Archive for the 'Winery' Category

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San Antonio Winery: Boutique Beer Tasting

Hello everyone, it’s The Astronomer. These days, as my posts become more and more infrequent, I feel obligated to introduce myself at the outset, lest readers become confused and wonder why The Gastronomer has suddenly started talking about herself in the third person.

A few Sundays back, The Gastronomer and I attended our second event at San Antonio Winery in downtown Los Angeles—a boutique beer tasting with food pairings. The Gastronomer wants to appreciate beer with all her frat party-loving heart, but alas, her taste buds have yet to comply. Perhaps an ice luge would help the process along? Anyhow, I have been left with the task of expounding on our experience. I’m no beer expert, but I do know the difference between a lager and a stout, and can recognize a mediocre brew when I taste it. Granted, I may not be able to recall the finer points of a beer the following day, but the only way to improve my taste memory is to keep drinking. Bottoms up!

Upon arriving at the event, most attendees headed straight for food or beer. The Gastronomer and I, on the other hand, made a beeline for the table of aguas frescas in the corner of the room. We can’t resist horchata. Her thirst quenched, The Gastronomer loaded up a plate with Mexican food, including a tamale, a carne asada taco, some Mexican rice, and a side of fresh corn salad. Our favorite was the the taco, which was packed with superbly grilled meat that was flavorful and moist.

Meanwhile, I headed for the beers. We were offered a selection of nine brews from Europe and North America, served in small portions appropriate for sampling. The servers recommended that we start with the lightest beers and work our way up [right to left in the above picture], so my first selection was a Czech Republic Pilsner, followed by a Mission Brewery Blonde from San Diego.

Other food items on offer included tri-tip steak with a variety of sauces, a selection of sausages paired with unusual mustards, and several desserts. The sausages, or wieners as The Gastronomer likes to call them, were the highlight of the day. Some were sweet, some were pleasantly spicy, and all made for ideal drinking food. The garlic and tarragon mustards had The Gastronomer dipping her saucy heart out. The desserts could not be distinguished from grocery store fare; nevertheless, the crowd gobbled them up at an astonishing rate.

The event lasted for three hours, plenty of time for everyone to eat and drink their fill. I skipped a few beers in the lineup and tried a Coney Island Lager next. Finally, I sampled a dark Moretti La Rossa from Italy. All four beers I tried were solid—my favorite was the Mission Blonde.

Unlike the ‘Wines from Down Under’ Australia & New Zealand Wine Tasting Seminar that we attended at San Antonio Winery last month, there was little attempt made to educate attendees on the beverages we were consuming; everyone was simply encouraged to relax and enjoy. Programs handed out at the entrance contained a short blurb about each beer for those interested in tracking down a favorite later. The atmosphere remained lively throughout the tasting—it was clear that the diverse crowd was having a blast. No doubt we’ll be back at San Antonio Winery soon for more good times.

San Antonio Winery
737 Lamar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Phone: 323-223-1401

San Antonio Winery: ‘Wines from Down Under’ Australia & New Zealand Wine Tasting

Sometimes I feel like a fraud. I mean, what kind of self-proclaimed Gastronomer doesn’t embrace the drink of the gods wholeheartedly? It’s true that vino and I cross paths every so often, but truth be told, clever names and colorful labels intrigue me more than vintage years, and wine lists may as well be written in Russian because their contents are all very foreign to me.

When I received an invitation from San Antonio Winery to attend their “Wines from Down Under” seminar, I jumped at the chance to step up my gastronomical game. Spending an afternoon eating fine food while sipping wines from Down Under sounded like my kind of fun. Plus, I was certain I’d learn a thing or two.

When one thinks of California wines, the regions of Napa and Sonoma usually come to mind. Although it’s maddening to imagine, Los Angeles’ heavily industrialized downtown was once the epicenter of winemaking in The Golden State. San Antonio Winery was established in 1917 by Santo Cambianica, an Italian immigrant from Lombardy; he named the winery after Saint Anthony for good luck. San Antonio Winery is the last of the more than one hundred wineries that once lined the Los Angeles River Basin.

The midday event was led by Master Sommelier Elizabeth Schweitzer and featured seven wines of Aussie and Kiwi origin paired with five well-crafted dishes. Here’s the spread:

Appetizer—Barbecued shrimp with a mango pickle / Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2008.

First—Pan-seared Barramundi, green onion basamati rice, and tomato fondue with crispy onions / D’Arenberg “Hermit Crab” Viognier Marsanne 2008 and Ferngrove Semillion-Sauvignon Blanc 2006/07.

Second—Australian lamp chop with roasted sweet potatoes and stewed eggplants / D’Arenberg “Laughing Magpie” Shiraz Voignier 2007 and Penley “Phoenix” Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.

Cheese—Australian cheddar with sea biscuit crackers and fresh cherries / Ferngrove “Dragon” Shiraz 2005.

DessertLamington—chocolate dipped cake with shredded coconut, raspberry coulis, and bitter chocolate sauce / Wyndham Estate “Bin 555″ Sparling Shiraz.

Even though San Antonio Winery houses a restaurant—Maddalena Restaurant—I wasn’t expecting a great showing in the food department. However, all it took was one bite of the succulent grilled shrimp to totally change my mind. The sweet and flaky Barrumundi and the bloody rare lamb chops were both expertly prepared as well. I really appreciated that the food was given as much thought as the wines.

Wine-wise, my favorites were the lovely whites with their crisp, fruity, light, and refreshing characteristics. The Australian “Hermit Crab” was a standout. I also sampled my first sparkling red wine, the “Bin 555,” which was full-bodied and strong. The Astronomer thought that the “Phoenix” Cabernet Sauvignon had essence of stinky tofu.

San Antonio Winery
737 Lamar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Phone: 323-223-1401

San Antonio Winery on Urbanspoon

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