Tag Archives: red wine

Wine Dinner Night Out

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red wineMy blog just asked, “Was it something I said?” because I’ve not posted since 3/31! No, Blog, it’s me. I’ve been blogging for others. For money. But I’m back to report on a very special event I attended at the end of April – a wine dinner. That’s right. I sometimes actually leave the house and do something social. I haven’t done one of these dinners in years and now I remember why they’re so appealing. Wonderful food paired with amazing wines, presented by people who really understand the concept.

Spagio’s Wine Dinner
Spagio’s is a restaurant in Grandview, Ohio that’s been open for close to 30 years. It’s one of those places that maintains an impossibly high standard of creative food preparation due to Chef Hubert Seifert’s talent and experience.

In addition to a chance to make a trip back to Spagio’s, my friend Colin Gregory recently became the restaurant’s Wine & Spirits Director (don’t you just love that title?) and presides over the Wine Lounge. It’s in the lounge that the wine dinner took place. I went with pal Ali, who happens to be Colin’s girlfriend. So, enough intro. On to the dinner!

Triumph Cellars Hosts
Calistoga, California’s Triumph Cellars owner Roger Louer hosted the event with Colin and Chef Hubert. It’s always a treat to meet the person that oversees creation of the wines. Here’s what was on the menu:

Amuse Bouche
Crisp Feuille De Brie

Filled with olives, goat cheese and almonds. This was a phyllo dough filled with those goodies. It was passed around as we mingled with other guests and met Roger.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Sauvignon Blanc.

The tasty treat was as good as it sounds and the richness of it was countered by the crispness of the Sauvignon Blanc. I often find this wine to be too grassy and lightweight, but this one was bigger, fruitier and nicely balanced.

Shrimp Bisque
Garnished with creme fraiche & spicy shrimp.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Chardonnay.

I have to say I’m in the “ABC” contingent – Anything But Chardonnay, so keep that in mind. But this was wonderful. So much so that I was tempted to buy a couple bottles. Again, what stood out was the balance – not too oak-y or over-orchestrated, like someone tried too hard. Nice!

Arugula Salad
With roasted red peppers, feta cheese, tomato, red onion & sherry vinaigette.
Paired with the Sauvignon Blanc.

First of all, I’m a huge fan of arugula and this was a standout salad. Not one I’d immediately think of having with that wine. But it worked, even with the sherry dressing.  OK, on to the BIG wines…

Grilled Diver Scallops Wrapped in Thurns Double-Smoked Bacon
Served over celery root puree and finished with chipotle beurre blanc.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon.

OMG, this was incredible! Diver scallops are one of my faves. What surprised me was the Cab did not overwhelm the scallops. The bacon was probably partly responsible for the nice complement. Have to say I’m also not a Cab fan. I love reds, but most Cabs are too big and alcoholic for me. This one was really wonderful and fruit forward.

Wait, there’s MORE! Ikr?

Oven Roasted Veal Loin
Served with risotto cake, caramelized carrots & a light porcini reduction.
Paired with Triumph Cellars Reserve Cabernet.

Who doesn’t love a porcini reduction with red meat? Yikes. It was fantastic. The wine was a perfect example of why a reserve gets the big bucks. There was an extra element that made this wine incredibly jammy, balanced and perfect with the veal.

Are you counting? That’s five courses so far and five wines. The finale was fun AND there was more wine…But before dessert, we were served a nice bonus – a very special red. 2007 Roberts and Rogers Howell Mountain Cab Napa Valley. Wow! This is an $80 wine and they were pouring generous glasses. I’ve had more expensive wines (and as you know if you read this blog, much less expensive wines I’ve loved), but this was sensational. Now keep in mind, this is technically wine #6, but we had the Sauvignon Blanc twice. I would love to try this red another time when I’m not in a semi-coma from food and really feeling the other wines.

Key Lime Tart
This was served with a “Surprise Wine Selection.” Colin, Roger and Chef chose a local Ohio wine – white, off-dry, not quite a dessert wine but it paired well with the tartness of the key lime.

Although this was officially the dinner’s end, we were treated to a Port after-dinner wine – NV Calistoga Port. I like Port, but I’m not going to buy and open a bottle just for me. It was a nice finish to the evening.

So – great night, fabulous food, new wines  and great company. Maybe I’ll try to get out more…

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Trader Joe’s Field Trip

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I know I talk a lot about Trader Joe’s. I don’t have any vested interest in the company other than buying their goodies. But I promised a Facebook pal I’d post some of my fave things from there, including wine. Duh. Wine is one of the main reasons to make a TJ’s field trip. No permission slip needed.

Late last week, I headed over there forgetting that it was both Fri. and a holiday. Teeny parking lot and an F-150 do not a cute couple make. I bought a case of wine and some essentials like smoked salmon…Some of the items are TJ faves.

Wine:

  • Three bottles of Tres Pinos white – it’s a nice white blend w/ fruit forward, dry, but not too – $6.49/ea.
  • Three bottles of  Green Fin – similar to the 3 Pines, but less fruit – $4.99/ea. (This is where the TBC – Two Buck Chuck crowd gets it wrong. TBC is actually close to $4 in my store and not very good.)
  • Found Object Malbec – I like all the Found Objects I’ve had – Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc and this one – $7.49
  • Trader Joe’s Coastal Zinfandel – I don’t usually buy Zin, but this is a nice, inexpensive one – $6.99
  • La Finca Tempranillo – Same as Found Object, the Malbec and others are good, too – $5.99
  • 3 new reds I can’t recall, one was a Coppola. If you’ve not tried this vineyard, most are great. And yes, it’s the director of GodFather fame. I’ll let you know how they are.

Food:

  • TJ’s Maple Frosted Shredded Wheat – this is a new one for me but I could possibly live on it.
  • Crumbly gorgonzola
  • Honey-flavored Greek yogurt
  • Dixie Peach juice – I love all their juices
  • Dark chocolate covered ginger – a fave
  • Frozen pizzas and flatbreads – These are amazing. If someone served this to you after hiding the box, you’d swear it was from an upscale eatery. Try the ham, gruyere and carmelized onion flatbread. Ignore the portion suggestions of 1/3 of the flatbread and eat the whole thing. It’s small. I tried a new pizza – BBQ chicken, red onion and smoked gouda. Wow!
  • Seltzer – plain. It’s .79 here and .99 at reg. grocery store
  • Organic chicken breasts – Pricier than the pale versions at the big grocery stores, but flavor is better. Probably the absence of formaldehyde or something.
  • Maple syrup – What a difference the real deal is from that pseudo syrup stuff!
  • Spanish extra virgin olive oil – I like TJ’s prices on oils, salad dressings, etc., although I usually make my own dressing.

I bought a bunch more stuff I can’t recall, but my total was $168. Not bad if you consider that includes a case of wine!

Super Bowl, Party of One

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Vera JamsOh please, don’t think for one minute that headline is sad! That poor woman – alone on Super Bowl night… Seriously, since when is Super Bowl Sunday a romantic holiday for couples? I suppose maybe it could be if your idea of date night is crap beer and some sad nachos. If so, you might want to set the bar higher.

 

(This is a pic of the fab Vera Wang jams I wore to my own Super Bowl party. What can I say, I have innate style.)

I really didn’t mind watching the Super Bowl alone. Didn’t have to clean my house, make food for anyone, worry about people having enough to drink or too much (or drinking all my GOOD beer). These events are especially easy without “He Who No Longer Inhabits” who felt the need to reinvent chicken wings or foof up some simple appetizer. Very tiring. Not a chance. The pup got a couple extra Milk-Bones and I had a plate of Trader Joe’s frozen shrimp pot stickers w/ their bottled goyza sauce. (Highly recommend!)

Since it seems I’ve gotten away from listing GROCERY LISTS on here, I’ll share a combo of two I’ve carried around lately. A two-week work project left zero shopping time so I didn’t get to any stores until last Fri. Then I forgot to buy most things on the list except wine, of course.

Here’s the list:

  • Drain cleaner – My puppy, Shedding Sister, has the potential to clog every drain pipe in my county. This pup never shed until about 3 weeks ago and then it was insane. Fortunately, it seems to have slowed down a bit.
  • 3-way light bulbs – Is it just me or do you blow out one setting on a 3-way bulb all the time? I use the 50 watt and 100 watt settings on different lamps. I’ve had this item on a list for 2 months
  • Wine – Although my normal cold weather choice is red, I also buy whites. I just don’t want wimpy whites that I might drink in the summer. Finding interesting, full-bodied, affordable whites is tough.
  • Frozen – That’s my shorthand for “lazy-ass food” I buy so when I’m working 10/11- hour days, I just heat the oven or throw in micro.
  • Creamer – Again with the “fat-free” half and half – such a concept!

So, did you notice there’s really nothing to eat on that list except for the frozen category? That’s right. It’s why I call this “single people’s grocery lists.”

Cheers.

People Actually Get Work Done at Starbucks?

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Today I was congratulating myself on dressing like a grown-up (even put on MAC eyeliner!), packing the laptop, dropping the pup at Doggie Day Camp, treating myself to lunch and finally making it to Starbucks to get some work done.

“Medium” Starbucks Pumpkin Latte

Seriously? Do people really get work done at Starbucks? Folks next to me are earnestly discussing Jesus, some not-great blues is playing and I haven’t done a lick of work. I am, however, enjoying my medium $4.55 Pumpkin Latte ( I don’t call it “grande,” it sounds so pretentious). So I’m not even breaking even – spent $34 ($14.00 for pup care) and have not written a single income-producing word.

I’ll head to Trader Joe’s in a bit and pick up some goodies and report in later. Watch my deficit column grow…

Essentials from Trader Joe’s

I always think I will just pick up a few things at TJ’s. That never happens. This was the list:

  • maple syrup
  • honey
  • goat cheese
  • wine (1-2 bottles of red)
  • tea
  • fig jam

Here’s what I threw in my cart in addition to the above:

  • 5 bottles of wine, total
  • frozen pumpkin pie
  • coconut milk (that WAS on my list for another grocery store)
  • coffee (since when has coffee gone to less than 12 oz. bags? It was bad enough that there is no longer a 1 lb. choice)

Grand total: $78. Did not see that coming.

50 lbs. of Dog Food, Beer and Soda – The Essentials

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I think we need to mix it up a bit here at SPGL. After all, how many times do you want to read the words “cookie butter” and “wine” on my blog? Today, I have a guest blog from pal and fellow writer Thelma Michael. She obviously understands the intricacies of single-hood shopping and shares her astute observations below.

I am purposefully single.  That’s right boys and girls – it is a choice.  No, I’m not Hunchback of Notre Dame’s twin sister making this statement because I haven’t been asked out on a date in the last decade – I’m single because I refuse to be with an idiot.

There are a lot of idiots out there.  Which makes me wonder when we can pass an ordinance that there must be a stupidity test before one can procreate – but that is a whole different line of thought.

I am also a big people-watcher and the grocery store is chock full of entertainment for me.  Not just the people, but their carts!  Holy mother of god can you learn a lot from someone by their shopping cart.

But those observations can also bite me in the butt.  To come clean I have no butt because too many things have come back and bit me in the butt.  I really hope karma doesn’t start coming after the boobs next because I don’t have that much and if it takes those I will be left with the body of a pre-pubescent 12-year-old boy.   But that’s another story.

So I am a cart observer – I like to look in other people’s grocery carts.  I can pick out the single dad, the husband who was sent with a specific list and fellow single people. Like the angry gal who just broke up with her boyfriend. She’s easy to spot – two dozen cartons of Ben and Jerry’s, five bottles of wine and the super saver pack of Kleenex are dead give aways. Then there’s the frat boy living in a grown man’s body single-handedly keeping Frito-Lay in business, as well as the local brewery.

I recently went to the grocery store to pick up a few things, enjoyed my people/cart watching then ran a couple more errands before I went home. It was after one of these errands that I stunned my fellow patrons in the parking lot by literally laughing out loud once I reached my car.

I glanced in the backseat and all I saw was a fifty pound bag of dog food, a case of beer and two cases of soda pop! If it had been someone else I would have designated them the lonely dog person.  I swear I could hear my grandmother in my ear, “See what happens when you make assumptions about others…” Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I am a dog person.  After years of singleness on and off,  I much prefer the company of my dogs.  Don’t get me wrong, I love men – they are such simple creatures.  But my tolerance for them and their crap is pretty low whereas my dogs at least crap in my yard, not in my psyche.

Dogs don’t have to figure out who they are – they are a dog.  They don’t have a pendulum that swings from wanting to be in a monogamous relationship to wanting to hump everything in the neighborhood.   They don’t play hot and cold, they don’t care if you get fat or put green goop on your face to get rid of age spots.

And you normally only have to train a dog once, as with a man it is a continual process.  So yes, I am the crazy dog lady with the big bag of dog food so I make sure my dogs are always taken care of. And me? I get the soda pop to get me through the day and the beer for a toast to me at the end of the day.

Don’t judge me.

Thanks, Thelma. As soon as she stows that bag of dog food away, she’ll have time to launch her new blog and we’ll do linkies. It’s what cool, single chicks do.

Wine, Tall Bags and Green Beans

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Wine, Tall Bags and Green Beans

Thus began my latest grocery shopping list. Although I tend to drink more white wine in the summer, I was missing a red to have w/ a chunk of chocolate. So, red wine it is. Other items in the cart:

Green beans, tomatoes, romaine lettuce and an avocado – I WILL eat vegs. in between the other crap I’ve been consuming.

  • Insect sting cream – Yesterday, after eight years of peaceful co-existence, the wasps that build a nest in my shed attacked me. I have at least 3 stings on ONE earlobe. When I went to look for a first aid cream, the tube was dated 2003.
  • Small filet of beef -Well, it’s not small, it’s .52 lbs. and was kind of expensive. But I rarely eat beef and I’m grilling out for the week on Sat. I’ll save half to put on an arugula salad another night.
  • Peppered turkey– I buy tortilla wrappers and make sandwiches. I pretend like it’s less fattening than bread.
  • All natural chicken sausages – Had a coupon.
  • Six bottles of red wine – My fave, Baguala Malbec 2008 was on  sale for $4.99.
  • Two bottles of rose – Some French stuff on sale for $7.99
  • Tall kitchen bags w/ handles – I swear there are as many choices of plastic bags as there are feminine hygiene products. It’s a disposable TRASH bag, people.
  • Kleenex – Only I bought Puffs. I shared my opinion about buying paper products in this post, If Only Paper Towels and Toilet Paper Were Edible. But I have to say, I’m a sucker for attractive Kleenex boxes. And yes, I buy the little boxes that are 25 times more expensive because they’re cute, dammit.
  • Assorted other stuff that’s even more boring than my take on Kleenex.

I spent quite a bit of money this trip, which I’m trying not to do (because the funds are scary low). But my rationale is my cash-back rewards credit card, that had a pristine 0 balance, messed up the amount in my account. I had $55 instead of $7. Sooo, I used the bad, bad card and will get the $55 taken off my next bill.

Hey, it’s ice cream season. Not sure if I shared that I’m into making homemade ice cream. My best is butter pecan w/ artisan salt. Details to come…;-)

Zombies in the Ethnic Aisle

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Zombies in the Ethnic Aisle

I haven’t spent much time at the grocery store lately. Still on my austerity program, trying to use up everything in the house. But you can only eat kosher hot dogs and shredded cheese for so many days in a row.

So, I had to pick up a few things. But bear with me while I rant a bit about fellow grocery shoppers. What is it about grocery shopping that turns some people into zombies with lobotomies (they mover slower than plain zombies)? I particularly notice this in the “Ethnic” aisle – the one with exotic items like pasta and canned tomatoes. I encounter two types:

  • People who can’t drive those monstrous kiddie carts. Those things scare me more than an 18-wheeler driver on speed. The kids always look miserable, BTW. Maybe they realize their parent sucks at driving.
  • People who look like they’ve had one too many doses of Thorazine (a tranquilizer drug used on psychiatric patients in the “snake pit” days.)

Admittedly, I hate shopping and have become really cranky with age, so I’m not very tolerant. But, hey, be aware and move your a– and cart out of the middle of the aisle!

Okay, rant over. What did I buy?

  • Wine – I also got a foofy lemony liquor that will need to be locked up away from my reach. It’s too tasty.
  • Assorted dairy items – I bought both heavy cream AND fat-free creamer. It’s almost homemade ice cream season. That’s my excuse for the fat stuff.
  • Asparagus – If I had to pick one vegetable to live on, this would be it. I drizzle olive oil on it, broil it and sprinkle Parm on it when it comes out.
  • Paper crap – See previous post “Too Bad TP & Paper Products Aren’t Edible.”
  • Some other stuff I can’t remember.

If you see me at the Giant Eagle, don’t rear-end me w/ your cart. I might go all postal on you.

Too Bad TP & Paper Towels Aren’t Edible

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I held out as long as I could before going to the grocery store. The list was long and I knew I’d be spending some bucks. But $146? I was out of almost all paper products and other useless non-food or drink items. It struck me when I got home and unloaded that it’s a shame toilet paper and paper towels aren’t edible. If they make these things biodegradable, why not make them tasty? You could make a wrap with a couple of sheets of Bounty and deli goodies. TP could be used in baklava instead of those skinny layers of pastry dough.

One Square Per

That reminds me of something Sheryl Crow said on Oprah (or maybe it was Madonna since it sounds like her). Sheryl said that there was no reason anyone should use more than ONE square of toilet paper at a time. Seriously. Who could make that up? That’s about the time I stopped watching Oprah (that and the Dr. Phil phase).

Here’s what else I bought:

  • cat food – of course, HRH was tired of the selection in the 24-pack so I had to mix it up
  • asparagus- (which I douse w/ some olive oil, salt and pepper and put under the broiler. Try it w/ some grated Parm when it comes out.)
  • coho salmon – I know the farm-raised stuff is cheaper, but this is so much better for an extra $2/lb.
  • white and red wine – It’s tax season, need I say more?
  • afore-mentioned paper goods + foil
  • yogurt – Again, I have to wonder about that fruit on the bottom thing??
  • pastrami – not the good kind. This is some store-brand formed product w/ pastrami essence. Hey, it was on sale.
  • olives – I may devote a whole post to olives soon. I have avoided the olive bar lately because they’re pricey. I probably could live on olives, cheese and wine. LOVE!
  • mayo – realized mine was dated 11/15/11.
  • chocolate – bought Scharffen Berger because I’m going to make a foofy chocolate dessert for friends next weekend. If you bake w/ chocolate, you NEED this. Forget that brand that starts w/ “g.” Trust me, I may not cook much, but I make some mean desserts.
  • more stuff I can’t remember – but not meal-worthy fare

Hey, weigh in on that TP thing. One square??

Are Apples the New Pepperoni?

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Ha, that title will reel them in! I just made the apple/gorgonzola pizza I said I was going to make Super Bowl Sun. Nothing will replace pepperoni, but this pizza did turn out pretty cool and tasty.

I have to give a nod to Southern Living because the original recipe is from their Nov. issue. It was in the “I’m so sick of turkey, what can I eat?” section of the mag. I changed it up to include stuff I had on hand.

I used a Boboli whole wheat pre-made crust. “He Who No Longer Inhabits” (heh – sounds like Voldemort) used to foof over the crust and make his own. Not me.  Here’s the rest of the goods:

  • 1 granny smith apple (I used another type), sliced thin
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/3 c. fig jam (I used Trader Joe’s Fig Butter, which surprisingly has no fat.)
  • 4 oz. of gorgonzola (the recipe used goat cheese, but I mixed feta w/ the blue because that’s what I had and I wanted more of a salty taste.)
  • Sprinkle of Italian shredded cheese blend
  • 1/3 c. toasted chopped pecans
  • 1-2 cups arugula
  • Salad dressing of your choice (I used my own balsamic vinaigrette.)

Saute apple and onion in olive oil until soft and a bit browned. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread fig jam on crust and top with apples and onion. Sprinkle cheese over apples. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cheese has slightly melted. Sprinkle pecans over the top.  Let cool a minute. Toss arugula w/ a little salad dressing. You don’t have to use dressing, but I wanted a salad-type topping. You can serve w/ the arugula on top of pizza or I put it on the side.

(Not my pizza – too busy eating it to grab a camera.)

It was really good. The salty feta and gorgonzola balanced out the sweet apples and jam. I’m going to do some other variations of this pizza, too. A friend once served a fig and olive tapenade w/ goat cheese. I’m going hunting for that baby. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Oh yeah, serve w/ a red table wine, a bold white or something fancy. I had a Spanish Jumilla w/ it – a bit on the pricey side for me – it was $12.99, but it was worth it. Bon Appetit!

Is Gorgonzola Super Bowl Food?

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As my friend just reminded me, “You’re kind of a boy that way,” when I told her I do like to watch pro football. But the Super Bowl this year doesn’t do it for me. But I’ll side w/ the majority of my friends who don’t like Tom Brady and become an instant Giants fan.

However,  I did buy an avocado to make guacamole to pay homage to the big game. But instead, I’m doing this apple/red onion/gorgonzola/fig jam pizza. I know. It’s so far from football food, it’s almost in a different sport. Maybe figure skating?

In addition to some staples like red wine, fishy cat food and coffee creamer, I bought a few treats at the grocery yesterday:

  • “Chinese” cookies – the quotes are because I would call them Asian. I’ve decided that besides the almond flavoring, their texture is what’s addicting.
  • Light cream cheese – I call this a treat because I use it like a condiment – on a ham sandwich w/ red onion or a bagel w/ raspberry jam.
  • Arugula – I haven’t mentioned this before on here, but I’m a crazy arugula fan. I’ve found that many people aren’t. I’m going to toss it w/ balsamic vinegar and olive oil and put it on that pizza above.
  • Mexican shredded cheese blend – This is one of those totally necessary foods I use to create the laziest meal ever. Cheese melted on tortilla chips. You can’t even call them nachos because there is no other ingredient. This meal takes 50 seconds on 50% power in the micro.

Not the most exciting single people shopping trip report. But I did lose my truck key and that was somewhat interesting…