I Like Chance Meetings…

NeroDavolaWine1

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.

NeroDavolaWine2

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

One Of The Better Pairings…

PastaDinner2

A great wine paired with a great dinner is something that never gets old.  As a matter of fact it can always feel new, can feel fresh, and can feel inspired if you well, feel it.

Easy said and easy done…

It doesn’t get more authentic than a great pasta dish paired with a great Italian wine.  An added  bonus is when the wine is affordable yet so great for the price, that you almost might feel guilty.  Don’t.  It’s good to find the best deals in anything without having to look too hard.

MasciarelliWine2

The 2015 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Masciarelli is one of those wines that you’re going to find in a lot of places, and hopefully you’ve had the good fortune of trying it.  Sadly for me, it’s one of those wines (like many others) that I always see and unintentionally would take for granted.  It’s not deliberate.  There’s just so many great wines to try that while we have all the time in the world, it’s important to make the most of it.  And that goes for everything.

You’re going to taste your berries, cherries, and various spices but for a wine like this, like many others, that’s just one part of the story.  What’s most important is this a wine you’re going to enjoy?  Both things, among others, are connected.  I can safely say the answer yes.  Yes this is a wine that’s accessible, approachable, and affordable.  Those are some great things that start with the letter ‘a’.

MasciarelliWine

It’s also your typical wine you’ll find served at Italian restaurants, which in turn means great Italian meals and dinners, and could easily be served at an all around amazing feast near you.  I can imagine that it’s being served at a dinner near you, near me, and all around the world, as I write this, and as you read this.  It’s that versatile and that awesome of a wine.  There’s another ‘a” for you!

As it gets colder, the medium and fuller bodied wines are going to take shape.  Thankfully this is right in the middle of what could also feel like a light wine, depending on the meal, your mood, and the season.   Those are the fun details that can make a good wine into a great wine, and a good meal into an exceptional one.  This is so fun.

I mentioned affordable.  I’ve seen this wine sold for anywhere from $9-$12, and that’s a steal.   This tastes like a $15+ wine to me.  It may be for the aura it carries, the aura I sense, or just my gut reaction to it.  Your gut will always be your guide and never steer you wrong.

PastaDinner

What a great pairing of wine and food this was.  My meal was just as beautiful as it looks.  This was comfort at it’s most comfortable and beautiful.

MasciarelliWineWithFood

As we head towards the holidays, these are the kind of meals you’re going to encounter more if you haven’t already.  These are the wines that go with them, and hopefully you surround yourself with the best company as well.

I’m grateful to have shared this with a friend, and look forward to many more exciting times to come, before, during, and after the holidays.  It’s still early November, so one glass, and one meal at a time…

Peace Be With You.

Love,

Ideen

…Is All That I’ve Ever Known

WineDisplay

What am I talking about here?   Wait what…

I know what I like and while it evolves, I still know what I like.  While palates change, tastes change, and life changes, your gut is still your guide.  And your gut will never let you down.  It didn’t let me down and I still went against it.  So you can imagine the results.

The first wine was already opened by my friends at a friendly neighborhood bar/restaurant and it was stellar.

The 2016 Black’s Station Yolo County Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Matchbook Wines is one of the lighter variations of this wine I’ve had in a while.  If I did a blind test I wouldn’t know most wines from the other.  Well maybe I would.  No, not everything, but enough.  After drinking enough wine you’re going to pick up some things.  It’s what makes this so fun.  It’s not something to force upon yourself or anyone else.   Am I talking about wine, or anything in general?  That’s up to you and me to decide.  But it’s all relative.

BlacksStationCabernetSauvignon

This wine is great and at around $12, it’s worth it’s weight in so much.  It just felt like the right wine for a transition into the season.  It hurts me to say that but that’s where we are.  It just felt right and while I tasted some spices, and the berries, and maybe some other indescribable hidden gems.

Most of all, it tasted good.  And being in a place that felt safe, felt comfortable, yet a bit of an unknown enhanced that experience.  No food, no loud noises, no shouting over anyone to be heard was necessary.  It was where I was and where I was supposed to be that matter.   I wish I could’ve ended it like that.  And I still might try too…

Things went a little south here.  I wish I could say otherwise.  The Red Blend from Rhiannon just felt like it was there. It was a label I’ve had before, and while I wasn’t sure, the fact that I vaguely remember should have immediately given me a warning sign.

Just because something isn’t so memorable doesn’t mean it’s not great, profound, or heck even memorable.   Sometimes it goes deep into our subconscious for later discussion, or never again.

Well I wouldn’t want to say never again.  I’m not sure what else there is to say.  I think I recall purchasing this bottle for under $10 so I can’t complain there.  And having these bottles at half price on a weekday night is something to be grateful for.   The glass is more than half full on this one.  There just wasn’t much that stood out about the wine.  Like I’ve said before, if a wine is terrible, or if anything is terrible, there might more to talk about.  This makes me sad to say but this is as mediocre as it gets.

I’ll keep the focus on and end with the Black’s Station Cabernet, as it was beautiful.  I’ve never seen it in stores, and now that I’ve discovered I hope to.  I hope you can find it too!  For it’s a treasure alright.  While there’s plenty of amazing wines and even the best ones are never found out, or get lost in the shuffle, this is one worth going after.

That’s all I know…. For now…

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

Keep That Momentum..

13.5Wine&Food

I can count the times on one, maybe two hands that I’ve been to 13.5% Wine Bar in the always enjoyable Hampden neighborhood in Baltimore.

13.5WineBar

That number just went up and is going to continue to go up if each visit is like the last one.   Every time I’ve been here I’ve always felt comfortable sitting at the bar outside, whether it’s with people or by myself.  The first time I visited was over six years ago, and I came here purposely alone.  I loved everything about it, and while company is great, so can be solitude.

This time I had a friend join me, but not before our bartender Mackenzie (big thanks to her for her hospitality and kindness) had me try three wines on the spot.  An impromptu tasting will always make me happy.  Maybe I made a wish to the universe and three bottles magically showed up.

13.5TheWines

Here are the three : The 2017 Pato Frio “Cashmere” Rosé; the 2016 Chalk Hill “Wits End” Vermentino, which is a new varietal and grape for me out of Australia, and my favorite the 2016 Three Brooms Riesling.

RieslingGlass

They’re all good to great with the Riesling having the most character, boldness, and structure.  To me it tastes more like a Sauvignon Blanc, and the tasting notes would say the same.  I don’t usually appreciate Riesling’s, but this was so good that a few 3 oz. pours would say I truly loved this wine.

Yes, 3 oz. pours make it easier to try multiple wines at even more reasonable prices.   I stuck with my Riesling, and kept that momentum going.  Even per other recommendations, I wanted to stick with what made me happy.

I haven’t seen these wines sold anywhere near me, so this seems to be the place to have them, for now…

I appreciate the honesty and transparency of what these wines would cost at retail.  I don’t recall if I’ve seen menus like this anywhere else.  It’s welcome to see.  This is new to me, but it’s a detail that’ll keep me coming back.

13.5Food

My friend and I had a good time catching up, talking about important things, talking about absurd things, and then nothing at all.  The small plates were great, and in a way symbolizes that the little things are the big things, and that’s what matters.

13.5MenuSnacks

Something about 13.5 has always brought joy to me.  It’s a getaway within a city.  If I want to be around people I don’t know, or don’t always see it’s perfect.  I like the anonymity and a different part of the city that while I do explore, I don’t explore enough.

The weather was perfect and ideal for sitting outside, but then the chances of a tasting and who knows what else may not have happened.  It’s all about location and timing, and I think, no I know, the decisions were made right.

You can’t force these things.  You can’t force good times and you can’t force your hand.  Being in the right place, at the right time, with a little divine faith is all you need.  And the universe will do the rest.

The universe looked out for us here.  This was tremendous in all areas.

Rosé and whites have slowly been done, with so many more to try.  There’s still the reds. There’s still plenty of time to try them all, but that journey will be done slowly, surely, and effortlessly.  Well maybe not too slow.

13.5TheWineBottles

This is to be continued, as we keep that momentum…

Salud.

Ideen

I’m Glad I Waited…

GreatFrogsMeritage

The amount of times I had planned to write about my visit to Great Frogs back in January, is almost embarrassing to talk about.

I’ve written about them previously in different settings (you can read about that here) with the hope that one day I would get to visit their winery.    And it finally happened.

Good things come to those who wait, and before I discuss this exquisite visit, here is their FAQ, more about this wonderful winery, visitor information, info on purchasing their wines/shipping info, and where you can find their wines near you.

If you don’t live or aren’t planning to visiting the Annapolis area, your only chance is to have their wines shipped to you.   These wines are on the pricier side, and are outside of my price range.  But every once in a while, I feel it’s right to treat myself.  It’s right to treat yourself, as much as you want, for as much as you want.

It’s my life, it’s your life, and we only get one of those, as who we are in this lifetime.

A few years back when I first about this winery, I had these images of exclusivity, and this place being a secret club that only the highest of society are welcome or dare try to visit.  There’s this thing about assuming that you shouldn’t always do.

However, on a random day I had dropped someone off not realizing their house was literally on the other side of this immaculate looking green and shrubbery, which was Great Frogs.  I was in awe.  I put this place on even more of a pedestal.  Sometimes assuming or presuming adds to the excitement and adds to the mystique.

Needless to say, the winery wasn’t open that day and I thought maybe someday.

After attending wine festivals and having a glass at various restaurants around town, I was enamored.  Maybe it’s an Annapolis thing (my increasing list of my affinity for Annapolis can be found here) but I love their wine and I love everything about this place.

Tastings are by reservation only, and on a limited time frame Fridays and Saturdays only.  At $35 a person that may put some people off.  You can get three bottles in most places for that much.  But this is not that kind of place.  I love this place.

When I drove up, I noticed the amazing vines, the greens, the farmland, and then the barn which hosts the tastings,  I was looking for the adorable pups (Scout & Bruno) who protect the crops and vines from the outside world (wildlife), but not on this day.  That just means I’ll have to be back.  And that’s a given.

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I won’t talk about every wine that was tried.  I don’t want to bore you.  This is not what this blog is about.  It’s about enjoying the wines, enjoying the company your worth, and enjoying your surroundings.

This was well worth the investment.  And in hindsight $35 is not that much for an experience that’s more than just a tasting.  You get 6 wines, you get snacks (which they will replenish for you), and the most incredible ambiance I can ever recall at a winery.  Being away from Downtown Annapolis and being in your own universe a few miles away added another element of wonder and fascination to this visit.  Man I loved all of this.

GreatFrogsTasting

I neglected to mention this tasting also includes a glass of your choice upon completion.  Does it get any better?  This tasting room decor is incredible.   I want to thank Ben who helped with the tasting, and could not have been friendlier.

This is family affair as I also got to meet the owners, Nathathanael & Andrea, who could not have been friendlier.

GreatFrogsMeritage

The wines that stood out to me were the 2015 Estate Meritage, the 2015 Cold Blooded (their newest release at the time), and the Chardonnay.    I went with the former as my glass mainly because the spices, the cedar taste, the berries, and the chocolate made this perfect for the winter time.   Full bodied wines are what’s going to work here, and this worked alright.    This is a $50 bottle, and if you’re feeling ambitious, go for it.   This is a tremendous wine, as most of their wines are.

GreatFrogsColdBlooded

The Cold Blooded is a blend with every grape under the sun, and at $55, this was heavily pushed for a celebration they had the day after Thanksgiving, that was originally to be my first visit.  That didn’t happen for reasons I can’t remember, other than it wasn’t meant to be.

GreatFrogsSign

This visit was meant to be.   This was more than a wine tasting, this was art.  It’s Great Frogs, it’s Annapolis, it’s happiness, this is living.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Thank you so much.

Ideen

 

A Peaceful Day In Annapolis

PerrinReserveRose&Hummus2

How often do you got a second to yourself?   If you allow it, I bet we have more time to all the things we want, then we realize.  It’s an ongoing thing, this thing of ours.  No not that kind of thing of ours, but life.   Life is good, and going to the places that make you feel good is what this life is all about.

Annapolis makes me feel good.  Actually it’s the mood I’m in that decides whether or not a place is going to make you happy.   But the setting helps.

For my past history with wine in Annapolis, go here.

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I’ve been to 49 West (here is more about them, their menu, live music calendar, and contact information) several times, and  wrote about it once, in a different universe. and without going back and rereading it, I’m sure many of the same sentiments will appear.

It’s easy to explain this place but then it’s not.   It’s coffee, wine, food, community, live music, and everything in between.  I haven’t had the privilege of seeing any bands or solo artists play live, but I look forward to it, and I imagine the setting makes it all the more intimate than it already is.

I also haven’t gotten to appreciate all the food and drink that’s at our disposal.

When the weather gets to be where it is (and I’m not complaining, I’m embracing) the food preferences will change, and the lighter the more necessary.  I think that makes sense…

PerrinReserveRose&Hummus

I’m in the mood for hummus and pita bread.  I’m always in the mood for that.  And the presentation was beautiful.  It’s hard to mess up hummus.  This was good, and by no means can I compare it to anywhere else.  It’s hummus and it’s good, it’s satisfying, and I like to tell myself I’m eating healthy.   The carrots and celery told me so.

PerrinReserveRose

There was a sign outside saying it’s Rosé time.  You may have heard.

I wanted to make this as uncomplicated as possible and I’m thankful the Rosé by the glass is the Famille Perrin Reserve, and it’s about as standard and basic as it gets.

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I’ve written highly about their Rhone in the past, and how it’s one help make me love wine the way I do.  This however is nothing special.  Yes this is a glass that’s just ‘there’.

In many ways that’s all I wanted.  I’m sometimes in no place to revel and talk about how amazing a wine is.  Sometimes you want average, you want standard, and you want simple. Not that they make the best stories, but sometimes they make the best stories.

It’s the quietest I’ve ever seen the place, but it was mid afternoon, and that’s just how I liked it. A few quick pictures later and then I just sat there.  And I was happy. This isn’t just about people watching…

There’s art watching, display watching, and watching nothingness.  That’s meant in a good way.  I wasn’t bored, I was peaceful.  I don’t get that enough.

This town brings me peace that I know I can find within myself.  We all have it.  These days where I’m exhausted and spiritually drained, I keep coming back here and appreciating all the gems of this town.  I don’t know a lot of people, but then I start recognizing everyone.  There’s so much comfort in that.

I’m going to enjoy everything I can because this is what Annapolis does for me and so many others.  It’s a place of happiness, peace, love, community, and support of local.

I’ll have more to say on 49 West soon.

Bless you Annapolis, thanks for ongoing memories that have brought me peace.

Love,

Ideen

 

 

To Be Continued…

OldWestminsterWineryChardonnay

I wasn’t sure how I was going to write about Old Westminster Winery, so I’m going to shoot from the hip and right from the heart.  I feel like I’ve said this before.  And before that.

But first, here is tasting room info, where you can find their wines, which you can purchase online, their philosophy, and more about this awesome family operation.

OldWestminsterWineryMenu

On a random weekend day some time ago, I felt like doing my own thing.  I had asked a few people if they wanted to take the long (actually short) drive from Baltimore to Westminster, and the interest was little to none.  And like many other things, I was meant to do this on my own.

And for my first visit, I’m glad it was just me…

There’s always that excitement and anticipation of going somewhere new, and taking that unfamiliar drive on a stretch of road that didn’t exist to you moments before.   These things just don’t happen everyday, and I wish they did.

In this world that’s so big, yet to small, the amount of wineries and places in general I haven’t visited, but want to so badly, is going to continuously and instantaneously grow.  But what matters is what I do visit and do experience.

And that’s what I did on this day.

OldWestminsterWinerySign

Upon arrival, and seeing the winery sign, I felt like a kid at his first day of school.  And then I felt like a kid at the first day of school.  See what I’m saying?

Especially going somewhere on your own, can be uneasy for some.  Sometimes I still feel uncomfortable, but more times than not I enjoy my own company.  If you can’t enjoy your own company, how can anyone else be expected to enjoy yours either?   So without thinking I go to restaurants, cinemas, and sometimes travel on my own.   Who knows who or what may be waiting on the other side.

A winery is no different.

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How about that scenery?

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On this particular weekend day, I had a sense the tasting room would be packed.  They’re only open for tastings on Friday through Sunday, and with the aura surrounding the place, I suspected it would be packed to near capacity.  This particular sunny, yet windy afternoon, it was pretty close to full.

OldWestminsterWineryBottles

I had a few minutes wait before I could do a tasting, and there was no rush.  The room itself is immaculate, fantastic, and feels like a place to be.  Maybe even the place to be.  In this Carroll County gem, it’s a place I definitely want to be, and be back at again.

OldWestminsterWineryChardonnayTastingRoom2

Before I sound like I’m signing off, I won’t speak of every wine, because I’ll save that for another time.  But I will talk about one.  And it’s the one that stood out to me the most, the 2016 Home Vineyard Chardonnay.

OldWestminsterWineryChardonnayTastingRoom

I’ll let the synopsis tell you one story, and I’ll tell you mine.   Wow that sounded way too profound, and that wasn’t the full intent.  However, I do like Chardonnay’s with a little more oak than this, but this one hit a different spot and nerve.

OldWestminsterWineryChardonnay

Since there was nowhere to sit inside, I took a seat in the outdoor patio, which wasn’t full set-up for seating.  It was windy, a little chilly, and not conducive to anything I was doing.

But again, like I said, it felt like the first day of school.  It was a bit awkward, out of sorts, and I wasn’t one to fake it till I make it.  Not yet at least.

OldWestminsterWineryChardonnay2

But I did take some cool pictures.  The one outside, and one actually from the bathroom.  I may get in trouble for saying that.  But the flowers looked pretty cool.

I did socialize a bit inside, and a crowd at a winery can be much different than one at a standard bar or pub.  We’re all there for the same reasons, and the reasons might be a bit more authentic and genuine versus just going to the same ole’ place.  And there’s always room to change it up and do something real.

This is not how I thought this post would go, but like I said, this is only the beginning.

I’ll be back again.

To be continued…

Ideen