Bishop's Selection Cotes du Rhone Villages 2009

I've come across some fantastic Cotes du Rhones recently, all at affordable prices. Cotes du Rhones range in the full-body reds of Cote Rotie in the north to the prestigous Chateaneuf du Pape. Although most are acclaimed as "pizza wines" because they're typically juicy, affordable table wines. They are mostly Grenache blends or what we refer to as GSM's (grenache, syrah, mouvedre). The Rhone wine laws state that a Cotes du Rhone can be a blend of up to 23 different grapes grown in the Rhone AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controllee). *Shown below in green*

This particular Rhone is a Syrah/Grenache blend (60/40) and labelled Villages, second the Cru distinction. This appellation is only one tenth of the total Cotes du Rhone AOC.  These villages have been identified as having superior vineyards and are only allowed to grow 9 different grapes instead of 23 like the rest of the Rhone Valley. One great aspect of this wine is that it is labelled Villages and retails at only $10.99!

It's a drier style with a lot of juicy fruit on the pallate including red cherry and blackberry. It's a fairly simple table wine but can easily be drank on it's own or with rustic dishes such as pizza or grilled meats. This wine isn't meant to be the star of the show but more to compliment the food. It's not a special occasion wine but one to enjoy with a friend over light appetizers.

Chateau des Leotins Bordeaux 2007

While working as the Store Manager of a wine shop, I come across some great deals.  We have tastings on Fridays which allows me to open up a few bottles which I may not have had a chance to try yet. This past Friday, we opened Chateau des Leotins Bordeaux 2007.

Retailing at only $12.99, customers were surprised to see such a great bargain for this fabulous table wine. It has a deep ruby color and slightly fruity with no overpowering notes. There are hints of tobacco and leather but not unpleasant.  It is 3 years old already but it's maturing well. I continued to pour this wine on Saturday for customers and was suprised how well it held up even after being open for 24 hours.

A staple in our store, this Bordeaux has a great following. Stop by to pick up a bottle!

Cheers :)

What to do with that leftover turkey?!

Make a healthy chili! Perfect for the colder weather, spicy chili is an easy way to use up leftovers.  However, spicy peppers can be hard to pair with wine.  They usually make wines taste bitter and tannic.  To offset the heat, an off-dry wine would be an easy solution but off-dry wines tend to be white. This hearty dish calls for a hearty red wine. When trying to pair a spicy dish, think low tannins with rich fruit. The perfect combination of this is a California Rhone-style blend which is Grenache/Syrah/Mouvedre mostly.

My pick for a spicy turkey chili is Cline Small Berry Mouvedre from Contra Costa County in California. This wine has low tannins and hints of plum, tobacco and eucalyptus-mint. This bottle retails for around $35.

If you are looking for something at a lower price point, Smoking Loon Syrah is a good bet. Retailing for only $9, this syrah has hints of strawberry and blueberry with touches of rosemary and sage.

Borsao red blend from Spain - New Find

One of the luxuries of this career is getting to taste great, quality wines. This one however is great quality along with a great price!

Borsao Grenacha/Tempranillo 2009 Borja, Spain
A blend of 75% Grenacha and 25% Tempranillo, this red wine is full bodied and finely textured. Words that come to mind are bright, juicy, earthy with a nice round finish. Borsao compliments a broad range of foods or can be enjoyed simply on its own.

Retailing for only $8.99, it's a no brainer that this is one awesome new find!

Walking for a Cure!

Diabetes...It's a disease that affects so many people I know. Including my grandparents, friends and most of all, Bryan. Bryan has had Type 1 diabetes since the age of 11 months. It's a disease that affects our daily lives and he's such a trooper about it. Currently, there is no cure for diabetes and a pancreatic transplant is not even in the works.

We're doing our part by walking in this years Step Out walk in DC October 23, 2010. So far we have raised over $1,400 and continue to raise money every month. We also have family joining us in the walk in October.

If you would like to contribute, either monetary or join us in the walk, please visit our team website:

COMPLETE Career Change

Scary, I know! I've worked the standard 9-5 business jobs ranging from banking, insurance, and accounting ever since high school. Even while in high school, I worked part time for a CPA. So needless to say, these dead end office jobs have taken a toll on me.  My first and foremost passion in life is food and wine. I got started back in 07 working part time for Barrel Thief as a sales associate and server.  I had little to no wine knowledge other than Franzia and I was NOT the red wine drinker I am today. Ever since that job, I've gravitated back to wine as a passion and possible career one day.

Sadly, I never took the leap because accounting was a good paying job and there are plenty of jobs to go around. Now 3 years later, I have my shot! I just took an opportunity to run my own store!  I will be the Operations/Store Manager for two wine shops. One is in Reston Town Center and the other in Great Falls. My main focus is the Reston shop, Market Cellars. I will do everything from accounting/finance to marketing to event planning to retail sales.  My dream job is to own my own shop one day and this is perfect experience to see if I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

So far, I've already set up some social media sites for Market Cellars. We are on Twitter and Facebook. where I will be posting upcoming events and tastings. Please feel free to stop by the store(s) and check it out. I also appreciate all the support I am receiving from my friends and family. It's going to be a fun ride!

Steakhouse Dinner In the Comfort of Home

I spent this past lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon watching hours of Food Network which resulted in 1) me being veryy hungry and 2) motivated to cook a lavish dinner.  Since the freezer is packed with steaks/meat from Omaha Steaks, I decided to plan a steak dinner worthy of the best steakhouses around. Yeah, you Bourbon and BLT ;)

I marinated beef tenderloins and let set for most of the day, covered and in the fridge. Also on the menu was shrimp scampi, garlic roasted potatoes, corn on the cob with herb butter, popovers using BLT Steak's recipe and a hot fudge brownie sundae. Below are helpful recipes for the perfect dinner for two.

Shrimp Scampi:
6 frozen shrimp, deviened and tail off
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp of parsley, chopped

Heat olive oil and butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once butter is melted, saute the garlic and red pepper flakes. Add the shrimp and saute until curled and pink. Add salt and pepper to taste. Make sure to not overcook the shrimp. Top with fresh parsley.

Garlic Roasted Potatoes:
2 large russet potatoes, cubed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Place potatoes on a non-stick baking sheet in single layer. Roast for 45-50 minutes.

Corn on the Cob with Herb Butter:
2 ears of corn
4 tbsp butter, softened, separated
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

Bring large pot of water to a rolling boil. Place cobs in the water with 2 tbsp of butter and liberally add salt.  Mix the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and parsley in a small bowl and place in the fridge to harden up a bit. Boil corn for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with herb butter.

Popovers: (BLT Steak's recipe)
1 cup of milk
2 eggs
1 cup of flour
1 tsp of salt
1/4 c of gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place popover/muffin pan in oven while it heats.  Warm milk gently in small saucepan. Meanwhile, beat eggs until frothy. Slowly stir in the milk, be careful not to add to quickly which will scramble the eggs. Add the flour and salt and mix until well blended. Take the pan out of the oven and spray with non-stick spray.  Fill each cup 3/4 full and top with grated gruyere cheese. Bake 15 minutes then turn the pan a quarter of a turn. Bake another 35 minutes until each have puffed up and turned golden brown. Serve immediately.

Beef Tenderloins:
2 6 oz beef tenderloins
1/4 c of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c of Asiago and Parmesan dressing (Kraft)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine marinade and steaks. Let sit, covered in the fridge for 3-5 hours. Preheat grill. Place each steak on grill and cook 5 minutes per side for the perfect medium rare steak. Baste each side with leftover marinade after each turn and also before plating. Once cooked, place steaks in an aluminum tent to rest for another few minutes. This helps to redistribute the juices inside.

Brownies with Hot Fudge Sauce and Ice Cream:
1 package of brownie mix
1/4 c of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c of heavy cream
Vanilla bean ice cream

Prepare brownies according to package.  Make a double boiler with saucepan and glass bowl. Boil water in saucepan. Make sure when the bowl is placed on the saucepan, the bottom does not touch the water. This will cause the chocolate to burn.  Add the chocolate chips and cream. Stir until melted. Serve with brownie, scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and drizzle the fudge on top.

This menu was the perfect steakhouse dinner that can be done at home! I also paired this meal with a great Virginia Merlot from Prince Michel. It was a great hit and allowed for a more intimate experience. Although, we will still have dinners out, this was a good alternative especially on a not so pretty Sunday.

Burger Lovers Rejoice!

I always find myself on a certain quest to find the best eats in town. So this week...who has the best burger?! My burger options often include Five Guys, McDonalds, you know the usual.

My friend was curious to see if BGR: The Burger Joint was comparable if not better than those so I offered to try it out for lunch. Having been on TV with Throwdown with Bobbly Flay and also Man vs Food, I had high expectations. They definitely lived up to the hype.

It's a small burger joint and a great lunch option for the many business people who were there diving into their juicy burgers. The menu is much more diverse than Five Guys. You have the options of regular beef burgers, lamb burgers, veggie burgers, sliders, etc. They also offer regular fries, sweet potato fries, asparagus fries, and gigantic onion rings. Literally, this onion rings are over 2 inches thick, each! The best deal is the box set for $8.99 which is what I got. It comes with the option of a regular burger, veggie burger or sliders, fries and a drink. This deal is only good for lunch between 11-2pm. I chose the regular burger with the works meaning lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and they're special mojo sauce. I came to the conclusion that the mojo sauce is mayo with a bit of spice, maybe hot sauce?! The only downfall was the bun was not sturdy enough to support the burger and all the toppings. It was a bit of a mess but so worth it.

With this chain taking off and opening new stores in the DC metro area, it's definitely worth a quick trip to try it out. Prices, value and the amount of food is comparable to Five Guys but BGR takes the cake! More options and better tasting burger, how could it not be the best!

Fun, Tasty Way through DC

So I'm sick and tired of accounting. I mean how long can one sit in a cubicle and feel like their life is fulfilled. C'mon. My passion is of course food and wine. I got my start in the wine industry a few years ago working part-time for a wine shop/cafe in Richmond, VA (Barrel Thief). Probably the best job I've had to date. Drinking, serving, learning, what's not to love. Ever since then I've gravitated back to wine as potential career.  Luckily beginning in September I am starting the WSET courses to gain more knowledge of wine and the industry.

Now that that's on track, how do I get into the food industry without making big sacrifices and a pay cut? DC Metro Food Tours to the rescue! This is such a great idea and I have told everyone I know about it since finding it myself.  They host tours through neighborhoods in the DC metro area but it's not just any tour. They're called "culinary walks" meaning you may learn a little history and fun facts but stop at restaurants along the way for tasting menus.  Right now I'm working on the Old Town Alexandria tour and have learned so many fun facts about the area. Other tours include Georgetown, Capital Hill, Little Ethiopia and even in Baltimore. Each tour is about 3 and a half hours and guides you around important/cultural parts of the neighborhood.  In the Old Town tour we make 6 different stops at restaurants ranging from American, to Lebanese to a coffee and tea shop.  The restaurants on the tours may not be ones you would typically go to or feature dishes you may not typically order which is a great way to see the city and taste numerous dishes.  This is probably the best kept secret for locals and tourists alike. I highly recommend trying out a tour one weekend and enjoy a diverse food menu. There's no other tour like it!

Can't wait to see what the future may hold! Oh and don't forget to sign up for a tour. Maybe even the Old Town one and I can show ya around. And please show up hungry!

Cheers :)

Weekend with Family

So this past weekend, Bryan and I hosted his parents, brother and his wife. Along with the vistors, his sister lives here in Arlington as well. The 8 of us were out and about in Arlington/DC all weekend! Tried out a few new places, some good, some bad. Here it goes!

Thursday night dinner was at Pines of Florence in Ballston. It was his father's birthday so we wanted to celebrate. Overall, great food, poor service! I'll definitely go back but maybe I'll order out next time.

Friday, I tried Bruegger's Bagels, also in Ballston, on my way to the metro. I love the diverse menu from breakfast to lunch to salads.  I also had a bad service experience here. The server completely forgot my order and I had to wait an extra 10 minutes while the rest of my party ate.

After grabbing some grub, his mom, brother and his wife went into DC and toured around the American History museum as well as the Natural History museum. I was surprised to see 2 long lines to get into the Natural History museum.  After spending a few hours in DC, we came back to meet up with everyone else at our small apartment for burgers and dogs. We headed to a Nat's game after dinner. Taking the metro again, it took a while to get there. Finally getting into our seats by the 3rd inning, the Nat's played so well! We stayed after the game for the fireworks show which was a nice surprise. I didn't know they had a fireworks show. Upon arriving back in Arlington, we decided to show his brother around Clarendon. We had planned on going to Spider Kelly's for some shuffle board but there was a "Clarendon Ballroom" kinda line at the door! Maybe there was an event going on I didn't know about. We settled on Mister Days but only went for a drink. We walked over to Eleventh which was a lot less crowded. It was also a more clubby feel with the DJ and couches in the basement.

Saturday morning we all met up at Whitlow's on Wilson for their weekly brunch! One of my favorite spots for weekend brunch, at $16.95 for an all u can eat buffet, it can't be beat. Since it was kinda rainy, we just hung out and visited with one another the remainder of the day.  We decided on Capitol City Brewing in DC for dinner. Bad choice!! Food was subpar and service was horrible. After dinner, we went to Oya which is probably one of my new favorite spots. It's super swanky and all white decor is amazing. Can't wait to go back and try some cocktails and items on the menu. From there, on to Iron Horse we went! What a fun place! Skee ball, shuffle board, motorcycles. Definitely different from Oya but it was fun to let loose.

Wow, what a weekend! We were relieved when everyone left although it is always great to see family. Try some of the new places I tried this weekend!!

Cheers :)

BBQ in the Crockpot!

To ring in the summer season, we made our first homemade pulled pork bbq in the crockpot. Talk about juicy and succulent! Bryan went to Costco and brought home a 15 lb pork shoulder! Obviously, it's just the two of us so we cut it in half, plus 15 lbs will NOT fit in our crockpot. We injected it with apple juice and garlic cloves. We also added salt and pepper and Mrs. Dash's Extra Spicy seasoning. We set it on high for 6 hours. After the 6 hours, we drained the excess, shredded the meat and added a ton of Sweet Baby Ray's barbeque sauce. Set it to warm for another 45 minutes. I made pulled bbq sandwiches with toasted whole grain kaiser rolls.

While the pork was roasting, I made a homemade mac n cheese with whole grain rotini, cheddar, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese.
Recipe is as follows:

1 box of pasta
1/2 stick of butter, cubed
3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 cup of milk
3 eggs, beaten
1 can of cheddar cheese soup
1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper
1/2 cup of parmesan
1/2 cup of mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil pasta according to box directions. Melt 1/2 stick of butter and cheddar cheese in a saucepan to a thick, melted cheese. Add melted cheddar cheese, sour cream, milk, eggs, cheese soup, salt and pepper to the cooked pasta and stir to coat. Place pasta in casserole dish and sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella and/or bread crumbs. Bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

To conclude our feast, we had corn on the cob and deviled eggs. Now I have plenty of leftovers for lunch all this week! We plan on cooking the other half of the shoulder sometime in July with plenty of friends to join in!

Cheers :)

Renting is SUCH a Bargain!!

My newest addiction: Rent the Runway! It's a website based out of NYC, where you can rent designer dresses and accessories for a week/weekend and when you're done with the event, just mail it back. Now how easy can that be?! I'm always tempted to buy fun, flirty, flashy dresses but never do because "when am I going to wear this again?!" Problem solved :)

So I heard about this on the radio and immediately signed up. You have to be on a wait list for a day or so but by the next day, I was all ready to go! There is NO membership fees to join. My 25th birthday was a few weeks ago and I had planned for a bunch of friends to go out in DC and wanted a super fun dress to party in. Went to Rent the Runway and rented my flashy, blue sequin dress for only $50! Another get to pick 2 sizes in case one doesn't fit right! All for the same price. It was at my apartment Friday afternoon. I wore it Saturday night. Dropped it in the mailbox on Monday morning in a postage paid envelope and was done with it! No dry cleaning or worries. I also purchased the $5 insurance coverage in case something horrible happened but believe me, I was extra careful :)

My dress was such a hit!! I had compliments not only from my friends but from complete strangers on the street. I felt gorgeous that night and all it cost me was a little over $50. Can't beat it.

I've already rented another dress for an August wedding. I'm sure there will be many more "events" that I'll need a fun dress for :)

New Menu at Tallula EatBar

Since following Arlnow_dot_com on Twitter, I have heard about new, upcoming restaurants and also new things about existing establishments. For example, who couldn't love a wood fire pizza place with a HUGE patio for al fresco dining?! That's coming to Courthouse in June. It's called Fire Works Pizza. The company is expanding it's business into Arlington. There is already a restaurant in Leesburg. There are a few other new places in the works, Lyon Hall, Rustico, and Northside Social.

However, what caught my eye the other day was a new menu unveiling at Tallula EatBar. Now Tallula is a little pricey for a frugal person like me. EatBar is their gastropub next door with a more laid back attitude and environment. It's off the beaten path and in a neighborhood on Washington Blvd. It was a perfect spot for a Thursday evening drink. The boyfriend and I drove over there and got a parking spot right by the front door! It wasn't packed and we were able to get a small table in the window. Very intimate setting.  The clientele were older business people and a mix of younger people enjoying happy hour specials.  Since this was a Rammy voting party and also the unveiling of the new menu, we had to try out the food. The reviews on Yelp made me weary. I knew not to expect an abundance of food and the price to be a little high for what you get.  Keeping that in mind, we ordered onion rings, dirty risotto fritter and 2 sweet and sour pork sliders. Below is a picture.  Granted, it was all veryyy tasty and flavorful but like the other yelpers, I was disappointed in the amount of food. Each slider was $4, the fritter was $1.50, and the onion rings were $3.

The wine list was extensive for by the glass and there were a few microbrews to pick from which made Bryan happy!  Wines were half off each glass and draft beers were $4. Overall, it was a great Thursday happy hour. I would love to go back and try a few more items on the menu, I'll just have to dig a little deeper in my pockets this time.

Cheers :)

Tulip Picking and Wine Tasting

Well, I bought another Groupon special which was $5 to pick your own dozen tulips out in Madison County, VA. It was a little over an hour to get to, in the middle of nowhere! It was an old country farmhouse which belonged to two guys from Holland who grow organic tulips. A girlfriend and I took a road trip last Saturday. We each got to pick 2 dozen. Each color tulip had it's own row. You grabbed a bucket and just started picking! It was beautiful out and the perfect day for tulip picking.

There were areas for you to bring a blanket and picnic, which we would have done, had we known that! So take note.  Pick your own tulips is only for the month of April and normally costs $1 per bulb. They do have discounts if you place an order online for the fall. This place is definitely worth checking out for a fun, cheap day trip.

On the trip back to DC, we stopped by two wineries. Prince Michel is a famous one in the Northern Virginia region. It's right on Route 29 and you can't miss it. We got to taste all their wines, purchase bottles and take a tour.  They even have frozen sangria and peach bellinis out of a ICEE machine! Can't beat that on a sunny, warm day.  The staff was very helpful and fun to talk to. The gift shop was full of wine accessories, snacks, glasses, everything you could think of!

After leaving there, we headed back on Route 29 and made a stop at Marterella Winery in Warrenton. This is a smaller winery, which Prince Michel does all their bottling.  They only had white wines to taste which was a bummer because I'm a red fan. But I guess it's a good sign that they were sold out. We ordered a pizza and sat outside on the patio and enjoyed a bottle of Pinot Grigio.  This winery is off the beaten path so the location was serene and quiet. It was a perfect setting.

We did all of this in 6-7 hours! It's a gorgeous drive down 29 with lots of scenery. Stopping along the way at wineries was most of the fun. It broke the drive up and who doesn't love wine tasting? If you're looking for something fun, different and cheap to do on a Saturday/Sunday I'd definitely recommend riding out to these wineries. Tastings range from $5-10 a person and bottles are anywhere from $15-30 each. Take a road trip and take in the scenery.

Cheers :)

Dinner Date at Savour

So I found out about this small, new restaurant in Adams Morgan through Tastings Journal ( ). The menu looked great and also the price! Always looking for a great deal. We made online reservations through OpenTable for last Saturday night at 7:15. We walked in and I immediately felt like we were no longer in Adams Morgan. Nothing against Adams Morgan but definitely a different feel. We were seated immediately in the main dining room and the waitress was prompt on bringing us menus, wine and bread. Since we had already seen the Prix Fixe Menu online, we had an idea of what we wanted. This menu is a selection of the items on the regular menu, although the regular menu wasn't much larger. The deal was 5 courses for $45. Can't beat it.

A little about the restaurant itself. It opened in November 2009 so it's still fairly new and the Manager had mentioned they were a bit understaffed and still working out quirks. However, the food was fabulous! It's the standard American menu, steaks, burgers, pasta, seafood but cooked to perfection.

As I said before they are a new place so service was lacking. We were there over 2 hours for the 5 courses. Luckily, we had nowhere to be so we just enjoyed the atmosphere, wine and food. Salad and soup were delivered in a fairly timely fashion. We had the caesar salad and clam chowder. Granted, these are not tough or elegant to make but the taste was definitely superb. It did take a while for our appetizers to get to the table. We were actually served our salad twice. For this mishap, the waitress gave us 2 free glasses of wine to apologize for the wait. We were happy about that! I have to say, you don't see that very often but they're a new restaurant and have something to prove. Eventually the appetizers and entrees were delivered and couldn't have been better. My chicken stuffed with spinach and artichoke was very good and his salmon came with a delectable cream sauce! We asked the server what exactly it was and gave many compliments to the chef. Our bill came before our dessert! So that was a little annoying. We waited around for an extra 15 minutes and had to ask the Manager if we were still getting it. After that mishap, the Manager gave us a $25 gift certificate to come back another time and prove themselves.

All in all, the food was great but it did take a while to get it. They made up for it with free wine and a gift certificate so we really can't complain. However, if you do check it out, be sure to allow extra time and just enjoy the one you're with! That's what I did.

Cheers :)