Croatian Cuisine & Wines at Del Monte

Del Monte Restaurant is in Sunnyvale, CA Since coming back from our trip to Southeastern Europe last summer, we haven’t had the chance to eat any dishes from the region as San Francisco is lacking in restaurants specializing in Balkan cuisine. Fortunately, for all of us Ćevapčići lovers in the Bay Area there is Del Monte Restaurant in downtown Sunnyvale, on Murphy Avenue. Del Monte, in spite of the name, is a 100% Croatian family business: Mate Slade, the head of the family, usually can be found in the kitchen doing what he loves best, while his wife Dragica can be found in the restaurant greeting the guests who all seem to know her, alongside her son who serves the tables. The interior of Del Monte Originally from Dubrovnik, they came to California some 25 years ago by way of Louisiana, New Orleans and Washington D.C. We recently had dinner for the first time at Delmonte with some relatives, and so we got to try almost everything in their menu. Although the decor is lacking in sophistication, it has a Croatian feel to it as well as a family atmosphere that we enjoyed together with the big plates of food. … Continue reading Croatian Cuisine & Wines at Del Monte

Discovering the Paso Robles Wine Country

Vineyards in Paso Robles at sunset. Last weekend more than 90 wineries participated in the 2008 Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival, which included an array of special events such as winemaker dinners, food pairings, seminars, open houses, a live auction and special tastings. Although (unfortunately) this year we didn’t make it to the festival, we recently had the opportunity to visit Paso Robles Wine Country and to enjoy some of the region’s fine wines. Paso Robles is located on California’s central coast, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Paso Robles has a long history of winemaking and grape growing beginning in 1797 when the first wine grapes were introduced by the Franciscan missionaries at the historic Mission San Miguel Arcangel. The Padres produced wine for sacramental purposes and made brandy for export. After Mexico secularized the California missions in the 1840s the vineyards were abandoned until European immigrant farmers started to arrive in the 1860s, following California’s independence in 1850. Today, Paso Robles is California’s third largest and fastest growing wine region, with over 26,000 acres of vineyards (more on Paso Robles Wine Country history can be found here). Cabernet Sauvignon is the leading variety for the Paso Robles appellation, … Continue reading Discovering the Paso Robles Wine Country

Finding The Hidden Vine

Yes, it is indeed hidden, but you can find it. The Hidden Vine is a perfectly-named wine bar in San Francisco. Sitting on the edges of Nob Hill, The Tenderloin, and Union Square, owners and master hosts, Angela and David Cahill pour wines for the masses with, what cannot be stated in any better terms than “down home” hospitality. Amazingly, no matter how busy it is on any given night, you will always feel like you are their only guest and they are very excited to show you what new wines they have that month. Ah yes, that’s an important element to their wine bar that’s always fun in that they feature a different region each month to taste, so in addition to their wine list always being updated and tweaked, returning guests can enjoy something brand new, 12 times a year. But more on this in a little bit. The history of their wine bar starts back on the East Coast. David and Angela bopped around New Jersey, Maryland, and North Carolina for awhile. It was in Chapel Hill that they encountered the West End Wine Bar. They had great times there and liked the whole setup of the … Continue reading Finding The Hidden Vine

Blue Danube Wine Co Shows off its New Wines

A pour for a guest ready to take notes. Last Monday on November 12th, we hosted a private tasting event for the trade of all our new arrivals. Frank with wines. This is a fun time for us because it allows us to share the wines that we’ve carefully selected to import for the first time with our colleagues in the trade and the media. This event was particularly enjoyable because we had new wines from all areas that Blue Danube Wine Company imports including: Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro. The well known Bacar Restaurant and Wine Salon provided a most suitable setting for this tasting event. This restaurant in the heart of SOMA in San Francisco is hip and modern, yet at the same time inviting and warm; a perfect place for sipping exciting new wines amongst others who love wine. Joining us for the invited tasting were the wine buyers and sommeliers of local wine shops, restaurants and wine bars as well as wine writers and critics. Checking the list It was great to see such a diverse crowd because everyone tasted the wines differently and they’re all looking for something unique to match whatever exciting plans … Continue reading Blue Danube Wine Co Shows off its New Wines

Return of the Michelin

Jean-Paul Naret and Marcia Gagliardi during the Michelin Guide presentation So it was that last year, that the first Michelin guides entered the US with in New York City and San Francisco. We didn’t get to read the 2007 guide, but took more of an interest this year as they’re introducing Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Jean-Luc speaks Also, the director, Jean-Paul Naret was at a local bookstore to promote it a bit. So, we went down to see it. As it turned out, the event also featured Marcia Gagliardi of Table Hopper there to talk as well. While very much about food and dining in San Francisco, it was something of an odd paring as listening to Jean-Paul Naret was amusing. He’s a very charismatic fellow and very, very French. Putting Marcia next to him showed just how international he was and how local she was. In theory the line up should have worked to show different of approach to food that their respective writings take, when it actually just showed the different leagues that the two worked in. The 2008 Guide Naturally, we bought a copy of the guide. Want to know some ratings? Well, it would be … Continue reading Return of the Michelin

A Tinderbox Outing

The well-appointed interior of Bernal Height’s Tinderbox We recently had the enjoyment of eating at the new digs of Tinderbox. It’s a restaurant in the Bernal Heights area of San Francisco that is wedged in the middle of a burgeoning gourmet ghetto. The dishes are focused around that growing genre of food called, “New American”, which, as was the case at Tinderbox, means new twists on old dishes that surprise you in new ways. The avocado cutlet The menu has been coupled together with a very unique and tasty wine list compiled by the sommelier and general manager, Omar White. It includes a good number of Blue Danube Wine selections like the exotic Juris St. Laurent from Austria, an unoaked Hungarian Szõke Chardonnay, and the indigenous Pošip Marco Polo from the Croatian island of Korcula among others. We started with a nice Dolcetto to warm up our palates. It was inviting and light, yet still flavorful and enjoyable to sip with our appetizers. It also had the ability to not trounce the fact that one of us had the grilled sardine appetizer. Omar tops off Frank Dietrich From there, we split off with a glass of white for the cod … Continue reading A Tinderbox Outing

CAV – the Wine Bar and the Kitchen

The back dining area. It’s only after two years of its existence that people start to realize that CAV on Market Street in San Francisco is not only an excellent wine bar, it has a wonderful kitchen to boot. No one would be better suited than SF Chronicle restaurant critique Michael Bauer to attest the superb quality of Executive Chef’s Christine Mullen’s cuisine. The title of his review entails a double compliment: An accomplished kitchen to match the sublime wine list at CAV. Well, I feel quite qualified to provide testimony as well: I’ve recently been back to CAV specifically to check out the menu and can only rave about it. Rather than giving the details away, why don’t I leave you with good advise: Sit down and let the good times roll, i.e. tell the knowledgeable and friendly wait staff you want to explore their goodies. Trust me, they will treat you well and nicely pair each of the courses as they arrive on your table. Give it a try, you’ll love it. Not to be outdone by her culinary colleague, Wine Director Pamela Busch continued garnering additional awards to her already long list. This time it was California’s … Continue reading CAV – the Wine Bar and the Kitchen

Blogging Back: Dunne on Wine in the Sac Bee

Thanks to Mike Dunne, restaurant and wine editor of the Sacramento Bee, we have the honor to publish our first Blog-Back. You may ask: What’s a Blog-Back? Well, in his wine column, Dunne on Wine – Blogging through a week in the life of a wine writer, just out today, Mike writes about a tasting of the Irsai Olivér. This is a new Hungarian white wine which he tasted at the famed Corti Brothers store in Sacramento. Blue Danube Wine Company happens to be the distributor of this fine wine, one in a line-up of eight fresh and fruity wines from the Hilltop Neszmély winery in Hungary. And he is so kind to link to our wine blog, the very one you are reading here. So we take the opportunity to say: “Egéségedre, Mike, i.e. Good Health to you (in Hungarian) and Thank You, too.” And Blog-back to his column at the Sacramento Bee so that our readers might check out his informative writings. We also want to make sure you are aware that you can purchase a bottle of the Irsai Oliver at Corti Brothers in Sacramento and a few other places around the Bay Area. Just look here … Continue reading Blogging Back: Dunne on Wine in the Sac Bee

EuroCircle Party in San Francisco

We just participated in a great reception with a very interesting international group of people from EuroCircle. This is a loose association of Europeans and folks who love Europe (or a European ;-). EuroCircle has members all over the world and organizes events, parties, dances, and well: wine tastings. Check it out and join them at their next event near you. Blue Danube Wine Company was selected to present some of our top wines. This evening’s winner by popular vote was the Cardinal made by the Weingut Giefing in Rust, Austria. Everybody agreed that this is a wonderful Austrian style blend. The guests who were invited by founder Kaisa Kokkonen and her SF volunteers to come to a fancy modern appartment overlooking Alcatraz in the Bay of San Francisco liked the Weinrieder Eiswein very much as well. We had to force them pour smaller glasses!