Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Discovering Windsor - Can I really eat like this?

When we flew into an airport named for my favorite cartoonist of all time, I knew it would be good.  The direct flight from LAX to Sonoma's County's Charles M Shultz Airport was too convenient...although driving from LA instead of taking the prop plane would have probably taken an extra hour and a half.  By the way, it was $63 one way on Alaska Air - great deal.

Never having been deep into Sonoma County, I had no idea what I was in for.  This trip was all about discovery - and what a discovery it was.  The people of Sonoma County can get testy about Napa and rightfully so - Sonoma has so much to offer.

We actually stayed in Windsor at a well appointed timeshare property.  The two bedroom and two bath unit was perfect for two couples.  As described on the property's website,  "Adjacent to WorldMark Windsor is the challenging Windsor Golf Course, host to six PGA Nike events. Windsor is also home to more than 1,000 acres of regional parkland and is the liftoff point of the annual Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic."  It's a beautiful setting and for golfers, a challenging track.

From the patio at Charlie's - Nice View!

Upon our arrival, we immediately walked a block to find our way to a table overlooking the golf course at Charlie's.  We could not get enough of the Gorgonzola Truffle Fries - Crispy Skin on Fries tossed with Rosemary, Lemon Zest, Garlic, Gorgonzola Cheese and Truffle Oil.  After two bottles of the '06 Mariner Dry Creek Vineyard Meritage, our party concluded that this was a wonderful venue for catching up with old friends.  We managed to return to Charlie's later in the weekend. Never made it here for dinner, but I can tell you that Charlie's is the ticket for wine and appetizers or for lunch (with wine of course).

Before a day of wine tasting, there is no better spot in town for breakfast than KC's Downtown Grill - which sits on a corner overlooking the Windsor Town Green.  This has to be one of the top breakfast places in the world (this is not an overstatement). I had the Greek Omelet one day and the Denver the next. What really blew me away was the fact that breakfast is served with either a fresh Buttermilk Biscuit or a large piece of Raspberry Strudel (a breakfast in itself) along with potatoes and toast.  The is the kind of place I want to try for lunch and dinner - it's real food!  After some of the hip "Celebrity Chef California Fusion Cuisine" places I've been to, I really appreciate the flavor, quality and service of a place like KC's Downtown Grill. 

We haven't even left Windsor yet.  The next edition will talk about the elegant tasting room that my wife and I walked into on the charming Healdsburg town square. It was there that we discovered the ultimate wine server for people who entertain.  Hint:  It's Eco friendly and it's something that you can roll! 

Wine and Food Pairing of the Week:   2009 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay with garlic marinated grilled shrimp.  We visited the La Crema tasting room on the Healdsburg town square and for the sake of research and development at home, we tried the La Crema/Shrimp combo and it was superb!    The 2009 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is available from our friends at and Bevmo in Southern California.  Wonderful wine for under $20.00. The oak is subtle - which is why we enjoyed it so much.

Here are the Winemaker's Notes from

The 2009 vintage of Sonoma Coast Chardonnay opens with an intriguing interplay of lively citrus and subtle toasted oak, laced with just a kiss of butterscotch. The palate is round and nutty, with flavors of yellow apple and orange adding lushness, while well-balanced acidity creates a lovely vibrancy. Hints of vanilla and caramel add richness and texture to a long, fresh finish. 

Value Wine of the Week:
2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon  - We picked this gem from the Colombia Valley in Washington State and it's priced right at both and Bevmo. If you enjoy a Cab that really throws some flavors at you like jammy fruits, chocolate, with a little peppery overtone, you'll love it.

Here are the Winemaker's Notes from

Sourced from Columbia Valley vineyards in eastern Washington including our Cold Creek, Canoe Ridge Estate and Indian Wells vineyards. Our goal with the Columbia Valley Cabernet is to highlight concentrated Washington red fruit in an accessible style. This is our inviting Cab with plenty of complexity and structure with silky tannins. It's also very versatile with food--try it with beef, pork or pasta.

What I’m listening to on the crowded LA Freeways:  Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.  What an amazing story.

If you drive a lot, or if reading just wears you out, you have to try Audible. I am thoroughly addicted to the Audible downloads program. Check out the amazing introductory offer from our friends at that you can access from this page. I’m personally cranking through a book each week.

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