An IPNC Interlude — please pause for wine

Grand Dames Dinner IPNC 2014

Iberico de Bellota pork cheeks, served with polenta, thyme and blackberries. Chef Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita. IPNC 2014. Grand Dames Dinner.

If it’s seemed a little quiet over here recently, there’s good reason. I spent Friday night at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon for the International Pinot Noir Conference. Yes, I stayed on campus — in the dorms even — with three co-workers.

It always seems like one night shouldn’t be so exhausting, but somehow, every year, IPNC knocks me out of commission for a while.

Maybe it’s due to eating super rich food all day (foie gras, Iberico pork, veal sausage and more foie gras) or because we drink wine from 3pm till 3am 8am. (Yes, we partied like true college freshmen this year. I saw the sun rise and everything.)

Here are a few pictures from this year’s Grand Dames Dinner, which is set in the middle of the Linfield College campus. Four chefs (all women this year which I thought was awesome) put out an amazing dinner for around 500 people. There’s a reason this is one of my favorite events to “work.”

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Methven Winery and the case of the stolen pinot noir

Methven Family Wines Vineyard

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to help represent my company at an open house for Painted Hills Natural Beef. While Painted Hills beef is from Fossil, OR, the company had paired up with Methven Family Wines in Dayton for the event — which meant a trip out to wine country!

Oregon wine country, as you have seen before, is a beautiful place and knowing that a fabulous — and free! — dinner was waiting made the gorgeous drive from Portland all the better. I won’t mention that gorgeous drive included an hour of terrible traffic — let’s just focus on the pretty (and delicious) stuff!

This was what greeted us when we arrived...

This was what greeted us when we arrived…

I never say no to pinot!

I never say no to pinot!

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A Day Trip through Oregon’s Wine Country

This is the good stuff!

This is the good stuff!

It’s common knowledge that I love Oregon’s numerous and delicious microbreweries but I have a soft spot for the wine too.

While my husband and I are far from connoisseurs, we do belong to several wine clubs and enjoy visiting — and tasting! — in wine country as much as possible. Our longtime favorite spot is Archery Summit, located in Dayton, OR, just outside of Newberg.

They focus primarily on (very high quality) pinot noirs though in the time that we’ve been drinking their wines, they have added a rosé and a pinot gris. We love the rosé so much that every few years we buy a case to keep on hand.

But the pinot noirs are really the star of the show — luscious, full and nuanced. And the view from the tasting room, high on a hill, isn’t bad either.

Last weekend we spent a slightly overcast Oregon day taking in the sights and sampling our way through a several fabulous flights of wine. We started at Archery Summit, and then moved on to White Rose Estate — a new tasting experience for us — upon a recommendation. They focus more on whole cluster style wines which made the tasting extra fun.

Here’s a peek:

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IPNC: My favorite midnight snack is a foie gras torchon

Wine, glorious wine, at IPNC 2013

Wine, glorious wine! IPNC 2013

As a college student, my to-go snack after a night out was always a super crisp apple and extra sharp cheddar cheese. Years later, I still eat my fair share of fruit and cheese, but at post-work afterparties my co-workers and I snack in style.

First, a little background:

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IPNC 2013: A luscious crab salad makes me happy!

Crab Salad, brioche, cucumbers, pickled cherry tomatoes and tarragon aioli, courtesy of Renee Erickson

Dungeness crab, toasted brioche, cucumbers, pickled cherry tomatoes and tarragon aioli, courtesy of Chef Renee Erickson of Seattle, WA.

I’ve mentioned before that my job as a meat distributor has some serious benefits, but in case you doubted me, here’s proof. I was lucky enough to spend Friday afternoon and evening at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, OR. My company had a tasting table set up during the day event and we sampled out specialties like a boudin blanc & foie gras sausage and Oregon water buffalo sirloin. And, to show some love to the foie-deprived attendees visiting from California, we also sampled out almost three pounds of foie torchon. We’re people pleasers like that!

In a word - yum!

In a word – yum!

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Cheddar and Cayenne Biscotti: Happy Dunking!

Cheddar and Cayenne Biscotti

Cheddar and Cayenne Biscotti

In a recent post, I mentioned that I had been on a biscotti kick. I baked several different types over the holidays, all sweet, made with sugar and various types of nuts. But in the comment section, thanks to a fellow blogger, I got wind of a different type of biscotti made with cheese and pepper that sounded too intriguing to forget. I love it when things that you expect to be simply sweet are turned into something savoy instead — like the sage macaron I had for lunch today.

Cheddar for BiscottiI googled the recipe reviews for the link that she gave me (Parmesan and black pepper biscotti) and it sounded like a winner. However, I didn’t happen to have any Parmesan cheese at my house and I had just polished off the last of the pecorino, which is my go-to substitute. But I did, thanks to my stepdad who is also a cheese fanatic, have a huge hunk of two-year aged white cheddar from Wisconsin that was begging to be used in something fun.

I’m sure I could have switched out the cheddar in the original recipe just fine but I thought I’d do some additional internet digging to see what else was out there. And I stumbled upon what seemed like the perfect fit — a recipe from the famed Mark Bittman for Cheddar and Cayenne Biscotti.

I ran to the kitchen so fast, I practically hurt myself!

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