May Wine Friday: 2007 California Wine

It’s all about the grapes!  Our 2007 California
vintage wine tasting was another great success.  I have been reading
about how 2007 is supposed to be a phenomenal year for California wines
so I decided to give it a try for ourselves — and yes it is looking
very good!  My favorite was the Ridge Zinfandel because it was so deep,
yet immature.  However, as I expected the crowd favorite was the Menage
a Trois because it’s a blended wine that I guess you could say is more

2009 Wine May 11

Candy made some great food as always and we even kept
with the “it’s all about the grapes” theme by having grapes in every
dish — how fun was that?!  Despite Sabrina not being here, I did my
best to keep up the photo tradition but please don’t criticize me too
much because we all know I’m no replacement for her talent.  We’re
sorry if you missed us this time but stay tuned for next month and be
sure to join us.

Here is the wine lineup (from left to right) and results:

2007 Cameron Hughes Ancient Vine Zinfandel
2007 Ridge Ponzo Vineyard Zinfandel (my favorite)
2007 Shenandoah Vineyards Amador County Zinfandel
2007 Castle Rock Pinot Noir
2007 Ravenswood Petite Sirah
2007 Folie a Deux Menage a Trois
2007 Rodney Strong Estate Russian River Pinot Noir

And of course we paired this wine with the food below:

2009 Wine May 2

Focaccia with Grapes and Rosemary

2009 Wine May 4  

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken and Grape Skewers

2009 Wine May 8  

Italian Sausage with Grapes and Basil

2009 Wine May 7  

Cabbage, Asian Pear, and Grape Salad
Pecorino-Romano Cheese with Honey

– Mark


2008 Keller William Family Reunion

You have to picture the scene.  Over 8300 Keller William Agents from all over the United States – most of them wearing some kind of red clothing (the KW’s color) – most of them somehow trying to emphasize their area of the country (like the team from Texas carrying a pair of longhorns mounted high on a sign post) – all gathering for the 9th annual Keller Williams real estate conference known as Family Reunion.  This year it was held in the Atlanta Conference Center.  The energy and excitement was palpable.  Why?  Keep reading.

With the recent “shift” in the market, you would think that attendance would be down or the mood being somewhat subdued since most agents have been dealing with lower incomes on a lower number of sales.  But no — this place was rocking!  Here you have 8300 of the most fired-up Realtors in the business.  Think about it.  When the market shifts like we’ve been talking about for the past year, who is going to spend the money and time on a 4-day trip to Atlanta when people are supposed to be working on their business?  Only the ones who are serious about thriving no matter what the housing market looks like, that’s who!  These are the people who are fired up about the opportunities this market is creating, not sitting around the coffee machine complaining about how bad the economy looks.  This is who we spent the last 4 days with – learning, socializing, mentoring, laughing, and even crying.

Gary Keller, founder of Keller Williams is an amazing speaker.  He is a very low-key and low-energy style speaker but he brings such profound thoughts to the audience that we all have to recognize we are in the presence of greatness.  It is in his matter-of-fact delivery of both basic and advanced guidance for business management, emotional grounding, client care, family importance, and all points related to being a thriving agent.  It really hit home for me.  It was an inspiring joy to be with him that I will never forget.

Other highlights include a party for 8300 people (if you can imagine that) with live music and dancing; an awards ceremony to recognize the most successful teams; hundreds of exhibitors showing us products we can use to grow our business and serve clients better; a silent auction that will raise money to benefit a Keller Williams charity; an inspirational brunch that introduces people who have overcome incredible obstacles in their lives and demonstrated amazing accomplishments; and hundreds of breakout sessions for opportunities to learn from mentors and leaders who are part of the most successful teams all across the country.

What did I take away from Family Reunion?  Stay tuned for future posts because there is too much to go over right now.

For me, it was a big dose of enthusiasm.  We work for a great agency, and we work with the best people in the business.  It is an honor to bring this strength to each of the clients we serve.


2007 Food Network Party – Part 2

Wow, what a great party and special thanks to everyone who joined us for the last Saturday of 2007 to make it a very memorable night.  I don’t think anyone has ever tried to organize something like this before, which made it very exciting.

Picture this: You have to bring a dish to a potluck party.  Ah, but this is not just any pot-luck party, this party’s theme requires you to select a dish from a menu of previewed items of the online receipts.  What a concept – someone call HGTV!

Our only drawback from this approach is that as each person or couple arrived, they may need access to the kitchen to make final preparations.  It was a frantic picture, but we managed.  As each dish was completed and plated, of course it had to be photographed next to its own label naming the dish and chefs.

You can review the list of everything we tried.  There were great salads and appealing appetizers, gourmet main dishes of lamb and scallops, and decadent desserts that included a custom-mould gingerbread house made by famous cake decorating expert, Laurel.  There was even a blended eggnog cocktail that was VERY popular.  We totaled 27 entries in all and each one was unique and incredible!

All this was all accompanied by 9 different bottles of wine that we enjoyed from 6pm until our last guests left at 1:15am!  We can’t think of a better way to wrap up 2007 and welcome an exciting new year than a unique party of friends willing to go outside the box to prepare and share good food!

Happy New Year!

Ps1. For Sabrina’s version of story, please click HERE.
Ps2. For more pictures, please click HERE.

– 2007 Food Network Party Potluck Final Menu –


Santa’s Sleigh Cocktail   – Delia & Julio
Holiday Mulled Wine Cider – Mark E. (see receipt in the bottom )


Holiday Salad   – Amy & Doug
Pear, Stilton, and Chicory Salad with Crispy Chestnuts  – Jonathan, Dianna, and Matt 
Five-Spice Chicken Salad in Wonton Shells  – Min & Bill   
Orange Juice-Braised Sweet Potatoes
    – Julia & Jason
Eggplant and Mozzarella Roll-Ups   – Shira & Jory
Crab Salad with Ginger and Dried Orange Peel    – Pamela & Luke
Parmesan Cheese drizzled with a honey infused truffle oil  –
Delia & Julio
Tomato, basil,and mozzarella kabobs
   – Delia & Julio


Lamb Meatballs with Mint  Mark E.
Leg of Lamb with Caper Sauce   Jonathan, Dianna, and Matt 


Beef Stew with Belgian-Style Pale Ale   Linda & Greg
Beef Yakitori with Eggplant   Sabrina


Spicy Pork Kabobs with Moorish Flavors   Heather & Eddie


Herb-and-Cheese-Filled Chicken Thighs   Annie & Chi 
Honey, sesame and ginger chicken   Sabrina


Seared Scallops with Tropical Salsa   Anita, Michael and Frank
Scallops in a Saffron and Rioja Wine Sauce   Julie & Harry


Shrimp Marinated in Lemon and Olive Oil    Tao & Anders   


Apple Coffee Cake    Catherine & Bruce
Orange Cardamom Cookies   Tao & Anders
Tapioca Pudding   Linda & Greg
Berries with Balsamic Vinegar   Anita, Michael and Frank
Ginger Bread House   Laurel & Howard
Wine  Michael Wen
Wine Bob Brooks

Cranberry Mulled Wine

1 750ml Bottle Wine – Yellow Tail Shiraz works nicely
750ml Martinelli Apple Cider
2 Cups Cranberries
2 Lemons
2 Limes
2 Oranges
1 Cup Sugar

by heating the wine on medium, add the cranberries.  Cut each of the
fruit in half.  As you put each piece into the heating wine, squeeze
each one into the wine but try to make sure that the seeds do not get
into the mixture.  (if they do, you can pick them out or strain later).

the wine and fruit to heat slowly (about ½ hour) but not boil if you
can; here you now need to wait until about half the cranberries pop to
release their juice (you will hear them as they pop).  Now add the
sugar and apple cider.  Return to low heat for about ½ hour.

Serve warm.

2007 Food Network Party – Part 1

The Holidays are coming!  Do you have any plans for the Christmas week?  If you have not made your plan, why not come to our party?  In place of our December wine tasting event we are going to have our first 2007 Food Network Party at 5pm on Saturday 12/29 instead.  We came up with a GREAT idea for our Holiday party this year.  Listen up…it will be a POTLUCK.  I know what you are thinking right now, but no, this is not a normal potluck. 

I have chosen many recipes online for each of you to pick one to prepare, and bring it with you to the party.  This is not an Iron Chef contest, so don’t worry.  I thought it would be fun to try some new recipes, and come share them with everyone so we can sample the food and enjoy the experience.  I am also going to take photos of each dish, so please remember to bring the dish to me first before you put on the kitchen counter.

If you don’t see anything you like on this list, that’s ok.  You can find a dish somewhere else that you would like to bring (online recipe preferred, so I can post the link), as long as it is not something you have made before.  But please do let me know though so I can post it here for other people to see.

If you really don’t have time to prepare some food, that’s ok too.  You can bring some cheeses, olives, bread, a bottle of wine or you can just come and have fun.

Here is how it works:  People who are coming for the party need to leave me a comment here to say you are coming, alone or with someone, and which dish you are going to make.  Then I will put your name next to the dish, so no one else can take it.  You don’t need to double the amount for the recipes, and you might even need to cut it in half for some of the recipes because I think we will have enough food.

Trust me, it will be a lot of fun!!

– 2007 Food Network Party Potluck Menu –


Pomegranate-champagne punch       
Jasmine Spritzers    
Pineapple Cosmopolitans   
White Wine and Sparkling Cider Sangria   


Holiday Salad   
Pear, Stilton, and Chicory Salad with Crispy Chestnuts 
Ginger, Green Apple, Sweet Onion and Coconut Salad   
Papaya, Cashew and Frisée Salad   
Tropical Fruit Salad with Toasted Coconut   
Five-Spice Chicken Salad in Wonton Shells   
Crab Salad with Ginger and Dried Orange Peel   
Orange Juice-Braised Sweet Potatoes   
Plump Turkey-Stuffed Tofu Dumplings   
Eggplant and Mozzarella Roll-Ups   
Foie gras with date puree and pomegranate   


Roasted Butternut Squash Soup   
Sweet Potato and Apple Soup   
Broccoli-Leek Soup   
Carrot Soup with Orange and Ginger   


Jicama, Kirby and Carrot Salad with Charred Lamb   
Lamb Meatballs with Mint    


Veal rolls stuffed with spinach and gruyere   
Grilled lemon-parsley veal chops  
BBQ Shortribs   
Beef Stew with Belgian-Style Pale Ale   


Apple-Glazed Pork Loin   
Crown Roast of Pork with Rosemary    
Ham with Orange Glaze   
Spicy Pork Kabobs with Moorish Flavors   


Herb-and-Cheese-Filled Chicken Thighs   
Chicken and Peanut Stew   
Almond-Crusted Chicken Wings 
Individual Chicken Potpies   
Thai Pumpkin & Chicken Curry
Young Chickens with Apricot-Fig Stuffing   


Braised Duck in a Chocolate Wine Sauce   
Duck with Cranberry Mostaza   
Duck Breast with Peach and Mango Salsa  
Duck Breasts with Black Cherry Sauce    


Scallops in a Saffron and Rioja Wine Sauce   
Sautéed Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc   
Seared Scallops with Tropical Salsa   
Lime-White Pepper Scallops with Bell Pepper Sauce      


Nyonya Grilled Shrimp with Coconut Sauce   
Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Garlic-Herb Butter  
Shrimp Marinated in Lemon and Olive Oil   
Flat Breads with Shrimp and Romesco Sauce   
Shrimp, Scallops and Stuffed Squid   
Shrimp with Rice vinegar Dipping Sauce   


Clams with Spicy Sausage  
Coconut-Crab Cocktail   
Grilled Calamari   
Seared Ahi Tuna with Green Peppercorn-Thyme Crust    


Apple Coffee Cake   
Fresh Raspberry Tart
Tapioca Pudding   
Pear Bruschetta with Hazelnut Cream   
Banana Soufflés   
Orange Cardamom Cookies   

Halloween Wines – Deep, Dark, and Spooky

For our October wine tasting party of course we had to go for a Halloween-based wine theme — “Deep, Dark, and Spooky”.  So Petite Sirah was the perfect choice due to its mysterious nature and dark, brooding appearance.

In deciding the food to pair with our Petite Sirah, I tried to select flavors as bold and challenging as the wine itself – spicy, sweet, and savory.  Here’s the food we prepared and the wines we sampled!

Braised Short Ribs
Caramelized Soy Pork Loin
Thai Red Curry Pumpkin
Chili Jam Long-Bean Stir Fry
(Laurent’s Endive and Goat Cheese Torte)
(Linda’s Homemade Membrillo Spread with Manchego Cheese)


2003 Mettler Petite Sirah
2004 Mettler Petite Sirah
2005 Rock Rabbit Petite Sirah
2005 Shypoke Petite Syrah
2001 Varozza Petite Sirah
2004 EOS Petite Sirah
2005 Rosenblum Appellation Series Petite Sirah
2003 Ursa Paso Robles Petite Sirah
2004 La Felice Cepage (a somewhat off-theme blend…)

And then to finish the evening and in consideration of 2 French visitors who joined us, we opened a Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne and a 2001 Cabernet Franc IceWine.  Great stuff!

Petite Sirah is one of my favorite wines and this tasting event turned out great.  We enjoyed some good wines and I have to say my favorite was the Rosenblum – it just seemed to have a deep core of dark fruit which held off the raspy tannins.  I was a little unsure of how the food was going to be received since some of these dishes were first-timers for me.  But everyone “said” they liked it — and it all disappeared!

What did you guys think?!


PS: Stay tuned for next month’s wine tasting, November 30th, which brings us to a holiday wine theme that we’ll have to figure out…