Wine Country

Experience the best of wine country in Los Angeles with our style and information blog. Discover top wineries, scenic routes, and insider tips for an unforgettable visit.

Passover Wines for 2024! Taste these Beverly Hills Wine Suggestion from Kosher Expert

Wine Expert Jay Buchsbaum from Kosher.com Reveals Perfect Passover Wines Pairings for Passover 2024

Passover starts Monday April 22 at sundown and ends April 30th. But today’s conversation is about the flavors of Seder dinner.  

Jay Buchsbaum

Royal Wine and Kosher.com’s Jay Buchsbaum visits to talk about flavor, tradition, tastes for every family member and what’s exciting in the wine world for 2024.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, unedited conversation, visit our FlavRReport YouTube channel.

 

Joe Winger: Jay, welcome back.  I appreciate that you’re returning.  Last time was great and we learned alot.

Jay Buchsbaum: Thank you for having me. Wow. This is great. So getting invited back for a second date, that’s really cool.

Joe Winger: Passover is just around the corner and we want to talk about different over wines to enjoy during the celebration and some great wine pairings.

I wanted to start off with what might be one of the popular new bottles – Carmel Black Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jay Buchsbaum:  It’s very hot and the reason it’s very hot is because people want something that’s rich and flavorful, especially the American palate, what we call the New World style.  

Opulence, fruit forward, but they don’t want to spend a fortune like you’d have to from some fancy vineyard in Napa or from Judean Hills. When it comes to Israel or the Golan Heights, and this is one of those wines where they’ve put together this at the beginning of opulence, lots of fruit forwardness, 14 months in oak and about $25.

So it’s really one of those really wonderful wines. What I noticed, and they say they forgot to do it, but I noticed that it does not have an appellation specific, except for Israel.  The reason I believe the winemaker did that –  I don’t know for sure – he talks about it on the back [of the bottle] that they brought the grapes from some of the finest vineyards.  He chose small amounts [of grapes] from the best vineyards from different places and put them all together, carefully crafting it so that it’s big and rich and flavorful and still under $30 bucks.

Joe Winger: That sounds amazing. What are some good food pairings that you’d recommend with it?

Jay Buchsbaum: A roast would be great. On the first and second night of Passover, we don’t officially roast anything because we don’t want people to think that it was a sacrificial lamb that was done in Egypt because we don’t have it today yet.

Until the reestablishment of the temple on the Temple Mount at some future time. 

So people cook a roast in the oven, it’s not barbecued. That’s what they’re talking about from a historical, spiritual sense –  but a delicious roast, maybe chicken marsala, where you have mushrooms and caramelized onions, you have a really rich flavor to go with that.

A lot of the Sephardic foods are like that too. We talked about traditional foods. Traditional foods from where? Sometimes it’s Eastern Europe, sometimes it’s Middle Eastern, and sometimes it’s Sephardic.

Lots of seders have a mix of all [cuisines] because you have melded families.

 

Joe Winger: Royal Wine currently has a wide roster of wine suggestions for Passover  Something for every adult at the table, from Grandpa to 25 year old Grand-daughter and her boyfriend.

 

Jay Buchsbaum: That’s a great point.  I’m going to give you the last one first only because I thought this was so much fun when I thought about it and I actually might do it. 

Let’s say the boyfriend is coming over. He wants to bring you something and he doesn’t know what to get you because, he’s not that observant..

So I thought, why don’t you end the meal with something Sparkling. The Momentous Rosé. That might be fun. You go out with a pop, so to speak. There’s Vera Wang’s  Prosecco Rose that’s also wonderful.   Both around $20.

But if you want to go really high end, why not go with the Rothschild Brut Rosé from Champagne, which is magnificent.  It’s 100% Pinot Noir, and about $100 a bottle.

So you have great diversity and  accessible and quite delicious sparkling wines.

Grandpa, or if you have a real fine wine guy. You have beautiful wines from the Rothschild vineyards, the Haute Medoc. which is in the upper $30s, and then you even have Grand Cru’s LesCombes, Grand Cru Margaux as an example, and some amazing wines from the Herzog Winery in California like the Alexander Valley Herzog Reserve, or the Napa Valley Herzog Reserve.  

We have a beautiful Lake County Reserve Cabernet from California. Big, opulent, delicious, mouth filling. 

I start my Seder usually with a rosé.  The reason for that is because you’re starting your Seder, having eaten nothing pretty much since the morning. So you’re on an empty stomach and the tradition is to finish at least the first glass. So I try to start with a rosé.  It’s a little lighter, a little lower in alcohol, a little lighter in texture and, and I like to start with an Israeli wine first.

Joe Winger: Iis there a hidden gem as far as just high quality with amazing value?

Jay Buchsbaum: There’s a really wonderful wine from New Zealand.

It’s a white wine, not a red wine. It’s made by the Rothschild family, but it’s made in New Zealand, called Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc. Less than $30 for sure.  Fresh, sweet lemons, but with enough acidity and structure, almost like a palette cleanser.

Joe Winger:  Anything that you’re looking forward to in the next few  months that wine lovers should be getting excited for?

Jay Buchsbaum: We were missing rosés from Israel for a whole year because of the sabbatical year. We skipped that vintage of roses, and so they’re back for the first time in 24 months for this Passover.

I love some of the new Italian wines. One of them to take a look at is Cantina Giuliano.  it’s a boutique winery. They make 3,000 – 4,000 cases maximum. It’s run by a young couple and I just had them over at my house for Sabbath Shabbat.  His wines blew people away.

I think the most exciting thing is our new winemaker and what our new winemakers is doing with our grapes. His selection and his final product over at the Herzog Wine Cellars. And that could be

Our new winemaker, his name is David Galzignato. He’s with us about three years and he has a background that is with some of the finest and smallest, medium sized boutiques. 

He was going to be moving to France, going to go for his MW [masters of wine] and they asked him if he’d come and consider working with us and he did. He has been making literally blow your brains out wonderful wines so our Napa Cabernet, our Alexander Valley Cabernet are just up and down the line, the wines, especially the reds are just rich and opulent.

He got Joseph Herzog to buy a visual sorter, they range in cost between a $100,000 – 1 million dollar machine.

What they do is when the grapes come in [during harvest] and there’s something called sorting tables.

Done by hand [vineyard workers literally sorting through the harvested grape bunches, looking for]  damaged or a little beat up or whatever, and they only allow the perfect grapes to go through. 

This visual sorter does this electronically by computer, so nothing is missed, zero. As a result, the grape quality is much higher

Famously said in The New Yorker Years ago, “There’s only three things that matter in good winemaking. Good grapes. Good grapes. Good grapes.”

So, the fruit that we get and the fruit that we end up making wine out of is literally the most important thing.

By using these kinds of methods, which are not inexpensive. But the quality is through the roof. We’re looking to make a 100 point wine one of these days and I think it might we might get close this year. 

San Diego: Tequila and Taco Music Festival Returns April 6-7, at a New Venue

Tequila and Taco Music Festival Returns to San Diego April 6-7, at a New Venue

The 8th annual Tequila and Taco Music Festival returns to San Diego at its new venue in Thrive Park at Snapdragon Stadium on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7.

8th annual Tequila and Taco Music Festival at Snapdragon Stadium April 6-7

Festival goers will enjoy an enticing array of tequila tastings, delectable tacos, artisan vendors, and an exciting lineup of live music performances.

8th annual Tequila and Taco Music Festival

8th annual Tequila and Taco Music Festival

This annual festival has etched itself as a regional highlight, drawing thousands of attendees from across the state.

“We are thrilled to bring the Tequila and Taco Music Festival to Snapdragon Stadium for an unforgettable weekend of festivities,”

Vincenzo Giammanco

CBF Productions President

“This event is a celebration of delicious Mexican food, craft tequila, and great music. We look forward to welcoming attendees from near and far to join us for a memorable experience.”

8th annual Tequila and Taco Music Festival

A carefully curated and diverse selection of over 20 premium tequilas, from smooth blanco by Nosotros Tequila to aged añejo by Rancho La Gloria, will be available for tequila enthusiasts and newcomers alike. Attendees will also enjoy different variations of traditional street tacos and innovative creations from over 15 local and regional chefs and eateries including Global Tacos GrillBarra CrudaBaja Tacos and more.

Beyond culinary delights and libations, attendees will enjoy two days of live music spanning various genres, including Shaggy and Ozomatli. Artisan vendors will also be on-site, showcasing unique crafts from Temascali and Kopacetic Kreations, jewelry from JorgeGeorge and Roni’s Treasures, apparel from Alberly and SD Cork Hats, and much more.

Tickets are available for purchase online, with various options to suit individual preferences. General Admission ($24.99) includes admission into the festival (food and drinks purchased separately);

Margarita Experience (2 for $50) includes admission for two people who will receive a complimentary margarita upon entry (food and additional drinks purchased separately;

Tequila Experience ($59.99) includes admission into the festival, a souvenir tasting cup upon entry and six .5 oz samples of craft tequila.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.tequilaandtacomusicfestival.com/san-diego.

About Tequila and Taco Music Festival

Tequila and Taco Music Festival is an annual celebration of Mexican culture, culinary delights, and live music held at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, California. Featuring tequila tastings, gourmet tacos, live music, and artisan vendors, the festival offers attendees an immersive and vibrant experience.

About Snapdragon Stadium

Snapdragon Stadium is a premier event venue located in San Diego, California, renowned for hosting a variety of concerts, festivals, sporting events, and community gatherings throughout the year.

About CBF Productions

CBF Productions is a leading event production company dedicated to creating memorable experiences that bring communities together. With a passion for excellence and a commitment to innovation, CBF Productions produces a diverse range of events that inspire, entertain, and delight attendees of all ages.

AOC Brentwood Presents La Festa Della Donna March 11 with Italian Winemakers Mariarita Grasso, Alice Bonaccorsi & Restaurateur/Author Shelley Lindgren

AOC Brentwood Presents La Festa Della Donna with Italian Winemakers Mariarita Grasso, Alice Bonaccorsi & Restaurateur/Author Shelley Lindgren on 3/11

La Festa della Donna is coming to Brentwood!

Caroline Styne and Suzanne Goin have invited Italian Winemakers Mariarita Grasso, Alice Bonaccorsi and Restaurateur/Author Shelley Lindgren to celebrate the Italian Festival of Women benefitting Regarding Her on Monday, March 11. 

 

A.O.C. Brentwood Presents La Festa Della Donna March 11 with Italian Winemakers Mariarita Grasso, Alice Bonaccorsi & Restaurateur/Author Shelley Lindgren

AOC Brentwood Presents La Festa Della Donna March 11 with Italian Winemakers Mariarita Grasso, Alice Bonaccorsi & Restaurateur/Author Shelley Lindgren

Join these five talented women and enjoy Suzanne’s Italian-style specials and flights by the winemakers curated by Caroline Styne.

In celebration of the Italian Festival of Women in March, Restaurateur Caroline Styne and Chef Suzanne Goin present La Festa della Donna on Monday, March 11, 2024, at AOC in Brentwood.

Join these five talented women and enjoy Italian-style specials

Caroline has invited her special guests Mariarita Grasso of Azienda Agricola Filippo Grasso and Alice Bonaccorsi of Azienda Agricola Alice Bonaccorsi, Italy. Also in attendance is favorite Italian wine advocate Shelley Lindgren, owner and wine director of A16 Restaurant (in San Francisco and Oakland) and author of her latest book, “Italian Wine: The History, Regions, and Grapes of an Iconic Wine Country.”

The Festa della Donna is an Italian tradition observed yearly on March 8, coinciding with International Women’s Day.

It serves as a tribute to the remarkable contributions of women in social, economic, cultural, and political spheres. Central to the celebration is the custom of presenting women with yellow mimosa flowers, revered as emblems of resilience, beauty, and elegance. Festivities encompass various activities, including gatherings to honor women’s accomplishments and advocate for their continued pursuit of equality and recognition. The Mimosa flower has symbolized the Festa della Donna in Italy since the 1940s, symbolizing affection and appreciation when gifted to women.

Caroline is curating flights of wine from these two Sicilian winemakers as well as Lindgren’s own Tansey Wines, and Suzanne is creating specials to complement them. 10% of wine flights and menu special sales will benefit Regarding Her programs. All five women will be present to meet guests. Local bookseller Now Serving will be on hand with copies of Shelley’s book, and A.O.C. will offer a selection of the featured wines for retail purchase.

Reservations may be made on OpenTable Experience.

Suzanne’s menu of specials inspired by Shelly Lindgren and Nate Appleman’s A16 Cookbook is listed below; select photos of the winemakers and vineyards HERE; photos courtesy of A.O.C.

La Festa della Donna

menu of specials inspired by

Shelley Lindgren and Nate Appleman’s A16 COOKBOOK

Monday, March 11, 2024

A16 ANTIPASTO: liver terrina with marinated olives, giardiniera,

crostini, and assorted cured meats  $26

roasted asparagus with walnut cream and pecorino tartufo $24

paccheri with fresh sardines, olives, capers, and breadcrumbs $27

braised halibut with pistachios, preserved meyer lemon, and capers $32

pork loin spiedino with pine nut, garlic, and currant soffritto $28

short ribs alla Genovese MP

potato torta with mozzarella, prosciutto, and pecorino $18

walnut and chocolate semifreddo with chestnut shortbread $18

WHEN:

Monday, March 11, 2024

5:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Reservations via OpenTable Experience

WHERE:

A.O.C. in Brentwood

11648 San Vicente Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90049\

310.806.6464

ABOUT AZIENDA AGRICOLA FILIPPO GRASSO:

Azienda Agricola Filippo Grasso is a fourth-generation family-owned winery nestled on the north side of Mount Etna in Sicily. Since 2006, they’ve been crafting their own wines. Situated in Contrada Calderada, their vineyards thrive on soils rich in large volcanic rocks, capturing and retaining the sun’s warmth, shielding the vines from chilly mountain nights. With six hectares devoted to native Etna grapes like Carricante, Catarratto, Minella, Nerello Mascalese, and Nerello Mantellato (also known as Cappuccio), Filippo Grasso embodies a deep commitment to the region’s grapes, aiming to faithfully translate Etna’s terroir into every bottle. Their unoaked wines reflect the purity of these indigenous varieties. Beyond vineyards, the estate cultivates olive oil from 100 century-old trees and boasts diverse flora, fostering biodiversity for healthier vines. While not certified organic, the winery operates daily with reverence for nature. As they refine their craft, the Grasso family eagerly anticipates sharing their Etna wines with a broader audience.

ABOUT AZIENDA AGRICOLA ALICE BONACCORSI:

The story of Bonaccorsi Winery begins in Valcerasa, the Cherry Valley, where Alice’s father’s vineyard was situated on Mount Etna’s eastern slope, yielding their flagship wine, Valcerasa. Today, they operate in Randazzo, on the mountain’s northern side, having relocated to Croce Monaci in 2000, where they’ve expanded their land from 3 to around 18 hectares over two decades. Committed to organic practices, Bonaccorsi is ICEA certified, prioritizing biodiversity, maintaining natural vegetation, and preserving fruit trees for ecological balance. Their vineyards boast 80-year-old plants, cared for using copper-based sulfur, ensuring grapes are free from chemical residues and rich in natural yeasts vital to winemaking. In the cellar, they embrace a natural approach, eschewing chemical additives. The infusion of fresh, innovative ideas from their daughters is pivotal, invigorating Bonaccorsi with new energy while preserving its distinctive coherence.

ABOUT SHELLY LINDGREN:

Shelley Lindgren is the wine director and owner of San Francisco’s Italian restaurant A16, which has locations in Oakland, California and Tokyo, Japan. In February 2024, she opened La Pala – serving pizza al taglio and panini from San Francisco’s Ferry Building. She has received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Program; has received the 2023 Slow Wine Fair Award for Best Selection of Good, Clean, and Fair Italian Wine; and has been knighted by the Italian government, receiving the prestigious “Cavaliere dell’Ordine Della Stella Italia” (Dott.ssa) distinction for her professional dedication to Italian wine.  Shelley’s third book, Italian Wine – The history, regions and grapes of an iconic wine country was recently released and available internationally.  Shelley’s work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Punch, San Francisco Chronicle, and many other publications. Shelley started a winery called Tansy Wines in 2021 with Kitty Oestlien – inspired by Italian varietals of Northern California as well as Pinot Noir and an upcoming Cabernet Sauvignon all from organically grown, single vineyards.  She served on the board of La Cocina, the Guild of Sommeliers, and Slide Ranch and is a member of Les Dames d’ Escoffier. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons.

ABOUT THE LUCQUES GROUP:

With the opening of Lucques, their flagship restaurant, in 1998, James Beard Foundation award-winning Chef/Author Suzanne Goin and award-winning Restaurateur Caroline Styne planted the seeds for The Lucques Group, a Los Angeles hospitality company that comprises two fine dining restaurants – A.O.C. in both Los Angeles and Brentwood. Along with these culinary enterprises, the company also owns the Larder Baking Company and oversees Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine, which curates all the food and beverage outlets at L.A.’s iconic music venue. The duo also operates two new restaurants – Caldo Verde and Cara Cara, and the new Dahlia cocktail bar at the Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel. The Lucques Group is dedicated to seasonally influenced cooking and focuses on sourcing local, organic produce from which Goin creates soulful dishes that are bold in flavor, vibrant, layered and complex.

Los Angeles’ A.O.C. Welcomes Celebrated Guest Sommelier Bobby Stuckey MS Feb 28

Los Angeles’ A.O.C. Welcomes Celebrated Guest Sommelier Bobby Stuckey MS Feb 28

Caroline Styne and Suzanne Goin welcome the co-owner of Frasca Food & Wine and Scarpetta Wines to A.O.C. on 3rd Street for an evening showcasing his boutique wines.

Caroline Styne and Chef Suzanne Goin will host a special evening at A.O.C. on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, featuring James Beard Foundation award-winner Bobby Stuckey of Boulder’s Frasca Food & Wine and Scarpetta Wines.

Bobby will serve as Guest Sommelier, showcasing the imported wines of Murva and his own Scarpetta Wines.

Caroline Styne has curated wine flights to be enjoyed during dinner, and guests can also choose from featured bottles from Murva or the Scarpetta wine library.

Additionally, A.O.C. will offer a selection of Italian cheeses for wine pairings. The menu will be à la carte, and reservations for the event are encouraged.

“I am beyond excited to have my idol,

Bobby Stuckey, working the floor with us at A.O.C.”

Caroline Styne

“His charisma and dedication to outstanding hospitality are inspirational.”

This evening presents a rare opportunity to meet Bobby Stuckey, a highly talented and charismatic figure in the hospitality industry.

WHEN:

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

5:30 – 10:00 p.m.

WHERE: A.O.C., 8700 W. 3rd Street Los Angeles, California 90049

Phone: 310.859.9859

Bobby Stuckey began his distinguished career in restaurants in his home state of Arizona, working his way from dishwasher to management, establishing his position as one of the leaders in the hospitality industry.

He joined the staff of The Little Nell restaurant in Aspen as a sommelier in 1995. During his five-year tenure, The Little Nell received numerous awards for wine and service, including Gourmet’s “Best Wine Service” Award; Mobile Travel Guide’s Five Star Hotel and Restaurant Rating; Wine Spectator’s Grand Award; and a nomination from the James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Wine Service.

In 2000, Stuckey moved west to work with world-renowned chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Yountville, California.

Within his first year, Stuckey led the acclaimed restaurant’s team to earn the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Wine Service award and San Francisco Magazine recognized him as “Wine Director of the Year.”

The French Laundry received the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurant Service in 2003. It was during his tenure at The French Laundry where Bobby met his future business partner, chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson.

With the vision of opening a neighborhood restaurant reminiscent of the Italian frascas they had visited in Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, Stuckey and Mackinnon Patterson opened their first restaurant, Frasca Food and Wine, in August 2004, in Boulder, Colorado. Having researched and traveled throughout Italy many times, both were deeply inspired by this region in particular — the international influences of its cuisine, the profusion of local ingredients in its rustic yet elegant dishes, its passionate relationship between food and wine, and the gracious hospitality of the locals. Receiving his Master Sommelier Diploma in 2004, Stuckey has been bestowed with some of the restaurant and wine industrys’ highest honors such as James Beard Foundation nominations for Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional, Outstanding Wine Service, and won the prestigious award for Outstanding Wine Service in 2013.

In 2007, Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson launched Scarpetta Wines to produce Friulian white wines. They now produce over eight varietals. In January 2011, Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson opened Pizzeria Locale Boulder, a full-service, contemporary pizzeria inspired by the traditional pizzerias of Naples, Italy located adjacent to sister restaurant Frasca with a similar attention to hospitality in a contemporary, laid back, interactive atmosphere. The partners also own and operate fast-fine versions of Pizzeria Locale Denver, with four locations in the Denver Metro area.

In the fall of 2017, Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson, along with partners Peter Hoglund, and Continuum Partners’ Mark Falcone, opened Tavernetta in Denver’s Union Station neighborhood. Located directly off the Union Station train platform, Tavernetta is inspired by Italy’s vast culinary traditions, with a menu that celebrates authentic regional classics from across the entire country in an approachable and welcoming environment. In December 2019, they opened Sunday Vinyl, a European-inspired wine bar & restaurant dedicated to providing the highest quality analog listening experience, adjacent to Tavernetta in downtown Denver.

Frasca Food and Wine celebrated 15 years in 2019 and the same year, under Bobby’s direction, the restaurant won the 2019 James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Service (changed to Outstanding Hospitality for the 2020 Awards thanks to Bobby’s recommendation).

ABOUT SCARPETTA WINES:

Scarpetta — The drivers of Scarpetta Wine are Bobby Stuckey M.S. and Lachlan Patterson former chef de partie at The French Laundry. They conspired to open a restaurant in Boulder, Colorado and thanks to a fateful trip to the Alpine region of Italy they had their inspiration… the cuisine and culture of Friuli. Always digging deeper for Friulian inspiration, Bobby and Lachlan travel to the region several times a year, even taking their entire staff along for a week of eating, wine tasting and general Friuli-worship every summer. It was only natural that when Bobby and Lachlan dreamt about starting their own wine label they looked first to the beautiful whites of Friuli, and Scarpetta was born. Murva – Moraro and Mariano del Friuli, Isonzo – The wines produced by Alberto Pelos at Murva are pure and vibrant.  Alberto, who spent many years as winemaker at Vie di Romans, describes the vineyard soils that comprise Murva’s vineyards as dolomitic, with small pebbles rich in iron and aluminum, and a high sand and clay content (feretto). He farms 4 hectares of vineyards that he owns, and 1 hectare that he farms in the center of town which is part of a community outreach program to support troubled youth.  The Murva wines have distinct salinity and energy that are not to be missed by any lover of Northern Italian whites.

ABOUT THE LUCQUES GROUP:

With the opening of Lucques, their flagship restaurant, in 1998, James Beard Foundation award-winning Chef/Author Suzanne Goinand award-winning Restaurateur Caroline Styne planted the seeds for The Lucques Group, a Los Angeles hospitality company that comprises two fine dining restaurants – A.O.C. in both Los Angeles and Brentwood. Along with these culinary enterprises, the company also owns the Larder Baking Company and oversees Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine, which curates all the food and beverage outlets at L.A.’s iconic music venue. The duo also operates two new restaurants – Caldo Verde and Cara Cara, and the new Dahlia cocktail bar at the Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel. The Lucques Group is dedicated to seasonally influenced cooking and focuses on sourcing local, organic produce from which Goin creates soulful dishes that are bold in flavor, vibrant, layered and complex.

For Passover: Carmel Winery Launches New Signature Series Wine for Passover: Carmel Black Cabernet Sauvignon

For Passover: Carmel Winery Launches New Signature Series Wine for Passover: Carmel Black Cabernet Sauvignon

Carmel Winery Launches New Signature Series Wine for Passover: Carmel Black Cabernet Sauvignon

Carmel Winery, the largest and leading winery in Israel is launching a new wine from the Signature series – Carmel Black Cabernet Sauvignon

Kosher for Passover & All Year Long

Israel’s Carmel Winery will launch the USA premier of new CARMEL BLACK, a Signature Luxury brand, February 2024, just in time for the Passover season.

Carmel Winery – the largest winery in Israel – adds the new vintage to its distinguished SIGNATURE series, a portfolio of luxury wines from the highest-quality producing vineyards known for its long tradition of winemaking knowledge and expertise.

The new wine joins the brand’s highly successful Carmel Mediterranean Vats ($30 SRP), Single Vineyard ($45 SRP), Carmel Mediterranean ($60 SRP), and Carmel flagship wine Limited Edition ($99 SRP).

Carmel Black, a sign of strength and elegance, is a mysterious marvel that exudes prestige and sophistication.

Inspired by its boundless depth and signature timelessness,  created Carmel Black, a new exclusive edition in the distinguished Carmel Signature series.

This full-bodied velvety wine epitomizes Carmel’s artistry and innovation and encapsulates the vast expertise and philosophy of Carmel Signature: to nurture and enhance the unique qualities of the grapes, extracting their best attributes and realize their full potential with love, care, and minimal interference.

Carmel Black Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee 2021 boasts a rich, dark crimson hue and delights the senses with aromas of ripe fruit, cassis, and hints of tomato leaf, complemented by subtle notes of warming spices.

This wine offers a full-bodied, silky texture, with flavors of luscious ripe red fruits that linger through a satisfying medium finish.

It has been meticulously aged for 14 months in French oak barrels within its wine cellars. Bottle aging potential: 5-7 years under suitable storage conditions.

Yiftah Peretz, Chief Winemaker of Carmel Winery, “Our new Carmel Black is meticulously aged for 14 months in French oak barrels. Grown in the Galilee, its climate provides comfortable temperatures which offer excellent conditions for nurturing and enhancing the unique qualities of the grape.

Etti Edri, Carmel’s Export Manager, “Israel is naturally the historical homeland of kosher wines, and we are excited to introduce our exclusive Carmel Black in the USA in time for Passover, when more than 40 percent of all kosher wine sales occur.”

Carmel BLACK Signature will be launched in the USA at the NJ Kosher Food & Wine Experience (KFWE), February 26, 2024. This important trade show regularly drives trends for Passover holiday wines and spirits, as well as year long forecasts. The trade event at the Meadowlands Hilton in Rutherford NJ is open to wine and spirits industry buyers, caterers, and restauranteurs.

Carmel BLACK Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 Galilee (SRP:  $30) can be purchased at specialty wine stores and online sites.

CARMEL SIGNATURE is Carmel Winery’s most prestigious wine category. The wines are produced from grapes nurtured and selected with strict precision from Carmel’s top vineyards, with an emphasis on elegance and harmony between all the elements.

Hey LA, Why does Wisconsin Already know the Big Winner on Superbowl Sunday?

Wisconsin Already knows the Big Winner on Superbowl Sunday

When the Big Game rolls around each February, Wisconsin Cheese knows that eyes are on both the TV and what’s on the table.

If you do the cheese math, Wisconsin crafts 600 types, styles, and varieties of cheese, which means there are 600 options for cheese A, 599 options for cheese B, and 598 options for cheese C. The total combinations equal 214 million cheeseboard options, and with 126 million households in the U.S., no two game day spreads need to be the same.

“With friends gathered around the TV and taste buds craving something extraordinary,

Wisconsin Cheese is here to elevate the game day experience

with artisan cheeses for a vast array of cheeseboard combinations,”

Suzanne Fanning

CMO of Wisconsin Cheese.

Wisconsin crafts 50% of the nation’s specialty cheese, which means The State of Cheese has the award-winning cheeses to make every spread score points with fans of any team.”

Play your starting lineup: an award-winning cheeseboard that will win over every guest’s taste buds. Whether you want to keep it classic or try a creative new play with thrilling flavors, these cheese boards will enliven your snacking array:

Whichever team you’re cheering for this season, Wisconsin Cheese is always a winner during the big game. Find inspiration for future game day parties with another one of our cheese board recipes, like this Fiesta Cheese Board, this Wisconsin Cheese and Charcuterie Board, or another spread that suits your style from our selection of over 300 handcrafted recipes featuring Wisconsin Cheese.

Be sure to share your creations with us on Instagram and Facebook. For more information about award-winning Wisconsin Cheese and winning recipes, visit www.wisconsincheese.com.

Wisconsin Cheese

The tradition of cheesemaking excellence began more than 180 years ago before Wisconsin was recognized as a state. With 90% of the State’s cow’s milk being turned into cheese, Wisconsin’s 1,200 cheesemakers, many of whom are third- and fourth-generation, continue to pass on old-world traditions while adopting modern innovations in cheesemaking craftsmanship. Wisconsin has won more awards for its cheese than any other state or country.

For more information, visit WisconsinCheese.com.

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Funded by Wisconsin dairy farmers, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is a non-profit organization that focuses on marketing and promoting Wisconsin’s world-class dairy products.

Wine Lovers: Niagara Wine Country Icewine Season January 12 through 28

Wine Lovers Brace For The Chill and Thrill of Niagara Icewine Season

January temperatures may be cold, but excitement is heating up across Niagara as the region prepares to celebrate its annual Icewine harvest season in style.

From January 12 through 28, Niagara wine country raises a glass to Canada’s liquid gold with glitzy galas, a wine and culinary touring program at 32 different wineries, a sparkling Niagara-on-the-Lake street festival, and more.

Niagara Icewine Festival fun kicks off on Friday January 12

Niagara Icewine Festival fun kicks off on Friday, January 12, with the return of the popular Discovery Pass Touring Program, sponsored by CAA Travel.

Niagara Wine Country Icewine Season

For one low price, passport holders can visit their choice of three or six Niagara wineries on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in January to enjoy delicious wine and food pairings that simply can’t be found anywhere else on the planet. A new optional shuttle service offered this year makes it easier than ever for wine lovers to spend a January day sipping and savouring their way around Niagara wine country.

This year’s 32 winery partners are providing Discovery Pass guests with an extensive range of choices, including red wine, white wine and sparkling wines, Icewines, and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free food pairings. Purchase Discovery Pass Touring Passports.

Wine lovers looking for an experience that embraces Icewine’s luxurious nature won’t want to miss the all-inclusive Cool As Ice Gala at the Niagara Parks Power Station on January 13. Presented by Fallsview Casino Resort, the dazzling evening event will showcase twenty-five of Niagara’s top wineries as they pour a diverse array of fine wines, cocktails, and mocktails.

Eight of wine country’s most buzzed-about restaurants will showcase their skills through bold culinary experiences that will include everything from Indian street food to a decadent oyster bar and Icewine-kissed culinary delights like smoked salmon, pork belly, and wood-fired mushrooms. As Cool As Ice Gala guests savour these flavours, they will enjoy exclusive access to the Niagara Parks Power Station, which will ignite additional Icewine excitement with live music, art installations, show-stopping circus-style performances, and the opportunity to descend 180 feet in a glass-panelled elevator and walk a 2,200-foot-long tunnel for the ultimate sub-zero selfie at the edge of Niagara Falls. Browse the Cool As Ice Gala food pairings.

Last year’s Cool As Ice Gala guests were so wowed by the wine, food, and fun at the Niagara Park Power Station that ticket sales for this year’s event have been brisk. Cool As Ice Gala Tickets are already 85% sold, so those wanting to secure a spot on the guest list for January 13 should act quickly to avoid disappointment. Purchase Cool As Ice Gala tickets.

According to Niagara Wine Festival Executive Director Dorian Anderson, “There is no such thing as post-holiday hibernation in Niagara wine country! With 32 winery partners, three weekends of Discovery Pass touring and one unforgettable Cool As Ice Gala, the Niagara Icewine Festival offers wine lovers countless ways to experience the excitement of the Icewine harvest.”

The Niagara Icewine Festival

The Niagara Icewine Festival is part of the Niagara Grape & Wine Festival and takes place January 12 through 28 across Niagara. This year’s Niagara Icewine Festival includes a weekend Discovery Pass self-guided touring program, the Cool As Ice immersive experience on January 13 and the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival on January 13, 14, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28. The Niagara Grape and Wine Festival is celebrating its 74th year with support from generous sponsors, including VQA Wines of Ontario, the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario, The Grape Growers of Ontario, the City of St. Catharines, Fallsview Casino Resort, Niagara Falls Tourism, Niagara College, CAA Travel, The Province of Ontario and the Tourism Partnership of Niagara.

 

1000 Stories Wines delivers Mendocino, Lodi Wine Country “Big Flavor” with Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

1000 Stories Wines delivers Mendocino, Lodi Wine Country “Big Flavor” with Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

At 1000 Stories Wines, they share that same bold roaming spirit, which is why each of their wines tell incredible stories of exploration and discovery.

1000 Stories Wines delivers Crowd-Pleasing Big, Bold taste with Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

In every bottle thy hope you’ll find journeys, encounters, people and places—stories that stoke the roaming spirit in all of us so that once your grass of wine is finished, you set out once again to create the next chapter in our stories.

Margaret Leonardi from 1000 Stories Wines

Margaret Leonardi from 1000 Stories Wines

Today we’re talking with Margaret Leonardi from 1000 Stories Wines.  The below conversation has been editing for length and clarity.  For the full, unedited version, check out our FlavRReport YouTube channel.

 

Just to get to know you a little bit better, can you tell us more about what inspired you to get into the wine business?

Margaret Leonardi: I’m originally from an organic dairy farm in Northern California, so just the county north of here.  We’re in Mendocino County. I’m from Humboldt County, so just the closest wine growing region from home. The wine industry is so much more glamorous and romantic than the dairy industry. I’ve been making wine since 2009. Now my whole life is the wine industry.

My husband is a winemaker too. We live in a vineyard. We’re in the middle of harvest right now. We’ve been harvesting for over a month now. We’ll harvest hopefully through Halloween.

How’s it going this year? Are the grapes looking good?

Margaret Leonardi: Pretty average yields. It’s a little later as a whole than normal harvest.  Not noteworthy, but maybe a couple of weeks depending on the region, the variety.  It’s tasting good. The chemistries are nice. Good acids. So far we’re happy but we’re only halfway done. 

The brand is called 1,000 Stories.  On your website it mentions each of your wines tell incredible stories of exploration, discovery. Where does the idea of stories come from?

Margaret Leonardi: There’s a lot of stories around how we came up with the name and how we got from point A to point B, but everyone has their own rendition, which is just ironic that it’s 1000 stories. Our consumer is adventurous, and likes to roam and wander and connect with people.  So all those people, each adventure you go on, and each new connection you make, you have new stories, and you have new stories to share, and you can share our wines together. 

 

You mentioned the word “explore”.  Up in your area is Yellowstone National Park, and a thousand stories that you guys partnered with Yellowstone Forever.

Margaret Leonardi: That’s a new partnership for this year.  The official non profit partner with Yellowstone, and their main focus is bison conservation.  With our label, our mascot is a bison.  The partnership promotes bison conservation, make sure their population is safe and healthy.

It’s a beautiful design. Tell me about how the bottle itself was created and how you decided what should be on that bottle?

Margaret Leonardi: We have three SKUs that are bourbon barrel aged. Our first is the Zinfandel, the OG of the portfolio, this came out first and then in the Bourbon Barrel Age side, we also have a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Red Blend.  

Then we have an American Barrel Aged section that’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, so not Bourbon Barrel Aged, just American Oak.  That would be used for normal winemaking, and then we have our newest corn sku, it’s a Sauvignon Blanc, and this is just stainless steel and some concrete aging.

The Bourbon barrel aged [popularity] has grown. We have customers who want more diversity, more variety. So we’ve expanded the set. 

On the Zinfandel [label], we have our mascot the bison.  Another noteworthy thing with this is on the Zin, because it was our first.

Each time we get bourbon barrels, we go through a 3rd party broker. So we’re not working directly with any distillers.  We have a mix of the distilleries these bourbon barrels are shipping to us from, so they’re all different. 

We’re filling finished Zinfandel in these barrels and then we taste each one.

Some can be really bourbon-y, really potent.  A lot of fresh dill. Some can have less bourbon influence and it’s more smoky, toasty. 

So we have to really craft each one. We’re tasting a bunch of lots and crafting the blend for the finished product.

That’s when we decided to put the batch number [on the bottle]. Because as a whole, the backbone of the wine tastes very similar, but there are some little minute differences. We wanted to convey that to the consumer with the batch number because you can tell [each bottle] tastes a little different.

 

Bourbon barrel has become very popular.  How was that method chosen at your winery?

Margaret Leonardi: It was a practice from the original winemaker, the founding winemaker, Bob Blue, who just retired a couple of years ago. 

We were innovating, thinking of new wine ideas, and this is a practice that he used 20 plus years ago. [Back then] French oak wine barrels were pretty pricey, like a luxury commodity to use. So he was looking at different alternatives to age his wines here at Fetzer. 

He had this idea. Bourbon and whiskey barrels were cheaper.

We bought some bourbon barrels and tried it.  We were like, we should bottle this, not blend this into a bigger portion. This should be its own bottle. That was in 2014, our first vintage. 

I started with the company in 2015. I was here at the beginning, so I saw some of the evolution and then Bob has retired and he’s passed the torch to Sebastian and I.

Let’s talk a little bit about the different varietals. The process, the styles aromas, flavor notes.

Margaret Leonardi: The first original Zinfandel is our classic.  I say classic because Zinfandel’s kind of an American grape variety, it’s very Americana.  It goes with our whole spirit of the brand, and It’s what Mendocino County and Mendocino is known for.

We grow really great Zinfandel’s up here, it’s a nice and warm climate. We’ve also expanded, now we’re sourcing some of the fruit from Lodi as well, which is also a really great growing region for Zinfandel.  They’re also known for their Zin.

It’s blended with some Petite Syrah.  Just to give the color a little more enhancement. Some more tannin structure. We want the whole backbone of the blend to be bold. You’re supposed to match the bison. Big style, bold characteristics. We pick them when the fruit is really ripe. It’s pretty hot.  Then we finish it in bourbon barrels and we can  use a little bit of American oak, French oak in there too, just to give it some oak enhancement. Usually around 15 percent alcohol in the finished product.

The unique part of the Zinfandel itself is the blackberries.  It’s really juicy, some cranberry and then the bourbon barrel aging process is just where you get some like dried herbs, oregano, thyme.  Toffee characteristics from the toastiness of the bourbon barrel itself. 

The point is to have a really strong wine. We want to have a really strong wine. We don’t want it to waft bourbon and we don’t want the bourbon to sit on top of the wine.  We want them to be really integrated and just like a finish, not overwhelming or overpowering.

It’s very well balanced. Were there any challenges in finding the balance or was it pretty straightforward?

 

Margaret Leonardi: It’s not pretty straightforward. We wish.  The barrels coming from the distillers can vary.  They can be emptied the week before [and be very fresh]. They can be emptied a month [and be less fresh]. So how much has evaporated, how much has been absorbed into the wood.  Those are unknown factors. So it’s a bunch of trial and error. So it’s fun, but it’s a lot of work. We want some consistency, but we want a little bit of difference. 

You’ve mentioned Sebastian Donoso. Tell us about him. How the two of you balance roles.

Margaret Leonardi: He’s the winemaker for the Bourbon Barrel Aged Wines. Before we were both collaborating with Bob, it was more like a team effort.  When Bob stepped down, we also had the new American Barrel Aged Pinot and Chard and the Sauvignon Blanc’s brand new.

Sebastian took the Bourbon Barrel Aged because he was working on those more, and then I took the other half.  We work together.

Before we move on, I don’t want to forget the Sauvignon Blanc. Process, styles, aromas, the taste?

Margaret Leonardi: This just came out in April of this year so I’m really excited. I think it’s still working its way across the nation, but I’m really happy with this wine. I really like the way it came out and I got to make it from scratch. I made exactly what I wanted.  It’s nice when you make something that you really like to drink too.  The fruit that we source for this comes from the majority from the Arroyo Seco region, so down Monterey, central coast of California, which is just a really nice growing region, Bay Area influence.  Warm days and then cool evenings. A little bit comes from just up here in Mendocino County. Then the rest is from Lodi. 

A unique thing is it’s blended with 10% Viognier. The Viognier is an ironic blender for Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s like in the spirit of things bold, I have this Viognier that I really like.  It’s really concentrated, ripened flavors. A lot of peach and nectarine flavors, so I thought it could be really interesting in a Sauvignon Blanc.

I fermented them separate and then blended this percentage in there and It’s really interesting because the Sauvignon Blanc has a little bit of grassy, grapefruit, citrus aromas, 

The Viognier twist makes it almost a little floral, but you get those white peach, stone fruit flavors pop a little more because of that Viognier.

It’s all stainless steel, fermented and aged, so it has no oak contact. I do some concrete eggs. I think it enhances the texture and makes it a little more mineral-y.

 

Are you a foodie?  Can you please suggest some really delicious dishes that pair with these bottles?

Margaret Leonardi: That is a nice thing about our portfolio expanding,  because before we had the three reds. So it’s similar food pairings. Now that we’ve expanded, we can have almost a wine for any dish. The Zinfandel and all of the bourbon barrel aged wines go really great with barbecue or smoked meat, ribs, red meats.  It’s a good “occasion wine”, right? If you’re going to a friend’s house for a barbecue or somewhere where you want to grab a bottle of wine, but you aren’t sure what – it’s a crowd pleaser, it’s a perfect conversation starter.  Sporting events soccer games, Super Bowl, that kind of thing.

Then the Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with oysters, light sauce pastas, cream based pastas.  It’s also great just appetizer wine. I think the Viognier is different. It is fun to start with it. So if you’re coming over and not sure what to open or if you’re having a dinner party, it’s like a great wine to kick off the night with.

You can explore it and then it transitions well with food, especially as it warms up a little.

Where we can find you follow and find that all this stuff both to buy as well as on social media

Margaret Leonardi: The brand as a whole is available through our website.  They’re also available at any grocery stores around the whole country.

For our social media, our Instagram is 1000 Stories Wines. We have a Facebook, a YouTube, and TikTok.  

 

Los Angeles Celebrates Sparkling: French Bloom Delivers Flavor and Elegance without the Boozy Battle – Wine review

French Bloom delivers flavor, elegance and subtlety without the boozy battle. 

You want to celebrate.  You want to “pop the cork”, enjoy the flavor, but you don’t want the after-effects.  The drunkenness.  Certainly not the hangover.  And women?  Of course there needs to be ways to elegantly celebrate even (and especially) during pregnancy.  Imagine a pregnant-friendly wine?

It’s a situation that should have been solved already.  But now it has and with style.  It’s a  subtle, elegant, flavorful answer.

French Bloom Re-Invents the Game 

Now everyone can share “moments of pleasure” as their website mentions.  French Bloom’s organic de-alcoholized chardonnay and pinot noir, alcohol-free French sparkling cuvées combine French tradition with innovation.

French Bloom Co-Founders Maggie Frerejean - Taittinger and Constance Jablonski

French Bloom Co-Founders Maggie Frerejean – Taittinger and Constance Jablonski

The Team Behind French Bloom

 

Maggie Frerejean – Taittinger and Constance Jablonski bring different and complementary skill sets.  Equally important, they bring the desire for the vision and the motivation for innovation. 

Through their innovative and female-founded brand, French Bloom gives an alternative and inviting drink to those wanting to celebrate elegantly and differently, making the most of the precious moments shared with friends and family.

If the names sound familiar, Constance is a globally-working fashion model you’ve seen representing Estée Lauder and countless luxury brands.  

Maggie is director of the Michelin Guide and married to Rodolphe Frerejean-Taittinger, chief executive of Champagne Frerejean Freres. 

Carl Héline, the former head of Champagne Krug, joined French Bloom. 

Let’s Taste French Bloom

Le Rosé 

Pale pink in the glass.  Rose petals, freshly picked red currant, raspberry aromas on the nose.  Indulgent white peach notes on the palate. Elegant. The organic French grapes give a nice acidity.  Well-balanced complexity of minerality and freshness.  Tartness and a rounded balance on the finish.

Certified Vegan- Organic- Halal
0.0% Alcohol
Pregnant-friendly
Low Calorie
Sulfite-Free
No preservatives
No sugar added, 4,2g/ 100ml

A blend of de-alcoholized organic French Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, organic grape juice, Gensac spring water and natural organic flavors such as lemon. 

 

French Bloom sparkling Discovery Kit

 

Le Blanc 

Organic French Bubbly, 0.0% Alcohol

Medium golden amber in the glass. Minerality and pear aromas on the nose, that just keep opening and opening.  Pear, banana, melon, white flowers.  An explosion of complexity on the palate.  As the flavors open, Granny Smith apple, spicy citrus.  A full-bodied mouth with a luxurious, zesty finish that keeps going.

De-alcoholized organic wine, organic grape juice, French sparkling Gensac spring water, organic lemon juice, organic natural flavors.

Certified Vegan- Organic- Halal

0.0% Alcohol

Pregnant-friendly

Low Calorie

Sulfite-Free

No preservatives

No sugar added, 5,9g/ 100ml

Learn more: FrenchBloom.com

https://www.facebook.com/frenchbloomsparkling

https://www.instagram.com/french.bloom

 

Foodies! Love Horror? Love dinner parties? Horror Movie Night Cookbook written by Richard S. Sargent

It’s Scary-Delicious! Invite Your Friends over for Horror Movie Night Cookbook written by Richard S. Sargent and Nevyana Dimitrova (Photographer).

Sixty deliciously deadly recipes inspired by iconic slashers, zombie films, psychological thrillers, sci fi spooks, and more. 

The Horror Movie Night Cookbook

The Horror Movie Night Cookbook on sale now

Horror Movie Night Cookbook can be found at any local bookstore or online Barnes Noble, Amazon. Follow the Horror Movie Night Cookbook Instagram.

Horror Movie Night Cookbook written by Richard S. Sargent

Horror Movie Night Cookbook written by Richard S. Sargent

Author Richard S. Sargent joined me for a conversation about food, cooking, horror movies and Halloween.  The below conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full, un-edited conversation at our YouTube channel.

 

What inspired you as far as horror movies go? What’s your all time favorite horror?

 

Richard Sargent: Wow, that’s a tough one. Yeah, so I would say my all time favorite horror movie is Scream. It’s what got me into diving deeper into horror. My mother actually got me into horror when I was a kid, we would watch a bunch of the old ones after school and that sort of thing, but as I started to discover the newer ones on my own, Scream was the first one that really showed me that there’s more to horror than just blood and boobs.

 

You’re a filmmaker, an artist, an author, many things. Tell us a little bit about your journey

 

Richard Sargent: I went to school for theater and film and acting.  As most people do New York or LA, I chose New York. I did that for a while. I did a couple of my own indie horror films as well. And then as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. 

As a side project, because you have to have a side project when you’re trying to break into that field. I thought I love cooking. I love experimenting. I love being creative. Let’s take some culinary classes. So I was gifted some culinary classes and it was really great. And I thought, okay, great. Now I’m going to go work in a kitchen. But the more I thought about that, I realized I would hate it if I had to do it as a day job.  I would hate cooking. I put that on the back burner and focus more on the theater and film and all that. 

And just kept plugging away at that. When I moved to the West Coast, I became artistic director of a couple of theater companies and had some plays published, that sort of thing.

So my writing and my directing was starting to take off a little bit. I had a little more free time to go back to the cooking thing that I was looking forward to doing. And the way this came together is that I was doing a play with some friends and we were chatting we actually were doing the play, The Woman in Black, and we were chatting about horror and horror films and they felt the way I felt about them initially, that they’re all just and I just couldn’t have that.

I’d seen so many great ones that have changed my life and had so many positive messages. Because horror movies are basically about the outcasts winning. I felt like I’ve been an outcast my whole life, so I could really connect to them. So I started showing them the ones that I thought were important.

I started with my favorites and then dug deeper into the ones that I felt. Told really great stories and had really great messages through these horror movie nights where I would pair an appetizer, a dinner and a dessert, each with its own movie and we would do three movies a night and we would do this every couple of weeks.

 

Can you talk a little bit about this book’s undertaking and 1-2 lessons that you learned from that process?

 

Richard Sargent: Absolutely. Yeah, it really was an undertaking. When I started these nights, these horror movie nights myself I just thought they were going to be fun. I just thought we were all going to have a good time.

Then about halfway through, maybe about five or six nights in, my friends were all like, what are you going to do with this? I’m like, what do you mean? We’re just having a good time. And they’re like, no, other people are going to want to do this. I’m thinking about what can I do with this?

Maybe I can start an event service and cater these nights myself? But ultimately I chose to do a book because it’s more accessible and it’s more fun. You get to do it in your own home and invite your friends over and it makes for a much more fun evening. Once I decided that it was going to be a book, it took about two years to compile it all into book format. Retake some pictures, that sort of thing, get it all ready for my copy. So I self published it two years ago and then it got picked up. 

So the version that you have and that we’re talking about today is the version that Ulysses Press put out about another year or so later.

So it was about a five year process from the first horror movie night, all the way to the book that, that we’re talking about today. 

If I have any tips for people, find what makes your idea stick out.  What about your idea do people want to know, be authentic about it and just keep plugging away at it.

You’re going to get frustrated. Move on to another project, take a walk, do something else. And come back when the inspiration strikes, but never force anything. That’s my big thing. You can’t force inspiration or you’re not going to end up with the best product that you could possibly have.

From the five years ago first draft to Ulysses Press version now, how close is the finished product compared to your original vision?

Richard Sargent: It’s very close actually. A lot of things that were changed were just improvements on the pictures. Things are worded differently, more clear, more consistency throughout the book.

Ulysses was really great with the editing process. They kept a lot of what I wanted to do with the book and the whole spirit of the book. 

 

There’s millions of horror movies out there. How did you go from a million down to 60?

 

Richard Sargent: It really had to just speak to me. It had to be bigger and better than the average horror film. Or at least I had to view it that way.

I studied horror and I studied film throughout my life. I can grasp the difference between your average horror film and something that’s trying to influence the viewer in some way. And those are the ones that I tried to put into the book. I know that 60 is not a lot and that’s why there will be more books hopefully.

I thought it would be a fun start to break newbies in. So rather than just hitting every classic that you can think of: Exorcist, Jaws, I picked a lot of classics and mixed them in with some newer things that had more up to date themes and up to date comments on society, like The Conjuring and The Descent, movies like that.

Not everyone seeing this is a huge horror movie fan.  Can you give us any tips or ideas about what makes a really great horror movie?

 

Richard Sargent: I think it all starts with the characters which then reflects on the script.  So if it’s a really well written script,  it has characters that A) you care about and B) are telling a story within a story, basically, by living through their story, they’re telling us how we should be living our lives. Of course, we know that because of Scream and movies like that, we know the rules of horror.

Don’t don’t say “I’ll be right back” and all that kind of stuff. 

But beyond that, there are things that make a horror film great. It’s a lot of really great being on the side of the outcasts. So if you think of movies like Frankenstein a lot of people will say that the monster is the monster, but the monster is not the monster.  The society not accepting the monster Is the real monster. 

That’s a film that tries to show us how to accept people who are not like us. Some people may say that science is the monster. I am not that kind of person. But, there’s the commentary in that film too, that maybe we shouldn’t do everything that we are able to do with science.

For queer culture and women’s rights we have films like Hereditary that  dive into dealing with grief. 

As long as your characters are doing something important, they’re not just playing with a Ouija board, or running into a shed full of chainsaws.  As long as they’re making smart decisions,, I think it elevates it to the next level, movies like The Exorcist, obviously, more recently, I thought Barbarian just from last year was outstanding, just in that way of telling the story, that was creative to me. 

Ones that stick with you forever. Jaws, a lot of people didn’t want to go in the water after that.

 

We have a very dinner party kind of an audience. Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget?

Richard Sargent: Yeah, so I had to cook these meals. There were actually some other recipes that I worked on too, for these films that I didn’t put in the book.  Everything is trial and error in the kitchen. So I cooked several of these many times until I found the right measurements of everything.

It was a long process in the kitchen, but a fun one, of course. 

Maybe it makes me basic, but my favorite kitchen gadget is the slow cooker because you can do so much with it and you can step away from it and work on other things while your main meal is sitting there for hours.

 

Are there 1-2  recipes in the cookbook that you want to point out?

 

Richard Sargent: As I like to start any meal, let’s start with dessert. I would say I’m super proud of the pavlova from Cabin Fever, if you’re familiar with the movie. The dish is called The Close Shave, and it is a pavlova with Chantilly cream inside and berries on top, berry compote on top, and it just drips through a bloody wound.

I’m pretty proud of that one, and I got a lot of great feedback. I still have my friends from that horror movie night talking about it all the time. 

Another one I’m super proud of is the paella from Broken Lizard’s Club Dread, which is an overlooked horror comedy. Basically, Coconut Pete runs this party island and he has his own special paella, Coconut Pete’s paella, which I tried to recreate with his secret ingredients and I thought it came out pretty well, so I’m pretty pleased with that one as well. 

Let me see, appetizers. One that was fun was just coming up with the popcorn for Scream. I tried a bunch of different flavors and a bunch of different ways of doing it and it’s one of the ones that I feel is a recipe, but also a hack.  An easy way to pop bagged popcorn and put flavoring on it.  

It’s a good one to show that anybody can do what’s in this book. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to be able to create what’s in this book, recreate it. 

When the book first arrived, I was sitting in a room with teenagers and as old as people in their 70s, so it’s quite a range and we were all having fun with it.

As an author, as a creator, how does that make you feel?  Was it designed to be a communal experience?

Richard Sargent: Putting things out there always makes me nervous.  The feedback that I’ve been getting, hearing people, seeing pictures from people doing their own horror movie nights or just recreating the recipes or just on podcasts and things talking about the clever titles and all that kind of stuff it just makes me feel so good because I was worried that maybe this is just a “me” thing, like I’m just this weirdo super into horror and food.  It’s good to know that I’m not.  The whole horror community, the whole film community is into something like this.

 

They they can entertain, they can bring their own friends over. They can be the star of their own show. It speaks to everybody. 

 

Since you are the Horror Movie Night Cookbook expert, can you give us some tips and advice for our next movie night?

 

Richard Sargent: I’ve done horror film nights where we just all get together and we eat the food and we watch the movies. 

I’ve done one’s where we play extra games other than the drinking games. We have costume contests. It’s really how far you want to go into it. 

But I would say start early if you’re going to use some of the recipes in this book, start early because there are many things that could go wrong especially if you’re not used to cooking and there are things that could go wrong, things that could burn things that might not set the way you want them to.

Have extra ingredients on hand. 

If you don’t like a movie that the recipe is paired with, think about how that recipe could go with another more you like more?

Have fun with it and try it all.

How can we elevate the experience to a Superbowl Sunday level?

Richard Sargent: Definitely add costumes. Decorate. Fog machines are always fun. Pick the ones that pick the recipes that can make it a more social evening. Maybe ones where you add your own stuff to them. Like the one for Cujo is like a burrito bowl, essentially, so that people can add their own ingredients to it.  That gets people up and mingling and having a good time, definitely play the drinking games, but be careful because the drinks are strong.

It’s Halloween season right now.  When is the best time of year for the Horror Movie Night Cookbook?

Richard Sargent: All year. There’s no set time. Horror has so many stories to tell. A lot of them are very important that you can watch them all year round.

Get in that spirit all year round. I think that people don’t give horror the credit that it deserves. There are a lot of great films out there that even people that don’t love horror will like. Those are the ones I think we should be talking about. Horror should always be part of the conversation.

A lot of horror films are set throughout the year, so if you wanted to do a horror movie night for Valentine’s Day, you’ve got plenty to choose from, It’s not just for those of us that like to get dressed up one day a year.  It’s all year round.

 

As we wrap up, any final message you want foodies or movie lovers to know about you or this book?

Richard Sargent: I would just want them to know that I really did put a lot of thought and heart into everything that they see in this book. I really didn’t just say, Oh, wow, let’s come up with some gimmicky-looking cookie or something. These aren’t decorations. This is real food and real thoughtful recipes that are inspired by things that happen in the film, things that they eat, things that they do, places they go. For example, in The Descent, they are supposed to be spelunking in the Appalachian mountains. So I used a local dish from the Appalachias as that recipe. These are not just Halloween decorations. These are actual recipes that you can enjoy any time of year. But watch the movie too. So yeah, I would just want people to know that don’t expect cutesy little Pinterest ghost cookies. That’s not what you’re going to get. You’re going to get real recipes like you would in any cookbook. This just has the horror edge to it as well.

Where can we learn more about you? Tell us the website, the social media

Richard Sargent: The book can be found at any local bookstore or online Barnes Noble, Amazon

If you want to learn more about me, or just maybe get bonus recipes every now and then on my Instagram you can follow the Horror Movie Night Cookbook Instagram, or my own personal one, @rsargent83.

Tell me what you like. And if you host your own, tag me in that sort of stuff. I’d love to see how your recipes come out, what you would change. I’d love feedback. If you do try any of this, please contact me online and let me know what you liked and what you didn’t.

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