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

 

Salud

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This is a celebration of close friends, a celebration of this life, and all the good that exists within that.

I want to congratulate some good friends who recently got engaged.

And when pals get engaged, you want to celebrate immediately, savor every moment, and enjoy it with some good libations.  And some good vibrations.  We had plenty of those, and then we had plenty of those.

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I’m so grateful I was included in the engagement celebration.  It was impromptu and organic as all the best experiences are.  For that, I’m so appreciative to be a part of something so beautiful.

This calls for a bit more elegant and pricier bottle of wine don’t you think?  It calls for the more sparking kind as well.  And the weather is now cooperative enough that going with a sparkling, white, or lighter red is going to work.   That does pain me to say but it’s mid September and at least much more wines are agreeable to the climate.

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I went with the necessary and always effective sparkling white.  If anything, it’s going to look good when you pour, in a glass, and of course in pictures.    And sometimes the label will draw you in too.

The Herbauges Luminescence Brut (for more on the wine and distributor click here) is exactly the kind of sparkling wine that fit this party perfectly.

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But what’s most important is the setting itself.  This is a fun group of people, and that is going to make any wine, any piece of food, and any moment you’re in that much better.

I spent $22 on this bottle.  And it never had a chance.  Actually nothing anybody brought had a chance.  I was lucky to get a glass and a half myself.  And I drank from a charming wine glass that fits where my friends with and fit entertaining mood in general.

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Was it worth spending $20+ on?  That can be debated.  For me, it tasted (for the small sample that I had) in between $10-$20, and that’s not based on any expert analysis.  It’s more of a feeling and instinct than anything else.

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The tasting notes can be found here. And the most endearing thing I read is “great looking bubbles’.  Those are the kinds of details and notes I can appreciate.  And anyone not into all the nuances of wine (and I’m one of them) can appreciate the inviting information.  Yes you might get hints of flowers, fruits, and as the synopsis reads ‘pastry’, the bubbles is what stands out.  And I was a fan of that before reading anything.

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Now about those pastries.  I love me some pastry, but to find hits of this takes a certain talent, or it’s once again a scent that hits a nerve or either resonates with you, or it’s one of those scents that had been a part of your day or significant memory that is lingering throughout the day.  I think I may have just made two of the same descriptions using different variations of words.  Whoops!

What is resonating is how fun this day was.  There was a great group of folks hanging out at a lovely house, with a beautiful set up of beverages and snacks, and since the weather was so glorious the party went outside for some outdoor activities.   We still have plenty of time in the season and in this life for organic, genuine, and positive experiences.

This is definitely one of the more positive ones someone can be a part of.

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As for the wine, I’ll always associate with this party.  Just like you have a certain food, drink, or memento that you associate with a certain place and time, the wine, among a few other things will always correlate with the fun day that everyone had.

Congratulations friends.

Salud,

Ideen

 

 

 

Rosé Come Out Tonight

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National Rosé Day is traditionally celebrated on  the second Saturday of June each year.  I would be lying if I said I had known this fact for a long time.   But thanks in part to many of my friends who love Rosé not just in this gorgeous warm weather months, but whenever they get the chance.  And I do mean whenever.

Many of my friends exclusively drink Rosé and nothing else.  I feel as if I’ve said this about particular wines and grapes before.

It’s a well known fact that Rosé may be the oldest wine there ever is and ever was.  And it can be used from many different grapes.  It makes the possibilities and the creativity endless.  But at the end of the day most of us just want a wine that tastes good, is affordable, and enjoyable either with friends of in the comfort of solitude.

For such a special day I didn’t want to fall into the added pressure of having to find this most amazing Rosé that has to stand above all the rest.  You know sometimes without thinking too hard, that will happen.   In this instance I went with one with a charming and enchanted label, along with the fact that it was a mere $10.00

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The 2016 Reserve De La Dame A L’Oiseau, Rosé has one of the more majestic and captivating label you’ll find on a wine bottle.  Yes I did judge a bottle by its over, but in the right way.  And that’s half the battle.

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And I’m thinking, oh this is the Côtes du Rhône region. This has to be good.  I love Côtes du Rhône!

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I believe in previous years I’ve had this selection from Vineyard Property Association (more can be learned here), and the fact that I only believe and don’t fully remember tells me that the wine didn’t resonate with me, good or bad.

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What has happened since is more or less the same.

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The lighter pink color would make you think it would taste a bit lighter.  I would say this is more on the medium side.  But it just didn’t wow me.   And this is not based on the fact that I’m not a regular Rosé drinker (yet I’ve been starting to drink semi-regularly now as the weather gets glorious), but something just didn’t make this stand out.

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And for many of us it doesn’t matter.  I imagine in certain circumstances this wine would be perfect.  And many people are going to love this.  This is just my opinion, but even after a few minutes of breathing time, it didn’t get any better for me.  There’s aromas and tastes of fruit.  You could say strawberry, raspberries, and many other berries for that matter. But it doesn’t matter.  This is an ok wine and a reasonable price.

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If I had this with friends and the setting was perfect, I might be singing a different tune. No I’m not backing away from my opinion.  I’m making the point that I think has happened to many of us.  The same wines we had in one setting, may not work in another.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a wine tasting and had multiple wines that tasted like the greatest thing on Earth.  Yet only to go home and have that same wine a day or week later and wondering what went wrong.  Maybe it was the excitement of the moment.  This is what this wine reminds me of.  I think somewhere else I might like this.

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I did have this one alone but only could finish a glass.   I did my best to enjoy my glass with a little snack of meat, cheese, and crackers.  That’s another great thing about Rosé. It can pair with a multitude of foods and in a multitude of settings.

I’ve seen this label in many a wine shoppe, so it shouldn’t be hard to find.  If you want more information (and maybe where you can find the bottle in your area) from the importer, LVDH, their information can be found here.

Technically we have yet to reach Summer.  And I want to savor every minute and second of that fact.  I also hope to savor more charming Rosé wines as the weather continues to be breathtaking.  And I hope future Rosé selections will do the same, be breathtaking…

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Thanks so much.

Ideen

Hip Hip Hooray For…

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Well ordinarily I wouldn’t dig fruitier and sweeter wines.  But that’s always been the point of this journey.  I like getting out of my comfort zone as much as possible.  Essentially every wine is at least worth a try.

Not that long ago I would embrace sweet wines, because they’re accessible and endearing to so many.  It would be perfect and most likely affordable to bring to holiday parties, birthdays, and any gathering where not everyone enjoys wine.  But they would enjoy the sweet and tart varietals.  So it was a win win for everyone.

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As time went by it felt more like a loss.  I enjoyed the dryer reds and then started to appreciate the whites.  That much has remained the same.  But I’m no wine snob nor do I ever intend to be.  But the sugary content in the sweets began to give me a headache and became a chore to drink than anything else.  That’s not the point of this thing.  Wine is meant to be enjoyed.  And no time rings truer than the holidays.   Yet it’s with great pleasure that I say that the Cranberry Wine from St. James Winery is a winner.

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What’s not to like?  Look at that color.  It looks deceivingly like cranberry juice and not much else.  If you poured me a glass and didn’t tell me otherwise, I wouldn’t know the difference.  Only until sipping do you begin to realize that this is anything but just juice. You want to take your time with this one or it’ll creep up on you.

I love the tasting notes.  It literally is all cranberry all the time.   Cranberry acidity with a cranberry finish is what’s written.  Can you get more approachable and simplistic than that?  And around this time of year, with all the frenzy of running around like a fool shopping, errands, and looking for just a few minutes to relax, this is the kind of wine and synopsis you want.

This wine is so good I’ve gladly decided to give them buy a few and give them as gifts to people.  My hunch is the people I’ve purchased for may not be reading this blog.  So I hope I haven’t spoiled anything haha.

But I did bring it to my traditional gathering of dear friends.  We exchanged gifts, ate food a little too fast (or maybe that was just me), and sipped on this wine ever-so-slowly.

What’s funny is I think I only had one glass.  That is more due to the fact I was appreciating what I was drinking.  There’s nothing especially life-changing or monumental about this wine on the surface.  But if you’re enjoying this glass with the people you care about this much, then it will take on a life of its own.  And that’s how every wine and every experience should be, and is capable of being. The charm of that label helps too.

With this wine, you can also be creative, and make your favorite festive cocktails.

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Short and sweet, to the point, and happy holidays.

For more on our happy gathering, here’s the tea that we had.

For my festive friends in the Baltimore area, this bottle is available at Wine World in Abingdon for the low price of only $11.00.

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And to everyone else in the states and locally, here’s the link to search for it at a retailer near you.

You can also order this and all of their festive wines online, and their contact info is all over the page.

I wish you a Very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the joy that it’ll bring you.

Happy Happy and Merry Merry,

Ideen