Monday, November 18, 2013

Champagne Everyday: Champagne at Julia Child Memory Lane luncheon in D...

Champagne Everyday: Champagne at Julia Child Memory Lane luncheon in D...: Champagne at Julia Child Memory Lane luncheon in Denver, Nov. 13, 2013 Placemat with menu Sunday, a week ago today, I traveled M...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Champagne Rising At The 2013 Denver International Wine Festival

The 9th Annual Denver International Wine Festival was our best ever!
Wine loving ticket holders booked 167 rooms on Friday November 8th enthusiastically supporting the move of venue to the luxurious, Four-Diamond, award-winning Omni Interlocken in Broomfield.  All ticket events were sold-out in advance.

The five day festival stepped-up the focus on wine education and culinary greatness.
Three educational seminars were moderated by Brandon Tebbe, Master Sommelier. Seminars included :

Artisanal Cheese & Wine Pairing Adventure Seminar by: Barrie Lynn – The Cheese Impresario and Mike Andrews of Coyote Canyon Winery

Champagne Styles by Madeleine de Jean, “Madam Champagne”.

Riedel Vinum XL Glass Tasting by Price Kitchem, National Sales Manager, Riedel Crystal America

A 4th seminar was presented by The International Wine Guild

Wine and Food Pairing Seminar
Instructor: Claude Robbins, GWM, MWE

The stars of this year’s festival included former White House chef John Moeller and “Madam Champagne” who helped wine lovers expand their knowledge of Champagne.

The final event, The Julia Child Champagne Tribute Luncheon  delighted attendees with 6 different amazing champagnes from G.H Mumm, Gosset and Taittinger, backed up with a delicious redux of Julia Child’s own Champagne Picnic Lunch menu (Sans Aspen Food & Wine Classic). See menu here:

Attendees enjoyed watching Madam Champagne teach Omni Executive Chef Mario Clapes how to saber a bottle of Champagne nearby an empty chair that was dedicated to Julia Child. Ladies participated in the fun by speaking in Julia’s voice!

The 10th Annual Denver International Wine Festival returns to the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, November 20 to 22, 2014.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cheers to James Gandolfini

It’s been about almost 2 months since James passed away of a heart attack in Rome. I am still in non-belief!

I was one of his biggest fans when he played Tony Soprano, Godfather in HBO’S Soprano’s. As Tony, Gandolfino kept everyone glued to their couches on Sunday evenings.

In 2009, I had the honor of getting back stage access at “God of Carnage”. Marcia Gay Harden, my friend and past wine tasting client arranged this very special visit. The play was amazing. The set was a living room where two couples are discussing what boundaries their rambunctious children broke. In the beginning, James voice had a lisp and was speaking softer than his Tony Soprano tone. When the phone continued to ring, with his mother’s continued nags, James screamed “WTF MOM!” in his typical Tony Soprano titrate. Everyone applauded!

I had the pleasure of meeting James in person after the show. He was in front of the theater signing autographs. At first, when he saw me he was cautious until he realized that I was harmless. When I approached, he extended a hand shake and asked “where’s my wine?”

As a true “Sopranosholic” I was always dreaming of a Soprano’s movie, in “Sex in The City” style. This will not be possible after James demise. I guess, James has faded into black just like the Soprano’s series.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Super Summer Saturday’s In Boulder, Colorado

One of our favorite things to do in the Summer is to visit Boulder on a Saturday!
We can take a stroll on the Pearl Street mall to observe a colorful selection of characters and street musicians. Browse the many shops and eat at some of the best restaurants in Colorado. 
Farm grown onions- Black Cat Farms

The Boulder Farmers market is to place to go for fresh local produce, flowers and herbs, ranch-raised meats and dairy. Local grown sweet corn is now available as well as zucchini, tomatoes and onions. Top stands include Black Cat Farms (owned by the Eric and Jill Skokan, who also own Black Cat Restaurant in town) and Munson Farms (famous for their Peaches and Cream Corn)

Homemade Ravioli w/Shrimp

Dessert at Oak At Fourteenth

Nearby top eats: Oak At Fourteenth, a hip restaurant that is famous for amazing cocktails, wines and new American cuisine focused in seasonal ingredients. The kitchens famous Oak Fired Oven is a focal point of the restaurant. Food (especially meats) cooked over the hot wood coals provides amazing flavors.

We love going to Oak for lunch! The menu is ever changing and reasonably priced.

For starters we tried the tangy Crispy Fried Pickles with Green Goddess Aioli ($5). We ordered an amazing bottle of 2012 Domaine de Triennes Rose, Vin de Pays du Var, France ($38) 4.5/5. This wine had a light salmon color, was full of Subtle citrus, tangerine, lychee.

I loved my homemade ricotta ravioli with hot red shrimp. My wife loved her handmade cheeseburger (double patties) that picked up the smoky flavor of the wood fired oven and came with homemade (square) tater tots!

We shared a decadent chocolate brownie dessert with fresh fruit, whipped cream and peanut brittle.

Further east on Pearl Street is Cured Boulder, a petite artisan food and wine purveyor that is every foodie’s “must visit” in Boulder. They have a very unique selection of artisanal cheese and charcuterie, fresh baked breads, spices, mustards and unique handcrafted wines.

Oak At Fourteenth
1400 Pearl St 
Boulder, CO 80302
Tel. (303) 444-3622

Cured Boulder
1825 Pearl St  
Boulder, CO 80302
Tel. (720) 389-8096

Boulder Farmers Market
Located 13th Street between
Arapahoe and Canyon, next to
Central Park in downtown Boulder
Open: Saturday 8am to 2pm
             Wednesday 4-8pm

Just Opened! Overlook Bar & Grill, Estes Park, Colorado


A new restaurant opening in Estes Park is a rare and welcome occasion. Up until now Foodies had slim pick ins. Since this casual vacation town lies in the shadow of Rocky Mountain National Park. A large percentage of diners are looking to treat themselves to a night of dousing their campfires and enjoying BBQ, Pizza or Rocky Mountain Oysters. Most of the local joints in town are seasonal restaurants that have not been decorated or renovated since the 1970’s. While knotty pine paneling was once popular, I prefer light earth tones to dark and dingy.

The Overlook Bar & Grill has all of the right ingredients. Friendly staff, clean & modern décor, creative bistro-esque cuisine from an award winning, master chef, combined with a breathtaking mountain view. The bar offers a massive selection of craft beers, creative cocktails and hip domestic and international wines.

To be fair, I keep a practice of not reviewing recently opened restaurants, especially a restaurant that had a soft opening just 4 days ago. Estes Park’s new top chef is award winning culinary magician Michael Long. Best known for his restaurant Opus in Littleton, Colorado. An east coast native and graduate of CIA (Culinary Institute Of America, Hyde Park) Chef Long has the expertise to create just about any level of cuisine from haute to comfort level. The cuisine at Overlook takes diners to culinary peaks, but respects Estes Park’s laid back atmosphere. “ Thirty-percent of our customers are kid’s” claims Chef Long.

We tried several dishes including a rich & creamy, melted Mountain Mac-N-Cheese ($8), which offered a creative take on Macaroni and Cheese, stuffed inside a wheel of oozing brie and placed on top squares of Focaccia bread. The beer braised Beet Salad ($8)was plated in an artsy display. The signature dish, pepper crusted Elk Chop ($39) is a big portion. Served rare it is a slightly gameier than beef, with a velvety texture and flavor hinting of grass and cedar. My chop was served atop a delicious plate of polenta and braised spinach with a wild huckleberry porter ale elk jus. The Hot Apple Cobbler ($6) was individually baked in a cast-iron skillet, served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Creative Cocktails include a Jack Daniels Single Barrel Manhattan ($9) and a Raspberry Margarita ($9).

The Overlook Bar & Grill is a great place to enjoy delicious food & drink with friends and family. It has the best roof top view in Estes Park. You can even see the historic Stanley Hotel, which is where Stephen King got his inspiration to write horror classic The Shining!

The Overlook Bar & Grill
165 Virginia Drive
Estes Park, CO
Tel. 970 267-2912
Website: Coming soon!

Note: If you enter the building from its front entrance on Virginia Drive, you will be taking three flights of stairs to the restaurant entrance. If you are not up for that much exercise…parking in the rear lot gains entrance to a single flight of stairs or elevator.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Recipe of The Month! Shafsky Benedict

Vineyard Room at Albert Shafsky B&B

We recently visited Eldorado Wine Country in California for the purpose of creating a feature story in Wine Country International ® magazine. This region is nestled between South Lake Tahoe and Sacramento off Highway 50. The main town is Placerville, California, formerly called Hangtown during the Gold Rush years.

Placerville is a quaint and friendly town with a 10 block business district, containing a historic hotel, great restaurants, antique shops, art galleries, a cheese shop, chocolate shop, winery tasting room plus even a Mel’s Dinner.

Located just across the highway, a block from a pedestrian bridge is the Albert Shafsky House B&B. It’s a fully restored, small property that is full of charm and well-appointed decorations. The bedding is superb and sheets may be purchased.

One of my favorite aspects of staying at any Bed & Breakfast is the breakfast. And co-owner Rita Timewell proved that Momma didn’t raise any fool! She prepared an incredible breakfast of fresh fruit, home baked muffins. But her Shafsky Benedict was to die for. Rita was kind enough to share her recipe!
Shafsky Benedict

Shafsky Benedict:

Two English muffins sliced in half
2 Minnie red bell peppers
2 green onions
1/2 small zucchini
2 Tbsp. pine nuts
1 Tbsp. olive oil
10 cherry tomatoes
1 tsp. lemon olive oil
8 asparagus stalks
1 cup Hollandaise Sauce
4 tsp. crumbled Feta cheese
Chili powder
4 eggs

Prepare the Hollandaise Sauce and set aside but keep warm.  Chop the bell peppers, onions, & zucchini and set aside.  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, put them in a small bowl and cover them with 1 tsp. lemon olive oil.  Set aside.  Put the chopped vegetables and pine nuts in a pan and quickly sauté them in the 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.   Don't over cook them.  Whisk the 4 eggs and scramble them in either a nonstick frying pan or use 1 Tbsp. butter in a traditional pan.  Toast and butter the 4 slices of English muffin.  The asparagus can either be parboiled or roasted.
Assemble the Benedict by placing one slice of English muffin on each plate.  Top with 1/4 of the scrambled egg.  Divide the sautéed vegetables & pine nuts evenly on top of each scrambled egg.  Pour 2 Tbsp. of Hollandaise Sauce on top of the vegetables, add a tsp. of Feta cheese to each one.  Make an "X" with the asparagus on the very top of the Benedict and then sprinkle chili powder over the entire plate.
Add 5 of the cut cherry tomatoes around the plate for garnish.
A piece of sausage cooked in olive oil, Italian herbs, and garlic salt is always a nice addition to the plate.
Fresh Fruit Bowl

Albert Shafsky House B&B
Proprietors: Rita Timewell & Stephanie Carlson
2942 Coloma St.
Placerville, CA 95667
877-262-4667 toll-free

Aftertaste: Denver’s Urban Winery Rolls Out New Wines With Haute Cuisine

Guests arrive in the cellar

Denver, Colorado, Thursday May 16, 2013.

It was like a set from an HBO miniseries, filmed inside a working wine cellar. There were fourteen rounds set to feed about seventy wine and food lovers, the tables displayed amongst towering racks of new and old oak wine barrels, curtains flowing from the ceiling amongst soothing light to soften and section the dining area, and vases full of freshly cut flowers decorated the cellar. Guests eagerly awaited to taste Balistreri’s newest wines from barrel, many months before they are to be bottled, offering a rare glimpse of future wines.

The talent was abundant that night. Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” Season Five Winner, Hosea Rosenberg, created a spectacular six-course pairing menu with his team at Blackbelly Catering. Chef Rosenberg has remained true to his roots after his win propelled him into culinary stardom just five years ago. There have been no automobile endorsements, just honest hard work transitioning from a chef-employee into a businessman and chef-farmer. In addition to his successful catering business, Rosenberg now owns a farm and raises Berkshire pigs. Chef Hosea’s philosophy is that less is more. He focuses on ingredients more than techniques to bring the flavor experience to the diner. 

“We are cooking it simply and purely - making sausages, bringing and smoking hams, etc. with the knowledge that our meats were raised and fed well and will make the final product unbelievably good.  I raise the Berkshire pigs for three main traits:  flavor, marbling, and fast growing. Their meat is very red and almost looks like beef. There is a ton of marbling and a great fat cap on the cuts, so it always cooks up juicy and flavorful.  It also works amazingly well for our sausage making and charcuterie. They eat a lot and grow up quickly - which cuts down on our feed cost.   We also utilize local breweries for spent grains and a cheese maker for the their whey.  Other than that, they are fed 100% organic grains and vegetables. They are very happy pigs!” commented Chef Hosea Rosenberg.
John Balistreri extracts wine
The Balistreri family has worked hard building a vibrant wine business for the past decade. Their persistence and unique winemaking style has cultivated a terrific and devoted base of customers. A massive new winery was constructed and completed in 2012 to cater to the strong clamor for their wines. Demand is so strong, in fact, that it is difficult for them to age their wines for more than a year after they have completed fermentation. Winemaker John Balistreri likens his practice of releasing wines early to Burgundy’s Beaujolais Nouveau, France’s popular, youthful wines. The main difference is that in France the wines are made exclusively from Gamay and the wines undergo a special type of fermentation known as carbonic maceration, which gives them a very soft, fruity profile. Balistreri’s range of wines includes Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and a first-time Malbec, and the style is generally rich and full-bodied.

John’s charismatic and lovely daughter Julie calls herself “The Winemaker’s Daughter”. She has her mother Birdie’s looks, but is the less shy, colorful host of the evening. The winery expansion is also creating opportunities for the next generation of Balistreris. Julie’s nephew, Mason, and her daughter, Angelina, were properly introduced to guests and took part in providing guidance and wine descriptors during one of the main courses.
Hosea Rosenberg & Julie Balistreri
The food and wine pairings were jaw-dropping. The expression, “God is in the details”, came to mind several times throughout the evening. Many of Chef Hosea’s courses took the better part of the day to create. They were intricately layered with flavors and textures, using locally grown ingredients. The pairings were so brilliant it almost felt like the wines were created specifically to match the food.

2013 Spring Barrel Tasting Dinner
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Chef Hosea Rosenberg, Founder of Blackbelly Catering
Wines Presented by Winemaker John Balistreri

Welcoming Wine
Balistreri 2012 Colorado Sangiovese, Talbott Vineyard, Barrel #11255
Wine Notes: **** | 90pts| A great, fruit-forward, well-balanced wine!

Balistreri 2012 Colorado Dry Muscat, Talbott Vineyard, Barrel #2044
Sweet Corn Custard Wrapped in
House Made Culatello

Wine Notes: VT***1/2 | 86pts| An Old World-style wine.
Food: Inventive, petite, and fills the mouth with delicious flavors.

First Course

Balistreri 2012 Colorado Roussanne, G. Parker Vineyard, Barrel #222
Spring Salad
Peas, Radish, Potato, Grilled Shrimp, Arugula
and Charred Scallion Vinaigrette

Wine Notes: VT****| 90pts| Old World-style, elegant and subdued.
Food: If only Mom made vegetables taste so good! A great fusion of fresh ingredients!

Second Course

Balistreri 2012 Colorado Tempranillo, Talbott Vineyard, Caspari, Barrel #11257
Hot Smoked Rainbow Trout
Fennel Sausage, Spicy Braised Greens and Blue Corn Grits

Wine Notes: VT****1/2 | 96pts| A powerful, full-bodied red made from Colorado-grown Tempranillo that rivals the top examples from Spain. Dark, rich in color with ripe red fruit, tobacco and chocolate notes. Ready to drink now!

Food: Red wine and fish? You bet! Tasting this pairing was like taking a trip down the taste highway. Amazing scents of fennel and smokiness meet tender, perfectly cooked trout seated on a layer of blue corn grits. Multi-orgasmic! One of the best food and wine pairings that I have tasted in a decade.

Third Course
Balistreri 2012 Colorado Malbec, Bookcliff Vineyard, Barrel #2174
Coffee Cured Duck Breast
Duck Confit and Beet Hash, Apple Mostarda

Wine Notes: VT***1/2 |86pts| Balistreri’s first-ever Malbec is a well-balanced, medium-bodied red wine, showing layers of fine tannins and fresh acidity. This is a young wine that will benefit from cellaring for nine months to a year.

Food: Incredibly enchanting, brilliantly prepared coffee crusted duck, served medium rare, moist and juicy, pairing perfectly with the wine. The apple’s sweetness tied all the flavors together beautifully.

Fourth Course
Balistreri 2012 Colorado Petit Verdot, Avant Vineyard, Barrel #11258
Balistreri 2012 Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon, Lovies Vineyard, Barrel #12269
Grilled Colorado Hanger Steak
Porcini Gnocchi, Local Mushrooms, Chimichurri

Wine#1 Notes: VT***1/2 |86pts| A dark red grape variety that is commonly used for blending, this wine has wonderful black cherry fruit flavors. This is a young wine that will benefit from cellaring for six to nine months.

Wine#2 Notes: VT**** |90pts| Move over Napa, this wine is proof that Colorado Cabs are world class! The fruit is selected from Balistreri’s favorite grower, Lovie’s Vineyard.
A tasty, big wine that shows no signs of flabbiness!
Food: Perfectly cooked steak fuses with rustic, local ingredients, making me feel like I am dining in Argentina! The food paired best with Balistreri’s bold Cabernet.


Balistreri Port Barrel #986
Salt Caramel Budino, Dried Cherry and Chocolate Crumbs
Balistreri Ice Wine

Wine#1 Notes: VT****1/2 |96pts| Amazing port-style, fortified red wine with walls of fruit and flavors of cherry Lifesavers.

Wine#2 Notes: VT**** |90pts| Yummy white dessert wine with caramel and tart apple flavors.
Food: Breaking through this layered dessert revealed a surprising finale of sweet and salty flavors. Chef Hosea delivered a creamy, velvety blend of sweetness and textures that paired well with both wines.

Everyone who attended will remember this well-executed event fondly. For $95, it was an exceptional value for the money.

Many of the attendees ordered futures of these new wines. Wines will be bottled and ready for pick-up by November. For information about these new wines and upcoming events visit

For information about Chef Rosenberg’s catering business and farm visit:

Chef Hosea with his team

Monday, March 18, 2013

Anthony Bourdain departs with fork in hand for "Parts Unknown” with CNN!

Bourdain in episode one- Myanmar-Photo Courtesy of CNN

Top chef, culinaire, bestselling author and travel host Anthony Bourdain will launch a new show "Parts Unknown" on CNN. The one hour weekend show premiers on April 14th, at 9pm ET with it's premier episode of Part's Unknown Explores Food and Culture of Myanmar. 

Bourdain is known for his New York style wit and candor, backed by extensive culinary expertise. The one-hour weekend lifestyle series follows Bourdain as he travels the across the globe to uncover little-known areas of the world and celebrate diverse cultures by exploring food and dining rituals. Known for his curiosity, candor, and acerbic wit, Bourdain takes viewers off the beaten path of tourist destinations - including some war-torn parts of the world - and meets with a variety of local citizens to offer a window into their lifestyles, and occasionally communes with an internationally lauded chef on his journeys.  CNN.COM

Link to: 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Foie Gras For Valentines!

Foie Gras with A Red VDN Wine From Roussillon

Foie Gras For Valentines!

Valentine’s is all about being decadent! Don’t skimp on great food & wine!

Foie Gras is French for "fat liver". It is is made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened.  I love my Foie Gras seared, but restaurants also prepare it as a mousse, parfait, or pâté (lowest quality). France is the leading producer and consumer of duck and goose foie gras. In 2005, the country produced 18,450 tons of foie gras (78.5% of the world's estimated total production of 23,500 tons) of which 96% was duck liver and the rest goose liver. Top producers supplying the US are based in Canada and Hudson Valley New York.

If you order a Foie Gras appetizer at your favorite restaurant, it is essential that you pair it with a dessert/ sweet wine that cuts through the fat.

Pairing suggestions:

Ice Wine
Late Harvest Dessert Wine
Vin doux Naturel (VDN)
Champagne or sparkling wines 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Delicious & Quick To Make Catalon Salad!

Roussillon is an Old World region in Southern France that is guided by energetic, young and progressive winemakers who respect their vines and nature. The cuisine is logically Mediterranean, featuring ultra-fresh seafood, plump with tapas, gazpacho, organic vegetables and rustic meat dishes.

We discovered this simple but amazing dish during a visit to the region during Harvest 2012. 

"Meli-Melo of The Sun" Salad
By Bruno Ribière
Co-Proprietor of Domaine Ferrer Ribière, Roussillon, France

A refreshing dish that is easy to make and will make you and your guests ask for more!

TIME: 20-25 minutes
YIELD: 4 appetizer portions


2-Zucchini raw
1-Soft Spanish Chorizo Sausage Picante (spicy) or Dulce (sweet)
1/2 lb small shrimp (20-30 count)
1/2 lb Manchego Cheese
1/4 cup of balsamic vinaigrette dressing 


Use a potato peeler to remove skin from the zucchini. 
Slice the zucchini in a food processor using a A julienne disc. This will produce thin spaghetti-like strands of zucchini. Slice the strands into small 1/4 inch portions. Place raw zucchini into salad bowls. 

Clean & devein shrimp, remove shells and tails.

Slice chorizo thinly in 20-30 slices. Sauté on stovetop in a medium size pan, with 4 tbs of olive oil for 3 minutes. Add shrimp into pan and sauté for another 3 minutes. 

Add one tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette dressing to each zucchini salad

Remove cooked chorizo and shrimp from pan and distribute even portions on top of the raw zucchini

Shred some Manchego over each salad for flavor


Saturday, January 26, 2013

4th Annual Denver International Beer Competition adds Gluten Free Beers!

The 4th Annual Denver International Beer Competition promises to be the best ever! 

This annual competition is organized by Wine Country Network, Inc. The 2013 competition promises numerous changes and improvements to the its judging system that is is sure to generate more 2013 medal winners. 

The competition is expanding it's beet categories this year with the addition of: 

•Gluten Free Beer
•Black International IPA'S
•American-Style-Brett Ale
•Wood-and-Barrell-Aged Beer

Brewers may download entry forms at this webpage: 

Note: A 20% Early Bird discount is offered for entries that are received and paid for before February 15, 2013. 

The 2013 Denver International Beer Competition is officially sanctioned by the BJCP. It is America's most food friendly commercial beer competition. 

Gold and Silver medal winners will be showcased at a unique food & beer pairing competition called Pairsine, Chefs Food & Beer on Thursday June 13, 2013 at The Omni Interlocken Resort's, beautiful outdoor pavilion.

Order tickets: