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Posts Tagged ‘BYOB’

This is Just Some Morgan Freeman Death Hoax, Right?

With an authoritative voice and a distinctive kick-you-in-the-gut grittiness, I was saddened to learn that one of my favorite blogs has closed up shop…at least for an undisclosed period of time. 

Katie Gomez Pizzuto, aka Gonzo Gastronomy, said her wordless farewell to the wine blogging community on August 6, 2012.  The ever-feisty, graduate of the “Groucho Marx School of Thought” and admirer of Hunter S. Thompson, penned some of the greatest piss-in-your-pants rants I’ve ever read on any wine blog.  To this day, I still scratch my head in bewilderment that from 2008-2012 Katie never-ever received even one Wine Blog Award for her in-your-face, thought-provoking, original shit.  Now that’s just cray!

I sincerely hope that this is just some Morgan Freeman death hoax because I, for one, am not ready to say, “This is the end, beautiful friend…”

Photo Courtesy of Gonzo Gastronomy


BYOB: Shea Brings Organic Wines to the Party

What do you get when you mix together the freshest local, organic, and sustainable ingredients and accompany them with a guide to help you create delicious, creative and super simple recipes?  The answer:  Shea Hess and her website Hungry in Brooklyn.  The goal of Hungry in Brooklyn and its host, Shea Hess, is to create, explore and document the local, organic, and sustainable food movement in Brooklyn and beyond.
I stumbled across Hungry in Brooklyn earlier this year, while trying to come up with a post about poached eggs and sparkling wine.  Shea’s “Simple in Sixty” YouTube video on “How to poach an egg” immediately grabbed my attention while I was putting the final touches on my post:  it was eye-catching, concise and super easy to follow.
I recently caught up with Shea after she wrapped up filming for Season One of Hungry in Brooklyn, and asked if she would kindly share a wine-related story with WineLife365 readers.  With much enthusiasm she agreed to write a BYOB about a recent trip she took with her family:  they were Sideways in Sonoma:)

Photo courtesy of Raphael Rodriguez

I fancy myself a foodie, and I do quite enjoy a glass or four of wine each night.  As a host of a cooking show focusing on local and sustainable ingredients, I’ve been so inspired by visiting the places where our food comes from, whether it’s a heritage breed turkey farm in New Jersey or an oyster farm in Montauk. And while people these days are placing a lot of emphasis on organic FOOD, many of us don’t think twice about our libations. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that wine can seem a bit intimidating in the first place – then you start swirling words around like organic and biodynamic, and it seems more complicated than using a fancy corkscrew.

But the good news is that there are plenty of small growers and winemakers out there dedicated to making beautiful wines in a sustainable way.  Perhaps the most interesting thing to note is that you don’t necessarily need to see an organic seal of approval for wine to actually be organic.  Many family and small-scale winemakers have been using organic practices for decades, maybe even centuries, and aren’t interested in paying the premium price for the organic label. The best rule of thumb is to trust your wine shop and just ask. 

Seems like a little bit more work to out these wines, right?  So why bother?  Well, consider this: large-scale wine makers are in the business of consistency. Stabilizers, sulfites, and chemicals are added to the wines to ensure that each vintage tastes the same. In addition, grapes are not an easy crop to grow. Many large wine-makers use fertilizers and pesticides that I wouldn’t want in my food, so I certainly don’t need it in my wine.

This past winter, my family and I did a tour of small-vineyard and organic wineries in Sonoma County, California. We hired a chauffeur to take us around from vineyard to vineyard – which I would 100 percent recommend.  No one has to worry about being the designated driver, AND the chauffeur will know more than you could ever imagine about the regions, the vineyards, and even the wines. (Not to mention, they’ll give you a complimentary bottle of champagne to enjoy as you gaze at out the window at the rolling hills). 

Because the vineyards we visited were so small – we’re talking a production of less than 5,000 cases a year—the winemakers were often right there in the tasting rooms.  As a result, we were able to have a deeper connection with and understanding of the wine because we met its maker. It’s easy to appreciate every sip when you understand the craft, the artistry, and the labor that goes into each barrel. I’ll never look at a bottle of wine the same way again, and I’ll cherish the memories I have with my family on that beautiful day in December.
Quivira (Dry Creek Valley) – This wine is absolutely delicious.  It’s organic and biodynamic, and even has garden plots where local chefs can farm produce for their restaurants.  The vineyard is gorgeous with a comfortable tasting room.  $5 waived with the purchase of a bottle.

Stryker (Alexander Valley) -  My favorite bottle was the Malbec; they also had delicious Zinfandels, which is what the Dry Creek Valley is renowned for. 

Porter Creek (Russian River Valley) – This region is known for their pinot noirs, and Porter Creek makes some of the best.  They are not available in stores, but you can order online and through their wine club.

Hawley (Healdsburg) – Hawley is a father/son operation with a vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley and a tasting room in downtown Healdsburg.  They take their organic wines very seriously, and even employ the use of hawks for pest control through the art of falconry. 

Photo courtesy of Raphael Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of Raphael Rodriguez

Thanks Shea!  Great information and I liked your means of transport!  :) All the best to Hungry in Brooklyn, and “Cheers!” to another great season!
For more great tips in the kitchen and ideas for preparing delicious meals using local, organic, and sustainable ingredients, please visit Hungry in Brooklyn.

BYOB: P. Collins Pours Her Own Thoughts on a Beer Book

Earlier this year, I had the great pleasure of being an associate editor of The Wine Trials 2011.  The Wine Trials 2011 is a wine guide that showcases 175 wines under $15 that beat $50+ bottles of wine in a series of brown-bag blind tastings.  I’d like to share with you a new blind tasting adventure that my buds at Fearless Critic lived to talk about, called The Beer Trials.   Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to partake in this adventure or even have one frothy Belgium Blonde – beer that is!  :)  

Because of my involvement with The Wine Trials 2011, I thought that it would be best to keep my mouth shut, with my butt firmly planted on the couch in front of the TV watching football while my Sunday beer pal, P. Collins, poured out her thoughts on The Beer Trials.

Here’s P. Collins’ assessment of The Beer Trials…

When Mark asked me to review The Beer Trials I figured – sure, I like to read and I like beer.  Reviewing a book ABOUT beer should be a snap – right?

Let me start off by sharing what I personally liked about the book before sharing what I disliked about it.

I loved, loved, loved the actual beer ratings themselves (pages 60+).  As I read through the beer ratings I had a feeling much like I had as a kid when my family would get the new Sears Christmas catalog and I’d page through the toy section marking off all the items I wanted Santa to bring me.  I love beer, but with living in the first state, I must say that the selection of beers in local stores is fairly vanilla, so it was great just being able to read about the different beers that are out there in the world beyond my small state’s borders.  

Also helpful in the reviews was the price indicator – so I know which beers I’ll need to take out a second mortgage to buy.  I also tried very hard to “study” or at least take an interest in the Family/Style of each beer – I felt the need to come away at least somewhat more educated about beer than when I started the book.

As for my dislikes of The Beer Trials, I think I can sum it up into two chapters – namely 1 and 2.  I literally had to re-read the first two chapters of the book 3 times and felt like I needed to pursue my PhD in order to get through the first two chapters.   If I were reading this book on my own and didn’t feel compelled to finish it for purposes of this review, I probably would have put it down after trying to read chapters 1 & 2 the first time (and that would have been a shame because I would have missed out on all the great review information).  I felt like the authors were trying to tell me something in those chapters that would be important for me as I read further, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure it out.  The first couple of chapters just felt way too “intellectualized” for me.  But, it should be noted, that I’m more of a “boil it all down and give me the basics” kind of person.  I didn’t need all the detail or all the science behind the experiment to “get it”.

One other thing that was just…well… weird to me was the inclusion of “design” comments in the beer reviews – commentary on the labels or the bottles.   Just seemed really out of place and sort of had me scratching my head wondering what the point of that was.

So, is The Beer Trials for you?  If you are someone who likes beer and reading about different kinds of beer, yes, it’s for you – just skip to chapter 4 and then the beer reviews.  If you are a science geek who likes beer and reading about beer then you might consider this your holy grail.

Thank you P. Collins sharing your thoughts on The Beer Trials!

If you are interested in purchasing or finding out more about The Beer Trials or The Wine Trials 2011, you can find them both at Amazon.  They might make for a nice, inexpensive gift for the beer or wine lovers in your life.

BYOB: Carey and Rob Bring It, Get It, And Share It

He loves wine; she loves fashion.  But together, one thing’s for sure – Carey and Rob over at Corks & Caftans sure know how to live it up – Livin’ la Vida Loca style!  Apart from that though, they also know how to pay it forward and share the wealth with others, as you’ll soon find out in their BYOB Post.

Take it away C & C!       

It’s hard not to wonder how “the other half” lives.  Being enthusiasts of the finer things (wine and fashion, respectively) that tend to comprise the more expensive, less necessary things in life, we are well aware where each dollar goes, and enjoy these material things to the fullest, albeit, for what they are—little pleasures.  And when it comes to wine, it’s all about the experience—the indulgence—with full appreciation for what went into it.

“The other half” does things like order astonishing bottles of wine, have a glass each, then sign the bill and leave the bottle on the table.  Our friend, Meg, author of blog The Maker’s Table, sent out a tweet describing this scene a few weeks ago:  “Two tables over, they order a Ridge Monte Bello, 2000. They drink a glass each, pay, and go.  Next table gets the bottle.  Lucky dogs.”  Sigh.  The other half.

Photo Courtesy of Corks and Caftans

There was one night, however, where we found ourselves sandwiched right between both halves.  For our first anniversary, we journeyed back to Nantucket, the place of our nuptials.  We were huddled inside Black Eyed Susan’s on a blustery, cold Grey Lady night.  We’d brought a bottle we bought in Napa during our honeymoon from Rubicon, Edizione Pennino.  The couple at the table next to us were astonishingly good-looking, well-dressed, and wrapping up a meal with two open bottles. (BES’s is a BYOB joint, and a fun place to keep your eyes out for what others are bringing in.)

Photo Courtesy of Corks and Caftans

We were talking about the wine and taking notes for a post, and this caught their attention.  As they got up to leave, they offered us the rest of their (very expensive, very lovely) bottles to enjoy—a white and a red.  He mentioned he was a wine distributor, and she was in fashion.  We swooned.

Photo Courtesy of Corks and Caftans

Photo Courtesy of Corks and Caftans

You know that thing—and don’t try to say you haven’t done it!—when something really fantastic happens, and you wait until you’ve got a moment alone, and you do the happy dance.  The victory shake.  The jump’n’clap.  We totally did.  And with more wine than we knew what to do with, we dove into a fabulous meal.

When we broke to lift our heads, we noticed we were the only ones left in the restaurant.  The kitchen—which is completely open and basically inside the dining room—was closing up shop. The chef and sous chef were behind the bar chatting.  We looked at one another, then stood up with the bottles in hand.

We spent the next hour sharing the bottles with the remaining staff, talking shop, talking wine, and talking island life.  It was so incredible to get to share this gift from complete strangers with those who had slaved away to create such an amazing meal for us.  The upper echelon of the wine world, the culinary magicians working behind the scenes to earn their keep, and the two that fall somewhere in between.

See, that’s the thing about wine lovers—and it doesn’t matter where you fall in the mix.  It’s about passion and sharing.  It was a perfect anniversary dinner we’ll never forget.

Thanks Carey and Rob for sharing your WineLife experience with us!

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