By The Glass

OsteriaWines

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

Only In Olney

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Yes I’m now officially part of this exclusive club.  I got my first ‘Get Stained’sticker from the fine folks at Olney Winery.  And it only took my fourth visit to the Maryland Wine Festival to get there.  Funny how I built something up so significantly for years, and it was all about a sticker.  If you understand the sarcasm, you realize that anyone who wanted a sticker, got one.  But it’s fun to pretend that this is an exclusive group of wine drinkers and lovers of life, that it’s the ultimate badge of honor, and no less than that.  And maybe it is.

So here we go again.  Last year I did three recaps of some of my favorite booth visits at this most exciting of fiestas.  These posts can be found here, here, and finally this gem.

I had no set plan.  I never do.  I could have written two months worth of material from the event but certain scenarios, wine and dinner parties, and holidays steered course.  I love that.  Once again I have material to last me a couple of months but I don’t see it happening on consecutive weeks.  We shall see.  It’s what makes this blog fun.   So before I go on another tangent, I will go with the very first tent I stopped by, the aforementioned, Olney.

olneycabwinefestAt the event itself they only had two wines I had interest in trying, their For Your Eyes Only Cabernet Sauvignon and their X Brothers Pinot Noir.  The former I’ve had before and on a very first taste at their tasting room (more on that shortly) I was floored.  I bought a bottle immediately.  I may have had other wines but this was the standard bearer at the time.

Since then I’ve purchased this same wine at various retailers with mixed results.  Maybe it was a bad batch, bad cork, waiting too long, or the universe telling me not to try it again, but it’s not the wine I remember.   But on this day the recipe seemed different (as every vintage should be) but my palate was rejoicing once again.  This is the Cab I remembered. I see more tannins were added, that oak I remember, and my favorite inclusion of all, pepper was back and with a vengeance.  Oh how I love thee.

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But just when I thought it could’t get any better, the X Brothers Pinot Noir really wowed me.  I almost thing it’s truly difficult to butcher Pinot.  And most are simple, easy to drink, and get the job done.  But this is on another level.   It’s still warm enough outside to have something light yet slightly cooler to appreciate this same bottle all the same. This is a wine for right now, in this moment.  The teases of fruit and spice are a nice segue into fall.  If you like fall.  I have mixed feelings but will make the most of the season where I can.

I would say that we’re done and this was a great first stop at the festival.  I got my sticker and went about my merry way.  Yet I had an inspired thought.  If the opportunity presented itself I would stop by the tasting room, which is near where I grew up and only about an hour away from me now.  I wanted to enhance this post and say thanks in person.

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My one and only (Olney?!) visit was a couple of years ago by pure happenstance, or maybe it wasn’t.  Maybe all roads led to this.

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Funny because Olney has changed so much since I was a kid.  You can still see the original footprints of a town that has now evolved.  Mom and pops are now chains, more chains are moving in, and the quaintness is there but not like before.  But the tasting room puts gives this town something bold, unique, and inspiring.  Not many places can say they have a winery within a shopping district.  Pretty cool I know.

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So what  do you know?  One scenario into another brought me here, and just in the nick of time to put this post up.

A major thank you goes to Bryan who helped conduct the tasting and gave me a few extra pours for free.

olneypinotAnd instead of recapping every wine I had I will expound on another one that blew me away as well.  Yes I was all set to get the Pinot Noir but then the Tuscan Sunset Sangiovese had to rear its beautiful head.  Oh my goodness.  The no-so-subtle hints of strawberry and white pepper were more than enough to make which bottle to purchase a much more agonizing decision than it really needed to be.  But they’re both equal in quality and superiority.

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So what did any irrational and indecisive person do? I went with both.  This is one of those times I decided to treat myself.  We need to treat ourselves more, within reason of course.

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The Pinot at $19.95 and the Sangiovese at $17.95 will likely be the most expensive bottles I’ll buy this year and for a while.   I’ve always said around $20.00 is where my cut off will be, unless I’m feeling really ambitious.  And the wine has to be immaculate.  Both of these fall under that category at a reasonable price.  As an unexpected bonus, my $7.00 tasting fee was waived.  I hope I don’t get anyone in trouble for mentioning that.

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Honorable mention goes to the Olney Mill White Chenin Blanc, which tasted like the tropics with some apple thrown in.

With a couple of exceptions, every wine I sipped went from good to magnificent.  And again, it’s all based on your palate and what you like.  It looks like mine is resuming back to my preference for the dry reds, even if the two I purchased were on the lighter end.  As we progress through the year, the full bodies is the likely scenario.

Bryan also gave me a tour of the winery and showed me the fermentation process up close. There’s a strong possibility that this will be revisited in a post late this year/early next year.  I won’t hint at much more than that.  But I may be taking part in something special.

This is a not your typical winery. There’s no vines or even an outside.  Everything is done in-house and it’s a concept that I could see becoming much more popular as time goes on. Yet many of of us, including myself, like tradition.  We like seeing grapes grown and an inspirational patio/backyard set up when we go to a tasting.    I like both, there’s room for both, and there’s room for everyone.  Here’s more information on their concept, their mission, and a brief synopsis of their history.

Here’s their contact info and the team of winemakers themselves.  And most important of all, where to find their wine.

Pictures of the various wines and the tasting room itself are all over this post.  Enjoy!

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Until next time and there will be a next time here…

olneyglass

Ideen

We’ll Be Seeing Ya

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Life should be filled with as many  random, exciting, jubilant, and inspirational moment as possible.  You can throw in all the superlatives, synonyms, and dangling participles you can.  It’s supposed to be fun.  It’s short, it’s long, and everything in between.  This one is about all of that and so much more

A chance encounter with a long-time friend lead us to meet in glorious and historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

I was born in Alexandria and that adds to my sentiment.   We don’t choose where we’re born but it does choose us.  And each time I wander around this town I’m more and more grateful that I was one of those chosen ones.

This town fits me.  I appreciate it more as times goes by and I get older.  The cobblestone streets, the small shops, the walking paths, the mom and pop restaurants, the museums, the water, and everything else gives me that feeling of peace.  There’s plenty of beautiful towns in this country and world, and I’d love to explore more.  But this one is mine.

How I ended up here on this day I’ll chalk up to the universe. And the universe can be so kind. I’ve wanted to meet my friend several times over the past year or so, but circumstances and timing prevented it.  It all lead to this one.  And thank goodness, because this will likely be the last one for a while.

He suggested a tea shoppe but that sadly closed unceremoniously.  There’s the downside to local business.  Rent may be too high to justify attempting a new venture.

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However, there’s a plethora of wine bars in the area and we walked into the first one we saw. That would be Sonoma Cellar on King Street, the heart of everything.

We walked in a few minutes early but the staff didn’t seem to mind.  We literally had no sense of time or direction which makes sense in context.   The wine literally took us where we were meant to go.

After some careful deliberation, we took a seat outside in their wine garden.

The menu is loaded with all kinds of fun and excitement.  And with that comes some pricier options.  Fortunately, we were only coming in for a glass and a small bite to eat.  I understand the location and prices, but some did look a bit steep for my taste.  Thankfully this was happy hour and there’s affordable options to be had as well.

I love that the majority of the wines are from California.  Makes sense of course.

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My choice was the 2012 Chardonnay from Bluewing Vineyards.  My pal went with the 2015 Rose of Sangiovese from Barnard Griffin. Yes this is one of those rare posts where I talk about two separate wines from two separate wineries.  Very exciting I know.

I’ll let the menu do the talking on the descriptions.

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The Chardonnay was good but I didn’t find it particularly memorable.   But I could tell right away that it was aged in stainless steel.  I dig that.  I couldn’t tell that it was finished in oak but it’s all case by case.   I may not always want my whites to be too oaky   That’s a matter of taste more than anything else.

Lemon meringue on the nose?  Hmm, I don’t know.  Apple and lime blossom flavors? The former I could taste.  The latter?  Well, maybe next time.

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I was grateful to get a sip of the Rose of Sangiovese and this was the winner.  That color stood out immediately.  It looked even rosier than your typical rose.   I was happy to taste the cranberry and pomegranate before I even looked at the synopsis.  That made me happy. This is a wine you can drink all the time.  The weather encourages it even more so now.

Great wine means great food.  A cheese and charcuterie plate was the perfect second to our glasses.   It’s contradictory to say that the food never had a chance.  Wine and small plates are meant to be savored.  But I suppose we were hungry.   The rosemary focaccia bread was a brilliant touch.

Speaking of brilliant.  I love this place.  Our server was kind of enough to allow me to take pictures where I could.

There’s an aura and energy of a pricier experience, but I would love to come back.   Money shouldn’t always be an issue.    If you’re with good company, having a good conversation, and enjoying yourself you forget about finances.  And you can’t put a price on great experiences.

Life is short, it’s long too, but it’s also very short.   I’m grateful to have spent a little bit of time with a friend I may not see for some time.  It’s not a goodbye, more of a…

We’ll be seeing ya,

Ideen

 

 

 

 

Muffuletta Memories

This post takes us to New Orleans, where I had the honor of visiting over a month ago. Even with all the wonderful foods and cocktails I got to try while I was there, I still had to make time for the inspiring bottles I love so much.

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And I love this city so much too.  I didn’t want to leave.   And as a wanderer, I found myself at the French Market everyday I was there.  It’s a small town feel within one of the greatest places I’ve ever visited.

It was a warm day and we heard some amazing jazz music up the street.  This calls for cigars, relaxing, good food, and a bottle of red.   The latter part may sound like an oxymoron, but this is a vacation!

The night before on a leisurely stroll towards Frenchmen Street I came upon the market as it was about to shut down for the night and saw the stand for Alberto’s Cheese and Wine Bistro.

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And this place looked so quaint, cozy, and charming.  I knew I had to at least come back the next day to see what this place (and the Market as a whole) is all about.

Coming back the next day, the Market was so alive and so vibrant.  I have been to many local markets before with a similar sentiment, but not like this.  This felt like home.  I belonged here.  And everyone was so friendly.  It’s the type of love and comradery I can get used to.

Alberto’s had a very welcoming and small town feel, just like the rest of the French Market.  I felt like something had to be wrong.  The folks behind the counter were so accommodating and answered any questions about the menu that I had.

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New Orleans is known for a lot of amazing things.  I didn’t know the Muffuletta was one of them.  So I ordered one and it was incredible.  So what about a great wine to pair with it?

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I grabbed the Banfi Tuscany Centine Rosso and it paired with my hearty sandwich perfectly.

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The sandwich killed it.  I could have had another.  The meats and cheeses with this amazing sesame bread just made my day. The house made olive salad was a nice complement although I barely had room to finish it.

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And the wine could have tasted like garbage and wouldn’t have mattered.  And it didn’t.  It was fantastic. And regardless, for the moment in time we were in, it was perfection.   The mix of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot gelled perfectly.  A nice mix of light and full-bodied to make it the right wine to pair up with a filling meal such as mine.

No fancy glasses were necessary today.   And we can’t walk around with the streets with those anyways.  But plastic cups will do just fine.

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As a bonus, to make this day even more meaningful in hindsight, I am pulling this directly off their Facebook page : first winery in the world to be awarded international recognition for exceptional environmental, ethical and social responsibility. How amazing is that?  When I looked at the back of the label at the time, All I read was first winery and didn’t think to read further.  I am thrilled that my purchase represents something good and pure.

More information on this wine can be found here.

Everything about this setting was perfect. Great weather, wine, food, company, and people watching.   This city is magical. I felt so at ease.  I feel like I belonged there and after this trip was over, I was left to ponder what took me so long.  That just means I need to come back soon!

There’s going to be pictures all over this post.  Many will revolve around the wine and the meal.  And many as a tourist.

I didn’t expect to write as much as I did. Actions speak louder than words, as do photos. So here you go.

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I am homesick from NOLA, because there I felt like I belonged there and been there for years, not days. Until the next visit…

Best,

Ideen

Sister Gertrude

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I gotta admit, I purchased this bottle, only for the label itself.  And nothing more.   And I was pleasantly surprised.   This is a fun smelling and tasting wine.   But the most important question of all, how cool is that pig?

The 2012 La Maialina Gertrude from Tuscany is a steal at only $11.99.  This is a wonderful trio of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and the inspiring Sangiovese.

I must make mention that this was purchased at Lighthouse Liquors in the Canton part of Baltimore.   They have one heck of a selection, and I find myself going in there at least once a week.    In a subsequent post, I will get into the further details and expound about the fun things of this shoppe.

When I uncorked the bottle, I detected some cherry and mint flavors off the top.  I initially thought this would be an amateur move, buying this wine because of how pretty the design was.  But I was pleasantly surprised on the taste.   Just as good as it smells.

It’s not that I had low expectations.  I’m just not sure what my expectations were.  But that’s the fun of trying a new wine or trying a new anything.  Not knowing what you’re getting into an leaving your comfort zone is part of the fun

But this is a wine that can be enjoyed at any time of the year.  And it can be eaten with anything within reason.    Within reason is entirely up to us.

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So what about the pig?  Very charming, I know.  What you see is the wrapping on top of the cork, and this looked too brilliant to pop open.

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And see, that Gertrude cannot be stopped.   You know I’ll be saving that cork, and heck, the bottle too.

Not much is on the web about this wine, aside from several reviews.

The origins of the La Maialina are listed on the back of the label and can also be found here.   The description of the back says Gertrude is unique she does not have the cinta (belt) markings but rather is all.  I’m honored to be a part of something unique.  I love Gertrude.

Finally, the synopsis reads that this awesome Tuscan wine is ready to be enjoyed now or in the next few years.   I look forward to doing both.  This is definitely a purchase I am happy about.   With Italian wines, I usually enjoy them with pizza and this is no exception.

I am happy to have met Gertrude and sometimes is does help judging by wine by it’s cover.  But not too much.

Thanks so much.

Best,

Ideen