Archive for the ‘Shameless Self Promoting’ Category

That’s right…your humble little blogger got an article in the June 2012 Issue of Wine Enthusiast! I’ve uploaded a picture for ya but if you’re so inclined, you should go get an issue and then write in to the editors to tell them how my piece was your favorite piece. Because, you know… you love me. The story is all about how there are some really cool winemakers in California using some interesting Italian Varieties. Of course, the story got significantly chopped and there are SO many great winemakers I interviewed and whose wines I sampled that didn’t make it into the piece. For them, I’ll be writing an in-depth roundup of the best of these new and interesting wines – so watch out for that in the next few days. Cheers!


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Guess what I did? I went and made you all a few valentines! Chalk it up to just a bit too much time on my hands, an intermittent Photoshop obsession, or just a love of the holiday of love. I’ve decided to suspend all bitterness and just embrace the sheer rediculousness of the holiday. It’s actually pretty liberating.

Also! I’ve also got a rundown of the wines I’ll be pouring at a little Valentines Day Shindig I’m hosting later:


Domain Carneros by Taittinger Brut 2007

Santoleri Grognaleto Spumante Rose Brut N.V


Les Grandes Vignes 2009 Cotes Du Rhone

Lafite Barons de Rothschild Collection Bordeaux 2010


Palmina Barbera Santa Barbara County 2009

Clos Siguier Cahors 2008

Seufert Pinotlicious Willamette Valley 2007


Les Petits Grains Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois N.V.

Happy Valentines Day! May you drink yourself into oblivion tonight.

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To celebrate Valentines Day this year, I’ve teamed up with Mutineer Magazine’s Blog and written a lovely little piece about my newest love: Sweet Wines. Make sure you head on over and check it out. I’m sorry I’ve been a little MIA these past couple weeks – I’ve been a snot zombie, tourist, and busy little bee but I’ve got some great posts in the works and some exciting collabs to come so stay tuned!

Much love.

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Haloo from the Finger Lakes, dear readers!


Purty, aint it? There will be lots of fun wine stuff to come! But for now, I wanted to share with you a very personal and non-wine related essay I wrote for the infamous NYT’s “Modern Love” column that was (drumroll!) summarily rejected! However, a wonderful little blog called Modern Love Rejects has decided to publish it. So head over and enjoy the essay and the blog if you are so inclined! Cheerseses!

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Soo…after the freakish snowstorm of Saturday it hardly feels like fall. Weird weather aside, however, ’tis fall and, even spookier, ’tis Halloween!

It’s much too cold to dress up like a skanky firefighter this year, so  instead I got myself all gussied up as some sort of wine expert over on Refinery 29.

So head on over and check out the collection of perfect-for-fall wines that are all available around the city and even better (!) are all available for $15 bones or less. And in honor of Haloween they can be like scary zombie haunted bones.




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As I’ve delved deeper into the wine world, I’m constantly asked why it is that I’m so passionate about wine or how it is that I got to be such a wine geek at only 24. The question’s not so off-base when you consider that most very serious wine professionals are much older than I am now when they even started becoming interested in wine.

For me, the answer is complicated and the foundations for my passion can be found in unlikely places. A big part of my love for wine comes from growing up in Los Angeles, a surprising start for a story like mine.

When I think about Los Angeles, I can’t help but to think of one of my favorite places there – a certain turnout on Mulholland Drive that looks out across the L.A. basin towards the sea. At night, the basin is awash with sizzling orange lights – millions of street lamps – that cast a rancid glow over the entire scene. This little spot, tucked into the westerly side of the Santa Monica Mountains is brushed by a dry desert wind that is as natural as the orange glow is artificial. It’s a place of utmost contradiction – a place where an ancient breath, as simple and old as the mountains, mingles with the lights of a glittering wasteland.

I grew up in a small, wealthy enclave of Los Angeles tucked into a series of bluffs on the coast.  I don’t, for a minute, take for granted my charmed upbringing – a childhood awash with sea breezes and tramping through the chaparral that came so close, and so wild, right up against the backs of property lines. Along the bluffs that hang over the Pacific Ocean where I grew up racing through the stalks of wild fennel, its even possible to find views that afford a glimpse of how the coast must have looked when first seen by enterprising human eyes.

I live with these two conflicting images of Los Angeles; that of a sea of orange lights abutting the sudden darkness of the ocean and the wild beauty that still lingers, clinging to the bluffs on which I grew up.

Sometimes, when I think about the word “terroir” I think of bottling up all these little memories – the vivid striking ones that have stuck with me. I think of the smell of dusty eucalyptus and wild fennel. I think of a sea breeze raked through a wild hillside and mingling with the scents of sweet pollen and dried leaves. It’s all steeped in water scooped up from a spring rainstorm, gently tinged with the smell of wet asphalt.

And then there’s my strange craving for history. Growing up in a city where the past is daily demolished, swept away, and replaced with something new leaves a certain kind of nostalgia in its place. It’s a respect for old things borne out of awe that they’ve survived. It leaves you with an inclination to find history in obscure places like the wind coming down the mountain or the view from a bluff.

Living under the shadow of Hollywood, those nine white letters that sit high above the city and hold such power over the people who live there, has left me acutely sensitive to fakeness and instilled a preference for authenticity. It could have gone either way – I could have been drawn, enticed, and enchanted by the dream those letters represent, but I wasn’t.

Instead, somewhere in between the freeways, strip malls, and rolling housing developments I was completely entranced by a terraced and landscaped hill on which still stand dozens of mature fruit trees and wild berry brambles. That hill rose behind a house my family moved into when I was about ten years old.

That hillside awakened something visceral in me – a connection to the earth that has haunted me since. One summer’s harvest of peaches left me spellbound; plums offered proof that nature is sometimes best left to her own devices. Handfuls of sun-warmed blackberries were revelatory – and the apples? To bite into one of those little orbs was to understand why Eve could not resist. Everything I picked from a tree in our backyard tasted so much more like itself I was surprised I even recognized it.

Eventually we moved and I took to wandering the stalls of the farmers market, searching for the scents of that hillside, while my mother complained about the dearth of parking on Sundays.

When I graduated high school, more than I wanted to see the grand cities of Europe, I dreamed of visiting the Italian countryside – of eating local rustic food and wandering through olive groves and vineyards. So, my father took me to Tuscany where, for the first time, I tasted wine while looking out over the ancient gnarled vines that had produced it.

That is a quality of wine that endlessly fascinates me – wine’s unique ability to capture the essence of a place, or a season, or even a feeling and to convey it through taste. And just like the place from whence a wine comes, the wine – even trapped in a bottle, continues to shift and change slowly over time. You’ll often hear the notion that wine is a living breathing thing, and that’s true to an extent. But it’s also a moment, an impression, bottled and preserved. Wine’s connection to the land it came from is undeniable and that connection, for me, is irresistible.

So while there is no way for me to visit my memories of home except by closing my eyes and remembering, every time I take a sip of wine I’m gleaning some insight into the moments that produced it. I close my eyes and think about the vineyards the grapes came from, the smells that drifted over the vats of crushed grapes as they fermented, and the things that grew in the soil around the vines, imbuing each grape cluster with a tinge of memory.

That connection between the land, its own particular set of memories and impressions and the stuff in my glass is enthralling and exciting. Every bottle of wine is different, yes, but every sip of every glass is different, too. While there is an element of preservation in wine, there’s also the energy of change and chance that comes with every bottle. A glass of wine is a direct link to the place it came from and a unique impression of a moment – what could be more delicious than to taste the direct distillation of some wonderful place?


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So I’m back to writing about my adventures and misadventures in baking…but don’t worry – I won’t force it on anyone who came to this little blog to read about wine. Though, I did use an empty wine bottle as a rolling pin – that’s kind of nifty, right?

Check out my article about making Plum and Custard Dumplings over at Galo Magazine right this way.


Gossip Girl*


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Leaving a job…trying to find a new one…getting ready for a highly anticipated trip to Martha’s Vineyard for some good old fashioned East Coast Summering….oh. And writing this.
For any of you who have never read Thought Catalog, its a great online magazine that gives young writers (like yours truly) a great outlet to get random articles/essays published. The writing is fun and often really insightful so take a look and make sure to read my article!

Thanks all and much love until I return!

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The other night I attended a lovely event hosted by Sonoma Cutrer. The evening started with a discussion, moderated by one of my idols, Barbara Fairchild. The panel included Chef Michael Lamonoco, who owns Porter House New York, where yours truly worked as a hostess for about 4 months when I first moved and when I still thought that I was the exception to the “magazines aren’t hiring” rule.

Also on the panel was famed Chef Charlie Palmer, cookbook author and writer Dede Wilson, longtime food journalist and critic Ray Sokolov, and Mick Shroeter, winemaker for Sonoma Cutrer.

The prospect of being in the same room with, let alone possibly meeting Barbara Fairchild had me shaking in my boots just enough to zap my appetite for the day. The wine served was a California Chardonnay that was zippy and fruity rather than oaky and buttery. The discussion was centered on the idea of American food trends, so naturally, Barbara asked about the biggest trends of the last 30 years had been.

No matter how many different ways they tried to say it, the answer from everyone on the panel was the same: fresh seasonal and local ingredients. There were jokes about how frozen Dover sole was once an innovation, and about how restaurant patrons back in the day didn’t know the difference between a freshly caught diver scallop and one chiseled out of a frozen bag. The biggest shift, agreed on by all present, was that fresh and quality ingredients had become available, in demand, and had changed the way that everyone was cooking.

The follow up question was, of course, to name three chefs who made a difference in food trends of the last 30 years. Chef Lamonoco went first and mentioned Wolfgang Puck, Charlie Palmer, and the French chef  (my French is nonexistent…) who brought contemporary French haute cuisine to NYC. All of these, I thought, were noble choices and all of the parties mentioned certainly did make a significant contribution to modern American food.

However, after all of the other members of the panel went on and discussed their choices, the feminist in me couldn’t resist screaming inside my head:


(By the way, she had spent that morning with Michelle Obama – you know, the president’s wife? No big deal.)

While the feminist in me can be hot headed,  she also has a point.

To be honest, it should not have been surprising. At the end of the day, though women have made huge contributions to the culinary industry, its still a world predominantly run by men. That’s not to say that women have not been successful – especially outside of New York.

When I think about Los Angeles, where I grew up, and the culinary scene out there, I think about women who have built veritable culinary empires like Nancy Silverton, Susan Fenniger, Suzanne Goin, Zoe Nathan,  and Candace Nelson.  Even the food critic for the LA Times is a woman (though S. Irene Virbilla is hard-up for fans these days) – hell, Ruth Reichl got her start as the LAT critic and Barbara Fairchild ran Bon Appetit from the west coast!

In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, I’ve rounded up some  California wine makers that make great wine and happen to have breasts, too.

Heidi Peterson Barrett: Winemaker at Screaming Eagle & La Sirena Winery (her own label) via CalWineries.com:

“In 1992, Barrett went to work for Screaming Eagle. Screaming Eagle is one of those wines that everyone has heard of, but not many have tasted. It is an emblematic California wine, perhaps the California wine of the last few decades. And once again, it was Barrett’s exquisite blend of art and science that made this wine a reality.

Her first vintage, the 1992, also received a 100 point score from Parker. (Two in one year!) At the 2000 Napa Valley Wine Auction, a 6 liter bottle of this wine was purchased for $500,000; the most expensive single bottle of wine ever sold.”

Sally Johnson:  Winemaker at Pride Mountain Vineyards. Pride Mountain Winery is located on Spring Mountain, one of my favorite areas of Napa. I’m not alone, here, and Johnson managed to make one of Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines of 2010.

Laura Zahtila is the owner of Laura Zahtila Vineyards in Napa Valley. Laura is the owner and winemaker and they make teensy tiny amounts of amazing wine.

Anne Vawter: Winemaker at Oakville Ranch Vineyards. Vawter worked under Heidi Peterson Barret at Paradigm, one of the most prestigious winemakers in Oakville before moving on. Oakville Ranch Vineyards was the first in the area and has always been known for being the best so Vawter’s position is an important one.

Helen Turley: Winemaker at Martinelli, Marcassin, and Turley Wine Cellars.

Via thelifestyleloft.com:

“A name that has become synonymous with truly great California wines is Helen Turley, one of the most sought-after winemakers in the world. […] Now Turley’s efforts are so revered that she recently graced the cover of Wine Spectator beside the suggested title “America’s Greatest Winemaker?” 

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Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Brooklyn Uncorked event hosted by Edible Manhattan. I was especially excited because the theme of the evening was New York wines. A few weeks ago I was supposed to go to the North Fork for a weekend of tasting with a couple of GF’s but inclement weather kept us city-bound and dry.

The event was held at the gorgeous Brooklyn Academy of Music and, without further ado, lets get to it.

The men of New York love pink. I know I shouldn’t have been surprised to see so many dudes swilling Rosé at a New York wine event (Rosé’s from Long Island were among the first NY wines deemed drinkable by the wine world at large), but I was bemused by the confidence with which so many guys stepped up and demanded a taste of the pink stuff.

“Half and Half” is not just a dairy product. A lot of the wine makers were pouring Chardonnays that they were calling “half oaked”. These wines were half chardonnay that had been fermented in oak and half chardonnay that had been fermented in steel tanks. I can’t say that any of them were my favorite – they all tasted a little half baked but the concept was new and interesting.

I didn’t see a single screw top. This struck me as really interesting especially because most of the wines last night were definitely being marketed as wallet-friendly and screw tops are an easy way to pass savings along to consumers. Perhaps this young wine industry is afraid of being construed as cheap and have stuck to cork in an attempt to seem old-school? Too bad I had at least one glass that came from a corked bottle last night…

Gimmicks abounded. My favorite had to have been the wine called “Anomaly” that was being poured as a “white Pinot Noir”. Basically it was an non-sparkling Champagne (if the juice of Pinot Noir grapes is separated from the skins early on it will retain a white color – its only through prolonged contact with the skins that wines become red). Also, you’d think that in a post “white Zinfandel” world, you’d want to avoid calling your wine a “white Pinot Noir” or a “White Merlot”. Alas….

One winery, called Channing Daughters, was serving a Friuliano – a fairly obscure wine made from the grape of the same name that hails from Northern Italy. It was a brave move and the wine was pretty good – also, their Rosé was one of my favorites.

A quick note on the food: don’t serve giant fried batter-coated balls of fish-and-things-on-a-stick if you don’t want a lawsuit from someone who loses their sense of taste from trying to eat one. Cold pork belly does not taste good even if you serve it on a buttermilk biscuit. Minus any bonus points that would have been gained from the biscuit if the biscuit is hard. Do not pronounce “pistachios” as “pis-tass-ee-ohs” – you’re already serving Pâté, do you really have to convince us that you’re fancy? Lastly, although I feel bad that you’re standing behind a table of food that no one has touched all night, you’re the one that decided to serve liverwurst mousse.

• Finally, although I was really pulling for Long Island on this one, a lot of the wine from this region still has a long way to go. There was a lot of green wine (in the bad way), a lot of wine that was just too tight, and a lot of bitter aftertastes. Sadly, I found myself grimacing post-swig a little too often throughout the night. The exceptions were some really nice sparkling wines (my favorite was Sparkling Pointe’s Blanc de Blanc), some delicious Rosés, a delightfully smooth Cabernet Franc from a winemaker called Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards, and the Channing Daughters’ Friulano.

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