clarify the question, she asks, “Are you Caucasian or black?” OK, she’s asking about our race, not rice.

Boiled peanuts are sold by the bag.

I may be a native southerner, but deep south cotton mouth is thicker than my ears are used to. “Bald peanuts” are boiled peanuts, and you pick up “ersters” and “shrump” from local seafood shacks. That’s life here in the Florida’s Panhandle known as “the Forgotten Coast,” where we are “rat now’ (a.k.a. right now). Apalachicola, Eastpoint and St. George’s Island are hours from resort development and crowded beaches further west on the Emerald Coast, and locals want it to stay that way. “Don’t tell people about us,” they write in a private Facebook group.

Well, sorry folks, but we like to share stories about interesting places and support local businesses. We happen to have a mutual passion for oysters. Here in Oyster City (a.k.a. Apalachicola) we enjoy a daily dozen slurp washed down with a cold Oyster City Brewing Company “Mangrove” IPA in the afternoons. (and recently Paumanok Chenin Blanc)!

Jeff Tilley teaches us  to shuck oysters
Jeff Tilley teaches us to shuck oysters

This week on The Connected Table LIVE we visited with Jeff Tilley, co-owner with his son, Reid Tilley, of Oyster Boss in Sopchoppy, Florida. Oyster Boss sells to restaurants, and the Sopchoppy retail outlet caters to drop ins and now has a growing ecommerce business launched during the pandemic. www.oysterboss.com

Apalachicola oysters have long been prized by bivalve fans, from chefs to consumers, but Tilley shared with us the challenges facing the industry as a result in changes in the water quality, resource mismanagement and the global sea level rise, among other reasons. Most are the result of human intervention. Pollution, runoff and waste disposal are all taking a toll on Florida’s coastal water system. Climate change is also a factor. The area has been impacted by drought and by Hurricane Michael, a category five that slammed the Panhandle in 2018. Much of the eye hit further west around Mexico Beach and Panama City, but we still saw some storm damage in Port St. Joe.

oysters on the half sheel
Did you know oysters are loaded with zinc, copper and vitamin B12- so good for the immune system!

Last year The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to shut down oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay through 2025, severely impacting an industry crucial to this region’s economy.  Apalachicola Bay historically produced 90% of Florida’s oysters and 10% of the nation’s supply.  Many restaurants rely on farmed oysters from Florida and Texas, although you can still find wild-caught from other regions of Florida.

Oyster Boss sources its farmed oysters from Alligator Point in Franklin County, where the water has a higher salinity resulting in a buttery, mild, salty oyster. Further south in northwest central Florida near Yankeetown (Levy County) Oyster Boss sources wild -caught oysters, that are plump, succulent and briney. Tilley brought us bags of both to sample, gave us a lesson on shucking and provided us with some education on the reproductive system of oysters.

One perfect pearl of an oyster.

Tilley is also a red mullet fan. These fish like to jump in the water, although we still have not tasted. He started the Facebook group, Wet Net Mullet Group, now with 12,000 members. “There is a lot of seafood power in this group,” he shared.

Shucking prowess is akin to having good knife skills. And the right knife. Tilley uses a knife called “Toadfish” which Oyster Boss sells. You need a sturdy grip and a glove. Find the “lip” of the oyster, insert the blade and start moving it back and forth until the shell starts to open slightly. Then, insert deeper. It can take some arm muscle and definitely nimble wrist action.

David shucks oysters
David shucks oysters

If you love pristine places to visit, care about sustainable aquaculture and are oyster lovers like we are, you’ll enjoy our conversation with Jeff Tilley. Listen here:

and share this link with friends: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/209-the-connected-table-live-27073513/episode/fla-gulf-coast-oyster-boss-jeff-77121731/

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Sipping Alsace Wines with Famille Cattin

Considered one of the world’s great wine regions, France’s Alsace has long been a player on the international stage with its exceptional still and sparkling wines. With 12 generations at the helm, the Cattin family has been at the center of this region’s wine production since 1720.

Cattin family

France, you say, has many wine regions, so what sets Alsace apart? While France does boast a large number of regions devoted to making wine, most are warm climate areas where red wines dominate. Alsace, with its moderate climate and northerly geographic position next to Germany, is known for its production of white wines, and so holds a special place in the often-complicated world of French winemaking. Let’s take a closer look.

Jacques & Anais Cattin
Jacques and Anaïs Sirop Cattin

Domaine Joseph Cattin (www.cattin.fr) is the largest independent family-owned winery in Alsace and is located in the small village of Voegtlinshoffen, just South of Colmar. Now run by husband-wife family members, Jacques and Anaïs Sirop Cattin, the winery makes wines across the full spectrum of what Alsace offers, with particular emphasis on Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and their self-professed specialty, Crémant d’Alsace sparkling wine – all of which are widely available in the U.S.

Cattin's Hatschbourg vineyard
Cattin’s Hatschbourg vineyard dates back to 1188. Throughout the centuries vineyards were planted by Augustinian monks, bishops and even a Hungarian Queen. Today it cultivates Alsace’s four “noble grape varieties” – Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Vines are planted on slopes, with an altitude varying from 200 to 330 m. In the heavy, deep and well-drained soils composed of marl, clay and limestone. (reference www.cattin.fr)

The family currently owns just over 160 acres of vines throughout the area, and like a majority of Alsace producers, farms their vineyards organically. “We’ve been farming this land for 12 generations,” said Anaïs Cattin, “by farming our vineyards sustainably, we have a better chance to ensure this winery will produce for the next twelve generations.” Cattin’s wines, all certified vegan, by the way, are produced in two separate wineries, one for still wines , the other dedicated exclusively to the production of Crémant d’Alsace.

Joseph Cattin
Winery namesake Joseph Cattin was a viticulturalist whose expertise in grafting rootstock played an important role in saving Alsace vineyards from phylloxera in the 19th century.

Cattin’s whites are textbook Alsace wines, with each expression showing true varietal character whether made as AOC classified wine or coming from specific “Cru d’Alsace” vineyards – those next level properties showing unique terroir that are designated as the best vineyards in Alsace. A hallmark of Alsace wines is their beautiful compatibility with food. “While they can be consumed anytime, these are food wines,’ said Jacques Cattin, “their weight, acidity, and depth of flavor all condone pairing with not just the local cuisine of Alsace, like our famous choucroute, but with a variety of other foods, including cheeses, meats, and even fish.”

Crémant d’Alsace, sparkling wines made in the Méthode Traditionelle, are vinified in the same way as Champagne, but utilize the grapes varieties of Alsace in addition to those traditionally used for making champagne. The most popular styles are Brut, usually made with local white grapes but can also include Chardonnay; and Brut Rosé, which can only be made with Pinot Noir.

“Alsace’s dry climate and cool evenings during the growing season create the perfect combination for giving our grapes the acidity needed to make excellent sparkling wines,” said Jacques of his family’s Crémant d’Alsace. “And not having to rely exclusively on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, two of the industry’s most expensive grape varieties, allows us to make wines of individuality and also keep costs in check, which in turn allows us to provide wines of great value for the price.”

With most Crémant d’Alsace wines priced at under $25, it’s a win-win in our opinion, and helps make Crémant d’Alsace Brut and Rosé some of France’s best sparkling wines.

Cattin wines we tasted; all available in the U.S.A.  Imported by T. Edwards Wines.

Cattin wines

Riesling AOC Alsace 2018, SRP: $17. Appearance: bright and pale yellow with green reflections. Nose: mineral with citrus flowers. Palate: fresh, dry and mineral, with grapefruit flavors. Pairings: sushi, choucroute, goat cheese.

Gewurztraminer AOC Alsace 2017, SRP: $18. Appearance: clear, pale gold. Nose: perfumed nose with lychee and mango aromas and a delicate touch of rose water. Palate: ripe exotic fruits with floral notes; well-balanced between spiciness and freshness; a long-lasting finish. Pairings: curries, chicken or vegetable chili, strong cheeses (e.g., real Munster cheese from Alsace).

AOC Crémant d’Alsace Brut, SRP: $22. Appearance: bright pale gold; fine bubbles. Nose: fresh; green apple and white flowers. Palate: fresh and dry palate; lively acidity balanced with fruitiness of green apple and lemon; fine and creamy bubbles. Pairings: apertif, fish, white meats.

AOC Crémant d’Alsace Rosé, SRP: $20. Appearance: clear; elegant salmon pink; abundant and dynamic bubbles. Nose: fruity especially red fruits such as cherry and black currants. Palate: refreshing and creamy with fruity aromas such as strawberries and lemon. A clean and long lasting finish. Pairings: spicy Asian  dishes, fruit desserts.

If you visit Cattin Winery, try the wine and cheese pairing. We learned Jacques Cattin is a cheese enthusiast who studied cheesemaking.

Listen to The Connected Table Sips with Jacques and Anaïs Sirop Cattin

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Alsace Grand Cru Wines: A Best Kept Secret Revealed

Grand Cru wines are the cream of the crop in regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux, but here’s a tip: Alsace also makes outstanding grand cru wines, and they deliver exceptional quality for value.

We visited with Georges Lorentz, seventh generation of family-run Domaine Gustave Lorentz and winery president. Established in 1836, Gustave Lorentz is located in the heart of Alsace’s Grand Cru wine country near Altenberg de Bergheim. The winery is the essence of Alsace: historic, decidedly French and welcoming to visitors.

Georges Lorentz
Georges Lorentz

While we were familiar with the fact that 90 percent of Alsace wine production is white, we learned a few key points during our discussion with Lorentz:

Alsace has a unique micro-climate

Located in northeast France bordering Germany and Switzerland, Alsace is a small region with big secret Lorentz shared with us: “Alsace is protected by the Vosges Mountains and has a unique micro-climate that delivers drier and warmer temperatures, ideal growing conditions. In fact, Colmar is considered the second driest town in France.” Most producers practice organic and biodynamic farming. Gustave Lorentz has farmed organically since 2012.

Altenberg-Bergheim slopes
The Altenberg region in Bergheim is the heart of the Alsace Grand Cru wine country

Alsace Grand Cru wines are a rare find

While Alsace produces seven grape varieties, only Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Muscat are permitted in the Grand Cru regions of Kanzlerberg and Altenberg de Bergheim near Gustave Lorentz. Here, vineyard plots are small, with concentrated plantings and lower yields in soils that are mainly clay and limestone, producing exceptional grapes. The wines deliver more complexity and can age well. Lorentz told us, “Alsace Grand Cru wines represent only five percent of production, so they are a rare find and exceptional value.” Most average $35/45/bottle.

Gustave Lorentz Cremant d'Alsace
Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’Alsace- versatile and food friendly

Alsace Is a top sparkling wine region

Alsace is the oldest and largest producer of crémant, sparkling wines made in the traditional method. One can find crémants made from blends of Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir. Chardonnay is also permitted to make Crémantd’Alsace. These wines are elegant and refined, delivering great value as well, averaging $30 bottle.


Alsace vs. Germany- Styles

Historically, Alsace has bounced between French and German occupation. However, the heritage, culture, and wines are very much French, as Lorentz explained: “Both Alsace and Germany used the same seven different grape varieties; but Alsace’s vinification style is decidedly French. Germans tend to enjoy drinking wine outside their meals so vinify their wines accordingly, making wines lighter in body, alcohol and style, and also sweeter with less acidity. Conversely, Alsace wines a made to enjoy with food and therefore made with more body, higher alcohol and also drier with better acidity.”

We were impressed with the finesse of the Gustave Lorentz wines we tasted:

Gustave Lorentz Riesling Reserve
Gustave Lorentz Riesling Reserve (importer: Quintessential Wines)

 

Riesling Reserve2017, 100% Riesling with white floral and citrus notes, fresh acidity and a hint of minerality. The finish is dry and fresh. A nice aperitif wine or paired with seafood, white meat chicken or a classic Alsace Choucroute (pork and sauerkraut).
12.3% ABV SRP $21

Gustave Lorentz Pinot Gris (importer: Quintessential Wines)
Gustave Lorentz Pinot Gris (importer: Quintessential Wines)

Pinot Gris 2018, 100% Pinot Gris, that, while white, shows more like a red wine in structure. Creamy texture and underlying yet distinct backbone of acidity, it shows notes of pear and quince with a subdued smokiness in the finish. A beautiful wine that pairs well with roasted chicken, venison, or cheeses like Comté or Parmesan. 13.5% ABV, SRP $24.

Gustave Lorentz Cremant d'Alsace

Crémant d’Alsace Brut, 34% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Blanc, 33% Pinot Noir. Made in the méthode traditionnelle to bring a refinement to the bubbles. Zesty and crisp with notes of lemon rind and a hint of red berry. Made our mouths water for a plate of smoked gouda and country ham, or a plate of grilled shrimp. 12% ABV, SRP $26

Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé, a 100% Pinot Noir made in the méthode traditionnelle. Pale salmon pink in color, this crémant is lovely to look at as well as to sip. Fresh and fruity with flavors of wild strawberry and raspberry, softer palate and more roundness. 12 % ABV SRP $25 Enjoy with a heartier dish like roast pork, pasta with tomato sauce or to complement a light fruit dessert. 12% ABV, SRP $25

Gustave Lorentz wines are imported in the U.S.A. by Quintessential Wines. www.gustavelorentz.com

Listen to our SIPs podcast with Georges Lorentz, seventh generation family member and president of Domaine Gustave Lorentz:

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The Beaujolais Wine Route: A Snapshot

The Beaujolais region in France has been designated a “Paie d’art et d’histoire,” recognizing its centuries-old heritage, picturesque villages, historic sights and many wine estates. Nearly 200 wineries are open to the public.

The official Beaujolais Wine Route covers roughly 85 miles. To the south are the larger regions of Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages. Moving north you’ll find the 10 smaller crus. Like the wines themselves, each appellation has a unique character based on its climate, altitude and diversity of soils which include an indigenous pink granite, clay, schist and limestone.

Map of beau
Map of the Beaujolais Terroir

Here’s a snapshot, of the Beaujolais Wine Route:

Comprised of 72 villages, AOC Beaujolais, the southernmost appellation, is three times larger than neighboring Beaujolais-Villages, to the east. While reds made from the Gamay grape dominate, one can experience vibrant rosés and white wines made with Chardonnay. Whites from the Beaujolais appellation can carry hints of peach and apricots ,while Beaujolais Villages whites can have aromas of pear, fresh almond and tropical fruit and a touch of almond and vanilla.

Pierres Doree
The Golden Stones (Les Pierres Dorées) Photo: www.beaujolais.com

Here are some fun facts about these two areas: In AOC Beaujolais, Les Pierres Dorées, which translates to “golden stones,” refers to a cluster of picturesque villages dotted with large golden stones that can be quite spectacular in the sunlight. In fact, this area has earned the nickname “Little Tuscany,” thanks to its steep hills and gorgeous landscape. One example is the hilltop town of Oingt ( oh-engt), which is named one of the most beautiful villages in France.

The hilltop village of Oingt has been called one of the most beautiful villages in France. Photo: www.beaujolais.com

For a nice introduction to the region, visit the historical capital of Beaujeu (BO-JU), located in Beaujolais-Villages. The Beaujolais Museum has information on the region’s viticultural history.

Venturing northward lie the 10 Beaujolais crus. Cru wine styles change thanks to geology and climate. One can try Beaujolais wines that are softer like Brouilly, Fleurie and Chenas to more supple and structured like Julienas, Morgon and Moulin A Vent.

Brouilly and Côte-de-Brouilly are the southernmost crus. Brouilly wines are more fruity- plummy with some minerality. Côte de Brouilly wines are slightly fuller bodied. This is due to soils and elevation. This area has a mixture of four soil types: pink granite (unique to Beaujolais), limestone marl, river rocks and clay.

The chapel of Mont Brouilly, in Beaujolais, Rhone department, France

Mount Brouilly straddles the two AOCs -Brouilly at the base and Côte-de-Brouilly on the mountain slopes where vineyards grow in rocky, volcanic soils, some dating to Roman time. At the summit of Mt Brouilly is Notre- Dame- aux Rayzin (The Chapel of Our Lady of the Grapes). It was built in 1857 to protect the vineyards.

Venturing north, Régnié is a small cru spread over just one square mile with pink granite, mineral-rich terrain. Grapes are grown on hillside around 1,150 feet above sea level. Régnié produces aromatic wines with notes of raspberry, red currant, blackberry and a touch of spice.

Morgon-Saint-Joseph-Cru-du-Beaujolais-Gillet-Inter-Beaujolais-

Morgon is the second largest Cru after Brouilly with 250 producers in 4.5 square miles. It is named after the local hamlet of Morgon. The soil in Morgon is rich in iron oxide with traces of manganese and volcanic rock. Morgon wines are fuller-bodied with a deep garnet color and favors of ripe cherry, peach, apricot and plum.

Chiroubles has been called “the most Beaujolais of all the crus.” This region has a higher altitude, 1,475 above sea level and cooler temperatures Wines are ruby red with light floral votes of violet and peony.

Fleurie, a northern cru, covers just three-square miles. The soil here is almost entirely made up of the pinkish granite unique to this part of Beaujolais. Fleurie produces softer, aromatic wines with floral and fruity essences of iris, violet, rose, red fruit and peach.

Le Moulin A Vent in the backdrop of winter vineyards. Photo: www.beaujolais.com

The highest rated of all the Beaujolais crus, Moulin-à-Vent is ruby to dark garnet in color with lush floral and fruit aromas. It’s a wine that evolves and becomes more complex with age, delivering more earthiness and spice. Moulin a Vent means windmill, a nod to the giant windmill located in the town of Romaneche-Thorins

Chenas in a small cru located in a mountainous area that was once a dense forest before King Phillippe V ordered the trees be repaved with vines. Chenas is considered one of the finest crus, whose garnet-ruby red wines can be aged for a few years. Chenas wines were a favorite of King Louis XIII.

Vineyards in Julianas

Moving northwest in Beaujolais, Juliénas produces earthier wines with a deep ruby red color and strawberry, violet, red currant and peony characteristics. Juliénas are powerful wines with essences of vanilla and cinnamon laced into the red fruits. The name, Julienas is taken from Julius Caesar; many vines here date to the Gallo-Roman period.

Beaujolais’s northernmost cru is called Saint-Amour. Wines can range from soft, fruit and floral to spicier, with notes of cherry kirsch. Saint-Amour is known as the most romantic Beaujolais. In fact, 20 to 25 percent of Saint-Amour sales occur in February around Valentine’s Day.

Now that we took you on a snapshot tour, we hope you are ready to taste. For more information on Beaujolais and its wines visit www.beaujolais.com

Listen to our SIPS podcast on The Beaujolais Wine Route below (stream), or click here: https://bit.ly/TCT_BeaujolaisAppellations

 

 

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Virginia’s Barboursville Vineyards: Southern Hospitality with an Italian Accent

We’re fans of Virginia wines and the region itself and made our third visit to explore the state in October. The weather was perfect and fall foliage was just starting. We spent three nights staying at the 1804 Inn at Barboursville Vineyards, located in Central Virginia’s Monticello AVA.

This was our first visit to Barboursville, and we produced a live show with general manager and winemaker, Luca Paschina, who shared the estate’s history over a dinner he prepared for us with a selection on Barboursville’s wines.

 

Luca Paschina has been the winemaker at Barboursville since 1990.

Barboursville’s America-Italy Connection

Barboursville was the 19th century estate of Virginia’s Governor, James Barbour, a colleague and good friend of Thomas Jefferson. The two were practically neighbors- in rural Virginia that can mean several miles away which many may still say is “up the road a ways.” Jefferson’s historic home, Monticello, is about a 20- minute drive near Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia.

Barboursville Estate (photo from winery website www.bbvwine.com

)

Historically, Barboursville was a farming estate for sheep. Like many centuries-old farms, it changed hands over time. In 1976 Italian vintner, Gianni Zonin, acquired the estate to create Barboursville Vineyards, the only winery for the Zonin family outside Italy. This was a bold move for the Zonins, whose family dates back seven generations, and it marked a major milestone in then-sleepy Virginia wine history. The Zonins happen to be the largest privately family-run wine company in Italy. By selecting Virginia over locales like Napa and New York’s Finger Lakes to start a U.S. winery, the Zonins made quite a splash in the wine news world.

First grape plantings at Barboursville Vineyards in the 1970s
Gianni Zonin pictures at the first grape planting at Barboursville Vineyards in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Barboursville Vineyards

Luca Paschina has served as general manager and winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards since 1990. Paschina is from a Piemontese winemaking family and is doing some amazing things with Italian varietals in this area of Central Virginia, notably Fiano, Vermentino and Nebbiolo. Barboursville’s selections also include Viognier and Cabernet Franc, which both flourish in this area. Most well-known of the estate’s wines is Octagon, Barboursville’s signature Bordeaux style blend.

There is also an onsite grape drying facility to make passito.
The inn itself also offers some smaller houses. When we were there it was quiet aside from two or three other couples staying on-site. However, the tasting rooms, inside and out, were busy with day trippers enjoying wines and a light lunch from the on-site Palladio restaurant. The tasting room team did a great job managing safe social distancing. Throughout our Virginia winery visits, everyone was incredibly careful about this.

What’s left of James Barbour’s home, designed by Thomas Jefferson and destroyed in a fire.

Paschina noted that the tasting room is open every day except three holidays, and one can visit the property and the ruins of Barbour’s house, which was designed by Jefferson. Sadly, the house was destroyed in a Christmas Day fire in 1884. The estate also has some stunning gardens and a patio to relax with a glass or two of wine and gaze at the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

Barboursville Harvest Toast
Luca Paschina and Fernando Franco toast the end of harvest.

On our final day at Barboursville, harvest ended as we were saying our goodbyes. Vineyard manager, Fernando Franco made the final “victory lap” through the vineyards and up to the tasting patio in the big blue harvester. Out came the cameras and a bottle of Barboursville sparkling wine which Franco sabered. Glasses were raised in celebration to toast the end of a harvest that, many local vintners admitted to us, has its challenges thanks to a frost in May which had everyone scrambling to protect the buds. Paschina made a speech and thanked his team for their hard work. What a special moment to capture and savor in the vineyards among friends!

The Connected Table Live at Barboursville with Luca Paschina.

Here are the show notes and link. You can also hear it anytime on your favorite podcast platform.


 

Photos not provided by Barboursville Vineyards were taken by The Connected Table.

 

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Road Trip To Western NY – Buffalo and Niagara Falls

Greetings from “Roam.” That is our current state of being….wherever we roam on an indefinite road trip. In August we sold our house in the Hudson Valley, which we referred to as “Camp David.” That is one reason you have not heard from us in several weeks. Selling your home and most of your possessions and packing what is left into a 16 x 10 -foot storage Pod is a job unto itself. Watching the Pod leave our driveway August 11 to rest somewhere in upstate New York until we plot a permanent move was emotional. But seeing an “open road” ahead is exhilarating!

Camp David sets up at the Residence Inn located in downtown Buffalo. Western NY is known for its exceptional stone fruits, and these peaches were some of the juiciest we tasted. The Niagara region wines exceeded our expectations, especially the Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir we tasted. Here are a few selections we picked up at Schultze Vineyards, Chateau Niagara and Arrowhead Springs.

We kept a few key things for our #TheConnectedTableRoadTrip culinary survival kit: Riedel glassware, utensils, cooking knives, cookware and spices. Our handy VinGardeValise® wine suitcase is packed with select bottles. And we have our computers and radio equipment to write and broadcast from the road. What more do we need? Oh, right, the dog… Yes, @sazeracsays is with us and posting as we #roamNewYork.

Currently we have been spending time upstate in the beautiful Finger Lakes region having just returned from a visit to the Niagara region and Buffalo, where David’s family settled some two centuries ago. We visited Ransomville (named for the family) and David was able visit the town historical society which had a section dedicated to his ancestors.

David at Ransomville Historical Society
David explores his family roots at the Ransomville Historical Society.

Dubbed the Queen City of the Great Lakes back at the turn of the last century, Buffalo’s stunning architecture and Frederick Law Olmstead-designed parks impressed. We also visited David’s grandparents’ (Ransom) home, now occupied by a law firm which has an appointed “house historian” named Amanda who was thrilled to meet an original Ransom!

Lobster Ramen
Lobster Ramen at Dobutsu Buffalo which focused on dishes from the American and Asian Pacific. Chef/Owner James Roberts is from New Orleans.

Buffalo restaurants are starting to serve inside – safely socially distanced- and continue to offer patio, takeout and delivery options. We visited Dobutsu, which serves an Asian-Pacific menu, and tried the lobster ramen and the spicy rice with pork. Owner/Chef James Roberts also owns Toutant, which focuses on specialties from Louisiana. Roberts resettled in Buffalo after Hurricane Katrina. www.dobutsubuffalo.com www.toutantbuffalo.com

Sea Scallops Ceviche at Marble & Rye, Buffalo www.marbleandrye.net
Sea Scallops Ceviche at Marble & Rye, Buffalo www.marbleandrye.net

The other was Marble & Rye, where the menu was gastropub with a twist. Standout dishes for us were the spinach ricotta dumplings with pan-fried smelts tossed in a spicy puttanesca sauce, Asian noodles in peanut butter sauce and sea scallops ceviche with rice crackers. The beverage program, overseen by bar manager Megan Lee, would rival any in the country, and as the establishment’s name suggests, there is a strong focus on Rye spirits.

Beef on Weck at Colter Bay Grill www.colterbaybuffalo.com
Beef on Weck at Colter Bay Grill www.colterbaybuffalo.com

Of course, David enjoyed the classic Buffalo sandwich, Beef on Weck (thinly sliced roast beef on a kummelweck roll (sometimes spelled kimmelweck) served with horseradish and beef jus) and Buffalo chicken wings. While The Anchor Bar can lay claim to inventing this spicy dish, good wings can be found all over the city, and there is considerable debate on who makes the best. Our pick? Let’s just say that those in the know head to Gabriel’s Gate in the Allentown neighborhood for theirs. www.gabrielsgate.page.tl

Mushrooms
Mushrooms from the Elmwood Village Farmers Market

Western New York is known for its stone fruits, and the bag of fresh peaches we bought were some of the juiciest we have tasted. We also purchased some gorgeous mushrooms and vegan burgers at the Elmwood Village Saturday farmer’s market. We also stopped in at several wineries (will report on that separately) and visited Niagara Falls.

at Niagara Falls
We were misted at Niagara Falls after taking the Maid of the Mist boat ride practically into Horseshoe Falls. Tip: Arrive at 8 or 8:30 to snag a first boat out and to avoid very long lines, especially now during COVID-19.

Taking the Maid of the Mist boat ride practically into Horseshoe Falls – and getting seriously misted in the process! – was a bucket list experience for both of us. We stayed on the New York side since Americans currently cannot travel to Canada due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Also, not to miss is a visit the to Martin House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This home, built in the early 1900s, belonged to Larkin Soap executive, Darwin D. Martin,  at the time one of Buffalo’s wealthiest citizens (he moved into the home in 1905). The design is Lloyd Wright’s “prairie style” with expansive. lean horizontal lines and open room layout. The Treesof Life glass windows are masterpieces in glass art design; we even saw one on display st the Corning Museum of Glass Design.

The Darwin D. Martin House in Buffalo is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces and a must-see when visiting Buffalo.
The Martin House interior once you walk in. Notice the open room format  horizontal lines.

We want to give a special shout out to Karen Fashana at Visit Buffalo Niagara for sharing tips on what to visit and where to dine www.visitbuffaloniagara.com and to Jennifer Redmond, General Manager at the Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown Buffalo, who arranged our spacious room, complete with a kitchen that offered real wine glasses and coffee mugs. Working on the roam, this hotel provided us what we needed both to relax and to work, and it is pet friendly! This hotel is located across the street from the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historical Site and is convenient to many attractions.

Buffalo (NY)’s food scene is more than its iconic chicken wings and Beef on Weck. Marble+Rye’s Christian Wilmott and team serve dishes focused on local, seasonal ingredients and craft cocktails on the episode of The Connected Table Live (second segment).