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The Food Party!

By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Losing My Vino Virginity and Other Cheesy Fun

Uploaded: Mar 6, 2016

Lots of Food Parties! happening around town this week.

ZinEx 2016

Can someone go to a tasting of 500 wines and like every bottle? Yes I learned, if it’s Zinfandel, poured over and over me last weekend.

If you made it to ZinEx 2016 on Pier 27 Saturday, you may have felt the same way. This fabulous gathering of California vintners showed off how good they’ve all gotten at using California’s grape which originates from Croatia, but now grows primarily in the U.S. in California. There were many great wines to Ex-perience, with a few making me surprisingly nostalgic for days gone by.

Back in my youthful jaunts through U of M and MSU, many Wolverines and Spartans were entering adulthood drinking the popular and trendy Sutter Home White Zinfandel (and the later release, Sparkler). Introduced to me by my boss, Shannon, at the Afternoon Delight, a great breakfast restaurant still open in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the wine got a bad rap from critics who said it was just too much a sweet and simple young thang’. But at ZinEx, Agostino Gamba of Gamba Vineyards and Winery taught me current day Zin fans should be forever grateful to the white Zin craze of the 80’s because it saved the vines from being torn out all across the state. In response to a country quickly discovering wine for the first time, a trend which initially caused shortages of white grapes, Zinfandel vines came to the rescue making “white”/rose using only a quick kiss of their dark skins to the light wine. Fast forward 30 plus years and those sweet and silly vines have aged into the old vines so prized by the Zinfandel community today.

The favorite wine of my past is the favorite vine of my present.

Oh my goodness, then I realized I lost my vino-virginity to a vine I still loved. I felt the good old days rush over me; Jack and Diane growin’ up in the heartland-kind of stuff. Or maybe that was the 15% alcohol content talking? (Zinfandels high sugar allows for robust fermentation levels) No matter…the Food Party! is road-tripping about this to research the story more, and reawaken those tender memories of youth and discovery.


We also Food Party! this week at Foodshed, the recently renovated café at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.

After Executive Director Marilee Jennings became disheartened in 2012, with a café serving only typical kid crap (pizza, hotdogs, nachos) she created a new vision where the food was part of the Museum’s message. The result is a bright, cheery eatery you must take your children to. Foodshed demonstrates how healthy food can be delicious, creative and affordable. The Food Rainbow, vegetables and fruits of many colors, is used to inform the menu, designed with the help of Former White House chef Sam Kass.

Foodshed’s profits have increased since the change, while the message of discovery has seasoned the process of children patrons eating a healthy lunch.

Artisan Cheese Festival, March 18 – 20th
Finally we Food Party! at the Cowgirl Creamery cheese shop in the Ferry Building and the Artisan Cheese Festival

Billed as the cheesiest weekend in Petaluma, the cheese fest brings together chefs, artisan cheesemakers, farmers, educators, authors, brewers, winemakers and enthusiastic guests for three days of cheese tasting and celebration. It's a 10-year milestone, and celebrity chef, Joey Altman, will emcee two evening events Under the Big Top: Friday’s “Cheesemongers’ Duel” and Saturday’s “California Cheesin’ – We Do It Our Whey."

There are also educational seminars and pairing demonstrations on Saturday, led by world cheese experts. Topics include pairing cheese with sake, to the similarities of making cheese and chocolate, and take place at the Sheraton Sonoma County and the new Cowgirl Creamery Warehouse.

Food Party! did a “standard and eclectic” tasting at the Ferry Building to learn more about some of the cheeses featured at the Fest, but ratts, I left my notes in California, and now I’m in Michigan visiting Mom.

But here's a few things I couldn't forget...

1) Buying local cheese at the Ferry Building is probably cheaper, and definitely fresher, than what you can get at grocery or cheese shops.

2) Anyone can ask for free tastings at the Ferry Building, but best to go before 11AM.

3) They have fun special events - watch the website. For instance on Fridays at 11 AM the Tomales Bay shop leads a 60-minute Pt. Reyes cheese presentation for only $5.

Wishing you a great Food Party! week.

Until next time remember...

If it ain’t fun, it don’t get done!

What is it worth to you?


Posted by A Fan, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Mar 6, 2016 at 8:57 pm

LOVED ZinEx and the cafe at the Children's Museum is terrific. Thanks for reminding us to have fun Laura!

Posted by title, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Mar 7, 2016 at 12:26 pm

did your choice of blog title occur to you after considerable sampling of Zins?


Posted by Lauralies, a resident of Portola Valley: other,
on Mar 7, 2016 at 6:43 pm


Oh yes, forgive me, I have zinned over and over again.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Mar 10, 2016 at 5:14 am

Took my children to the Discovery Museum this week and thought it was super. I recommend it.

Posted by Brighton, a resident of another community,
on Mar 12, 2016 at 6:12 am

I am new to the Food Party but looking forward to the next one. Very entertaining, thanks.

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