Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The lighter side of Amsterdam

A view from a running trail in Vondel Park.  It was bustling with bike riders, runners, and people walking their dogs.  I was immediately sold on Amsterdam after walking through this quaint part of town.  No tourists, just fresh air. 

The courtyard of Begijnhof.  Used for the English Reformation Church.  Built in the 1400's and used by the English speaking church since 1607.

A clock tower.

A gorgeous corridor of restaurants and coffeeshops.

Heavenly window shopping!!

The central train station is even breathtaking.  The trams you see in the picture make getting around the city so efficient and easy.  For seven Euro, one can navigate the city on these trams for twenty-four hours!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Canals and Gondeliers

Piazza San Marco

This was above one of the doors at the St. Mark's Cathedral.  Unbelievably ornate.

A picture of our lunch spot in Venice.  Veal liver with onions and a nice Valpolicella, a perfect combination.

A little reprieve from shopping.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Uffizi Tower & Santa Croce

The Uffizi holds masterpieces by Botticelli, da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio.  These amazing buildings were so ornate, words cannot describe.

Piazza Santa Croce was completed in 1442.  The Franciscans used the piazza as a headquarters around the 1200's.  This Gothic church is extremely important now because it holds the tombs of Machiavelli, Michelango, and Galileo.

Looking at the Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Roma, the two hour snapshot

When we arrived in Rome, we checked our bags at the train station.  I found a nice taxi driver and we were off to do a quick tour of some sites in Rome.  Alessandro, our cab driver, was nice enough to give me plenty of time for pictures.  The Colosseum was breathtaking, even though it was for ten minutes.  It is sad to think that long after the bloody battles, the marble facing was stripped and used to build churches and palaces.

The Spanish steps.which get its name from the Spanish Embassy, is bustling with azaleas in the spring.  The shopping around here is a women's dream!

"According to legend, the ashes of Nero were enshrined here, until 11th-century residents began complaining to the pope about his imperial ghost.  The Egyptian obelisk dates from the 13th century B.C" (Frommers, 166, 2011).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Breakfast in Frankfurt

This was on our four hour layover in Frankfurt.  I was exhausted and needed something.  Why not have a pretzel and a tall boy pilsner?!  Sorry to disappoint, no vino for this breakfast!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The mistaken identity of pink wine

As the weather approaches “white wine drinking season”, why not have the luxury of both in one glass. The solution, Rosé.

Pink wine is not as White Zinfandel advertises, it is more complex. White Zin is made from "less than desirable" juice that is fermented to a medium sweet style. This is to hide their countless flaws and cheap juice.  Unfortunately, when most people see pink wine, they immediately think White Zin. I'm here to tell you that there are numerous amounts of pink wine that will blow your mind, let it happen! I know this because I thought the same thing until a year ago. My boss, at a local wine and gourmet store, was mildly obsessed with dry Rosé. From the first sip of a Heidi Schrock  Rosé, I was hooked. I found that the versatility of these wines is what I enjoy the most. It tastes like a red, but drinks like a white. One can pair Rosé with anything from hot dogs to turkey to oysters, which I can successfully attest.

Proper Rosé wines are made with the best of both worlds. Depending on the desired outcome, the winemakers pick a red grape and crush them. After one presses the juice, they let it sit in the skins, stems, and seeds for hours or a couple of days; instead of days or weeks like red wine.  Then, the juice is separated from the solids and goes through a fermentation period that is usually at a low temperature and slow like white wine. The result is a harmonious blend between juicy red fruits and a crisp clean finish.

So in the future, do not let the color of wine deter you from opening up new taste buds. I can promise you, it is well worth it.

The above wine was a perfect match with raw oysters.  It had lucious red rasberries and a great amount of smokiness to offset the salty freshness of the oyster!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Away we go

Alright, here's the dirt. . .

I'm doing this so my friends and family can follow my ridiculous stories. Stories that usually stem from drinking too much wine and eating copious amounts of delicious food. This was how I was raised and why I can value fresh herbs, decanted Cabernet, and the sense of family brought about by a dinner table.

By no means am I a world class chef, nor a wine expert; but, I have an insatiable craving for both. I learned to cook from my mother, who was one of six children. She taught me to abide by one basic rule: USE FRESH HERBS! This rule has been abused since day one and I quickly discovered that this one simple guideline adds another dimension to cooking. To me, there is nothing more relaxing than putting on some blues music, drinking a glass of wine, and prepping a meal for friends, family, or a significant other.

My wine knowledge has grown some roots in the past year. I made the decision to get back in the food and beverage industry with aspirations to secure myself somewhere in the wine business. I've worked in a retail store with a knowledgable boss, taken a CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) class, and am currently working in a four-star hotel as a bartender.

Stay tuned for pics of some of my favorite wines from the past six months and my travels to Florence, Italy. There will no doubt be some shenanigans to share!!

When in doubt, pour yourself another glass.