Michel Schlumberger Wine and Food Pairing | Sonoma Wine Country

Summer Food & Wine Pairings with Michel Schlumberger

Michel Schlumberger Wine and Food Pairing | Sonoma Wine Country

I recently spent a GLORIOUS long weekend in Sonoma County, California. What was I doing there? WINE TASTING, obviously! I guess some people go to Sonoma to ride bikes or shop or something, but for me it’s 100% wine, 100% of the time. One of the many highlights I enjoyed on this Sonoma wine weekend was an afternoon at Michel-Schlumberger winery, where we toured the grounds and cellars before settling into the best part of the winery: a five-course food and wine pairing in their beautiful back garden.

Michel Schlumberger Wine and Food Pairing | Sonoma Wine Country

Before each course, the chef came out and introduced his course, which wine was paired with it, and why. Educational and delicious! I loved every bite and sip. Let’s recap together! You just might find some inspiration for your upcoming summer cookout… there’s so much more to backyard BBQ boozin’ than just beer.

Michel Schlumberger Wine and Food Pairing | Sonoma Wine Country

Course 1: Vietnamese Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Cup with Toasted Peanuts paired with NV Brut
Michel Schlumberger Wine and Food Pairing | Sonoma Wine Country

Why a sparkling wine with this shrimp course? The crisp brightness of the brut pairs well with the delicate flavors found in both shrimp and Vietnamese seasonings. Sparkling whites can also stand up nicely to spicy food, and this shrimp definitely had a kick to it!

Course 2: Bruschetta with Grilled Peaches, Ricotta, Toasted Pecans, and Estate Olive Oil paired with 2013 Gold Collection Chardonnay
Michel Schlumberger Wine and Food Pairing | Sonoma Wine Country


So this might not look like much from the photo, but this bruschetta was phenomenal. Peaches and soft cheese are always a great combo, but the toasted pecans and the kiss of olive oil really added a roundness to the dish. This particular chardonnay boasts a smooth, full, creamy body that can stand up to the richness of the olive oil. The fruity notes of the chardonnay ties in with the light, sweet peaches as well.

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Top 10 New Foods at the 2012 State Fairs

Well, in regards to ridiculous overloads of novelty foods, it’s all downhill from here—state fair season is over for the year. We’ll have to wait for months before a stream of deep-fried, chocolate-covered, bacon-wrapped indulgences can once again make their appearance in our diets. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the most shocking new creations that made their debut onto the state fair food scene in 2012. Steel your arteries…

10. BIG Beef Rib – California State Fair

You’d think that a normal beef rib would contain enough animal flesh, but you would be wrong, and the California State Fair is here to prove it. They’ve jammed a giant 24-oz. steak ONTO a 17-inch beef rib bone. Why?! Because they can. (Photo: Cavegrrl.com)

9. Deep Fried Cotton Candy – Texas State Fair

We saw deep fried Kool-Aid and deep fried salsa at last year’s state fairs, so we should have known that cotton candy couldn’t be that far off. Pretty crazy, because it seems like the spun sugar would melt in the deep fryer. Life is full of mysteries. Not enough sweets for you? Don’t worry, this treat is served by a frozen yogurt purveyor, so feel free to use these giant balls of fried sugar as a topping on your froyo. (Photo: Cassie’s Frozen Yogurt)

8. Outlaw Stacker – Eastern Idaho State Fair

We all know that french fries are a great base for all kinds of toppings, and the Eastern Idaho State Fair really took that idea and ran with it. The Outlaw Stacker is a huge pile of fries smothered in gravy, bacon, and a fried egg. The name rings true—health and nutrition are truly outlawed in this dish. And we’re okay with that. (Photo: Eastern Idaho State Fair)

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Top 10 New Foods of 2011

Another year gone by, another chance to look back fondly at the thousands of things we stuffed our faces with in 2011. After much internal debate, we’ve narrowed it down to just 10 — the very best new things we shoved in our mouths in 2011.

10. Tater Tot Poutine

Montreal’s greasiest, gravy-iest contribution to the food world, poutine officially became a trend back in 2010. It got even more amazing this year when chef Kyle Bailey of D.C.’s ChurchKey had the ingenious idea to replace the french fries with tater tots.

9. Kouign Amann

We first discovered this over-the-top traditional pastry, which is something like a croissant with twice as much butter and sugar, on a trip to Brittany, France this summer. Returning home, we were pleased to find it blowing up in the states. The best version we’ve tasted to far is the one above, from Starter Bakery in Oakland. It has also popped up at Dominique Ansel in New York and Bouchon Bakery in L.A.

8. Nouveau Filipino

Filipino food is among the most far-out in the world, so it was only a matter of time before it got a hipster update. From Adobo Hobo’s Filipino tacos in San Francisco to Maharlika’s spicy arroz caldo in New York (above), we’ll take all the creative Filipino cuisine we can get.

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Where’s the Toothpick? Lessons in Sustainability at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

I saw cheese. I wanted to try. I couldn’t figure out how. Where were the toothpicks?!?!

While in San Francisco last month, my guide Justin took me to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Browsing the strange, west coast juxtaposition of (summer) tomatoes—which are grown without water and is apparently a thing out there—and (winter) squashes and (tropical) avocados, brought this Northeasterner much pleasure and jealousy. But I found my curiosity pointed to a particular paper product.

I saw a stack of thin paperboard (pictured above) where a cup of toothpicks should have been. We got to the market late. My stomach growled. I needed samples to carry on, but my cross-country journey left me with little brain capacity.

How. To. Eat. Cheese. Where. Toothpick. Caveman thoughts bounced around in my head.

What. Is. Paper. Thing.

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Top 10 New Foods at the 2011 State Fairs

It’s America’s favorite meal — the state fair! Every year, the fairs across this great land compete with each other to invent bigger, badder, greasier fair food. But after Texas stepped up its game last year with deep fried beer, this thing hit a whole ‘nother level. The 2011 state and country fair foods have been more insane — and more amazing — than ever. Here are our top 10 favorite finds.

10. Chocolate Covered Corn Dog – Orange County Fair

Could there be anything more American than dipping a hot dog in batter, deep frying it and eating it off a stick? Why yes, there could be. You could cover it in chocolate and put sprinkles on top, a treat that was found at both the OC Fair and neighboring San Diego County Fair. My Burning Kitchen has more on food at the San Diego fair. (Photo: www.myburningkitchen.com)

9. Deep Fried Kool-Aid – San Diego County Fair

In another strong showing for California’s other great fair — and originator of last year’s hash brown covered hot dog, San Diego debuts what is surely the trashiest food ever conceptualized. It’s just unclear why they didn’t wrap it in bacon. (Photo: Cuttlefish)

8. Deep Fried Butter on a Stick – Iowa State Fair

Texas may have invented deep fried butter at their own fair a few years back, but Iowa thought to put it on a stick. See, America, we can do great things when we work together. Yes, this involves frying an entire stick of butter, and yes, you simply have to watch the video for full effect.

7. Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack – Texas State Fair

The first of several entries from the Lone Star state, this monstrosity is a chicken strip, coated in pancake batter and jalapeño bread crumbs, then deep fried and…you guessed it — eaten on a stick. (Photo: State Fair of Texas)

6. Red Velvet Funnel Cake – Florida State Fair

Funnel cake has fallen behind on the list of outrageous fair foods recently. After fried beer and fried Coke, plain old fried dough starts to look pale by comparison. But this year we saw funnel cake get a new southern fried twist that injects some new life into it…and probably injects all kinds of chemicals too. Why eat fried dough when you can eat red fried dough? (Photo: Bob B. Brown)

 Next: The Top 5 state fair foods


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It’s In, It’s Out, It’s Over

in and out

If you’ve ever known anyone from California, you have undoubtedly heard them go on (and on and on) about the glory of In-N-Out Burger, a fast food joint that, to hear them tell it, must have been founded by Jesus or something.

While I’m not here to hate on In-N-Out, I have to say that in my limited excursions to the golden state I’ve been a little underwhelmed. Yes, the lettuce and tomato are surprisingly fresh, and the beef patty is a huge improvement over McDonald’s — although if you ask me, that’s not a particularly high bar to clear. I’d pick this burger over McD’s any day, but I still say it’s no Shake Shack, and on a California road trip I’d choose fish tacos instead every time. I’m thinking In-N-Out is one of those things you don’t fully understand the love for if you didn’t grow up with it — like scrapple, or the Goonies.

The veggie gf, a SoCal native, is a fervent In-N-Out pusher even though, as you might have guessed, she doesn’t do meat. Instead she orders the off-the-menu item seen above, an animal style “grilled cheese,” which is actually a cheeseburger with the burger part removed — lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, pickles, cheese and secret sauce layered on a hamburger bun. Not bad for fast food, but I’m still not a disciple. I also dispute the classification of calling any sandwich that’s less than 50 percent cheese a “grilled cheese”

So am I wrong or what? Are there non-Californians out there who understand the unadulterated love for In-N-Out, or will I just never get it?

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Eatin’ Me Some Emu


NYE 2009 took me to the West Coast, where a couple of friends, my other half and I rented a cute little house in the Santa Ynez Valley near the Danish village of Solvang, which is famous for its wine, windmills, rolling mountains and the awful movie Sideways.

I could write about how beautiful the scenery was and how amazing the wines we tasted were but that really isn’t interesting compared to the amazing find I discovered — Ostrichland USA. In between Solvang and Buellton in the Santa Ynez Valley, this place is easy to miss, but well worth seeking out if only to gawk at the horrendously ugly and aggressive creatures that are the ostrich and emu, certainly a photo moment. But feeding these beasts and photo opportunities is not all this place has to offer…the foodie in me kicked in the moment I saw these monsters. I hit the brakes, turned the car around and said, “I want to eat that.”

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