Archive for September, 2009

ACADÉMIE now available at Pleasant Hill Market in Pleasant Hill, CA!

September 29th, 2009

Looking into store from the front doorLast week we made our first delivery to Pleasant Hill Market in Pleasant Hill, California and today it’s officially on the shelf!

We are excited to have Pleasant Hill Market as a vendor, and Pleasant Hill can finally get our wines without a trek to Berkeley.

The market is pretty awesome. Lots of very inexpensive (and very tasty) fruits and veggies, as well as a nice assortment of other odds and ends. And you can’t beat the very friendly service – come here a few times and they’ll greet you by name.

This is a family run business – owned by two twin brothers in their mid-twenties with other family members behind the register.

Great prices, great people, great food and wine – what more could you ask for!

Check out Yelp reviews here. Or check out the Google map to find out how to get there!

Check out more pictures below!

ACADÉMIE on sale at Star Grocery in Berkeley!

September 16th, 2009

Retro SignIt’s official: We’re in Star Grocery in Berkeley (click here for a Google Map)! We’ve got a snazzy little display on the deli counter – prime real estate for folks looking to put together a recipe!

And man, this place is awesome! Yelp.com is filled with reviews from customers that just love it (Care to see some? Click here!). And having spent a bit of time there, I can see why.

The first thing you notice when you walk in is a nice and open wine section to your right and then a very open and bright fruit/veggie section right next to it. And above is a 1950’s style supermarket sign announcing fruit & vegetables (and ice) and household items. I love it!

You can find your spices in giant jars that you scoop out yourself next to the veggie section. Above the Deli & Meat Section are huge colorful chalkboards with awesome chalk art of animals and food related stuff. They even have a pet turtle!

The frozen food section has a nice organic and gluten free selection. And best of all, EVERYTHING is very reasonably priced!

But one of my favorite things about Star Grocery is all the hand done signs everywhere. The staff take the time to describe and actually *consume* the things they sell, and they let their customers know what they think. It really is amazing how much life a hand-written sign can add to a product. It serves as an educational tool and an endorsement – and it just looks so cool.
ACADÉMIE display at deli
There are also all sorts of little odds and ends that add a really cool personality to the store. There are articles, drawings, cut-outs and posters taped up everywhere. Funny stuff. Informative stuff. Goofy stuff. It’s so cool.

Night and day from a cold and sterile big chain grocery store, that’s for sure.

And of course, if you have any questions, just ask the staff. These people know their stuff. They are excited to help you out or chat about any question you may have.

Star Grocery is a really cool and funky Berkeley-esque grocery store. Or…rather (having visited most of them), how a cool and funky Berkeley-esque grocery store *SHOULD* be!

I can’t think of a better home for ACADÉMIE wines. We’ll keep everyone posted as we do demos.

And of course, now you know where you can buy our wines ;)

-Casey

Sezchuan / Sichuan Pepper Inspiration and White Wine

September 7th, 2009

We have prepared a really awesome soy sauce chicken dish a  few time and we decided to give it a go with the Blend #2: Seafood, Poultry & Pork white wine blend. The thing to note about the Blend #2 is that when it’s reduced (see reduction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reduction_%28cooking%29), it adds a beautiful tartness/brightness and green apple quality to the food. You can either reduce the wine beforehand and add it in as an ingredient, or you can just add the wine directly into the dish right from the bottle.

When you prepare this chicken dish, you boil the chicken until thoroughly cooked. You then add the soy sauce and spices and boil for another 30 minutes or so. This is when I decided to add the wine as it was already going to reduce whatever was boiling, and it was also going to be marinating the chicken at the same time.

Sichuan Peppercorn

Star ingredient #1: Sichuan Peppercorn

The first unique ingredient in the dish is the Sichuan Pepper (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sichuan_pepper). It actually isn’t a pepper at all – it’s the pod of a very tiny fruit…but it packs an incredible punch in any dish. It’s actually quite hard to describe – it imparts a kind of flowery and briny electrical sweetness and spiciness to the dish. It’s not “hot” per se. But it really is out of this world and too much can be overwhelming for some. Fans of Sichuan Chinese cuisine will know this pepper (or at least, they should!). And drinking water or beer after a soup filled with this pepper is quite an interesting experience as it alters your perception of the flavors (adding that electrical sweetness element to it).

I think this is a star ingredient because it can be used to add an interesting spicy depth to any dish that is complementary to its flavor. White meat and beef dishes that could use a little zing go really well with it. It’s definitely worth experimenting with and you should be able to track it down on the web or at your local Asian market.

In this particular chicken dish, it adds a really nice complexity to the chicken and sauce.

Reducing the sauce

Star ingredient #2: The Wine

As I mentioned, we’ve prepared this dish quite a few times without wine and it always blows me away. There is an incredible savory and sweet depth to the very tender chicken (it’s nearly falling off the bone!) and the Sichan pepper tempers all this with a little bit of spice. The soy sauce adds the perfect amount of saltiness and everything melds together beautifully.

And of course, as with everything, I wondered how we could improve it with wine. This dish could actually go either way in terms of our choice of white wine. We could use blend #2 or blend #4. It’s the choice of adding citrus brightness or soft, perfumey and sweet fruit character. The citrus would be complimentary of the spice and salt. On the other hand, the fruit would have been complementary to the chicken and the perfumey nature of the Sichuan pepper.

But we ultimately opeted to go wit the Blend #2 as we thought the citrusy brightness would be the most appropriate for our mood at the time.

*As an aside* AS you get more familiar with these wines, your brain will start to know them really well and how they will interact with certain recipes will come naturally. You already do this intuitively with spices – and it’s really cool when you can do it with wine!

Dinner with rice

My theory was that the wine would bring a nice brightness to the overall flavor profile of the dish – and perhaps even heft up he body of the sauce. As the sauce and the wine is reduced in the boil, you’d get a natural concentration of flavors that would meld together nicely.

And wow, that theory was right on! This dish is spectacular by iteslf, and even more incredible wiht one cup of wine. It really added a lot of depth to the dish and never ceases to amaze me how much a really great tdish can be improved wiht a little bit of wine. We had enough to pour a glass when we were done and the wine was great with the meal.

The recipe will be posted in our recipe section of the website shortly!