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Category Archives: Sauvignon Blanc

Three Bottles and a Wedding

This week is going to be kind of fragmented as Megan and I went to the wedding of Demian Fuentes and Maria Jose Aragón on Saturday.  Weddings are beautiful, almost always, and this one was truly remarkable.  And organized!  We were sat as soon as we arrived for the reception; Demian and Maria Jose had a kick ass intro (a slideshow on a giant screen of photos of the adorable couple doing couple-y set to U2’s live version of “All I Want Is You,” which leads into “Where The Streets Have No Name,” to which they did a lap of the room to thunderous applause); the first dance; the parents’ dance; dinner is served; dessert; Demian’s adorable dad’s speech; dancing; drunk.

Megan and I left at eleven.  This may not seem weird to many of our Canadian and American friends, but in Mexico, that simply is not done.  We left right about when people started waking up.  (Metaphorically speaking.  Everyone was wide awake for the entire wedding.)  But, being sad-sacks, we simply don’t stay up that late.  (My daughter gets up at seven every morning.  Cara works Sundays.  We didn’t hire the nanny.  What was I supposed to do?  Plus, one of us had to drive.  You shut up!)

We tried to find out the name of the wine they were serving, but the waiter couldn’t understand why we would want to know the name of the wine.  Cabernet … something.  It was delicious.  That’s all that matters.

The next day, Megan had a photo shoot so I took the role of chef.

On the Menu: Honey Roasted Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks, Roasted Vegetables, Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Sugar Frosting (by Megan)

Being on a budget is an interesting challenge in the kitchen.  You have to find a group of ingredients that will go well together without seeming meagre.  I find that chicken breasts are commonly over-priced (and over-used) and the thighs and legs are the tastier parts of the bird, anyway.

Coat the bottom of your roasting tray with olive oil.  (Megan and I are addicted (literally) to basil-infused olive oil.  It adds a hint of basil to everything without becoming the salient flavour.)  Dredge the skin-side of your chicken pieces through the oil then place them, skin up, on the tray.  Salt and pepper generously.  Coat in honey.  Crush dried rosemary and sprinkle.  Roast in the oven for an hour at 200°C.

For the vegetables, repeat the same steps in a separate roasting, tray but without coating the vegetables in oil.  Instead, break 250mg of unsalted butter into knobs and place them around the roasting tray.  Roast them with the chicken for the same amount of time.

You’re welcome.

Wine: Casal Garcia, Vinho Verde, Portugal, 2010, $138 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

This is a really fun, novel wine.  Lots of effervescence gives it a bubbly character without the carbonation of Prosecco or Champagne.  Just enough to make it interesting.  (This wine would go very well with gelato.)  Originally purchased by Megan because of the label, we were expecting the worst, but we were very happily surprised when we tasted it.  On the semi-sweet side, it would make a fantastic summer wine.

We moved onto dessert at this point and opened the second bottle of the evening.

Wine: Concha y Toro, Sendero, Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay, D.O. Valle Central, Chile, 2010, $79 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

This was a good week for wines.  Concha y Toro is our old standby in the red department due to its consistency and affordability.  This was the first white we’d tried by them, however, and we are pleased to report that it stood up well to its tinto cousins.  Fruity, with apples and peaches and pears.  Slightly acidic, with hints of citrus on the finish, leave your mouth feeling clean, and not over-sweet, as some whites can do.  This wine went perfectly with the dessert that Megan made, since the ginger and the lemon made for  a sweet and sour combination that complimented the wine perfectly.

Thanks to everyone who has been following TSB and sending us email over the last few months.  You are all making this a lot of fun!  On behalf of TSB, we would also like to congratulate Demian and Maria Jose.  We feel truly blessed to have met you both, and we were very touched that you chose to include us in your special day.

Cheers!

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab, But I Said: No. No. No.

I really wanted this week to be gumdrops and lollipops, but it just didn’t work out that way. My daughter has an inner ear infection, which, if you’ve never experienced a toddler with an ear infection before, is awesome. My dad also got an ear infection, which differs only slightly from a toddler having one. (The difference between a toddler getting an inner ear infection and a gentleman-of-a-certain-age getting an inner ear infection is that the toddler won’t make the hospital think she’s having a heart attack or a stroke. Seriously, what is it with getting older that makes doctors think that everything is either heart attack or stroke? Lousy statistics.) We went back and forth with our financing company for the house. (Not to worry – success.) I also listened to way too much Elliott Smith this week. Not good. Like Salinger. Should be consumed in measured doses.

And then Amy Winehouse died. We couldn’t possibly do TSB this week without mentioning Amy Winehouse and her brilliant, too short career. (We even shipped guests in from the UK to commemorate the event. Well, all the way from downtown Playa del Carmen, anyway.) Winehouse’s talent was undeniable. Sadly, so, too, was her eventual end.  A very sad, tragic death, which must give us all pause as we remember our late twenties – those years that mimic the awkward teenage years of our adolescence, but ramped up with credit cards and baggage. Know this, ye lads and lasses in your early twenties: the years between 27 and 29 are the roughest; if you can’t just get past them, you can get past anything.

So what better way to dismiss a long week like a nosy neighbour peeking through your curtains than with a night of food, drink, and friends?

Our guests, Paul and Victoria, joined us for libations as we sat around the pool, talking about Scotland, trading dirty jokes about animals (and now I can only remember the really insulting-slash-offensive ones … of course), and eating the occasional spring roll.

On The Menu: Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Teriyaki Ginger Dipping Sauce, Vegetarian Sushi, Chicken and Beef Satay with Peanut Chilli Dipping Sauce, Apple Blackberry Awesome Cake with Cream

If you want to chase the blues away, drink white wine and include a heavy regimen of dipping sauces in your diet. The spring rolls tasted exactly the way spring rolls should – crispy, hot, and delicious. The perfect pre-dinner snack.

The satay was fun to make. Grilling meat and poultry while drinking wine and talking with friends. What else is summer for?

And yes, I called the dessert Awesome Cake.  That’s because the dessert was a thing from outer space. Warm and soft, the mix of berries and apples, sour and sweet, combined brilliantly with the cream.

And throughout all of this, there was the wine. Well, the first bottle, anyway …

Wine: Lapostolle, Casa, Sauvignon Blanc, Rapel Valley, Chile, 2010, $205 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

This is an effervescent wine; it drinks more like a gewürztraminer. (That’s a wine, right?) Very sweet, but pleasantly so. Super fruity. This is a great summer wine. It tastes like sitting outside on a deck (or a dock) with friends, one of whom has a guitar. Cara loved it. She described it as “yummy.”  We all agreed.

In between courses, we sat with our friends and talked about great hotel lobbies. And horrible ones. The worst one (which got me compliments on my Scottish accent) was in Glasgow, The Grand Hotel. A classic bait and switch: beautiful pictures that were nowhere to be seen in reality. One of four elevators worked. The heating and air conditioning had not been hidden, but hung, exposed, from the ceiling. A retro-fit Dr. Frankenstein would be proud of. In World War II, the hotel had been used as a triage hospital for wounded soldiers. The way you knew this was it still had the crash plates on the double-swinging doors in the hallways for the gurneys to rush through. That, and it smelled like ghosts.

But the topper for that “grand” hotel was the receptionist. Nightmare Sally, wearing a button shirt, two sizes too small, who acted like our checking in was the last thing she needed today. “Great,” she thinks to herself. “Customers.” After our incredibly brief perusal of our room (wallpaper peeling from every wall, blood on the bedspread, tiles coming off the shower walls, no curtains on the bathroom window which overlooked the concourse of the Central Station terminal … one storey up) we politely asked the receptionist if it was possible that all of the rooms in the hotel looked about the same as ours, or if there had been, perhaps, a mistake. She looked at us with all of the contempt that the Scots can muster for tourists (considerable) and said, “Well … there-are-two-hundred-and-twenty-two-rooms-in-the-hotel-I-can’t-know-what-they-all-look-like-can-I?”  Bear in mind, this hotel charged £150, at the time worth about $340 USD.  Not exactly a bargain.

The best lobby, also in Glasgow, was across the street. It featured an Indian restaurant and a twenty-four hour bar. In the lobby! The rooms were nice, too.

Dinner finished, the night winding down, we opened the second bottle of the night.

Wine: Casa Rivas, Reserva, Cabernet Sauvignon, D.O. Valle del Maipo, Chile, 2007, $173 MXN
Rating: One-And-A-Half

A very interesting wine, this one.  Very big.  Lots of bite at first, but it mellows quickly.  Kind of like an indecisive vampire – or a really picky one, at least – kind of annoying.  “I want to suck your blood!  Or do I?” Not terrible, just a little annoying. This wine feels like sitting around a kitchen table, talking about books, politics, or celebrities. While we enjoyed this wine, it is one that you would have to be in the mood for.  I wouldn’t call it easy to drink, but it’s not hard on the palette, either.  I would recommend trying this wine for yourself, especially if you like a wine with moderate tannin to it.  Using the aerator helped this quite a bit, but I found this wine too tart without it.

Like I said: just a little annoying.

And so, as the sun peeks over the horizon on another beautiful day in the Caribbean, we bid you good week.  If you want a transcript of the dirty animal jokes, please email us and we will forward you one or two.

 

Until next week,

 

Cheers!

Happy Father’s Day, Every One

So this was my second Fathers Day and a wonderful day it was.  Cara has begun work at a new resort which insists that its staff spend a night with them as guests.  No problem.  They are also encouraged to invite their families.  Merci beaucoup!

Waking up in a four star resort is kind of awesome.  A breakfast buffet by the sea is even awesomer.

We got home in the afternoon just in time for Caia Skye to have a nap.  Then, we went next door to Megan and Rene’s to enjoy a Fathers Day dinner and some wine.

On the menu: Bruschetta, Caesar Salad, Gnocchi Bolognese, Garlic Bread, Chocolate Gelato with Chocolate Almond Biscotti, Decaf Espresso with Coffee-Infused Whipped Cream

That was my Fathers Day dinner.  What’d you have?

It must be said that when Megan outdoes herself, she outdoes herself well.  The bruschetta was a beautiful blend of ingredients; perfectly balanced, light but not empty.  Each flavour complimented the other.  Garlic flirted with basil; olive oil with tomato.  It was a symphony.

The Caesar salad wasn’t bad either, (if by not bad, you mean wicked) as Megan used a lighter, less creamy dressing, instead of the thicker, eggier version most of us are used to.  And it was a good thing, too, since it allowed us more room for the gnocchi.

Like tiny little pillows, they were, landing sleepily on our tongues.  But instead of a cheesy, cream sauce, Megan opted for a heartier Bolognese.  And it was marvellous.  The contrast of sharp, acidic flavours from the tomatoes and beef was tempered by the soft texture and taste of the dumplings.  You know it’s good when people are halfway through their plates before anyone speaks.

We took a break while Cara put the baby to bed, and to allow our stomachs to relax, waiting, anticipating, the sweetness that was to come.

All the while, we enjoyed a very nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Wine: Beringer, Founders’ Estate, Sauvignon Blanc, California, 2009, $210.95 MXN

Rating: Two-and-a-Half Bottles

This was a really nice find.  While at the resort, the Royal Haciendas, we ran out of preserves, so I made my way down to the store they have there.  I was impressed to find a half decent wine selection.  I came across this Beringer, which I was drawn to by the shape of the bottle.  (I know, right?  I’m an idiot.)

Crisp, and on the slightly sweeter side (but in a good way).  Pear, apple, and grapefruit dominate this lovely little uva, and we drank it slowly, savouring each sip.

It warmed well, too, which is a rarity in whites.  Generally, we’ve found that as a white wine warms up it takes on a sourness that is almost always unpleasant.  Not so with the Beringer.  It kept its character to the very end and was a find accompaniment to dinner.  Although a red might have suited the fare a little more, bear in mind that it is a zillion degrees Celsius down here, and five hundred percent humidity.  We finished off the bottle just in time for dessert.

The chocolate gelato, Megan found at Walmart.  The rest, was her.  She made the chocolate biscotti from scratch.  She whipped the cream and infused it with coffee.  She made the decaf espresso.  She blew our minds.  It was a labour of love, honouring my second year as a dad, and I loved her for it.

As the meal settled into our now full bellies, we contemplated watching The King’s Speech, but then we all of us started to doze, and knew it was time for bed.

Not a lot of laughs this week, but that’s what happens when everything goes smoothly.*

Next week, I promise I’ll get back in the kitchen so you all have something to grin about.  “Oh that Craig … Always burning something!”

Until then,

Cheers!

*I thought about detailing my night at the resort, the near-tropical storm that raged throughout the night, waking the baby in the middle of the night; my prostatitis that makes me feel like I need to tinkle every thirteen seconds; the fact that the only bathroom in the condo was blocked by a restless toddler in a strange crib who awoke with the slightest noise, screaming for “mama;” because Cara had meetings all day starting in the morning and I snore, I slept on the couch, without a blanket, dreaming of Terminator 3 (why?!?).  But I thought it would seem a little douchey of me.  You know, to complain about your free night at a luxury resort?  A little wanky.  So I didn’t complain.  I recounted.  Fuck you.

Oh what a night …

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So, for the second time, TSB welcomed guest reviewers to our Sunday ritual.*  As mentioned in last week’s post, our guest was to be Briar, our friend and compatriot, Valkyrie and poetess, philanthropist and volley-ball enthusiast.  At the last minute Cara invited our other friend, Michael, so we had an even six-and-a-half for dinner, because we count our baby as a body at the table.  Only, a very small body.

Now

Last week, when I went on at length about taking it easy and not planning and how it is awesome and makes everything taste fantastic and everything work out like you’ve got a team of culinary elves working for you in the kitchen,  and I went on to spend the rest of the blog waxing poetic about the fucking jungle and how it sings us to sleep in our hammocks woven out of hemp … well, I was pretty drunk when I wrote that.  And it was mid-week.  And it was nine in the morning.  (Did I mention that I was drunk?)

Well, you’ll be glad to read that everything went back to normal this week.

We had planned on making sliders (mini-hamburgers) three to a person, each burger a different flavour.  That was to be Megan’s contribution.  Mine was going to be barbequed yam and potato French fries.  There was to be some kind of salad to accompany this.  There was going to be some kind of dessert.  It was all going to be so simple and easy, that we were going to have the blog finished and posted Monday morning, and everyone would be sending us congratulatory emails and our readership was going to increase by a thousand-million percent.

How’d it turn out?  Fucking incredible.

Short version: Briar arrived at four o’clock – right on time.  I showed up three minutes later, having torn around Walmart picking up virtually all of the groceries for the night in a mad dash reminiscent of the shopping spree craze of the seventies and early eighties.  (Mehh, when you don’t plan, mehh, everything turns out awesome, mehh.)  We opened a container of dip that was goat cheese, with a layer of pesto, with a layer of sundried tomatoes, which was awesome, which we didn’t make, which required beer, which was all because we were making mini-burgers and French fries on the barbeque?  (Really?  Barbequed fries?  Is that even a thing?)  We required beer also because, truth be told, we were stalling going outside because it was raining.  And we didn’t … have … rain … coats.  Okay.  It sounds very wussy-ish, I know, but what would you rather: cold beer, or wet hair?  So then, when we finally got our asses in gear, I put the yams on first, only to check on them moments later and find them charred to cinders.  Yum!  So ended the barbequed fries debacle.  Then Megan put her burgers on, which we test ran two nights earlier, which went very well, only something seemed to be wrong with the barbeque, since it charred her burgers as well.  Not like, burnt on the outside, but like, charred beyond all recognition as food, like, “Hey, who put turds on the barbeque?  Come on, guys!” charred.  So, we started from scratch – me trying to make regular French fries and Megan redoing the burgers and staying on them like hawks over mice.  No jungle pet sounds for us tonight!  No, sir!  Our easy-going barbeque turned into an insane sprint to the finish, with Megan and me slinging burgers and fries (that STILL don’t turn out well) and our guests taking turns telling funny stories, getting tipsy, and wondering when they could eat.  So, after all our careful planning to not have to plan, we wound up eating at 7:30 again.

But, the pictures look nice, don’t they?

On the menu: Sliders (two kinds – the third got ixnayed when we started to run out of time) – #1 Rosemary and Feta; #2 Smokehouse Dry Rub (Williams-Sonoma); French Fries; Steamed Anxiety and Mashed Stress

K.  Back to the wines.  Right around Operation Desert Yam and Burger-gate, we thought, “Okay, let’s get drunk.”  We opened the first bottle of wine of the evening.  A charming little bottle that Briar brought with her.

Wine: Bianchi Particular, Malbec, Argentina, 2007, $495 MXN
Rating: A Solid Two Bottles

The story behind this Particular selection (nyuk-nyuk) is that the Bianchi family chooses certain wines that they set aside for themselves.  A reserve, if you will.  Now, they probably don’t eat it with sliders and fries.  But, hey, neither did we, since we were through this bottle before we’d had a chance to serve dinner.

We really liked this wine.  Lots of deep, red, and fruity flavours.  Plums and black cherries, this is a very rich wine, yet very smooth.  This wine would probably go very well with burgers and fries, but we’ll never know, because no one is to make burgers and fries at our house again.  Ever.

What we did drink with dinner was a wine that Megan and I had picked up from Costco the week before.  (Our maybe it was Megan picked it up, on her own, from City Club … who cares?)

Wine: Wente Vineyards, Estate Grown, Louis Mel, Sauvignon Blanc, California, 2008, Price Unknown, Let’s Say … A Million Dollars.  Impressed?
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Good, but a little tart.  Also, strangely, a little too sweet.  The salient flavours of this wine were lost on all of us.  We tried to determine what we were tasting, but the combination of sweet and tart confused us.  (Have we mentioned that we known nothing about wine?  We have?  Oh, good.)  After the Bianchi, the ol’ Louis Mel went down like water, but in a good way.  We all liked this wine; we just couldn’t figure out exactly why.  Being that there were five of us drinking the wine, the bottle didn’t last long.

So, we scrounged around and came up with …

Wine: Bouchard Père & Fils, Grand Vins de Bourgogne Depuis 1731, Grand Vins de Bourgnone, Pouilly-Fuissé Contrôlée, 2007, $269.95 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: Is the name of that wine really Bouchard Père & Fils, Grand Vins de Bourgogne Depuis 1731, Grand Vins de Bourgnone, Pouilly-Fuissé Contrôlée, 2007?  In French.  Yes.  But more accurately, no, it is not.  It is, however, on the label, so I thought, you know, for comedy, I’d include the whole thing.  The real name of the wine is only “Bouchard Père & Fils, Grand Vins de Bourgnone, Pouilly-Fuissé Contrôlée, 2007.”  Much shorter.

What did we think of this wine?  “Peach!!” was what, quite literally, sprang from Briar’s mouth when at first she sipped from Père & Fils.  It’s label sure is busy, noted another.  Yes, observed someone else.  I like wine, said I.  My handwriting is messy, says my notebook.

Okay, so, we may have overdone the drinks this week.  Is our review of Bouchard Père & Fils, Grand Vins de Bourgogne Depuis 1731, Grand Vins de Bourgnone, Pouilly-Fuissé Contrôlée, 2007, fair?  No.  Good?  Certainly not.  Honest?  Yes, it is that.  In all honesty, by the end of the evening, we were exhausted.  More to do with the laughing that went on.  We traded jokes throughout the night, Rene especially.  Groaners for the most, but in a very good way.  Jokes you could tell almost anyone.  Unless they were German.  It kept our spirits aligned and didn’t let us take the evening too seriously.  Megan and I died slow, culinary deaths on our cutting boards, but everyone had a good time, and that’s what matters to us most.

(Plus, if we say that’s what matters most to us, then we don’t feel quite so bad for sucking in the kitchen.)

Next week, we have no guests.  Next week will be different.  I promise, back to reveries in the backyard, gazing up at the stars.  Not a bunch of semi-incoherent rambling about burgers and barbeques.

Till then,

Cheers!

* The first guest we had was Canadian celebrity, Sahara MacDonald, which we have yet to post for legal reasons.  Sahara’s publicist, Damian, told us that they are still approving the post content for release, and that it may be some time before we get it back.  Celebrities!*

*Sahara is actually a really down-to-earth, grounded person, and one of our best friends.  The truth is that we got really lazy for a couple of weeks and haven’t gotten around to writing the post in which Sahara appears.  We can tell you, however, that it is juicy.*

* Spoiler alert! Sahara picks a fight with our dog, then they make up, then the dog tells Sahara a funny joke, then Sahara pets the dog, then they are friends … but that’s all we can say .. okay, one more thing: Sahara is awesome!

Williams-Sonoma vs. Neiman Marcus

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There is something very freeing about planning things on the fly. Megan arrived back in town Sunday morning from a trip to Florida with her mom. We zipped over to Costco, picked up what we needed for dinner that night, and drove back home at a leisurely pace. Once home, we lazily sipped cocktails, sampled victuals, and prepared the evening feast.

Not having set plans kind of gives you a little freedom from expectation. If you do not know what you are going to make, it keeps your menu simple by necessity. The more complex a meal, the more planning is required. Without advanced planning, you generally don’t have a lot of things on hand to compliment a complicated and varied menu.

We focused instead on catching up with each other after Megan’s short absence. Rene and Cara got home at reasonable hours, respectively, and, sitting in the backyard, swinging in hammocks, drinks in hand, listening to the birds, with the baby frolicking with the dogs, we all enjoyed a sleepy Sunday afternoon that languidly crept into evening.

Megan came back with tales of women of a certain age, shopping in Neiman Marcus, with their dogs. And not, like, dogs in a handbag. Not dogs under their arms. Like, Afghans, and Dalmatians, and … giraffes. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, there are women who walk their dogs … in strollers. Not baby strollers. No. Dog strollers. Strollers made – especially – for dogs. Now, I have never heard of this is my life, so I can only imagine that it is a phenomenon that is fairly indigenous to places like Fort Lauderdale and Beverly Hills, but if this is a common thing in the States, what in Hades is next? I mean, I have enough of a hard time with children on leashes! Dogs in strollers? No wonder people in other countries cock their eyebrows at us …

Though, it would make for a great prank on exchange students.
You: “See, Milosh? Here, dogs are revered as Gods. In fact, that’s where we get the name for leftovers in restaurants.”
Milosh: “Please to tell Milosh.”
You: “Oh … they are called Goddie bags and you must give them to your Dog-God the minute you get home, or your wife will go to hell.”
Milosh: (with spiritual angst, shacking with rage) “In my country, they would for killing you of that.”
You: “Yeah, well …”
      (Woman walks by with dog in stroller. You fall down on the ground, prostrate and whimpering. Milosh starts to cry.)

In her travels to the land of the Blue Hair (aka, Fort Lauderdale), Megan also found a store that she seemed to take a liking to. I have to admit, it sounded a little exotic for my tastes, and I’m not sure it’s a store that will catch on, especially not with women and gay couples. They call it Williams-Sonoma, and if it makes it, I will be surprised.

From this purveyor of house wares and fashion items, Megan returned with something that will no doubt become a welcome addition to our kitchens. It is a sleeve containing four tins, each filled with dry rub seasoning, one more delicious-sounding than the last.

On the menu: Dry-rubbed Salmon, Ranch Chicken, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Grilled Veggies

Salmon is such a fun thing to eat. Especially when you let the Potlash Dry Rub that Megan brought back with her absorb into the salmon for thirty minutes beforehand. With a dry rub, you really don’t need to do too much work, since the rub itself gets into the meat, fish, or poultry on its own. It affords you more time to take it easy, and enjoy a glass of wine.

A tip about grilling salmon: If you don’t make the grill hot enough, you’ll completely fuck up your fish. Just sayin’. Make sure the grill is clean, too. There is nothing worse than salmon with burnt steak on the bottom.

The chicken is a fun recipe. Put the chicken in a bowl. Pour ranch dressing all over it. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar and smoosh all the ingredients together. Let it sit for a few hours and grill it as normal.

While the chicken and the salmon were sitting, eyeing each other suspiciously, we sipped the first wine of the evening.

Wine: Shaya, Verdejo, Old Wines White Wine, Spain, 2009, $169.95 MXN
Rating: Blechh!!

The most astute assessment of this wine was made by Cara: “It tastes exactly like white wine.” And it does. And nothing else. It also gives you the wine look. You sort of squish up your features like someone snuck a lemon into your face.

Going in, we kind of thought this wine might be a stinker. Why did we buy it? The label, of course! The pretty label that made me think of parties my cool relatives used to throw, when they were in their thirties, and people would do the neutron dance in their living room.

We must doff our caps to their marketing, however. Pretty bottle, even prettier description of the train wreck found inside.

“As a morning mist disperses across the undulating countryside the Shaya deer emerge from the surrounding pine forest to forage. The gnarled vineyards planted a very long time ago in the sandy riverstone soil produce the finest Verdejo in Rueda. There is a distinct minerality in these wines which compliment the abundance of fruit flavours.”

Amazing. Really something. I especially like “a very long time ago” as a unit of measure. I also like the use of “riverstone” and “minerality” as words. Also, I like how the deer forage. You can almost taste them foraging in each glass of this cheeky little selection. Perhaps it is the deer one can taste that makes one’s face look like a deer’s ass after each sip.

Moving on.

Dinner was great. In between dinner and returning to the backyard where we enjoyed a few more glasses of wine and conversation, I checked my email. I got a message from a friend with whom I haven’t spoken in a long time. He caught me up a little, and mentioned TSB. Specifically, he mentioned how impressed he was that I could afford $269 bottles of chardonnay.

It was my mistake. I forgot to include the MXN affixation letting you know that the price was in pesos. While I would love to review a $269 bottle of anything, those days are not yet upon us.

Moving on.

Wine: Nobilo Regional Collection, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2008
Rating: One-and-a-half Bottles

Fruity and crisp, this wine was a huge improvement over the last bottle. But, unlike the Kim Crawford from last week, this wine lacked character. Not amazing, not terrible. Dry and pleasant, but like a kiss from a girl at a bar hours before last call, forgettable.

That said, sitting under the stars, listening to the night music, the trees rustling, the water dancing in the fish pond, it was acceptable.

Next week, we are hosting a guest. A friend of ours, Briar, invited herself and we graciously accepted. She will be bringing a surprise bottle and we will continue our search of a fine bottle of white wine. On the menu? Mystery!!

Until then,

Cheers!

Straight From Bucerias and Into Our Mouths!

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Sometimes, things just click. Things just fall into place and all is right with the world. You plan something out, a dinner, say, and everything just works. Your timing is just right, your guests are taken care of, you don’t need to use a trap door to silence dissidents, and it all turns out perfectly.

Last night was such a time. Costco was a joy and had the wine we were looking for. We found a delicious alternative to red meat. The traffic was docile and light. We took a break in the afternoon to sit around the pool with friends. We took the dog and the baby to the beach. The evening finished at a reasonable hour with us again sitting by the pool, dipping our legs for relief from the heat, sharing the last few glasses of wine that we had with dessert, not minutes before.

All in all, an evening Nigella herself would have been proud of.

On the menu: Turkey Arrachera, Warm Salad with Bell Peppers and Asparagus, Rice, Trifle.

For those uninitiated to Mexican cuisine, one of the greatest contributions our host country has made to the culinary world is arrachera. It is typically a marinated flank steak that even the most inept cooks would have a hard time screwing up. It takes minutes to cook and tastes delicious when it’s done. Recently, however, we’ve been tallying the amount of red meat that we consume as a family and were shocked with the results. We eat about as much red meat as your average Republican. Since Rene and Cara don’t eat fish and seafood, however, and since I don’t eat pork, it leaves us with few options. After a while, one does tire of chicken.

The alternative to red meat: Turkey Arrachera. When we saw the turkey arrachera, we thought we’d give it a shot, and it did not disappoint. It comes pre-marinated, so all you have to do is slap it on the grille, flip it for flavour, and done.

The warm salad was excellent. Marinated bell peppers and asparagus in raspberry balsamic vinegar and basil-infused olive oil, tossed for a few minutes in the grille wok just to warm (the peppers first, then the asparagus to blanche), then added to mesclun greens and blackberries. For the vinaigrette, we simply used the raspberry balsamic vinegar and the basil-infused olive oil, and added salt and pepper (black and white) to taste. Re-toss the salad (tee-hee) and serve.

Megan’s trifle, however, was a thing of beauty. Pound cake and custard, mixed with blackberries and raspberries, then coated with a blackberry liqueur. She let it stand in the fridge for a few hours before, then topped it with whipped cream and with fresh berries. Perfect.

During the prep, we tried the first wine of the evening.

Wine: Kim Crawford, Marlborough, New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc, 2009, $169.95 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles

This is a really nice wine and we have to thank Nicole from Bucerias for recommending it. It is a very pleasant wine to drink. Very refreshing. Perfect for the hot and humid weather we are heading into. Peachy and apple-y, with an earthiness we couldn’t quite place. Some say herbs; some disagree. Some rolled their eyes at others while others clung to the silly notion that they couldn’t taste herbs, while one with a discerning palate swore the herbs were there. Still, we agreed: earthiness. And what that earthiness does is keep the wine from becoming too fruity and acidic. We will definitely be buying this wine again.

During dinner, we moved on to our second bottle and lo, the lamentations began.

Wine: Wolf Blass, Yellow Label, South Australia, Chardonnay, 2009, $269.95 MXN
Rating: One bottle.

What can we say? Sometimes you win; sometimes you drink a bottle of pee.

I don’t know what it is about chardonnays, but I just can’t wrap my mouth around them. It’s just a funny thing about these oaky little bastards – they set my teeth on edge.

It lacks character, the Yellow Label does. Woody nose, thanks to the oak, but with a clear taste. Pleasant, but compared to the other wine we drank, not great. Likeable for a chardonnay and the second glass was better. (We were determined that this bottle would haunt us no further than last night. We were going to kill it with our mouths and damn it straight to hell. You think you’re going to take up space in my fridge, chardonnay? Hah! That’s what you think! We’ll drink the rest of you by the pool and hang the morrow!)

Now, we gave this wine a One Bottle rating, but we fully acquiesced that we just … might not know that much about wine. It is possible that we were drinking a really wonderful bottle of chardonnay and we just couldn’t appreciate it. Maybe the mark of a good chardonnay is how much it makes the back of your cheeks ache. Maybe the intensity of the flavours is meant to make you shiver. Maybe you are supposed to wish you were drinking something else. If that is the case, then we greatly under estimated this wine. All I know is that every time I looked at my glass, I got a little depressed to see that there was still more left. It was like the wine knew what we were up to and kept reproducing in our cups.

I can say this of white wine, however: it certainly does not stay with you the next day the way that red wine can.

Well, that’s it for this week.

Next week will be a little weird, since Megan is out of town, only to return Sunday night, and we haven’t planned anything for such an event. We have no contingency set up for a disaster of such magnitude. The mantle of responsibility rests on my shoulders, I suppose. Let’s see what I can come up with.
Till then,

Cheers!

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