August 2010 archive

A week in Beer

The more patient readers will note that, a few weeks back, I announced the new weekly series Beer 101. True to form as a “back to schooler”, I promptly wrote up none of my homework, but drank beer instead 🙂

Seriously, I have been reading my textbooks, and during the last 7 days I’ve tried every new beer that someone would leave within arms reach.

So here is the barley retrospective:

Tuesday night, after a flight to Cincinnati for work, my bearded cohort and I stopped at the local Claddagh Irish Pub for drinks and dinner. First a Strongbow hard cider (always on the lookout for a cider to replace Scrumpy Jacks), and after the fruity fermentation failed to satisfy, I moved on to Smithwicks. This Irish red ale was so good, it even made up for the barman’s surprisingly foul sense of humor (of which, gentle reader, I shall spare thee). I’ll have to find a local source for Smithwicks and continue my education. (Note: the iPhone photo doesn’t do it justice)

Smithwicks in Cincinnati

Then, a few days of work to earn my wage, and we were awaiting sister and new brother (whom we’ll call G and P), from the land of Elvis. Flights were delayed, so we went straight from the airport to our favorite new sushi place — Cyros Sushi, just north of SouthPark Mall. Cyros deserves its very own post, and since WineGirl referred to their Avante Garde Roll as “a bit of heaven in the mouth, that melts into deliciousness”, I’ll let her take up that task.

For drinking at Cyros, I started with another new-to-me brew, Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier. No, my lips can’t pronounce the name, but they drink the beer just the same. Weihenstephan Brewery, which claims to be the world’s oldest operating brewery (licensed since 1040), started in the Benedictine Abbey of the same name in Bavaria. As the multilingual reader can already tell, it’s named for Saint Stephen. I found it to be quite tasty, and as I must have bought the last half-litre in the bar, this filtered wheat beer will require additional study. I then joined P in quaffing Kirin Ichiban, a solid if conventional sushi sauce.

For a tasty dessert at home, WineGirl had made brownies with goat cheese. Oddly delicious, but again, I’ll defer to her for the write up. Alas, our dessert needed a dessert beer, so I reached into the refrigerated recesses and pulled out a winner. P & G, WG & me … we first split a Chocolate Stout from the Fort Collins Brewery. This brew was a 2010 U.S. Open Beer Championship Gold Medal Winner, and also quite a match for the choco-cheese brownies.

Next, in keeping with the dessert flavor category, I popped a Thomas Creek Stillwater Vanilla Cream Ale. Yum! But now what? hmm … the natives are getting restless, especially with 4oz pours, so out comes a Blackthorn Cider … and New Belgium’s 1554 Enlightened Black Ale … finishing with New Belgium’s Mothership Wit.

And that was all just Friday night. Saturday, we visited the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, which will be written up in a future post, along with Frank the terror of the Brew Tour. We traded pints of the Mecklenburger lager and OMB Copper, and I can’t wait for their upcoming Mecktoberfest on October 2nd. Come support your local brewery!

I picked up a few more offerings to pair with WineGirl’s Korean Short Ribs for Saturday night: Shiner’s Smokehaus and Bad Penny Brown Ale from Big Boss Brewing Company of Raleigh, NC. The Smokehaus is brewed with mesquite-smoked malt, which was brought out even more by the barbecue ribs.

Sunday saw us at Big Daddy’s for lunch with fresh brews, and as P & G flew from CLT, I retired for the evening with Blowing Rock’s High Country Ale.

Here’s a line-up of this weekend’s brews:
Beer Gallery

After this brief “survey course”, I’ll be taking these one at a time to sample and report.

Beer Guy

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Penny Farthing Cabernet Sauvignon – Uncorked!

I know, I know, I know!  Bad blogger!  Bad, bad blogger!  No posts in a week!  Such a naughty little blogger!

Sorry, guys.  It’s be a crazy busy week and there has just simply been no time to post. But we are getting back on track.  Will you forgive me if I tell you about a heavenly new Cab that I found last week?

Drum roll please….

Ladies and gentleman, meet the 2007 Penny Farthing Cabernet Sauvignon!  I love the old fashioned bicycle on the label, don’t you?  The label on the back of the bottle says that this “whimsical pennyfarthing bicycle invokes bygone days when life was simpler and more joyful.”  Well, now I know I’m going to have to visit this winery one day.  Doesn’t that sound lovely? And what can be more simple and joyful than a lovely bottle of wine?  Not much, in my book.

Here’s what caught my eye while perusing the wine aisles

“Flavors of German chocolate cake with a raspberry glaze accompanied by generous pomegranate aromas filling out the chocolate.  These flavors were married with the vanilla, coffee, and espresso aroma from medium and heavy-toast French oak.”

(That was from the descriptor tag on the shelf.) SOLD!

Look at that gorgeous vermillion color!  Kind of looks like blackberry jam.  And speaking of berries, you get a lot of those plus a little cedar on the nose.  My sniffer is not sensitive enough to discern blackberry, from raspberry, from strawberry, from blueberry scents, but there is definitely berry there.  I personally don’t notice pomegranate, but that may be because I’m almost certain I’ve never smelled one. It’s smooth and nicely tannic, but not too much.  I really do pick up the vanilla and coffee on the palate.

The label says it is a Bordeaux style Cab.  Not sure what that means, but I’ll look into it and get back to you.

Mmmm…don’t mind that noise.  It’s just me slurping and cooing with delight.

I don’t mind telling y’all that my go to Cab may have just been unseated.  I liked it so much that I polished off the bottle (over the course of the last 4-5 days, mind you.  I’m not a total wino…not yet anyway) without bothering to make any notes on it for my Uncorked! Naturally, I had to then purchase another bottle so that I could write it up.  The BG and I are both off work today as we were expecting houseguests to arrive at ~11:30 this morning.  Well, their flight was delayed and now they won’t be here until after 4pm.  So since I had a little extra time on my hands…I thought I’d uncork the second bottle and get my thoughts down.

What?  It’s 5:00 somewhere.

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Estancia Pinot Noir – Uncorked!

Whew!  It’s been a busy week and the weekend isn’t going to be much better.  So the first thing I did when I got home was uncork a bottle and relax while I still had the chance.  Tonight’s Uncorked! bottle is the 2008 Estancia Pinot Noir.

It’s a beautiful garnet color, even if it looks a little thin in the glass.  It’s got great legs after a whirl, though.  There’s lots of berries and spice on the nose.  The initial taste is full of berries as well but the finish brings hints of vanilla and, dare I say it, rose.    Please don’t misunderstand me.  I don’t go around snacking on rose petals or potpouri.  But there’s a flavor at the finish that tastes like a rose smells…you know, in the same way a Piña Colada tastes like suntan lotion smells.  You know what I mean, right?  Anyway, it’s delightful.  This vino is smooth in texture and feels warm from the back of my tongue all the way down my esophagus.  (Sorry. I’m a Speechie that helps people deal with swallowing problems all day. A little anatomy is gonna sneak out from time to time.)

I’ve been a fan of this Pinot Noir for a while.  I usually pick it up for ~$17-18, but tonight’s bottle was on sale for $14.  Sweet! Just what I needed!

Well, here’s hoping your weekend is less busy than mine has the potential to be!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Dig This Zucchini Pizza

My new blog crush is Eat, Live, Run.  It’s author is Jenna, a food writer that’s been to culinary school, and is a relatively recent Southern transplant into Foodie-Wino Paradise (a.k.a. the San Francisco Bay area and adjacent Wine Country).  So since she writes about food and wine (two of my favorite things) and she lives in one of my favorite regions on the planet, I absolutely ADORE her blog.

A couple weeks ago she posted a recipe for “Cheesy Zucchini Pizza That Will Rock Your Face.”  It looked beautiful and super easy so I knew I had to give it a try.

First step was to pour myself a glass of wine.  What? It’s in the recipe.  No, seriously.  It is. Click the link above to check it out for yourself.  Jenna specifically says “First, you must drink wine.”  Ok.  I’m in!

Tonight’s vintage of choice is the 2008 Estancia Pinot Noir.  Look for an Uncorked! on that later this week.

In addition to sipping a nice glass of Pinot Noir, the process includes grating the zucchini… (See.  Got the wine.)

mixing the “sauce” and toppings (with wine in tow)…

rolling out the pizza dough (not pictured, but the wine is present)…

putting it all together (wine still in the foreground)…

and baking it up.  Doesn’t that look SUPERB?

Jenna’s recipe did not call for it but since it’s National Goat Cheese Month, and goat cheese makes everything better, I sprinkled a little on top of mine. Mmmmm!!! Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!!!

Regarding forming the crust, Jenna commented “I lack talent in the pizza dough throwing competition, so my crusts always end up looking a bit rustic, if you will.”  Well, tonight’s cheesy zucchini goodness is only my second attempt at making a homemade pizza, and in neither of these instances have I attempted to actually throw the dough.  I have a relatively new house with lovely (read CLEAN) painted ceilings and I prefer to keep it that way.  So, I used a rolling pin and my hands (I’m assuming that’s kosher in the pizza making world) and worked it into not really a circle, not really a square, not really a rectangle kind of shape.   It was sort of like a wonky parallelagram.

So  Jenna, if yours is “rustic” then mine is down right artisan! But like she said, “Ain’t no thang.”  It tasted good anyway!  In fact, it was FAB-U-LOUS!  I cut it into big ole “rustic” pieces and plated it up with a lovely little salad (topped with little clumps of goat cheese, of course).

The Beer Guy was even quite taken with it and, believe me, he is not a veggisaurus by any stretch of the imagination.  True to form, though, he did suggest that it would be “even better” with sausage!

Jenna promised that this was a “Cheesy Zucchini Pizza That Will Rock Your Face,” and I’m not going to lie to you, people.  It did.  It rocked my face! Check out Jenna’s blog for the full recipe and see for yourself.

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Spanish Cooking Saturdays – Torrijas & Mosto

Ever wondered how to get a little red wine into your breakfast?


No? Is that just me?

Well, in case you HAVE ever wondered that and just don’t want to admit it, never fear. I have found the way!

All you have to do is make Spanish Torrijas and a little Mosto to drizzle on them and that’ll get you about a bottle and a half…of red wine…for breakfast!  It goes a little something like this:

The night before you plan to eat this wine soaked breakfast go ahead and make the Mosto.  What is mosto, you ask?  According to Mario in my Spain…On the Road Again cookbook, it is a “term that refers to unfermented grape juice” (p. 28).  You basically take the following ingredients:

put them in a sauce pan and boil them down for about 15-20 min like so

until it reduces by 3/4.  According to Mario, it should get “thick and syrupy” by the time it has cooked down sufficiently.  My experience was not that it got to the consistency of say maple syrup, more like the consistency of cough syrup.  I recommend making it the night before so that will have plenty of time to cool down and get thicker and more syrupy before serving.  To say that it smells divine while cooking down is the understatement of the century.  (Would it be too much of a pun to say that with 3 cups of Spanish red wine, sugar, apple cider, and cinnamon the smell was intoxicating?) The only danger in making it the night before is that the Mosto will not survive the night…and by that I mean, it was all I could do not to pour it in a bowl and eat it with a spoon!

You’ll be pleased to know that I was somehow able to restrain myself and it was appropriately bottled and ready to be served the next morning when we made Torrijas for our friends H & C.

If you are not familiar with Torrijas, it’s basically the Spanish version of French toast.  Mario described it as “fried bread soaked in wine.”

Enough said.  Fried.  Bread.  Wine.  Sign me up.  I need no further convincing.

In the manner of French toast, you basically take some artisan bread and drench in the dry Spanish wine of your choice

then egg it

cook it in olive oil

drain it

sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar

pinch yourself to make sure you haven’t died and gone to heaven

drizzle it in your Mosto

and enjoy! (Sorry that’s not a great pic.  I was too preoccupied with wanting to eat it to bother with details like focusing when I took the shot!)

From our experience, it’s best served with a side of good friends and good conversation on a lovely Sunday morning!

And THAT, my friends, is how you get red wine in your breakfast!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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National Goat Cheese Month! What?

August is National Goat Cheese Month! I certainly didn’t know that.  Did you?  My friend, Carmen, from Keeping Up Klapper mentioned it on her blog last week and that was the first I’ve ever heard of it.  After I reading her post , exclaiming “National Goat Cheese Month?!?!” at the top of my lungs and squealing with delight I thought,”Why isn’t this being more widely publicized? Why hasn’t this been mentioned on the Today Show or been a headline in the New York Times? Where are the county fairs in its honor? Where is the parade?”  Certainly something like National Goat Cheese Month is worthy of a parade!  With all the doom and gloom that’s constantly in the news, I think a national holiday devoted to Goat Cheese would be just the thing to cheer folks up!  Don’t you?

Goat Cheese just happens to be my FAVORITE cheese!  And something like National Goat Cheese Month sounds a heck of lot like a reason to work it into my diet every day for a month.  A quick Google search of National Goat Cheese Month informs me that this holiday is celebrated by making your favorite goat cheese recipes and sharing them with your friends and family.  SIGN. ME. UP.

Well, let’s see…So far I’ve had a salad for lunch every day this week which was topped with Goat Cheese.  That’s a start.

Then I made these mini Goat Cheese Empanadas to take as an appetizer to a Women’s Quarterly Dinner with my church.

(These were a recipe I got out of Real Simple magazine.  They were alright, but didn’t live up to my hopes.  True to form, they were “real simple” to make, but they just didn’t have a lot of pizzazz.  I kept thinking they’d be better with the goat cheese that comes with the dried cranberries in it, then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and dipped in or topped with some sort of berry chutney.  I’ll work that one out and get back to you on that.)

How am I doing so far?  Keep in mind, I found out about National Goat Cheese Month 6 days into it, so I’m a little behind.  But where to go from here?  What’s a girl to do? Hhmmm. Should I…

A) gather Goat Cheese and some other soft cheeses and have one of my favorite dinners of cheese, crackers, fruit, nuts, and wine (of course) while watching movies with the Beer Guy?

B) make some of these Deep Chocolate Brownies with Chevre Swirls or these Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles?

C) make this Pasta with Cheesy Pink Sauce?

D) find another reason to make and serve this Goat Cheese Bruschetta?

E) sample different local Goat Cheeses at my farmer’s market and establish a local go-to Goat Cheese favorite?


F) All of the above.

Yeah, I’m definitely thinking “F) All of the above.”  I’ll keep you posted on the “celebration” in the KDT household.  What about you?  Any suggestions or favorite Goat Cheese recipes?  I’d love to hear about them!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

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Back to School — or Beer 101

So for years, I’ve fancied myself as an experienced beer drinker. Not a connoisseur, perhaps, but at least well seasoned. It appears that I need a refresher course on this most noble of refreshments.

For my birthday, Wine Girl bought me (among other items) two books on beer: The Naked Pint and Tasting Beer. (The Naked Pint is written by a duo who’s other writings can be found at the blog Beer for Chicks)

I’ve taken several sips from The Naked Pint, and I’m finding it to have the right balance of facts and fun, with plenty of recommendations of new beers to try. And so, try I shall. Armed with my new books and blogs like, I will be starting a new series called Tuesdays on Tap, wherein I shall pour my new-found knowledge into the beer blog. And for any helpful readers, I will try all suggestions.

So, grab a mug and pull a pint from the tap.

Beer Guy

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How THIS Blogger Stays Organized

I have a confession to make.  I’m a Penelope.

What’s a Penelope, you  ask?  According to Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists

“Penelope is unabashedly organized. She makes no apologies for her love of lists, and notebooks, and pretty office supplies. She adores anything that’s called a “storage solution”. She thinks See Jane Work and Pottery Barn are the first and second wonders of the world. She loves useful websites and shelter magazines. She hunts down smart work organization software and swoons for project management tools. She’s tidy, she’s a bit OCD. She’s got a To Do List and knows how to use it.”

For those of you who know me well, this does not come as any surprise.  Nor should it surprise you that I apply the same level of organization to my kitchen, meal planning, and cooking as I do everything else.  One of Meredith’s post series is called “How This Blogger Stays Organized.”  In it she interviews seasoned bloggers on how they keep their blogging organized, current, and (most importantly) balanced among their other roles and duties.  Well, I’m not stealing her post idea, just the title.  Today I’m putting my spin on it and letting you in on how I stay organized in my kitchen and for my week.

As you have undoubtedly noticed, I have a pretty healthy appetite.  While I do try to eat healthily on a daily basis, I have to make a decision to do it.  I could easily go the other way.  I realized a few years ago that the key to my eating healthily daily was to – wait, let’s say it together – “STAY ORGANIZED!”  Otherwise, I’ll end up driving across the street to Burger King for lunch then going out to eat again for dinner.  Not good.  But if my lunches are ready to be put in the lunch box and taken out the door and dinner is ready to popped in the oven, then I eat the healthy food I bought at the grocery store.

Here’s my process.  First of all I keep one of these handy dandy Real Simple lists on my refrigerator.

I got it in the office supply section of Target.  They don’t come with magnets, so I also bought some peel and stick magnets at Target, and stuck it on the side of the fridge. As soon as we realize we are out of something, we just check it on this list or write it in on of the blanks.

My local grocery store, Harris Teeter, provides an online shopping service and drive through pick-up service as certain locations.  (There are a whole host of reasons why I prefer to do this rather than spend my Saturday morning at the grocery store with everybody else in Charlotte that works a 40 hr work week, but that’s a post for a another day.)  Luckily, one of these locations is down the street from my office and on my way home.  Orders have to be placed a minimum of 4 hrs prior to your desired pick up time.  So, on Wednesday nights I sit down and plan out my meals for the week.  Because I’m a Penelope, I like to fill them in on this calendar that hangs under my Real Simple list on the side of my fridge.

Thursday night I place my order.  Then Friday after work, I swing through Harris Teeter and Presto!  My grocery shopping is done before my weekend has officially begun.  You don’t even know how happy that makes me!

Don’t get too excited, though. THAT is only the beginning.  We’re only on Friday night.  The real magic happens on Sunday afternoon.

First I organize the week’s vitamins for BG and myself.

Yes, I know that’s an old person medication organizer, but I don’t care. It saves me from having to dig them out of all the little bottles in the morning when all I want to do is drink my coffee.  It also gives me a visual reminder as to whether I have or have not taken my vitamins that day.

Then I start getting my lunches and snacks ready.  For lunch this week I will be having salad topped with Goat Cheese, grilled chicken, mandarin oranges, and sliced almonds.  I go ahead and grill the chicken breasts that I’ve had marinating since Saturday night.

(That gadget is my Cuisinart Griddler.  I’ll post the wonders of that thing another day.)  While those are grilling, I wash, tear, and spin my salad.

When that’s done I divvy it up into these perfect Martha Stewart Collection “Lunch On The Go” containers, sprinkle the sliced almonds and goat cheese on the salad, prep the oranges for topping (I don’t put those on until right before I eat it.  Otherwise the lettuce gets soggy.  Ick!) and my side fruit like so…

Then I close them up put one in my lunch Monday and the others in the fridge.  My snack this week will be Fage 0% Greek Yogurt, topped with honey and sliced almonds.  The only prep work needed here is for the almonds, the yogurt and the honey are already packaged for portability.

Now that lunch and snacks are taken care of, I start to work on dinner.  At this point, I whip up any marinades or pre-chop any veggies that need to be prepared so that the prep work for the meals I have planned for this week is all done.  That way, all I have to do when I get home from work is put it together and cook it.  This week I only need to chop some celery and boil/cut up some new potatoes.

Whew!  I think that’s it.  Vitamins ready.  Lunches cooked, prepped and packed.  Snacks prepped and packed.  Meals prepped.  That is a full Sunday afternoon!  And THAT, my friends, is how THIS blogger stays organized.

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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I Ask You

Can you possibly think of anything better on a hot summer afternoon than a good ol’ juicy South Carolina peach straight from the Farmer’s Market?  Go ahead.  I dare you to think of something better.

You can’t.  You simply can’t do it because it doesn’t exist.

I’m WAY over this heat and ready for Fall, but you’ve just got to love the fruits of summer!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon – Uncorked!

Well, it’s Friday night and you know what that means. It’s time to uncork a bottle of vino and kick off the weekend.  We’ve been in the whites lately but tonight I’m in a red mood.

Ladies and gentleman, may I present the 2007 Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon!

It’s not very often I get to use a word like scrumptious to describe a wine, but that is exactly what this one is.  SCRUMP-DIDDILY-UMPTIOUS!  It’s so yummy that I’m having to resist the urge the polish off the bottle myself.  The BG was supposed to be flying home from a work trip to Memphis tonight, but he missed his flight and could not get another one before tomorrow morning.  I’m more than a little perturbed and bummed about that.  Did I mention that it has “come a flood” outside (as good Southern folks say), complete with lots of thunder and lightening?  Needless to say am sorely tempted to drown my sorrows in this smooth and velvety Cab.

But, alas, that is not good form and I have to walk 12 miles in the morning.  So, it’s probably a better plan just to have a glass… or two. 🙂

Just look at that color!  And the nose…you had me at first sniff!  It’s a little earthy, but with chocolate, berries, and cinnamon – OH MY!  It’s just so smooth on the way down with hints of vanilla and spice on the finish.

BG found this one when I sent him on a grocery run one day.  I was into it at the very first pour and it is now my go to Cab.

Find it. Uncork it.  Put a straw it.  You’ll thank me later!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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