Saturday, December 26, 2009

what is family?

The holidays have always been a tricky time for me. Part of me gets really upset that somehow no matter how hard you try, the season is full of stress and anxiety. This is the second year that I've tried to alleviate some of that stress and frustration by spending the holidays away from my "family".

The flaw in this plan: I was missing something important and special....

Lucky for me, there are people out there who know I'm an idiot and didn't let me actually spend Christmas alone :) I am an idiot because somehow I forgot that "family" is a bigger circle of people than just those with whom we share our DNA. I discovered that even hundreds of miles from my parents, my Boston family was here for the holidays.

All day I looked forward to Christmas evening, when I knew Patti and Michele were coming over for dinner, wine, and lots of fun girl-time. We started the night with the 2007 Dominique Brunet Pinot Noir. This wine is a little sharp but dynamic. The color was dark fuschia and the body is light with cherry and a little spice. As a cheap-ish Pinot Noir, this wine ain't half bad--as a table wine, it's darn good.

Our second bottle was a gift from Patti - the 2008 Cortijo Rioja. This wine was soft and typical of Rioja. It had some jammy-ness and pleasant ripe fruit with a well-balanced finish. It complemented our holiday dinner very very well.

Our holiday feast was delicious! Patti made a cranberry, blue cheese, and pecan salad, Michele brought over a fruit platter and some cookies from Chris's Cookies. For the main event, I made lasagna with bechamel sauce.

Somehow I ended up with all the leftovers... needless-to-say, I've been eating lasagna and cookies for dinner every day since Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bye Lab Buddy!

So, yesterday my lab said good-bye to Kristen. She's off to become a smart, fun, knowledgeable, high-school science teacher. I'll miss her at work, my running buddy, gossip buddy, assay buddy, etc.

To say good-bye, our boss took us out to lunch at Elephant Walk (oh my $^&* so tasty!)... then I took the "kids" back to my apartment for some Karaoke and continued drinking...

Vasia brought some delicious Tawny Porto:

Let's just say that the evening ended earlier than any of us originally intended :)

I'll miss you Kristen!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Faux-hawks and Birthdays

My birthday party was kick-ass for a number of reasons: so many of my awesome friends showed up - keg-stands - horse races - karaoke - awesome sparkly & ruffled presents - and of course, a mohawk.

When your birthday falls so close to Christmas, it's easy to feel like you'd be more important if, and only if, you'd been conceived by a virgin.

Luckily, this year my friends went all out to make me feel special. For the purposes of this blog there are a few highlights to share with you:

Wine Aerator!

I took this on my recent ski-vacay for some testing. We poured 2 glasses of wine, one with and one without the aerator. You could totally tell the difference! It made our wines taste a little more smooth, richer, deeper, and more complex. Totally awesome gift! Thanks J!

And Now For The Wines!

My friends know me so well... I got so much tasty wine for my b-day! Woot!

2007 Frei Brothers Reserve: Chardonnay from Northern Sonoma, CA ~Thanks Hugh!

Herding Cats: Pinotage/Merlot from South Africa. ~Thanks Kristen!

Il Valore: Sangiovese from the Puglia region of Italy. ~ Thanks Trish & Ben!

Best of all... Reed went out of his way to find my favorite varietal - AMARONE

For Amarone, only the ripest recie ("ears") of the grape bunches are picked in late October, then dried under shelter in the open air in flat wood crates holding 7 kilos until January/February (appassimento method). Fermentation of the raisined, non-botrytis affected grapes is done in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts and can last 20-30 days. Aged 1 year in stainless, 4-5 years in Slovenian oak botte (casks). Average production: 3000-3500 cases per vintage.

IN OTHER WORDS, its a very rare, and expensive, imported wine. AND DELICIOUS!!! I can't say enough about this wine. It is a powerful, intense red with concentrated black cherry and jammy-ness. It is dense, rich, dry and has firm tannins while also being incredibly well-balanced.

The second wine he gave me is another of Italy's prize wines, SFORZATO (which translates to withering or strained).

Sforzato is a very special wine obtained uniquely from Nebbiolo grapes that are left to ripen for a longer period than is required for the production of regular wines. Its quality depends not so much on technical matters as on climatic conditions and the quality of the grapes. It is thus an embodiment of the uniqueness of this Alpine territory.

My Sforzato was deep red with an intense bouquet, ethereal and very complex. Full-bodied, structured, and velvety. This was a great sipping wine, and we spent the evening enjoying it next to the fireplace in our Waterville Valley "chateau".

An internet search revealed that "Sforzato is the pride of Valtellina and one of the greatest wines of Italy. Its unrivaled complexity and elegance makes it a premium wine from Lombardy. It is a vintage wine only produced during propitious harvests and is truly a connoisseur’s delight."