Tag Archives: wine bar

Exploring the Champagne Region of France

Champagne is my go-to beverage for celebrations, Sunday brunch, a quiet night in, and every other occasion that I can think of. 

In February 2002 I spent a week in Reims, France to explore part of the Champagne region.  The main purpose of my visit was to enjoy as many varies of Champagne as I could!  I called to reserve my cellar tours (before online reservations), booked my hotel (through a travel agent), and rode the TGV train from Paris Gare de l’East to Reims.  My hotel was a short walk from the train station, and I stopped at a local café for dinner and pastry.

Between Champagne tastings and cellar tours, I managed to visit the Palais du Tau and nearby cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims.  I walked to most places with the occasional taxi ride.  Exploring the city as a solo female traveler was easy and safe.

The down side of travelling solo all those years ago (before smart phone with built in cameras) is that I have a fuzzy memory and very few, poor quality photos.  Admittedly, the photos were made even worse by the massive amounts of Champagne consumed during operation.

My friend Lisa recently went to the Champagne region, and was kind enough to share her experience and photos. 

During a recent trip to Europe to visit family, my husband and I snuck away to France for just a couple of days.  We thought about visiting Paris, but then I ruled against it… I wanted to go to the Champagne region instead.

Continue reading Exploring the Champagne Region of France

Page Springs Cellars and Wine Tasting

One of the best kept secrets in Arizona is the growing wine making community.  My Sister and I recently took a girl’s getaway trip to Sedona, and I made sure to include Page Springs Cellars on the road trip.  Page Springs is located between Sedona and Cottonwood, just 10 miles southwest of downtown Sedona.

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Page Springs Cellars Front Patio

Page Springs is a small, family owned vineyard.  The grapes are grown in vineyards surrounding the Cellar and nearby land, sectioned by varietal.  Breaking from Arizona expectations, Page Springs is most similar to the Mediterranean climate, without as much humidity.

Continue reading Page Springs Cellars and Wine Tasting

One (Little Piggy Goes to) Market, San Francisco

Recently, my friend Jack was travelling for work and asked for restaurant recommendations in San Francisco.  Years ago, I spent considerable time there for work.  Based on the location of his hotel and the style food that he likes, I recommended One Market for a short walk and delicious dinner.  Here is Jack’s review of One Market.  Enjoy!  

I arrived at One Market in the Embarcadero District of downtown San Francisco at 6:45pm on a Thursday night and asked the hostess for a table for one.  She looked me up and down — fat man dining alone.   “I think we can squeeze you in, sir.”

2016 SF OM RoseI’d hoped for a half bottle of rose, but nobody ever sells rose in a half bottle.  I compromised and ordered a full bottle of 2014 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Rose from the Williamette Valley.  The color was almost ruby, with a full bodied (for a rose), dried fruit taste.  There was nothing sweet about this rose, and at that moment, I resigned myself to drinking the whole bottle.

The food menu was somewhat limited, with starters capturing my attention far more than entrees.  Of particular interest in the starters column were thinly sliced lamb tongue, a pan seared foie graas, grilled octopus, and ocean trout.  My waiter recommended the ocean trout with an enthusiasm that indicated that the item was either fantastic, or on its last day in the walk-in.  I decided to order the lamb tongue, grilled octopus, and ocean trout, foregoing the foie graas as I was unsure of the penalty for consuming it in the State of California.  The last thing I need is to be part of some weird televised foodie sting.

2016 SF OM AmuseBThe amuse bouche was a new potato puck topped with domestic monkfish caviar.  Whatever.  I was not all that amused. Continue reading One (Little Piggy Goes to) Market, San Francisco

Introducing Earnest

Earnest Restaurant opened in Chandler last week after a menu and atmosphere re-design from my beloved Cork.  Even with all the reassurances from the owners and staff before the redesign was unveiled, I was worried!

Earnest EntranceExecutive Chef Brian Peterson is still creating the same style high-quality American cuisine with more focus on comfort food and larger portions.  Pastry Chef and Partner Danielle Morris is still serving her amazing Banana Cream Pie and continues to amaze with her delicious desserts.

Earnest DiningThe changes?  Earnest is a casual dining experience, rather than the more formal fine-dining from Cork.  There are several community tables that can be converted to accommodate various size groups.  It is louder.  Earnest can seat more people, and due to the more strategic seating arrangement, there are simply more people than can get reservations and just walk-in for a table.  The decor is modern industrial, yet the overall feeling is simple comfort.

What is the same as Cork? The same owners Chef Brian and Chef Danielle, the same Manager Winston, and the same level of service from the (same) servers.  Saturday was busy, they were clearly short-handed, but the level of service stayed exceptional through-out dinner!  Tuesday evening they were not as busy, Chef Danielle came by to talk to me before my meal to ask about my thoughts so far.  Then Chef Brian came by after I ate dinner to ask how I was doing and what I thought of my Buffalo dinner.  The owners listen to feedback and genuinely want everyone to have a great meal.  Chef Brian assured me that he would continue to offer seasonal menu changes and continue to experiment with his entrees so it will never be boring. The staff is still very knowledgeable on the food and beverage selections.  At seating, each table is provided with an iPad loaded with an interactive Wine menu, which I occasionally flip through.  Then, I ask for wine recommendations from my server and am always pleased with the selection.  These folks know their wine and have a fantastic selection.

Earnest Scallop CassaroleThe food – AMAZING.  Seriously, the scallop-tuna casserole was delicious.  The scallop was cooked perfectly (Chef Brian nails it every time), and the onions on top were the perfect flavor enhancement to the delicate scallop atop tuna.

Earnest Lamb meatballsThe next visit I started with the Lamb meatball appetizer.  The feta was light and did not distract from the savory lamb that explodes with flavor in every bite.  It is now my new favorite appetizer, until the next menu change.

BBQ pork ribs is a comfort food staple, which Earnest manages to class up with bacon mac & cheese served with pork belly, and a side of coleslaw.  The mac & cheese was so rich, I was glad there was only a small scoop, otherwise I would have eaten way too much.  The coleslaw was light and tangy to perfectly compliment the sweet BBQ and savory mac & cheese.

Earnest Buffalo BrisketThe Buffalo Brisket is served in a gravy-like au jus with bratwurst over cabbage and potatoes.  The brisket melted in my mouth and was worth waiting for – they ran out Saturday night, so I had to wait until Tuesday night to try it.  The bratwurst was good, but I think more vegetables would be a better accompaniment.

Earnest Dessert Menu

 

The dessert options are the most noticeable change on the menu, there are more of them. Most of the dessert items are based on desserts we ate as children, such as cookies, house made “snickers”, and pb&j creme brulee.  Of course, I sampled the Banana Cream Pie to confirm it is the same recipe when served under Cork, and it is the same.  Whew.

 

Earnest Bread PuddingThe Bread Pudding is served with goat milk caramel and creme fraiche ice cream.  It looks small, but be sure you have someone to split this with!  There was not enough ice cream for the amount of bread involved, but the caramel was so enjoyable I got past that by the third bite.

I am excited for Earnest and looking forward to many more great meals!

Update:  March 2016 Earnest announced final meals end of March and closing the restaurant.  Half price wine and final reservations until the end of the month.

Last week of Cork

Cork_EasterBrunchCork restaurant in Chandler is one of my favorites!

I have attended many wine dinners, special Brunches, New Year’s Eve dinners, and as many new season menus as possible.  When my friends and I have reason to celebrate, we go to Cork.

Cork_Feb14This week my beloved Cork is closing for good.  The final meals will be served Tuesday, June 24 through Saturday, June 28.

They have announced a new name, new decor, and new dining concept.

I am going to savor my last meal at Cork this week, and when it is reborn as Earnest I plan to give it try.

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