Make The Perfect Winter Salad

photo (5)January can sometimes be a bit of a culinary conundrum. Following holiday indulgences and in the face of New Year’s resolutions, many folks are committed to eating lighter. But mid-winter can sometimes be tough for fresh bright greens and produce. Winter salads can’t rely on only on super ripe tomatoes and delicate spring lettuces to make them shine, but they can have a beauty and deliciousness of their own. Salads are a perfect solution to winter dining and entertaining — plus our new Palm Frond bowls practically beg to be filled with beautiful fruits, vegetables and greens!

Heartier greens, citrus, dried fruit, and crunchy nuts are the secret weapons that will make winter salads delicious. Here’s some guidelines for great seasonal salads that are delicious and nutritious:

Hearty greens are in season during the winter — things like kale, chard, and chicories are actually sweeter when the air is a little chillier. Use them on their own or mix them in with your favorite lettuces. Also in season and great in salads — thinly sliced or shredded Brussels sprouts.

Root vegetables like carrots and beets are great sliced thinly or chopped into salads. Or roast them with sweet potatoes and parsnips and add them to your greens

Grains add a bit of fiber, nutrition, and delicious heartiness to a salad. Add a spoonful of cooked farro, quinoa, barley, or bulgur for some nutty chew.

Nuts add crunch and flavor to salads. Walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or even peanuts will add salt and texture

Dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, or blueberries add a concentrated sweetness and a bit of tart as well. They also add a jewel-like beauty to the meal.

Citrus can play several roles in a successful winter salad — you can use fresh squeezed juice in place of the vinegar in your favorite dressing. And pieces of orange or grapefuit are a delicious addition.

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Wedding Wednesdays: Hearts

1796418_10152524563461205_4936522796689906842_nJust in time for winter weddings and and Valentine’s Day, we are introducing our newest heart plate. This the 2015 Collectible Rose Heart , which will only be available though the end of the year.

Hearts have always been a personal favorite of mine, I love hand making Valentine’s cards for my friends, family, and loved ones. I wanted this year’s Heart plate to evoke a gift for a loving celebration. The big roses here were inspired by the beautiful tissue paper roses a child might make for a Mother’s Day gift or would be part of bridal shower decor. Something exuberant  and made with love.

They are also sort of reminiscent of the feeling of sweet anticipation you get when you are folding the paper back to open a box of chocolates. I see these plates being gifted for anniversaries, weddings, Mother’s Day, and as bridesmaid gifts, and having them be a daily reminder of love and good times. Each of these limited edition hearts will be individually signed, numbered and gift boxed.

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Amazing Wines In Watsonville This Weekend

10523474_10152198129441205_3046920913532626231_nWe have a great selection of interesting local wines in Watsonville for Pours and Tours this weekend with our Comanche Cellars event on Saturday from noon through 4:30pm. Winemaker Michael Simons makes fewer than 1,ooo cases of these handcrafted wines, so this is a great opportunity to try and buy these fairly rare gems! He sources grapes from renowned local vineyards.

2011 Griva Vineyard & Cedar Lane Vineyard $30 bottle/$7 a glass

The Griva Vineyard is located in the midst of a dry riverbed in the heart of the Arroyo Seco AVA. The sandy soils, foggy mornings and sunny, breezy afternoons create unique conditions for the cultivation of distinctive Chardonnay grapes. Cedar Lane Vineyard is also a very special vineyard. It was founded by three oenophile families in 2001 with the express purpose of  producing unique grapes for small winemakers. The vineyard is fully farmed by sustainable methods, and the grapes are hand harvested.

This wine was barrel fermented, aged one year in new French oak. Prior to its only racking, the lees were stirred monthly to develop roundness and complexity, imparting a generous mouthfeel and a long toasty-pleasant finish. You’ll be delighted by tantalizing aromas of butterscotch. pineapple and papaya that lead to peppy flavors of peach cobbler and  tangy, decadent lemon bars. Finishes with toasty macadamia nuts, salted caramels and coconut.

2012 Hahn Estate Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir $34 bottle/$7 a glass

Nicky Hahn, the founder of the Hahn winery,  was among the first to suggest that Santa Lucia Highlands should be declared considered as a unique winegrowing district. In 1991, the Federal government approved the Highlands as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA). The region is now California’s premier cool-climate winegrowing district and sets the standard for New World Pinot Noir.

It was practically an ideal growing season with perfect conditions for everything from fruit set  to slow. even ripening. This wine reflects its sunny  heritage beautifully. with aromas of a warm afternoon briar patch, roasted plums. cherry tobacco. rosemary and carob. Layers of flavors unfold like a novel. beginning with spicy plum jam and  dark  cherry,  followed by tangy cranberry, then creamy carob and chai. Finishing up with a large serving of lipsmacking berrylicious blackberry and marionberry pie.
2011 Hahn Estate Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir $34 bottle/$7 a glass

Many of the Highlands estates are “grower-only,” focusing their efforts on supplying the best grapes possible to outside wineries, like Comanche Cellars.  But Hahn also creates award-winning wines of their own.

It’s an understatement  to say that  2011 vintage was a cliffhanger, but in this case, patience prevailed. Despite the rains, fruit matured, and this wine definitely proves a valiant survivor. Opening with aromas of cedar closet, sagebrush, juniper, cherry tobacco, rosemary and carob, the flavors are deeply seductive with pomegranate, dark cherry, tarragon, cranberry, Thai basil and salty black licorice. This is already a wine for contemplation, don’t rush to conclusions.

2011 Mesa Del Sol Vineyard, Arroyo Seco Syrah $28 bottle/$7 a glass

Mesa Del Sol Vineyards are part of a historic estate perched on a mesa overlooking the Arroyo Seco River. The lean rocky soils are organically farmed organically and the vineyards are irrigated by a thriving trout pond on the property.

This smoky, meaty Syrah hails from a lovely vineyard on the banks of the Arroyo Seco River, just as it emerges from the Ventana wilderness. Syrah loves to ripen slowly in this fog-free paradise, developing delectable dense, layered flavors and tantalizing aromas of fresh-baked blackberry pie, ripening plums and smokey meat. On the mid-palate, it delivers satisfying flavors of blackberry, ginger, balsamic and brown sugar coated ribs, grilled over a hickory wood fire. Hints of Worcestershire-spiced pecans and blackstrap molasses add to the intrigue. The acidity is plentiful, making this wine really lovely with food, especially with smoked pork shoulder or zesty ribs. It finishes with hints of coffee and mission fig bars.

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Blueberry Eggnog Cakes

Even though the holidays are over, the winter is still a great time to gather your friends and family around the table and celebrate just being together. These eggnog cakes with blueberry compote topping can be made in mini Bundt pans, small cake tins, or muffin tins for beautiful individual servings — individual desserts are cute, fun to eat, look great on a beautiful plate and make guests feel extra special during the last course of the meal. Or you can make one large cake. These cakes are simple to make, and a great finish to either dinner or brunch.

For the cake you will need:

1 cup of softened butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 cups flour
dash of salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup eggnog

Grease your cake pan, muffin tin, or 12 small 1-cup Bundt pans. Heat your oven to 350 degrees and set pans aside.

Beat the softened butter on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Begin adding the sugar, 1 cup at a time until all is incorporated. Once the butter is incorporated, add the eggs one at a time to the mixer, continuously beating the mixture on low.

In a medium-sized bowl mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Begin adding it to the egg mixture alternately with the eggnog. You could also add a splash of bourbon or rum to the mix at this point. Pour the batter into prepared pans. For a large cake, bake  for about 50 minutes. Individual cakes should take 30 minutes. Cool in pans for 15 minutes.

For the topping:

Put 1 cup of blueberries in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and a splash of orange juice. Simmer the mixture on low for about 30 minutes or until the berries have burst and the texture is a little jam like. Spoon over the finished cakes.


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Wine Wednesday: Comanche Cellars At Annieglass This Weekend

unnamedWe are excited for a special wine event this weekend at our winebar in Watsonville. We are delighted to share our most recent wine find – Comanche Cellars, a tiny winery located in Monterey. Winemaker Michael Simons named his winery Comanche after a horse he had when he was 10 years old, and an image of Comanche’s old worn horseshoes graces the label on every wine bottle.  Simons makes very handcrafted wines, sourcing his grapes from renowned neighboring vineyards. The Mesa del Sol Vineyards in the Arroyo Seco Highlands is located on a mesa overlooking the river — the air is dry here with a marine influence, and the soil is lean and rocky. The land is famed organically and vines are irrigated from a thriving trout pond feeding them with living water. The Syrahs from this vineyard are consistent award winners. Mission Vineyards has a long legacy in the region, having been planted by the fourth and fifth generations of the Mirassou family. They grow amazing Pinot Noir. Pierce Ranch Vineyards is a small, family-owned operation centered in southern Monterey County’s San Antonio Valley appellation, an area known for growing robust, fully mature fruit. Jolon Vineyards sources fruit to a number of prominent California wineries who all say that their grapes are the best of the best, year after year.
We will be pouring a selection of their award winning wines including a Chardonnay, a 2012 and 2011 Pinor Noir and a 2011 Syrah. Come try these amazing wines!

Saturday - Jan 17th | 12:00pm – 4:30pm
Annieglass, 310 Harvest Drive, Watsonville


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