Muffuletta Memories

This post takes us to New Orleans, where I had the honor of visiting over a month ago. Even with all the wonderful foods and cocktails I got to try while I was there, I still had to make time for the inspiring bottles I love so much.

FrenchMarket

And I love this city so much too.  I didn’t want to leave.   And as a wanderer, I found myself at the French Market everyday I was there.  It’s a small town feel within one of the greatest places I’ve ever visited.

It was a warm day and we heard some amazing jazz music up the street.  This calls for cigars, relaxing, good food, and a bottle of red.   The latter part may sound like an oxymoron, but this is a vacation!

The night before on a leisurely stroll towards Frenchmen Street I came upon the market as it was about to shut down for the night and saw the stand for Alberto’s Cheese and Wine Bistro.

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And this place looked so quaint, cozy, and charming.  I knew I had to at least come back the next day to see what this place (and the Market as a whole) is all about.

Coming back the next day, the Market was so alive and so vibrant.  I have been to many local markets before with a similar sentiment, but not like this.  This felt like home.  I belonged here.  And everyone was so friendly.  It’s the type of love and comradery I can get used to.

Alberto’s had a very welcoming and small town feel, just like the rest of the French Market.  I felt like something had to be wrong.  The folks behind the counter were so accommodating and answered any questions about the menu that I had.

Muffaletta

New Orleans is known for a lot of amazing things.  I didn’t know the Muffuletta was one of them.  So I ordered one and it was incredible.  So what about a great wine to pair with it?

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I grabbed the Banfi Tuscany Centine Rosso and it paired with my hearty sandwich perfectly.

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The sandwich killed it.  I could have had another.  The meats and cheeses with this amazing sesame bread just made my day. The house made olive salad was a nice complement although I barely had room to finish it.

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And the wine could have tasted like garbage and wouldn’t have mattered.  And it didn’t.  It was fantastic. And regardless, for the moment in time we were in, it was perfection.   The mix of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot gelled perfectly.  A nice mix of light and full-bodied to make it the right wine to pair up with a filling meal such as mine.

No fancy glasses were necessary today.   And we can’t walk around with the streets with those anyways.  But plastic cups will do just fine.

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As a bonus, to make this day even more meaningful in hindsight, I am pulling this directly off their Facebook page : first winery in the world to be awarded international recognition for exceptional environmental, ethical and social responsibility. How amazing is that?  When I looked at the back of the label at the time, All I read was first winery and didn’t think to read further.  I am thrilled that my purchase represents something good and pure.

More information on this wine can be found here.

Everything about this setting was perfect. Great weather, wine, food, company, and people watching.   This city is magical. I felt so at ease.  I feel like I belonged there and after this trip was over, I was left to ponder what took me so long.  That just means I need to come back soon!

There’s going to be pictures all over this post.  Many will revolve around the wine and the meal.  And many as a tourist.

I didn’t expect to write as much as I did. Actions speak louder than words, as do photos. So here you go.

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I am homesick from NOLA, because there I felt like I belonged there and been there for years, not days. Until the next visit…

Best,

Ideen

Happy Maryland Wine Week

My love for the wines of Maryland continues to grow exponentially.   It wasn’t always like that.  I used to think that all this great state was known for was super sweet and fruity wines.  How wrong I was and now many local bottles have become some of my favorites.

And with that I wanted to have a celebratory wine to celebrate Maryland Wine Week.

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My friends suggested we do crab cakes for dinner for a variety of seasons.  We were celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones. And what a better way to honor this great week with a savory meal that does it justice.

Crabcakes

I was all set to grab a bottle at my local wine shoppe, but fortunately, circumstances led me to a wine that was right under my nose.   Happenstance, fate and serendipity were on my side again.   Or was it something else?

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The wine chilling in the fridge is from one of my favorite Maryland wineries.  I was pleased to uncover the 2013 Vintage Vidal Blanc from Harford Winery.

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And I had researched wines that go well with crab cakes, and the fact that a Vidal Blanc is a strong suggestion and match, makes this all come together perfectly.

The cakes came from right up the street from me, via Box Hill Crabcakes or Box Hill Pizzeria depending on how you look at it.  I am thrilled to keep the Harford County theme going.  And these are to die for. I’ve had crab cakes from many restaurants and this might be my favorite.

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I can’t put into words why or how.  They just taste so great and look so full, like a real crab cake should. You get what you pay for and this is worth all of the $15 and then some.  The photography does not do that justice.  But isn’t this one of the prettiest things you’ll see all year-long?

So how was the wine?

I loved it.  I didn’t think I would.  And it’s not on the level of my current and at the time wine from them. You can read more about their Cabernet Franc here.  It was my second ever post on this blog.

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When I first sipped it, I detected something sour.  I thought maybe some golden apples or lemons.  But when I researched, it mentions hints of grapefruit which makes total sense.

Actually I didn’t need to research after I turned the bottle around and saw what the wine contained.  Whoops!   When they mention orange zest I could sense the taste but only after I read about it. Otherwise I would think there were apples or hints of flowers, which is mentioned.

Again, it’s all about your palate and what you’re feeling at the time.  The core flavors can be detected with constant sampling but everything else is open to interpretation.    There will more about this incredible winery from me in near future.

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This wine is the perfect dichotomy to eating something hearty as a crab cake.

And this is one of the best experiences I had having one and the wine had so much to do with that.  There really seemed to be an explosion of flavors I might not have gotten before.  I would usually just enjoy my meal with a glass of water or a soft drink.  This is the way to enjoy it.

I think the wine can be drank on its own since its fairly light.  But I am so happy to have paired these two.  It’s a match made in heaven.    And I like to think I added my tribute to this wonderful week.

More information about Maryland Wine Week and how we can be involved can be found here.  And information on many of the events revolving around this special occasion can be found here.

And on where to find their wines, you can follow this link.

Enjoy this wonderful week!

Best,

Ideen

Wine Ice Cream Social

It’s time to switch it up and pay another homage to this beautiful season we call Summer!

I’ve come across various wine ice creams, slushies, and other frozen concoctions in the past couple of years and never thought to try them, let alone write about them. There’s no time like the present.

In serendipitous fashion, I discovered Mercer’s Wine Ice Cream at one of my favorite local wine shops near me!

With the assistance of the friendly team members at Wine World of Abingdon, MD, I got 3 pints for me and my pals.

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You can’t judge a book by its cover, but how beautiful do these look?

Now if you were just getting regular, old-fashioned, and delicious ice cream, $6.99 a pint might seem a bit steep.  But we’re talking vino, we’re talking emotion, and we’re talking new experiences.

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Most importantly though, how did they turn out?

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Strawberry

Exhibit #1 : The Strawberry Sparkling. This was my favorite.  You could really taste the alcohol content right away.   And mixed in with the ice cream this was a match made to perfection.  The strawberry pieces really added a lot to this.  This is one of my favorite fruits in frozen form or to be cherished alone.  This was fantastic.

Strawberries and champagne will usually always be a winning combination.  And they nailed this one.  If I wasn’t careful I would’ve eaten the whole thing and been unable to write this post.

Peach

Exhibit #2 : Peach White Zinfandel.  I liked this one too, but I didn’t taste much in the way of alcohol.  I love peach and the fruit pieces were also delectable and very much appreciated.   I haven’t had much experience with Blush Wines like this one, so I didn’t have the highest of expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, peach is a wonderful fruit and is one of the joys to be had during these beautiful months, but I just felt like I was tasting peach ice cream.  On its own that would be great, but my taste buds didn’t get much of the wine.

Cherry

And finally, exhibit #3 : Cherry Merlot.   This one hit a little more.  I love cherry and the cherry pieces looked magnificent. Merlot is a grape that I’ve gradually enjoyed a little more each time I have it.

Of the three helpings, this is the least summery but the one that seemed the most powerful.  The color also stands out.   This is one I’d think I’d have to be careful with or I may be taking an extended nap or two.

There was an abundance of flavors, so if time allows, I will be reviewing some more!

If you’re interested in purchasing some, the only location in the Baltimore area that carries them is Wine World.  And here’s a location guide for anyone else interested!

I would definitely recommend these creams for any outdoor events and parties. We have a lot of Summer left!

Enjoy!

Best,

Ideen

Money Ink

A dear friend of mine recently had a celebration of all sorts.  We were honoring his birthday, his pending divorce, an end of an era, and the start of a new one.

The party was one for the record books.  The food and libations were in abundance.  The site was a beautiful house in a secluded area of Baltimore County.  It was the perfect setting for a day of emotion, revelry, and merriment.   The congregation was at epic levels.

An in-ground pool, a slip n’ slide course, and a gaming lounge on the inside was provided.  The gaming lounge included table tennis, beer pong, card games, and any other drinking game an attendee was motivated to get folks involved in. There was to be an Olympic like obstacle course inspired by the program, Wipeout, but the weather postponed the event and emotional opening ceremonies for a later date.

Nevertheless, this was still a part for the ages.  Many good pals and friends came out to support our friend in his present and future endeavors.  And I was one of those people who almost no showed because of the torrential downpours.   I would have regretted that decision if I chose to stay home.  A great majority of invited guests still made their appearance and everyone seemed happy they did.

The eats were plentiful. We had burgers, hot dogs, chips of all kinds, hummus, pasta salads, and all kinds of various dips.   Those were devoured before any pictures were taken.

As for the alcohol, there was a beer keg, and plenty of various liquors for mixers.   However, I chose to mainly stick with wine, as did a few other folks.

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In honor of the ink being nearly dry on my friends divorce proceedings, I arrived with a bottle of Black Ink.   I didn’t realize at the time how apropos this choice was.

Bear in mind, I could have brought anything.  But in tradition of never coming empty-handed to a party, I grabbed a wine that looked fun and stood out from the crowd.  The guest of honor is a huge fan of Red Blends, so that factored into the decision.

The wine itself was just fine.   It’s as mysterious as the website itself, which explains nothing and has no links to click on.   Their parent company, sheds a little more light on it.  And here’s even more information.   I wouldn’t say it was my favorite, but it was a good bottle for the low price of $9.99.   There’s an image of a squid under the cap that I wish I had taken a photo of.

This is a melange of Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, and, Zinfandel. The smokiness was present, and some hints of spices and obscure flavors.   But as to what I don’t know.  It was a nice drinking wine by itself or with the food that was decimated throughout the party.   More photos would have been taken but I wanted to keep the mystery of the event just like the wine, at the right decibel.

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No fancy wine glasses for this one.  I was happy drinking from a cup.

For those that stayed longer, just when we thought the party was winding down, we kept going.   It was great to make new friends, reconnect with past ones we’ve lost touch with, and a celebration of life, enjoying the Summer, and feeling good.

Some of what transpired is too good for words and pictures.  It’s memories that we get to keep for ourselves and share with our loved ones that were there.

And just like the wine, the ink will soon be dry.

Best,

Ideen

Alison Road

This is the third and final installment of my recap at this years Great Grapes event.  For my previous two write ups on the goings on at Oregon Ridge, you can click here or even here.

Alisons

This weeks wine is the 2014 Alison’s Watermelon Wine from Layton’s Chance.

Laytons

It was suggested by friends to mention a less than lavish or popular grape, and show a lighter side.  In this case, it’s also a sweeter side.  Wine festivals are not always designed for the wine aficionado or connoisseur.

I’ve been to so many of these things, that it’s whatever you want these events to be. I’ve had great wines, some disgusting ones, and everything in between.  If you want high-end bottles, you will find them.  If you want the lighter and sweeter types, you will find those too. If you’re just looking to have a good time and get drunk while doing so, well you’re in luck.

At this point of the event, we were all getting into a pretty sedated state.  So any and all expert analysis – what the nose was, what fruits, herbs, and spices could be tasted, or any other terms are out the window at this point.

I said there would be no evaluation of this wine, but one thing should be mentioned. The nose or smell was horrific.  It reeked of barley and some other vileness.  I’ve smelled worse, but this was painful.

However, on a warm Sunday afternoon, it tasted so refreshingly good.  The scentl was so deceiving.  This was an enjoyable drink that we passed around with friends that we were with and ones we ran into.

That’s what this event is all about.  We were having fun and enjoying one another’s company.  It was a beautiful day.  We had good wine, good food, and good music.

And when it came to food, we had anything and everything with this wine.

This is a wine I will definitely try again in any setting.  And I would love to try some of their others when I get the good fortune to do so.   And I find great joy in visiting wineries, and I would love to make the drive to the Eastern Shore to visit this one.

For more on this winery you can click on any of the links in this sentence.   Where to buy or how to get in touch can be found here.

I’ll leave with you a couple more photos from the experience.

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See you at the next festival!

Best,

Ideen