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The pinot grape is the focus of the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and thus the feature of the Willamette Valley Vineyards recent wine dinner hosted by Greg Norman’s Australian Grille in North Myrtle Beach, SC. The Pinot Noir is a black skinned fruit, typically associated with the Burgundy region of France, and grown in the cool climates of California’s Sonoma Valley and Oregon which is at the same latitude and with similar climate as Burgundy. The Pinot Gris, a white wine made from the gray-skinned fruit, is sometimes referred to as the child of Pinot Noir. It’s the same as the popular Pinot Grigio if Italian. The Willamette Valley Vineyard produces 60 wines, all from the valley’s locally grown fruit, and all are Oregon certified sustainable wines. Jim Bernau, a sixth generation Oregonian, began with the winery in 1983 and in 2011 was awarded the first-ever recognition as Hero of Salmon for the implementation of the high-impact Salmon Safe Sip Save campaign. The vineyard has been a pioneer in moving the Oregon vineyard industry toward greater ecological sustainability in helping to restore the salmon watersheds so that native salmon can spawn and thrive. The first lesson delivered by Mandi Silver, the vineyard’s eastern regional sales manager, was the pronunciation which is Will-am’ette with the emphasis on the am syllable to rhyme with damit. The dinner opened with Chef Jeff Edwards' samplings of fried artichoke hearts with a spicy dip, pulled duck on flat bread and crab in buttery crust. The appetizer course was perfectly paired with the chilled Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling 2009 which is a semi-sweet medium bodied German-style wine. Guests were seated for the second course of Crepe of Forest Mushrooms a La Normande which was paired with chilled Pinot Gris 2009. The third course was Salmon with Marionberry Glaze served with Willamette Valley Vineyards Cluster Pinot Noir 2010. This versatile light fruity wine was described as “liquid fruit salad in a glass.” The marionberry, a hybrid blackberry grown only in Oregon and named for Marion County in the Willamette Valley, was hand delivered directly from its source as another distinctive highlight of this dinner. Venison Meatloaf with Winter Squash Puree and Celery Root Au Jus was paired with the Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir 2008. This rich and refined wine scored 90 points in the Wine and Spirits February 2011 issue, and the winery was named the magazine’s 2011 Winery of the Year as well as the Wine Press Northwest Oregon Winery of the Year. The Estate Pinot Noir 2008 was the elegant pairing with the Herbed Elk Medallion with Strawberry Fig. This lively spicy wine was selected from the few remaining cases of a small production. Finally, dessert of Curried Mango, Pineapple Upside Down Cake with served with Willamette Valley Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2007, an explosively sweet and intense chilled wine from the limited production of only 58 cases. Six courses including such features as duck, crab, salmon, venison and elk, each with unique presentation, added up to more than your mother’s meatloaf dinner. Greg Norman’s Australian Grille is frequently recognized among the best fine dining establishments in the Myrtle Beach area and received the Wine Spectator magazine Award of Excellence in 2011. The restaurant is celebrating its twelfth anniversary with a continuing series of monthly wine dinners and additional tasting events. Whether a connoisseur of fine wines or a novice sipper, meat and potato lovers and persnickety diners alike can easily select a favorite wine or an exotic entrée created by the award-winning culinary staff.
The FRENCH CONNECTION DINNER ~ Celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau is a special event at The James Beard House in New York November 18. Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard is the honored chef preparing a 7-course dinner for eighty guests. The best of Georges DuBoeuf 2011 Wines will be paired with his modern French cuisine. Think of some courses including beef tail, frog legs or duck for a truly rustic meal. Friends of Chef Poinard can purchase dinner tickets at the James Beard Foundation member price of $130 per person. The general public price is $170. Chef Poinard owns Bistro de Leon in St. Augustine, Florida. He is one of the top 100 chefs of France, and this Florida restaurant resembles his five restaurants in Lyon with casual ambiance and local produce and seafood selected daily for an ever-changing menu. His wife Valerie contributes her family’s winery savoir-faire to the dining experience. If you can't make it to New York, maybe we'll see you in St. Augustine. Choose weekend breakfast, lunch some days or dinner any day for all-French and all excellent. Check out the three-course meals in the French tradition and enjoy the important breads. Reserve for Thanksgiving, where it's turkey or ham or vegetarian. Don’t even think it’s stuffy or expensive there – not at all!
Not really, but the Parson's Table does take its name from its original use as Little River Methodist Church. Ed Murray Jr. thrives on the stress of creating delicious plates of food for hungry diners six nights a week. The executive chef and owner of Parson’s Table in Little River, SC has been cooking for 35 years and still loves the kitchen. He maintains an optimistic outlook about the economy and the accompanying challenges. He thinks of the Little River area as a “dining destination” with the fine dining presented by the Brentwood, Chianti South and his Parson’s Table. The trio attracts a loyal following of golfers and locals, and more visitors are discovering these great finds. Murray’s philosophy is promoting “break the chain” by eating local. Murray has always emphasized fresh local seafood and produce, even before the concept was such a trending phenomenon. His fish selections echo the catch brought in to the dock just minutes away. This week it’s sea bass which is prolific, as well as some trigger fish, all of which are line-caught with respect to protecting the sea turtles and any endangered species. During his 18 years at this restaurant which he bought from his parents, changes have included more attention to dietary needs, more glazes rather than heavy sauces, half portions/small plates and an expanded appetizer selection. But there's still a big batch of cornbread stirred up daily! He calls the menu eclectic, as it ranges from curry dishes to traditional veal marsala or wiener schnitzel, along with the emphasis on regional and coastal dishes. One of the long-time favorites, which will probably always remain on the menu, we hope, is the Little River Shrimp and Scallops. Steaks, lamb and prime rib are also special. Murray also has expanded the wine list and has a sommelier on staff and years of recognition by Wine Enthusiast magazine and Wine Spectator. Murray has been named among 80 of the Best Chefs in America, a group distinguished by such notables as Wolfgang Puck, and the restaurant has received the Mobile Travel Guide award and the Diners’ Choice Award from Open Table. From Chicago, by way of Boston, Albuquerque, Las Vegas and Daufuskie Island, Murray relishes his first and only job of cooking and enjoying the heat of summer in the kitchen. The other heat he loves is that of a marathon run which is one of his other passions. Antique cypress doors, beautiful stained and beveled glass and the main chandelier were collected from a variety of sources by the original owner. The small rooms offer privacy for groups as well as additional displays of the furnishings. Take a little tour here:
Cuban-style burger. The best ever!
So Bobby Flay came over to grill burgers last night...No, he didn't...He came into my bedroom one morning with a big...No, not really! I mean his show came on TV one morning as I was waking late. The resulting recipe for his Cuban-style burger turned out to be the best burger I ever ate. Swiss cheese, ham, dill pickle and all layered onto a well-done lean burger with more cheese and smashed on a fat onion bun. I must admit that I used the correct ingredients, but not his preparation at all, for the mayo-mustard-garlic spread which is also a tasty addition to almost any sandwich.
Thanks, Bobby! Bring it and Mitch can grill it. What are we doing next?
Our new travel app Myrtle Beach's Best is now available for download via iTunes for iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. It's $1.99 with free updates forever. As you might expect, it's written in our two strong and opinionated voices. You wouldn't want any less than honest reviews and opinions of locals when planning your trip, right? It includes more than 130 insightful entries, richly visual slide shows with 1120 views and a Google map for each entry; one-touch phone calling to that business; one-touch access to the establishment website; relevant hours and pricing information and immediate access to some YouTube or user reviews. You can add your own comments too. These categories are offered: Attractions, Beaches, Best Dinners, Day Trips, Easy Lunches, Entertainment, Festivals, Golf, Shopping and Top Hotels. An alphabetical listing of everything is shown, and it can be sorted by city, by distance from wherever you are, by price or by category: The introduction to the golf listings offers a slide show of some beautiful Myrtle Beach National courses: Sutro Media is a new kind of app publishing company, one that bridges the gap between traditional print media and new media outlets. It’s amassing the world’s largest collection of indie travel writing voices to create new products on the exciting and versatile mobile platform. If you travel, you will find it easy and fun to explore the world using a mobile phone. You may be standing on a street corner surfing for a reliable restaurant or lying on the couch planning a tour, and the app will lead you by the hand. No need for a phone book, a map or even the Internet to find where to shop, dine or play in Myrtle Beach when you have the app on your mobile device. Sutro Media currently has more than 60 apps for sale on iTunes and another 175 in the pipeline. Let us know what you think.
Bonjour!It’s no secret among area food lovers that Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro in Little River is the place to be. This is a lovely upscale restaurant, voted the Best French Restaurant on the Grand Strand last year and in the running in the current competition. The restaurant is in a restored circa 1910 home visible from U. S. 17, just minutes north of Myrtle Beach, although sitting back from the highway and facing a side street. The mood for fine dining is enhanced by the architecture and the seating in several small rooms, as if it’s still a private home hosting a few guests for dinner. The French chef/owner Eric Masson has classical training, three degrees from a noted French culinary school and extensive experience which is reflected in the delicious and creative entrees. His wife Kimberlee is popular for hosting the Wine Club which meets monthly for themed tasting events. The couple is increasingly recognized for their culinary contributions to the Grand Strand scene. Chef recently hosted a private dinner for celebrities Aaron McCargo Jr. (left) of Food Network TV's "Big Daddy's House" and Guy Fieri, (right) also of current Food Network fame. Seven courses, a lot of wine, a few beers and about five hours later, the guests raved about the hidden gem of a restaurant. Daily choices are a light menu at the upstairs wine bar, a four-course prix fixe or a diverse les viandes (meats) and les poissons and fruits de mer (seafood) menu. The chef grows his own herbs and chooses fresh seafood brought from local waters. The discriminating seafood lover will be happy in this one local place which does not serve a single fried seafood platter. A recent wine club meeting showcased a five-course menu with tastings of 20 Spanish wines which members brought. The Chef’s Amuse Bouche was Indigo Farm Organic Fig with Fresh Goat cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon. The chef actually goes to the nearby farm and picks his own figs too. The next course was the Paella de la Casa with local shrimp, imported Chorizo, grilled chicken, sautéed peppers and steamed mussels in a Spanish saffron rice. You can't eat this without saying Yummmmmm! The next plate arrived, and most diners abandoned knife and fork for the finger-licking good lamp chops, Chuletillas de Cordero con Mermelada de Pimientos de Piquillo. That was followed by Tapas of Spanish cheese. One of the chef’s specialties was presented for dessert: Cinnamon Scented Crème Brulee. I've sampled his various flavors of creme brulee on other occasions and loved every one of them. The wine club dinner meetings are limited to an intimate gathering of 20 with reservations required, and the conversation flows as freely as the wines. Masson’s previous successes as executive chef include Marché at 74 State Boutique Hotel, Albany, New York; owner of Saratoga Lake Inn & Bistro, Saratoga Springs, New York which was voted Best French Restaurant by the Metroland in the first year of business. He also was the Iron Chef Competition Winner in 2004 for the local competition sponsored by the March of Dimes. He was executive chef/operations manager/owner, Ferrandi’s Restaurant, Amsterdam, New York which was voted Best French Restaurant by Metroland three years in a row. He was awarded the 40 under forty by the Capital Region Business Review in 2000. His French experience was as executive chef, Chez Mary de Rosay,Megeve, France; executive chef/partner, Restaurant Le Quincampe, Paris and executive chef, 5 Infanterie Regiment, Paris. A little bit French and totally lowcountry in warm hospitality, this is a dining experience to repeat often. For information about the wine club, cooking classes or special events: TheBrentwoodRestaurant.
Karl D. Wente, the winemaker himself, charmed two dozen diners at Greg Norman’s Australian Grille in North Myrtle Beach at a recent wine dinner. We were sipping Riverbank Riesling, 2008, when Karl arrived at the table with a bottle of beer in hand. His second, which he explained with the traditional winemakers’ old saying:
It takes a lot of beer to make wine.Winemakers are farmers spending long hot days in the field and a cold beer quenches the thirst. Of course he never tires of the taste of wine. After as much as a 10-hour day of continuous blending and tasting:
I went home and popped the cork on a bottle of wine to relax on my porch with my guitar.“Palate fatigue is not a real phenomenon at all. Of course we can taste all day, and it requires a lot of that to achieve the best blend and try to see into the future of how it will age.” He's passionate about winemaking, with genuine pride of family achievement as well as young adventure in creating new blends and experimenting with technique. The country’s oldest continuously operated family-owned winery is known for its 125-year history and for its portfolio of fine wines created from some 3,000 acres of sustainable farmed Estate vineyards. Karl is 32, the fifth generation to farm the family vineyards in California’s Livermore Valley and Arroyo Seco, Monterrey. His first vintage at home was in 2002, although he had two earlier ones during his previous study and work. He is currently making wine with Annika Sorenstam, another fine mix of precision golf and fine wine such as the Greg Norman-designed course at Wente Vineyards.
I use the tools I have and make the best possible wine.“No day is the same. There’s always a different season and a different vintage. We live with the cycles and stages of nature and take what the land gives. It’s the same land, but it gives a different product each year. We are more fortunate than in western Europe where sun and seasons affect the growing. We might not have the perfect rain pattern, but we can open a valve. When to irrigate is the single most important decision a farmer can make.” What is his favorite thing to be doing? I guess I expected an answer related to the winemaking we were discussing.
Skiing in steep deep powder in Squaw Valley with Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy” blasting through head phones.Peter Dombrowski, the restaurant’s director of operations, Chef Greg Sandford and Chef Jeff Edwards were showered with praise for the scenic deck seating along the waterway as well as for their creative menu and inventive pairings. The seven courses wowed the diners as much as did the wine and the intimate gathering offering conversation with the winemaker. Both chefs referred to the duck breast as their personal favorites. As the fifth course, it was prepared Hungarian smoked paprika dusted with a Tellicherry pepper potato mousse and cherry vanilla compote. This course was paired with the subtle sophisticated Murrieta’s Well Red Meritage, Livermore Valley, 2005. One diner preferred the third courses of pan seared jumbo diver scallop, crabmeat, asparagus and lemongrass, ginger scented Hollandaise sauce. It was paired with a Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, with a crisp acidity and clean refreshing finish. Another raved about the fourth course of Escalope of salmon served with puff pastry and creamed leeks Dijonaise. This was perfectly paired with Riva Ranch Chardonnay, 2008, a medium-bodied wine with rich golden color and subtle oak barrel aging. Lovers of beef and big reds favored the sixth course of Greg Norman Premium sirloin Carbonara and fresh English peas which was paired with the Shorthorn Canyon Syrah, 2007. A few guests closed the evening with casual travel plans to Wente Vineyards for another big helping of a fine restaurant, wine tasting, golf and entertainment.
The best halibut I've ever eaten! You should have been here! It was a memorable evening with fine wine, perfect food pairings, a lively group of guests discussing some swinging resorts and plenty of duck fat! Greg Norman’s Australian Grille in North Myrtle Beach delivered a big WOW with the predominantly California wines from Majestic Fine Wines and Chef Jeff Edwards’ presentation of a six-course menu. Most of us could not eat all of that food or drink all of the six wine choices, but we gave it our best shot. The evening opened with Tuna Tartare spiked with mango, avocado and crispy wontons served with Kendall-Jackson Grand reserve Pinot Gris 2008. The rich bright wine is made with a touch of Chardonnay, Muscat, Viognier, White Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Roussanne in addition to the primary Pinot Gris and fermented in French oak barrels. Only two thousand cases were produced. Diners loved this course and the reasonably-priced wine served in the Shark Pub with its spectacular view of the Intracoastal Waterway. The second course of Roasted Acorn Squash was thick, rich and a huge hit paired with Freemark Abbey Chardonnay 2009. Among the group’s Chardonnay fans were our new friends Rob and Suzanne Cure, West Virginia residents who frequent these and other fine wine dinners during their regular visits to the Myrtle Beach area. They were immediately pleased with the subtle oak flavor of this wine. Wondering about the duck fat? The third course of Poached Halibut took honors at the end of the evening as everyone’s favorite course. Cooked in the style of Gascony on a Butternut Squash Gallett and Pomegranate Essence, the dish was so outrageously good it demanded the chef’s explanation. The Gascony region of southwest France is famous for its ducks and geese products such as pates, preserves and foie gras. The real secret to this favorite dish: it’s cooked in duck fat. Now you know. Also, the Chardonnay lovers were thrilled with the creamy, viscous Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2008, tasting of its eight-month fermentation in French oak. Next came the Bone-in Roasted Veal New York Sirloin with a Carrot Celeriac Hash. Meat lovers were happy with the big veal dish. Red wine aficionados were excited by the Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. Nothing can describe this Napa fruit flavor more than the velvety smooth mouth feel. The fifth course was Seared Bison Strip Loin. A few guests commented that they were not big eaters of red meat, although they preferred the red wines with anything. We love bison on a regular basis, a bit pricey and not always in a regular grocery but low fat in comparison to other red meats. The meat lovers licked the plate clean on this big course. The wine was an intense concentrated Yangarra Estate Shiraz 2007, nicely complimenting the bison. This wine is produced from grapes of a single vineyard located in South Australia. The grand finale was the Black Forest Tart, a fat chocolate cherry treat, served with Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008. All of the rich fruits and earthy flavor lead to a silky taste well suited to dessert. Duck fat was not the only attraction, but we would go back for it any day!Leah Carlton, Majestic’s Carolina region sales manager, introduced each wine and discussed the Kendall -Jackson company and its heritage. The company was begun in 1982. Its founder Jess Jackson, now age 80, his wife and family continue to run the daily operations of the winemaking. As one of the largest landowners in California, the company grows their fruit on some 14,000 acres of coastal vineyards.
Panini's has been our favorite Beaufort, SC restaurant for years. There's no better view of the sunset over Waterfront Park and no comparable pizza for sure. Always trying to top their own success, they're serving new specialties this weekend for the Beaufort Shrimp Festival. The People's Choice winner for so many years we all lost count, and we'll see some serious competition again. The historic bank is a lovely building, easy to find downtown on the corner of Bay Street and within walking distance from any of the bed and breakfasts and a couple of hotels. Or walk up from the park to the back for casual outdoor dining during almost any season . The pizza and pasta have been my favorites, although the big salad and crusty focaccia have kept me happy for about a hundred lunches. Of course the panini needs no explanation -- plenty of varieties on the menu. Hoagies are on the new fall menu, and I'll be tasting the blackened flounder hoagie with caper remoulade sauce on my next lunch visit. The new menu features even more local seafoods with Nick's special touches. His heritage is Italian, and his thinking is Italian albeit with South Carolina lowcountry accents. My small plate order of peel and eat local shrimp, lager steamed with old bay, was a big meal for me. Nothing small about it. Plan on plenty of napkins and cold beverage too! It's spicy and just right. As an experienced critic of all things shrimp, I can promise the shrimp bisque on the starter menu is some of the best ever. The Italian taste is pepperoni. What a great combination! Any of the seafood tapas are tasty too, with more variety and unique presentation that you will find anywhere in town. Our friends who eat calamari everywhere they go will be right at home with the almond crusted dish and spicy aioli plus fra diavolo sauce. For dinner, everyone loves the Mediterranean Shrimp and Grits. It's simply made with pancetta polenta which is an improvement over many traditional recipes. One of my personal favorites is the new Flounder Francaise with lemon butter and almonds, plus pancetta polenta. If you crave paella, this is the right place -- the only place to fall in love! Know about my favorite dessert? Well, two or three actually, and they're here! Creme brule, tiramisu or chocolate panini, just for me. Yummmmmm Guess we'll be here a lot to sample more new dishes, but never too far from a mac and cheese (5 imported cheeses) or a Mediterranean pizza fresh from this brick oven. Hope we'll see you too!
We made a return trip to Dearborn Street in Olde Englewood for dinner to fill our bellies at the tropical-themed Mango Bistro. Mango Bistro is owned by an energetic and friendly couple, Marie Laforge and Ricardo Roggero who hale from France and Brazil respectively. Their hospitality was marvelous, and we enjoyed wine and conversation with Ricardo while Marie personally crafted our delectable fare. My friends agreed that the food was excellent and all enjoyed their choices as well. For dessert we treated ourselves to something small since we were all full from cleaning our plates, but we couldn't resist when the waitress stopped by with a tray full of already prepared “Mini-Delights” in flavors including Tiramisu (which I jumped right on), chocolate mousse, Almond Joy, and others. The tasty little temptations are a brilliant idea! She comes over with the cute and harmless looking little glasses, hardly bigger than a shot glass, and they are so pretty with layers of chocolate yumminess--how can you say no? They are so small and cute! We were entertained the entire time by the live music and dancing on the covered front porch. Ricardo was full of interesting stories including the birth of Mango Bistro from Marie’s dream and love of crepes and French cooking combined with his small computer business and how they persevered following a flooded shop, remodeling troubles and battles over business permits. His Ph.D. in biology from the University of Kansas seems hardly relevant to this unique business. Marie's lovely art exhibit is almost as enticing as the food. She designs on canvas, converts to digital and has them produced in China to create silk sarongs. The food, the music, the making of new friends….This dinner was the perfect end to a day spent exploring the Olde Englewood shops and beautiful area beaches. We look forward to stopping in Englewood again and visiting with Marie and Ricardo over another bottle of wine.