February

The other day Bob and I did one of our favorite things – wine on the back patio. We had a nice glass with dinner, then finished them outside enjoying the warm weather. The pets joined us and I love the shot of Alinea on the table. You can’t see her very well, but I still love how it came out.

In the glass is a Gruner Veltliner that I love. We’ve also tried a Nebbiolo recently and while I generally really like Nebbiolo, I didn’t like this one. I tried to have it with food, but I just could not get past the Robitussin taste.

Pet pictures (’cause they are cute):

 

La Crema – Pinot Noir, 2015

  • Basic info: La Crema Pinot Noir, Monterey, CA – 2015
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate:$19 (local wine store)
  • Look: Garnet colored with minimal translucency. Good legs.
  • Smell: Fruit, berries, specifically raspberry and strawberry
  • Taste: Ripe strawberry and cherry with some mineral notes. Almost no tannin. Smooth wine with good, but not overpowering acid. Nice long finish with notes of blackberry and darker fruit.
  • Conclusions: Really nice drinking wine. Smooth and enjoyable.
  • Other notes: The weather finally turned nice here and one afternoon after work I decided to have a glass of wine before making dinner because I just wanted to. It was a long day a work and I wanted to enjoy the sun and warm temperatures, especially after being so cold all of January and at work every day. We picked this up on a whim at our local wine store. I thought I recognized the winery, but wasn’t 100% certain. I’m still not certain if it is the same winery that I think it is, but it was a lovely wine – so much so that we picked up another bottle of it the next time we were at the wine store.
  • From the bottle: “Aromas of black plum, cherry, rhubarb and hints of earth and loam. Flavors of red plum, raspberry and blood orange are underpinned by distinctive river stone minerality and savory umami character. Plush and richly textured with juicy, yet balanced acidity and integrated toasty barrel spice.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.

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Gardening

I wasn’t going to do any gardening this year. In Florida we plant in the fall – October-ish and this past fall I was a little busy. However, after school finished, I decided to clean up the garden a little and plant a few things. You can plant into December and maybe even into January, so I did.

The tomatoes, jalapeño and kale are all doing well. I started with everything in pots and was pretty glad I had when the cold snaps hit in January. It is way easier to cover plants in pots near the house than it is to cover the garden. I ended up moving the kale to where the garden should be because it needed more space, more light and more air circulation. To prevent Arthas from eating said kale (yes, he eats kale), I used a bit of gardening fence we had. So far everything is looking really good.

IMG_20180211_105705.jpgWhen I moved the kale, I also cleaned up the herbs and I ended up with a bunch of oregano. I have plenty left in the garden, but I didn’t want to waste what I cut so I decided to dry them. Finding a place to hand the oregano where the pets would not get to it, I wouldn’t forget about it and they would get plenty of air was a little tricky, but I just attached them to the window in the kitchen and two weeks late – fresh dried oregano! It isn’t as pretty as the cat grass and catnip that I have planted, but it is pretty all the same. Arthas and Alinea really like the cat grass.

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I was pretty proud of my little efforts and I think they are starting to pay off. We’ve used a few jalapeño and some herbs in some dishes recently and I even had a kale salad with kale from the garden. The tomatoes look fantastic – I’ve cut them back once, but the plant just seems to keep growing, so I’m going to just let it be. I counted four clusters of tomatoes right now, and there are a bunch of flower clusters that give me hope for lots and lots of tomatoes until summer.

Gustave Lorentz – Riesling, 2015

  • Basic info: Gustave Lorentz, Riesling Reserve, Alsace, France – 2015
  • Type: white
  • Price estimate: $17 (from Weekly Tasting)
  • Look: Pale yellow, translucent with minimal legs when cold.
  • Smell: Stone fruit, granite and lemon
  • Taste: Apple, white peach, lemon flower. Tart wine with a really good acidity. Almost no sweetness, but not harsh. Long lingering finish with notes of honey on the end.
  • Conclusions: This was an excellent wine and probably one of my favorite Rieslings. It has a lot of complexity, yet was easy to drink and fairly elegant. The wine was crisp and clean.
  • Other notes: The first two days I had this wine I absolutely loved it, but when I had it again a few days later (I know, I should never save wine for a week – see previous post about the constant coming and going illness) it just fell flat. It wasn’t bad, but all the tartness went out of the wine and it just was not as enjoyable. The lesson to be learned here is to always finish the bottle within two days.
  • From the bottle: “Delicately fruity and racy, this wine is showing aromas of papaya, green apples, peach and lemon. The palate is light with nice tropical and mineral tones fairly crisp with some citrus on the finish.” 12.5 % alcohol by volume.

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Cantina Di Sorbara – Lambrusco, NV

Initially I planned to do this as a regular wine post, but after acquiring this bottle I decided it needed something special.

Back when I started this wine adventure, I listed out the major varietals and styles of wine that I wanted to try to “complete” my education. I based my list on the varietals listed in the Wine Folly book and decided that I needed to acquire a bottle and drink a glass of the varietal in order to check off the varietal in my list. (Yes, there is a spreadsheet with notes for each varietal also but that is a different story.) I’ve made a good dent in this list as many of the varietals, even some odd ones, proved not that difficult to acquire thanks to the internet and inter-state shipping. One wine that eluded me, however, was Lambrusco.

Over the last year I’ve checked my usual suppliers – Total Wine, the local wine shop, my internet sources – multiple times, but Lambrusco proved difficult to find. I was cautious abut the type of Lambrusco to pick up after listening to a podcast (Wine for Normal People if anyone wants an easy to listen to wine podcast) and hearing the stories of the horrible, sickeningly sweet wine that is generally Lambrusco in the U.S.; I really wanted to try a good, dry version of the wine.

When Bob and I were at our local wine shop around the holidays I saw a bottle of Lambrusco on the shelf. This was new and it was pretty inexpensive so I decided to try it. As I picked up the bottle one of the staff commented that he didn’t realize I liked sweet red wine. I told him I didn’t and he said, “don’t buy that.” I told him about my quest to try the major varietals and styles and this one was proving difficult so I thought I would take a chance. He just kept asking if I liked sweet red wine and when I would say no he repeated, “don’t buy that, you won’t like it.” After a few rounds of this conversation, the owner of the shop came over and said, “you like sweet red wine?” I told him the story of my quest and the difficulty I had finding Lambrusco so I decided to give it a go, knowing that I probably would not like it. Carmen, the owner, told me not to buy the bottle in my hand and said he would bring me a bottle of a good, dry Lambrusco from his cellar. I told him I just wanted to try the varietal and was ok with not liking it. He insisted and so I gave up. I kind of figured that if two people in the business of selling wine are telling me to not buy something, and one of them is offering to give me a bottle of the thing I am trying to buy, I had to just give in. Part of me thought that this offer was something that would be forgotten in the light of day and I didn’t think much about it after that.

Fast forward to February. Since most of January I spent getting sick or getting over being sick, we didn’t attend the Friday wine tastings at the local shop for most of the month. When we did arrive in the beginning of February the first thing Carmen said to me was that he had a bottle of dry Lambrusco in the back for me. I was pretty surprised. I was really touched too. How often does someone do something nice for someone they only tangentially know? It was a really nice feeling. So two bottles (yes, two not one) of Lambrusco came home with us earlier this month and we opened one because I just had to.

The results – it was one of the most interesting wines I’ve tasted.

Look: Slightly translucent raison colored wine. No noticeable fizz in the glass.

Smell: Prune, strawberry, some sugar and overripe fruit.

Taste: Light, not very bubbly but definitely fizzy. Little prune flavor and a lot like port. raison, red fruits – kind of juicy.

Conclusions: I loved this bottle not because I was ga-ga over the wine, but because of how I acquired it. I did drink a few glasses of this over a couple of days and while I can’t say it is my favorite, I did enjoy it. I’m not a port fan, finding it too heavy, so this was a nice alternative. I loved the texture of the wine in my mouth and how interesting it was. I do think this was a fantastic wine when it was younger (both Carmen and Robin told me it was an older bottle) and it might be a bit past its peak. I have every intention of opening the other bottle in the near future and enjoying it fully – probably after I get over this round of being sick – on the back patio on a beautiful day to remind me how lucky I am. Sometimes wine is wine and sometimes it is much more than that.

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Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Every now and then I get a craving for something that reminds me of childhood. It doesn’t have to be something I ate as a kid, but it tends to be the flavors that kids would typically eat. This craving was for sloppy joes.

I’ve only made sloppy joes once or twice before, so I didn’t have a whole lot to go on. Thankfully the internet has a treasure trove of recipes that I could refer to, but after reading about ten of them I decided to just wing it. The result – pretty darn good. I ended up taking the leftovers to work for lunch for a few days, so not only did I satisfy my sloppy joe craving, I was able to pack an actual (not cheese and carrots) lunch.

The second time I made this I reversed the order when adding the textured vegetable protein and the tomatoes, and I used only sauce since that is what I had on hand. I like adding the tvp at the end, but crushed tomatoes work better in the sauce – just a little more texture.

Recipe:

  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 tsp jalapeno (chopped fine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups rehydrated textured vegetable protein (I used vegetable broth to rehydrate)
  • 15 oz of crushed tomatoes/tomato sauce (I used about 7 oz crushed and 8 oz sauce)
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for pan
  • favorite hamburger bun for serving.

Heat pan with oil then add onion and jalapeño. Cook stirring occasionally for about five minutes, until onion is soft. Add garlic and cook about a minute more.  Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato/sauce, cumin, chili powder, brown sugar and soy sauce to pan with onion and stir to combine. Cook over medium high heat for about three minutes then add the TVP and combine well. Cook over medium low heat for about five minutes until everything is heated through and sauce is just a little thick. Taste and adjust seasoning.

I like to toast the bund before piling the sloppy joe mix onto the bun, but that is not strictly necessary.

LEvangelho Vineyard Heritage – Red Blend, 2016

  • Basic info: Bedrock Wine Company Evangelho Vineyard Heritage Red Blend, Contra Costa County, CA – 2016
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $30 (from winery)
  • Look: dark purple, almost opaque in the glass. Inky color on glass when swirled. Good legs – easily seen.
  • Smell: black cherry & raspberry
  • Taste: dark fruit, hint of strawberry, little earth and mineral. Smooth, with a little cherry pie taste, but not sweet. No noticeable tannin. Grape flavor on the long finish.
  • Conclusions: Really good wine. Bob liked this one slightly more than I did (I thought the old vine zin was just a touch better) but we both loved it. Easy to drink, lots of complexity but a wine that you don’t need to think about if you don’t want to.
  • Other notes: I didn’t drink much in January, in large part because I was either sick, getting sick or getting over being sick for most of the month. I’m pretty sure this bottle was better than I think it was simply because my taste buds are off – and that is saying something because I thought it was fantastic. This is noe the third wine from Bedrock that we’ve had and we have not been even remotely disappointed by any of them.
  • From the bottle: I forgot to take a picture of the back of the bottle, and we drank this a few weeks ago so I don’t still have the bottle to refer to, so from Bedrock’s site, “this wine is about 60% Zinfandel and 35% Mataro, with the remainder being Carignane, Palomino and a few other odds and ends.  This features racy and vibrant fruit that is pleasantly funkified but the presence of the savory Mataro.  Raised predominately in large foudre, this wine probably resembles a wine from the Southern Rhone as much as a “Zinfandel” from California.  As always, the incredibly suave tannins from the sandy soils at the ranch make for a high-tone and elegant red wine.” 14.1% alcohol by volume.

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