Category: Wine

2015…A Year of Living Decadently

So, for any visitor to our site it must be obvious that we have been a bit neglectful in our updates.  As with many people, life, work and all the things that go with living it got in the way!  The good news is that we really enjoyed the living part this year and plan on doing more of the same next year.  Our intention is to actually add things as they happen, but we’ll just have to see how that goes!   Anyhoo…without further ado, our 2015 in photo review.  We hope you get an idea of just how much we savored it!

13 Even Wilton Manors

According to the superstitious (i.e. neurotic), 13 can be an unlucky number. For the owners of 13 Even located in Wilton Manors, it is anything but unlucky.

In fact, most nights if you’re lucky enough to drive down Wilton Drive and pass by 13 Even there’s a good chance you’ll see most, if not every one of its tables and bar, filled with eager patrons enjoying a glass of wine amongst friends; a fine craft beer; one of 13 Even’s signature small plate dishes – or a combination of all the above.

It is not a large establishment. And that’s a good thing. Where many gastro pub/bistro wine and beer bars can be noisy affairs, 13 Even is a little haven away from the hustle and bustle.  Nestled quietly among other small shops, at the far end of Wilton Drive, 13 Even sits waiting to be discovered.  

Having opened less than six months ago, we were both eager to try it out after checking out their fairly extensive wine, beer and food menu on-line.  The first time we went to 13 Even was during a late-afternoon, early evening walk into Wilton Manors.  We were only planning on have a glass of wine but temptation overruled and we decided to share the pork belly and watermelon salad followed by the BBQ chicken, gouda and jalapeno flatbread.  We were hooked at first bite.  The pork belly melted in our mouths and the flatbread, although lacking the expected spice from the jalapeno, was also quite good.

On our next visit, after perusing over the menu we finally decided on the patatas bravas (roasted potatoes in a spicy red sauce topped with a sunny side up quail egg) and the chicken empanadas.  We could have had several of the garlicky, spicy patatas bravas – and for a moment considered licking the bowl clean of the sauce. The empanadas were light and flaky on the outside and savory within.

13 Even is a friendly, charming place with something to satisfy every palate. Whether you’re in the mood for a red or white wine, maybe something a little sparkly, or if you’re looking for a good craft beer, chances are you’ll find just what you’re looking for on the menu. The prices are reasonable; the staff is friendly and will treat you like you’re a regular, even if you are a “newbie.” Oh, and if you’re dropping in to have a drink, chances are you’ll be justifying having a second one.

 

 

Sonoma Wine Country Visit May 12, 2013

It’s been a while since our trip to California Wine Country but the experience has stayed in our minds; the memories still fresh.  We last wrote about Napa, which was the first area we had a chance to explore.  We began our next day with the plan to explore Sonoma.

As with our Napa adventure, we had to seriously narrow down our plan to visit just a few places.  Looking at our massive list we had no idea where to begin.  Thankfully we had some help in the way of a local connection who pointed us in the right direction.

Recommendations and plan in hand, we started by heading to the northern most point we planned on visiting, Healdsburg.  Once we got off the highway we were immediately driving through farm country and vineyards were everywhere we looked.  The weather was beautiful and the scenery was breathtaking.

Our first stop was Mazzocco Winery, known for their Zinfandels, located up on a hillside. We entered the quiet tasting room where we were greeted and offered our first taste of their portfolio immediately.  No pretense here at Mazzocco; just plain and simple wine tasting.  And taste we did!  After going through several of their wines we decided to purchase our favorite (2011 Seaton Zinfandel) and head on down the road. 

Next up was the Hawley Tasting room in downtown Healdsburg.  The Hawley Tasting room was a small warm space filled with artwork and woodwork created by various Hawley family members.  We learned this from Dana Hawley, the winemaker’s wife and local artist, who walked us through the tasting and the history of Hawley wines.  It was a truly unique and lovely experience.  Again, we narrowed our purchase down to our favorite (Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah) and left to wander the town a bit.

After visiting some of the local antique stores and markets we got back in the car and drove to Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol.  Getting to the actual tasting room was challenging. Off the beaten path would be an understatement.  However, after driving up the single lane, bumpy, dirt road and arriving at the top, we could truly appreciate that it was worth the trek. Looking out across the rolling hills and into the valley covered with vineyards was awe inspiring.

Iron Horse is known for their sparkling wines and we were lucky enough to be there on a day when they had The Oyster Girls on hand, a traveling oyster bar serving freshly shucked oysters.  Oysters and sparkling wine = perfect day!

At the end of the day we convinced ourselves that we needed to move to Sebastopol, buy a farm, raise goats and grow our own vines.  Who knows? Maybe one day we will…

Hall Winery Rutherford Tasting & Tour May 11, 2013

Napa Valley is a place where wine lovers can happily get lost. Stray off the familiar path of the Silverado Trail or CA 29, and you can find yourself in unfamiliar, yet exciting places. Hall Winery, in Rutherford, is truly off the beaten path – and definitely a good place to find if you’re looking for a small, intimate wine tasting experience. 

Hall Rutherford, unlike their larger production winery in St. Helena, is dedicated to creating rare and single vineyard wines. The main building sits far above sea level, offering spectacular vistas of Napa Valley. Hall Rutherford boasts 14,000 square feet of caves (which were designed by Friedrich Gruber of Gutenstein, Austria). Making our way into the tasting room we noticed a rapid temperature drop (from near 90 degrees to 61) and the striking handmade reclaimed Austrian brick walls and ceiling.  We were told that the Austrian government had one stipulation for Hall Winery repurposing the bricks; that the Habsburg name and family seal, which are etched into each individual brick, could not be displayed and therefore were installed backwards. Of note is the fact that Kathryn Hall served as the US Ambassador to Austria under Bill Clinton. The Vienna Boys Choir performed live at the grand opening of the winery!

Once inside the tasting room, the first thing you notice hanging magnificently over the large tasting table is a chandelier designed by Donald Lipski and Jonquil LeMaster, comprised of hundreds of Swarovski crystals, that simulates the roots of a tree coming through the ceiling of the cave.  When we began the Hall experience touring the vineyards, our host pointed out a Meyer lemon tree at the top of the hill and told us to keep it in mind.  It turns out that the sculpture sits directly below the actual tree.  We didn’t ask how much this hanging artwork cost, because if you have to ask, well…never mind.

Then it was on to the wines! The first Hall wine we tasted was the 2012 Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (a crisp, refreshing SB with hints of citrus and green apple – excellent) which was given to us upon our arrival.  As we waited for other guests we were able to wander the main building and terrace.  For the tasting itself, we were treated to some of Hall’s signature Cabernet Sauvignons, including the 2007 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon; 2012 Jack’s Masterpiece Cabernet Sauvignon; and as a special treat, the 2009 Segassia Vineyard Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon. All are deeply complex, fruit-forward Cabs that taste amazing now, but can be cellared for a few years to soften the tannins a bit, according to our host. Hall wines are lush and delicious, and if you have an opportunity to experience any of these high-end bouquets, do so.

Sure, there are many other large-production “mega wineries” in and around Napa Valley, but if you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone and lose yourself, you’ll be rewarded with an incredibly rewarding wine tasting experience. Hall Winery, in Rutherford, is a pretty good place to end up.

 

“Taste of Napa” Pairing Dinner, Ruth Chris Steakhouse March 14th, 2013

MenuIf you can’t make a trip to Napa Valley (but any wine enthusiast will tell you it’s practically mandatory), it is good to know there are local food and wine pairing events like the “Taste of Napa,” a five-course pairing dinner that took place at Ruth Chris Steak House, in Fort Lauderdale. It was the perfect opportunity to experience several Ruth’s Chris dishes paired with some top-notch Napa Valley wines, including Beringer Vineyards, Stags’ Leap Winery, Etude and St. Clement Vineyards. Local crooner Tony Martelli was also on hand for the event, entertaining everyone throughout the night with his soulful renditions of great American lounge music standards.Arugula Salad

After listening to a brief introduction from our host, we watched a short 10-minute video that highlighted all of the wineries involved in the event. Then, it was time to eat! The menu, by course—

  • First Course: Roasted Asparagus & Herbed Goat Cheese Arugula, mustard vinaigrette, kalamata olives, paired with Beringer Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
    (The earthy tastes the goat cheese and saltiness of the kalamata olives contrasted nicely with the citrus notes of the Sauvignon Blanc.)
  • Second Course:  Snow Crab Bisque Spiked with brandy & chardonnay, garlic croutons, paired with St. Clement Napa Valley Chardonnay
    (The sweet and tangy bisque and the Chardonnay were an exceptional pairing – wish we could have had another bowl!)
  • Third Course: Warm Cremini Mushroom Tart Balsamic beurre blanc, spring vegetable chutney, paired with Etude Carneros Pinot Noir
    (The surprisingly strong oak and caramel notes of the Etude Pinot Noir never took away from the earthy flavor of the mushroom and the spiciness of the chutney.)Mushroom Tart
  • Fourth Course: Filet Mignon with Cabernet Onions served sizzling with butter and parsley, paired with Stags’ Leap Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 
Accompaniments included a creamed spinach with bleu cheese gratinée and Pecan crusted sweet potato casserole
    (This was, by far, our favorite dish of the night. Though there was a small mix-up when servers brought our steaks, it didn’t take away the fact that Ruth Chris offers amazing cuts of beef. Juicy and flavorful, the filets paired nicely with the bold, intensity of the Stags’ Leap Cab. The sides? We could have made a meal them and only them!)
  • Fifth Course: Cheesecake Brûlée Chewy gooey chocolate-walnut cookie, rhubarb compote, strawberry sauce, paired with Beringer Nightingale Semillon Sauvignon-Blanc
    (It would be nice to say we finished dessert and enjoyed every bite, but honestly, we didn’t. By the time dessert arrived we were stuffed, literally. That’s not to say we didn’t try. But after enjoying four amazing courses and the seemingly never-ending glasses of wine – dessert was an afterthought.)

The “Taste Of Napa” was one of the more enjoyable food and wine events we’ve attended in some time. Ruth Chris Steakhouse, whose reputation for fine dining goes without question, was the perfect forum to hold such an event. This was one of several events that Ruth Chris has planned for 2013, so if you have an opportunity to go, definitely do it.
Snow Crab Bisque   Cheesecake BruleeFilet Mignon

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