On The Mend

FalerniaCarmenereWine

There’s something about the Remington neighborhood in Baltimore that is so charming to me.   And I may not even be talking about the whole neighborhood, but a tiny block or even half a block area has become another in a line of safe places to be that are away from everyone, yet in plain sight of those same everyone’s.

What strikes me is how just a couple of years ago, this was a neighborhood that had all the telltale signs of expansion but looked fine in before pictures, and looks similar in after, with a few masterful additions.

While one place has become a source of necessary health and healing, another is more of the same on a different level.  R. House (I wrote about it once before) has been a source of new food, new experiences, and just a place for rebirth, rejuvenation, and welcome solitude.

On several occasions I’ve been here with friends, but recently it’s always been me and just me.  And this is a place where it’s ok to be just you.  Actually most places can fit that fold if you see fit and makes you feel good if that resonates within your heart and soul.  But something about R. House just feels so comforting, so familiar, and so divine.   It’s as if I’ve been here before in a previous life, but can’t connect all the dots just yet.  Not that I’m supposed to nor ever will, but it’s fun to romanticize.

And this place is worthy of all the romanticizing.   There’s a dozen or so food choices that didn’t exist just a few years ago.  And it just has this welcoming aura from the outside and from the open you open those double doors.  Yes it’s those simple things that really get me, move me, and fill my spirit whole.

Then nestled right in the middle is the r.bar…

I’ve always love the r.bar from afar, yet I was right there.  In all previous visits it only consisted of getting food to go or dining in. And to me dining in some ways has been a life changing experience.  Sometimes a couple hours sitting in complete and utter nothingness have gone by, without realizing.   To call it cathartic would be a statement.  And it would be the right one…

The r. bar is just the same.  I don’t know anyone that regularly hangs out here.  There’s friends that have their places to go, just like I do. Some are not always my favorite, but they’re safe, cozy, familiar, and there’s the path of least resistance factor.

Keep in mind, it’s only a bar but it symbolizes a lot.  Sometimes going to different places means going at it alone.  I’ve been going at it alone for 39 years and change, that I’m used to it in many ways by now.

Luckily, there’s a familiar face behind the bar who’ll make you feel good and welcome.  I always feel welcome here even if I don’t know where the love is coming from, or it’s not actually ‘there’.

So coming from one place of healing to another means simply a glass of wine, nothing more nothing less.   To me I don’t sense this is a place for rowdiness, it’s a place of peace, a place for folks to work, conduct business, enjoy a few friends, and in my case, enjoy solitude.

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With that, the mutual recommendation was the 2015 Carménère from Falernia Winery  (contact information here) was poured to perfection.

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It’s getting colder out there, and while it may not be full bodied wine season, it was on this day.  And I took my time sipping this thing, because I appreciated everything around me, which was a little noise, great ambiance, my friend behind the bar, but then it was just me.  I take my few pictures and then that’s that.

This is a wine that will be a crowd pleaser at any party, whether it’s one that you’ll be attending in a couple of months or next week.  I want to be careful with my language because to me it’s way too early to think about all the festivities in the next month or so, as fall is a season for letting go, grieving, and healing  And to me, and I’m sure many others, it’s more important now than ever before.

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Yes the tannins are big and bold, as a wine like this would be.  The synopsis mentions there’s chocolate and vanilla on the nose, which I actually didn’t notice.  But in hindsight I get it.  It fits a wine like this.  But most importantly, is it a wine you want?  I loved it and I think in this instance almost anything would have worked.  But I’m glad I had it at this moment in time, and nowhere else.  Life is great like that.

I love R. House as the home away from home that it’s become for me.  It’s convenient but there’s something much bigger going on here, and words don’t always need to apply or can apply.  It’s just larger-than-life.  That’s all I got right now.

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It’s a glorious place that is meant to be shared with and embraced by everyone.

How it is in this incarnation is a masterpiece, and I can’t wait to see how it expands and evolves, even if doesn’t really need to.

Hopefully this will be revisited before the year is out.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Fresh Air

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If I’m correct, this is the first time I’ll be writing about a Carmenere since starting this blog.  What took me so long?  Well there’s so many amazing wines to talk about.  I will never get to them all.  And why would I want to?  That’s what makes this journey brilliant. There will never be enough time to try them all.  Fortunately there is time to try an assortment.

Carmenere was one of the original six grapes in France, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.    It faded into obscurity until the early 90’s and now found its proper home (as the national grape) in Chile.    If this story sound familiar, the same thing happened with Malbec.  And now that’s the most popular grape of Argentina.

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So this brings me to the 2011 Car Men Air distributed by Bronco Wine Company.    I purchased this for under $10 at my favorite Trade Joe’s in Alexandria, VA.

The play on words funny yet nothing about this wine is.  It’s a straight-forward and no-thrills bottle.  It’s got just the right amount of oak and spiciness that it doesn’t taste like a rock-bottom priced vino.  But not much more than that.   If I’m to assume correctly, black cherry, smoke, spices, and the aforementioned oak are all easily detectable.  Anything else is not as discernible.  But hey, that’s just my opinion.  It did have a darker tint than many wines we’re accustomed to.

I brought this bottle over to a friends house to relax, sip, and crack some jokes.  Not about the wine but in general.  The weather is warming up and spirits are doing the same.  It’s about time.   As long as this wine was somewhat acceptable, then it’s going to taste that much better with good company and a good energy.  If this or any wine were appalling then we’d be hard pressed to enjoy ourselves. Then again we might move on and find a suitable replacement.

I’m sounding like I’m down on this wine.  Not at all.  I think I’m just excited and all over the place with this sudden heat wave that’s hitting the east coast.   I’m salivating at the thought of all the outdoor activities and all the great wines that I’ll be having during some of those fun events.   I hope you’re getting amped up too.

After perusing their list, I’ve noticed many I’ve had in the past.  This will be revisited at a later date.

If you’re interested in finding this or other wines, click here.

Lastly, here is my most recent post on a great wine from Trader Joe’s.  And here’s one that wasn’t as golden.

Winter time is winding down but some of these impeccable wines I’ll try will not. We’re just getting started.

Best,

Ideen

 

Downtown Abbey

AbbeyPinotBison1

For those who loved the Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill, then you will either love this post or be perplexed.    This is not all of a sudden going to turn into a burgers n’ beer board but, the Fells Point location is bringing some excitement barely two weeks into opening.

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Now the original location has gained a following and reputation by many as having the best burgers in Baltimore.    I am not an aficionado in that respect.  I do like ’em but never been a fan of the buns themselves. Fortunately, there’s plenty of alternatives.  And that’s a major positive. Not every establishment is that accommodating.

So what does this have to do with wine?   The original destination sells bottles for $28 and glasses for $8.50, which is the appropriate mark up of 2-3+ times retail price of what you would find in stores.   However, the Fells Point locale is doing bottles for $15.00.  Yes, you read that correct, $15.   If you just wanted a glass that would b $7.50.  So you actual benefit from getting it all for yourself or sharing a bottle with someone you care about, or loathe if that’s what you’re into.

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But this list is legit.  I’ve seen many of these labels anywhere from $8-$12+ in my local shoppes.

I had a couple of ideas for what to write about today but this one found me over the weekend.  Our awesome server Lindsey took great care of my friends and I this past Saturday.

The vibe inside was fantastic.  It’s cozy enough that on non sports you’ll find peace and an comfy seat at the bar or a table off to the side.

Our visit over the weekend saw a packed house for college basketball and the college bowl games.  We had a little bit of a wait time but nothing to get impatient over.

Alright I’m beating around the bush.  Which wine did I get?  By accident or not, the Pinot Noir I requested was already sold out.   So I’ll have to write about that another time.  Lindsey suggested the same grape from Root 1 which  I sadly must have missed, because I’ve been a fan of them and their wines for quite some time.

I’ve had their Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere before, and loved them both.  The labels are anything but an eyesore.  One of the better ones I’ve had the privilege of looking at.

It was the first time I had the Pinot and it was a winner.  This was a medium-bodied wine with a very cherry and jammy flavor that was so easy to drink.  Traditionally it may not be the perfect pairing with our burgers, chips, fries, and tots but I didn’t care.  No one else seemed to either.

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I enjoyed my bison burger and as a first timer here, I wanted to get a brioche bun mainly because it looks good on camera.  The meat was great, the bread was fine too but for what I was able to eat.    My peers enjoyed a portobello mushroom and lamb burgers respectively.

The meals were great, the company was the same, and so was the energy of the place.  That’s what matters.

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Like any new locale, there will be loose ends that will be fixed.  We had ordered crab dip tots for the table and only got regular.  These things happen and nothing to hold anyone against.   And a few of the other wines were sold out too.  That might be a product of a $15 steal gaining popularity so quickly.  We all want the best deals in town so this didn’t come as a shock.

I didn’t because I’ve already been back since and will continue to do so.   Eric was providing the drinks and food for round 2.He was cordial and pleasant.    The photos of their wines are shown below.  I guess I just have to write about them all eventually and in perpetuity.

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The Fells location, from what I’ve been told, wants to have a separate identity from the original location, yet also remain the same.  I can understand that.  The Federal Hill spot has a hardcore following for the Arsenal football club.  Many of those guys are dear friends of mine.

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I could go on and on but the word count is starting to grow.   The Abbey is a winner.  I look forward to visiting their Ocean City location sometime down the line.

And Root 1 is great.  They’re a brand of wines I need to sip more of.   And I intend to.

If you can’t make it to the Abbey, there’s a likelihood that you can find them at your local retailer.  I’ve seen them all over Maryland and in various other wine stores.

All The Best,

Ideen

 

 

Dinner Party Pals

Sometimes you just need a great dinner with friends to get the week going.  And when that means a good steak, of course you need to pair with it something stellar.

Considering the dinner party host, I knew the food was going to be good.  So my hope was to find a bottle that would complement a hearty meat and vegetable dish.

My search led me back to Wine World and its massive collection of everything.   The staff here is tremendous.  They know right away when anyone as a question, and is always quick to give a great suggestion or two, or more!

The question about a selecting a wine with a hearty meat, has been going on forever.  And while I have a few grapes in mind, I love hearing other people’s opinions.    They pointed out some new ones to me the ranged from $16 to upwards of $40.   Now like most folks, the preference is to go the lower end of the spectrum.

I got assistance from one more team member, and they suggested a brand I forgot about, Casillero del Diablo, distributed to the United States from Excelsior Wines.  I surmise that many of us have had a bottle of two of theirs without realizing it. It’s a standard label that is sold in even the most simplest of wine shops.  And this is no way discounting them.  Of the few I’ve had, it’s a great value for under $10.  And more times than not, it’s all we need for a simple dinner or to drink on its own.

But what was suggested was a new one to me.  Right next to the collection of del Diablos, I was introduced to the Devil’s Collection Red, which is a trio of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, and Syrah.   It’s like they read my mind.

Before I even walked in these three grapes, along with Petit Sirah are what were on my mind.  So to get a bottle, and a new one for that matter, that contains a few of what I was seeking, only triples the fun and enhances my wine buying experience, along with hopefully making this meal fun.

CasilleroDecanter

So how did everything turn out?  Well the meal was amazing and the wine was really good.  My friend had a beautiful decanter to add to the atmosphere of our friendly feast.  And the color on this wine really shines here.

The synopsis mentions flavors of plum and black cherry.  Through the power of suggestion, the latter did seem noticeable. A small hint of chocolate?  I was hoping to taste it and as my palate expands will hope to catch it next time.

This is a very good bottle at the price of $12.99.  And with a mix of medium-to-full bodied wines mixed together, it tasted refreshingly lighter than what I was expecting.  I’ll definitely give it a go again.

if you’re interested in reading more about these wines, you can go here, here, and here!  Yes I know that’s a lot! 🙂

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I will leave with a couple of fun pictures from our meal.  I want to give a huge thank you to the host.  The steak, with acorn squash, and peppers was a hit.   The vegetables, especially, tasted organic, natural, and most importantly healthy.  Well maybe I just used three all-too-similar synonyms to over-emphasize how great this was!

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen