Some thoughts on organic wines…


Organic wines have been available for quite some time and it’s only recently that people have become more aware of them. Organic wines need to be certified “organic” by USDA to be labeled organic. Organic in a nutshell means that the grapes used are not treated with pesticides, fertilizers. 100% Organic means ” that all grapes used are certified organic & no sulfites added”. Organic means “95% of ingredients are certified organic & may a little sufites added”. Made with organic grapes means “at least 70% of grapes are certified organic & may contain sulfites”. Some organic wines are even vegan. Organic is not be confused with Eco friendly(although most organic producers are) or sustainable. Eco friendly can be used when using recycled glass for bottle, paper for labels, no run off into streams that may hurt environment & solar power. Most retailers have organic wines but Whole Foods seems to have the best selection. Some names to look for when buying organic wines…..

Organic Vinters (Vegan)

Badger Mountain

Stellar Organics (Vegan)

Nuevo Mondo

Vida Organica

Wines for the Holiday Season

As the holiday season starts one of the hardest decisions people are going to make is “What wine should we drink with…..”. This post will give you a quick ides of what to look for at your favorite wine retailer.

Pinot Noirs is a versatile grape that will go well with turkey, ham and and all the fixings. Oregon, California or the Burgundy region of France are the ones to look for. You’ll want a well balanced Pinot that can stand up to all you will be enjoying them with. Expect to pay about $20 for a good, solid Pinot Noir.

Beaujolais is another red wine that works well with holiday meals. Made from the Gamay grape from the Burgundy region of France, Beaujolais is lighter and fruitier than Pinot Noir. Beaujolais Nouveau is released on the 3rd Thursday of November and is from the most recent harvest and is a celebration of the harvest. Beaujolais should run less than $20 and Nouveau should be less than $12.

For the white wine drinkers at the table a Riesling works well. A Riesling from Australia, California or Germany would drink well. The crisp acidity & the mild fruit offer a great combination and should compliment your meal. Again find one that is well balanced. You can find a good Riesling for less than $18

Robert Craig Winery

Robert Craig has been in the wine industry for over three decades having been General Manager of Hess Collection Winery and helping to emphasis the the unique qualities that mountain fruit can have when making wine. Mountain fruit is better structured, concentrated than valley fruit & can age better. He’s helped develop hundreds of acres on Mt. Veeder & when he started his own winery in 1992 he wanted to use fruit from both Mt. Veeder in southern Napa Valley & Howell Mtn. further north and across the valley. He also makes a limited wine from Spring Mountain. Known for their big style Cabernet Sauvignons Robert Craig Winery has garnered not only some great press over the years, but also a cult like following. I had the chance to see Robert once again when he was in town and taste some recent releases. I also had a chance to chat with him and he is looking forward to the 2010 vintage and says production could be lower than previous vintages.

Here is what I tasted with Robert and my thoughts….

The 2009 Durell Vyd. Chardonnay Sonoma Valley was just released and I was one of the 1st people to taste it. Lively and soft I found it very well balanced with good fruit, oak & mineral characters. Only 588 cases produced.

The 2007 Howell Mtn. Cabernet Sauvignon had big tannins, a good fruit character and nice long finish. Built to last (like all his Cabs.) this shows the depth of how mountain(2,300 ft up) fruit differs from valley fruit. He recommends decanting. 1,488 cases produced.

The 2007 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon has softer tannins, bigger concentration of fruit combined with good acidity and see’s almost 2 years in french oak barrels. One of his most age worthy wines and patience will be rewarded. 1,480 cases produced.

The 2008 Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon is considered by many to be his flagship wine. A Bordeaux blend of mostly Cabernet, followed by Petite Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Malbec offers some unique flavors thanks to the mix of grapes and changes from year to year. Currants and spice are prevalent along with a medium body make the 4,780 cases produced always a winner with the consumer and the press.

He also makes small amounts of Zinfandel and a Mt. George Cuvee. His wines are not found everywhere, but they’re well worth the search. So next time you’re looking for a big Napa Valley Cabernet or if you’re a collector Robert Craig wines needs to be in your collection. You won’t be disappointed.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse’s Memorable Meal for 2 & Fall Prix Fixe Menu

I recently had the pleasure of joining about 12 other lucky souls who had the chance to taste 2 of Fleming’s Steakhouse new programs and their new release of their own wine 46 Diamonds. We were hosted by Scottsdale’s Operating Partner Michael Head who guided us through our experience. Here is what Flemings has to offer.

We were greeted with a new cocktail just in time for the holidays The Merry Maker’s is made with Maker’s Mark bourbon and Chambord then shaken with orange, pomegranate & cranberry juices. Quite a tasty cocktail and as one guest said “I don’t like bourbon, but I really like this”.

We then proceeded to sample the Fall Prix Fixe menu which consists of
Your choice of Oysters Rockefeller or Autumn Salad for appetizer then for an entree your choice of Veal Osso Bucco or Cioppino. For dessert you get a slice of Dark Chocolate Cheesecake. All were very good and everybody enjoyed what was tasted so far. I really enjoyed the Oysters Rockefeller. The Prix Fixe menu costs $39.95 per person and runs through Jan. 3 2011.

We then moved on to The Memorable Meal for Two which is The Cellar Master’s Filet & Maine Lobster Tail. You start with a Caesar Salad with a King Crab Crostini followed by Filet Mignon & Maine Lobster Tail and a side of Maple roasted baby carrots. For dessert you’re served Carrot Cake with Dark Rum Caramel. I’m not a big carrot cake fan, but this may have changed my mind. All for $99 for 2 dinners. This runs through Dec. 15 2010 so hurry and reserve this soon.

We were also treated to the new release of Fleming’s own wine Forty Six 46 Diamonds. This years bottling is a collaboration with Fleming’s Director of Wine Marian Jansen op de Haar & Schug winery team of Sonoma County. This Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot & Malbec from very reputable vineyards in the Sonoma Valley.It is medium bodied with with good tannins and fruit and showed a very elegant, long finish. A nice compliment to any meal you may be enjoying. Only 388 cases were made of this and can be had by the glass for $16.50 or $65 for a bottle.

Make reservations soon for these limited time specials and even more limited wine.
There are 4 Phoenix are locations and several more throughout the country. 905 North 54th Street, Chandler, AZ 85226 480-940-1900
20753 North Pima Road, North Scottsdale, AZ 85255 480-538-8000
9712 West Northern Avenue, Peoria, AZ 85345 623-772-9463
6333 North Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85250 480-596-8265

Where I’ve been, what I’ve seen & what I’ve heard…….

Where I’ve been
– Seasons 52, new at Biltmore Fashion Park featuring a seasonal menu of nothing over 425 calories. Great wine list.
– The River Palm Steakhouse in Edgewater N.J. great steaks and seafood frequented by many VIPs in NY/NJ area. Considered one of the best in the area.
-The Local in Saratoga Springs N.Y. some tasty English pub grub in small town upstate N.Y. They do a great Sunday brunch too!
– Amura Sushi in Orlando Fla.(Sand Lake Rd.) surrounded by chain restaurants this place is a favorite among locals. go next door for a pre or post meal cigar.
– Sushi & Thai Cafe in Boca Raton Fla. 1 of 4 locations in area w/ extensive menu for Thai and sushi. great for the vegans in your life. always a must for me when in the area.
– Via Della Pace in NYC’s east Village. Homemade pasta is the specialty.
-Maialino in NYC’s in Gramercy Park Hotel. Authentic Italian restaurant that was hoping on a Mon. in Sept. interesting Italian wine list too.
-The Upper Deck @ Boston’s on the beach in Delray Beach Fla. Good lobstah bisque and broiled lobstah. Sports bar downstairs do good bar food.
-La Grande Orange’s Cubano sandwich is really good.
– Bobby’ Burger Palace in Paramus N.J. Bobby Flay’s quick casual burger joint. Only a few out there so far. Good burgers at reasonable prices. Please come to Phx.
-Ronnie’s Hot Bagels & Cafe in Hillsdale N.J. one of the best Italian sandwiches I’ve had in a while.
-Wandering Horse Buffet @ Casino Az.’s Talking Stick Resort. One of the best deals around for lunch buffet($12.95)
– Tweetups at Switch located on Central & Virginia in Phx. and the new location of Los Taquitos, a family owned Mexican taco’s, burritos and margaritas featured on The Food Networks “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives” Original location at 48th st& Elliot in Phx. and the new one at 16th st. & Glendale in Phx.
– To many burgers to mention. See reviews.

What I’ve seen
-R.E.D w/ Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman & John Malkovich. Retired CIA agents coming out of retirement who are up to some old tricks to catch some bad guys. Entertaining.
-Harrison Montgomery w/ Martin Landau about the goings on in apartment building in SF’s Tenderloin district. Very limited release. Gotta search for this one.
– Stone w/ Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton & Milla Jovonovich. retiring prison counselor(DeNiro) debating to parole prisoner(Norton) and being influenced by prisoners wife(Jovonovich). Good performances, a tad bit slow drama.

What I hear…..
-Justin Becketts new Becketts Table opened last night and the Twitteratti seems to like it.
-Oregano’s relocating old town Scottsdale location to the old SugarDaddy’s down the street in near future.
-As Tweeted a while back Patsy Grimaldis’s is opening a burger joint called “Coal Burger” at Scottsdale Quarter.

Change of seasons & change in your wine?

Does the change in color of the leaves and temperatures mean you should be changing your wine preferences? I’ve never entirely believed in that rule, as there really are no rules with wine drinking. “Drink what you like, when you like is” my motto and as the holidays approach & temps. take a dive is it time to start drinking big reds & put away the whites wine? No I say. I’ve always keep an open mind to wine drinking(and so should you!) but if I drink wine I usually will let the food dictate my wine selection, not the weather. People usually think of pinot noirs as a common pairing for holiday fixings, but a riesling from Australia or Alsace will compliment the meal also. Why wait for New Years Eve for the bubbles, the cool, crisp bubbles still taste really good watching the kids trick or treating on Halloween. What goes better with apple or pumpkin pie, than a late harvest riesling or dessert wine. So as we change seasons twice a year, don’t feel as if you have to change your drinking habits or play “by the rules”. Remember the motto “Drink what you like, when you like”

On the set of “Sedona….The Motion Picture”

As I’ve delve into the wonderful world of film making I am finding new experiences and new things to learn around almost every corner. Having only a zero budget film(Love(less)) under my belt and 1 or 2 others in development, I’ve been curious to get on a set of a big budget feature film. I had that opportunity in late July for 2 days as I was invited on the set of “Sedona.. The Motion Picture” starring Frances Fisher, Christopher Atkins, Beth Grant, Barry Corbin & Seth Peterson.Just because these people are cast in the film does not mean they are always on set at the same time. During a 5 or 6 week shoot some actors may appear for a day or 2 depending upon the length of their scenes and schedule. Having met Tracey, one of the producers, we planned on me shadowing producer/1st asst. director Jeremy.
Most people think movie sets are like what they may see on “Entourage” big spread of food, trailers of actors and actress’s,etc.,etc. What really happens on a set is nothing less than controlled chaos. Especially when you are dealing with a public street that has everyday traffic moving through, pedestrians and tourists looking on in uptown Sedona. If you’re lucky you can have the street closed during off hours.If it’s a private setting you may have to deal with un-cooperative weather, talent that may want to have it done there way, etc.,etc. Not that you can’t have these same difficulties in a more public setting as well. What I saw was a very talented cast and crew dealing with those issues and then some. Like waiting for the clouds to provide shade for a scene, setting up different scenes w/ the camera, actors rehearsing and several different takes until the director see’s what he likes. Many people running around contributing to their given responsibilities and in an effort to make each days scenes be filmed just right. Most days on set can be 12-14 hour days. It was just a peek of what’s to come in my aspiring movie career. Thanks to Tracey and cast and crew for allowing me to join them for a couple of days.

Cornish Pasty Co.

In a town that’s is full of sushi bars, pizzerias, burger joints and Mexican food it’s refreshing to find some uniqueness every now and then. And when I say unique I don’t mean expensive, chef driven uber cuisine. In this case I’m thinking of something that dates back to 1200s and from southwest England, Cornwall to be exact. I’m thinking of Cornish Pasty Co. w/ locations in Tempe and Mesa. Pastys are dough that is stuffed with meats, cheese & vegetables that are then folded and crimped closed and baked. Think English version of a calzone, but not as big. They were made by the wives, mothers and daughters of men sent into the tin mines of SW England. They are made with traditional ingredients of steak, potato, onions and rutabaga(Swede). At Cornish Pasty they make The Oggie($6.50) which is the traditional kind and 36 other signature,premium and vegetarian pastys. No pasty is more than $9.00 there are some unique fillings including The Lamb Vindaloo if you’re looking for a curry and spicy taste or how about one of the newer pastys The Royale with Cheese($7.50). Hamburger meat w/ French fries, grilled onions, mushrooms, bacon and a cheddar Swiss blend. Being that we are a lot closer to Mexico than England There is also The Mexican($8.00) & Carne Adovada($8.50). Can’t find a good Reuben in Mesa, there is one menu sans the rye bread for $8.00. For those that are watching their carb intake Cornish Pasty has 6 salads to choose from all at or under $8 unless you add chicken, lamb or salmon. 4 soups made from scratch are available served with homemade bread & butter. They also have 12 sides including Mushy peas($2.25), British style oven chips($2.25) potato chips baked and seasoned with cracked pepper and sea salt are just to name a couple. If you have a sweet tooth and can find some room there are 6 desserts available. Banoffee Pie($5.00) sounds delicious w/ its graham cracker crust,caramel, whipped cream and banana. As does Shirley Temples Pudding($6.00) which is a sticky toffee pudding w/ cream anglaise. Yum!! Several wine and beers are available and are featured as daily specials. We enjoyed our Mickey’s malt liquor for $1 or $2. So if you’re cruising University Dr. in Tempe and want something different or in the Dobson & Guadalupe area in Mesa stop in for pasty. You’ll be glad you did as I was and will continue to be. Tempe location is at 960 W. University(NE of University & Hardy)480-894-6261 and in Mesa at 1941 W. Guadalupe (SE corner of Dobson & Guadalupe)480-838-3586.

My Thoughts on “The Other Guys”

I wasn’t sure what to think before seeing “The Other Guys” the other night, but the pairing of Mark Wahlberg & Will Ferrell had me wondering how an action/ drama guy like Wahlberg would play with Ferrells kind of humor. It turns out they make quite the pairing. In this cops and robbers film where Gamble(Ferrell), a forensic accountant turned cop who does’nt want to leave his desk and computer gets paired with street smart, gun toting Hoitz(Wahlberg) who gets desk duty for an accidental shooting. As Hoitz gets his itch to get back on the street, 2 hot shot cops(Samuel L. Jackson & Dwayne Johnson) meet an untimely death. With there opening to get back on the street and some persuading by Hoitz they decide to track some Wall St. fraud. Not to mention 2 other very competitve cops who are always trying to beat them to the punch. The two opposites decide to bond over dinner at Gambles house and meet his wife Dr. Sheila Gamble(Eve Mendes). Throughout the movie Hoitz is always wondering how Gamble married such a beautiful woman and has been able to attract other beautiful women since college. That pulls back another layer as Hoitzs alter ego from his college days makes a re-appearance and helps in the partner bonding. Throw in some Chechen rebels and angry Nigerian investors you’ve got a film that’s more than the expected comedy. Some typical Ferrell humor comes into play but Wahlberg shows his humorous side by bouncing back the humor. Bring in Michael Keaton as their Captain at work, who moonlights at Bed, Bath & Beyond and you’ve got a pretty funny movie with a timely story line. Some good chase scenes turns this comedy into a bit of an action film as the guys run the streets of NYC. In the end you should be happy you saw this film as I was as it hits most cylinders. I recommend staying through the credits as there are rolling statistics from the economy’s meltdown of the last few years are shown. There is also a blooper from the film at the very end of credits worth watching. 4 corks out of 5.

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