Monday, August 25, 2008

Everybody Needs a Little Holiday...

Especially Doug & I. Well, & our livers. After this weekend, I'm going to give the poor thing a break tonight, a la Lucy's plan. We had an awesome time both days, but now I'm very tired & I had a nice little nagging wine headache from last night. Nothing too bad, but it made for a very long day.

Note to self: For cryin' out loud, you're almost 40 years old... you can't hang, not like that, not on a Sunday. Oh, & since you're nagging at yourself, get your ass to the gym.

As incredible as the wine & the company were (& they were, truly ), I'm in no mood to write about it. I can't even think about wine right now, so instead, I'll distract my hungover little self with thoughts of vacations. We aren't taking one until Christmas, & Doug & I are both jonesing pretty hard for a trip. It ain't pretty. We want to go to Jamaica so bad right now, we'd sell our firstborn child, if we had one. Couples San Souci will have to wait...

Since I can't go anywhere right now, I figure we can all take a little virtual vacation in Jamaica by looking at a few pictures from some of my past vacations. Let's go, shall we?

Couples Negril...our first all-inclusive & our first time meeting a swim-up bar. This was also our first time at an adults only, couples only resort, & we were HOOKED. Just think about it...hanging out in a pool with no children. That means no one yelling "Mom! Mom! Look at me!", no one crying because they slipped & fell while running around the pool, no one doing a cannonball over your head... I really don't think I need to justify this experience any further! The couples only thing was great, too - no rowdy crowds of spring breakers & their woohoo-ing.

Pool at Couples, Negril

Catamaran at Couples, Negril

We had such a great time on this vacation that we booked another trip, to Couples Ocho Rios, as soon as we got home. Upon arriving, we knew we'd made the right choice - the place rocked! Couples Resorts are just awesome - they've got the whole childfree travel thing down & that's just what we need.

Couples Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Couples Ocho Rios, Jamaica

And now for the big "awwwww...." - we went horseback riding on the last full day that we were there. We hadn't planned to, but it was raining on & off, & the sea was too rough to do anything on the water. We look cute, don't we? Doug certainly does.

Horseback riding in Ocho Rios

Those horses were enormous, but very nice. Mine was named Bruce Willis, but I really wanted to change his name to George Clooney or Matthew McConaughey - I don't think I need to explain why. Anyway, I couldn't change his name because it was against the rules.

Riding Rules

Ok, so looking back on these trips was great, but it's also bummed me out a little. Doug just informed me that we have 4 more months to go. That's a really long time in our book - we spoiled ourselves last year with 4 trips, & we haven't been able to do that this year.

I know, I know....poor, poor me.

Tomorrow, we're jumping back into wine. We're going to a very special class/tasting led by our friend Mike. It's on choosing wines to cellar, & we're supposed to get to taste some rare juice. I'll be excited tomorrow, but I just can't be right now. I just want to sleep.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Protein Overdose

Last night, Doug & I went to dinner with the Luces. We do this on a regular basis, & we usually go to one of our favorite places, Veritas. However, there are so many excellent restaurants in St. Louis, & we've developed a sort of wish list of places to go. Once we scheduled the date, we decided the place.....

Bacana Brazil. I'm sure you won't be surprised that this choice was inspired by a bottle of wine - I mean, think about it... Bacana is a Churrascaria, or a Brazilian steakhouse, & Lucy had been chomping at the bit to go & share one of their finds from their recent trip to Paso Robles, CA. What better place to drink some wonderful red wine in a place that has men dressed like gauchos serving you unlimited meat on swords?

(Ok, they're actually skewers, but swords just add a bit more drama, don't you think?)

Anytime we dine with the Luces, wine is always a consideration (unless it's Veritas, of course - it's silly & perhaps insulting to bring your own bottle to a high quality wine store). After checking Bacana's wine list, which is very good & for the most part reasonable, we decided to keep it simple & bring a tried & true rose', the Crios Rose' of Malbec.

We chose this wine for several reasons... it's an excellent value, rose' is a superb match for almost any food, & it's from Argentina. When in doubt, a good rule of thumb for pairing food & wine is to choose a wine from the country (or even region, in some cases) of the cuisine. You know, Spanish wine with Spanish food, French with French, & so on & so on. The reason this works is that many European countries view wine much differently than Americans. Wine is served at all meals, & very rarely without food - it just doesn't make sense to them - so the winemakers obviously must make wine that works well with the food it will be served with. It's either that or the poorhouse.

We opened the bottle & enjoyed a bit before we headed to the salad bar & side dishes. Mmmmm... always a winner (for that matter, any Crios wine, or any other wine made by Argentina's first female winemaker Susana Balbo is a great choice). Yummy stuff, & we would've been delighted to sit & drink it the whole night, but the smells wafting from the kitchen made us get up & begin the feast.


Once seated, we flipped our card to "Yes", & within moments, the meat started coming. Sirloin, top sirloin, shoulder, leg, & ribs of beef, garlic steak, lamb, shrimp, salmon....pretty much anything that was once alive. I hate to put it so crudely, but it's true. And it was delightful...and practically impossible to turn any of it away.

As always, the Luces' wine selection was incredible. They chose the Opolo Vineyards 2004 Rhapsody, a tantalizing blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, & Petit Verdot. If I'd been the one to name this wine, I probably would've called it "Rapture", because that's what it was. One whiff, & I was in love. One sip, & I was over the moon. It was just...luscious. With the meat, it was tremendous!

The food just kept coming, & eventually, we had to take a break, so we flipped to "No".


It was then that Mr. Luce declared that we were meat drunk. Bingo! I couldn't have said it better myself, & that was the catchphrase of the night. In fact, Doug & I were still saying it this morning. (Good one, Mr. Luce!) It actually reminded me of this shark show I saw a couple of years ago...there was a dead whale, & a bunch of great whites were having a party. After they'd had their fill, they were just floating underwater in a daze, like they were drunk. (See, I told you I was obsessed with shark documentaries!) So yeah - meat drunk!

After salivating over things coming from the kitchen, we flipped back to "Yes", & discovered the most wonderful thing - roasted pineapple! It was coated with what had to be brown sugar & cinnamon, & then put on the rotisserie. Unbelievable!!! We were also besotted with the Brazilian steak & the bacon-wrapped chicken breasts. Let's face it, anything with bacon around it has got to be good. All of that meat meant we had to have more wine (had to, yes - go ahead & judge), so I picked something from the list, hoping my intuition would be good.

It was! The Miner Vineyards 2003 Aia, a lovely blend of Cab, Cab Franc, & Merlot, was outstanding. A totally different experience from the Rhapsody, which is always interesting to me because it shares 3 varietals. To me, this one wasn't as heady & intriguing as the Rhapsody, but it had an incredible finish, with some spice. Yum. We were happy.


Don't you just love cellphones with cameras?

Just when we thought we'd assaulted our digestive systems enough, our waitress came around & asked if there was anything else she could have brought to us. Holy shit. Doug & Mr. Luce asked for more of the bacon-wrapped chicken & the pineapple, so we were in for a few more bites. But no, that wasn't enough! Our waitress returned with the freakin' dessert tray, & it had chocolate flan.

Have mercy.

Lucy & I probably could've walked away from anything but flan, so we ended our evening with the 4 of us happily sharing the chocolate flan. We figured we'd already gone so far on the road to excess, we might as well take it the rest of the way!

Today, Doug & I are still a bit meat drunk. Or perhaps we have a meat hangover. Yeah, I think that's it. I can't even imagine myself having red meat anytime soon, & I'm still quite full. They say it's never good to skip breakfast, but whoever "they" are can shove it this morning.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Owe, I Owe...


Yes, I realize I haven't been on here much lately. It's sort of feast or famine with me when it comes to blogging - I either have inspiration & no time or energy, or time & no inspiration or energy. Heh, some writer I am.

Let's see, I still want to write a blog on this awesome wine tasting we went to a couple of weeks ago, as well as a couple of other things, but not today. Maybe later this week.

Today's blog is about farewells. Not goodbyes - they suck - but farewells. There's a difference, & I like the former much better because they're usually temporary & not so sad.

For example, this past Saturday, my stylist cut off about 4 inches of my hair. I'd been thinking about it because the layers in my hair were growing out a bit too funky for me, & it was getting very frustrating. I thought it resembled an overgrown mullet in a way (in a way - I haven't had a mullet since they were the haircut to have, thank goodness). I'm sure you can understand my dilemma. Anyway, I did the usual back-&-forth of "Oh, I can be patient & just keep getting trims" & "This sucks, I hate my hair right now. Screw it!" - & the "Screw it!" won at the last minute. Diana was thrilled, & so was I. Sorry, no photos, but I'll tell you that my hair is now darker, barely grazes my shoulders, & takes next-to-no-time to dry! But the best part is that the layers are going to grow out better so that I can do something else - no more mullet-ish ways! (However, if one more person calls me "sassy", someone might get hit.) So you see, hair always grows back, therefore this counts as a farewell... to me, anyway.

Last Friday, I received an email from our favorite Missouri winery, Chaumette Vineyards & Winery. Usually, I just skim through those because it has a bunch of stuff about their new spa or special dinners that we usually can't go to anyway, but this time, something caught my eye:

"Farewell to "Stretch"! Join us this Sunday all day to say farewell to Head Waiter Keith King! Keith has been with us four years and is moving back to Arizona to live closer to family. If you aren't not sure which one is Keith, he goes by "Stretch," and the "Seven Foot Waiter!" Keith will be surely missed!"


This news didn't make us happy at all. Keith has always provided us with the very best in service over the years that we've been going to Chaumette, & in the process, has become a dear friend. We've always looked forward to seeing him & hearing his stories & about his various projects, & we've shared many laughs (& beers). Sadly, Keith's father is sick, so he felt he needed to return home to Arizona to be near his family. He left on Monday evening, driving a U-Haul with his 2 dogs. Talk about a long drive!

Because Keith is adored by so many - coworkers & Chaumette guests alike - a small party was held in his honor. He was very touched, & it was clear that he loved everyone there. Here are some photos:

Julie, Keith, & Cheryl

That's Keith, in the middle, with 2 of his friends/coworkers. We had our picture taken with him (I stood on a chair), but sorry.... I looked like a hippo in it, so I'm not posting it. My hair sure was cute, though.

Here's the stable on Chaumette's property that Keith was planning to turn into an eco-friendly house:


Very cool! And the thing is, Keith will probably be back to do what he planned to do...or at least, we all hope that he will be. I mean, really...if you had a job & people that you love & scenery like the pictures below to look at everyday, wouldn't you?

Chaumette Vineyards, Ste. Genevieve, MO

Chaumette Vineyards, Ste. Genevieve, MO

View from Chaumette Winery, Ste. Genevieve, MO


Let's not forget about having constant access to what Doug & I think is the best Missouri wine in the state! We're particularly into the 2007 Dry Chardonel. I know, I's Missouri wine, & some people have a real bias against it...but this stuff is really quite nice! It's very crisp, similar to a Pinot Gris. Doug & I both picked up some apple, honey, & grapefruit with a mineral finish. Upon our return home, we looked it up & found the same description on the website! We're geniuses, we are. Heh. Except that the website says it has notes of Fuji apple, & Doug said it was the Gala. Whatever. Like he knows. But hey, for those of you in the Lou... don't just read about how much we love it (& the place itself) - go out & get yourself some!

Anyway, so first it was farewell to my hair, & then to our good friend Keith. The hair will grow, & Keith will hopefully return one day. If not, we know we'll always be friends, so it's not goodbye.

There are some real goodbyes I'd like to make - for instance, my latest addiction, Nacho Cheese Doritos. Or cheddar cheese popcorn. Perhaps after kicking that, I'll say goodbye to my double chin & my ass.

Enough already - vaya con Dios, Keith, & the best to your family...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Embrace the Cuteness

Go ahead....crank up the volume, hit that play button, & prepare to run to the nearest stray rescue center to adopt someone that needs a home!

Too cute!!! If I keep this up, Doug's going to have me committed.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Master Gardener Returns

That's a little something we call "sarcasm", folks. I'm anything but a master gardener, especially as of the last 2 years.

I used to have lovely roses...We planted a bunch of them the summer after we moved into our house & I did a really good job of maintaining them. Spraying, pruning, removing dead or diseased leaves, weeding - Mattie & I were out in the garden almost every night for a little bit. The reward was an abundance of roses & occasional applause from our neighbors. Hell, my mother was even proud, & that's a pretty rare accomplishment.

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, then you've probably picked up that Doug & I lead very busy lives, especially during the spring & summer. I'd spell it all out for you...but it'd only make me tired thinking about it. So let me get to the point & introduce you to someone from my past.

Meet Tito, our pet weed from last year.


Now, you might be asking "How does someone get a pet weed?" Well, it's easy. In fact, one of the most effortless things I've ever done. Wait a minute - perhaps I should say that it's one of the most effortless things I have NOT done, because if truth be told, I didn't do a thing.

Tito was borne out of sheer neglect.

That's right - Doug & I ignored our yard all summer long & we're doing the very same thing this year. We pay the neighbor kid to mow, trim, & edge the lawn, but we've never really talked to the boy about gardening. Why would we? We're planning to relandscape the whole front yard so that it looks better & is low maintenance, & once we made that decision, we've only done the bare minimum. Well, up until these last 2 summers, when we've done next to nothing at all. I know, it's shameful.

Tito flourished from our carelessness. I didn't even notice he was there until he was up to the windowsill. That's pretty damn tall for a weed.

The product of our lack of attention became an object of fascination for me. I could've (maybe should've) plucked Tito out of the ground, but instead I monitored his progress, all the while amused at what the neighbors must think. I mean, this weed was getting really big & was actually flowering. During the hottest, driest part of the summer, I actually asked Doug if I should water Tito. We decided that weeds are resilient plants & that nature should take its course.

As you can see from the above picture, nature did just fine by Tito. The damn thing was almost to the gutter at the time it was taken. My heart swelled with pride.

Tito passed on last fall & we yanked him out of the ground. I was really relieved that he didn't take a chunk of our foundation with him! When that happened, we decided to not let this happen again, even if we didn't have time to re-do our landscaping.

Guess what? We've been busier than ever & haven't had time to touch the landscaping, & while pulling out of our driveway this morning, I spied what could very well be Tito Jr.

The circle of life continues.....