Best fast food ever: delicious Vietnamese sandwiches at K Sandwiches (San Diego)

Tracie P and I had a wonderful week out here in “paradise” as the natives like to call it. A relaxing vacation of summer, sun, beach, good eating, and visiting with family and friends.

We’re about to board a plane back to Austin and I just had to share one more gem we discovered on this trip thanks to a few of the super nice doormen in Mama Judy’s building. On their recommendation we visited K Sandwiches in San Diego.

People, I am here to tell you: RUN DON’T WALK! The baguette was perfectly crusty on the outside and fluffy inside. I had the K Special (above and below), gently spread with pâté and stuffed with different types of cured ham and fresh cilantro, radish, carrot, and jalapeño.

My sandwich cost less than $3 and I didn’t even begin to peruse the many blended fruit and coffee drinks, not to mention the small grocery there.

At the peak of lunch, the place was packed the whole time we were there but the sandwiches were delivered with a celerity that old McDonald himself would envy.

Value, wholesome ingredients, superb service in a sparkling clean establishment? Could be the best fast food ever.

It’s been a great week in paradise but it’s time for us to go home with armadillo. As much as I love the place where I grew up, there’s nothing like waking up on a lazy Sunday in the Groover’s Paradise and rustling up some breakfast tacos for the most beautiful lady and mama-to-be I have ever seen…

Rebula and pulled pork quesadillas rock our world

One of the most delicious things we ate during our week in Southern California was the happy hour pulled pork quesadilla at Jaynes Gastropub… delicious in part because it was one of the dishes we served at our wedding reception there.

The dish paired wonderfully with a glass of Kabaj 2008 Rebula (Ribolla), vinified with skin contact. Very elegant expression of Ribolla, with gentle tannin and a great balance of savory and fruit flavors.

Slovenia, meet Southern California… brilliant…

We’ve had a fun week of eating here in San Diego and our adventures inspired a post on pairing red wine and fish over at the Houston Press, including some food shots from Jaynes.

    ​Whenever I am faced with a conundrum like the age-old question of whether or not it is imperative to pair white wine exclusively with fish, I look to antiquity. Indeed, in more cases than not, the ancients were much wiser and more well informed than we are.

    And as I pore over (excuse the pun) centuries-old manuscripts and vellum-bound tomes, I discover that — lo and behold — the ancients did not have this problem because wine was predominantly white or rosé (at its darkest) in the days of yore…

Click here to read the rest of the post…

Thanks for reading and buon weekend, yall!

Mazel tov to Craig Collins & Devon Broglie! Two of the six new Master Sommeliers!

You can only imagine our joy in hearing (just now) that our good friends Devon Broglie (left) and Craig Collins have passed the final exam (tasting) and have become Master Sommeliers.

We are so proud of them and proud to know them. And we’re looking forward to seeing them at TexSom, the Texas Sommelier Conference in a few weeks in Dallas, Texas!

Congratulations, yall! We are so stoked!

A voice of reason in Montalcino? A top producer addresses the absurdity…

Above: A monument rests atop Montaperti, not far from Montalcino. It commemorates the 1260 battle between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, when the temporal and spiritual [im]balance of power in the Western World lay in precarious uncertainty. In the wake of the battle, a cloud of darkness fell over Italy for centuries to follow.

Italy’s top wine blogger, Mr. Franco Ziliani, has obtained and yesterday posted (with the author’s permission) a letter addressed to members of the Brunello Producers Association by the scion of a storied Montalcino family, Stefano Cinelli Colombini, owner of the Fattoria dei Barbi. Even in the wake of an aborted call for a vote early this year to allow international grape varieties in Rosso di Montalcino (which, by law, must be made with 100% Sangiovese grapes), certain members of the body are asking its technical advisory council to consider calling again for a vote on the matter.

I have translated the letter in its entirety and believe that its truths are self-evident.


Dear friends and producer colleagues, I have just attended a meeting organized by the Consortium [Brunello Producers Association] where we discussed the inclusion of other grapes [besides Sangiovese] in the Rosso di Montalcino [appellation]. And I am writing to share my deep-seated reservations. We are faced with a serious problem because an overwhelming majority voted against the inclusion of other grapes in the Rosso di Montalcino [appellation] in a recent assembly.

An assembly vote should not be put up for discussion just a few months later. With all due respect, I would like to remind you that we have just put a tremendous rift behind us. It happened because the [fifteen-member technical advisory] Council was too stubborn to call for votes on votes [sic] on an argument (the blending of Brunello [with grapes other than Sangiovese]) for which the assembly had already expressed its clear dissent.

The message conveyed by the members is more than evident: appellation regulations are to be changed only if there is clear and broad consensus beforehand. All it takes is to ask for signatures from the members who wish to modify the appellations. We were just a handful of members but it took us just a week to gather the signatures of more than two thirds of the members against the blending of Brunello. I am certain that the Consortium has the means and the personnel to do a better job than we did. If as many producers were to sign [a call for a new vote], it would only be right and correct to call an assembly vote on whether or not blending should be rejected. Otherwise, you should stop.

Anyone who lives in this community knows that [a proposal for] blending will be voted down by the assembly, that such a vote will once again create a rift among members, and that a media storm will inevitably follow.

We must avoid such a useless confrontation. A new conflict between the assembly and the Council will lead only to paralysis and paralysis helps no one.

I’m not interested in who’s right and who’s wrong. Now, more than ever before, we need a Council that knows how to win the trust of its members. We don’t need a Council that opposes them.

The only plausible reason to allow blending has fallen by the wayside: the sale of Rosso di Montalcino is no longer falling. [Consortium] director [Stefano] Campatelli says that during the first six months of 2011, 500,000 more bottles have been shipped than in the first six months of the previous year. This represents phenomenal growth.

Previously, there could have been some doubt but now the numbers show that the sales of Rosso di Montalcino depend on the price of Brunello and not on the Sangiovese. When Brunello was sold in bulk at Euro 300 per hectoliter, no one wanted to buy the Rosso anymore. With Brunello at Euro 800, the Rosso is soaring with a 40% increase in sales.

If you think about it, it’s only logical that if a bottle of Brunello only costs a few Euro more than the Rosso, everyone will buy the Brunello. The cure for the Rosso di Montalcino malaise is higher prices for Brunello and not blending, which would not make the Rosso technically better. Blending would only make it the same as many other excellent wines that cost much less. It takes a lot more than slapping a Ferrari label on a [Fiat] Panda to sell it for Euro 100,000. And it takes more than the Montalcino name to set a high price for a wine that may be technically perfect but otherwise indistinguishable from many others that cost three or four Euros.

Your colleague, Stefano Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi


In unrelated news, have you noticed that Franco has announced the winner of his recent “make me a new blog banner” competition? His new banner was created by Ms. Stefania Poletti, a native of Bergamo who now resides and works in Boston. Congratulations, Stefania! Nice work!

Yu Me Ya, the best little sake house this side of Osaka

Tracie P and I finally made it to Yu Me Ya in Encinitas, California. It’s extremely difficult to get into this small joint without a long wait — it’s that good, folks. But our good friend John Rikkers (who took the photo above) managed to make us a reservation (they only take reservations Tues.-Thurs. btw).

Man, after a day at the beach, there’s nothing like some good Japanese pub grub and cold beer!

Recommendation? RUN DON’T WAlK, people. Thanks again, John!

Natura morta and Pinot Grigio

In Italian, still life is called natura morta, literally, dead nature, in other words, inanimate nature.

Yesterday, Tracie P and I visited the San Diego home of friends and wine club clients Chrissa and Dan, where we took these photos.

After winning her battle with cancer, the couple decided to devote their lives to homesteading: they grow nearly all the produce that they consume and they slaughter and butcher all the meats that they consume (check out their site and educational program here).

All of the fruits in these photos were grown by them in their garden.

At a time when most of us urbanites place blind faith in the so-called “organic” choices at the specialized super markets, these folks — he a software designer, she an interior designer — have embraced the homesteading approach to self reliance (o that wonderful American ideal!) with a gusto and vibrancy that inspire me.

I brought over a bottle of 2009 Pinot Grigio Jesera by my friend Giampaolo Venica. Look at the wonderful ramato (copper) color of this true Pinot Grigio (a red grape, btw). We raised a glass of this delicious salty wine and remembered the grape growers in Collio (Friuli) whose vineyards were devastated over the weekend by a terrible hailstorm.

I also took a few shots in the garden — natura viva. I loved the red veined sorrel.


Thanks for reading!

Sad news: terrible hailstorm in Collio (Friuli)

It’s with a heavy heart that I share the news about a terrible hailstorm that struck Collio late on Saturday night.

Franco and I posted about it this morning over at VinoWire and my good friend Giampaolo Venica — whose vineyards were miraculously spared — sent me the above photo of vineyards in Plessiva.

“‘The hailstorm, which lasted for a good 30 minutes, struck in a leopard-spot pattern [affecting] one out of every six vineyards,’ said Luigi Soini, director at the Cantina Produttori di Cormons. ‘In some cases, as in Plessiva, Zegla, and Preval, 100% of the crop was lost. In others, 80%. In the more fortunate cases, only 10-15% of the fruit was damaged… It’s been years since a calamity of this proportion has occurred in Collio.’”

Source: Università di Udine.

Note how the canopy in the photo above has been almost entirely destroyed. Even where vineyards were not affected directly by the hail, the rot that will follow can have a devastating effect on. Many wineries, said Giampaolo, including some of the biggest names, will not be producing wine in the 2010 vintage.

As much as we love Nature, she can also be cruel…