January 2011 archive

Blog Fodder

I sent BG to do the grocery shopping this weekend.  One of the items on the list was, of course, “wine.”  I thought he’d pick up one or two bottles.  I was mistaken…

Pinots, Chardonnays, and Cabs – OH MY!  Well, this ought to keep me occupied for a while.  In the bunch there are a couple of old friends (both Cabernet Sauvignons, one of which I’ve reviewed here), a Pinot Noir (mi amor), a Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay, and a Viognier.

After taking a couple pics I had to put them away.

I just love it when my “Dos Equis” are nearly full.  (Ha, ha.  Get it. “Dos Equis.”  As in the beer…but here my “two exes” are for wine storage.  Get it…or am I the only one that finds that funny?)  The only thing I love more…EMPTYING them!

Hmmm…where to start…where to start?

Cheers y’all,

Wine Girl

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Tomoresca Neprica – Uncorked!

I’m not worthy!  I’m not worthy…of my pseudonym, that is.  I was just doing a little perusing of my blog archives and realized that it was (drum roll please)  AUGUST 27TH since I posted a wine recommendation.  A-U-G-U-S-T-2-7-T-H!!  That’s 4 MONTHS!  Shameful.  Just shameful.

It’s not exactly my fault.  Circumstances have conspired against me. First, there was the unseasonable heat during our September trip to Connecticut.  Then, while stopped in Philly on our way home, we hit the Belgian Abbey Ale motherload at Eulogy.  By the time we got home it was nearly October.  You know what that means, don’t you?  Octoberfests!  Our local brewery, Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, hosted it’s second annual MECKTOBERFEST.  You didn’t hear about it because BG never wrote up his post. But, trust me, it was fun!  In October, the weather turns chilly, which meant it was time to eat chili.  Somehow, wine and chili just don’t seem to mesh.  Of course, I couldn’t drink wine while I baked (and ate) ButterBEER Cupcakes or BEER Bread.  Then, before I knew it, the holidays were upon me, which calls for fancy cocktails.

So, you see, it’s not really my fault.  Weather, travels, holidays and even movies have created a situation that resulted in there being a lot of beer and very little wine around here lately.  And I dare to call myself “Wine Girl”…

Tonight, though, we remedy that.  Boy oh boy, are you going to thank me.  Let me introduce you to the 2008 Tormaresca Neprica…

I first had this wine a couple years ago in a restaurant when a girlfriend and I were out having a girl’s night. We split a bottle of it over dinner and each loved it so much that we made certain to jot down the label info before settling up the tab.  We paid $45 for the bottle in the restaurant, so imagine my surprise when I found it for $11 at my local Harris Teeter!

It’s an blend from the Southern Italian province of Puglia. (It’s in the “heel” of the Italian boot.)  The name “Neprica” is derived from the three grapes included in the blend NEgroamaro, PRImitivo and CAbernet.  See.  NE-PRI-CA.  Kind of clever, huh?

You notice more when looking from above than from the view in my picture, but it’s a luscious ruby red pour.  There are berries and spice on the nose.   On the palate you get those same berries, plus some chocolate, and a wee bit of, dare I say…licorice?  Generally, I’m not a licorice fan in any way, shape, or form. But this is very slight and not at all over powering.  All those flavors, combine with the nicely balanced tannins to make up a rich, complex wine that rolls off the back of the tongue like velvet.  And I should know…I’ve done the leg work on this one!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

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Well I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but it has been C-O-L-D in Charlotte.  The snow started falling in the wee hours of Monday morning and did not stop all day.  That is, of course, until the sleet and freezing rain started just in time for rush hour.

Luckily, this is the South…so there was no “rush hour” during the icy/snowy days. You Yankees readers will probably laugh, but at the slightest mention of a snow flurry, Southerners raid the grocery stores, stock up on bread, milk, and eggs like their life depends on it, and will cancel anything and everything for a mere inch of accumulation.  (Weirdly, when we lived in San Diego, I noticed that Southern Californians seemed to do the same thing with predictions of rain .) Oh, and BANANAS!  Bananas are apparently a necessity if you are going to be frozen into your house for 3 days.  I went to three grocery stores and I’m telling you – there’s not a banana in sight.

Today was the first day this week that the high’s here in the Queen City have risen above the 20’s.  As such, all that sleet and freezing rain left us with 1/4″ of ice on top of the snow.  If there is anything Southerners fear more than snow in the winter, it’s ICE!  So basically, I had all day Monday and half the day Tuesday off work.  And what’s a girl to do when she’s cooped up inside because because it looks like this outside…

Make SOUP! What else?

I recently came across the blog 101 Cookbooks.  I’m a REALLY late comer to Heidi’s blog, but I’m loving it so far. I loved it so much that I put her cookbook on my Christmas list this year…and got it!  I’m reading through it right now and hope to show off some recipes soon.  On New Year’s Day, though, Heidi posted this recipe for New Year’s Noodle Soup and I knew I had to try it…slightly modified to my taste, of course.  Being snowed in on Monday was the perfect opportunity.

Thankfully, I planned ahead and soaked my dried lentils and beans overnight so they were ready go when I was.    While heating olive oil in my big new Martha Stewart 7-quart Cast Iron casserole pot, I chopped a big yellow onion

and minced a serrano pepper in my mini Cuisinart food processor then added them both to the pot.

Next you throw in some tumeric, cumin, and freshly ground black pepper and mix it until the onions turn this gorgeous golden yellow color.

Then it’s time for the vegetable stock, lentils, chick peas, and beans.  Heidi’s recipe calls for borlotti beans, but I couldn’t find any to save my life – dried or canned.  So I substituted navy beans, and I think it turned out pretty well.

Let all that cook together for about 25-30 min, then add thin egg noodles.

**Side NoteThe recipe called for 120 g of noodles, which was about 1/2 of the bag I purchased.  With a little slip of the hand I accidentally emptied the entire bag of noodles into my pot.  All those extra noodles basically absorbed most of my soup liquid.  So, my “soup” actually turned out to be more like the consistency of Spaghetti-O’s…even after I added an extra quart of stock.  But it still tasted great and hit the spot during these last few icy cold days.

Just before serving, you add about 3 1/2 oz of spinach leaves.  I decided to chiffonade my spinach leaves because, frankly, the idea of encountering a huge wilty spinach leaf in a spoonful of my soup kinda freaked me out.

It’s not that I dislike spinach.  I’ll gladly eat it in a salad.  But I just can not bring myself to eat it cooked.  That pile of wilty spinach on my plate just grosses me out.  It grossed me out when Popeye squirted it out of the can, and it grosses me out now.

So I made sure than any wilty spinach I encountered in my soup would be as small and delicate a piece as possible, blending nicely the with noodles, legumes, and onions.  See…D-E-L-I-C-A-T-E…

You hardly notice it once you stir it in.  But doesn’t the green spinach look beautiful against lovely golden color of the soup!

Finally, the recipe calls for the addition of 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro and 2 tbsp of fresh dill.  These are both flavors that send a shiver up my spine and, for me at least, can ruin a meal.  I didn’t want to leave them out completely and leave the soup devoid of all flavor.  So I added them, but used dried in stead of fresh and cut WAY back on the amounts.  I think I may have added 3 tsp of each to the 7-qt pot o’ soup.  As such, I could discern a hint of each of those flavors in the finished product, but was not overwhelmed by them in the least.  For me, that was perfect.  If you enjoy these flavors, by all means, follow the original recipe and pile them in.

Lastly, Heidi suggests topping your bowl off with caramelized onions, creme fraiche, sour cream, or toasted and chopped walnuts.  I went for the walnuts and LOVED them.  I tasted the soup both with and without them.  While it was delicious either way, the walnuts added a completely new dimension of flavor.  And, because I’m a good Southern girl, I served it with a side of warm, buttery cornbread!  PERFECTION!

It was scrumptious and JUST wanted I wanted in this cold, cold weather…even if it was more like a pasta dish than an actual soup.  I will definitely be making this again.  Next time, though, I’ll go a little lighter on the noodles and I think I may add some shiitake mushrooms.

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

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I’m Sporty…I Mean REALLY Sporty

This little blog is supposed to be about the BG and I cataloguing our adventures, both in and out of the kitchen.  Well, if I didn’t have a mini-adventure on Saturday, I don’t know what it was.

Earlier this week, I told you the BG got me a bike for Christmas.  Since we live in NC and spent the holidays in Mississippi/Alabama he couldn’t actually give me my bike on Christmas morning.  We had to go pick it up from Bike Source when we got back in town last weekend, really only giving me Sunday afternoon to play with it.  So we’ve been plotting all week to make time for a ride today.  While it wasn’t actually cold in the Queen City last weekend, there was enough of a chill in the air to give the wind a bite when I picked up any kind of speed.  So, my stipulation for any further winter riding was that I would get what I deemed a “wind shirt.”  (In my mind this is some sort of wind minimizing shirt to help cut back on stinging headwinds, not just a fleece.)

It’s Saturday, so of course BG and I slept in a little later than we really intended.  Once up and running, we headed out to R.E.I. to see what kind of wind-minimizing cycling gear they might have in stock.  I found the PERFECT shirt/jacket!  (I was going to share the link, but I can’t find my jacket on the website.) It’s called the Novara Headwind Bike Jacket.  It blocks wind up to 35 mph, has a detachable hood that can cover my ears but won’t block my peripheral vision, has 4 pockets – two of which are zippered for holding my phone, etc. while cycling, and is extra long in the back so it won’t ride up and leave my lower back exposed to the elements while I’m leaning over towards the handlebars.  Oh, and the BEST part is it’s grey and purple – so it matches my bike. 🙂

What?  Sporty girls need to coordinate too.

Now, I mentioned that it wasn’t cold during our brief ride last weekend, just chilly when we caught wind as we picked up speed.  That same statement was NOT true of Charlotte today.  The high today was forecasted to be 37*!

We got home from shopping around 11:30a.  Excited to play with my new bike and put my new jacket to good use, I ran upstairs and immediately changed into my biking gear.  I was ready to go within minutes.  I can not say the same thing for my man.  I’m not sure what he was doing, but I had time to do all the dishes in the sink before he was ready.  About 45 min later we were BOTH finally geared up and ready to go.  So we ran downstairs, grabbed our bikes, open the garage door, and what do we see…

SNOWFLAKES!  Big, fat, chunky snowflakes falling from the sky.

I looked at him.  He looked at me.  “Are we really gonna do this?” he asked.  “Well, I do have new shirt,” I replied.  So off we went.

I’m pleased to report that my new Novara Headwind Jacket worked brilliantly!  I am especially pleased with the hood that kept my ears so warm.  If the jacket had not had that option I would not have been able to stand it.  My ears always hurt really badly in cold wind.  But not today!  The one little chink in my cold weather cycling armor – fingerless riding gloves.  Within the first half mile, my fingers were SO COLD that they hurt.  Not just pain.  That weird freezing, burning kind of pain.

Since we were headed towards East Blvd, BG suggested that we swing in the Alpine Ski Center and see what sort of gloves they might have that would be appropriate for cycling. Thankfully they had a suitable pair and, like my new jacket, I think they’ll come in handy when we head to Park City, UT next month.

By this time, it’s after 1pm and my breakfast has long since worn off.  I suggested to BG that we take a small break for lunch and defrosting.  We agreed to pop into our favorite burger joint, Big Daddy’s Burger Bar, for just that since we knew we could sit on an enclosed and heated patio, keeping our bikes near by.

(Please excuse the helmet hair and poorly lit pic taken with my iPhone camera.)

This place has a great beer selection and even better burgers.  The downside to that is it is ALWAYS hopping!  We’ve never been there when we didn’t have some kind of a wait.  (That being said, it is a MUST if you are in Charlotte and craving a good burger. ) The wind may have been blowing while we were riding, but at least we were generating body heat.  I thought I would turn into a grape popsicle before we were seated.

We split a Western Burger since we didn’t want to ride home with overly full tummies.  He had some Tater Tots and I had about half a serving of sweet potato fries.  Not very healthy but so, so yummy!

Lunch down, we now had to brave the 35* temps, sans snowflakes, for the ride back home.  The temp had dropped a couple of degrees since we left our house.

All in all, we were only out in the frigid temps for about 2 hours.  If that’s not sporty, I don’t know what is!  There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have even considered going biking on a sunny, but freezing day like today.  Get me, I’m growing as a person.  In fact, BG told me that with the “mini-camping” I did for my Susan G. Komen 3-day Walk, my new found love of cycling, and my plans to go skiing for the first time next month, he thinks I’m in the midst of a “sporty revolution.”

You know what?  I think he may be on to something!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

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The Loot

I must have been a very good girl this year because Santa was very good to me.

He brought me lots of stuff for The Kitchen

(for serving)

(for cooking)

(for storage)

(for entertaining)


is for The Travel!

I was bitten by the biking bug while we were in Hilton Head this summer.  Apparently, since then, the BG has been plotting to get me one of my own!  Isn’t she pretty!  She’s black, white, and lavender…and my helmet and gloves match!  Oh, and there’s a bunch of good bike stuff about her that I haven’t quite memorized yet.

There’s mud on her tires because I had just taken her on her maiden voyage prior to taking this shot.  Is it weird that I’m stoked she’s named (i.e. read “model name”) after my favorite Disney Princess?

You’ll have to forgive me.  After 10 straight days of 3 and 4 yo nieces, I’m on Disney Princess overload!

Hope you all had as merry a Christmas and happy a New Year as we did!

Cheers y’all!

Wine Girl

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