Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jersey Shore Zombies

Alex came for the weekend to help me stir up our typical chaos. On Saturday we escaped the sweltering heat by heading to the shore. It was low tide, so we were able to head out pretty far on the rocks.

For some reason, Jonaid always parks us next to the no-swimmers-fishing-only beach. It's nice because it's far less crowded, but you can't go in the water there. So we walked down the shoreline a bit and I dove in. The sixty degree water was numbing but it started the shore season off with a bang.

Heading down the NJ boardwalk we encountered some zombies and their biting booth. Apparently Asbury Park has a Zombie Walk that holds the current record for the largest gathering of zombies. 28May was their beach party. Some of the people were dressed fantastically in retro swimsuits and the with serious flesh artwork. There was a body-painting booth too, so you could spray paint your body to create the jaundice glow of a zombie.

After bailing on the Zombies we bought stopped at a lemonade stand. 50c for a glass, the best bargain on the shore by far. We chugged, and headed home to order some military chicken.

In the meantime, for any of you knitters/crocheters here's a challenge I imposed on my Ma. Good luck.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day & Wine+Blues Festival

Happy Memorial Day and many thanks to those who sacrifice so much for our country.

This weekend was the NJ Wine & Blues festival where the winner of the Italy trip was announced. I didn't win, but the event was a blast nonetheless. Alex&Greg came out to join for the festivities. It was nice able to show the wines, tell the stories about my passport experiences, and have them taste some of my favorites. She said she's making a blog post about the whole thing so I'll have to hold her to that.

It was swelteringly hot. Meltingly hot. The interesting thing is I tend to prefer dry red wines, but with the 90 degree weather I was downing the ice cold sweet wines with ease.

There also was petitions to allow shipping of wine in NJ. Support the proposal here.

Unfortunately all of the passport wineries weren't in attendance. I was really hoping to see Brook Hollow and some of their Proprietor's Red, but no such luck. We picnicked after the event, brought some cheese, crackers, cookies, hummus, etc, until they kicked us out. Combining wine with the shore and some zombies (more on that later...) it was a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

dear cubicle love carinne

Day in and day out in the dreary dreary dreary. I'll have to think of something.
Dear ABC, Extreme Cube Makeover?!?!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cows & Candylands

In my dream last night I was attempting to hide big brown cows in my Dad's trunk.

The farm on the way to work. Cows are usually outside, but they must have heard about my trunk escapades and started hiding. 

In reality the logistics of it do not work well, but in the dream I was able to comfortably fit two in there. I could have gone for a third but I decided to leave them some room to muck about.

Hypothetical situation: Where would you rather live?

a)      Candyland’s Lollipop Woods
b)      Monopoly’s Baltic Avenue
c)      Battleship’s Submarine
d)      Clue’s Billiard Room

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's Raining Men (or sporks)

This endlessly impresses me. I found it here, which is ultimately from here.

Mostly today I'm feeling bad for myself (and doing a great job of it) because I'm missing out on the PA wine festival and the Yardley Beer Festival. So to encourage my negativity, I started getting a little bit literal about the song "It's Raining Men."

This will pass. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Sky is Falling

Preparing my cigarettes. If the world is ending, better get all of my vices out of the way. And charge my camera.

Photo courtesy of Nate.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Old Fashioned Kindle

Meet my library. I picked up my first romance novel tonight. I must be "at that age".

Monday, May 16, 2011

No More Couches to Burn

Congrats on West Virginia graduation, Alex!

"gradaluffagus" - alex herself

Thursday, May 12, 2011

50 for Fifty

For my Dad's 50th birthday I wanted to do something a little different. Half-of-a-century is pretty monumental but I was struggling in coming up with a creative gift idea.

We'd already decided we were going to do a "themed" party where we all dressed up as my dad - some came as my dad in his frat guy era, some came as my Dad on the beach, my grandmother/aunt simply got shirts with his name screen printed across... Even my beer and my dog got into the game.

But what do you get as a gift? His own wine label, maybe?

Well, that one was already being done by Mark. So that was no good.

It was a Saturday afternoon and I was driving when it hit me. I'd get a $1 scratch off lottery ticket from all 50 states.

So I started collecting. As the day got closer, I asked for some help.

Everyone was overwhelmingly supportive. Sometimes people even messaged me explaining they "knew someone in Hawaii - do you still need that state?" And the lotto tickets started coming in, one by one.

There were five states I just couldn't get. Also, there are five states that do not have a lottery system. So those were homemade - with trivia questions and such. If he got the answers right, he won what was inside of the card (for example, Nate was signed up to clean the interior&exterior of Dad's car).

But still, I owe a HUGE thank you to all of the people who helped me out here. Many of you I know, some of you who are friends-of-family-of-friends I do not know. Thank you to Kim, Shannon, Gina, Frank, Nicole, Tom, Dan, Kate, Amber, Alex, Richard, Trisha, Angela, Chris/Sandy, Glorianne, Emily, Katrina, Karen, Russ, Stephanie, Caitlin, "S.", and a few other anonymous received. Thank you so much.

The big winners? $2 in Connecticut, $1 in NY, a free ticket in Cali, a few dollars in Ohio and... that was about it. Oh and Cam had to clean out the garage. That was a good one.

Happy 50th Papa! The next 50 will be even better.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Caped Hitchhiker

While driving home from the gym I saw someone hitch hiking who was wearing a cape. As I drove past,  it dawned on me that maybe I just missed out on my one opportunity to encounter a genie.

Sigh. There goes my (a) student loans paid off so that I can (b) take a boat cruise around the world with (c) my new puppy, Pinot.

I'm thinking that now, since my wine blogging has ended, I may embark on a photo-a-day adventure.

And of course we're all backed up on the hypothetical situations.
If April showers bring May flowers, what do April tornadoes bring?
Since of course you were invited to the royal wedding, what was your gift? 

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Das Mama Day

Happy Madre Day

 Das Mama & Das Grandmama

I sent Ma some flowers on Friday from her local florist. They have a great garden special - where you leave it up to the florist's discretion to create an arrangement with what is in the shop. Every time it comes out beautiful. And I'd like to point out how much better it is to buy from a local shop than online:
"Wire services are companies most of us have heard of—FTD, Teleflora, Bloomnet, 1800Flowers, and the like... Their role is to process and pump—take the money, grab their cut, then pawn fulfillment off to a third party who’s given pennies on the dollar to work with—often a warehouse operation, rarely an actual florist." 
- Cinda Baxter, and her article is worth considering for future florist buys.
And to play a bit of catch-up:
Hypothetical No. 1 If April showers bring May flowers, what do April tornadoes bring?
Hypothetical No. 2 So, the honeymoon is over and now it's time to conquer that mountainous pile of gifts. Since of course you were invited to the royal wedding, what was your gift?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Screw Cork Awards

The Garden State Wine Grower's Association Passport is done. Finished. It took roughly eight months, crossing all four seasons, to complete this monstrosity. We saw vines in snow, vines in sun, vines in fall, and vines in rain. But all of the wineries - all thirty-two of them - are tasted, blogged, and stamped.

As Jonaid decisively stated, "You are sending that thing via certified-tracked-approved-GPSed-triptoItalyguaranteed-USPS Mail." The passport is being sent in for the $50 gift and hopefully for the grand prize.

And here's what you're all waiting for.
The 2010-2011 Screw Cork Awards
The Superlatives for the New Jersey Wine Passport.

We didn't judge wines based on quality. There's no way I could compare a chardonnay tasted in August to a chardonnay tasted in February. There are just way too many outside factors to skew it. So these are purely for fun, although the official awards were sent out very formally, including seals of approval. In order of visitation:

Valenzano Winery - The Genesis of the Passport Nonsense
Alba Vineyard - Most Photogenic
Villa Milagro - The dream retirement - have you met these people? Ask them about their day job.
Hopewell Valley Vineyards - Crowd Pleaser
Unionville Vineyards - Most Welcoming
Swansea Vineyards - Pittsburgh Pride
Coda Rossa - Winery I'd most like to work at
Bellview Winery - I Felt Like Family
Sylvin Farms Winery - Most Educational
Renault - Best Hours
Silver Decoy - Jonaid's Choice - truly an honor, as Jonaid not only requires good wine but also a welcoming atmosphere for him to be content.  Something about Silver Decoy... He loved the environment, talking to the Silver Fox, watching the landscape, tasting grapes - the whole experience. Possibly the most prestigious award on this list.
4JGs - Best Holiday Decor
Laurita - Winery I'd Like to Get Married At
Cream Ridge Winery - My 1st Taste of NJ Wine (back in 2004! So once I picked up the wine passport, I knew NJ wasn't kidding around. The wines would be good.)
Cedarvale Winery - Best Place for Girl's Night Out
Auburn Road - "I forgot I was in NJ" (a great escape)
Heritage Vineyard - Most Fun for the Whole Family
Four Sisters Winery - Best Labels
Brook Hollow Winery - Most Willpower Inducing (I said I wouldn't give a taste award. I lied. I've never have anything quite like the Proprietor's Red before - which is why I brought it to my family's Thanksgiving dinner. Which is why it sat on my wine shelf for two weeks, waiting to be brought to Turkey Day, while every night I had to talk myself out of drinking it right then and there. It was hard. Next time I'll get two bottles. Or forty.)
Natali Vineyards - VIV Club (Very Important Vineyard - when we were there, they offered us a couple of tastes of pre-fermented wine, not-yet-released varieties, and showed us their processes... very cool. We felt VIP.)
Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery - Best Winery Dog (and lots of wineries had dogs!)
Cape May Winery & Vineyard - Best Glasses
Amalthea Cellars - Best Tasting Room Host (Thanks Debbie!)
Sharrott Winery - Most Entertaining (Really, the visit felt like I was in a sitcom)
DiMatteo's Vineyards - Confucius of Wine (offered many words of wisdom during our visit)
Plagido's Winery - Portmanteau Award. Just click here. Two in One.
Tomasello Winery - Most Difficult Decision (too many wines, too little time)
Westfall Winery - Most Worth The Wait
Ventimiglia Vineyard - Best Wine Bar Snacks (homemade cookies!)
Cava Winery & Vineyard - Best Music
Wagonhouse Winery - Best Website
Turdo Vineyards & Winery - Most Relaxing Experience

And with that, well, I think I just might have a beer.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Turdo Vineyards & Winery

32/32. The thirty-second, and final, winery on our list is Turdo (pronounced Tour-doh) Winery and Vineyards in Cape May.

If you're a regular to this blog you'll remember Jonaid and I made the hike to Cape May in December. When we got there we learned Turdo was closed due to selling out of all of their wines. As we pulled in on Saturday, Jonaid began to get excited. "They must just be that good," he said.

The small (and excruciatingly difficult to get out of) parking lot was empty when we pulled in, but filled to capacity when we left. We waltzed into the tasting room and were introduced to the vineyard. The emblem of trinacria was set above the wines. 

The wine owners are from Sicily, and they run the winery together with their son, Luca. I must admit the first time I ever encountered the name "Luca" was in the book The Godfather. I've never met anyone with that name in person, so a fish wrapped in a bulletproof vest kept running through my mind. 

Luca poured our wine - $5 for 5, keep the glass. 

White Wine
Pinot Grigio - did not try
Sauvignon Blanc - did not try
Rosato - "You can drink a whole bottle of it - no headache guaranteed," Luca explained. I wonder if that means low alcohol? Anyway - very refreshing.
Moscato Dessert - did not try

Red Wine
Barbera - Not to Jonaid's taste. He explained it was tart but not dry enough. I thought it was tasty and would be a good compliment to any meal.
Barbera Riserva - Sold Out
Pinot Noir Riserva - Sold Out
Sangiovese - Here, this is pronounced "sangio-veys". Very good - we enjoyed a glass of this while sitting outside of the winery.
Merlot - Tasty, and we even got to try it with dark chocolate. Quite delicious.
Cabernet Sauvignon - 13.5% ABV, yowza. Quite good.
Persara - An interesting blend of Cab Sauv (65%), Merlot (20%), Syrah (10%), and Sangiovese (5%). This had a light finish to me; I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Nebbiolo Riserva - Sold Out

All wines are grown on site. They choose quality over quantity, only allowing them about 1000 cases a year. Jonaid and I acquired some sangiovese and sat outside to enjoy the weather. Zoe, their dog, also met us out side. The sun shined, we had the patio to ourselves.

And that was it. The grand finale. It's all done.

It's been good. 

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Wagonhouse Winery

Here we go. The last two wineries of the NJ Passport were crossed off this weekend. The passport is done, finished, selesai, terminado, finis, what have you. It's over. Finally.

As I blog here today, I have twelve bottles of red wine on my shelf. In my fridge, I have four bottles of white wine. I'm currently drinking water.

No more wine - for awhile* anyway. (Thankfully, now I'm on untappd - so I can log the beer!).
*awhile = probably until Wineaux Wednesday. Hey, I like my sushi with some pinot gris.

Anyway, back to the weekend. Jonaid and I first visited Wagonhouse Winery on Saturday afternoon. This one was evasive because the actual vineyard is not open to the public; tastings are held at the local Grasso Girls Farm Market, which is only open seasonally. I hadn't known the market closed in October, so I had to wait until its late April reopening to check this one off. The winery website offers off-season private tastings, but when I called/left a message/emailed in November I did not get a response. We swung in the Mullica Hill stand to see what they had to offer.

Unfortunately, the majority of the wines were either sold out or not on site. We tried most of what they had, which wasn't many. The tasting was free.

Cabernet Sauvignon - This one burned going down.
Chardonnay - Definitely can taste apple and pear in this one. It has a very acidic aroma.
Jersey Girl - Absolutely tastes like a creamsicle. Too syrupy for my tastes, but Jonaid enjoyed it.
Ornery Apple - A delicious apple wine that could be easily warmed during the holidays.
Shore Thing - did not try

And that was it. Out of eighteen wines on their list, they had five, three of which were classified as sweet wines, which I'm just not a huge fan of.

It was a very quick tasting, and unique in the fact that as we were sipping, other farm stand customers were pulling in and out, purchasing cucumbers and asparagus and whatever they needed, right along side of us. We too picked up some apple butter before we left.

Anyway, this was by far the quickest tasting we had - largely due to limited variety, and partially because the woman working was primarily for the farm stand and did not know much of the wine. But the hours here are great. I called in advance and learned the tastings are open when the market is open - so as early as 8am. Good Morning Sun & Good Morning Vino! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!