Circa May 2010 Vintage Beacon: What you can find with the Right Wine Friends In Antelope Valley

I’m toying with an idea for wine 101ers besides writing blog posts and planning events. Wait for it now…I’m thinking of taking you guys out for a Mr. Toad’s, err Eve’s, day of wine tasting.

Pars restaurantIt happened when a comment came by way of the Hong Kong Sommelier Society: “I learn a lot from this blog”. I began to see myself as the 6-foot blond showing travelers a wine view of our fair city, through my ever-so-brazen eyes.

I put a couple of shout outs….and before I lost my nerve…All Corked Up’s DiMaggio Washington told me that Chantel Kilmer, of Antelope Valley Winery and Antelope Valley Winegrowers Association, was planning the same thing. Maybe not in the scope of including my friend in Hong Kong just yet, but the same idea.

She swooped in and ….invited me to come to spend a day not only in her winery, but also a glimpse into her life as her town’s wine advocate. My sister-in-crime so to speak.

So I did the 45-minute drive. And, if you’re waiting to see what I tasted…stop here. It was 9am when I got to AV Winery. And, dear reader, wine was not on my mind, at least not drinking it.

“I’m so excited to get you out here! We are so on the same page. We have a limousine service ready, hotels for tastings, can get you private tastings at our wineries, festivals, our own fresh farmer’s market here on AV Winery property and, we can arrange lunches at some killer restaurants too.”

It was a good start and the wine marketing/networking started. The AV Winegrowers had produced a cool brochure and a great placemat sized map showing wine growers from Tehachapi, Rosamond, Palmdale, Lake LA, Little Rock, Acton, Lancaster, Agua Dulce, Leona Valley through to Green Valley.

It was mind boggling to know that there were winemakers, akin to our own SCV Vintners and Growers Association, not getting the attention they all deserve.

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Ah, to be a wine advocate is an all-encompassing gig.

Then, as we were in a winery, Chantel gave me a tour of their barrel room, a banquet room that doubled as a disco, the Italian and San Antonio wines they also carried for a two-page tasting menu, the medals from silver to bronze to gold received… then it was time for a lunch break!

Pars Fine Persian Cuisine

Yes, I learned about the restaurant from Facebook, and they whetted my palate every time I saw a message about a wine pairing dinner or belly dancing. So I asked Chantel if we could please go.

The beautiful restaurant outfitted with classy linens, cherry wood chairs, curving bar and a kitchen from heaven didn’t disappoint. For lunch you could order off an extensive menu or select from the lunch menu with all items priced at $8.

The owner, Mark Petrosian, offered us a complementary appetizer. We were shy about that – for about a minute – then asked him to make a suggestion: Kashk O’Bademjanr was sautéed eggplant with a topping of Kashk (yogurt-based topping) with garlic, onions and a surprise of mint. We almost filled up on that alone. The flavors were in a perfect, delicate balance. (And was still fab as an appetizer at Chez Bushman two days later.)

Chantel couldn’t finish her choice of the Pars Vegetarian platter – no one person could. A large rectangular plate held:

Dolmeh – Cooked stuffed grape leaves with rice, vegetables, and Pars’s own special spices.

Tabouleh – Fresh minced parsley, chopped tomatoes, minced green onion, olive oil and bulghour mixed with spices.

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Hummus – Garbanzo beans mixed with garlic, lemon juice and tahini (sesame seed paste) and spices.

Falafel – Garbanzo beans, onion, garlic, cilantro and parsley.

and Baba Ghanoush – Grilled eggplant, tahini mixed with spices.

Devouring what I thought was to be a simple falafel wrap; crisp pickles, cucumber yogurt sauce and hummus also pleasantly titillated me. It was served alongside a fresh green salad with cucumber, tomatoes, onions and a Balsamic vinegar based house dressing.

The different rices on the menu that wafted through the restaurant: cherry, currant fava beans, herb and saffron, were extremely tempting but we were full. We were also tempted by the wine list, but as it was lunch, we limited ourselves to an Italian Pinot Grigio and Argentinean Malbec – both by the glass.

While we ate I learned more about Chantel’s 9 year-old much beloved son Brenden, her compassion for an ill sister-in-law, devotion to her hard working spouse, and an offer from Mumm Napa that she had a hard time, but yes, had to turn down. Their loss is AV’s gain. But it doesn’t have to be yours when you plan your next Wine 101 tour. Just lemme know if you want in.