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Posted by in California, Destinations, Food, USA, Wine Travel | 7 comments

Wine Bloggers Meet in Lodi, California Wine Region

Wine Bloggers Meet in Lodi, California Wine Region

It didn’t take me long to find the local Italian restaurant. I sat at the bar, ordered a nice cool glass of rosé and an antipasti plate, which the menu said consisted of handcrafted Italian salami, cheese, olives, and veggies. It did not say: the most delicious aromatic Italian truffle cheese you’ve ever tasted in your life. Wait a minute, where was I? The next thing I knew, the owner, Jim Murdaca, gave me a tour of the vegetable garden, which produces most of the fresh produce used at Pietro’s Trattoria, a Lodi establishment since 1957. We didn’t tarry long in the garden – the temperature that day was upwards of 100 degrees fahrenheit. As we headed back inside, Jim stopped to pick a plump tomato. I returned to the bar to finish my glass of rosé from local winemaker LangeTwins, and minutes later, a  waitress served me a caprese salad made with the recently plucked tomato, basil (also from the garden), and a balsamic vinegar.  Buonissimo! That was...

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Posted by in California, Destinations, Featured SLider, Food and Drink, Tasting Rooms and Wineries, USA, Wine Travel | 20 comments

72 Hours In Sonoma County, California

72 Hours In Sonoma County, California

Just an hour from San Francisco and west of Napa Valley, Sonoma is a California wine country destination that feels undiscovered, yet sophisticated. Go now, because with feature stories in National Geographic and the Smithsonian Magazine, Sonoma is definitely not a secret anymore. Sonoma is not only for wine and food lovers (although if that’s what you crave, you couldn’t choose a better place). Outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers can find their happy place among the ancient redwood trees, kayaking and camping along the Russian River, hiking the Sonoma Coast, or biking the wine trails. If you prefer a more leisurely weekend, you’ll find spas, swanky boutiques, and no surprise, lots of wine tasting rooms. 72 Hours in Sonoma County Depending on what you want to do, you can choose to stay in one thirty picturesque towns. Santa Rosa is the largest city in the county, and offers a good location just 55 minutes from San Francisco. There are several neighborhoods of cultural interest, and as is the norm...

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Posted by in California, Cultural Exploration, Destinations, Food and Drink, Tasting Rooms and Wineries | 6 comments

How To Spend A Day In Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

How To Spend A Day In Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

  Located just two blocks from the beach, between Cabrillo Blvd. and Highway 101, is Santa Barbara’s unusually hip neighborhood. Known as The Funk Zone, it was originally an industrial area taken over by artists who have turned the abandoned warehouses into studios. In addition to artist galleries you’ll find wineries, tasting rooms, farm-to-table restaurants, unique shops, a micro brewery and Santa Barbara’s first distillery. Wildly popular with tourists on holidays and weekends, locals love it too. I have no trouble getting my Santa Barbara friends to spend a day with me in the Funk Zone. I’ve been traveling to Santa Barbara for over fifteen years, and though it is undeniably beautiful it can be very quiet. The Funk Zone definitely adds to Santa Barbara’s fun factor. Read more about the Funk Zone.     How To Spend A Day in the Funk Zone In addition to wine tasting, one of my favorite things to do in the Funk Zone is to simply walk around and look at the...

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Posted by in Cultural Exploration, Destinations, Food and Drink, Italy, Wine Travel | 12 comments

A Surprise Food and Wine Pairing: Moscato For Breakfast

A Surprise Food and Wine Pairing: Moscato For Breakfast

A wall of glass windows and sunlight outside revealed green hills lined with vineyards, the vines ready for harvest or recently picked clean. The smell of eggs and bacon filled the room; the breakfast/brunch preparations were already underway when we arrived. Bottles of Moscato d’Asti were opened and glasses clinked. This, I thought, was the kind of experience people dream about, read about, and remember for years to come. I was in the home of Paolo Demarie, a third generation Italian wine maker in Piedmont, drinking wine made from grapes from his vineyards. Not a bad start to my trip.   After passing my WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) wine exam last summer,  I connected with American expat Valerie, of Girls Gotta Drink, for some ideas how to best experience Italy’s Piedmont wine country. Valerie suggested a visit to Demarie for a tour of the new, eco-friendly winery, and a food and wine pairing Val coined, Moscato For Breakfast. Food and wine pairings are my favorite – it...

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Posted by in Cultural Exploration, Destinations, Food and Drink, Italy | 19 comments

On The Hunt For White Truffles: Piedmont, Italy

On The Hunt For White Truffles: Piedmont, Italy

Selling for 100 to 500 euros per kilogram, white truffles are referred to as the White Gold of Alba. For centuries, white truffles have been regarded as a gastronomic delicacy that only the very wealthy could afford. Even in ancient texts, the truffle has been written about as a great luxury enjoyed by kings and queens. The aroma is difficult to describe: earthy, umami, a note of garlic, perhaps. Truffles smell like…truffles. Unique. Perhaps this is why they are so highly desired? They’ve even been endowed with aphrodisiac benefits. Well, a good meal is a good start! Bad news. White Truffles cannot be cultivated. White truffles cannot be cultivated. What is known about them: they favor the roots of certain species of trees: poplar, oak, willow, linden, and hazel. Certain climatic conditions are desirable for growing truffles, as well as an alkaline soil. The Langhe and Monferrato areas of Piedmont, Italy, are famous for producing the most aromatic truffles and the largest quantity, though they are found in limited...

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