Winemaker Denis Hoey from Odonata Winery recently released his first Zinfandel wine, made from Monterey County grapes.
Remembrance is a spice-driven Zin that calls attention to Odonata’s partnership with a big cause—finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Hoey and his winery—the nearest tasting room is located on the Westside, at 2343 Mission St., next door to Companion Bakeshop—have long partnered with local walking team “It’s a Zoo” to raise money and awareness through the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This year Hoey, a UCSC graduate who spent time working in the cellar with Jeff Emery of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, has decided to take his commitment to this cause a step further. All proceeds from the sale of every bottle of Remembrance will go toward the It’s a Zoo team effort to raise $10,000 in September’s Walk. Odonata released the 150 cases he crafted of the special Zinfandel during Passport Weekend this past February. It’s going quickly, so you might want to head over to Odonata and grab a bottle or two of the $25 Zin to partner with your summer barbecues. odonatawines.com.
Appetizers of the Week
Dinner last week in the courtyard of Laili not only gave Jack a chance to indulge in his favorite lamb kabob dish—ah, those splendid chutneys, the spiced yogurt, the perfection of the kabuli rice—but also produced my new favorite small dish. I wanted something un-big, yet flavor-intensive. The salad of gorgeous marinated beets seemed just right, especially since I added grilled prawns to my order. Paired with a glass of house Malbec, the beet salad was ablaze with robust flavors and textures. Big succulent slabs of beet had been dressed with a memorable honey-dijon balsamic vinaigrette. Large grilled prawns circled the plate like rosy petals. In the center was an island of piquant arugula topped with bits of goat cheese. The entire dish worked perfectly, no false notes, everything satisfying. ($21).
Over at Soif, I shared with my companion the evening’s special appetizer of asparagus with smoked trout mousse, and a glass of minerally, faintly salty Zudugarai Txakolina ($10). Here is a white wine so refreshing you want to drink two glasses, one right after the other! The mildly-flavored mousse arrived thin and viscous, and never stood up to the vibrant asparagus, tiny clementines and infant radish sprouts ($14). But another starter of chicken liver mousse turned out to be brilliant. Served in a tiny ceramic pot à la provençal, the thick mousse (more of a pâté) was frosted with a fig and Padrón pepper honey jam, and came with slices of grilled sourdough. $11 and fabulous.
On the Birichino front, I’ve heard from co-proprietor John Locke with an update about the winery’s tasting-room-in-progress. Infrastructure has met with approval from the various city agencies, and that means that a summer opening date for the Birichino showcase looks highly likely. Locke had hoped for an opening date last month, but next month seems possible. I’ll keep you posted on this, since we all know that time frames in the food and drink world tend to expand and expand.
Outstanding in the Field, the wildly successful brainchild of former Gabriella chef Jim Denevan, has invited Birichino to pour at the Besson Family old vine Grenache vineyard off Hecker Pass in Gilroy. The participating restaurant is Monterey’s 1833, and the date is Thursday, June 29. If you’ve got a few nickels to spare, you will definitely enjoy some splendid al fresco vibes, food, and wonderful Birichino wines (I am passionate about their Grenache). To reserve for the Birichino Winery dinner, head to outstandinginthefield.com/event.