Category Archives: Andrew Chalk

Sparkling Wine: Anna Gets Her Bubbles On

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by Andrew Chalk

Make a wine in Spain that sparkles like Champagne, use the same winemaking technique, use (pretty much) the same grapes and you have a wine that tastes like Champagne but at half the price. In Spain, Cava is the best known type of wine made like this and we had a couple of bottles from one of the best-known producers come into the office recently. With the help of some sparkling wine fans, I got to taste them. Cava comes from specific areas in the region surrounding Barcelona so, next month, it may cease to be Spanish at Catalans go to vote on independence for Catalonia on November 9th. We will be drinking ‘Cava di Catalunya’.

The Anna de Codorniu Brut, NV (non-vintage), $15 SRP, is made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Parellada (one of the traditional Spanish varieties). It is light, creamy and lively. It does not have the common almond flavor associated with Cava and might be described as a less complex rendering of a light Champagne such as Perrier-Jouet.   Continue reading

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Zodiac Vodka Launches This Month

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by Andrew Chalk

It’s from Snake River Idaho and made from potatoes. Zodiac vodka goes on sale this month in select Texas markets, being sold through Goody Goody’s and Spec’s. According to our press release machine (which, incidentally, will also run on potatoes).  Continue reading

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Wine of The Week: Classic California Chardonnay for $18

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by Andrew Chalk

2013 Franciscan Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley is what I would serve someone who asked me “What are the hallmarks of California Chardonnay?” Most of them are here and upfront at that.

There is the vanilla in the nose, reflecting the ample use of French oak in the ageing process. Plus the bouquet of tropical fruit, in this case mango. The soft, creamy mouthfeel from a full malolactic fermentation (in which yeast converts the tart malic acid, typical of green apples, to softer lactic acid). The flavors of tropical fruit, confirming the nose, plus ripe yellow apples, ripe red grapefruit, a medium acidity level and a medium finish. It is not overly complex but $18 is a pretty aggressive price for a Chardonnay made from expensive Napa Valley fruit.  Continue reading

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Sammy’s Brings Solid Barbecue To Uptown Dallas

IMAG0134Pork Ribs at Sammy’s

by Andrew Chalk

Marshall Prichard stokes the firebox of one of the three smokers he fuels to barbecue the brisket and pork ribs he serves at his Sammy’s Texas Barbecue in Uptown. The brisket smokes for 10-12 hours at around 225⁰F on mesquite.

It is the day of the Texas OU game and he is expecting a crowd in to watch the game on the screens set up around the walls. I attend as part of a media event. As well as the main indoor area, Sammy’s has two patios. A covered one adjoins the restaurant and has a door to the large back parking lot. On the other side of the restaurant a patio offers a grass covered surface and is a favorite with dog owners (Prichard is a big dog lover himself). That patio also has an outdoor smoker which is brought into use at special events. Believe it or not, Sammy’s does over 100 wedding rehearsal dinners a year, reflecting the desire of local families to offer something decidedly Texan to their out-of-state guests.   Continue reading

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Ruth’s Chris To Feature Bubbles and Bordeaux At Special Wine Pair Dinner This Weekend

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by Andrew Chalk

Crave readers who enjoy French wine and steak will want to look into a wine dinner this Sunday evening at many Ruth Chris’ restaurants nationally (including Dallas and Fort Worth).

Per the press release….

–Ruth’s Chris Steak House will offer guests a chance to explore the flavors of France with “Bubbles to Bordeaux,” a five-course pairing dinner on Sunday, October 19 at 95 participating restaurants nationwide.  Continue reading

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Down The Rabbit Hole: New Red Ale Is Distinctive, Food-Friendly

IMAG0092by Andrew Chalk

Rabbit Hole Brewing, the feisty startup craft brewer out of Justin, TX announced “Off With Your Red” (7.7%/88IBUs), their entrant in the emerging and popular ‘red ale’ category. OWYR goes (foaming) head-to-head with beers like Peticolas Brewing Company’s Velvet Hammer (9/85) and Four Corners brewing Company’s Roja’s Red (6.2/35).

I was fortunate to try it at a recent media event at State & Allen Kitchen+Bar in Uptown. It is a powerful and brightly hopped beer that paired harmoniously with chef Rhett Dukes’ revelatory Country Lentil Cassoulet, Rabbit, Lamb, Duck (one of the best dishes I have eaten in Dallas this year). OWYR is also good straight if you like red ale but yearn for the hit of an IPA.   Continue reading

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290 Update: Garrison Bros. Whiskey Tour

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by Andrew Chalk

Going down to the Hill Country? Visiting Fredericksburg, Johnson City or Blanco? Make a spirited trip to Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye (along the 290 Wine Trail) where they make Texas Bourbon. I delayed a visit until last month. I can tell you, I should have gone earlier. The whole visitor experience at Garrison is superb. Not just the quality of the finished product, although that is crucial, but also all the organisational aspects of the tour. In fact, wine makers could use the Garrison tour as a template of how to do winery tours.

The experience starts on Garrison’s web site, where you reserve your $10 (per person) tour. Tours take place at set times two hours apart Wednesdays through Sundays. The site is straightforward and reliable. In fact, I upped my reservation from two people, to four, and then, a few days later, to six as more friends heard that we were doing it. Each time, the site found my earlier reservation and incremented the number of people, charging me only the additional cost. We kept one reservation number throughout. One thing to bear in mind, no refunds for cancellations.   Continue reading

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