After being trapped for 1.5 days in the Parzen family web of food, wine, music, and fun, Alfonso was in fine form.

This girl may have grown up in East Texas, but, man, she was born to cook up some mighty fine Jew food!

First things first…

Tracie P’s latkes are amazing… paired SO GOOD with the salty flavors of the newly arrived 2009 Santorini by Sigalas.

Not every Texas brisket is destined to be smoked. Tracie P truly outdid herself last night… served with kasha and lentils…

and fried parsnips… (Jeremy Parsnip?)

And adding a classic dish for Hanukkah from Israel, Tracie P made jelly-filled doughnuts! YES, JELLY-FILLED DOUGHNUTS! Paired with Domaine Cady 2007 Chaume. (Traditionally, fried foods are served during Hanukkah to celebrate the miracle of the oil that lasted 8 days… jives well with Texas cooking!)

Château Pajzos Esszencia 1993 was friggin’ BRILLIANT, our wedding gift from Comrade Howard.

From the Château Pajzos website:

    On top vintages, Chateau Pajzos produces the mythical Esszencia.

    This absolute rarity, gained from the free-run juice of the aszú grapes, is a unique nectar with a honey-like concentration.

    Only 1 liter is produced by 3 tons of aszú berries which represents the production of 10 ha. This wine is the rarest in the world a bottle of 10 cl is the results of one whole hectare.

This wine was one of the most intriguing wines we drank in 2010, with incredible petrol notes on the nose and nutty, earthy tones on the palate, and one of the most captivating finishes I’ve ever experienced in a wine. Incredible… Thank you, again, Comrade Howard, for this amazing gift, shared with people we love…

Happy Hanukkah ya’ll!

Nicolas Joly, Tracie B, and me


Above: Tracie B in the cellar at Coulée de Serrant, the celebrated Nicolas Joly estate in the Loire Valley.

Our trip to the Loire Valley (between NN+ gigs in France) revealed to us just how varied the production of Chenin Blanc really is and how uniquely terroir-driven the appellations. The short drive from Savennières to Chaume, for example, showed us how macro- and micro-climate could change radically after a 7-minute drive at country-road speeds.

Tracie B called dibs on blogging our excellent tasting at Joly a few weeks ago and so you’ll just have to visit her blog to get the low-down (click here) on oxidation vs. botrytis, Les Clos Sacrés vs. Les Vieux Clos, sandy vs. slate, to aerate or not to aerate, and many more mouth-watering, “tongue-splitting” tidbits.

In other news…

Check out this post at VinoWire on a new DOCG: a red Moscato (yes, a RED Moscato) from Bergamo (yes, Bergamo). Turns out that it was once one of Italy’s most famous appellations, Moscato di Scanzo. Franco and I posted about it here.