Food meets art at this gourmet fundraiser at the Grounds for Sculpture
Guests at the annual Grounds for Sculpture benefit enjoy gourmet snacks from some of the region's best chefs.
On Sunday, September 29th, over 1,000 guests will descend on the Grounds for Sculpture in Trenton, NJ, to nibble delicious bites, sip beer, wine and cocktails, and take in the modern art at the beautiful 42-acre sculpture garden and arboretum. Now in it's 13th year, The Epicurean Palette is an event that truly appeals to all five senses, and raises money for this cultural instution.
Dozens of purveyors and restaurants from aross the region, with Sbraga, STARR Events, La Colombe and the Philly Food Truck representing Philadelphia. Brooklyn Brewery, Weyerbacher Brewing, and Victory are highlights of the craft beer vendors, and Unionville Vineyards, Meritage Wines and Double Cross Vodka and more will provide libations. A silent auction which includes art, vacations and jewelery will help to raise even more funds for the Grounds for Sculpture.
Tickets run between $110 and $175 and are available for purchase here.
The Epicurious Blog
Eating yards of chocolate describes how two Epicurious editors started this morning. The 13th annual Chocolate Show in New York was practically a death-by-chocolate experience, but someone had to do the job. After a sustained sugar high, we have selected a few standouts that any self-respecting chocoholic shouldn&apost miss.
Our Favorites Newbies:
Aux Anysetiers du Roy
It was love at first dip. These charming French ceramic chocolate fondue pots now come in 30 white, milk, and dark chocolate flavors. Microwave-friendly, they are guaranteed to keep the chocolate warm for up to 45 minutes. Each pot can serve as many as four people, but chances are you&aposll want to share with me, myself, and I.
The unusual packaging𠅊n avocado green box with gold lettering𠅏rom this three-month-old chocolatier caught our attention. One bite of the pistachio truffle and another of the Saffron Chikki Slate (bark) with mixed nuts had us desperate to sample the company&aposs other compelling flavors, including the sake truffle and the Almond Nougatine.
More favorites after the jump.
This 100-percent Fair Trade chocolate company has been satisfying consumers&apos sweet molars since 1998. Two new limited-edition flavors are a testament to the company&aposs constant innovation: Milk Chocolate with Spiced Cookies had us daydreaming about gingerbread houses, and Dark Chocolate with Ginger and Orange, intense and refreshing, excited our taste buds.
Two We Hope Will Cross Borders:
Mary Chocolate, Japan
The combination of sweet and salty took on a whole new meaning when we tried four new varieties of chocolate-covered rice crackers created by the venerable Mary Chocolate of Tokyo, Japan. The two knockout flavors were a milk chocolate and green tea combination and a dark chocolate and wasabi. Though not currently available in the United States, Mary Chocolate has a presence in 2,000 stores abroad, making it clear that these delicacies should hit our shores sometime soon.
Fika Choklad, New York City
The Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water chocolate creations (to be eaten in that order) procured from Fika&aposs executive pastry chef and chocolatier, Håkan Mårtensson, are pure genius. Earth incorporates watermelon Pop Rocks, while Fire blends cinnamon with a touch of Tabasco. These are memorable, and we hope they will be more readily available some time in 2011. For now, a Fika chocolate experience can be had in person at one of the company&aposs three New York City coffee bars.
Raw and Vegan:
The entire Gnosis chocolate line is raw (that is, created at very low temperatures), vegan, and free of refined sugars—not to mention produced and packaged sustainably. But most importantly, these bars are just plain delicious. The latest varieties are Dazzling Darkness, Superberry Lime, Sacred Feminine, and Zero Glycemic. But we won&apost keep you away from the Fleur de Sel, because that just wouldn&apost be right.
The 70-percent and 100-percent cacao raw bars by this Ecuadoran organic chocolate company are worthy of any secret chocolate stash. These bars are kosher, dairy, and soy- and gluten-free, and because they are created at low temperatures, they contain more antioxidants than traditionally processed bars. And yet, somehow, they are so smooth and rich that we didn&apost notice their added benefits.
Hershey Partnership Hosts 13th Annual Soup Cook-Off
Hershey may be famous for its namesake milk chocolate, but this weekend’s visitors to the Sweetest Place on Earth are in for a more savory treat instead.
On Saturday, October 1, join professional and nonprofessional soup aficionados for the 13th annual Hershey Partnership Soup Cook-Off ! All ages are welcome to sample a wide variety of soups and cast their vote for the best soup in Hershey. At the end of the taste testing fun, votes are tallied and awards are presented to the top 3 chefs in each category.
The Hershey Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to “making the greater Hershey area a better place to visit, live and conduct business,” hosts the Soup Cook-Off every year to provide local chefs the opportunity to showcase their talent to the Hershey community. Additionally, a portion of the event’s proceeds are donated to the Hershey Volunteer Fire Company s o that they may continue diligently serving our community.
Visitors can expect to broaden their soup palette at the event, as the competition’s past winners have entered recipes ranging from Blue Crab and Corn Chowder to Organic Buffalo Chicken Soup. You never know what new twists or classic favorites a chef may create, so you’ll want to see for yourself what each brings to the table!
Event attendees will not only look forward to delicious soup samplings, but can also vie for $1000s worth of door prizes provided by Hershey Partnership members. One grand prize winner will be drawn as well, so you won’t want to miss your shot at some great prizes!
The Soup Cook-Off is held at the Hershey Volunteer Fire Company and runs from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, with an award ceremony to follow at 2:30 pm. Winners will be named in both the professional and non-professional division.
Tickets can be pre-purchased for this “souper” community event for $10 (adults) or $5 (children 10 and under) or purchased at the door for $12. Join us on Saturday for this fantastic event or “No soup for you!”
Celebrity Chefs to Convene at the 13th Annual San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival
There are few annual events that get me as excited as the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival—a week-long extravaganza showcasing the best of San Diego’s flourishing food scene and the talented chefs (and other skilled food and beverage purveyors) that make it all happen.
As one of the largest wine and food events of its kind in the United States and the largest in all of Southern California, the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival (now in its 13 th year) is an action-packed week brimming with cooking classes, tasting panels, celebrity chef dinners and multiple tasting events—the most notable of which in my opinion is the Lexus Grand Tasting event, this year on Saturday, November 19, which tops off what’s always a truly exceptional epicurean experience.
Indeed, the magnitude of culinary prowess and F&B ingenuity displayed at the Lexus Grand Tasting, which includes an international showcase of the world’s premiere wines and spirits, makes attendance an absolute must for hardcore foodies and more tentative dish dabblers, alike.
The following are some tasty details on the upcoming event gleaned from a news bulletin I received, beckoning you to come and enjoy some of the finest fare that “America’s Finest City” has to offer in fortuitous uber-concentrated form:
San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival th annual culinary classic held November 14-20, 2016 will feature over 40 citywide tasting experiences, including excursions, cooking classes, chef dinners, and multiple tasting events. There will be over 200 wineries, breweries, and spirits, and over 60 of San Diego’s top chefs, sommeliers, brewmasters and tastemakers participating in the epic event.
Celebrity chefs slated to headline events throughout the week:
Rick Moonen of rm Seafood and Rx Boiler Room Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill Michelle Bernstein of Cena by Michy Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster Harlem, Ginny’s Supper Club, and Streetbird Rotisserie Cosmo Goss of The Publican Restaurant Erling Wu-Bower of Nico Osteria Suzette Gresham of Acquerello Gale Gand, acclaimed pastry chef television personalities, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, the Hearty Boys Stephanie Prida of Manresa Renee Erickson of The Whale Wins, Boat Street Café, The Walrus and the Carpenter, and Barnacle Steve Santana of Taquiza Justin Woodward of Castagna Dean James Max of DJM Restaurants, and Chef Jason French of Ned Ludd.
Local chef standouts slated for attendance:
Chef Javier Plascencia of Bracero Chef Jason McLeod of Ironside Fish & Oyster Chef Giselle Wellman of Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen Chef Drew Deckman of Deckman’s En El Mogor Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef Ron Oliver of The Marine Room Chef Rob Ruiz of Land & Water Co Chef Trey Foshee of California Modern Chef Tim Kolanko of Mess Hall Chef Andrew Bachelier of Campfire Chef Christine Rivera of Galaxy Taco Chef Aron Schwartz of Marina Kitchen Chef Amy DiBiase of Tidal Chef Andrew Spurgin of Bespoke Event Styling, and Chef Evan Cruz of Arterra, to name a few.
My personal two favorite events among the many proffered:
• SommCon: A leading conference and exposition for wine, beer and spirit industry professionals and serious enthusiasts. SommCon features over 40 educational sessions led by Master Sommeliers, Masters of Wine and an all-star collection of the industry’s finest pros. Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina | Wednesday, November 16 – Saturday, November 19 | Prices vary per person
• Lexus Grand Tasting Featuring the NEW Culinary Theater and VIP Experience: As returning platinum sponsor of the largest wine and food festival in Southern California, the San Diego County Lexus Dealers will take center stage with the Lexus Grand Tasting on the scenic San Diego Bay, featuring over 700 wines, 60 of San Diego’s top chefs, and over 30 gourmet food companies. The VIP Tent has never tasted so good as celebrity chefs Cosmo Gross and Erling Wu-Bower team up with local superstar Jason McLeod, Giselle Wellman, and Tim Kolanko to host this year’s NEW VIP Tent experience. Also NEW this year, join today’s hottest chefs for demonstrations at the Culinary Theater, including: the Hearty Boys, Javier Plascencia, Cosmo Gross, Erling Wu-Bower, and Rick Bayless. San Diego County Lexus Dealers consists of four dealerships providing word-class service to all of San Diego County, including Lexus El Cajon, Lexus Carlsbad, Lexus Escondido and Lexus San Diego. Embarcadero Marina Park North | Saturday, November 19 | $135 General Admission, $175 Early Entry | $225 VIP
Hot or cold, savory or sweet, as a main dish or for dessert, there are a thousand ways to enjoy crêpes and satisfy the appetite of food lovers. The crêpe originates from Brittany and dates from the 13th century. Originally made of buckwheat, it was turned into the crêpe we know today in the early 20th century with the arrival of white wheat flour. Crêpe is recognizable thanks to its traditional round shape and beautiful golden color. Easy to take away, it is a great choice for a lunch on the fly or for your family brunches.
The Farm to Market beer series began in 2015 to celebrate Zupan’s 40 th Anniversary and throughout the years has featured exclusive bottlings created in partnership with local breweries including Buoy Beer, Breakside , Zoiglhaus & more.
Barrel-aged in both wine and whiskey barrels, this smooth and full stout is perfect for the cozier months.
Farm to Market Imperial Stout:
Tasting Notes: Decadent layers of dried fruit, leather and tobacco with a black-strap molasses and bourbon linger on the palette with each sip of this bold and rich, roasty yet fruity, stout with a wild twang.
Ferment is a modern brewery that fuses traditional farmhouse techniques with a forward-thinking scientific approach. Born out of an appreciation for the art of fermentation, Ferment offers a unique family of beers and kombuchas that tap the wild terrain of the Columbia River Gorge for inspiration and foraged ingredients. Visit Ferment Brewing Co. for more information.
Two Rock Valley Goat Cheese
How It All Began….From the Alps of Switzerland to the Hills of Two Rock. In the late 90’s, Bonnie DeBernardi purchased two Nubian goats for her grandchildren to play with and from there a new business was created. Not unfamiliar to the dairy business, Don and Bonnie DeBernardi have been raising and milking Holstein dairy cows since 1968, however, these goats served as the beginning of a new venture for the pair. As the two goats quickly turned to a small herd, Don decided to turn the milk into goat cheese, like his ancestors made in the Swiss Alps. The hobby for Don quickly turned into a new business venture as the herd grew from two to forty goats in a short period of time.
Bonnie is the primary caregiver to the kids. Overseeing the kidding and raising of the goat kids is a full time job. Bonnie cares for the kids as she would any member of the family. During kidding season you will almost always find a few kids in the house snuggled up in blankets getting a little extra attention.
Don is the master cheese maker, perfecting his skill with each batch. Cheese is made three to four times a week and then aged for over 60 days before it is ready to market. As the cheese is aged in the storage rooms, it takes on a life of its own. Cultures used change the texture and taste the longer the aging process is prolonged. Creating a unique taste pleasing to any palette. Recently, Don has ventured into the fresh cheese market by making a goat Brie. Delicious!
Opal Divine’s 13th Annual Whisky Festival: A Review
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
Walked into Opal Divine’s at Penn Field with friend Rob Bass last Thursday because we were attending the Whisky Festival that Scotch aficionado (and Opal’s owner) Michael Parker was once again visiting upon Austin's burgeoning population of spirit-craving citizens.
"Once again," I say, because this was the 13th annual such festival that Parker’s wrangled here.
You do something this good, I reckon, you’re gonna want to do it again and again, even if only once a year. And, let’s not get confused, this wasn’t the American Whisky festival that Opal Divine’s holds in the spring this was the Scotch and Irish Whisky festival that has little to do with the imbibables perfected in our extremely post-colonial, jazz-inventing, free-market crazy, firearm-obsessed country.
And was it good, this latest celebration of artistry and flavor and conviviality?
Well, now. Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear wish it had opposable thumbs so it could firmly grasp a glass of 45-year-old Macallan and send salvos of liquid amber brilliance down its virgin throat?
[Note: Let’s brace ourselves for how resounding the answer of YES must be.]
Walked into Opal Divine’s with friend Rob Bass, thinking about the first Whisky Festival, back in the original Opal’s location at Sixth & Rio Grande. There were one – or maybe two – long tables positioned in a single upstairs room there were about twenty or so people gathered around those tables, and we were tasting several different types of, brands of, styles of, whisky. There were snacks of some kind, I recall, and local raconteur and itinerant bartender Beau Paul was working the small counter adjoining the whisky room.
Little tiny affair, relatively.
Good times, good whisky, but as they say a rather intimate event.
Yeah, that was 12 years ago …
But now, last Thursday: Walked into Opal Divine’s with friend Rob Bass, and it was like entering a sort of miniature version of SXSW in one beautifully appointed building, the whole of the vast and multipartite establishment at Penn Field turned over to the display of, the celebration of, the copious imbibing of, some of the finest whiskies known to humankind. The place was packed. Thick crowds of people were milling about with glasses in hand, whisky was being served from the dozen or so brand-hawking stations around the venue, and already there were more smiles per capita than you might see among the revelers at a You’ve Just Been Cured Of Cancer convention.
So many whiskies.
Oh my stars and peat-stained garters, so many, many, many whiskies.
[Note: 80 different whiskies, to be precise.]
Also, food. You want to serve people umpteen samples of a beverage this potent, you want to have a lot of solid calories on hand, too, to help temper the levels of intoxication, to assist with pacing. And to also provide morsels that will complement the goodness of what’s being poured into every glass. That’s why, in addition to the array of pedestals on which perched overflowing platters of fruits and veggies and cubed cheeses and rolled cold cuts of ham and salami and so forth, there was a phalanx of servers constantly circulating with trays of culinary goodness created by Opal’s Chef DJ: shredded duck on crackers, smoked salmon on other crackers, tasty bits of chicken something, miniature falafels in chived yogurt, on and on, as if the venue were simultaneously hosting a 13th annual Hors d’oeuvres Festival.
You might've thought, going in, that a $50 entry fee was kind of steep, even while knowing that the proceeds would benefit Meals on Wheels. But by the time you left Michael Parker’s lively emporium all suffonsified with the diversity and quality of whiskies and that plethora of high-end snackage, you’d likely adjust your thinking along the lines of, “Whoa, fuck, what an incredible bargain.”
Especially concerning the whiskies.
Because, yes, there’s the Macallan and the Laphroaig and the Glenfiddich and the Highland Park and the Ardbeg Uigeadail and so on and so forth, all the traditional quaffs from the land of the clover and the land of the thistle where the wild haggis roam, and there's newcomers like 2 Gingers, and so on, and your tastebuds are getting quite an education along with their pleasure-filled excitement.
But there’s also the Isle of Jura off the coast of Scotland.
The Isle of Jura, which you read about in Andrew Ervin’s recent novel Burning Down George Orwell’s House, a novel where the protagonist goes to Jura for what he hopes will be some whisky-fueled rest & relaxation, desperately needed, in the same rented cottage in which Orwell wrote his 1984.
[Note: It’s one hell of a fine and funny book, kind of like Cold Comfort Farm soaked in a cask of single-malt perfection and set upon by what might be a werewolf, and, look, we reviewed it right here.]
And you've enjoyed Ervin's novel so much that, eventually, you go to your local liquor barn and see about purchasing a bottle of Jura’s finest for yourself. Only to have your dreams shattered against the revelation that an alt-weekly journo's discretionary income doesn’t quite have what it takes to bring home such a rarified elixir.
But, hey, maybe you can find a local bar that’s got a bottle you can finesse a pull from, right? Surely there’s –
But then, there you are, milling about at Opal Divine’s 13th Annual Whisky Festival, and Rob Bass is telling you some hilarious anecdote involving Parliament-Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell having dinner at his parents’ house, and you’ve already enjoyed oral incursions of the Ardbeg Uigeadail and Highland Park and the Macallan and so on, and you’ve been exercising your pyloric valve with a steady flow of duck and trout and kale and Monterey Jack and all, and you’re thinking that you’ve already recouped your Meals-on-Wheels-abetting investment of half a C-note … and suddenly there’s the table featuring, ah, can it be? A selection of whiskies from that fabled Isle of Jura?
And you hand over a few of your remaining drink tickets to the tall, gangly, stylishly bespectacled, chocolate-colored man with the tattoos and the armful of jangling bracelets – his name’s Theo, right? Yes, Theo, another one of the squadron of professionals brought in from the other Opal Divine’s outposts to keep the whole deal running smoothly – and this Theo sets you and your friend Rob up with generous shots of what you usually couldn’t afford an entire bottle of.
And you let the amber Jura-born brilliance slide across your tongue, let it flood your palate and trickle down the rugose meatscape of your lucky craw while you think: Oh, Andrew Ervin, there you are, you hardworkin’ author, you – up there in Philadelphia somewhere, where it’s probably much colder than it is in Austin, and you’re probably not rubbing elbows and trading shots with the boozerati at a whisky festival, certainly not a festival as enjoyable as this Opal Divine’s gig is, and if I were more than just pleasantly buzzed by all these whiskies, oh, I’d be crying tears of pity for you right now.
The Chronicle Pairing Guide: New, old worlds your oyster when pairing wine
1 of 6 OYSTERGUIDE28_001_cl.JPG Photo for Oyster and Wine pairing story. on 9/21/07 in San Francisco. photo by Craig Lee / The Chronicle Ran on: 09-28-2007 Photo caption photo by Craig Lee Show More Show Less
2 of 6 Oyster chowder (without cream) and baked oysters photographed Thursday, Sept., 20, 2007 at the San Francisco Chronicle Studio. Thor Swift For The San Francisco Chronicle Ran on: 09-26-2007 Ran on: 09-28-2007 Photo caption Thor Swift Show More Show Less
4 of 6 One of two recipes for story on oysters and wine photographed Thursday, Sept., 20, 2007 at the San Francisco Chronicle Studio. Thor Swift For The San Francisco Chronicle Ran on: 09-28-2007 Photo caption Thor Swift Show More Show Less
5 of 6 OYSTERGUIDE28_08_JOHNLEE.JPG For Sept 28 story on pairing oysters and wine. By JOHN LEE/ Ran on: 09-28-2007 Photo caption John Lee Show More Show Less
It all started with Jon Bonné's big mouth.
The Chronicle's Wine editor had just finished judging the 13th annual Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, the brainchild of Jon Rowley, a seafood expert and food and wine publicist from Seattle. After slurping roughly five dozen oysters and sipping through 20 West Coast wines alongside other judges this April, Bonné wrote about the winners in the May 4 Sipping News, concluding: "In the end, it was still hard to beat Muscadet as a match - could it be time for a global oyster wine showdown?"
It didn't take long for an e-mail to pop up in Bonné's in-box. "You certainly threw down the gauntlet," Rowley wrote.
The two Jons first met after Bonné penned a 2005 piece calling Muscadet - the minerally white wine of France's Loire Valley and the traditional French oyster match - "the perfect oyster wine." There was a common love of wine and oysters between the two men - just slightly differing opinions on which wines were best.
One would expect Rowley to pair American oysters with American wines. After all, Rowley is the founder of the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, in which wines from Washington, Oregon and California are paired with the oysters from Washington state's Taylor Shellfish Farms, one of his clients. Still, Rowley is as fair as he can be - he runs the competition but is never a judge.
Bonné's knowledge straddles Old and New Worlds. Since it was he who flung down the gauntlet, he would choose the French wines. Rowley wouldn't have it any other way.
We needed a bridge between the two points of view. Luckily, I had judged several of Rowley's competitions and was just as interested (if less stridently) in which wines were the perfect match.
It was on: The Great Oyster Smackdown of 2007. Which would reign supreme: The fresh, fruit-driven West Coast wines from the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition? Or the minerally, lean French wines?
Above all, we considered it an opportunity to consider just what makes a great oyster wine.
Bonné chose seven Muscadets of various styles plus three Chablis, another French contender for the oyster-wine crown. Rowley entered the 10 winners from his 2007 competition (seven from California and three from Oregon).
Sparkling wine, with its high acidity and rich mouthfeel, is another popular match for oysters. But Rowley's yearly competition only considers still wines, and so we, too, will put aside the bubbly-oyster match for another day.
As with the Pacific Coast competition, we tasted the wines blind.
A seven-judge panel was convened at The Chronicle's wine cellar and charged with an arduous task: Slurp a lot of oysters, sip a lot of wine, rank the worthy. Forget the Judgment of Paris this would be the Judgment of Fifth and Mission.
The results of The Chronicle's challenge were a surprise to all.
The winning wine was a Chablis, the 2005 Domaine Vocoret Premier Cru Montmains. Next came a Muscadet, the refreshing 2006 Domaine de la Quilla. A posse of American bottles followed close behind, led by the third-place 2005 King Estate Oregon Pinot Gris, which frequently placed in the annual Pacific Coast competition's top 10. Fourth place was completely unexpected: the 2006 Martin & Weyrich Unwooded Chardonnay, a Central Coast effort in the unoaked spirit of Chablis. (For complete results, see box below.)
What looked like a even split in the first four picks then began to lean heavily toward . . . the New World. Judge Paul Einbund, sommelier at Coi restaurant in San Francisco, was shocked that he ranked three American Pinot Gris and a Chenin Blanc so high. "That's really strange for me," he said, with a dazed expression. Einbund had expected to prefer Old World wines.
Another judge, wine writer Robert Thompson, found himself less impressed with some of the Muscadets and more so by the Chablis, which occupied his top two picks. He was pleased that the vote was split between Old and New Worlds.
"When that happens," he says, "it means that people are paying attention to what's going on," rather than following their predilections. Wherever they were from, nearly all of our top 10 wines were fresh and somewhat acidic, nearly devoid of oak presence and low in alcohol - 13 percent or less in most cases.
The results of The Chronicle's oyster smackdown came down to one inevitable fact: Each judge's scores reflected what they enjoyed most in midslurp, and revealed some inherent preferences that were a surprise even to them. Your palate should be your guide.
If slightly sweeter wines are your thing - think California Chardonnay - the fruitier flavors of domestic wines like Pinot Gris (not Grigio) or an unoaked Chardonnay can a perfect pairing. But if you prefer austerity, try a steely Muscadet or Chablis. (Bonné, who prefers leaner, minerally wines with his oysters, voted for six Muscadets, three Chablis and a Sauvignon Blanc.)
Results also depend on the oyster variety. Pacific oysters, the variety Rowley brought from Washington state, have a sweetness that can call for a slightly fruitier wine. At The Chronicle smackdown, we sampled the biggest Pacifics we had ever seen, which were raised in Washington's Totten Inlet by Taylor Shellfish Farms. In Rowley's Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, only Kumamotos from Taylor Shellfish are used.
Atlantic (or Virginica) oysters tend to have a more mineral presence, calling for leaner, more minerally wines. Smaller, tender Kumamotos fall somewhere in between, making them versatile for a wider range of bottles.
To make things even more complicated, even within the confines of a region, such as the North Bay, oysters can differ tremendously (see the Sept. 26 Seafood by the Season link at sfgate.com/food).
Oyster wines should be simple and uncomplicated - anything complex will clutter the palate. This point was reiterated days after the showdown at The Chronicle, when Bonné and I reconvened for some follow-up research over plates of California Kumamoto and Sweetwater oysters at the Hog Island Oyster Co. Bar in San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace.
"I'm losing what's up front," said judge Greg Hinds, assistant manager of Hog Island Oyster Co. Bar, as he retasted the nuanced Vocoret, which had been our first-place choice just days before. Hinds' rankings had tilted heavily toward American wines. But once he sat down with Hog Island oysters, which are from Marin's Tomales Bay, he found he preferred French wines.
"It has to do with the finish of the oysters," Hinds says. The Hog Island oysters of Tomales Bay were smaller, leaner and more briny than the Pacifics from Totten Inlet. For Hinds, the American wines went better with the sweeter Pacific oysters. And, says Hinds, the acidity in the French wines goes well with the salt.
"When you're dealing with an oyster that's aggressive in the way it lays on your palate, you can lose a beautiful, fine wine."
Chia Siu Bao (a.k.a. barbecue pork buns)
Thought to have arrived in Hawaii via Chinese immigrants during the plantation era, chia siu bao (or char siew bao) are usually called barbecue pork buns. They’re stuffed with minced pork and sweetened with sugar and oyster sauce the tops are cut before steaming. The bun’s fluffy exterior puffs up, cracking to reveal the juicy meat within. It is a top seller at Harmony, which has an extensive selection of gluten-free and vegan dim sum.
800 Redwood Highway, Mill Valley.
Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract Publishing, Sunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon Society, PEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.