Lodi Zinfest - 2014

So we went to Zinfest in Lodi, California last week. Had a blast! I want to thank our waiter Vincent at Wine and Roses for terrific service. We had a wonderful meal with an equally incredible bottle of Riazza Tempranillo, enjoyed a great breakfast at the Dancing Fox, and got to act like silly tourists checking out downtown Lodi! If you ever get the chance, be sure to check out Lodi, California. Between the diverse shops and restaurants, the fine food, and terrific wineries, you will definitely not be disappointed!

The purpose of our trip was to attend the 10th annual Zinfest wine festival, and participate in the Zinfest Cooking School sponsored by KCRA Channel 3, Sacramento, hosted by Teo Torres. I was invited to demonstrate a pairing of Lange Twins 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and 2011 Zinfandel. I also had the great honor of presenting my pairings along with master sommelier, Catherine Fallis (aka Grape Goddess of Teo Torres is a "foodie", and has a definite interest in good food and wine. He is a lively host and his knowledge of food and wine made the event very lively and informative.

Catherine, whose knowledge of wine and flavors is extraordinary, is also a great presenter. I can't remember when I've had more fun presenting a pairing to people who know and appreciate both good food and wine, and share an avid interest in learning about how to make good food and wine pairings.

And, before I get to my parings which I am happy to share with everyone, I just wanted to acknowledge the other chefs who participated in the event. I followed chef Ken Landis, of Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn, who paired a 2012 Sorelle Primotivo with Ancho Chili Mole; and Michael Midgley, former Top Chef Season 2 Contestant and winner of Cuthroat Kitchen. He paired a 2010 Jessie's Grove Zinfandel with Lamb Chops and Plum Sauce. I was followed by Chef Tony Lawrence, creator/owner of Global Wine Chef and He paired both 2012 St. Amant Marian's Zinfandel and 2012 Mohr Fry Zinfandel with a very creative "Chocolate Salad". 

Finally, I want to thank Teo Torres, Catherine Fallis and Bryan Dias of for helping to organize the event and inviting me to participate! I would absolutely LOVE to be a part of that event again next year. 

And, for those who follow, we will be back in Lodi again in a few weeks, pairing some more of their incredible wines. So, stay tuned!

Now let's talk about my pairing. The 2013 LangeTwins Sauvignon Blanc to pair with my Green Olive Tapenade with Goat Cheese Mousse as the soft green notes of the wine mirror those of the olive whiles its tangy acidity pairs nicely with the tart cheese. The deeply flavored, intense, and beautifully balanced LangeTwins Zinfandel inspired my fruity marinade for Tri-Trip Skewers

When you use the wine you are serving in the dish it creates what we call a pairing “bridge". It's a handy technique to remember when you want to accentuate certain aspects of a wine. Try it yourself and see if you don't pick out additional highlights you may have missed by simply tasting the wine by itself. 

Green Olive Tapenade with Goat Cheese Mousse on Crostini

Serves 6 to 8

Although Kalamata Olives could be substituted here, I find the brininess of the green olives to be more flavorful. You can also serve the tapenade or goat cheese mousse separately, however I like the combination of both.

  • 2 cups good quality green olives, pitted
  • 1 lemon, zested (save juice for mousse)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste

Place olive, garlic and capers in bowl of food processor. Pulse until mixture is coarsely chopped. Don't over process as you want some texture. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until mixed in. Taste for seasoning

Goat Cheese Mousse

serves 6 to 8

  • 1 8 oz. log goat cheese (Chevre)
  • 1/4 cup crème fraiche
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste
Process in food processor until smooth and fluffy in consistency


Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 baguette
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 400° F. Slice baguettes into 1/4 inch slices (an electric knife works well). Place on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Place cookie sheet in preheated oven. Bake 8 to 10  minutes, being careful to cook until golden brown and slightly soft in the center. Remove from oven and cool.
To assemble, spread mousse on cooled crostini. Place dollop of green olive tapenade on top. 

Zinfandel Sangria Tri-Tip Skewers

Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 lbs. tri-tip or flank steak, cut into strips
  • 1 cup LangeTwins Zinfandel wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Juice and zest of one orange
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped green apple
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Combine Zinfandel, garlic, orange, chili powder, green apple, oregano, liquid smoke, olive oil, salt and pepper in bowl. Place cut up beef in plastic bag and pour sangria marinade over it. Allow to marinade for 4 hours. Thread beef onto skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes. Heat grill to medium high. Grill beef skewers for two minutes, turn and grill two more minutes to medium rare. Serve.

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