RSS Feed

Tag Archives: VA wine

They Say It’s My Birthday

Or at least it was, yesterday.

fandf and Bday 061

My better half even remembered to get the card, the flowers and a tiny box (just the right size, 6 truffles) of chocolates. He is pretty good about remembering dates, and almost as good at getting the little things that make it special.

Sixty three years old. I have to admit, I think there is some truth to how quickly the years seem to pass as you get older. I am amazed at how fast I feel that 2015 went by.

We have lived in this house almost 11 years. I realized it is the second longest time I spent at one address, in my entire life. The 23 years in our Columbia townhouse is significant. I wonder if I will spend 12 more years here, until I am 75. Who knows? It certainly is peaceful and lovely out here.

I grew up a city girl. Twenty two years. Then, 30 years in suburban Columbia. Commuting elsewhere after the first year of living there. Eleven years now a rural route resident.  Almost half that time as a retiree.

Reflections of why we did what we did in life. And speculation about what we want to do in the future. Those things always seem to come up on birthdays and anniversaries.

A few highlights of our dinner and evening.

fandf and Bday 028

A very simple appetizer. Homemade bagel crisps (easy, just thinly slice a Wegmans plain bagel, then toast it). Served with Firefly Farms chevre and housemade smoked salmon from Bardines Smokehouse in western PA. The smoked salmon was picked up on one of our day trips. To Petrolia PA to buy some tower accessories for my husband. He gets to go look for radio stuff. I get to stop at someplace to indulge my locavore and small business habit.

We were actually there looking for fresh kielbasa. Theirs is award winning and we have to compare it to the homegrown style in my husband’s PA birthplace. It’s good. It’s close, but not as garlicky as what his hometown favorite is. For us, we have to have that homemade kielbo for New Year’s.

I can’t let the opportunity pass to say something about this wine. It is a six year old Chardonnay from my favorite VA winery, Linden. If you closed your eyes, or covered the bottle, you would not know it to be a VA wine. It tastes just like a good white Burgundy. Not premier cru, but up there. A perfect mate for the tartness of the chevre and the richness of the smoked salmon.

Dinner, too, was fairly simple, yet elegant. I put beef short ribs over a bed of white beans, onions, Brussels sprouts and mushroom gravy. Slow cooked it for six hours in the oven.

fandf and Bday 055

Not the best light for pictures. I served lightly glazed carrots with the beef. A yellow one, a white one and an orange one. CSA carrots come in all the colors of the rainbow around here. I am working my way through that full root vegetable drawer since the end of the fall CSA. Good thing carrots last a long time.

The splurge for my birthday dinner. The 2012 RdV Rendezvous. Just released in October. Quite an austere wine. In the manner of a Bordeaux, it does best when paired with food. The beef short ribs did OK as a match. This wine needs a few more years to mellow. Still, it’s a lovely balanced wine. Who would guess it’s from Delaplane Virginia.

fandf and Bday 037

We finished this wine later in the evening with one of those truffles, while watching the Kennedy Center Honors. As for the Linden, here’s hoping the half we didn’t drink survived a night in the fridge. That’s the thing about older wines. They don’t tend to hang in there for the next day.

This birthday, like many of ours, was spent here at home. Leisurely. Relaxed. Full of great food and wine. Easy to make dishes. I really enjoy putting together a make ahead meal, and spending time just having uninterrupted conversations with my better half. While also enjoying locally produced beef, vegetables and wine. Not a bad way to turn 63.

 

Sixty Five Years Young

Yesterday. My better half’s very significant birthday. Normally, I cook. We open a special bottle of wine and have a leisurely dinner at home.

This year, we celebrated in a bigger way. With a dinner at Bistro Blanc.

fandf and bday 013

Paired with wines from our cellar, and a few from our friend, Raj Kathuria, who has always made Bistro Blanc a favorite place for us to dine. We had friends from radio, and friends from wine dinners join us. “Marrying” his two favorite hobbies.

Chef Diego met with me last week to put together a menu. Using many local items. Very small plates. Paced so we could talk and laugh and enjoy the company. I only took the phone out to record the very last course. The small treats finishing the meal.

FullSizeRender_1

Peanut butter and vanilla macarons, and bourbon toffee bonbons. The dessert courses were accompanied by one of our very old bottles of vintage port.

fandf and bday 015

From the year we were married. Bought decades ago at Wells Liquor in Baltimore, from the liquidation of the wine cellar of the Brentwood Inn. On very special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays, we have opened four of the six bottles we splurged on in the early 1980s. Back when we started putting wines under the steps in our town house basement. Most of what is here now is local. Good stuff from Linden, Black Ankle, RdV, Glen Manor, Barboursville and more.

This was the first time I ever put together a private dinner party. Bistro Blanc did an incredible job. We used the private dining area that holds up to sixteen people. We have been in that room a number of times for their wine dinners.

Thanks to all our friends for the pleasure of their company and for the thoughtful gifts and cards given to my husband. It was a memorable birthday in so many ways. Now, he just has to finish signing up for Medicare. Does that make us officially “old”?

The Thanksgiving Wine Decisions

From the local perspective.

I always try to serve local wines with our Thanksgiving meal. Since I go to the trouble of getting a local fresh turkey, and I have local organic CSA vegetables around here, I like to make the whole meal local. Sort of like those original Pilgrim meals. Food from near where you live.

I will be picking up my turkey at Maple Lawn this year. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I feel like being part of that tradition, or really, just maybe I want to get a few other items to put into the freezer for later this winter.

As for the wine selection, I am slightly changing my candidates this year.

tgiving wine 008

I am leaning towards serving the Ankida Ridge Pinot Noir. We have yet to make it down south of Charlottesville to visit this winery, but we have bought their wines at Early Mountain, north of Charlottesville. I will probably take the Linden to my brother’s house, as it is light and refreshing.

I considered that dry Petit Manseng.

For red wine drinkers, the Big Cork reds aren’t that heavy yet, as they still have younger vines. Their Cabernet Franc is light enough to match with turkey.

Big Cork is a Maryland winery. Another good local Maryland winery to pick from, is Old Westminster.

old westminster

They are one of the closest wineries to our home. They make some lovely wines, like their white blends. You can buy them at the Wine Bin in Ellicott City.

No matter what you choose, pick one or two local wines to serve. Make it a real Maryland Thanksgiving.

Scapes Season

Posted on

It has arrived. Garlic scape season.

beef stir fry 010

That first bunch of scapes in the CSA box from Lancaster Farm Fresh. Time to head over to the recipe page and start browsing.

It was a great transition box this week.

csa june9 010

Strawberries and rhubarb in the fruit share. Spring onions. Baby fennel. Greens. Beets. Cilantro and mint.

The meat share.

csa june9 004

Beef stir fry. Pork links. Boneless pork chops.

Tonight I was just in the mood for a stir fry. Using quite a bit of the box, and one of those precious scapes.

beef stir fry 015

Scapes, scallions and chard stems. In the wok with some light olive oil and toasted sesame oil. Fresh ginger.

beef stir fry 023

Add beef, soy sauce, straw mushrooms and curly kale.

beef stir fry 027

Served over brown rice. With a very lovely Linden Rose.

Get yourself to the local farmers markets and see if Love Dove Farms has their usual supply of scapes. So many ways to make them. Not just in pesto.

A short season, but a flavorful one.

Words of Wisdom

Posted on

Sometimes it’s the simplest advice that means the most. Like how gardening can be the trial run for someone who wants to open a winery.

IMG_1860

We were sitting on the deck at our favorite winery, Linden, looking at the incredibly scenic view while enjoying a glass, some cheese and a baguette. When we first arrived, we watched the owner/winemaker Jim Law head off on his zero turn to cut some of the paths through the vineyards. He has always maintained that he is a farmer first and foremost. Growing grapes.

Of course, from those grapes comes great wine. He is a master. One we have known for 25 years now. He always stops by to talk if we are visiting. We like to talk about his old wines. Like the 2005 Cabernet Franc we opened for dinner last week.

He and I like to talk about growing stuff. Me, my garden. Him, his grapes.

He made a comment Saturday about what he tells those who think it would be great to start a vineyard. He asks if they garden. For those of us who do, we understand. Gardening is hard. We have pests. The weather drives us nuts. The weeds. The bugs. The heat and humidity. Lack of rain. Too much rain.

If you have gardened, you get it.

Growing things isn’t always easy. Making great wine, like Jim does, takes that extra effort of understanding your climate and living with it.

His vineyards look awesome right now.

linden and random shots 038

He gave me great advice once for my gardening. I grow heirloom tomatoes. He told me. If it rains too much, don’t weed. Let the weeds soak up all that extra moisture that would otherwise water down your tomatoes.

If there’s a drought, definitely weed like mad. The secret to a great heirloom tomato is very similar to the secret to great wine. Concentrated flavors, not watered down, make the taste.

Here’s to making the best we can. And to great friends. And great wine.

The 4F Club

Posted on

Friends. Farms. Families. Foraging. The theme for today’s post. Much of today centered around these words. Like foraging.

friends farms family forage 012

Those wild asparagus that live out by my driveway. I harvested five of them so far this week. Just enough to add to dinner. Which began from my Friends and Farms basket.

extreme weather and csa apr28 035

There was a very nice brisket in the basket. As well as some Baby Bella mushrooms. Both showed up in dinner. We did slow cook the brisket on Thursday, but the leftovers became dinner tonight.

As for families. Part of the dinner came from Jennys. Subject of yesterday’s post. New red potatoes. Snap peas.

Part of dinner came from my garden.

friends farms family forage 003

The first spring onions.

friends farms family forage 049

A little sauté. Then an addition of sour cream. The leftover brisket.

friends farms family forage 054

All served with a Friends and Family wine from RdV Vineyards.

friends farms family forage 055

You could call it Beef Stroganoff from another mother. Since it really didn’t follow any Stroganoff recipe.

friends farms family forage 071

It still tasted great, even without the pedigree.

Loving these days with all the markets, farms and my garden kicking into high gear.

A Touch of Whimsy …

Posted on

… surrounded by attention to detail, and the hills of the Maryland mountains. Big Cork Winery opened their tasting room yesterday the 31st of January.

On Main Street in Rohrersville, located in Washington County MD. About halfway between Frederick MD and Harper’s Ferry WV.

We headed there yesterday morning to see the new facility. I have poured wine for Big Cork at the Wine in the Woods, and we have been loving their Chardonnay for the past few years.

The winery is gorgeous. Big, bright with tons of outdoor space (for when it isn’t 20 degrees out there). The landscaping will be done in the spring. In the meantime, the indoor spaces are bright, inviting and carry that touch of whimsy in their art work, chandeliers and décor. Like the wall of “roses”.

big cork 020

This is in the area where you can sit and enjoy a nice food pairing for wines purchased by the glass or bottle.

big cork 014

We sat there after doing a tasting at the bar, and shared some flatbread and bruschetta while sipping the newest Chardonnay.

The bar was hopping.

big cork 011

We ran into many friends there. Bruce and Sylvia came up for the celebration. They worked with Dave Collins, the winemaker, when he made wine at Breaux Vineyards in VA.

big cork 004

We had a chance to chat with Dave, as he seemed to be everywhere, greeting those who are happy to see the new winery up and running.

big cork 007

Currently, Big Cork makes eleven wines. The whites, all grown on the property. The reds. Not ready yet, so the current releases were made from bought grapes.

big cork 008

This year’s Cabernet Franc was my favorite red. The Chardonnay, our favorite white. Although I was impressed with the Sauvignon Blanc, which has potential.

We will be stopping here often on day trips. They are also conveniently located south of Middletown, just a hop, skip and jump from South Mountain Creamery. Where we find that awesome ice cream.

big cork 036

That terrace will be a popular spot when the weather warms up.