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Delaplane Cellars

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Delaplane Cellars.  Virginia, September 2015.

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Old House Vineyards

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Culpeper, Virginia.  July 2015.

Welcome summer!

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My current ambition for the summer is to spend as much time as possible enjoying the warm weather with a glass of rose and a little cheese.  I’m just as happy to pick out something simple for us to share, as I am throwing together an assorted cheese platter to enjoy with friends.  What are your favorite summer treats?

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Beaujolais Nouveau Day Celebration

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There’s probably no holiday I look forward to more than Beaujolais Nouveau Day.  It’s my favorite excuse to gather all my friends for a night of cheap wine and expensive cheese, and this year’s celebration was one of the best.  All told, I think we managed to cram fourteen cheeses, eighteen wine bottles, and more than twenty friends into our tiny apartment.  It was a cozy, laughter-filled night, and I still feel so warm and fuzzy from spending a wonderful night with such good people.

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Drink up baby, stay up all night

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Yay for the weekend and upcoming holidays!  We’re kicking off the season of celebration tonight with our annual (day after) Beaujolais Nouveau Day party.  Cheap wine and lots of cheese are my idea of a perfect night, and I definitely look forward to this one all year long.  Here are a few photos from past celebrations.  While its a great night for cheap wine, I tend to get a little carried away with the cheeses.

  • Photos from last year’s Beaujolais Nouveau Party 2013
  • A selection of cheeses from our party in 2012
  • The first Beaujolais party back when I still had roommates back in 2009

Hope you have a great weekend!

EYE CANDY

Here are a few links to some awesome art and photography projects to get you through your Friday.

  • Stories of debt and identity told through photographs [The Debt Project]
  • Teen Ballerinas improv in NY [via Noisey]
  • Photos of starry skies set against familiar darkened cities [via Wired]
  • Just some lovely photos of a gooey Camembert [via David Lebovitz]

Rooftop picnic

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Summer’s not quite gone yet and on a recent lazy Saturday afternoon, we decided to take advantage of the remaining warm weather by having a romantic rooftop picnic.  I picked up baguettes, a bottle of rosé, and a couple of cheeses from on my way back from ballet class, and the Mister cut up ripe peaches and heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market.  We toted all of it up to our building’s roof deck, and spent a few hours picnicking and enjoying the breeze and the sunset, and a little quiet time together.

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When you and I were forever wild

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Dry Creek Valley

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Memories of a blazing hot summer day spent first touring the 115-year-old Lytton Springs estate of Ridge Vineyards, then retreating to a cool, private tasting room to enjoy local cheeses and some of Ridge’s best single-vineyard zinfandels.

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Wine and ride

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Sometimes one little planning oversight can derail your plans in the most wonderful of ways.  While we were in Sonoma, the Mister had put together a romantic day of biking from vineyard to vineyard, picking a few local gems that didn’t require reservations so we could linger if we felt like it or follow any detour that took our fancy.  Scribe Winery came highly recommended and we excitedly biked up their dusty gravel path, passing rows and rows of lush green vines.  When we approached the hostess, we were dismayed to learn that we’d misread the website: reservations were required and they were all booked up for the day.

We were out of breath from our ride, and I think the hostess took pity on us, offering a cool, generous pour of their Estate Reisling, and a Pendelton blanket to spread out in the grass and relax for a while.  We found a perfect shady spot on the hillside that looked out on the valley, and soon after the hostess sent over an icy carafe of water and a board of peaches, nuts, cheese, and olives.  As we sipped on the reisling, I looked at the Mister and proposed that we buy a bottle and stay on that hillside.  So for the next few hours we did just that.

It was cool and breezy in the shade, and it was a lovely change to get to know one good bottle of wine at it’s vineyard instead of a rushed sampling of five or six.  Partway through the bottle, I looked up and recognized an old friend from grad school, teaching her little daughter to roll down the hillside.  Laughing, we called out each others names and were so happy to get to meet the families we’d each built in the time since we’d last seen each other.

No amount of planning could have led to a vineyard visit quite like this, and I’m hopeful that this sort of happy mistake finds me a little more often.

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Wanderings: Sonoma

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As a belated birthday treat, the Mister planned a long-weekend escape to the Sonoma Valley.  The weekend was hot and dry, the sort of weather that forces you to slow down, drink slowly, and find quiet, shady hillsides to enjoy a cool bottle of wine and each other.  Sonoma was heaven.  Just my pace and everything I felt I’d been missing.  This week, I’ll share a few of my favorite memories.

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It’s Friday, I’m in love

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After another lovely week spent in Monterey, we’re packing up our bags and heading north to Sonoma for a few days.  This is the first visit for both of us, so we are excited to explore the area.  Wine is definitely on the agenda, as well as a few bike rides and, hopefully, some amazing food.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Beaujolais Nouveau Party

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Last Friday, the Mister and I invited our good friends over to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day.  It’s our favorite excuse for a party and this is the fourth year that we’ve hosted.  Over the course of about six hours, we welcomed around twenty friends, shared fourteen bottles of beaujolais nouveau, and devoured ten kinds of cheese, two kinds of charcuterie, and one large block of pate.

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Beaujolais nouveau is a vin primeur, a wine meant to be drunk the same year it’s harvested.  It’s young and fruity, and in France many people have parties to celebrate it’s uncorking.  Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the first day of the year that the wine can be sold, is held on the third Thursday of November.  In years past, we’ve done the traditional Thursday celebration, but we finally admitted to ourselves that it was much too hard to drink so much wine and still make it into the office on Friday.  This year we decided Day-After-Beaujolais-Nouveau-Day was our thing.

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As you may have guessed, we are big fans of cheese and this party has always been the perfect excuse to buy a dozen different kinds.  I typically buy a couple of interesting looking blues for the Mister, then fill the rest of my cart with a variety of soft cheeses, the riper and oozier, the better.  We also like to have a selection of cured meats and a sizable block of pate.  I like to garnish the platters with lots of things to nibble on like marcona almonds, caramelized walnuts, grapes, pomegranate seeds, and melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolates.

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The other great thing about this party is that it typically falls the week before Thanksgiving.  Neither we, nor most of our friends grew up in this city, and over the holidays everyone is so busy traveling to visit family and trying to wrap up the year’s work, that it can be hard to find time to see each other.  Beaujolais Nouveau has always given us a chance to get together–admittedly over lots of cheap wine and expensive cheese–before we scatter across the country until after the new year.  It was so wonderful to spend time with them all, and we even managed to set tentative plans for a few dinner parties in the new year!

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and good night!

…and good night!

Its’ Friday, I’m in love

Saturday morning with surprise market raspberries

Saturday morning with surprise market raspberries

Tonight we are hosting our fourth Beaujolais Nouveau happy hour at our apartment.  For us, its always been a fun excuse to get our friends together over cheap wine and a lot of good cheeses.  Beaujolais Nouveau Day technically falls on the third Thursday of November–which was yesterday–but after several years of having a bit too much wine on Thursday night and then having to get through work on Friday, we decided it was time to celebrate The Day After Beaujolais Nouveau Day.

Next week I’ll talk more about the party, but for now here are a few photos from the last week.  Hope you have a great weekend!

Cute new pajamas from the J. Crew Factory sale!

Cute new pajamas from the J. Crew Factory sale!

Throwing together weeknight dinner

Throwing together weeknight dinner

Pretty, if not edible

Pretty, if not edible

The end of a particularly tough day

The end of a particularly tough day

Wanderings: Kentucky Bourbon Trail

At Jim Beam

At Jim Beam

As I mentioned yesterday, the Mister is a bourbon man.  Years ago, when we were first dating, he asked me to go away with him for a long weekend to explore the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  I wasn’t much of a bourbon drinker, but I love going anywhere new and Kentucky sounded like as good as any place.

Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve

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Maker's Mark

Maker’s Mark

It was breezy and overcast, and as we drove along winding gravel roads and grassy green hills, the countryside felt moody and romantic.  We spent that Saturday hopping from distillery to distillery, learning about bourbon making and sampling batches.  Most of the distilleries are closed on Sunday, so we spent that day exploring Kentucky wine country, which was amazingly fun.  My favorite winery had a tasting menu with 23 wines and for just $3 you got to try them all(!) and keep the glass.

Sampling the mash at Maker's

Sampling the mash at Maker’s

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Sealing his own bottle at Maker's

Sealing his own bottle at Maker’s

Wild Turkey store house

Wild Turkey store house

Corn and rye at Woodford Reserve

Corn and rye at Woodford Reserve

Wild Turkey distillery

Wild Turkey distillery

When we weren’t sampling Kentucky wines and bourbons, we indulged in amazing barbeque for lunch, and went for dinner at a restaurant in Louisville that was attached to an art gallery.

Kentucky BBQ

Kentucky BBQ

Dinner out in Louisville

Dinner out in Louisville

We rented rooms in a couple of little B&Bs in Bardstown, Kentucky.  My favorite was Springhill Plantation and Winery.  The rooms were beautiful, the wine was plentiful, and we really enjoyed having breakfast with the owner, who entertained us with Civil War and ghost stories about the area over spicy grits and coffee.  In our downtime it was lovely to wander around vineyards and act like the goopy young lovebirds we were.

If I’m being honest, I can’t say I had the highest expectations for this trip, figuring at the least it would be a few days off of work and some quality time with my guy.  To my surprise, it turned out to be an incredibly fun time, and we both loved how unpretentious and friendly everyone was.  We chatted with bourbon makers, vintners, and plantation owners just as easily as fellow travelers and bar tenders.  Of all the domestic trips I’ve taken, this is probably the one I recommend most often, at least to friends who have any interest in bourbon.

Springhill Winery and B&B

Springhill Winery and B&B

Wandering the vineyards.  Who wouldn't fall in love with this guy?

Wandering the vineyards. Who wouldn’t fall in love with this guy?

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