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.