Friday nights are great nights for kicking back, firing up the grill and relaxing after a long week. Part of the challenge with that ‘process’ this time of year is that it’s still 100 degrees plus at 8 o’clock at night . . not exactly the kind of weather that’s conducive to deck time on a Friday night. The grill part, on the other hand, is always a good option and after finding some steaks on sale at our local H-E-B, we decided that tonight would be a good reason to cook them up. We like to fix roasted potatoes when we grill steak . . . using some nice red potatoes well cut them into bite-size pieces and cut up some red onion and we like adding red, yellow or orange sweet peppers. Mixing all three together in a bowl with some olive oil and seasoning, put them into a 9 x 12 baking dish – – or if you’ve got stoneware, like is offered from Pampered Chef, use that – a great tool for cooking, and finally into the oven at 375 degrees for–initially–20 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, stir them up, turn the dish around and put another 25 minutes on the timer. In the meantime, we’ve picked up some beautiful, fresh green beans…long, great color and they have a great snap – – after cleaning them and soaking them in some water, we like to add just a hint of bacon grease or two or three slices of bacon to the pan with some water just covering the top of the beans. After bringing them to a boil, we’ll simmer them on medium to low for 15 minutes at which time, we’ll pour in a third of a bottle of Italian salad dressing. Put the lid back on, turn down the heat to low and let cook for another 20-25 minutes.
These two vegetables combined with the steak made for a nice way to wrap up the week – along with daughter #1 and Bruce Wayne(who is in for a weekend visit) – but it wouldn’t be complete without some wine, and tonight we opened at 2011 Into Zin Zinfandel from Oak Ridge Winery…the same folks that make one of our favorite everyday Zins, OZV and Maggio! They’re located in Lodi, California…a superb part of the state for growing zinfandel grapes. While this Zin isn’t going to set any records for awards or get rated by Parker, it did earn a gold medal at the 2012 Alameda County Fair…not sure if that means anything, but even as a value-priced entry, it’s not bad. But, it’s probably not going to make us go out and scoop up mass quantities of it either…the nose is certainly typical zin…peppery, dark fruit, a little leathery. The taste was –well, just a little too tart for us. We like a zin to have that warm, spicy taste and a finish that allows you to taste the fruit and other characteristics of the wine. Even as the wine had some time open up, it didn’t deliver anything that made us jump for joy. So, while some of the Oak Ridge products are among our favorite everyday-type wines, this one won’t be joining them.
Fortunately, good food is just that…good food and we enjoyed the meal immensely, but the wine, while disappointing, is a great way to enjoy good food. We hope you have a terrific weekend and as you enjoy your favorite wine, we hope that you’ll do so responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.
Whew…what a day! After a terrific early morning with coffee and bacon and eggs. . .we headed north to Austin to take care of some ‘Father’s Day’ business. Of course, we couldn’t go to the north and NOT stop at an Austin landmark for a bite of lunch–so–we ended up at Threadgill’s for lunch and Wow–what a cool place. For those of you born,raised or transplanted to Austin, you already know about the myriad of amazing places to eat, drink and enjoy great music–BUT, if you’ve never been to Threadgill’s–well, you haven’t been to Austin! While a Saturday afternoon is hardly prime time for an establishment with historic roots, just being there conjures up memories of artists, looking for a break, playing for pennies just for a chance to be ‘discovered’!
Having spent a fair number of years in the Kerrville area, we always appreciate this time of the year–well, actually, we’re a little past this time of year–the Kerrville Folk Festival concluded LAST weekend, and the three weeks of music there was something to behold. What we like most about the Festival–isn’t the musicians–or the campground–or the parking–it’s the theater where much of the music is played—-it’s the Threadgill Theater, and we wondered if it was the same Threadgill as the Austin landmark. . .anyone care to help a friend???
We’ve made two trips to Paso Robles, California, and to this day, one of our favorite labels is Four Vines. There was a split–a change in ownership–a change in personnel–a change in direction a few years ago, so the wine maker has changed, but our love for Four Vines has never wavered. So, when we came across a Four Vines, Truant at the Twin Liquors in Kyle not too long ago, we were mesmerized. Could it be that they were embarking on something new and different? With a price point under $9 a bottle, this was reminiscent of the Old Vines Cuvee’ that they had marketed for years. Even then, the wine had great taste for a little amount of money!
So, tonight, we get to introduce the newest member of the Four Vines family – Truant Zinfandel! What many over the years simply called their OVC—now, has a name and wine character just like Biker, Maverick and The Sophisticate. Truant, blended from multiple appellations throughout California, now has its an identity. The name Truant describes someone who slips away from the confines of everyday routine, and also refers to their wine making style which is not limited by geographical confines. Not only is it blended from vineyards around California, but it is 77% Zinfandel, 13% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah, 3% Barbera and 2% Sangiovese. . . in short, it’s a PERFECT blend for those of us who have grown to LOVE blends. On the nose there are dark berry notes and spicy notes from oak aging. The wine drinks of juicy blackberry, ripe plums and a touch of blueberry. Generous in fruit flavors, plenty of structure and a velvety finish. It’s a wine that could be enjoyed on the deck after a long day–or poured with some excruciatingly spicy food for dinner. Regardless, don’t let the low price fool you, this is a wine that is worthy of a second, third and fourth look!
As Saturday gives way to Sunday–Father’s Day–we stop to salute and thank all of the Dads’ out there who care enough to play a crucial role in the development of their children. While most folks agree it takes a village to raise a child—conventional wisdom still tells us it takes parents to raise a child. So, remember tomorrow—DAD—hug your kids, kiss your kids, thank the Good Lord for what you have, and let your family shower you with attention. Strong Dad’s are in short supply–stand up–be counted–Love your family. Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.
Have you ever been to the Four Corners? Do you even know what or where the four corners are? Back in 1990, (BC=Before Children) we made a trip out to the southwestern part of the US–a driving trip where part of the time we spent on the Durango-Silverton Railroad–a narrow gauge train that hugged the mountains between the two cities–and the other part was finding our way to some of the most beautiful parts of the great Southwest. From Wiki, “The main line of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, now operated by the BNSF Railway, passes along the southern edge of Four Corners. The area is home to remnants of through railroads that are now heritage railways. These include the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. The Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad, which connects a power plant with a coal mine near Kayenta comes near the Four Corners.” And ultimately, where we stopped (not necessarily a beautiful part) was the Four Corners,
The Four Corners represents the exact intersection of New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. If it wasn’t painted in stone and had a monument on it, you’d drive past it like it never existed. There are so few distinguishing marks in the landscape that if it wasn’t for the homemade staircase where one could ascend to take a picture of the ‘four corners’, then the spot would go nameless, faceless and without fanfare!
Our trip enabled us to not only stop, take pictures and take in the vast emptiness of our surroundings but also the handful of vendors selling jewelry, gum and various artifacts. A tourist trap you ask? Yes, to some degree, all that the Four Corners turned out to be was a tourist trap. . .but a fun one at that! Think about it–you can stand in four states–if stepping foot in all 50 states is on your bucket list, stopping at the four corners, covers almost 10% in one stop!! For Geography lovers, the fact that the Four Corners represents the only spot in our country where four states’ boundaries simultaneously come together is the stuff that text books are written about! For those of us with regular jobs, it’s potty stop on the way to somewhere else…just sayin’
Which is why tonight we thought about and found the PERFECT wine! Yep, we hadn’t really thought much (at all) about the Four Corners until we opened the 2010 Quadrant from Broken Earth Winery in Paso Robles, California. This is an interesting wine. . .seriously. The nose was less than spectacular–more like commercial wine than a boutique variety. Kind of a green pepper meets kerosene nose. Not the best combination in the world. BUT, the taste is what caught us off guard–a little sweet, a little smoky, a little sultry–the wine got better and better as it opened up! This was not what we had expected, but the Quadrant–a blend of Viognier, Syrah, Petite Syrah and Grenache. An interesting blend made lighter because of the viognier and the grenache–made richer by the syrah and petite syrah.
Grenache, the main grape used in a variety of French blends, brings a delicate fruitiness to this blend. Syrah, who has long been the star of the Rhone Valley, lends its powerhouse combination of color, flavor and tannin structure. Petite Sirah, most often well known for its deep blue-black color, brings a luxurious, velvety texture that will knock your socks off. And finally, Viognier, the highly aromatic white, is the subtle surprise in this blend that, though only a small percentage, uses its charm to pull all the other components together in perfect harmony. The complexity of this wine lends itself well to a multitude of food pairings. We enjoyed it, but weren’t overwhelmed with it. A good wine at a decent price, but probably not going to make into the top 20 over 365 days. Multiple Gold medals from a variety of places in California tells us that people like the blend of grapes. And, as time goes on, this wine will get better in the bottle. For us, it was worth a try, but we’ll leave it at that!
Just curious how many of you have been to the Four Corners? Before reading this could you have even named the four states whose borders meet at the corners? Useless trivia or good geography lessons? You be the judge as you enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and when you recycle whenever possible.
Just before hopping into the Jeep (note to self – don’t trust weather forecast of sunny and warm and leave the top down – it was a misty ride to Austin today . . . we’ll just leave it at that) to head home this evening, Jean got a text from a good friend and colleague who asked “what wine are you blogging about tonight?”. Wow, not even home and the mind starting churning . . . many labels passed through her mind (kind of like visions of sugar plums on Christmas Eve . . .). Since Brian had a late meeting, Jean took it upon herself to pre-select some options from “the wine blog rack” – with the intent to make the decision easier.
Once everybody was home it was decision time – – – which actually led to a fruitful (pun fully intended) discussion on how many decisions we have to make in one day and in due course, our entire lives. As babies, we really don’t consciously make decisions – or do we? . . . we quickly learn that if we cry – we get attention . . . if we soil our diaper – we get attention – – – perhaps this is where is all starts. As we get a bit older we have to decide to learn things . . . tie our shoes, wear socks that match (or not), pick out our own outfits, pick our friends – then we move into picking our classes, picking our hobbies, picking our favorite show to watch in lieu of another – then comes the big one . . . college or no college, if yes – then where? (and we’re not talking just burnt orange versus maroon) . . . if no – what’s next? After that span of time zips by it’s on to . . . date that cute guy or girl? Marry that same cute guy or girl? Start a family with that same cute guy or girl?
Seems like the list just goes on and on – we neglected to mention all the little decisions that we make all the time . . . eat breakfast?, make the bed (why, just gonna be back in it shortly)?, take lunch or go out to eat?, talk to the person in the cubicle next to ours – or ignore? Watch TV or go to the gym? Change jobs to explore a new opportunity or stick with where I’m at because I’ve still got something to contribute and “get done” before I leave for my next career move? Wow – kinda wears one out when you stop to think about it. Our lives are a second by second adventure laced with opportunities known as decisions. As our daughters grew up learning, it’s really about choices and consequences – sometimes we make good decisions and sometimes they aren’t so hot and don’t work out so well. Regardless, we have to make them or we will be frozen and unable to function . . . we can attest to the fact that we’ve made good and bad on all the aforementioned fronts – but are still alive and making the most of the short-term situation called life – so, if you have a tough decision to make – make it, move on and don’t look back . . . chances are if you think you lost out on something by your decision, you actually grew from it and will be better off in the long run.
So now, take a deep breath and decide or not decide to read on and see what we chose to blog about tonight. Hmmmm, red or white – dry or sweet – Cab or Zin . . . see, these are the daily perils we face – so tonight the lucky winner is . . . Concannon Conservancy 2010 Crimson & Clover. Nope we aren’t going to break into song, but we just might jump and shout. This is really a nice little wine for the price – another one of our great finds from HEB. For under $12, we were glad this little gem snuck into our basket – still not too sure who made the decision, but – – – it was a good one! Straight from the Livermore Valley in CA – which is located on the eastern edge of California’s San Francisco Bay Area – this wine treated our noses to aromas of nutmeg and mocha – kind of like coffee and hot cocoa all rolled into one. Next stop – fruitsville – what a great combination of cherry and blackberry topped off with a pinch of plum – warm and inviting on the palate. The loooooong smooth finish of vanilla and oak is what really won us over – this one will be on the “do over” list when Day 365 finally arrives.
As we wrap up – here’s a toast to Louisville for bringing home the NCAA Men’s trophy. . . it was an outstanding game – however, we have to say – – GO BIG BLUE . . . Kristy, this one’s for you – can’t wait to wait the ladies tomorrow night! Could Louisville bring home both trophies? The scene is set and the die is cast. . .let’s see how the baskets fall!!
While you root for your team, remember to enjoy responsibly and recycle whenever possible.