Chicago Cubs in Playoffs = HOT DOGS!

As most of you know, Gary and I have been life-long CUBS fans and generally when the MLB season comes to a close we end up always saying…”Wait til next year!”  It’s been hard living in Northern California watching all the success of the Giants winning three times in the past five years.  We have always been loyal…bleeding blue, white and red.  Even when we first opened Carpe Vino we stayed true to our roots and hung a white CUBS flag on the front of Carpe Vino throughout the entire baseball season.  We would hear about it (almost every day) from both Giants and A’s fans but all-in-all, I think people just liked we were baseball fans!

The past few years, during the opening week of baseball, we wanted to do something special to recognize the start of the Major League Baseball season.  Only one thing came to mind… “Chicago-style Hot Dogs!”  The CV special was instantly huge, so huge, that even though we satisfied the hot dog craving for many, we inevitably always end up with disgruntled patrons as well.  WHY?  Simple…we always run out!

Here’s the deal.  We have to order all of the buns…”S. Rosen poppy seed buns” direct from Wisconsin.  Sport peppers and the classic neon relish…straight from Vienna Beef in Chicago.  It takes a lot of time/money/coordination to bring you one of the most authentic Chicago-style Dog you can get west of the MISSISSIPPI!


So why now!  For those of you not aware, the Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1909.  Yup…over 100 years and counting!  If you need a little refresher on our loveable losers check out his video (CLICK HERE) and don’t mind the music.  They have made the playoffs a few times in that 100 year span, with one of the most memorable appearances being October 14th, 2003 when the Cubs had a 3-1 series lead and were only 5 OUTS away from moving onto the World Series.  Then this happened: (CLICK HERE). Hey, we don’t blame Mr. Bartman (entirely) but it is true that the wheels definitely fell off and the Marlins scored 8 runs and then won Game 7 to move on and eventually become World Series champs.

A lot has happened since that October evening including new ownership (Ricketts Family), kinda-new stadium (5 year renovation project) and amazing new leadership headed-up by GM Theo Epstein and finally a new manger in Joe Maddon (formerly with Tamba Bay).  This year the Cubs were predicted to have a good year…with an even more promising year on the way in 2016.  Taking the North-side by storm, we have won 90+ games, clinched a playoff berth and will most likely will be playing the Pittsburg Pirates in the first round of the NL playoffs next week.

We are believers and with playoffs starting on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6th, we decided that Carpe Vino would bring back the CHICAGO-STYLE DAWGS for one evening.  We will be offering up 100 Dawgs in the CV Wine Bar ONLY from 5-9pm (cost 1 for $8 or 2 for $15).  We know the CUBS don’t play until Wednesday, but we have had a restaurant “buy out” scheduled since literally spring training.  So love’em or hate’em (the Cubs that is) still come on down and enjoy some dawgs…one last time this season!

The Dawg!

We have a limited supply of truly authentic dogs available, with all of the fixings, dogs and buns imported from Chicago: S. Rosen poppy seed buns, steamed before serving; all-beef Vienna brand hot dogs; neon green relish; sport peppers; dill pickle spear; tomato, onion and yellow mustard (French’s is traditional).  The secret ingredient—the component that distinguishes this tasty treat—is celery salt.  Trust me on this.

My annual warning is this, take heed:  Anyone who requests ketchup will be summarily and without warning ejected from the premises.

Hope to see you at the Friendly Confines…10/6/15 @ 5pm!

Drew, gary and the CV Crew!


Nothing, Absolute Nothing, is Wasted in “Root to Leaf”

We’ve created more than 40 prix-fixe events since we kicked off the program, and I’ve never seen our normally reserved Chef Alexander more pumped about rolling out a new concept.  “Root to Leaf:  Dinner Deconstructed” resonates deeply for our Chef because it makes so much sense.  Basically, the mantra of a new practice rolling across America is don’t waste anything and exploit elements that are typically overlooked or rejected outright.

Dinner Deconstructed in Chef Alexander’s words: “The theme is that we waste so much food at all levels of the supply chain, and as Americans we need to stop “cherry picking” our cuts of meat or parts of the plant when the whole animal or vegetable is edible and can be made delicious if prepared with care and skill.  This movement is growing rapidly and chefs and restaurants are the greatest    educators.  Remember, whoever heard of braised pork belly 20 years ago before chefs started preparing it?  Now it’s as ubiquitous as pork tenderloin.  Anyway, I think the idea is not only unique and original but will also be delicious and educational for the customer.”

More about this in a special email tomorrow.  Until then, consider joining us this week for Root to Leaf:  Diner Deconstructed.  Four courses with choices for $59.95 per person ++.  Of course, vegetarians will be thrilled with this menu, but protein-less options are available.  No split plates or substitutions, please.  For reservations, jump on your mobile device and go to or call the restaurant at 530-308-2698.

First Course (choice of one):

Ricotta Gnocchi Poached In Whey (Heirloom Tomato, Tomato Leaf Pesto, Parmesan Rind Cream):  The theme of this month’s prix-fixe comes flying out of the blocks with this dish, cleverly repurposing by-products or waste that would typically be collected by Recology.  First, you need to know that classically, ricotta (which means “re-cooked” in Italian) is made from the whey produced during cheese making. Chef’s ricotta is made from whole milk, and the by-product whey won’t be wasted.

For this dish, Chef Alexander’s house-made gnocchi is created from a simple combination of ricotta, egg and flower, which he’ll poach in the reserved whey.  And in another creative exploitation, Chef will plate on a cheese sauce infused with flavor from Parmesan rinds that have been stockpiled in the kitchen.  In this instance, no cheese is left behind.  Garnished with heirloom tomatoes and a pesto made from tomato leaves (sourced from Gary’s tomato patch behind the restaurant)

This classic presentation of dumplings wastes nothing and extracts every bit of flavor and substance from elements that are often seen only as fit for the compost pile.

Crispy Pig’s Ear Salad (Watermelon and Pickled Rind, Herbs, Crushed Peanut):  Carpe Vino regulars will recall this entry because Chef has featured a version as a regular menu item.  It is a perfect selection for this prix fixe because it embraces the theme of little-used cuts or parts that are championed by innovative chefs and common in Asian cuisine.

First, Chef confits the whole ears in pork fat until nice and tender.  Then, he’ll slice and dredge in a gluten-free, crunch-inducing coarse rice flour before deep-frying.  This will be plated with diced watermelon, pickled watermelon rinds (again, no waste and lots of taste!) tossed with a dressing of diced cilantro, mint, Thai basil, lime juice and fish sauce.  Garnished with crushed peanut (omitted upon request).

Heirloom Carrots (Carrot Top Zhoug, Labne, Spiced Carrot Ash):  For this dish, Chef has sourced a variety of colors of heirloom carrots—yellow, orange and purple, that he will prepare sous vide—cooked to perfection at low temperature in a plastic bag (with butter, salt and herbs) in an emersion circulator to trap every bit of flavor.  The carrots will be peeled and peels reserved.  “Carrot top Zhough, a condiment made from fresh herbs, chiles, garlic and Middle Eastern spices and the carrot tops, is cooked in olive oil and pureed and served as the base layer on the plate, followed by the carrots and labne—yogurt that has been drained and thickened.  Finally, the dish is garnished with carrot leaves and “carrot ash,” created from the reserved carrot peels that are cooked until dry, blanched and finally charred before being ground with spices.  This is the first time the Chef has employed carrot ash, a technique trending among chefs nationally and one that adds impressive flavor in a different form.  And it sounds like something that should not be attempted at home!

Second Course (choice of one):

Farmer’s Minestrone (Cranberry Beans, Pasta Trimmings, Wine-Soaked Croutons):  This is a classic dish with sustainable twists.  Chef is sourcing as many as 10 different vegetables currently available in the harvest-heavy market; these will be chopped and cooked in chicken stock along with cranberry beans and pasta trimmings that have been reserved and frozen in recent weeks.  Again, supporting the theme of “nothing wasted,” Chef has saved the trimmings from our regular menu pasta dishes with the aim of featuring them in this minestrone.

Croutons for this dish are redemptive in two ways:  Chef is sourcing whole loafs of bread that have been returned to our supplier, Baker & the Cakemaker, from its retail clients.  The bread is perfectly edible and delicious, just not same-day fresh. . .a perfect crouton solution.  The loafs will be sliced up and quick-soaked in red wine that has been donated from the Carpe Vino wine bar (partial bottles that are eminently serviceable for kitchen use).  The croutons are dried, then toasted before serving and floated in the soup.

Radish Greens and Avocado Toast (French Breakfast Radish, Seeded Levain, Vegetable Sprouts):  You can feel really good about ordering this dish because it’s about as healthy as you can get—light and flavorful—plus it exploits every bit of the radish plant.  Chef Alexander starts with fresh radish greens—spicy and peppery—blanches then purees with butter and avocado.  Seeded levain bread, sourced (fresh!) from the Baker & the Cakemaker, will be sliced, toasted, spread with the puree, layered with French breakfast radishes and garnished with house-sprouted vegetable sprouts (mung beans, lentils and buckwheat).  Dressed with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lime juice.

Main Course (choice of one):

Skuna Bay Salmon (Parsnip, Fuji Apple, Mustard Seed, Apple Core Broth):  At Carpe Vino, nothing goes into the dumpster, not even apple cores.  For this dish, Chef juices apple cores and fresh apples to extract every nuance of flavor, then warms while whisking in butter, Dijon mustard and seasonings.  The apple-core broth goes into a shallow bowl to receive skinned, pan-roasted Skuna Bary salmon (sustainably raised in British Columbia) topped with a salad of sliced Fuji apple, parsnips, mustard seeds and herbs.  The reserved salmon skins are crisped and used as a garnish.

Muscovy Duck Breast (Roasted Brassicas, Nectarine, Onion-End Soubise):  To appreciate this dish, you need to be prepped on two elements:  “Soubise” is a French term for white sauce created using onions.  In this instance, Chef is reserving onion ends, slow cooking in butter—to harness the sweetness, short of  caramelization—then he will puree.  “Brassica” is a genus of plants in the mustard family and includes cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage (bet these are all favorites!).  Chef will use every bit of the veggies; for example, the cauliflower cores and leaves won’t be tossed away. . .they’ll be roasted and served with the florets.

Muscoy duck breast is cooked perfectly medium rare and sliced for plating on top of onion-end soubise.   The roasted brassicas will be arranged on the plate, along with caramelized nectarines served warm.  And get this, the pit will be reserved for another dish. . .that’s right, the pit.

Slow-Roasted Beef Cheek (Glazed Beets and Greens, Horseradish Cream, Red Wine Borscht):  Beef cheek is one of the most popular dishes to every appear on a Carpe Vino menu.  The cool thing about it is beef cheek was underutilized in general until brought into the mainstream by chefs across the country.  This plays directly to the theme of Root to Leaf: use everything, waste nothing.

Chef seasons and slow-roasts the beef cheeks with red wine for six hours, until fork-tender.  Sourcing beets from Foothill Roots Farm in Meadow Vista, he’ll wilt the greens and glaze the beets in butter.  The beef cheeks will be topped with a horseradish and crème fraiche mixture and dill; he’ll create a sauce to pour around—borscht if you will—from beet trimmings, veal stock, veggies and the juice remaining from roasting the beef cheeks.  Amazing. . .and no waste!

Dessert Course (choice of one):

Crème Fraiche Cake (Kadota Figs, Toasted Fig Leaf Ice Cream):  Chef Courtney McDonald is preparing two desserts to compliment the Roots to Leaf concept.  For this dish, she starts by making a light cake enhanced with crème fraiche.  Fig leaves are toasted over an open flame and infuse the ice cream base that is then frozen.  Served with warmed green Kadota figs.

Noyaux Custard (Stone Fruit Compote, Almond Brittle):  “Noyaux is a spirit (alcohol) made in France from the pits of stone fruit.  For this dish, Chef Courtney is cracking the pits from the nectarines used in the duck dish and fresh plums and harvesting the kernel inside.  These are then toasted and used to infuse the cream for the pot-de-crème like custard with a nutty flavor.  Staying on point with the nutty theme, the custard is served with almond brittle; also enjoy a compote made from plums and nectarines.

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gary, Drew & The CV Crew



“Root to Leaf: Dinner Deconstructed” Prix-Fixe

Join us September 22 to 27 for our next prix-fixe event, starting at 5 p.m. each evening.  Four courses with choices for $59.95 per person plus tax and tip. Reservations are recommended; go to or call 530-823-0320.

Many years ago, I moved from Chicago to work for a telephone company in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The change in lifestyle was remarkable for a city boy, punctuated starkly one fall day when my secretary, Wanda, told me her family was about to slaughter pigs.  She explained the process, and I was so intrigued, I convinced her to let me photograph the proceedings.

Her entire family participated, and I have a vivid memory of the men doing the killing, hoisting the carcasses up on A-frames to hang and bleed, then butchering to produce all manner of pork cuts.  The women were consumed with scraping hides and making sausage.  Everyone worked feverishly as a team and when it was over, everything had been processed, including the head and feet. . .there was no waste.  I asked Wanda’s father-in-law about this, and he replied, “Son, we use everything but the “oink.”

Chef Alexander is employing this concept with our next prix-fixe event, “Root to Leaf:  Dinner Deconstructed,” in which all elements of all produce will become part of the dinner.  Nothing is going into the compost pile.  Chef is really pumped about this all-new theme because it’s an extension of an event in which he is participating in a sold-out dinner hosted by Sacramento’s Food Literacy Center.  Along with a host of luminary chefs (including Randall Selland, The Kitchen; Oliver Ridgeway, Grange; Billy Ngo, Kru; Rick Mahan, Waterboy; Michael Touhy, Sacramento Kings) Chef Alexander will be helping prepare “Fruit-to-Root,” a pre-party on October 6 in advance of a on-stage interview called, “Dan Barber in Conversation with Amber Scott.”  Barber has written a book called The Third Plate, focusing on food waste and drought-tolerant foods.

Here’s how Chef elaborated on the prix-fixe concept in a note to me:  “The theme is that we waste so much food at all levels of the supply chain, and as Americans we need to stop “cherry picking” our cuts of meat or parts of the plant when the whole animal or vegetable is edible and can be made delicious if prepared with care and skill.  This movement is growing rapidly and chefs and restaurants are the greatest educators.  Remember, whoever heard of braised pork belly 20 years ago before chefs started preparing it?  Now it’s as ubiquitous as pork tenderloin.  Anyway, I think the idea is not only unique and original but will also be delicious and educational for the customer.”

Here’s a sampling of what Chef has planned:

• He will use the entire plant when he prepares carrots sous-vide; the tops will be used as a sauce component and even the peels have a role. . .they will be crisped and used as a garnish.

• Pesto will be created using tomato leaves.

• A pork belly dish will feature pickled watermelon rinds.

• A cream sauce will be made from parmesan rinds.

Although vegetarian options will be offered, this menu will feature plenty of protein. We’ll have a complete rundown of each dish in next week’s Window on Old Town.



Bar Special: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Bar Special: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Chef Alexander is featuring a comfort food tradition for this week’s special menu selection at the Carpe Vino Wine Bar: Grilled Cheese & Fresh Tomato Soup. . .but not exactly the way you remember it in your Mama’s kitchen.

That’s because Chef slow roasts fresh tomatoes and then adds San Marzano canned tomatoes to pump up acidity. He sautés yellow onions and garlic in olive oil and fresh thyme; then combines with the tomatoes and cream and cooks. Then the mixture is pureed and strained before serving. Finished with thyme and brown butter.

The grilled cheese sandwich is simple but delicious. Chef coats slices of (OMG!) white bread with butter and grated Parmesan (to add crispness), layers on white cheddar cheese and then toasts in a pan.

Served at the bar only from September 8 to 13; cost is just $10.

“Colors” Tee-Shirt Pre-Ordering Starts Now!

A still from the 1953 movie, Wild Ones starring Marlon Brandon, helped America understand how much fun it could be to join a fraternal organization on two wheels.

A still from the 1953 movie, Wild Ones starring Marlon Brandon, helped America understand how much fun it could be to join a fraternal organization on two wheels.

TeesIf you want to make it crystal clear that you are part of an organization, there is no better way to demonstrate unbridled fidelity than by wearing your “colors.” Ever since the outlaw Black Rebels Motorcycle Club roared on to the screen in “The Wild Ones” in 1953, riders from the Hell’s Angels to the Sons of Anarchy to the Wild Hogs adhere to the tradition of wearing their distinctive club logo on the backs of their leather vests.

And now, finally, you can be a bad ass, too.

That’s because we’ve created our first-ever tee-shirt designed to unify our 1,250+ Wine Club members with their own colors. Channel your inner-Marlon Brando and demonstrate your oneness with Carpe Vino by pre-ordering your shirts today. Here’s what you get:

The back of the shirt features a strikingly dark image of a silk-screened skull pierced by a cork screw dripping purple blood into a wine stem held in a bony grasp. The top “rocker” patch features the Carpe Vino club name; the bottom rocker the club headquarters location. The 13% ERs patch pays homage to the biker’s 1% ERs patch (one percent of the baddest riders on the road). In our usage, it refers to optimum wine alcohol content and it is synonymous with bad luck. The “WC” patch stands for “Wine Club” of course, and replaces “MC” or Motorcycle Club.

The front of the shirt has stacked silk-screen patches: “Live for Wine” and “Wine for Life”. Motorcycle owners will recognize this is a parody of the rider mantra: “Live to Ride” and “Ride to Live”. On the opposite breast of the shirt is the CV logo.

Tee shirts are made of durable cotton and will be offered in black or white. Sizes available for men are M, L, XL and 2XL. For women, sizes are S, M and L in regular fit and slim fit. All tee shirts are priced at $25 each, plus tax and any shipping via USPS are additional.

We’ll also be offering a men’s quarter zip, cadet collar sweatshirt in sizes L and XL only. Cost is $40 each plus taxes and applicable USPS shipping.

We are taking pre-orders starting today on the Carpe Vino web site for these items, which should be ready in two weeks. We’ll reorder as necessary and keep a supply of popular sizes in stock. . .after all, the holidays are just around the corner!

BTW, you don’t have to be a Wine Club member to purchase apparel, but if you don’t belong…you’re just another poser.

Buy now

More information
Carpe Vino (Find Us) 1568 Lincoln Way Auburn, CA 95603
Phone Number: 530-823-0320
Get Directions to Carpe Vino
Bar & Restaurant Hours Tuesday - Saturday
4:00pm - 10:00 p.m.
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Dining Room Hours Tuesday - Saturday
5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Make A Reservation Guests must be 21 years of age or older.
Reservations are suggested for preferred seating, especially on weekends.