On Cinco de Mayo, I had some friends over for dinner. One half of the dinner party invitees were big wine fans. Wait, aficionados. Now I ❤️ Mexican food, but sometimes it can be hard to pair with wine. So, French food would have been a better choice. But we must honor the holiday… what to do. Continue reading
Alex and I spent the first week of December in Napa Valley. Whenever I teach in Northern California, we try to make a weekend out of it. We just happen to hit “the valley” at the perfect time. There was a chill in the air, and no tourists in sight (except us, I suppose). We got a beautiful room at Southbridge in St. Helena on the main road, complete with a fireplace, 135 degrees of windows, overlooking our favorite Continue reading
About 1 ½ hours away from us is Temecula, Southern California’s wine growing region. We have been attempting to get together a tasting trip for over six months now, so when the opportunity arose, we jumped on it and took a day trip out there. It was a great time to relax, catch up, and enjoy simple food and good wine. We took a picnic, grabbed a bottle of wine (or more) at the winery, and set up quite the spread. Wineries supply the glasses with the wine!
Now, you don’t have to bring a table cloth and serving ware, but I find it completes the experience. Here’s everything you need for a perfect Wine Country Day Trip.
- Bottled Water
- Table cloth
- Cocktail napkins
- Small plastic cocktail plates
- Small sharp knife
- Cheese spreader
- Wood cutting board
- Large platter (not breakable)
- Plastic bag for trash
- Towel for cleaning & wiping
- Ice chest
- Crackers/Pita Chips
- Sundried tomatoes
- Seasonal Fruit (grapes, apples, peaches, etc.)
- Sliced meats
Alex and I volunteered to be our membership directors for our neighborhood association. That means that we prepare welcome bags for new neighbors moving into the neighborhood, and we put on three mixers a year for neighbors to get together and meet each other. The neighborhood association hosts the bar, and the neighbors bring the food- potluck style. We get some truly delicious food at these events.
Another director, Sandy, had some extra wine from another event and she offered that we could use the wine at our next mixer, I just had to coordinate with her husband, Ed, to pick it up. So, off Alex and I went to pick up the wine. Sandy and Ed live in an amazing French Chateaux like home. You enter through a manicured garden, pass a hidden courtyard, and then enter through beautiful wooden and glass doors. The entire back wall of their home literally unfolds and overlooks a peaceful pool and garden. Each bedroom has a theme based on their travels… the London room, Asian room, etc. It is the perfect home for entertaining. This is what my home wants to be when it grows up.
We were greeted by Ed who said he had the wine ready for us. But… if we had some time, would we like to meet one of our neighbors, a wine maker? Who could say no to that? So we joined Ed and Charles at the dining room table, surrounded by maps of wine regions of the world, and Charles told us the story of how he began to make his wine. They were tasting a Napa Chardonnay, bright with hints of vanilla. It was delicious. It was so surprising to learn that we had not one, but two, wine makers in our neighborhood (that we know about). Charles then brought a couple more bottles to the next mixer for everyone to try. A mini wine tasting in our own backyard. What a treat!
How to be Neighborly: The best wines are the ones we drink with friends.
Cheddar and Apple Tart
I made this for the mixer/impromptu wine tasting with some apples our neighbors Bev & Erwin had left for us on our front porch. Think of it like a sweet and savory pizza. Yummy!
- 1 sheet Puff Pastry, thawed
- 1 onion, sliced thin
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 apple, sliced thin (if apples are small you may need 2 or more)
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Cook onions in olive oil in a sauté pan until golden and translucent, about 5 minutes. If you add a pinch of sugar then they will brown better and be a little sweeter. Roll out the puff pastry to make it about ¼ larger, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat. Spread caramelized onions on the pastry sheet, then sliced apples in neat rows on top of the onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Sprinkle apples with cheddar cheese so that you can still see the apples, but you get good coverage with the cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until puff pastry is golden brown and cheese is bubbling. Using a pizza cutter, cut into little squares.