Birthday Wine+Food Extravaganza

When Mrs. B's birthday was approaching, I asked her what she wanted to have for dinner.  My offer was to make anything and open any bottle of wine, because that's how we roll in Chéz Bakas. She just said she wanted some sort of cream based pasta and that's it.  I ended up making 2 courses because it was a school night, and she didn't get home until almost 8pm.  So here's what we had:

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Créme D'asperges Soup

paired with P Gimmonet Brut Champagne

2 lbs asparagus 1 large yellow onion, chopped 1 potato (wrap in a towel and microwave for 5 minutes, cut into cubes) 6 cups chicken broth 3 TBSP butter 4 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 TSP fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup créme fraîche or heavy cream 3/4 TSP sea salt 1 TBSP fresh ground pepper

Cut tips from a dozen asparagus

Cut asparagus into 1/2" pieces (not the base of each stalk - flavor is bitter). Cook onion, potato and garlic in 2 TBSP butter in large pot over medium low heat. Stir occasionally until onions are soft. Add 6 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil, then simmer covered until asparagus is soft - about 20 minutes.

Purée soup in small batches (seriously! small batches.  I burned the @#$* out of my hand when the top of the blender popped off).  Tranfer small batches into a large bowl.  Once all soup has been puréed into a smooth texture, pour back into the pot and add créme fraîche.  Add more broth to thin if needed.  Bring just to a boil and whisk in 1 TBSP of butter.

Add lemon juice, then serve garnished with reserved tips.

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Linguine with Lemon Orange Cream and Crab Cake

paired with 2007 Hahn SLH Pinot Gris

2 TBSP butter 3 shallots, minced 1 cup chicken stock (or broth) 2 TSP grated lemon peel 1 TSP grated orange peel 1/2 TSP cayenne pepper 1 cup frozen peas (thawed) 1 cup heavy cream 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice 12 oz Linguine (cooked) 3 TBSP fresh mint leaves, sliced thin salt and pepper fresh grated Parmesan cheese

For the crab cake I saved some time and picked one up from Whole Foods. My crab cake recipe of choice is here.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Sauté shallots until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add chicken stock and simmer over medium-high heat until it's reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Add cream, lemon and orange peel and cayenne pepper.  Simmer until sauce thickens—4 minutes.

Stir in peas, then simmer another 2 minutes.  Add in half the mint leaves and lemon juice.  Stir in cooked pasta until coated, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a large bowl or plate with crab cake on top, garnished with remaining mint leaves.  Add fresh grated Parmesan to taste.

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reBlog from palatepress.com: An Evening With Laurent Drouhin

 

I found this fascinating quote today on Palate Press:

Gourmet market Vine & Table played host, and Laurent chatted amiably with the attendees. “Do you let anyone pick your food for you?” he asked, when questioned about the 100-point rating system popular in the wine world. “Then why let them pick your wine? Trust your palate,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye, adding that this will eventually lead you to Burgundy.palatepress.com, An Evening With Laurent Drouhin, Apr 2010

You should read the whole article.

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7 Things You Didn't Know About A Charlie Brown Christmas

 

Cover from the soundtrack album for A Charlie ...
Image via Wikipedia

1. In 1963, television sponsor, Coca-Cola approached TV producer Lee Mendelson about doing a documentary about cartoonist Charles Schulz and his comic strip. The documentary led to a two minute film that became the first animated Peanuts characters.

2. Vince Guaraldi wrote some original music based on the piece, and that first composition became the tune called "Linus and Lucy."

3. The Peanuts documentary films was never sold, but CBS had committed to Coca-Cola. Executives from Coke asked Mendelson if he'd create a Christmas special. Charles Shulz spent the next week creating scenes called, "School Play", "Sad Christmas Tree", and "Ice Skating".

4. The Children who sing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing were from the Bay Area in California.

5. Animators had difficulty animating Charlie Brown's head because it was round. Side to side movement didn't look right. Many of the characters heads didn't look right after they made the jump from comic strip to animation.  Snoopy was the easiest character to animate which why he's in so many scenes.

6. CBS execs were not impressed when they previewed Charlie Brown Christmas. They didn't like the voices done by real kids, there was no laugh track, it moved too slow and they didn't like Linus reading from the Gospel of Luke. Execs were quoted as saying, "You can't read from the Bible on television." Ultimately, CBS had made a commitment to their sponsor and reluctantly aired the special.

Charlie Brown and Linus
Charlie Brown and Linus

7. The originally airing of Charlie Brown Christmas brought in 15.4 million viewers, placing it second in ratings behind Bonanza. Charles Schulz and Lee Mendelson won an Emmy award for Outstanding Children's Programming.

Holiday Wine+Food Pairing Recipes

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Strawberry and Almond Spinach Salad

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INGREDIENTS 1 LB baby spinach leaves, washed 1/2 cup sliced green onions 1/3 cup slivered almonds, drizzled with honey and slightly toasted 1 cup sliced strawberries 2-3 TBSP chopped fresh dill

INGREDIENTS FOR DRESSING: 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1/4 cup sugar or Truvia 1 TSP garlic, minced 1/4 TSP sea salt 1/4 TSP fresh ground pepper 1/4 TSP dry mustard powder 1/4 TSP onion powder 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, sugar or Truvia, olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper, dry mustard and onion powder.

Wash dill and pat dry or use a spinner. Trim off feathery ends, discarding thick stems. finely chop dill and set aside. Wash and slice strawberries.

Wash spinach and spin dry or pat dry with paper towels. Place spinach in large mixing bowl. Thinly slice green onions and add to spinach in bowl. Add slivered toasted almonds and chopped dill and mix together.

Whisk dressing a few time to be sure it's well-mixed, then add desired amount of dressing to salad and toss.  To keep dressing from making leaves heavy, pour dressing around sides of bowl mixing spinach against it rather than pouring dressing directly on to spinach.

Arrange salad on individual serving plates. Toss sliced strawberries with 1-2 TBSP of dressing, then arrange strawberries over salad on each plate and serve.

Wine Pairings: The strawberries deliver a bit of tanginess that would benefit from a touch of salt and pepper. This recipe is meant to be easy to make and easy to transport to parties. It's colorful, it's light and it's healthy. Better yet, this recipe is created to pair with wines you'd expect to find at holiday parties like Chardonnay or Pinot Gris. An unoaked Chardonnay will be even better because the fruit and acidity will be more complimentary with the strawberries. Here's a few wines I'd recommend:

+ Bethel Heights Pinot Gris - Oregon + Spann Vineyards Chardonnay/Viognier - Sonoma + St. Supéry Oak Free Chardonnay - Napa

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Roast Lamb with Shallots, Mint and Mustard

Roast Lamb Chops

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS For lamb: 1 crown of lamb made from two 8-rib racks (about 4 1/2 pounds total) 3 TBSP butter, room temperature 1 TBSP plus 1/2 TSP Dijon mustard 2 TSP dried rosemary

1 cup dry white wine large shallots, chopped 1/4 cup chicken stock 3 TBSP fresh mint, chopped

For Spring Vegetables with Mint: 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, halved 1 baby carrot bunch, stems trimmed to 1 inch, peeled 1 10 OZ. basket pearl onions, peeled 1 LB fresh asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into thirds

3 TBSP butter 3 TBSP fresh mint, chopped

Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon mustard and 1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary in bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place lamb in roasting pan. Rub all over with butter mixture. Roast 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. and continue roasting until thermometer inserted into lamb registers 140°F. for medium-rare, about 40 minutes. Transfer lamb to platter; let stand 15 minutes.

Pour off fat from roasting pan and set pan aside. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over low heat. Add shallots and 1/2 teaspoon rosemary; sauté until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add wine to roasting pan and bring to boil over high heat, scraping up any browned bits. Add wine to skillet. Add stock; boil until slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon mustard and mint. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon vegetables in center of and around roast. Serve, cutting lamb into chops and spooning sauce over.

To make spring vegetables: Place potatoes in vegetable steamer and steam 10 minutes. Add carrots and onions and steam until vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes longer. Add asparagus and steam until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes more.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mint and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and stir until vegetables are coated with butter.

Wine Pairings: The right selection of lamb will make all the difference. Colorado lamb is some of the best in the country and should be readily available at most decent markets. The resulting holiday dish will be tender and flavorful which bodes well for a lighter style red wine. Cabernet or high alcohol reds will most likely overpower the flavors. Here's a few I recommend:

+ Chateau Musar Rouge 1995 - Lebanon + Twisted Oak River of Skulls - Calaveras County, CA

+ Lucienne Pinot Noir Doctor's Vineyard - Central Coast, CA

+ Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc - Walla Walla, WA

Pinot_Doctor's_07

 

Herb Crusted Filet of Beef

tenderloin

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS 1 3-lb. Beef Tenderloin 3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1/2 cup Madeira 2/3 cup Vermouth 1/4 Cognac 1 bay leaf 1 TBSP butter 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 TBSP marjoram 1 TBSP fresh thyme, chopped 1/2 cup cold water sea salt and pepper

HERB CRUST: 3 slices white bread, crusts removed 1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped (thyme, marjoram, rosemary, parsley) 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

At least 2 hours before cooking, combine all ingredients together (not Herb Crust or Madeira) in a large bowl or pan. Place meat in mixture and cover entire cut of beef with herb mix. Refrigerate for later cooking.

To make herb crust, place bread in food processor with herbs and garlic. Process until well blended and fine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grill Method: Preheat grill to medium high. Take beef out of marinade and set marinade aside for later. Cook each side of meat 4 minutes or so giving it a nice sear on all sides. After searing, move beef to upper rack or cooler side of grill and cook 20 minutes.

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 425°F. Oven sear beef (brown sides, about 5-7 minutes each side) then reduce heat to 350°F. Cook for 30-35 minutes making sure to baste throughout cooking.

After beef is done cooking, remove filet from grill or oven and place on a platter, then cover with foil tent. Place platter in oven with oven off and door open, or with the oven on WARM for 20 minutes. Take the marinade that was set aside and pour it into a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil and reduce liquid by half, add madeira, then reduce by half. Serve sauce on the side late with beef. If you cooked the beef in the oven, you can use the roasting pan instead of a small saucepan so you get all the yummy bits.

To finish, rub herb crust mixture all over beef, brush a light amount of olive oil if needed. Place herb-covered beef back on the grill and cook each side about 2-3 minutes per side taking care to not burn the crust. If using the oven, broil each side for 2-3 minutes taking care to avoid burning.

Carve beef and serve with sauce on side.

Wine Pairings: Here's a regal beef dish that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. If you actually like the people you have over at your house you can bring out the good wines to impress them. Better yet, pull out a magnum. If it's your family and they're driving you up one wall and down another you can opt for the lower tier swill. If you dine at Chez Bakas, chances are it's all good stuff. Because this beef dish requires a little extra preparation, why not serve a wine that's got a little extra Bruce Lee round house kick to the taste buds? I'd serve these wines with this dish:

+ Quinta do Crasto Old Vines Reserva - Portugal + Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - Washington + St. Supéry Dollarhide Ranch Cabernet - Napa + Vilafonté Series C - South Africa

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Garlic Roasted Chicken

garlic roasted chicken

INGREDIENTS 1 free ranch whole chicken 2 whole heads of garlic, unpeeled and cut in half horizontally 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 cup white wine 3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, Marjoram Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375° Rinse chicken inside and out with cold water. Drain and pat dry. Mix together 1 TBSP fresh ground pepper, 1TBSP sea salt and herbs in a small bowl. In a 9x14 roasting pan, cover chicken with olive oil making sure to coat entire bird. Rub salt, pepper and herb mixture all over chicken including inside the cavity. Wrap chicken legs together with string. Put halved garlic heads into pan around chicken. Put roasting pan in oven on center rack and cook for 20 minutes. Baste chicken with wine and roast for another 25 minutes. Baste chicken again using pan juices. Turn chicken over and repeat process. After 90 minutes chicken skin should be golden brown. Chicken is done when clear juices run from thigh after poking with a knife.

Place chicken on platter with tail in the air so moisture and juices flow downhill to breast meat. Cover with foil and let chicken stand 10 minutes before serving with roasted garlic.

Wine Pairings: Here's a chicken dish that'll go with that buttery butterball Chardonnay you've been wanting to open. It's chicken. Keep it simple and enjoy! A few wines I'd serve:

+ Au Bon Climat Nuits Blanches Chardonnay - Santa Barbara + Sokol Blosser Evolution - Oregon + Domaine Jean-Marc Vincent, Les Hautes, Auxey-Duresses 2006 - Burgundy

Snowball Cookies

snowball cookies

INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup butter 2 TBSP sugar 1 TSP vanilla 3/4 cup chopped pecans 1 cup flour 1/4 TSP salt Powdered sugar

Cream butter Add all other ingredients, except the powdered sugar. Mix well. Shape into 1" balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes. These should be light in color, not brown. Cool and roll in powdered sugar.

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Shackford's: The Best Kitchen Store in America

By the time people reach 80 years old they're most likely retired or taking it easy somewhere with grandchildren.  Not John Shackford—he still runs Shackford's in downtown Napa roaming the aisles answering any question about anything and everything related to kitchen gadgetry.  John is a walking encyclopedia of kitchen knowledge with several decades of knowledge tucked away in his noggin.

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Shackford's is a family business specializing in all things kitchen, including parts.  You can find virtually anything you need for any kitchen tool there in stock.  You have a Cuisinart coffee maker made in 2001 that needs a replacement thingy?  He's got it, or he'll get it.  And John is on top of the trends too.  Today he mentioned paella pans being a hot item this winter.

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What's even better are the prices.  In 2009 consumers have become savvy at finding bargains, and this place if full of them.  Everything in the store is on sale.  It's like combining TJ Maxx with Williams-Sonoma in a hardware store setting.  Aisles and aisles of pristine pots, pans, spoons, racks, platters, glassware and anything else you can image are all packed onto basic looking wooden shelves.  This is the kind of store foodies would geek out in for hours.

Shackford's is open Monday thru Saturday 9:30-5:00.

Shackford's on Yelp

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Visiting Wineries: Half the Fun is Getting There

Oak wine barrels at the Robert Mondavi vineyar...
Image via Wikipedia

Guest post from Kevin Vandever

My wife and I along with friends, Peter and Renee, were visiting Paso Robles, CA for some wine tasting about 4 years ago and we decided to start our Saturday's tasting tour at Hansen's Winery. Bruce Hansen and his wife Sheila run Hansen's and are very nice people so we all hit it off pretty quickly. The fun started in the tasting room with their outstanding Cabs, Zins, and one of the best Viogniers I have ever tasted, but soon expanded to placed beyond. Bruce seemed to feed off our enthusiasm for his wine so he invited Peter and me to check out his operation. He gave us a tour of his facility, let us push the "cake" (the grape skins) back into the juice, and even allowed us to play mad scientists with him as we blended various samples from the barrel room. That was especially fun and we came up with some great blends. While Peter and I were experimenting in the barrel room, Sheila was giving the ladies a tour of the rest of the property, which included feeding and walking her horses. We all were having such a great time, but were getting hungry so they invited us to stay for a late afternoon lunch. We had been shopping earlier that day and had picked up stuff for sandwiches so we set up a picnic table, broke out our food, and enjoyed some Hansen wine for lunch. In total, we spent around 7 hours at Hansen's and left just in time to visit another winery or two before joining them at their favorite restaurant for dinner that evening. We have become good friends with the Hansen's and no trip to Paso is complete without visiting their place. We sometimes stay in their guest house. Whatever the case, we have learned to make Hansen's our last stop if we care at all about sampling anyone else's wine

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Getting Engaged in Napa - A Survival Guide for When the Ring Gets Lost

Reposted from www.frankloveswine.com

People travel from all over the world for that romantic gesture in Wine Country. Rick Bakas tells his story of his perfect proposal gone awry. Rick, I'm laughing as I'm reading this now, but I'm sure it was a challenge then! Congratulations for your Happy Union.

rickjamie

In May 2007 I was planning on being in San Francisco for the Broadbent Selection annual wine importer sales meeting. At the time I was a broker for Bartholomew Broadbent, one of the most well known people in the world of wine. Bartholomew’s father, Michael Broadbent has been a major force involved with Decanter magazine and Christie’s wine auctions for decades.

The annual sales meeting is always a great time. My girlfriend’s father, Jim, worked for me representing the portfolio in the state of Colorado. Jim and I were planning on attending the sales meeting together, however, I was planning something bigger.

I was planning on proposing to his daughter, Jaimie in Napa. Both of our families are all about wine and food, and early on in our relationship I had the notion of proposing in a wine-related setting.

The little wheels in my head started turning as I thought about Jim and I being in San Francisco at the same time. I really wanted our families there for the event. My challenge would be to get his wife and Jaimie out there at the same time without Jaimie catching on. We had talked about getting married, but Jaimie is a pretty smart cookie. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to sneak one by her. At Christmas it’s almost pointless wrapping gifts for her. She’ll pick up a box, and shake it. Then she’ll guess what it is. If I was going to surprise her, I had to plan carefully.

As if the heaven’s opened and the planets aligned, my Mom’s 60th birthday just happened to be that same week. Jaimie’s Mom was also turning 60 the following week. Long story short, I used the 60th birthdays as an excuse to get everyone out to Napa to celebrate first class-style.

Once her parents and my Mom booked their flights I moved onto phase two of the plan–getting the ring. I had been saving my pennies to eh’er...uh, what am I saying pennies?? I had been saving my Ben Franklin’s waiting for the day to buy the ring. I went to our family jeweler.

I hemmed and hawed waiting for the perfect diamond to reveal itself. Since the jeweler was a friend, he gave me a fair price, but he also offered to save me about $250 by mailing the ring out to California for me. I asked how often he had been mailing expensive pieces of jewelry. He replied he had been mailing diamonds and rings for 40 years. I asked him if he had ever lost anything in the mail. About once every seven years. I asked how long it had been since the last time something was lost. Three years. That, and everything is insured.

Okay, sounds good to me. I asked him to send the ring to Spann Vineyards in Sonoma, the place we’d be staying.

So we get to California and I’m having breakfast in downtown San Francisco with Jim during the sales meeting. I ask for his permission and he’s delighted. The sales meeting ends and we all head out of downtown on our way up to wine country.

Peter Spann of Spann Vineyards calls me while we’re in the car with Jaimie and her parents–he tells me the ring didn’t show up. I shit my pants. But at this point only Jim knows what’s up. Jaimie could see the color leave my face and my facial expression looked like I was going to throw up, probably because I was.

I hung up and Jaimie asks me what’s wrong. What I wanted to say was I had spent the last three months orchestrating a proposal, only to have the ring get lost in the mail. But what came out was some excuse about an expensive bottle of wine getting lost. We have a few gems in the cellar for a special occasion. I said I had mailed one out to celebrate the Mom’s birthdays.

The whole ride up to wine country was similar to having a root canal for two hours. It was painful but I felt numb.

Once we got to Spann Vineyards, Peter wanted to give us a tour of the winery before having lunch in the vineyard. His wife, and brilliant wine maker, Betsy, was inside helping me breathe into a paper bag while we tried contacting the post office to see where my ring was. What was I going to do? The following day I was going to propose to my girlfriend in front of our families with no ring.

Peter and Betsy Spann attend all sorts of wine country events, including a charity auction where there was costume jewelry handed out. Betsy had a fake diamond ring from that event.

uberrock
It just happened to be the right size, but the “diamond” didn’t resemble the diamond I had bought. It looked like a 20-carat golf ball sized über rock. Only celebrities and people who own islands buy diamonds this size. I had no choice. It was über rock or call the whole thing off.
Wow! The following day was surreal. I don’t know how most guys feel when they know they’re going to propose, but imagine that feeling AND having lost a diamond ring in the mail AND proposing with a stunt double ring.

We got to Silverado where the view overlooking the valley was ideal. It was a perfect spring day and everything was set. Was I going to do this? Had to remember to breathe. What would she think when I pull this gaudy fake ring out of my pocket on one knee? What if she said no? How could a serious moment happen without THE ring?

As I proposed, I explained the phone call in the car and how a bottle of fine wine wasn’t lost, but her ring. She said yes and wore that ring until we located the real one, which was two weeks later. What’s funny is right after I proposed, everyone in the Silverado tasting room saw what happened and gave us a round of applause. There was a bus full of girls there. As we walked by them to the tasting bar we could see them eyeballing the ring making all sorts of funny faces. One girl leaned over to her friend and mentioned under her breath how gaudy the ring was.

Jaimie went with it and told the girls I was a shipping tycoon.

The story has a happy ending because we located the ring. But Jaimie wore that big ol’ fake rock with pride until we did, and now we have a fun story to tell. After all, isn’t that what life and marriage is all about? Good stories are what binds family. Especially when you can laugh about it, like we do now. Thanks to Peter and Betsy for saving the day. We served Spann Vineyards wine at our wedding with a special bottle of Silverado for the main table.

spann
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A Big, Fat THANK YOU!

This week something fantastic happened—a winery name St. Supéry hired me to talk about their brand using social media. I'm not sure it's sunk in yet, but I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. We ask kids all the time what they want to be when they grow up. I'm pretty sure when I was a kid my answer was not, "I want to be a wine and food blogger." But now that I think about it, that career test they gave me back in high school seems pretty accurate now. This new career change will be a blast, but it'll also be hard work. Without a doubt, this wouldn't have happened without the generosity of so many people who have been supportive along the way, especially on Twitter and Facebook. Here is an honor roll of some of the people who helped make this happen (and who should now proceed directly to the winery in Napa so I can give them the VIP treatment):

Thank you to the following people who have helped (if you don't already, follow these VIPs): @jaimiebakas - You are my every reason and I'd be incomplete without you. Your support makes this possible. @tekee - Ted lives nearby, and is always supporting the Bakas' @totalbev - My local wine shop not only rockin' it on Twitter, but now part of TasteLive.com online tastings. @misternoodle - My co-blogger on BlogBQue.com. Russ and I met on Twitter, then in person in Chicago, now working together. @shellykramer - My other co-blogger on BlogBQue. Shelly, Russ and I talk often and just really clicked. @alohaarleen - One of Twitter's top 3 tweeters spreading her positive vibe far and wide. There's a reason she has such a large following! @zaibatsu - One of the "Big Dogs" in social media. This CO tweeter usually ranks as one of the most influential people on Twitter with over 80,000 followers @robmcnealy - Another "Big Dog" with about 100,000 followers on Twitter. Rob is a CO tweeter who is in another league @Jason_Pollock - A cool film maker from NY. Jason's new film, The Youngest Candidate is produced by Pulp Fiction & An Inconvenient Truth team @lesleykeffer - Lesley is the VP at St. Supéry.  Her vision of where the wine business is going made all this possible. @ginidietrich - Chicago-based wine+food lover. Gini is the CEO of Arment Dietrich and author of spinsucks.com @carece - There's not enough room here to list all the reasons Carece is a Twitter VIP. She is one of the top 3 people you could ever follow. @modishplum - Denver based all around stud chica who has a food blog of her own. @lisaadamswalter - Lisa and I talk wine frequently. She was one of the first people in the wine industry who really seemed to have a good online presence. @OliviaWilder - Internet Talk Radio host, portrait painter, writer, lover of life and laughter. Eternal Optimist. @edo_au - Ed Sullivan and I have been talking, tweeting and sharing since last fall. Ed is a wine & food lover in Sydney, Australia. Check him out! @jansimpson - I like Jan. She has a rather large following for a reason. Discover why. @jennyjenjen - Jen is a recent CU grad who works in PR, and actually gets social media. PR firms would be smart to hire her. @sweetnote - Like her name indicates :) @electromute - One of the coolest people in Boulder, and one of the most kick butt developers at Gnip. @jerell - Husband in love to @Salus, MBA, PMP, CoFounder of Salus Bath and Body Care (Natural, Organic), www.iFollowBack.com, US Marine @salus - Founder/Owner of SALUS, custom natural and organic, bath and body care. @pmabray - Paul is one of the founders of VinTank. He's brought together a group of 8 people under the VinTank 4+ endorsement who are kind of like the Justice League of wine @michelleflores - Michelle brings a positive message every day to Twitter. She's another CO tweeter who's always very supportive of others. @MediaMum - She's Australian, she lives in Boulder, she is a great person and important member of the online community. What's not to like? @StrawberryToast - Victoria is a chef in NY with an impressive track record. She helps make my wine+food pairings better by suggesting things I hadn't thought of to make the meal even better. @MistyMontano - The cosmic glue that connects the state of CO with CBS4 news. She's the eyes and ears of this state. @ThePicMan - One of my first Twitter friends. We started talking about bacon a year and a half ago and haven't looked back. @Spaulds1 - Susan checks in every day with a positive, "how are you today?" greeting. She is supportive of many, lover of all. @Bptbtrfly - Kathleen is a wine and food lover, and helps share my wine+food pairings daily with her followers. @allison1j - When she's not running the PR firm Conking, Fiskum & McCormick she's up for supporting a goode cause @KimSherrell - Anyone who follows Kim knows she is one of the best Twitter personalities mixing humor with good vibes @MayhemStudios - Calvin is often one of the most ReTweeted people on Twitter with good reason. His blog and design tips are the best online. @JaxLicurse - I see Jackie on Twitter just about every day consistently interacting and supporting others. @lorimoreno - Lori is not only THE most positive person on Twitter, but she makes some cool little designs in her tweets using text characters. @StewartStudio - Diane is another CO tweeter who has supported the cause @Iconic88 - One of my favorite Aussie Tweeters sharing good vibes and loves good food! @givemebargains - Nat is awesome and she RT's whenever we're online at the same time. She's consistent and positive. @Tatiana_K - There's so many great people to list, Tatiana should be higher up the list because of her pleasant vibe she brings to Twitter. I look for her tweetage. @birdsall - Maureen runs Birdsall Interactive. She's doing some cool stuff and we have many same interests: wine, food, site design, social media, etc.... @naomimimi - Yet another awesome CO tweeter who "gets" social media, and she's very supportive of others. @passionsista - Quality tweetage from a quality human being. She's awesome, really awesome. @pugofwar - Ef is like my brother in the bonds of bacon from Boulder. @wineevangelist - We love talking about wine! @CMChadwick - I met Chris at a tweetup, and have had lunch a few times. He's a great CO tweeter who's reach is far and wide @geekmommy - If there's anyone in CO who gets social media more than Lucretia I'd like to meet them. She knows how to "mom it forward" @ColeDavid - David is one of the few wine people who "gets" social media. We've been chatting for almost a year now. @buzzedition - Everyone knows Susan aka BuzzEdition and her famous ~hugs~ sign off on each tweet. @ladydreamer823 - She didn't just vote, she voted 3 times! Any friend of Ted (aka @tekee) is a friend of mine. @Whitsundays - Another one of my favorite Aussie tweeters. Alf is the go-to tweeter for all things related to Queensland. @terri5me2000 @froggie775 @ejoep @southplatte - CO based tweeter I hope to meet some day. @TanyaNoel - One of my newer friends on Twitter. We met via @misternoodle. @timbury - Tim is a cool dude, and always has a way of supporting you when you least expect it. @mclinklove - One of the newer Twitter VIPs. This guy gets it. @Bradinator - We love wine. We love bacon. You can still crash at our place when you come for ski season @gravyfloid - The coolest avatar on Twitter. Period. @isweatbutter - We met because I sweat bacon. Paula Deen loves us. @stoc - More great wine and social media vibes. @TheBigKlosowski - Allen is a CO tweeter who has a sizeable following for a reason. Check him out. @EmmaRileySutton - Thank you @mbernier - Matt and I met a few times in person, he's a cool dude working on a useful Twitter app. @Rajean - Supporting my quest on Facebook and Twitter @donnawhite - Thanks for the RT love

If I didn't add you to the list, it isn't on purpose. Please let me know. I have ADD sometimes and forget but you should be acknowledged. Cheers!

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Steamboat Wine Festival: July 30th-August 2nd, 2009

Now in its sixth year, the Steamboat Wine Festival is happening again at the end of July in Steamboat, Colorado.  If  you aren't able to partake in the festivities at Aspen Food&Wine in June, check out the laid back vibe in Steamboat.  This year, Top Chef winner, Hosea Rosenberg will be doing a demonstration on Friday. Walk About

You can do the walk down Steamboat's main drag, or sign up for the seminars at the base of Steamboat's ski area.  Last year there were two Master Sommelier's leading a horizontal tasting of 2005 White Burgundies.  That was priceless!

The city Steamboat is nestled along a slow moving river, which only makes the walk around Steamboat that much better as some of the tasting tents are located along the river.  Last year, after the festival was over I got a bunch of friends together and we all rented inner tubes to float down the river.  It was a great way to end the weekend.  If inner tubing isn't your speed, you can drive about 15 minutes to the hot springs Steamboat is famous for.  Strawberry Springs is very rustic, but very cool.  The owner has spent considerable time and money developing the site for the ultimate hot springs experience.  For example, there are 3 main pools, all with different temperatures but all have smooth cushy gravel on the bottom for a groovy feeling on your feet.  If the springs look good during the day, you should see it at night!

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The festival begins on Thursday with a VIP wine tasting at the top of Steamboat's ski area.  Patrons ride the gondola up to Three Peaks Grill where they are treated to stunning views of Colorado's pristine landscape.  Friday is the walk about in the town, and Saturday is the main event.   On Saturday visitors are treated to over 800 wines, breweries and spirits as well as a wide range of food companies.  In 2008 over 3,000 attendees enjoyed the Steamboat Wine Festival.  2009 looks to be bigger and better than the previous five festivals.

The View Overlooking Steamboat

This year you can use the discount code, "RICK" to get 10% off tickets. Fortunately, Steamboat has priced tickets a la carte you can pick what you want and leave the rest, kind of like a salad bar.  If you go, stop by and say 'hi' or use the hash tag #SteamboatWF on Twitter to connect.  Cheers!

The Main Event at the Base of the Mountain

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A Great Nugget of Knowledge

I came across this entry from Chris Anderson's book: The Long(er) Tail. It's a quote from Frog Design that seemed appropriate here: "We are leaving the Information Age and enter the Recommendation Age. Today information is ridiculously easy to get; you practically trip over it on the street. Information gathering is no longer the issue–making smart decisions based on the information is now the trick...Recommendations serve as shortcuts through the thicket of information, just as my wine shop owner shortcuts me to obscure French wines to enjoy with pasta."

2008 Year in Review

http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=13731&l=b5b40&id=1032596069Dopplr travel picks of the year:

Albuquerque, San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma, Aspen (Aspen Food&Wine), Steamboat Springs (Steamboat Food&Wine), Bend, Portland, Willamette Valley wine region, San Francisco, Napa, Lake County, San Francisco, Russian River, Redwoods, Oregon Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Coonawara, Yarra Valley, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Whitsunday Islands, Cairns and of course beautiful Boulder, Colorado.  Whew!  What a year.