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Category Archives: Red Blends

Happy Father’s Day!!

Happy Father’s Day, to all you dad’s out there.

Being a dad, I think, is the greatest thing I’ve ever been, and I’ve been a lot of things.

Sunday was my ideal Father’s Day – spent the morning with Caia – we walked on Fifth Avenue, got some coffee for daddy, fruta y pan for Caia, did our grocery shopping (she’s a big help in that department – she picks out the bread for Sunday dinner, daddy rewards her with a cookie from the bakery, and she recommends that daddy buys all of the other cookies, too), went home for a nap while daddy got caught up on emails and waited for his dinner guests.

Watching her in public is one of my favourite things.  She is so curious, so observant, so careful and careless at the same time.  Quick to laugh, quick to ire, she is a mix of Cara and I to the letter.

I don’t much go in for receiving gifts, since it makes me feel weird, but Megan made me a t-shirt with a humorous saying on it – “That’s what,” she said.

Brilliant.

Our friend Jay joined us from Los Cabos for a couple of drinks.  It was great to catch up.

I haven’t cooked in awhile, so dinner was ridiculously late, but once it was done, it was great.

On the Menu: Roast Beef and Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Red Wine Gravy, Pan-Seared Yellow Bell Peppers

I wish I could take all the credit, but I got help on this week’s dinner.  On the advice of a friend, I put the roast in a tray but on a rack so that the air could get under it.  I will always do it this way again forever and eternity.

The trick is turning the oven up almost full-whack for thirty minutes, then turning it down to 170 celsius for the last hour.

Let the roast sit for ten to fifteen minutes after you take it out of the oven.

Megan and Rene brought over one of my favourite wines – 3V, by Casa Madero.  We started with that one, since we knew we were going to enjoy it.

The second bottle got a sampling as well.

Wine: Atteca, Old Vines, Red Blend, Spain, 2010
Rating: Two Bottles

I liked this wine.  The tart of a sour, red apple, and the sweet of blackberries.  I finished this bottle last night, and I liked it as much on a second sitting.  It didn’t sing to me poetry or whisper soft somethings in my ear, but it did it’s job and I would definitely buy it again.

That’s pretty much it for this week.

No nudity.

You’re welcome.

Cheers!

Anchors Away!

Last week, we went on a cruise.

I like the idea of a cruise.  The open ocean, several days at sea, a new port every morning.  What adventures lie ahead?

If you follow me on Twitter then you know a little bit about how our cruise started.  I won’t go into details here, as this is (ostensibly) a blog about wine and food.  I will say, however, that I do not like to see my fiancée cry, and she cried far too often on this trip for my liking.  Which is none.  I just mentioned that.  Why aren’t you listening?

I did sample some nice wines, however, so all was not lost.

Wine: Clos de los Siete by Michel Rolland, Red Blend, Mendoza, Argentina, 2009, $19 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

We got this wine at a shop on Devonshire Street, in Boston.  It’s right next to the Elephant & Castle restaurant in the Club Quarters Hotel, if you are nearby and want to find it.  I suggest that you do.  They’re lovely folks.

Caramel and toffee overtones are met with soft tannins that give this wine a buttery impression.  Deep, black cherry colours backup the dark red fruit flavours that come singing through from the first sip.

Wine: Underwood Cellars, Pinot Noir, Oregon, USA, 2010, $17 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

We also grabbed a bottle from Oregon, since U.S. wines are hard to find in Mexico, unless they are from California, and then, usually only if they are from Napa.

Very fruity, mostly berries, especially gooseberries, apples.  Very light.  Perfect for a hot summer night or an afternoon at sea.  Hey!  Look at that!  That’s what we were doingwhile we were drinking it!

Wine: Murphy Goode, Merlot, California, 2010, $29 USD
Rating: One Bottle

Dry tannins gave a very dry finish.  Coppery.  A little flat.  Fruity bouquet and a deep ruby colour, but a bit disappointing.

I ordered this wine at our first evening dining on the ship.  We had an amazing waiter.  His name is Charlie.  He is from the Philippines.  He made Caia a mouse out of a cloth napkin.  This made her giggle to the delight of all within earshot.

Wine: Peter Lehman, Shiraz, Australia, 2008, $29 USD
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Charlie also joined some of the other waiters to dance for our pleasure.  Not just our pleasure.  Other people watched, too.  My mom got up and danced with him.

Soft and plump (the wine), russet colouring, really nice up-front, but a little sharp on the back-end.  One of those wines that you think is going to be great when you first sip it, but it never really fulfills it’s promise.

Wine: Sledgehammer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, California, USA, 2008, $17 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

Another bottle from our friends at the wine store on Devonshire which we didn’t think to write down it’s name or snap a picture of the storefront.  Honestly, we had two cameras, and Caia was with my mom.  We could have at least grabbed a business card.  I’ll try Googling it.*

Bought mostly for the label (and because it’s called Sledgehammer), this wine was a great find.  Ripe figs and dates, fragrant bouquet, and very easy to drink, we were very happy with this purchase.

I have to say, there is something so freaking amazing about sitting on the balcony of your stateroom, watching the setting sun over the hills of Portland, Maine, with a glass of wine in your hand.

At one point, I may or may not have been standing on the balcony, watching the setting sun, with a glass of red wine in my hand, a cigarette in the other, and no clothes on.  That may or may not have happened.

Can’t be sure.

There is no proof.

Wine: Chianti, Bella Sera, Tuscany, Italy, 2010, $29 USD
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Light and delicate on the nose.  Pleasant, but a little weak for my liking.  One of those wines that you enjoy drinking, but cannot pick out of a line-up.  You know, one of those wine line-ups like they have on all the gritty cop shows.

Victim: “Number three.”

Detective: “Are you sure?”

Victim: “Not really, no.  It was a little flat and didn’t have a lot of mouthfeel, so I can’t really be sure.”

Detective: “Okay.  Can you think of anything else?”

Victim: “It was red?”

Wine: Louis Martini, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, USA, 2009, $40 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

Charlie also made sure to get me any info I needed for each wine.  If it wasn’t listed on the menu, he would go and ask what year it was, that kind of thing, and this is during a full dinner rush.  He really was tops.

Round and fruity, the Louis Martini was one my favourites on the ship.  Soft tannins left a velvety mouthfeel.  I had Chateaubriand that night.  They were wonderful playmates.

Wine: Hess Select, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California, USA, 2009, $35 USD
Rating: Two Bottles

And then I followed it up with another California red.  The Hess, unlike the Louis Martini, was dry.  Dry, but without being a dick about it.  Cherry flavours gave you the sweetness you enjoyed, while hints of dark chocolate and roasted coffee gave you the bitterness you desired for balance.

Wine: Côtes du Rhone, Michel Picard, Rhone, France, 2010, $33 USD
Rating: One Bottle

Our last night on the ship and it started off poorly.  Super dry and sharp.  Biting like grapefruit juice after you brush your teeth.  Not at all awesome, but if you like really dry reds, this might be the wine for you.

Wine: Mirassou, Pinot Noir, California, USA, 2010, $28 USD
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Soft berry flavours were a welcome relief from Bittertown as the realisation that the cruise was coming to an end was sinking in.  The last dance number the wait-staff performed was awesome, and Caia squealed with glee watching them dance on tables and seeing the lights flicker and flash in sync with the music.

That was nice.

The pinot was like an old friend, patting your hand as you wistfully wipe a tear from you eye, hoping that no one noticed.  Time with family is so precious, and as we get older, so fleeting.  We spend so much time planning for the memories we want to make someday, instead of getting around to making them.

As Paulo Coelho once wrote, ““Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”

In other words, follow your heart if you don’t want to be surrounded by trash.

Cheers!

*The store is called Boston Wine Exchange.  Check out their web site.  Don’t drop our name, though, since we didn’t tell them who we are and they might think that we were covert operatives buying reasonably priced wine to poison wino diplomats.

Drat and Double-Drat

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Sometimes, you just can’t pick a winning bottle to save your face. (And we had such high expectations for this week.)  It was Susan’s last Sunday with us; our friend Roy’s, too.  Josephine and Michael, Rene and Cara’s oldest friends, joined us, as well.  We wanted the wines we shared to be special.  We wanted them to elevate our evening to the heavens.  Instead, they left us wallowing in the dirt.

Rene and Megan made dinner.  This Sunday was our Home Owners’ Association general assembly and it was as fun as it sounds.  Since Cara was working, I flew solo.  If you’ve never sat on folding chairs in a circle on a Sunday morning talking about rules and regulations of a shared condo complex, let me tell you … you are missing out!  As far as meetings to establish fair rules of comportment in public access areas go, this one was off the hook!

Oh!  And the crazy lady wanted to make a rule that only residents of the complex could use the pool, meaning that guests could not!  How fun is that??  Her point (and for the record, I was totally on her side) was that people buy nice homes in the Caribbean with the intention of not enjoying the amenities that come with them, i.e. pools, etc., and that common areas are meant for watchin’, and not for sharin’.  Also, she wanted it made a rule that, while people can throw parties inside their own homes, their guestsmay not be outside.  (Fun!)  Also, nobody should be allowed to own pets.  Also, that the maximum number of guests allowed per resident be zero.  (Yay!)  Also, THE HUMMINGBIRDS INSIDE MY HEAD TELL ME THAT CHILDREN ARE THE KEEPERS OF THE MAGIC PAN FLUTES AND IF I WANT TO GET TO CANDY TOWN I HAVE TO OPEN THEIR BELLIES AND TAKE BACK WHAT THEY STOLE FROM ME!!!

Three hours later, I was somehow elected to the board of directors of the condo association despite following up her suggestions with, “Can we vote that we should only buy indestructible pool furniture from now on, and also … how many days do we really need in the calendar?  Can’t we get rid of a few?  Three-hundred-and-sixty-five is an annoying number.”

(Wheeee!!!)

On the Menu: Spinach Salad with Avocado and Blueberries, Sweet Peas with Basil, Beef Bourguignon, Honey Cake with Almonds

What can I say about dinner – it was fantastic.  Bourguignon is Rene’s specialty and Honey Cake is Megan’s awesome.

The two went very well together, too, I must say.  The spicy, tangy bourguignon, followed by the soft, silky honey cake, topped with whipped cream.  (Megan also let me know that there is whiskey in the honey cake.  Oh, honey cake … why you gotta be so good to me?)

They make a pretty good team, for a married couple.

Caia loved the peas, and who can blame her?  Sweet and buttery, they were the colour of Ireland if they were a hue at all.

The wines … were the low-points of the evening.

Wine: Aragus, Red Blend, Spain, 2010, $76 MXN
Rating: One Bottle

Nothing particularly bad about this wine.  Smooth and a little fruity, Josephine remarked that, “It gives your tongue a little velvety hug,” which is adorable and accurate.

On the downside, not a lot of personality and not a little innocuous.  Strawberries and bell peppers come out to play, but when they see the grey skies above, they pack up their toys and go home.

Easy to drink, but overwhelmingly underwhelming.

Wine: Santo Tomás, Tempranillo Cabernet, Baja Clifornia, Mexico, 2010, $127 MXN
Rating: One Bottle

Dark red fruit.

The end.

“No espectacular,” commented Roy.  We agreed.  Not offensive; not exciting.  So-so.  Table wine.  Not loving the tannins.

All descriptions of a wine that no vintner would ever hope to hear.

If you asked me upon trying this wine what I thought, I’d look up for a second, perhaps squint, hold my breath ever-so-slightly, then exhale and shrug.

Then a trumpet would go “Wah, wah …” in the background.

So, not a fantastic finish to Susan’s stay.  Roy, having been with us for only two TSBs must think we enjoy buying mediocre wine.

We know the truth.

We are sad to see Susan go.  She has been a welcome addition to our dinners.  We wish her “safe journey,” and fondly wait for her return.

Until next week,

Cheers!

Daddy Tired.  Daddy Go Sleepy.

Gang, it’s been a long haul.  We are counting down the days until our next vacation.  One-and-a-half months.  Getting four days off at Easter kind of made things worse, since I decided (foolishly? wisely?) to skip the nanny.  Cara worked every day, which meant that Daddy was a playground for the entire four days he had off.

Which is great.  Don’t get Daddy wrong.  Daddy loves playing with Caia.

It’s just …

The exhaustion

This Sunday, we went for our customary walk along Fifth Avenue here in Playa del Carmen.  Caia loves this time because she gets to look at all the shops, the ubiquitous street cats, and break Daddy’s sunglasses (to the delight of passersby).  Daddy likes it because Caia loves riding on his shoulders which makes him feel like a real man, and the two kilometer walk makes Caia sleepy, ensuring nap-time is a ‘Go.’

I wanted to make something that would require minimal effort on my part, on account of the tired.  Megan was going to do the salad and dessert, as usual, and I needed to tackle the main.  Thinking inside the box, I came up with Cottage Pie.

On the Menu: Organic Green Garden Salad with Strawberries, Watermelon, Pomegranate and Mint, in a Raspberry & Olive Oil Dressing, Cottage Pie, Strawberry and Apricot Galettes with Wild Blueberry Preserve And Whipped Cream

What distinguishes a Sheppard’s Pie from a Cottage Pie is the meat you use.  Sheppard’s Pie is made with lamb.  Beef equals Cottage.

Either way, and not surprisingly, Megan did a better job than I.  My mistake was trying to please too many people.  I substituted green beans for peas, and included spinach in the layers.  While this sounds like a good idea, it is not.  The result was too earthy.  Too much like the earth.  It tasted like dirt.

One thing I did that I liked, however, was including a bottom layer of potatoes.  I lined the bottom of the pan with olive oil, smoothed out a layer of potatoes, and baked it for fifteen minutes.  This made something of a crust, which made something of an awesome texture when you ate it.

The salad was awesome but didn’t hold a candle to the dessert.

We have been talking about doing a cook book for some time, and this will be a definite inclusion.  Which is why I can’t give you the recipe here.  But let me tell you: it is heaven.  It is one of those desserts that can go with any season, which almost any drink, and in almost every situation.

Got a promotion?  Galettes!  Have to break up with someone?  Galettes.

We tried to drink two bottles this week, but neither were really that great, so we kind of limped through half of each.

Wine: Casa Pedro Demecq, Reserva Real, Vino Tinto (Barbera/Cabernet Sauvignon), Valle de Calafia, Baja California, Mexico, 2009, $165 MXN
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Higher alcohol content (14.1%) made this a heady, sharp wine.  Megan and Susan found it acidic, though it didn’t really bother me that much.  Good things going for it?  Smokey and oaky, with a hint of some kind of flower.  After much cursing, we figured it out – clover.  Peppery and spicy, this wine would fall under the “got-to-be-in-the-mood-for” category of wines.

Not overly easy to drink.

Wine: Santo Tomás, Vino Tinto (Barbera/Merlot), Valle de Santo Tomás, Baja California, Mexico, 2008, $220 MXN
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Cassis and cherries, leathery and full, the Santo Tomás was certainly more popular with Megan, Susan, and Roy (another Canadian friend of ours down for a visit).  While not my favourite of the two, as I found this one too sharp, I was roundly disagreed with.

One thing we all agreed on: neither of these wines would be bottles any of us would seek out again.  They just didn’t have that je ne sais quoi that one looks for in a wine.

Whatevs.  Probably the Barbera.  It can be a little bitey.

Next week, Megan and I are going to shift things around a little bit.  We’re going hunting for a new wine bar.

Yes, sadly, Cava Veinte33 closed its doors this week.  Demian and Maria José are expanding their horizons, and the restaurant life is a demanding one.  Too much time is required running a restaurant to allow a person to do … well, anything else, really.

On behalf of The Sunday Bottles, we’d like to wish them all the best in the future, and look forward to clinking glasses again with them soon.

This means, of course, that the search is on.  If you are familiar with the area, feel free to suggest places you think we might like.  Preferably, places that serve wine not from a bag or a box.

That would be a good start, I think.

Cheers!

Poutine, Alfredo, and Five Bottles of Wine

Here at TSB, we have a long-standing tradition, established this weekend, of introducing Mexico to Canadian cuisine whenever possible.

Demian and MJ came to dinner, and Megan’s mom, Susan, has a friend, Wendy, who is visiting from British Columbia.  If there ever was a better Sunday to make that true Canadian dish, poutine, I’d like to see it.

For the uninitiated, poutine consists of thin-cut French fries, cheese curds, gravy.  If you’ve never had it, it will sound … odd … at first.  But trust us – there is nothing that sates a hungry person like poutine.

Canadian Fun Fact:

A Quebecois dish, poutine was invented when drunk coureurs de bois  ran out of beaver meat, and were forced to supplement their diet with potatoes and beef gravy.  Few people know this, but in addition to beer and maple syrup flowing from the trees of our plentiful coniferous forests, beef gravy can also be sourced from birch trees, and cheese curds grow on the stems of the ubiquitous blue flag irises that grow across la belle province.

On the Menu: Poutine, Garden Salad with Goat Cheese, Berries and Starfruit, Chicken Alfredo with Asparagus, Candied Ginger Cookies

Our guests had some reservations about the poutine, but once you try poutine, you are powerless to resist her … powers.  The salad was a product of Megan’s imagination, and cleansed our palettes before embarking on another rich culinary adventure.

Alfredo is a dish best served guilt-free.  If you are counting calories, Alfredo is probably not for you.  Anything made with heavy cream, butter, and cheese is one of those things best left to professional eaters.

Since we had so many guests this week, we were also stuck with a glut of wine.  Which we drank.

Wine: Canepa, Novísimo, Syrah, 2010, Chile, $122 MXN (Chedraui)
Rating: One Bottle

Demian, MJ, Cara, and I drank this while we waited for the rest of our guests to join us.  Nice on the nose, but flat in the mouth, this wine was disappointing.  Not terrible in any way, but also unremarkable.  The promise of fruits and berries is replaced with a mouthfeel of “Meh” and a palette of “Well, that’s a shame …”

Acidic aftertaste – goes well with a glass of water.

Wine: Moëbius, Cabernet/Syrah/Merlot, 2009, Mexico, $450 MXN (Cava Veinte33)
Rating: Two Bottles

Robust and full, this is a great wine for people that love a big wine.  Oaky and leathery, Moëbius is a complex wine that hints at all-spice, cardamom, and dark chocolate.  On a muggy afternoon, this wine was a little overbearing.  It lacked a fireplace and a cloudless, cold night.

Pronounced “Mo-e-bee-us.”

Wine: Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery, Canoe North White Bluff, VQA, 2008, Langley, British Columbia, $12.99 CAD
Rating: Three Bottles

This is a superb white.  A blend of grapes (Pinot Blanc, Madeleine Angevine, Chardonnay and Madeleine Sylvaner) makes it soft and sweet, with flavours of peaches, lemongrass, and cotton candy.

Being Demian’s first try at a Canadian wine, we were very grateful for Wendy bringing it down with her, and so was he.  Yay, Wendy!  I love it when people try Canadian wine for the first time.  They always have a look on their faces that reminds me of when Cara saw me play sports for the first time.  Like, “You can run?”

Capitoso, Tempranillo, Rioja, 2009, Spain, $136 MXN (Chedraui)
Rating: One Bottle

Flat.  Meh.  Smuh.

I don’t know what’s going on with Chedraui.  They used to carry decent wines.  Maybe they just aren’t selling enough of the stuff to make it worth consistently bringing in good vino.  Whatever the reason, the last few bottles we’ve tried in the $100 – $200 pesos range have been fairly disappointing.

Next.

Fratelli Pasini, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, Mexico, $400 (Cava Veinte33)
Rating: Two-and-a-half Bottle

FP strikes again!  We love this winery.  And not only because it’s in Mexico, but because their wine is so fantastically consistent.  Their wines never disappoint, they are balanced, have all the right characteristics in all the right places, and are not ridiculously expensive.

The Cabernet is a very good, well-rounded wine.  Soft tannins make it a perfect wine for pasta. (And for the fifth bottle of the night.)  Being Wendy’s first taste of Mexican wine, we were very glad it was this one.

Needless to say, everyone was pretty much ready for bed by the time we were finished with our heavy food and copious cups.

I think I will need the rest of this week to rejuvenate.

Until then,

Cheers!

Happy Wine-iversary!! It’s Been A Good Year

Greetings and welcome!  And Happy Wine-iversary to us!  A year ago, we began our journey of drinkery and we’ve relished every minute.  Except for the times that we hated.  Those sucked.

To help us celebrate, Rene and Cara teamed up, as siblings so often do (ppfffbbt!), and made a dinner to commemorate the occasion.  We were supremely grateful and well-fed by the end of it all.

One the Menu: Pan-Fried Green Beans, Asparagus in a Red Wine Reduction, Pan Fries, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Avocado Pie

That’s right: Avocado Pie, y’all.  It’s a recipe that Cara stumbled onto years ago, and we’ve begged her to make it ever since on a near monthly basis.  She breaks it out for special occasions.  This one made the cut.

Rene handled the dinner part.  The chicken was awesome.  I’m always impressed when someone can put together a layered anything, bread it, pop it in the oven, and it comes out looking and tasting perfect.  Mine never do that.  They usually look like a Dali painting when I’m done with them.  Sometimes they also taste like one.

Not having to do any of the cooking, this gave Megan and I plenty of time to reminisce about the past year and to plan for the next one.  We’re thinking “Cook Book.”  A book filled with recipes from the hits and misses of the year before.  You know, for posterity.  You know, a cook book. (Idiot …)

We also filled an entire notebook of tasting notes.  In total we made  57 posts, and we’ve been visited over 6,000 times.  We’ve had reservations made at restaurants we’ve mentioned by people going on vacation who’ve read our blog and thought they’d like to try what we wrote about.  We’ve been referenced by other sites, we’ve been re-posted on other blogs, and we won our first blog award.

In short, it’s been a good year.

(Get it?  A good year?  Like wine?  A good … never mind.)

This week, we thought about buying something really outstanding to review, but that just didn’t seem us.  Instead, we did what we always do: bought wines based on pretty labels and clever branding.

Wine: RE, Merlot, Curicó Valley, Chile, 2011, $76.55 MXN
Rating: One Bottle

Green would be the best way to describe this wine.  Fresh.  So fresh, so young … so bad.

Megan and Cara did not mind this wine.  In fact, they like it’s freshness.  All I could pick up on was the cough medicine aftertaste.

I will say that it improved with some time out of the bottle, but not by much.  Enough, however, to allow it to pass our rigorous approval method – did we finish the bottle?  Yes.

We moved on.  If this past year has taught us nothing else, it’s to roll with the punches … of shitty wine in our face.

I wanted to finish our year with a wine from our host country.  We’ve had some success with Monte Xanic in the past, so …

Wine: Monte Xanic, Calixa, Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah, Mexico, 2009, $199 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

Velvety bouquet with a pungent nose.  Hints of caramel and butter toffee.  Ripe fruits dominate the palate – plums, figs, dates, black cherries.  Very smooth and inky.  This wine, we liked much more.  Really, our kind of wine.  A slightly mature palette and more complex than the previous wine of the evening.

We like a wine that gives us something to talk about or evokes a feeling or a memory.  If a wine can actually be a bottle of nostalgia, that’s a keeper.  We like our wines like we like our people – we want them to be interesting.

Though it only got two bottles, this was a wine that kind of did it for us.  It wasn’t fantastic, but for the price, was very good.  Plus, with the misty, cool nights we’ve been having, it was just right.

So Happy Wine-iversary to us!  We’d like to thank our family for putting up with our grumpiness around dinner time.

We’d also like to thank everyone who has followed us this year.  Though we’ve never met many of you, you’re part of what we do, because, ultimately, it’s you we do this for.

Which is weird, if you think about it.

(Let’s not.)

Cheers!

 

Oh the Zen! The Zen of it All!

There is a Zen-like composure that comes over you when you are cooking the only meal of the week in which you are allowed to indulge your less healthy desires.  You pay more attention to the little details.  You prepare in advance more, not wanting something to be spoiled because of bad timing.  The process of cooking takes on a life of its own, sucking you in and down into its delicious, swirling vortex, the anticipation of the meal to come, ripping out all impatience, and replacing it with a sense of oneness with your kitchen.

I have just completed my second week of body modification.  There will be no cutting, piercing, or inking going on.  None of my modifications will be permanent; all will require maintenance for the rest of my life.  Yet I find myself embracing these changes in lifestyle for the ecstasy they bring, once a week, on Sunday nights.

Anything, when only permitted once a week, takes on a new level of importance.  It becomes a quest.  The week spent in the gym – the labyrinths and catacombs and dungeons and caves.  The weights and treadmills and reps and sets – my dragons and Cyclopes and minotaurs – all to be defeated for my maiden fair Meal.  “I see thee, fair maiden, and I shall deserve thee.”

The challenge, now, is not undoing all of the work I have put in at the gym all week by loading up on carbs and fat.  (Challenge failed.)

On the Menu: Citrus Twist Coleslaw, Three Lettuce Salad, Tri-Colour Baked Beans, Seasoned Potato Wedges, Butter-Flashed Asparagus with Rosemary, Oven-Baked Steak Medallions, Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

On the surface, I know, it looks like a healthy enough dinner.  The reality is, that anything that gets cooked in that much butter cannot be healthy.  Well, not lean, anyway.

I have found that if you marinade beef in butter for thirty minutes prior to cooking, it tastes like awesome.  (The marinade also included salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary.)

The steaks get seared on each side for about two minutes, with a little olive oil in the pan to keep them from sticking, then the whole skillet goes into a 230 degree oven for 8 minutes.  This should give you a medium-rare to medium result.

Joseph handled the salads again, and his introduction of citrus to the coleslaw blew everyone’s minds.

Megan’s poppy seed cake was an exercise in elegance and exquisite balance of flavour and texture.  At the end of a long day and night, it was just what everyone needed, whether they knew it or not.

And we had two additions to the table this week.  Megan’s aunt Judith is visiting us from Toronto, and Cara and Rene’s cousin, Lada, is visiting from the Czech Republic.  TSB goes global, y’all …

Judith was kind enough to bring a bottle of wine from Canada.  Well, from France, but the bottle was in Canada for awhile.

Wine: Les Hauts de Castellas Vacqueyras, Red Blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre), Rhône Valley, France, 2009, $19.95 CAD
Rating: Two Bottles

Since we detected hints of rosemary in this wine, it went very well with this week’s meal, the harmonizing herb of this week’s dinner.  In their tasting notes, the LCBO mentions, “Ideal for homemade gourmet hamburgers or rich meat-based pastas.”  Funny, that.

Earthy, herby, and floral, this wine is on the light-ish side, but with tannins that more than make up for it – a little too up front for most of our liking.  We were a divided bunch on this wine.  The vintners recommend shelving this wine for five to seven years, so we were two years short.  We agreed with their estimates.  Given a little more time, this wine would probably round out a bit more and lose a lot of its bitey-ness.

Being that there were nine of us, wine didn’t stand on ceremony this week, so neither will we.

Wine: Pagos del Moncayo, Grenache/Syrah, Campo de Borja, Spain, 2010, $150 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

I got this wine from Demian at Cava Veinte33.  One of his new wines, his enthusiasm for it was contagious, so I bought it.  (Never refuse an excited sommelier.  It’s kind of like turning down a bower.)

With dark fruit and apple flavours, this woody wine is light but complex.  Sandalwood plays off peppery notes, while chocolate and figs bring up the bottom.

Amazing value for the price.

Wine: Viña Pomal, Rioja Crianza, Spain, 2009, $145 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

All of the wines this week went very well with red meat.  This very typical Rioja – earthy, oaky, and leathery – was no exception.  Although, if pressed, I would have to say that it didn’t have as much character as the other two.  Also, we were tired.  It just felt a little flat.  It was fine, don’t get me wrong, just not much to write home about.

And with our plates clean and our bellies full, we bid each other a good night.

And I toddled off to bed, to sleep, eagerly awaiting my work-outs to come, knowing that each bench I press (?) brings me that much closer to the next Sunday Bottles.

Until then,

Cheers!

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