Monday, December 31, 2007

Brown Sugar Kitchen and I

In my last postito (mini post- the one that amounted to perhaps six sentences), I mentioned that I have something that I'd like to share with you. That's still true.

What I'd like to share is that I am beginning my first real wine consulting assignment with a friend of mine. Real as in, although I have "consulted" people on wine before, my name has not appeared in print. Anywhere good, that is.

The restaurant's wine list that I will be designing is Brown Sugar Kitchen's.

The owner and chef, Tanya Holland, and I met while working at a catering company around two years ago. We got along, enjoyed working together, and told each other that we would stay in touch when I left to devote my work hours primarily to wine. We didn't, but we luckily met once again at our local YMCA, accidentally (by the way, I love the Y).

And then we caught up. She visited the wine shop where I worked, I excitingly learned that she was launching her first restaurant, and don't tell her husband, but I caught her eye. Her wine eye. And I let her know that if she wanted my wine food pairing "skills," that they were all hers. She said yes. I'm a lucky girl.

Thus I am truly very happy to be able to say that I am Brown Sugar Kitchen's wine consultant. The food served will be lighter soul food and BBQ. And when I say BBQ, I mean the classic BBQ that requires hours of luscious cooking, and lighter soul food as in nothing, to my knowledge, will be laden with lard. To pair wine with this delicious food, I will stock the list (which I will change almost completely every two months) with both full-bodied and lean whites, that are not too oaky to detract from the food's bright flavors. The reds will be big on smoke, spice or fruit (lots of Rhone blends), to bring out the BBQ flavors and lusher textures.

Then, I will change the list almost entirely every two months. Swoon.

Lastly, I will be hosting monthly supper clubs with Tanya that will be wine focused on the fourth Wednesday of every month. They will be very reasonably priced, prix-fixe, and three to four courses of delicious, inspired, "updated" soul food. And I would love to see any of you there.

I'll keep you updated on the advances of this project and will include pictures of her restaurant, and maybe even of me in her restaurant. That's right.

Here is an announcement of her opening in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Cookbook author and chef Tanya Holland is planning to open Brown Sugar Kitchen next month in West Oakland (2534 Mandela Parkway).
The restaurant will showcase Holland 's Southern-style cooking with Caribbean flair. She plans to also sprinkle in some African and Creole flavors for what she calls "new soul cooking." She plans to open the 50-seat restaurant for breakfast and lunch initially, and wants to take advantage of the barbecue smoker that came with the place, formerly the Island Cafe.
Expect moderately priced ribs and chicken on the menu, along with sweet potato gratin, baked grits, macaroni and cheese, and coleslaw. For breakfast: cornmeal waffles, three-potato hash and pecan-crusted French toast.
Holland, author of "New Soul Cooking," says she wants to grow with the neighborhood and will eventually open for dinner."

Also, here are some further links about the restaurant and Ms. Tanya Holland. Apologies if you have to cut and paste

So that's my news, dear readers, and in closing, I'd like to thank you for reading and sharing my blog this year. It's a great venue for me and I value sharing wine and food thoughts with all of you in my posts and through your comments.


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Wine Time

The holidays are a very busy time in the wine industry. It calls for wine workers to do everything from select $100 bottles of wines to fill THREE Christmas cases to individually wrapping hundreds of bottles of wine in tissue paper, stickers and ribbon, and then ship those out to that many individuals, respectively. Then, it calls for those same wine workers to go home and pass out immediately after their head hits the pillow. Or, alternatively, it calls for the weak ones to wake up in the middle of the night wondering if the addresses were wrong on any of the shipments because he or she has problems with putting numbers in the wrong order. You know, like how she switched the numbers on the street address on her wedding invitation that indicated where the reception would be held.
Anyhow, next week I will have a lengthier post and will have a fun little announcement to make.
Happy Holidays!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bubbles Party Guests


a) These four magnificent dressers won the champagne bottle prize.

b) Dot and Jason, smoking jacket and Schramsberg.

d) Our regular customer friends: Steve, Jane, Wendy and her sister, who is nice and lovely and whose name has slipped past me at the moment. By the way, she's very nice.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bubbles Party: Triple Cremes and High Heels

Bubbles Party: Triple Cremes and High Heels

Last Saturday, we had a Bubbles Party where I work where we invited representatives from top Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, and Sparkling producers to pour our guests their wares. The night was superb, and it might have been our best attended event. The party equation went something like this:
12 different sparklings + triple creme cheese + popcorn + salt and pepper crinkled potato chips + Bubbles Party music such as Otis Redding and Dimitrou from Paris -$5 off the admission price if you dressed fabulously.
The best dressed guests received a prize bottle of champagne, and the decision was very hard because everyone looked good. Really good. Finally after much deliberation, we gave the prize bottle to a group where one couple was dressed in Indian formal wear (see pictures below), and the other couple looked like they came straight from the 1940's.
Due to photo uploading capacity, the pictures from this night are posted here and in the below posts.
Ching Ching! (Portuguese toast)
Examples of what super bubbles we poured are pictured above. In honor of this night, I'm including below a song by an artist named Champagne, and Chris Rock's intense music video, "Champagne." Enjoy.



Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pork berry vs. pork belly

CORRECTION: On my last post I wrote that Bar Tartine served pork berry with squid. Not true; it was pork BELLY with squid. Pork berries are not ripe this time of year. Please excuse my mishap and any confusion this may have caused.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bar Tartine Night Out: I’m Smitten

Bar Tartine Night Out: I’m Smitten

A couple nights ago, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary in San Francisco, checking out the fabbbbbbulous Joseph Cornell retrospective at Moma, walking here and there, and finally eating dinner at Bar Tartine. It was a great night. I love Joseph Cornell’s (link included below), I always appreciate my ability to walk (look ma, no hands), but more importantly, I’m a Bar Tartine Fanatic, and so is he.
Some people make the inaccurate statement that we're obsessed with Bar Tartine. This is a completely narrow take on it all, for we also lay up nights with tingly tummy feelings thinking of Tartine Bakery, Bar Tartine’s sister. It’s really the entire Tartine family that gives us butterflies and makes us feel, well, a little naughty. Those butter-laden croissants. Those fresh gnocchi. That crispy pork belly. Oh.
And, ever since I went to Bar Tartine for the first time with my bachelorette party girls, if a special ocassion arises that calls for us to leave the East Bay, we tend to head to Bar Tartine. In fact, we remind me of this elderly couple who always use to come into a restaurant where I worked and refused to try anything but their standard dish. They knew that they loved that dish and they didn’t want to be disappointed. Every week they came in and ordered the same two plates. Again and again, regardless of the marvelous concoctions just added to the menu.
They annoyed the hell out of me. Alas, now we are them. We just go there. Tartine never disappoints, and we return to be charmed, eat things that most people don’t want to cook at home (sweatbreads or croissants, anyone), and drink delicious wine. A cooks paradise.
And thus commences an exploration of our wine and food pairings.

First courses:
“Local squid and pork belly with egg salad, potato croutons and herb vinaigrette”
w/Non vintage J. Lassalle Champagne, premier cru, France

“Crispy sardines with haricot verts, friese, picked scallions, romesco, aioli and olive vinaigrette”
05 Di Giovanna Grillo, Sicilia

Yes, it was amazing. First of all, champagne has powers ( see November's "Breakfast Wines" Post ) that never fail to impress me. This first dish was gorgeous, lush, and ..... fatty. And the champagne cut right through that. It amplified the different textures, the crispy squid tentacles and seared pork belly, but cushioned the lusher bits of the dish such as the soft belly fat and the tender squid. But best of all, the champagne smelled like cocoa nibs. Fabulous.
Next, the Grillo, a grape used widely in Sicily, was perfect with the sardines. Would you believe that this was the first time I’ve ever tried fresh sardines? The good Scandinavian she is, my mother would eat sardines straight from the can when I was young, but I never developed a taste for them and hence steered away from other varieties of the fish. But I was wrong and I take it back. They were so sweet! The Grillo was so juicy and fresh, and it and the sardines just POPPED together. Seafood and Italian whites, sigh. The champagne was just okay with this.

Second course:
“Prather Ranch lamb with roasted peppers, eggplant, chickpea fritter, yogurt and Moroccan spices”
04 Clos Montirius Vacqueyras, Rhone Valley, France

“Braised veal cheeks with pumpkin agnolotti, broccoli di cicco, baby turnips, and cocoa nib gremolata”
Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto, Piedmont

First lesson- Rhone blends, often expressed as GSM’s –Grenache, Sryah, Mouvedre grapes, are great for dishes with exotic spices. Great with Harissa, Morrocan flavors, even curry. They're burly enough to take their big flavors on. This was no exception. Everything melded perfectly.
The second dish was heavenly too. Dolcetto has got to be one of the juiciest grapes in all of Italy, and this one was all fruit, all the time, and it highlighted the fresh and bright flavors in the dish, and got cozier with the sultrier flavors of the cheeks and pumpkin. Easy drinking.

Here are a few links that I think you may enjoy.
P.S. I made an Amazon store link to my favorite cooking things online after some people have asked me my practical preferences. The Tartine Bakery book is on it!

Link: Joseph Cornell


Stumble Upon Toolbar