Rainy Day Activity: French Wine Tasting and Art Exhibit at Whole Foods in Venice!

Do you ever choose a book by its cover? How about buying wine by its label? I’ll confess: I do it all the time. In fact, sometimes I pick wine by the name. If I’m heading to my book club meeting and the book is, say, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and I see a wine that is called “Dementor,” I’m totally buying that one. (As long as it’s under $10. Hey, a lady has standards.)

You are in a beauty contest every day of your life
This artwork was created by a wine label designer for Whole Foods Market. Yes, it’s weird. But what if you were drinking wine and looking at it? It might still be weird, but it would be wine and weird.

Tomorrow evening (March 5) Whole Foods in Venice is hosting a wine tasting and art exhibit party featuring his works:

Join us for a fantastique wine tasting featuring samples of spectacular, value-priced French wine paired with petit fours. While you sip enjoy the art of the wine label designer and Germany-based French artist Gildas Coudrais. He brings a unique touch to wine labels and his artwork gets close to the aesthetics of pop culture. His work is reminiscent of billboards on the sunset strip but remains loyal to the European tradition. $10 per person, proceeds benefit the Whole Planet Foundation.

So, let’s recap:
wine tasting
petit fours
-only $10
-you get to look at weird art
-plus you get to go to Venice, a hotbed of weird art. I know it might be raining, so you’d stay inside anyway, why not be inside a Whole Foods drinking wine and eating petit fours?

Much to my delight, the wines being featured are under $10 per bottle, and the labels are gorgeous. I don’t even mind weird labels on wine. But I love this one:

Chantebelle-Bdx-Sens-Sauvignon-SilverChantebelle Sauvignon Blanc

$9.99/750 ml

A bright and brisk beauty with crisp citrus flavors, it’s sensational start to the evening, especially with chilled shrimp and goat cheese!

I can’t wait to try. You should come:

Fantastique French Wine Tasting & Art Exhibit featuring the works of Gildas Coudrais
Saturday, March 1
5pm – 8pm
Whole Foods Market, Venice
225 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, California 90291
Event page on Facebook
Main Facebook Page
On the Twitter

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Whole Foods Market Venice.

Whole Foods Oxnard Celebrates Local Flavor and Design

oxnard sign whole foods
A new Whole Foods Market opened in Oxnard last week at The Collection, a shopping destination anchored by Target, a 16-screen movie theater, and (coming soon) H&M. Everything is so recent there that the complex practically sparkles with its shiny fresh-out-of-the-package newness. The new Whole Foods fits right in.

But unlike those other stores, which could be dropped down in Anywhere, USA, this location of Whole Foods incorporates elements into its design that are uniquely Oxnard. Window coverings and backdrops are made of sailcloth. Signs are adorned with lines and trim from sailboats. A beautiful beach-themed mural covers the back of the store.

And the bar is an Airstream trailer.

English with marketing director Ashley

English with marketing director Ashley

I spoke with Deborah English, the lead designer of our region’s Whole Foods Markets, who shared that every time a new store opens, the design begins with learning about local culture. In Oxnard, the team discovered that the town has long been a way station for people traveling to the beach, to points north, or to Ojai. It’s where you stop for gas and to pick up snacks and groceries. Or, it’s where you visit the beach and go camping.

bar rincon whole foods oxnard

In fact, the sign over the bar, is shaped like the old school highway signs welcoming travelers to points of interest. The Airstream trailer was the design team’s one big nod to the camping and surf culture of the area. English told me that this specific trailer was found on Craig’s List! It has been lovingly restored and repurposed into this:

Bar Rincon: [named after a popular local surfing spot] A relaxing and casual bar/restaurant with seating for more than 50 people and a rotating selection of more than 24 craft beers on tap, plus wine and an extensive menu featuring local produce and sustainable meats. A daily happy hour will also be available.

While Bar Rincon is the eye-catching beauty queen of Whole Foods Oxnard, the rest of the store holds up her court quite nicely. You’ll find all the features that you love in a Whole Foods – the hot and cold lunch and salad bar, the natural meat section, a sushi bar, an in-store bakery, and the like. But in Oxnard, there’s lots and lots of free parking.

tasting and tour whole foods oxnard

There are culinary choices unique to Oxnard, too: cheeses and charcuterie meats that come from local makers, beer from local brewers like Telegraph and Figueroa Mountain Brewery, and fresh fish from local Ventura harbor fishermen!

Check out the store’s website for information about events there, and also consider the upcoming free summer events hosted by The Collection. And for a more in-depth first-person reaction to the food and beer and wine tastings from our preview visit, check out my pal Charlene’s blog post.

This post is sponsored by Whole Foods Market, but all opinions, and my crush on the cute brewer of Figueroa Mountain Brewery who poured Hoppy Poppy IPA at Bar Rincon are entirely my own.


Mother Nature’s Meat – Hearst Ranch Beef at Local Whole Foods Markets

courtesy of Whole Foods Market

When you bite into a juicy cheeseburger, do you think about the source of the beef?

When the cheese is oozing out of the sandwich and the juice drips down your chin, do you wonder about the health of the cattle that gave you this meat? Or how far the harvested beef had to travel to get to the store where you bought it?

Me neither. I simply enjoy a tasty burger. Or a nice juicy medium-rare steak. I’ve been doing it for years.

And then, like a lot of Americans, I watched Food 101 and I read Fast Food Nation. Blecch, right? Never eating meat again. Until the next time I was on a long road trip and McDonald’s was the only establishment for miles where one could buy a quick bite to eat and keep going. Sigh.

But when I am grocery shopping, I do pay attention to the quality and sources of the foods I buy. I have gone out of my way to visit small markets to buy organic chicken and hormone free beef. I don’t do this all the time (because hello, hate traveling east of Calabasas if it’s not totally necessary) but when I do I always feel better about sinking my teeth into a perfectly grilled steak.

During this season, I can just go to Whole Foods Market in Thousand Oaks, because it is among 18 Southern California locations that will be selling organic antibiotic-free beef from locally raised grass-fed cattle at Hearst Ranch. Yes, the same Hearst as in Hearst Castle. Right up the coast. It’s as fresh, healthful, and eco-friendly as you can get living here in the Conejo Valley.

Photo by Richard Field Levine

Photo by Richard Field Levine (click to visit site)

I sampled ground beef ($9.99/ lb for 7% fat and $7.99/lb for 15% fat) and top sirloin ($13.99/lb). Both were very flavorful, and I discovered that there are a few things to remember when cooking grass-fed beef. From the Hearst Ranch website:

-Grass-fed beef cooks about 30% faster than conventional beef because it is leaner and richer in healthy fats, which melt quicker at a lower temperature than fats in conventional beef.

-Because grass-fed meats cook quickly, marinating them is a good way to add moisture and interesting flavors.

The burgers were juicy and the steak was delicious, but the best part about digging into these meals was that I knew the beef was just better.  And that peace of mind is worth it. Hearst Ranch beef will be sold at 18 SoCal Whole Foods Markets through August 2013.

I received a complimentary sampling of Hearst Ranch beef to facilitate this feature but no further compensation. Yes, as it turns out, I will work for meat.