Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Port and Pate

Chocolate Pate that is.....

I often forget about ordering port with dessert. Seems I'm usually content to keep sipping whatever big red I typically have left in my glass. Or I go for a rich cup of espresso; keeps me going a little longer.

Bistro 41 (Fort Myers, FL) hosted a Women's Wine Dinner last night; serving a decadent Chocolate Pate, with fresh whipped cream and raspberry puree for the last course. Served with a  mild, young Nieport Tawny Port from Portugal, it was HEAVEN!

Chef Heath Higginbotham made a lot of women happy with that silky smooth pate; lite yet full of rich chocolate. The port was full of raspberry and raisins; a seamless pairing. BRAVO Bistro!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Getting Past The Packaging

I drank so many fabulous Pinot Noirs last week while exploring the Williamette Valley in Oregon. It's one of the most common grapes used to make Champagne and sparkling wines; so I was expecting to taste more bubbles than I did.

I asked one winemaker why more was not produced. Besides the fact that making a sparkling wine takes an entirely different effort, he confessed, in general, it is not as profitable. Bubbly takes longer to make and takes up valuable storage space.

When someone in the Eugene area suggested trying the sparkling at Domaine Meriwether, my travel partner and I were all about it. The tasting room was spacious, open and ruled by the Captain; the vineyard dog, who greeted us with a tennis ball in his mouth.

It was our last stop of the day, two sparkling wines were open along with some still wines. The NV Discovery Cuvee (blue label, $20) was acidic with flavors of pear; the Captain Clark Vintage Cuvee (green label $25) had some pleasant citrus notes and reminded me of sweet tarts. Both were enjoyable as well as affordable.

Too bad the thing we focused on while pulling away was the labeling. Yes you should buy wine based on what is inside of the bottle, but lets face it, packaging is important. Especially with the amount of good juice on store shelves. The font and text is classy, what one would expect from nice bubbly. The colored border is what my companion could not get past; wondering about the challenge of convincing someone to buy, when lined up next to other sparklers.

The point may seem petty to some, but not to those in the media, marketing, advertising, food and wine business. Looking back, if this was the only complaint of the day.....I'll take another please!

If you can get past the packaging, give Domaine Meriwether Cuvee's a try. I think you will like.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Good Morning Goodness

I woke up this morning to blustery, stormy weather from Tropical Storm Isaac. Dragging from the barometric pressure and the thought of fighting flooded roadways in to work, I willed room service to bring me a hot breakfast like the one I had at Daily Cafe in Portland, OR.

However, I'm in Southwest Florida and there is no room service.

So I found these photos closed my eyes and transported myself back a week. The Daily Cafe, in The Pearl District, was about a mile walk from my hotel downtown and well worth it.  I wish I had an entire table of people to sit with so we could each order something different and pass the plates. I wanted bites of everything on the menu but settled for the ricotta, fontina, broccolini whole grain tart, topped with an egg. A piping hot cup of Stumptown coffee in this bright, cheery space was not even an option; it was required drinking.

Daily Chef Kim Boyce is good with grains, in fact she wrote a cookbook filled with ways to incorporate them into your meals. She makes scones from buckwheat, creates her own granola and uses lots of local ingredients at the cafe. There are some regular menu items but the Daily chalkboard is where the action is. I've been told by locals that this is the best kept secret for a fabulous dinner as well. Check it out next time your in town.
(Thanks for the AWESOME tip Christopher!)

  Daily Cafe in the Pearl on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sushi and Seminoles

One of the last places you might expect to find gourmet cuisine and fresh sushi is at a casino; at least outside of Vegas. Vegas is another story altogether.

When I was asked by TOTI Media to do a chef's profile at the Seminole Casino Immokalee, FL; I had to read the email again.

The Casino recently invested a million dollars to renovate the kitchen, hired Executive Chef Greg Rosace and contracted with Chef Jochen Morczinczyk to bring JABBA Sushi to the EE-TO-LEET-KE Grill. Rosace's food is tasty and ample. Morczinczyk sushi is delightful. Not only does he roll up the standards, like the California, but he also takes creative license with other ingredients such as crawfish and jalapenos.

I'm not a big gambler. However, when my friends want to take on the tables, now I know I can belly up to a good sushi bar and wait, while they win their mortgage payment.

Look for my review in the August issues of both RSW Living and Bonita Living, on the stands now. Or look for the digital version here. Don't delay, the September issue will be out before you know it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

If The Shoe Fits

One of my favorite charity events to help host and attend every year is a high-energy fashion soiree called Love That Dress. Based on the concept of a dress swap between girlfriends, dresses are collected at fabulous parties and events prior to the big night, then resold for a fraction of their cost; proceeds benefit PACE Center For Girls in Fort Myers, Fl.

The pre-parties are almost as fun as the actual event. I attended one over the weekend (thank you Kathleen Wolter) that had my head spinning; the fashions and the SHOES! About an hour into oooooing and ahhhhing over the parade of women and their amazing pairings, I wondered why I wasn't taking photos.

Unfortunately the only camera my chic party purse contained was that on my phone. But I know my fellow shoe lovers will still appreciate this:

Tickets sell out for Love That Dress every year. I will have some to give away on 96-9 WINK-FM but don't wait to win. Buy them and be part of this fabulous night of fun and fashion. Click here for details