October 14, 2008

I think I have recovered from my weekend of fests. To wit: what should have been called ChampagneFest on Thursday, WhiskyFest on Friday night, and then FallFest on Saturday. All great parties. Although people are beginning to say they see me everywhere. Uh, yeah, please refer to the name of my column. Anyway.

Thursday’s all-star line-up of choice champers was over a dinner at Fork at San Anselmo, hosted by the one and only Dr. Champagne—the 2002 Deutz Blanc de Blancs Brut Millesime definitely inspired a palate swoon-fest. I’ll let you know the next time Jerry Horn, AKA the doctor, hosts a bubbly dinner—you can thank me later.

And now, a few highlights from WhiskyFest, a glorious sea of brown: some “under the table” tastes from Willett, being able to taste Michter’s portfolio all at once, and of course I got lost in a sea of my preferred sippin’ brown at the Van Winkle table (it helps that I spent the evening focused on tasting bourbon and rye only). There’s also this company called C&C Shine, allowing you to age whisky to your own taste in your own barrel (you even get to pick the oak you want!). It’s now on my Christmas list. The USBG (United States Bartenders Guild) also had quite the line-up of local talent making swill-a-riffic cocktails at their table, AKA party central, like the Dogpatch from Greg Lindgren, and my favorite, Ramblin’ Rose by Jonny Raglin (Four Roses Bourbon, apricot brandy, dry vermouth, and pepper tincture—like, dude.) A late-night dinner at Town Hall corrected any fest-induced tipsiness.

And of course FallFest is always a great party—it’s hard to beat the outdoor location, especially with the Blue Angels screaming overhead. My favorite bite was from Nicolaus Balla of O Izakaya Lounge: his scrumptious pork belly and house-made kimchee dish. It’s what I will want more of this winter for sure.

Oh, and how can I forget the 2008 Food & Wine American Wine Awards that righteously kicked my week off on Tuesday night? Was fun to meet some folks behind the mag, and who can resist 2004 Harlan getting poured at the tasting table? For reals. Was also happy to sip Bella’s 2005 Lily Hill Estate zin and the 2005 Talley Vineyards Rosemary’s Vineyard pinot—you can read up all the American winners in the latest issue of Food & Wine.

And now, it’s time for the monthly “back to school” book giveaway from Chronicle Books. In honor of the fall season, I am giving away three copies of A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash by Lou Siebert Pappas. Three lucky winners will score a copy of the book, plus a Chronicle tote bag. To enter to win, just forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to one friend, telling them why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column (if you call it a blog, you are disqualified, ha ha!), and CC or BCC luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com so I know you sent it (I promise not to use anyone’s email address). Deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday September 19th. I’ll let you know next week if you are the proud owner of a book and tote. Good luck, pumpkin!

I am off to LA on Thursday, with lunches lined up so far at Pizzeria Mozza and BottleRock, and dinner at Palate in Glendale, can’t wait. Thanks to everyone for all the LA suggestions—will try to visit what I can!

Ciao chow!