New Friends

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A lot of time has passed since I’ve considered blogging in this space. As a blog geared towards gluttony of all sorts, I fell short in months past.

A lot of reasons overlap but after I left California, I fell into depression and didn’t want to talk about it. Months of missing friends and being hard on my body took its tole. Financial troubles emerged from not having a consistent job for 6 months so there were few moments spent fine dining or even mediocre dining outside of the house.

I just stayed home; pouted, cried and wallowed, except during the once a week opportunity I got to work at a craft beer boutique. All blessings to that owner and his concern for me.

Months passed existing this way before a fateful run would position me where I am today. All blessings to me for listening to my little voice, jogging just a little further and allowing a former wine colleague to catch up with me, share opportunity and land a wine and beer buying position.

New job. Though it’s not so new anymore and that makes me feel accomplished.

New friends have emerged. Little beacons of light that kept me going. Old friends have stayed. I’m so happy you guys stayed. And my little ray of sunshine has come into the world and explodes my heart with each little gaze of his puppy dog eyes.

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The long and short of it is, I’m back.

City Girl in the Country

This video reveals the possible source of my current unfortunate state. I have uber gnarly rashes on my hands and I haven’t a clue where they’ve come from.

Ex

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I’m too exhausted to say anything today.

Travel: Crush Pad

Documenting little life lessons I learn from busting my ass daily for 12+ hours a day:

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Everyday for the next few weeks grapes from the field will roll down a conveyor belt at medium speed. They will be wet with juice, soil, insects, water; they will be big and plump, raisined, sunburned, unripe and molded.

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And I will have to grab them. The bad ones, the unripened, the sunburned, the botrytis shriveled, the bird eaten and broken grapes that won’t make good wine. And in those moments, nothing else will matter. Never has it been so clear to me that nothing matters more than what is happening right now. I don’t know if in a few hours the next half ton bin will be leafless and gleaming or botrytis ridden. I don’t know if the grapes that made the cut will make good wine in the future or wine that has so much acidity you could sanitize your dishes with it. I don’t know if Mayweather will lose to the “other guy” tomorrow. I just know that right now, in this moment, my eyes must be glued and my attention on high alert for as long as it takes to get the job done, to see what I want and intend to make happen. And that is all that matters. What is happening right now.

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Travel: E.I.E.I.O.

37 hours and 9 states later, I am finally in California.

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Exhaustion gave way to severe aggravation and agitation: “why the fuck aren’t we there yet,” happened at hour 29 and my girlfriend was a sweet honey bear the whole way.

Between naps and complaining, we saw this:

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Texas

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New Mexico

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Arizona

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And a million miles later, California. Work today was rough but I am going to do my best to update in a timely fashion. 12 hour days of heavy labor make that challenging but certainly not impossible. Thanks for checking in, next I’m gonna show you what I do here.

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Travel: The Beginning of a Lifetime

i am coming to the conclusion that wine may be more than a love affair, or perhaps it’s just that; a love affair. a place where i find myself overjoyed and overflowing with giggles and slanted realities and things that i can sense but that are not actually there (re: orange blossom and lime on the palette). my love affair is taking me away from Atlanta guys.

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i received word that i have been approved for an internship with legendary winemaker Paul Hobbs in Sebastopol, CA and i leave in a week! to say i am thrilled is an understatement and so is to say i’m terrified.

my coworkers say i’ll be too busy to be terrified but truthfully it’s not the work that scares me; it’s making sure my best is good enough, it’s not knowing what comes afterwards, it’s being away from my lady for nearly 3 months and primarily it’s being alone in a city of 7,000, all alone.

my current prayer: to learn from it. as a social butterfly i’m not used to being alone, i’m used to never having enough time in the day to see everyone i wanna see and who wants to see me. now, it’s just me and nature. i look forward to the stillness.

Cheat Day 101: Chicken

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A few blogs back I mentioned a Creative Loafing bucket list that consisted of 100 food items in Atlanta every Atlantan should try. My girlfriend is heading to New York for 10 days tomorrow so we decided today should be a cheat day. To make it count, we decided to have 3 different items from the list. No health today, all delight and delectability!

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Home Grown (Memorial Drive): Comfy Chicken Biscuit

Rating:

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Plate scrapingly good. The server was nice and kept the coffee cups filled. It takes a while to get your food but the place is packed. When you finally get your food it’s totally worth it. A big fluffy biscuit spilling over with creamy, thick sausage gravy and hunks of sausage topped with two crispy chunks of chicken breast. It’s juicy, easy to tear into and hard to put down. The pancakes are sweet and the maple syrup is hot. The eggs are TI-RED. Sleep on those, don’t even bother. The grits are actually creamy, unlike most they don’t need butter, milk, salt, nada. It’s a damn shame what they did to those eggs after making everything else so wonderful.

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They separate checks too. The main dish was only $10. The cashier was a douche. He’s probably pissed off because it’s hot and noisy and hard to hear. Not my problem. Skip along to Atlantic Station for shopping and it’s time for lunch. Antico is closed on Sundays. Who knew? So is Bocado. How rude! So Gio’s Amalfitano it is.

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Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano (Hemphill Ave.): Sorento Lemon Roast Chicken

I’ve had it before, a few times at work, and it’s delicious but never at the location. It’s Giovani’s chicken joint (the same guy who owns Antico). Portions are insane in this place. For about $17 you can feed two people half a chicken rubbed in olive oil, garlic, oregano and Sorento lemons with thickly sliced potato wedges and grilled flatbread. We ended it with a scoop of chocolate gelato.

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But we couldn’t stop there. The gelato was not one of the three and we had to have three things. So, we went to Delia’s chicken sausage stand and we ordered the red velvet milkshake…and some sliders with comeback sauce. The sauce can stay where it is, but the sausage is spicy and sweet and tasty. A decent $5 treat.

Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand: Red Velvet Milkshake

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As for these. So simple and such a dream. All they do is blend a red velvet cupcake with vanilla ice cream. It’s super thick with red velvet cake pieces in every spoonful, which you will need. It is nearly impossible to get this stuff through a straw without irritating your cheeks and lips. Might I suggest a tapioca straw. Back on lettuce tomorrow. I think we’ve had enough. Because the funny thing is, all I want right now is a glass of water and a grapefruit. Thank God we’ve decided to only oblige our taste buds once a month.

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Vegan Eating: Days 10 &11

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I’ve been a really bad vegan. No meat or cheese but carbs, yes carbs. I’ve been rationalizing it in my mind by saying I’m working out so I’m burning it off. And that’s probably partially true but not as true as I’ve made it in my mind. Breakfast, Thursday was interesting. We did it by the book and soaked dried apricots in soy milk. We added blueberries. It was good and then it was not good. I thought it would make us sick. It had a weird smell. But it tasted like a sweet cereal. I’d probably eat it again.

Lunch I had falafel from Alon’s. Strike one. Yes it’s hummus and tahini and all kinds of diced up onions, cucumbers and pickles and chickpea but the chickpea is fried and the pita bread is amazing. For some reason on this diet, we can have pita bread. I don’t know if you use eggs in pita bread, but you probably do, or at least they probably do at Alon’s.

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Dinner was the best dinner we’ve had since we started the diet. It was tofu chow mein. Diced onion, cabbage, mushrooms mung bean sprouts, tofu and snow peas. I marinated the tofu in sriracha, hoisin sauce and citrus soy sauce for about an hour before sautéing it in the pan with the veggies. It was spicy and healthy and delicious and will absolutely find it’s way into my regular meal plans. We paired it with a super floral Gewurtztraminer from Banyan. The residual sugar helped cool off the spice a great deal but next time I think I’ll opt for a more citrusy Riesling. The finish reminded me of swallowing a bottle of perfume.

Then my girlfriend brought eggless cake home. We split a piece. I have some potentially exciting news brewing so I rationalized that I deserved it and since it was eggless, I assumed it was okay.

Breakfast sucked yesterday. I cut up fresh pineapple and oranges. The pineapple was underripe. It also made the outside of my mouth itch for 9 straight hours. Ugh!

Lunch sucked too. I ordered guac from Taqueria cause that’s the only thing they make without meat. I ordered a side salad too; the regular leftover iceberg lettuce and tomatoes with some kind of strange spicy vinaigrette. My co-worker gave me a bit of rice. I blended it all together with tortilla chips and ate. Probably should have left the chips out of it.

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Dinner was awesome. We made bean burgers from the book. It calls for red beans, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, chili powder and ketchup. Bake it for hella long hours and eat. My girlfriend made acorn squash stuffed with garlic and olive oil quinoa and pistachios. DELICIOUS!!! I was impressed. Lol.

She wouldn’t let me have dessert though because we missed our workout. It was for the best.

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Vegan Eating: Days 8&9

I attempted to step on the scale this morning, Day #10 of the vegan diet. The battery is dead. Serves me right, it’s not Monday.
Anyway, these are meals from Wednesday and Thursday.

I neglected Wednesday because I absolutely hated my dinner.
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Dinner: White grape gazpacho from MetroFresh. It’s not that MetroFresh is bad or anything, I just did not want cold soup with celery and cucumbers and grapes and withered pecans. Does that sound delicious? Does that even look delicious? Heck no!  Should have been the marinade for a ceviche.

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Yesterday’s breakfast was fun and super easy. I made some adjustments, as I must to insure that my girlfriend will eat on this diet. Her palate does not play well with bland flavors.

Breakfast: blended frozen banana and almond milk smoothie topped with flaxseeds. I didn’t want them ground, (they didn’t call for ground) because they add a fun texture to the smoothie…a kind of crunch.

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I loved lunch but she HATED it. She returned lunch to me bludgeoned with a spoon. I felt bad. I knew mine was more edible because I got majority of the black bean dip.
Lunch: Raw veggies: carrots, red, yellow and orange peppers, broccoli, basil and pita bread. The bean dip was just a can of beans with a bit of juice from the can with chili powder, garlic and cumin blended together.

Like I said, I liked it. She was plenty pissy.

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I tried to make up for it with dinner.

Dinner: Lentil stew (lentils, celery, tomatoes, onions, seasonings), iceberg lettuce with red onion and tomato (I had pomegranate vinaigrette dressing and she had parmesan peppercorn) with garden veggie crackers and broiled and salted with garlic string beans with apple juice.

The juice was wrong, I admit. But damn’t I wanted it! I also had a small bag of Stacy’s Pita Chips. It was 130 calories. I ate it with blueberries as a mid day snack. It made me forgo any eating of the dark chocolate granola cereal I love so much. I am still alive.

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Vegan Eating: Days #6, #7 and #8

Life is messy and mine has been messy. And this is prime time for me to start eating crap. And I resisted, except two times. Once when I ate a bowl of the organic granola dark chocolate cereal I love with almond milk (which really wasn’t breaking the rules) and the other thing. I’ll explain once I get there. Nonetheless, between weight lifting and vegan eating, I have lost 12 lbs. since I started. Yes, crazy business.

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This salad is probably the best thing I’ve eaten on the diet. And I had it on the worst day of my weekend. I got it from the chicken place, Bantam and Biddy that celebrity chef Shaun Doty opened last year…or maybe earlier this year. Anyway, it was delicious. Spinach with lemon quinoa and apples with some sort of really “liquidy” kind of mustard dressing (maybe). I could have eaten a pound of it and I aim to figure out the recipe so I can make it at home regularly.

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The next day after the worst day ever, I hosted a small wine tasting/gathering at my house with a few fellow blossoming wine lovers. When I get my hands on some editing equipment, I fully intend to make a video…but right now, I don’t have any. :-/ Anyway…I dipped a carrot in some spinach artichoke cheese dip. And then I dipped a cracker. And then I stopped myself. I’m so proud. It was soooooo amazing. I needed to be stopped so I could rejoice the next day on losing 12 lbs.

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Monday, I was made to rise and shine in the afternoon (it is my off day after all) and head to the gym. I hadn’t eaten anything. Sour stomach from the weekends. Worst, most unenthusiastic workout ever. I’m sure I could have fainted about 4 different times. So we stopped at Arden’s Garden and I bought an “Un-fried” fried rice raw vegan concoction.

Concoction: cauliflower, peppers, carrots, sunflower seeds, peas and seasonings and the heaviest dose of chopped onions ever.  I love onions so it had to be heavy if I am referring to it that way. It did taste like fried rice, except it wasn’t fried and there was no rice or oil. It gave me terrible breath. Jokes were made. 😦

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Fast forward to Monday evening for date night and Yard House in Atlantic Station sounded like the best idea before checking out Fruitvale Station. Unfortunately it seems like all their healthy options are not healthy. I liked the hummus because it had pitted kalamata olives but the bread was tough.

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My date actually ate this asian inspired ahi tuna and cabbage with wonton salad in my face. I drooled; quietly.

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And well you see it. It would have been good had it not been oiled up in balsamic vinaigrette. It was unbelievably oversauced but the candied walnuts made me entire day. Breakfast today was lame. A chopped apple and lentils with garden veggie crackers for lunch and again for dinner. After today’s grocery shopping expedition I’ll be back to formulaic meals. (It was so awesome. We set a budget for $50/person and our bill was $100 even). Go us!

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