Category Archives: miscellaneous

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.

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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.

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: 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.

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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Food: Vegan Eating Day #5

I was very sleepy last night so I did not post my day’s meals in a timely fashion. Anyway, breakfast and lunch were repeats. *yawn* I’m ready for all the leftovers to be gone so I can start working on the second and third parts of this vegan eating diet. I have been mulling over whether or not to stay vegan for longer than 14 days, like until the end of the year or until I’m 150 lbs.

My girlfriend had to take the batteries out of the scale, as I had begun to obsessively weigh myself 2 or 3 times a day to see if I had lost any weight. Last time I checked, I had lost 4 lbs., which for some reason I have resolved isn’t enough. Lol. I might be a bit obsessive just maybe.

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Dinner was awesome. I rinsed a can of Goya black beans (since they’re soooo sodium heavy) and added key lime juice soaked corn, tomato and brown rice in a pot.  Heat.  Hot.  Diced avocado with coarse salt and two pieces of falafel from Alon’s and voila, a meal for two hungry carnivores.

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Food: Vegan Eating Day #4

Everybody say “Rewind.” A repeat offender has emerged back into the diet. We’re getting rid of all the leftovers for the next three days so several meals will be repeated. Exciting times.
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Today for breakfast, I added agave nectar. For some reason the oatmeal was very dry on its own. It’s probably because we used blueberries and bananas instead of raisins, which likely warm up from the heat of the oats and release bits of sugar.

Lunch was a repeat of yesterdays dinner, soup, salad and toast. And then my girlfriend invited me to Varasano’s Pizzeria to look at other people’s pizza. That was so nice of her. 🙂

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For dinner I used the last bushels of kale and soaked tofu in pineapple juice and baked it off. Onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, pineapples and pineapple juice all steamed in a pot. I actually enjoyed it. I don’t think my girlfriend enjoyed it. That made me a little sad. Today was weird. I’m not sure why but not being able to “eat my feelings,” is probably the best thing I could do to challenge my discipline and will power and figure out things more productively. Go figure.

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Food: Vegan Eating Day #3

My favorite cereal was on sale today ya’ll. It’s never on sale and it’s always overpriced, sorta. It’s the Cascadian Farms organic granola with dark chocolate and almonds. Whenever I buy it, I usually eat a box in a day…two days if I’m being “moderate.” I bought two boxes and put them at the top of the cabinet all the way in the back so they can only be reached by chair. I will probably buy two more boxes while they’re still on sale. Jesus Christ they’re so good. Anyway…vegan eating blah blah blah.

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Breakfast: Baked pears and golden raisins with cinnamon.

Breakfast was amazing this morning. It was like eating dessert. It was also the perfect amount of carbs to fuel an intense workout session today with our trainer. My poor triceps feel like overcooked noodles; limp and pitiful.

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Lunch: grapefruit and Australian oranges, pita stuffed with romaine, avocado, tomato and hummus. Avocado is mayonnaise from heaven without all the bad oils and eggs.

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Equally yummy but unfortunately rushed…I had to go to work. I ended up not having enough time to pack dinner so I grabbed some raisin coleslaw to take to work to snack on until my girlfriend brought me dinner…which didn’t happen because she had to take my mom to the grocery store. And so I went to the grocery store and bought bananas and natural GMO free peanut butter. I wanted to buy almond butter but that stuff is absurdly overpriced. Guys, they had an almond butter for $21! It’s JUST nuts, pun intended. Needless to say, it stayed there. But the banana and peanut butter held me over until I got to this.

And dinner: arugula and strawberries with red wine vinaigrette, broccoli and red pepper soup and multigrain toast.

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The diet plan called for 7 grain but they didn’t have that and this bread has flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and several other seeds in it so I just went with it. Tomorrow we start, finish the leftover groceries plan. Once all the groceries are done we will resume the formal Furhman diet plan. For now, it’ll be Rian’s vegan, which is still vegan but my version of it.

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Wine: Wolf Mountain Winery

My girlfriend and I decided to take a one day vacay up to Dahlonega to visit Wolf Mountain winery.
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If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit a winery, I highly recommend the excursion. It’s only an hour and half outside of the city limits and before you know it you’re surrounded by plush mountain ranges and acres and acres of bright green forests. Not to mention there are about 6 wineries here, all with tours, tasting flights and cuisine.

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We opted for the Sunday Jazz Brunch. Thematically it paid tribute to California cuisine, which essentially is a hodge podge of Asian flavors and spices. This extensive, piping hot buffet will cost you a meager $30, and it’s worth every cent.

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Here’s the chilled tomato soup with avocado cream. I’m not a soup fan so it was no surprise that I had never had chilled soup but the cold creaminess coated my mouth and readied me for the feast ahead.

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On this plate is Mongolian braised barbecue short rib, fried egg over a spicy polenta cake, a mixed green salad with jicama (mexican yam/turnip), fried duck and shrimp and tilapia in a red pepper sauce. There was also a diced grilled pork tenderloin spiced with star anise and bamboo shoots, curried jasmine coconut rice with golden raisin and crispy fried duck,  and stir fried cabbage.

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And my favorite part of every meal: dessert. There was a pistachio mousse with toffee and chocolate crumbles (not pictured), caramel cheesecake, raspberry key lime pie and lemon bars. Butter, butter, butter. Yes!

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It all washed down beautifully with a couple of glasses of Wolf Mountain Demi-Sec Sparkling. They also poured us two glasses of the Blanc de Blancs Brut (on the house) because we sell the wine at Ansley. That was pretty sweet.
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Unfortunately my brain mixed up the times so we missed the guided tour, but luckily my CSW classes allowed me to give my girlfriend our own tour. First we learned about the importance of vintage. As you can see from the sky above, 2013 is an unfortunate vintage for Georgia. With all the rain, the concentration of sugars in the grapes will be diluted, photosynthesis will be minimal and phenolic compounds (all the good stuff you smell and feel on the tongue), will either be unbalanced or uninteresting.

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Lucky for Wolf Mountain, I didn’t notice any fungus or mold growth on the grapes, which essentially can devastate the grapes, unless your intent is dessert wine…which I highly doubt with Cabernet Sauvignon (as shown here).

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Cabernet Sauvignon? Isn’t it red? Why yes, yes it is. But all grapes start off as flowers, which pollinate and bloom into highly acidic, hard, green berry sets. During the summer months, veraison happens, which is the softening of grapes, the reduction of acid and the production of sugar. It’s most dramatic with red varieties, and soon these grapes will turn red.

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Grapes at this stage taste terrible. Sidenote: Only Muscat varieties taste exactly the same as they do pre-fermentation.

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That’s my girlfriend goofing off. She’s still a good student though. 🙂

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Georgia red clays.

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Wolf Mountain has some seriously beautiful grounds.

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And some lucky soul lives in this house below with all these gorgeous vineyard views. They need to rent it out.

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The air is as fresh as it comes.

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We will be back.

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Time Consuming

With high hopes set on passing the Certified Wine Specialist exam with flying colors, my attention and time have all been solely focused on compacting as much information as I can about AOC’s, PGI’s, detection thresholds and fortification techniques in the coastal regions of Europe, etc. etc.  And trying to sleep, work out and stay engaged in my retail efforts.

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So when the opportunity to learn and drink came up, I rolled off the couch and into the car to check out Royal Rose‘s high end USDA certified organic simple syrups and Local Wine Company’s craft spirits.

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Totally fun. They gave us a lengthy but spruced up history of cocktails, gin and bourbon and even simple syrups and punches.

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Then we got to sample original recipes from the owner of Royal Rose, Forrest.  As noted, he developed this cocktail for a Tory Burch party since her favorite  color is orange.

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This one was my favorite. Apropos it’s called Summer Haven. Tastes like a mouthful of sunshine filtered by an umbrella.  The bubbles from the prosecco kept it super fresh.

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Okay…back to work.

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