The French Laundry Launches Lavish Indoor-Dining Experience

Chef Thomas Keller’s Wine Spectator Grand Award winner the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., resumed indoor service this month with the launch of a luxurious new dining format. For $850 per person, parties of two to eight guests can book a lone table in one of the restaurant’s three storied dining rooms. The private atmosphere sets the stage for an extended version of the eight-course chef’s tasting menu, with opulent supplements included such as truffles, caviar and Wagyu beef, plus additional canapés and dessert service.

“We did this because we have been hearing from many guests who are looking for extra-special ways to celebrate milestones,” said general manager Michael Minnillo in a statement shared with Wine Spectator. “The limitations in space offer a great sense of privacy.”

The meal kicks off with a bottle of 2006 Dom Pérignon, and guests can also order from the full wine list of 2,700 selections. Overseen by wine director Erik Johnson, the world-renowned program boasts numerous regional strengths, including California, Burgundy, Piedmont, Bordeaux and the Rhône. The standard tasting menus are still available at $350 per person, exclusively for outdoor dining.—Julie Harans

Dallas Welcomes Contemporary Comfort-Food Spot Yardbird

Syrup being poured over Yardbird’s fried chicken and waffles

Fried chicken and waffles is among Yardbird’s popular hearty Southern dishes. (Munch Miami)

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar has flown its way to Dallas. On Sept. 17, 50 Eggs Hospitality Group opened a fifth location for the Southern-cuisine concept in the heart of the Texas city. The new restaurant joins sibling locations in Miami Beach, Fla., Singapore and an Award of Excellence–winning outpost in Las Vegas, plus a Los Angeles location that’s still temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

“Seeing the [Dallas] restaurant community evolve firsthand the way it has, especially over the past decade, has been incredible,” 50 Eggs founder and CEO John Kunkel told Wine Spectator via email. “It seemed like a natural fit for Yardbird’s genuine, made-from-scratch Southern cooking.”

In addition to a hefty whiskey collection, there’s a wine list of more than 70 labels, emphasizing picks from California, Spain, Italy, South America and even Texas, with several reds from the Lone Star State. “Dallas has, over the years, emerged as a cultural melting pot, and we wanted to offer a wine program that reflects that diversity,” Kunkel said.

Champagnes and other sparklers are also highlighted, ideal to match with Yardbird’s signature fried chicken. Other comforting menu items include buttermilk biscuits, shrimp and grits, and pork ribs, and desserts like cobbler and deep-fried Oreos. The space itself is contemporary and open, with industrial elements like metal rivets, floor-to-ceiling windows and brass furnishings. There’s also a Bourbon tasting room on the second floor.

After the coronavirus pandemic delayed original plans to open in March, Kunkel is optimistic that Yardbird will become a welcome part of the Dallas community. “Given the current challenges within the restaurant industry nationwide, we hope to contribute to the city’s ongoing positive perseverance,” he said. “We feel confident that the time is right to safely open our doors.”—Collin Dreizen

Chef Curtis Stone Debuts Los Angeles Pop-Up

Outdoor dining area at Picnic Society

Customers can take their Picnic Society meal to-go, or enjoy it in the grassy outdoor space. (Wonho Frank Lee)

Chef Curtis Stone, owner of Best of Award of Excellence winners Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant and Maude, opened Picnic Society by Gwen at the Grove in Los Angeles. Opened Sept. 14, the pop-up, slated for a four-month run, offers a full-service outdoor restaurant and market shop inspired by Gwen’s menu. “The world has changed in recent months, and so has the way that we enjoy food and come together,” Stone said, explaining the inspiration behind the concept in a statement shared with Wine Spectator. “I began thinking back to the stories of early 19th century gatherings of ‘picnic societies’ in Europe.”

Guests can opt to dine on-premise or purchase one of the many picnic-ready sets to take the experience anywhere in the city. The sets include baskets, miniature tables, blankets and utensils. “With good food and the right company, you can really make anywhere in the world your restaurant,” said Stone.

The menu offers classic dishes such as steak frites, lobster rolls and salad Niçoise. Led by sommelier and director of restaurant operations Ben Aviram, the wine program has been condensed into an abbreviated selection available to-go, featuring wines from California, Italy, France and beyond.—Taylor McBride


Keep up with the latest restaurant news from our award winners: Subscribe to our free Private Guide to Dining newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at @WSRestoAwards and on Instagram at @wsrestaurantawards.

Go to Source
Author:

Sonoma County Wine Auction Raises $1.17 Million with Online Bidding

It has been an unprecedented year for Sonoma’s vintners, who have grappled with COVID-19, tasting room shutdowns, wildfires and smoke, but that couldn’t stop the annual Sonoma County Wine Auction from going ahead this past weekend. One of the top charity auctions held in California wine country, it went virtual for 2020, with online events and remote bidding helping to raise $1.17 million for Sonoma charities.

As with other philanthropic wine events, the Sonoma auction faced uncharted waters this year with COVID scuttling in-person events. But the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation, which organizes the event, had no plans of canceling. “Not doing it was not an option,” Clay Mauritson, proprietor of Mauritson Wines and vice president of the Sonoma County Vintners, told Wine Spectator.

Bidding for the live-auction lots opened Sept. 17, as the event held an online welcome party with special guests including former San Francisco Giants star–turned-vintner Rich Aurilia. The final minute of live bidding came two days later during a virtual auction celebration. While the total fell short of 2019’s $6.1 million, organizers were still pleased. “I am over-the-moon happy and proud,” said honorary chair Jake Bilbro of Limerick Lane. “I’m more proud of the $1.1 million we raised given the circumstances than I would have been if we had broken the record in a different situation.”

The Sonoma County Vintners reduced the number of live lots to 12 this year to keep the virtual auction celebration to around an hour. Executive director Michael Haney emceed the event on Vimeo, alongside honorary chairs Mark McWilliams of Arista, Bilbro and Mauritson. The three vintners and longtime friends added a mix of hijinks and friendly banter to the program including initially taking the stage in their briefs, to Haney’s chagrin. But after a quick wardrobe change the vintners took a more serious tone as they encouraged bidders to give generously.


Want to get the latest news on collectible wines and the auction market? Sign up for Wine Spectator‘s free Collecting e-mail newsletter and get a new top-rated wine review, collecting Q&As and more, delivered straight to your inbox every other week!


Education was front and center, with the annual Fund-a-Need lot focused on raising money to bridge the digital divide for students in need. The donations will go toward buying computers, webcams and WiFi services for students who are having trouble accessing online education during the pandemic. “What has shifted dramatically with COVID is an equitable access to education,” said Mauritson, noting that the Fund-a-Need lot has focused on third-grade literacy in recent years. He said the funds generated will address a dire need in Sonoma. “It’s going to give everyone in our community the access to the same education.”

Despite the uncertain times, wineries stepped up and bid generously to help their community. Haney started the bidding by announcing that Courtney Foley had donated $250,000 on behalf of Foley Family Wines. Benovia’s Joe Anderson, Mary Dewane and Mike Sullivan and E. & J. Gallo both donated $100,000, with other prominent Sonoma wine families pitching in as well. “With all the travesty that we’ve had over the last month, we are very hopeful that what we put together can be beneficial to the county,” said Joe Anderson in a video. When the lot closed on Sunday, it had raised $726,000.

The top live lot of the event was a trip for two to Super Bowl LVI in 2022, along with a three-night stay at Williams Selyem’s estate and five large-format bottles of the winery’s 2018 Pinot Noir. That lot sold for $32,000. Another high-selling lot was a chance for 10 people to dine at chef Charlie Palmer’s home with Boulevard chef and owner Nancy Oakes plus wines from vintner Daryl Groom’s collection, which brought in $30,000.

One of the most heartfelt lots of the day was the Kids Krewe Cuvée, which offered bidders the chance to buy bottles of a 2019 red wine produced by Bilbro, McWilliams and Mauritson and their sons, with funds going to support wildfire-relief efforts. Bilbro felt the chance for the vintners to make a wine with their kids that would help other children was a lifetime lesson. “It’s a very simple concept of giving back, and it’s probably the most rewarding feeling and action that anyone can make,” said Bilbro. “For us to be able to share that opportunity as well as teach our children, that is doubly rewarding.”

Since its inception the Sonoma Auction has raised $37 million to benefit local charities. For Sonoma vintners, the auction is about building a stronger community. “This is going to make Sonoma County a better place to live for everybody,” said Mauritson.

Go to Source
Author:

Zachys Auctions Rare Wines from Italy’s Enoteca Pinchiorri

Zachys auction house scored big in its European debut Sept. 12, thanks to a consignment from the Grand Award–winning restaurant Enoteca Pinchiorri. The New York–based auction house sold over 2,500 bottles from restaurant owner Giorgio Pinchiorri’s world-renowned cellar in Florence, Italy, bringing in a total of $4.1 million. The event took place at Cabotte Wine Bar and Restaurant in London, but was available via livestream and overseen from the Zachys home office in White Plains, N.Y., by president Jeff Zacharia and head of sales Charles Antin.

“The decision to eventually hold auctions in London was a natural next step for us, made long before COVID-19,” Jeff Zacharia told Wine Spectator. “Our year has been going so well, despite challenges, that we decided to press forward with the sale, and we’re glad we did.”

The Zachys and Enoteca Pinchiorri partnership comes as restaurants are struggling, while collectible wines remain in demand. Some restaurants are selling their wine inventory either in retail or at auctions to help stay afloat.

“An award-winning restaurant considers its cellar a fundamental resource,” Giorgio Pinchiorri told Wine Spectator. “We have auctioned only a small part of the wines in our cellar and the reasons for doing so have been the reorganization of our cellar and the funding of new restaurant projects.” A Grand Award winner since 1984, the Florence restaurant has 80,000 bottles in its cellar.

The auction took place Sept. 12, with 864 lots featuring some of wine’s biggest names, including Pétrus and Château d’Yquem bottles dating back to the 1920s. The auction sold 100 percent of its lots, mostly to European bidders, while setting 226 world records.


Want to get the latest news on collectible wines and the auction market? Sign up for Wine Spectator‘s free Collecting e-mail newsletter and get a new top-rated wine review, collecting Q&As and more, delivered straight to your inbox every other week!


Record breakers included a single magnum of Henri Jayer Richebourg 1979 and a Georges Roumier Musigny 1990, which sold for $60,400 each. A single imperial (6 liters) of Pétrus 2009 was picked up for $54,000, while a bottle of Jayer Richebourg 1985 sold for $44,500. A methuselah (Burgundy’s 6-liter bottle) of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée St.-Vivant 1981 fetched nearly $40,000.

Zachys’ London operation didn’t take shape overnight. The auction house assembled a team in Europe four years ago, and the original plan, pre-pandemic, was to celebrate the long-awaited expansion with a week of events culminating into a large live auction, but Zacharia says virtual auctions are and will continue to be a great source of growth for the family-run business.

“Nothing will change the excitement and camaraderie of a live auction, but these ‘studio sales’ are much easier logistically, so we can have more of them,” Zacharia said. “And our bidders love them.” Zachys is already planning a second London auction in November.

According to Zachys head of Europe Christy Erickson, Enoteca Pinchiorri’s owners felt it was the right time to let go of some of its wines, but the majority of the cellar still remains. The restaurant has consigned additional large-format bottles to Baghera Wines Auction & Trading for a sale later this year in Geneva.

Go to Source
Author:

‘Drink the Best in House Arrest’ Wins Wine Spectator’s 2020 Video Contest

Troy and Jill Campione were on the couch watching a Disney sing-along skit and sipping Piper-Heidsieck Champagne when inspiration struck. The six-time Video Contest finalists decided to add their own wine-centric lyrics to Beauty and the Beast‘s hit song “Be Our Guest” for this year’s “Wine at Home” theme, and film a music video. The end result, “Drink the Best in House Arrest,” took first place in this year’s Wine Spectator Video Contest.

The homemade video was shot over the course of two days, almost entirely on an iPhone, and voice recorded in a closet. “Since the video was a musical parody, we had to conjure our inner thespians and bring it all to the screen, a menagerie of hidden talents including singing and dancing, all while drinking and juggling a glass of wine,” Troy Campione told Wine Spectator. “Plus, we needed to synchronize our on-camera shenanigans with our pre-recorded song.”

Troy’s passion for wine started in 2000, when he moved to California and began hosting business dinners. He says the song’s lyrics borrow from his extensive tasting at events such as Wine Spectator‘s Grand Tour, and sommelier classes. Luckily, the filmmaking responsibilities were handed to his daughter, Madison, who shot and co-directed the production, along with videos from previous year’s contests. It has now become the “Campione family tradition.”

This year’s biggest challenge for the Video Contest veterans was working with animals. Although it felt like a wild card, their rescue pets Benji and Beauty performed on cue, “leading us to believe that they may have had acting careers in their past,” Campione said.

This year’s contest came during a difficult year, and the Campiones wanted to show viewers that “Wine provides an important social reprieve where good times can be had and shared, even if from a distance … that your penciled-in French mustache doesn’t have to be perfect when you are having fun.” The Campiones’ Grand Prize includes two full weekend passes to Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience in 2021, where the video will be screened for more than 1,000 attendees.

This year’s second-place winner, “New Normal,” from Stoller Wine Group, focused on how wine and technology have brought us closer together during the pandemic. The video gives viewers a glimpse of the isolation, uncertainty and negativity that the pandemic has created through the lens of a young woman’s experience, but offers a hopeful message about wine’s power to transport us, and that our wine-tasting friends are virtually just a click away.

“We felt that it was important to capture the ways we have all been communicating, coming together and ultimately escaping, if only briefly, by showing how wine can whisk you away to another world,” Stoller marketing director Jenna LaCroix told Wine Spectator.

This year’s third-place winner, “2020: A Year to Shred,” takes viewers on a skateboard ride, delivering wine to friends around the city in a safe manner. The short video was created by Thai filmmaker Tina Termsomket, who also won the Video Contest in 2013. With special effects, a touch of humor and a skateboard primarily made out of a wine barrel, Termsomket shows viewers how “Wine at Home” can still be safely enjoyed and shared.

Catch the rest of the inspiring 2020 Video Contest finalists, and find your own favorite among our winners, finalists and honorable mentions.

Go to Source
Author:

Vintner Diego Planeta, Who Helped Put Sicilian Wine on the Map, Dies at 80

Diego Planeta, the tireless force behind both his family winery’s success and Sicilian wine’s campaign to gain international respect, died Sept. 19. He was 80 years old.

“He has certainly been one of the most influential people in the Sicilian wine renaissance, and I will greatly miss our discussions about the future of Sicily,” said Alberto Tasca d’Almerita, who heads his family’s winery with his brother Giuseppe. “One of Diego Planeta’s greatest contributions was in the way he always thought about Sicily as a collective island and never just as an individual.”

Planeta’s most tangible legacy is the wine company that bears his family’s name, now run by the next generation and encompassing five wineries spread across Sicily. But Planeta started as a grapegrower and spent decades pushing Sicily toward the production of quality wines and promoting them around the world.

In 1973, Planeta began what would be an almost 20-year term as president of Sicily’s most successful wine cooperative, Cantine Settesoli. Planeta’s father was a founding member of Settesoli in 1958. It was established to protect grapegrowers at a time when prices were at an alarming low, driven by Sicily’s reputation as a source for poor-quality bulk wine.

Today Settesoli includes 2,300 members farming nearly 5 percent of Sicily’s total vineyard acreage. As president, Planeta improved the quality of the cooperative’s value-oriented MandraRossa label. He solicited the expertise of famed consulting enologist Giacomo Tacchis. In 1989, Planeta hired Piedmont-born enologist Carlo Corino to integrate modern winemaking technologies Corino learned during time working in Australia.

“His work at Settesoli was unbelievable, not only because he created a successful brand but because he proved the ability to join together hundreds of grape producers,” said Tasca d’Almerita.

During Planeta’s tenure he also established a progressive partnership with the Instituto Regionale della Vite e del Vino (IRVV). As part of this partnership the IRVV helped fund experimental vineyards of international varieties. Planeta hypothesized that in order to produce quality wine from Sicilian varieties, the island’s producers needed to first understand how to do so with benchmark grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

“At the time, he seemed mad to everyone else in Sicily,” said Francesca Planeta, Diego’s daughter, in a 2014 interview with Wine Spectator. “But he had the vision that we had to do it to save Sicilian viticulture. He didn’t do it just for Settesoli, he did it for the whole of Sicily.”

Settesoli began to pay skeptical growers to plant international varieties, based on the promising results of the IRVV work. Co-op members ultimately applied the farming and winemaking techniques they learned to local varieties.

Planeta began commercial production from his family’s historic vineyard holdings located in southwestern Menfi, bottling his first wines in 1995. The wines were an overnight success. In 2000, the Planeta Chardonnay Sicilia 1998 rated 91 points on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale and the Merlot Sicilia 1997 rated 90 points. The Chardonnay earned a spot among Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2000, the first wine from Sicily to be included in the annual list.


Stay on top of important wine stories with Wine Spectator’s free Breaking News Alerts.


Planeta continued to champion all Sicilian wine. In 1998 he collaborated with Lucio Tasca d’Almerita and Giacomo Rallo of Donnafugata to establish Assovini Sicilia, a private organization promoting the island’s wines.

Though Planeta is known for championing international varieties, he saw that work as ultimately in pursuit of quality production from the island’s local grapes. While the wine world was raving about his Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot, Planeta was purchasing land in other parts of Sicily to explore the diversity of the island’s terroir and its ability to produce distinctive wines from native varieties.

Working with his daughter Francesca and nephews Santi and Alessio, who heads the winery today, Planeta added four new boutique wineries between 1997 and 2013. Each is dedicated to the production of different native varieties, from Frappato at the Dorilli estate in southeastern Sicily’s Vittoria to a Nero d’Avola-Nocera blend at Capo Milazzo’s La Baronia property in the island’s northeast corner.

With his warm and congenial personality, often speaking of his beloved Sicily, Planeta was a venerated ambassador for his region’s wines. “Diego was an inexhaustible source of wisdom, ideas and vision,” said Antonio Rallo of Donnafugata.

Go to Source
Author:

Chef’s Blog: Urban Plates Sustainable Seafood

Sustainable seafood has been a hot topic since the early 90’s when the sustainable seafood movement began. It is especially important to support this movement now as our oceans are still being exploited at an alarmingly high rate and extinction is threatening many species of marine life.

All of the seafood we offer at Urban Plates is sustainably sourced. We offer a combination of wild caught and farm raised options.

Wild Line Caught Ahi Nicoise Salad

So, what can we do to help support the sustainable seafood movement? This question can be overwhelming at times and the answers confusing, especially when consuming fish in restaurants. Urban Plates is committed to supporting sustainability in our restaurants and our ingredient sourcing is one of our top priorities to ensure we are upholding this standard. We have created a set of criteria that all our seafood must meet to be served in our restaurants. In creating these criteria, we had to spend time researching what sustainable seafood means and how best to source product. Here are some tools on how to navigate making the best choice for consuming sustainable seafood in order to preserve and improve the ocean, marine-life and fisheries.

What does sustainable seafood mean?

Sustainable seafood is either caught or farmed (aquaculture) in ways that consider the long-term vitality of the species being harvested and the social impacts. Sustainably sourced seafood minimizes the environmental impact on the ocean and ocean wildlife, prevents overfishing, identifies and protects habitats and takes into consideration the social and economic impacts on communities from which seafood is sourced.

How can we support sustainably sourced seafood?

Identifying the source is a great first step. How and where the seafood was caught or how it was farmed will help you avoid consuming seafood that is not sustainable. Asking questions tells the restaurant, store or company that customers care about how their seafood is sourced. If the source is unknown then the safest option is to avoid purchasing there. Ideally this will spark a bigger conversation and help push the company in a direction to better understand where their products come from. Businesses in the community play a crucial role in ocean conservation and they listen to you, their customer. Asking for sustainable seafood will start the process of making a difference.

The next step is to educate yourself on the best choices that promote sustainability. There are organizations around the world that are dedicated to studying and promoting sustainable fisheries and they have made seafood guides available. Choosing a guide that is based on science is important. These are some great options: Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, the Safina Center at Stony Brook University and Environmental Defense Fund’s Seafood Selector.

Many of these guides are available on mobile apps so you can easily check the guide based on the answer to your question of where the seafood is from and how it was caught or farmed. The guides will give you an idea of if the product is a best choice, good alternative or not recommended. This makes the decision easier and helps you weed out places that aren’t supporting sustainably sourced seafood.

Another thing to consider is how far your seafood traveled and what type of carbon footprint that has. When you buy local seafood with sustainable methods the carbon footprint is significantly reduced. Local seafood also has the added benefit of supporting local businesses.

Trying new species of seafood or less popularized varieties helps relieve overfishing of species that are at risk. This is also a great opportunity to expand your palate and discover new favorites and possibly learn some new cooking techniques.

Aquaculture has gained momentum in recent years and the Monterey Bay Aquarium predicts the majority of fish we eat in the next decade will be farm raised, not wild. I often get the question: “Isn’t wild caught seafood better than farm raised seafood?”

The answer is that both wild caught and farm raised seafood have their pros and cons.

Fishermen use a wide range of gear and every type has its own affect on the ocean. As a consumer you can make a difference by choosing to purchase seafood that is caught using a method that has the minimal impact on the environment. Like wild caught seafood, farm-raised seafood has many farming systems and each has its own distinct environmental footprint. By choosing seafood that is farmed using the better production systems you can play a positive role in reducing the potential negative impact of aquaculture.

The next comment or question I often hear is: “if it’s not wild caught it doesn’t taste good.” This is a very subjective matter since everyone’s taste buds are unique. There is no right or wrong on this topic, but I will say that not all species are available year-round. So, if you really want wild caught salmon out of season for example it will likely be frozen, which does have an affect on the flavor and texture. Farm raised salmon, as an example, can be harvested year-round, has a consistent flavor profile and doesn’t have to be frozen.

Sustainable Salmon Caesar Salad

In an effort to reduce overfishing of wild salmon we chose to source a sustainably farm raised salmon as a good alternative to wild caught salmon that is only available fresh during a short season. Our north Atlantic salmon is raised in the Pacific Ocean in low density marine net pens. We have taken our sourcing even further by ensuring our salmon is certified by Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) with a 4-star rating, which both ensure that the salmon is being farmed safely, sustainably and responsibly. This also means the farming practices have less of an impact on the surrounding eco-system and the fish have a better environment. Additionally, this type of aquaculture has good alterative rating from The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Our salmon is fresh, never frozen, never given steroids or added hormones.

 

Grilled Ahi Plate with Sesame Broccolini and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

We offer a hand- line wild caught ahi tuna from Indonesia and the Western Pacific Ocean. It is Fair Trade Certified, in the process of being MSC certified sustainable and has a “Best Choice” rating from the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch. It is never treated with dyes which alter the color. Our purveyor has even taken the extra step of collaborating on a program called The Fishing & Living TM. This program promotes sustainable fisheries and enhanced living conditions for fishing communities through improved fishing practices, education promotions, and donations.
We take great pride in all of our menu offerings and the ingredients we source. I will be delving into other ingredients in future blogs, but you can expect the same high level of criteria and standards that we use with our seafood sourcing to be applied to all of our ingredients. This is part of our commitment to offer you wholesome, balanced, healthy food made from scratch using the best quality ingredients at an honest value.

I hope this blog has given you some easy-to-use information that can help you navigate sustainably sourced seafood and if you have any questions I would be happy to help!

Cheers,

Chef Jim

The post Chef’s Blog: Urban Plates Sustainable Seafood appeared first on Urban Plates.

Go to Source
Author: Meg Bruno

Take a Break from Holiday Shopping. Good is Served.

The holiday season is in full swing! Thanksgiving has come and gone with the blink of an eye and the New Year will be here in a flash. During the holidays, it can be difficult to slow down and fully appreciate this special time of the year with friends and family.

Even as a chef I sometimes need a break from the holiday pressure and appreciate not having to cook every meal. It’s a great relief to know that I can conveniently “choose good” in the midst of indulgence during the next couple of weeks.

Urban Plates is committed to offering you real food that is nourishing, nutrient-rich and flavorful. Our food starts with high quality, carefully-sourced ingredients. I believe that by starting with the best ingredients we create great-tasting food with time-tested culinary techniques. In doing so, we eliminate the need for preservatives and unhealthy additives and maintain the naturally occurring nutrients that fuel our body and mind.

Fortunately, wherever I’m shopping this season I find myself close to an Urban Plates. This makes it easy to take a break from my holiday “to do” list. What a relief it is to escape the busy shops and parking lots to recharge in the comfortable and welcoming atmosphere of my local Urban Plates.

Hand-Made and Customizable Salads

Our entrée salads are a perfect option to satisfy your hunger and get a healthy well-rounded meal. Each salad is crafted to be a great source of nutrients with hot, hand-carved proteins, plenty of raw and unprocessed fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fresh house made salad dressings. All of the oils used in our dressings are GMO-free and organic. Our spicy peanut dressing is a great example of our commitment to the highest food quality. We make this dressing by starting with hand sliced scallions, raw ginger and garlic. We lightly sauté them to heighten the flavors, add a touch of brown sugar and gently simmer to caramelize the sugars. We deglaze the pan with fresh orange juice and rice wine vinegar and then finish the dressing with peanut butter and some chili! Each salad has its own unique flavor profile with the perfect house made dressing to compliment all the ingredients.

Hearty Soups

If you don’t have time for a full meal our soups are a great way to warm your body and soul. Our popular vegan tomato basil soup is made with organic tomatoes, organic carrots, fennel, fresh raw basil, balsamic vinegar and is finished with coconut milk and nutritional yeast. Our tomato basil soup is a healthier alternative to the traditional cream based soups. It has all the flavor and creaminess of a traditional tomato soup, but we make ours with coconut milk and nutritional yeast instead of heavy cream and cheese. The coconut milk provides a great mouth feel, many nutrients and lauric acid, a medium- chain fatty acid that’s easily absorbed and used by the body for energy. The nutritional yeast gives the soup a nutty and cheesy flavor while providing protein and B-complex vitamins, great for helping the body convert food into energy.

Urban Plates Replenishers

To finish off your break, one of our Replenishers is the perfect complement to your meal. All our Replenishers are made with fresh whole ingredients to provide you with real flavors and plenty of nutrient benefits. We have a wide variety of options ranging from our popular fresh lemonade made with organic lemon juice and lightly sweetened with organic sugar to our seasonal green juice made with organic baby kale, celery, cucumber, seasonal fruits and no added sugar!

Urban Plates Gift Cards

Even though you might be on a shopping break, Urban Plates can easily help with your gift list with our gift cards. You can customize the gift amount on each card, making it easy to use as a stocking stuffer or a treat for your foodie friend or family member. Our gift cards are also a great contribution as a donation for individuals and families in need during the holiday season. You can “gift the taste” of Urban Plates whether you’re in the restaurant of online.

Entertaining at Home

Urban Plates is happy to help you spend more time with family and friends, enjoying their company and relaxing. Our Family Meals are available during the holiday season and are designed to feed four or more people. You can conveniently order these affordable meals for take-out or delivery. We are offering a choice of our Chimichurri Grass-Fed Steak, Habanero Mango BBQ Ribs, Grilled Free-Range Chicken, Turkey Meatloaf and Honey Mustard Salmon paired with two large seasonal sides of your choice and grilled rustic bread.

We source all of our proteins from trustworthy farmers and ranchers that never administer antibiotics or added growth hormones and practice sustainable farming methods. As a chef, I feel it is my duty to honor their hard work by preparing our proteins simply on our grill or in our ovens. Our sauces and marinades are all made in house with clean ingredients, designed to complement the protein and not mask the natural flavor profiles.

If you are entertaining a larger group (15 to 50 or more), our Chefs can take care of your needs with our convenient Catering Menu. We can create your whole meal or provide you with seasonal sides and desserts to pair with your main course. With so many options on our menu you can easily satisfy everyone’s requests and dietary needs.

Our sides are always made in small batches throughout the day and can be ordered easily for pick up or delivery. Some of my favorites for holiday meals are the macaroni and cheese, roasted brussels sprouts with turkey bacon, miso mushroom sweet potato sauté, chilled beet salad with goat cheese and superfood salad. Everyone in my family loves sides, but making all the favorites gets pretty time consuming. I know that Urban Plates sides are all delicious, healthy and made the way I would make them, so I feel good bringing them to share with everyone.

Probably one of the most holiday associated foods are desserts! It’s a time to celebrate and desserts always add that festive touch of joy and excitement to the end of a meal. We have pastry chefs in every Urban Plates location making all of our desserts from scratch with real ingredients. We don’t use any bases, flavorings or additives to make the pastries. Each component of our desserts is made in house. For example, our hummingbird cake layers are made with hand smashed bananas that we ripen until they have the perfect texture and sweetness. We fresh-chop the pineapple and raw walnuts and mix the cake batter by hand, not machines. The cake layers are filled with fresh chopped pineapple and our addictive cream cheese frosting.

All of our pastries are available during this holiday season, either as individual treats or dessert platters. Whole cakes and the mango tart are great for sharing and can be pre-ordered for your event.

All our locations will be open Christmas Eve from 11am – 8:30pm and closed on Christmas Day. We will also be open New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day from 11am to 9:30pm. We look forward to seeing you and sharing our made-from-scratch food with your family and friends.

Warm Holiday Wishes,

Chef Jen

The post Take a Break from Holiday Shopping. Good is Served. appeared first on Urban Plates.

Go to Source
Author: Shane

Chef’s Blog: Urban Plates Winter Menu

The excitement of the new decade is behind us and I am beginning to settle into the winter season. The energy (and occasional chaos) that comes with the New Year has calmed and I am enjoying the cold weather, calmness of early days inside and embracing the season’s hearty winter produce in my kitchen. As always, the season and local produce harvest guide my cooking. For many, winter can be a tough time to find fresh produce as much of the country is covered in snow or too cold for most of the “exciting and showy” produce of the other seasons. Yes, tomatoes and berries are still available right now in the store, but they don’t taste like much and honestly, they don’t have the same nutritional benefits as they do in their true season. I skip over these items and head for the brussels sprouts, kale, root vegetables, cabbages and other winter produce. These items shine this time of the year and they have the most flavor and nutrition to offer in their peak season. This is the heart of seasonal cooking and I believe it leads to an overall balance for the year. At times it may feel like I’ve overdone it, like eating too much of the same items, but as soon as I begin to feel that way new produce emerges and it’s time to embrace the next season and harvest of new produce. I love cooking this way and feel that it naturally nourishes my body with what it needs for the time of the year.

While we have a core menu at Urban Plates that offers items you can always count on being fresh and made from scratch we like to highlight produce and cooking methods with our seasonal menu changes. This month we are offering some new items and focusing on some of our core offerings that are especially delicious right now due to the ingredients being in their peak.

Plant Based Bowls
Chickpea + Sweet Potato BowlOur newest addition to the menu is our Plant Based Bowls. These are a great way to fuel your body with nutrient dense ingredients bursting with unique flavor profiles.The chickpea & sweet potato bowlis a beautiful composition of seasoned chickpeas and lentils, chilled roasted sweet potatoes coated with chia seeds, and a crunchy, harissa spiced cabbage and pea salad. We drizzle everything with our vegan kale pesto and finish the bowl with goji berries.

beets and avocadoOur beet & avocado bowl is a bright combination of organic white & red quinoa tossed with roasted tomato pesto, chilled roasted beets coated with hemp seeds, pickled onions and a crisp raw cabbage- walnut salad tossed with our miso lemongrass dressing. Both bowls are vegan, gluten free and rich with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, plant-based protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Lamb Osso Bucco

The lamb osso bucco we introduced with our fall menu is another perfect winter weather meal option. The grass-fed lamb shank is slow cooked in a red wine reduction sauce and finished with a bright herbaceous mint gremolata. We serve the fork-tender osso bucco with our luscious mashed potatoes and a slice of grilled rustic bread. I find this dish hearty and satisfying without being heavy, the perfect comfort meal.

Scratch-Made Sides

Our hot sides are always a great accompaniment to your meal this time of the year, warming and satisfying. While our core hot sides are available year-round, I think the roasted brussels sprouts with turkey bacon are at their best right now. The colder weather is the perfect condition for growing delicious tender brussels sprouts. Unlike many fruits and vegetables, they can withstand and thrive in the colder winter season. We cook them at a high heat in our ovens and then finish them in small batches on our sauté line with sweet yellow onions, turkey bacon, garlic and a splash of lemon juice. If you haven’t had them recently or ever, make sure you give them a try on your next visit!

We’re introducing a new red & white quinoa hot side this month. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a seed that acts like a grain. Gluten free and containing all nine essential amino acids, antioxidants and a variety of vitamins and minerals, quinoa is a great option if you are looking for a healthy carbohydrate, high in protein and fiber. We start by cooking our quinoa with scratch made vegetable stock, toss it with our preserved lemon vinaigrette, fresh parsley and finish it with roasted tomato pesto. This side has a beautiful nutty base flavor brightened by the preserved lemons and tangy tomato pesto. It has a great nutritional profile containing all nine essential amino acids, antioxidants and a variety of vitamins and minerals. It’s a great option if you are looking for a healthy carbohydrate, high in protein and fiber.

Beets are another winter season crop that peak this time of the year. While we’ve had our beet fennel walnut cold side on the menu since the opening of our flagship restaurant, we wanted to try a new flavor profile this year. Our chefs crafted a miso lemongrass dressing that adds a lightly creamy texture to the beets with a mildly spicy, salty umami profile that balances perfectly with the earthy sweet flavor of the beets. We finish this side with hemp seeds and you can add goat cheese upon request. This is a low-calorie side high in vitamins.

Seasonal Replenishers

All of our replenishers are made with fresh whole ingredients to provide you with real flavors and plenty of nutrient benefits. Our popular Super Green replenisher is returning to the menu while kale is at its peak. We blend organic baby kale, celery, cucumber, fresh lemon juice, raw ginger, parsley, pineapple, chia seeds and organic apple juice until it is perfectly smooth. It has a light body with a perfect balance of vegetable and subtle natural fruit sweetness. We’ve added no sugar to this drink and let the fruit naturally sweeten it. This replenisher is packed with nutrient dense ingredients that boost your immune system! Kale is loaded with antioxidants that can help lower cholesterol. Ginger has excellent anti-inflammatory benefits and chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber and calcium.

New to the menu is our Cantaloupe Mango replenisher. This bright orange drink is an excellent pick me up on those dreary days when you’re missing the sun and in need of some vitamin C. We blend fresh cantaloupe with mango, pineapple, organic apple juice and a pinch of stevia. The tropical mango and pineapple add a nice acidity to the sweet and naturally creamy melon, making this a luscious replenisher full of vitamin C & A, antioxidants and fiber.

Coconut Lemon Cake

Our ever-popular coconut lemon cake is returning this month for the season. It is a stunning dessert made with coconut milk cake layers filled with fresh lemon curd, coconut whipped pastry cream and finished with toasted coconut. The creamy rich coconut is balanced by the refreshing tart lemon and makes this cake irresistible.

The post Chef’s Blog: Urban Plates Winter Menu appeared first on Urban Plates.

Go to Source
Author: Meg Bruno

Quick Chicken Taquitos

Quick Chicken Taquitos - Such a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken! So easy, crispy and crunchy! Serve with guac, pico de gallo and sour cream!

Such a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken! So easy, crispy and crunchy! Serve with guac, pico de gallo and sour cream!

Quick Chicken Taquitos - Such a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken! So easy, crispy and crunchy! Serve with guac, pico de gallo and sour cream!

I was really torn whether to classify this as an appetizer or entree.

I could (and I have) eaten most of the platter, alone, so that made it my dinner. But then I have also served this to some friends and family, which means I had to share so it unfortunately became an appetizer.

So I guess it’s both?

I don’t know. Either way, app or entree, these super crispy, crunchy taquitos comes together in a cinch with the help of leftover rotisserie along with a few pantry staples and my favorite blend of cheeses. Simply fill them up, roll them, and throw them in some hot, hot oil until super golden brown and crisp.

Serve with guacamole, pico de gallo and a dollop of sour cream. SO SO GOOD.

Quick Chicken Taquitos - Such a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken! So easy, crispy and crunchy! Serve with guac, pico de gallo and sour cream!

Quick Chicken Taquitos

Such a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken! So easy, crispy and crunchy! Serve with guac, pico de gallo and sour cream!

20 minutes10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups leftover shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, or more, to taste
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
  • 6 cups canola oil

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine chicken, green chiles, cheeses, cilantro, chili powder, cumin and hot sauce.
  2. Working one at a time, transfer tortilla to a work surface; place 1/3 cup chicken mixture in the center of each wrapper. Bring the bottom edge of the tortilla tightly over the filling, rolling from bottom to top until the top of the tortilla is reached; secure with wooden picks. Repeat with remaining tortilla and filling.
  3. Heat canola oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat until it reaches 375 degrees F.
  4. Working in batches, add taquitos to the Dutch oven and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. When cool enough to handle, remove wooden picks.
  5. Serve immediately.

Did you Make This Recipe?

Tag @damn_delicious on Instagram and hashtag it #damndelicious.

The post Quick Chicken Taquitos appeared first on Damn Delicious.

Winter Pear Salad

Winter Pear Salad - So hearty with so many feel-good ingredients! With lemon rosemary chicken, brussels sprouts, pear + a honey dijon dressing. YES, PLEASE!

So hearty with so many feel-good ingredients! With lemon rosemary chicken, brussels sprouts, pear + a honey dijon dressing. YES, PLEASE!

Winter Pear Salad - So hearty with so many feel-good ingredients! With lemon rosemary chicken, brussels sprouts, pear + a honey dijon dressing. YES, PLEASE!

Anyone else still rolling from the holidays? I feel like I have gained 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas with all the stuffing, cream pies, and corgi sugar cookies I have been stuffing down my gullet the last month.

It’s been absolutely glorious. I still have some leftover corgi sugar cookies hoarded away in my purse. SHHHHHH.

Winter Pear Salad - So hearty with so many feel-good ingredients! With lemon rosemary chicken, brussels sprouts, pear + a honey dijon dressing. YES, PLEASE!

But I also need all my veggies now, and then some to make up for the holidays, and this salad makes it almost too easy to get in all my nutrients.

With massaged kale, brussels sprouts, pear, pomegranate, and the juiciest marinated lemon rosemary chicken thighs, I can eat this for the entire month of January. The candied walnuts, crumbled blue cheese and honey Dijon dressing also help tremendously.

Winter Pear Salad

So hearty with so many feel-good ingredients! With lemon rosemary chicken, brussels sprouts, pear + a honey dijon dressing. YES, PLEASE!

20 minutes20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups shredded kale
  • 3 cups shredded brussels sprouts
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 bosc pear, sliced
  • 3 clementines, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 3/4 cup candied walnuts
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Directions:

  1. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine chicken, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper; marinate for at least 2 hours to overnight, turning the bag occasionally. Drain the chicken from the marinade.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat.* Working in batches, add chicken to the grill pan in a single layer and cook until golden brown and cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  3. In a large bowl, combine kale, brussels sprouts and green onions; drizzle with remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, honey and Dijon. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with pear, clementines, pomegranate, walnuts and blue cheese.
  4. Serve immediately.

Notes:

*If you do not have a cast iron grill pan, you can also use a large cast iron skillet.

Did you Make This Recipe?

Tag @damn_delicious on Instagram and hashtag it #damndelicious.

The post Winter Pear Salad appeared first on Damn Delicious.