I Like Chance Meetings…

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Hampden evokes feeling of community, and that grows in volume as we approach the holidays.  Oh yes, the holidays.  I felt like I was just talking about that a few days ago.  And I don’t mean another holiday.  I mean the holidays.  Here we are…

I like it quiet, cozy, and peaceful.  I like conversation.  I like meaningful conversation.  Sometimes that might be too much for you or I.  But I can’t speak for you, so I won’t nor should I.  Small talk just hasn’t worked for me in a while.  I have done it, but I can only do it for so long before I’m exposed in away.   I have yet to grasp the concept of faking it till I make it.  Not yet…

But what is very real is great wine (and crappy wine, but not today…)and a great wine bar to boot.  So this brings us back to 13.5% Wine Bar (which I wrote about a few months back) and an awesome wine that’s not even on the menu!

Their happy hour red is the 2016 La Ferla Nero d’Avola and I’m grateful they were serving after those hours because this is the perfect wine to have with anything or nothing at all.  I tend to say that a lot, and it may come off robotic, but it’s a feeling I have about some wines.

It’s light enough to drink any time of year but has depth and character that will fill your senses, warm your heart, and perfect the mood that you’re in.  Hopefully it’s a good one.

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Filled with pepper, spices, and a little bit of the unknown, this just felt right for early November.  And at $4 a glass I’m getting a bargain.   The average price for this wine is around $10, and that’s exactly what it tasted like.  That’s a compliment above all else.

You know when wines just feel right and you want them right now.  This is for right now…

My friends and I had quite a few small plates and not at any time did the cheapness of wine come out when paired with spiced nuts, brussels sprouts, and frites.  Everything complemented the other.  What can also be said was that the company was great, the ambiance is always off the charts, and the positive energy is in abundance.  That’s going to make any wine, any food, and anything just be better.

I love this place, and sometimes experiences are so good that they shouldn’t always be shared.

Sometimes I get this visceral feeling as to what I should share, should document, should photograph, and what I shouldn’t.  It’s great to keep a log, a blog, a journal, a history of experiences, and to share them.  I just know there’s an intellect with this that is bigger than the food, the wine, or anything.  That it’s ok to put into words.

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When it comes to pictures, I sense a more polarizing opinion.  I think it’s good to take a few here and there, but I’ve never been one to constantly do it.  So when looking back at my posts I get a kick out of seeing photos I know I left out, because those are for me and for me only.  Same for certain stories that I will never share, or I am not ready to.  In a lot of ways that has more of a reaction than what is put out there.

With that being said, I don’t know what the holidays will bring but then I do.  But it’ll all be from my heart and with the best intentions.  Then there will be those stories that may or may not see the light of day.   That’s one of the many joys I get from this.

But for now, Happy Early Thanksgiving and…

Take good care…

Love,

Ideen

The Best Seat In…

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This is one of those weeks where I wasn’t thrilled or convinced with my wine options, to write about.  Some of it was timing, my intuition, and certain wines and stories being out-of-place (for now).

I thought the universe handed delivered me a sign yesterday, but then that quickly fizzled out.  Little did I know was that sign led me to something else.  It led me somewhere else.  It led me to my favorite wine shoppe of them all, the Wine Source in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore.

As organic and authentic a wine, beer, cheese, and specialty foods experience as you’re going to get, the Wine Source has always had this amazing aura and great energy about it.  It could be the neighborhood, it could be the selection, or it could be something bigger that is in no need of explanation.

But the choices of wines has always surpassed most other wine shoppes.  This is where you go to fine wine that other stores aren’t going to carry.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a bottle here that I wasn’t even looking for but worked perfectly for the event or occasion I was going to attend.   Here’s my original story from the Wine Source to illustrate that fact.

A meet up with a dear friend who I hadn’t seen in some time obviously led to some catching up.  It was also a reintroduction into a neighborhood I’ve grown partial too, but also seen some changes that are disconcerting.   The local element is still the majority but a chain here and there is a part of the sadness,.

But all roads lead to the Wine Source.  Somehow we ended up in the area and as always I can’t not walk in.  It’s one of those places that if I’m nearby, I’m walking in.  It’s as simple as that.

And each time tells a different story.

I had no idea there was small bar set-up in one of the back corners of this massive space. But here you can sample wine, beer, spirits, and even have a full glass while you shop. Yes I said while you shop.

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I saw selected wines were only $4 a glass, which is a steal anywhere in the world.  And the fun part is, if I want to drink a wine I purchase, and want to drink it there, they’ll open it for you there.

With all these enlightening and transforming information, I had to get a glass.  And I want to thank Brook who was working the table for letting me sample the 2015 Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Charles Smith Wines.

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Now if that label looks familiar than is more than likely is.

For the most part, Riesling has never been one of those wines I sought out.  It was always too sweet and sometimes too much to stomach.   Knowing what I know now, I understand that not every Riesling is sweet.  And considering this is from the great state of Washington, I learned that these are of the dry side.  And it’s outstanding.

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This is one of the smoothest, crispest, and easily drinkable wines (let alone a Riesling) I’ve ever had.  I mean that sincerely.   It could have been the environment we were in, which was literally my friend and I sitting at the counter enjoying a sip (a few beers were sampled too, which is rare for me) and just enjoying life.   It was at this pint I only learned we could walk around with our wines.

And you still get just enough sweet to make this a delightful Riesling.  The taste of apples and lime, among various citrus flavors our perfect for Summer.  I love that so much.

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I felt like I was in another dimension, outside of the city.  And maybe I was.  I’d like to believe that at least.   Time felt like it stood still even though it’s always moving the same. And knowing I was at my favorite wine shoppe ever only accelerated something already so special, in that moment.  It was one of those things that’s almost too good and too surreal to share, but why the heck not right?

The Kung Fu Grirl a great wine by the way.  And in the price range of $9-13, you can’t go wrong.  It’s an everyday wine that go with lots of fun foods.  That’s my kind of varietal.

Chances are you’ve seen Charles Smith Wines at your local distributor.  And more than likely this bottle for sure.  I’ll get to that one soon enough.

I want to thank Brook (who is the beer guy ironically) at Wine Source for giving my glass of Kung Fu Girl Riesling on the house.  I hope I don’t get him in trouble by saying that  I’m grateful nevertheless.

If you’re in or close to the area I highly recommend a visit.

For more on Charles Smith Wines and where to find these most accessible of wines in your area, click here.

Here’s their story and more about the wines themselves.

I’m only just getting started with my admiration of The Wine Source.

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This was so fun, and it was all unplanned, unrehearsed, without any predetermination.

Predestined?  Maybe.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

I Believe In Magic

I had no idea Alchemy Elements even existed.  Nor that it opened minutes away from me in Bel Air.  That’s magical in and of itself.     This will be quite the introduction as I’ve yet to partake in dining at their Hampden location, appropriately titled Alchemy, go figure.

This falls along the lines of unplanned and serendipitous.  I’ve heard from multiple sources how splendid and amazing this restaurant was.   I was eager to find out about it myself.  I thought I would have a set date and time I would be going.   Thankfully I went with a friend on a random lunch.  And what a lunch it was.

I mentioned magic in the title.    When reading about them, that’s how I found out about their concept.  If you’ve been to either location, I guess you know what this magic is.  I was told molecular fusion is how they prepare their food and their cocktails.  I think that’s marvelous.  It’s something different and in a world where restaurants claim to be this or that, which basically is over-the-top words to cover up for how ordinary they are, this felt different.

As long as the food, the atmosphere, the energy, and the company are magical than everything else will fall into place.

This is a wine blog and I will get to that.

Per the friendly waiter’s advisement, I ordered the Quinoa Spinach Salad with chicken breast.  It was divine.

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The black tea egg, the spinach, the quinoa, the walnuts, the goat cheese, and everything else in between was from another dimension.  Holy moly this was good.  This salad was good for 3 people.  I made sure it was only for one.  Before I knew it, the whole thing had been decimated.

The Canyon Road Chardonnay paired well with the salad.  As per suggested, it went perfectly with the grilled chicken.  It’s just not a wine I would go out of my way to have again.

I’ve never been a big fan of Chardonnay in general, so this wasn’t a surprise.  I also won’t let a grape I’m resistant to cloud my judgement.  I will always give a new wine a chance and will try anything once.  This was a serviceable medium-bodied white that tasted citrusy with some fruits that complemented many of the ingredients of the salad.

So the recommendation was spot on.  It’s just not a wine I was crazy about.

Believe me, with everything else clicking so perfectly, this will hopefully be a place I visit regularly.  And I look forward to being amazed and dazzled by the city location as well.

For where you can track down Canyon Road Wines in your area, click here.

All The Best,

Ideen