Halloween Special

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I don’t expect to find many wines made exclusively for Halloween.  It’s just not a holiday I associate with lots of wine drinking and finding a nice meal to pair it with.

But a so much has changed.  Any excuse to incorporate alcohol and food into a holiday, celebration, event, festival, you name it, will involve those aforementioned entities.  And that usually is a good thing, as long as it’s done responsibility and with civility.   Well, Halloween is not often associated with civility, but with more people enjoying wine and all its nuances, it’s to be expected that winemakers are going to jump on board anything that makes them stand out and be noticed.  Be unique or be ignored.

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Fat Bastard Wines did everything to stand out and not make people want to see what their Bloody Red Blend is all about.   And they made it look effortless.   While I did have something planned to write about for tonight, those plans changed when I walked into my local wine shoppe and saw a Halloween display in the front of the store, with several wines with Halloween themes and charming labels.

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The Bloody Red Blend is not even featured on their website, unless you go into the tech sheets (and you can find that here), because for timing reasons, it’s limited edition, and I can see this disappearing rather quickly, as in November.

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Until today (as of this writing) I had no idea this wine existed, and I’m so grateful to have found it.  One of the main reasons I love wine, is for those winemakers that don’t take themselves too seriously.  With a company named Fat Bastard, and their ever so charming labels, and affordable prices (I always see their wines at $10 or less at retailers), and accessible information, it’s what makes you want to come back more and stay away from the pretentious.  And their wines taste like they’re under $10, so they’re taking ownership in all areas.

The Bloody Red Blend is a mix Grenache, Syrah, and Merlot.  And when you think French wines, you think lots of Grenache.  And that’s what you taste here.  But if you’re looking for any serious information after that, you need to look elsewhere.  Their synopsis on the winemaking process is one of the most hilariously brilliant things I’ve read on the back of a wine label (and in these notes).  This is art and I’m in love with this wine before I even twist off the cap.

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I’ve had plenty of their wines for all different types of occasions. It’s a everyday wine for everyday things.  You want it with nothing, with food, with friends, with nobody,  then these are just the wines you want.

And the Bloody Red Blend continues that tradition.  If you’re going to be celebrating Halloween this weekend and next week, this is a welcome addition to any party.  Just for the randomness and uniqueness about it is going to draw eyes to this bottle.  It tastes like a blend, and it’s easy to sip.  And as we begin to talk about the holidays more and more, these are the wines you’re going to want.  These are not the best wines you will ever drink, nor do the claim to me, and I would sense they don’t need to be.

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This is a fun wine in the tradition of how Fat Bastard presents itself.  I get a kick out of typing that out by the way…

Some of the suggest food pairings are burgers, fried chicken, and pumpkin pie.  I wish I paired this with pumpkin pie, but something tells me we’re just being made fun of.  And I like it this way.

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I paired with what turned out to be a much spookier looking meal than I intended.  Perhaps it’s fitting, but I had some chunks of sauteed pork with every vegetable known to man.   I purposely got this meal because after Halloween I suspect the meals will start to get heartier and much more unhealthy.  As much as I love the name, I don’t want to be a fat bastard myself.

But if you’re into something humorous and doesn’t take itself too seriously, the Bloody Red Blend just might be what you’re looking for…

My wine glass adds some more charm just when you couldn’t think get any more.

Fat Bastard is one of the more standard labels which are easy to find all over the place, so it shouldn’t be hard.   Here is the link to find their wines are a store near you.

Here is their lovely list of wines and story, and their contact info.

I wish you a safe and Happy Halloween.

Ideen

 

 

Mead (And Wine) & Merriment Part 2

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After a year off, my pals and I made our triumphant return to the Maryland Renaissance Festival a couple of weeks back.   Here is my inaugural post from October of 2015.

The event has gotten so big that if you don’t get there early, or by your tickets in advance, you’re going to be shut out.    Nevertheless, social media and all kinds of media have made this event so big.  But more importantly, this event is just that great.  If you’ve been I don’t need to explain why.

And even if you’ve been a multitude of times before, it never gets old and never gets tiring.  Well a lot of walking and that merriment (booze!) can get you tired fast.  It’s a big day drinking, unhealthy food noshing, and celebration of all that is and was awesome from yesteryear, and today.

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In my previous recap of this celebration of coolness, I spoke about the actual mead was being served.  It’s not an easy one to drink, and like I stated, it’s an acquired taste, it’s a grower (or not), and it’s not for everyone.

This year, while my friends enjoyed a few lagers, brewskis, cold ones, spirits, or whatever you fancy yourself to calling the, I discovered a gem of wines.

I don’t particularly seek out beer myself, but I actually was all set to have some, until mixed in with all the beers and all the taps, was the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from Ravage Wines.

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If you look at the label, it’s one that belongs at an event such as this.  That horse, that darkness, that imagery is fitting of everything that was going on around us.  And maybe I’m just reading too much into this, and perhaps the demand for wine has led them to supply more vino along with all the other libations.  No matter the reason, it’s my kind of wine.

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And I’m so grateful to my friends who have said that this is the kind of wine I like.  One of my dearest friends had a sip, and even mentioned it to me there.  She said to me, that it’s ‘your kind of wine’, that made me feel good.

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So what is exactly a ‘me’, kind of wine?  Well it’s also one you might enjoy too.  The synopsis says it all, with dark berries, dark fruits, vanilla, mocha, and toasted in French Oak.  With your fuller bodied reds, the right kind of oak can make all the difference between a great wine and one you rather forget.  But I’m going to be aware if vanilla and mocha are a common theme in some of my favorite wines going forward.  Dark cherries and berries have always been synonymous with the wines I love.  And this wine is no exception.  This is exactly what I needed and what I’ve been missing for a while.

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While the weather has been warm, a wine like this might only work with a healthy dinner indoors.    In the hotter climates it may be a chore to sip, and might take you away from all the great whites, rosés, and lighter reds that work perfectly in the Summer months.

We’re into October and it might have even been too soon to have this wine, but the heck with it.  This is a world class bottle, that tastes like a $20+ wine, that is around the $11-$13 mark.  Another reason to adore this bottle and seek it out if you get the opportunity.

The notes mention having a lot of structure and depth. That might sound like fluff to many, but think about it, (or not haha), this Cabernet Sauvignon embodies all that’s good about vino.   Wines with lots of structure, character, that challenge your palate, and are on a level like this is why I adore wine.  My goodness do I adore this wine.

What makes this all the more amazing is my first experience having this was at the Renaissance Festival.  This makes me so happy, more than I even realized at the time, and I’m not quite sure I can convey into words.  Well I’m writing about it here so I’m doing alright…

And it’s pretty much available at every bar there with a cheesy name.  Aren’t they all cheesy?  That’s what makes it so great…

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I upgraded my goblet, chalice, mug, or whatever you call it to one that fits more with the festival.  It made this experience all the more merrier.  Having good friends (and some sugary mixed nuts helps too) to share this experience makes it that much more special.

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My pals and I have been doing this for a number of years.  It’s a tradition I’m grateful to be a part of.  I’m grateful for my friends, the beautiful weather, this incredible yearly gathering, and now this wine.

Each year tells a different story.  I love that I got to share this one with you.

To find Ravage Wines near you click here,  for more about them click here,  here’s info on the Dark Red Blend (which I would love to try as well), and their contact info.

As of this post, the final weekend of the Renaissance Festival of Maryland (10/21-1022) is approaching.  And it’s always the most festive, exciting, bittersweet, and so many other emotions.

If you plan on going, advanced tickets are highly recommended, and here is all the other information you need.

I’m so happy that this happened.  I don’t know what else there it to say.  I loved everything about this day, and if you go this weekend I hope you get to say the same.

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Have a ye olde good time!

Ideen

 

 

I Heart First Fridays

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Highlandtown is what I now consider the most homey part of Baltimore.  It’s the one neighborhood that is experiencing a renaissance, but still feels like a neighborhood with a community, local businesses, local flavor, and now an inspired art scene.

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The Highlandtown First Friday Art Walk, which began in June, and is going through the rest of the year has eagerly become an event myself and many others look forward too.

My first time experiencing this was back in July, and it just felt like old times.  And what I exactly mean by old times?  While so much around us has begun to look cookie cutter and all too pedestrian, this neighborhood is keeping it beautiful.  With art galleries, shoppes, local businesses, local foodie spots, and so much more popping up in the most charming of fashions, Highlandtown is doing it right.  And keep on doing it please.  It’s the most welcoming of feelings.

I don’t even know how to exactly describe it, other than it’s of the most authentic and really Baltimore feeling places you want to visit.   With friendly faces, familiar faces and new ones, beautiful art, beautiful people, plenty of food and drink, and live musicians inside and out, you’ve got a winning combination all around.

I’ve missed the past couple of month due to life happening, but I’ve made it a goal to make it through to the rest of the year, and with the holidays looming.

My good friends from Peak Peformance have taken advantage of this fantastic monthly event, with a happy hour with great food, vino, live music, and now a resident artist.

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I missed it last month but Mowgli Art has made an impression that’s going to be hard to forget.  I’m a member of Peak, so I’m fortunate to admire this art on a regular basis.  ANd this month was no exception.  It’s just getting bigger.  The crowd was consistent and it was busy.

And my friend Melissa, who also works at Peak, got a chance to sell some of her great jewelry.

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After all this, is there a wine involved?  But of course.  Plenty of food and drink was provided but I discovered a charming little bottle that fits in with the fall season, if not art itself.

The 2016 Camina Tempranillo is a simple wine with little if any thrills.  And for now that’s just the way I wanted it.  I was immediately drawn to the label with its beautiful depiction of leaves, animals, and charming as all heck symbols.  The color and images just yell fall don’t they?

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It’s a wine heavy on berry aromas of cherry, blackberry, and other fruits.  The notes mention hints of almond and hazelnut.  It’s an easy to drink wine that you don’t have to think much about it.  It’s a good wine but it’s not going to blow anyone away.  And with a price averaging under $10, there’s no need for too many complaints.  But I wouldn’t spend that much more on it.

A big thanks to Peak Performance for this amazing spread of meats, cheeses, and vegetables, provided by Ceriello Fine Foods (locations can be found here), which I’ve written about in the past, and is deserving of all the praise and lauding in the world.

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The vibe at art events just tends to feel different and more welcoming.   I don’t know much about art but I know it makes people feel good.  It evokes different emotions and brings about a different type of conversation that you may not ordinarily get a typical bar.  This is better than the bar, and sets the bar on a different way to enjoy a Friday night or night out in general.

This blog is going to be as picture heavy as it gets.  It may be the most photos I’ve ever inserted in a blog, so I hope you enjoy that.

I want to thank Beth-Ann Wilson from Night Owl Gallery (pictures above) and Felicia from Highlandtown Gallery-Magnolia Designs (pictures below) for being so inviting, and making this a fun night out, that really makes Baltimore, Charm City.

There were some folks playing live music on the walk to and from various stops, which made us stop and appreciate what we were witnessing.

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Back in July, there was a live jazz band performing and the Highlandtown Art Gallery.  You’ll never know what to expect at this thing.  The unpredictability while still becoming familiar with the galleries makes this a truly harmonious and heartwarming event.

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November 3rd, will be here before you know it, and will be the next installment of the Art Walk.   If the stars alight, this might be revisited again for the blog.

Here are my past Highlandtown related posts.

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In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the photos, and hope you’re either experiencing or will be experiencing some awesome art yourself.

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Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

Happy Birthday To Ya!

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I’ve had Gnarly Head wines a few times in my lifetime.  I’m willing to bed that if you’re reading this, many of you have as well.

And if you’ve had their wines, you realize how affordable they are.  Which mean an accessibility and affordability that is always welcome and should be never taken for granted.  And speaking of never taking things for granted…

I was honored to be invited to a fantastic gathering this past weekend for a dear friends birthday.  The crowd was intimate, the food was spectacular, the booze was plentiful, and the weather could not have been better.

As much as I love summer, I’m getting more of an appreciation for fall.  In the summer, people leave town and then they leave town.   So there’s that disconnect.  Plans can be unpredictable but then can be predictable just like that.  I don’t think there’s a right or wrong with either.  I like a good vacation myself.

But this is the time of year, and days and weekends of the year where there’s so much to look forward to.  It’s a great time for festivals, birthdays, concerts, events, and still plenty of time to be outdoors and spend time with great friends.

With great friends means great party hosts.

And in tradition, you know not to come empty handed right?

I’m surprised I haven’t written about Gnarly Head until now.  At under $10, there’s no reason not to give these wines a shot.

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When me and the most stopped to pick up some beverages and handle some other errands, the Gnarly Head display at one of the local wine shoppes was spooky but also welcoming all the same.  And at $9 here, you can’t go wrong.

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I went with the Harvest Red for no reason in particular.  Well the red label deemed approachable, and the red blends tend to make everyone happy.  A bunch of grapes in one almost makes you think you’re drinking a few wines in one.  And in many instances that is a recipe for success.

And a success is what this was.  The blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, and Barbera is about as smooth and likable as you’re going to find.   This was an easy wine to drink, free of complexities and complications.  The mix of berries, spice, and other fruits on the nose and after you sip gives me those warm and fuzzies, that fit perfectly with the month of October and all kinds of comforting foods.

And speaking of that.  The food spread was as incredible as you’re ever going to see.  I don’t need to reel off everything that you see here.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking throughout this post.

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I will mention that one of the huge stands outs was bacon wrapped potatoes.  Yes, you usually would think scallops.  But in this instance the bacon and baby potatoes complemented each other in a way that only you will have to taste and see to believe.  It was beautiful.

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As was this eggplant.  I mean everything was amazing.   I need to trust myself with my cooking to present something to a party like this, but there was enough outstanding food that there’s always next time.

You can imagine, that the food never had a chance.  How can you not just appreciate the work, soul, and craftsmanship put into such deliciousness.   I’ve said it before, its sometimes too beautiful to eat, but also way too pretty to go to waste.

I’m certain that none of this went to waste.

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My wine never had a chance either.  I was lucky to have a cup-and-a-half, and that’s just fine.  There was plenty of adult beverages to go around.  And that’s the point of these parties, to share, to care, to spread love, and too appreciate all the great people around you.

I appreciate the fact that I was a part of something so beautiful, something so joyful, and something so peaceful.   What’s not to love?

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It’s only October, and I can only hope that I get to be a part of more parties such as this one.  I’m eternally grateful.

To find Gnarly Head Wines near you, this link will show you the way.

Thank you so much.  Happy October, Happy Fall, Happy Everything!

And Happy Birthday to ya…

Ideen