Monday, April 17, 2017

Cape Venture Wines announces new label

On April 13,2017,Cape Venture Wine Co. announced the launch of its new label "Lubanzi". The winery, co-founded by Walker Brown and Charles Brain, is offering the new label wines online at Lubanzi is currently comprised of two wines-a red blend of Shiraz, Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvedre and a white Chenin Blanc. Both wines retail for $14.99 and come out of South Africa. Both men lived in South Africa-one of the world's largest wine producing regions-and recently returned for a three month stay where they collaborated with Trizanne Barnaird and Bruce Jack to help create the forward thinking,socially responsible and innovative Lubanzi brand.

 Co-creator Charles Brain had this to say about about the new label
"South Africa is one of the world’s largest wine producers and probably the most underrated wine region of the world in the US market, and has been for some time. We want to change that and we think our generation [millennials] has the openness and power to do so.”

 Walker Brown followed with this:
"Our goal is to offer well-crafted, everyday wine that punches above its weight and makes a difference in the lives of those who grow it."

The brand is tailored to not only be a well-crafted, responsibly sourced wine, but an everyday ‘sipping’ wine – a wine for small every day adventures; because as they say, “life is everything that happens between coffee and wine.” From a midnight bicycle jaunt down a floodlit street, to dinner in an emerging part of town, or trying a new brand of wine with an exotic sounding name – these are the hallmarks of this spirit – that of adventure. Exploration is at the heart of Lubanzi – a brand that is named for a wandering dog who led the two founders on a 6 day, 100-mile hike across a remote part of South Africa called the Wild Coast.

Fifty percent of their profits will go towards The Pebbles Project, an NGO that works with low-income families who live and work on South Africa's wine farms. The Pebbles Project focuses on growing families by providing resources and improving access to health & high-quality education, allowing families to realize a horizon for success in life that extends far beyond their current view.

“We created this to bring two worlds together, craft great wine, share adventures & make a difference. At the core of our story is a message that, it’s not about what makes us different, it’s about what we have in common,” Brain said.

Walker and Charles both graduated from universities in the US in May, 2016 — Charles, from Vanderbilt (majoring in International Community Development), and Walker, from the University of Richmond (majoring in what was called PPEL - Philosophy, Politics, Economics & Law). During their junior years, they met each other as exchange students studying at the University of Cape Town and traveling around South Africa (Charles studied Social Work & Economics in Cape Town and Walker’s focus there was Political Science). They were both struck by their time in South Africa, fell in love with the country and the people, and became quite enamored with the wine.

Following their graduation here stateside, they decided to start a wine company, called Cape Venture Wine Co. and create their first label "Lubanzi." The name comes from one of their great adventures they had while traveling around South Africa as exchange students. They set off on a 20-hour bus ride along South Africa’s southern coast en route to a remote part of the country called the Wild Coast for a week long backpacking trip across the beautiful coastline. On the second day, a wandering dog, the locals called ‘Lubanzi’, began following them on their journey. He stuck with them throughout their adventure -- for 6 days & 100 miles -- until he disappeared on the night before their final morning.

“We want to provide a great bottle of wine that connects people with South Africa, accompanies great adventures and results in great stories,” Brown said. "As long as those stories are being written, so is our mission.” “Everything about this project is cool. It has heart and soul, adventure and drama, charity and ambition, value and unbridled passion, Jack Bruce added. “Remarkably it also has two extraordinary young American men who seem to have found all of this on a wild African coast and coaxed it all into a bottle of wine.”

TASTING NOTES (by Bruce Jack)

  • RED BLEND – 46% Shiraz \\ 31% Cinsault \\ 20% Mourvédre \\ 3% Grenache 

A dark, brooding purple colour indicates this is a serious wine with impressive structure and extract. The nose is intriguing, offering huge complexity with layer upon layer of aromas – sour cherry cheesecake, freshly bruised peppermint leaf, mulberry and dark chocolate. The palate starts off echoing these aromas on the entry, but builds with more juicy black fruit. The intense black/red fruit is kept in check and balanced by an intriguing savoury note throughout the palate. Soft, but persistent, fleshy tannin and an unexpected mini-explosion of ripe, zippy blackcurrant on the finish round of an extraordinarily rewarding wine for the price.

  • CHENIN BLANC – 100% Chenin Blanc 

A lively green colour, with hues of pale straw is the first indication this is going to be both fresh and complex. The nose offers an intriguing array of fruits - sliced November figs, ripe nectarine and freshly-peeled satsumas (we call them naartjies!). In the background is the hint of herbaceous rosemary. The palate is round and fleshy, pushing forward ripe citrus fruits like orange, nectarine again and a fresh core of green melon. There is the hint of banana bread as well. It is moreish and beautifully balanced. But the excitement doesn’t stop there – the finish is creamy and long and fresh like watermelon sorbet. Very delicious.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Peter & Pat's Pierogies launch in Midwest with sampling event at Costco

Peter & Pat's Pierogies have officially launched their 100% natural pierogie products in the Midwestern United States with a sampling event being held at Costco locations throughout the region. Over the last 20 years,Peter & Pat's have grown their love of Eastern European food into a successful catering business and now one of the top selling pierogie brands in the country.

Peter & Pat's pierogie recipe is a 60 year old family tradition and features real potatoes and cheese with no preservatives. This four cheese recipe features a yummy blend of Cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss and farmer's cheeses. They are low fat and low cholesterol and feature all natural ingredients. These tasty treats are super easy to make, boiling or pan frying are the usual techniques,but they can also be deep fried, baked and microwaved.

If you are interested in sampling them at a Costco near you, stop by between March 3rd and 5th and see what all the chatter is about. Peter and Pat's Pierogies retail for $9.99 for a 4 pound bag. There are approximately 65 pieces per bag (or 12 servings).

Friday, January 20, 2017

Stone Brewing releases Enjoy By 02.14.17

For the love of IPAs, the revolutionary Stone Enjoy By IPA series continues to flourish with the newest addition: Stone Enjoy By 02.14.17 Chocolate & Coffee IPA. Available at bars, restaurants and retailers beginning this week, the newest variant is rich, decadent and a devastatingly fresh Valentine’s Day pleasure.

“The Brewing Team tested several fruit and chocolate variations before finding just the right flavors to complement the hops of our Stone Enjoy By IPA,” said Jeremy Moynier, senior innovation program manager. “The chocolate and coffee combination we finally hit on was inspired by what we had done recently with Stone Mocha IPA, but here it took on new life with the Stone Enjoy By series. This recipe was brewed specifically to add another layer to go with the complexity of the hops and the result is a very special hop-lovers dream alongside a cup of coffee and a bite of chocolate.” 

Stone Enjoy By 02.14.17 Chocolate & Coffee IPA is brewed with San Diego Sunrise, a blonde roast from Ryan Bros. Coffee. Unlike brewing with espresso, the blonde roast provides a less roasty and more chocolaty flavor. It complements the tropical flavors of the hops, and allows the lemon and orange citrus notes to come through loud and strong. The beer is still intensely hoppy with light malty flavors and a decadent chocolate finish.

As with Stone Xocoveza, Stone’s brewers went “Bean to Beer” incorporating chocolate processed straight from the cocoa bean on-site at Stone Brewing. Carefully sourced from Belize, the cocoa beans were roasted and shelled under the watchful eye of Stone’s team to make this a truly artisanal beer with which to celebrate ones devotion to craft. The rich and indulgent Stone Enjoy By 02.14.17 Chocolate & Coffee IPA will be available in 22-ounce bottles, 12-ounce bottles in six-packs and on draft. The 37-day date code ensures this love affair will be fast and memorable.

  • Name: Stone Enjoy By 02.14.17 Chocolate & Coffee IPA 
  • Web: 
  • Stats: 9.4% ABV, 90 IBUs 
  • Availability: 22-ounce bottles, 12-ounce six-packs and draft, beginning January 8 
  • Hop Varieties: Nugget, Super Galena, Simcoe, Amarillo, Delta, Target, Cascade, Citra, Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, Motueka and Helga National 
  • Distribution: AK ,AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MT, NC, NE, NH, NM, NV, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI 
  • International Distribution: Japan, Korea, Singapore 
  • Appearance: Golden with a creamy white head of foam 
  • Aroma: Coffee and chocolate meld with intense dank hoppiness, resin, peaches, and hints of tropical fruit Taste: Distinctive coffee up front with hints of chocolate lead to an array of hoppiness, dank, tropical and fruit that rounds out with more coffee and chocolate on the finish 
  • Palate: Smooth, hints of warming from the alcohol, and a perfect balance of bitterness and dryness on the back end 
  • Overall: The best of both worlds! A hoppy beer that also has nice coffee and chocolate components. These aroma and flavors blend together nicely to create something unique in the Stone Enjoy By IPA series. Still a hop-lovers dream with the added bonus of a cup of coffee and a bite of chocolate. Perfect to share with someone special leading up to or on Valentine’s Day—or enjoy it for yourself!
Founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner in 1996, San Diego-based Stone Brewing is the 10th largest craft brewer in the United States. Stone has been listed on the Inc. 500 | 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies list 12 times, and has been called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine twice. The multifaceted company is the first American craft brewer to independently build, own and operate their own brewery in Europe (Berlin, Germany), and also opened a production brewery in Richmond, Virginia in 2016. Known for its bold, flavorful and largely hop-centric beers, Stone has earned a reputation for brewing outstanding, unique beers while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sustainability, business ethics, philanthropy and the art of brewing. For more information on Stone Brewing, please visit or the company’s social media sites: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and The Stone Blog.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Matcha shortbread cookie recipe from Organic Valley

Even though my inbox is currently overflowing with all kinds of emails, I always skip the delete button when it comes to newsletters sent out from food companies. I never know when I am going to be sent a treasure of a recipe, and the latest email from Organic Valley provided one such recipe. Matcha shortbread cookies... Tastes as divine as they sound! This tea-infused cookie recipe makes a delicate, buttery deliciousness inspired by a Japanese pastry that pairs perfectly with a steaming cup of tea.

Paddle 1 cup butter in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until creamy. Add seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean and ½ tsp of salt. Sift in 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 cups all-purpose flour and 2 ½ tbsp matcha powder and stir until just combined. Form the cookie dough into a log about 2” x 14” and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 325ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. While the oven preheats, roll cookie dough log in ½ cup finely chopped pistachios. Slice dough into ¼ inch rounds. Place rounds at least 1” apart on cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through bake time.

Enjoy a southern inspired Bourbagne instead of beer this Super Bowl Sunday

Looking for a unique way to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday? Consider sipping on one of the recipes included in the upcoming novel, Breakfast Tea & Bourbon written by Pete Bissonette. The "Bourbagne" is a simple champagne and bourbon based drink that is a delightful way to kick off your game day festivities instead of the usual beer so many of us drink while watching the big game. It's also the perfect way to dive into the pages of Breakfast Tea & Bourbon once it hits store shelves on Thursday, February 9th. The accompanying treasure hunt kicks off at 5:08PM CST the same day and involves clues that are woven throughout the book and a prize of $50,000.

  • 1 ounce bourbon (brand suggestion: Buffalo Trace)
  • 1/2 ounce vanilla syrup (see below)
  • 4 ounces of sparkling wine 
  • garnish with vanilla bean 
For Vanilla Syrup
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together water, refined sugar, and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for about five minutes, the sugar should be completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

After 125 years, Napa Valley Winery changes its name

Rutherford Grove Winery, located in Saint Helena, CA, is celebrating its 125 year anniversary in a very unique way-by changing its name! As of January 1st of this year, Rutherford Grove Winery will now be known as Pestoni Family Estate Winery. Pestoni Family Estate Winery is a family owned boutique winery located in the heart of California's Napa Valley. It is known for crafting premium wines from estate vineyards in the Rutherford and Howell Mountain appellations.

"As one of Napa's pioneer winemaking families from the late 1800's, we want our winery name to convey our pride in my family's legacy here in the valley," says winery owner Bob Pestoni. "This year celebrates our family's 125th anniversary as winemakers in the Napa Valley. We look forward to sharing more of our history, heritage and wines with new and returning guests alike."

About Pestoni Family Estate Winery 
The Pestoni Family celebrates 125 years of winemaking in the Napa Valley this year. Pestoni Family Estate Winery is located off of Highway 29 just north of Rutherford, CA, and is open daily from 10am to 4:30pm, offering tasting flights and picnic grounds to guests. Information about private tastings and special events is available by request. For more information about the Pestoni Family Estate Winery and their premium products, please visit their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Craft Critique: Calm Before the Storm from Ballast Point

Every once in awhile a beer comes along that I absolutely have to try. Calm Before the Storm from Ballast Point Brewing Company was one such beer. I originally tried this beer over the summer, but unfortunately I was working so many hours that I never got around to writing a review of it. As luck would have it, my boyfriend had a bottle stashed in his refrigerator and it was bequeathed to me earlier today. This is what Ballast Point has to say about their cream ale with coffee and vanilla,

"A coffee ale with a touch of cream. Calm Before the Storm came from a quest for a warm weather alternative to our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. Like its more robust cousin, we infuse a punch of flavor using cold brewed Caffé Calabria coffee and a hint of vanilla. But this time, we added it to a lighter-bodied golden cream ale. The end result is a surprisingly bright, coffee-forward beer that’s perfectly refreshing"

Here are my opinions of this brew:

Smell As soon as I opened my bottle of Calm Before the Storm, I was hit with notes of a freshly opened can of coffee, rich and strong but not overpowering with more subtle notes of hazelnut and vanilla. There is a light backnote of something that I can't quite identify, but I want to say it is butterscotch.

Appearance This brew pours a crystal clear butterscotch hue with a smallish near white head that breaks away to virtually no lacing.

Taste As I am a big fan of vanilla and coffee porters and stouts, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this cream ale, but I came away pleasantly surprised. It doesn't have the maltiness, dark roasted notes and chocolate flavor of a stout or porter, but that's perfectly fine! The flavor of light roast coffee shines through and melds beautifully with a touch of vanilla. Hints of butterscotch play peek-a-boo with this beer's hoppiness, making for an interesting flavor mix.

Mouthfeel Calm Before the Storm goes down silky smooth with a touch of hop spice on the back end. It's a light bodied beer with what I feel is the perfect amount of carbonation, making it perfect for the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer.

Overall Impression If you can separate any preconceived notions of this beer being anything like Victory at Sea, you should be quite happy. Some people will be able to make that break easier while others will struggle and expect this to be something it is most definitely not. I would recommend serving this beer in a pint glass or stein at 40 degrees F, anything warmer and the flavors will begin to drift off. Remember, this is a cream ale, not a stout or porter. Serve with desserts such as tiramisu or creme brule, vanilla flavored cake, sweet and spicy nuts, gnocchi with a beer cheese sauce or smoked chicken. For more information about Ballast Point, Calm Before the Storm or any of their other beers, please visit them online on their website, Facebook or Twitter.

The Chocolate Therapist: Offering therapy one delicious bite at a time

There is one simple truth that women across the nation understand that our male counterparts don't quite get-chocolate in and of itself is its own form of therapy. Rich, delicious therapy. There is something comforting about taking a bite of chocolate that instantly helps us feel a tiny bit better about whatever is stressing us out. What a lot of us-male and female-don't realize is how good chocolate can truly be for us.

 Julie Pech, founder of The Chocolate Therapist, knows and she has crafted an entire business around the numerous health benefits of eating dark chocolate. She managed to merge the two loves of her life, nutrition and chocolate, into creating her dream of becoming a published author. After 16 months of research, she wrote The Chocolate Therapist, A User's Guide to the Extraordinary Health Benefits of Chocolate. Once the book was available, she made it her personal mission to convert the chocolate loving public into dark chocolate fanatics. As her popularity grew, Julie found herself in great demand-radio and television stations were requesting to interview her and she was often featured in newspapers and magazines. She began to incorporate additional chocolate knowledge into her talks and soon found herself making presentations on the proper way to taste chocolate and pairing wine and chocolate. She hired a local chocolatier to make her custom recipes, eventually buying the shop herself when the owners decided to sell.

 Julie's unique recipes are hand crafted from all natural ingredients and never contain preservatives, dyes or artificial flavors. These tempting creations can be purchased in her Littleton, Colorado shop or through The Chocolate Therapist website. I was fortunate and received a variety of Julie's chocolates to sample and my mouth has never been happier! The sample package I was sent contained the following chocolates: Down by the Sea Salt Bar, Double Shot Bar, Sea Salt Caramels, Toffee Bark and Peanut Butter Meltaways. Unfortunately, I am highly allergic to almonds and was unable to try the Down by the Sea Salt bar or the Toffee Bark, but I have co-workers and roommates who were more than happy to fill in for me. The toffee nearly caused a riot at the restaurant where I work. Comments I overheard were "Oh my God, this is amazing!" "This is the best toffee I have ever eaten." and "Can you get me more of this? I can't stop myself from eating it.". My roommates shared the Down by the Sea Salt bar and said that it was very, very good chocolate. I have no direct quotes from either of them, but the smiles on their faces spoke volumes.

I shared the Double Shot Bar with my oldest son, who loves his chocolate as rich and as dark as his coffee. Upon popping a piece into his mouth and savoring it for a moment he smiled and said "Pretty good, Mom!" High praise for a kid that almost ordered anchovies on his pizza at lunch today. This bar is made with a 55% dark chocolate and ground espresso beans. It has a delightfully dark hue, possesses a beautiful sounding snap and a offers up a deep, rich flavor that is second to none.

I shared the Peanut Butter Meltaways with a co-worker of mine that I know has a penchant for chocolate and peanut butter. Upon popping a piece into his mouth, his eyes lit up as he exclaimed "Oh my!". I have been known to ply this particular co-worker with Reese cups when he gets in a bad mood, so I knew this was high praise indeed. Instead of a straight peanut butter filling that most peanut butter candies possess, The Chocolate Therapist's filling is a blend of chocolate and peanut butter together that offers a deeper, richer flavor that isn't as overpowering as straight peanut butter can be. I found it unusual and intoxicating at the same time.

Last, and certainly not least, are the hedonistic Sea Salt Caramels. I saved these specifically for myself and savored every last decadent morsel. Rich buttery caramel is enveloped with dark chocolate then sprinkled with sea salt. The flavor combination is absolutely amazing! I have been a fan of caramels since I was a child and I have never experienced a candy quite like these.

I am a candy crafter, so I know first hand of the time and dedication it takes to create unique recipes, and Julie's are above those of any other chocolatier I have tried-myself included. If you are looking for a treat for yourself or a loved one, I will highly recommend The Chocolate Therapist to anyone searching for a truly memorable chocolate experience.

Superb seven layer dip recipe for tailgating success creative commons attribution license
Football season is upon us (WHO DEY) and now is the time to brush off your trusty tailgating
recipes or begin the search for new ones. If you are looking for a 7 layer dip to share with your football loving compatriots, your search ends here.

  • 8 oz  cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 (16 oz) can refried beans
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup shredded 2% sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1/4 cup sliced olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes 
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
Mix cream cheese and taco seasoning until well blended. Spread mixture in bottom of 9-inch pie plate. Layer remaining ingredients over cream cheese mixture. Keep chilled until time to serve.

Monday, January 16, 2017

UncommonGreen releases new Goldleaf Glassware in time for Valentine celebrations

Raise your glass and make a memorable toast this Valentine's Day with UncommonGreen's new Goldleaf Glassware collection. This unique glassware features a new twist on their original Maps Glassware collection. Intricate city maps are now gilded in shimmering 22k gold. More than 20 major U.S. cities are currently included in the collection, so you can relive priceless memories while you create new ones together. Featured cities include:
  • New Orleans
  • Boston
  • Cleveland
  • San Francisco
  • and many more!
About UncommonGreen
UncommonGreen is an established visionary leader in the barware industry and specializes in transforming conventional drinking glasses into a brilliant experience by adorning them with unique designs such as maps of city streets, mountain topography, and island coastlines of top destinations around the U.S. and the world. The company makes each glass an intriguing work of art, an engaging story, and a place to never forget. For more information, please visit
Find UncommonGreen on:

Citra Pale Ale from Upslope Brewing to become year-round offering

Upslope Brewing introduced its first offering, Upslope Pale Ale, more than eight years ago to the craft beer community in Boulder, Colorado. Fast forward to 2017 where Upslope has two facilities for brewing and delivers cans of its innovative and experimental beers to seven states. Beginning February 1, 2017, the brewer's original Pale Ale is being replaced with Citra Pale Ale as a part of the year-round lineup of brews. Citra Pale Ale will be available in 12 ounce six-packs, twelve-packs, mix boxes and on draft.

The brewmasters at Upslope have been perfecting the recipe for Citra Pale Ale for several years and it has been a part of the Upslope Tap Room Series of brews and a tried and true favorite at the tap rooms. The proven popularity of this beer and its distinct, juicy hop character led to its current evolution and down the path to being canned and distributed across the seven state distribution footprint that Upslope currently serves, including Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Wyoming and Montana.

Upslope founder, Matt Cutter has this to say about the decision:

"The decision to retire the one that started it all and introduce a new style to our lineup in its place comes from our dedication to experimentation and creativity. This beer represents our best foot forward and the spirit of what happens when we continue to hone our craft, keep our sights on the future and listen to what our fans want."

Citra Pale Ale is described as an American style pale ale prominently featuring Citra hops. It delivers a pungent grapefruit and tropical fruit aromas with a semi-dry finish. The juicy, floral notes are well balanced with a light malt character. Citra Pale Ale comes in at 5.8% ABV.

Those looking for a sneak peek can try Citra Pale Ale on January 25th at the Hops and Pies in Denver beginning at 5PM. It will also be available on tap and in six-packs at Upslope's Release Party at the Flatiron Park tap room from 5-9PM on January 26th.

  • Name: Citra Pale Ale 
  • URL:
  • Stats: 5.8% ABV, 37 IBUs
  • Availability: 12-ounce six-packs, Mix Boxes, 12-packs and on draft, beginning February 1, 2017
  • National Distribution: CO, NM, UT, AZ, TX, WY and MT 

About Upslope Brewing Company 

Boulder-based Upslope Brewing Company is the creator of premium ales and lagers that are artfully crafted using natural ingredients. Packaged in aluminum cans for exceptional portability and because it’s best for the environment, Upslope complements the outdoor lifestyle and caters to the on-the-go beer enthusiast. The five flagship beers include: Citra Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Craft Lager and Imperial India Pale Ale. Additional installments are offered in a Limited Release Series, the Lee Hill Series and the Tap Room Series. In an ongoing effort to protect watersheds nationwide, and the key ingredient in Upslope ales and lagers, one percent of Upslope Craft Lager can sales benefits local Trout Unlimited chapters in the state in which the beer is purchased. Learn more about Upslope at