“Christmas Eve in Malibu”

During my early days as a chef, long before I could even really call myself a cook, I once found myself in Cher’s kitchen, helping to prepare Christmas Eve dinner at her lavish Malibu estate.

For lack of a better term, it was one of those typical “Hollywood moments” — a common person’s brush with celebrity — that Angelinos tend to be so proud of at first.

At the risk of sounding jaded, I will admit that I did feel a sense of pride at the time. Not that I really cared that much about Cher in particular. As a film buff, I can admire the fact that she has won an Oscar. I also respect her longevity; maintaining a career in youth-driven Hollwood is inherently difficult.

But really, I could’ve been cooking for any celebrity. I was just proud of [… read more …]

Tasting Notes, 2013: Turnbull Wine Cellars

Turnbull Wine Cellars has long been one of my favorite Napa Valley producers, although the winery’s portfolio has evolved in ways that make me somewhat ambivalent, if I can be honest. There was a time, not too long ago, when Turnbull produced its Old Bull Red, an inexpensive (around $20) catch-all blend with plenty of terrific Oakville pedigree. Unfortunately, Turnbull ceased production of the Old Bull Red with the 2009 vintage, thus ending the availability of one of my staple “pizza” wines.

At the other end of the spectrum, Turnbull has developed an amazing single-vineyard program over the last several years, showcasing the winery’s four Napa Valley properties. These are delicious wines, to be sure, but they definitely command single-vineyard prices. With that in mind, I am thankful that Turnbull still produces its Napa Valley Estate Cabernet, a wine that ranks as one of my top 20 Napa Cabernets [… read more …]