Saturday, March 29, 2008

Coq Au Vin

Just finished up reading andlistening to Julia Child's "My Life in France", splendid read and quite the inspiration. I just might move to Paris tomorrow. Seriously. Julia Child hadn't a clue how to cook until she was 34 and about to become a new bride. WOW.

I first heard a champagne producer talk about his love of Coq au
Vin years ago - and then wondered what in the hell it was. About a week later I dug out Julia Child's recipe (vaguely remembered watching her cook it on PBS while in college) and went to work in the kitchen. Loved it! Fast forward about 10 years - my boyfriend and I have been talking about making Coq Au Vin for weeks now...would love to hear your suggestions for a Pinot Noir you've used before to marinate with and to pair with. This is the recipe we are using below. Bring it!

Ingredients: Marinating chicken 1 750-ml bottle French Burgundy or California Pinot Noir 1 large onion, sliced 2 celery stalks, sliced 1 large carrot, peeled, sliced 1 large garlic clove, peeled, flattened 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 6-pound roasting chicken, backbone removed, cut into 8 pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings with top quarter of adjoining breast, 2 breasts)

Cooking chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces thick-cut bacon slices, cut crosswise into strips
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 large shallots, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 large fresh thyme sprigs
4 large fresh parsley sprigs
2 small bay leaves
2 cups low-salt chicken broth

For marinating chicken: Combine wine, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and peppercorns in large pot. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Cool completely; mix in oil. Place chicken pieces in large glass bowl. Pour wine mixture over chicken; stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 day and up to 2 days, turning chicken occasionally.

For cooking chicken:
Using tongs, transfer chicken pieces from marinade to paper towels to drain; pat dry. Strain marinade; reserve vegetables and liquid separately.

Heat oil in heavy large pot (wide enough to hold chicken in single layer) over medium-high heat. Add bacon and sauté until crisp and brown. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to small bowl. Add chicken, skin side down, to drippings in pot. Sauté until brown, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to large bowl. Add vegetables reserved from marinade to pot. Sauté until brown, about 10 minutes. Mix in flour; stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in reserved marinade liquid. Bring to boil, whisking frequently. Cook until sauce thickens, whisking occasionally, about 2 minutes. Mix in shallots, garlic, herb sprigs, and bay leaves, then broth. Return chicken to pot, arranging skin side up in single layer. Bring to simmer; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover pot and simmer chicken 30 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken over. Cover and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to plate. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet. Add onions and sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer onions to plate alongside mushrooms; reserve skillet.

Using tongs, transfer chicken to plate. Strain sauce from pot into reserved skillet, pressing on solids in strainer to extract all sauce; discard solids. Bring sauce to simmer, scraping up browned bits. Return sauce to pot. Add onions to pot and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook until onions are almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and bacon. Simmer uncovered until onions are very tender and sauce is slightly reduced, about 12 minutes. Tilt pot and spoon off excess fat from top of sauce. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Return chicken to sauce. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.) Rewarm over low heat.

Arrange chicken on large rimmed platter. Spoon sauce and vegetables over. Sprinkle with parsley. Cheers - Ali

This afternoon in Austin...

Please stop by the downtown Whole Foods to sample sake2me. It's what all the cool katz are sippin' on these days.

Last time I broke open sake2me, it turned into one of the most fun days of my life. So go for it!! See ya - Ali

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Opening Day Thoughts...

"If you want something you never had... you must be willing to do something you have never done.”

I don't know when I first heard this quote, it's run through my head at least a million times since. I do remember sitting bored in class on a sunny spring day at some point writing this over and over with a black ink pen. It rang in my head like lightening bolts while living in San Francisco. Just heard it again while combating the feeling of a very full work-load. These words have stuck with me like the massive curls spiraling out of my head - thankfully. TENACITY. - Ali

Ames is visiting Austin this week!


by Ali Kriscenski for Inhabitat


In a sunny valley of Sonoma County two winemakers have forged green building, renewable energy and biodynamic agriculture into a bountiful endeavor. Founded in 1998 by Christopher Medlock James and Ames Morison, the Medlock Ames Winery has come to full fruition beautifully with glowing wine reviews and an operation that is now 100% solar powered. The sustainable philosophy of this forward thinking vineyard is entwined in its structures and practices. The winery building, designed by George Riley of Sebastopol, incorporates passive solar design, natural daylighting and natural ventilation.


The owners chose a light colored roof to reduce the building’s cooling energy load. The corrugated roofing provides structural efficiency while allowing minimal support material. A concrete floor provides high thermal mass, helping to reduce temperature swings and cooling demand. The winemaking process housed within uses gravity flow, gentler on both energy usage and the wine itself. The fruit is raised by electric (solar powered) forklifts and follows a natural path to an underground cellar where the cooling system equipment is efficiently sheltered out of direct sunlight.

Around the vineyard sustainability grows everywhere. A series of six solar photovoltaic arrays produce 140,000 kWh annually powering 100% of the business, including vehicles. Of the 335 acres that is owned by Medlock Ames, only 56 acres are used for grape growing - the rest is left in its natural state.

Where viticulture takes root there are no pesticides or fertilizers used. Instead, natural materials fight pests and encourage healthy plants and soil. The solar arrays have even become part of the inviting natural landscape where, Morison notes, “Owls and hawks are often seen perching.” Other farm “employees” include sheep, geese and horses.

In addition to perfecting organic wines in sustainable style, Medlock Ames Winery encourages sustainability in the local community. They recently funded the school garden initiative at West Side School in Healdsburg to help children become skilled and interested in growing their own food. This outreach will expand to bring local school children to the vineyard to see organic and sustainable farming in practice.

Between the reds, the whites and the greenness its difficult to decide the winery’s greatest asset. One easy certainty is that at Medlock Ames everything is produced without compromise.

+ Medlock Ames Winery





Monday, March 24, 2008

Iron Chef Dinner

WOW ! Last night was great fun watching Tyson Cole vs. Morimoto compete on Iron Chef. The food was delicious, as well as the sake and wine pairing.

The coolest thing - you too can have the "Iron Chef Omakase" experience! The next 4 Sunday nights - uchi is featuring this special tasting menu for all to enjoy. Tell a friends and book a reservation now - it's well worth it! I loaded pictures on this morning.

A big shout out to the staff at uchi - job well done as usual, you make the uchi experience even better with your incredible enthusiasm and professionalism each time I walk in the door! Cheers - Ali

Sunday, March 23, 2008

From the comfort of home tonight ...

Here's a way to enjoy Uchi: Chef Tyson Cole will take on Iron Chef Morimoto this Sunday, March 23, at 9pm, on the Food Network.

Next time you are dining at Uchi - sip a on premium chilled sake such as
Sacred Power, Bride of the Fox, hawk in the Heavens and Dreamy Clouds. Cheers - Ali

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top of the Morning to Ya!

What a weekend for sake2me in Austin Texas. This cool little naturally flavored sparkling junmai sake was all over SXSW. Mess with Texas Party at Waterloo Park, Vice Magazine - "THE Afterparty of SXSW" on Saturday night and a the CD release party of Shurman at Kenichi.

Next time you swing through Whole Foods, take a few seconds to pick up a 4 pack of sake2me, a huge display smack-dab in the middle of the seafood area. Ohhh Yeah!!

I'll upload a ton of pictures later on TexaCaliWine from all the music, dancing and sake2me sipping on over the past few days. I am moving a little slow today from morphing into "dancing queen" at all hours yesterday morning. Pictures? Yep.

Happy St. Patty's Day! Cheers - Ali

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Scoop - this Saturday in Austin

MESS WITH TEXAS 2 ANNOUNCES A FULL DAY OF FREE MUSIC AND COMEDY IN AUSTIN, TX AT WATERLOO PARK Mess With Texas, an annual party thrown in Austin, in the south by southwestern region of the US, at the same time as a certain other major music festival, has expanded in its second year to a massive, outdoor, FREE, ALL AGES event with three stages and an exclusive Austin performance from headliners The Breeders and NOFX and A-list comedians like Janeane Garofalo, MTV's Human Giant and Brian Posehn. The festivities go down on Saturday, March 15 from Noon to 10pm at Waterloo Park, which is in walking distance from 6th St. Last year, the inaugural Mess With Texas took place at Red 7 with David Cross serving as the curator and host. The event's organizers this year includetwenty-two year old Sean Carlson who books the Los Angeles based F*ck Yeah Fest, Adam Hobbs from LA-based music marketing and PR agency The 857 Collective, Austin's Transmission Entertainment,with booking assistance from Comedy Death Ray, Keith Morris of Circle Jerks & Black Flag and Henry Owings of Chunklet Magazine.

Mess With Texas 2
Saturday, March 15th Waterloo Park Entrance at 15th and Trinity Austin, TX Free / All Ages / Open to the Public Doors open at Noon

Music: The Breeders NOFX Simian Mobile Disco + Islands + Kimya Dawson + Black Mountain + Yeasayer +F*cked Up + Lucero +Jay Reatard + No Age + Neon Neon +Pissed Jeans + Atlas Sound + Two Gallants + White Denim + Matt & Kim Municipal Waste +The Night Marchers (featuring John Reis) +Howlin' Rain + Dead to Me + Langhorne Slim +Shearwater +Gil Mantera's Party Dream + Grand Ole Party +Darker My Love +Moonrats + Annihilation Time + The Coathangers +Abe Vigoda + +Mellowdrone +Monotonix +Aloha + Selmanaires Comedy: Janeane Garofalo Human Giant Brian Posehn Todd Barry + Eugene Mirman + Paul F. Tompkins + Jon Glaser + Jon Benjamin + Earles & Jensen + Leo Allen +Hard n Phirm +Scott Aukerman +BJ Porter + Reggie Watts +Jonah Ray +Matt Brunger

Sponsors who made this event 100% FREE: (

SAKE2ME SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Ali


is exactly what 2008 is all about so far! Here's a little pictorial of the past 5 days of my life...

Midland, Texas: Midland Raquet Club Sunday night meeting with all the West Texas Country Clubs - they loved the Malbec's of Vine Connections. It's been awhile since I visited Midland, great place to be while oil is over $100 this week...WOW.

Fort Worth, Texas:
Monday night Crios wine reception at Embargo then a
wonderful dinner at Del Frisco's downtown. A big thank you to everyone who joined us, what a delicious and fun night we had together. My wine of the night: 2005 Susana Balbo Brioso - elegant, refined and beautiful Bordeaux blend from Mendoza.

Colleyville, Texas:62Main
lunch with Pioneer Wine Company's Derek Hubert.
No matter what I think I've already seen in this crazy wine world, I always get another surprise when I least expect it. So of course, like many of my conversations over a wine lunch, the topic turns to sports - well, right about the time I'm talking "center ice vs. the 50 yard line" with the fellas, Derek whips out his new tattoo - let's just say his love for wine isn't quite as deep as his love for the Dallas Cowboys. Classic.

Dallas, Texas: Pappas Steakhouse dinner with the owners of Veritas Imports and Pioneer Wine Company. After a lovely dinner, Ken Wood, a sommelier at Pappas gave us a tour of the wine cellar. Selections from 1900 to current releases filled the cellar. What a treat!! If I ever win the lotto- I'll know where to spend the big bucks on a few rare bottles in Dallas for sure.

Irving, Texas: Sheraton Hotel:
Now this had to be the coolest item of the week.
While chit-chatting with the wine buyer for the Sheraton - he tells me that his daughter's boyfriend had played SXSW before. So I ask "who's he play for?" He answers "he's Beck". I'm like "BECK? the BECK?" He says, "yes, the BECK". I've seen Beck live at least 6 times in my life. Love him! HOW COOL IS THAT? Well, it's weirdly random at least. Yeah - I found out a little scoop - but nothing too saucy.

Off to wrangle sake2me all over Austin this weekend for SXSW. More later and CHEERS! Ali

Sunday, March 09, 2008

sake2me takes over SXSW in Austin!

Next Saturday - March 15, sake2me is the official HIP-Cool-FUN adult beverage at the greatest day party of the festival... "Mess with Texas Party".

Also, sip on sake2me at all the VICE Magazine parties throughout SXSW. You'll be hooked! More later - I'm off to lead a wine dinner a handful of hours away... Cheers - Ali

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sake Mania Breaks out in Texas...

5 Star Restaurants to Suburban Bar & Grills recently added the Ginjo Sake of Vine Connections to their lists. Also - just about every retailer in Texas has now stepped up and added multiple sake bottles to their retail sets.

Why? Because of you my dear sake and wine followers!
You as a consumer have demanded better quality sake!


You can read all about these incredible premium Sake on the TexaCali Wine Co. website or the importer's site - Vine Connections.

Cheers! Ali

Tuesday, March 04, 2008