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Château de Brézé has a long and storied history, first being mentioned in texts in 1068, lauded by King René of Anjou in the 15th century and served at all the royal courts. In 1957, when the AOC of Saumur Champigny was established, the owner of Château de Brézé refused to be part of the appellation, saying that his estate's vineyards were the best and deserved an appellation all their own. And he was probably right. Unfortunately, the wines from those exceptional vineyards were terrible. Lucky for us, the winery sold in 2009 to Le Comte de Colbert, who recruited Arnaud Lambert from nearby Domaine de Saint Just to make the wine. He changed the vineyards over to organic farming and began producing truly stellar wines worthy of their source. The 2012 Château de Brézé Clos David is all estate-grown Chenin Blanc raised in stainless steel to preserve freshness. It has the slightly-oxidized note of a great White Burgundy and a lovely richness that allows it to pair with a variety of foods.

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« Gone Astray in L.A.: A Northern California foodie reports on the Southland’s Gastronomic Scene | Main | Gone Astray in L.A.: A Northern California Foodie Reports on the Southland's Gastronomic Scene »

Gone Astray in L.A.: A Northern California foodie reports on the Southland’s Gastronomic Scene

If you live in Southern California and have children, or a significant other enjoying a second childhood, you will be forced to go to Disneyland. And if your children or your sig other wear the pants in your family, you will be going there again and again, as I have this past fall. When you find yourself the unhappy owner of an annual pass to the Home of the Rat, it will hit you all at once, the horrible truth: multiple, perhaps even weekly meals at Disneyland. Stale churros, lemonade tasting like a public restroom smells, cookies made of vegetable oil costing four dollars apiece, these are some of the gustatory delights offered at Disneyland, the Most Unsavory Place on Earth. And if that wasn’t enough of a deterrent, there’s the total absence of alcoholic salve. No hard stuff is poured at Disneyland (though at the time of writing this I have begun lobbying the folks at Disney to break ground on the Land of Imbibers, best located behind Tom Sawyer’s Island, across the river Styx). A number of fenced off smoking enclosures aside, it’s clear Walt Disney was never big on sin. Not very smart of ‘ol Walt, if you consider how much he might have charged for a beer! Given the want of booze, the idea of a meal at the destination restaurant in the park is less than appealing. Why wait 40 minutes on hold for a Disney reservationista, or pay through the nose for a bowl of mediocre jambalaya, which you will have to eat while watching obese people float by on their journey through Pirates of the Caribbean, when you can’t even glug a glass of the good stuff to wash it all down? And so, even the food snob that I am, I do not recommend eating at the ‘stared’ venue in Disneyland. I do recommend eating at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante, hosted by Ortega. Yes, we too were put off by Ortega reference. Pay it no mind. Ditto the extremely Anglo boys and girls cooking the food. Aside from the sweetened and forgettable jarred Ortega sauces adorning the tables at Rancho Zocalo, it’s easy to forget the restaurant’s host. The service is cafeteria style, but the food is freshly prepared, only a partial rip-off and, best of all, it has taste. While more ambitious items adorn the wall-mounted menu at Zocalo (barbequed meat, chicken and ribs served with sides), our lunch crew of four chose to go the ‘lighter’ route. Feeling piggish I splurged on two dishes, the Taco Salad ($9.99) and the Camarones al mojo de ajo ($9.99). These were assembled at two separate food stations by two different cast members, and while they would not win any awards outside of the theme park category, they were surprisingly tasty. The salad, served in a big fried tortilla bowl, included refried beans, white and yellow cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, very fresh tomato and onion salsa and a small though tasty dollop of guacamole. It also came with my choice of animal, though I opted for neither. The Camarones, which had been marinating in a creamy garlic melange, were cooked right there in front of my eyes on a giant grill and served atop a bed of tasty red-hued rice (food coloring, I suspect. Not saffron), along with a sprightly three bean salad sitting on a leaf of romaine and a partially crumbled though absolutely delicious tamale (without the corn husk). It was very nice! If only it had come with a margarita!! I tasted the Fish Tacos ($7.49), of the fried, soft corn tortilla variety, two to a plate, and yummy as fried fish tacos generally are. The fish was mild, the coating crunchy and the cabbage and salsa fresh. The best thing about them was the sauce… sour cream given a lift with chipotle. Yes, this was not my mother’s Ortega taco! Another fine value is the Enchilada and Taco Special ($8.99), which includes two tightly coiled cheese enchiladas coated in sweet tomato sauce along with a taco of your choosing. In this case, the taco was chicken, again barbequed and nicely seasoned. The enchiladas were Gringo-friendly, tasting mostly of ketchup. But they were good in a nostalgic sense, and filling, too. It is not worth going over the beverage options; the most adult selection was iced tea. And the smattering of chips that accompanied the fish tacos were not among the finest I have sampled in my nearly 35 years. And yet, unless you planned ahead and smuggled some sandwiches through security, this is a top choice for food at Disneyland. I for one, will be going to Rancho Zocalo all the time. Grr. Got foodie tips on the scene down here? Please post your comments! —Elisabeth Schriber Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante, hosted by Ortega Frontierland Disneyland Anaheim, Ca

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