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Take me to the wine section

Have been meaning to write about many wines over many months.  Finally getting to it.  So, here is a compilation. Hopefully you’ll head to the wine section to grab some.

A friend had this one open last week, Rosa de Arrocal, a nice Spanish wine. Such a deep red rose.  It’s made with tempranillo.  Some nice fruit notes, a tiny bit of rose (the flower) and then I could taste the tiniest, tiniest amount of bubble gum? That’s all I could place it as.  It was a phenomenal wine.  About $12.  I just love the color!

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Next, Peach Canyon (Increbible Red) Zinfandel, from Paso Robles, CA. Side note on that.  I was working a wine tasting the other day and was pouring a Zin. A guy had to ask if it was Red Zin. All Zin that is wine is red. White Zin is not a wine.  If you put the word red in front of the word Zinfandel we have a problem/I do not want to associate with you.

On this label they are just noting that this is an incredible red wine.  So, very nice Zin that pairs well with many foods.  Not too heavy, some nice berry notes and a tiny bit of smoke (one of my favorites in wine).  You can usually find it for between $12-$15.

Also in this shot is one of my favorite inexpensive whites, New Harbor Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.  Has those nice citrusy notes that NZ SBs are known for.  Also the great easy-access (as I like to call it) screw tops that NZ uses.  Fairly dry and a bit acidic in a good way.  Prices range from $7-$10 normally.

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Next…Shoofly Shiraz from South Australia.  A nice versatile Shiraz that can be enjoyed solo or with any food, really.  Lots or berries and spices on there.  Cost is around $12-$15.

Then the Silver Palm Chardonnay. This picture is from a couple months back and they have changed the look of their bottle recently.  I noticed that last weekend in the wine shop.  I’m not a big Chard fan, but did enjoy this one because it’s done in steel not oak. It’s crisp with some lemon and a bit of peach.  Price is around $15, give or take a few dollars.

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Next is Gavi Masera.  This nice Italian vino was enjoyed at my friend’s place pre-dinner, or shall I better say while her husband was preparing (an amazing-to-be dinner). A very light, fruity wine, perfect for a hot summer day.  All tastes in the wine were very light and the color of the wine, almost water-like. Price is mid-teens.

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Another new one was Rawson’s Retreat (yes that link does go to an Australian store, it’s like the US Total Wine). This was a Shiraz Cabernet, oddly enjoyed while eating Ethiopian food. This one is from Australia. Based on what varietals it is from, it had some nice berry notes to it and subtle spice.  It has been hard to find around DC.  I found it at a random grocery store I had been meaning to go into – Snider’s Super Foods – didn’t expect a grocery store in MD to sell wine!  Regardless, price is around $8-$10.

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Now, Smith & Hook.  Enjoyed this after a friend told me to pick the wine for dinner from the wine rack. This one is a Cabernet Sauvignon.  I got some nice fruit and a chocolaty ending.  Bring it on!  The cost…looks like it can be $15-$18.

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Such a kind answer from this wine.  A friend brought this to a party, the Denada Cellars Red Blend. She bought it at Trader Joe’s.  That means I need to cross the line into DC or VA.  Darn MD laws!  She said is was under $10. I give it fruit and leather.  Bring it on!

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Had some friends over and one brought a Vina Eguia Rioja.  Normally I don’t reach out to riojas but this one is now definitely on my list. There are so many notes and flavors bouncing around your mouth when you sip it that you just need to get some to try it out.  Price range is $14-$18 (it’s so funny seeing the differences online).

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Attended at Wine Wednesday at Whole Foods in Georgetown/Glover Park.  If you live in DC and you don’t know about this, tune in, as they don’t advertise it.  Every Wednesday from around 5-7pm, for $5 you get 5 wines and 5 food stations.  It is awesome!

So the great one there was Lolea Sparkling Red/Sangria.  They have it in ‘normal’ bottles but also in pocket size.  It was about $7 for the pocket size and was perfect to enjoy with food (after nibbling).  Tons of great fruit flavors and would have been even better on ice.

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Now onto ‘real’ sparkling red.  This one is Italian and very dry — Piria Paltrinieri. Minerally and acidic.  Unique, worth trying, but not your traditional sparkling red.  Around $20.

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And another…Bench Cab Sauv. Overall great taste.  Some cocoa, long finish.  So smooth.  Price is $25, per the bottle.

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Hope some of these caught your attention and your head to your wine store/wine section to pick them up.

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Noble Shepherd Craft Brewery

Awhile back I visited another great craft brewery, this one in the Finger Lakes.  It’s Noble Shepherd Craft Brewery.  It was started by a couple a few years back as they just wanted to move onto new things.

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Opted for a sampler while visiting and the brews tasted included:

-Mosaic Foundation Pale Ale – 6.4% ABV
-Watermelon Wheat – 5.5% ABV
-20A IPA – 6.3% ABV
-Belgian With IPA with Spruce Tips – 6.6% ABV

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The Mosaic was definitely my favorite.  I would give you a great description of it but I didn’t write it down and they don’t have it on tap anymore so I can’t copy/paste it from their site.  So all I can say is that it was really good.  We left with a growler.  How does that sound as additional endorsement?

The other cool thing is they have the machine that put the tops on the large cans if you want to leave with one of those.  So much fun to watch it in action.

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Check this place out if you’re up in the Finger Lakes area. Definitely worth the visit!

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Los Tios Grill, Del Ray

Hot weather equals cool food.  Checked out Los Tios Grill in Del Ray/Alexandria, VA (just outside of DC) recently.

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The first thought of cool when walking into a Mexican restaurant is a margarita.  There were a few of us at dinner so we figured why not get a pitcher.  This is probably the first place I’ve been to that doesn’t have pitchers of margaritas.  Ok.  Decided to get the large one, and large it was.  The picture doesn’t quite do the size justice.

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Of course had to order some guac.  It was very nicely presented as it is served in the avocado. Good taste, too.

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Now, when looking over the menu I was pretty disappointed.  It was hot out, so I wanted something cool.  And a staple of mine at Mexican restaurants is ceviche. It’s not on their menu.  I was trying to figure out what else to get.  Very fortunately the waiter came over and told us the specials.  One of them was ceviche.  The night was saved!  It was a combo of shrimp and whitefish.  It tasted a bit like the shrimp had been cooked a bit, which some restaurants tend to do for safety reasons.  Still nice to get the ceviche.

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All the others at the table ordered Tacos los Tios, which are beef or chicken tacos, served with rice, beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, guac and sour cream.

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Overall, good meal. The restaurant is pretty big, so easy enough to get a table.  Will check it out again, too, when it’s less sweltering hot and can sit outside.

 

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Over a month ago I was strolling through Trader Joe’s and saw this frozen riced cauliflower and just had to grab it, why not?  Then last week I was going to a friend’s place for a potluck dinner and (1) wanted to try something new and (2) she is gluten intolerant. I remembered I had the riced cauliflower so had to see what I could use it for. Started looking stuff up and came across some recipes for Cauliflower Crust Pizza. That sounded great! Especially since my cauliflower was already riced.  The recipe I ended up using was from the Lucky Penny Blog.  It’s both gluten and dairy free.

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Ingredients

1 medium sized head of cauliflower – should yield close to 3 cups once processed (this is where I used the riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush it even more between your fingers)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crust it even more between you fingers)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
optional a few shakes of crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons almond meal (my friend has a Vitamix — this took 2 seconds to make)
1 tablespoon (or more if desired) nutritional yeast (you could also omit this entirely if you like) — didn’t use it
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg

Directions

-Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil or brush the parchment with olive oil.

*I skipped these next 2 steps with the riced cauliflower.

[Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Don’t get one the size of your head unless you are planning on making 2 pizzas. Cut off the florets, you don’t need much stem. Just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. See above photo. You should end up with about 3 cups cauliflower “snow”. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring the water out of it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess.]

-Dump cauliflower into a bowl. Now add all your spices, your almond meal, your nutritional yeast (if using), and your olive oil. Mix the mixture to incorporate all the ingredients. Now add your egg and mix away again. Hands tend to work best.

-Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don’t make it too thick or thin either.

-Using a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until it starts to turn golden brown and the edges crisp up. Remove from oven.  *It took a bit more time to cook that it called for.  This is likely because I forgot to heat the baking sheet before I put the pizza in the oven.  So I cooked it a bit longer, probably about 10 more minutes.

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-Add your toppings and slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 minutes until the toppings are warm. If using cheese for a topping, you can pop the pizza under the broiler to get the cheese melted fast without burning the crust.

I put manchego, olives and tomatoes on the pizza, then topped it with arugula when it came out of the oven.  It was a bit moist, but nice and crisp on the edges.  Very tasty and I’ll have to try it again.

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DC Brau

Finally made it to a pretty well known local DC brewery, DC Brau.

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I knew it was somewhere in NE DC, but wasn’t sure where.  Finally as I was getting there I figured out it’s in one of the developing areas, right off 50, near the relatively new Costco.

Went on a Sunday, a bit after they opened so it was pretty quite.  Opted for a sampler so that I could try several of their brews.  Ended up with the first six on the list.  Of course there is a quite a bit of power to most of them.

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Info on the beer, straight from the DC Brau’s site:

Brau Pils was our newest summer seasonal alongside El Hefe Speaks, NOW YEAR-ROUND.

EL HEFE SPEAKS! is a traditionally brewed German-style Hefe. It is fermented around 65°F and hopped with German Tettnang hops. 11 IBUs and 5.3% ABV make this one extremely drinkable.

The Citizen is one of the original flagships brewed here at DC Brau and draws inspiration from the stronger ales made famous over the centuries by the Trappist and Abbey brewers of Belgium. Although the label denotes “Pale ale” this is mainly a reference to the color of the beer and not the bitterness of the beer as is commonly associated with American Pale Ales.

The Public™ Pale Ale is brewed in the classic American Pale Ale style. Assertive bitterness backed by C-60 and Vienna malts which lend notes of rich, yet semi-dry caramel. Then followed up with a nice white grapefruit and citrus aroma that begs for a follow up sip.

The Corruption™ IPA is DC Brau’s take on a Pacific Northwest IPA. Brewed with Pale 2 row, C-10, Honey and Victory malts. Exclusively hopped with 40 lbs of Columbus hops per brew to ring in at 80 IBU. “The Corruption” comes in at 6.5% ABV. This beer straddle’s the line between IPA and Imperial IPA and has a supportive malty backbone with an assertive hop presence that smacks your mouth with a dank, resinous bitterness followed by pleasant aroma’s of pine sap and burnt spruce.

The Hefe was great with the Citizen being another great one.  The Imperial IPA was a bit strong.  Overall, a great time and the staff was awesome to talk to.

The final one is a cask beer that changes all the time.  Very strong…

The Hefe and Citizen were probably my favorite.  Overall great time at the brewery, chatting with the staff and enjoying some local, cold beer.

 

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Brazil Flashback

I have been thinking back to my trip to Brazil several years ago while watching the Olympics.  Most of it came while watching a soccer game the other day, which was played in Manaus.  I took a week-long trip in the Amazon on the Rio Negro.  We were on a 16-person vessel with a trip through REI.  This river begins in Manaus and heads north.  The sight of it is amazing because when it and the Amazon intersect the difference is so distinct — black and brown. This is because of the speed of the water, not because of the direction of the currents.

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Aside from some of the great sights, the fun food pieces were:

Piranha fishing.  Oh, we got to go for them.  You literally have a stick and tap the water and they eventually bite the lure.  And the best thing — you eat them, they don’t eat you.  Check out the teeth!  They really do have them.

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On the boat we could have beer and wine.  What was the beer that we enjoyed at lot, as we were so close to the equator?  Yes you’re reading the can right…Antarctica.  Just a light one, great for the hot days.  It’s a pils.  And unfortunately in the whole grand scheme of the beer world, Budweiser owns this beer.

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Towards the end of the trip we had true local drinks.  We were taught how to make Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail.  The key ingredients — cachaça, sugar and lime. Cachaça is Brazil’s most common distilled alcoholic beverage.  The first night our guide showed us how to make the great drink then on the final night we got to make them ourselves.

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Denizens Brewing Co

Finally got around to checking out Denizen’s Brewing Co. in Silver Spring, MD recently.  They are just outside of Washington, DC and have been around for a couple years as the craft brewing industry continues to grow.

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They have both the indoor portion of the brewery/restaurant and a huge outdoor area, which is great on gorgeous night.

My friend and I each ordered different beer flights, but got a bit confused because they might have gotten turned around when handed to us, and given us a wrong tasting card, so not quite sure what I ended up enjoying.  But, they were all pretty good; lots of variety, from IPA, pils, ales and more.

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Enjoyed some good food, too. Outside they have a smaller menu.  I ended getting the grain burger; a grain blend, root veggies, aoili, kale slaw with some manchego.  It came highly recommended and dang, that was good!

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Totally worth visiting, especially with great weather.  And the outdoor patio is dog friendly if you have a 4-legged friend.

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Throw it together

I got handed all this stuff from friends from various farmers’ markets (not the stuff I had) and had to put it together.  So I also had all the fresh veggies I purchased that I (still) needed to use.  What did I make?  Delicious salad!

Ingredients:

-(Huge) tomatoes
-Peaches
-Avocados
-Red onion
-Garlic Salt (some form of garlic belongs in near everything)
-Pepper
-Lemon juice

So fresh, so good.  I’m surprised I have leftovers. That’s what I’m eating tonight.

 

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Farmer’s Market Finds

Roamed by the farmer’s market the other day and had to stop when I saw all the great looking heirloom tomatoes.  These guys were awesome.  I knew I wouldn’t be leaving without some.  I had to pick, though, and that was the hardest part.  The one I really wanted was the big orange one behind the the large group of smaller red guys on the right (not in the basket).  But first I had to take it to the scale…1.8 pounds.  WHOA!  Ok, I was not going to pay over $7 for 1 tomato.  I grabbed various colors of the smaller guys.

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Then, next to them were some eggplant I’d never seen before, Fairy Tale Eggplant.  I was told to slice them longways and grill (can’t have a BBQ at my place) or pan sear/cook them.  They had a nice flavor to them, different than a normal eggplant — a bit sweet — and just so fun.

Love the farmer’s market!

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New find

Was at Trader Joe’s the other day (not like that was something new) and they have done their typical thing of moving products around.  So now the hummus is pretty much right in front of you as you walk in the door at one of the locations I go to.  Had to check it out just in case I needed to pick some up.

I saw a new one…it’s not actually hummus but Green Tahini Dip and Sauce.  The ingredients: Tahini (Ground Sesame Seed), Water, Lemon Juice, Parsley, Green Onion, Dill, Mint, Dehydrated Garlic, Cilantro, Sea Salt, Cumin, Citric Acid.

It has some nice tang to it, great with veggies and the normal pita chips, etc.  Totally worth testing.  And, it’s lactose free and gluten free!

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