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Monday, November 29, 2010

Wine Lover's Cape Cod Thanksgiving

 Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

Thanksgiving is about family and friends. Jan and I do not have family near us at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, but we do have great friends who joined us for a wonderful thanksgiving dinner and some great wines. Frequent guests at our Inn, Pricilla and Bob from Saratoga NY, now considered old friends, came to stay for the three day Holiday. New neighbors, Marva and Bill, now considered new friends, also joined us for the evening. We all share a passion for good wine.

We started the evening at the Inn with Scharffenberger Cellars’ sparkling wine from Mendocino, CA. As I have said before, it cannot be Champagne if not but from Champagne, France, but this sparking wine sure met my cork popping and lively bubble criteria. I have liked this wine for years even though it is not as well know as some other California sparkling wines. New guests from New York City shared a toast with us on their way out to dinner. A joy of being an Innkeeper is meeting new guests and introducing them to other guests and our friends, who often gather around the fire at Inn, most likely with a good glass of wine being shared.

We made our way to the Belfry Bistro for our Thanksgiving dinner; the first Pilgrims would have envied us that night.The owner, Chris, joined us for the last seating of the evening and the feast began. Since we had already started with a white wine at the Inn, we went immediately to a red. We broke away from some traditional paring logic and instead just selected some of our favorite wines. I selected a newfound favorite, the ZD Wines 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from the heart of the Napa Valley. It pared well with the first course of Vanilla Scented Pumpkin Soup with Cornbread Croutons and the second salad course of Organic Autumn Greens with Roasted Parsnips and Vermont Alpine Cheese.

With our main course of Cider Roasted Turkey with all the trimmings, we went a little more traditional with a Point Noir. Marva, who grew up in Oregon, selected a wonderful Alexana Winery 2007 Pinot Noir Shea Vineyards form the Willamette Valley. I have had many great Oregon Pinots, but had never tried this one; it was the perfect match for an unbelievable main course.

When you think it couldn’t get any better, I finished the meal by selecting the most sinful dessert: Warm Chocolate Goo Cake, Fudge Ice Cream, with Raspberry Flavors. Chris’ wine choice was a great Cakebread Cellars 2007 Dancing Bear Ranch, a wonderful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot from the Howell Mountain area of Napa Valley. This wine is a treat anytime, but was the icing on the cake, so to speak, for me as it magnified the flavor experience of my chocolate delight.

So, all in all, I would say it was a perfect Thanksgiving, great food and wine shared with wonderful friends. Since my search to find great wines to serve guest at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast never stops, I also discovered a great new Pinot Noir to consider. To participate in the fun, consider joining us at the Inn next Thanksgiving or we also have some great Christmas and New Year Eve’s specials on our website right now.

Happy wine-ing,

 Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sandwich, MA Sparkles for the Holidays

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings 
All wines that sparkles are not Champagne

I am in search of the perfect wine to serve guest at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast over the upcoming holidays. When it comes to that very special occasion or celebration, what is the type of wine most people think of buying to share and commemorate the event? Champagne, of course! Even as a kid from a little farming town outside of Chicago, I knew that something that popped its cork and had bubbles was special. I admit that Cold Duck may have been the first wine I purchased because it met my ‘pop and bubble’ criteria. I have come a long way since those days, I hope.  

The Wednesday night tasting at the Belfry Bistro expanded my horizons about popping and bubbling alternatives. Kris, from Cellar 55 Wine Merchants, and Polly, from Classic Wine Imports, selected four interesting sparkling wines. Notice, I did not say four Champagnes.

All sparkling wines from Champagne France can be called Champagne, but a sparkling wine form anywhere but Champagne France cannot be called Champagne. Champagne is not just a generic term for any sparkling wine, but is the protected French name of sparkling wine produced from specific grapes grown within a specific, legally defined area of Northern France. The French wine industries’ regulated approach to the making of Champagne has assured that some of the greatest sparkling wines come only from France, but usually with a predictably higher price tag. Also, French wines are almost exclusively made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes. The four sparkling wines of our tasting challenged both the grape and price paradigms of French Champagnes.

We started the evening with Laetitia NV Brut Cuvee, a sparkling wine from the central coast of California. Like French Champagne, it is a classic blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but with Pinot Blanc instead of Point Meunier. Laetitia follows a ‘Methode Champenoise’ tradition of malolactic fermentation including bottle aging, riddling, and disgorging. It is Non-Vintage, which means a number of vintages from various years are blended to give Laetitia’s Brut Cuvee a consistency from year to year. This smooth sparkling was nicely pared with little neck clams from Woodbury Shellfish, a sustainable grower from Wellfleet, MA.

Although the first wine we tasted was nice and reminded me of many good Champagne and sparkling wines I have had, the second wine started that paradigm shift from what I had experienced before. It was Italian, the NV Riondo Pink Spago Argento Vino Frizzante. Made from a red Rabosa grape, this fresh and fruity wine was a pale rose color in the glass. It really came to life when it was pared with tuna sashimi. The next wine was a real surprise, the Pacific Rim White Flowers Sparkling Riesling NV. Made with grapes from Washington State's Yakima River area, it did not taste like the sweet German Rieslings I have tasted.  It was served with an interesting paring of fresh local Nantucket Bay scallops.

I think in this case, we did save the best for last. The last wine was a 2008 Paringa Sparkling Shiraz from Southern Australia. Paringa Vineyard’s website says: ‘Paringa - A magical place where clean soil meets the clean water meets the clean air’. This bubbling wine is a deep magenta red color and I find it a delightful visual shock when first poured in a flute. I have enjoyed this wine before where the host had referred to it as ‘black gold’ and I agree, especially when pared with Chocolate ice cream and other assorted chocolate treats. It was by far my favorite of the tasting.

After this great tasting, I had this song running through my head by a very funky singer by the name of Taj Mahal, it was titled ‘Snow in the Desert’ with the refrain of ‘Champagne don’t drive me crazy, cocaine don’t make me lazy; ain’t nobodies business but your own’. It may be true, but now I have a sparkling alternative to Champagne that I will be serving to guest at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast over the Holidays. See our Holiday Specials, come stay with us, and I’ll share some great bubbly with you. 
Happy wine-ing,

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Friday, November 12, 2010

Matthew Mead Event at Sandwich’s Spotted Cod

Matthew Mead
One of the most charming and beautiful seaside boutiques on Cape Cod is located here in Sandwich, Massachusetts. It is a favorite place guests staying at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast love to visit to purchase something special for their home or as a gift to take home to a friend. It is also a very favorite place of this innkeeper.

During Holly Days in Sandwich, our annual Christmas Stroll, the Spotted Cod is hosting an event with celebrity lifestyle and entertaining expert Matthew Mead. He is the author of numerous books and has contributed to many well know publications including Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple, Victoria, and Country Living. He is also a frequent contributor to the Discovery Channel and HGTV.

On Saturday, December 4th, 2010, from 11 am until 4 pm, the Spotted Cod will be presenting Matthew Mead and his newly released “book-azine”, Holidays with Matthew Mead, which celebrates, and offers inspiration for, the Christmas holiday season.

Mr. Mead says of his new publication:
"Holiday with Matthew Mead is a 'book-azine' that encompasses all that I love about the holiday season: the traditions, celebrations, and magic that is the holiday season. The pages of Holiday with Matthew Mead are filled with fresh, easy ideas that can be achieved in two or three steps. It's a novel approach to almost everything holiday, and I hope you take a chance to pick it up and see how these updated ideas might inspire you. With 144 pages of holiday inspiration - featuring well-known and admired designers, bloggers and top-notch stories - and printed on beautiful paper (while not drowning in ads!), we consider Holiday with Matthew Mead part book/part magazine - a publication that you will keep from year to year and add to your collection of Holiday decorating, crafting and cooking magazines and books."

Edible Centerpiece by Matthew Mead
With a little help from the master, your home can sparkle with the magic of the holiday season. Call the Spotted Cod at (508) 888-8263 to pre-register for your signed copy of Holiday With Matthew Mead and to get more information about Matthew Mead’s visit to Sandwich. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet this talented man.

Visit Matthew Mead's Style to learn how you can become a member and begin downloading holiday decorating ideas, templates for craft projects, and recipes for holiday goodies.

Be sure to read Matthew’s blog and, while you are there, follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Jan Preus, the Innkeeper, chef, and artist in residence at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sandwich, Massachusetts' Historic Past

History Series - Part IV

Our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast is located in the center of historic Sandwich Village and is part of the Sandwich Town Hall Historic District. This wonderful house was built in 1750 and was in the Hall family from the 1700s until the last descendant sold the property in 1929. For 260 years our house and the Hall family’s lives were woven into the fabric of what makes Sandwich Village such a wonderful place to visit and to live. In previous blogs, I have covered the time from the founding of Sandwich in 1639 until the early 1800s. The 1800s was a dramatic time for both the Hall family and Sandwich Village.

Deming Jarves
The man who had the most impact on the sleepy town of Sandwich in the 1800s was Deming Jarvis (1790-1869), who is recognized as one of the most famous names in American glassmaking. Born and raised in Boston, by the time he came to Sandwich he was a successful businessman having helped found the New England Glass Company in South Boston in 1818. As a young entrepreneur, he branched out into other related business and was already the holder of various glassmaking patents that advanced the art and science of glassmaking in Massachusetts. By 1824, Jarvis set out to build his own ‘modern’ glass factory.

Jarvis chose the small agricultural community of Sandwich as the site for his new venture. He was familiar with Sandwich Village from sporting holidays; at that time the town was a favorite hunting and fishing retreat for Boston businessmen. So, as early as the 1800, ‘tourism’ was important to Sandwich.  Since it was first settled, Sandwich was known as the ‘door to the Cape’ as the few colonial era roads ran through Sandwich, and it was the terminus for the stage lines and mail service. All travelers and commerce from Plymouth and Boston to anywhere else on the Cape passed through Sandwich. The industrious town folks quickly opened taverns like my neighbors in the Historic District, the Newcomb Tavern on Grove Street and the Fressenden Tavern on Main Street, to meet the needs of the travelers. Even today, the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce emphasizes our key geographic location in the slogan: ‘Sandwich…Cape Cod begins here’.  

Boston & Sandwich Glass Co. c. 1830
On July 4, 1825 Jarvis’ Sandwich Manufacturing Company ‘commenced blowing glass’ and eventually, as the renamed Boston and Sandwich Glass Company, grew to be one of America’s most important sources of pressed glass. It surprised me to learn that Jarvis selected Sandwich for the abundant supply of wood in the nearby forests to burn in the huge furnaces, and the marsh grass used to pack the glass products for shipment, rather than for the sand, which was actually too impure for making high quality glass. The company operated from 1825 until 1888 when it could no longer effectively compete with new and cheaper methods of production in the Midwest.

The opening of this major industry changed Sandwich forever. The massive physical factory building dominated the skyline north of Sandwich Village on the shore of the Cape Cod Bay. As was typical in the 1800, the Company built housing for the factory workers and ran a company ‘store’ that sold to the workers on credit. The workers’ ‘tenements’ were built as duplexes and multi-family houses near the factory. Housing and shops were developed along what is now Jarvis Street, the area designated on maps of the time as Jarvisville. Jarvis dug a canal in the marshes behind the factory and built docks to receive imported sand and to ship finished products. In 1848, the Cape Cod Branch Railroad connected Sandwich to Boston via Fall River. In addition to supporting the shipping needs of the glass works, it also improved the flow of other goods and tourist to Sandwich. Today, the Cape Cod Central Railroad with its afternoon Scenic Fun Trips and Elegant Dinner Train, travels through Sandwich on these same rail beds from the 1850s. The train is now a favorite tourist attraction,  

Amazingly, there is nothing left of the massive manufacturing buildings. After the factory closed in 1888, the brick buildings were dismantled and the brick reused across Cape Cod. Many of the workers’ houses and stores built in the 1800s remain and can be seen on your way to the scenic Sandwich Boardwalk, which stretches across the marshes where the glass factory commerce once flourished. I always suggest that our guest, on their way to Boardwalk, stop at the corner of Jarvis and Factory and look at the bronze relief map that depicts that intersection in the mid 1800s.

Sandwich Glass Museum, 2010
Although the original glass plants are gone, examples of Jarvis’ revolutionary new methods of glass making and the history of the industry are recalled at the Sandwich Glass Museum. It is located across the street from our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast Inn on property donated by the last of the Hall decedents, Lottie Hall Chipman. Our guests enjoy reliving these great moments in the history of Sandwich. Daily, the museum offers a movie about the first 300 years of Sandwich and live glass blowing demonstrations at its’ fully functional glass furnace that is kept burning 24 hours a day.

The Sandwich Glass Museum, Sandwich Village, and the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center will be decorated for the holidays. It is worth the trip to see our great historical neighborhood in all it festive glory. See the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce website for a schedule of holiday events and our Inn website for our holiday special.  

Charlie Preus, Assistant Innkeeper and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sandwich Village on Cape Cod for the Holidays

The holidays are a special time in Sandwich Village and at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast. Sandwich Village is the quintessential Currier and Ives New England town during the Holidays. At Thanksgiving, a few of the brightly colored leaves will still cling to the great oak and maple trees that line the streets of the Village. That wonderful smell of natural wood fires will mingle with the aromas of Thanksgiving dinners being readied for family gatherings. The first Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving was celebrated just a few miles up the road at the Plymouth Colony in 1620, and the tradition continued here in Sandwich after it was incorporated in 1639.

In 1750 the first Thanksgiving was celebrated at the Jonathan Bassett home at 118 Tupper Road in Sandwich Village. This year, we are celebrating the 260th Thanksgiving in this lovely, historic home that is now the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center. See our website for great Thanksgiving specials.

Sandwich Village really shines for Christmas with lots of activities starting the first weekend in December and running through New Year’s Eve. The Sandwich Chamber of Commerce decorates the Village in greens and lights to reflect the season. Town Hall Square, of which we are a part, is the center of the festivities. The Town Christmas tree, located at the end of our driveway, is lighted as we town folks and visitors sing carols in front of the First Church of Christ. The shops are open late and hot toddies and goodies are offered to warm and refresh the wandering patrons. On the second Sunday of December, we participate in the Home Tour and open our Inn to the 100s of visitors who have an opportunity to see some of Sandwich’s magnificent old homes in their Christmas splendor. I always enjoy giving tours of our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast and sharing its wonderful 260-year history.

This year we will be open through New Year’s Eve and will celebrate with friends and guests. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve bring thoughts of food and celebrations. Why don't you come to Cape Cod this year? Sandwich is a very special place to spend the Holidays and we are offering some great packages to make your celebrations memorable ones.

See the Sandwich Chamber website for a complete listing of Holly Days in Sandwich events.

Jan Preus, the Innkeeper, chef, and artist in residence at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanksgiving Wines Come Early to Cape Cod

Charlie's Weekly Wine-ings

The weather is turning and I am planning ahead for what wines to serve guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast on Thanksgiving. Conveniently, I was asked to help out at the Wednesday wine tasting at the Belfry sponsored by Cellar 55 Wine Merchants that was exploring what wines to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. Timing is everything and I am again at the right place at the right time.

As always at a Belfry tasting, each of the wines is pared with a food sampling. As this one had a Thanksgiving theme, I had thoughts of pumpkins and dressing running through my head. Since I have the opportunity to taste a lot of wine, and at least per Jan spend too much time at Cellar 55, I had already tasted two of the four wines offered and thus had a certain level of expectation about them. I was in for a pleasant surprise on both the food and wine choices.

Gary Gahl from Winebow Boston conducted the tasting and started us with an Oregon Riesling. My first thought when I hear Riesling was ‘sweet’ German wines, which I never buy. The 2009 Riesling from Willamette Valley Vineyards was not too sweet and was very refreshing by itself. It was pared with parsnip soup with blue cheese. Together the wine and soup came alive. I am not sure I have ever had parsnip soup and would never have thought to serve it with a Riesling. What a nice start.

Next we had the 2009 Willamette Valley Vineyards ‘Whole Cluster’ Pinot Noir with a mixed green salad. Gary explained that in this wine making process, the grapes are left on the stems and then fermented in a large tank where the weight of the grapes themselves performs the ‘crushing’. The same process is often used in French Beaujolais, yielding a light, fruity and very drinkable wine. Kris from Cellar 55 calls this a great ‘porch’ wine to enjoy as you sit quietly in you favorite chair on your porch and watch the world go by.

Finally we got to the turkey pared with 2008 De Majo Norante Sangiovese. But this was not just any old turkey; it was brine soaked turkey breast with a wonderful light sauce. Sangiovese is the main grape in all Chianti and this was a nice fruit-driven wine that complemented the turkey. The Wine Advocate gave it 90 points and said:

"The 2008 Sangiovese Terre degli Osci is an incredibly delicious, full-bodied wine with gorgeous clarity and definition. Made in a bold, fruit-driven style, the wine offers terrific depth and a long, polished finish. This harmonious red is a knockout!"

Often the last paring of the evening is with a desert and I was thinking about pumpkin pie all day. But the last wine listed was a 2008 Domaine Jean Bousquet Malbec from Argentina. Bousquet is a leading organic producer from the Mendoza region. I could not see Malbec and pumpkin pie. The last paring was not dessert, but an exceptional tasting of venison. This big Malbec and powerful meat were a perfect combination, as the flavors mingled and lingered, I forgot all about the pie.

As I savored the experience of these great wine and food parings, I wondered how we could replicate it at our Sandwich Inn. Would I be able to match Chef Dan’s parsnip soup? How exactly do you ‘brine’ a turkey? Would Jan even allow me to have venison in the kitchen? Since Chef Dan isn’t coming to my house to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner, I solved my dilemma by making reservations at the Belfy Bistro for Thanksgiving Dinner. I will get to experience more wonderful parings without all the trouble. I think this will be a new tradition for Jan and me. We hope you will take a look at our Thanksgiving Specials and come join us.

Happy wine-ing,

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts