Gone with the Wine

Travel

The recap of my San Fran trip continues….

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….in wine country! Matt and I got on the road nice and early on Friday and made it to the Russian River Valley around 11. Our first stop was a small, family owned winery called Arista.

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Arista was definitely my favorite winery of the day because of the Japanese-inspired gardens and the spicy Zinfandel.

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We also made a quick stop at De La Montanya for some funky red blends and great conversation, before heading south to Kendall Jackson.
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At KJ, Chef Matt led us through a three course food-wine pairing that included seven tastes of reserve wines and farm fresh food.

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The first two pairings were white wines – a very neutral chardonnay with a salmon, cheese, and artichoke cake and a buttery chardonnay with a crab and pumpkin bisque. I don’t love chards, but the flavors all went perfectly together. I was surprised to see pumpkin on the menu, but Chef Matt explained that it has been unseasonably cold in Sonoma and the pumpkins have been perfectly preserved.

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The second course was by far my favorite because all the tastes involved perfectly cooked meats and tasty reds. We tried a buckwheat crepe with smoked harm and local Carmody cheese, a sweet tea brined pork belly slider with picked cucumbers and Syrah hoisin sauce, and braised oxtail over North Carolina (!) grits.

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The pork belly slider was PERFECT, def. my favorite of the meats. My favorite of the wines was the Trace Ridge Cab that was paired with the oxtail.

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I was pumped that the tasting included dessert wines because I really love them, but I rarely order them in restaurants. The Late Harvest Riesling was paired with an apricot + pecan tart with a meyer lemon sauce. Loved the Reising, but I would have enjoyed the tart more if it had been warm. This homemade caramel corn popcorn was paired with the Late Harvest Chardonnay. I thought popcorn was a bit of a boring choice…until the first crunch. It was covered in really sticky and thick caramel and was so good with the less-sugary chardonnay.

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This was such a sweet ending to an amazing tasting. It looks like someone else has been doing a little tasting – Jack the cat is a bit overweight:)

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We made one last stop at Ledson on our way back to the city. Though I was impressed by the beautiful grounds and castle-like structure, I didn’t think the wines were as good as some of the others. We did get to taste a tawny port that was fantastic.
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Once back in the city, we met up with my college friend, Emily, and took a nap in her gorgeous condo before getting a second wind for tacos at the fabulous Tacolicious.

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San Francisco just gets better and better – everything we had was great, from the unique margaritas to the grilled plantains to the fun dipping sauces that arrived with our THREE DOLLAR fifty cent tacos.
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I had a local fried cod and a potato + chorizo taco. Have I mentioned I love everything in the Mexican food genre?
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And because it was Friday, we made one last stop at the cutest pub, the Tipsy Pig, for a brilliant combination of bourbon, apricot-riesling jam (!!), bitters, brandied cherries, and blood orange juice. Who thinks of this stuff? Yum.
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It’s back to work in the AM, but I’ve got one more recap of my last day in the city of food coming tomorrow.
Anyone watch the Oscars?
  • Kath
    February 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I feel like I’m reading my own blog during Foodbuzz week – KJ, Arista, Tacolicious! Better make your travel plans now!

    • Laura
      February 27, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      You went to Tacolicious??? We only found it because it was the only place without a wait!

  • Mom
    February 28, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Great photos. Love the handsome kitty!