Firsty Friday - Day 2 London

This day we got up at 8am after our waking up at 4:00am and making ourselves stay in bed.  It rained just about the whole day, I was prepared hat and thick wool coat.  Gwen and I shared an umbrella and we made our way around the whole city this morning in the rain.  Out and about at 9:15am and off to breakfast at Giraffe.  I forget that bacon here isn't like our American version, it's not the streaky bacon we're used to, it's more like Canadian bacon.  Simple meal but perfect, and all I wanted was tea, I usually have coffee in the morning, but I'm in England so I wanted tea and Earl Grey it was.

Then despite the rain, oh my oh my, lots of shopping, Harrod's, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Top Shop and anywhere else we could find.  After much shopping we headed back to our hotel to drop off our new purchases and head out again for some pints and more shopping to find SB and proper scarf.  After all that walking we decided our tired feet had had enough so we headed home where we decided to have a Firsty Friday instead of a Wino Wednesday.

This week the wine was provided by our friends Ieuan and Gwen, who we are with and actually picnicking in their hotel room, while listening to lounge music courtesy of SB. Wine picture to come as I'm trying to update my blog from a PC and it won't convert my pictures vertically to share with you.  I'll come back and update when I get on a mac.  On with the story, we ran to a posh grocery store, Waitross, for some snacks. Stilton cheese with cranberries, and a sharp creamy bleu cheese, Carr's crackers, grapes, blackberries, kalamata olives, and green olives stuffed with peppers.  SB had beer, of course, called "Old Crafty Hen."

So here's the Wine of the week:
Savigny Les-Beaune 2002 (Domaine Camus-Bruchon).
A nice red burgundy wine.
First Smell:  Black Currants, Plums, Cedar Smell
First Taste:  Plums and Oak.  Dry and delicious.
Observations:  A woodsy wine, it was light but rich in flavor. Perfect with all our treats.

What a great way to spend Wino Wednesday or Firsty Friday with our friends and in a foreign country.  Loving England.
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Saturday Turnovers

What do you do on a Saturday when you don't feel very well and your husband asked if we could go to the store and buy puffed pastry dough for the left-over apples.  Seriously just hearing SB say puffed pastry was exciting enough.  So, though I've posted about this before here, I thought I'd share again these lovely little things.  Super delicious and easy to make. I believe he ate 4 of them in one day.

Oh and you'll love this, ironically since I've been posting about wine, only 3 Wino Wednesday's so far, I get to do some research for a work assignment guessed it Wine.  Seriously how great is that.
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First Wino Wednesday

Kona - A wine from New Zealand, Marlbourough Sauvignon Blanc

So I'm a seasonal drinker.  I like white wines in hot weather, well I also like a gin and tonic, but this is a wine post. Sorry all you mid-westerners and east coasters, and British, it's sunny and warm in So. Cal.

Here's my observations
First smell:  apples
First taste:  pears and apples
After eating a bit and letting the wine breath then I tasted white peaches
It was crisp with a little tangy taste.

Here's a wine makers official notes: Marlborough's free-draining, alluvial loams over gravelly subsoils provide ideal growing conditions for our KONO Sauvignon Blanc. With the abundant sunshine, cool nights and a long growing season in this region, this wine is vibrant with intense citrus and gooseberry flavours and notes of capsicum and passionfruit.

Seriously who talks like this.  I have no idea what capsicum is, so I looked it up, and apparently it's like a bell pepper or chili pepper.  Honestly I would equate the tangy taste I noted with a mild bell pepper.

I drank this wine while I ate french bread and brie supreme super creamy cheese, followed by baked wild caught salmon and asparagus for dinner.  This also influenced my choice of a white wine.

I bought this wine at, where else, Trader Joe's.  I paid a wapping $7.99.  Not a bad wine for that cheap.

Next week I will address the whole ideas of box wine, screw top, corks, etc...
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Wino Wednesday

So, starting January 1st, I made an oath to myself that I would not have any alcohol for one month. This was inspired by a Andrew Knowlton, a writer for Bon Appetit.  He says he goes alcohol and meat free every January. So my plan was, alcohol none, meat yes.  While I'm not really a big drinker I am a social one.  I love to have a glass of wine with a good meal, usually only on the weekends.  Occasionally during the week, if there is a work function or the meal just screams for it.

I thought this would be easy.  NOT SO MUCH.  So my plan included SB he said he'd do this with me, only he wasn't sold on the 31 days.  He suggested one week, I didn't think that was much of a challenge.  So he reluctantly agreed.  Did he make it, NOT SO MUCH.  After one week, we went out to dinner to Ye Olde Kings Head.  Nice English pub, he didn't last a minute.  I told him he was "weak" he said that wasn't true that I had to look at it as he made it one "week."  Whatever, I was not to be deterred.

So here's where I remained strong:

1. Company Potluck function -  This happened the first full week in January. Everyone brought a nice french dish to our bosses house, and our lovely host served the best champagne and someone brought a few really good bottles of wine.  How I handled this:  I thought ahead and gave myself a "talking," to remain strong.  So I bought a bottle of Martinelli's Apple Cider, you know the ones in the nice Champagne looking bottle.  My host graciously gave me my own ice bucket to keep it chilled, he filled up my Champagne flute constantly and, voila, no peer pressure as everyone thought I was having a cocktail.  I do have to say it was interesting listening to conversations when your the only one not drinking.

2. Ye Olde Kings Head - I spent so many of my single days here.  Having a nice black & tan pint.  Making fun of my friends for ordering wine in a PUB, who does that, apparently my friend did. I had a Rootbeer, it's all psychological, right?

3. The very next week - We had friends over and I offered them many choices of booze.  The girls wanted to try the Sparkling Mandarin.  Seriously hard, as I have yet to try it.  I made it, they loved it, I drank water, ooooh this was hard.  But I did make Tiramasu, yes I reverted to the 90's favorite dessert.  The ladies fingers were soaked in rum and espresso, I did have some, but technically this is NOT drinking, right? 

4. Drinks after work - An old co-worker wanted to catch-up and share with us her new job endeavor.  So we met at the Alibi room. Thankfully they have a decent food menu of Kogi truck delights.  I reverted to my 7 year old self and ordered Shirley Temples.  Didn't they use to pour in the pink sweet juice from the cherry's.  I only got one cherry.  Come ON people don't you know this is a poor substitution for a Gin & Tonic?

So the month is over, I made it, if you don't count the tiramasu.  Tuesday, February 1, I had my first glass of wine in a month.  A glass of Pinot Grigio.  Was delightful, and I immediately turned red, this never happened in the past, but I guess the detox made me a bit sensitive.

What I learned?  I have more will power than I thought.  It's really about setting your mind to a goal and anticipating the situations that may tempt you and determining alternatives before you get there.

What am I going to do now?  Well a much loved radio station, no longer on the air in L.A., (called Indie 103.1), use to do a segment called "Wino Wednesday."  They'd have a wine maker come in, try wines and talk about it every Wednesday at 8am.  Can you believe that was part of their job, made my morning commute so much more enjoyable.  While I am NO sommelier I am an average Jane.  So I will officially make Wednesday's, "Wino Wednesday."  I will pick a wine and give my very average observations.  I'll tell you where I got it, how much I paid, if I ate anything with it.  I may throw in a few of my co-worker's observations, as they will be willing if unknowing participants in this.  I have one observation for you already.  As CC said: "we're no wine snobs here, so shut up and drink the wine."  That's what we intend to do.
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Books I've Read - January

I just finished this fascinating book called the Billionaire's Vinegar. It's all about a bottle of wine sold thru Christies that broke auction records. Supposedly it's a bottle that Thomas Jefferson purchased from the Chateau and had engraved with his initials, year and vintage. In 1985 it was sold to Malcolm Forbes for $160K. The story features a few real life collectors and one man, Hardy Rodenstock, who seems to suspiciously stumble upon the oldest bottles of wine. I love wine, but can't say I know much about it. This book was a fascinating journey on what kinds of tasting notes wine specialists make, on Christies and Sotheby's auctions and the people who run them, how to make a 1787 vintage fake wine, then how to test wine to see if its fake (i.e. radation before and after the a-bombs) and why some people collect wine to store in a cellar and others drink it, seriously why wouldn't you drink it. If you love wine you'll enjoy this book immensely. I enjoy a good mystery, love history and am grateful to learn something new anytime I take a week to read a book.

My dear friend Bekah and I like to swap books and she told me I must read the above book. I started it last night and already laughed on Page 2. The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicous Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City. David Lebowitz has a funny sense of humor and I love when people can just pick up there lives and move to a new city, foreign one at that. I know I'd have to learn patience if I moved anywhere as things are done so much differently. But that's the charm of it all. I'll share a few snippets as I get further into the book. It has fantastic recipes that have already made me salivate.
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