Branzino

Sofitel and Trimbach Wines – The Perfect Pairing

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

Trimbach Winemaker dinner

Sofitel and Trimbach Wines : The Perfect Pairing

Sofitel Wine Days

As Sofitel closed out another successful celebration of wine and food during Sofitel Wine Days, I had the pleasure of meeting one of the premiere featured winemakers at the Trimbach Winemaker dinner. Trimbach wines are harvested and bottled in the Alsace region of France, which is located along the fartherest eastern border of France. Situated along the Wine Route, the Ribeauville village is sheltered between the Vosges Mountains and the vineyards and has been home to the Trimbach family wines and neighboring vineyards since 1626.
Trimbach wines

Now, that’s what you call vintage wines! Twelve generations of winemakers have put their passion into producing these highly acclaimed wines just as their family founder, Frederic Emile Trimbach, received the highest distinction at the International Wine Fair in Brussels in 1898.  And on this night in 2014, these highly acclaimed wines were to be selectively paired with the cuisine of Chef Marius Blini of Softel.

Champagne beginnings

I was invited to dine by Nilou Rahmani, the Esterel Restaurant Manager and a woman very engaged in working with the culinary and wine team to bring the freshest foods prepared in the highest quality and pairing with fine wines. To my delight and in true French fashion, I began my evening with a social chat with friends over a glass of champagne in the Sofitel lounge preparing my tastebuds for the delectable dinner ahead. With Executive Chef Marius Blin and Trimbach wines at the helm for the evening, I knew I was in good hands.
Chef Marius Blin

Upon entering the elegant Esterel restaurant, I was greeted by another Frederic ~ Frederic Zemmour, the Sofitel Los Angeles’ Food and Beverage Manager who seated me and my guest in a luxurious booth with a Chef’s table-like view of the kitchen. Perfectly poised to see the Chef at work. Frederic shared that the Trimbach wine Ambassador, Anne Trimbach, would be arriving shortly and I gleened in anticipation. And thus, dinner began.

Chanterelle Mushrooms stuffed bone marrow
The first course was a Roasted Marrow Bone “stuffed” with chanterelle mushrooms and garlic puree served with persillade toast and paired with Trimbach Pinot Noir. Persillade is a seasoned mixture of fresh parsley, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and customarily some seasonings all finely chopped together to create a delicious paste of sorts which, in this case, has been paired with chanterelle mushrooms. YUM! The Trimbach Pinot Noir features red fruit and blackberry aromas and comes from the best terroirs and is only produced “in the very best years”.

Anne Trimbach and Chef Marius Blin

About this time, I had the pleasure of meeting Anne Trimbach. As mentioned above, Anne is the Trimbach family wine ambassador and the grand niece to family founder, Frederic. “Does the Trimbach family use steel casks to age the wines?” I ask. “Never, never,” replies Anne. “We use nearly ancient oak barrels – some dating back to 1717 – that are so old they have neutral flavors.” Anne went on to explain that she grew up at the winery, what fun that must have been, and that they keep a close track on the measure of sugar in the grapes to determine when to harvest. Curious, I inquire, “When harvesting, do you use machines to pick the grapes or hand harvest?” Anne proudly exclaims, “Trimbach grapes are hand-picked, hand-harvested lending to the quality of the harvesting process.” Oooooh, I’m intrigued. Next course, please.

Chef Blin preparing the branzino

Chef Marius Blin chose Seared Branzino for the entree. Branzino, if you are not aware, is a white fish that is usually grilled or pan seared whole or fileted with the skin on. Chef Marius opted for pan seared white fish filets served with braised leek and fennel, California sunchoke puree, and yet Chef took the dish to a whole new dimension by adding a poached oyster and local caviar polished with his classic beurre blanc sauce.
Plating the branzino and Esterel

Wow, talk about a dance party in your mouth. The piece de resistance? A wine pairing of Trimbach Riesling. Well balanced subtle flavors and fruit, this elegant wine was perfectly paired with Chef Marius’ Branzino and Anne also recommends pairing with other fish such as smoked, grilled, or fried fish and white meats such as pork.

Branzino with oysters, caviar and tomatoes

The Cheese course arrived with a delicious pairing of Trimbach Pinot Gris. Let’s start with the wine first… one of the most remarkable Alsace grape varieties, the pinot gris combines full-bodied, dry fruitiness with a hint of smokiness that appropriately pairs with foods that possess depth of flavor. You can’t get anymore depth of flavor than an array of flavor-forward cheeses. When it came to cheese, Chef chose the Schloss Marin Farm cow’s milk cheese, Bay Blue Pointe Reyes Farmstead (cow), San Andreas Bellwether Farm sheep’s milk cheese accompanied by roasted red grapes, chocolate macadamia tuiles, and fresh honeycomb. Ummmmm, we could stop here and my tastebuds would be thriving in happiness. But, there was one more course to come. Dessert.

The Cheese plate

Strawberry Basil Sorbet highlighted the end of a savory evening and was accentuated by almond meringue, hibiscus flower, micro mint, a macaron shell and one of the most revered Trimbach wines – the Trimbach Gewurztraminer “Reserve”. Pair with spicy dishes, Asian-inspired cuisines, strong cheeses and featured here, fruit-based desserts.
Sorbet

If “the accidity of a reisling keeps you alive”, as Anne Trimbach states. Then, we shall all be alive indeed. Cheers!

For reservations at Esterel restaurant at Sofitel LA, visit SofitelLA

For more information about Trimbach wines, visit Trimbach.com


Laguna Beach Oceanfront Dining at Driftwood Kitchen

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

Laguna Beach Oceanfront Dining at Driftwood Kitchen
Driftwood Kitchen
Summer may have ended but the ocean views and summer weather sparkle nearly year round at the recently opened Driftwood Kichen, the newest oceanfront dining experience in Laguna Beach from well known Sentinel Restaurant and Hospitality Group. Sentinel is the team behind The Deck on Laguna Beach and Fireside Tavern in Costa Mesa so it is no wonder the group chose Driftwood Kitchen to cozy up next door to The Deck.
The Deck at Driftwood Kitchen
Leading the team at Driftwood are restauranteur, John Nye, and Excutive Chef Rainer Schwarz who are also founders and partners, along with Colby Durnin, of Sentinel Restaurant & Hospitality Group. As you can see, before you even enter the rustic beachy oceanfront restaurant, you are in good hands. Chef Schwarz brings an extensive, acclaimed culinary experience to life at Driftwood. Having begun cooking at age 15 in an old Austrian castle, Chef Schwarz has cooked around the world in five-star hotels and restaurants in Switzerland, Germany and France. Interestingly, I discovered that Chef Schwarz’s culinary travels led him to work with the esteemed Chef Joachim Splichal at the Von Pfyffer in Switzerland and before long, Chef Schwarz waved goodbye to Europe and traveled to Carmel and then Los Angeles working with Chef Splichal at what has become Patina Restaurant Group. But Chef Schwarz achievements don’t stop there. He had much success in Vail, Colorado before returning to Los Angeles and launching Public Kitchen and Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. Now, Laguna Beach is thrilled to have his talent behind the fresh, delicious, inspiring coastal cuisine at Driftwood Kitchen.

Seared Ahi at Driftwood Kitchen Seared Ahi at Driftwood Kitchen

When I asked Chef Schwarz what influence his culinary journey brings to Driftwood Kitchen, he explained, “I draw inspiration from many places for this menu. Here, the menu features diversity and freshness the ocean provides.” Sounds good to me and I couldn’t wait to dive right in to sample some seafood and steak selections. To my delight, fish is prevalent on the menu which includes Whole Fried Branzino, Soft Shell Crab, Surf and Turf with Maine Lobster Tail and Petit Tenderloin that features a Bearnaise sauce, Zuckerman Farms jumbo asparagus, and Yukan Gold mashed potatoes, and a mouth-watering New York Steak with Peppercorn Sauce and homemade French Fries.

Seabass with Tomato Halibut with Roasted Tomato

But this coastal cuisine inspired menu with a touch of “turf” is not all that will inspire you, the craft cocktails are bottoms-up some of the best I’ve tasted.

Tenderloin with Pepper Tenderloin with Peppercorn Sauce

Shares Director of Operations, John Nye, “Our Cocktail Program at Driftwood Kitchen pays homage to the location’s rich history. The Stateroom Bar presents a cocktail menu featuring classic libations reminiscent of the historic tenants.” And who were those tenants? One unforgettable Hollywood actor, Slim Summerville had his home library there and he may have enjoyed a fine whiskey or bourbon, too.

Cynar Town cocktail at Driftwood Kitchen Cynar Town cocktail at Driftwood Kitchen

Among the classic cocktails are selections such as “Cynar Town”, gin with sweet vermouth, cynar artichoke liqueur and orange bitters, “Salad Bar”, sage liquor, kale, sweet red pepper, and lemon sour – almost sounds like one of my cleanse drinks minus the liquor, of course, and “Rock My World”, your own customized Manhattan with a lunardo cherry that is worth the bite and the drink and they pair perfectly with culinary sensations such as Oysters on the Half Shell with Uni (shown below).
Uni Oysters at Driftwood Kitchen

Whether you opt for the mesmorizing oceanfront deck views or the cozy al fresco patio with oversized couches and firepits, Driftwood Kitchen is a Laguna dining experience unmatched by any other.
Deck view from Driftwood Kitchen
Driftwood Kitchen front patio
Driftwood Kitchen
619 Sleepy Hollow Lane
Laguna Beach, CA
Open daily: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
visit: driftwoodkitchen.com
(949) 715-7700

Mac 'n  Cheese at Driftwood Kitchen

SMores deconstructed at Driftwood Kitchen SMores deconstructed at Driftwood Kitchen