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

By The Glass

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I find Osteria Da Amedeo (menu, the wine list, and more about them) in the Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore refreshing.  And not just refreshing in terms of beverages.

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My visits have been somewhat frequent, but I wouldn’t call myself a regular.  I’ve been here enough yet I never seem to know anyone and vice versa.  In a small city like this, that makes me happy.  It’s easy to just run into people in Baltimore.  Of course if you go anywhere long enough, you’re bound to make a friend.   You can never have enough good friends.  You can also never have enough alone time.  If there was something to be said for the latter, then you think one would stay home.  But how’s that fun?

Friends of mine who live here or go here only rave about it.   With the exception of one time going with a pal, its always just been me.   My preference to be out by myself has always been with me.  It’s a feeling of liberation, to have some semblance of control, and if I’m ready to leave after 5 minutes, or two hours, it feels great to have that choice.

A place like Osteria Da Amedeo lend itself to spending a little extra time, in what I can only describe was one of the more cozy bars and settings in all of the city.

This won’t be a review of the bottles, because I don’t remember them.  This may come off amateurish but on a day back in the late Summer, this was not the time or place to worry about that.   It was a weird day.  Yet someone else might say that was one of their favorite days ever. That’s what makes this all so fun.  We all can be in the same and different places and time, and think completely different thoughts and feel a contrast in emotions.

There were emotions and there was some situations.  I just felt like like saying that.  Yes situations can mean anything.

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My mood wanted a little bit of red and a little of the while.  I didn’t finish either.  I just wanted something different.   I forgot if I ordered a Sangiovese or Montepulciano.  Like I said, this is not one of those serious reviews or discussion of labels.  Not like many of them are, but I hope you sense what I’m saying and where this is going.

As I was saying, whatever my red was, I loved it.  I savored it, and I savored my surroundings.  I had my own company and today was enough.  I love their wine glasses.  You don’t see these served in this form everyday or everywhere.  Wait, maybe I had one of each and I don’t remember.   Oops.  There are those times where I feel drained and trans

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For the blanca, I went with the Gavi, which to my knowledge is the one and only time I can honestly say I’ve ever seen it, ordered it, or drank it.  This detail is significant, at least to me.   I love firsts and I love to feel a little part of history, even if just my own, and to anyone who reads this.

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Like any new wine, it either hits you right away and makes you feel something, is an acquired taste, or is just not your glass of wine.  I’m settling for somewhere in the middle. As dry as the synopsis reads, it was a little sweeter and fruitier to my liking.   I could blame it on the fact I had that red (which one I’ll never know) and maybe didn’t cleanse my palate enough, or it’s just not for me right now.  All that can change later.   That’s the beauty of wine, and of life.

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What matters is this was a good day.  It was a day of reflection, healing, peace,and hopefully rejuvenation.  This was two months ago and in many ways I feel more exhausted than that day.  Maybe it’s because of writing so late, or maybe so much has caught up with me, that this day was at least a temporary relief, or will resonate with me for reasons that have still yet been shown to me.

Maybe and hopefully I can give a more in depth versus introspective recap on the food and wine…

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For some just going out means going out, then calling it a day or night.  I might take things too seriously, but I see everything has potentially significant.  I may not even catch all the signs and symbols of the universe, or maybe I look or try too hard to find them.  Nevertheless, they’re there.

I was happy to be there….

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

On The Mend

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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

I’m Ready For Summer

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I mean that.  Technically on the calendar we’re still here.  We’re all right here…

Fall is wonderful.  It means festivals, a smell and crispness in the air, and still plenty of reasons to be outside and enjoy life.  Yeah that life thing.  It’s alright.

While it’s still hot and there’s still plenty of daylight, the lighter wines, the whites, and of course the rosé.   I’ve got time to talk about more rosé.  See, as much as the seasons all have a place, I love summer.  I’m ready for summer.

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The Lavignone Rosato was amongst the many choices I was looking at.  Actually no, let me know sound so serious.   It’s the one that stood out, because of the label, and because I knew nothing about it.  I don’t know about a lot of these wines.  And I don’t have to either.

Like any other situation, the mood I’m in, the setting, the feeling, and all those other little things that either do or don’t exist play a role in how a wine is going to taste, and how it’s going to make you feel.

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I’m still processing this one.  I’m still processing a lot of things.

At the same time, it’s not that serious.  At $15 this is bit of a splurge, but nothing out of sorts.  If it wasn’t for the flowers, I don’t know what I would think.  Yes I said flowers!

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The whole process of helping plant flowers is similar in how wine become well, a pretty bottle and label such as this.

Now there’s nothing life altering about this wine.  I’ve never looked at rosé in that way.  However, like flowers, the smells of summer is the main draw.  The synopsis mentions strawberry, watermelon, cranberry, and fresh cut grass.  Those would be the aromas, not necessarily the tastes.   I think I tasted grass once when I was a kid and I don’t remember it being good.

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This wine is ok.  I wouldn’t say it’s amazing.  I go back-and-forth on it.  As I’m writing this out, my heart is telling me something it wasn’t when I actually had a glass.  You may love it and that’s awesome.  My mind and heart are in contrasting places, and that’s a good thing, as much as that sounds confusing.

If I spent $10 on this label, I might have a different opinion.   As much as the display of flowers and colors is lively, full of life, and ready for the fall season, there are plenty of other grapes of all kinds that are going to be a bit more inspirational.

I mentioned how I was processing my thoughts on this wine, and my feelings may be unraveling as I share this with you. But I really don’t know what to say. Maybe it’s the change of the seasons and the place I’m in at the moment, but something isn’t completely adding up.   Maybe I’m ready for the medium bodied reds, or more of the whites I’ve grown to like and love.

Maybe I’m just not in love with this wine and that’s ok too.  There’s so many to choose from.  And as much as I or we want to see the good in everything, it’s good to see faults too.  Because those faults are sometimes those most endearing qualities.

No need to over analyze everything.  Some things just don’t need a further explanation.

It’s going to be a great rest of the year, and a great time to try wines (which is anytime) is just around the corner.   I’m all for a roadblock or two here to put things back in perspective.

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The best is yet to come and the best is in the present…

Love,

Ideen

 

Captivating Is Right…

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That’s what Pine Ridge Vineyard describes their white blend of Chenin Blanc & Viognier.  Which happen to me to grapes I’ve grown to love (not that I ever thought otherwise) over the past few years, simply by varietals finding me.

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For me, Chenin Blanc & Viognier have always carried an aura about them that feels larger than life.  They’re just different than many of the whites that are readily available at your local wine shoppe.   These grapes primarily found in France can be made into stellar creations on its own, but to have them together is a risk.  But life is about taking risks.  And if it were too fail, then so be it?  That’s what life and experiences are all about. They’re not going to be winners and perfect all the time.

And then there’s the 2016 Blend from Pine Ridge that I wouldn’t say tastes like nothing I’ve had before, because I don’t know what that nothing or something is.  It’s just a great wine at an affordable price.  And that’s important.  What also is wonderful is a blend like this can succeed and stand out among all the wines that are available for purchase.  Yet I’ve seen this listed for anywhere from $11-$15, and that’s more than reasonable.

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The notes are listed on the page, but while I can pretend I could smell, detect, or taste peaches, pineapple, and citrus, none of that is the case.  What I did taste is a wonderful white wine that makes me feel good and appreciate that something so well could be crafted and provided to us at such an affordable price.

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No, it’s not the best wine I’ve ever had, because that’s not a fair thing to say.  What has happened it has added to my ever increasing love for white wines.   I would say appreciate but that sounds like I’m not really a fan, and a cop out.

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What I find charming is Pine Ridge has its own website devoted to this blend.  I like the touch and it shows how serious and passionate they are about this wine.

And the good news?  This is one you will likely find at a store near you.  If not, it’s also available for purchase online.

Which leads me to think, how good are there other wines, including the reds? Well if this is any indication, I have much to look forward too.  As we’re still in season and it’s warm and oh so summer out, the reds will wait.  The whites and rosé well… We shall see!

But get this wine, even if you don’t love it, at least it was something different, and it may lead to insightful and inspirational conversations, just like many wines can do.  Great wine, great food, and great conversation is what makes this life so great.

While the weather is still this kind, I hope to discuss more of the lighter and medium wines, because this life and time just keeps going.  It’s funny how cyclical things are, but that’s just what it is.  It’s great when a wine like this comes along to shake things up and breaks the cycle.  To write about something life this regularly might take away from that luster, so we’ll see where go to next…

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My hunch tells me more of the best and brightest.

Peace be with you.

Love,

Ideen

The Golden Elite

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This is not the kind of completion of a trilogy I envisioned.   But after the past two stories (here and then here) from the same night, why not have a third bottle.  And we had at least three.  Some may never be written about.  I don’t remember.  And not so much because of the wine consumption.  It’s because right now I don’t remember.  Maybe I do, and maybe I’ll tap into that subconscious later.

This was once again a Christmas gift that I decided to share with the folks who presented it to me in the first place!   How perfect!  And 2015 Expedition Cabernet Sauvignon from Canoe Ridge Vineyard (here is their wine list, more about their winery, and online purchasing information) is perfect in so many ways.

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I wrote about a similar experience and similar gift from this incredible winery over a year ago, and you can read that here.

This has black currant or red currant, or both, depending on who’s talking and who’s reviewing.  But currant to me is one of those additions to a wine that can make a wine, make a great wine better, or just put it over the top.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled but I can’t recall the last time I had a bad wine with currant playing a principle part.  It makes a wine smokier, gives it such structure, character, depth, and charm that I can’t fully put into words.  It just has a taste that feels and heals so familiar.

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I love tea and currant in (black) tea are sometimes synonymous with one another.  But I think the familiarity comes from someone else.  It comes from family.  It comes from growing up, it comes from childhood, and it just comes from somewhere safe.  I know where it comes from.  Exchange currant for anything else, and you may have a feeling that’s similar.

That smokiness also comes from the flavors of plum, and maybe berries in the background.  Maybe just plum though.  And the lingering finish just stays with you. This wine just stays with you.  I feel like this wine was meant to find me.  And I feel the only way I should be drinking this is via a present or gift from beyond.

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This is is a night that I’ll never forget.  It’s been over a month and I’m grateful some dear friends were there for me in the most vulnerable position one can be in.

I had the company of amazing people, amazing animal friends (3 Labrador Retrievers that I love so much), and the most incredible weather I can remember.

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The wine is a bonus, it could’ve been the worst vino on earth and I’d find a way to find something good about it.  But I don’t need to.  This is my kind of wine and one of my favorite wines.  I loved everything about it.  I loved everything about this evening.  I don’t know what else there is to say.

I look forward to the next time I get together with my friends, under more joyous and celebratory circumstances, but in a way this was a celebration.  It’s a celebration of life, of happiness, that life is short, and that life is meant to be enjoyed.

I’m grateful to have such wonderful and kind people in my life, and I feel validated that myself and my family has done something right..  I feel touched and blessed by everything.

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I’m grateful.

Love,

Ideen

Stop The Clocks

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When you get spoiled and exposed to wines that are delightful, yet affordable, it’s easy to run into wines that are going to bring you down the earth.   Not everything is going to be highly rated.  Life doesn’t work out that way.  I wish it did.  I wish every wine would be four stars and up.

If that were the case, the vintages that are actually on that level lose so much of their shine and luster.

I purchased the 2016 Nonni Malbec with all the intentions of bringing it to someone, somewhere.  I honestly don’t recall.  Maybe I was going to bring it to a dinner party, maybe I was going to well, I don’t know.

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Without even opening the bottle, that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement.  However, at only $12 (technical info can be found here) and under retail price, and a charming label as well, what can go wrong? It’s a Malbec, and based on my experience those are usually the more reliable wines.

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Reliable is exactly the word you would use.  It’s there, it’s nothing special, and it’s about as average a wine you’re going to find.

My friends seemed to enjoy it a little more than I did, but more or less we were on the same page.  When a night spent hanging in involves lots of food, drink, and all kinds of other fun things, not everything is going to be perfect.

The perfect days or nights usually involve little to no planning, what usually stands out is something you would never expect.  This wine is good enough to talk about, but more in the lines of the entire night itself.   Which means this is going to be ongoing.  How ongoing? Well…

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I can’t describe this wine, other than there’s dark fruits and it’s easy to drink, along the lines of a Pinot Noir.  But taking out all the pseudo expert analysis, this was a fine that was simply, just there.

‘There’ isn’t always a bad thing, it’s just well, there.

It’s a talking point I look forward to, and can sometimes go into a passive aggressive direction, if framed a certain way.   Oh wait…

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This goes back to a night in May. where I got together with pals and some animal friends I don’t see enough.  There’s plenty of people in our lives we can say that about. How often have you said to the people you care about the most, ‘We need to see each other more often’, or ‘Let’s get together soon, it’s been too long’.  Then the next time you see them, that conversation may come up again.

It’s either because you don’t see them enough, or no matter how many good times you’ve had with them in succession, it’ll never be enough.

This applies to so many loved ones I think about on a regular basis.  And likely people are thinking that way about you.   That’s the good kind of being ‘there’.

This particular evening went hours on end.  A lot of laughs were shared, stories were recanted, and a lot of food and drink were imbibed.

What stood out wasn’t one thing in particular, but a collection of things.  Well maybe one or two things, but you get what I’m saying…

The other day the memories were a little more clear, but now it’s a it hazy.   And that’s the place I’m in.   Ask me tomorrow, I might have a few other things to say.

What matters is that there’s never enough great times to spend with the people you love and care about the most.

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This is to be continued…

Peace Be With You,

Ideen