Engagement Photo Shoot!

So this isn't wine related but I'm so excited that I just had to share. We recently got engaged while in California wine country and this past weekend we took our engagement photos with our dear friend and photographer, Dave Nimorwicz of NB Photography. We visited him in his hometown of Frederick, MD and he took us to an amazing park with perfect scenery. It was a fun time and Dave was great in accommodating our requests as well as giving suggestions. Not only was the shoot successful, but we received digital proofs quickly and they are just what I pictured they would be! I couldn't be happier.

Drinkin' with the Aussies

September 15 marks National Mollydooker Day, but most people don't even know what Mollydooker stands for. It's Australian for left handed, oh those Aussies. What better way to celebrate their national day than with the winemaker, Sparky, himself.

Held at the Hotel Palomar in Dupont Circle, we got to mix and mingle with fellow Mollydooker fans as well as Sparky and his mom, Janet. They've been on a US tour over the past few weeks releasing their latest vintage, 2010. Among these are some award winners..Consumer Report just named The Boxer the World's Best Shiraz!! Now that's an honor. Sparky and Sarah Marquis are also award winners and currently hold the record for being King and Queen of Maclaren Vale, the region in South Australia where they grow their grapes.

Needless to say, this dinner/reception was one not to be missed!

My spot at the table
We started with a taste of the 2010 Verdelho which is named The Violinist, the only white of the night. After moving inside the conference room, we were seated at large tables and Janet introduced Sparky. Both lively people, they kept the party going! First off, we tried their main labels: The Scooter (Merlot), The Maitre'D (Cab Sauv), Two Left Feet (blend) and The Boxer (award winning Shiraz). He also explained to us the "Mollydooker Shake". This was new to me! They put nitrogen in their bottles to cut down on sulfites. You perform the Mollydooker Shake in order to release the nitrogen to the top. To do this unscrew the cap, pour out a half glass, put the cap back on, turn upside down and shake. Take the cap back off to release the oxygen and repeat. Afterwards, you'll see a frothy foam at the top of the wine, let it sit for a minute to dissolve and then pour a glass. We tasted the same exact wine before a Mollydooker Shake and after. There is a definite difference! Keep this in mind for all their bottles.

Next came the fun part. Two Left Feet is a blend of The Scooter (18%), The Maitre'D (14%), and the Boxer (68%). Since we had all 3 of those in front of us, we were challenged to make up our own blend and vote at each table for the best one. My blend was 52% Boxer, 36% Maitre'D and 12% Scooter. I came in 2nd at my table and everyone did a great job! As Sparky said, "now you don't need to buy Two Left Feet...you can make your own!" This was a fun, interactive exercise.

Next came the higher end Mollydookers and dinner. On the list were Gigglepot (Cab Sauv), Blue Eyed Boy (Shiraz), Enchanted Path (Shiraz/Cab), Carnival of Love (Shiraz), and lastly Velvet Glove (Shiraz). All of these were outstanding but towards the end my palate was getting tired, needless to say. These great big wines paired perfectly with the steak and potatoes that were served for dinner. Now that's my kinda meal!

Yesterday also marked the day that they would release the name of their new label and someone was going to win a trip to Australia to visit them! I was so excited to be a part of such a release. The new bottle is a sparkling Shiraz which is something they haven't done before and the challenge was to find a name that fit well with their other labels, especially The Boxer and of course the Mollydooker name. Over 5,900 entries were submitted and luckily, the winner was in the room that night. The winner was Jeff from NC with the name....

MISS MOLLY! It was exciting to see him win and they were so grateful to have the opportunity.

The end :(
This was an outstanding event with fun people, great wine and a good experience. Another awesome thing to note, they have added tear off tags to their bottles so you can always remember what wine you had last night. They are also equipped with QR codes that have a locator so you can find the store nearest you that carries Mollydooker. They sure are leading the way in the modern world! I look forward to continuing to drink Mollydooker and now that I've learned quite a bit more about the label and the people, I can't wait to spread the word!

What I do in my free time..

Bring fellow Winos together!!

I started a social group last August (a year ago) called Young Winos of DC which consists of young (20-30 somethings) that enjoy good wine, good conversation and social networking.

Last week, we celebrated our 1st year anniversary! I am amazed how well this took off. We are up to over 90 people in our email listserv as well as members in our FB group. We've done great events from local festivals, in-home tastings, food and wine pairings and wine tastings at local establishments.
Rose on the Roof 4/21/11

Anniversary Party at Urbana 8/25
In-home tasting 10/16/10

Feel free to join us at our upcoming events and please add yourself to the email list so you don't miss out! We are also on Facebook and Twitter!


A Sunday Afternoon in Purcellville, VA

For unknown reasons, I tend to visit Virginia wineries in the Fauquier, Charlottesville regions and have neglected some of the best VA wineries in the Purcellville, Loudoun County regions. This past Sunday I found myself in the gorgeous, picturesque Loudoun County.

I had a Groupon deal for Bogati Bodega for a wine and tapas tasting, which would be our first stop. An easy location right off of Harry Byrd Hwy (Rt 7), the tasting room is warm and inviting. Our appointment was at noon, as soon as it opened, so it was quiet and we had great conversation with Scott (our server). Even though we had the Groupon, we still chose to taste their full selection for a small $5 tasting fee.

They had a great selection of wines including a slightly oaky Seyval Blanc and a Viognier with a great finish. Some reds that stood out were the Syrah/Mourvedre blend as well as the Malbec. I prefer more Old World style wines and the Syrah/Mourvedre blend was just that! Not your typical Virginia wine, this was very earthy and an extensive depth of flavor. Another plus: Sangria! Their simple sangria recipe made with the Viognier was a perfect summertime sipper.

Once we tasted everything, we went on to the wine-and-tapas tasting. This pairs one white and one red with a cheese and charcuterie.  We took a seat in the beautiful dining area.

Scott brought us each a glass of the Seyval Blanc paired with a mild cheese and fig spread and the Malbec paired with spicy chorizo and sun dried tomatoes.

The fig jam was the show stopper for us. I'm always a sucker for good cheese and spreads! The spicy chorizo was perfect with the smooth, toasty Malbec as well.

Once we finished the glasses and tapas, we drove down the road to Hillsborough Vineyards. Atop a rolling hill, the vines cascaded down with a great tasting room and outdoor patio. It felt serene and peaceful, perfect for enjoying a glass of wine and taking in the lush scenery.

Inside, we were seated in the dining room and started with the tasting. They offer a wide range of award winning wines including a 100% Tannat, very uncommon in Virginia. Most, as did I, have a prenotion about Tannat, being very harsh and hard to drink on it's own. I was wrong! They use tannat in their Rose as well as blending it in their Bloodstone and Ruby. It is very smooth and not super tannic like other tannats you may have encountered. The Onyx (100% Tannat) is the one that stood out to me.

On the way out, we again took in the great views from the covered patio. It's an ideal setting for enjoying a bottle and cheese on a Sunday afternoon. Just take a look at this...

I'm sorry that I don't get out to Loudoun County enough! Great wines, people and views. I will definitely be back soon.


Charleston, SC: Such a Foodie Town!

I usually write about wine adventures but I digress this time. This past weekend in Charleston, SC I had some of the best food! I had no idea the small, historical town had such a great selection of restaurants and dishes. All the restaurants we visited featured southern, low-country style dishes with portions a plenty!

Sadly, very little wine was consumed on this trip. We drank mostly cocktails but I did happen to run into Market Street Winery which features SC wine! Never had it and can't say that I ever will have it again :( The whites were super ripe and the reds were pretty bitter.

Anyway, on to the amazing food. Our first stop was Cru Cafe which is a small, family owned cafe in an old home. Everyone's meals were great including my General Tso's Chicken wrap! I ordered a bottle of Oregon Pinot Gris which paired nicely with everyone's dishes.

Fried Green Tomatoes were on every menu
A must-go brunch is absolutely 82 Queen! Again, in an older home, this place has an antiquey wooden bar with a courtyard and scattered tables. Highlight: Buttermilk biscuits! The BEST I've ever had. They are melt in your mouth buttery and are served warm. Make sure to request the bacon syrup for dipping ;)

What's brunch without grits?! We ordered the BBQ shrimp and grits as an appetizer before our main entrees. Buttery, flavorful grits adourned with spicy BBQ shrimp and bacon.

For my entree, of course I ordered the benedict with crab cakes and a fried green tomato. I must say though, I've had better crab cakes but the dish as a whole...amazing!

Even after devouring a huge brunch, we still had room for a great dinner that evening at Magnolia's. This is more of a fine-dining establishment with elegant southern dishes. Most people seemed to be celebrating special occasions. The big plus about this place: the menu! The menu is extensive and has many items to choose from which only drags out my decision process.

For apps, we ordered the fried oysters and the fried chicken livers. Both of which were good and savory. I ordered the surf and turf with crab cake and filet. The beef was melt in your mouth good!

And Nancy got cake!
One last stop on our weekend adventure led us to Toast for bottomless mimosas! $10 all you can drink (while eating) is a great deal. Pair that with some great brunch items and we spent a good 2 hours there! We got more shrimp and grits and a fried green tomato BLT along with more great biscuits and gravy.

All in all, we went for the drinks and food and came home happy! If you enjoy southern charm, good food and down to earth people, this town is a must-see. (May I also recommend staying at Charleston Place? Great location and superb amenities.)


What to do with all those corks?!

Yes, I collect a lot of corks. But this is a simple and pretty idea!

All you need is:

  • Wreath from a craft store
  • Hot glue gun
  • Corks

I'm all about simple. Arrange the corks on the wreath and secure with hot glue. You can easily add ribbons or different decorations for the season.

I've seen so many ideas for crafts with old corks - bath mats, coasters, trivets - the list goes on. Be creative! Even the most non-creative person like me gets ideas after finishing all those bottles ;)


Dog Days of Summer

With record breaking temps the past few weeks, nothing hits the spot better than ice cold, fruity sangria. I've seen numerous recipes calling for multiple ingredients, hard liquor, etc. Oh, do I have the solution for you!

I came across this new, simple recipe for Sangria last week while perusing Pinterest (my new fav addiction). It's my new go-to sangria recipe. I took it to a pool party last weekend and it was a huge hit. You'll never believe how simple this is:

1 bottle of white wine
3 cans of Fresca
Sliced fruit of your choice

How could it be any simpler! Now that I have a case of Fresca in the fridge, I will always have instant sangria!

I enjoyed a new batch last night, just because it was oh...Tuesday!


I Know it's 100+ Degrees out, but...

It's never too hot for a great glass of red wine in the AC!

I've been drinking so many white wines since the warm weather broke. I'm usually a red wine person and crave the deep, dark, oaky flavors of Old World reds. It's now mid-July in DC with temperatures in the high 90s into 100s. Needless to say, my stock pile of wines have dwindled down to only reds this month!

It's a hot, humid evening right now but hey, it's Thursday, always a great reason to open a bottle of wine! I decided to open a Meritage I bought a few weeks ago while visiting Western NY. This Salmon Run Meritage is from Dr. Frank's Wine Cellar in the Finger Lakes region in New York state. If you read my regular blog posts, you probably know that I lean towards Bordeaux-style blends of Merlot, Cab Franc and Cab Sauv. This is right up my alley. Complexity, oaky, soft finish and easily drinkable on it's own. It's very similar to the Meritage from Saude Creek Vineyards that I wrote about earlier this week.

My thought for the day: It's never too hot for a glass of red wine (in the AC)!


Saude Creek Vineyards' Grand Opening 7.16.11

Virginia wine is finally gaining a following and it seems like every year more and more vineyards are popping up! I can't complain since most of these are easily accessible to me in the DC area region. It makes for a great day trip with family and friends, one of my favorite day trips to be exact. How can you beat a picnic, great views and a relaxing afternoon while sipping wine?!

The newest vineyard to open up in Virginia is Saude Creek located in New Kent County. Having grown up right next door in West Point, this was particularly intriguing to me! Also, it doesn't hurt that my family knows the owners. There are quite a few vineyards popping up within a 30 mile radius of my hometown which is shocking. I never thought of it as a great grape growing region but they are proving me wrong. Some others in the area include New Kent Winery, the historical Williamsburg Winery, and White Fences Vineyard.

Anyway, back to Saude Creek. They have been growing vines for a few years now and have planted some orchard trees as well. To their advantage, they have participated in wine festivals all over Virginia to gain exposure and momentum for their grand opening which was held over the weekend. The winery is brand spanking new with a great wrap around porch and rooftop deck from which you can see the Pamunkey River.

View of Orchards and Pamunkey River

 The grand opening attracted hundreds of people which was very surprising!! The inside bar was full of people all afternoon, lining up to taste their selection. Having seen them at many festivals before, I had already tasted their vintages and knew what I liked. Some of their popular wines include Saude Creek White, Tavern White (which they sold out of), Saude Creek Blush, Cabernet Franc and my personal favorite, the Meritage.

Most of the whites tend to be a little sweeter and fruity. The Saude Creek White has hints of crisp apple and was perfect for a summer afternoon like Saturday. The sold-out Tavern White is a blend of Muscat and Chardonelle grapes which make it more sweet than the SC White. I can easily see why this was the most popular of the day, it's an easy-sipper and very refreshing. My choice of bottle for the day was the Meritage. Not your typical summertime wine but like the others, it was very easily sippable on it's own. 

They also had live music, parachuters, and vendors all to celebrate this great occasion. It was also very comforting to see so many locals come out to support their neighbors and friends. I hope many of the locals keep coming back for more! I'm looking forward to seeing great things from this vineyard and will be back.


Spur of the moment Brunch

It's been a relaxing 4th of July weekend for us so far. Sushi and sauvignon blanc on Friday (a perfect pairing) and grilled filet mignon last night. I woke up this morning and really wanted brunch and mimosas. Knowing it's probably hectic with all the tourists in town, going into DC could be a problem. And sadly, VA doesn't allow bottomless mimosas, best part of brunch I think! I decided to stay home, make my own, and save some money.

Perusing my cabinets and fridge, I didn't have a lot to choose from so I became creative. First up, mimosas! A bottle of Andre and OJ, cant go wrong. Then I thought about what my favorite brunch item is...of course fried green tomato Benedict! Never made fried green tomatoes nor had any in the pantry. I settled on the basic eggs benedict. I used hamburger buns as my english muffin, poached eggs quickly in the microwave and made my own hollandaise. I broiled the buns to make them warm and a bit crispy. For the hollandaise, I blended 2 egg yolks, pinch of cayenne, splash of water, and some kosher salt. While blending I added 4 tbsp of melted butter to make it brothy. Final step; assembly!

This was a simple, spur of the moment brunch for a Sunday morning! Be creative with both the mimosa and the benedict. Use different juices, sparkling or even add purees.

Happy Brunching!

First Look: Harth Restaurant

Located in the Hilton Tysons Corner, this new, chic restaurant is serving up great American classics with a notable wine list. Harth Restaurant is brand new, only being open a little over a week. The main clientele are hotel guests and nearby business people. A great option for dinner for two or a business lunch, the menu appeals to the masses.

It was a calm, quiet Tuesday evening when I went here for the first time with my close group of friends. I was the first to arrive and was greeted by the hostess. I chose to relax in the lobby lounge until the rest of my party arrived. The comfy lounge chairs were inviting! Once seated at a table for 4, I noticed the amazingly chic decor including fireplaces, white leather furniture, wrap around couches and modern classic light fixtures.

As of now, they have no happy hour specials so we decided to order wine by the bottle among the 4 of us. We ordered a great Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Lil Rippa. At $35 per bottle, that works out to about $8.75 per person which is better than purchasing a full priced glass at $10+. This was also a good choice since we were all ordering something different. Sauvignon blanc is easy to pair with food.

We all started with salads. I ordered the frisee salad with bacon. The others ordered the crab and avocado salad. The only complaint about the crab salad was the small amount of crab that was actually in the salad.

On to another bottle of wine and "entrees". (I use quotations only because we ordered small plates as our main meal). I ordered the Grilled BBQ shrimp with black bean and corn salsa. Wow! Spicy BBQ sauce paired perfectly with the Sauvignon Blanc I was drinking and the side salsa helped cool everything down. Lots of flavor and great presentation.

Only complaint: our server asked who was driving when we ordered our last glass of wine. Granted we went through 2 bottles over 2 hours between 4 people. By no means were we intoxicated nor disruptive. We felt a little insulted and she explained that they had just went through training about serving alcohol. She was very nice and very attentive throughout the whole meal so we let it slide. Just really caught us off guard. Also, because the restaurant was new, it was very empty. There were only a few tables so she came to check on us on what seemed like every 2 minutes.

Final verdict: Great atmosphere, flavorful food, good experience. I recommend it for a cozy dinner or a business lunch. If you get a chance to check it out, let me know what you think!


Great finds under $40

Wine doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, most of my favorite, highly-recommended wines are well below $40. Compiling a full list of these can be daunting because there are so many choices but I've narrowed it down to a few per varietal. Most of these can be found in the DC metro area but are subject to availability. Here goes! *prices are subject to change

Pinot Grigio - light, fruity white wine; perfect for summertime or light appetizers

  • gPG Pinot Grigio $10.99 - Italy - blended with Garganega
  • Illahe Pinot Gris $19.99 - Oregon - dry, mineral palate with crisp finish
  • Dipinti Pinot Grigio $9.99 - Italy - fruity, easy on the palate
Sauvignon Blanc - crisp, refreshing; pairs well with spicy food or seafood
  • Sierra Grande Sauvignon Blanc $9.99 - Chile - dry, light with a bit of minerality
  • The Puppeteer Semillion/Sauvignon Blanc $13.99 - Australia - dry, hint of apple
  • Cigar Box Sauvignon Blanc $12.99 - New Zealand - passionfruit with fine acidity, crisp & clean
Chardonnay - fuller body, oaky, vanilla; great with heartier dishes
  • Rombauer Chardonnay $32.99 - California - slight oak, full bodied with hint of vanilla
  • Plowbuster Chardonnay $16.99 - Oregon - unoaked, fruit shines through
  • Philip Carter Chardonnay $21.99 - Virginia - unoaked, crisp, citrusy
Other White Varietals
  • Mas de Chabert Roussanne $10.99 - France - light-bodied, stone fruit palate, crisp finish
  • Barth Renee Pinot Blanc $19.99 - Alsace - refreshing, stone fruit, unoaked
Pinot Noir - fruit forward, lighter bodied red; pairs well with lighter entrees
  • Klee Pinot Noir $26.99 - Oregon - full of fruit, clean finish
  • Red Tree Pinot Noir $9.99 - California - easy to sip on it's own, fruity, light bodied
  • Jezebel $19.99 - Oregon - juicy, red fruit, soft tannins
Merlot - lighter bodied red with red fruit flavors
  • The Jack Merlot $16.99 - Washington - juicy flavors of cherries & raspberries
  • Twenty Rows Merlot $20.99 - California - fuller bodied, especially for a Merlot, bold flavors
  • Salexis Merlot $32.99 - California - red fruit palate with a hint of oak
Cabernet Sauvignon - full-bodied red with robust fruit; stands up to any hearty, meaty dish
  • BigVine Cabernet $19.99 - California - juicy, dark fruit flavors, nice tannins, long finish
  • Educated Guess Cabernet $19.99 - California - dark fruit with oaky aromas, long, smooth finish
  • Cigar Box Cabernet $12.99 - Chile - fruit forward, soft tannins, medium finish
Other Red Varietals
  • Chateau du Barry St. Emillion Bordeaux $29.99 - France - mostly Merlot blend, soft flavors of fruit, earthiness
  • Robertson Pinotage $9.99 - South Africa - toasty, bacon flavors paired with soft tannins
  • Relativity Zinfandel $19.99 - California - bold, big fruity flavors, full-bodied, long finish
Now, these are just a few of many that you can easily find in your local store. Wine is ever-changing so taste as often as you can. You're sure to find your top picks in the above categories at surprisingly reasonable prices.

Get out there and explore all the wine world has to offer!


Starting VA Wine Week Off Right

So VA Wine Week happens twice a year when everyone supports this great region right in our backyard. People visit the wineries, order VA wine at restaurants, buy a bottle to try, or host VA wine tastings like I am Thursday, March 24.  This past weekend was the first weekend of VA Wine Week and what better way to spend it than at the wineries themselves. Weather has finally broke and it was a sunny day.

Bryan and I went out to Fauquier County to visit Philip Carter Winery.  After reviewing all the wine events happening in the area on Virginia Wine Events, I knew they hosting a barrel tasting for $25/person. Intrigued I was as I haven't participated in a barrel tasting before. Saturday morning I packed a picnic lunch for us and we headed out that way. In just a little over an hour from Arlington, we were there! It's a little off the beaten path, down a windy road. All in all, it was easy to find. The driveway zig zagged through the vines which would be gorgeous once they bud.

We went through their complete selection consisting of  a 2009 Chardonnay, 2009 Governer Fauquier (100% Vidal Blanc), 2009 Cabernet Franc, 2009 Albemarle Red (from Kluge Estate which is a Bordeaux-style blend) and 2008 Late Harvest Vidal. I was very pleased with the Chardonnay as well as the Albemarle Red (I love the Old World style).  Th Chardonnay is only lightly oaked which is what I like in a Chardonnay. Once we tasted, we chose to get a bottle of the Albemarle Red, sat down and ate our lunch while we waited for the 3pm Barrel Tasting.

Some of my friends who live in the area came by to join us for the barrel tasting. The vineyard tour and barrel tasting was led by Philip Carter himself. It was great to actually talk to the owner. It made it very more personable. We tasted the same wines that we tasted upstairs only these were unfinished and unfiltered. It was amazing to sample them along the way. Some were still a little acidic which is to be expected. They still need some time in the bottle. One of the highlights during the barrel tasting were the elegant hors'devours that were served with each tasting. Ranging from quiche to salmon to salami, they all were very good and paired perfectly with what we were tasting.

Me posing with the 2010 Chardonnay

After our great experience at Philip Carter, we drove a few miles up the road to Chateau O'Brien. The view of O'Brien was spectacular of the rolling hills and the inside was very spacious with lots of tables to enjoy your wine. Since we got there with only 45 minutes to spare, we sped through the tasting, ordered a glass to enjoy on the patio and headed out. To be honest, not a lot stood on regarding the wine in particular. I was just very impressed by the tasting rooms and the set up of the winery. I'd definitely go back to fully enjoy it.

Us girls enjoying our glasses

Back to VA Wine Week..I am hosting a VA wine tasting at my home in Arlington where we will have a taste off between VA wine and the same varietals from other regions. If you are interested, leave a comment or RSVP here! Hope you can join us to celebrate VA wine!


Bourbon Steak Pulls Out All the Stops

I couldn't tell you how long I've been wanting to try Bourbon Steak in the Georgetown Four Seasons Hotel. Maybe it's because of the rave reviews or that they are very active on Twitter. I'm a big Tweeter and love to talk with celebrity chefs, restaurants and fellow bloggers so ones that respond to tweets and have a big presence...those are the places I tend to try before others. Oh and did I mention I know the Wine Director, Julian?! Regardless, this past weekend was my 2 year anniversary with Bryan and he knew how bad I've wanted to go. He made reservations and I was ecstatic all week.

The reservation wasn't until 7:15pm so we went a little early to enjoy a cocktail off their new cocktail list and also to devour the trio of duck fat fries. The new cocktail list is very admirable with uncommon concoctions galore.  The lounge itself was a nice place to enjoy a few in an intimate setting where we could actually hear each other talk unlike most happy hours we've been to.

Well now on to the good part: Dinner! We had a small table for two by the window with views of all the action in the kitchen. Kudos to them for realizing it was a special occasion. There was a card placed on the table, which read "Happy Birthday". Ahh it's ok, celebratory evening regardless :)

We were greeted with glasses of champagne to toast to our happy 2 years. Of course, my eyes went directly to the wine "book" before the food menu. Page after page, the wine selection was broad yet extensive. After perusing through the many choices, I decided on a bottle of Clos du Mont-Olivet Chateauneuf du Pape 2008. If you've ever read any of my previous posts, you know how much I enjoy CdP! This CdP was one of the best I've had to date. It had all the attributes that most CdP's have; smooth, earthy and soft tannins. It was easily drank on its own and there wasn't too much left at the end of our meal.

After I decided on a bottle, then it was time to look at the menu. Before we placed our order, we got more duck fat fries! We both decided on a steak...when in Rome, right?! It is called Bourbon Steak afterall.  I go the 8oz filet and he got the Wagyu beef. Also, we ordered black truffle mac n cheese, the decadent rolls, and split a wedge salad. Needless to say, our table was full of amazing food and plenty of wine.

Nothing could beat our steaks though. Definitely one of the best prepared steaks I've had and it looked so elegant and tender on the plate without even cutting it! Of course, we both cleaned our plates along with the sides!

Julian suggested we try a Super Tuscan red wine to go with our steaks and it paired perfectly! Guess that's why they pay him the big bucks :)

So if we weren't full enough, they surprised us again with complimentary dessert which was a yummy peanut butter cookie with a candle and scripted "Happy Birthday". Still, such a surprise and of course we shared. They also threw in their new dessert labeled 'french toast' which were bite size french toast bites with kiwi. It was actually very good! Compliments!

Needless to say, I'm dying to go back again. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and have already talked about coming back to the lounge. The outside area with the fire pit is perfect for this time of year when it's still cool at night.

So, Bourbon Steak, we hope to see you again soon. Thanks for everything you did to make our night special.


Valentine's Dinner at Home

Valentine's Day is crazy around DC with all the amazing restaurants to choose from and the process of trying to get decent reservations that aren't at 10pm. This year, we stayed in and prepared a great meal and shared a bottle of wine.

My most recent favorite entree is lamb chops. Anytime I see it on the menu, I gravitate towards it. Up until now, I've only ordered it at restaurants, never attempted to prepare it myself. Well Valentine's was the night. I had a great Pinot Noir I had been saving for something special (since it is considered one of my 'special occassion' wines) so it just clicked in my head, why not Valentine's Day at home.

On the menu: Rack of lamb with sweet potato puree and brussel sprouts with bacon. MMM mmm. Oh and of course, a big glass of Ken Wright Pinot Noir from Oregon.

After perusing many recipes for rack of lamb, I realized it was neither labor intensive nor time consuming, perfect for a Monday evening supper. Overall the whole menu was simple and dinner was on the table within 45 minutes, minus the brussel sprouts. (They took longer so we saved them for the next night's dinner).

The Oregon Pinot that I had been saving paired perfectly with the tender rack of lamb. It's earthy tones with light floral and red fruit complemented the entire meal. The delicate lamb with soft sweet potatoes helped balance the fruitiness of the wine.

Ken Wright is by far one of my favorite Pinots and of course it has a hefty price tag, especially for a Pinot Noir. Averaging around $60/bottle, I consider it a special occassion wine. It also doesn't need food or a meal to compliment. It's soft, medium bodied palate can easily be drank on its own.

Pick up a bottle at Bell's Wine Shop in DC!

Cheers :)

In Recent News...

I have gained a little bit of exposure! I was contacted by CaterWire, a new coupon site specializing in private dinners, etc.  They want to partner with One Classic Wino!! Since both of our business plans are specific to private, in-home events it seems like a natural fit. It's organized like Groupon where you purchase the service at a discounted price. You'll have to sign up at CaterWire in order to see the awesome deals being released soon!

On another note, Fox Small Business is now running a promotion for small businesses around the U.S. on Twitter. If you tweet using the #mysbc, they will select a new small business everyday to feature. This is a new campaign and who woulda thought...they picked One Classic Wino to be their first!! I couldn't be more estatic. Not only is this local exposure but nationwide! This promotion is only being done on Twitter so the catch is, you have to be active on the social media site. Spread the word!

Hopefully this 'breaking' news will help me get off the ground and start doing what I love, tasting with other people and enjoying wines from all over the world. Check back for more details soon.

Cheers :)

I'm a Sucker for Prix-Fixe Menus!

DC restaurants host Restaurant Week twice each year, in August and January. The idea is to get people out during the slow months for the restaurant business. Well it works! People go crazy when the list of restaurants are announced, many begin to make reservations right away. I usually tend to wait to check out the menus which Lisa of Dining in DC does so well! She's my go-to every Restaurant Week. After perusing the numerous menus, 3 of my girlfriends and I decide based on two criteria: best deals for the $35.11 price per person and it must be a restaurant none of us have been to.

This past DC Restaurant Week, we chose DC Coast because they didn't limit their menu. You had to select from a smaller list of appetizers but all of their entrees were available (some with an upcharge i.e. lobster & ribeye). Having a lot of options appeals to us in making our final decision.

Our reservation was at 6:30, right in the middle of rush hour traffic of course.  I was a bit stressed because I know some places can be a little strict about the time especially during Restaurant Week. I gave them a quick call and said we'd be a few minutes late and the host was very cordial and nice and we had our table as soon as we walked in, even 15 minutes late! Big props for being so accomodating, DC Coast.

For the appetizer, I chose the risotto fritters, three fritters in a tomato based sauce. Pretty decent but heavy for an appetizer. After a long debate with myself over whether to get the duck or pork chop for the entree, I chose the duck. Man, am I glad I did! Duck breast served with sweet potato and apple puree and brussel sprout leaves in duck ju. I have to say, this duck was cooked perfectly with lots of flavor and not overly greasy like it sometimes can be. It paired so well the sweet potato and apple puree as well.

Needless to say, I wasn't hungry for dessert but I chose the chocolate mousse tart. It was like a dense chocolate pie in a crusty tart shell. The dessert was a bigger portion that I really needed.

Our overall experience was great. From being a few minutes late to the service to the food. Oh and did I mention, I had a pear martini with dinner! Great friends with great food. It doesn't get better than that!

Well maybe...sharing it with the one I love.

Since I love Restaurant Week so much, I also decided to go to Willow in Ballston with my boyfriend. Living in Ballston, this was super easy to get to and I've always heard rave reviews from fellow bloggers. This restaurant fits my two criteria as well: great selection and it's somewhere new to us. We made early reservations and arrived on time. It wasn't packed yet. The decor was nice and the hostess was very inviting. We had a nice romantic spot in a nook in the back. It was great for a romantic date night, like ours.

The menu included a wide range of choices all of which sounded great. I finally decided on getting the paired wine flights with my meal for an extra $15. So worth it. They were basically full pours and you never had to worry what wine to order. For the appetizer course I got the Coquilles St. Jacques which is scallops in a creamy wine sauce with mushrooms and gouda bread crumbs. This was the perfect portion size and the scallops were tender. All around a perfect course paired perfectly with an Orvieto from Italy.

On to the entree course. I ordered the crispy foie gras stuffed chicken breast with mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts with bacon. Again, the dish was prepared beautifully with a great portion size. The chicken and foie gras were very tender and juicy. And you can never go wrong with mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts! The presentation was also very appealing. This course was paired with a Sangiovese also from Italy.

Again, I was stuffed before dessert came out but I definitely tried to eat as much as I could! For dessert, I ordered the pineapple upside down cake in a caramel sauce with vanilla bean ice cream! Perfect to pair with the Moscato d'Asti.

So all in all, it was a great DC Restaurant Week for me yet again! Both of these restaurants, I will gladly recommend and visit again. I look forward to trying some new places come August.

Cheers :)