My husband and I had the opportunity last night to attend a wonderful Paella event at the Hannah Nicole Winery in Brentwood, CA. It was a wonderful evening! I had never had paella before and it did not disappoint! As you can see from the photo, the cooking of it was quite an impressive event. The dish was very colorful and full of flavor! The wonderful flavor of rice, chicken, sausage, shrimp and mussels in a tomato and saffron sauce.
Here in Northern California, we are fortunate enough to have abundant access to a wide variety of excellent wines. This past Saturday we had the good fortune to join a friend’s birthday celebration at the Co Co County Wine Company. I can’t believe we didn’t know this place existed. We had such a great time!
This place is a quaint little wine bar that serves local wines. Many, if not all of the wines, are from Contra Costa County. We enjoyed a bold, hearty red blend, Bloomfield’s Devil’s Daughter.
You can buy wines by the glass or bottle. You can also buy a flight of 3 wines for the price of a glass of wine, so you can try a variety wines to better decide what you might want more of.
They also serve beer and they have a couple light bites available for purchase. They have a meat and cheese platter and a garlic popcorn that you can munch on. Don’t expect dinner here though.
On some weekend nights, they have live bands. The band playing the night we were there was excellent. We really enjoyed their covers of classic rock songs. There was dancing and a good time being had by all!
If you’re in the East Bay Area, I highly suggest you try this place out. The are located at 633 First Street in Brentwood, California.
Chicken Marsala is made with, you guessed it, Marsala wine! Marsala wine is a fortified wine originating from Scicily. It has a very distinct flavor. I don’t know that I would want to use it for drinking, but I love the savory flavor that it adds to this dish. I also love mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese, so this dish is just an all round win for me! In my version, I have eliminated the butter that is usually in the recipe in an effort to lower the fat content.
I do have to admit that I used an inexpensive type of Marsala primarily intended for cooking. One of these days, I’m going to have to visit BevMo and invest in a more expensive, authentic Marsala and see how that tastes. I’m sure it will be wonderful!
This dish does have a nice amount of sauce, so it is well served over rice. I chose to serve it over brown rice, as I was trying to keep it healthy. I think it would also be great over a basic risotto. I also served a wonderful serve a sautéed spinach with bacon, shallot and mushrooms. I’ll post this recipe tomorrow. It was also really good!
Chicken Marsala with Gorgonzola Cheese
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (I used thighs)
1 tbsp Olive oil, divided
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced (I like baby Bella mushrooms)
1 shallot, finely diced
2 tbsp flour
1 cup Marsala wine
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1/4 cup Gorgonzola Cheese
Season chicken all over with salt and pepper.
Add olive oil to frying pan, if additional oil is needed use spray olive oil to coat pan. Heat over medium high heat. Cook chicken until browned on both sides about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate. It’s OK if it’s still pink in the middle, as it will cook more later.
If needed, add additional olive oil to pan. Add mushrooms and sauté until starting to brown. Add shallots and cook until tender. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir. Add some salt and pepper.
Pour wine into pan and stir, scraping bit off bottom of pan. Cook until thickened. Add chicken broth and continue to cook stirring occasionally. When it has reduced and thickened some, add the chicken back into the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Prior to serving, sprinkle with parsley and Gorgonzola cheese. Serve over rice.
As is typical of the Sierra Foothills region, their red wines are very bold and flavor forward and the whites are crisp and clean with less oak flavor than those from the Napa and Sonoma region. We definitely prefer red wines, but Chatom’s Sauvignon Blanc is a Thanksgiving staple! We love this bright, fruity wine with our Thanksgiving dinner. Their Chardonnay is excellent as well!
The winery is undergoing a few changes right now. In the picture above you see my husband and me in the cellar where they are currently doing their tasting. Ownership of the winery recently changed hands and the new owners decided to renovate and expand the tasting room, so the cellar tasting area is temporary. It was great to stand amongst and smell all the wine barrels though! In the following picture you can see the large tanks that are used to age the white wines. Some of the whites also get time in very large oak barrels, so they get a touch of the oak flavor.
Living in Northern California, we are fortunate to have easy access to numerous quality wineries. Most people immediately think of the Napa region, but my husband and I prefer the quaint, less crowded Sierra foothills region. This time of year the drive into the foothills is a beautiful one with gorgeous fall colors covering the rolling hills and lining the winding roads. There are several wineries we enjoy and one of our go to’s is Indian Rock Vineyards.
In addiion to the great wines, we really enjoy the stunning grounds at Indian Rock. It is our regular picnic spot when we visit Murphys, CA. The owners and and staff greet us like family and have always been so conscientious about making sure everyone enjoys their visit. They’ll open a bottle of wine for you, provide some plastic glasses for you to enjoy your wine outside, or run out to wipe down a table for you.
The wonderful wines complete the relaxing visit. The reds, typical of the region, are very hearty and not for the faint of palette. The white wines are clean and crisp with less oak than you’ll taste in their Napa neighbor’s wines.
If you have yet to discover the Sierra foothills and Murphys, CA, come on up! You’ll fall in love with the rustic beauty of the area!
Indian Rock Vineyards
1154 Pennsylvania Gulch Road, Murphys, CA
I had always heard of a white wine spritzer and Weight Watchers always mentioned them as a good lower calorie drink choice, but I never tried one until recently. What on earth was I waiting for??? On a hot summer day, this is such a refreshing drink choice and it doesn’t weigh you down like straight wine can. We recently enjoyed these at my birthday picnic (see previous post). They are especially great for people that aren’t big drinkers. My inlaws don’t drink much, but they really enjoyed these!
These are a commonly made drink, so you can easily order them when you’re out on the town. They are also super easy to make, so they’re perfect for home parties or picnics. The other great thing about spritzers is that you can make them to suit your tastes and desires. Below I’ll share a suggested recipe, but if you want to lower calories or alcohol content just increase the amount of club soda to wine ratio. Club soda has zero calories so you get the bubbly without the alcohol calories!
If you’re like me and are late to the spritzer game, I hope you’ll give this refreshing beverage a try!
White Wine Spritzer
1/3 part club soda
2/3 part white wine (I really like to use Sequin – Delicately Bubbled Pinot Grigio)
1 lime wedge – squeeze into spritzer and then drop in
Just add all ingredients to glass and gently mix. I guess you could make it by the pitcher for a party, but it might go flat over time. I also like to start with ice cold ingredients, so I don’t have to add ice, which will water it down when it melts.
So today we went to the Member’s Summer Release Party at Hannah Nicole Vineyard and Winery in Brentwood, CA. What a nice way to spend an afternoon with my husband!
That’s my man!
The winery put out an awesome food spread and the wine was flowing freely! Bacon wrapped figs, fresh meats and cheeses, bruchetta to die for, fresh fruits and sauteed veggies, and just Oohhhhh!!!!
If you’re fortunate enough to live in or visit the San Francisco East Bay Area, I highly recommend a visit to Hannah Nicole. The wine is wonderful and they are so hospitable! I did an earlier post about my birthday picnic and it was at the same winery. They took such good care of us! They made sure we had a table with plenty of shade, brought us ice cold bottled water and even gave us a free bottle wine. The grounds are spectacularly beautiful! Who wouldn’t want to lounge in an aiderondack chair overlooking vineyards leading up to a view of Mount Diablo. The best of Contra Costa County!