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Our Sonoma-Napa Valley Wine Vacation…October 2017

by Scott Casper

 

My wife and I were really looking forward to our Sonoma-Napa wine vacation; nine days of tasting some of the finest wines our country has to offer. We had our tickets to fly out of HIA on Tuesday, October 10 and get to Santa Rosa, California late that night. I could imagine walking past the huge figure of Snoopy going into the Charles M. Schulz Airport. He was the creator of the world-famous cartoon “Peanuts” and was the most famous resident in Santa Rosa’s history.

 

The morning before our flight I went online to see the day’s news. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. An extremely large wild fire came down the mountain and struck the north side of Santa Rosa. I said to my wife, “the airport and the Hilton where we were going to stay are on the north end of Santa Rosa.” Then, I saw the headlines for the next news story, “Hilton in Santa Rosa burns to the ground.”  Whoa!! I read the story and it was the Wine Country Hilton. I was going to make a reservation there but changed my mind. We were staying at the Airport Hilton Garden Inn instead. But our hotel was only one mile from the one that was completely destroyed. The raging wild fire was out of control and ravaged much of northern Santa Rosa. The fire was fed by very dry terrain and strong winds gusting up to 50 MPH. Tens of thousands of residents evacuated and were literally running for their lives; some were not successful.

 

We left HIA, got to Charlotte for Phoenix and then on to Santa Rosa and lots of great winery tastings. Well, that was our plan but it didn’t happen.  We got out to Phoenix with no problem. But our flight to Santa Rosa was cancelled. The Charles M. Schultz Airport was closed. It had no electricity, no water and heavy smoke covered its runway. It’s reopening was nowhere in sight. Our hotel in Santa Rosa was evacuated. We were spending an unplanned night in Phoenix. The next morning, we had to decide what to do.

 

BYOB Himalayan fusion

by Bill Beeson

Himalayan fusion in Patton Place off Linglestown Road – 2308 Patton Road, Harrisburg, PA 17110

Web: www.himalayanfusiononline.com Phone: 717-412-4907

Hours: Tu-Th 11A-2:30P/ 4P-9P; Fr 11A-2:30P / 4P-10P; Sa: 11:30A-3P/4P-10P Su:11:30A-3P/ 4PM-9P. Lunch buffet daily during regular hours.

A new international cuisine venue with friendly and attentive service, reasonable pricing, and great food just emerged on the East Shore! Offering Indian and Nepalese dishes, Himalayan fusion opened two weeks ago. Seeing the signs for this specialty restaurant “coming soon”, we drove by almost daily until finally, on a Tuesday, we heard from a neighbor – “It’s open, and food’s great!” The first Friday evening, we were there! We found it delightful. Vegetables were exceptionally fresh and crisp; nothing exhibited the soggy texture of food prepared and held in the kitchen. My entrée took a bit longer than others’ but these short minutes were worth the wait, as we quickly realized upon presentation, that the dumplings were being prepared to order on site, real time.

The traditional samosas (no nuts) were delicious, as were the Chili Mo-Mo (beware if you don’t well-tolerate hot peppers). The garlic naan was light, airy, and well… perfect – not over garlicky. The bhagan bharta (slow cooked eggplant) and shrimp pakora (made with chick pea flour) were favorably reviewed by their consumer. The mango chicken ordered by another was also rated thumbs up. Our spicier dishes paired well with a 2008 Allegro Cadenza (Bordeaux style blend) and the lighter dishes nicely with a 2016 Fabre Rosé from Provence. Riesling would also be a good varietal to grab on your way to dinner here. Wine glasses available if you forget to pack your Riedel.

This establishment seems VERY allergy-aware and careful – menu items are coded (V) vegan; (N) contains nuts; and (GF) gluten free – very much appreciated by our team! There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan-friendly entrees. Any dish can be prepared to your preferred level of heat as well. We plan to catch Sunday brunch there at our next opportunity!

Presidents Column November 2017

by Averill Shepps—

People send me emails, news articles, etc., all about wine. They keep me fairly well-informed. If I wanted to stop reading about wine and just drink it, I would not able to. A recent email forwarded by Dave Williams referenced an article from the renowned British publication, Punch. Author Jon Bonne writes of areas in France outside of Beaujolais, where the Gamay grape is being grown. He claims that “The world is currently in love with Gamay – soulful and passionate love, not the   tawdry one-night stand that is Beaujolais Nouveau.” If that doesn’t intrigue you, he goes on, “…while I adore the recent intellectualism, Gamay remains a wine of pleasure: it can be both meditated upon and, unlike Burgundy, drunk – actually drunk – with abandon. Pinot wants to be loved, Gamay wants to f—. It is the quintessential object of alt-desire, a sex toy for grape nerds. And that lust means we’re going to need a lot more good Gamay in the world.” And now I suppose I have your attention!

Those of you who attended the June Beaujolais event have already enjoyed some of the pleasures that Gamay has to offer. We are talking (no specific plans yet, but research is continuing) of having another Beaujolais tasting so that if you didn’t attend in June, you will have another chance to taste what is happening with Gamay. Meanwhile I will be looking into some of the areas where Gamay is still being grown – Cote Roannaise in the upper reaches of the Loire Valley as well as other parts of the Loire, namely Montlouis and Vouvray. There is such a thing as Sparkling Gamay made there. Imagine, 2 pleasures at once – the effervescence of the bubbles combined with the above mentioned qualities of Gamay. It must be tried!!

 

BYOB Moonlight Cafe

by Jacy Hammacher—

Moonlight Café, 4140 Carlisle Road; Dover, PA 17315   (717) 292-5643

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover!  When we pulled up to this particular BYOB, to celebrate being married for 10 years, my husband and I noticed the ordinary façade and later discovered it was not an indication of the top-quality food we were about to experience. There wasn’t an empty parking spot and it was a full house of around twelve tables, full of wine-loving foodies. We were seated fairly quickly; and, as we pulled our wine selections out, our server brought two wine glasses and a corkscrew so as to not keep our thirst unquenched.

My husband (or date should I say?) and I chose to start our evening with the Moonlight Crab Dip appetizer. The crab itself was so rewarding that I could have stopped there, but it also left me wondering what else could be on the menu that would satisfy my palate. As I perused the choices, I noticed that they offer a nice selection of categories that would complement a variety of wines.

We brought a 2009 Lingenfelder Shoy, made from the Scheurebe grape, which was full bodied, yet refreshing with a slight peach nose. Therefore, I was in the mood for some more seafood to pair with it. I ordered the Shrimp Champagne, which is raspberry cream sauce, tomato, mushroom, and spinach over fettuccine noodles and shrimp. The mix of flavors between food and wine made my taste buds dance!

Chris, on the other hand, was looking to have something that would accompany this big, bold, California Cab that had rich backing spices, and a smidgen of espresso bean. He made the only logical decision he could and ordered the Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon over a mountain of mashed potatoes and broccoli with balsamic glaze.  Needless to say, we will be eating there again soon.

 

President’s Column October 2017

by Averill Shepps—

Those of you who frequent the Lemoyne Fine Wine and Spirits Store get Kirt’s weekly email telling you what wines will be tasted on Friday and Saturday (I call it “the pub” because it has that same feel. You meet your friends there). This week he has sent a link to information and statistics relating to the US Wine Industry in 2016 that I found very interesting. Most important is that revenues for US wine sales estimated at $39.8 billion, show a 5% increase. Total US Wine Sales Revenue including imports is estimated at $60 billion. The number of US wineries in 2017 = 9019, up 4% from 2016. The 5 largest states by number of wineries: California – 4202; Washington = 747; Oregon = 713; New York = 385; Texas = 287.

Consumer information reveals that 120 million or approximately 36%, drink wine. 57% are female and 43% are male. (You go, girls!). 38% drink wine weekly (No comment there..). The largest wine consuming generations are Millennials and Baby Boomers. The 5 most popular wine varietals are: 1) Chardonnay; 2) Cabernet Sauvignon; 3) Red Varietals; 4) Pinot Grigio; 5) Pinot Noir. Some hot varietals and trends for 2017: Sparkling Wines are continuing to show double digit growth. Consumers are expected to crave more bubbles in 2017. (I intend to do my part). Rose is still all the rage. (We will have a tasting featuring them next Spring). Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand, shows strong increases. Finally, it is expected that consumers will continue to trade up to more expensive wines. That is where PWS is important to you. We feature fine wines at our tastings so that consumers can learn what they like, and buy, knowing they will enjoy their wine purchase.

Our Wine Tour of Tuscany by Scott Casper

Some of our favorite wines come from Tuscany so we wanted to take a wine tour of the region. The appellations we visited were: Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti Classico. The appellation we looked forward to visiting is one of the most prestigious in the world, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Of the wineries we visited in the Brunello zone, our favorites were Altesino and Val di Suga.

We wanted to visit Altesino because we drank more of their Brunello than any other and really liked it. Altesino has a good working relationship with the PLCB that over the years has benefited the winery and Pennsylvania wine consumers. The winery staff was pleased to hear that we were from PA. We had their 2012 Brunello that was very good AND it is currently available in the state system. But the “show stopper” at the tasting was their Montesoli, their single vineyard, estate flagship wine. That was excellent! It should be. It costs over $100 a bottle!

Val di Suga produces three single vineyard, estate Brunellos. Each vineyard has a very different type of soil; therefore, the three Brunellos taste and smell completely different. That made for a very special tasting. I particularly looked forward to this winery visit because I have a 1999 Spuntali Vineyard Brunello. The Spuntali soil is very interesting because it’s ocean floor with lots of seashells. It’s not something you would expect in southcentral Tuscany but the ocean receded from this area millions of years ago.

The gracious and knowledgeable woman who conducted the cellar tour and tasting was astounded that I had a Spuntali from 1999. She asked, “where did you ever find it?” I told her I found it in a “magical place” called the West Shore Plaza Wine and Spirits Store in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania back in 2007. I said, “They even had a special name for it. They called it a Chairman’s Selection.”

The first appellation we went to in Tuscany was Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG. The famous winery Poliziano was our first stop. The winery secured a reputation for consistently producing fine wines for many years. After the cellar tour, we went to their modern tasting room where the winery manager conducted the tasting. We had five of their wines. All of their wines were spectacular! Our next stop in the appellation was at Gattevecchi. Instead of having their wines in a tasting room, we had them with lunch on their small outside deck high up in the mountains. We had four of their wines with as many courses and they were all perfect pairings. The view, the wines and the food were “trifecta” winners!

The last appellation we visited in Tuscany was Chianti Classico DOCG. The Classico region is different from Chianti DOCG. Chianti Classico produces the best wines overall compared to Chianti, Chianti Rufina or Colli Senesi. You can easily identify the Classico wines with the symbol of their DOCG, a black rooster, on the upper label of every bottle produced there. We went to five wineries in the Chianti Classico zone. Our favorite was Vecchie Terre di Montefili. This is a small production winery that makes fine artisan wines. It was formerly a monastery high up in the mountains. The monks planted the vineyards and started to make the first wines here. They later sold the estate and it became a commercial winery.

Vecchie Terre di Montefili is a beautiful place. The views were breathtaking due to its elevation. It has two ponds among its vineyards with tall, full shade trees at the winery building. Both the winery and house had abundant plantings of beautiful flowers in full bloom. We had five wines including a thirteen-year old Super Tuscan. They were all stellar. Tuscany is remarkably scenic and the wines of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino (see last month’s newsletter) and Chianti Classico are among the best in Italy and the world!

Healthy BYOB Mellow Minded Cafe

by Lynne Beeson

 

Mellow Minded Café – Living, Loving, Local  at 5943 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112  717-412-7120

Hours: M-Tu 11-4; W-Th  11-8; F-Sa 9 -9; Su 9-3

 

This is our frequent go-to when we want to avoid the Friday interstate traffic snarls, and still want a good meal!   This place is family friendly, reasonably priced, and the best we’ve found among local ‘vegetarian-or-not’ places.   It’s casual, with counter walk-up service, but food is brought piping hot to your table when ready…so you can order, then sit back, pop a cork, and settle in a bit and chat before your food arrives.

Great care is taken with allergens, food restrictions, and preferences – including gluten free, dairy free, and vegan notations on the menus – the people behind the counter know what’s in each recipe, or will check with the chef if they don’t.  There’s something for everyone from small plates (prosciutto wrapped asparagus with balsamic) to large plates (fajitas your way) and from salads (add fish, shellfish or steak) to smoothies (from a fruit cornucopia – whatever you wish), But on to the fabulous FRESH food we enjoyed last visit, and the local wines we paired!

This visit, our dining trio started with the tomato bisque, which is gluten free, thick yet creamy, and oh so good. We paired soup with Allegro Brut Rosé.   Moving on to entrees, we sampled the crab cake dinner – one humongous lump crab cake on creamy parmesan risotto with grilled asparagus; the specially marinated, then BBQ tofu sandwich on brioche with very fresh, organic mixed greens on the side; and “the burger” (no roll this time to really savor the burger) made with locally raised, grass fed beef, topped with garlic aioli, lettuce and tomato also with a side of lightly dressed organic greens. With these we paired Allegro 2014 Skin Chardonnay, and the awesome, drinking-at-its-best right now, Allegro 2002 Reserve Merlot – every weekend should start this way!   You must check out this place.   Mellow Minded also serves breakfast – we keep planning to do that – it just hasn’t yet happened – but it will as we keep coming back and have yet to be disappointed.

The Inn at Herr Ridge by David Williams III

900 Chambersburg Rd, Gettysburg, PA. 17325 717 334-4332 www.innatherrridge.com

Wine dinners are nothing new, however, superb food and wine dinners at reasonable prices in historic venues near Harrisburg are worthy of mention. I have to admit I was not familiar with the Inn at Herr Ridge but have driven past it innumerable times as it sits on Rt. 30 about 4 miles East of Gettysburg. My bet is you have too. I strongly suggest becoming familiar with this establishment.

Sommelier Brad Doerr and Chef Michael Andrews are pairing up to do themed wine dinners every Friday over the winter season. The themes change monthly. November 11, we attended a 4 course “Casa del Vino” Wine Dinner featuring wines and foods from Spain. Before I share the menu, I must tell you this location owned by Steve Wolf since 1977 has a 6000+ bottle wine cellar with domestic and international vintages dating back to 1970’s. It has also multiple Wine Spectator recognition awards. Brad has been given stewardship over the cellar and selects wine for the wine dinners not seen on the restaurant wine list. Trust me, after the tour of the cellar they have many surprises worthy of superlatives. Chef Andrews is certainly up to the challenge. Our menu is outlined below:

Manchego-Chorizo Pisto a la Macha served with Casa del Mar, Cava Brut NV
Valencia Seafood Paella paired with 2007 Martin Sancho, Verdejo, Rueda
Stella Cherry Braised Pork Belly with Smoked Bacon Gigante Beans, dancing on one’s tongue with a 2000 Segura Viduas Reserva from Penedès (Tempranillo)
Astorgia Chocolate Crema Catalana Raspberry Espuma wonderfully paired with a 2004 Dominio de Tares from Bierzo (Mencia)

I am a tough restaurant critic but was more than delighted with all 4 courses; in fact, I was impressed. The wines were expertly matched and highly complementary. One comment I have to make, a 9 year old Verdejo was the surprise of the evening, although the significant red with dessert made me momentarily pause before consuming both completely, ending with a wonderfully sated smile. Verdejo is typically youthful, light in color and tart with nice balance. However, this was truly golden showing a richness of age and deep elegant notes with a lingering finish. All of this for $70 per person plus tax and tip. Attending the wine dinner, should you wish to spend the evening and enjoy the B&B, you receive a 33% discount off your room. Look for me as I plan to return for the food as well as the wine. Check the web site under events for upcoming wine dinners. December will be Argentina. Yummmmmm !

Greystone Public House by Bill Beeson

The Greystone Public House has made a spectacular entrance, quickly ascending to the top of the Harrisburg dining scene. Chef Jason Viscount, formerly of Bricco, has a creative approach to “contemporary, rustic American” dishes. What I appreciate most is the consistent attention to detail that is (unfortunately) not often encountered locally. An example – salads are never overdressed, and the balance of spices and flavors is in perfect harmony. We’ve tried four of the five standard salads and wouldn’t change a thing about any of them.

I enjoyed black cod and clams in a clam broth so delightful, I took the leftover home for use in my cooking the next day. Portions, by the way are always generous—think of the next day’s lunch. Other dishes we and our friends and business associates have enjoyed, include the seared yellowfin tuna with baby turnips, lentils, kabocha squash and spiced pumpkin seed gremolata; blue catfish with fingerling potatoes, braised kale and endive; swordfish atop oyster mushroom risotto; a smoked elk sausage sandwich with chipotle apple butter, warm pepper onion and cabbage slaw; braised beef shortribs with smashed red bliss potatoes, brown butter brussels sprouts and red wine sauce; and yellowfin crostini with chili aioli and avocado – all of these and more completely wowed us!

The wine service is equally impressive, and unmatched in this area. Over 200 bottles are offered, many also available by the glass. And Greystone takes an innovative approach by offering “The Stack” of three 8 oz. carafes (stacked via unique bottle design). This enables individuals to pair a different wine with each course as the three wines chosen can be different. Wine and food prices are reasonable – which is refreshing!

The building’s original structure was built in the 18th century, and the newest renovations were reconstructed in a modern rustic style. We recommend dining upstairs if you like intimate conversation. The bar is large, open, with table seating on both sides and wonderful for socializing on a more casual conversation level. It can be however, quite noisy! Parking is plentiful and free!

Every wine selection we tried has been excellent, further demonstrating exceptional care and planning with the menu in mind. This is yet another feature that makes Greystone stand out in the local dining area. Reserve a table soon! You will find Greystone at 2120 Colonial Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112. Phone: 717.829.9952 Hours : M-Th: 11am – 11pm; Fri – Sat: 11am – 12am; Sunday: 10am – 10pm [Sunday Brunch 10am – 3pm].