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Freixenet and Osborne Family Wines Affordable and Delicious
by Bonnie Carroll

Freixenet WineAmong the family of wines from Spain are seven varietals of Freixenet, including Cordon ANegro Burt ($10); Cordon Negro Brut Extra Dry ($10); Carta Nevada Brut ($9); Carta Nevada Semi-Dry ($9); Spumante ($10); Brut de Noirs ($10) and 2000 Brut Nature ($14). Any or all of these fine wines would be a perfect pairing for a holiday dinner of fowl, or a compliment to hors d’oeuvre during a special celebration. The dry wines are dry, but not too dry, and the Spumante is an amazingly light and refreshing wine with a fruity taste. This wine is recommended as a perfect pair for spicy Mexican or Asian dishes. USA Today callFreixenet Wines this one “A truly remarkable sparkler for the money”.

The Segura Viudas selections include Aria Estate Brut ($12); Aria Estate Extra Dry ($12); Brut Reserva ($10); Reserva Heredad ($20); Brut Rose ($10) and Extra Dry ($10). Each selection offers a variance in dryness and richness of taste to complement special dining menus. The CAVA reserve and Brut Reserva should be reserved for those special family occasions. They are made from grapes grown in the renowned Penedes region of Spain. The Segura Viudas wines are made with pristine modern winemaking in contrast to the 11th century surrounding of the medieval farmhouse of the family vineyards.

These wines are perfect as an aperitif with starters like pate, duck potstickers or glazed prawns. They are also delicious with soups and chowders, oysters and fish, as well as pastries and fine cheeses. For information visit: www.Freixenet.com or www.osborne.com.


World of Wine Events, LLCSouthern California's Largest Wine & Food Festival Awarded Five of San Diego's Best Chefs $50,000 in Cash and Prizes  

Foodies from all over the United States converged on San Diego's Big Bay during the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival on November 17 to watch 55 of the city's top chefs compete for just over $50,000 in cash and prizes and the coveted title of "Chef of the Fest" presented by NatureSweet D'Vines.

"We created the competition as a way to thank and reward the very talented chefs who take part in the Festival," said Michelle Metter, the Festival's Co-Producer.  "This is a local competition, for local talent, that will shine a national spotlight on our chefs, showcasing San Diego as one of the top emerging destinations for culinary tourism in the country."

From a field of 55 chefs, 10 finalists were selected with Chef Gary Thompson of Viejas Casino taking home first place top honors for his Grilled Tequila Marinated Shrimp and Spicy Tomato Gazpacho; second place award went to Chef Brian Malarkey of Oceanaire Seafood Room for his Seafood Sausage; third place was awarded to Chef Sally Linkenheil of Sally's Seafood on the Water for her Crispy Seared Artic Char and Scallop Sausage with Apple Remoulade; fourth place was awarded to Chef Stephen Window of Roppongi Restaurant for his Main Diver Scallop with Daikon Dashi Tempura Beans, Dynamite Aioli and Green Tea Salt; and fifth place awarded to Chef Chris Behre of Bondi with his BBQ Australian Lamb Cutlet.

Honorable mentions were awarded to Chef Jason Maitland with Arterra, Chef Patrick Ponsaty with Bernard 'O Restaurant, Chef Walter Manikowski with Dussini, Chefs Elaine Ardizzone and Donna DiVitorio with Sweet Cheeks Baking Co, and Chef Damon Gordon with The Quarter Kitchen.

"Each dish was carefully critiqued, taking special attention to each flavor, visual aspect and favorable impression," said Chef Vikki Nulman, the competition's head judge.  "If a dish stays in your mind and the flavors are still visible on your palate at the end of all the tastings, and you want to go back for more, then that is the winning dish."   

According to Chef Nulman, the 10 finalists were chosen by a panel of judges who graded each restaurant with a point system including scores for presentation, flavor, innovation, quality of product, and preparation in the allotted time.  

Chef of the Fest judges include Chef Mark Blaauboer, dean from the Art Institute of California- San Diego; Ira Falk, Bailli and Consul de Societe Mondiale du Vin; Chef Katherine Emmenegger CCC, ACF chapter secretary; Chef John D. Miller, CHE, culinary educator Art Institute of California-San Diego; Chef Tina Luu, M.A.Ed., The Art Institute of California-San Diego; Chef Mark Sullivan, chef faculty, Art Institute of California-San Diego; Catt White, publisher at Serving San Diego Magazine; Libby Platus, columnist with Restaurant Hospitality Magazine.

Four judges from outside of the San Diego market comprised the panel that scored the 10 dishes that made it to the finals.  They included Saveur Magazine Wine Editor, Paul Lukacs; James Beard Award Winning Author, Laura Werlin, United States Presidential Master Chef Talli V. Counsel, MBA, CMC; and Head Judge, Chef Vikki Nulman, CCC,CEC, past president of ACF-Santa Fe, Past Bailli-Santa Fe Chapter.

"Competitions like 'Chef of the Fest' allow chefs to show their talent, creativeness, and personality in their own recipe," added Chef Nulman.  "Events like the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival give chefs an opportunity to be seen by serious foodies and members of the food and wine media.  It allows them a forum with which to stretch beyond the limits of their restaurant menus, be creative and experiment. Not to mention it gives them an opportunity to win some exceptional prizes for their efforts."

The prize package awarded to the "Chef of the Fest" includes a vacation of a lifetime for two to the ultra exclusive Turtle Island Fiji including round-trip airfare with Air Pacific, a professional range provided by US Foodservice, magazine exposure in Dining Out and San Diego Magazines, $3,000 in cash presented by NatureSweet D'Vines, a Tommy Bahama Rum Gift Basket and a Dooley's Gift Basket.  Additionally, the "Chef of the Fest" winner will return to the 5th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival in 2008 as one of the headlining chefs with their own cooking class and appearances during the Grand Tasting.  The first place winner also received a luxury watch by the Diamond Boutique.

The second place winner receives a vacation for two to Cabo San Lucas resort Fiesta Americana with roundtrip airfare on Aeromexico and the third place winner receives a vacation for two with spa services to any W Hotel property.  All winners receive a cash reward from NatureSweet D'Vines, knives by Dick Knives, and Tommmy Bahama Rum and Dooley's Gift Baskets.

The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is an international showcase of the world's premier wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities, and gourmet foods. Held this past November 14-18, 2007, the event benefits the American Institute of Wine & Food culinary arts scholarship program. Over 700 wines, 60 of San Diego's top fine dining restaurants and 30 gourmet food companies and exhibitors participated in the 2007 Festival. Now in its fourth year, the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival has quickly grown into a world-class wine and culinary extravaganza. The five-day festival features wine tasting seminars, cooking classes by award- winning chefs, and an elegant Reserve Tasting at one of San Diego's finest hotels. The festival culminates on Saturday at the star-studded Grand Tasting Event and Fine Wine/Lifestyle Auction complete with dueling chef demonstration stages, celebrity cookbook signing tents, Cost Plus entertainment tent, and more. For more information visit www.worldofwineevents.com.

World of Wine Events, LLC is an event management and festival production company specializing in the creation of world-class wine and culinary trade and consumer events.  World of Wine Events provides strategic guidance, logistics, operations, marketing, and industry insights for winery and spirits road shows, distributor trade tastings, as well as large format tasting and lifestyle festivals.  World of Wine Events is the producer of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, Southern California's largest wine and culinary extravaganza.  More information on World of Wine Events and the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival may be found by contacting Michelle Metter at 619-602-9789 or by visiting www.worldofwineevents.com.


- Proceeds Benefit the Veterans Home of California -
YountvilleFoodies on the fast track can rub forks with the nation’s top chefs via a new e-auction, set to debut November 30, 2007 at www.yountville.com. Seven lifestyle lots, including dinner for 10 prepared by Michelin 3-star chef Thomas Keller, will be up for grabs at The Ultimate Wine Country Experience E-Auction. Bids close December 22, 2007.

A minimum bid of $25,000 will deliver Keller and his crew to the Grodahl estate in Yountville for a champagne reception and nine course chef’s tasting menu dinner for 10 paired with wines in the candlelit caves.

Time to fan the flames? Plan that V. Day getaway with the winning bid on Lot # 6, a romantic stay for two in a French-inspired La Cachette bungalow at the Lavender inn in Yountville. Greet the day with a morning balloon adventure above the vineyards and private wine tasting at Jessup Cellars. Other hot stocking stuffers include Lot #2, dinner for 12 at Tamber Bey Winery with chef Bob Hurley of Hurley’s Restaurant & Bar driving the stoves; a Tastemaker Dinner for 10 at Domaine Chandon’s étoile restaurant or two nights’ accommodations for 10 at the Villagio Inn & Spa paired with spa treatments, shopping and a private winemaker dinner at V Wine Cellar on the Vintage Estate.

With SIX Michelin stars within two city blocks, Yountville has quietly become one of the nation’s top epicurean outposts. The town of four square miles also boasts the largest concentration of award-winning stars per city block short of New York City. Recipients include the French Laundry (3), Bouchon (1), Bistro Jeanty (1) and newly-awarded Redd (1). Within Yountville’s appellation lie 24 wineries and 60+ vineyards that flourish on 2,700 acres of rich volcanic alluvial soil. New wineries to the region include Tamber Bey, Keever Vineyards, Kapcsandy Family Winery, Gemstone and Morningside.

Registration begins today at www.yountville.com. Winning bids will be announced December 24, 2007. Proceeds from the auction underwrite the annual luncheon for 1,300 residents at the Veterans Home of California at Yountville.


Lot #1- Dinner for 10 catered by chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry at the estate of George & Caddy Grodahl, champagne reception and candlelit dinner in the caves. Min. bid: $25,000.
Lot #2- Dinner for 12 catered by Bob Hurley of Hurley’s Restaurant & Bar at the beautiful Tamber Bey Winery. Min. bid: $12,000.
Lot #3- Two night getaway for 10 at Villagio Inn & Spa, 100-minute spa treatment, winemaker dinner at V Wine Cellar on the Vintage Estate and $200 shopping certificate per couple.
Lot #4- Winemaker dinner for 12 catered by Napa Valley Grille at Grigich Hills Cellars.
Lot #5- Three-course Tastemaker Dinner for 10 at Domaine Chandon’s etoile restaurant.
Lot #6- Winemaker dinner for 12 catered by Phillipe Jeanty of Bistro Jeanty at Frazier Winery.

Lot #7- Romantic getaway for two at the Lavender’s “La Cachette” bungalow, balloon adventure for two and private wine tasting at Jessup Cellars.


Some of the highlights of the 2007 Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta included major players in the wine industry milling around with the 5,000 guests throughout the festivities September 26-30, 2007. 60 of Santa Fe’s finest restaurants and 90 top wineries from around the world participated in the events in and around Santa Fe, with the main Grand Tasting event at the Santa Fe Opera on Saturday, September 29.


Left to right: Charles Kassels (Eldorado), Laura Werlin, Jody Denton (Merenda),
Toby Rowlin Jones (Big Sur), Greg O'Bryne, John Shafer (Shafer VIneyards),
Andy Nichols (The Compound), Mark Kiffin (Chef/owner Compound) Photo by Kate Russell

The special distinction of the Santa Fe Wine & Chile are all of the fabulous wine celebrities that come to Santa Fe for the events. Two men of international acclaim in the wine world attended: Joe Spellman, a master sommelier and Richard Sanford, namesake of Sandford Winery and founder of the Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards. Sanford planted the first Pinot Noir Vineyard in Santa Barbara County in 1971, pairing a magical grape with its ideal soil and climate. In September 2005 Richard and Thekla Sanford launched a new venture, Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards.

"One of the great pairings in our tent was Sanford’s Alma Rosa wine with a succulent Kobe Beef from Oregon," adds Kiffin. "It was such a huge hit that we served over 2,500 portions. Sanford's organic wine is just a great food wine with real elegance. Richard was talking with our Fiesta participants answering questions about his wine and winery."

"I’ve attend many wine and food festivals including the Aspen Food & Wine and the Naples Winter Wine Festival where there are a lot of wonderful wine brokers but haven't met any of the wine makers at those events, adds Kiffin. "That is what is truly unique about the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, there's a wonderful opportunity to interact with the wine experts from around the world."

Mark Kiffin is a Santa Fe Wine & Chile Board Member and the James Beard Foundation's "Best Chef of the Southwest 2005." Kiffin served on the original Santa Fe Wine & Chile Board in 1990 and is the chef and owner of one of Santa Fe's finest restaurants, The Compound.

About 100 people attended the first Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta which was held at the Hilton under a tent. This year there were more than 3,000 people at the main event at the Santa Fe Opera and over 5,000 guests throughout the Fiesta weekend.

Kenwood ZinfandelKenwood Zinfandel
offers a perfect pairing
for Holiday Turkey Dinners.

For information visit: www.kenwoodvineyards.com.

© 2008 Bonnie Carroll, All Rights Reserved