Friday, January 30, 2009


...I only have a few minutes before I have to dash off to clinic. (Those of you that know what my new job is know that this means that I'm going to have a long, confusing, tiring, yet educational day.)

What a week.

It started off with the Food & Wine Experience at the Chase on Sunday. We had VIP tickets -- there's simply no other way for us. After a couple of years of just doing the general admission area, we decided to step it up & we haven't regretted it one bit. I hesitate to say how great it was because I'm selfish, but it has to be said that the wines were wonderful. Mostly dry with some Rieslings here & there, but everything was a delight. Sundays are great for this's not anywhere near as busy as Saturdays, & while the hangover potential is definitely a concern, as long as you're not stupid, it can be enjoyed greatly. And it was. Like I said, I don't have time to go into the great wines we had, but I do hope to get to that sometime soon. You know, before I forget them all! But before I stop writing about this, I will say that the food kicked ass! Lobster mac & cheese, all I wanted. 'Nuff said.

Surprisingly, we've had no other wine this week, & we've been in bed no later than 8:40 every night. Yeah, we're still getting up really early, but we might try to keep that bedtime schedule at least a couple of nights a week. I haven't felt quite so cheated in the mornings! Ah, but I do love to watch tv at night, so we'll see.

We were more or less snowed-in on Wednesday, much to my surprise. You see, Doug's hardcore, so he tends to battle the bad weather. Since he drives Miss Daisy (me) to work every day, I let him make that call. Yay! Nothing but a day of hanging out on the couch with the dogs. Sure, I should've been more productive - every single one of our closets are in desperate need of cleaning & organizing - but nah...

So much more to say, so little time. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Miserly Ways

Today was a long day, & not just because it started at 4:00 a.m. As some of you know, I'm in the midst of learning my new job, & it's been interesting, busy, sometimes fun, & almost always overwhelming. So much information -- information that I never even thought I'd know or want to know, but here I am. Apparently, I've started at the most stressful time of the year, but I don't really get just why that is yet. I guess I'll find out next January, but for now, suffice it to say that my coworkers are a little testy.

(That's being kind.)

Anyway, today was one of those days that my head was spinning more than usual, but one thing kept me grounded. Today was Thursday, & I could only hope that Doug would be agreeable to going to "our place"....Veritas.

He was.

So, off we went. Yeah, times are a bit tight, & I really hate saying that -- it's like no one can say anything without saying "In this economy", or "until the economy improves"...gah. I catch myself saying it, & we're not feeling too much of an effect from it (thank goodness). Because of "the economy" (see?!), almost every wine tasting features value wines & Veritas was no exception. Hey, I'm not saying that like it's a bad thing... It's smart business, & besides, any schmuck can buy a great $70 bottle of wine, but it takes a bit of work to find that great one for under $20, $15, $12...& $9.

Aside from the usual incredible food we always get at Veritas, & the fun company from fellow wine & Veritas lovers Bob & Nancy, we discovered a fantastic, fun wine for just $9 -- CheapSkate Miser Meritage. This Sonoma, CA blend of Cab Franc & Merlot knocked it out of the park tonight...the recession's answer to Opus One. Ok, take that with a grain of salt...but damn, it was good. Nice spice, lush fruit, & a surprisingly long finish make the Miser a guaranteed hit for your next gift, party, or just your regular ol' Wednesday night. And it's a screwtop to boot, so you'll never have to worry about the dreaded corked wine. (Those of you that still have a prejudice against screwtops should open their minds & more bottles - you don't know what you're missing.)

Cheapskate's philosophy is an excellent one:
  1. Make only stunningly good wine
  2. Outrageous value.
  3. Targets progressive consumers and leaders through humor and honesty.
  4. Use 1 -3 to break the rules: Make a wine so good and so much fun that it sells itself. Provide a steaming-hot deal up front. Then draw the line. No special deals or discounts. Five-case minimum purchases by wholesale accounts. Retail sales by the case only.
  5. In winemaking, it's cheaper to do it the smart way. As winemakers, practice finding our inner Cheapskate. Ask "Why isn't this less?" Smart, cheap packaging, scrooge-caps, lots of thought and work spent on pinching pennies.
  6. Foster long term relationships with growers in unfashionable areas who are dedicated to quality. Fancy appellations means you pay more for the same quality. CheapSkates can't afford that!

What are you waiting for? Pick it up & lie about how much you spent -- as long as you don't go overboard, you'll get away with it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Worth Every Freakin' Penny

In this rather crappy economy, I can't help but look at some of my purchases with pride. To me, they are exactly as the title of this post suggests: worth every freakin' penny.

Let's start with my amazing pair of ostrich boots that I bought on a cruise we took in February, 2007. From Fall to Spring, they're a staple in my wardrobe, & I can't think of anything I want to wear more. I actually look forward to cooler weather because I get to wear my boots. Here they are, on the dashboard during a trip to Balducci's Winery this past Sunday:


The photo doesn't do them justice, but trust me....they ROCK. Plus, they're so comfortable! We bought them in Cozumel from Roger's Boots. Doug & I had consumed several margaritas in preparation for dropping some cash on them, & I think we did a great job! I was good cop, Doug was bad cop. Or rather, the older Mexican guy hit on me while I spoke to him in somewhat-acceptable Spanish & called Doug a cheapo. Doug played the grumpy Gringo & I played the slightly-tipsy, long-suffering wife that really wanted a pair of cool boots...& SHAZAM! A deal was struck, & I have the coolest boots ever. Not exactly black, not really charcoal gray, & could almost be navy blue...I love them. Yeah, worth every freakin' penny.

Another purchase that I'm thrilled with is my brand new moccasins from Canada. On Thanksgiving evening, Doug & I went to Monica - one of my very best friends - & Cory's house, & she was wearing what looked to be the most luxurious slippers ever. I just had to have them! Luckily for me, she was heading back home to Canada over Christmas, & she said she'd pick some up for me...& she remembered!



(Now, Monica would be my very best friend if she would've actually bought them for me, but oh well...)

Monica brought these beauties to me this past Saturday night, & I couldn't wait to put them on after the hockey game! Bella knew there was a foreigner in the midst immediately, & she wanted them BAD. She knows bunny when she smells it...but she can't have 'em. Just as I'd hoped, I put them on when I got home, & ahhhhh.....FANTASTIC. Again, worth every freakin' penny.

One more, & I'm going to bed.

As I mentioned in my last post, Doug & I went to Time For Dinner last week, & Doug put the Artisan Chicken out to thaw this morning (at 4 o'fucking clock - yeah, he's working overtime again, which means I am, too). It has blue cheese in it, & I didn't think any of the whites we have would work...& I feared most of the reds that traditionally go with blue cheese (Cab Franc, Cab, etc.) would overpower it. What were we to do?? As good fortune would have it, we stopped in the Ballwin Wine & Cheese Place to check on a potential dog sitter for the Luces (for our boot-buying cruise in February - ok, the boot-buying is probably just me), & we couldn't leave without buying some wine. 4 bottles, in fact - they had a great sale, & uh, we were running low... We bought the Feudo Arancio 2006 Pinot Noir for - are you ready for this? $7.99. Yeah, I know....scary. But hey, at that price, & the fact that it was a Pinot from Sicily, it was a curiosity that had to be satisfied.

So tonight, while mulling over our wine choices, we decided to go for it. The food smelled delicious, & I couldn't wait. However, when I first tasted the wine, it was just ok & I had a metallic taste in my mouth. Doug said he got metal on the nose. Oh no....

Never fear, kittens! One bite of the chicken, & all was well in Doug & Claire Land. No more metal, just good food & good wine....

Worth every freakin' penny.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's the coldest day in 10 years...

...& we're drinking white wine. A Chardonnay, even.


Crazy, huh?

Well, sort of, but not really. You see, we went to Time For Dinner last night with some friends, & the meal that Doug put in the refrigerator to thaw was the Crab Stuffed Chicken. Yum. However, our wine supply is almost all red right now, & I just couldn't think of any that would even minimally work with the dish.

(As an aside, the Time For Dinner thing is fun! The food is awesome, too. While we assemble the food, it's sort of cheating, not really cooking...but I don't care!)

Luckily, we visited our very dear friend Robin on Sunday, & she sent us home with 2 bottle of wine, 1 of which was white! The Hahn SLH 2006 Chardonnay, to be exact. While we realized it might not be the greatest pairing - I think that the Hahn SLH 2007 Pinot Gris would've been fabulous - we were confident enough.

We were right. No, not the best pairing, but it certainly didn't offend! Honestly, it was quite good. Both the dish & the wine were lovely on their own (yes, I did just say that a Chardonnay was lovely), the pairing was just ok. As predicted. But the fact that I'm sitting here - in 6° of freakin' St. Louis - still drinking not only a chilled wine but a Chardonnay after the chicken is gone should really tell you something. We love Hahn wines. Good stuff, people, good stuff.

The Hahn SLH Pinot Gris would've really made me happy, though. I've had it before, & I absolutely love it. Ah, never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Not that our friend Robin is a horse...but if she were a horse, she'd be a mighty fine one.

With damn good wine.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

4 Days In...

Come on, 2009 -- show us what you've got. Better economy? Weird weather? The possibilities are endless.

But hey, it's too soon to talk about that, & I'm not going to join the throngs of bloggers that have shared their cheerleader-ish hopes & dreams for the year like they do every year. Frankly, the year is merely a period of time & it's going to be what it's going to be...& that's largely up to us & what we choose to do with it. Having said that, Happy New Year, & I hope that you make the best of it!

So, we've been back for a while, but let's talk about my trip to Jamaica, shall we?

Actually, there's not that much to tell. We went, hung out on a beautiful beach at an amazing resort, drank lots of rum at the swim-up bar, & got a tan. We had a killer massage in what had to be the coolest place to get a massage EVER. The food was great, the views incredible, & we neglected to take a lot of photos. Damn, damn, damn. In my defense, we didn't really go anywhere or do anything other than hang out...but here's what we took. (If you want to see more, check out the link - Couples does a great job!)

Our room upon arrival...I'm not a fan of the headboard & the bed was harder than I like (but I'm spoiled), but overall, the room was nice, roomy, & very blue & white.

Our room at Couples Sans Souci

Here's a couple of views from our terrace...sadly, neither photo does it justice, but as I said earlier, I just wasn't inclined to keep snapping. It really was outstanding, & at night, the lights were fabulous.

View from our room - Sans Souci

View from our room - Sans Souci

The only thing we didn't love about our room was the noise - we were just down from where most of the nightly entertainment was, which wasn't cool if we wanted to get to sleep before midnight. Oh well.

On our first night, there was a huge wedding. I'm guessing the bride & groom were natives because there were a lot of people! I'd hate to think how much money it cost to have a wedding at the resort, but I'm here to tell you, it was gorgeous. I was only able to get 1 shot, & it's not a very good one...


Ok, not the best, but I figured it'd be a bit tacky for a stranger to run around taking pictures...but take my word for it - it was beautiful. I wish I could've taken photos of the tables, but it was really dark, & then there was the whole tacky thing I just mentioned, so sorry... I know some of you would have really enjoyed them. Everything was very well done - the flowers, the lighting, music, the colors... As pretty as it was, all I could think of was how much money was spent on 1 little day, a mere blip in a life. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20!

The lobby was decorated for Christmas.

Couples San Souci - lobby


Eh, as usual, my photos don't do it justice. New camera, you know.

So yeah...great trip. It was over at just the right time - we were missing the dogs terribly. After a few delays at both the Montego Bay & Charlotte airports, we finally made it home. Talk about a major drag...but thank goodness there are decent bars in airports. There's even a wine bar that we discovered last year at the Charlotte airport that serves & sells North Carolina's Yadkin Valley wines, so obviously, we had to stop in again. Checking out wines from other states is a big hobby of ours, & I'm happy to report that North Carolina's wines are pretty damn good. Seriously - while they may not be of the same caliber as Napa or Willamette, I think they have real potential, therefore, I'm happy to support their efforts. Some day, we hope to take a trip to the Yadkin - I think it'd be cool (I'm certainly not going to go to a NASCAR race, which is huge in that area), one We bought a Bordeaux-style red blend from Raylen Vineyards, & I'm looking forward to sharing it with some of our fellow winos.

My dad had taken great care of the girls, as always...they certainly didn't starve. Within seconds of walking in our door, I was struck by how much bigger Piper had become! It was really remarkable. So much so that we're going to get her in to see the vet in the next week or so - the poor chunk has to get her thyroid checked & be put on a diet. Everyone ele was great, though, & Gordon said that they all had a wonderful time.

The second thing we noticed was that it had been very windy while we were gone. I'm so glad we bought a cover lifter for our hot tub's lid -- it was the only thing that held the lid on! We walked outside, heard this loud watery noise & then saw that the lid was halfway off! A lot of the water was gone, so we had to refill it. I hate to think of how much our electric bill is going to be...needless to say, Doug was not pleased.

So, what next? Other than a cruise to Mexico in February with the Luces, we're trying to figure out what our vacation plans are over the next year or so.

Tough problem to have, I know.