Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bottle 7, 8, & 9

2006 Château Douley Premières Côtes de Bordeaux
1999 Parsons Flat Shiraz - Cabernet
2005 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon

Don't worry- I did not consume all of these bottles at once- it has been a crazy few weeks.

The first bottle, the Bordeaux, I shared at a little wine and cheese playdate- which seems like a lifetime ago. It was very good.

The other 2 bottles I drank.

Two weeks ago, Adam went for an MRI to rule out anything serious that was causing headaches that he had been getting for the past few months. Everyone, including the doctor, thought it was stress. I asked him if he wanted me to drive him and he said no- it's nothing.

I was at Universal City Walk with a friend and her daughter, and Penny and Olive. Penny and her friend had just finished running around the squirting water fountain when I saw I had 3 missed calls from Adam. I called him immediately and he said, "It is something, you need to come here". My stomach turned to rock.

I somehow dropped Penny off at her friend's house and got to the MRI place with Olive. Adam didn't know much, he was just about to go into the MRI to do a second scan. The doctor asked to talk to me. "He has a lesion" the doctor said- which is a nice word for tumor. Tumor? What? A brain tumor? WHAT?

Two hours later we were at the ER and the next two weeks became the "lost weeks". I have no idea what was going on in the world. I went from home to the hospital back home to breastfeed, back to the hospital to bring Adam food then to school to pick up Penny, back to the hospital, home to breastfeed, hospital, back home, sleep...then again the next day...and next...and next...

Thankfully my mother in law flew in to help with the girls and my brother in law and his girlfriend were filling in for me at the hospital when I had to be home.

Surgery was needed. Brain surgery. Adam was rightfully nervous, we all were. But I held strong, only hearing the positive when the doctors would talk about the prognosis. The neurosurgeon (who was great) said he suspected the tumor was a "low level malignancy" and there were some possible side effects but he felt he could remove the whole thing. I chose to focus on the "removing the whole thing" instead of letting it sink in that the tumor was malignant or that there were side effects to deal with. I would give reports to my mother in law with a rosey spin because honestly that is all I was hearing, I had to. My mind could not even consider the alternative.

The day of the surgery was a long day. I took some friends up on their offer to babysit so I could stay at the hospital all day. In a weird way it was nice. For a few hours it was only me in the surgical waiting room. I read a book in a quiet room- I haven't done that in ages. It was the one day in the 2 weeks that I was not feeling like I needed to be in two places at once. I just needed to be there. And I knew it was going to be OK. My brother in law and his girlfriend came to meet me and we waited for news.

The doctor finally came 6 hours after surgery began. He had good news, he was able to remove the entire tumor and it had not spread into the brain. We had to wait another few hours to see Adam because he was brought straight over to have another MRI.

Adam was in ICU for 36 hours and in regular recovery for another 3 days. It kind of amazes me how fast his recovery has been. You would think that one wouldn't be able to leave the bed for weeks after brain surgery, but Adam was walking the very next day.

All of our friends have been terrific- some dropping off food, plenty of offers to babysit, and lots of love. Penny's school also stepped up, letting her stay in the afterschool program and even attend school an extra day that she is usually off.

Some nights when I came home for an hour, it was nice to have a glass of wine- I honestly did not pay much attention to the specific flavors or scents. It was just a familiar taste that I enjoy.

Adam's prognosis is great. The entire tumor has been removed. He will have to have MRIs on a regular bases to make sure it doesn't grow back. But as the doctor said this was most likely just a speed bump in life- a big speed bump.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bottle 6

Koehler Sauvignon Blanc 2005

Last Friday night we celebrated the publishing of my husband's first novel, "The Familiars". He and his partner, Andrew, have been successful screenwriters for a few years now, but this is their first novel. Two big boxes arrived at the door and inside were many shiny blue covers. It is very exciting. It is going to be really cool to be able to go to the bookstore and see it on the shelves. The main character is based on the cat that lived in the backyard of our old house. He just sat outside the back door from the day we moved in to the house. He is black and white and has a chip missing from one ear. Even after 7 years of feeding him he would still not let us get too close. I named him Ben. I fed him scraps pretty regularly and he would just lay in the yard or press his little face against the window when I was cooking.

Adam had told Penny a while ago that the book was written for her (Olive was a mere twinkle when they wrote it) and her showed her the part of the dedication that says "For Penny"- being 3, she cannot read, but she does recognize her name in print and being in school where they want everything labeled with the kid's names so things don't get lost, Penny, understandably, thought ALL of the books belonged to her. We had to explain that she can have one book and though she may see the books in stores (or hopefully in people's hands) that they, in fact, do not all belong to her.

The delivery of the books coincided with "indoor date night". Adam and I started the Friday night tradition when Penny was around one. As most parents know, it can be hard to find a sitter and get quite expensive to go out- so this is our answer. Every other night of the week we eat an early dinner with the girls and then watch TV after they go to bed. On Fridays, Adam and I put the girls to sleep and then get sushi take out and actually get to talk. I love date night. It is a great time to relax and enjoy each other's company and catch up. Lately we have to make sure that each of us are caught up on popular events. Having 2 small kids, I will admit, I haven't looked at a newspaper since Penny was born and I cannot watch the news because our TV is permanently set to Nick Jr. I am embarrassed to admit, but I find out most news now from Facebook updates. If I see a friend posted something interesting then I Google it and catch up. So last night we discussed how we were glad that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and how we are glad that we are usually in agreement with our political views. Oh- and we discovered a bonus to our new house. It happens to have a terrific (and cheap) sushi place around the corner!

Even though we were celebrating a pretty big deal, I chose to open a not so pricey wine since Adam doesn't like wine that much and I can only have a glass a night since I am breastfeeding. This wine was a great example of a great food pairing. Neither Adam or I liked the wine much on it's own- it tasted very much like apple juice to me, but we both agreed that drinking it with our sushi elevated it an made it not so sweet. It made for a great date night celebration.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bottle 5

Carignan Vin De Pays De L'aude 2007

I just opened this bottle because I needed a drink. I drink wine because I like the taste. I often have it with dinner because I like the way wine pairings elevate the food and the wine. Rarely have I opened a new bottle of wine because I just really need a drink, but after just spending the last hour and a half listening and watching my 3yr sob herelf to sleep, I need a drink.

It all started a few months ago when the monsters came to our old house. She was scared, genuinely scared so Adam agreed to sit with her to help her go to sleep. What a Pandora's box we opened. Soon she was waking twice a night and coming into our room asking one of us to sit with her in the middle of the night. Somewhere in the past 2 months the fear seemed to go away, but we were left with a bad habit. We let it go on because we knew if we didn't a massive meltdown would occur and we had a new baby in a small house so the tantrum would affect everyone. After consulting many parents and even Penny's doctor, we were told to just wait until we moved because that would be a whole new transition and why put ourselves through weaning her twice.

It has been getting pretty bad. Bedtime seems to take forever. And not only do we have a 5 month old who is waking 2 times a night to eat- we have Penny stumbling into our room asking (quite politely) if one of us will sit with her. I admit- it is much, much easier to do it then to deal with the tantrum (especially in the middle of the night when she falls back to sleep within 3 min). And- Penny wakes up at 5:30, she always has. So these days I do not look forward to nighttime.

I really, truly hoped that once we moved into "the big, new house" as Penny calls it, that she would be so excited about her pink and purple room with princess decals on the wall and the princess sheets and the princess book ends and the princess coat rack and the princess hangers that she would want to go to sleep in her nirvana of a room all by herself and we wouldn't have to go through "toughing it out". (I also wished that the new twin bed would be soooo much more comfortable than the toddler bed that she would all of a sudden sleep until 8am) I even had a home inspector tell her that he was installing "monster traps" outside the house and she repeated to me on many occasions that there were no monsters in the new house. Silvermist (one of Tinkerbell's friends, for those of you who are not moms to a girl under the age of 6) even sent her a package of pixie dust (by way of my mother) to help ward off all things scary. None of it seemed to work.

So we find ourselves having to deal with an hour and a half of tantrums until she finally, exhausted and puffy eyed, gives in to sleep.

I have to say, I have been drinking this wine as I write and it is quite tasty. It is a red wine and on the label it says "VERY OLD VINES" so I guess that means something. It is a good everyday wine. Nothing fancy, just tastes like a nice red wine.

And one last side note- after dealing with Penny for so long while I didn't let Adam help out (he gives in too easily). I was deciding, out loud, whether I should open a bottle of wine and have a drink or have my super yummy tres leches cake from Portos (best bakery in LA) and Adam said, "Why can't you have both"- good answer.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bottle 4

2004 Rancho Sisquoc Sisquoc River Red

I enjoyed this bottle of wine with a dear, dear friend of mine. We have known each other for 16 yrs (gasp!). Though we have always shared a love of cooking and wine, we discovered a few years ago that we are dine out buddies. We love eating out and occasionally splurging on a really nice meal. Our significant others do not feel the same joy. Though my husband loves a good meal, he prefers when I prepare it and even though he likes eating out, I always see him wince, just a little, if the check is over $40 (lucky for him I am a very good cook). I always feel that I have to order the least expensive thing on the menu and forget about getting that $15 drink. My friend, the Professor, has the same situation. His significant other thinks eating at a place that serves $10 sandwiches is a fancy meal out- I can say that because he also is a great friend of mine. So the Professor and I decided that we would enjoy a meal at a nice restaurant with each other more than with our significant others. In fact once a year we really spurge on a 5 course meal with wine pairings at a restaurant in the OC called The Hobbit- it is a fabulous night out.

So after weeks of craziness with moving and living amongst boxes, I texted the Professor (he rarely answers his phone) that I desperately needed a night out. He suggested a place in Eagle Rock called Four Cafe. It is a new place that provides a local and sustainable menu- which is all the rage here in LA. And it is BYOB- so obviously I brought the wine. The food was great- and super reasonable (I don't think it would elicit that wince from Adam).

Our conversation, as usual, was all over the map. We do our dinners about once every 2 months so there is catching up on jobs, friends, relationships. We laugh, we talk about the food we are eating and if we have found any good recipes. One thing I love that the Professor does is pick one food that he researches and tests to find the best recipe for- after last night's dessert he announced the search is on for the best peanut butter cake.

We both enjoyed the wine alot- it tasted of blackberries with a small hint of cinnamon. It paired well with our heirloom tomato gazpacho that had the faintest hint of chipotle. Luckily we chatted up the chef/owner, Michelle and I offered her a glass of our red and she gave us each a taste of her Sauvignon Blanc that paired nicely with the almond and green tea encrusted mahi mahi- yummy. The whole evening was great- good wine, good food, great conversation, an old friend...It got me thinking, does good company make wine taste better? I really enjoyed this red wine and I wonder if the setting of when and where one is opening a bottle of wine affect one's taste of it. I think I will have to research this topic a little more- hopefully by then the Professor has found the perfect peanut butter cake and I will crack open one of my dessert wines.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bottles 2 & 3

2006 Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
2004 Koehler Chardonnay Santa Ynez Valley

As I mentioned, I won most of my new wine stash in a raffle at my eldest daughter's preschool. The raffle was to be held during the very schmancy dinner dance fundraiser that I could not attend since it was planned for 4 days after my due date. So I bought 5 raffle tickets for the wine...and won. I felt it was only fair to share some of my loot with the parents who supplied the winnings. So I invited the moms from Penny's class over to our old (currently empty) house so we could be in a kid free space for a little wine, cheese and gossip.

3 women came. It was really nice to chat with them because it was some moms that I didn't know so well. Penny is a girly girl and asks for playdates with other girls and 2 of the moms who came have boys and the other mom has a daughter that, until very recently, only had class with Penny one day a week so they don't know each other very well either.

After covering the basics of where we were from, we chatted about the common ground that we share; the school, our kid's teachers, and the quirks of 3 and 4 year olds. Mom #1 was relieved to hear that her son was not the only kid who doesn't want to wear "bumpy" pants (pants with buttons). Mom #2 had the same issue with her son- he only wants "comfy pants". I have Penny who, since the age of 2 has REFUSED to wear pants- only dresses, preferable of the princess variety.

One topic that I found most interesting is learning about the "nanny mafia". I hadn't heard of this before. Apparently, there is a nanny that is pretty strict with whom she will do playdates with. She is quite tight with some of the other nannies and makes plans with them, but will not hang out with the parents. What!?! Exclusive nanny only playdates? Now I am one of the few moms at this school that does not have a nanny (at least part time). I frequently have playdates with nannies so Penny can play with her friends. I guess I don't mind because when I first graduated college I worked as a nanny (live in for 2 kids) and after that I worked through an agency to do on call babysitting. I never wanted to be considered "the help" (though I guess I technically was) so when presented with a playdate with a nanny, I have no problem with it. Why is it I picture the "nanny mafia" sitting in the back room of the local Baskin Robbins while their charges run amuck similar to Tony Soprano at the strip joint. And why, now that I know of this exclusive clique, I want to try to be the mom who enters the inner circle? Maybe if they like wine...

Speaking of:

I opened one bottle of Chardonnay and one bottle of Cabernet for the party (even though there were only 3, a few more people had RSVP'd and I wanted the option of a red or a white). I will admit- I just do not like Chardonnay. I know for many it is there white wine of choice, but I do not have a taste for it. Usually I find it to "oaky". This Koehler was not very "oaky" but just had an off taste- it hadn't turned -but it wasn't for me. I did taste tropical notes in it- and I think that is what I don't like- I don't like pineapple or papaya in my wine.

The Cabernet was good, but not great. It had a lot of berry flavors like many red wines. I liked it, but I think I would have been disappointed if I spent the $40 on it. But it worked well for a night to make a few new friends.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bottle 1

Veuve Cliquot N.V.
As I mentioned in my first entry, we recently bought a house. Seven years ago, a month into our marriage, my husband, Adam and I bought our first home with the intention of staying there for 4-5 years. It was a small 1100 sq foot 2 bedroom 1 bath house in a suburb of LA. It was a great house and perfect for the 2 of us, even perfect for the 3 of us when our first daughter, Penny came along. Though since she was out of diapers she has been telling us that we needed another potty. And once we had our youngest daughter, Olive and had to put her crib in the living room, it was clear we needed more space.

So yesterday was moving day- never fun, but doing it with 2 kids under 4- definitely not fun. I actually took the girls out during the time when the movers were doing their thing, so that wasn't bad. It is the whole process of moving your life from one place to another...packing, changing addresses, painting, flooring, service people left and right, dealing with unplanned costs- it is hard to keep your head straight (and I should mention we only moved a mile). It is why I find myself feeling horribly guilty that I have nothing, NOTHING, to pack for my daughter's lunch tomorrow. I happen to be at the supermarket today picking up some lunch for myself, but my mind is so full of moving related things that I literally did not think past, "Hmmm that chicken melt sandwich sounds good." Did I swing by the deli counter and pick up some turkey? No. Did I wander down the frozen section and pick up a pizza? Nope. Did I even consider buying one of those over processed, gross looking Lunchable things? Never crossed my mind. And what really kills me is that I know, in the pantry of the old house- just one mile away- is a perfectly fine package of bowtie pasta that Penny would love to take to school, but do I have enough energy to change out of my PJs, get in the car, drive over to get the pasta and bring it back here to cook? Sadly no. We will just have to stop at the market in the morning.

Oh- the wine, actually Champagne (again, my mind is too full of things). I knew that I wanted to open something nice to celebrate our move. I was glad to find out that my brother in law and his girlfriend were coming over to help out. I know that they both like wine, unlike my husband, so I could justify opening a fancy bottle for all of us to share. It was lovely, I usually buy a cheap Cava or sparkling wine when there is a celebration, so to open a rather famous Champagne felt special, and appropriate. We paused in the middle of the day, after the movers had gone to pop the bottle open. A little burst of bubbles poured out of the top and I poured 4 glasses (and a glass of sparkling water for my 3 year old). It tasted much fruitier than the cheap sparklers that I am used to and the bubbles didn't seem as harsh. It was the perfect treat to toast the "big new house" as Penny calls it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Beginning

I have found myself with an abundance of wine this year. First, I won a raffle at my daughter's school where I won 92 bottles of wine. It happened 10 days after giving birth to my second daughter, so I thought it was Karma because I had just gone almost a year with only a couple of sips of wine. Then a few months later, we bought a new house. The sellers offered to leave their wine fridge (which I gladly excepted having recently acquired an instant collection), when we took ownership of the house I saw that they had left a number of bottles of wine in the fridge. I contacted them and they told me that they meant to leave it and they hoped I would enjoy them.
I now believe this is the universe telling me that I should do something productive with all this wine and that I should drink more...after all red wine is healthy :)

I have enjoyed drinking wine for a while now. I am a foodie and a cook and love pairing wines with meals. Many nights I would have a glass of wine with dinner- though up until my win fall it was usually a $5 bottle from Trader Joes. I love wine tasting, though I don't do it very often because my husband doesn't like wine and it is kinda frowned upon to show up at a winery with 2 small children. And even though I really like wine, I don't really know that much about it. I know what the word "terroir" means, but I can't figure out what it tastes like. I know I like red wine, but I never seem to taste "leather, tobacco, or currants"

Which brings me to why I wanted to start a blog. I thought it would give me a reason to crack open the bottles that I now own and help me learn more about it. So I am going to record my life through wine goggles. Each of the 101 bottles I drink... a story.