“Big Easy” Culinary Celebration Starts 2/26

If you didn’t get to make the trip to New Orleans for the not-so-super Super Bowl—like most of us—fret not, because Carpe Vino’s first prix-fixe event for 2013 will transport your taste buds to the French Quarter. Yes, mon amis, prepare to “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”*

Chef Alexander (Who Dat?) knocks it out of the ballpark and into the bayou with his spicy menu: four Cajun courses (with choices) comprise a culinary celebration of the Big Easy. . .we Gauranteeee. From February 26 to March 3 for just $49++ per person, we’re going to serve it all, ‘ceptn’ Jax beer. . .sorry, it’s not a perfect world.

We’re taking you way, way below the Mason-Dixon line into Creole Country where French cooking is corrupted to make it even tastier. Click here for full menu details, but check out these classics: Crispy Pork Boudin, Mock Turtle Soup (no terrapins will sacrifice their lives for your pleasure), Creole Jambalaya, Crawfish and Shrimp Etouffee. . .and what’s this. . .Oysters “Josephine”? Sounds like Chef has named a dish after his own progeny. . .little Josephine who just turned two this month, has her name in lights.\

For dessert, no beignets from Café Du Monde, but here’s a Cajun classic to finish: Gâteau de Sirop, literally “syrup cake,” made with Steen’s Syrup, 100% pure cane syrup, family-made since 1910 in Abbeville, LA. Not adventurous? Then go with a familiar favorite, “Bananas Foster” with Banana Ice Cream and Rum Carmel. Oh, mon dieu!

Spare yourself the same disappointment we all felt when the 49ers were edged out in the Super Bowl. . .make reservations now by calling 530-823-0320 or online at www.opentable.com. Keep in mind that when the restaurant is full, our ability to serve this menu at the bar may be suspended.

See you in NOLA!

*Let the Good Times Roll!


Only Seating for Valentine’s Day is the Wait List

Central to the last point above, snooze and you may lose. We’re totally sold out for Valentine’s Day, but we’ve started a wait list. We’re sorry we can’t confirm any more reservations, but we always have people drop out at the last moment. So, if you’d like to get in the queue, call the shop and we’ll let you know if any tables open up.


Wine Club Mixer: Luli Release Party, March 25

Ah, the privileges of membership. Carpe Vino Wine Club members are invited to join us for a special evening of tasting new releases from Luli, one of our favorites from the Santa Lucia Highlands. We’ll sample the 2011 vintages of Luli Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Syrah. Although they have already been released and are in limited supply, we’ll also taste the 2011 Luli Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

If you know pinot, then you know the Pisonis—Gary (patriarch), Mark (viticulturist) and Jeff (winemaker)—produce some of the finest juice in the Golden State. The Pisoni label is legendary; the Lucia brand is acknowledged for high quality; and the Luli line represents incredible price/value.

Young Jeff will be joining us for the evening. He’ll be pouring and answering your questions from 6 to 8 p.m. Our Jay Johnstone, personal wine consultant, will be pouring a selection of his picks. We’ll be offering special pricing for all wines on the list, and the cost is just $10 per person.

More details to come, but put this on your calendar. . .unless you get a better offer for a Monday evening!


Vintage Highway is Touring the Southland

Moose and I pulled my 1958 DeVille travel trailer down to SoCal on Tuesday for a hectic 10 days of exploration and personal discovery in Orange County and beyond. If that sounds too New Age to come out of my keyboard, I am exaggerating. But we do have an action-packed week fit for an aging boomer.

It took eight hours to make the journey down I-5 to where my 15-foot trailer is now parked in Huntington Beach: “Huntington by the Sea,” an RV campground that while very close to the Pacific, you wouldn’t know it by looking out the front window of my rig. We’re in the midst of a large sea of blacktop, and the only green space is where I take Moose to perform his daily toilette. The web site photos failed to reveal the freakin’ power generating plant right across the street. It’s fine, though, and we have all of the comforts of home and more. . .including a heated swimming pool and a spa set at 105 degrees.

I’m down here for a lot of reasons. Yesterday, I participated in a Santa Lucia Highlands wine tasting at a restaurant in Costa Mesa featuring more than 15 wineries. Mostly pinots and chards, and I was really impressed with the quality. Best of all, I was introduced to a half-dozen winery-direct producers, so expect to see some tasty new juice soon. . .stuff you’ve never found in our neighborhood.

My beloved, Ellen, flies in today to join me for a couple of special events we’ve been invited to attend by my alma mater, Columbia College of Chicago, a fine arts school where I studied journalism. The college has a nationally recognized film program, and we’ll be noshing at Fox Studios for an alumni luncheon on Saturday. On Sunday, we’ll be seated with the president of the college at the 2013 ASC Awards in Hollywood. Several Columbia grads are up for cinematographer awards, including for the movie Lincoln. Same dude is up for an Oscar. Should be a fun night. What is weird is I brought down my tux in my ancient DeVille. Retro trailer trash goes Hollywood.

Laura flies back on Monday morning and I head for Lompoc and environs for a few days parked at Clos Pepe. Then, I motor up to Paso Robles for two more nights at Oppolo before heading back to the friendly confines.

It’s a bitch, I know it, but I’ve been training for this for years. Full report to come!