Category Archives: travel

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 United States of Georgia

So over the weekend I had the opportunity to see just a spec of how truly fantastic and gorgeous my state actually is. A one hour trip to Dahlonega revealed all.  Dinner in downtown Dahlonega at Piazza with a bottle of easy drinking Chianti from Banfi.  Wine prices were stellar, only $26 for the bottle.  What a mark up!  I was so proud, my student/girlfriend correctly guessed the vintage of the wine based on some information I gave her about the color of the rim and its connection to age.

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The pizza, a concoction of spinach, roasted garlic, prosciutto, pepperoni, mozarella and ricotta was pretty good too.  For the price it was fantastic but of course it was no Antico.  Breakfast at the B&B proved lovely as well.  I loved her place settings and the mug of Bavarian chocolate.
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Cream cheese pancakes are the truth…and we love kielbasa. But in no way do these compare to Elaine’s pancakes with orange steeped blueberry compote from the B&B in Savannah. Those were/are still the best.

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Full and ready for take off, we decided to celebrate our small vacay and her finishing her first major medical school exam with a bottle of Special Club Champagne. Special Club is a designated group of small wine growers in Champagne who select their best lots every year for bottling of a vintage release, this is a 2006. Yes, those were coffee cups but with the lemon and vanilla almond macaroons, it was a showstopper.

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So we sat by the pond with our army of gnat buddies and sipped and giggled.

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30 minutes later we took a hand drawn map headed towards Amicalola Falls but got sidetracked here at another winery. A Tuscan masterpiece deadsmack in the Georgia countryside. Say what?

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There were rolling hills covered in vines and a small community of Tuscan style homes nestled in the forests  behind the vineyard.

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It’s lovely and for a moment you almost feel as if you’ve traveled abroad…although we almost traveled down the road of no return. A house was for sale and we opted to check it out. The door was unlocked BUT the owner was home. Luckily he wasn’t afraid of the two girls who just walked into his house somewhat unannounced. #hotmess

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These two lucky escapees fled to Amicalola Falls state park to go hiking. My girlfriend wanted to see bears. I did not want to see bears. We did not see any bears. Yay for us.

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There isn’t much I can say other than go here now…or this weekend or whenever you have 4-7 hours to spare for nature.

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It’s breathtaking. It will make you stare. It will challenge you. You will climb 175 stairs to see this 600 ft.  drop of magnificence.  You will be in awe that you are standing in Georgia and you will realize that Georgia is beautiful.

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Then you will climb an additional 425 stairs to see this fantastic vista from the top of the waterfall.   “The view is certainly different from the top,” she said.

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Whoever was in this car 50+ years ago maybe got too over zealous about being at the top and crash landed to the bottom. Eeriest and creepiest part of the trip seeing this old vintage truck crashed and rusted on the side of the mountain.

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But the sun was out and shining brightly.

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A beautiful day to wash away all the stresses of the city and enjoy a little cool mountain breeze.

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Foodie: Veggie Frittata

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Every now and then I like to go far away from the city lights and smog to hear the sound of birds chirping and frogs making whatever sound frogs make and little bunnies hopping and burrowing to remind myself just how much I adore the city.  😀

Okay, I also take these trips as a kind of refresher, an opportunity for clarity and rearranging my track. With so little noise and so much fresh oxygen, I feel clairvoyant.  And Aunt Kay’s is by far my favorite place to travel.  She’s as big a foodie as I am and she reminds me of my grandmother; Overly comfortable home, sprite and youthful, funny and a refrigerator stocked up with your wildest dreams.

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This unattractive hodgepodge is toasted french bread with melted smoked gouda, goat cheese covered in blueberries, pork rillette from Spotted Trotter, olives and peppers, summer sausage and some kind of herb crackers.  We munched that down with Chateau Fortia Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc  2008 by the pool under the Super Moon.  It was drinking beautifully.  Honeyed and slightly oxidized, it helped my girlfriend see just how wine can be transformed and magnified by food and vice versa.  The wine put my mind at ease from all the nature sounds, you know, pine cones falling that sound more like a rabid raccoon rushing you for your bread.103936_1_1

Then we watched Somm, a documentary about the hardest exam that no one has ever head of, ever; the Master Sommelier exam.

Check out a trailer here:

I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Breakfast the next day brought us here:

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I’ve never made a frittata before so I watched closely. 7 eggs and carnation milk for added fluffiness. Blanched veggies (asparagus and broccoli), sauteed veggies of onions and carrots, peppers, a thick rounded pan and a spatula. Takes no time at all really. Get it half cooked before topping it off with cheese and sticking it in the oven for 10 minutes then voila!
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Even the leftovers the next day were great. We topped it off both days with baked flounder and salmon and Segura Viudas Cava. And now, I miss the country.

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Travel: Wedding Weekend in Savannah

This weekend two long time friends of mine got married in Savannah, Georgia.

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Photo by: Fee Story

The bride I’ve known since I was 19 and as long as I’ve known her she has been unreasonably hot and absolutely humble and sweet about it. Her broom, I’m always in awe of, for her sensational photography talents and eye for beauty. Clearly that eye is flawless since she laid eyes on my darling and opted to marry her after 6 years of relationship building.

Coupled with the excitement of a well dressed, stunning gay wedding, it was the first time I’d ever traveled out of town with a lover. Those kinds of things are always telling. And I am happy to report that we did not kill each other and we are still dating. That’s always nice.

Since we waited until the last minute to book our rooms (this was not planned), we ended up booking a pretty sweet B&B Friday night and a room at the Holiday Inn on Saturday…no shade to the Holiday Inn, it’s just not as charming. Look how charming this is!
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This charming two-story home was built in 1896.  The antique feel bumped up the romance factor times 1000.

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I mean frankly, you always feel warmer and sweeter when you’re surrounded by beautiful things.
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We got the Ginger Mercer room, the largest bedroom in the house. It was huge and bright with the prettiest periwinkle walls and massive four poster king size bed. I could have slept 1000 years in this bed.
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It also features an upstairs balcony overlooking the street below.

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And a fantastic bathroom with a huge tub and standalone shower with double vanities. It reminded me of my favorite homes in New Orleans.

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When we arrived we were greeted by our excessively cheerful innkeeper Elaine who was making cinnamon covered chocolate truffles. I grabbed one and an American Honey Whiskey and opted to chill before we headed to the rehearsal dinner on Tybee Island.

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Waited around a bit for the bride and broom and dined on a few yummy items; namely a shrimp and grits dish with chorizo, melted manchego cheese and roasted garlic and these yummy cocktails made with gin and cucumbers.

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Gio’s gorgeous married self was there.

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And I even saw my Kyndra who I hadn’t seen in nearly 5 years since she moved to NYC. Crazy how time flies.
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It was totally fun seeing everyone but we had to get back to our room so we could actually enjoy our one night there.  Cozy cozy.

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The next morning Elaine made breakfast. The coffee was incredible. It had this yummy chicory flavor and was served from the cutest tea set.

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Then I ate the best pancakes I’ve ever had, bar none. She folds cream cheese into the flour to make them exceptionally creamy and moist and covers them in a blueberry and orange maple sauce.  The white topping is a mixture of vanilla yogurt and lemon zest.   I couldn’t stand how good they were. Seriously, could not stand it.
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After a seriously filling breakfast sadly it was time to leave this picture book so to transition more easily we opted for massages before we checked into our next hotel.
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And since it was a food trip and the massage parlor was dangerously close, we went to Lady & Sons where I had the most underwhelming meal I’ve had in months.
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The fried chicken was fine but it was no Watershed. The baked chicken was yummy but I found that out too late.
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And the buffet was rather small and limited but I will say this, the staff there is awesome or at least our server was awesome.

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After dinner a series of extremely unfortunate events occurred and I’d rather never speak of them again, needless to say they all led up to me, Rian, one of her oldest friends, to miss the ceremony. I could have shot myself. I still might. But she looked GORGEOUS
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And I died to for these super sparkly Kate Spade slingbacks.

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I came with the second prettiest girl at the party (obviously the prettiest being the drop dead stunner of a bride Mimie).  😀  Don’t mind my tear strewn face.

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And as I thought, hot, well dressed crowd.
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And here’s Tabia and her broomswoman and man.
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And the lovely wedding cake.  I never got a piece because I opted to eat the stupid dumb delicious key lime pie they served instead.  But it sure was pretty.
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Drinks led us to the newly married couples beach house where we crashed on the couch and helped make brunch the next morning.  I don’t know how I’ll repay my social faux pas but I will.
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One quick beach run later (she doesn’t like the beach…who doesn’t like the beach???) and we were headed back to Atlanta. It pretty much was the best possible “birthday weekend” getaway ever…or at least that’s what I’m going to look at it as, a playa is broke. lol.
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Quintarelli

I made my last meal before my juicing/detox efforts. It was pretty mean!

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Scalloped potatoes with goat cheese and creme fraiche.

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Pork tenderloin breaded in Italian bread crumbs.

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And all washed down with an 1999 Italian merlot by famed winemaker Quintarelli. May he rest in peace. It has turned the coolest brownish red shade, (reds turn slightly brown as they age), and had this delicious juicy mouthfeel. AND I’m not sure if this is just a trait of higher end Italian Merlots but it smelled simply wonderful…meaty and fruity and big! It reminded me of one I smelled months ago that costed $300 smackaroos and hopefully will taste like this Quintarelli in nearly a decade. Fun times in a bottle for $43; which ain’t that bad!

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Blue With Envy

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Yesterday was a truly fantastic day. Fantastical, really. It was probably the kind of day most people assume wine industry folks engage in frequently. It was certainly the sort of day I’d like to have everyday frankly, but caloric intake forbids.

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There was a whirlwind of wine tasting going on in Atlanta.  This particular distributor decided to host their tasting of Burgundy and Southern France wines outside at Watershed.  It was the perfect temperature for the wine and the not so perfect temperature for people.

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I decided to coddle myself with beef tartare, which is always a tricky decision for me to make, considering it’s ground up and spiced raw, red meat. if done right, it’s rich and cold and mouth-coating; done wrong and you could die, so it better be delicious, which it was.
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I don’t know what any of these puff pastry nibbles contained, I just know they were explosive and rich and perfect for all the steely dry Chablis, Muscadets and white Burgundies being poured.
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These were without question some of the freshest oysters I’ve ever consumed…the freshest being from the hotel launch party at the Georgian Terrace years ago.

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I didn’t have any of these.  I just couldn’t go that far.

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But then, I took it even farther and ate half of this burger before pawning off the other half to my super slender co-worker, Adam, for whom I am eternally grateful for that clutch offering.

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So then we skipped off to the most northern parts of Buckhead and went to an importer tasting at Canoe. It was inside but the wine still managed to stay the perfect temperature…go figure.

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Scott Levy selling his wines.

I was very, very happy at this point.

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So I stepped outside to take pictures of the gorgeous scenery that serves as a cozy little backdrop to Canoe and daydream.
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I wish everyday could be like this.

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Bugey Cerdon

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Yesterday I attended a tasting at Miller Union, one of the original farm to table concept restaurants that boomed onto the Atlanta dining scene a few years ago when eating fresh and local had just become a trend. apparently there was no way in hell you could get a reservation to this place. its since died down and now, here i am, munching on the good stuff.

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They had this table stashed to the side and out of view.  Clearly a Corton and village Vosnee Romanee to be remembered.  I got a few drops and sipped it down with this…

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…the fattiest, richest, creamiest ham of all time. Benton’s Ham is the shit and always featured on the menus of the best restaurants in town. Taste it and find out why.

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And then there was lavash. This one seemed like some kind of multigrain take on the popular flatbread. I had never eaten it before and can’t believe I have been living my life without it. I’m sure the freshly ground chickpeas didn’t help. I should have asked the chef why it was green (as in, what herbs did he use to flavor this magic cream) but I couldn’t stop eating long enough to do so.

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And the grilled bread.  Who doesn’t like chargrilled, buttered bread that’s soft in the middle and crunchy on the edges. Nobody doesn’t like grilled bread, that’s who.

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Of all the wines tasted, this fun little Bugey Cerdon by Patrick Bottex won my heart.  It’s such a great, light and fruity party wine. Bugey is a region in France nestled between Savoie, the Jura, Burgundy and the Rhone.  They make a style of sparkling here using the methode ancestrale with Gamay and Poulsard varietals. This blend consists of ninety percent Gamay and ten percent of the native Poulsard. The wine first goes through a primary fermentation and then bottled before all of the residual sugar has converted to alcohol, then it ferments in bottle again for about two months and what you end up with is this beautifully colored, pink sparkler that just begs for drinking and sharing with dessert.  I can imagine my friends guzzling the candied strawberry fizzler down by the gallon.  It is that good.

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at nearly $30, it better.

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Tasting: Boucasse Wins

It’s tasting season again! How I’ve missed thee.

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Yesterday I attended a tasting of Loire Valley and Rhone wines at Violette;

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a cozy little French restaurant in the Druid Hills area that I’d like to take my sugar to for some down time.

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I was excited to be there. This tasting was my first ever wine tasting last year. I was terrified, overwhelmed and palette fatigued by the oh so evolved wines featured here. Tannat for goodness sake! Give that stuff to a rookie and they’ll cry from the punch.

But not this year!

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I kept my palette clean with yummy spiced cheese and sumptuous pâté filled with pistachios. And even though I was a little buzzed, all that juicy goodness in my new favorite Chateau Bouscasse Jardins made the tortuous hours spent at the store all the more bearable.

Think mouthfilling, juicy white. Think fleshy and big. Think honey and peaches. Think gulping good. Think obscure as hell.

Grape: Petit Courbu
Origin: Pacherenc du Vic Bilh, France

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