Not long ago, Julie and I got to interview the new Chef at the Palace, and test drive some new desserts for Pastry Chef Extraordinaire Summer Genetti. Chef Jose Salazar has some great ideas for the restaurant. He's lowered the prices and has created an approachable but classy menu. I'm a picky eater, but there is a lot I would eat on that menu. I've embedded a slideshow of some of my more recent visits to the Palace:
And of course, the desserts. Note that in the photos, some of the desserts have eyes. Summer knows I hate to eat things that look at me … so no worries. You will probably not have cupcakes staring at you. But what good cupcakes they are!
Here's the deal. You and your date each enjoy a two-course meal, plus an amuse bouche to start and mini-pastries that arrive with your check. Dessert was a bonus that seemed to always be wrapped in as well, but no promises on that one. You also get a bottle of wine, and usually there is a decent selection from which to choose. The total – for the two of you and the bottle of wine – is $60, notwithstanding tax and gratuity. Trust me, it's a great opportunity to try a new restaurant that's always been a little intimidating in the past.
I love that this isn't a regular thing, but random and spur-of-the-moment. When you call to make reservations, tell them you read it on Wine-Girl. Reserve your spot by calling 513-381-3000.
The menu for this Thursday night is after the jump:
I talked about Kinkead Ridge last week and said that as I heard from each winery, I'd let you know their schedule. Looks like this weekend you can go visit Kinkead Ridge and Harmony Hill. I imagine you can throw in a stop at Meranda-Nixon and Lakeside as well.
Harmony Hill has changed their hours to make their weekends a bit more accessible to those of us who aren't morning people. You can now spend your afternoon well into your evening relaxing on their patio with a bottle of wine. Not only is the winery open on Friday evenings, but you can hang out on Saturdays from 2-9 pm. That also applies to Memorial Day and Labor Day Mondays.
Harmony Hill also has live entertainment on the patio sitting atop their wine cave. You can check the musical guests at their new online calendar. The first act plays from 2-5 pm and the "headliner" takes the stage at 5 pm until close.
As always, Harmony Hill is dog and child friendly. They offer cheese plates, but you're welcome to bring your own picnic lunch and buy a bottle of wine. Don't forget to bring blankets or lawn chairs, as the place can get packed on Friday (and now probably Saturday) nights.
The winery was actually chock full of news in their latest email missive but this might be the best of the news flashes. They're going to be hosting The Market on The Hill – a farmer's market "in the truest sense" – from May 23 through Oct 3. The farmer's market is
… a one-stop shopping destination featuring grass fed beef, Icelandic lamb, free range poultry, eggs, seasonal fresh vegetables, artisan breads, cheeses and of course, wine. Our farmers are proud to offer only home grown, raised and processed food from within a 30 mile radius of Harmony Hill. We are the LOCAL that farmer markets SHOULD be all about. No reselling of bulk produce-yard vegetables here. The market will run every Saturday , rain or shine, from 2-6 on the winery grounds.
As many of you know, I teach a lot of classes on social media. Since I teach Twitter, I'm on Twitter a lot, and my wine posts often get shared out to my different Twitter accounts. Last week I blogged about our wonderful evening at Mondavi and I shared the post on Twitter. Imagine my absolute giddiness when I got this tweet in reply:
Apparently Mia is a "wine PR flack" out in Napa. I couldn't be happier. Thanks Mia!
Just a couple of things I want to point out today, before you head off for your weekend.
First, make sure you stop by Liquor Direct today or tomorrow – either location. You'll find local blogging brethren Tim from CheapWineRatings.com and Jonathon from BestDrinkEver.net holding court and pouring wine. I have no doubt they'll have excellent wines, so go say hello. And remember – Liquor Direct tastings are always free!
Next, I've just been alerted to a cool tour in Newport that has nothing to do with wine, but needs to be publicized because, well, it's cool.
Here's the info:
Newport Gangster Tour $15 dollars, May 16, 17, 23, 24, 25
Before there was Las Vegas… there was Newport, Kentucky. The original Sin City.
Rising from the profits of bootlegging, Newport would quickly grow to become the premier gaming destination in the US. Walk the streets where gangsters made their millions, gamblers lost their lives, and ladies of the night earned their living. See the buildings that housed casinos, brothels, and speakeasies. Explore Newport's connection to some of the most well known crime figures in our country's history, and discover the individuals who gave the town its infamous reputation.
Tours Start at 723 Monmouth Street and run every hour between 11:00 and 7:00
Except Sundays tours run between 11:00 and 5:00.
Why you should go.
1. All proceeds from this event support global service learning, service projects in Central America.
2. Free steak dinner coupon for The Syndicate
I recently picked up a new camera and that seems like an excellent opportunity to practice my photography skills (or lack thereof). We'll be there at some point over the next two weekends.
If you happen to have a Kindle, you can now subscribe to My Wine Education and have it wirelessly downloaded to your device. This also works if you have the Kindle iPhone app. Amazon set the price at $1.99 per month. (You should know I had no control over that – if I could have, I would have offered it for free.)
Finally, there's a new Print-Friendly button over in the right hand column. It allows you to print a select post without all the headers and columns – just the content. Nifty, right? Just click the title of the post you want to print then click the Print-Friendly button. Ta da!
I'm going to spend this weekend doing absolutely nothing other than recovering from a cold (hopefully it's not the Swine Flu) brought on by non-stop stress and activity over the last 6 weeks. I hope you get a chance to relax as well.
Today's Wine Blogging Wednesday is sort of a memorial to Robert Mondavi, who passed away about a year ago. It's hosted by Jeff at The Good Grape, and he asks us to taste a California wine that was part of a memorable chapter in our life, and tell that story.
The easy route for this theme would be to taste a Mondavi wine, but
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Mondavi would have preferred
an air of openness. No good is accomplished by a singularity of
purpose that acts as an exclusionary barrier for others.
Please go buy or pull from your stash, a bottle of whatever that
California wine was that created a memorable chapter in your life, revisit the
bottle, and share your story.
Well, I am taking the easy route – partly due to lack of time and partly because one of my favorite evenings ever took place at the Mondavi Vineyard summer concert series in 2005, with a lot of Mondavi wine. One wine, in particular, stands out for me.
In July of 2005, we stayed in Santa Rosa, which proved to be the perfect vantage point to
access both Sonoma and Napa, and then enjoy a brewpub or sushi in Santa
Rosa come evening. Because Kevin attended an annual conference in San
Francisco, our trips tended to lead up to, and occasionally cross July
4th. On this particular trip, the Mondavi Summer Concert series was
hosting the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and celebrating July 4th. (2005 Mondavi photos)
On the recommendation of the folks at Domaine Carneros,
we stopped at the Oakville Grocery before the concert. Oakville Grocery
is practically across the street from Mondavi and in the "front yard,"
so to speak, of Opus One. It's surrounded by vines. Inside, it was
crowded with people and Kevin and I split up to pick up specialty
sandwiches, yummy pastries, and cheeses, as well as a bottle or two of
water. It all went into a box, and we wandered into Mondavi.
spread our blanket out behind a young family. Turns out these folks
lived there in Napa, which seems positively wonderful to me. What a
great family! We all purchased our various wines in the Mondavi wine
shop and we shared.We talked about the wine and enjoyed the wines with
complete strangers as the uplifting strains of New Orleans jazz floated
over the evening. In the back of the courtyard, tables were set up at
the vineyard edge. Robert Mondavi and his wife, Margrit, were there. At
times they were up and swing dancing, and looking very much in love. At
the end of the evening, fireworks exploded in the sky, lighting up the
vineyards and the mountains.
It was really one of the most
perfect nights of my life. Vineyards, wine, beauty, music, history, and
good company. I remember one of the wines the young couple shared with us, and I promptly bought two bottles.
Sorry Jeff, it's a Mondavi, but a suitably impressive one to fulfill the WBW qualifications, I hope.
2001 Robert Mondavi Stag's Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon, $55 @ winery
This wine was actually made by Robert's son Tim, but it shows that talent runs in the family. I know a lot of my friends associate the Mondavi brand with low-end wine, but the man (and his family) can make some great mid- to high-end bottles, without a doubt. After all, Mondavi was one of the guys behind Opus One.
This particular Cabernet was fruit forward, gravelly and volcanic. It was a bit sulfuric on the nose, but it blew off after a bit. I suspect two things: we should have decanted for a few hours (although we never think that far ahead) and our second bottle of this will age nicely for another couple of years.
Perhaps because I am emotionally attached to this wine, or perhaps I think it was my fault for not decanting in the first place, I still give this wine a .
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