Who Actually Makes Kirkland Wine? https://flip.it/UR5.cW
Little did we know that when we dined at the corner restaurant near our hotel in Paris we were eating at a place where for decades a family divided had fought over the secret sauce served with their steaks.
Maybe it’s a French thing.
For some background. My husband and I were on our honeymoon and had booked a Viking River Cruise on the Seine and then added some before and after stays in Amsterdam where it is more easy to get run over by a bicyclist then a car and Paris where we stayed at a little hotel near the metro in the 17th arrondissement, known as Batignolles-Monceau, so we could visit other parts of the city without spending a fortune on cabs. Though we didn’t plan it this way, Hotel 10 Le Bis, our hotel was near numerous little cafes and a little grocery store where we could easily—and cheaply–buy food for quick meals and snacks.
One intriguing café was Le Relais de Venise (the name translates to Venetian Inn) where every night we would see long lines of people waiting to eat either in their dining room or on their outdoor patio. The interior of the restaurant looked so French bistro with its polished dark wood, tiny tables with crisp white table cloths, and servers dressed in black uniforms, the outdoor section was right on a busy corner filled with traffic and pedestrians, noise, and the rumbled of trucks and sounds of horns honking. So depending upon your mood you could choose where to dine.
What could be so great that people would wait for hours for a table when there were so many great cafes and restaurants around? And so we didn’t go until one evening, after ascending from the metro station and seeing there was no line, we decided to give it a try. The only tables available were outdoors and so we sat at a very small table next to another small table where a single woman sat, smoking a cigarette. That turned out to be a very lucky thing.
When our server arrived I asked to see a menu and she (we would find out later her name was Gertrude) abruptly told us she was the menu. Well, what’s on the menu? Steak frites, she replied. “bloody or well done.”
We told her “bloody”, and she gave us an approving look. But we were a little baffled. Was there really only one dish on the menu? As it turns out, there is no menu and only one entree, one salad with one dressing, steak frites (French fries), and bread. Do not expect butter, ketcup, mayonaaise, or any other condiment. They do only one thing but they do it very well. That’s how it was when Le Relais de Venise opened in 1959 and that’s the way it is now at all the restaurants throughout the world–New York City, London Marylebone, London City, Mexico City
When Gertrude returned with a salad topped with walnuts (no one inquired whether we had a nut allergy—which fortunately we don’t) and a crusty French baguette, I saw there wasn’t butter on our table and asked for some. Oops, one would think I had tried to order a Big Mac.
“No butter,” Gertrude told us.
“There’s no butter?” I asked.
“No butter,” she replied.
“How about olive oil?”
“No olive oil,” she told us.
Now, I knew that in a French restaurant there had to be both in the kitchen, but I guess neither butter nor olive oil was allowed to be carried into the dining area, so we ate the bread—which was very good—without either.
This is when the woman at the table next to us decided to intervene. She lived in Paris she told us but had spent years in the United States working as a publicist for musicians in New York. Le Relais de Venise de Entrecote was unique, she continued, because they only served one dish—steak with French fries and their famed green sauce called Le Venise’s Sauce de Entrecote. I guess that makes decided what to order for dinner super easy. If you’re wondering what entrecote is, as I was, it’s a cut of meat like a New York strip or strip steak. Or at least in it is in Paris.
Since the creation of the sauce, its exact ingredients have long been a secret and that probably worked until invention of the internet. After a family squabble resulted in a going of separate ways, the sauce itself became a battleground so complex and full of intrigue that the Wall Street Journal did a lengthy article about it all eight years ago. I guess when you serve only one dish and the sauce is a necessary part of it, feelings about who owns the recipe loom large. So large in fact that’s there was a million dollar lawsuit as to who had rights to use the name and sauce.
Anyway, after we ate our salad (no choice of dressing as it already was dressed with a vinaigrette which was very good), our steak with fries arrived—with the sauce spooned over the meat. It was delicious.
What’s in it? I asked the woman next to us.
“It’s a secret,” she said. “But I’ve been eating here for decades so I know it. But it’s really better to come here.”
She promised to give me the recipe, but she must have changed her mind because she never returned my phone calls or emailed it like she said she would. She may have been afraid Gertrude would get mad at her or maybe the restaurant owners wouldn’t allow her back in. Neither would be surprising. And believe me, you don’t want to cross Gertrude.
I noticed, as we were eating, that the servers were moving through the crowded café with platters of meat and piles of crisp, hand-cut pomme frites. Almost as soon as I had cleared my plate, Gertrude showed up again, heaping—without asking but that was okay—more frites and slices of bloody steak and then pouring the secret sauce on top. At no charge. but no ketchup or mayonnaise either for dipping the fries Gertrude informed us.
“They’ll do that until you say you don’t want anymore,” the woman told us about the second and third helpings.
“Is there a charge?”
“No, it’s all part of the meal.”
Which was a deal as the tab wasn’t very high even with the addition of a glass of the house wine produced at the family owned vineyard Chateau de Saurs in Lisle-sur-Tarn, 30 miles northeast of Toulouse. Indeed, the restaurant was opened by Paul Gineste de Saurs as a way to help market the wines but now there are at least three more restaurants—in New York City, Mexico City, and London. As for the sauce there are several stories. A rival restaurant said to serve a similar sauce says that it is not new but instead wis one of the classic sauces that are considered the backbone of French cuisine.
Another has it that the restaurant where we ate was modeled after Cafe de Paris bistro in Geneva which has served this dish since the 1940s. The sauce, according “The History and the Development of the L’Entrecote Secret Sauce,” a Facebook page devoted to the subject, was developed by the owner’s father-in-law.
I told you it was complicated.
Of course, as soon as we got back to our room, I Googled the restaurant and the sauce. It took some digging, but I found recipes for both the secret sauce and the salad. Or so I think. I’m planning on trying them soon along with a French baguette or two from Bit of Swiss Bakery which I will be serving with butter.
Le Relais de Venise-Style Salad Dijon Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Kosher salt to taste (nutritional info based on 1/4 tsp)
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or walnut oil)
Whisk or shake in a mason jar until mixture is homogenous.
Serve on a bed of mixed salad leaves topped with some chopped walnuts and shaved Parmesan.
Serving Size: 4
Le Relais de Venise’s Steak Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large shallots
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons mustard
- 1 bunch tarragon
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Peel and slice the shallots.
Peel and roughly chop the garlic.
Add the olive oil to a small pot over medium heat.
Add the garlic and shallots and cook until soft and slightly colored.
Add the chicken stock. Simmer for three minutes.
Pull the tarragon leaves off of the stems and put them in a blender.
Add the remaining ingredients to the blender.
Carefully pour the chicken stock mixture into the blender.
Puree until completely smooth.
Pour back into the pan and bring to a boil. Cook for one minute. If the sauce is too thin simmer for a few more minutes.
Pour over slices of rare or as Gertrude calls it “bloody” or however you like your steak. Serve with potatoes or French fries.
According to the Wine Institute, vintners across California are expecting a high-quality vintage for 2022 following a season filled with curveballs. For many California wine regions, this was a tale of two harvests, as a Labor Day heat wave divided the season into earlier and later picks. As harvest wraps up across the state, vintners predict that 2022 will produce memorable wines of great concentration and complexity.
In the North Coast, the growing season began with ideal weather conditions through early summer, until an extended heat event beginning in late August accelerated the harvest and reduced yields for some varieties. In winegrowing regions such as Lodi and the Sierra Foothills, mild weather conditions prevailed into early spring, followed by frost that dramatically reduced crop sizes.
Harvest timing was mixed this year, with some appellations, including Napa Valley, starting up to a month earlier than average and others, such as Paso Robles, experiencing an extended harvest. In the North Coast, growers harvested some red varieties as early as mid-August. The Labor Day heat wave caused multiple varieties to reach maturity simultaneously in some regions, which kept vineyard and cellar crews busy through a compressed harvest. Despite the year’s twists and turns, consumers can expect to enjoy excellent wines from the 2022 vintage.
California produces about 80% of the nation’s wine, making it the world’s fourth-largest wine producing region. More than 80% of California wine is made in a Certified Sustainable California Winery and over half of the state’s roughly 615,000 vineyard acres are certified to one of California’s sustainability programs (Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Fish Friendly Farming, LODI RULES, Napa Green and SIP Certified).
Photo credit: Justin Liddell, Destination Films
Winemaker and Winery Owner Comments on California’s Growing Season and Harvest
“The early part of the growing season was near ideal, with abundant early season rains and excellent spring and summer weather,” said Renée Ary, vice president of winemaking at Duckhorn Vineyards in St. Helena, Napa Valley.
The Labor Day heat event brought record-high temperatures to the region, followed by mid-September rains, which challenged winemakers to practice meticulous grape selection.
“I think our 2022 wines will have a bit more concentration than the previous vintage, especially from the warmer, up-valley AVAs,” said Ary. “Our Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot are some of the best ever and the Chardonnays are bright, balanced and focused. Given the range of ripeness, blending will be important for the 2022 vintage as we balance our early and later picks.”
At Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars in the Napa Valley, harvest proceeded at a fast and furious pace. Following a mild summer, the heat wave kicked harvest into high gear, contributing to overall yield reductions of 15% to 20%. Harvest continued at a leisurely rate after temperatures cooled.
“I think it’s going be a pretty intense vintage — concentrated and powerful,” said Nate Weis, vice president of winegrowing. “Quality-wise, all of the varieties did great.” He was particularly impressed by Pinot Noir from the Russian River, Anderson Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands, as well as Merlot and Cabernet Franc. “The quality,” he said, “is off the charts.”
Robin Baggett, vintner and managing partner at Alpha Omega in St. Helena and Tolosa in San Luis Obispo, Central Coast, noted a wide range of harvest starting dates. “At Alpha Omega, harvest was a full four weeks earlier than last year’s in some vineyards,” he said.
Severe heat around Labor Day required vineyard teams to pick rapidly and strategically, he noted. “The fruit from our early picks is dark, complex in aroma and firm in texture, while fruit that remained on the vines during the heat event is riper with softer tannins and great flavor concentration,” said Baggett. “The overall quality in our Cabernet Sauvignon is very high with strong structure and terroir-driven characteristics. Petit Verdot and Malbec also performed extremely well.”
After a dry winter, Tolosa’s harvest saw two distinct phases: before the heat wave and after. Single-vineyard fruit came in at a steady pace until Labor Day, followed by a compressed harvest during the triple-digit heat. Lower yields — down around 30% — affected ripening speed, pushing everything to mature at once.
“Everything brought in before the heat wave is promising,” noted Baggett, “but you need to cherry pick among the lots brought in post-heat wave to isolate the best ones.”
Photo credit: Justin Liddell, Destination Films
Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, wrapped up harvest just before mid-October, which marks the winery’s earliest finish since 2004. “This is one for the record books,” said Lisa Amaroli, Benziger’s director of winemaking. “A heat wave followed by rain had a whiplash effect, pushing up sugars and then reversing them after the rain.”
The growing season was consistent and mild, resulting in healthy canopies. Signs pointed to an early harvest until Labor Day, when temperatures reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit at the winery’s Sonoma Coast property. This pushed some blocks into high sugars and quickened the harvest pace. September rain brought a sigh of relief, refreshing the vines and allowing remaining grapes to hang a bit longer.
“All white varieties we have seen from across Sonoma County came in in great shape and are very flavorful with just the right acid balance,” Amaroli said. “It was a good year for some Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards — albeit with lower yields — while Malbec and Cabernet Franc came in abundant, balanced and fruity.”
Jackson Family Wines in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, which has vineyards in several North Coast and Central Coast regions, began harvesting a couple weeks earlier than normal in many areas. Winemaster Randy Ullom summed up the vintage as “very memorable and wild.”
“In certain instances, the heat wave accelerated things and in others it actually slowed them down,” he said, noting that vines shut down during extreme heat in order to protect themselves, thus delaying the ripening process. “It depended on the appellation, the vineyard aspect and the watering capacity.”
Despite heavy rain in September, botrytis was not an issue due to the health of the vines before the rainfall occurred.
Ullom said he is happy with the overall quality of 2022 fruit. “Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley and Russian River look especially good,” he said, along with Monterey County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Sauvignon Blanc produced a larger yield than expected and continued ripening into October in Lake County due to the heavier crop. “That’s another first,” he said. “We’ll remember this for the rest of our lives.”
Vintners in the Lodi and Clarksburg regions encountered challenges this year, including a significant April frost event that dramatically reduced yields.
“We thought it all but wiped out some of our north Delta and Clarksburg Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, but it turned out that we did all right,” said Aaron Lange, vice president of vineyard operations at LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards in Acampo. The winery brought in about 25% of the normal yield for those varieties.
Variable spring weather with unseasonably warm temperatures followed by cool, windy conditions contributed to shot berries and shatter in Zinfandel and other sensitive varieties, yet yield sizes came in around average.
The Labor Day heat wave impacted both scheduling and capacity, while the frost delayed ripening in the whites. “At most major wineries,” Lange said, “there was a major capacity crunch from a cooperage and fermentation tank perspective.”
Healthy vineyards did fairly well during the heat event, he added, and followed a normal development trajectory. White varieties looked good, Lange said, since vineyard crews picked most fruit prior to the heat wave. Larger canopies helped protect the reds from heat and sunburn.
Likewise, Monterey County faced some tough conditions in 2022 due to early-season temperature fluctuations and heat spells during veraison and in early September. Though the heat wave reduced yields, particularly for Chardonnay and Merlot, the September event was well-predicted, allowing winegrowers to take preemptive irrigation measures. Harvest got off to a quick and early start, about 10 days earlier than average, with multiple varieties ripening simultaneously.
“On the bright side,” said Heidi Scheid, executive vice president at Scheid Vineyards in Soledad, “we’ve found that the smaller cluster and reduced berry sizes have resulted in a significant level of complexity and intensity. We are seeing very good quality — and in some cases truly exceptional quality — for the 2022 vintage.”
In Paso Robles in the Central Coast, harvest kicked off early, requiring vintners to utilize their collective knowledge to manage quality, tank space and periodic restarts.
“Despite the challenges,” said Stasi Seay, director of vineyards at Hope Family Wines in Paso Robles, “we remain optimistic and anticipate that vintage 2022 will produce fine wines on par with some of Paso Robles’ most memorable.”
The growing season began smoothly, with minimal frost incidents and temperate weather during bloom and set, Seay said. June crop estimates were slightly below average due to the ongoing drought, and summer was typical with no extreme heat until Labor Day weekend. Extended high temperatures caused vines to shut down, slowing the last of veraison. Unseasonal rains followed, along with warm autumn weather that helped with hang time and fruit maturity.
This was an unusually long harvest in the region, starting in early August and continuing through October’s end. “We are optimistic that this vintage will stand out,” said Seay, “given our hard work both in the field and in the winery.”
Miller Family Wine Company in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County, began harvesting on Aug. 8, a week earlier than expected. The season began with excellent growing conditions that continued into summer, followed by abnormally hot weather that accelerated ripening. Though yields were below normal, fruit quality remained high.
“The vineyard has responded well despite another dry winter,” said vineyard manager Greg O’Quest. “The minimal amount of rain was not enough to supply the vines with much-needed water, so supplemental irrigation began sooner than expected.”
Following a uniform bud break during the first week of March and a mild frost season, late spring brought unusually windy and cool conditions for fruit set. Summer boasted ideal weather with only a few days breaking the 100-degree mark. Typical high temperatures occurred in July and pest pressure was minimal. “The 2022 vintage was blessed with normal summer temperatures that allowed a full canopy to develop before the heat hit in August,” O’Quest said.
Late-season reds fared best in terms of yields, he added, and Cabernet Sauvignon has been a stand-out variety thanks to its hardiness and ability to deal with high temperatures. Smaller clusters this year resulted in deep, dark color and higher quality.
View the full 2022 California Harvest Report, including regional reports from Amador County, Calaveras County, El Dorado County, Lake County, Livermore Valley, Lodi, Mendocino County, Monterey County, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, San Diego County, Santa Barbara County, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and Sonoma County.
About Wine Institute
Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and by showcasing California’s wine regions as ideal destinations for food and wine travelers to the state. To learn more about California wines, visit DiscoverCaliforniaWines.
Recipe for Homemade Hot Chocolate with Red Wine
This homemade hot chocolate with red wine is a cocktail that doubles as dessert!
- 2 cups dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup brown sugar packed
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 5 cups whole milk or almond or coconut
- 1 750- ml bottle fruit-forward California red wine such as Merlot or Zinfandel
- Marshmallows or whipped cream for serving
Slow Cooker Method:
Whisk the chocolate chips, brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and milk together in a slow cooker set on high. Cover and allow to come to temperature (10-15 minutes), then whisk again and add wine. Cook on high for one hour, stopping to whisk every 20 minutes.
Ladle hot chocolate into mugs and top with whipped cream or marshmallows and enjoy.
Whisk the chocolate chips, brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and salt together in a large saucepan or stockpot. Add milk and bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat, whisking often. Once hot chocolate is blended and smooth (about 8-10 minutes), reduce to low heat and add wine. Cook for 5 minutes more. Ladle hot chocolate into mugs and top with whipped cream or marshmallows and enjoy.
Sheet-Pan Chicken with Chickpeas, Carrots and Lemon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 bone-in chicken thighs, about 2 pounds (900 g)
- 1 can (15 oz/425 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ pound (225 g) carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced from stem to root
- 1 small lemon, halved lengthwise (quartered lengthwise if large), then sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup (10 g) coarsely chopped cilantro, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
In a small bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients. Sprinkle all over the chicken and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a 9 x 12-inch (23 x 30 cm) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine the chickpeas, carrots, red onion, lemon, garlic, cumin, salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to mix, then arrange in the baking sheet in an even layer. Arrange the chicken thighs on top, not touching, and drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil on top of each one.
Bake on a center rack for 40 minutes. With tongs, set the chicken aside on a plate. Add the chopped cilantro to the vegetables and stir to mix and moisten everything with the chicken juices. Remake the bed of vegetables and replace the chicken on top. Bake for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes to allow the chicken juices to settle. Tilt the sheet pan and spoon some of the juices over the chicken.
Transfer to a serving platter or to individual dinner plates and garnish with cilantro leaves.
Photos courtesy of the Wine Institute.
Grub Street: 2022 James Beard Award Winners: The Full List. https://www.grubstreet.com/2022/06/2022-james-beard-chef-and-restaurant-award-winners-full-list.html
Celebrate arts and culture in Dresden in 2022.
Special exhibitions include Gerhard Richter at 90 with selections by the artist and Bernardo Bellotto, at 300, with his extraordinary cityscapes. Dresden also celebrates the father of its classical music lineage: Heinrich Schütz.
Restored now to its original baroque splendor, Dresden’s gleaming buildings, including the Royal Palace, the cathedral, the opera, the Brühlsche Terrasse among others, along the banks of the Elbe are a sight to behold. And, inside these buildings are arguably some of the world’s finest treasures. There are many exhibitions in 2022 and Dresden artists, Gerhard Richter and Bernardo Bellotto, lead the way.
Starting off the year with a contemporary flare, is the Gerhard Richter exhibition celebrating the 90th birthday of this special Dresden citizen. Not only was Richter born in Dresden but he also has a special professional connection to the city as his archive is housed at the Dresden State Art Collections. The exhibition, “GERHARD RICHTER. Portraits. Glass. Abstractions” will run from February 5 to May 1 in three rooms of the upper floor of the Albertinum, also a part of the Dresden State Art Collections. Richter picked the pieces for the exhibition from his private collection as well as from the archive while additional of his works are lent by other international institutions.
Bernardo Bellotto’s 300th Birthday
Next up is the exhibition on Bernardo Bellotto, the nephew of the Canaletto, and often referred to as Canaletto the Younger or also just Canaletto. His 300th birthday is an enormous cause célèbre in the Elbe city as he painted extraordinary landscapes that depicted Dresden as it was in its golden age in the mid1700s.
From May 21 to August 28, the Dresden State Art Collections will be showing the exhibition “Enchantingly Real: Bernardo Bellotto at the Court of Saxony” where there will be paintings from the Dresden State Art Collections as well as from other institutions. Bellotto became famous as the court painter for the elector of Saxony, Frederick Augustus II. His famous works are breath- taking depictions of the city and its environs, most measuring over eight feet in width. Dresden and the nearby Pirna will be celebrating the anniversary especially during the Dresden City Festival from August 19 to 21.
Dresden: Musical City
Dresden is also a musical city and one of the most important musicians in setting this foundation is Heinrich Schütz, the royal organist and music director of the Royal Palace in the mid1600s. His work will be celebrated and played at the ‘Barock.Musik.Fest’ from May 2 to May 8 in the Royal Palace as well as from October 7 to 17 during the eponymous festival dedicated to the musician. Schütz is known for writing vocal solos, duets and choir works with and without instruments. He was strongly influenced by Italian composers of the time and yet created a strong German choral tradition that is still lively in the city today.
German Hygiene Museum Dresden
A daring exhibition will take place at the German Hygiene Museum Dresden from April 2, 2022 to January 2, 2023: ‘Artful Intelligence. Machine Learning Human Dreams’ highlights the extent that artificial intelligence can be used in our lives even in such intimate topics about how to realize whether a person is lying, even to him or herself, and what criteria AI is using to make decisions.
“Plant Fever” is a multifaceted exhibition that will be displayed in Pillnitz Castle, the erstwhile summer palace of Augustus the Strong. Pillnitz is only 20 minutes from Dresden by a very pleasant river boat ride that will take you past beautiful villas and palaces from the 1700s. Designers, scientists, technology experts and plant enthusiasts will be interested in this project that will showcase 50 international projects from April 29 to November 6.
Close by will be the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory and showroom with some of the most beautiful porcelain pieces in the world. A special exhibition, called “Johann,” after Johann Boettger, the alchemist who was after gold but ended up with porcelain, or white gold, will be located in the Albrechtsburg (fortress close to the manufactory) for people interested in international and contemporary porcelain. It will run from April 16 to July 2022.
Celebrate the Outdoors
If you are planning a trip to Dresden for spring and summer especially, Dresden has many outdoor cultural events, including film nights on the banks of the Elbe, daily classes at the Japanese Palace, walking and bicycle tours throughout the city and the region. One special way to enjoy and experience the Elbe region is to ride along the Elbe Wine Road from Pirna to Dirnbar-Seusslitz. August 27 and 28 and September 23 and 25 are the local wine festivals in Radebeul and Meissen respectively. Although it is technically Germany’s smallest and most northern wine region, the wines are popular while the landscape and wineries are beautiful places to visit and enjoy a meal.
Dramatic History Comes Alive
In the past year, two excellent permanent exhibitions, the “Zwinger Xperience,” and the “Festung Xperience,” were created to make Dresden’s dramatic history come alive. These 3-D presentations show battles, art, and the people of Dresden’s past. You stand inside Dresden’s fortress underground and in the Zwinger Museum while images and films are projected against the walls and tell deeds of conquests, battles and romance.
State Arts Collection Dresden
There are a number of other exhibitions at the State Art Collections Dresden as well as in the region that are worth visiting throughout the year. Dresden is a cultural jewel on the Elbe so make sure when you come to arrange for walking tours to see the architectures and the landscapes as well as to secure tickets for the museums and the collections. You will be overjoyed at the cultural wealth at every corner at all times of the day.
For further information, please contact Victoria Larson, USA Press Representative, State Tourist Board of Saxony at Victoria@vklarsoncommunications.com
This National Puppy Day (March 23rd), celebrate your fluffy, furry or even bald (think Chihuahua) friends by putting those millions of pup-arazzi pics on IG to use.
The vintners at Bar Dog have made it paw-sible for puppy-parents to design custom wine labels featuring photos of their cute and cuddly canine kids. Consumers can choose from a broad selection of handcrafted, affordable wines, then create their own one-of-a-kind label from scratch using the design tool on the website.
Bar Dog Gives Back
Whether a gift for that dog-person or if you’re just passionate about your pup, part of the proceeds of Bar Dog wine purchases are donated to local, animal shelters across the country as part of the Bar Dog Gives Back initiative. In Fall 2020, Bar Dog partnered with the PetFinder Foundation to establish the Bar Dog Operations Grant, which provides pet food, supplies, and veterinary care for dogs awaiting adoption.
The Petfinder Foundation is the ONLY national organization that funds animal shelters and rescue groups exclusively.
More than 91% of every dollar spent goes toward programs that help homeless pets, earning the Petfinder Foundation the highest possible ratings from independent charity watchdogs Charity Navigator and GuideStar.
The Petfinder Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, federal tax ID #87-069464.
To date, an estimated 5,000+ animals have directly benefited from the 28 grants that have been issued to shelters in 20 different states. The Petfinder Foundation has given more than $25 million in cash and product grants to help organizations save the lives of pets in need.
Cade Carmichael doesn’t want us to drink what he calls “supermarket wines” but he also isn’t advocating we take out a loan for an expensive bottle of wine. That’s why when he opened Lighthouse Wine Shop last year in St. Joseph, Michigan he decided to feature value wines.
“I didn’t want to start off with big wine names,” he says. “Good wine doesn’t have to be expensive. Value wines are those that taste like they should cost more than they do.”
It’s all about knowing where to look and for those of us who don’t want to begin the laborious process of understanding the intricacies of every wine region and producer, Carmichael is willing to do the hard work for us. His fascination with wines came not from living in Southwest Michigan where we have a wonderful abundance of wineries but when he moved with his wife to Frankfurt, Germany where they lived for five years before returning to this area. From Frankfurt, it was easy to explore the wine regions of such countries as France and Italy as well as Germany.
In the wine appellation of Côte de Nuit Villages in Burgundy, a historic region of France that produces some of the most expensive wines in the world. Appellation or appellation d’origine contrôlée or AOC which stands for “controlled designation of origin” is certification granted by the government that refers to the area’s agriculture products—a list that includes not only wines, but other categories such as cheeses and butters.
But the thing is, Carmichael tells me, is there are some value wines from the Côte de Nuit Villages that are very affordable if you know where to look. He shows me bottles from Domaine Faively, a winery founded in 1825 in the Nuits-St. Georges.
“Right next to Nuits-St. Georges is a small village called Vosne-Romanee,” says Carmichael. Another historic village like Nuits-St. Georges, Vosne-Romanee is known as having some of the most expensive burgundies in the world.
“Vosne-Romanee literally shares a border with Nuits- St. Georges, so they have the same soil and growing conditions- the vineyards facing east get the morning sun and shade in the evening,” says Carmichael. “But there’s a huge difference.”
That means instead of spending a small fortune for a bottle from Vosne-Romanee, you can enjoy the wines of the Côte de Nuit Villages by choosing those produced by wineries in Nuits-St. Georges.
In an interesting aside, Carmichael tells me that China is now producing Bordeaux style wines, using five Noble varietals— Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot—which comprise the best for making that type of wine. How is it working out? Well, the 2013 vintage from Ao Yun—the name means flying above the clouds as the winery is 8,500 feet above sea level, in the foothills of the Himalayas that has similar growing conditions to the Bordeaux region of France—was awarded a score of 93 by Wine Advocate and sells for around $300. But that’s an aside.
When sourcing his wines Carmichael looks, of course, for value but also the unique such as those made from indigenous or natural yeast rather than cultivated yeast. Sometimes, through diligent searching he’s able to score big.
“I try to find things—they’re not weird—but unique,” he says.
The Lighthouse Wine Shop is in the small mall on the corner of Glenlord Road and Red Arrow Highway and right across the street from Coach’s Bar & Grill in Stevensville. In keeping with Carmichael’s vow not to be a cookie cutter type place, he and his father-in-law built display boxes, used wine barrels as tables for showcasing wines. His wines are divided by country and there’s a good representation of Italy, Spain, France, South America, and California to name a few.
He also sells wine accoutrements like corkscrews, gift baskets and boxes. A major focal point on the store is the large white board or what Carmichael calls “a lyric board” that changes. He uses vinyl records for the music that plays in the background. The groups performing are modern and include Phoebe Bridgers & Waxahatchee as well as classics such as Johnny Cash, the Beatles and Chicago. Speaking of the latter, Carmichael says that his Chicago patrons seem to prefer French wines while those from this area choose Italian. He thinks that might a reflection of Whirlpool Corp. having manufacturing plants in Cassinetta, Naples, and Trento in Italy. Coincidentally as he’s saying this, Doug Washington walks in to buy a bottle of Italian red wine. A Whirlpool employee he says he worked for the company in Italy.
When I started working on this column, I received an email from Janet Fletcher, who lives in Napa Valley, California where she develops and tests recipes for cookbooks and magazine features, evaluate cheeses for her classes and columns, does extensive gardening, and prepares dinner nightly with her winemaker husband. I’ve talked to her frequently in the past and wrote about several of her cookbooks including Wine Country Table and Cheese and Beer. I also follow her blog Planet Cheese.
Fletcher, who has won three James Beard Awards and the International Association of Culinary Professionals Bert Greene Award, has a new cookbook out called Gather: Casual Cooking from Wine Country Gardens and I asked her if she would share recipes. She agreed, including recipes easily made at home and the California wines she suggests using when serving them.
The following are recipes she shared along with anecdotes about their origins and Fletcher’s wine recommendations. These wines are necessarily easily available but when a Merlot is called for you can substitute a local Merlot or one from another area though keep in mind that Fletcher paired her food and wines very carefully.
Maggie’s Ranch Chicken
Ranch chicken has nothing to do with ranch dressing, says Katie Wetzel Murphy of Alexander Valley Vineyards. “It’s what we called this dish as kids,” she recalls. “It seems that my mother, Maggie, only made it when we came to ‘The Ranch,’ which is what we called the vineyards before we had a winery.” Baked with honey, mustard, and tarragon, the quartered chicken emerges with a crisp brown skin, and the sweet aroma draws everyone to the kitchen. “Kids like it and adults like it,” says Katie, “and most of the food we make has to be that way.”
1 whole chicken, 4 to 4 1/2 pounds, backbone removed, then quartered
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup honey
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 fresh tarragon sprigs, each 6 inches long
Wine: Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the chicken quarters all over with salt and pepper. Put the quarters into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
In a small saucepan, combine the honey, butter, and mustard over low heat and stir until the butter melts. Pour the honey mixture evenly over the chicken. Place a tarragon sprig on each quarter.
Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, then remove the dish from the oven, spoon the dish juices over the chicken, and return the dish to the oven for 30 minutes more. The chicken will be fully cooked, with beautifully browned skin. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the juices to settle.
Antipasto Platter with Southern-Style Pickled Okra
Makes 6 pints
“Napa Valley’s Regusci Winery proprietor, Laura Regusci, developed a passion for pickling in her grandmother’s Kentucky kitchen,” he writes. The family pastime began as a way to preserve vegetables for winter and share homegrown gifts with neighbors. Today, Laura carries on the tradition, growing okra and other seasonable vegetables in the Regusci estate garden for pickling. Each Thanksgiving, pickled okra adds a southern spirit to the family’s antipasto board
3 pounds small okra
6 cups distilled white vinegar
4 cups water
1/2 cup kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
For Each Pint Jar:
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon dill seeds
6 black peppercorns
6 cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 fresh oregano sprig
1 bay leaf
Pinch of ground coriander
Pinch of red chile flakes
When creating the antipasto platter use the pickled vegetables along with alongside figs, salami, other charcuterie meats, and marinated veggies like artichokes.
Suggested Wine: Regusci Winery Rosé
Have ready six sterilized pint canning jars and two-part lids. Trim the okra stems if needed to fit the whole pods upright in the jars. Otherwise, leave the stems intact.
In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Keep hot.
Into each of the six jars, put the mustard seeds, dill seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, garlic, oregano, bay leaf, coriander, and chile flakes. Fill the jars with the okra, packing it in upright—alternating the stems up and down if needed—as tightly as possible. Fill the jars with the hot liquid, leaving 1/4-inch headspace, and top each jar with a flat lid and screw band. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, then cool on racks without disturbing.
Refrigerate any jars that failed to seal and use within 2 weeks. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Wait for at least 1 week before opening a jar to allow the flavor to mellow.
When Prince-Elector Friedrich V married Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James I in 1613, it was–like the majority of royal marriages—based on political alliances and gains. Love had nothing to do with it.
But sometimes it worked out differently and so it was between Friedrich and Elizabeth who fell in love. Heidelberg Castle, where they lived, was already old, dating back to 1200s and the Prince-Elector wanting Elizabeth to love her new home added an English Palace and an elaborate Baroque garden.
But theirs was to be a tragic love story. There were battles, a throne lost, regained, and then lost forever. During all that, Elizabeth bore 13 children before Fredrich died and she sought life in exile.
The castle, a romantic ruin of seemingly endless staircases and corridors taking you here, there, and sometimes nowhere, stands 330-feet above the Alstadt, Heidelberg’s wonderful old town. Towers and battlements protect stone facades, their decorative features still intact though the rooms behind them are gone. Views into the multitude of windows reveals not an interior but woods and the Neckar River below.
“Deserted, discrowned, beaten by the storms, but royal still, and beautiful,” is how Mark Twain described the Gothic-Renaissance castle. He was one of many poets and writers who spent time in what they considered the most romantic city in the world.
The castle is also home to the Heidelberg Tun, a 58, 124 gallon wine barrel said to be the largest in the world. It was built in 1751 on orders from Prince Elector Karl Theodor to store the wine paid in taxes by the region’s wine growers. We should all be so lucky to have too much wine.
Brews and Pork Knuckles
Taking the funicular down to the old town, I meet friends at Vetter’s Alt Heidelberger Brauhaus on Steingasse, Europe’s longest carless street. It’s one of those baronial style Germanic places with high ceilings, large wood beams, long tables and a lot of dark highly polished wood.
Famed for their Vetter’s 33, which they say is the strongest beer in the world, its alcohol content is—you guessed it—33%. But it isn’t all beer her, they’re famed for their traditional German food and so I decide to go full German, ordering the pork knuckle, sauerkraut and dumpling with gravy. Skipping the 33, I opt for the Hubier—a mix of the lager and elderberry syrup.
History, Luxury and a Family Touch
My love affair with the city began several years before when I checked into the five-star Hotel Europäischer Hof Heidelberg. The hotel, one of the few five-star family run hotels in Europe, opened in 1865 and has been owned by von Kretschmann family since around the turn of the last century.
I’d heard that Sylvia von Kretschmann, who with her husband Ernst-Friedrich, ran the hotel for a half-century before their daughter Dr. Caroline von Kretschmann took over, regularly did the hotel’s large floral arrangements. So it was no surprise when I ran into this very elegant woman doing just that in Die Kurfürstenstube, the hotel’s opulent dining room that opened in 1866. Such a romantic place and romantic tradition—how could I not fall in love?
My romance continued at Chocolaterie Knosel where owner Liselotte Knosel talked about studentenkussor or student kiss, a chocolate covered nougat created by her great grandfather Fridolin Knosel in 1863. His Café Knosel was frequented by male university students who admired women from a local finishing school who were, alas, chaperoned by their governesses. A gift of student kisses was a sly way to start a flirtation.
We don’t know how well it turned out for the students but these confections, still hand crafted, remain best sellers more than 150 years later. Café Knosel—the city’s oldest café—is my go to spot for coffee and a pastry at one of their outdoor tables overlooking the church on Marktplatz.
At dusk, on my last night, I boarded Patria, a 1930s ship for dining and a cruise along the Neckar River. Watching the city lights sparkle in the calm water, I knew that though my visit was ending, the romance was just beginning. I would be back.
For more information, visit www.heidelberg-marketing.de
Katie Quinn wasn’t content to just enjoy a chunk of the English classic Montgomery’s Cheddar, a hunk of crusty bread with a soft inner core from Apollonia Poilâne, or a glass of Nebbiolo, the grape variety from Northern Italy’s Piedmont region known for its strong tannins, high acidity and distinctive scent.
Instead, living in New York she had worked her way up from being an NBC page to her dream job as an on-camera host at Now This News, she found herself back home recuperating in Ohio after sustaining a traumatic brain injury in an accident. With time to ponder, her avid curiosity led her to ask a question—“how can I love these great foods–bread, wine, and cheese without knowing how they’re made?”
Of course, many of us would be content just to pour another glass of wine and slice a gooey piece of Brie, but Quinn couldn’t leave it there.
For some of use, including me, the realization that cheese and bread are as much a part of fermentation as wine is a revelation. It takes a little more connecting of dots to realize that cheeses are fermented dairy products and bread ferments through the use of yeast.
“I realized that there was a story to be told,” she says. “I could have just nerded out as a history geek to write the book, but I wanted to really experience the process of fermentation and how it creates these foods we love. I wanted this to be an immersive experience.”
And so in her newest cookbook, Cheese, Wine, and Bread: Discovering the Magic of Fermentation in England, Italy, and France (William Morrow 2021; $22.63 Amazon price), we follow Quinn on her all-encompassing road trip as she embarks upon an in-depth exploration of all three necessary food groups. She became a cheesemonger at Neal’s Yard Dairy, London’s premiere cheese shop. But that was just the start in her cheese career. Soon, she was working on a goat farm in rural Somerset where she describes the cute critters as just smart enough to be obnoxious. It was during her exploration that she discovered the role British women play in cheesemaking (you have to try her recipe for Cheddar Brownies which she’ll be demonstrating at her upcoming virtual book launch this Tuesday, April 27—see below for details on how to sign up).
Next she’s hanging with Apollonia Poilâne of Paris’ famed Poilâne Bakery, apprenticing at boulangeries in Paris learning the ins and outs of sourdough, and traveling the countryside to uncover the history of grains and understand the present and future of French bread and global bread culture. Next stop Italy, where she gives readers an inside look at winemaking with the Comellis at their family-owned vineyard in Northeast Italy and visits vintners ranging from those at small-scale vineyards to large-scale producers throughout the country. Taking a side road, so to speak, she discovers her great grandfather’s birth certificate and become eligible for dual citizenship. So entranced with the country, she and her husband Connor decided to make their home in the Puglia region in southern Italy.
Quinn, an author, food journalist, YouTuber, podcaster, and host, describes herself as having a real appetite to explore. A great storyteller, she also shares recipes such as Zucchini Carbonara, Tortellini in (Parmigiano Reggiano) Brodo, Ciambelline al Vino (Wine Cookies), and Walnut and Raisin Rye Loaf, which are interspersed through the book.
Virtual Book Launch of Cheese, Wine, and Bread.
When: Tuesday, Apr 27, 2021, 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM CST.
Cost: Book and shipping: This ticket includes a signed copy of the book and shipping – Shipping within USA only (THE BOOK WILL BE SHIPPED IN ABOUT A WEEK AFTER THE EVENT). $44 or Book and Ticket with pick-up at Anderson’s Naperville store. $34.
To join through Anderson’s or other bookstores throughout the U.S., visit katie-quinn.com/cheese-wine-and-bread-cookbook
The following recipe is from CHEESE, WINE, AND BREAD by Katie Quinn Copyright © 2021 by Katie Quinn. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Spaghetti all’Ubriaco (Drunken Pasta)
Coarse sea salt
12 ounces dried spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin
4 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup freshly grated
Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I like pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprigs of parsley, for garnish
Fill a large pot three-quarters full of water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous amount of coarse salt (the adage “It should taste like the sea” is a good gauge of how much). Cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than the instructions on the package for al dente. (You don’t want it to be completely cooked because it will continue cooking in the red wine later.)
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large, high-sided pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Pour the wine into the pan with the garlic and stir. Remove from the heat while the pasta finishes cooking.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
Add the pasta to the pan with the wine and garlic over medium heat and stir. Cook, occasionally stirring gently, for 2 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente and has absorbed most of the wine, taking on a plum hue.
Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the cheese and nuts. Stir in a tablespoon (or more) of the reserved pasta water; its starchiness mixes with the fat in the cheese to create a silky coating on the noodles. Finish with the nutmeg, season with salt and pepper, and stir to incorporate well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if you think the dish is asking for it.
Serve garnished with parsley and topped with more cheese and enjoy slurping down the drunken noodles.