Going Round and Round

A little recap of my weekend. Which apparently involved circles exclusively…

Athan's Bakery, Boston, MA

Red, White or Champagne? Yes, thank you.

Nespresso. Anyone who is anyone who's Grandma gives them a gift card should get one.

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Wine Tasting for Normal Humans

My friend Brandon told me how he used to sell expensive bottles of wine when he was a waiter. He would say, “It’s dry and full-bodied, but with a light, fruity flavor that goes down very smoothly.” “Oh how complex and wonderful,” his patrons would say. He giggled because he was only 19 and had no idea what he was talking about.

Wine tasting can be intimidating. There is smelling, sipping, swishing, spitting, smelling, all before you get to have a real drink. It’s actually interesting to do at home, and it certainly is a valuable exercise in developing a taste for wine. But, most often, you get a glass of wine and you drink it. And then you get another…

The truth is, wine tasting is not as complicated nor as confusing as it seems to be at first. Plus, the more you drink the more you learn. In fact, I read that the ideal time to taste wine is in the late morning when your taste buds are the most sensitive. All the more reason that I should be in the food & wine industry. I could drink professionally in the late morning no problem, and I love learning-by-doing.

Obviously not during late morning...

Here is the thing: You want to be serious about this, but you also don’t want to be the guy/girl in khaki pants smelling the cork and spitting wine into your water-glass, and then saying “Oh marvelous, it’s a medium, light, full-bodied wine.” Quick advice: If you don’t know what to say about a wine, just say “Wow.” Then wait to see what other people say. You can go with the “Wow, unexpectedly delicious,” or “Wow, who would drink this.”

So find below some basic wine tasting terms and what they mean in real life: 

  1. Smell/Nose/Aroma/Bouquet: In terms of wine tasting, these terms all generally mean the same thing–the sensation of smelling the wine. Practically, aroma relates more to the smell of the grapes and bouquet speaks more to the “wine” itself, or the result of fermentation and bottling. Any of you who know the difference between trash on day 1 and trash on day 5 might understand the difference. Gosh, what is it with me and the foot and trash and food combination, gross!
  2. Body: This is the weight of the wine in your mouth. Think of the difference between water and milk, or syrup. Full-bodied wines will coat your mouth and throat like syrup or cream, while light-bodied wines will disappear after you swallow, like water or skim-milk.
  3. Flavor: Technically, this falls into one of four categories: Sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. But there is potentially a fifth one, Umami, which is Japanese for “savory” and can be found in things like soy sauce, mushrooms, anchovies, and parmesan cheese. Some standard ways of describing the flavors of White Wines are: buttery, fruity, flowery, earthy (think stone, straw, minerals and other things you would only taste if you fell down), and nutty (almond, hazelnut). Some common Red Wine flavors are: fruity (more berries on this side), chocolate, spice (pepper, cinnamon, clove), earthy (think falling down somewhere wet, moss, soil), vegetables (mushrooms, olives, truffle).
  4. Finish: This is the lasting sensation that the wine leaves with you after you swallow. This can be in your nose and in your mouth. One way to test the finish is to swallow, and then breathe out through your nose. A long finish means you will still feel the smell and taste of the wine, a short finish means you will be left with very little flavor or aroma. Typically, a long finish that is “balanced” or not overwhelmingly one of the sensations indicates a higher quality wine. Be careful here: On the one hand, you want to pick a higher quality wine, on the other hand, you don’t want to be the guy breathing wine out of his nose and then saying “Oh the finish, what a long finish.”

After that, it’s all up to you. Drink what you like, drink what you don’t (just drink it faster). Don’t let anyone intimidate you. There is nothing to say that an expensive, or full-bodied wine is necessarily high-quality. Try to learn, and describe the flavors and you will be amazed what you can taste.

Lastly, I am aware that based on some of the phrasing I used in this post, it is only appropriate to end with Brass Slammer  Lincoln Log  Princess Sophia  Blue-Veined Junket Pumper  Richard Johnson  Ralph the Fur Faced Chicken  Harry and the Hendersons  Russell the Love Muscle you guys are gross, and yes I googled those. Look at what you made me into…

New York Means Tequila in English

So I’ve just returned from a short visit to New York City to see my best friend. See below.

We spent an evening at the ballet and a day at the art museum, and so it seems only appropriate that we spent the rest of the time eating and drinking. She had a list of “Best Cocktails in New York City” compiled by a bartender-friend and so we set off to discover our favorites.

What did we learn? If you are king-and-queen of the ballet exiting a bar you deserve at least four “woos”/standing ovations; matching outfits are never embarrassing; grammar jokes are serious business; everything looks better upside down or with a sock in it.

That if it has jalapeno-infused anything, we will order a punch bowl pitcher bucket of it.

Our first stop, Cienfuegos in the East Village. It’s a charming Cuba-Meets-Alice-and-Wonderland themed restaurant, specializing in rum cocktails. The drinks are offered individually, or in a shared vintage punch bowl with a large block of ice in the center and quaint little tea-cups. Naturally, we got the bowl of jalapeno infused rum with honey and cava for the two of us.

Our second adventure took us to Mayahuel, also in the Lower East (hey…we wanted to authentic in our vintage-plaid-button downs). Again, the jalapenos called to us and we ordered a pitcher of the Pilot Punch, which was wonderfully savory and not overly spicy. It complimented the variety of appetizers we ordered well, which included a whitefish ceviche and a cheesy plate of Chilaquiles, but it would have stood well on its own. We, on the other hand, would not (get it? Drank Tequila so I can’t stand up? Sorry Mom). I forgot to take a picture, so please enjoy this one of my new bag and upside-down-nails. And we go full circle.

What to Wear to Dinner and Where and What-Not

My dear friend Emily recommended that I highlight some dinner spots and what to wear and where to buy it and what not. It got me to thinking about “Business Casual” and khaki pants and how that doesn’t mean anything for women. In fact, I think it makes it worse.

Sometimes I think, should I wear khaki’s too? (That answer is always no). Wear a blazer without a tie? A Lacoste polo-dress? What does it all mean!? So I give to you below, varying degrees of business casual (I know you are seeing yellow jeans and thinking are you crazy? The answer is maybe yes, I tried to wear plaid and a motorcycle vest on my Valentine’s Day Date, and my final outfit still spurred a “You know you will be the only one wearing that, right?” from said Date).

What to Wear to Dinner and When and What-Not

Outfit Number 1: You think you are cross eyed, but really you are just dazzled. I love mixing patterns, and here it works because there is some commonality in color scheme. Shirt is Alexander McQueen, similar one available here, and here. The skirt is Paul Smith but just ignore that and buy this $29 one. It’s equally cute, but not on Polyvore…snobs. Shoes are Azzedine Alaia, these are not quite as fabulous but are the same idea.

Yeah but where can I wear it? Wear this to dinner with your boss, dinner with your boyfriend’s boss, or to any trendy cocktail lounge. It screams: I am serious but not boring, stylish but not pretentious. Everything you want business casual to be.

Try: Tag Restaurant in Denver (Order the Business Time Cocktail–Not only is it on theme, it is one of the best drinks I have every had); or Eastern Standard in Boston (also known for its drinks, but the Calamari is great).

Outfit Number 2: Any giant cozy sweater with a lux leather or leather-esque pencil skirt. I love the combination of laid-back and cool. This is a great option for any outing that you want to look well-dressed without looking dressed up. The skirt and pump combo will get you through the door, but there will be no sense that you are trying to hard. Also, please note that these green pumps have played a recurring role in my outfit choices so far and probably belong in my closet. Feel free to donate to the cause. Sweater above is Rachel Comey, but check the J.Crew men’s section for an equally comfy, slouchy version.   Leather skirts are generally unaffordable, so look for any luxe detailing, a sateen shine or any hard accessories, studs or stitching. Try this Cut25 Skirt by Yigael Azrouel.

This outfit belongs at the upscale restaurant disguised as a dive bar. Think restaurants operated by anyone who auditioned for Top Chef. Try Towne Stove and Spirits in Boston, or Colicchio and Sons in New York. Actually, that description doesn’t fit either of those restaurants, but you get the idea. Somewhere warm and comfortable and beautiful.

Outfit Number 3: Yes, yellow jeans in the fall. Wear this to the game and then go for cocktails later. Really, any bright colored jeans will do. Check J Brand, or Express. The grey sweater is basically a must have (barf) and fur makes everything a little bit glam. I like that this outfit is monochrome except for the jeans as well. I wish I was wearing it right now.

Try this out at Lola in Denver, and drink away your Tequila-feelings, or head to Lolita Cocina in Boston and get your Tequila-infected moves on.

Quarter Life Crisis (If I’m an Centenarian)

So here is the deal. I am a third year law student. I love my life, I have wonderful friends, and an amazing family. I have a lovely boyfriend who accompanies me on my culinary adventures and tolerates my fashion experiments. So a food and fashion blog. Now?

Let me tell you, life as a law student is no walk in the park. It actually means no walks in any parks. Often, after a day of debating something admittedly mundane, I come home and spend a few hours in the kitchen. It is often the only thing that clears my head. I pour myself a glass of wine, turn on my iPod (currently, I am listening to Active Child, Little Dragon, and Frank Ocean). I spent a few minutes rummaging through the contents of my kitchen, until inspiration struck.

My latest creation was a “Backwards Fondue” dinner. I made a savory chocolate fondue with bittersweet chocolate, honey, red wine, coriander, thyme, oregano, lavender, and cayenne pepper. I served it with cubed filet, aged chedder cheese, mushrooms, and fingerling potatoes. (Similar recipe here: Sandra Lee Chocolate Fondue). For dessert, I made a Swiss-Gruyere-Blue Cheese fondue, with sweet Marsala and garlic. I served it with Cinnamon Raisin Toast, Almond Cookies, Nectarines, and Prosciutto. Also, to make it more of a dessert, I paired it with a French Sauternes. (Try a Loupiac instead, it’s far less expensive).

The truth is, I love studying the law, and I look forward to practicing. But on certain days, I wonder if its truly for me. For instance, when you google “law student,” this is one of the first images that comes up:

Scientific I know… I’m sure she is quite lovely, well-accomplished, brilliant. I too, am often disheveled and blinded by anything above the brightness of a reading light. But, being that I see myself more like this, you can see why this is a conundrum for me:

All three images courtesy of JakandJil.com

So there you have it. A food and fashion blog. Now. I’m sure it’s clear already that I have amazing taste in both. I almost called this blog “GOOP 3,000” (For those of you who don’t know about Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter GOOP and have over $20 million, I suggest you head on over here). But really it’s just a celebration of the things that I love, and an exploration into where I am going. Thanks for coming along readers mom.

What I am Drinking on a Wednesday Night

So it’s Wednesday night, your morning class was substituted for a noon lecture from a man who was recently convicted of insider trading (never ever ever do it), and your friends are over drinking beer. What do you do? Go for a bottle of red that says, “Hey, I can drink beer with the guys, but instead I’m going to drink this because I’m smarter than you.” That bottle is a 2008 Bodegas Luzon “Luzon” Jumilla. It is a Spanish red–a blend of Monastrell and Syrah. Also, a 2007 vintage from this producer won “Wine of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast last year. Whoa, fancy for a Wednesday…

http://www.bodegasluzon.com/

I’ll admit, I was drawn to this bottle because of the label, but it is amazingly drinkable. Fruity without being sweet, plenty of volume without being   overpowering. It can stand up to pizza (or any other Wednesday night meal), but is mild enough to survive a dinner of whatever leftovers you have from Tuesday. Stay tuned for a real-person breakdown of wine tasting terms.

To be honest, I had chips and chocolate covered peanuts (part of a four pound snack basket from my Grandma Evie) and a glass or three while I yelled at the Top Chef judges on the almost-finale. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say the final meal is going to have more fried food than I care to see…

Also, being that I have expensive taste in all things clothing (Give it to me), I thought I would balance it out with a well-priced bottle. Much to my surprise, the $11 I paid for it is well over market, get it for $7 here. See what I do for you?!? I bring the fancy all the time.

Whimsy Chef at Chef’s Whim

Dinner night out on Sunday? Well, yes, if you want a whimsical meal with whimsy wonders…on a whim.

At Craigie on Main in Boston, Chef Tony Maws offers a well-priced four or six course menu entirely of his own creation, every Sunday after 9:00. The menu is called “The Surprise,” which thankfully is manifested in the super-delicious-definitely-not-school-cafeteria-lunchmeat connotation. And, if you order the six-course menu, as we did, you practically get the restaurant to yourself by the time you finish!

Our meal consisted of a scallop ceviche with a rose-harissa dressing, roasted bone marrow and texas toast, and a skirt steak with carrots braised in duck fat. For dessert, we were provided with a sour cream panna cotta (which I loved even though I generally despise panna cotta), and a bourbon-ice cream cake with a bacon-fat graham cracker crust. Holy moses…let me tell you.

Ok, instead I am about to lie to you. But at least I warned you (you unknown reader…). I had big plans for my outfit out, I’m a student and it doesn’t happen all the time. But Boston decided to be a disagreeable -4 degrees that evening, and so my choices were severely limited. I had a pair of glittery Proenza Schouler lace-up oxfords all laced up for the occasion, but I thought it prudent to save my toes (I only have ten afterall…) and so switched into last minute dress-and-black-tights combo. Unfortunately, this blog hadn’t been born then, so I wasn’t able to document, but I won’t make that mistake again.

Instead, I give you my pick for the death trap perfect date night shoe, my satin Nicholas Kirkwood satin peep toes. Similar ones here. I think they are as whimsy as whimsy dinners can be. I’ll be sure to include a more inclusive outfit as I move forward as I am afraid that readers my mom will think I am advocating a birthday suit outfit with fabulous heels. Well, I guess when you put it that way….

The Meal that Matches the Shoes

My life pretty much revolves around food, I think about what to eat next while I am halfway through my meal. The only thing that distracts me from my meal is what I am wearing on my feet. Usually its six inch heelspenny loafers as I am still a student, but hey, they have a lot of arch support.

Ok, I know what you thinking. Feet and food?!? Gross. And you know what, you are right. But I tell you, I am only theoretically combining, keep your feet off your plate/table/kitchen counter. Unless, of course they are covered in one of these…

Untitled #115

One of the best parts of fashion is wearing it out in the world, and one of the best ways to do that is to go out and eat and drink. I think its time that food and fashion end their frenemyship…frivalry…