White Chocolate Cheesecake Bites for Miniature Appetites

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White Chocolate Cheesecake Squares with Fresh Raspberries

I made these White Chocolate Cheesecake Bites with Fresh Raspberries to be tiny little squares of sheer decadence. Why tiny, you ask? Well, I told myself that miniature cheesecake bites, like bite-sized burgers, would be a terrific way to sample some of my favorite treats without over-indulging. After all, look around and you’ll see a trend – food is shrinking. Restaurants build entire menus around small plates. You can now order ravioli by the square inch. No lie. The produce section at Whole Foods is inundated with tiny knockoffs of life-sized veggies. I bet I can fit 2 baby beets on the end of a spoon – which will be great if I’m ever invited to dine in a doll house.

Though I rarely am.

In fact, the very thought of pressing a minuscule bell at a Lilliputian front door (while carrying a thimbleful of wine) proves to me there’s a flaw in my thinking. Food may be shrinking, but appetites are not. I mean really, have you ever eaten just one bite-sized burger? How about those tiny apples? They leave you so hungry you’re forced to eat their tiny cores. Tiny apples are adorable, but that’s all they are. They’re the miniature ponies of produce. They delight children, but grown-up saddles will certainly break their little backs.

White Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

Same goes for these White Chocolate Cheesecake Bites with Fresh Raspberries. The recipe makes 16, cutie-pie (2-inch) squares. But unless you’re heading to a big bash at Barbie’s Dream House, 16 of these tasty treats will only feed 4 full-size humans.

So I’m here to say I’m sorry (and embarrassed) that I pulled out a knife (and a ruler) and squeezed these White Chocolate Cheesecake Bites into the teensy-weensy clown car. Because if you’re eating cute food to save calories, you probably shouldn’t be eating it in the first place. GREG

White Chocolate Cheesecake Squares with Fresh RaspberriesWhite Chocolate Cheesecake Squares with Fresh Raspberries

White Chocolate Cheesecake Squares with Fresh Raspberries

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 16Published

You may trim away the brown edges before cutting the cheesecake into squares for a neater presentation. This is optional however.

White Chocolate Cheesecake Squares with Fresh Raspberries

Ingredients

  • 5 ½ ounce graham crackers crumbs (about 9 whole crackers)
  • 5 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
  • 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 3 ounce white chocolate (melted and cooled somewhat)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 48 fresh raspberries

Directions

Make the crust: Set the oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter the parchment. Repeat the process with a second piece of parchment overhanging the remaining two uncovered sides. Butter this piece of parchment also.

Place the crumbs in a medium mixing bowl, drizzle melted butter over the crumbs and toss to coat. Press crumbs evenly onto the bottom of prepared pan. Bake until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let the crust cool completely.

Make the filling: Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, white chocolate, and sugar until very smooth. Beat in sour cream and lightly beaten egg until well incorporated. Dollop the cream cheese batter evenly across the bottom of the cooled crust, then use an off-set spatula to spread the batter evenly.

Bake the cheesecake: Place the cheesecake in the oven and bake until slightly puffed and just beginning to brown along the edges, about 30 minutes; cool completely in the pan on a rack. Chill the cheesecake at least 2 hours. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; keep chilled.

Cut the cheesecake into squares: Using the parchment overhang as an aid, lift the cheesecake from the pan. Cut into 16 evenly sized squares; arrange on a platter. Top each with 3 fresh raspberries. Chill until ready to serve. Serve chilled.

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Gem Lettuce Salad from Jon & Vinny’s

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Gem Lettuce Salad with Calabrian Chiles, Parmesan and Bread Crumbs

I feel like I need to divide this gem lettuce salad post into three sections:

  1. The gem lettuce leaves (where did they come from and why are they on every menu in town?)
  2. The delicious dressing featuring Calabrian chiles (where did they come from and why are they on every menu in town?)
  3. Jon & Vinny’s, the restaurant in LA where I first encountered this salad (I know where Jon & Vinny come from. They’re the guys behind some of the best menus in town – Trois Mec, Petit Trois, Animal and Son of a Gun)

However, three whole sections of words sound like a lot of work. It’s summer. Summer is about minimizing effort (at least on this blog it is). Same goes for summer cooking. Summer salads are how we summer cooks minimize work in the kitchen and capitalize on the best the season has to offer. Summer is when great fruit and vegetables are plentiful – making our jobs so easy that we still have time to work on our tans.

As much as I love cooking I really don’t want to be a pasty-faced cook who spends forever in the kitchen. Summer salads that serve as meals tend to be the answer. They require very little hands-on work, leaving me (and you) more time to spend poolside.

Which means this Gem Lettuce Salad post is going to be brief. As brief as a summer breeze…

Gem Lettuce Salad with Calabrian Chiles, Parmesan and Bread Crumbs

Before I slip out onto the patio let me wrap this post up by saying that this Gem Lettuce Salad is an especially memorable take on a Caesar salad. It features a sensational dressing flavored with Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, sour cream and Calabrian chiles. It’s not my recipe. It comes from Jon (Shook) & Vinny (Dotolo) – who I guess have better things to do than work on their tans. GREG

Calabrian Chile DressingLittle Gem Lettuce

Gem Lettuce Salad with Calabrian Chiles, Parmesan, and Bread Crumbs

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Source Jon & Vinny's, Los AngelesPublished
Gem Lettuce Salad with Calabrian Chiles, Parmesan, and Bread Crumbs

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon oil-packed Calabrian chiles, drained (or about 2 whole, chopped)
  • 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon Tabasco
  • ½ cup grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup (plus 2 tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan (plus more for serving, to taste)
  • 2 tablespoon minced shallot
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black peper (for seasoning)
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon minced, fresh oregano
  • 2-3 pinch garlic powder
  • 4 heads of Little Gem lettuce (about 1 pound), leaves pulled apart
  • minced flat leaf parsley leaves (as garnish, to taste)

Directions

Make the dressing: In a food processor, combine the first 11 ingredients and puree until blended. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in ½ cup grapeseed oil and ¼ cup olive oil. Scrape the dressing into a medium bowl and stir ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese and minced shallot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the breadcrumbs: In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter into the remaining 2 tablespoon olive oil. Add the panko and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the oregano and garlic powder and season with salt. Transfer crumbs to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.


Make the salad: In a large bowl, mix the lettuce leaves with ½ cup of the prepared dressing and season with salt and pepper. Toss, taking your time to make sure every leaf is uniformly coated. Layer lettuce on a serving platter attractively; top with the prepared bread crumbs. Garnish with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese and some parsley. Serve immediately, passing the remaining dressing at the table, as needed.

 

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Spicy Grilled Green Beans: Blackened. Charred. Blistered.

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Spicy Grilled Green Beans

Burnt food. It used to be the mark of a distracted cook. The phone rings and the carrots get singed. A kid asks a question about algebra and the chicken comes out black. You capture a Pokémon in the pantry and your “go-to” burgers have gone too far. “Oops” would be your only excuse. Nowadays, though, blackened, charred and blistered is not only acceptable but is a whole new cooking trend that’s worth mastering. However, you have to learn to burn artfully… There’s a difference between a carcinogenic pile of ashes and the ultra-sophisticated, ultra-caramelization that can amplify flavor. I’m hoping you take a look at these Spicy Grilled Green Beans with Cashews and Basil and see the latter.

When it comes to char it’s long been acceptable to serve beef with a nicely blackened exterior. When I was growing up the only way my mother would eat filet mignon was “charred rare” (sometimes called “black and blue”). Every backyard grillmeister knows that a burger with good looking grill marks has always been a badge of honor. However, the modern cook’s fascination with char probably started with pizza. There was a time when pizza was served uniformly red with a pasty white crust. Yum, yum thought Neopolitan neophytes. But things have changed in the pizza parlors I frequent. The best places have slowly been raising the temperature in their wood-fired ovens creating pies freckled with black char.

Spicy Grilled Green Beans

Thanks to these pizza pioneers eaters everywhere are learning to embrace char. I myself have discovered a love for “burnt” vegetables and the grill is a great way to get the kind of burn I like. Grills, particularly charcoal grills, tend to be very, very hot. That’s why they’re perfect for quick cooking small vegetables like grilled green beans. The interior cooks quickly before the surface gets too charred.

Because of their slim profile, green beans might not be an obvious choice for grilling. When working with high heat and fast cooking it’s easy to imagine grilled green beans slipping through the grate and landing in a bed of hot coals. To make the job less precarious there are specialized vessels known as grill baskets. They’re designed to work on a hot grill and have small perforations that do a good job letting the heat and smoke come through to the food. However, I’m no fan of arguably superfluous kitchen gadgets. So I’ve experimented and found that a metal cooling rack works beautifully when laid in a crosshatch pattern on top of the grill grates. You’ll get perfectly blackened, charred, blistered, tender-crisp grilled green beans in no time over the high heat of the coals, with zero loss. GREG

Spicy Grilled Green Beans

Grilled Spicy Green Beans with Cashews and Basil

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Greg and Gabi Quiñónez DentonPublished
Grilled Spicy Green Beans with Cashews and Basil

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (plus 3 tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice (or substitute orange juice)
  • ¼ teaspoon finely grated tangerine zest (or substitute orange zest)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more as needed for seasoning)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (plus more as needed for seasoning)
  • 1 pound fresh green beans (trimmed)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 small red onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 serrano chile pepper (thinly sliced)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • ⅓ cup roasted cashews

Directions

Make the vinaigrette: Combine ½ cup olive oil, srirarcha, fish sauce, vinegar, lime juice, tangerine juice and zest, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl; whisk well to combine.

Grill the beans: Prepare a grill to high-heat. Place the green beans in a large serving bowl with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Transfer to a grill basket, or, if you have one, place a sturdy metal cooling rack upside down on the grill, forming a crosshatch pattern that should make the green beans harder to slip through. Let the beans cook until lightly charred, about 4 minutes, then either toss the grill basket or gently turn the beans on the cooling rack to char the other sides. Continue to cook until tender-crisp, about 4 more minutes.

Return the beans to the serving bowl. Add the tomatoes, red onions, and sliced serrano. Add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Divide the beans and tomatoes mixture between 4 serving plates. Garnish with the basil and cashews. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Creamy Crunchy Sweet & Spicy Summer Shrimp Roll

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Creamy Crunchy Spicy Summer Shrimp Roll

I like to rip-off iconic dishes here at Sippity Sup. My intention is to start with something familiar and see where my spatula takes me. However, more often than not I fail. I don’t mean I fail in some inedible sense – that sort of fail never sees the light of blog. Instead, I mean I almost always fail to stay true to the original intention of the dish in some important way. Which is why you’re looking a Creamy Crunchy Sweet & Spicy Shrimp Roll instead of a Classic New England Lobster Roll.

If you grew up in New England (I did not) summer means chowing down on lobster rolls in the failing light of a summer’s eve listening to the surf as the inevitable night chill creeps in. In other words, lobster rolls are as romantic as they are delicious! It also means lobster rolls are iconic. There are a lot of reasons for this. First, lobster is delectable and it’s a local ingredient up and down the coast of New England. However, the lobster roll is iconic for more than just culinary transcendence. Lobster rolls are iconic because they symbolize abundance. New England’s summertime abundance.

Needless to say, with this kind of buzz, the lobster roll has been embraced across the continent. With popularity, the lobster roll has been the subject of countless variations, and depending on the restaurant, you’ll hear it said that a real lobster roll can be made “no other way than our way...”

Spicy Shrimp Roll with Cardamon Sauce

Which is why I feel particularly bad that my “way” doesn’t even feature lobster. As I said I’m not a New Englander so lobster doesn’t symbolize abundance to me (or even summer). Still, I like lobster and I love the simplicity of lobster rolls. But truth be told – I’d rather eat fried shrimp. I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida where shrimp (not lobster) brings back joyful summer memories of freckled faces and sand between my toes.

So forgive me – my lobster roll is a shrimp roll – let’s just move on. GREG

Spicy Shrimp Rolls CrumbsSpicy Shrimp Roll Sauces Panko Fried Shrimp for Spicy Shrimp Roll

Spicy Fried Shrimp Roll with Cardamon Sauce

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Inspired by Baco Mercat, Los AngelesPublished

With a toasted, buttery outside and a soft inside, flat-bottomed, top-loading New England style hot dog rolls are the classic choice for Lobster Rolls. Other rolls can be used in this recipe if you prefer.

Spicy Fried Shrimp Roll

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more as needed for seasoning, divided)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon (plus 2 tablespoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice (divided)
  • 3 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley (divided)
  • 2 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 7 teaspoon minced fresh garlic (divided)
  • freshly cracked black pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 1 serrano chile (seeded and minced)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 16 large shrimp (about 1 pound) peeled, tails removed
  • vegetable oil (as needed for drying)
  • 4 tablespoon melted butter
  • 4 top split hot dog buns (see note)
  • 1 Hass avocado (peeled and sliced)
  • lemon wedges (as needed for serving)

Directions

Make the pickled red onion: Place red onion slices into a medium bowl. In a 1-cup or larger pitcher whisk together water, vinegar, granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon salt until dissolved. Pour the mixture over the onions. Set aside at least 3 hours.

Make the crema: In a bowl, whisk sour cream, milk, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons parsley, chives, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon garlic; season with salt and pepper.

Make the spicy cardamom sauce: In a blender, combine the remaining minced garlic with minced chile, cardamom, cumin, olive oil and remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl beat the egg until well-combined. Place the panko, remaining 1 tablespoon parsley, and a pinch each salt and pepper in a separate medium bowl; mix well.

Dip a shrimp in the beaten egg, letting most of it drip back into the bowl, then dredge the shrimp in the panko mixture; transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining shrimp. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, heat 1-inch of vegetable oil to 350 degrees F. Fry 4 shrimp at a time, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 2 to 2 ½ minutes total time. Transfer the shrimp to a clean parchment-lined baking sheet to drain; season with salt. Repeat with remaining shrimp. The shrimp can be made up to 3 hours in advance. Reheat for about 6-8 minutes in a 350 degree F. oven.

Make the shrimp rolls: Heat a large griddle, skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the outsides of the buns with melted butter then toast or grill the outside surfaces until lightly golden. Spread some spicy cardamom sauce inside each bun, arrange 4 shrimp and 3 or 4 slices avocado on top. Scatter with pickled red onion to taste and a drizzle of the prepared crema. Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.

Shrimp Roll

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Ready Aim Fire: A Mezcal and Honey Syrup Cocktail

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I wrote a book called Savory Cocktails, but even I recognize that a truly balanced drink requires a sweet element. There’s even a sing-songy saying designed to help you make a balanced cocktail without a recipe: 1 part sour, 2 parts sweet, 3 parts strong and 4 parts weak. Sugar is often the sweet in “old-school” cocktails. Refined versions use a sugar syrup known as simple syrup. Both will get the balancing job done, but if you’re looking for a cocktail sweetener, why not look beyond sugar? Honey has far more nuance. Get ready for Ready Aim Fire.

As I said honey is a great cocktail sweetener but working with honey in cocktails not quite as straightforward as sugar. Honey may dissolve in hot tea beautifully, but in an ice-filled cocktail shaker, honey makes a gloppy mess. No worries, honey syrup will add all the benefits of honey with none of the sticky repercussions.

One of the advantages of honey over sugar is terroir, as the flavor of honey can be influenced by the nectar of local plants. Clover and orange-blossom are popular examples.

Steve Schneider (a talented bartender with a deeply moving story) takes this concept of flavored honey one step further. His Ready Aim Fire mezcal cocktail is sweetened, or I should say balanced, with a honey-pineapple pink peppercorn syrup. It’s the delicious originality of this syrup that originally caught my attention.

The syrup sounds exotic but is easy to make. Some recipes I’ve seen for honey syrup require heat. This one does not, which helps keep the pineapple tasting fresh and acidic. Speaking of balance this honey-pineapple is made just savory enough with a nip of pink peppercorn spice.

I chose Ready Aim Fire as my Fouth of July cocktail this year. However, celebrations being as they are, I didn’t get around to posting it in time for the holiday. No matter, I’ve made the drink several times since Independence Day. It’s a complex, smoky cocktail bolstered by habanero and balanced with the homemade honey-pineapple syrup. The name Ready Aim Fire alone is enough to make this cocktail appropriate for any holiday involving fireworks. But it’s the sweet and sour smoky heat that makes this cocktail worthy of sipping all summer long. GREG

PS: Where there’s smoke there’s fire. The heat in this cocktail comes from Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub – an ingredient that has a permanent place in my bar. You should try some. It’s terrific in all sorts of tequila and mezcal cocktails. I received no compensation to make that statement.

Honey SyrupPineapple Pink Peppercorn Pineapple Honey Syrup Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub Ready Aim Fire: A Cocktail from Steve Schneider

Honey-Pineapple Syrup with Pink Peppercorns

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 2+ cupsSource Adapted from Steve SchneiderPublished
honey syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup honey
  • ½ fresh pineapple (peeled cored and roughly chopped)
  • 30 pink peppercorns

Directions

Mix hot water and honey together in a 2-cup or larger pitcher. In a separate container use the back of a wooden spoon to crush the pineapple and pink peppercorns together into a rough, but thorough mash. Slowly pour the honey mixture over the pineapple mixture, stirring to combine; set aside at room temperature at least 4 hours, but no more than 12. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container with a lid. The mixture will keep covered in the refrigerator about 3 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.

Ready Aim Fire Cocktail

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 1Source Adapted from Steve SchneiderPublished
Ready Aim Fire Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounce mezcal joven
  • 1 ounce honey-pineapple syrup (http://www.sippitysup.com/recipe/honey-pineapple-syrup-pink-peppercorns/)
  • ½ ounce fresh pineapple juice
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 dash Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub
  • 1 slice habanero (as garnish, optional)

Directions

Add mezcal, hoeney-pineapple syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice, and habanero shrub to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with floating slice of habanero (if using).

 

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Is an Avocado with Everything Bagel Seasoning a Salad?

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Whole Avocado Salad with Paprika and Everything Bagel Seasoning

Hold the arugula and dismiss the persimmon. How many fruits or vegetables does it take to make a salad? Could the answer be one? If I served a whole avocado drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and sweet vinegar, then dusted it with smoked paprika and everything bagel seasoning would you wonder where I was hiding the bagel – or just sit patiently waiting for me to bring the forgotten greens to the table? Well, wonder not and wait no more. There may be an absence of kale and cauliflower, but I think this combination of Avocado with Everything Bagel Seasoning and Paprika – is a salad.

A salad I’ll take world-wide-web credit for.

Avocado with Everything Bagel Seasoning

Here’s why: I mentioned earlier this week that I’ve been sprinkling everything bagel seasoning on, well… everything. Pickles are an unexpectedly piquant partner and though croutons may be more traditional both compliment the potpourri of seeds and whatnot in everything bagel seasoning. Plenty of people think so. Google either if you don’t believe me. I’m not the first person to think these are smart combinations.

Another winning combo is avocado and everything bagel seasoning. This time, you’ll just have to trust me. It’s more difficult to find world-wide-web authentication. In fact, I can’t find any avocado and everything bagel seasoning recipes in any of our virtual kitchens. Sure there are plenty of folks who like to slather avocado on top of their bagels. Some of them have even noticed that everything bagels make particularly good vehicles. But let’s face it – if you put an avocado on a bagel what you end up with something a lot closer to avocado toast than to avocado salad.

Which led me to Google avocado salad (yes, I have time for such boondoggles). As you guessed I found plenty of avocado salads. Besides chopped tomato, they all seemed to have one thing in common. They all adhere to the Merriam-Webster definition of salad rather too closely. In other words, they were “a mixture of raw green vegetables (such as different types of lettuce) usually combined with other raw vegetables.”

Ho hum. So again I have to ask. How many vegetables does it take to make a salad? Could the answer be one? GREG

Whole Avocado Salad with Paprika and Everything Bagel Seasoning

Whole Avocado Salad with Paprika and Everything Bagel Seasoning

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 2-4Source Adapted from Eder MonteroPublished
Whole Avocado Salad with Paprika and Everything Bagel Seasoning

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (or to taste)
  • 4 teaspoon everything bagel seasoning

Directions

Carefully cut each avocado in half lengthwise around the pit. Remove the pit and peel both halves. Lay the avocado halves onto individual plates or a large serving platter. You may alternatively cut each half into slices and array them decoratively on each plate.

Drizzle each half with ½ teaspoon vinegar. Generously sprinkle each of the avocado halves with paprika. You can use a fine-mesh sieve to achieve a consistent dusting. Season with salt, drizzle generously with oil. Garnish each with a teaspoon of everything bagel seasoning. Serve immediately.

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Charred Yellow Wax Beans with Fistfuls of Basil

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Charred Yellow Wax Beans with Fistfuls of Basil

This is a summertime recipe. At least in Los Angeles. That’s because I never see yellow wax beans at the Hollywood Farmers Market until the dog days descend. I also consider this recipe a warm weather friend because it features summertime basil. And I do mean “features”. Most of the year I mince basil for seasoning or maybe as a garnish. However, when summer rolls around I put down my knife and throw fistfuls of basil leaves into all sorts of recipes – whole! These Charred Yellow Wax Beans are not shy when it comes to basil.

Nor should they be. Basil is the supreme herb of summer. In fact, the word basil comes from the Greek word for king. I’ve got more proof of the power of summertime basil. There’s an old Italian saying, “make pesto while the sun shines” which is a common-sense road map for dealing with summer’s great affluence of basil. But it’s also a metaphor for these glory days of summer. Because when summer rolls around it is easy to find yourself knee-deep in the stuff. Did you really mean to plant, buy, beg, borrow or steal quite so much?

No worries. Summer is when basil shines. This is its moment in the sun. So grab a fistful (or three) and get ready for Charred Yellow Wax Beans.

The varietal I chose is an Italian heirloom (Yellow Italian Wax Romanos). They’re flatter than the more common yellow wax beans that look exactly like green beans but are, well, yellow. The window of availability for these Italian wax beans is very brief in Los Angeles so I like to buy them when I see them. The flat shape also makes them sit against the hot pan and char up nicely.

Which is a good thing, because when it comes to cooking wax beans – simply is best. Just toss them into a blazing hot pan with garlic, lemon, red pepper flakes and a couple of fistfuls of whole basil leaves. GREG

Basil LeavesItalian Yellow Wax BeansCharred Yellow Wax Beans with Fistfuls of Basil

Charred Yellow Wax Beans with Basil

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Published
Charred Yellow Wax Beans with Basil

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 pound yellow wax beans (trimmed)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots (lightly packed)
  • 3-4 clove garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • 2-3 cup whole fresh basil leaves (lightly packed)

Directions

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch or larger cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet. Add the wax beans, and cook them in as close to a single layer as possible, tossing occasionally until beginning to soften, about 1 minute. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook, tossing only as needed (not too often) until the beans are nicely charred, about 4-5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the lemon juice, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt. Cook until the beans are just tender, while still retaining a bite, about 2 minutes more.

Stir in the basil leaves until just wilted. Transfer to a platter and serve.

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Trendy Grilled Snap Peas with Everything-Bagel Seasoning

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Grilled Snap Pea Toast with Everything-Bagel Seasoning

I always buy everything-bagels. Which, according to food trend forecasters, makes me trendy. Trend aside, my introduction to everything-bagels actually started because I couldn’t decide which bagel I liked more: garlic, onion, or sesame. Everything-bagels keep me from having to play favorites. Somewhere along the line, however, my tastes transitioned to trendy. Instead of choosing everything-bagels out of indecision I find I actually prefer the strange catchall of seeds and whatnot that rains down on an everything-bagel. Which is a good thing, as trendsters predict, everything bagel seasoning will show up in surprising places in 2016. In order to stay on trend, I tried a little bit on… everything.

It turns out that everything-bagel seasoning is good on all sorts of unexpected dishes: croutons, scrambled eggs, roast chicken, even donuts.

As intriguing as a garlic-onion-sesame glazed donut may be, the clear winner in my random “everything” taste test was a curious surprise. Everything-bagel seasoning is good on anything… green. From green beans to avocados (which I can’t find a link for so I guess I’m the first to think of it) and including dill pickles. Yes, pickles. So when I saw Greg Denton’s (Ox Restaurant) recipe for Blistered Snap Peas with Everything-Bagel Seasoning I knew I was looking at a winning combination. One of the other food trends of 2016 is chefs who choose to burn your vegetables – on purpose.

Grilled Snap Peas with Everything-Bagel Seasoning

Chef Denton’s version is served as a side dish, but I was looking for an appetizer. Specifically, a grilled appetizer that’s substantial enough to work as a first-course. I took his Snap Peas with Everything-Bagel Seasoning concept and served it as skewers on toast – toast slathered with mascarpone cheese. Afterall, mascarpone cheese is basically Italian cream cheese. Cream cheese and bagels go together like Raggedy Ann and Andy, or popcorn and candy… GREG

Grilled Snap Peas with Everything-Bagel Seasoning

Everything-Bagel Seasoning

Everything-Bagel Seasoning Grilled Snap Peas

Grilled Snap Pea Toast with Mascarpone & Everything-Bagel Seasoning

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Source Inspired by Greg DentonPublished

If you use bamboo skewers, soak them in water at least one hour before using them to grill the snap peas.

Grilled Snap Pea Toast with Mascarpone & Everything-Bagel Seasoning

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon lightly toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon lightly toasted poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon flaky smoked sea salt (such as Maldon, or you can substitute any coarse salt) plus more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried garlic flakes
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon cream
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • kosher salt and white pepper (as needed)
  • 1 pound sugar snap peas (stems removed, fibrous string peeled away)
  • 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (or more as needed)
  • 2 tablespoon melted butter (or more as needed)
  • 12 slice rustic French bread (brushed with olive oil and lightly toasted or grilled)
  • 6 ounce salmon roe
  • ¼ cup minced chives

Directions

Prepare the “everything” spice mix: In a small bowl, mix sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, smoked sea salt, onion flakes, garlic flakes and caraway seeds. Set aside. This is more spice mix than you need for this recipe, the extra may be kept tightly covered at room temperature (almost indefinitely).

Make the whipped mascarpone: Place mascarpone, cream, honey and a pinch each kosher salt and white pepper a medium bowl. Beat by hand or with a hand mixer until well-combined and smooth. Set aside.

Grill the snap peas: Meanwhile, preheat your grill to medium-high. Carefully thread 5 or 6 snap peas onto each of 12 (six-inch) skewers. Brush them on both sides with a thin layer of sesame oil. Grill the skewers on the hottest part of the grill until the snap peas start to blister, about 1 ½ minutes. Carefully flip the skewers and grill 1 to 2 minutes more. The snap peas should be nicely charred but not too soft.

Move the skewers to a baking sheet and brush them on both sides with melted butter, then dust them liberally on both sides with everything-spice mix.

Assemble the toasts: Spread some of the whipped mascarpone on each slice of toasted or grilled bread. Top each with a skewer of grilled and spiced snap peas, ½-ounce salmon roe, additional everything-spice mix (optional), as well as a sprinkle of smoked sea salt (optional).

 

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Santa Barbara Wine Country Road Trip

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Wine Country

Goethe says, “…The moment one definitely commits one’s self, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance…”

Santa Barbara Wine Country

Ken and I had agreed to make a short overnight visit to Buellton, in Santa Barbara County in order to attend a private barrel tasting of the 2015 vintage of Hilliard Bruce Vineyards wines and pop in for a quick tasting at our other favorite winery in the region, Pence Ranch. As luck would have it, the week before our trip, we were invited to attend the Santa Barbara Taste/Makers Salon at The Stage and Table in Santa Monica, to rub shoulders with chefs, winemakers, brewers and artists, hoteliers, florists, aestheticians and a chocolate maker who gets a special mention because… well, if you have ever tasted Jessica Foster’s handmade gourmet truffles, you would understand.

Santa Barbara Taste/Makers Salon

It was a glorious evening at a perfect venue: Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. greeted us at the door with unique craft beer cocktails; SY Kitchen made an art of the best Old Fashioned cocktail I have ever tasted; Sunstone Merlot and Grassini Cabernet Sauvignon, proved the spectacular microclimates and diverse soil of the SB wine region produce deliciousness in many grape varietals; We even got an opportunity to blend our own wines from a choice of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot; The Hitching Post highlighted the variety in their Pinot Noirs at different price points; A table of roses showcased the many hues and flavors of pink and I got a teaser treatment on my hand from Salt.

As we left, we were offered a choice of envelopes with special gifts inside. Ken was pleased with his gift certificates for wine tastings at Andrew Murray Vineyards and Fess Parker Winery… until he saw my generous gift cards for The Lucky Penny, The Lark, and Les Marchands – restaurants in the Funk Zone, Santa Barbara! He felt a little less miffed at my good fortune when I pointed out that we now had a no-brainer itinerary for our trip.

Breakfast at The Lucky Penny was sensational. Never before have I tasted eggs that (Ken informed me) were “Shired.” I highly recommend these little pots of perfection. We decided to order (divine) sandwiches from there to take with us for lunch. I had a $50 gift card and the total for the two of us for breakfast and lunch came to $49! They don’t make their sandwiches until 11am though, so we explored the courtyard whilst we waited. This was a great move as I had a $50 gift card for Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant, around the corner. I purchased a La Voix rose (She’s Crafty – is the name of the wine) and a 2012 Bussola Valpolicella, for a grand total of $51.54 (including tax). With this run of luck, we should have been traveling to Las Vegas, not Buellton!

Pence Ranch Horses Helen Melville at Pence Ranch

Pence Ranch

We reached Pence pretty much on time, in spite of Ken’s swallowed comments on the speed I drive – ok, I drive like a granny, but I make allowances for that when I schedule things – besides, the scenery is fabulous when viewed at a steady 60mph!

Gracie poured the wine and chatted about Industrial Eats – a restaurant we absolutely had to try for dinner, she said. Pence makes wine with grapes from Sanford as well as those from their own slopes. Sanford is one of the oldest wineries in the region, but I consistently prefer the fruit sourced from the Pence vineyards. Evidently, so do others as their Fugio pinot noir was sold out, but we did get to taste the magnificent 2014 Unum. The winemaker de-stems the grapes from this part of the vineyard to showcase this friendly, vivacious, yet delicate wine. This was Ken’s favorite of the trip and he likened it to drinking rubies. Dani, who among her duties, coordinates the wine club shipments, gave me a jar of freshly milled rye and durum wheat flour, which they grow on the property. These are given to wine club members as a party favor for loving their wines!

Hilliard Bruce Winery Hilliard Bruce Winery

Hilliard Bruce Vineyards

Arriving at Hilliard Bruce Vineyards is always a thrill – the estate is breathtakingly beautiful. The bottling of the 2014 vintage was in full swing as we pulled into the parking lot. Big hoses pump the wine from the stainless steel tanks into a trailer, eventually to emerge in bottles ready for sale. Kari showed us a new type of cork they are trying which is supposed to prevent “corked” wines. She mentioned in passing that we absolutely should try Industrial Eats for dinner.

Hilliard Bruce Winery Tour

I have previously written about the magic of Hilliard Bruce pinot noir wines (here and here), but I would like to make a special mention here of the 2014 Chardonnay. Christine Bruce favors a uniformity of method and oak barrels so that each vintage shines on its fruit for that year: 2011 is refreshing and crisp; 2012 is broad and full, with more evident malolactic fermentation; 2013 drinks like a piñata apple crumble with hints of nutmeg. Ken and I tasted from a freshly bottled (and screaming with shock) 2014. For me, it was like looking at Ann Hathaway in her frumpy sweater, knowing that with a bit of grooming and help from Prada, she would end up being a show stopper.* 2014 is a beauty contestant graced with spark, intelligence, and wit along with a rocking bod – the perfect love child of all the vintages that have gone before. I bought two bottles and am looking forward to tasting this wine again once it has had a little time to settle.

We entered the barrel room with excited reverence. The embryonic 2015 wine sleeps in its barrels like a caterpillar in a cocoon. Even at this early stage of development, each barrel we tasted from tantalized with individuality and promise. I have never tasted such young wine before and it surprised me how much it brimmed with distinctive flavors of licorice, cherries, mushrooms and spice, based on the type of barrel and the source of the fruit. John Hilliard generally uses only the grapes for his wine but this vintage, he was persuaded to try two barrels using full stem clusters. This wine exhibited very familiar notes of the typical good Santa Barbara region pinot noir, like a member of an internationally renowned choir. By contrast, the de-stemmed Hilliard Bruce pinot noirs are charismatic soloists – singing contest winners and bona fide superstars with me as a clamoring fan.

Siri tells us that twice mentioned Industrial Eats is only a 10-minute walk from our luxurious Motel 6. Off we trotted to what looked like a school dinner hall with communal seating and oddly mismatched décor.  Wine is served in water glasses and the food… the food is spectacular! The diverse, creative menu is bursting with fresh, delicious ingredients and delectable dishes at reasonable prices. Thank you, Kari and Gracie, for the recommendation. With stomachs fully satiated by arugula, mushroom, burrata pizza and sugar snap peas in dill, we ambled back to our lodging to turn in for the night and prepare for a full morning.

Andrew Murray Vineyards

Andrew Murray

Breakfast in Los Olivos, before heading to Andrew Murray Vineyards, or so we thought… A local (from South Africa) informed us that Los Olivos Café is only open for breakfast at the weekend and the nearest good place to eat this early would be Bob’s Well Bread in Los Alamos. I had to send my toast back because it was cut into soldiers that looked like they’d been burnt to a crisp in a forest fire and my poached egg were unappetizingly undercooked, but the do-over was perfect and yummy – especially the potatoes in a jar.  Ken loved the presentation of his tasty lox and bagel.

wine country road trip food

We had a few hiccups getting to Andrew Murray Vineyards because our certificate for a tour had two numbers juxtaposed in the address. This resulted in a bit of sweat and Siri insisting that we still had 14 miles to go when the sign for the tasting room was right in front of us. My advice to those who blindly follow iPhone directions? Look out the window, lol.

Andrew Murray has taken over the old Curtis Winery next to the old Firestone Ranch.  This gorgeous facility has way more production capacity than Pence and Hilliard Bruce, but not all of it is currently in use as the yields are lower under the expert guidance of Mr. Murray… The tasting room is family friendly, especially for wine club members, who have their own private tasting lounge, complete with games and cuddly toys for the kids to play with. The garden is dog friendly and supplies poop bags ☺

During our brief tour, we were lucky enough to meet the man himself, hard at work in his office/laboratory. As our eyes wandered aghast to a cheap box wine sitting on the counter, Andrew was quick to explain that he doesn’t drink it (perish the thought!), he uses it as a base line comparison in his lab. Box wines are engineered never to vary, unlike their high-end distant relatives. He is a passionate perfectionist presenting approachable complex Rhone varietal wines at an affordable price. The highly rated Tous Les Jours is less than $20. The most you will pay for one of his wines is $45 for a Thompson Vineyard Syrah, which bursts with flavor, as do all his wines. The blend with the most crowd appeal is Esperance – a sumptuously velvety GSM blend with oodles of black fruit that sells out in a heartbeat. Ken bought a $28 bottle of 2014 Enchante, a multi-layered, supremely refreshing, crisp white blend of estate grown Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. It is the quintessential quaffer for Summer.

As we were leaving, I noticed a counter full of truffles being packed into boxes of four for a special event Syrah and chocolate tasting. Upon closer inspection, I discovered they were Jessica Foster handmade truffles! Wallet out, employing my most winning smile, and determined to beg if I had to, I left the building clutching a box of the precious.

Last stop was Fess Parker, just up the road from Andrew Murray (honestly Siri, it really is just up the road!). Fess Parker is a beautiful location for weddings and events with a grand tasting room and an expansive lawn open to romping dogs. We quickly tasted through a flight of mostly non-estate grown wines that neither offended nor delighted, whilst the small tasting party of French people standing next to us were treated to finer fare from under the counter. Sour grapes?  Lol, perhaps… and then it was time to drive home… which we did without encountering traffic until we hit Hollywood.

I returned home to an email informing me that my blend, Snow White, had won the wine blending contest from the Santa Barbara event. My prize is a wine blending workshop and label painting for eight at Artiste winery and tasting studio in Los Olivos. I am already looking forward to my next visit – I still have a $100 gift card for The Lark restaurant too!  Thank you, Hilliard Bruce, for the barrel tasting invitation leading to this whole stream of delicious unforeseen events in our favor. Now, where can I buy a lottery ticket?!

* The Devil Wears Prada

HELEN

Santa Barbara Vines

We recieved compensation on order to bring information about our Santa Barbara Wine Country Road Trip to this blog. Some photos appear courtesy of Andrew Murray Vineyards, Pence Ranch, and Hilliard Bruce Vineyards as well as my editorial partnership with Shutterstock.

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Valle de Guadalupe Road Trip

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Valle de Guadalupe Road Trip Finca Altozano

Do you remember that feeling in grade-school when cutting things out of construction paper simply got to be too much and you thought to yourself – “will summer ever get here?” That’s exactly how I’ve felt these past few weeks waiting for summer to finally get here. Oh, I’ve done my best to concentrate on the so-called construction paper projects in front of me. I’ve even tried to hurry things along by featuring summer foods like pickled mussels and grilled maitake mushrooms on this blog. We even had a freakish, early-season heat wave. But for me, summer doesn’t really get going until I’ve had a road trip.

Valle de Guadalupe Road Trip

Summer should be an adventure and a road trip is an adventure. The whole point is to seek out the unexpected. The Valle de Guadalupe in Baja, Mexico is the definition of the unexpected. No matter how many times I’ve been there I still get a sense of awe from the sheer originality of the place. From the Mediterranean climate to the creativity of the food and wine. A Valle de Guadalupe road trip will redefine everything you think you know about Mexico.

Mexico’s Wine Country

Valle de Guadalupe is Mexico’s wine country. This statement might cause you to raise your eyebrows, but the area has been generating an increasingly louder buzz of late. This picturesque swath of Baja is fairly close to the California border and is being compared to “the Napa Valley of sixty years ago.” Like many of the world’s great wine regions, Valle de Guadalupe melds the experience of food and wine with local terroir to offer you a truly unique Mexican adventure.

Everyone familiar with the area will tell you that there’s a renaissance of food and wine going on in Valle de Guadalupe. Sixty plus wineries are now producing wine in the valley. Farm-to-Table restaurants on par with the great eateries of Napa or Sonoma are giving Mexico’s best chefs access to impeccable local products. Even the architecture is notable (much of it by Alejandro D’Acosta, the brother of local wine pioneer Hugo D’Acosta). There’s creativity in the air, all you have to do is get down here and breathe it in.

Ruta Del Vino, Valle de Guadalupe road trip. Baja, Mexico

Ruta 3 is the main highway you’ll use during your Valle De Guadalupe road trip. It’s a modern, well-travelled, smooth as silk straight shot from the border crossing at Tecate. It’s known as the Ruta del Vino and it ends at the Pacific coast just north of Ensenada. The drive takes you past many of the Valle’s more accessible spots: wineries such as the large production L.A. Cetto and the boutique-style Vinícola Retorno. The views along the Ruta are enough to justify the Valle de Guadalupe as a destination-worthy road trip. It’s an exhilarating drive – arching along the graceful curves, dipping and rising just above and below the fog. The famous fog that makes Baja’s ferociously arid climate work so well for growing grapes. Along the way, you’ll see several of the well-known hotels and restaurants like Hacienda Guadalupe looming over or nestled among the vines. Highlights include Mogor Badan, a winery, farm and vineyard that’s home to famed chef Drew Deckman’s outdoor eatery and the super-sized, open-air bistro and nightlife extravaganza Bodegas del Valle.

Deckman's El Mogor. Valle de Guadalupe Road Trip Bodegas del Valle, Valle de Guadalupe Road Trip

Thanks to the Ruta’s straight shot through the valley several of the lesser known but highly regarded wineries are also quite accessible. We were particularly impressed with Clos de Tres Cantos, another masterpiece by architect Alejandro D’Acosta. Imagine a cluster of Mayan pyramids with walls of used wine bottles unpredictably furnished with concrete easy chairs. Over 90% of the materials used to build the winery are reclaimed from the region. The interiors are lit by sunlight passing through recycled wine bottles filled with water and alcohol to amplify the sunshine. Clos de Tres Cantos is easy to see from Ruta 3. While heading south on the left-hand side you will spot a cluster of stone buildings on the hill near kilometer 81.

Clos de Tres Cantos Valle de Guadalupe Road TripClos de Tres Cantos Valle de Guadalupe Road Trip is easy to spot from Ruta 3 heading sorth on the left-hand side you will spot a cluster of stone buildings on the hill near kilometer 81.

A Valle de Guadalupe road trip holds many more surprises. Adventurous types will be rewarded with more mind-bending architecture as well as food and wine that is not only 100% local but 110% creative. This is where Mexican superstar chefs like Javier Plascencia (Finca Altozano) and Diego Hernandez (Corazon de Tierra at La Villa del Valle) have set up out of the way campestre (campfire) style restaurants that are destinations unto themselves. This is also where a Valle de Guadalupe road trip starts to get good. Or should I say off-road trip?

Finca Altozano, Valle de Guadalupe road tripFinca Altozano, Valle de Guadalupe road trip

Turn off at any of the dusty side streets and a rustic magic awaits. Like many of the best things in life, your Ruta del Vino experience has to be earned. That’s because the major travel guides to the area can hardly be called comprehensive and addresses are unheard of. Once you leave the paved highways that ring the valley you’ll find nothing but tangles of interconnected dust. These rutted roads may seem intimidating, but nearly all (eventually) take you back to the highway and can be navigated by reading the handmade signs dotted along the way.

Las Nubes

One dirt road we chose to explore led up to the top of the northern foothills ending at Las Nubes, a locally favored 7-year-old winery surrounded by young vines of tempranillo, nebbiolo, and grenache. The grapes and wine may need a bit more time to establish themselves, but the exhilarating views from the enormous patio are well-worth drinking in.

Valle de Guadalupe Road Trip Troika, Valle de Guadalupe road trip

Also worth every twist and turn is the time you spend at Vena Cava at La Villa del Valle. Nuanced single varietals and blends are served beneath an inverted fishing boat creating a cavelike ambiance that gives the winery its name. Of all the Alejandro D’Acosta designed sites we visited this is an easy favorite – both for the high-quality wine and the romantic atmosphere of the cool and cavernous underground tasting room. The above ground spaces are designed for the large crowds that come on the weekends, as is the casual fare served at Troika, the food truck that makes its permanent home at Vena Cava.

Encuentro, Valle de Guadalupe Road Trip

There are many choices for accommodations on a Valle de Guadalupe road trip. We’d previously stayed at the hotel Encuentro Guadalupe. The hillside cabins are sleek and minimal, but there’s a casual bohemianism about the place too. A sort of unpolished glamor that’s hard to describe. Modern in concept, each of the avant-garde “eco-pods” that serves as the guest rooms sit on steel stilts jutting out from the hillside; making a dramatic platform to enjoy long views across vineyards and mist-shrouded hills. This kind of unique luxury comes at a price as steep as the hill Encuentro sits upon. Still, I highly recommend them for a special occasion.

B&B Quinta Maria en la Ruta del Vino

This trip, however, we opted for a family-owned posada (bed and breakfast) that is down (way down) one of those bumpy dusty roads I’ve come to love. It might seem hard to find at first, but the road to Quinta Maria has a very distinctive landmark that helps locate the place. Just turn as soon as you see the giant brick wine barrel. In return, you’ll find plenty of privacy at Quinta Maria. It sits on a seasonal arroyo and the property is large enough to leisurely explore on foot. There are birds and butterflies as well as lizards of all stripes chasing each other across the sunny boulders. You’ll probably spend a lot of time on one of the many patios taking in the views at Quinta Maria – the garden is pretty during the day and the stars come out for nightly campfires. There are only 3 or 4 private rooms (depending on the owners mood) so the feeling is more familial than you’ll find at most hotels. But it’s also a very quiet place. I’m sure you’ll find yourself sleeping in. No worries there will be a delicious breakfast and a lazy hammock waiting for you when you finally decide to roll out of bed.

Wall Bottles, Valle de Guadalupe Road Trip Quinta Maria, Valle de Guadalupe Road Trip

A Valle de Guadalupe road trip is the perfect opportunity to slow down and indulge your spontaneity. Because just when you think you’ve become impossibly muddled up on a purposeless dirt path you’ll suddenly discover an unexpected experience. We stumbled upon an architecturally compelling winery that had not been on our radar. Vinícola Torres Alegre y Familia is hidden away on a back road that connects the wineries Barón Balché and Château Camou. We hadn’t been looking for the place but we were convinced to stop by the beauty of the property. Sadly nobody was home so to speak, but we did peek around and discovered a back tasting patio that (sometimes) offers small plates of interesting tidbits like grilled pulpo and local cheese to anyone crazy enough to find themselves so far afield. The dust on your windshield will be as thick as construction paper, but these side roads just might reward you with experimental wines, modern cooking and cutting-edge architecture overlooking non-stop views. After all, that’s the point of summer road trip. GREG

PS If you are planning a Valle de Guadalupe road trip please note that many of the best restaurants and wineries have erratic hours. Some close unexpectedly, others are only open Thursday thru Sunday. So call ahead or let your luck persevere. There’s much to see and do on a Valle de Guadalupe road trip if you let adventure be your guide.

Wall Bottles, Valle de Guadalupe Road Trip

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