Hawk & Horse Blog

Mitch and I were in San Francisco yesterday, Thursday, January 19th on business. We ventured into one of my favorite neighborhoods, Laurel Heights, and tried lunch at Spruce. I would like to highly recommend Spruce! From the moment we walked in to the moment we left, the hospitality was welcoming and professional. The ambiance - chocolate brown accents, spacious caramel colored leather chairs and rich brown velvet drapes - set the stage for the simple elegance of the dining experience.

Bar at Spruce

 

It was a cold day and just beginning to rain in San Francisco when we arrived - we were ready for a warm meal! A French omelet tempted me from the start - harkening back to my days growing up in Sonoma County’s restaurant business. Mitch ordered the Spruce Burger. 

Now, I will have to qualify this report by saying that an omelet is a particular favorite of mine, and it is very, vary rare to find a restaurant that gives the omelet the proper respect - and preparation. It is hard to describe the perfect omelet: it is custard-like, simple - not overly spiced or greasy - and the height of comfort food meets gourmet pleasure. Placed on a bed of delicately wilted spinach and topped with a slice of Brie, the simple traditional flavors played off each other beautifully, each bite a delight of the senses. Mitch’s Spruce Burger pleased him as much. Being something of a red meat enthusiast, Mitch can be fussy about something as basic as a burger. The Spruce Burger was a thick patty of high quality beef topped with white cheddar cheese. The bun was slightly under-sized, making each bite more meat than bread - a not-so-subtle delight for any meat lover! The condiments included homemade pickles and French fries. Like my experience with the omelet, the burger was a humble and common menu item elevated to Spruce’s standards of perfection! Even the French fries were fried to a golden crispness, making them an absolute treat that I couldn’t help but snitch right off of Mitch’s plate!!! 

As those of you who know me can attest, I am a lover of great Brie and we often serve it at wine pairings and when entertaining. We had brought along a bottle of our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon; the little topping of Brie insured a magical match. The rich earthiness of the spinach, the creamy texture and deep rich, fruity, slightly mushroom flavor and subtle saltiness of the Brie met the balance and acidity of the Cab like a symphony. And, of course, the burger and the Cab, with its balance and range of flavors, were a pairing of traditional excellence.

After our meal, we happened by the kitchen which is framed by a large glass picture window.

kitchen at Spruce

We were in awe. The kitchen was as clean as an operating room and I believe there were more kitchen staff than wait staff. One sous chef was carefully, perfectly, slicing skins off mandarin oranges, while another peeled carrots. The look of concentration on the faces inside that picture window spoke of caring attention to detail - I know that look - it is the look we have at the winery when we sample wines from the barrel. Careful, attentive concentration on a subject of culinary mastery. 

Throughout our experience at Spruce, the wait staff was kind, friendly and attentive without being too present during our meal. Sommelier Haley Moore took the time to stop by our table to say hello and we sent her back with a sample of our wine in hopes that you, too, can soon discover what a divine pairing our Biodynamically grown wines will be with the artfully prepared menu items at Spruce!!!


Winter in the vineyard is a time of rest - at least for we human caretakers of the land. The vines are in their dormant period. Harvest is behind us and the wine is at rest in barrels. The vineyard is a place of peace and serene beauty - the stillness of stark, naked vines contrast with wildlife; austere, bright skies contrast with a carpet of rich green ground cover. Hawks fly from their perches hunting by day - owls glide on silent wings at night. Turkeys parade in groups - golden and brown - picking at acorns from Oak trees on the vineyard’s edge, foxes nibble at stray berries and mountain lions also seek prey, quietly, on padded feet. Days alternate between crisp, sunny and cold to gray and rainy (though this year we‘d like to see a little more rain!). The soil is soft and moist - a deep, opulent red glittering with Lake County diamonds. These little gems seem to bubble to the surface this time of year, after the first rains…

 Below the surface, however, the earth is teeming with activity. Worms, microbes and friendly bacteria are working in the damp, soft soil and transforming the biodynamic compost we put out in the late fall. We have buried our 500 vineyard preparation (Horn Dung) and it, too, is being acted upon by friendly creatures within the soil to make the basis for the concentrated teas we will apply to the vineyard in very early spring.

 A visit to Hawk and Horse Vineyards is a delight this time of year. Call ahead to schedule a vineyard tour!

 

  • This simple delicious recipe is flourless and is gluten-free!

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons sweet butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup Hawk and Horse Vineyards 2006 Latigo (our Cabernet-based Port-style dessert wine)
  • Confectioners' sugar to sprinkle on top

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 4 individual ramekins and sprinkle them with sugar.
  • Melt the chocolate, stirring it with a whisk from time to time, then remove from the heat.
  • In another bowl beat the egg whites with 1/4 cup of the sugar until stiff and glossy.
  • Whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate one at a time, add the Latigo, and whisk in the remaining sugar.
  • Fold in the egg whites and whisk until thoroughly blended
  • Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared ramekins, place on a baking sheet, and bake about 20 to 25 minutes until they're puffed and somewhat firm.
  • Remove from the oven. Serve with sifted powdered sugar over the top of each soufflé.
  • Yield: 4 individual soufflés
 
Hawk and Horse Vineyards