Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wine Wednesday - Rosé!

With spring time comes one of my favorite types of wine - rosé!  There's not too much better than sitting on the back deck on a beautifully sunny day with a nice, chilled bottle of rosé.  

Rosé has gotten a bad rap over the years with the creation of white zinfandel.  People see pink and they think it's going to be sweet and low quality.  This is such a misconception!  Typically rosé wines are made from red grape varietals such as Syrah, Grenache and Pinot Noir.  The pink color comes because the juice of the grapes, which is white or more clear in color, is left on the skins, which are red, for a short period of time.  Depending on how a particular winemaker does it, this can be just a few hours to a couple of days.  This is where the pink color comes from.

We have already had a couple wonderful bottles of rosé this spring.  The tricky part about telling you which ones we love is that usually they aren't available on the east coast...or really, anywhere other than the tasting room or winery's club.  Some winemakers will make a rosé just for fun, to see how it turns out, and will make a very small amount.  Whenever we're traveling and find that someone we're visiting makes one, we ask beg to try it, usually love it, and buy some to bring home.  So this summer, we're on a mission to find some good, cheap bottles of rosé that you can pick up at the grocery store or big wine store.

The first one that we tried is going to look familiar if you've read other Wine Wednesday posts - I talked about their Rhone blend a couple of months ago - Chateau L'Ermitage.


The Rhone Valley has lots rosés, and ones you can find here!  I have a few on the list to try this season.  

For $10, we picked this bottle up at Total Wine.  It's a screw cap, too, which makes it perfect for picnics, Gold Cup, or other activities where you wouldn't necessarily have a corkscrew handy.  It wasn't in the regular Rhone section of Total Wine, you have to look for it a bit in the rosé section.  I definitely recommend it - and for $10 you can't beat it!

Don't be scared of (good) pink wines - they are wonderful, especially with warm sunny days!  Cheers!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Beer BBQ Chicken

This winter/spring, I have really tried to use the crockpot a lot more than before...which, seeing that I'd only made 1 or 2 meals in it ever, it wasn't a huge feat... But I have really fallen in love.  Pork, chili, bolognese sauce, bbq...there are so many options!

When I saw this post on one of the other blogs I read, and noticed at the very bottom the words 'beer bbq chicken.'  I knew it would be perfect to make while M was out running 50 miles.

© 2012 Bobby Gill
 What a great surprise - to come home to a house that smelled amazing and have bbq chicken for dinner!

serves about 8-10

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 large)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces of beer (I used Dale's Pale Ale)
32 ounces of barbecue sauce

Season chicken with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add to crockpot, then add beer and 24 ounces of barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours, tossing once or twice if desired. After 8 hours, shred and add remaining barbecue sauce. Toss chicken to coat and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving to absorb everything. Serve as desired.

I didn't even really have to shred it - the chicken just fell apart as I tried to get it out of the crockpot with the tongs.  It doesn't get any easier, or tastier, than this.  It makes a ton, but you could always use less of everything...or just eat it for almost every meal like we H did for a week!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Paso Robles Grand Tasting

Last Wednesday, H and I attended the Paso Robles Grand Tasting event at the Hotel Palomar downtown DC.  A couple of weeks ago, I saw on Twitter that the We Love DC blog was giving away 2 we both entered...and H won!  

When we arrived, we checked in, grabbed a glass, and headed into the very crowded room.  They had the wineries set up around the perimeter of the room, all with a little sign with their name.  There were about 30 wineries represented at the event - some had their wine makers there, some the sales/marketing person from the winery, and some had a local distributor.  They actually had 2 rooms because not everyone fit in the first one... Also there were some cheese and charcuterie trays set up in 2 spots in the room - right where the columns in the first photo are.  

Since we typically aren't fans of wine festivals and big crowds like this one, at first it was a bit overwhelming.  We didn't know a lot of the wineries, but recognized a few and decided to start there.  We ended up visiting 6 tables, but I'm going to tell you about our 3 favorites.

We stopped at Tablas Creek first.  They are owned by Perrin & Fils, the same group who owns La Vieille Ferme from a past Wine Wednesday. We certainly enjoyed talking to their distributor and tasting the 3 wines he had with him.  

Sorry for the blurry iPhone pictures!

Next we stopped and talked with Ted Plemons, one of the partners at Cass Winery.  He was fantastic, and so were his wines.  They make primarily Rhone varietals, and we loved tasting his wines and talking to him.  He had a line at his table most of the night!  

After visiting with him, he sent us to meet Sherman Thacher, from Thacher Winery.  They are a relatively newer, boutique winery focusing on Rhone blends and Zinfandels.  He was great too, really nice and fun to talk to.  His wines were delicious also!  

The actual ticket price was $60 each, and I'm definitely glad that we didn't spend that amount (although, isn't that easy to say when you get anything for free?!). The wines were good, and it was nice to have such a large number of wineries to choose from...but the small amount of food was a little disappointing.  Some of the information we had read indicated there would be cheese and hors d'oeuvres, but there really wasn't.  It was fine for us, but if I'd paid the full price, I would have been a little underwhelmed. 

Overall it was a nice event, and I'm glad we were able to attend.  I'm so glad we found Cass and Thacher, and got to know Tablas Creek a little better.  I will certainly be on the lookout for their wines on restaurants' lists and in stores!  And Paso Robles might need to be added to the list for next wine region to visit! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Play ball!

One of the best parts about spring is the return of baseball!  Over the last couple of years, I have really come to love baseball and going to games at Nats Park.  It's a great warm weather DC activity.

Yesterday was the home opener for the 2012 season.  The team has been on the road for the first week of the season, so it was exciting to have them finally back at home.  The team is off to a great start this year and there was definitely a buzz in the park!

The opening ceremonies were beautiful and gave a great tribute to our military, honoring them in several different ways.  

It was a great day at the park, and while they tried to give it away in the 9th inning, ended up winning in the 10th.  They are off to a 5-2 start, and apparently the best start of a MLB team in DC since 1951!  Granted...there were a few years in the middle without a team in town...but it's still a fun stat!  

We are looking forward to many more fun days and evenings in DC at Nats Park!

Go Nationals! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring resolutions

Since spring is in full swing, it's time to come up with a few 'spring' resolutions.  They are like New Year's resolutions, but without all of the hype.  I choose a few things at the beginning of a season to work on or change.  I've done this several times in the past, and have been successful refocusing a couple of times throughout the year on obtainable and reasonable goals.

1.  Clean my desk and keep it (reasonably) straight.  It's a disaster right now.  I'm a relatively 'messy' worker, if you will, but it's pretty bad right now.  I'm not one of those people who will ever have a completely clean and clear desk - just aint gonna happen!  I have to finalize some Conference stuff and get it put away, and things will be much better...

2.  Clean my inbox, both work and gmail, and keep them that way.  I currently have 462 and 96 emails in my inboxes, respectively, so have my work cut out for me!  Things just get lost once they get down below the fold...I'll never be the type of person to have a completely empty inbox, or only 5 emails in there, or anything crazy like that...but the way it is right now isn't working for me either!  (see a theme?)

3.  Be nicer and more polite to strangers.  It's amazing to me how rude people are to each other.  I was in Starbucks over the weekend, and the barista made a customer 2 drinks, which she went up to get separately, and he thanked her twice.  Neither time did she say you're welcome, thank you, have a good day - just silence to him.  Then in the grocery store yesterday, I physically stopped, backed up, and picked up my cart to move it out of the way so another lady could pass.  Nothing.  Not excuse me, not thank you...just walked right past me.  Maybe if I'm nicer, and more polite, and speak in situations like that, then other people will as well...and people won't be so rude to each other!

4.  Wear what I own!  HA!  This is an ongoing issue I think for most women.  I have a (big) closet full of clothes, but I always 'have nothing to wear!'  I'm going to be better about wearing cute dresses to work rather than just black pants/skirt and a top and mixing and matching things more.  I am wearing a new dress to work today, and am loving it!

5.  See our friends more.  I got an email from a girlfriend in town last night inviting H and I to dinner.  She said in her email that she and her husband were going to make a better effort to see their friends, and it was like she was reading my mind.  We tend to get into routines either with our significant others or with a select group of friends, and never 'get around to' seeing the others - when all we need to do is to plan things involving the other friends!  A lot of times you have to be the one to reach out first.  I recently was in Chicago and saw 2 different friends - both of them thanked me for reaching out, in those words.  People get into their own routines too, and need a little encouragement to step off the path.  Plus, I have lots of close friends in Richmond who I rarely get to see because we're always so rushed and focused on seeing our parents when we're in town.  So I'm vowing to do better at this.  I'm trying to see a different friend on each trip to town - and just in the last few weeks I've already caught up with 3 of my high school girlfriends, met new babies and a new fiance!

So those are my 5 'spring' resolutions.  Do you ever do this?  Step back in the middle of the year and refocus?  What are you working on personally these days?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring sidewalk project

Through the winter months, we haven't been too ambitious with any house projects...not since we finally finished the kitchen cabinets.  But as the weather turned warmer, it was time to get some things done in the front yard.  

This is not exactly what I had in mind...and wasn't anything I wanted to mess with....but now that it's finished, I will admit that it looks good, and is probably best...

Right.  Now that I got that out of the way.  

With a cracked stone, we were going to have to do a little fixing...but H decided that he wasn't satisfied with just a 'little' fixing.  He wanted to 'do it right.'  So.  Right we did it.  We he dug and dug, moved the dirt clay, then we had a little mishap with tarps and rain...put down a couple layers of gravel, and then sand, and finally the new stones and some smaller rocks.  We've already had a big rain, and nothing washed away - always a good sign!  

I can't really take any credit for this, as it wasn't my idea, and I only did about 1/4 of the work that H did.'s finished, we don't have to walk up the grass and through the bushes to get to the door anymore, or track orange clay into the house.  And hopefully we won't have any more cracked stones!