Meanwhile in #TXwine-Texas Tuesday

While my opportunities to sneak away may diminish with summer, the world of Texas wine isn’t slowing.  In fact, it continues to expand in size and reputation.  My news feed has been full of announcements of accolades, invitations, and openings.  While I can’t attend or respond to all of them in the 18 minutes of free time,(on a good day) I am there in spirit, and in time, I’ll get to experience these wines and places myself.

One event I was able to attend was sponsored by Llano Estacado and featured wines from their new line for restaurants, Mont Sec.  The Sauvignon Blanc and Grenache Rose are made from grapes from Mont Sec Vineyards in the Chihuahuan Desert. Despite the rugged climate and challenging conditions, the area yields fruit that makes fantastic wine.  I really enjoyed both wines and would buy them by the case if I could.  Unfortunately, they are only available through restaurants.  If you see them, don’t hesitate.

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I paired the Mont Sec Sauvignon Blanc with Greek style meatballs, Tzatziki. and cucumber salad.  I shared the bottle with my family, all of whom were impressed. The Rose was a fun fresh compliment to a casual Friday dinner of Berbere meatballs, Rosemary white bean dip, asparagus. My only complaint was that there was a hole in my glass.

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The other stand-out of the evening was, of course, the flagship Viviano ($35).  The nod to a Super Tuscan (70% Cab, 30% Sangiovese) is a perennial favorite.  Jubilant fruit, spice, elegance.  I paired a bottle with lamb chops, roasted fingerlings, and kale avocado salad.  It worked, but I think I could have done better.  I’ll have to try again.

Hawk’s Shadow Winery had their opening this past weekend in Dripping Springs.  I wish I could tell you something about the wine, but this is one I missed.  Since Saturdays from 12-6 are currently booked, it may have to wait until fall.  For more information, see their website.

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, Flat Creek will be holding Vinopalooza on premise.  Music and wine in a beautiful setting sounds like a great way to celebrate.  For tickets and more detailed information, follow this link.

One of my favorite Texas wineries received five awards at the recent San Francisco International Wine competition.  Congratulations Kim and company.  You continue to impress me with the quality of wines that you are able to make while keeping them accessibly priced.  I’ll miss our stop this summer. McPherson Cellars wines stood out with the following wines:

Les Copains Rosé – GOLD
Les Copains White – Silver
Albariño – Silver
Viognier – Bronze
La Herencia – Bronze

In the same competition, Brennan Vineyards became the first Texas winery to bring home TWO Double Golds. The 2014 Mourvedre Dry Rose and the 2013 Tempranillo were both given the highest accolades.  I can’t wait to try them!

Wedding Oak Winery was awarded “Best Albariño” and given Double Gold for the same wine. They also received two bronze medals for Terre Rouge and Sangiovese.

These are the awards I have found via social media but when the full list is released today I am sure we will be adding to the list.

Finally, another wine on the list to try is one bottle by Vinovium Partners that I spied at Whole Foods Arbor Trails. I have the utmost respect for the guys behind this, Daniel Kelada and Craig Mayer.  They are driving the Texas Wine Journal and putting their efforts, energies, and enthusiasm into Texas wine like few others.

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In summer, my children’s freedom expands, mine shrinks.  And attempts to shrink waistlines for summer means an expanding list of wines I need to try.  My apologies for not much in the way of personal experience, but just because I’m having less fun in the wine world doesn’t mean you can’t have it for me.  I’d love to hear about your adventures and new discoveries in #TXwine. I’ll put them on the list for the freedom of fall. Cheers!

P.S.  The complete list is available now on TX Wine Lover.  So much to be excited about!

A Surprise in Any Package-Monday Wines with Banfi

One of the joys of writing about wine is, indeed, the packages that arrive requiring a signature.  Some are expected, others are not.  Each time, it is a little like Christmas.  You may have a good idea of what is inside, but there is always a little flutter of expectation with the slicing of the tape.  Sometimes the surprise comes, not with viewing the bottle, but what happens when you open it.

I recently received three wines from Banfi: a Rosso di Montalcino (always a bit of comfort), a Prosecco (always a bit of fun), and something unexpected. I read the description of 2013 Fontana Candida Terre dei Grifi Frascati DOC and thought, hmmm.  Composed of  50% Malvasia Bianca di Candia, I thought it may be a little a little sweet for me.  I read on.. 30% Trebbiano Toscano, 10% Greco, 10% Malvasia del Lazio.  I love Trebbiano, great acidity and citrus usually.  I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was recommended with Thai or Asian (read sweet) but described as dry.  Now I was really confused.

And that, my friends, is why I always try to taste with an open mind.

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I brought it to my parent’s as an appertif (as recommended) for my father’s birthday. That way, if it were indeed too sweet, I had just the people there to enjoy it. It turns out, that was everyone.

Light and tropical, fruit forward without too much residual sugar.  It was bright but not biting, refreshing and easy to drink. And at around $13 it is great for summer parties with a little something for everyone. Surprise!

The Rosso and the Prosecco were as expected. The Maschio Brut Treviso is festive, citrus and stone. 100% Glera it is classic Prosecco in style and composition and another great Monday wine ($13). The Rosso is fruit, and spice, and everything nice.  Just enough tannins to give it structure while remaining versatile. I never say no to either.

Let’s face it, I don’t say no to wine very often.  I always like to try something new.  Sometimes it is hard to check my expectations at the door. But, now I know, even more definitively, that surprises come in all sorts of packages and packaging.

Top 9 Reasons I’m Over Top 10 Lists

9) Why does it have to be 10?  Who decided that 10 is the magic number for a list? And how can I write a “Top 10″ if that is what I’m ranting about? That would make me a hypocrite.

8) There was a time when I would have put Richard Marx on my Top 10.  Is this list supposed to quantify all-time or just this week? No one clarifies this very important distinction. Curious minds need to know.

7) The powers that be say to catch a reader’s attention with a Top 10 list.  If what you have to say isn’t interesting enough on its own, why would I want to read 10 things?

6) Is it ascending or descending?  Is it like a 3rd degree burn or the 1st place winner?

5) How does one decide what makes the cut?  It is torture!  I was once tagged to write my top 10 books.  How am I supposed to narrow it down to 10?

4) And on the contrary, sometimes you only have 6 all-time favorites and then you have to throw in a few consolatory choices.  They are nowhere near as good as the others and yet they made the same list.

3) Because the only people who are going to read your Top 10 list are the last 10 people who YOU read and liked and commented on.

2) Because it is the rare list that can compete with King Letterman.

And the number one reason I am over Top 10 lists…

1) Because the number 1 is never as witty as number 3 or 4.  It is always a letdown.

This list was not written in any scientific manner but in an early morning daze.  Some were pre-coffee, some post.  Thoughts and Opinions are my own.  Which means this list is, for all intents and purposes, useless.

Now, please take this with a grain of salt. I will still likely read and enjoy any lists that my fellow writers create.  But only if you read mine first. Happy Friday!

 

Lately The Drunken Cyclist has been writing a Friday rant or rave which I have enjoyed.  Although he is much better at it, I decided to follow his lead. Thanks for the inspiration, Jeff.  You have a place on my top 10.

Summer Salmon,Two Ways

School’s…out…for summer!

Somehow I tried to believe that I, too, was now “off.”  I have to admit: I’ve been a little casual about cleaning and a little last-minute lazy in the kitchen.  But aren’t I allowed?  I always try to keep it simple, even more so now.  Throw something on the grill (or let my husband).  Turn the oven on minimally. Enjoy the fresh produce in simple salads. Eat what is in season.

One such food now in season is Copper River King Salmon. Known for its abundance of Omega 3s and anti-inflammatory properties, Wild Salmon is considered one if the world’s “Superfoods.” Although I have to admit, it isn’t my favorite thing to eat, I do so a few times a month for health reasons.  I have found a few ways to prepare it that, I think, tempers, without masking, the flavor. And a crisp glass of white only enhances the meal.

At the local HEB, they were sampling a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Drylands, that I liked quite a bit.  Based on that, she suggested I try Sea Pearl, on sale at $9.  Sold.  Subtle grassy notes, tropical fruit and lime zest.  Very easy to drink with fun acidity.

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For this dish, I mixed chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, cumin, thyme, and s little garlic powder and dusted the fish.  My favorite grillmaster got it super hot and seared it for a minute, then turned it down to 400 for about ten minutes (depends on size of filet). This gave the fish a really nice crust. While it was cooking, I made a lime-cilantro butter which I drizzled over the fish when it was done.  Add some grilled zucchini, Israeli couscous (for those eating carbs), an avocado and you’re done.  It paired really nicely and was a fun change from my norm. 

What’s my norm you ask? Generally, I throw on some fresh herbs (oregano, thyme), salt and pepper, lemon zest.  When finished I top with parsley, chopped olives, lemon juice.  During Greek Week at Central Market, I picked up a couple Greek wines and, I must say, for pairing with fish, I’m hooked. (Ba-dump-bump.)

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But seriously, Domaine Sigalas in making wine from some of the oldest vines of Santorini. The vines are not trellised, but grown in these beautiful cylindrical baskets of vine. The Assyrtiko was packed with minerality and vibrant acidity.  Balanced, playful, citrus and stone fruit; I enjoyed every drop.

An image formerly on the winery’s website.

Salmon can be tough sometimes.  The intensity of flavor doesn’t always “play well.” I’ve done Soy glaze, tropical salsa, dill yogurt, and a few others. These, so far, are my favorites.  Easy, quick, tasty, and I usually have the ingredients in-house.  And since we have another month of Salmon season, I’m sure I’ll be finding more.

I’d love to hear from you (if you aren’t out frolicking). What are your favorite preparations and pairings?  And what are your go-to, not-much-time-in-the-kitchen meals? I’ll be sharing more here and also meals that can be made at the campsite. Happy summer!

 

 

Balance, Bubbles, and Bertolucci

Nearly two decades ago, a film set in the Tuscan countryside provided my first wine-related epiphany.  Not through her teenage prattle or any life-changing plot, but through one scene in particular.  The rich golden rays on a rustic table, wildflowers and clinking glasses, laughter and debate beneath the branches. I remember so clearly thinking: THAT.  That is what I want in my life.

Perhaps the memory is idealized, it has been half a lifetime ago, but the sentiment remains strong. It is a moment I’ve chased, and caught several times.  Outside of Rome, on the hills of Sonoma, the Hill Country of Texas, and even whispers of it in downtown Austin.

Whether it was the breadth of the table, the diversity of the group, the lively conversation or the Old World wines, something about a recent wine lunch reminded me of that movie. Gregory White PR held a lunch at Second Bar and Kitchen with representatives, writers, and winemakers from some of their brands: Codorniu, Scala Dei, and Artesa.

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I was familiar with the Cava of Codorniu, a staple for everyday value and one I’ve recommended before, so it was a pleasure to meet Bruno Colomer Marti.  Marti has been the head winemaker there since 2008 and his dedication to quality is evident.  Before the lunch, I had only sampled the entry-level wines ($8-12) and was blown away by Reserva and Vintage Pinot Noir sparklers.  Delicate, fresh, complex.  The Gran Codorniu Pinot Noir was a favorite with the fresh berry notes and long, lively finish and at an excellent value at $20. (It is in my refrigerator now, in fact.) Effervescent, approachable, and complex: a reflection of the winemaker.

All dinner parties should have a few surprises.  Ricard Rofes of Scala Dei took on that role. Perhaps it was the language barriers, perhaps the size of the group, but he seemed to be more of a quiet observer at first. Friendly and warm, but reserved.  However, when it was time to discuss his beloved Priorat and his wines, his passion was evident. He explained the history, the unfamiliar grapes, the process and soils. And when we tasted, we understood.  We tasted a Garnatxa and two blends, Prior and Cartoxia. Each wine was intense, but balanced.  Deeply saturated color which is typical of the region. The Cartoxia was strength and spice, incredibly elegant. Powerful, but subtle. Sound familiar?

Representing the domestic line was Artesa from Napa.  The Chardonnay was fresh citrus and baked apple.  The Pinot Noir had great clarity with red berries and spice. Very tasty wines. If asked about what wines from Carneros taste like, this would be a top contender for examples.  Well made, well-balanced, and a classic representation of the region.

The name “Scala Dei” translates to “Ladder of God.” This rings true to me on many levels.  The region’s beauty is dramatic and awe-inspiring.  The fruit it produces tastes like a gift from above. Most importantly, the collective enjoyment of the resulting products brings people together in a unique way.  Sharing a glass leads to sharing a story. Sharing stories brings connectivity. Connectivity provides the rungs of the ladder; it is what this life is about.

Many thanks to Patricia Clough at Gregory White PR and Aveniu Brands for inviting me and the opportunity to meet such wonderful people. Thank you Bruno and Ricard for taking the time away from your families and your work to share your wines. Thank you to each person that brought a piece of yourselves and shared with us all.  I will always drink to that. Cheers!

BTW-I made a last minute jump into the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge with this piece.  If you liked it, please vote. I haven’t entered in over a year!

{I was invited as media to this lunch.  I received no additional compensation.  Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

Picnic with Portugal-Memorial Day Wines

You’ve been invited to a BBQ or a picnic this weekend with 20 of your closest acquaintances.  You know them, but not well enough to know their taste in wine.  Do they drink wine? Are they REALLY into wine?  You want something nice, but not too nice.  Interesting, but approachable.  Something that goes with a wide variety of foods and one that can be sipped solo.  It can be intimidating, but not impossible.

Look no further than the wines of Portugal.  You will find new varieties that may serve as conversation starters.  You’ll find value.  You’ll find versatility.

Sweltering? Pick up a low-alcohol, refreshing Vinho Verde.  You can sip all day without embarrassing yourself. BBQ chicken? Try an Alvarinho. Grilling ribs? Perequita pairs wonderfully. Burgers? The Esteva Douro* would fit the bill.

Not sure what is on the menu? You can grab a white and a red for around $20.

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I recently grilled some ribs with a rub and a quick Root Beer BBQ sauce. I reduced said brew down to a syrup and added Stubbs.  (I said it was quick.) The Periquita*, a blend of Castelao, Trincadeira, and Aragones (Tempranillo) complemented the smoky spice, the acid cut the sweet and kept it fresh. This wine can be found a Whole Foods for around $10.

Whether you plan on celebrating this Memorial weekend with a few close friends or joining a large group, check out the Wines of Portugal.  There is something for everyone at a price everyone can afford. Cheers to that!

I would be remiss in mentioning Memorial Day without expressing gratitude for my freedom to do so. Thank you to all of the men and women that serve our country and have sacrificed their time, lives, and families so that we can be free. There are walks going all throughout the country with the organization, Carry the Load. There will be a walk in Austin area. Follow the link for more information on the organization. My deepest gratitude to those that have served and those that continue to do so.

*{These wines were received as media samples from Palm Bay International. I received no other compensation.  Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

 

 

 

 

Friday Fancy Ticklers

Sometimes I have products I want to share that have nothing to do with wine. Some are samples, some are finds, all are current obsessions.  Ok maybe not full-fledged obsessions, but they certainly tickle my fancy.

Evan Healy Face Products

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I already loved the mask, a recommendation from a friend, so when they were sampling the facial serum and tonic at Whole Foods, I tried.  I couldn’t stop smelling and feeling my arm. I stopped in the next day to try it on my face.  And the next day to buy it.  I’m pretty sure my skin has never been so soft.

These plant-based products are based on the idea that “less is more.” The idea is to restore the balance of the skin so that is thrives.  The tonic hydrosol is 100% Organic Rose Geranium, the serum is fruit and flower oils and Vitamin E.  The idea for choosing the right fit? Smell them, your body will tell you what you need by which scent you are most attracted to.

I love the idea of minimal, clean ingredients in and on my body.  Check them out.

Millcreek Cacao Roasters*

 

As part of the Austin Food Bloggers Association, I was given a chance to sample these Farm to Bar chocolates.  The company is dedicated to preserving heirloom quality cacao through sustainable practices and support of small farmers.  Owners Mark DelVecchio and Dana Brewster are committed to maintaining direct trade relationships to produce the finest quality cacao and chocolate.

The commitment shows.  I like my chocolate like I like my wine: clean, honest, with a sense of place.  Subtle fruit and spice, just enough sweet to enhance the flavors.  These are beautifully made and beautifully packaged.  If you are looking for a gift for a chocolate lover, or yourself, this is a gift that keeps giving.

For more information about what they are doing in Ecuador, visit their blog.

Royitos Hot Sauce

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I could drink this.  I love salsa, especially ones that taste this fresh.  The perfect amount of spice, acid, a little salty, a lot addicting.  It is on the pricey side of salsa at around $5 but my mouth waters every time I see it and I can’t pass it up.

Wine Wipes*

 

A cute little compact to wipe the blue residue when you’ve been indulging in reds.  These came in VERY handy at the Wine Bloggers Conference last year.  If you, like me, have somewhat porous enamel and get the blue hue, these may be worth the investment. They also come in singles so you can hand them out or stick one in your clutch.

Pop-Up Campers

Ok, these don’t really fit the list, but I am truly obsessed with finding one for this summer’s trip.  If you have any experience or tips, please enlighten me. Shower? No shower? things to look for/avoid, etc. On that note, I am also thinking of chronicling our family camping adventures (travel, cooking, campground, spots to stop) in a new blog.  If you have any favorite camping blogs, share!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

{*These items were received as media samples.  I received no additional compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

 

 

Gifts that Matter on Mother’s Day

My favorites gifts have always been those which cannot be wrapped. They are gifts that say, “I see you.  I am listening.” They may or may not come on any appointed day, but their value is intrinsic and enduring.

I have been in several stores this week and, everywhere you look, there are marketing sections centered around Mother’s Day.  I watched the crowds swell in front of the card section yesterday as I made a return.  Pre-made bouquets line the checkout lines and I shudder to think of the jewelry store budgets. To what end?

Most mothers that I know, mine included, just want extra hugs and a day off from dishes.  We love the handmade cards from our children and the gratitude and care from our spouses, but that is all we need. (And some pink bubbles don’t hurt.)

But I know that I am one of the lucky ones.  Anne Lamott posted a rant on her Facebook page yesterday about the holiday.  And while her stance is more extreme than mine, it solidified some of the notions I have been having this week.  I have been acutely aware of the pain that accompanies this, and many holidays, for people I love dearly.

I have friends that have lost mothers in recent years; the pain, which is always there, is magnified.

I have other friends who had mothers that they did not want to celebrate, the disappointment palpable.

I have friends that see the window of opportunity closing.  They wanted to have children but are now understanding that age is working against them.

I have friends that have lost children, in pregnancy and years later. I cannot imagine the hole that will never be filled.

I have watched the avoidance, the cues, the attempts to put on a happy face from those that have not been able to have children, despite years of trying.

One woman I love more than life told me, “It is a sadness that never really goes away…people ask you ask the time, do you have kids? And you always have to answer no…it hurts a little every time.

To all of these friends, I see you and I am listening.

I am grateful, beyond words, for a mother worth celebrating. She goes out of her way to make sure that people feel seen and heard.

Despite an impossible list of things to do, she would stop and talk with the butcher about his health problems.

Despite a dwindling checking account, she would buy groceries for the person struggling.

She would stop and pray with the person she just met in line at the bank and ask the teller about her new grandchild.

She was a mom to all of my friends, the queen of field trips and extra hugs.

She listened to the lonely, cried with the broken, rejoiced with relieved.

I see it in my siblings; I aspire to be like her.  Mom, we saw, we listened.

George McDonald said, “If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.

This Mother’s Day, I am so grateful for the gifts my mother gave me.  I am grateful for the children I have been given. I am grateful for my friends and family.  I want you to know that you are seen, you are loved, and I am listening.

 

 

Secrets and Privileges on Cinco de Mayo

If you were hoping for margarita recipes, I’ve got you covered over here. This Cinco de Mayo, I am reviewing two hotels from our recent stay over the border.

We made it.  Ten years is big milestone and to celebrate we went on our first trip alone since having the littles.  We headed south to Cancun and then a few days on Isla Mujeres.  A quick non-stop flight from Austin and a short cab ride and we were on the beach.  It took even less time for me to completely absorb the essence and enter complete and total relaxation.

 

Secrets the Vine:

The Jist: I could go on and on about this place.  Greeted with hot cloths and bubbles, spectacular view from our balcony, immaculate service.  Seriously, if you even think you want something, it is there.  I think they have telepathy.  They certainly have the best customer service skills I have experienced in any hotel. The entire facility is impeccable. I cannot recommend this hotel enough and I can’t wait to return.  When we told people we were heading out after one day, they all asked why, understandably.

Rooms: We upgraded to a higher level suite with view of both the bay and the ocean.  Super clean, stocked mini-bar, eating and lounge options, and chock full of every toiletry you might need. The shower had both a standard head and a rain shower option.  Beautifully decorated.  The ONLY thing I would change would be the sheets but now I sound like a diva.

Hungry? Choose one of six restaurants. Or room service. Or pick up something from the snack bar, espresso bar, lunch buffet. Our favorite was the lunch at Sea Salt.  Two kinds of ceviche the first day, pork tacos the second. The Salmon ceviche was lime, ginger, and I think lemongrass.  My husband had the Peruvian. Add a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc while looking at the ocean and you will get a glimpse of heaven.

 

Thirsty? There are three bars outside, nine total, excellent beach service. The drinks were great.  Top-shelf liquor and tasty mixed drinks.  Our favorite was the Iceberg-Corona with a dollop of frozen margarita. A wine bar, sports bar, lounges in and outside.  An extensive wine list (most additional fee). Something to fit any mood.

Surrounding area: Well, other than a walk a the beach, we didn’t get that far. Why would we? When you’re in paradise you don’t have to see anything else.

We were tempted to stay but we were committed, and excited, to have a quiet experience on the island.  So after our late checkout, we jumped in a very nice taxi provided by the hotel and went to the ferry dock to catch the Ultramar for a twenty minute jet across to the island of women.

Privileges Aluxes

The Jist: One of the few large hotels on the island, it is on the first part of Playa Norte, one of the top beaches in the world.  The water is calm and blue and the beaches are soft, white sand. The grounds are full of tropical plants, the pool and beach areas have plenty of seating options and are very well-maintained.

Rooms: I knew we were going to have to lower our expectations after Secrets, but I didn’t realize how much. I knew there would not be the glamour-factor and I was ok with that.  What I was not ok with was the smell of vomit outside our room that permeated or the smears of who-knows-what, or the drops of something red (bio-hazard?) by our little pool, or the filth in the sink.  I am pretty sure there were tears.

I know, I know, that is dramatic, but when it is your first trip away, you don’t want smears.

After much hub-bub, (hazard tape and photos and security-I kid you not) we were moved to a cleaner version. Sparse, but clean, nice bathrooms and toiletries.  The “stocked” mini-bar had a few sodas and some Cheetos. A kitchenette with nothing in it. An amazing deck with small private pool and great view. An additional deck on the first floor.  The suite would be great for a larger party. For us, it felt like excessive because we were never in the room, but the sunsets were incredible with a bottle of Argyle bubbles I had picked up at Vino Volo in Austin.

Hungry? Hmmm…let’s start with the good.  The nachos on the beach were great. The breakfast buffet was good. Ummm…dinner.  Well, the first night we were told that Satay, their flagship restaurant, was booked but if there were cancellations he could fit us in. We walked by an hour later to find an empty restaurant.  Maybe three tables full? He found room for us.  House wine was undrinkable, so we bought a bottle of Mexican Chenin Blanc by Casa Madero.  It was tasty: apple, acid, some tropical notes.  A pleasant surprise.

Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that was the end of the pleasant.  Our best dinner was barely ok. My husband got food poisoning both our first and third nights.  Not mild discomfort.  The kind where I had to stay up with him all night and thought about calling an ambulance. The GMs response as we were leaving? Well, I need to get you checked out by a doctor. Maybe you just drank the water.  Um, no.

And seriously, I can’t believe the combinations.  We had dinner on the beach and they chose the menu.  It was incredibly romantic and beautiful. Our server was a gem. The food? Inedible. Except, according to my husband, the shrimp soup TASTED good. But you know how that ended. Just so you know I’m not just being crazy picky, I’ll explain the salad.  Nice presentation, HORRIBLE combination: Tomato carved out with lettuce in it. Asparagus with maraschino cherries and strawberry (syrup) vodka dressing. WHAT?!? Who thought that would be good together? Ok, enough bashing.

My advice? Skip the all-inclusive, order nachos for lunch and go out for dinner.

Thirsty? The guys serving on the beach were great: always friendly, fun to chat with, attentive. Apparently there is no (or very little)  fresh juice on the island.  Even mimosas were made with some kind of syrupy orange drink. Stick with beer or mojitos or similar. And some tequila for good measure. Or even walk down the block and buy a coconut, order a shot of rum and make your own drink. But again, I’m not complaining.  I was laying in a palapa while the hubs recovered while drinks were served and I read. Happy girl.

Surrounding area: This is where this resort shines. Playa Norte is amazing. There were massages next to the property for $35 an hour.  We rented a golf cart and went around the entire island.  Ruins on one end, stops for a cold beer, adventure options. The water was the perfect temperature, calm and aqua blue.  The town retains what we love about Mexico: color, crafts, and a zesty but relaxed spirit. So much charm and beauty on this little island. We loved the people and the place. So much so that we will go back.  A nice small clean room and we will go out to eat and buy our own mixers.

We kept asking ourselves: Why have we not done this before? It was such an easy, restorative weekend. We also kept saying how much our children would love it which I would guess means that we are fully entrenched in this parenthood thing. But we will still make time for “Secret” weekends so we can make it another ten. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

 

 

 

Radicc-ulous Salad-Monday Wines

I don’t mean to brag, but I have been given the title of the “Salad Queen.”  I know, you’re jealous.  I am sure it is not exclusive, so no need to panic.  You, too, can be given that accolade by your significant other. In all seriousness, I love to make salads.  I don’t plan in advance too often; it is a matter of seeing what I have in the house.

I try to play off moods, season, and pairing.  Usually it begins with a green, then some sort of texture(veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds), sometimes an accent (cheese, bacon,) and then a dressing that compliments.  Dressing is some sort of oil or fat and an acid (lemon, vinegar), salt and pepper, often an emulsifier (Dijon usually) and sometimes a specific flavor (herb, jam, juice, etc.)

Last night I made, what I would consider, one of the best.  I’ve mentioned before that I kind of enjoy the challenge of a somewhat empty fridge.  Less waste, more effort.  I was marinating chicken with the Cornell recipe.  I had always referred to it as “Grandma’s chicken” because it was what my grandmother had made all the time.  A friend pointed out the similarity to the Cornell chicken and I found myself corrected.  Regardless, it is an easy, tasty, versatile recipe that is always a hit.

Digging through my empty fridge, I found dandelion greens, radicchio, carrots.  I decided to roast the carrots and do a play on the salad at St. Philip.

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Radicc-ulous Salad

Dandelion Greens (or any you have)

Chopped Radicchio (or another bitter green)

Roasted and cooled carrots (oil and salt at 350 for about 30 minutes)

Pistachios (or pumpkin seeds or similar)

Feta (or goat or similar)

Olive oil drizzle, salt, pepper, and a generous squeeze of Meyer (or regular) lemon.

Oh my.  I enjoyed every single bite.

We paired it with a Rosé from the Languedoc region: 2014 Côté Mas 2012 Rosé Aurore*.  The blend is 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah. A beautiful salmon pink, the nose was tart red fruit and floral.  A nice amount of acid making it lovely by itself and a great compliment to the food.  When I initially tasted it, I found it to lean towards the floral, specifically lavender.  With the food, it became silky and the fruit notes awakened.  A great value at around $12, this is one I would drink all summer long.

I mentioned before that I rarely planned salads.  This is one I will plan to repeat, for sure, and, although you could go in many directions with the wine, I see no reason to stray from this pairing. Happy Monday!

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*{This wine was received as a media sample from Gregory White PR.  Thoughts and opinions are my own and I received no further compensation.}