Friday, December 7, 2007

Tiny bubbles...

Being one of the resident wine geeks in my office, I organized a sparkling wine tasting for my office at our company holiday party last night. The theme was "Guess which one is the real Champagne?" and five people got it right. Our offerings included Prosecco, Cava, sparkling Shiraz, Schramsberg rose (YUM), Gruet and Taittinger and Montaudon for the authentic stuff. My favorites were the two different varities of Segura Viudas -- the low-end Aria, and the oh-so-pretty Heredad Reserva, which comes in a pewter-adorned bottle. In fact, the Spanish category tricked quite a few people who thought the Cava group was the real deal. Understandable, given Heredad Reserva's tiny bubbles and complex flavor of fruits, nuts and minerals with a long, smooth finish. And it was only $16.99 at BevMo!

Another bottle than won some fans was Banfi Rosa Regale, also $16.99 at BevMo, which I was surprised to find I also liked since I'm not a fan of sweet wines. The bottle and the light ruby wine are both quite pretty. This bella signora is entirely made of Brachetto d’Acqui grapes from the Piedmont region of Italy and has sweet, soft flavors of strawberry, raspberry and rose petal.

Tonight I'm going to try Tamarindo, a restaurant in Old Oakland, a lovely little neighborhood that is being revitalized one new restaurant/bar/boutique at a time. Small plate Mexican food -- it bills itself as an antojeria, a "place of little cravings." Other well-regarded restaurants in the area are B's and Levende East, the sister restaurant of the original Levende in San Francisco. I had a fabulous meal here on a warm evening about 6 weeks ago -- sat outside under a full moon peeking out from inbetween the historic buildings and the leafy trees that add to this area's charm. My b/f and I noshed on butternut squash soup, fried cambazola, panzanella and the shrimp and crab cake (my fav). Washed it down with some 2006 Martin Codax AlbariƱo, a lovely white wine that has become my top pick.

Then it's off to Art Murmur, the first Friday of each month when Oakland's art galleries stay open late for the hipsters to peruse, nibble, and sip from one spot to the next. Brian went to the opening of a show by Rachel Dawson, a friend's wife last Friday, but I was home with a cold, so I hope to see her dramatic, large-scale works (including Lyricism, right) tonight at Esteban Sabar Gallery.