Category Archives: Wine Reviews

Sparklin’ Hurricanes

Hey, did y’all know there’s a hurricane barging up the east coast this weekend?

All of the projections foretold that Raleigh was likely to be on the outer edge of Irene’s path, but just in case, I decided to stock up on supplies on Friday. Naturally, I went to the liquor store.

As I smugly placed my bottles on the checkout counter – one bottle each of light rum and dark rum – I confided to the cashier: “I’m making Hurricanes this weekend.”

“How very original,” he replied dryly.

I guess I wasn’t the only one who had that idea.

So I decided to make something a little different.  You could call it a Mimosacane.  Or a Sparklin’ Hurricane.  It was delicious.

Sparklin’ Hurricane

  • 1 oz light rum
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • 2-3 oz 100% mango-orange juice
  • Splash of sparkling wine or Champagne
  • Maraschino cherry, + 1 TSP of its juice

Combine both rums and juice in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake well and strain in to flutes.  Add 1 TSP juice from the maraschino cherry bottle.  Top with a splash of bubbles and drop a cherry or two down to the bottom.

This is a wonderful thing to drink on a Saturday afternoon, or on  any day where you’ve basically written off any possibility of productive activity on account of circumstances beyond your control.

(In other words: every day in the life of a spoiled household pet.)

Downtown Raleigh ended up getting a full day of solid rain and wind, but nothing too crazy – at least compared to what the coastal cities have or will experience(d). Around here, we eyed the windows suspiciously as they rattled in the gusty wind and jumped every time we heard the startling bang of a transformer blowing, but we never lost power, thankfully.

Bizarrely beautiful post-Irene sky:

(Unedited photo.  Crazy colors.)

Well, there’s a bottle open, so…

I’ve been seeing this LA BUBBLY stuff at Whole Foods for a couple of months now.  I can’t seem to shake the feeling that it’s some sort of hipster joke, but I have to admit, it’s not a bad sparkling wine.  It is apparently of Chilean origin but I have no idea what’s in it.  Fairly aggressive bubbles with crisp apple and lemon, but also a little hint of something more comforting, like vanilla or hazelnuts or sugar cookie.

Bottom Line: Yes, actually, I think this is a likable bottle and a decent buy. (Purchased at Whole Foods, $13.)

Okay…back to watching Caddyshack.  (At least I’ve got that goin’ for me!)  If you’re in the storm’s path, stay safe and dry!

Ka-PAO de Queijo

I have this fantasy in which I open the Ultimate Street Food Restaurant. Basically, I would import the best of ethnic cart food from every corner of the world, so diners could enjoy a piping plate of Pad Thai alongside spicy kebabs and hummus with some empanadas for dessert. It would be awesome.

(And super cheap.  Of course, it would be BYO!)

Unfortunately, the likelihood of me opening a such a restaurant is um…low.  I have neither the funds nor the talent nor the temperament for that sort of endeavor.

But I’ll keep expanding my street-food-making skillz, just in case!

Pão de Queijo.  Cheesy bread balls of Brazilian/Portuguese origin.  Addictive as hell.  And something I’ve been meaning to learn how to make for, like, ages.

As it turns out, it’s pretty straightforward.  Make a simple, sticky dough of hot water, milk, oil, tapioca starch, salt, egg and Parmesan cheese.  Grease up your hands. Form into balls. Plop onto a baking sheet (or into a mini muffin tin).

Bake for 20 minutes, or until they start to look golden brown and your kitchen smells so cheesy and delicious that you can’t stand it any more and you must pop one out of the oven to sample.  (Quality control…)

I guess it’s the tapioca starch (a.k.a. manoic or cassava) that gives these their slightly sour flavor and fluffy-yet-chewy texture.  Kinda like freshly baked sourdough, but laced with cheese.  (Bonus…it also makes them gluten-free, if you care about that sort of thing.)

Delicious when served with a bowl of juicy diced tomato and herbs for dipping.

Pão de Queijo: [Adapted, mostly for measurements/proportions, from this Sonia Portuguese recipe, found via the kitchn]

Makes 24 little Pãos.  (That’s probably not grammatically correct Portuguese…)

  • 1/3 C water
  • 1/2 C whole milk
  • 2 T Canola Oil + 1 T for lubing hands while rolling balls (TWSS)
  • 1/4 TSP salt
  • 1 1/4 C (approx 170g) tapioca starch
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 C grated Parmesan cheese

Whisk together the water, milk, 2T oil and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Just as it starts to foam and rise, remove it and transfer it to a bowl.  Add tapioca starch and stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Heat oven to 325*.

Add egg and work dough with hands or spoon until smooth and sticky.  Add cheese and knead with hands for a few minutes until consistency is uniform. Dough will be very sticky!

Use remaining oil to lube hands and roll dough in to ping-pong-sized balls.  (A couple of intermediate hand-washes may be necessary…I did two complete rinses while making this batch!)  Place balls on a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.

Enjoy with a nice bright wine, like this 2008 Valdemar Tempranillo from Rioja:

With lots of ripe blackberries, juicy cherries, and just a hint of smoke/muskiness, this medium-bodied red was a lovely break from the typical parade of summer whites.  Initially a little boozy/hot, this wine mellowed out after being open for about 30 minutes and matched very will with my dinner of, um…cheese bread.

And some shrimp and salad.

But mostly pão de queijo.

Because you’ve gotta eat them when they’re hot and fresh outta the oven, or they’re not as good!


Bottom line: A nice enough little red, especially for summer drinking. Fun, bright flavors.  (Purchased at Whole Foods, $12)

And with that little culinary success under my belt, I think I’m done cooking for the week.  Which is one of the many reasons I’ll never open a restaurant.  Lazy.

Do you have a favorite ethnic street food?

One more week

Of summer, that is.

Okay, it’s only August 8 and that does not compute.  But from a marathon-training perspective, it totally works.  Check it: three weekends stand between me and September.  September is practically fall.  And that means the dew point will instantly drop to a tolerable level and a chilly breeze will blow this miserable heat right outta here. Um…right?

(Don’t wreck my fantasy.)

So.  Three weekends.  One is a “bye week” with no long run.  One is a travel weekend to lovely, temperate Maine.  That just leaves one more North Carolina long run this summer!

See?  It works.

At least that is what I was telling myself as I suffered through 13 hellish miles on Sunday morning.

What…you’re not buying it?

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I’m just running Athens in November for fun and not trying to do a goal-race marathon this fall.  I was barely hanging on to 10-minute pace yesterday; I can’t imagine trying to run workouts with portions of the LR at GMP.

(It probably would have helped if we hadn’t started the run at 10 AM and ended at noon.  Ahem.  I still don’t like mornings.)

A bottle of wine with dinner was well-earned:

This 2008 Chardonnay-Semillon from Aussies Wine Men of Gotham was a pleasant surprise!  I picked it up on a whim while grabbing some corn on the cob to grill with dinner.  80% (unoaked) Chard and 20% Semillon, this wine was fruit forward (papaya, mango, pineapple) without being tart, its sweetness balanced some nice minerals and just a little bit of something spicy (a juicy red onion?).  Anyway.  It was delicious.

Bottom line: Yes! A great summertime Chard. (Purchased at Fresh Market, $11.)

I’ve been a retail monster the last few days; it was tax-free weekend here in North Carolina and I can’t even tell you how many pairs of feet I looked at over the last three days.  Whew!  And creepy interwebz hellos back to the few people who were all like, O HAI I LIKE YOUR BLOG!  I like you for liking my blog!  Let’s get beers!

Anyway.  Happy Monday, kids!

Blossoms and blood

On Friday morning, I was approximately twenty minutes in to my drive up to New Jersey for the big relay weekend when it dawned on me that I’d made the dumbest mistake I could possibly make in such circumstances.

I’d forgotten my running shoes.


I’d taken great pains to make sure that the wine was cozily nestled in the cooler. I’d double and triple-checked on the giant bag of candy.  But running shoes?  Unimportant, apparently.

Possibly tragic.  Except that I happened to have a fresh pair handy in the car:

I’d picked up these Mizuno Wave Precision 13’s as a work freebie.  They seemed to fit great and gosh they were cute!  (Look at the cherry blossom art!  Cuuuuute!)  But there was one problem: I’d never actually run in them.

What do we always say about races?  Never try anything new on race day.

So it was probably a pretty bad idea to try out these pretty babies for the first time on a day-long relay.

But I’m not known for making good decisions, and I sure as hell was not going to add 40 minutes to my drive by going back home to get my tried-and-true Brooks flats.  So out of the box and on to my feet went the Mizunos on Saturday morning.

You can probably see where this is headed.

Nobody makes me bleed my own blood! Except for…well, me.  When I’m being an idiot and racing in new shoes.

Overall, I actually don’t think they’re bad shoes!  But they’re definitely a little narrower than the Brooks Ghosts in which I do most of my mileage.  And I probably should have given the ol’ toenails a little trim on account of that.

But they’re light and flexible and a solid lightweight trainer…they remind me a lot of Kinvaras, actually.  Except cuter.   Because they have cherry blossoms.

Anyway.  Lesson learned.   My toe will heal and hopefully the blood stains will wash away the first time I take the shoes through a puddle.  And if not?  It will just remind me of the time when I was a badass and bled through my shoes.  (Or…um, when I was a dumbass and forgot my shoes.)

Here’s how last week’s mileage came out:

Meh on the volume, but a little pat on the back for getting a few decent workouts in and bringing that average pace down a little!  Partial credit goes to the treadmill for that, though.  It’s remarkable that an 8-minute pace feels easy on the treadmill right now, while a 9-minute pace is difficult to maintain outside.  Damn you, summer.

And July as a whole:

Definitely an improvement over May and June!

Today was kind of a long day, so I’m going to enjoy my no-cook dinner:

Smoked salmon, fluffy whipped cream cheese, and an everything bagel with a big salad.  Yum.

And sip on a little pink:

I was rather unimpressed with the 2009 version of this 2010 La Ferme Julien Rose when I tried it last year.   I’m not sure that the 2010 version is all that much better.  I mean, it’s drinkable, but it’s kinda sharp and a little watery.  A little bit of rosewater on the nose and some strawberry in the mouth, but overall it’s just boring.  I guess this goes against my pro-French-pink stance.  Oh well.

Bottom line: Skip it.  (Purchased at Trader Joe’s, $7.)

Off to rest the eyeballs for a few hours…see y’all tomorrow with a sock giveaway winner or two!

The ghost of eggplant past

Are you ever haunted by a particular food?  And I don’t mean in an up-all-night-on-the-toilet way.  I mean: in a good way.  Like, you ate something so amazing that you just can’t seem to get it out of your head.

Me? I am usually haunted by things like crispy pork belly and Pad Thai.  But ever since our trip to Asheville a couple of weeks ago and that amazing dinner at Curate, I’ve totally been haunted by eggplant.

I don’t think I’ve ever been haunted by a vegetable before.

That honey eggplant at Cutate was that good, I guess.

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to re-create it, but of course I was going to try.  I started off by decking out my little aubergine out in peppy stripes.  Stripes are totally in this season!  Or so they tell me.  (They being the dressing room ladies at Target, where I have flirted with many a stripy frock this summer.)

In addition to making a cute presentation, this makes the skin easier to chew through, and allows the slices of eggplant to expand/contract as they cook, and thus hang together a little better.  Or so it seems to me, anyway.

Next: half-inch-thick slices and a whole lotta salt.

I let them hang out in their salt for half an hour – at the end of which time, that paper towel was drenched, leaving little eggplant sponges that would hopefully suck up the mixture of honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh rosemary I’d whisked together.

After being dunked in the marinade, they only needed a few minutes on a hot grill.  (And a little more rosemary and salt, of course!)

Yum!  I enjoyed them with salad, fresh peach slices and a little prosciutto + bread for a light tapas-style dinner:

However, once my food coma wears off, I’m sure the eggplant ghost will haunt me again.  This was very good, but it was a shadow of its restaurant-crafted inspiration.  Something about how unbelievably piping-hot the eggplant at Curate was served…

Perhaps I need to invest in a blowtorch?

(Pretty sure that is not allowed per the terms of our apartment lease.)


Anyway.  I poured a glass of chilly SB to sip on while dinner grilled:

This 2010 Matua Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough was just okay.  Lots of apple and grapefruit, but it was almost a little too sweet: none of the delicious green pepper I’ve started to expect from SB.  And there was something…gravelly about it?  Like, when it hasn’t rained in a while and a car pulls out of an unpaved driveway and makes a big cloud of dust?  That smell?  Is kind of how this wine tastes. That rock/mineral flavor isn’t a bad thing, actually, but it was just a little unexpected and didn’t really work with the other flavors.

Bottom line?  Eh, it wasn’t horrible but I wouldn’t buy it again.  (Purchased at Fresh Market, $12.)

Off to work my noodle-y arms (holy HEAT workout tricep action tonight) on the remote control for a couple of hours.  Good night!

No more fries

Alright.  It’s come to a point where I’ve admitted that something has to give.

I haven’t blogged about this because it isn’t the sort of thing I really enjoy writing about, but: I’m holding on to a couple of extra pounds right now and I’m kinda ready to say 23 skidoo to them.

I’m not going to waste any time and energy whining about how unfair it is that they are there.  I mean, it’s like five pounds.  And I know why they are there. They are there because my running mileage is down and I have a fondness for potato chips.  You probably know this by now.

At various points over the last few weeks, I’ve fleetingly entertained the idea of taking action.  And by that I mean: giving up something (or category of things) that I enjoy consuming.

Booze? Not going to happen.  (Although I have cut back.  You may have noticed that I don’t do the TODAY’S DRINK thing anymore.)

Bread? Nuh-uh, no way.  I love bread and it’s freaking everywhere and way too hard to avoid.

Candy? I don’t eat much candy anyway, so this wouldn’t do much good.

Ice cream? You may as well stab me to death with a dull pencil.  It’s summertime, dammit.  I will eat ice cream.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, the hubs came come from running some errands with a bag of McDonald’s french fries.

I don’t even remember what else was happening at the time, because within moments I was happily plucking those salty little sticks of heaven from their bright red carton, dragging them through the ketchup pile, and popping them into my mouth.  I love deep fried potatoes.  In fact, I love just about anything deep fried.  (Except pickles.)

And, you know what?  Most things that are deep fried taste pretty decent grilled, broiled or baked, too.

I found my sacrifice.

So while generally speaking I am not a fan of food vows, I’m making one: no more fried foods.  Not this summer.  Not until the first day of autumn.  At which point I will hopefully be able to pick up my running mileage again and not have to worry as much about this little gut.

I have no idea whether this will actually make a difference, but I think it’s worth a shot.  Right?

So, in an immediate attempt to replace the craving, I kicked things off tonight by making grilled fries.  While they weren’t as good as the red carton, they were pretty damn tasty:

(With an open-faced “caprese sandwich”…grilled marinated chicken, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and greens on toasted sourdough with a balsamic reduction.  OMG.)

And at least I don’t have to give up TEH BOOZE!

From Rabbit Ridge Winery in Paso Robles, this Le Lapin “Ingenuity” White blend is indeed a smart wine.   A blend of Sauv Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Grigio, this wine was light, crisp and easy to sip!  Green apples, grapefruit and a bit of apricot dominated, making it a great bottle to sip while nibbling on something fruity.

(Or while plowing through a plate of grill fries.)

Bottom line: Get it!  A very nice summertime wine at a great price.  (Purchased at Whole Foods, $8.)

And finally, here are some boring running stats…for the last two weeks, since apparently I never posted them last week.  (Oops.)

Week of 6/27 to 7/3:

M – 50 min easy (~5.5 M)
Tu – 30 min easy (~3.4 M)
W – AM: Tempo run on TM, 3 M, 22:45 (7:35 pace); PM: 55 min easy (~6 mi)
Th – 45 min easy (~5 mi)
F – HEAT workout (strength + TM intervals) plus run to and from studio: overall 5.5 mi (43:30, 7:53 pace)
Sa – OFF
Su – Easy run w/hubs (1:17, ~8 mi, 9:45 pace)

Total: 37 miles

Week of 7/4 to 7/10:

M – OFF (Hike in Asheville)
Tu – 30 min easy (~3.4 M) + core class
W – Godiva track meet, 3K race + WU/CD, 5 miles total.
Th – 50 min easy (~5.5 mi)
F – HEAT workout, strength + TM intervals, total 3.5 mi
Sa – 10 miles long on hills (1:35, ~9:30 pace)
Su – 5.5 easy (treadmill, 45:00, 8:11 pace)
Total: 33 miles

Aaaaand I’m off to bed because something possessed me to sign up for the 6 AM “Tread + Shred” TRX class tomorrow morning at 6 AM at HEAT.

I might actually die.

At least if I vomit, it will be homemade grilled Yukon fries and not that Mickey D’s shit.  I’m sure that will be a lot more appealing to every else in the class.

Grilled pizza trio

Hello, holiday weekenders!  Are we having fun yet?  Everyone still have all of their fingers and both retinas?  Those bottle rockets are dangerous…

I actually have the weekend off of work, which is kind of amazing.  I kicked off the party by going to my second HEAT class last night, sleeping in until 10:30 this morning, and then scrubbing my filthy apartment.  Which, given my weakened condition from the workout, was rather challenging.  Soap scum, meet sore triceps.

And now my forearms are all pumped out too…from kneading pizza dough!  And hauling it down to the grill for some BBQ pizza action.

One batch of dough made three 10″ pizzas.

Pizza One: Tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, fresh basil

Pizza Two: Olive oil, brie, sliced granny smith apples, chopped walnut and fresh rosemary

Pizza Three: Tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, thin-sliced soppressata and caramelized onion with dried oregano and red pepper flakes

Two out of two sore triceps agree: Pizza Three was definitely the winner.  I guess this is why I am not a vegetarian.

I’d never cooked pizza on the grill before, but it was pretty easy!  I put the crusts – brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt – right on to the grill and let them cook for a couple of minutes before adding the sauce and toppings.

I used Mark Bittman’s pizza dough recipe for the crust.  Bittman suggests that one can substitute whole wheat flour (for heartier crust) or cornmeal (for a crunchier crust).  I decided to be a wild woman and do both: so instead of 3C of regular flour, I used 1 C wheat flour, 0.5 C cornmeal and 1.5 C all-purpose.  The result?  A nice crispy crust that didn’t taste like whole-wheat health food.  I’ll definitely use this combo again!

Some Saturday night wine….

I’ve been eyeing this bottle in the VALUE aisle at Whole Foods for a while.  The bold and attractive label (and attractive price tag, too) of this GroundSwell 2010 California Red Table Wine finally got me.

Who knows what’s in here.  I guess that’s why it’s a Table Wine.  Tastes kinda like a Pinot-Noir-slash-Chianti to me.  Young and light-bodied, with lots of cherries and just a slight whiff of that vinegar smell that’s so common in cheap wines.  But it’s organic…so I guess there’s that.

Overall, I don’t find this wine offensive, exactly.  My palate and I have fairly low standards when it comes to drink-ability, especially while watching “Friday Night Lights” on Netflix in my underwear on a random Saturday night.  (Ahem.)  But this is definitely not a wine I’d serve to company.

Bottom line: Skip it, probably.  There are likely better wines on the shelf for under $10.  (Purchased at Whole Foods, $6.)

Okay, bedtime for me.  Tomorrow morning brings a long run – and an impromptu roadtrip! Very excited to get outta town for a night.  Stay tuned for details!

Knockout knockoffs

Have you guys heard about the Costco tank tops that are supposedly the same thing as Lululemon tank tops?  But of course, waaaaay cheaper?

I hadn’t, until today.  And I happened to be in Costco’s neck of the woods today.

For the love of cheese, it’s not like I need any more running shirts.  But at $12.99 a pop, I decided to give these a shot.

I’ve never owned a Lululemon tank so I can’t speak to the similarities and/or differences.  I’ll leave that to these lulunuts.  (Hat tip to Brie for that link!)  But I will say that I’ve been wearing this soft little thing all afternoon – including on a rainy run and to a core class! – and I am loving it so far.

Nice and long; fitted and flattering, without being skintight on the belly; cut low enough to be feminine, but not so low that you can’t actually work out in it.

Is there anything that Kirkland Signature doesn’t do well?

Anyway.  Worth checking out if you have a Costco in your area.

Exciting running stats from last week:

M – 45 min easy (~5 miles, ~9:00 pace)
Tu – 3 X 1 mile on the TM (6:44, 6:39, 6:37), 5 miles total (38:25)
W – 40 min easy (~ 4.3 miles, ~9:15 pace)
Th – OFF
F – 35 min easy AM (~ 4 miles, ~9:00 pace) + 25 min HEAT intervals PM (~3.5 miles total)
Sa – 50 min easy (~5.5 miles, ~9:00 pace)
Su – 60 min easy w/hubs (~6 miles, ~10:00 pace)


Okay, not so exciting.  But I did get a couple of quality workouts in!  Total: 33.3 miles.

And the soreness is finally fading!  Last night, my arms felt strong enough to operate a corkscrew.

This 2010 Toasted Head Untamed White is a blend of Viognier (70%), Chardonnay (37%) and just a splash of Moscato (3%).  Very light and brightly flavored with lots of juicy peach!  Very easy to drink and should please those who like a sweeter wine without annoying the palate of those who…well, don’t. Which is to say it’s a nice, fruit-forward wine that’s not at all sticky or cloying.  I happened to be eating a sandwich wrap packed with fresh peaches, honey mustard and Brie while sipping this and it was a perfect combination!

Bottom line: Get it!  A very pleasant and versatile wine at a reasonable price (Purchased at Fresh Market, $10.)

Okay…off to snuggle my new tank top in bed.

(What?  It’s dry from my workout…mostly…)

Return of the Rotating Blogroll

It’s been a long time since I did this.

Like…months-long.  Oops.

So how about celebrating this Friday by sharing a little love?  I’m a-bringin’ the Rotating Blogroll back!

1) Melissa Nibbles (

As a boring old married chick, I love living vicariously though Melissa’s dating shenanigans.  Her blog is funny, thoughtful and honest.  And she’s smokin’ hot, too.  (Just sayin’.)

2) Bees Knees Life (

Bree’s blog was actually one of the first that I ever followed, back when I was a wee newbie blogger.  Over the last year, it’s been so much fun to watch her (re)discover her running talent.  She also lifts really heavy things and knows how to make homemade fondant.  Pretty impressive.

3) Will Run for Candy (

I’m always finding new blogs and adding things to my already-bloated reader, but it’s rare that I come across a new-to-me blog and can’t help but read the entire site in one sitting.  Which is what I did with Will Run for Candy.  It’s that funny.  Check it out, and then join me on a campaign to harass author Allison for MOAR POSTING PLZ.  (Plz?)

And while we’re on the topic of internet harassment, I want to take a moment to call out Rotating Blogroll alumna Sweaty Kid and beg her to come back.  My life is seriously lacking in hilarious parables.  COME BACK PLZ.  Or at least let us know that you haven’t, in fact, been eaten by a bear.  (Unless you have, in fact, been eaten by a bear, in which case…that’s a shame, and not only because that would’ve made a great parable.)


Sometimes I hang out on this fitness forum on a little island of internet crazy which rhymes with The Pest.  Some people there are doing a Weekly Plank Challenge and I decided to join the fun.

It’s pretty simple: just see how long you can hold a plank.  Once a week.  Most of those girls do things like “strength training” and “core work” on a regular basis, so I’m sure they’ll see week-to-week improvement.  Me?  I’m not even sure what either of those things are any more, but I guess we’ll see if I can lengthen my plank, too.  (Zing!)

Yesterday was the first day and I made it to 3:06 (on my forearms and toes, with feet about 6″ apart) before my shoulders started shaking and my moan started escalating to an inappropriate level.  Which actually surprised me; I had set my watch on its side and couldn’t see the time until after I finished.  I expected to see something like two minutes.

Today, it kind of hurts to cough.  Which is unfortunate, because I’m still hacking a little from Wednesday night’s track meet.

I guess I’ll see if I can make it to 3:30 next week!  If you want to join me in this plank challenge thingy, feel free!  I’ll post mine every Friday.  And I highly recommend NOT looking at a clock/watch while you’re doing it and just letting yourself go to failure.  I went lot longer than I thought I could.  (Zing zing!)

Let’s talk about wine!  Would you believe that I’ve been working on the same bottle all week?  Me neither.

But I’ve been trying to cut down the volume a little (calories…) and limit myself to one drink a night.  This 2009 Starborough Sauvignon Blanc has been a delightful evening treat.

Remembering how much I enjoyed the Kim Crawford New Zealand SB that I tasted a few weeks ago, I was excited when I saw this one, and it didn’t disappoint!  Very light and a little on the sweeter side, an almost lemonade-like citrus flavor dominated this wine, but not in a bad way.  Lots of Granny Smith apple in there, too.  More sweet than peppery/spicy.  Perfect for “dessert” on a warm evening.

(And a cute bottle with a starfish to boot!)

Bottom line: If you don’t mind a slightly sweeter wine, get it!  (Purchased at Costco, $8.)

Alright…I’m out of awkward transitions, so I’ll say goodbye.  Happy Friday!  Do some planks!  Drink some wine!  Spread the love and give your favorite new blog a shout-out in the comments!

That’s a big cucumber you’ve got there

Just wait for it; it’s coming.  (Which is what…someone said.)

A couple of weeks ago, I had a cucumber salad at a friend’s house that was surprisingly delicious, in spite of the fact that it was filled with chunks of what would become – after a long soak in embalming fluid vinegar – pickles.

In case you were unaware, I hate pickles.  No, hate isn’t strong enough.  It’s actually an irrational fear.

What I am learning, though, is that cucumbers =/= pickles.  And I might be able to enjoy the former while loathing the latter.

A few days ago, I came across a recipe for cucumber gazpacho. It sounded delicious and refreshing and cool as…well, a cucumber.  I figured it could be Step Two in my plan to make friends with the fresh, non-slimy version of my nemesis.

At the store, I selected the largest gourd I could find.  Because I’ve never seen a pickle this big before (thank god – I’d probably faint) and therefore the connection was somehow less obvious.

But the connection to something else….yeah, yeah, I know.

Brief aside: the other day at work I had to call a customer to inform him that the “Stiff Stick” we had special ordered for him had arrived.  I can’t believe I did it with a straight face.  Ah, the challenges of specialty running retail.

Anyway.  I peeled and chopped that big boy and once the blender had its way with it, all thoughts of pickles (and Stiff Sticks) were long gone.

I made a couple of changes to the recipe (mango instead of melon; Greek yogurt + a little milk instead of regular yogurt) but for the most part stayed true to it.  Topped with a drizzle of olive oil and served with a side of bread, it made a perfect light dinner on a warm summer night!

Recipe: Cucumber Gazpacho with Shrimp and Melon [via Epicurious]

The soup practically jumped out of its bowl and demanded that I pour a glass of crisp white wine to accompany it.

This 2010 Vega Sindoa blend was comprised primarily of a grape I was not familiar with – the Viura.   If not for the 25% Chard, I might have passed it over. Because you know how much I love my Chardonnay.

It’s a Spanish wine, but the Viura (also known as Macabeu) grape is grown in both Spain and France.  According to Wiki:

The grape is used to make mildly acidic and young white wines mostly suitable for early consumption or blending with other varieties, both red and white. It is often the main grape of white Rioja and is sometimes blended in small amounts with Tempranillo and red Garnacha, both in unoaked and oaked versions.

Macabeu is traditionally blended with Xarel·lo and Parellada to make a sparkling Cava, the best known sparkling wine of Spain.

I adore Cava.  And while this blend wasn’t quite as nice as a glass of bubbles, I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Lots of fruity apples and a bit of tart lemon/lime, which was a lovely complement to the shrimp.  Light-bodied enough to sip on a warm summer evening, but definitely heftier than something like a Sauv Blanc.  I believe it would go best with food of some sort.

Bottom line: For $8 (at Whole Foods), this bottle was definitely a great buy!

Glad the new site seems to be working for everyone!  Remember to update your readers and such to point to if you haven’t already.  There’s an RSS feed button on the side, now, too.  Look at me go, being all techy!

Now if I could just get my damn Google Analytics to work properly….