Being spoiled in wine country is pure bliss

I get my fair share of great wine and ow more and more great craft beer. Being married to a chef and having his sous chef visit often means I eat well all the time. It’s not the best for my figure but my palate and belly are sure happy. With all the locally grown produce and grass fed animals, there’s an abundance of deliciousness in sonoma county. And I get to eat it… All.

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Beauty in Wine Country

This is one of the {many} reasons I live here, and others move here.
The flowering tress, the mustard, the nature. Pure serenity.

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Heaven in Astoria

What could be better than beer? Beer paired with amazing cheese and grilled cheese. After a long day of beer tasting, we needed some grub and our favorite bartender in Manhattan recommended some great spots already so we decided to check out Astoria Bier and Cheese shop. It’s a small, long, narrow place- definitely cozy. They have about 15 craft beers on tap and a nice selection of bottles. We found Hopslam there among some other exciting brews from Maine Beer Co.

Their specialty is the grilled sandwich. There are several different variations on the menu. We tried the BMT {Basil, smoked mozzarella, and tomato} and the truffles schuffle {tuffle Gouda, fresh mozzarella, and raw honey}. WOW, the truffle and honey- truly epic combination. This is a great place for non-traditional pub food.

You can buy lots of different kinds of cheese, beef sticks, and meats there to go as well. A great find. Well worth the trek out to Queens.

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Astoria Bier & Cheese on Urbanspoon

Quick and Easy Scrumptious Appetizer

A foodie spin on my mom’s famous h’orderves that is sure to knock even anyone’s socks off. My mom used sourdough bread, cheddar cheese, sliced black olives, and scallions.

I placed sliced Costeaux Bakery multigrain bread on a sheet tray then drizzled white truffle oil over each of the slices. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese all over the slices, I like a lot of cheese so it’s nice and gooey. Then I add the sliced castelvetrano olives on top of the cheese. They go in the over for about 15 minutes at 375. Crack pepper on top, then bam- quick, easy, tasty appetizers that anyone will love to snack on!

This simple dish pairs perfectly with any of your favorite IPA’s or something a little heavier and almost sweet like the Hopslam triple IPA.

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The Power of Social Media & Love for Craft Beer

As you know from a previous article about my love for social media and the craft beer scene: I think breweries have it down. All of it. I love being able to engage with the breweries I visit. Not only is it cool to be able to contact them ahead of time and promote them on my social channels, but it also makes the experience there better.

In a recent trip to New York City {my favorite city in the world} for my 30th birthday, I had reached out to several breweries I was intending on visiting. Sixpoint Brewery was at the top of my list and has been a place we have yearned to visit for a few years now. I tweeted to them with a lot of hopefulness that they’d reply to me and they did! Mikey contacted me with his email and through that we made a plan to meet at the brewery for a private tour. They are not open to the public but he was happy to show us around. This was one of the coolest brewery trips we have been on, it was brewery number 320 for us!

We showed up to the brewery, buzzed the doorbell and asked for Mikey. The place was covered with tools and building projects because they are remodeling. The space is not very big in general but they sure make the best of the space they have. Right away Mikey seemed chill and cool {everything you hope for on a brewery tour}. He manages the social media and content for Sixpoint and also helps out in the brewery from time-to-time. First things first: he gives us a few samples of the beers they have on tap: Hi Res, Sahti, and Gorilla Warfare. We filled up on Hi Res and made our way into the brewery. It was definitely a New York brewery: very small. It’s actually incredible what they can do in such a small space. They have a variety of different beer projects they work on and a lot of the smaller stuff is brewed at the brewery. They have another facility where they brew the rest of their beers- a 60K barrel facility. They brewery started in 2004 but the symbol {the Sixpoint Brewers Star} has been around since the dawn of civilization. The star itself is a representation of: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth together equally Great Work.

NYC 2015 Dirty 30_02 06 15_3019_edited-2

 

Sixpoint brews over 40 different beers. Some I have seen out and about in the city {never over on the West Coast} like the Hi Res or Resin, others I have not. Many of them you can find on draft at local spots throughout NYC. The Gorilla Warfare is a coveted brew and rightfully so; it’s fantastic, a well balanced dark beer with notes of chocolate and toasted nuts. Some others they do are the Spice of Life Series and the Mad Scientist Series. I have not had a bad beer from them!

After touring through the {working} brewery, we headed back into the main room downstairs where we set up shop and chilled out by a big ice chest that was the home for one of the brewer’s pet projects: A Pilsner he is trying to perfect.

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Mikey and the brewer checking on the status of the Pilsner

We hung out and chatted about social media and other incredible beers like Hillfarmstead and other favorite IPA’s. Part of what I love about the beer world is the sharing. It’s never about having the most of a beer, it’s about sharing it with the most people. So as we sipped on Gorilla Warfare and Mikey was gathering some awesome schwag for us, we busted out a couple of fresh Pliny’s for him as a thank you. Surprised just like we were for the cool schwag {growlers, beers, and shirts}, he was stocked and looking forward to drinking the Pliny. I always love to see my neighborhood brewery beers side-by-side a pint of something I love.

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I love the dedication and passion that the people who work there have for the brand and the beer. Visiting Sixpoint was a true pleasure. The team seems like they’re a solid family and as a result are warm and welcoming to others, enjoying the simple pleasure of sharing their love of Sixpoint with others. Cheers Mikey and the Sixpoint crew- you really know how to do it right!! Thanks for sharing the love!

Get in my Mouth: Nachos! For your Super Bowl Party

The best thing about Super Bowl is the FOOD! Especially since I am not a fan of either of the teams, I will just be eating a drinking. I came across this recipe for easy and delicious nachos on one of my favorites sites: Bon Appetit. There are so many ways to make nachos and you’d think it would be so simple as just putting some cheese and meats on chips and heating it up, but it’s not that simple. It’s actually very easy to mess nachos up.

 

Here are some tips on making sure your messy nachos are not messed up for your super bowl party:

 

-Use a think, salted chip. I like to use the Santitas.

-Pick out several cheeses: cheddar and mozzarella because they melt and can be nice and stringy. Then pick something else for some good, rich flavor. Think smoked cheese too depending on the type of meat you’re using. Smoked cheddar or smoked Gouda are good and add a nice savory component.

-Chopped veggies in small pieces so that each bite you get a little bit of everything.

-Saute your onions lightly to soften them and the potency.

-Heat up your black beans before and drain them of all liquid so the nachos don’t get soggy.

-Use fun things like thinly sliced jalapenos, arugula, Castelvetrano olives {sliced}, kalamata olives, and green and yellow tomatoes.

-Get creative and make your own salsa. Sometimes I like to get really creative and do a mango jalapeno salsa- spicy and sweet. Again, depending on the meat and cheeses, you can change it up.

 

-LAYER. LAYER. LAYER. Think lasagna. The noodle goes down, then the meat, sauce, and cheese.

Don’t be one of those people who serves nachos and all the good stuff is on the top and the side chips and those underneath are bare or have just a tiny bit of lonely cheese. Place the chips on the sheet tray, add cheese sparingly, add the other kind, and the other, then go crazy with your ingredients {minus the cold stuff}, then repeat.

-Season your sour cream.

Dollop your sour cream and guacamole. Do this at the very end so the nachos stay hot. Leave extra out in a dish with a little spoon for those of us who indulge.

I like to make the guacamole a few hours ahead so the flavors of the cilantro and lime can marry well together before going on top.

 

Everybody loves nachos so make a few different varieties. Its fun, delicious, and a a super easy clean up because you can serve this on a sheet tray with aluminum foil- it’s acceptable!

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/holidays-recipes/article/best-nachos-recipes

Photo from Bon Appetit

NOW for the best part: the craft beer!

There is no better beer {in my opinion} to have on Super Bowl than IPA. Look for Daytime IPA from Laugunitas {you can drink it all day}, Pliny {for the first part of the game, but if you want to keep standing, switch!}, Racer 5, and Blind Pig is great too. You can pair your nachos with the Almanac IPA, Golden Gate Gose, and Valley of the Hearts Delight {if you can find it}

A True Wine Country Experience: Taste Alexander Valley

taste Alexander Valley is always an event we look forward to. We pull out all of the stops: we serve the best of our wines, we have Peloton serving up local flavors, and we have fun with photos, themes, and games. We are excited to announce that the event is getting even better this year as a whole. There are over 25 wineries participating for the weekend open house and the Friday night event is a Magnum Barn Dance- real dancing music, and a delicious family-style dinning experience prepared by partnering chef’s Dustin Valette of Valette Healdsburg {Former chef of Dry Creek Kitchen} and Tim Vallery of local culinary company Peloton Catering. The weekend package is a steal of a deal: $200 right now for all three days! It’s must do in wine country.

I love this event because you get the opportunity to meet and mingle with local vintners and growers on Friday night, enjoy delicious food {of course anything my husband makes is delicious!}, and the weekend is filled with fun and games. At Trione, are planning on an exciting theme: music, food, dancing, and great wines! Stay tuned for more details!

 

Here are some of the scrumptious bites you can drool over while you decide if you should buy tickets.

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Craft Beer + Foie Gras in Wine Country

Craft Beer + Foie Gras in Wine Country

Chef’s in amazing food areas like Manhattan have been lavishing in this mouth watering dish even while it was banned in California. So after the banned was recently lifted we saw in all of the food blogs and news publications online that Chefs all over were shouting out to their California peeps and saying congrats. It’s incredible how something so hated by so many can be so sought after for many others.

I have always loved to enjoy this fatty dish with an aged Champagne, something nutty, doughy, creamy, and yeasty or a beautiful Sauternes. Naturally everyone looks to wine to sip with this….

Being that I am a craft beer and food lover, I thought I’d share some delightful pairings for this decadent dish. We all know that foie goes really well with wine and we are in wine country, but the textures, flavors, and nuances that make up this dish also pair really well with craft beer.

Foie Gras is rich, fatty, delicate, and decadent. On it’s own can seem quite overwhelming in flavors and to be honest all of us need something to balance out those flavors on our palates. Commonly paired items one the dish are fresh, house-made, warm brioche, a sauce made from fig, blackberry, huckleberry {my favorite}, or some other sweet tasting fruit. Though it really can be prepared with anything, or even eaten on it’s own without any sauce or toast.

Whether this dish is is prepared as a torchon, terrine, or the lobe is seared whole {That’s my favorite} this mouth watering delicacy can be enjoyed with many of the wonderful craft beers you can get your hands on right here in Sonoma County at my favorite local beer shop: Beercraft.  

Photo courtesy of Huntington Post

Photo courtesy of Huntington Post

I spoke with a few local chefs in Sonoma County to see what they are doing with foie and if it will be on their menus. To my surprise, many are not putting it on the menu and did not really have it on the menu in the first place- it’s a pretty high ticket item. Sondra Bernstein, Proprietor of the famous Girl and the Fig and the Fig Cafe and Wine Bar says,  “We did not always serve foie as a regular item, price point is usually too high for both restaurants as much as I love it. -To be honest have not given it any thought lately at all, though can’t wait for some tourchon!!” Chef Josh Silvers of Jackson’s Bar and Pizza Oven doesn’t offer Foie as it’s “not a Jackson’s thing”. Chef Dustin Valette on the other hand does not even have his restaurant open yet and I could tell his mouth is watering already! He’s definitely serving Foie Gras, in fact, he was recently at the James Beard House in Manhattan and served the Foie Gras sous vide in Pinot Noir and served it with a kumquat marmalade, “it was amazing!” he says. I am sure it was, I have had a lot of Chef Dustin’s food at the Dry Creek Kitchen and it was always amazing. All of the chefs I spoke to about a beer and foie pairing said they had never even thought about pairing craft beer with the dish in any capacity but would love to experiment.

Naturally, being the foodie I am, I must experiment too. So while everyone is snacking on chips and dips for Super Bowl Sunday, I will be enjoying a little seared foie paired with several craft beers. Here is what I am going to open: A barley wine, Almanac blueberry barrel aged, and Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose. Stay tuned for the results!

 

Eating Healthy and Delicious

Coming up on mid January already and I am still going strong with my new years resolution to just eat healthier more often. I figured, how could I fail if I am very vague? So I decided not to put specific parameters on my eating, only that I would eat less bread and pasta, I’d cook more, eat out less, and be more conscientious of caloric intake. So far so good. Here are some tastefully interesting foods to make for a nice dinner in, that don’t take a long time to prepare, and can be prepped in advance so coming home after work and whipping up dinner is easy!

 

Spaghetti squash pasta with roasted carrots and roasted garlic. The squash is easy to prepare, the carrots and roasted garlic can be done in advance and if you don’t have that, you can add in any sweeter tasting veggie of your choice {I like to use something sweeter rather than earthy because the squash is already earthy in taste}.

Crimini mushrooms, roasted garlic, carrots, celery, and garbanzo beans. Make a quick stock from the scraps of the veggies and ladle the broth into the pot after the flavors have been able to merry nicely together from sauteing. This is delish. The beans add a nice texture to the soup and the overall flavor is savory and a bit sweet from the roasted garlic. This is a great, hearty soup for the cold winter nights, once cooked, it can be frozen for a no fuss dinner later.

My fav: lettuce cups. Probably the one thing I miss the most in life when I go on these healthy lifestyle trips is the tortilla. I love tortillas and corn tortillas are great too but they are  not nearly as satisfying and they still have a lot of calories. So I pile much of the fixings from a yummy taco into this lettuce cup and bam: healthy! I like to do spiced chicken as the base {ground turkey is good too}. Then make a sort of slaw: slice cucumbers {with the skin on} and radish using the mandolin and then run your knife through once and put those aside with some ponzu sauce. The slaw goes on top of the chicken and then a drizzle or two of siracha and you have yourself a healthy, filling meal that tastes great.

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The toughest part about eating healthy is boredom. I find myself in the same pickle every time, I eat the same healthy things everyday and then I get board f the flavors so I eat cookies or something and that’s not right. So spice, citrus, and Asian sauces are great to have in the pantry because they keep the flavors interesting and bold.

 

 

The Commonwealth: tantalizing for both eyes + mouth

Looking for an exciting experience for both your palate and your eyes? Check out Commonwealth in San Francisco. It’s delicious, well done, the service is top notch, and it’s classy.

The chef’s tasting menu is priced well and worth it: at $75 per person for six courses. They allow you to substitute any of the courses {typically} for something off the al la cart menu too.

Each course was beautifully presented and tasted equally as amazing as it looked. I wanted to have a beer with the meal but it’s not always easy to find one beer that will or can carry you through your entire meal. This one, the Almanac Golden Gate Gose did. It was pure bliss. Nice and light for the seafood and with enough body to pair nicely with goat cheese and even the pork. Great beer AND local.

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My favs: 

Dungeness crab crepe. Brilliant.

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Lobster and mushroom {Cioppino like} soup

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Asian pear salad with mixed bitter greens and soft goat cheese

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Celery sorbet {weird but oddly delightful}

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I highly recommend this for a nice date night. It’s right on Mission so easy to get to and easy to get a taxi from too.

Cheers!