Category Archives: WIne

Life Lately: Wedding Edition

First off, congrats to reader Georgiana for winning the Bee’s Knees Giveaway and a big thank you to everyone who participated!  You might have noticed a brief disappearing act from the blog over the past week, but if you follow me on instagram then you know that the Englishman and I got married a couple of weekends ago!  Since the past couple of weeks have been pretty focused around the wedding, I thought I’d do a life lately: wedding edition update.

life lately wedding edition aviatorsWant to know the best way to get rid of pre-wedding jitters? Go wine tasting with your mom the day before.  Works wonders on the nerves I promise.

Standing Sun WinesI finally got to meet the wonderful Christine from Standing Sun Wines and ended up leaving with four bottles I can’t wait to open later.  If you are ever in Buellton be sure to check this gem out.

Our rehearsal dinner was held at Avant Tapas and Wine in Buellton.  One of the highlights of the evening was an appetizer called “Yuppie Crack” which was a date stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon.

avant tapas The picture doesn’t do it justice but it was amazing.  And since my maid of honor is a vegetarian, she was kind enough to let me eat hers too.  SO GOOD.  I will be making this at home this summer.

Of course it wasn’t all just wine and bacon wrapped dates.  There was water, green smoothies, sandwiches and these handy pumpkin seed snack packs the Skout Organic team sent me.

Skout Organic TrailpaksIf you are ever looking for a quick snack, these raw pumpkin seeds definitely hit the spot.  I’ve sprinkled them on salads and just eaten them straight out of the bag.  So good.

I plan on doing a more detailed post highlighting the amazing food at the wedding, but let me just say that Trattoria Grappolo did NOT disappoint.  And neither did Solvang Bakery, who created this gorgeous cake.

Wedding CakeI had various guests coming up to me telling me the cake was one of the best they had ever had, so I consider that to be a resounding success.  I made sure to help myself to a lovely slice of chocolate with lemon butter cream.

If you find yourself in the Santa Ynez area, be sure to check out Sunstone Winery (our wedding venue) and try their Grenache Rose.

Wedding Aviators RoseI personally find it more fun to drink rose while wearing aviators, but it tastes just as good without them.  Sunstone also has an amazing Cabernet and a Grenache Blanc that are also highly recommended.

And now it’s back to the real world for a couple of weeks until we leave for Maui on our honeymoon!  If any one has any good Maui food recommendations please leave them in the comments.

Homemade Antipasto Salad

Ever since I had that fantastic antipasto salad at Trattoria Grappolo, I’ve been dying to recreate it at home.  Finally the stars aligned and I was able to make a homemade antipasto salad that was almost as good as Grappolo’s version.

Homemade Antipasto Salad SpreadIn my opinion homemade antipasto salad needs to have three key ingredients: good selection of meats, quality cheese, and a wide array of vegetables.  Thankfully Orange County has a wide variety of cheese shops so the Englishman and I were able to procure some creamy goat cheese, a delightful camembert, some English cheddar and provolone.  For this homemade antipasto we decided to skip the traditional mozzarella, but next time I think I may add it in.

homemade antipasto salad cheeseOn the meat front we gathered salami, ham, prosciutto and turkey.  I have yet to find a deli I love in OC so we got our meat from Sprouts, but if any locals have suggestions please share in the comments!

Homemade Antipasto Salad VegetablesLast but not least was the veggies.  I roasted some eggplant, broccoli, red peppers and zucchini and then had some olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes on the side.

Homemade Antipasto Salad SpreadAdd some rose, some homemade bread and olive oil and you have yourself a nice homemade antipasto salad!  I loved how easy it was to throw this together – this is definitely a great meal when you are short on time and want a way to sneak some extra vegetables in.

What’s your favorite antipasto salad ingredient?

Trattoria Grappolo

When I first started planning our wedding I knew I wanted really, really good food that would leave people with a smile on their face and full bellies.  Santa Ynez has many wonderful restaurants and caterers to choose from, but as soon as I tasted the food from Trattoria Grappolo last fall I knew I wanted them to cater our wedding.

Trattoria Grappolo is an Italian restaurant that uses fresh, local ingredients from farmers in the area and also offers a wine list that includes many wines from wineries in the Santa Ynez area.  One of my favorite wines that they offer is the Grenache Rose from Foley Wines.

Trattoria Grappolo Grenache RoseWhen we were in Santa Ynez a couple of weeks ago finalizing wedding details, we knew we had to pop into Trattoria Grappolo for dinner.  The Englishman and my dad had yet to try the food, and I felt the need to taste it again for “quality control purposes.”

After a day filled with wine and cake tasting, we made our way over to Trattoria Grappolo and immediately dug into their delicious bread and olive oil while we eagerly looked over the menu.

Trattoria Grappolo Bread and OilFor our appetizer courses, we decided to split the Caprese Salad and the Antipasti Salad.

Trattoria Grappolo CapreseMy mom and I had the caprese the last time we were at Trattoria Grappolo and it was just as good as we remembered.  Slices of mozzarella nestled between tomatoes with a light olive oil drizzle and fresh basil.  Simple, yet perfect.

Trattoria Grappolo Antipasto SaladThe Antipasti Salad was out of this world.  I’ve had a lot of antipasti salad in my time, but this one exceeded all expectations.  We were presented with a beautiful dish consisting of fresh grilled calamari, shrimp, roasted vegetables, prosciutto and mozzarella.  Next time I dine at Trattoria Grappolo I just might order this as an entrée.

For our mains, the Englishman and I decided to split the Pollo al Forno, which is chicken roasted with shiitake mushrooms and truffle oil.

Trattoria Grappolo Roast ChickenAnytime there’s truffle oil on the menu I’m bound to order that dish and this one did not disappoint.  The truffle flavor was nicely balanced without being too overpowering and the root vegetables on the side were a perfect complement.

My dad decided to order the Fagioli con Salsicce, which was Italian sausage over a bed of white cannelinni beans.

Trattoria Grappolo SausageThe sausage had a nice little spicy kick to it and paired perfectly with the cannelinni beans.  If pasta isn’t your thing, I definitely recommend ordering a dish like this.

My mom kept it simple with Pizza Carciofi which was a thin crust pizza topped with cheese, artichokes and capers.

Trattoria Grappolo PizzaI’m a firm believer that sometimes simple is better when it comes to pizza, and this one was a perfect example.  The crust was nice and crispy, the artichokes perfectly roasted and the capers added a nice touch of salt.

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, so we ordered Tiramisu and Spumoni.

Trattoria Grappolo SpumoniFor those of you not familiar, spumoni is an Italian ice cream made with three different flavors – cherry, pistachio and chocolate and is delicious.  I’ve mentioned my feelings on tiramisu before, and while it’s not my favorite dessert, this version was very good.

Having dinner at Trattoria Grappolo just reinforced my excitement for having them cater our wedding in May.  And I will say, some of the dishes in this post will be featured on our wedding menu, but we also have a lot of other delicious items coming from Trattoria Grappolo that I can’t wait to share with you after our big day!

But now I leave you with this important question – what is your favorite Italian dessert?

Wine and Beer Flights at SideDoor

One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday afternoon is wine tasting, so when I heard there were new wine and beer flights at SideDoor, the Englishman and I had to check it out.

Since SideDoor is one of our favorite places to grab a drink, I knew the wine flights would be delicious.  Southern California still hasn’t gotten the menu that it is fall yet (and I still went and bought new boots on Saturday), so I decided to go with a white wine flight.

sidedoor new wine flightMy three tastes were brought out on a little wooden door and included the Nacina Riesling, the Adriatico Friulano, and the Le Pich Sauvignon Blanc.

Out of the three that I tasted, the Riesling was my favorite followed by the Friulano and then the Sauvignon Blanc.  The Friulano was definitely an interesting blend of wine that I’d like to try again in the future, and the Sav Blanc was good, but nothing groundbreaking.   Since the riesling was my favorite, I decided to order a glass of that as well.

The Englishman went the beer tasting route and ordered 4 tasters including the Anchor Bigleaf Maple Autumn Red, New Belgium Plout, Alesmith X Extra Pale Ale and the Moylans Dragoons Dry Irish Stout.

SideDoor beer flightI tasted all of the beers and personally preferred the pale ale, but the Englishman thought the Autumn Red and Irish Stout were the clear standouts.  Obviously you can tell what our beer preferences are.

In between all the drinking we found ourselves craving something salty, so we ordered some Stilton Cheese Potato Chips topped with crispy prosciutto.

Sidedoor Stilton ChipsThese chips are made in-house at SideDoor, and are dangerously good.  The prosciutto cheese and salty chip combo is just fantastic, and tastes even better with some wine.

SideDoor Chips and Wine FlightIf you are looking to try some unique beers or some delicious wine, then definitely check out the beer and wine flights at SideDoor.  And get some Stilton chips on the side.  Just trust me.