Thursday, March 25, 2010

wino rhino - work in progress

This was the best pic for a "web fairy" that I could come up with.
I suppose I owe an explanation for why I haven't written this past week. Well, it will be shown in due time, hopefully in the next week or so. I've been hard at work on the new wino rhino Web site! Yes, pretty soon my Web site won't be run on Blogger or any other hosting program ... but entirely on my own, with a Web site I am creating from scratch. It's consumed much of my time, which is why I haven't had time to write. But soon it will be all worth it, I promise!
Here's a link to the test site I've made, as practice: Sample Site.

Friday, March 19, 2010

keeping it spicy

Last night I decided to open up a bottle of the Galante 2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($25) from Carmel Valley that I had mentioned recently to pair with a few spicy dishes I was working on. The wine itself is light with notes of mango and tangerine ... plus a little bit of banana, which I didn't get upon first tasting it. It's mixed with a little bit of Viognier, which explains the lack of strong cat-pee on the nose. Charming, I know, but that is characteristic of a Sauvignon Blanc.
I decided to try it with a bit of spicy cuisine to see how the pairing would work out, and overall I was very pleased with the results. Last night I made a lime, cilantro and jalapeno pasta (bought fresh from the Farmer's Market, delicious!) with a modified marinara sauce. I took a jar from Trader Joe's and made some changes to it. Here's what I added to the sauce: fresh cilantro, creme fraiche, chopped red and yellow bell peppers and sliced asparagus I had blanched right before throwing in. The result was a delicious spicy pasta that was a little too heavy for the Sauvignon Blanc alone (I probably should've had a nice Cab with it too, side by side), but still great.
The other dish I made today for lunch because we still had half a bottle left of the Sauvignon Blanc and I wanted to make a different type of spicy dish to see how it compared. For lunch I made a Mediterranan spicy wrap with fresh homemade hummus. Here's a little recipe in case you would like to try it yourself!

Mediterranean Spicy Wrap (personal recipe)
Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Cost: about $3, depending
Serves: 1

What You Need:
1 organic flour tortilla (white or wheat)
Half a Trader Joe's Soyrizo (soy chorizo)
2/3 cup red and yellow bell peppers, sliced julienne
1 tablespoon curry simmer sauce (I prefer red, but you can use green)
2 tablespoons hummus
1/3 cup fresh micro or bitter greens
1-2 tablespoons goat cheese, depending on taste

Crumble the soyrizo until it resembles hamburger meat (usually happens pretty quickly) and blend it with the bell peppers in a saucepan with a little olive or grapeseed oil. Sautee it for a few minutes until it starts to simmer and add the curry. In a separate saucepan heat up the tortilla with a little olive oil, then put it in the oven at low temperature so it stays warm.
After cooking the soyrizo and peppers, grab the tortilla and put it on a plate, spreading the hummus on the inner middle. Take the soyrizo mix and put it on top of the hummus, keeping it in the middle of the tortilla. Add the greens and goat cheese, then fold it like a burrito. Slice it in half and enjoy!
The wrap tasted fantastic with the Sauvignon Blanc, much better than the pasta because it was much lighter while still having a strong spicy flavor. I would definitely recommend it for a nice light lunch with some fresh berries or a vinaigrette salad. I would definitely recommend making the hummus yourself - I've become obsessed with making my own hummus because it's fresher, tastes better and, above all, is WAY cheaper than buying it at the store. If anyone is interested I'll add my recipe on here.

poetry slam friday


crave difference in
the unordinary, as
the moon craves the sun

Thursday, March 18, 2010

wine blogger of the week - the wine ... um, *gulp*

So this week's wine blogger is Randy Watson, a.k.a the Wine Whore. Based out of Tampa, FL, the Wine Whore (God, I'm hope my mom's not reading ... sorry Mom, that's actually his blog name!) has turned the basic idea of wine blogging into a full-time job, complete with (nearly) daily posts, merchandise and other little goodies including both a wine blog and a food blog written by a friend of his, Todd Sweeney. The layout of his blog is pretty impressive, especially because he's using the Blogger program ... although there are a few too many ads on there for my taste ;). Anyway, I enjoy reading his blog because he makes wine accessible, which not a lot of bloggers do. If you haven't checked out his wine blog yet, I would definitely recommend you do. It's a good read! 
If you want to be my featured wine blogger of the week, here's how you do it ... um, just ask! If I haven't seen your blog before I will definitely check it out, and if I like what I see (and how could I possibly not?) I will make you my featured wine blogger of the week. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

i'm just an innocent bystander, i swear!

So I've got some pretty exciting news. Through a random series of events, Julien and I were invited to bartend at this year's Pebble Beach Food and Wine for the celebrity chef golf tournament and after-hours parties! Our payment, other than an equal share of the tip jar, are 2 tickets to one daytime tasting event of our choice AND 2 tickets each for the Lexus Grand Tasting! The event is April 9-11 and Julien and I are so excited. It's going to be an amazing event with fantastic wines to taste and unbelievable food as well. There will be some late nights (the after-hours parties go until 2am), but it will definitely be worth it. Don't worry, I'll be taking more pictures and shooting more video than you can handle.

To celebrate this fantastic news, as well as the many other great things going on right now (did I mention I was accepted into San Diego State University, my first-choice school ... because I totally was!), I purchased a bottle of wine I'd really been intrigued to try. It's a 2008 Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris ($16, Whole Foods), a blend of Pinot Gris/Grigio from Yarra Valley, Australia. I'm sure you may remember my very favorable review of the 2008 Innocent Bystander Moscato, which was what primarily convinced me to try this other white. I figured I might as well follow the success of the label and see what else comes of it.

Well, for the most part I wasn't disappointed. The color on this wine was very, very light yellow with a slight greenish tint. There were visible tiny bubbles so I knew there would be a hint of acidity or spritz to it. The nose on this wine was floral with a bit of acidic tang, smelled a bit of alcohol. The fruit on the nose was white pear and light apple. It was one of those whites that smelled very, how shall we say, clear. It opened up the nasal passage quite a bit, almost like eucalyptus ... which oddly enough wasn't in the nose at all.
The taste of this wine opened with immediate green apple, and loads of it! There were also notes of white pear. Just as predicted, there was a light spritz on it - there was also an acidic tang on it, which didn't surprise me one bit, given the nose on this wine. The wine finished with a touch of banana and tropical fruit. Overall, this Pinot Gris was very refreshing but a little too acidic to enjoy more than one glass at a time.
I'd probably give this wine a few more months, up to 1 year, in order to smooth out those flavors a bit. But I would definitely recommend picking up a bottle and holding onto it until then! This wine shows a lot of potential. With luck, it might even be ready to go by the end of summer - a perfect summer backyard soiree wine!
I enjoyed this wine with some sauteed vegetables in a mango chutney sauce and boiled fingerling potatoes with a homemade sundried tomato aioli. I was feeling saucey, no pun intended ... oh who am I kidding, it was totally intended! I modified the recipe from one on the Food Network. Here's a link to the recipe  - but just remember to add about 1 large tablespoon of sundried tomatoes (either freshly made or soaked in olive oil) when you add the garlic ... and only do up to 2 garlic cloves, since you don't want the garlic to compete with the tomatoes. Oh ... and do what the recipe says and pour the olive oil in SLOWLY while blending. I went through about 3 different failed attempts at making the aioli because I didn't follow this vital part of the recipe.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ladies ... time to celebrate!

So it turns out that wine DOESN'T make us fat, ladies! Isn't that glorious? A new study shows that women who drink light to moderate amounts of wine do not significantly gain weight over non-drinkers. In fact, some of them have been shown to lose weight. Makes me glad I'm a (mostly) moderate wine drinker! So feel free to pop open those bottles, girls, because your hips aren't going to get all angry at you.
Here's a link to the article if you'd like to check it out.

Wine Doesn't Make Women Fat, Report Claims

Friday, March 12, 2010

grand champions and grappa

So just in case you were wonderful, Julien and I had a wonderful day yesterday. We went to the beach, drank wine, saw a show and ... oh yeah ... drank some more wine! After our trip to the beach, with absolutely perfect weather, mind you, Julien and I went for a little wine tasting at Galante Vineyards tasting room in downtown Carmel. It was a cute little place that had a chair made to look like a boot. Gosh darn, I wish I'd gotten a picture of it! But someone was sitting in it almost the whole time we were there, so it didn't quite work out. 
The tasting room host, Will, let us go through their entire collection of wines, which was great. They only had one white on the entire tasting list, a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($25) blended with a bit of Viogner. Turns out that's the only white they produce, since they're mostly known for Cabernets. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc quite a bit, despite the fact that it was so new and had only aged (partially in steel and partially in oak) for a couple of months. It was incredibly light with notes of mango, tangerine and light vanilla. There was only the faintest scent of cat pee on it, something that strangely is characteristic of Sauvignon Blanc. It finished with a taste of grapefruit that lingered well enough but didn't overpower. We ended up getting a bottle of it to try later on.
Two other notable wines from their list were, first,  the 2005 "Blackjack Preserve" Cabernet Sauvignon ($50), which had notes of tobacco, coffee and soft leather with black cherry on the finish. The tannins on this one were really soft and didn't dry out the palate, which I liked quite a bit. The other one was their 2007 Grand Champion ($75), but more for its IMPENDING value then it's current one. It was a wine that tasted strained and new ... but I imagine that in 5 years or so, that wine is going to taste phenomenal. Will said he was currently trying the 96 and 97 vintages of the Grand Champion and that they were to die for ... so if you're looking for something to hold on to, I would definitely recommend picking up a bottle for the future. However, I would probably pass on their 2007 Merlot and their 2006 Pinot Noir ... I wasn't impressed by them. 

After the wine tasting Julien and I had a fabulous dinner at Cantinetta Luca. Julien's dad, Chris, spoiled us with a wide array of amazing Italian wines, ranging from the lightest of whites to the heaviest of reds. I was able to sample them all ... but I have to honestly say that by the time I'd gotten through all of them, I couldn't barely spell my own name, let alone write down notes about all of them. Yep, I got a little toasty. But I will say that they were great ... and I would definitely recommend Southern Italian reds, which were the focus of our red tasting. For dinner Julien and I shared our entrees (we like to do that!), one was a risotto with chanterelle mushrooms and shaved asparagus. The other was a pumpkin ravioli. They were both delish! We finished with a fabulous cheese platter (the parmigiano-reggiano was spectacular, and was paired with a balsamic glaze ... amazing!) and a couple of desserts, including a great tiramisu. Unfortunately by that the time the wine had seriously gone to my head and I wasn't able to finish all of the desserts with Julien.
Then after that we went to a fun performance of Anything Goes, which our friend was in. The musical itself is a bit, how shall we say, dated ... but the performance was lively and we did enjoy ourselves. Overall, Julien and I had a wonderful time ... and I'm definitely looking forward to number three! Here's a little slideshow of our day, in case you wanted to see some other pics!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

two years and many mimosas later .... :)

Right now it's 8am and I'm in bed getting ready for what should (hopefully) be a fabulous day. Why? Because today is my two-year anniversary with my wonderful boyfriend, Julien, that's why! Right now he's lying next to me, snoring a bit, but with luck he'll be up soon and we can get started on our day of love. Here's the agenda for today (with a blog entry to follow, seeing as there will be much wine involved):

1. A surprise breakfast in bed, complete with mimosas, for my wonderful man. Will probably get up and start making it as soon as this blog entry is finished.
2. A nice long walk on the beach in Carmel. Luckily it is a gorgeous day outside, sunny skies with just the slightest breeze.
3. A bit of wine tasting in downtown Carmel.
4. Dinner at Cantinetta Luca, a wonderful Italian restaurant in downdown Carmel. My boyfriend's dad is the sommelier there, and he promised to take really good care of us tonight. Can we say hello to really really good wines??? He also promised to show us some good grappa too.
5. Going to a performance of Anything Goes at the MPC Theatre in Monterey. Our friend Armie is in the ensemble, and it looks like a fun musical!
6. Ahem ... well ... the rest is a secret ;).

Well, I should get up and get breakfast started. I'll let all of you know later how the day goes! Oh, and on another note, I've been accepted into San Diego State University for Journalism! It was my first choice school and I'm sooo excited. It's a seriously impacted major at that school because the program is said to be THAT good. So all you So-Cal types better get ready, because I'm coming to you!

Friday, March 5, 2010

poetry slam friday


tart apples swinging
their crisp skins, acidic yet
dangerously sweet

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

a little wine research

One of my favorite things to do in my spare time when surfing the Web is do little funny searches on Google and see what comes up. You'd be surprised to find out that the most popular search option for "It is wrong to ..." is "... sleep with your sister"!!! Can you believe it? Gross.
Anyway, so since I can't drink any wine right now because of this stupid cold, I decided to do a little Google searching instead. I thought this one was interesting, because there wasn't a single one that sounded good other than the carbonated one, which doesn't sound necessarily good, per se. Enjoy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

a bit of ranting and raving

I'm sorry I haven't written this past week. I've still been fighting that bug, which has now moved into my chest and lungs, and I haven't felt like drinking (let alone writing about) wine for the past few days. The reason I'm writing now is completely unrelated to wine - it's just me ranting about something that's seriously bothering me.
So I decided this morning that enough was enough and that I should go to the doctor. I went to Doctors On Duty, since it's supposed to be the more affordable option for those like myself who are, shall we say, insurance impaired. I waited for about 20 minutes before being called up. The receptionist then tells me that I have to give her a $100 deposit. I was surprised, since the last time I went (which was only 2 years ago) I had to only pay $80 for the entire appointment. So I asked her if the appointments were $100 now. She said no, that they were not AT LEAST $165, but a deposit was required before the appointment actually took place.
Needless to say, I was shocked. I couldn't believe that a working class person like myself, who makes less than $30,000 per year, was expected to pay almost $200 for a simple doctor's appointment. It was baffling. So I instead decided to take my money elsewhere and see an herbal specialist for some natural remedies. I ended up, including the appointment, paying only $60 for everything. Including the medicine! And the appointment was so much more helpful than anything the doctor could've given, which would've probably involved him or here putting a stethoscope to my back, asking me to breathe and telling me I just need a few days rest.
The herbal medicine is already having an effect and I'm feeling much better. A little tired, but much better. I would recommend herbal remedies for anyone who is mentally willing to try other options besides simply getting a prescription. I've been driving tea made with fresh thyme and taking a specialty wild cherry bark syrup that tastes terrible but does the trick.
In the end, to anybody who says health care reform is a bad idea, just come talk to someone like me ... someone who doesn't have health insurance. And I'll tell you first thing that it's badly, badly needed in this country. Prices shouldn't double in two years. It's inhumane. It prevents people like me from affording health care. Granted I got alternative care, which has helped greatly, but I should still be able to have the option of quality and affordable health care.
So that's my rant and rave for now. When I get back to drinking wine I'll let you know.