2014 Viva Big Bend Food Fest

This is the 2nd annual Viva Big Bend Food Fest that has been held in the area known as “Big Bend” Texas. The host cities were: Alpine, Fort Davis, Marathon and Marfa.

I just love coming out to this area of Texas. The people, the landscape and the food are fantastic.

When we got into Alpine, the first place we went was The Saddle Club for cold beer and Epic Fries. I don’t know how they do it, but the fries remain crispy and fresh even with all the good stuff they put on top of it.

Our next stop was the Railroad Blues for the opening party. Big Bend Telephone was sponsoring the event and giving away samples of BBQ and fajitas, as well as magnetic koozies that came in quite handy! Tessy Lou and the Shotgun Stars provided live music. It was a great start to a great weekend.

The next morning we drove to Fort Davis for a Cowboy Breakfast at the Fort Davis National Historic Site. The fort was a military post from 1854-1891.

The path to the chuck wagon wasn’t very long and the smell of wood smoke and food was very enticing. We sat down in an oak grove and admired the mountains and chatted with friends, all the while eating biscuits with sausage gravy, eggs with pico and drank coffee cooked over a campfire….there is something about coffee done that way that I just love.

That afternoon, we planned to go to Marfa to visit the Marfa Maid Goat Dairy. But just like last year, we missed it.

Luckily, we did not miss the Tito’s Vodka Cocktail Dinner. This was a joint effort with Stephen and Jonathan Wood of The Saddle Club cooking 4 courses and David Alan the “Tipsy Texan” doing cocktail pairings.

#1 – roasted cabrito with avocado mousse and Jonathan’s Salsa in tortilla cups.

Cocktail: vodka, roasted pineapple, lime, cinnamon/clove syrup and tiki bitters.

#2 – pork belly carnitas, grilled marinated artichoke bottoms with a pickled watermelon radish salad and a drizzle of bacon creme.

Cocktail: vodka, pressed watermelon, mint and sugar.

#3 – jalapeño rubbed beef tenderloin, bacon with a drizzle of roasted jalapeño creme. The 2 side dishes were pepper jack cheese hominy and sautéed chayote squash.

Cocktail: vodka, Carpano Antica, Luxardo maraschino and bitters.

#4 – sopapilla cheese cake with agave nectar and local honey.

Cocktail: vodka, Cremes de Cacao and Menthe, frozen.

Everyone really enjoyed the evening. The one thing I thought interesting was that the men at our table preferred cocktail #1 and the women preferred #2…but we all liked #4!

Saturday was a blow out party at Big Bend Brewing with BBQ and the Doodlin Hogwallops providing music. We had samples of about 4 beers, one that we got a secret sip of was the Russian Imperial Stout (Motor oil smoky goodness. Loved it!) and got to look at the expansion construction of the brewery.

Because we were having such a great time catching up with friends and enjoying the beer and music, I missed the Tito’s Vodka DIY Infusion Class. I was told that the infusion ingredients consisted of teas, herbs and fruits…no bacon…Darn!

Our last night, we couldn’t decide between the Tiki Party at the Paisano, Movie Night at Airstreamland in Marfa or the Cow Dog/Plaine Party. We decided to stay in Alpine and go to Plaine (it’s a coffee/bakery shop) and eat Cow Dogs (the best hot dogs on the planet) and listen to music by Jon Hogan &  Maria Moss.

Sully got his Favorite Dog called the Mexican. It has pico de gallo, bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, mayo and ketchup.

I got the rarely available Moofalatta. It has olive tapenade, with provolone and Genoa salami wrapped around the dog. Just meaty, salty fantastic!

The next morning we packed up and left our home away from home (The Maverick) and faced our 8 hour drive back to Dallas with a great appreciation for food and friends we continuously discover in the “middle of nowhere”.

Thank You Stewart Ramser and everyone in the Big Bend Area for making the Viva Big Bend Food Fest so much fun!

Please go on the Viva Big Bend site to see all the stuff I didn’t have time to do, but I hope to do next year.

Cheers Y’all!



Hye Texas is the Place to Be

I know….strange….right?

My Long Suffering Hubby & I had no idea it existed until our friend and my part-time boss, Benjamin Calais, said that we needed to check out what’s happening in the area around Hye, Texas.  So we made a quick trip 226 miles south from Dallas to Johnson City, turned right on 290 West, went 10 miles and wound up in the unincorporated town of Hye.

The only buildings we saw was the package store called Hye Market and the post office. We thought Benjamin was playing a joke on us! But sure enough, a limo pulled up and several people got out and went into the Hye Market. So we decided to follow and were pleasantly surprised to see a buzz of activity going on. There was wine tasting, beer tasting, tequila tasting, bourbon tasting and food tasting. It was fun to see about 20 people “sardined” into this tiny store.

Hye Market

Hye Market

I was kissed and greeted by Jason Cook who is the proprietor, tour guide, and ambassador of Hye Market. He told us that he wants to expand and put in a tasting room separate from the market. From the way things looked, he better get to it quick because I don’t know how many more people would be able to fit around the tasting counters. We were then introduced to Haley, who handles the tastings. While talking to her, she mentioned there was a food truck in Albert (a ghost town) with bacon mayonnaise for dipping your french fries in. We could find it parked at the ice house and dance hall in Albert and we should check it out.

Before we left Hye Market, I tasted a Pinot Grigio from Compass Rose Cellars and a Riesling/Gewürztraminer blend from Hye Meadow Winery. Both wines were good summer drinking wines.

We then headed to Lewis Wines, which is technically in Johnson City.  This winery is so new that they don’t have a sign yet, but the instructions on the website are clear as to how to find them. We drove up a curvy road, past a house (we were told later, people mistake for the tasting room) and found ourselves at the end of the road by a concrete and tin structure with a concrete slab set up with a few tables and chairs. We decided that the door painted red must be the entrance to the tasting room. We were correct, Thank Goodness! and we were greeted by Doug Lewis, one of the winemakers (Duncan McNabb is the other). Both got their start with Pedernales and decided to make a go of it on their own. I must say, this winery is worth watching.

Outside Lewis Tasting Room

Outside Lewis Tasting Room

I tried the Viogner (which I’m not a big fan of because it comes off like buttered fruit) but the Lewis Viogner was beautifully balanced apricot and honey notes with a clean finish.

I also tried the 2010 Tempranillo and the “Texas/Spanish” version of a Cotes du Rhone, which is a blend of Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache, but Tempranillo was added to give it the Texas/Spanish flair. Both wines were extremely good.

However, the one that intrigued me the most was a blend of the Portuguese grapes: Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cao with Tempranillo. This wine was lush with a bit of perfume and dark spices. However, I was amazed at the low alcohol level for such a rich wine (12.7). I think this is my new fave Texas red wine besides Benjamin’s Sangiovese/Zinfandel blend.

The Wines of Lewis Winery

The Wines of Lewis Winery

All of the Lewis wines are made from Texas grown grapes and the alcohol levels were relatively low.

If you decide to go to Lewis Wines, make a reservation because the place is small and look for the red door. You will not be disappointed.

Inside Lewis Tasting Room

Inside Lewis Tasting Room

Our next stop was William Chris Vineyards which is easy to find because it is across the road from Hye Market.

The tasting room is partially housed in a century year old house but the winery has gotten so popular that a very modern addition was added with a beautiful view of the Hill Country.

Outside William Chris

Outside William Chris

The View Inside William Chris

The View Inside William Chris

William Chris is a collaborative effort of winemakers/winegrowers Chris Brundrett and Bill Blackmon. Their first wines came out in 2009 and they use all Texas grown grapes.

I tried several of their wines, but 3 stood out for me.

The first was a Blanc du Bois. Most of the time these wines became overly acidic because they tend to have a grapefruit quality, but the winemakers chose wisely to use the sur lie method in processing the wine. Giving it a smooth, creamy feel while retaining the brightness. A really delightful wine.

The next one was called Emotion. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. A vanilla smell really jumped out of the glass, but I liked the fact that it was a light easy drinking red.

The last one called Enchante was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. It was a good red wine, but I think it needs more aging. It came across as a bit green, so I will put this one away and hope it evolves a bit more.

The Wines of William Chris

The Wines of William Chris

Next, we decided to take Haley’s advice and head to Albert and check out the food truck, dance hall and ice house. So we took the county road that was on the side of the Hye Post Office and made our way. I swear, I thought this was another joke because all we saw were cows and pasture land. At one point we thought we were trespassing. But luckily we connected with another major road and we looked to the right and there was Albert.

Albert Ice House

Albert Ice House

Albert Dance Hall

Albert Dance Hall

All of the buildings were shaded by huge oak trees. People were gathering at picnic tables or in the ice house and the band was unloading their equipment into the dance hall. The food truck called The Pig Pen was gearing up and I could smell some meaty goodness was going to be heading my way. Sully had a hamburger and I had the pork belly sandwich. We split the french fries with bacon mayo. Awesome! The only disappointment was the wine at the Ice House was either red or white (go figure) and it was crap. I wish I had ordered a beer.

The Pig Pen Food Truck

The Pig Pen Food Truck

We stayed until close to sunset just to enjoy the fantastic scenery and easy-going pace in Albert and then we had to hit the road and go back to “Big D”.

This was a great adventure and we plan to be back soon.

Who knew that Hye had so much to offer!

Viva Big Bend Food Fest

I really should call this a Food, Drink & Music Fest…my 3 fave things in one festival!

This is the lowdown on what I did…Unfortunately I couldn’t do everything..

The first night was a sample of area restaurant offerings. Some stand outs were: 12 Gage Restaurant from the Gage Hotel with their bacon wrapped scallops and quail in a citrus sauce. The Ramada of Alpine (yes that is right) had tasty Thai marinated shrimp. The Cow Dog food truck had samples of their hot dogs. I had the Artisan which has apple apricot chutney. The Saddle Club had crostini topped with bacon and beef tenderloin.

Quail Bites from the 12 Gage Restaurant

Quail Bites from the 12 Gage Restaurant

While we were sampling some wonderful food, we were treated to music by Tessy Lou and the Shotgun Stars and then Dale Watson.

Dale Watson

Dale Watson

Afterwards, we walked over to the Railroad Blues for some music by Mike and the Moonpies.

The next day we drove to Marfa to eat at our favorite “place” the Food Shark. We got to the covered shed by the railroad tracks and waited for the Food Shark food truck to pull up. The lumbering primer grey truck appeared and I couldn’t wait to get my Mediterranean food fix. I got the combo which is a Greek salad, falafel, hummus and flat bread. Sully got one of the days specials which was a curry egg salad sandwich. We also got a triple chocolate cookie and an orange cardamom spice cookie.

Combo Lunch from the Food Shark

Combo Lunch from the Food Shark

After lunch we wanted to go on a tour of the Marfa Maid dairy, but we missed the shuttle. Marfa Maid makes cheese from goats milk. Those goats have to be milked twice a day, so time is of the essence!

Instead we headed back to Alpine and chilled in the courtyard of the Holland Hotel and listened to Ashley Monical and then an acoustic Mike and the Moonpies. While we were there, the local brewery, Big Bend Brewery, was giving samples of their Porter and their Lager. Both were really good and Sully had been drinking their beers all weekend and is hoping they can expand to Dallas. We understand that for the Viva Big Bend Music Fest in July, their beers might be available in cans. The brewery is only 2 years old.

Big Bend Brewing. An empty cup means it's good!

Big Bend Brewing. An empty cup means it’s good!

Next up, and something I had been looking forward to all weekend was a 5 course meal with wine pairings from Chefs Stephen & Jonathan Wood from the Saddle Club. Now let me say that technically, the Saddle Club is not a restaurant. It is a bar with amazing “bar” food. So, to have the chance to experience the true talent of the Wood brothers, I knew this evening was going to be special.

The Wine Line Up for the 5 Course Meal

The Wine Line Up for the 5 Course Meal

1st Course: Sunchoke Soup with fried proscutto, white truffle and chive oil. The wine: Finca Las Nubes Torrontes.

Sunchoke Soup with Finca Las Nubes Torrontes

Sunchoke Soup with Finca Las Nubes Torrontes

2nd Course: Ancho Dusted Scallops with micro arugula, roasted garlic beur blanc and fried garlic chips. The wine: Albert Bichot Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis.

3rd Course: Roasted Pork Belly with creamy parmesan polenta and wild mushroom ragu with port reduction. The wine: Fiddlehead 728 Pinot Noir.

4th Course: Grilled Elk Tenderloin with Jerusalem artichoke and potato gratin, grilled brussel sprouts with garlic and bacon in a smoked bacon demi. The wine: Hermanos Cabernet-Malbec Blend.

5th Course: Strawberry Short Cake- Angel food cake with strawberries, fresh cracked black pepper, basil, aged balsamic and whipped creme. The wine: Secco Rose’.

Strawberry Short Cake with Secco Rose'

Strawberry Short Cake with Secco Rose’

Britania Perez from Pioneer Wines chose the wines and described each one. She told me that all she had was the menu that Stephen sent her. She did not taste any of the food before hand. I must say, this gal knows her portfolio and she did an excellent job.

The next morning, we rolled out of bed and went to breakfast at Judy’s Bread and Breakfast. I was in such a food and drink comatose state that when Sully asked me if I wanted more coffee, I just stared at him! That’s when we decided to walk around and take a break from food and wine…until the Saddle Club opened up and I could get a Bloody Mary 😉

That afternoon we headed back to Marfa for the Airstream Land Party. Boyz2Men taco trailer was there as well as FAT Lyle’s. We got there just in time to hear Graham Wilkinson and his band play and Sully could not resist a homemade Snickers bar from FAT Lyle’s.

Homemade Snickers from FAT Lyles

Homemade Snickers from FAT Lyles

That evening we hung out at Railroad Blues to hear a full set from Graham Wilkinson and stayed to hear Patrice Pike. Saturday night dinner at Railroad Blues is always a hot dog from Cow Dog. Sully got the Mexican which is ketchup, mayo, sharp cheddar, bacon and pico de gallo. I got the El Pastor which is grilled pineapple, red onion, lime mayo and cilantro pesto. It paired very well with my Pacific Rim Riesling.

Cow Dog at the Railroad Blues

Cow Dog at the Railroad Blues

Can you find The O's on the Cow Dog?

Can you find The O’s Sticker on the Cow Dog?

Our time in the Big Bend had come to an end. We didn’t even make it to any of the cooking classes or sit in on what the Tipsy Texan, David Alan was concocting with Tito’s vodka.

This was a small festival, but I liked it so much because you could tell how happy the locals were that you had come to their town and they wanted it to be a success too. Also some of the proceeds went to the West Texas Food Bank.

I really think Stewart Ramser who created both the Viva Big Bend Food and Music Fest, did a great job in trying to introduce what all this area has to offer. And it’s definitely the people who made this festival so much fun.

The Beautiful Bonfire at Railroad Blues

The Beautiful Bonfire at Railroad Blues

Cheers Y’all!

I Love This Texas Wine!

2010 Calais Tailleur Zinfandel/Sangiovese Blend

2010 Calais Tailleur Zinfandel/Sangiovese Blend

When my friend Benjamin Calais said he was working on a blend of Zinfandel & Sangiovese, I thought that this was going to be an interesting fun wine to drink, but I didn’t think it would be so sublime and food friendly.

Most of the time when I think of Zinfandel, it is the bold, dark fruit with lots of pepper and high alcohol wine that I can only have with food because I feel like my mouth is on fire. But this is different because of the blending with the Sangiovese. Benjamin really knew what he was doing with this wine.

The Sangiovese gives the wine a soft earthiness and a brightness of cherry. It has a wonderful finish and it is relatively low in alcohol 13.4% so it is very drinkable on its own.

I did an experiment with different foods:

Fried black-eyed peas (yes I brought them home from the Texas State Fair). The peas were nutty, earthy and spicy. The dark fruit of the wine tempered the spiciness of the peas, but the peas kept their nutty flavor. It was a fun pairing.

This wine also went well with salmon in a maple peppercorn glaze. Again, the dark fruit tempered the spiciness of the peppercorn, and the bright cherry aspect of the wine helped keep the sweetness of the maple. Because this wine is medium bodied, it did not over power the fish.

Pairing this wine with meat sauce and spaghetti was a no-brainer. All I can say is that I wish I could have had more of both but being bloated and drunk ain’t pretty…

So here’s the snap shot:

100% Texas grapes from the High Plains AVA

75% Zinfandel 25% Sangiovese

Aged 15 months in French oak

13.4% alcohol

Smell: black cherry, nutmeg, plum, caramel Taste: plum, licorice, bright cherry,raspberry, earth, with soft tannins.

This wine was opened for 3 days (I kept it in the door of the fridge & used a rubber stopper) and it was still good to drink.

October is Texas Wine month and I can’t think of a better wine to celebrate with!

Cheers Y’all!

By the way, for those who are lucky enough the be in Dallas Nov. 3rd; it is the Dallas Wine Trail. Go to the site to get the low down and hopefully Benjamin will be pouring this wine.

Man! Oh, Man! Roussanne!

This grape is not one of the more well-known or “popular” varietals in the average wine consumer world, but it makes for a good blending grape in the Rhone region in France. It adds body and acidity and is one of the grapes that is allowed in making white Chateauneuf du Pape…one of my favorite wines.

I first discovered it in California at Stolpman’s (www.stolpmanvineyards.com). I loved the creamy texture and full body mouth feel it had. I was surprised that it was not a heavy fruit wine, but more herbal and floral.

Texas has also been planting this grape and I think doing a very fine job of making fantastic wines with it.

The two Texas wineries I have tried have been Calais (www.calaiswinery.com) & McPherson (www.mcphersoncellars.com). The grapes for both wineries were grown in the same area of the High Plains around Lubbock.

I thought it would be an interesting experiment to compare these 3 wines (1 Calif and 2 Texas) and then pair them with buttered popcorn (www.orville.com).

The Stolpman Roussanne called L’Avion was done the “sur lie” method which means the juice from the grapes are left in contact with the dead yeast and grape particles for several months in the barrel. In this case 15 months. The end result will give the wine a creamy mouth feel. It also will extract some of the toast or vanilla characteristics from the barrel.

The smell of the Stolpman was vanilla creme, a little bit of banana, truffle oil, and olive.

The taste was honey, green tea, jasmine, vanilla creme with a little citrus bite. It had a round mouth feel and was very creamy but the citrus bite helped keep it from becoming cloy.

When paired with the buttered popcorn, it was really good. All that buttery goodness with a rich, creamy wine was a perfect choice…I mean who doesn’t like butter & creme?

My next choice was Calais Winery. It was also done sur lie, but the grapes came from the High Plains in Texas and the wine aged for 12 months.

The smell was honeysuckle, iris (a vanilla-citrus type of smell that is hard to describe), truffle oil.

The taste was honey, vanilla creme, and pear with a black tea finish. This wine was richer in honey flavor but it was not cloying because of the black tea bite. It was well-balanced.

This was another good choice with the buttered popcorn because of the honey aspect of the wine. It sweetened the popcorn…awesome!

The last wine was from McPherson, another Texas winery whose grapes are also from the High Plains. This wine was aged in stainless steel so the result was totally different.

The smell was grass, herbal tea, lemon.

The taste was light banana, lemon, grapefruit, cilantro. It was more light citrus all over the palate and did not linger very long. Very refreshing.

However, the buttered popcorn overpowered the wine.

I would say overall the Stolpman & Calais were more in keeping with what a Roussanne should be. The McPherson became forgettable after it warmed up.

The Calais Roussanne is the best I have ever had because it kept its honey and black tea flavors. The Stolpman started getting oily and forest floor.

Some bad news though with the Calais wine is that Benjamin only has about 3 cases left and we will have to wait several months for the next vintage to be ready…but it will be worth the wait, Twisted Peeps.

Allergies & Buffalo Gap

It has been a rough Spring for me because of my allergies. I had been looking forward to attending the Buffalo Gap Food & Wine Summit at Perini Ranch since January (the Summit was April 23-25). Four days before I was supposed to go, my allergies turned into a sinus infection. The last thing you need to go wrong before going to a food and wine event is your sense of smell, taste and stomach.* 

* side note…for those of you who have read my “Surviving Napa”, do you think it is a bit of deja vu? But I did NOT get food poisoning. I REPEAT…I did NOT get food poisoning!

I was feeling better by the time we were supposed to leave, so Dear Hubby and I hit the road and I was giddy with the prospect of meeting winemakers from Texas and California and Master Sommelier, Guy Stout (a fellow Texan & one of less than 200 Master Sommeliers in the world). What I love about this event is that it is not a “festival”, it is an educational summit. Tom & Lisa Perini, along with Fess Parker & Dr. Becker, wanted to create an educational venue about wine and food and help promote Texas and the California connection. What a winning combination; an outstanding “cowboy chef”, a native Texan who created one of the best wineries in the Los Olivos, Ca. area, then throw in Dr. Becker, who has one of the best wineries in Texas and you’ve got one “Hell of a Summit!”

As we approached the Abilene city limits, I could feel my sinuses closing up and my breathing becoming raspy because all I could smell was ragweed, Mesquite trees and dirt. The high winds did not do me any favors. Abilene is my hometown and the 2 things I do not miss is the dust and high winds.

I wish we could have gone to the Friday night dinner because Stephan Pyles was the featured Chef and my husband and I love his restaurants, “Stephan Pyles” and “Samar” in Dallas. But I needed to be “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” for Saturday morning because I was going to be helping at the 10:30 am seminar, “Wine, Why You Like What You Like” with Master Sommelier Guy Stout. This would be an opportunity to learn about setting up a blind tasting while listening to a Sommelier and winemakers discuss wine and the wine making process.

I got to the tasting tent at 9 am and thank goodness it was in a tent because the wind was awful and I really thought wine glasses were going to be tossed around as well as a couple of Longhorns! A few of us were having sinus issues and my medication did not help my counting skills. I was helping Connie, my new best friend for the weekend, count paper bags to put over the wine bottles so none of the participants could cheat and know what they were drinking. I think I had to recount my stacks several times but Connie never said anything negative and was suffering from the West Texas wind too. The next thing I got to do was open wine bottles….a lot of wine bottles. The most difficult bottle to open was a dessert wine that had a wax seal on top of the cork. The wax was so hard that I felt like I was drilling through tile. I’m beginning to think that screw tops are the only way to go. I guess I was the most menacing looking person in group because I was wearing my black hooded sweat shirt with a skull on the back that read “Badboy Vettes”, so while the seminar was going on, I got to “guard” the wine and then “unveil” the bottle after each one was discussed. I loved doing that! I also got to sample some of the wines. There were 17, but I only did about 5, and my favorite was Stewart Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.

After the tasting, we cleaned up and set out everything for the next seminar, but I could not stay for that. I was not feeling well and I needed to get out of the wind and dust and get a nap because my long-suffering but supportive husband and I were going to be pouring wine that night at the “Cowboys, Cuisine & Cabernet” party.

Sully & I arrived back at Perini Ranch and were assigned to pour Stewart Cellars Pinot Noir and our station was next to Chef Tim Love, who owns 2 restaurants in Ft Worth, “Lonesome Dove” & “Love Shack”. We have eaten at the Love Shack in the Stockyards and definitely recommend it, so we were thrilled to be “paired up” with him. Plus he is just a “hoot” anyway and very nice.

I love the concept of the Saturday night party because it features fantastic Texas and California wines with Texas chefs who push the “culinary edge”, especially when it comes to cooking meat from all kinds of animals. 

Tim Love had Lamb BLT’s on rosemary bread & the Stewart Pinot Noir brought out a lovely herbaceous quality to the sandwich and I was surprized how delicate the lamb tasted.

Tim Byres from the Dallas restaurant “Smoke”, had rabbit sausage and again I tried it with the Stewart Pinot Noir and a mild dark fruit, brown sugar quality came out of the meat.

Tom Perini had his famous peppered beef tenderloin and I paired it with Becker Reserve Cabernet. The dark fruit and meaty quality of the wine was a great match. It made the dish heartier but did not overpower the spices.

Gerard Thompson, from Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose, did a roasted quail that had subtle smokey flavors, and I went back to the Stewart Pinot Noir because it has enough body and light fruit layers to stand up to smoked meat. YUM!

Stephan Pyles (actually he was not there Sat. Night) had a short rib tamales paired with Fess Parkers Syrah “The Big Easy”. This is a lovely Syrah with beautiful fragrance and dark fruit. It enhanced the smokiness of the tamales.

My husband could not resist the strawberries dipped in chocolate by Vletas. I’m so happy that this Abilene institution is still going strong and the strawberries are as big as your fist!

We did not get to sample everything, and it was just as well, because I over did it. I FORGOT that I was on antibiotics and later that night my stomach reminded me!

It really was a beautiful evening. The wind died down and it was almost a full moon. Sully and I got to meet some old friends and make new ones. I also got to see a Master Sommelier “boogie down with his bad-self” on the dance floor with his vivacious wife! We also met Ashley Parker Snider; Fess Parker’s daughter, who was gracious and lovely and enjoyed the story of how I looked next to her Brother Eli, who is 6′ 6″ (I think) and I’m 5′ on a good day.* If you want to see the photo of Eli & me; go to the Category “Sommelier Stuff” of my blog & you will see it titled “Sommelier Class Homework”.

The next morning, just like the trip to Napa; my poor suffering husband loaded my sickly carcass into the car to get back to Dallas in time to see Jeff Beck in concert. I was NOT going to miss that! I actually willed myself out of bed.

I really want to thank Tom & Lisa Perini for being such fantastic hosts and Susan Cannan for coordinating a wonderful event and putting up with all my questions. And thank you Connie for being so nice to me when I couldn’t count.

P.S. you can find web links to all of the participating wineries and chefs on the Perini Ranch website. (www.periniranch.com) Sorry about being lazy, but like I’ve said before; it has been a rough Spring….

Red, Hot, & Tempranillo


Inwood Estates "Cornelious" Tempranillo

Wine with Bar-B-Que?


My Dear Hubby brought home Bar-B-Que from Red, Hot, & Blue (www.redhotandblue.com ). Which is a chain restaurant, and pretty good; not overly smokey meat; with a nice selection of sauces to choose from.

I got to thinking…what would Inwood Estates 2007 Tempranillo ( www.inwoodwines.com ), aka “Cornelious”, be like with a smokey brisket slathered in a mildly spicy, sweet sauce? 

To me, Dan Gatlin’s (the owner-winemaker of Inwood) Tempranillo is like a “Bar-B-Que in a glass”. This wine is full of smoke, leather, plum, and vanilla. It is a very bold Tempranillo and it is all Texas grown grapes. Tempranillo is originally from Spain and does very well in Texas.

This wine was very good with the brisket. It brought out a little more of the pepper in the meat and complimented the little bit of the smoke that was in the meat as well as the sauce.

Next, I tried it with the fried okra. Believe it or not…it enhanced the earthy, seasoning salt flavor that I have never noticed before. I have always enjoyed Red, Hot & Blue’s fried okra…But Oh, My! I’m in Love!

I “cleansed” my palate with the coleslaw. It is very mild and light with cabbage, celery and very little mayonnaise.

The baked beans were very smooth tasting with the Tempranillo. Sometimes the beans can be overly sweet and rich; but this wine made them just right.

The last and best; were the honey glazed rolls…Oh My Lord!…Take Me Now…Cause I Am in Heaven!

The wine really enhanced the honey-richness on the rolls. I could have eaten a dozen rolls and drunk a whole bottle of  wine.

So that’s my take on Bar-B-Que and Inwood’s “Bar-B-Que in a Glass” Tempranillo.

I have only two negatives with this wine: first is that it is so bold, it needs food to temper it and second, it is a little pricey at around $40. But if you stay with cheap “sporkable” food; you can splurge on the wine.