Wine

Vintners Resort, a Tranquil Escape in Sonoma

Recently, my husband and I took a vacation to wine country and stayed at the Vintners Resort, nestled in the heart of Sonoma wine country. It provides a full-service resort that includes fine dining and wellness experiences. The room was spacious and offered the finest accommodations, with a stunning view of the vineyards.

Vintners Resort

Vintners Resort

 

For breakfast, we ate at the rustic River Vine restaurant inside the resort, which is currently serving breakfast to hotel guests only. Every dish was fresh, delicious, and beautifully presented.

Breakfast at the River Vine restaurant

Breakfast at the River Vine restaurant

 

River Vine restaurant

River Vine restaurant

 

John Ash & Co. is an upscale restaurant located on the premises and offers 5-star service and emphasizes seasonal cooking. It is the first restaurant in Sonoma County to follow the farm-to-table philosophy of cooking with seasonal, local ingredients.

My husband and I enjoyed some fresh oysters paired with a local sparkling wine as an aperitif. The ambiance was serene and romantic, and Christopher, the manager, was gracious and hospitable. The waitstaff was very attentive and courteous. For dinner, we relished on some gourmet-style short ribs over polenta, and pan seared scallops and prawns. This delectable meal would not be complete without a scrumptiously decadent trio of ice cream.

Fresh oysters paired with a 2015 Russian River Valley Brut Rose Fresh Hog Island oysters and 2015 Russian River Valley Brut Rose Vintners Resort

 

Pan Seared Diver Scallops & Gulf Prawns, paired with a local Brut 2015 Sparkling Rose

Pan Seared Diver Scallops & Gulf Prawns, paired with a local Brut 2015 Sparkling Rose

 

 

Braised boneless prime rib short ribs braciole over Front Porch Farms red floriani polenta Braised boneless prime rib short ribs braciole over Front Porch Farms red floriani polenta

 

Ice Cream trio: Mexican hot cocoa, lemon bar, and peach with orange hazelnut biscotti Ice Cream trio: Mexican hot cocoa, lemon bar, and peach with orange hazelnut biscotti

 

The bar area is quaint with a cozy feel.

Relaxing at the quaint bar

Relaxing at the quaint bar

 

Mr. is enjoying the outdoor pool Mr. is enjoying the outdoor pool

 

Beautiful landscape Beautiful landscape

 

Posing with the grapes Posing with the grapes

 

Enjoying one of the stunning fountains Enjoying one of the stunning fountains

 

Pool area near the spa

Pool area near the spa

 

Vintners Resort's lobby

Vintners Resort’s lobby

 

A glorious day at Vintners Resort

A glorious day at Vintners Resort

 

Beautiful flowers

Beautiful flowers

 

The landscape is lush and meticulously maintained, and the property is surrounded by verdant vineyards offering a spectacular backdrop for wedding photography. We had fun walking through the vineyards and captured some outstanding photos. The resort has an outdoor pool and a new spa. “Vi La Vita spa” is a state-of-the-art facility designed for relaxation and pure joie de vivre! It was a fantastic way to decompress and enjoy La Dolce Far Niente (the sweetness of doing nothing).

The check-in process was contactless, and travelers should feel safe staying at this resort. The management took the highest level of precautions to ensure our safety.

The weather was glorious, and we enjoyed strolling through the property while admiring the beauty of nature. We would stay there again!

Vintners Resort

Vintners Resort

 

Visit Sonoma and stay at the charming Vintners Resort! You will thank me for this recommendation.

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Winner of 2019 Italian Wines “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award, held in Puglia, Italy
Brand Strategist

Castello di Amorosa – The Castle of Love

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

 

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

 

You know you love a winery when you visit it a second time! I compare it to having more than one sip of my favorite wine! I love revisiting! (double entendre, wink, wink)

In 2013, I first visited Castello di Amorosa──translates to Castle of Love─ and fell in love with the castle and its medieval architecture. Upon my return home, I hosted a side-by-side tasting with the 2008 La Castellana and a top-notch Italian Super Tuscan, and it was a toss-up!

 

Castello di Amorosa

Side-by-side tasting 2008 Castello di Amorosa’s La Castellana with an Italian Super Tuscan

 

“Fourth generation winemaker Dario Sattui built an authentically styled 13th-century Tuscan castle winery to honor his Italian heritage and deep love for medieval architecture. Dario is the great-grandson of pioneering vintner Vittorio Sattui, an Italian immigrant who founded St. Helena Wine Cellars in 1885. The Sattui family lived at the winery, even after Prohibition closed the business in 1920. Dario was always fascinated by the stories and photos of the old winery. As a child, he would play in the winery’s underground cellars and dream of reviving the family business.” ~ Website. 

Dario Sattui said: “he was determined to make the Castello authentic in every respect. I used only old, hand-made materials, and I built it employing the same methods and materials that would have been used 700-800 years ago. You cannot fake something like this. You either do it right, or people will know it is not authentic.”

Recently, I had the opportunity to revisit the winery and paid more attention to all the intricate details. The castle is nestled on a rolling hillside with cypress trees gracing the magnificent entrance, reminiscent of Tuscany. In South Florida, where I reside, it’s summertime all year round and a little cooler during the “winter” months. Unfortunately, I don’t get to enjoy the fall season. I was mesmerized by the yellow and brown leaves on the vines. By coincidence, they coordinated harmoniously with my outfit. The beginning of autumn was in full display at the Castello!

Castello di Amorosa

It’s beginning to look like fall at Castello di Amorosa

 

Lyn, our host, took us on a magical tour of all the rooms before conducting a delicious wine tasting that included a barrel tasting. The featured wines were a 2017 Sangiovese, a 2017 Sparkling Rose (Spumante) a 2015 La Castellana, similar to a Super Tuscan, a 2018 Old Vine Zinfandel, a Merlot, some white varietals, and La Fantasia. The latter is an Italian style frizzante (soft sparkling) wine which is naturally sweet with a low ABV with bright aromas of strawberry and pomegranate, offering a vibrant mouthfeel with a kiss of summer on the finish.

Their wines are meticulously crafted in an Italian style, and align perfectly with the medieval theme. If you would like to purchase their delicious wines, please visit their website: Napa Valley Castle Winery in Calistoga | Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

 

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

 

I hope you enjoyed my wine journey, and hopefully, someday, you will have the opportunity to visit this spectacular winery.

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
Brand Strategist

Tiffany’s Three Moons Wines

Filet Mignon & Tree Moons Winery

Filet Mignon & Three Moons Winery Estate Reserve 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Filet Mignon

 

While a top notch wine can easily stand on its own “legs”, it can also make a magical  pairing with a luxurious meal.

Today, I present you with the Three Moons Winery Estate Reserve 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon from the acclaimed Howell Mountain located in Napa Valley. Tiffany Moon is the name behind the label. She is a medical doctor and a cast member on the famous show “Real House Housewives of Dallas”.
In 2009, during her residency, Tiffany and her now-husband, Daniel, would travel to Napa to visit wineries. They were invited by a local winemaker to partake in harvesting grapes, learning about the aging and the bottling process of the wines. This experience led them to make their own barrel of a big bold red Cabernet Sauvignon in 2009. They would share the wine with family and friends. Daniel named the wine Three Moons to honor his father who founded Sam Moon stores, and his brother. Tiffany jokes that her three moons represent her and her twin girls. The Moons recently launched their private label that includes this Cabernet Sauvignon, a red blend and a Sauvignon Blanc. They turned their passion to a brand!
This Cabernet Sauvignon is not your typical weeknight wine. It’s one that you splurge on special occasions or purchase to add to your wine collection. I enjoyed this wine with my Waterford Crystal glass to elevate the experience. Every sip of this wine was seductive and boasted aromas and flavors of juicy black cherries, blackberries, crème de cassis, with a nuance of spices and freshly ground black pepper, offering a dust of dark cocoa on the mid palate. It had just the right amount of tannin with a polished astringency and not at all aggressive, well-structured, bold with remarkable fruitiness. The finish was majestically grand.
I paired it with Filet Mignon cooked medium-rare with a homemade Béarnaise sauce. (not easy😅) The richness of the wine and that of the meat created a gourmet-esque combination of flavors on my palate. This wine can be found on Three Moons Wine website.

Filet Mignon & Tree Moons Winery Estate Reserve 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Filet Mignon & Tree Moons Winery Estate Reserve 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Hope you enjoyed this food & wine pairing edition.

Happy Cooking and Sipping from Gina’s Kitchen!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
Brand Strategist

Penne alla Vodka with Crabmeat & Rosé Champagne

Penne alla Vodka with Crabmeat

Penne alla Vodka with Crabmeat

On New Year’s Day, I made Penne alla Vodka and added lump crab meat  to the sauce to give it a touch of elegance. This recipe is delicious but, because of its richness, it’s not part of my recipe rotation. Please click on the link below to follow the recipe. Simply add 1/2 – 3/4 lump crabmeat to the sauce, toward the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

Gina’s Penne Alla Vodka | Foodie and Wine Lover (foodiewinelover.com)

I paired this fancy dish with Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Réserve Exclusive Rosé. It comprises of 45% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Chardonnay. This pairing soothes my soul and sings the song to my heart.  Every sip I take, my heart twerks a little faster.

This Rosé Champagne is lively and refreshing, and will delight your taste buds. The color is deep orange with aromas of cherries and nuances of mixed red berries and grapefruit. The palate follows the nose with hints of almonds and effervescent ginger ale. This rich-style Champagne is full-bodied and has a creamy texture, with lots of tiny bubbles. The finish is irresistibly enjoyable, and marries harmoniously with the creaminess of the dish .

May your glass always be full of tiny bubbles!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
Brand Strategist

 

Fancy Shrimp & Grits paired with Champagne

Shrimp & Grits paired with Champagne

Fancy Shrimp & Grits paired with Champagne

 

On New Year’s Eve, I made my version of Shrimp & Grits. I am not claiming it to be an authentic Creole recipe, but it’s my version. This dish is simple without all the fuss and can be done in 15 minutes. I paired it with Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru Champagne, and it was a winning combination. With all the excitement that evening, I did not measure all the ingredients. Please use your judgement as these are approximate measurements. I used Prosciutto instead of bacon to elevate the flavors and give the dish a festive touch. The recipe that I am sharing today is for about 6-8 people, and I baked the shrimp in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. You can divide the recipe in 2 to feed fewer people, and pan fry them on the stovetop in a single layer.

Serves: 6-8  Level of difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

1.1/2 cups grits
butter to taste, optional
2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
paprika to taste
1 cup of dry white wine
extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 lb. chopped Prosciutto, pan fried
scallions, chopped for garnish

Preparation:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree F.

2. In a medium-sized stainless-steel tray, season the shrimp with salt, pepper and paprika until they are all coated. Arrange in a single layer. Add the wine. Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the shrimp are no longer translucent.

3. In the meantime, cook grits as per package directions. Add butter for richness.

4. Place the grits in individual bowls, add the shrimp, drizzle some sauce on top, garnish with Prosciutto bits and scallions.

Wine pairing suggestions: Sparkling wines or Champagne

Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru Champagne

 

It was my first time tasting the Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru and I was extremely pleased with it. The Champagne and the shrimp paired dazzlingly together. Had I used some spicy ingredients like Cayenne or chili peppers, I would have recommended a Demi-Sec (with some sweetness) Champagne to offset the heat in the dish.

Egly-Ouriet is one of the most remarkable Grower Champagne at Ambonnay in the Montagne (mountains) de Reims. Their Brut Grand Cru Champagne consists of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay and is very expressive of the terroir. The color is golden straw, showcasing aromas and flavors of freshly baked bread, toasted almond, pears, ginger, savory spices, that are woven throughout, giving the Champagne a touch of elegance with lively acidity. It was a delicious gastronomic experience!

Happy New Year 2021!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
Brand Strategist

Exclusive photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
All rights reserved.

Scrumptious Caesar Salad

It is believed that Caesar salad was invented in Mexico by Caesar Cardini, a famed restaurateur. This brings vivid memories of my trip to Mexico City many years ago where I relished on a scrumptious tableside Caesar Salad. I don’t generally like to purchase the packaged dressings as they are processed and full of sodium. Today, I am sharing with you my homemade Caesar dressing, but don’t fret, it has raw eggs in it. I recommend you to use the Grade A eggs as they are pasteurized (You will not even know about). This recipe is ideal even for the finicky eaters like my son who doesn’t like anchovies and my mom who cannot stand the thought of consuming raw eggs. Everyone enjoyed it, and not until after they were done, I revealed to them that there were anchovies and raw eggs in the salad. They were in shocked! I know, I was a little sneaky!

   Ingredients: 

  • 3 heads of Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 can of anchovies, flat, in olive oil – save some for garnish
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 egg yolks – room temperature Grade A
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + more for bread
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • salt to taste
  • 1 load of bread, cut in cubes to make croutons
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated, and shaved for garnish
  • Oregano

    Preparation:

    1. In a food processor, combine, 1.1/2 cans of anchovies, lemon, eggs, oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt. Pulse the ingredients until they are blended together. Set aside in the fridge.
    2. Place bread on a flat tray, drizzle liberally with olive oil. Add grated Parmigiano Reggiano, (Parmesan cheese) and oregano. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
    3. In a large bowl, arrange the lettuce, sprinkle with salt, and add the dressing. Mixed well. Garnish with croutons, shaved Parmesan cheese, and whole anchovies to taste. Serve with a protein of your choice.

    Wine pairing suggestion: a sparkling wine made with 100% Riesling from Ca’ d’Or winery.

    Caesar Salad

    Caesar Salad

    Happy Cooking and sipping from my kitchen to yours,
    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
    Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
    Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
    Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
    Level-2 Certified Sommelier
    Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
    Exclusive photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
    All rights reserved.

Curry Shrimp with Rice, Don’t Forget the Riesling!

A couple of times a week, I cook for a small crowd, and I generally use a one-pot meal because it makes life so much easier. Today, I am making Curry Shrimp with Rice. Grab your apron and follow me in Gina’s Kitchen. This recipe is a Covid-19 edition, using some frozen ingredients and what’s available at the time. I think, all in all, it’s healthy and somewhat affordable. 

Curry Shrimp with Rice

Curry Shrimp with Rice


S
erves: 6-8   –  Level of difficulty: Easy to intermediate

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 pinches of garlic powder
  • 2 cups Jasmine rice
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup mixed frozen veggies: carrots, green beans,
    corn, peas and lima beans, thawed
  • 3. 3/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds small frozen shrimp, already peeled and deveined,
    remove the tails, thawed.

    Preparation
    :

    1. In a large heavy-bottom pan (with a tight lid) over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Sauté onions for 1-2 minutes, add curry powder, garlic powder, stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add the rice. Stir a couple of times.
    2. Add the veggies, water, salt, pepper. Stir well. Arrange the shrimp on top. Bring to a boil. Lower the flame to the lowest setting. Cover tightly and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

    There may be some rice stuck on the bottom of the pan. It’s perfectly fine and adds crunchiness to the dish. Serve it in the pot. The idea is to make cleaning easier.

    Curry Shrimp with Rice paired with Riesling

    Curry Shrimp with Rice Paired with Riesling


    Wine pairing suggestion
    :  An off-dry Riesling or any dry white wine of your choice.

    This curried shrimp dish is begging for a refreshing wine to pair with it. I choose an aromatic and delicious German Riesling from the Mosel region. Rieslings are food-friendly and pair very well with curry, seafood, spicy, and Thai dishes.

    The mineral character in this wine exhibits a great depth of flavor and is a perfect complement to this meal. This Riesling is off-dry and showing a touch of sweetness with crisp acidity; it intertwines perfectly with the intoxicating flavors of the curry.

    I hope you will try this delectable and easy dish and share your experience with me.

    Happy cooking and happy sipping!

    Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
    Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
    Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
    Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
    Level-2 Certified Sommelier
    Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
    Exclusive photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
    All rights reserved.

Tignanello Amore Mio!

2017 Tignanello

2017 Tignanello

 

2017 Tignanello

2017 Tignanello

2017 Tignanello with Filet Mignon

2017 Tignanello with Filet Mignon

Zucchini with Feta cheese

Zucchini with Feta cheese

Alaskan King Crabs

Alaskan King Crabs

 

2017 Tignanello by Marchesi Antinori. Iconic, sexy, exuberant, and alluring are some of the descriptions that I find very felicitous for this Super Tuscan. It is an exquisite wine made with 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. After decanting it for 3 hours using the vSpin vase, (without the motorized apparatus- I was too lazy and busy cooking) all the aromas finally opened up. This wine is incredibly young, full-bodied, but sang to me in Italian in the most romantic way. Exotic, dark plums, sweet spices, cedar, tobacco, leather stimulate my taste buds, showing fine tannins with an extraordinary finish. This wine is meticulously well-crafted and has excellent aging potential in the cellar.

The afternoon started with some Alaskan King crabs as appetizers, and for dinner, I served a roasted filet mignon, with an (optional) gravy made with a roux (butter and flour), salt, freshly ground black pepper, beef stock, dashes of Worcestershire sauce, tarragon, and drippings from the meat. I also prepared stir-fried zucchini and added Feta cheese to elevate the dish. It’s a terrific way to enjoy your veggies! On the menu, there were also roasted potatoes and onions for the big eaters. It was a fun gathering with my family celebrating a special occasion: our wedding anniversary! All the spices in the food and that of the wine intertwined beautifully to create a symphony of memorable flavors. It was an outstanding food & wine pairing experience.

“Tenuta Tignanello estate is in the heart of Chianti Classico, in the gently rolling hillsides between the Greve and Pesa river valleys. Two of the estate’s prized vineyards are on the same hillside, Tignanello, and Solaia, on soils that originated from marine marlstone from the Pliocene period rich in limestone and schist. The vines enjoy hot temperatures during the day and cooler evenings throughout the growing season. The estate’s two signature wines, Solaia and Tignanello, are produced from these vineyards and have been defined by the international press as “among the most influential wines in the history of Italian viticulture”. According to Marchesi Antinori, Solaia and Tignanello are an ongoing challenge and a never-ending passion. The Tignanello estate has vineyards of indigenous Sangiovese grapes as well as some other untraditional varieties such as Cabernet Franc.” ~ Marchesi Antinori website.

I’ve been fortunate to have tasted the 2016 vintage as well at a lavish birthday party on a cruise ship. Celebratory wine like this one should be relished during special moments to add more meaning to the occasion.  

Some day, I hope you will get to experience a “Tig” moment. 

Happy Sipping From Gina’s Kitchen

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino Bloggers Award”
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier

To obtain a signed copy of my cookbook:

Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures


It’s also available on Amazon Italy, Spain, Great Britain, France, Japan, Australia, and other countries.

Gina’s Succulent Crab Cakes

It’s the holiday season and I want to jazz things up with some festive crab cakes and Champagne. Every once in a while I make crab cakes, and I always strive to come up with the best possible recipe. I think, I finally succeeded tonight. Generally, Blue Crabs from Maryland are used and they are famous for their crab cakes. My family gave my Maryland-style crab cakes rave reviews, and I am happy to share my version with all of you. It makes a dazzling meal but will break the bank! I’m not gonna lie, just make up for it in January!

Servings: 6 – 8 Degree of difficulty: Medium. Yield about 12 regular-sized crab cakes or 14 smaller ones. This recipe can be divided in half to serve about 3-4 people.

Ingredients:
1/2 red bell peppers, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
Salt to taste (go easy)
1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter for frying veggies, plus more olive oil to pan fry crab cakes
2 lbs. ( 2) 16-ounce containers jumbo lump crabmeat
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. stoneground mustard
2 tsp. Creole seasoning
Sprinkle of garlic powder
4 eggs
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Freshly ground pepper

Crab Cakes and Champagne

Crab Cakes and Champagne

 

Crab Cakes and Champagne

Crab Cakes and Champagne

Bread and goat cheese

Bread and goat cheese

Beets and goat salad

Beets and goat salad

 

Preparation:

1) Over med-high heat, in a medium-sized pan, heat up olive oil and butter, add celery, onion and bell pepper, salt to taste. Sweat for about 3-4 minutes al dente to give it a crunch. Let it cool.

2) In a large bowl, combine crab meat and all the remaining ingredients. Add the veggies, and mix well with your hands (using gloves). Form crab cake patties, just like you would make a hamburger, place on a tray and chill in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes.

3) Heat up enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large pan, on medium-high heat, (make sure the oil is hot) place at the most, 4 patties, AND LOWER HEAT TO MEDIUM, otherwise, crab cakes will come out too dark. Cook on one side for 4 minutes, then flip gently with a spatula, cook the other side for about 2 minutes. Remove promptly and place on a dish lined with a paper towel. Repeat the same process. Add more oil if necessary. You can broil them for a healthier version.

I served them with a rémoulade sauce comprising of 2 tbsp. ketchup, 1 tbsp. mayo, 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, creole seasoning to taste. Mix well.

It would not be complete without a dazzling beet salad with goat cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar from Modena, along with crusty French bread. My family had fun smearing the cheese all over the bread for a fun experience. I hope, you will give this recipe a try, and I am certain your family will love you for it.

Wine suggestion: I paired it with a citrusy and toasty Champagne.

Pommery is a great Champagne House. The Brut Royal is made with the 3 main grapes, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, with refreshing notes of lemons and toasted bread. This Champagne is not dry nor complex and is very enjoyable. It’s lively with a touch of finesse. For $34.00 dollars, it has a great QPR (quality price ratio) and is perfect to add holiday cheers.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, &
Bon Appetit from Gina’s Kitchen!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino USA Bloggers” Award
Exclusive photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas
All rights reserved.

Ca’ del Baio, a Piece of Heaven in Barbaresco

I finally had the opportunity to travel to Piedmont (Piemonte) this past June, and experienced the beauty of this picturesque Italian region. I visited many lush wineries in the sub-regions of La Morra, Barolo, Alba, and Barbaresco, and tasted some delicious wines. Barbaresco is a beautiful region in northwestern Italy where the Nebbiolo grape thrives in the slightly maritime climate: warmer, dryer, and milder, allowing the grapes to ripen faster. The Nebbiolo grapes are used to produce the wine that also goes by the name of Barbaresco. It is characterized by its rich flavors with notes of spices and mild perfumes with sweetness and is considered elegant and refined. The soil in Barbaresco has more nutrients and makes it less tannic than Barolo. Barbaresco is also known for Dolcetto and Barbera. 

Upon arriving at Ca’ del Baio── house of the bay horse, means a dark-horse in Piedmontese dialect, which is an inspiration for their logo──Federica greeted us with her contagious smile in her work attire. We knew it was going to be a special tour and felt a deep connection with the winery.  For four generations Ca’ del Baio has been a family affair, as is the tradition in the Langhe region. Nurtured and passed down from father to son, the vineyards surrounding the Grasso family farmhouse have been added to over time through marriage and acquisitions. 

Giulio and Luciana along with their daughters Paola, Valentina and Federica, handle all the various aspects of the business. They do it with passion and expertise, from the growing and vinification of the grapes to hospitality and wine sales. For the Grasso family, simplicity, a sense of sacrifice and the deep attachment they have to their land are pre-requisites for guaranteeing wines of quality. Today the Ca’ del Baio estate takes in 28 hectares of vineyards in the villages of Barbaresco and Treiso, both of which are in the Barbaresco winegrowing area.

All estate-grown, their wines are made from a range of highly valued varieties, some typical of the area while others are more international: the whites include Moscato, Chardonnay and Riesling, and the reds Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto. Almost all the wines are varietals. The most prestigious vines – producing the Nebbiolo used to make Barbaresco – are between 25 and 40 years old, and they go into making the estate’s crus of Asili and Pora (commune of Barbaresco) and Vallegrande and Marcarini (Treiso). 

Since we were on a tight schedule, I did not have time to write my own wine descriptions, therefore, I am using the winemaker’s notes that I found on their website: Ca del Baio. I enjoyed this wine tasting tour that was conducted by Federica. She’s passionate and very knowledgeable in the world of wines. I highly recommend  you make reservations ahead of time before visiting this charming boutique winery. 

Recently, Ca’ del Baio’s Barbaresco Vallegrande 2016 received the prestigious “Tre Bicchieri”( 3 glasses), Italy’s Best Wines award given by Gambero Rosso. It’s the largest food-E-Wine Publishing House in Europe, according to their Instagram profile. 

Enjoying a tasting at Ca' del Baio

Enjoying a tasting at Ca’ del Baio

Ca' del Baio 2013 Barbaresco Asili Riserva

Ca’ del Baio 2013 Barbaresco Asili Riserva

 

Winemaker’s notes: The wine displays a brilliant garnet red colour with shades of orange. The intense nose releases hints of lavender, pine, rose petals, aromatic herbs, spices, and goudron (tar) notes. The wine is dry, full-bodied, and warm. It is exceptionally smooth and velvety in the mouth.

 

Ca del Baio 2015 Barbaresco Pora

Ca’ del Baio 2015 Barbaresco Pora

 

Winemaker’s notes: colour bright garnet red; nose intense and complex, with fruity overtones conjuring up plums and blackberries, and spicy hints of vanilla and roasted hazelnuts; taste full-bodied, soft and tannic; a big, yet very flavorsome wine.

Ca del Baio Barbaresco Asili 2016

Ca’ del Baio 2016 Barbaresco Asili

 

Winemaker’s notes: color bright garnet red, with slight orange tinges; nose intense, with fruity aromas of marasca cherries and hints of violets. Spicy notes of black pepper, liquorice and goudron (tar); taste dry, warm and soft, showing a long, rich, smooth flavour.

Award-winning Ca del Baio 2016 Barbaresco Vallegrande

Award-winning Ca’ del Baio 2016 Barbaresco Vallegrande

 

Winemaker’s notes: colour garnet red; nose intense, with powerful fruit, dried flowers and underbrush; taste dry, smooth and rounded, ending in a warm finish with nicely-balanced tannins.

Ca del Baio Barbaresco Lineup

Ca’ del Baio Barbaresco Lineup

Ca' del Baio 2016 Barbaresco Autinbej

Ca’ del Baio 2016 Barbaresco Autinbej

Winemaker’s notes: the colour is a deep garnet red with reflections of old pink. The nose is an intense, fruity aroma reminiscent of raspberries, jam, and violets that give an ethereal feeling accompanied by sweet spicy notes and hints of cocoa. In the mouth, Autinbej is warm, long, persistent and slightly tannic with an aftertaste of fruity notes.

LCa del Baio Langhe Chardonnay

Ca’ del Baio Langhe Chardonnay

Winemaker’s notes: colour bright straw yellow; nose intense and complex, ranging from flowery to fruity, with hints of nuts; taste dry, full-bodied and well-balanced, with long flavour…Chardonnay, international by nature, Piedmontese at heart.

Barbaresco wine region 

Amazing Barbaresco lineup 

While touring, Federica's dad Giulio brought me a glass of Moscato to taste

While touring, Federica’s dad Giulio brought me a glass of Moscato d’Asti to taste

I captured a picture of Ca' del Baio family portrait - Original is not mine

I captured a picture of the Grasso’s family portrait – Original is not mine

Ca' del Baio Barrel room

Ca’ del Baio barrel room

 

Ca del Baio Wine Room

Ca’ del Baio wine storage room

Ca del Baio sisters

Ca’ del Baio – the 3 sisters – photo from their website – not mine

 

The Grasso family symbolizes respect for land and passion for wine. They take pride in their work and harmoniously carry on the family’s legacy.  I am so glad that I met this tight-knit family and made unforgettable wine memories. 

 I hope you have enjoyed this article that illustrates our wine tasting journey in Piedmont, Italy. 

“Il vino fa buon sangue”  = Good wine makes good blood
“In vino veritas”  = In wine there is truth
 
Photos taken by Gina for Foodiewinelover – unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved. 
Disclosure: some of the information was taken from Ca’ del Baio’s website.   

Happy Sipping! 
Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, aka Foodiewinelover
Culinary Personality, Food & Wine Blogger
Author of the cookbook: Cuisines, Corkscrews & Cultures
Winner of 2019 “Salice Salentino Bloggers Award”
Level-2 Certified world-renowned – “WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust”
Level-2 Certified Sommelier

To obtain a signed copy of my cookbook: https://foodiewinelover.com/product/cookbook/
It’s also available on Amazon Italy, Spain, Great Britain, France, Japan, Australia, and more.

 

 

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