allo fräuleins! Oktoberfest @JaynesGastropub is rocking

Tracie P, Georgia P, and I stopped in for an early dinner on our way back from Los Angeles yesterday at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego.

We may have been part of the “early-bird” crowd but that didn’t stop us from getting a taste of the Oktoberfest celebration there.

Schnitzel, spätzl, bratwurst… and of course, Schneider-Weisse beer.

But I still couldn’t resist getting my favorite, the Jaynes Burger (Vermont cheddar, house-pickled onions, and aioli).

Oktoberfest continues this evening at Jaynes… definitely worth checking out…

@JaynesGastropub has never been better

Above: The Jaynes Burger, with house-pickled red onions, Vermont cheddar, aioli, and frites — a sine qua non on any visit to San Diego for me.

It’s predictable, I know, but I just had to have the Jaynes Burger last night at Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego, where I checked in with the folks who are like family to me in the town where I grew up.

The burger’s never been better and the Caesar predictably rocked my world but I was also digging the new grilled Moroccan lamb meatballs with chickpea purée and the Québécoise chips and gravy poutine. Jaynes is simply going through one of those moments of grace that devoted, passionate restaurateurs experience — like an athlete in top form or a virtuoso musician at the zenith of a career. And I love how gourmet “comfort food” knows no international boundaries these days.

Jayne and Jon graciously let Giovanni open three bottlings of his Franciacorta to share with our friends but Jon has so many killer wines on his list right now: Venica & Venica, Movia, Valli Unite (one of my favorite Natural whites from Italy), Musar (red), Foillard Morgon Cuvée Corcelette, Massolino (classic) Barolo… such an amazing (and courageous) list in a town where “Napa Cab” and “old vine” Zinfandel generally prevail.

Thanks again, Jayne and Jon, for an awesome evening…

Giovanni’s been blogging about his Texas-California adventure here btw.

Here’s a photo he snapped yesterday from mamma Judy’s window overlooking the Pacific. The photo’s entitled “Three Shades of La Jolla Blue.”

California sunset (heading back to Austin), 2010 Tempier, 2006 Vodopivec

Our trip to California has come to an end. Today we head back to Texas…

We’ve had a lot to celebrate out here in the land where I grew up: Georgia P met her grandma Judy and her Parzen cousins, my band Nous Non Plus had a super fun mini-tour, and it was great to get back to work at Sotto in Los Angeles (where I’ll be launching a new wine list early next month).

Last night, together with Jayne, Jon, and daughter Romy, we celebrated our BFF Yelenosky’s umpteenth award as “best Southern California sales person 2011” for Southern Wine and Spirits. Yele is the sweetest guy and the bestest friend and we love him a lot. Mazel tov, Yele! You rock…

To commemorate the occasion and our trip Jayne and Jon opened one of our favorite wines from their awesome list at Jaynes Gastropub, the 2010 Tempier Bandol Rosé. Still so young and tannic but drinking gorgeously… so fresh and just slightly oxidative… delicious…

Yele treated our party to a bottle of 2006 Vitovska by Vodopivec, one of my favorite wines in the world. So tannic and so glorious and with so many layers of dried fruit and nutty nuance… An unforgettable treat for us…

And little Georgia held her daddy’s hand all through dinner… She’s such a miracle and we love her so much.

Arrivederci, California! We’ll miss you!

Georgia P’s first Valentine’s @JaynesGastropub

Georgia P wore her new flower-power headband for her first Valentine’s Day at Jaynes Gastropub last night in San Diego.

Seven-and-a-half-month-old Romy, Jayne and Jon’s daughter, showed her the ropes of her new favorite restaurant.

How adorable is that?

Mommies and daddies enjoyed a SUPERB bottle of 2008 Volnay 1er Cru Caillerets by Pousse d’Or (Landanger), still very tight, but rich with savory and fruit flavor and bright, bright acidity, delicious with the bacon-wrapped filet mignon.

Best California Chardonnay I’ve ever tasted: Donkey & Goat Untended 2010

When my buddies Yelenosky, Erickson, and I tasted this wine together last week at Jaynes Gastropub, the three of us were simply floored by how friggin’ delicious it is.

Donkey & Goat 2010 Untended Chardonnay, made from a 30-plus-year-old abandoned and “un-grafted” vineyard in Anderson Valley, California.

As you can see from the image, the wine — the product of spontaneous fermentation — is unfiltered. Beautiful, bright acidity, 12.7% alcohol (YES!), brilliant citrus notes, and a freshness and drinkability (as the Italians say) that made this wine disappear with extreme celerity.

But the thing I loved the most about this wine was how pure it is — ideologically and sensorially.

In a world where “California Chard” is a brand created through aggressive manipulation of the grape variety, this wine’s purity spoke to the true nature of Chardonnay as a relatively neutral medium for expressing the place where it is grown and the winemaker’s interpretation. In this case, the winemaker’s transparency — literal and figurative — allows the wine to express everything that has gone into it: just place and grapes. I can’t recommend it highly enough (especially for wine lovers and trade who are trying to wrap their mind around what Chardonnay really is).

Thank you Donkey & Goat for this wine and thank you Amy Atwood for turning me on to it. Love it…

The folks at Jaynes had flown me in for one night last week (my last plane ride of the year! yeah!) to lead a guided tasting of Italian wines for a corporate client. (I’ll post about an interesting experiment I conducted during the nearly 4-hour long tasting next week.)

Jayne shared her excellent mozzarella-stuffed arancini with me. And their newborn daughter Romy shared her contagious smile…

Tracie P and I are in the final weeks of our pregnancy and I’m very happily grounded, with no more travel scheduled until 2012.

We’re so lucky to have so many friends and relatives who have recently had kids: the hand-me-downs are great and more than anything else, it’s wonderfully reassuring to share the experience with our friends as we deal with the discomforts and the anxiety that the last weeks of pregnancy can bring.

I’m so proud of my beautiful Mamma P: she’s such a great mother to Baby P and she’s so courageous (in our birthing classes, they give us a taste of what’s in store).

It’s so true what people say: having a child will change your perspectives in ways that you cannot imagine until it happens to you. We’re living that every day.

And just when I thought I couldn’t love Tracie (Mamma) P anymore, I find that my love continues to grow as she bravely and so graciously carries our little girl.

I wish yall could see her… she’s just so beautiful…

Rocking the Kids Are Alright for a good cause

The Grapes (above), Jaynes Gastropub’s entry into last night’s San Diego Battle of the Chef Bands, took third place.

The competition was fierce but we were there to promote awareness for the San Diego Center for Community Solutions whose mission is “to end relationship and sexual violence by being a catalyst for caring communities and social justice.”

Everyone had a blast…

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!

Mussel porn, best tuna salad, and an old friend’s excellent wine

Just had to share this photo of a mussel from lunch today at one of our all-time favorite seafood joints, Bay Park Fish Co. in San Diego where we’ll be staying for the next days (Tracie P got in last night). I cannot recommend this place highly enough. And what can I say? One man’s mussel is another’s Rorschach test.

The tuna fish salad at Bay Park may not look as sexy as the mussels but you haven’t had a tuna fish salad sandwich until you’ve had one made with U.S. pole-fished tuna. My good high school buddy Marc Muller, co-owner and founder of Bay Park, only serves old-school pole-fished tuna in his restaurant. (In case you’re interested, here’s a video and some info on the history of pole-fished tuna in San Diego.) The Mexican torta bread takes this sandwich over the top. It’s generally served as a tuna melt but they’ll make it anyway you want. I had mine with mashed avocado, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Utterly delicious…

Yesterday afternoon, I got to taste another high school buddy’s wine: when not working as a cellarmaster for Craggy Range, Pieter Koopman makes wine on his family’s estate in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. I hadn’t seen Pieter 15 years and it was great to connect and talk and taste wine together. I dug his Chardonnay (yes, Chardonnay from New Zealand!), blended with a little bit of Viognier. The wine was fresh and clean, bright but with a slightly unctuous mouthfeel that went brilliantly with some fried calamari at Jaynes Gastropub. Good fruit, good acidity, and balanced alcohol. Pieter and his lovely wife Paige (also from La Jolla where I grew up) are planning to bring their wines to the States and I know they’re going to knock it out of the park…

Texas is my new home and I love it. But man, it sure is nice to be somewhere where everyone knows your name.

Good things I ate in San Diego

The campechana (marinated seafood salad, with octopus, squid, shrimp, et alia) was off-the-charts good at Bay Park Fish Co. in Mission Bay, San Diego.

So were the grilled halibut fish tacos. Seafood in San Diego ROCKS!

Couldn’t resist the new tortilla soup at Jaynes Gastropub, where I caught up with the crew and drank some killer wines. The crumbled queso fresco and spritz of lime took it over the top… Highly recommended…

Almost sunset from mama Judy’s window, looking out toward the La Jolla Children’s Pool