Happy Hour Snacks: Padrón Peppers

photo (13)Have you ever had a Padrón pepper? They are small, long peppers, with a color that ranges from vibrant green to a yellow tinged jade, While they are an increasingly popular crop here in California and other places in the U.S., they originally hail from the municipality of Padrón in the province of La Coruña, which is in the northwestern part of Spain — that is where they get their name. What makes these peppers particularly interesting is that while their taste is usually mild, about 10% of them are particularly hot. Whether any given pepper ends up being hot or mild depends on the amount of water and sunlight it receives during its growth — you can’t tell by looking at them, you just have to taste and try!

They are also a great as a snack and a healthful, satisfying alternative to fatty, fried, salty food to serve with cocktails, wine, or iced tea. And they are so simple to prepare — just take about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat it in a frying pan until the oil shimmers. Add 2 generous cups of Padrón peppers and stir them around. Cook until the skin starts to blister, only about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove them from the pan and put in a beautiful bowl, sprinkle with a little sea salt and you are done. An easy & elegant snack for happy hour. Hope you are kicking off a great weekend!

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Pours And Tours: Gugliemo Winery

our-wines Tomorrow we are really pleased to be welcoming a special guest to our wine bar — Greg from Guglielmo Winery will be joining  us on Saturday from 12:00 to 4:30 and pouring some of the wineries loveliest wines for you to try.
Guglielmo Winery is the oldest, consistently operating, family owned winery in Santa Clara Valley. Emilio Guglielmo established the winery in 1925 after  emigrating to the area from the Piedmonte region of Italy and thanks to an underground cellar where wine was made in monstrous redwood tanks during Prohibition, it has been continually in operation to present day, and owned by the same family, which is incredibly rare.

Today, third generation brothers George E., Gene and Gary keep the family tradition alive by producing award-winning wines from more than 100 acres of Santa Clara Valley estate vineyards  — as well as grapes from other premium wine growing regions in California.
Greg will be pouring a selection of wine including Emile’s Grand Cuvee Champagne  — yes it can legally be called Champagne. He will also be pouring a 2013 Private Reserve Estate Grignolino – a very rare varietal, Guglielmo’s is one of only two growers in the country.

Here are some more notes on wines that will be poured on Saturday. Don’t miss the chance to sip these winners.

Emile’s Grand Cuvee Champagne
Produced in a drier “Brut” style, the Grand Cuvee is the driest and most sophisticated of our Emile’s sparkling wines. This elegant California Champagne is crisp and clean on the finish. The Grand Cuvee is produced from California grapes

2013 Private Reserve Pinot Grigio
Light straw in color this wine offers notes of lemon lime, blossom nectar, white peach, and subtle minerality.
On the palate, look for notes of stone fruit, pear and citrus.

2013 Private Reserve Estate Grignolino
Aromas of enticing berry and cherry. The mixed berry flavors on the palate are nicely accentuated by a touch of spice.

2010 Private Reserve Syrah – Santa Lucia Highlands
Aromas of dark fruits and black plum. Palate offers nuances of ripe berries and spice

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Quick Chopped Caprese Salad

photo (11)We’ve already been talking about fall, but there is still some summer left, and perhaps more urgently, great summer produce. There’s still a few weeks left of peak heirloom tomato season and this is a great way to highlight them with a no fuss approach. We love a good caprese salad and also how elegant and beautiful it looks on a plate. But equally delicious is this chopped version which is less about perfect slices and plating and more about just getting those vibrant summer flavors in a bowl. It’s also a fantastic way to use up all of the “seconds” you find at the farmers market — those tomatoes that have gotten a little bit dinged in transit and are often available at discounted prices. Take 2 or 3 good-sized tomatoes and chop into 1-2 inch pieces and put into a beautiful bowl, then add 4 ounces of diced mozzarella cheese. Stir in some salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and a few glugs of a good fruity olive oil and you are done. You have a great lunch or side salad as is, but you can also build off of this base by adding thinly sliced onions or shallots, minced basil, diced cucumber, shredded chicken, or place a scoop of the tomato salad on top of shredded lettuce for a heartier dish.

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Wedding Wednesday: What To Do After Your Wedding

Wedding photos 139 (1)Most couples have extensive to-do lists in the months and weeks heading up to the wedding day, ceremony, reception, and honeymoon, but this interesting post on Brides.com the other day points out that there are a number of tasks to be be taken care of after the ceremony as well. Time for another to-do list! You can read the full story here, but some of the best ideas are:

1. Assign a friend or family member to be in charge of gathering your gifts and getting them to a safe place. Let them know in advance that you would like them to take care of this so they can make a plan for transport and you can focus on your guests and new spouse!

2. If you are saving the top of your wedding cake, make sure that the catering staff knows to put it aside and again, ask a friend or  family member to be in charge of making sure it stays smush free and makes it into a freezer at the end of the night.

3. Leftovers. While taking home a doggie bag from your own reception may be the last thing on your mind, the Brides.com article makes the point that often the happy couple is so busy socializing and celebrating that they don’t really get a chance to eat. So think about a care package of a meal, or cheeses, or sweets for your selves, especially if you will be staying in a hotel or traveling on a honeymoon right away. Another idea is to plan in advance for any leftover food to be donated to a shelter, nursing home, or other meal service.

4. Make sure your valuables are packed up — a special goblet or glasses that you used for the toast, any family heirlooms that were part of your decor, any personal photographs, or music player.


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Sprucing Up for Fall

indexThere’s just a few days left of summer — at least technically. Many of us have already ended vacations and are focused on getting back to work and school, and autumnal things no matter what the calendar says! Most people think of Spring cleaning, but there was an interesting Ideabook on the website Houzz this week about sprucing up your house for fall. It makes sense if you think about it — as you transition your lifestyle and wardrobe for the seasons, it only makes sense to pay the same attention to your home. Especially since we tend to be spending more time in the house during fall and winter. You can read the Houzz article here. Some ideas to add to theirs are:

Take a look at your garden, and make sure that you are ready for any weather changes. This is also the time to plant spring flower bulbs.

Swap out summery textiles for cozier colors and weights, perhaps put out more throw pillows and blankets on your sofas for nights spent watching movies.

Change up your bedding for the new season.

Start looking at your tableware and plates to see if there are any new pieces you need or new combinations to make for upcoming holiday meals.

What are your favorite fall home tweaks?

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