Tour de Fabuleux

In a town where foodies and festivals abound, there are several occasions to wander from sample to sample. I have attended and enjoyed several, but none as much as The Tour de Vin this past Friday at the W Hotel. The Wine and Food Foundation has created an elegant, festive event which features Austin’s best chefs and more fabulous wine than I could sample. How do you begin to adequately review an event such as this? I have been asking myself that all morning.

Before the main event, my husband and I were graciously invited to attend the VIP Wine and Cheese Tasting hosted by Shawn Croft of Gusto Tasting and Marie-Louise Friedland of Henri’s Cheese Shop. They put together four amazing and unique pairings. The highlights for me were the most elegant Goat Cheese (with Brie-style rind) that I have tasted, a Chilean Pinot Noir in which I could taste the vine, and a Viognier and Bleu Goat’s milk pairing that sang. The Bleu is made locally at Pure Luck Dairy in Dripping Springs.

Upon entering the Tour de Vin, each guest was given a “passport” which gave information about the country represented in each room, the participating chefs, and a description of the wines being sampled. This information was also clearly labeled at the tables. Great organization. There were too many wonderful dishes to mention (or try), and too many wines to sample but my favorites were as follows.

Favorite Dishes:

1) Curry Rubbed Ahi with Fennel Rhubarb Kimchi and Basil from Chef Shane Stark of Kenichi

2) Pimentos Rellenos de Queso de Cabra from Chef Jed Holdredge of Tapas Bravas

3) Smoked Beef Tongue with Pickled Yellow Mustard Seed and Fruit Compote by Chef John Bates of Noble Pig

Favorite Wines:

1) 2011 Chateau de Campuget Rose (the only sampled I finished)

2) 2009 Edi Simcic Rebula Riserva (a surprising, unique Slovenian wine)

3) Duckhorn Merlot (I do love a good Merlot, check out Trends, Schmends)

4) 2010 Veramonte ‘Ritual’ Pinot Noir (Chilean wine from the VIP tasting)

Favorite Dessert:

Tres Leches Rice Pudding from Sentelli’s

The entire event was absolutely delightful. They thought of every detail to make their guests comfortable. The food and drink were plentiful and superb. The people were friendly, gracious and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Usually I leave large events thinking, “It would have been great if they had…”. Not this time. I can’t imagine how it could have gone better. Well, yes I can. When I looked through the passport at the end of the evening, I saw that I missed several items that sounded amazing, but I felt I had already indulged sufficiently. Next time, I will make my husband share samples so I can get around to more.  Many thanks to the people at The Wine and Food Foundation for the gracious invitation to join you in celebrating the cuisines of the world and the abundant talent we have here in Austin.

Disclosure: The Foundation provided me with a free VIP and event media pass for which I am grateful.

Celebrating in Style

Although we returned home last week, I have been quiet on here, trying to get my life in order (what’s that?) after vacation.  I will, however, have much to say after this weekend.  This past Sunday marked one year from my first post , on SAHMmelier.  It just so happens that this Friday is the 10th annual Tour de Vin  put on by The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas.    Can you think of a better way to celebrate?  Here is a snippet from their website:

10th Annual Tour de Vin

Friday, August 24th, 2012 6:30-9:30 pm W Austin

One of the Foundation’s premier events each year, Tour de Vin is a get-your-passport-stamped style wine and food tasting featuring fine wine from around the world and the best domestic and internationally-inspired cuisine in Central Texas. This globetrotting culinary showcase highlights some of Austin’s favorite chefs and 15-20 wineries presenting a cosmopolitan array of samplings which are accompanied by live multi-cultural performances throughout the evening. The evening is complete with a silent auction featuring extraordinary wines, foodie favorites, and unique packages including a helicopter trip to Formula 1 with Capital Wings and tickets to see the GoGo’s at ACL live

If you live in the Austin area and do not yet have plans to go, tickets are still available.  Call your sitter.  Dust off your cocktail dress and come on down!  If you are not in Austin, well, you will have to wait for the write up.

On the Road Again…

…just about to get on the road again.  Sorry for the lack of writing as of late. I am currently in Colorado on our first family camping trip. Having a great time thus far, and wanted to throw out a few highlights at the mid-way point.
On the way north and were able to stop at both Llano Estacado and McPherson Cellars in Lubbock. Great wines. The Red Raider Syrah is a great balance of big fruit and rich earthy notes. We also grabbed two red blends, their flagship wine, Viviano, and El Granjero. It was great to finally meet these guys. Thank you for your patience with my wound up little ones, the barrel tastings, and your hospitality.  We stayed at The Overton and slept like babies.  Great room and super staff.  Highly recommended.  My only suggestion would be to get more Texas wines on your wine list (wink, wink).

We popped into McPherson on our way out of town and Kim and Emily were equally gracious hosts. I think I bought at least one of everything I tasted. Love his wine! I left with 13 bottles and was prepared to leave my sleeping bag behind if I needed to make room for them. Fortunately, we will be expecting regular shipments. You would be hard pressed (no pun intended) to find better Texas wine, especially at that price point. Love, love, love.

While camping in Palo Duro Canyon we had a masked bandit run off with our Pirate Booty and I was greeted with a “friendly” rattle as I stepped out of our make-shift shower.  The heat was rough, but the views and the moon made up for it.

In Santa Fe, we stayed at The Bishop’s Lodge. The grounds are beautiful, the room we wound up in was great, but they need some work in some areas. I am not, by any means, a tough client and I have  the utmost respect for those in the service industry. But after several scratch-your-head-disappointing moments, I would highly encourage them to take a look at training and work out some kinks. I would go back because of the other very positive experiences, but with revised expectations. I hope they work those things out because it has such potential.  A big thank you to Jeff the Wrangler. My kids loved their first horse-back ride!

In Durango, we rode the train to Silverton.  Stunning views, friendly informative staff, and the kids even fell asleep for the last hour.  We rode the bus back to cut the return time.  I would recommend that, especially if you are traveling with littles.  I was very grateful to not be driving and to be on the inside of the road.  If you have height issues, think twice or pack a Valium.  We walked to Carver’s after for some local brews.  The winner, in my book, was the Saison.  Peppery goodness in a glass.

Remember that road where I was grateful to be on the inside? Guess where we were on our drive to Ouray?  I am pretty sure that my leaning to the middle of the truck on curves had no effect, but you never know.  Those crazy roads never bothered me before.  Yet another thing that changes post-babies.  The hot springs were amazing.  Highly recommended.  We also found our favorite brew thus far at Ouray Brewing Company.  The Belgian Pale Ale was delicious.  We left with a growler and came back for another one on our way out of town.  My husband is trying to convince me to drive back for another.

We then camped in Ridgeway State Park for two nights.  This place is spectacular with so much to do, room to run,  a place to fish, and a reservoir in which to swim.  Heavenly.  The views were breathtaking.  Next time we will stay for much longer.

Which brings us to our current stop.   After three days of camping, we were all ready for a little luxuriating.   The Hotel Telluride could not be nicer.  The staff is incredibly friendly and accommodating; the decor is pure rustic elegance.  Every detail is taken care of. The robes, Aveda products, and pillow service (yes, you can pick a style of pillow) have provided the perfect recovery from roughing it.  Oh, and the chocolate chip cookies in the lobby paired wonderfully with the Llano Syrah.  

Off to enjoy our complimentary breakfast and a gondola ride before we get on the road again…Cheers!