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Kelleher Wine, Sonoma Auction Weekend, & Food Trucks: Could One Have a Better Summer?
Kelleher’s Initial Sauvignon Blanc is Impressive
Someday we are going to write a column on how the style of a wine oddly reflects the style of its owners or winemakers (kind of like so many dog owners and their dogs). For today, however, let us talk about and recommend just one wine - the 2009 Kelleher “Block 21” Sauvignon Blanc ($28 - wow).
This wine, which radiates elegance like its owner Valerie Kelleher Herzog and controlled power like its winemaker Craig Peacock, belongs in the new generation of Napa Sauvignon Blancs that offer more complexity and rounder finishes than the Napa wines of the past, and most of the other new world wines of today. It isn’t surprising, by the way, that this is a super wine, given its already mentioned pedigree. But add to that the fruit source, which is Pam Starr’s St. Helena Crocker Vineyard, and what more could one ask for? There were only 220 cases of this Sauvignon Blanc produced and they are expected to go quickly.
Food Trucks in New York and Napa are 21st Century Social
You may wonder at first why the next ten paragraphs are in our wine column, but if you follow us even semi-regularly you know that we might write about anything we find interesting or groundbreaking, especially if it relates to wine of course, but also food. There is a trend being seen in cities toward excellent food being served by mobile vehicles, which allows for a great many options, not the least of which is the low prices that can be charged due to a sizeable decrease in overhead.
In Manhattan (many of our readers live or travel there) you will now find the city’s first ever original style Indian cuisine mobile food truck located on 27th street and 5th Avenue Monday to Wednesday from 1:00 pm to 2:00 am, and Thursday to Saturday from 11:00 am to 5:00 am. The business also has immediate plans for expansion to add additional addresses throughout New York City, but for now this location, with its Indian subcontinent community, surrounding nightlife, office workers, and university crowd, is proving quite popular.
The Desi Indian Food Truck distinctly sets itself apart from other cart vendors in New York not only by taste and type, but also with the look and feel of the entire experience. The lavish yellow truck is a full Indo-Pak motif with original art that can be easily spotted within the city’s massive traffic areas. The truck also includes Wi-Fi for all that visit, and a television on the side playing Indian music selections. Current dishes include Kati rolls, Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken with curry over rice, Aloo Masala, Dal and rice, Paneer Masala, and more. The prices are amazingly affordable and range from $4.00 up to $8.00 for larger dishes. When placing your order (we love this), if you say the classic Aladdin words “Khul Jaa Sim Sim,” (open the secret door) you will receive a free desert.
Never let it be said that those in Napa are not innovative. There have long been roving trucks serving excellent Mexican street food, but like major communities nationwide, something new has been added. If you know where to look you can savor top notch chicken and Chinese cuisine.
When Kevin Simonson’s chef/wine educator position at Acacia Winery was eliminated after 11 years, he outfitted a truck with a wood-fired oven as a traveling kitchen for his new venture, Crossroad Chicken. Parked at 1050 Soscol Ferry Road (south of Napa) from 11 am to 2 pm Monday thru Friday, the chef is now offering chicken and pulled pork sandwiches, chicken tacos, Rancho Gordo bean chili, cole slaw, and a salad with greens, tomato jam, and melted fontina cheese. Dinner plans are in the works, which will include a whole roasted free range chicken and sides.
Kevin is already well known in the extended area for catering private affairs, and his established client base has been responding favorably, as have employees from nearby corporate parks. A nice crowd congregates daily. Like other truck vendors, Kevin is hoping city or county officials will grant them a place to park together and offer the public an increased number of options in a convivial and casual atmosphere.
Former financial advisor Andrew Siegal has transformed his memorable European dim sum experiences into a business run from a 50’s style Airstream trailer in Napa – a seemingly good move because there really is nothing like it in the Valley. Until now, residents there have had to travel the 75 minutes to San Francisco (where you can hardly find a place to park and if you do, it will run twice the bill for the meal) to enjoy the true pleasure of dim sum.
Andy, along with local chef Clayton Lewis, resently opened Dim Sum Charlie’s in the used-but-spruced-up trailer, and parked it in downtown Napa at 728 First St., just east of Soscol Avenue and the railroad tracks. Partnering with a top dim sum house in San Francisco, Andy and Clayton pick up their wonderful selection of fresh dumplings and savory BBQ pork buns at a well known dim sum restaurant in San Francisco every morning and serve them during the evening only in Napa. The buns are finished in Napa inside old lobster steamers, and the dumplings are vegetarian, seafood, scallops with garlic, shrimp with pea pods, and chicken with chives. Also on the menu is an owner named dish called “snotty” (we would lose the title), made of rice noodles with a choice of pork or veggies. One can take the entire menu home or dine at the picnic tables. Since the trailer is only open at night, there is a fire and heat lamps. This little area has become quite the meeting place, especially for wine industry people who love to bring and share wine and stories.
The partners hope that soon they will have a dozen or more Airstreams running up and down the Valley, and maybe into Sonoma and Marin as well for special festivals. You can visit from 5:30 pm – midnight Wednesdays thru Fridays, 11:30 am – 2 am on Saturday, or, as Andy is quick to mention, until they run out.
Sonoma Wine Country Wine Weekend a Success for Consumers and Charities
Wine Country Weekend in Sonoma raised $1.3 million this year for charity. The annual three day pre-harvest celebration included a tasting of Sonoma wines at MacMurray Ranch, an upscale wine auction at Cline Cellars, and numerous vintner lunches and dinners. To date, this event has donated more than $10 million to local charities that serve students, children, farm workers, and people in need. This year was a continuation of the industry’s generosity.
Acclaimed chef and James Beard Award winning author John Ash made his inaugural debut as Culinary Chair and was joined by world renowned chef, restaurateur, and “Top Chef Masters” winner Hubert Keller. More than 60 of Sonoma’s best chefs put on an inspiring display of gourmet bites at Saturday’s wine tasting, while on Sunday Ash and his team of all-stars presented an exquisite six course wine pairing menu at the auction. [A word about this auction: the sheer numbers of bottles offered in some of the lots is amazing. You can almost fill a small cellar for some very reasonable prices. So you now have plenty of notice for next summer.]
On Saturday, a capacity crowd of 2,500 flocked to the historic MacMurray Ranch for a rare experience that included world class wines and culinary offerings from 200 of Sonoma County’s top vintners and chefs, as well as grape picking and pressing demonstrations, virtual appellation tours, farm and food marketplaces, reserve tastings, and the popular Steel Chef competition.
The entire event is made possible through the cooperation of three primary organizations. The Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance (SVVGA), a non-profit trade organization, serves over 500 vintners, growers, and associates who share a mission to promote awareness of Sonoma’s grapes, wine, and birthplace of the California wine industry. The Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Foundation (SVVGF) is a non-profit organization that has raised over $8,000,000 for local charities through the Auction. The Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) is a leading voice of Sonoma County wine, dedicated to raising awareness of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier wine regions. Founded in 1944, SCV represents more than 175 wineries of all sizes throughout the county.
Wine writers and educators Monty and Sara Preiser divide their time between Palm Beach County, Florida and the Napa Valley in California. They publish the world's most comprehensive guide to Napa Valley wineries and restaurants titled, appropriately, The Preiser Key to Napa Valley.