Mardi Gras is almost here!
This is one of the best times of year to be a lover of food and drink. It’s related to Carnaval, which comes from the phrase “carne vale,” or “farewell to the flesh,” and in the Christian calendar is the time of feasting before the self-deprivation of Lent begins.
The Mardi Gras feasting and partying day is also known as Shrove Tuesday, the day that precedes Ash Wednesday. Both days are known as “moveable feast” days, which got their name because their dates move throughout the year in relation to Easter Sunday, which is always held on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Northern Hemisphere’s spring equinox.
That’s a mouthful, so to speak. But we love moveable feasts so much that’s what we do! Every tour we take you on is a moveable feast, because there’s so much deliciously good food and drink in San Diego that we can’t limit you to just one place. That’s why we have our train tours as well as our walking and chauffeured tours. We can’t choose just one.
Best way to celebrate Mardi Gras? Book one of our February tours, and laissez les bon temps rouler! We’ll even find you a chicory coffee and a beignet to wash it all down, but you may have to bring your own beads if you want some lagniappe.
Happy Fat Tuesday!
Brooke B., Krewe member
San Diego Restaurant Week is almost here!
It should go without saying that we love San Diego's food scene. We may be San Diego Beer and Wine Tours, but tasting beer and wine without knowing what foods to pair them with takes at least half the joy out of the whole experience!
That's why we always offer food on our beer and wine tours. When you correctly pair, it brings out nuances and dimensions to your drink – and your food – that you never knew existed. It's like a voyage of discovery with every meal!
San Diego's craft beer scene has been extolled and admired as one of the best on the planet for years, and with good reason. Its wine scene is also gaining attention, too, as more people realize how wonderful it is. But the food scene here is one of the region's best-kept secrets.
We're committed to changing that, and that's why we're such huge supporters of San Diego's Restaurant Week. Everyone should get out during the week of January 18th through the 24th and check out the menus! Participating restaurants offer special, prix-fixe menus so that you can sample as many as you like without a big dent to your wallet. It's totally worth it to be able to explore!
And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that as huge supporters of San Diego's food scene, we also organize food and drink tours that showcase some of the best, most scrumptious meals (and beers and vino too) that you can find anywhere.
So eat, drink, and be merry with us, because tomorrow… well, tomorrow there will be more of the same!
Here's to a delicious life,
Brooke B., Gastronomix
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
-William Butler Yeats
Happy Valentine's Day!
February is such a great month in San Diego. Not only is it when springtime begins around here, but it's also the month of love!
Valentine's Day is a tradition that's been going on for centuries – and probably millennia. The tradition of Valentine's Day is murky, but it's thought to come from a 5th century Roman fertility rite called Lupercalia. The rites were supposed to honor Faunus, the god of agriculture, and Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome who according to legend were raised by a she-wolf. The rites consisted of parties and sacrifices, but most importantly, wine.
Over time, it became much more about romantic love than agriculture. Much of the ancient festival has changed (although it could be argued that it's still a fertility rite) but we've held onto the wine, because wine is love… and let it never be said that we don't believe in love!
That's why we think the best thing you can do this Valentine's is head out to one of our winery tours; we recommend the Chauffeured Tour! If you're feeling more like a beer, we love bringing people along on our new Beer Trolley Tours. Don't worry, beer is love, too!
This February, come join us! It doesn't matter if you're with your sweetie, your best friend, or if you just want to be with us. We love having you and sharing Valentine's with you, and we know you'll love it too.
Here's to amore!
Brooke B., Vinamorata
Posted in Beer, Breweries, Food and Vine, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Travel, Uncategorized, Valentine, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Wineries |
Spotlight on… Café La Rue!
We've been talking about some of our favorite places to get eats as well as drinks lately. Right now, it's Café La Rue's turn!
Café La Rue is a relatively new place in an old haunt – the bar and bistro reopened last year at La Jolla's historic La Valencia Hotel, which is known as "The Pink Lady," after closing down for a makeover and taking over the space of an iconic bar called The Whaling Bar – traces of which still live on in its décor and some of its drinks.
Café La Rue has also updated its menu, favoring simple foods but with a European flair: their dishes include smoked cheddar bratwurst – made with IPA beer cheese – and pork belly confit poutine. Delicious! Even their french fries are simple yet superb: they're served with Pacific cod or, if you're in the mood, duckfat mayonnaise.
Their cocktails are excellent (try The Whaler!) and the perfect libations to savor while people-watching or simply gazing out over La Jolla's unparalleled coves. Also, we'd be remiss if we neglected to mention the fact that they have a great selection of San Diego beers.
Oh yeah, and don't forget to check out their happy hour, from 4-6pm daily. It's called 'The Appointment" in homage to one of the former names of its space, "La Cita," which is Spanish for – you guessed it – "The Appointment."
We love Café La Rue and we know you will too. We're also very pleased to announce that it's now a stop on our Wine and Food Walking Tours!
See you there in 2015!
Brooke B., Epiphanarian
It's officially time for the Christmas countdown!
Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, you can't help but get caught up in the holiday spirit – lights are twinkling against our gorgeous California sunsets, the malls are full of specials (and people!) and there's just a certain feel in the air as the days get shorter and cooler.
It's also a great time of year to start switching up your wines. This cooler weather is not only welcome, it lets you consider completely different tastes and flavors! Light and fruity, for example, is nice enough in the heat, but what you really want during a December downpour is a good, bold red or a hearty white.
Luckily, the jamminess and spiciness that chilly weather really demands is readily available from California wines! Here are some good picks for sitting inside and watching the rain fall on a cold San Diego winter's day.
Petite Sirah: This rich, flavorful wine has flavor and then some. It would almost be overpowering on a hot day, but right now is the perfect time to curl up on the couch with a book in one hand and a glass in the other. Try Doce Robles' award-winning Petite Sirah, or Bernardo Winery's Winter Vineyard Petite Sirah (both about $30 a bottle.) Pair a glass with chocolate or rich cocoa. It'll keep that chill at bay!
Pinot Noir: August West is a great vineyard out of San Francisco. The rich lushness of its Pinot Noir has been getting rave reviews, and it's well worth a taste. If you want to buy as local as possible, Orfila's Element 119 Pinot Noir is rich and robust. We recommend pairing either of them with hot chicken soup.
Gewurztraminer: You didn't think we'd forget about white wines, do you? The choice of Gewurztraminer might seem counterintuitive, because its flowery complexity is perfectly suited to hot summer afternoons. But if you find one with enough tannins to balance out the sweetness, you have a bold wine great for pairing hearty fish stew. We recommend Stony Hill's (because they understand the Gewurztraminer love) or one from Orfila, which never seems to go wrong with its Gewurztraminers! About $20.
We love winter, not just because of the changing weather patterns but because of our changing palates and flavor palettes. We're looking forward to tipping back a glass of winter wine with you!
Brooke B., Winter Wine-derland
It's almost holiday season. Well, actually, since holiday season starts right after Halloween these days, we guess it IS holiday season!
This the time of year that we tell all of you how thankful we are for all of you. We couldn't be in this business without you, our fellow beer, wine,nd food aficionados, and all the good things you bring into our lives.
We're also thankful we live in such an amazing corner of the world, where fine, locally-produced food and drink is available everywhere we turn!
Since we know you appreciate good meals and drinks just as much as we do, we thought we'd share some tried-and-true suggestions with you to make your Thanksgiving Day as delightful as it can possibly be.
First, to the food. Do you have too much to drink hanging around the house? Is that bottle of sparkling wine from your great-aunt not really doing it for you? How about roasting a champagne turkey? The wine (or sparkling cider, if you don't feel like sacrificing a bottle) plus some butter leaves the turkey tender, moist, and absolutely delicious. Or, if you have some leftover reds, how about adding a red wine glaze? Spectacular!
When it comes to actually drinking the wine, turkey is a special case. While you can drink red or white wine with anything, of course, turkey actually pairs beautifully with both!
So we think that if you want to kick it up a notch, you should take the middle ground and add a delicious orange to pair with your turkey, just to keep your family or friends guessing. Orange wine is white wine that's spent a lot of time fermenting in its own skins and seeds. At its best, it's complex and spicy and goes beautifully with a Thanksgiving feast. The ever-wonderful Bernardo Winery has a sweet orange moscato that would taste divine with cranberry sauce or even with dessert. It's also a gorgeous color!
If you're feeling beerish, we can't recommend a good stout, like Alesmith's Speedway Stout, enough. Its coffee and molasses notes are perfect for pairing with stuffing and its creaminess complements everything from peas to pumpkin pie!
But if you're feeling adventurous, sour beers are where it's at for Thanksgiving. Sour beers, in case you haven't tried them, are perfect for cutting through the sometimes-gamy flavor of dark turkey meat, and prep your palate for the lighter side dishes. If you can get your hands on The Savage from Societe, it's a great American sour ale and we highly recommend it! Its cherry finish will leave you singing.
As always, we're so thankful for you.
Brooke B., Thanks Giver
Heading to the racetrack doesn't always have to be a summertime affair. This year is an unusual one, because for the first time since an unsuccessful one-year run in the 1960s, the autumn horseracing circuit will be at Del Mar instead of Hollywood Park, whose racetrack closed down for good at the end of last year.
You know what that means? We get to wear our big hats and party like it's summertime for the next few weeks. The Bing Crosby Season lasts from November 7th until the 30th, and it promises to be an exciting time, just like always!
But people don't just go to the races to watch the horses, although that's of course the main draw. The Del Mar racetrack is also home to great food and drink. There's something for everyone, whether you're looking for burgers and fries or a fresh Mediterranean buffet. Delicious!
But the real treats here are the drinks. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has some of the best mixed drinks you'll find anywhere in San Diego. And since November promises to be a warm month, it's a perfect time to come out with us and enjoy a cool and refreshing Del Mint Julep, or perhaps a Moet and Chandon Ice Imperial… delightful! But there are so many more.
Don't forget, too, that the exclusive Turf Club at Del Mar offers Sunday brunch created by Chef Brian Malarkey for the duration of Bing Crosby Season, paired with bottomless mimosas. Just don't forget there's a dress code!
We're off and running. See you at the races!
Brooke B., Thirsty Thoroughbred
It's the spookiest time of the year!
Halloween is on its way. Kids are donning costumes, scary movies are all over Netflix, and ghosts are wailing in the trees (or is it just the Santa Ana?).
But we haven't forgotten about that other celebration of All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day: Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. That's the Mexican celebration of the dead, where you can go to the graveyards and talk to your loved ones who have passed on.
We are so close to Mexico here in southern California that we would be remiss if we didn't mention Baja California's vibrant beer and wine scene. But you shouldn't have to cross any international borders to sample them, if you don't want to!
First up, let's talk about the craft beer scene, which in no way stops at the international border. We absolutely love Cucapa, which is out of Mexicali, and now is readily available in San Diego.
A pair of binational brothers, Ivan and Damien Morales, have a tiny but great brewery out of Tijuana called Cerveceria Insurgente (Insurgent Brewing or Revolutionary Brewing) that is currently collaborating with Stone for something that will be truly delicious.
And then there's Mexico's wineries, which are the among the oldest in the New World. Their wines are fruity and delicious, but sometimes a little minerally and salty – a byproduct of the soil in which the grapes grow. Whether or not that is your thing is a matter of taste, but it definitely sets Baja's wines apart from the rest!
We'll also be brewing up wine and beer tastings this weekend, so grab your favorite calavera pals and taste some cerveza and vino with us.
It'll be an eerily fun time!
Brooke B., Calaca
Today is National Red Wine Day! And what a glorious day it is. It's the day when we take a moment to sit back, take a sip, and really appreciate red wine. What, you say? That's every day? Well, read on for tips on how to appreciate it more!
First of all, wine is history in a glass. No matter what you drink, you're sipping on the sun, the sky, the soil, the climate, and the temperament of the place your wine was born. It contains the minerals that nurtured it, the light that warmed it, the chill of the starry nights that helped the grapes grow. In short, it embodies the character of a place like nothing else you could eat or drink, and in the most delightful and delicious way possible.
And while people have been fermenting beverages throughout human history, red wine has a special place in history. Egyptians associated it with blood and therefore considered it sacred. Europeans loved red wine so much that explorers brought and planted their own grapes wherever they landed.
This is not to say that white wine, or orange wine, or green wine, or rosé are not glorious things to taste as well. We just think that red wine deserves an appropriately reverent attitude today, and really, every day. That's why we have our wine tours, so you, too, can enjoy the complexities of California's history and delicious climate in every glass.
Brooke B., Oenophile
Posted in bus tours, Food and Vine, Happy Hour, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
September is a very special month to us, and one that we always greet with great happiness. It's National Wine Month, and September 15th through the 19th is National Wine Week. And best of all, governor Jerry Brown has just proclaimed this month California Wine Month, too – especially in light of the big earthquake in Wine Country.
Not only does this mean the wine world is chock-full of wondrous deals and promotions that translate to more fun for you, it's also one of the best times of the year for wine, at least in and around San Diego and – harvest time.
We've talked about how great the harvest is in the past, but we'd like to point out that this is also a great time to get to know new vineyards in the region, especially since so many new ones are about to start sprouting up, since San Diego County recently changed the rules and made it a lot easier to cut through the red tape you need to start your own vineyard.
So, come out with us and get to know some new wineries as we celebrate this wonderful time of year! You'll be glad you did. We were!
Brooke B., Wine-ocerous