Thursday, April 29, 2010

In Spring, Think Green

What's in season?
We used to keep a running list of seasonal produce on this blog. Somewhere along the way, the list disappeared. But we always get so many questions about eating seasonally and it's good to remind ourselves what fruits and veggies are at their peak. We don't want to miss the peak of artichoke season when the hearts of these delicious veggies are at their meatiest. Nor do we want to miss the sweet crunch of in-season asparagus. Eating seasonally is not only good for the's wonderful for the taste buds.

So what's at it's best this spring? Think green.

Artichokes & Asparagus are the first arrivals that truly say spring is here. The best artichokes come from Castroville where they host a great festival in May, all things artichoke.

Cherries are some of the first of the summer fruit to arrive on the scene. You can typically find Bing and Rainier cherries toward the end of May.

Mushroom gatherers are busy in the spring hunting for the elusive morel mushroom. These sponge-like mushrooms have a rich, nutty flavor that makes them extremely popular with mushroom lovers.

Peas make their appearance in the spring and continue to proliferate throughout the summer.

Radishes are at their crunchiest and tastiest in spring.

Written by Linzi

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Local Markets Get Back Into Full Swing

Summer is just around the corner and local Farmers’ Markets are gearing back up for a season of juicy tomatoes, sweet corn, delicious berries and so much more. There are plenty of markets to choose from throughout wine country. Here are a few of our favorites.

St. Helena Farmers’ Market

You’ll find a great selection of local farmers, artisan food makers and crafts at the St. Helena Farmers’ Market. Check out their web site for chef’s demos featuring some of the Napa Valley’s finest chefs.

Opening day is Friday, May 7th.

Fridays, 7:30-Noon, Crane Park

Oxbow Farmers’ Market

Farmer’s Market is back in downtown Napa in the Oxbow Market parking lot. Grab a cup of Ritual Coffee inside the market before heading outside to shop for your local fruits and veggies. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning. Opening day is Saturday, May 1st.

Saturdays, Oxbow Public Market

Healdsburg Farmers’ Market

Most of the vendors at the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market come from farms within a 10-mile radius of Healdsburg Plaza. Don’t miss the cooking demonstrations hosted by Relish Culinary Adventures on the second Saturday of every month.

Opening day is Saturday, May 1st.

Saturdays, 9am-Noon, Healdsburg Plaza

Sonoma Plaza Farmers’ Market

Enjoy local food, crafts, non-profit booths and seasonal flowers at this lively evening market. Most evenings you will also be able to enjoy live music.

Tuesdays, 5:30pm-dusk, Sonoma Plaza

Opens in April

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Out and About in Wine Country

This weekend brought the season’s first real sunshine (and heat!) to Northern California, giving us a taste of what’s to come. It’s been a long winter and if you’re like us, you are probably ready to step out from that winter slumber and get active. If you’re lucky enough to live in Wine Country, or maybe just planning a summer visit, there are plenty of great events coming up to keep you active well through summer.

Women for WineSense Grand Event
Don’t miss this stellar lineup of wine and food seminars, winery tours, tastings and more, featuring some of the best women winemakers in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. There are several great events throughout the weekend, but the highlight is the amazing seminars and luncheon at the Culinary Institute of America on Saturday.
April 30th – May 2nd
Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena

Cheers! St. Helena
The 2010 Cheers! St. Helena season officially gets under way Friday, May 7th. Enjoy wine, restaurants, entertainment and shopping as St. Helena merchants open their doors to neighbors and visitors. Over 100 wineries pour in St. Helena’s downtown shops the first Friday of every month from May to October.
May 7th – October 1st
Downtown St. Helena

Passport to Sonoma Valley
Tour Sonoma Valley as over 50 wineries pour their wines with delicious food pairings and other entertainment. Many wineries have special offers and wine discounts during this festive weekend.
May 15th- 16th

Sonoma Jazz + Festival
This 4-day event takes place over Memorial Day weekend in downtown Sonoma and includes performances by world-class jazz musicians and a food and wine extravaganza.
May 21st – 23rd
Downtown Sonoma

Wine, Women & Shoes
It’s the perfect combination - sip Napa Valley wines and enjoy hors d’oeuvres from Napa Valley’s finest restaurants, all while shopping for the perfect pair of stilettos! Proceeds from the event support Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo.
Sunday, June 27th

Festival del Sole, Napa Valley
Enjoy concerts by some of the world’s most celebrated musical artists at Napa Valley’s Festival del Sole. This ten-day event live music, five-star cuisine, wine tasting and great entertainment. Events are held throughout the Napa Valley.
Friday, July 16 – Sunday, July 25

Written by Linzi

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chinese Chicken Salad

Here’s a great spring salad that makes a perfect main dish or side. This refreshing salad loads up the cilantro, ginger and crispy snow peas for a fresh and refreshing flavor. Pairs best with a white wine – try Riesling or maybe even a Viognier.


3 teaspoons sesame oil

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped

1/4 head red cabbage, shredded

1/2 head romaine lettuce, shredded

½ head Napa Cabbage

2 carrots, shredded

1 cup snow peas, lightly chopped

1 small bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

1/4 cup chopped green onions

2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken

1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts

1 cup fried crispy wontons

Salt and pepper to taste


In a small bowl, mix vinegar, ginger, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, and oil together, and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss together shredded lettuce, cabbage, lettuce, cilantro, carrots, snow peas and onion in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad and serve. Serves 6-8.

Recipe by Karen Grimes

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Celebrating Women in Wine

The 2010 Women for WineSense Grand Event is kicking off April 30th in the Napa Valley. The event encompasses three days of activities, kicking off with a sparkling wine reception at Mumm Napa on Friday evening. The primary focus of the three-day weekend is Saturday's full day of wine education, seminars, tastings and lunch at St. Helena's Culinary Institute of America. The event comes to a close on Sunday with special behind-the-scenes wine tours at some of Napa and Sonoma's finest wineries.

There are so many events and tastings in Napa and Sonoma that it can be hard to chose which ones are really worth attending. This one is not-to-be-missed. You won't find a gathering of women winemakers, sommeliers, vineyard managers or wine educators quite like this anywhere else. Saturdays roundup of speakers includes Master Sommelier and author Andrea Robinson, winery owner Delia Viader, UC Davis Professor and Sensory Scientist Ann Noble and winemaker Merry Edwards along with many other amazing women in the wine industry.

"Sip the Wine, Share the Moment, Savor the Experience" is the theme for this year's event and a fitting one as you will savor this experience from beginning to end. Try to pick between a sensory evaluation of sparkling wines, a Bordeaux varietals component tasting or a tour of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. It will be hard to choose - I know I'm having a difficult time!

The event will honor Margaret Duckhorn, co-founder and Vice President of Industry Relations for Duckhorn Winery. Margaret is a respected member of the Napa Valley wine community, founding the famed Duckhorn Winery with her husband Dan over 30 years ago. Margaret was also one of the original members of Women for WineSense and has a long connection with the organization.

If you aren't familiar with Women for WineSense, it's worth checking out. The organization was founded in the late 80's during a time when alcohol was under attack. A group of women in the wine industry came together to educate the public about responsible consumption of wine and the many benefits of incorporating wine into a healthy lifestyle. The group also became a way for women in the industry to come together and support each other through education and networking. Women for WineSense now has nine chapters throughout the country and provides scholarships for women pursuing an education or career in wine.

You can find a complete description of the seminars, wine tasting and other activities on the event's web site - I've heard space is filling up fast so you may want to check it out sooner rather than later.

Written by Linzi Gay