One of the great things about being a wine writer is that I get to discover the most interesting food and wine pairings in some of the most outstanding places in the world. Take one of the most uniquely elegant desserts around …sticky rice with mango. It just happens to also be vegan and gluten-free. It’s delicious served warm. The sticky, aromatic, sweet and slightly salty rice, drenched in coconut milk, and eaten in giant spoonful’s with fragrant mango is a treat not to be missed. It pairs wonderfully with Gewurztraminer which displays summery notes of flowers, grapefruit and lychee. How did I learn that? Read on!
One of the best places to learn how to make this dish and how to pair it with wine is at The Wine Artist in Lake Forest, California. The Wine Artist is a boutique winery and event facility specializing in corporate events, private parties and custom labeled wine. The entertainment center has over 2,500 square feet tastefully decorated in a Tuscan theme. It is perfect for hosting private parties, team building, birthday parties, fund raising and charity events.
Owner/Chef Mj Hong incorporates the best part of cooking classes, wine tasting, and bottling wine into party themes such as: Taste of Italy, Taste of Spain, Sushi Party, Taste of France, and Taste of Thailand. This is a truly delicious experience.
Mj has always had a passion for cooking and entertaining. She purchased The Wine Artist 2 years ago creating an energy-charged atmosphere of interactive fun, education and social engagement. Pick a theme and bring your own group or be part of a scheduled class. Either way everyone attending participates in the meal preparation. It’s a perfect setting for beginners to want- to-be chefs.
At a recent Taste of Thailand class with 7 other wine and food writers, it was clear to me that lack of cooking skills does not get in the way of having a great time. Less skilled guests peeled and cut carrots for the Spring Rolls, the more experience home chef got involved in the more complicated process of making a curry sauce. Mj’s kind guiding hand and constant positive approvals and affirmations keeps the group on track and focused on the end “yum.” Cooking classes run from $75 – $95. Whatever you pay, you’ll get more than your money’s worth. You, like me, will be eagerly anticipating a return.
Speaking of “yum,” Chef Hong makes her own wine. She suggested we try her Wine Artist Gewurztraminer ($18) with a variety of dishes we made in the cooking class. It was a perfect match to the Pad Thai, Chicken Curry and Sweet Mango Rice. Other wines we tried with Thai appetizers included The Wine Artiest Tesoro Bianca ($18): A lovely summer-light citrus blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay with notes of dried apricots, lemon and herbs. And finally, the party ended with a delicious assortment of chocolate truffles and a lovely smooth, but not too sweet Wine Artist Port.
As a fun activity we also tasted then bottled the Rosso Tuscany ($28) to take home: A spicy blend of Cab, Merlot and Sangiovese. The Wine Artist wines (13 in all) are available by the bottle or case by simply going to The Wine Artist. They’re good enough to make the trip for. And hey, if you’re so inclined The Wine Artist will create a special label for you. The really cool part of that offer is that it includes the ability to label a single bottle. You rarely find that in the wine community.
All in all, The Wine Artist gets two-thumbs up, get yourself down there, it’s fantastic Wine Diva recommendation. Tell Mj, The Wine Chixs sent you.
Thanks goes to Chef Hong for sharing 4 of her recipes from the cooking class. Click here for the recipe for the Sweet Mango Rice. Chef suggests sourcing ingredients from a local Asian store. According to Chef Hong, “Great prices, availability, authentic products and freshness are easily found in Asian grocery aisles.”