Wine Wednesday: Bodega Monteabellon 2010 "Avaniel"


I feel kind of like a lush bringing you back to back posts on alcohol! From Spirit Saturday to Wine Wednesday this week has been kind of crazy and not allowed me to post something in between. My apologies for another alcohol centric post, but I'll have more recipes, and hopefully, an outfit post coming soon.

This week's wine is a great wine for easy drinking in the fall, winter or with some great bbq! Today I bring you a Tempranillo from Spain, and more specifically, the Ribera del Duero region. This week's wine is the Bodega Monteabellon's 2010 "Avaniel."

Photo courtesy of Portalis Wine Blog
Ribera del Duero is an important wine region in north central Spain. It is a large valley straddling both sides of the Duero river and most known for it's Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) production. It became a qualitative region, by receiving it's DO status in 1982, but is on the rise as one of the most notable regions in Spain. Ribera del Duero has extremete temperature changes from very cold winters to very hot temperatures, averaging 104 degrees Farenheit! It's growing season is short and snakes along the Duero with a variety of soil types of silt, clay, limestone and chalk. The Duero is also known for producing long lived wines, however I will be sharing with you a nice, easy drinking everyday wine.

Avaniel is a great value wine ($9.99 retail) from Bodegas Monteabellon comprised of 100% Tempranillo from various sites in the Duero. This wine is sourced from young vines of 6-10 years and is unoaked giving the wine a beautiful lively, fruit forward and fresh palate. It has aromas of plums, violets, green olives, fried padrons, cigar box and vanilla. The palate has low acidity, plums, cherry, nutmeg, clove, cured meat and fried padrons. This would be a great wine to pair with grilled vegetables, grilled lean steak, bbq, or roasted tomato dishes. We enjoyed this wine with a pesto, cherry tomato and farro salad and paninis.

A New Feature: Spirit Saturday, Old Fashioned


I promised a new feature, and here it is: Spirit Saturday. In celebration of the weekend I will introduce a new cocktail recipe every Saturday, or at least try to.

This first post I will start off with one of my favorite cocktails and a true classic, the Old Fashioned. This is not a drink for the faint at pretty much is straight bourbon or rye. I am presenting to you the most pure and classic variation of this drink, which is easy to make and perfect for your upcoming Mad Men party!

The Old Fashioned name gives way to it's pre-prohibition existance, in the 1800's. It is composed of spirit, sugar, water and bitters. Although over the years this has fluctuated, but what I will share with you is the truly classic recipe. David Embury's classic 1948 book, "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks," considered the Old Fashioned to be one of the most important drinks.

The trick to crafting good classic cocktails is first starting with fine ingredients. This is not a cocktail you want to use well liquors for. This recipe is meant to best showcase quality bourbon or rye whiskey. Over the years this recipe has been bogged down by the addition of muddling fruit or the addition of lemon/lime soda which washes out the quality ingredients.

With that being said, let's gather our ingredients. You will need a quality bourbon or rye whiskey, sugar cube, bitters, orange and Amarena cherries.  Here are some good suggestions for whiskey:

Blanton's, Woodford Reserve, Makers Mark, Basil Hayden, Elijah Craig (Bourbon); Old Rip Van Winkle Rye, Templeton, Rye One, Heaven Hill, Redemption Rye (American Rye Whiskey)

Next, you will want to muddle and dissolve the sugar with a few dashes of bitters and a teaspoon of water in an old fashioned or tumbler glass.

Then you will add ice to the glass and measure out 2 oz. of whiskey (Bourbon/American Rye) and add that to the glass.

Stir the whiskey and ice until well chilled. 

Twist an orange peep over the drink to catch the pith and add twist to the cocktail. Add an amarena cherry as garnish.


Old Fashioned Cocktail

1 sugar cube
1 teaspoon water
2 dashes of Angostura bittes (although I used Fee Brothers, orange)
2 oz. American Rye or Bourbon
Orange Peel
Amarena Cherry

Muddle sugar, water and bitters together until the sugar is almost dissoved.

Fill glass with a few cubes of ice, and then whiskey and stir to chill.

Garnish with orange peel and amarena cherry.

Salmon, Tomatoes Corn and Basil


Things have been a little quite around here on the blogging front, especially with recipes due to the new job, my brother's wedding and endless summer activtivites. However, I'm happy to now get back into the swing of things and bring you another tasty recipe I've found recently. I tend to cook a lot more in the winter as we hunker down and spend most of the season being homebodies so stay tuned for more recipes and a new feature coming your way (the first will be posted this Saturday).

There is nothing I love more than late summer crop. Corn and tomatoes are the ultimate combo and I can't get enough of them in their short window of availability. Fall and Winter squash has started to creep into the produce section of the market and I am just not ready for it. Well, at least for now I can still get my corn and tomatoes and they will make an appearance in every dish until I can't get them anymore!

 I saw this recipe over on Whole Living this week conveniently when salmon was on sale. The original recipe calls for striped bass, but salmon works just as well. This is a great late summer recipe that utilizes everything in your garden...or someone else's garden in my case!

Salmon, Tomatoes, Corn and Basil serves 2
Recipe Adapted from Whole Living

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Salmon Fillets (6oz), skin on
Coarse Salt and Pepper
1 Sweet Onion, finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Serrano Pepper, ribs and seeds removed and sliced thinly
1/3 cup Dry White Wine
2 ears of Corn, kernels scrapped off
6 oz Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup Basil, chopped
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season fish with salt and pepper and sear skin side down for 4 minutes. With a metal spatula, turn fish over and cook for 1 minute. Do not cook through, it will return to the pan later. Remove from pan and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and add onion to pan. Cook onion, stirring occasionally until onion is soft and edges are starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.

Add remaining ingredients, except for the Basil and Cilantro. Make a couple of wells in the ingredients and return the fish skin side up to the pan. Cover and cook until the fish is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove fish from pan. Stir basil and cilantro into pan and spoon corn mixture into two shallow bowls and place fish on top.

Wine Wednesday: Domaine des Echardieres 2009 'Le Bécassou'


It's that time again folks: Wine Wednesday! Today I have a reasonably priced red wine from one of my favorite regions: Loire, France. Even more specifically this Gamay and Cab Franc blend is coming from the most important Loire region, Touraine.

Map courtesy of Vins de Loire via Sniff and Quaff
As you can see the Loire is a pretty large region, stretching from Nantes on the far west of the region to Centre in the east. As wide as the region is the wines are just as diverse ranging in style from dry red and whites to sparkling wines with a diversity of varieties to match. I don't want to way you down with information of the Loire in general, so let's focus on Touraine. 

Touraine is also home to a diverse group of varietals from whites made from Chenin Blanc, Arbois, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay; as well as red wines made from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Meunier, Pineau d'Aunis and Grolleau. Soils in the region can vary from clay, sand, tuffeau and gravel as it snakes along both sides of the Cher River.

Domaine des Echardieres is a 39 acre vineyard on the left bank of the Cher river planted with Gamay, Cab Franc, Côt (Malbec), Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The vineyard and winery practices Terra Vitis, which is a sustainable approach to viticultural and vinification techniques. Domaine des Echardieres is committed to there sustainable approach from farming to wine making to packaging used.

The 2009 'Le Bécassou' is a cuvée made from 60% Gamay and 40% Cabernet Franc and retails for $11.99. It is a lovely, affordable wine ready to drink for weeknight dinners. It has aromas of cherry, raspberry, rose petals, limestone, cedar and cigar box. The palate has bright acidity and silky tannins with flavors of cherry, cocoa powder, clove and roasted bell pepper. It is a versatile wine for food pairings, but I would most recommend spring/summer vegetable dishes, Bass, Salmon or Lamb dishes of the lighter fare. I paired this with a Salmon, Tomato, Corn and Basil dish (recipe to follow this week), which was a nice compliment to the bright, juicy fruit of the wine.


A Hike and the Wonders of Forrest Park (photo heavy)


Before I tell you about our hike and some history about Forrest Park I wanted to warn you all that this post is considerably photo heavy with Retro app photos. I wanted to capture our fun adventure and as well as the beauty of Forrest Park, so bear with my trigger happy photos!

Forrest Park is one of those reasons that Portlanders have chosen this great city to live in. It's lush, full of trails and right in our backyard. I have Will to thank for the idea of this post, which is to share with you the wonders of Forrest Park and those who work to conserve it.

Crossing the St. Johns Bridge on our way to Forrest Park. 

Forrest Park is the largest urban park in the country. It spans 8 miles on hillsides that overlook the Willamette River. The park covers 5000 acres of land and includes mostly second growth forrest with some old growth. There are 40 miles of trail loops throughout the park, which makes the park optimal, hiking, trail running, and cyclocross/mountain biking.

Some of the trails are more populated than others. We hiked through a less populated trail so that Cassidy could be off leash, although technically this is against the rules.

Forrest Park is home to 112 to native species of birds and mammals, which is largely due to the early conservation work that began in 1899 and has continued over the years. The City Club in 1948 worked towards preserving the inner 3000 acre core as city parkland. Friends of Forrest Park is a group that largely has worked on the conservation of the park, beginning in 1989. Their work has been so large and important to the conservation effort that their once small operation has now evolved into The Forrest Park Conservancy.

Forrest Park lies within the Western Hemlock zone and is populated by Douglas-fir, western hemlock and western red cedar. I actually remarked to Will several times on the hike how fragrant the cedar was.

If you are visiting Portland I highly recommend strolling through the park and contributing to the Forrest Park Conservancy.  You will see every shade of green we have in Oregon and have a greater appreciation for the conservation effort our city has in preserving the park and its inhabitants.

On another note, I am thrilled and honored to announce I was featured on Pocket Change's, Be @Home "Best of the Web." It's a great feature on their blog that introduces new and up and coming bloggers focused on design, food, fashion and lifestyle. Swing on by and check out some of the other bloggers that were featured!

An Outfit Post fit for #TwitterTeaParty


Yesterday was #TwitterTeaParty hosted by Kait Souch. It was a fun event with some lovely ladies engaged in lively conversation, as well as recipes, diy tutorials and giveaways. In case you missed out on the party, check out this recap post on Kait's blog or search the hashtag, #TwitterTeaParty (not to be confused with the political group) to see the conversation.

I missed the boat on getting a tasty treat to accompany my tea. I did, however, get a little dressed up for the event. It has been a little cold and rainy the last week so I wore some knitted tights and new boots with my's definitely getting to be Fall around here.

I wore this flowery frock that I purchased some time back from the ever so lovely and stylish Maria Conifer of Lulu Letty as part of her "shop my wardrobe" store.

I also picked up these new Enzo Angiolini 'Saylem' boots just in time for Fall. I am really loving them and the antique leather finish and stacked heel. My new favorite Fall staple for sure.

My tea cup even matched the print of my dress! 

Dress, Hot&Delicious via Lulu Letty
Sweater, H&M
Belt, F21
Tights, Anthropologie
Boots, Enzo Angiolini 'Saylem' via Nordstrom

Wine Wednesday: Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt 2009 RK Riesling


I sounds frightening to pronounce, after all most German labels are a mouthful, but I promise you they are a gem and worth looking into! I am a lover of all wines, and that includes German wines despite their perplexing wine labels and laws. I am head over heels with their mineral expression, racy acidity and their vibrant, interesting bouquet and versatility in food and wine pairings. 

This particular riesling is from Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt's RK label, which was introduced in 1999 in celebration of their 650th anniversary. Yeah, that's right...their 650th anniversary as an estate! This riesling is coming from one of the most notable regions in Germany: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. The Mosel is known as being relatively cool which is why they rely heavily on the steep, slated soils of the region as a nutrient for the vines as well as to retain any heat in the cooler months. Riesling is the dominant varietal planted in the area, but is also accompanied by Elbling and Müller-Thurgau.

Riesling is most known for their remarkably high acidity and sugar content. They can age for years due to these two factors, often aging as long, if not longer as excellent quality red wines, which most people find surprising. It is Riesling's high level of tartaric acid against its residual sugar which gives the wine balance. Often, they are very floral on the nose with stone fruits, apple, pear and a mineral expression. Rieslings, overall are quite easy to pair because of their variety and good structure. They range from dry to sweet. If pairing a dry or off-dry Riesling, pair with raw fish, white fish, shellfish, spring vegetables (like asparagus). They also pair well with hearty german dishes like schnitzel, gratin, sausage or scalloped potatoes. I often will pair Riesling with spicy Thai or Indian dishes because their acidity and sugar gives a refreshing, cooling effect to the spicy dishes.

A bit stylized, but the Mosel really does look like this. Source
It can be difficult to pick out decent riesling wines from Germany due to their confusing labeling and governing laws, as well as mass production of the grape. Here are some tips to help you out:

1. Look for the acronynms: QBA or QMP, which denote higher quality and stricter laws. However, Qualitätswein can have some good quality (like the one I am reviewing) wines, but is mostly a blanket term for most of Germany's production.
2. Use your wine steward! Do not be afraid to ask, that is what they are there for, and honestly that is what they live for. Wine Stewards, most anyway, love to help pick out a wine for you and tell you the story behind the wine. Let them help.
3. If you were going to ignore the second tip, then use the "shelf talker's" as a guide. "Shelf Talker's" are little cards displayed with the wines that offer abbreviated tasting notes and sometimes history or pairings. If you are new to pairing wines I find shelf talker's to be particularly helpful.

That is tartaric acid you see at the bottom of my glass.

Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt's RK label is a larger production Riesling coming from different areas throughout Mosel, Saar and Ruwer. However, it is quite lovely and a rare gem for Qualitätswein. The 2009 RK Riesling has a nose of Jasmine blossom, white peach, pear, slate and lime piths with flavors that echoed the same. It had zippy acidity and a slight effervescent quality which paired quite nicely with our Massaman curry dinner, and at $14.98 I found it to be lovely value wine. 

Some Faves this Week:


I am sorry things have been quiet around the blog front lately, but things have been crazy with work and my brother's wedding. I am happy to get back into the blogging mood and geared up to share some new recipes for fall. These are actually some of my faves from the last couple of weeks:


I have really been enjoying My Yoga Online. It's like Watch It Instantly on Netflix, but for yoga. They have monthly membership and the videos are great. It's refreshing to get up a little early and do a quick practice before work or something to unwind before bed.


Now, not just a fave this week, but of all time is the artwork of the late, Margaret Kilgallen. She has always been an inspiration to me; poetic and celebrating the greatness in every subject, even the ordinary. This week I have found myself constantly referring back to "Margaret Kilgallen: In the Sweet Bye & Bye," a collection of her work coupled with biography and interviews. It is a beautiful hardbound book put out by Redcat. I've been toying with the idea for a while now of getting my next tattoo of one of her pieces, Matokie Slaughter, a figure in folk history which is reoccurring in her work. I highly recommend checking out her and her work in these two videos: Margaret Kilgallen on ART:21 and Beautiful Losers.


I love these little felt creatures by Sabina of Royal Mint. She was the featured seller on Etsy today and I instantly fell in love with her work and her interview. I really love folk art and her celebration of it and their stories. My favorite is Papuan Spirit Bear (seen above).

Okay, technically it was a week ago...but my favorite thing was witnessing and being included in the wedding of my brother, Keith and his bride, Theresa. I love these two and was so happy to be a part of their amazing wedding.

Youth Lagoon - Montana from Tyler T Williams on Vimeo.

I am a little behind the times, but I have recently fallen in love with Youth Lagoon, their dreamy and howling songs. The music video "Montana" by Tyler T Williams is also no exception: it is beautiful, haunting and a sobering look at Americana.

Photo courtesy of Kait Souch

And lastly, it hasn't happened yet, but I am really looking forward to the #TwitterTeaParty this Sunday! I was reading the lovely, Miss Kait's blog this week and was so thrilled to see this announcement. I am excited to put on a pretty frock, sit down with some tea and chat it up with some awesome ladies this Sunday. Come and join the party! Don't forget to use the hashtag: #TwitterTeaParty.