I Am the Walrus

Well, actually, I just went to a restaurant called The Walrus. National Harbor, MD.

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First great/fun/cool thing about them – they have wine on tap. This perhaps used to be looked upon as an odd thing, but it’s great. Makes the wine last longer, it won’t go bad, and keeps it at the right temp. Cheers to that! I opted for the Rose (non-Moscato, of course). Nice and dry, light berry taste and perfect temp. And during happy hour, $2 off per glass.

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After looking over the menu, food-wise I went with the Butternut Squash Soup – Fresh Maryland lump crab, local butternut squash, chives and JO Spiced pepitas.  Very nice size for the dish, perfect thickness. It cooled down quickly, but nonetheless, with the crab it was even more delicious!
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Wanted more veggies and a soup/salad theme, so opted for the Roasted Beet Salad –
Roasted golden beets, goat cheese, baby greens, candied pecans, honey balsamic vinaigrette with sautéed shrimp. Good flavor and it came with both thinly sliced beets and cubed beets. The shrimp were also very nicely cooked.
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Liked the place and the service at the bar was pretty good. The initial bartender we had was perfect, then the amount of staff in the bar dropped so it was harder to get service, but it was not the end of the world. Check this place out if you’re at National Harbor.

City Perch

There are some new restaurants/bars opening in the area and I was lucky enough to check one out courtesy of a client.  We visited City Perch in North Bethesda/Rockville, MD at Pike & Rose (outside of DC).

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Quite the diverse menu, from drinks to food.  With several of us there, we covered the menu quite well.  I started with the Montgomery Blues — Greenbrier Small Batch Gin, Blueberries, Rosemary, Jack Rudy Tonic.  Delicious and the fresh rosemary was a nice addition.

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Some of the others at the table were Dark + Stoutly — Stonewall American Rum, Ginger, Flying Dog ‘Pearl Necklace’ Stout.  It was very similar to a black & tan. One of them enjoying it stirred it to see if it would combine but it separated again.

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Another at the bar was the Forbidden Garden Margarita — 100% Garden Margarita — 100% de Agave Reposado Applejack, Apple Cider, Applejack.  I tried some of that — very nice.  Was there really alcohol in that? That is what can cause some problems.

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We also had some of the appetizers — olives, nuts, fries.  Addictive.  If you’re in the DC-area, totally check this place out.

Pour me, pour me, pour me…another G&T

The name of the blog makes me thing of two songs:

“Pour me, pour me, pour me, another shot of whiskey.” –Trick Pony (yes, I’m a country fan)

or much more appropriately

“A Malibu & Coke for you, a G&T for me.” — Barenaked Ladies

So, get to where I’m staying in Ft. Collins and that evening it’s happy hour!  Of course the family’s liquor cabinet is never under par (where do you think I learned to provide info about food & alcohol)?

Several members of my family love martinis, super dry.  I can’t stomach them.  But, I love a Gin & Tonic.  Well, apparently a new gin was recently purchased that was definitely not martini material but perfect for a G&T!  My new taste test — Few Standard Issue Gin.

few_gin IMG_1620[1]IMG_1619[1]Found out it’s a special release spirit.  Ok, 114 proof (57% alcohol by volume), wow.  Very unique —  it’s thick/syrupy (more so than a ‘regular’ gin).  Great flavor, definitely the nice juniper and some fennel notes.  Perfect way to start the evening.  More cheers and happy holidays.

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Anejo & Vino

The other night I went out to celebrate a friends 40th birthday at The Lounge at Bourbon Steak in Georgetown, in DC.  Quite the place.  I had never been there and it’s always nice to check out something new.  And, it was amazingly nice for late October so we were able to sit outside, fully aware that they had those huge heaters for when it cooled down.  The lounge had quite the menu and instead of going straight for wine, several cocktails caught my eye and I opted for the Morning Dew to begin.  Not quite a margarita, but close.  It was a perfect blend of anejo (tequila), fresh grapefuit, lemon and ginger on ice.

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When that was done and more people arrived and wine was in full force, I went to California for some great vino.  I found a Zin I’d never heard of, Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel.  Fruity, leathery, very nice.  Looking it up, it can range from $20-$25.  I’m going to grab a couple bottles.

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Chocolate and wine…combined

Office, client visit, who happens to be a doctor, thoughtful gift brought from a trip to California. What does it reveal…WINE.  What does it next reveal…some kind of heavenly trouble.  It’s a good thing doctors tell you wine and dark chocolate have antioxidants, that they’re good for you and all that other jargon because wow, this was a drug in a bottle.  What did we get?  An innocent (bottle of) chocolate bar by Riboli Wines/San Antonio Winery — (NOT in TX).

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It’s on the dessert-side of wine.  Sort of port-like.  It’s 18% alcohol, so enjoy this as dessert…maybe paired with some angel food cake, strawberries or raspberries.  You can only snag it at the winery proper in CA.  So if you’re out there, pick up a bottle.  Because, going back to do some research on their website, they don’t even list it on there!  They only list a Cab.

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Eno

Checked out a (new to me) wine bar in Georgetown (DC) last week — Eno.  It’s part of a national chain with other locations in San Francisco, Chicago, and Southern California.

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They have a both a wine and food menu (oh, beer, too, if needed).  They serve wine in flights and by the glass.  Oh, they have wine on tap, too ($5 during Happy Hour).  They had a special on that day for a blind flight.  If you could identify all three wines you received 10% off.  I had to try it.  I got 1 of 3 right — a very earthy Pinot from Oregon.  They only way I guessed it was from how light it was, color and body-wise.  Otherwise the flight had a Bordeaux and another old world wine I could never have placed.

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Food-wise we went for some amazing olives, a variety of meats and some delicious pizza.

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I would definitely recommend giving Eno a try.  Many options from food to wine and great service!

Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beerholder

BeerWeek

Source: craftbeer.com

You learn something new everyday!  Yesterday I learned about Malbec World Day.  Today it’s about a beer observance. As such, so many country songs are going through my head right now:

Zac Brown’s Toes with the great lyrics of  “…cold beer in my hand, life is good today…”

Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar  “I love this bar, it’s my kind of place… ”

Garth Brooks’ Beer Run “B-double E-double R-U-N…”

Back on topic, did you know that May 13-19 is American Craft Beer Week?  WHOA!  Mark your calendars, set a reminder, start planning.  Bars, taps, pints, bottles, here we come.

Upper 80s Makes it Beer:Thirty

Washington, DC (April 10, 2013) — Upper 80s, early April…last week we had sub-freezing temps at night and wanted to sit by the fire.  If we have this weather now, what’s it going to be like in July and August?

With the warm temps, it was high time for post-work happy hour, aka beer:thirty, outside.  A great place to take advantage of the beautiful weather is in Cleveland Park at the Cleveland Park Bar & Grill.  Roof top deck, happy hour specials, TVs, good atmosphere and Metro accessible.

They have a great variety of beer on tap (though of course the really good stuff isn’t on special, but there could be worse things in life).  I sacrificed and had some Fat Tire and Magic Hat #9.  On the other side of the table was Blue Moon.  My friend and I just sat there for what felt like ages relaxing and enjoying the perfection of weather.

Figuratively the glass was more than half full, literally –‘Bartender…next round.’

 

Embarrassing Moment, Makeup Mishap, or Too Many Tannins?

It’s that time you’ve been waiting for all day…HAPPY HOUR!  You rush to the bar, wait impatiently for the bartender, order that drink at the better-than-normal price and ahhh…relax.  But then, something happens that was unexpected.  No, all you wanted was wine and mindless conversations with friends.

Scenario 1:  You get to the bar, order the best glass of red you can get based on the happy hour special, sip and ahhh…happiness.  Conversation begins and a friend brings up that story from when you were in college and…WHOA!  We’re not going past that point.  Not acceptable for a G-rated piece.  All you know is you turn bright red, that glass of wine is gone because you drank it so fast, even though everybody else around you seemed to love the story and continues to sip their drink.  Next step, ‘bartender — another round, ASAP, on them!’

Scenario 2:  Getting ready for happy hour, freshening up the makeup.  Doh, forgot to put on the blush.  You quickly grab it and put it on without relying on your friend, aka Mirror.  You get to the bar and order your favorite red that’s on special.  People sort of look at you, but you know it’s because they are just glad to see you.  You eventually go to the bathroom. OMG!  Did I really do that?  Let’s go to Makeup 101 and learn how to put blush on properly or not use it at all.  You look like a clown or 5-year old playing with makeup, with beyond red cheeks.

Scenario 3:  Happy Hour!  Wine!  Finally!  You’re chatting with friends, having a wonderful time and couldn’t ask for anything more.  Perfect way to end the workday.  You get home and your cheeks are bright red.  Why?  You didn’t paint your face with the wine.  That would be a crime!  And, you didn’t have that much so as to attempt such a task.  You still can’t determine what the cause is.

As such, though Scenarios 1 and 2 are totally possible, many of us are most likely to face (no pun intended) Scenario 3 because of the tannins in red wine.  That amazing fluid that we enjoy doesn’t complete agree with us in more ways that one.

There are some reds that have more tannins than others that cause this frustrating problem.  So of course, the more prepared we are, the better.  Some background info on the culprit for your (continued) reading pleasure — grab a glass while you’re reading this, or pretend you have one:

TANNINS

Tannins are the flavonoids in wine that give its degree of mouth-drying bitterness. The taste is the same as when you bite into a grape skin. Tannin is a chemical substance that comes from grape skins, stems, and seeds. The skins also impart color to wine, which is why red wines typically have a lot more tannin than whites. Red wines are fermented while in contact with the skins and seeds. Modern winemakers take care to minimize undesirable tannins from seeds by crushing grapes gently when extracting their juice.

Wines can also take on tannins from the oak or other woods used in wine barrels for storage. Different woods in different countries affect the type of tannins in the wine.

Tannins help prevent oxidation, an important role in a wine’s aging potential. As age-worthy red wines mature, tannin molecules gradually accumulate and precipitate out of the wine in the sediment.

Certain wine styles have much less tannin content than others, due to reduced maceration time (grape juice contact with the grape pulp, including sources of tannin such as stems, seeds). Grape varieties like Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Gamay (Beaujolais), Tempranillo, and the Italian grapes Dolcetto and Barbera, are less tannic. Also, grapes grown in certain wine regions are less tannic, like French reds from Burgundy, and Spanish wine regions like Spanish Riojas.

French reds from Bordeaux, and Italian reds like Barolo and Barbaresco, are particularly tannic. Vintage port is also very tannic when young, as are wines made from the syrah (shiraz) and cabernet sauvignon grapes.

A quick way to identify these lower tannic wine bottles on a store shelf is to look for the sloped shoulder “Burgundy bottle”. This is specially true for European wines, but several new world wineries have also adopted traditional bottle shapes to help consumers distinguish their wines.

The tannins that are extracted from grapes found in red wine are primarily condensed tannins which are polymers of procyanidin monomers. Hydrolysable tannins are extracted from the oak wood the wine is aged in. Hydrolysable tannins are more easily oxidised than condensed tannins.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_wine_headache — half way down via the link

WHOA…that was some info and wine for thought.

As I continued to research, I wanted to provide a quick bulleted list of what I/we should drink in public vs. only consume at home.  Here is a nice idea of tannin levels, from lightest to boldest.  Print this out, make a cheat sheet, put it in your purse or wallet to take with you so you’re ready when you hit Happy Hour, go on that blind date, have a business meeting or simply want to impress friends with all your wine knowledge:

Beaujolais (low tannin)
Tempranillo (low tannin)
Pinot Noir, from the US (low to medium tannin)
Burgundy (low to medium tannin)
Chianti Classico (low to medium tannin)
Barbaresco (low to medium tannin)
Bordeaux (low to medium tannin)
Merlot, from the United States (low tannin)
Zinfandel (medium to high tannin)
Cabernet Sauvignon, from the US or Australia (high tannin)
Rhône, Syrah, Shiraz (high tannin)

(Well, Syrah/Shiraz is one of my favorites which explains a lot…)

Some other nice articles:

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-tannin-affects-red-wines-taste.seriesId-325340.html

http://www.finewineandgoodspirits.com/webapp/wcs/stores/WineandSpirits/learnentertain/entertain/wine_sensitivities.html

To summarize, your cheeks might only be red because you are enjoying wonderful grapes, spending time with friends and living life to its fullest. From Beaujolais to Shiraz lovers, and everybody in between, pop those cork and drink on…

Varietals

Tasting…7,8,9…Cheers

As the food fun progresses (we know it will never end), I was able to check out another new place the other night (it’s been my true week of fun!).  After DC and Pizza Pi, I went to downtown Annapolis and per a friend’s suggestion checked out Red Red Wine Bar.  Hmmm, the name had me sold and when I knew what I was about to write, I had to pour myself a glass of such liquid to set the recap scene.

You walk in and see both beer AND WINE on tap…that’s one you don’t spot all that often.  Happy hour runs until 7 and includes a tap wine, ‘regular’ white & red (as in from bottles with corks or screws tops), beer and a unique sangria.  The atmosphere and decor are very nice and there are wine bottles for sale.

Wine menu-wise, you can get wine by the glass, flight or bottle.  They also have a full bar.

I sampled the sangria — super sweet, they had to add soda water to make it drinkable, had a flight of Pinot (CA, OR and NZ tastes) then had a wine on tap — interesting — a little too chilled, but worth the taste.

We had dinner and the food was good — I opted for seared scallops with couscous as did another at the table, while another opted for shrimp creole.  We then had a cheese plate for dessert.  Did you know even lactards (or those who are lactose intolerant) can eat, or should be able to eat, Manchego?  It’s from sheep milk!  I found this out last year…happiness.  Amazing Manchego plate with apples, dried cranberries, pecans and honey.

In the end, great overall evening, would definitely go back.  This is a great place to go when you have a variety of palettes, from drinkers to eaters.

Cheers.

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