Chalkboard Art: Unicorn Lattes

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New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

I have ABSOLUTELY NO idea what unicorn tastes like.  I have no desire to live a half-life or a cursed one for that matter, so I consider unicorns to be on my “DO NOT EAT” list.  Those who actually know me know just how short that list is–I mean, after all I am not only willing, but love to eat Vegemite and Peeps (although not together–that would be gross!)

BUT if I were to imagine it, I would think that unicorns would taste like cotton candy or perhaps marshmallow.  They would NOT taste like mango and mostly certainly not with some sour sauce added to the mix.  For the record, this description was thankfully provided by a person who has asked to keep his/her identity a secret.  Also for the record, I solemnly swear it is not me, as the only colorful drinks I allow myself to drink have rum or tequila in them!  True story…oh, except for slushies….I do enjoy a nice cherry coke slushy from time to time.

But I digress.  Back to unicorns and coffee and the reason we’re here today: Chalkboard Art.  I think the Chalkboard Art below accurately sums up my thoughts about anything unicorn flavored that a certain coffee company might offer (and a big thanks to Camilla for sending it to me because she knows that I like my coffee as black as my soul!)

MWWC #30: Obscure

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This month’s wine writing challenge was picked by…well, me!  As last month’s winner for my glass-shattering tales in my Winestory, I got the honor of picking this month’s theme: OBSCURE.

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For full disclosure, Jeff helped me pick OBSCURE–and he was right, it was the word I was looking for in my quest to hear about the often-forgotten grapes.  What I sent to Jeff was a long rambling email about how I was enjoying Lori and Mike of Draceana Wines posts about Cabernet Franc and their push for #CabFrancDay.  I love Cabernet Franc, from the moment that I tasted it!  But a lot of people have not heard of this delicious grape and even fewer know of other Cabernet grapes, like Ruby Cabernet.

Side note: Grape Creek makes a delicious blend of these three Cabernet grapes, Cabernet Trois, which I highly recommend if you’re in Texas and/or can get your hands on some!

This got me thinking: I wanted to hear from everyone that one varietal that they love that perhaps few outside the world of wine have experienced.  Everyone (wine drinker or not) has heard of Chardonnay, Shiraz, the main Pinots (note: any snarky comments about me lumping Noir and Grigio into one will be ignored!), Rieslings, Cabernet, Merlot, and even (shudder) White Zin, but there are thousands and thousands of varietals out there–what about them?

Btw, this was all pretty much in my nebulous (his word, not mine–ha!) email to him.  Thankfully, he recently moved to Texas and was able to decipher my ramblings and come up with a–in my humble opinion–great word.

So it is in that spirit that I wanted to tell you about my favorite OBSCURE wine, actually wines.  There are four in fact, because well, go big or go home.

Gewürztraminer, Viognier, French Colomabard, and Dry Riesling

ANOTHER SIDE NOTE: I know Rieslings are not obscure and were in my list above, but DRY Rieslings are a bit harder to find…that is my story and I’m sticking to it.

At the time I introduced to each of these wine I was working at the wineshop.  I was very leery of white wine because I lumped them all (I know, bad Shezza!) into two categories: Chardonnay (gag!) and exceptionally sweet Rieslings (not so much gag as too sweet to drink more than a ½ glass!).

But as I worked my way down the tasting bar, my tastebuds discovered there was actually a wide variety in flavors and sweetness levels of white wines–far more than I ever imagined!  Along the way I found four wines that not only stood out, but that I would actually consider drinking–a HUGE feat at the time because, honestly, if it wasn’t red or bubbles, I did not drink it!

ONE MORE SIDE NOTE: I pulled the first three pictures from each winery’s website, as 20 years ago I never dreamed I needed pictures!

Bell Mountain Dry Riesling  /  Fredericksburg, Texas

bell-mountainWait?  There is such a thing as Dry Riesling?  Growing up in a German town, I was exposed to Riesling very early in life.  Not that I was drinking it, but it was the very first wine varietal that I knew existed (not that I even knew what “wine varietal” meant at that time!).  My first tastes of Riesling were Spätlese and Auslese, so I was delightful surprised when I tried the local Dry Rieling from Bell Mountain (exceptionally local, as the vineyard butts up to the part of the ranch!).  What surprised me was the fruitiness of the wine without the sweetness.  This wine, like many grown in the area, has very peachy overtones–both in the bouquet and the finish, which is dry and crisp.  It pairs well with lighter foods and soft cheeses, but can be enjoyed all by itself.

For the trivia files:  Being the star of German wines, there are many different ways to classify Rieslings based on region and sweetness at the time of harvest.  Wine Folly does a great job of explaining it, if one was interested in jumping into the deep end of the Riesling pool!

Llano Estacado Gewürztraminer  /  Lubbock, Texas

lew-gewurztraminer-webAs you may or may not know, gewurz means spice in German and this wine is perfect for spicy foods or heavy cheeses.  It has a very floral bouquet, with a medium mouthfeel, and tastes of honeysuckle with a bit of warm spice on the finish (allspice, perhaps?).  Personally speaking, I think it is delicious but is on the sweeter side, even for a Gewürztraminer, and best paired with food.

For the trivia files:  Gewürztraminer grapes are actually pink to red in color not white!

 

 

 

Becker Vineyards Viognier  /  Stonewall, Texas

becker-viognierI think it took me three glasses of Viognier to be able to properly and without hesitation say Viognier (as opposed to my German heritage which allowed me to say Gewürztraminer without any issues the very first time!).  What I found in this Viognier was a dry wine that I could truly enjoy without all the oaky/buttery flavors that are synonymous with Chardonnay.  While you would expect to find peach, this Viognier smells of apricot and honeydew.  It is full bodied, with a honeysuckle and apricot finish.  I think this a perfect wine for red wine drinkers who hate Chardonnay but are looking for an occasional white wine to enjoy.  Honestly, I can’t say what food this pairs well with because I usually just pair it with a glass 😉

For the trivia files: Viognier is genetically related to Nebbiolo and was nearing extinction in 1965 when only 8 acres were planted in the Rhône.

Dry Comal Creek French Colombard  /  New Braunfels, Texas

IMG_0993-1Like Viognier, French Colombard was a wine I had never even heard of prior to tasting it.  I was actually introduced to Dry Comal Creek’s French Colombard several years after I started working at the wine shop, but given its obscurity in the wine world except as a blending grape, I thought it worth a mention.  Dry Comal Creek make two versions of this, although I believe the Bone-Dry isn’t always available.  What I enjoy about the French Colombard is the long lingering flavors of tropical fruit.  It is medium-to-full bodied and has a touch of sweetness while drinking.  However, the sweetness does not linger–just the fruitiness (which probably doesn’t make any sense until you try this wine).  The Bone-Dry version is just that: less sweetness while drinking and a much drier finish with less fruity lingering.  Both versions are very mild and easy to drink.  I think they both pair well with light snacks, appetizers, fish/seafood (especially the Bone Dry) and just drinking on the back porch.

For the trivia files:  It was traditionally grown in France to distill into Cognac and Armagnac and because of its natural sweetness is used to sweeten baby food (presumably before it’s distilled…)

So that’s my tale of venturing into the world of the more obscure grapes, and in so doing, I even learned how to enjoy white wine.

Cheers y’all!

 

The Price of Freedom

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Today we give thanks and celebrate all the men and women who have fought to protect our freedoms and our values–and it has been a very tough week for that.

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If you don’t mind, I’m going to do something I rarely do publicly and share my thoughts.  If you do mind, you should stop reading now because I can guarantee you that you’re probably not going to like what I have to say.  If you’re not sure, read on–I can assure you that while you may not agree with me, I’ve done my best to keep my thoughts respectful and if you’re going to weigh in, I ask you to do the same.

For the last year, I have watched people that I know and love spout some truly hateful things on social media and I let them because while the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution tends to get a lot of air time, it is the FIRST Amendment, which allows us freedom of speech.  We get to debate and argue and disagree openly.  We get to love, we get to hate and it is all okay because we are extremely lucky enough to be born in a place were we are allowed that privilege.

Yesterday someone I love said the following words: you lost, get over it.  And it made me so angry because he did not get it.  He did not understand why people are upset and protesting–and even more frustrating is that he did not make any attempt to understand.  All I wanted to do was reach through the phone and smack the shit out of him.  But I refrained, mostly because I couldn’t actually reach through the phone…

I didn’t lose.  I voted.  My voice was heard.  I can’t say that I’m shocked that the Republican Party won: political history usually shows that when a President serves for 8 years the next election usually goes to the other party.  It is what keeps our country moving forward.  It is how the other voices are heard and that is a good thing.  I truly believe that.

The Republicans pulled off a political upset that will be talked about for as long as America is a country, and maybe even longer than that.  What I am upset about is that it came at a very high price.  It came with whom they chose to be their leader, to be our next President.   I am not upset that the conservatives won, I am upset because they chose someone who openly makes fun of people who are different and promises to ban them from this country and/or punish them for being different.

I absolutely get that they did not want to vote for Hillary.  I absolutely get that they are extremely dissatisfied and distrustful with politicians and all the political bullshit that comes out of Washington.  I get that it would have been so hard to vote against their party, which they supported and believed in the majority of their lives.

I share these sentiments with them and I will happily discuss, debate, and brainstorm ideas to overcome the distrust and disenchantment with our current political system.

But I truly do not understand how anyone could support someone so hateful, so racist, and so misogynistic.  There were other options, but it was the person with the most amount of hate who won.  I do not understand that and I don’t know that I ever will.  I have always chosen to see the good in people and what this week has shown me is that a lot people in this country are not capable of doing the same.

You are entitled to your beliefs and your vote, as I am to mine.  But like you, I am also allowed to speak my mind and in the spirit of fairness, if you want me to listen to your side, you will listen to mine.  I am allowed to be upset; I am allowed to be angry; I am allowed to be worried for the direction where our country may be heading.

You cannot tell me that if your daughter, sister, mother, aunt, cousin, best friend came to you and said that a man grabbed her inappropriately (pussy is the word President-Elect Trump used), you would just let it go. And yet whether you meant for it to do so, if you voted for Trump that is what your vote has said.

America is a nation of immigrants.  If you are not 100% Native American or Native Hawaiian, then you are from a family of immigrants.  And ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, these shores have welcomed people seeking freedom from persecution, usually religious persecution because again our FIRST Amendment allows us the freedom to practice the religion that we want.  But if you voted for Trump, whether you meant for it to do so or not, your vote said that this no longer matters.

The second paragraph of The Declaration of Independence begins with:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

We have spent the last 200 hundred years moving in the direction that all men and women could and would be treated equally, regardless of whom they believe their Creator to be.

People are angry and protesting because as a country, we elected a new President who has openly stated that “all men” equals white, rich, straight, Christian men.  Not even white, rich, straight, Christian women get to be equal because our new President has said that it is okay to treat women like they are property and he will punish any woman who wants to control what happens to her body.

On Election Night–or rather at 1am the following morning–I was on the phone with my BFF and she asked in earnest “What are we going to do?”  I couldn’t give her a good answer because I was too saddened by the history that I was watching and the backsliding of our country 50, perhaps 60, years.

We have seen a lot of hate and we have seen a lot of violence and never once has it solved anything.  So, BFF and anyone else wondering, what we’re going to do is this:

We are going to continue to fight to protect our freedoms and our values that so many have fought and died protecting.

We are going to continue to standup for those being persecuted for their beliefs, their religion, whom they love, how they look, or any other reason that makes them a target.

We are going to respect the office of the Presidency and our new President, BUT we are also going to push Congress and remind the Supreme Court of their duties to moderate the Office of the President.

We are not going to abandon hope.

We are going to hold our new President accountable for the promises of unity that he made in his victory speech by consistently reminding him that we are a nation of immigrants and every last man, woman, and child matter–despite the color of their skin, whom they love, where they were born, and what their beliefs are.

That is how we all win.  That is how we all move forward.  That is how we all can truly make America great again.

Have Wine? Will Travel!

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This month’s wine writing challenge is TRAVEL, as selected by last month’s winner: the hilarious and enlightening Loie of Cheap Wine Curious.

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Of course, my first thought was to write about Napa, the first place I traveled for wine–but then I remembered I’ve already written about my trip and since I haven’t had the chance to go back, there’s nothing new to report.

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Then I thought about allllllll the places in France and Italy I passed through many, many moons (aka decades) ago that I’d love to go back and visit now that I have a true appreciation for the beauty and intricacies of champagnes and burgundies and amarones (ohmy!)–but then I realized that this post may never end.

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So then I thought about all the amazing Texas Hill Country wineries around where I grew up, which seemed apropos since I’m traveling (see what I did there?) down there at the end of the week–but then I realized that I should wait and do a bit of exploring of all the new wineries that have popped up since the last time I visited.

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Then I thought about cleverly describing how going to the wine store is like traveling around the world–but about the same moment that idea popped into my head, so did another:

Hawaiian Mead.

I know, I know you’re probably thinking “no, no…go back to writing about the wine store/traveling the world idea!”  But nope!  Hang on to your hats, we’re traveling to Hawaii!

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If you know me in real life or follow me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook (shameless plug!), you will know that last September I went to Hawaii with some amazing friends.  While on the stunningly picturesque island of Kauai, we stumbled across the Koloa Rum Company.  By stumble, I mean April quickly learned she was traveling with lushes people who enjoyed sampling local adult beverages and she was trying to keep us appeased.

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But of course, this writing challenge is about wine, not rum (although THAT would be awesome!).  Having had a great time at Koloa, we (aka April, who was quicker with her google-searching fingers since she was giving away her rum samples) looked for other local places that made adult beverages.

While on the Big Island we visited the Kona Brewing Company, and so despite having not seen a grape growing anywhere in Hawaii’s lush and volcanic landscape, we were hopeful that we could find a winery.

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Alas, no grape winery…but BINGO! we found Nani Moon Meadery!  Now I will confess that I’ve never been a huge fan of mead, however, when in Rome…

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Nani Moon is in the back of a shopping center in Kapa’a.  We pull up, walk in, and, well, started tasting!  It seemed pointless not to try the full line-up, so we did.

For those of you out there who are unaware, mead is wine (although it can also be beer) made from honey instead of grapes.  It’s been around since…forever (and I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate timeframe!).  Much more sustainable, when you’re smack dab in the middle of the Pacific ocean and you have access to local apiaries.

As Stephanie (the owner) took us through each wine, she paired it with an appropriate snack and talked about where she sourced the honey (they weren’t all the same!).  I think my favorite was the Laka’s Nectar, which was the driest and most crisp of the wines.  While a little too sweet for me, the Cacao Moon was a big hit–understandable, given its chocolate undertones and velvety chocolate finish.  Stephanie definitely got bonus points for her Deviant Beehavior, which packs a kick as it is not only made from honey, but also chili!

We finished the tasting with some of the local honeys that she used, which was great–not only because they were delicious, but because you could really taste how much the nuances in the honey affected the taste of the wine.

If you’re interested in learning more, visiting, or throwing caution to the wind and just buying a bottle, contact Stephanie and tell her what you like.  I’m quite confident she will find you something you’ll truly enjoy and give you suggestions on pairings to help you enjoy it more!  She even has a cocktail section that encourages you to “bee inspired and mix it up!”

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours–and I think that if you find yourself smack dab in the middle of the Pacific on a tiny island named Kauai, you should go visit Stephanie and try her meads.  I’m not going to say that meads are now my favorite type of wine, but I did walk away with a better appreciation for just how versatile a wine made from honey can be.  And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Aloha!

Sunday Comics #55: Brackets

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Here’s to everyone out there who is actually still in it…

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Happy President’s Day!

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In honor of today’s celebration of the 44 men who have bravely led our nation, I found a fun article from Mashable highlighting an obscure fact about each of our Commander-In-Chiefs, which you can read in full by clicking on the–no-doubt authentic–picture of George Washington below.

Now you can enthrall, amaze, and annoy your friends, family, and coworkers this holiday by regaling them with the number of pants Chester Arthur owned, the ambidextrous/multi-lingual James Garfield, how Franklin Pierce got arrested, and whose face graces the $10,000 note (yes, it really does exist!).

Thank you for your service, Mr. Presidents!

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Thirsty Thursday #17

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday, all the way from Hawaii (for some strange reason I have a lot of pictures from Hawaii that qualify for Thirsty Thursdays…)!!

One of the great things about drinking well with others is getting to taste different things.  This is providing “others” are willing to share with you…or you are really good at sneaking sips when they are too distracted to notice you partaking in their beverages.

This is a Whiskey Wipeout, which is what Tracy ordered at Duke’s while I ordered last week’s Thirsty Thursday pic: Coconut Mojito.

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If you like all things spicy, this is a drink you should definitely get when you find yourself walking along Waikiki in need of a tasty beverage.  Find Duke‘s Barefoot Bar, rinse the sand off your feet and ask for a beachside table.   It has Jim Beam, Grand Marnier, pineapple chipotle syrup, muddled pineapple, and fresh pineapple and jalapeños as a garnish.  How can you go wrong with anything that has a pineapple jalapeño garnish?!?!?

 

Thirsty Thursday #16

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday, all the way from Hawaii (for some strange reason I have a lot of pictures from Hawaii that qualify for Thirsty Thursdays…)!!

This little baby is a coconut mojito.  It was the first drink I had in Hawaii.  Blended, not muddled and oh-so-tasty!   While some at the table said the aftertaste was a bit reminiscent of catnip, I thought the creaminess of the coconut with the lingering of mint gave it an extra layer of delicious texture.  Paired with a sinking sun and a beachside table at Duke’s in Waikiki, I was in heaven 🙂

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PS–after some pressing and a lot harassment, it was clarified that it tasted LIKE catnip smells, not that anyone at the table partakes in catnip…at least that he/she is willing to admit!

Thirsty Thursday #15

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday, all the way from Hawaii (for some strange reason I have a lot of pictures from Hawaii that qualify for Thirsty Thursdays…)!!

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t start my Hawaii-themed Thirsty Thursdays with a Mai Tai.  Well, truth be told, they’re not my favorite.  However, I did find one that I truly enjoyed (don’t fret, there will be more pictures of Mai Tais before I’m done with Hawaii Thirsty Thursdays).  Yes, it’s a shot…and while at the Koloa Rum Company we learned that to truly enjoy a proper Mai Tai, it needs to be remain layered rather than mixing everything together.  Thus: The Shot 😉

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Thirsty Thursday #14

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday, all the way from Hawaii (for some strange reason I have a lot of pictures from Hawaii that qualify for Thirsty Thursdays…)!!

I’m going to start off with the best piña colada I have ever had in my life.  MY LIFE.  I will concede that I don’t usually drink piña coladas, but it does tend to be my go-to drink if I want something with an umbrella.  Fresh coconut, fresh pineapple…deliciousness from the very first sip until the very last of my fourth…or maybe fifth…one.  Details are a bit fuzzy at this point.  What?  We got caught in a torrential downpour (more about that later) and had to wait it out at this great little beach bar we found in Kona…

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