Taking Back My Twenties

Posts Tagged "Wine"

Sonoma Photo Dump

Posted on Sep 4, 2014 | 3 comments

Hello!

How is it Thursday again? The work weeks are already flying by! We had our open house tonight – lots of nervous parents and lots of questions. And man, people sure dress to the nines for open houses these days:)

IMG_5985.JPG

But on to the fun stuff. We were lucky enough to get to spend Labor Day weekend in wine country. My sister and I have been planning this trip for well over a year – I can’t believe it’s come and gone already. Kath and her husband are Sonoma experts, so we were glad to have them show us the ropes!

IMG_5987.JPG

We rented a wonderful little house near the Sonoma Square, complete with a backyard and hot tub. I wish we had been able to spend more time grilling in the chilly (!) temperatures, but it was a short trip and were busy tasting pinots and zins!

IMG_5982.JPG

On our first day, we headed straight from the airport to Sausalito for lunch. The bay breeze were soo incredible – I miss water when I’m in Dallas. Then we ventured on to Lagunitas for beer! What a cool spot. I ordered a kombucha since I was the DD for the day, but I had a few sips of IPA.]

IMG_5989.jpg IMG_5992.jpg

For dinner, we walked to the famous Girl and the Fig, where I had a lovely fig bourbon drink. We shared a cheese plate, and Matt and I ordered pork belly and quail.

IMG_5993.JPG

I didn’t snag pictures of our dessert and port, but everything was wonderful.

IMG_5994.JPG

Our second day was spent in the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys with a picnic mid-day.

IMG_5996.JPG

Chalk Hill was one of my favorite wineries of the trip!

IMG_5995.JPG

IMG_6000.jpg IMG_5999.jpg

IMG_6009.JPG

We made our way to Healdsburg and ended at the La Crema tasting room – another favorite in terms of wine!

IMG_6011.JPG

We killed some time shopping for dessert and walking around the square and then landed at Chalkboard for dinner. Oh my goodness – this was amazing.

IMG_6016.JPG

I think we ordered 10 small plates?

IMG_6019.jpg

Highlights were the pork belly cheddar biscuits, the beef sliders topped with short rib, and the crab tater tots.

IMG_6017.JPG

Saturday was a big day because we did a wine tour – I would highly recommend Dean from Woody’s Wine Tours!

IMG_6022.jpg
IMG_6025.jpg
The highlight of the day was definitely a lunch at the owner of Montemaggiore’s home!!! When Dean told us he’d be arranging for lunch at a winery, I had no idea it would be a private tasting with incredible views in someone’s home. Boy, were we spoiled!!
IMG_6028.JPG
IMG_6029.JPG

IMG_6030.JPG
IMG_6037.jpg

IMG_6038.JPG
At the end of the day, we ventured to a pub for a casual dinner.
We were a little tired of drinking by Sunday, so we took it easy and just visited two wineries before retiring to the house! William Hill over in Napa and was another favorite because of the views!

IMG_6044.JPG
IMG_6043.jpg
IMG_6045.JPG
We had one last dinner in the town of Sonoma at La Salette. It was Portuguese and the food was delicious! I had a stuffed pork tenderloin paired with a Sonoma red!!
IMG_6057.JPG
We bought ten bottles of wine while we were there and I can’t wait to drink them over the next few years and think of this special vacation!

IMG_6042.JPG
It was the trip of a lifetime and I am so thankful that we were all able to go together. And a very special thank you to my parents who took care of little Mazen (my nephew) so that we could make it happen!

Read More

Turkish Delights

Posted on Jul 9, 2014 | 5 comments

The food in Turkey was ridiculously good. And oh so fresh!

IMG_5599.JPG

There were markets with beautiful fruit. I had sooo many cherries at breakfast every morning. Given that we were near the water, there was also wonderful local seafood and we enjoyed seabass 4-5 times during the trip.

IMG_5598.JPG

The Turks start their meals with mezes, small dishes or snacks that are usually served cold. I was obsessed! The only problem was that we would often order a couple and eat them with lots of bread, and then be too full for our entrees:)

IMG_5771.JPG

Another dish I was in love with was warm hummus served with hot pastrami. I could eat this for days.

IMG_5791.JPG

For snacks, we would sometimes stop by one of the many juice stands for freshly squeezed juice,

IMG_5561.JPG

or duck into a spice store for giant medjool dates.

IMG_5521.JPG

And the bakeries, oh the bakeries, were delightful, and on every corner. Matt and I made it our goal to try all the varieties of baklava and would search for the best-looking bakery after dinner each night.

IMG_5507.JPG

IMG_5623.JPG

Waffles stuffed with toppings were also a thing over there. Although it doesn’t look as delicious as it tasted, this soft waffle was filled with dark chocolate, caramel, bananas, strawberries, and sprinkles; it was to-die-for.

IMG_5647.JPG

I drank lots of Turkish wine. Although most food in Turkey was less expensive than in the US, the alcohol was pricey. I stuck to local Turkish wine and beer, because cocktails were $15-$20! The Turkish reds weren’t too flavorful (although we had one or two good ones), but the roses and the whites were great. I’m not usually a rose girl, but I got into them on this trip. Side note: the bar below is called Mikla and had the most incredible views of the city. You MUST go for a drink if you are ever in Istanbul!

IMG_5612.JPG

The local beer, Efes, came in a dark variety that both Matt and I loved.

IMG_5659.JPG

We had many wonderful meals, and I obviously didn’t document all of them, but here are a few highlights:

IMG_5789.JPG

Meze by Lemon Tree (above). I choose this for our last night of the trip (we were back in Istanbul) because the menu is mostly modern mezes. We ordered 6 cold ones and 3 hot ones and every dish was incredible. It was phenomenal.

IMG_5639.JPG

Another great restaurant was Banyan in Ortakoy. Although this restaurant was Asian fusion and not Turkish, it had the most beautiful view of the water and I had to share the caramelized sea bass and quinoa shredded salad picture because it was probably the best salad I’ve ever had!

IMG_5636.JPG

Lastly, we had a really nice meal on our first night at a modern Turkish restaurant called Lokanta Maya

IMG_5513.JPG

Above are shredded wheat balls stuffed with feta and honey and below, fried zucchini.

IMG_5510.JPG

IMG_5515.JPG

We also had fresh clams and more seabass!

IMG_5516.JPG

I think the Turkish food was my favorite part of the trip! After avoiding dairy for most of this year, the feta and yogurt tasted extra heavenly. Aside from being uncomfortably full some nights, I didn’t have any issues with bloating. I was religious about taking my probiotics while traveling, and I think they are making all the difference (either that or I’m just not stressed about finding a job anymore:) Anyway, I’m just so thankful that I was able to enjoy all the Turkish food and still feel pretty good!

I’ll share some pictures from Bodrum and Matt’s 30th next!

Read More

BBQ Birthday and San Salvaje

Posted on May 19, 2014 | 1 comment

Happiest of Mondays to you guys!

We did a whole lotta nothing on Friday and Sunday so that we could go all out on Saturday! For the first time in a while, we didn’t even put any effort in Friday dinner – we just had leftovers and went to bed.

IMG_5277.JPG

Saturday, we drove out to the burbs to celebrate the adorable Rosco – he turned one! Time is flying – I can’t imagine how fast it moves when you’re a parent!

IMG_5281.JPG

You’re telling me this whole cupcake is just for me?
IMG_5283.JPG
We enjoyed a lovely bbq buffet, adult beverages, and Texas breezes out on the patio. It was great to catch up with a bunch of friends who all moved to Dallas after Duke!
IMG_5290.JPG
We got home just in time to change clothes and walk downtown to try San Salvaje – the new Stephen Pyles restaurant!. I was pumped to try it because it’s South American fusion and reasonable priced for downtown Dallas. I somehow snagged a reservation before it had even opened last week. We arrived a little early and tried a flight of pisco from Chile and Peru at the bar. All three were slightly sweet, but sooo strong! We made it through half of each glass and then I added a few drops of agave and some lime to turn these into mini pisco sours. I guess I’m a wimp:)

IMG_5294.JPG

I was so excited to see the wine list because they had many bottles for $25-$32!! I love this restaurant just for that! We splurged for this bottle of malbec and it was wonderful!

IMG_5305.JPG

We skipped the entree and just ordered a few small plates. Less is more these days.

IMG_5301.JPG

This is the pork belly tacu tacu (lentil cake) with fig compote. It was absolutely perfect and the pork just melted in my mouth.

IMG_5309.JPG

Next, the lobster sweet corn tamale with fried avocado – also fabulous.

IMG_5316.JPG

The duck tacos were probably my favorite and they came with two salsas, cilantro, and a little tower of limes for seasoning!

IMG_5320.JPG

Last of the small plates was the crab arepa.

IMG_5317.JPG

The waiter talked us into desserts too, which were incredible: the sweet banana tamale (holy moly, so good),

IMG_5331.JPG

the sweet potato donuts!!!

IMG_5335.JPG

I was already completely in love with San Salvaje and then Chef Pyles stopped by our table to chat!! He’s been traveling to South America for years and created the restaurant based on his experiences. We’re hoping to plan a trip down there in the near future and got his recommendations for cities. He was so sweet and even went into the back to look up some names of restaurants in his notes and came back to share them with us later. He was down-to-earth and friendly, and now I’m an even bigger fan:)

Have a good week.

Read More

Beauty & The Beast with ScoreBig

Posted on Apr 24, 2014 | 1 comment

Gosh I love Dallas. Now that the weather is warm, I’ve been taking more walks and soaking in the sunshine. Last night, I had the opportunity to walk downtown to see Beauty and the Beast!

IMG_20140403_162900.jpg

ScoreBig contacted me about trying their website to buy tickets to an event and provided me with $100 towards the tickets. Woohoo! If you aren’t familiar with ScoreBig, the site offers tickets for sports, concerts, theater, Broadway, family shows, and attractions. I found the website really easy to use – I typed in my location and all the available tickets popped up! In Dallas, it looked like most of the tickets were for sports. There were tickets for shows and concerts, but the dates were pretty limited. However, it seems like the availability can change quickly, and you can set up alerts so that you are notified as soon as tickets become available. Anyway, I picked Beauty and the Beast because it’s a classic, but also because I’ve been wanting to check out the AT&T Performing Arts Center downtown.

IMG_20140424_153414.jpg

Once I picked my event, I had a couple of options for tickets, based on seating. There were 2-star, 3-star, and 4-star seating options and each had a list price. I originally wanted to buy 2-star tickets, but by the time I got around to purchasing them, they were sold out! I went with the 3-star seating, which had a list price of $100 per ticket. Now, the cool part – I got to make an offer on the tickets based on what I wanted to spend! By choosing a seating area rather than an exact seat, the ticket providers can offer better deals (if you buy multiple tickets, the seats will be together). Once you type in your offer, there’s a little indicator that tells you the likelihood of your offer being accepted. I offered $55 for each ticket, and found out instantly that my offer was rejected:( BUT, on that same screen, I had the opportunity to buy the tickets for $64, so I did! The nice thing about the pricing is that there’s no fees and free delivery is included, so I didn’t have to pay any service fees after that. I entered payment information and got an email confirmation indicating that my tickets would be at will call. Pretty simple!

IMG_20140424_153349.jpg
I thought $64 was a fair price for a musical, given the list price. I must say though, after I saw how empty the theater was, I’m not sure I got that great of a deal. I think I’ll definitely browse the site in the future though, because I bet the 2-star tickets (list price $50) would have been more reasonable and the seats almost as good. The seats were up pretty high in the balcony, but were in the first row.
IMG_20140424_153249.jpg
As for the show, it was awesome!! I had forgotten how good of a story it is! And I knew all the music so well that I just wanted to break out into song and dance with the actors.
IMG_20140423_213020.jpg
I sipped wine too, which was fun. I’ve been 21 for a while now, but for some reason I’ve only gotten a drink at the theater once or twice before!
Thanks to ScoreBig for the tickets! Definitely check it out the next time you’re in the mood for entertainment but don’t want to pay full price!
Happy weekend eve.
Read More

East Coast Easter

Posted on Apr 21, 2014 | 10 comments

I got to spend Easter with the family! I headed to my sister’s house in Charlottesville, VA, and both my parents and Matt’s parents came from their states to join us!

IMG_5098.JPG

No visit with my brother-in-law is complete without a beer tasting! Kanz brews his own beer and is always interested in feedback/discussion. We kicked off the weekend by comparing two different years of barleywine with the Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine. All were delicious!

IMG_5099.JPG

My mom and dad are pretty incredible grandparents to little Mazen and offered to take over the parenting responsibilities so the four of us could enjoy dinner on the town.

IMG_5102.JPG

We walked to Bang! on the Charlottesville mall – it felt freezing to my Texas blood and I wore a wool coat and scarf:)

IMG_5105.JPG

We sat at the bar while we waited for a table – I sipped on a cocktail made with bourbon and lemongrass simple syrup – delicious!

IMG_5111.JPG

I think we ordered nine small plates for the four of us. I won’t bore you with descriptions of all of them, but my absolute favorites were the pork spring rolls,

IMG_5116.JPG

the Thai beef with soba noodles, bok choy, and cilantro sauce,

IMG_5121.JPG

the sesame tuna,

IMG_5126.JPG

and the tempura haricot vert!

IMG_5125.JPG

On Saturday, I went to a crazy athletic conditioning class with my sister – it was hard, but pretty similar to my regular Saturday morning class, and I felt incredible afterwards!

IMG_5128.JPG

Matt, my parents, and I headed out to the countryside for some wine tasting mid-morning. I think we all have our eyes closed in this picture. We met Matt’s parents at Barboursville and enjoyed tasting some great Virginia wines.

IMG_5131.JPG

And a picnic!

IMG_5129.JPG

Great Harvest sandwiches, crab chips from Maryland, and a dry riesling made for the perfect lunch.

IMG_5130.JPG

IMG_5145.JPG

Saturday afternoon, we all retired to my sister’s giant yard for bocce ball and conversation.

IMG_5137.JPG

Our hosts cooked an awesome spread of pulled pork, beet salad, mushroom and pea risotto, and Virginia rolls fresh from the bakery!

IMG_5146.JPG

But some of us were most excited for dessert!

IMG_5155.JPG

Cupcakes, peanut butter fudge, and chocolate truffles rounded out Easter dinner, and I went to bed stuffed.

IMG_5160.JPG

We all gathered on Sunday morning for brunch, and then it was back to the airport to start the long trip home:(

Foodblog-6508.jpg

Hope yall got to relax this weekend too, if you celebrate the holiday. It’s always sad saying goodbye, but there’s lots going on here this week! Positive vibes are always welcome if you want to send them my way:)

Read More