Wine & Food

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

A Taste of California Wine Industry's Past

Posted by Richard Foxall, Jan 2, 2016.

I mentioned this a while ago, but didn't get around to the post.  We stayed from September to end of December at a condominium in a complex built in the '70s. They've renovated and rebuilt since then (there were several major lawsuits for construction defects--built on fill!), but the architecture and the vibe is still very of that period. Our unit was owned by the son of the original owner; the current owner manages a number of properties, but you can see that he has kept a lot of the things that his father left behind, including books.  I found this really classic cookbook on the shelves and took some pictures:

To avoid making this original post too long, I'm gong to break up the pictures and some comments, but a couple things to start with:  The copyright date is 1978, so it's shortly after the "tasting of Paris," just a couple years.  But it's a "new edition," and I suspect that a lot of the content comes from a few years before.  As other pictures show, the wines are still sometimes referred to by their pre-varietal labelings, like "California Burgundy." 

It's also full of ingredients, misnomers for the dishes, and some attitudes/conventions typical for the time that are really quaint now.  But there's also some really neat stuff in it--families that still owned and worked their "heritage" vineyards that Bedrock et al are returning to prominence. 

So I'll post those below so the OP doesn't fill up the pages.  I hope this stirs some memories for some folks, and gives others a little insight into the world of California wine while I was in my teen years drinking it at my parents' table. 

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Replies

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Reply by outthere, Jan 2, 2016.

And...

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 2, 2016.

(Okay, it's like throwing the basketball off the backboard to pad your rebounding stats, Responding to my own post?  Not really, just breaking it into more manageable pieces.)

More on the cookbook:

First, there are these recipes for stuff we are now more familiar with, but the ingredients weren't readily available.  Check out "Risotto Italiene."  Pretty sure no Italian would call it that, and the French would omit the final "e." 

Note the use of canned mushrooms (didn't GregT talk about that in another post?) and long grain rice.  Nowadays, we get to argue about what kind of mushroom to use and, if it was preserved, it would be dried, not canned.  Hear at the Ca d'Richard, my wife has banned Trader Joe's Risotto and strongly encourages me to figure out where the risotto I brought back from Milan can be purchased.  Points for broth from your own boiled beef, although that's one place I might take a shortcut--the local pasta shop and local butcher have stock frozen that saves me space, although we do make a fair amount of stock (including duck) ourselves. 

What's cool about this recipe is who contributed it:  The proprietress of the Pesenti Winery, "Mrs. Aldo Nerelli."  The Nerellis and the Pesentis married and merged their businesses (and Nerellis still make wine--4th generation of the family making wine, I just learned).  Pesenti is one of the oldest vineyards in the Paso Area; Turley, among others, makes an old vine Zin from it still. I bet Ms. Nerelli didn't call the dish anything but "risotto."  Pretty sure that the cheddar cheese is not traditional.  As if there aren't enough kinds of Italian cheese--but good luck getting parmesan except in a shaker back then, and forget anything else. Points that the wines recommended are not weirdly misnamed.

Other things are on the comical side.  From the recipe for "Shrimp Tiffany," I love this quote: "My very dear friend, Grace Tiffany, who also happens to be my husband's girl Friday, gave me this recipe.  We know good food and good wine keep him happy."  It sounds to me like Grace might know something else that keeps him happy, and the contributor, Ms. Maury Baldwin, doesn't mind so much.  (Back then a gift of a fur coat got you a lot of slack with your wife, I guess.)  They don't make girls Friday like they used to.  Heck, they don't make them at all. (Tongue in cheek here.  Please understand I am poking fun at sexism.)

Here's another recipe that interested me for its contributor, not the recipe:

Don't know if you can read it, but the recipe comes from "Mrs. Leon A. Kirschenmann, East-Side WInery, Lodi."  Back when they owned it, the winery wasn't the Kirschenmann but the Baumbach Vineyard; Tegan Passalacqua re-named it when he bought it from the K family.  Now it makes some of the most in-demand Zin around.  Very cool.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 2, 2016.

OT: Give me a sec, these are multi-media extravaganzas 37 years in the making!

Okay, here's the last post on this for a bit:

I mentioned the references to old wine names,  There were pages and pages, but I couldn't really keep taking picture and picture. 

But this one got two in at once:  California Burgundy and California Sparkling Burgundy.  Now, we know what Burgundy is, right?  It's a red paint or fabric color popular in men's suits of that era and the walls of "dens" and "rumpus rooms." And a wine made of Pinot Noir (unless it's white).  But Sparkling Burgundy?  I think that over there it would be "Cremant" and it would be white, but I'm guessing it was more like the dreaded cold duck.

So that's pretty much it for this book.  If you find a 40 year old can of mushrooms, you might want to try one of these recipes. 

Sadly, I don't have pics of the inside of this other tome we found there, but there's only so much time while you are packing:

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Reply by EMark, Jan 2, 2016.

This is excellent, Fox.  Thanks.

I had plenty of Pinot Chardonnays back then. Similarly, I had plenty Johannisberg Rielings--and White Rieslings, which, I think (not sure) was another name for the same thing.

A couple years ago I bought a French sparkling Pinot Noir at a wine store in Pasadena. I wish I could remember if the nomenclature "Cremant" or "Bourgogne" or even "Pinot Noir" was anywhere on it.  I overheard a clerk recommending it to another customer, and I was able to snag the last bottle.  It went very well with Thanksgiving dinner that year.

I'm pretty sure you can still find Gallo Hearty Burgundy on store shelves.  That should fill the bill nicely for that Steks Diane recipe.

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Reply by JonDerry, Jan 3, 2016.

I also love to see the California Burgundy name on the front label back in those days. It's interesting to see the evolution. Sparkling Burgundy is even more odd to see, is that how Schramsberg was referred to back then? Nice group pic of wines at the end there, at least a few of which still stand tall today.

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Reply by dvogler, Jan 3, 2016.

I suspect Ms. Maury Baldwin was finding fulfillment via Big Jim the milkman.  I was looking at an old cookbook from the 70's that had poor colour photos of concoctions containing tuna and peas, served cold "perfect for luncheons".  Gag.  Funny how things change.  Remember when Airplane (movie) was hysterical?  Now I watch some things and realise humour actually evolves too.  As does food (Thank God for ethnic diversity!) and wine for that matter.  So what colour did you paint the rumpus room Fox?  Or is that "wine cellar"?  :)  

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 3, 2016.

Okay, so the last photo is a different book.  (Read carefully at the bottom of the post and you'll see what I'm talking about.)  That book had a lot of space devoted to NY Wines, including the crappy Taylor stuff and other things that were available in Ithaca in college that put me onto beer and whiskey for a while.  (I was legal the entire time I was at Cornell, so there was no issue of what I could or couldn't buy.)  Of course, our taste in spirits was pretty bad back then:  Jose Cuervo was bien rico, now I wouldn't touch it. 

DV, haven't painted anything except repainting our old bedroom, closet and bath.  Those go to our daughter when it all gets done.  Right now, we're awaiting the taping and sanding of the drywall, then we'll paint, move in wood for the floors, etc.  Heating gets hooked up tomorrow or very soon thereafter, which will be huge.  Shingles on the front, then the electric service goes fully live. We have some redundant stuff right now, etc.

I expect to erect the cellar walls in March or so.  Interior will be painted whatever I have on hand that's light colored, probably the same as the main living areas, so I can see without using a lot of wattage in the lighting.  Outside I am hoping my younger daughter will do some cool trompe l'oeil thing but we are working on the theme.  If you ever want to see one of the coolest things in NY, go to the Studiolo from the Ducal Palace of Gubbio at the Met.  It's intarsia, but it's like Trompe L'Oeil in that it fools you into thinking it's 3D.  Pictures don't do it justice, because it just looks 3D, but the effect in person is mind-blowing.  Imagine the work--this is all inlay prior to power tools! Ours will be just pain, but there will be a door that looks like it opens on the countryside of Tuscany, I hope, and a wall that looks like a very old library with books about wine and trompe l'oeil curtains.  Assuming I can convince her to do it.  Money might have to change hands.

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Reply by outthere, Jan 3, 2016.

Nothing wrong with a cold tuna and macaroni salad with peas in it. How can I trust the palate of someone who doesn't appreciate white wine? ;)

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Reply by dvogler, Jan 3, 2016.

But you would trust this?  :)

 

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Reply by dvogler, Jan 3, 2016.

Hey, I drank some white wine yesterday!

Mostly red though!  This Skylite cellars reserve was fantastic.  51% Malbec, 33% Cab sav and 16% Carmenere.  Weird blend, but the nose was incredible.  The Bogle was as expected...nice.  The Burrowing Owl Syrah I thought would be too young, but it was great.  Talk about pepper!  Best finish I've had on a Syrah for a while.  I'm going to go the whole week without wine.  A detox of sorts.

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Reply by outthere, Jan 3, 2016.

Adding anything to Jello other than the hot water to make it is no bueno in my book.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 3, 2016.

No es bueno? Por qué?

My mom came of age in the '50s. That meant we ate all sorts of things that are likely on the acceptable-cuisine endangered list or beyond nowadays. Lots of casseroles, and yes, lots of jello. Since we were fortunate enough to be in SoCal lots of salads, but they took bizarre turns when viewed through today's goggles. My mom was active in church social life (and we were quite cash poor) so we got dragged to literally hundreds of potluck gatherings. If I were to describe nowadays some of the more unique dishes I encountered on those tables back then, suspicion would likely arise that I was on some illegal substance. Certainly my kids wouldn't believe some of them. But my nickname back then was the bottomless pit, since I was skinny as a rail and always hungry, and I ate most anything--well at least once, anyway. By the end of those potlucks I was usually caught lurking at the pies table snatching up every remaining piece I could.

One of my mom's standard potluck dishes was an avocado and grapefruit in lime jello 'salad'. Had to be topped with a 50/50 mixture of Best Foods mayo and Knudsen's Hampshire sour cream. Other jello standards included a can of fruit salad dumped into cherry or strawberry jello, which would be topped with whipped cream when cash allowed, though that was more mainstream for the era.

The lime jello with grapefruit and avocado somehow got into my blood, and I still make a batch every year or two. Had to get over a larger hurdle or two than is usually the case for old 'family dishes' before my daughters would eat it, but even they do now. White grapefruit can be more aesthetically pleasing than pink, and the grapefruit needs to be fresh. I'm not a big fan of canned citrus fruit.  :-(

No photos of my own on hand, but I pulled something similar off the web just to get DV and OT salivating...

 

 

That kind of thing, in a different pan, was '50s and '60s sensibility. Below is pretty much the same thing 21st-century sensibility:

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Reply by dvogler, Jan 4, 2016.

That's hilarious DM.  I was brought up Mormon and we had exactly the events you described to a T.  I remember there would be some culinary experiments that would actually survive untouched until the point where all two hundred metal folding chairs were put away and the minor buffet that appeared on the gym floor afterward would get mopped up.  My mother made casseroles too in the old days (70's for me), but they were good from what I recall.  The thing I could barely handle was creamed corn from a can, or peas from a can.  Your last photo is not bad!  I'd eat that in a heartbeat.  The green jello isn't such a stretch.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 4, 2016.

You know, my LDS aunt used a lot of jello.  Of course, lots of people did.  The Brits make their aspics, which are also jiggly, and I just red about the pastry chef at Babbo, who died:  One of her trademarks was a prosecco aspic with peaches, kind of a jello bellini. 

I confess a sentimental fondness for tuna noodle casserole--my mother used bread crumbs, which always worked for me.  Anyway, it all kind of depends on the ingredients.  We sometimes luck into this really good canned tuna from Spain, and you could make any weird salad with macaroni and peas with it and it would be great, especially with a little rose.  Mayo is generally a big turnoff for me, as is avocado, but lots of weird combos work when you try them. 

Not drinking any white wine does suggest a kind of parochial palate. Just my (and OT's) opinion.

 

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Reply by EMark, Jan 4, 2016.

Not drinking white wine may just mean you don't care for it.  Nothing wrong with that.  I, for example,

  • Do not not feel my life is incomplete if I don't fawn over European wines
  • Still refuse to eat beets.
  • Have never watched a Star Wars movie from start to finish (although I probaly have seen most of the original in multiple sittings).
  • Own a SmartPhone but am sure that the only reason is so that when I make a call in public I'm not viewed as some old doofus whose never seen a Star Wars movie.

OK, is "buzzed while posting" as bad as PUI?

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Reply by dvogler, Jan 4, 2016.

You got me there Fox.  Although I was excommunicated, I still have a certain reverence for things Ecclesiastic.   My idea of Christmas is listening to Handel's Messiah in it's entirety without interruption (which only happens if I make un-Christ-like threats ahead of time).  The nice thing is this ritual is repeatable at Easter (as it was actually composed for Easter).  However, in the Mormon church there was no red wine, only water during that part of the service.  I have had white wines I enjoyed, but I just don't buy them.  One day.  All in good time.

Hitting it early tonight Mark? ;)

 

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Reply by EMark, Jan 4, 2016.

Hitting it early tonight Mark? 

I don't need a clock to tell me whether I'm thirsty, Darrin.

Double ;-)

You can listen to an entire Messiah in a sitting?  Whoa. You da man.  I have new respect for you.

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Reply by JonDerry, Jan 5, 2016.

We were on our way back to LA from San Luis Obisbo today (had a nice weekend at the Madonna Inn), and stopped in at Cava (nice Mexican Restaurant) near Montecito. They really do have some great food there, but while eating the avocado rich food, and looking at the drinks I had to go with the Grapefruit Margarita. Was a great combination, must have had Dave's post above lurking in the recesses of my mind.

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Reply by dvogler, Jan 5, 2016.

EM,

I have a Sir Colin Davis conducting the London Philharmonic 1964 recording (CD) 2 hrs 38 min.

 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 6, 2016.

Wait, that's a counterfeit, DV.  They didn't have CDs in 1964. 

I've got a recording of the Gregorian chants for Easter. If it weren't boxed up, I would tell you who recorded it.  It's on LP, so it's really old.  I haven't made it through once.

Stayed at the Madonna, eh?  Was it a hoot?  Used to be such a cool place, but it could seem kind of kitschy now.  The bathrooms in the restaurants alone are worth a trip.  Hope you got to ride horses up there.

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