Tag Archives: white 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.

Holiday Hogs

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hamWhen there are just two people getting together (the Mother Unit and I) for a holiday, buying festive food should be simpler. Not really. I made hopefully the last foray into shopping land today for a few food items. I decided to get a ham. Ham doesn’t rock my world, but I like making bean soup w/ the ham bone. You have to go through a lot of ham to get to that bone. She Of The Slight Frame will have to take home many lbs. of ham.

Looking at the half-hams, the smallest I could find was 8.8 lbs. How big are these hogs, anyway? That’s one big butt. OK, so I don’t know exactly where the ham is on the hog, but I try to disconnect from that aspect as long as I’m still a carnivore.

Holiday Items

Today, this is what I bought. Not strictly a single people list since I’m having company, but it reads like one.

  • Two nice bottles of white wine – An Albarino and a Torrentes, a bit above my usual $10 limit, but hey, it’s a holiday. I had some Prosecco from Trader Joe’s, but wanted some “regular” white.  (If you think you have to buy $$ Champagne or that dreadful other fizzy crap, try a Prosecco. Usually cheaper, but w/ the bubbly thing, it’s a fun Italian sparkling wine. You have to trust me on these things.)
  • Bailey’s Creme Brule Coffee Creamer – Coffee snob that I am, I don’t usually go for frou-frou, sweet coffee “enhancers.” But I had a coupon and also thought it would be good in the Kaluha knock-off I bought last week.
  • Pears – Needed those for the decorative holiday fruit collage I have going.
  • Milk-Bones – The pup might get a more fancy treat for Xmas, but these are a necessity.
  • A Brie-like product – The first time I’ve bought Brie since Bokhara, my cat, died. He loved the stuff. Again, a coupon and the Mother might enjoy.
  • Jeni’s Brown Butter Almond Brittle Ice Cream – Dear God, can you imagine? Can’t wait to try it.
  • More stuff I can’t recall or it’s too boring to list – This all added up to $103, which was surprising.

No Baking

I normally bake at least a few things at holidays. Not in the mood or no energy or both this year. But check out that ice cream above. And there’s wine…and ham…

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…;-)

Pretzels Everywhere or is it Just Me?

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Pretzel Logic might be my fave Steely Dan album, but then again, it might be Royal Scam. I digress...

I love pretzels in many forms. But they are appearing before me (not like in a vision or anything – that’s a whole different post) all the time. I just bought Everything Pretzel Thins, which are a different brand from Pretzel Slims. I bought Dark-Chocolate Covered Pretzel Slims recently at Trader Joe’s and they are as wonderful as they sound.

Let’s do a round-up of all my faves:

  • Soft pretzels from Target’s “food court”
  • Honey mustard pretzel bites
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Pretzel buns (OMG -these are amazing! You could put anything in these buns and it would be dreamy.)

Perhaps that’s enough pretzel talk for now. But please share your pretzel finds with me!

Networking

This is a poor segue, but the pretzel thing made me think of going to real functions like work-related, networking things back in the day. You know, the type where you tried not to drink too much bad white wine while balancing a crappy appetizer and simultaneously pulling out one of your biz cards to share with a potential client/employer.

We now do so much of this online instead of face-to-face. But a recent networking opp. reminded me of how it was to connect at these things. I also think we’ve become so used to online interaction that we’ve forgotten networking “etiquette.” Many people literally shoved their biz cards in my face before I even asked. How about chatting me up first?

But, hey it was good to get out of the house/grocery store/yard and go out “amongst them” as the Amish say.

Networking manners? Discuss!

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!

Are There “Staples” Other Than Wine and Brie?

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Yesterday, I went to the grocery for the first time in two weeks. As I mentioned in my last post “New Year-New Weird Cr– to Do with Food”, I’m trying to use up all the food I have on hand and stretch that budget. But honestly, how can I spend $131 ($20 was cash back) and come home w/ the only consumables being cereal, breakfast bars and hot dogs? Well it was the “toiletries” shopping day – toothpaste, Ibuprophen and moisturizing lotion (which BTW, is more $ than a bottle of decent inexpensive wine!), etc.

Pantry Staples

(I had a nice image of Brie here that someone must have eaten!)

I’ve recently realized I have nothing that you would consider a “basic” in my pantry – no tuna, spaghetti sauce (that doesn’t have a 2003 expiration date) or other stuff that might make a meal. Unless you consider Brie, white and red wine to be basics… which, of course, I do.

But then I thought about some of the stuff I have on hand right now – smoked salmon, prosciutto, pancetta, an aged cheese w/ Syrah and a frozen Newman’s Own pizza. Hey, those are my staples!

Maybe next trip I’ll shoot for some normal-people food:

  • Peanut butter
  • Bread (that isn’t bakery foo-foo stuff that gets stale in 20 mins.)
  • Pasta
  • Hey, how about some fruit and veggies? Brie is rather low on the essential nutrients and vitamins…

So, what’s in YOUR pantry? Confess, I won’t tell…

Virtual Wine Tasting Event!

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Hey, it’s happy hour, right? Or maybe just “less than morbidly depressed” hour. But whatever/whoever you are, welcome to our virtual cheap wine tasting event. Although this is a Single People’s Grocery Lists blog, all are welcome, especially to drink and report on cheap, good wines.

A couple disclaimers and thoughts:

  1. I’m not a pro, I just buy and drink at amateur status.
  2. Also, we don’t judge here (kind of like AA only a wee bit more fun) – if you like White Zinfandel and/or box wines, more power to you! I have wine-snobbish pals who have turned up their noses at a nice dry rose (that’s ro-say, but I don’t know where the accent thing-y is.) Hey, their loss!
  3. If you go to a wine store or wine dept. and they treat you like an idiot, leave and find a friendly wine person who is willing to educate you.
  4. Drink responsibly – no driving, texting, rotating tires or heavy-duty childcare whilst imbibing.
  5. Enjoy!

I’ll start w/ some of my faves:

Reds

I’m partial right now to Spanish and Argentine reds. What’s nice is that the prices so far are reasonable.

These are OH prices, so I have no idea if you’ll find these wines OR what the prices will be in your area.

Baguala Malbec 2008 Valles Calcharquies — $6.99 I LOVE this wine. In fact, I’ve ordered about 6 cases of it.  NOT ALL AT ONCE, OK!
Marques De Montana Garnacha – $6.99 You’ve probably had Grenache by itself or in a blend of table red.
Di Majo Norante Sangiovese – $9.99 OK, I know that’s a heady price, but this is a great wine. It’s Italian and try any Sangiovese you can get your hands on. Sometimes a blend, too.
Condesa De Sarabella – $7.49 For some reason I started calling this Spanish red “Condoleezza” and that was before what’s-his-name had the hots for her. Nicely balanced. Not amazing, but good.

These are all wines I found at Trader Joe’s. If God hasn’t blessed you w/ a Trader Joe’s, start a petition.

On to whites after I sign onto the lappie down near the wine fridge. For convenience of course…

Whites

I should have said in the disclaimer portion that I’m really not much of an American wine fan, at least not CA wines. And I am in the ABC club (Anything But Chardonnay). I like different white varietals like Gruner Veltliner. I promise you if you go to work tomorrow and say you tried one last night, they will think you went to a crazy, underground Austrian after-hours club.

Rene Barbier Mediterranean White – Catalunya – $4.99 I know! This is a go-to summer fave. White Spanish blend.

Tierra De Luna Torrontes/Chard blend -$6.99 I know what I said about Chards, but this is an Argentine blend. You may not find it, but I’ve ordered a couple cases of it. Torrontes is an Argentine grape. You’ll see more of this, I’m sure. Yum!

I’m going  to post this now and continue w/ whites in Part Deux. Ewww, did that remind you of Charlie Sheen? Ick.