Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Raymond and Buena Vista Vineyards

It's time to return to wine country (at least on the blog). On our second day, the same day we did a barrel tasting at Westwood, we visited two of Jean-Charles Boisset's family vineyards. From what we saw, this guy must be quite a character! Our first stop was Raymond Vineyards, which we were excited to visit since we had a couple of their table Cabs at home and enjoyed them.

Biodynamic Farming at Raymond
Our friends are wine club members here, and they knew that rather than going to the traditional tasting room we should request a tasting in the Crystal Room, which was something to behold! The stainless vats mixed with the mirrored bar and crystal chandelier was totally different from anything else we had seen in Napa. While the wine club recently had a party (thus explaining the upside-down manequin in her underwear), the angels looking down from the rafters are always there.

Crystal Tasting Room
Tasting Flight
Raymond really specializes in Chardonnays and big Cabernet Sauvignons. While this was a little bold for 10:30am we powered through. Luckily they decant the wine prior to pouring, which helps ensure it's ready for the tasting. It is fun to be able to taste a number of different vintages and grape sources from one type of wine and really learn how different a single grape varietal can be. During our tasting our server took our group back to the Red Room, which, for those who have read "50 Shades of Gray," is pretty amazing!

In addition to the awesome decor, the Red Room offers a machine that can pour out single glasses of wine, allowing guests to enjoy glasses of the pricey wine without having to commit to the bottle.

Needless to say, we enjoyed roaming around this room to see all the decorative features. If you want to throw a party, I believe you can rent out the room!

After enjoying our tasting we went back outside to walk through the gardens and enjoy the view. The estate vineyards are biodynamic, which always make for such lovely surroundings. Looking back at these photos is really making me yearn for Spring!

Raymond does have a lab where they allow people to make/blend their own wine! You get to design the label and can take a bottle home with you that day, and if you think you did an amazing job you can buy an entire case. This might have to make the itinerary for our next trip!

If you like a big California Cab, Raymond is the perfect destination.

After lunch, we headed to Sonoma to Buena Vista Winery, another of the Boisset family vineyards. Buena Vista is known as one of the first premier wineries, founded in 1857. This winery plays to their history in the wild west. The tour guides and pourers dress in character and the decor is all in keeping with the theme.

The tasting building was recently restored and required a lot of steel rods in order to keep the building from crumbling. The results are pretty outstanding.

Both Buena Vista and Raymond had a wall of smells and textures. Each smell and texture is something that people use to describe wine. It was fun to go through and see how each smelled and felt individually and then see how we were able to apply it to an actual glass of wine.

The price point at Buena Vista is significantly lower than many of the other wineries we visited, and of all the wines we tasted The Count was the favorite. This was a very good value wine, but after tasting so many special bottles on our trip, it didn't ultimately rank as high on our list.

Once again, we had another perfect day in California's wine country. Can you believe I still have 2 more vineyards to tell you about?!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

J.T. Farnham's Fried Clams and a Day at the Beach

Another year, another last-minute realization that the time when dogs are allowed at Crane Beach was coming to an end! Since we had such a great time the last two years, we schedule a trip and hoped that it wouldn't be TOO cold or windy. Somehow we lucked out with blue skies and temps in the 30's, which was practically a heat wave given the winter we've had!

Nick the dog whisperer

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ward 8 - Not Just a Cocktail Anymore

When Nebo announced they were leaving their space in the outskirts of the North End for Atlantic Wharf I was curious to see what would ultimately move into the space. For those of us living in Charlestown, this location is an easy stop on the bus line, and for everyone and going to the TD Garden, it's a nice alternative to what's on Canal Street. When news spread that Ward 8 was moving in and it was from the family behind other loval favorites like Ducali, I was optimistic. Rather than serving Italian food though, Ward 8 draws inspiration from its craft cocktail namesake with a creative cocktail list and an interesting menu of bistro foods.

Moscow Mule

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Westwood Barrel Tasting and Crush!

With all this cold weather I keep thinking about warm sunny days. Every time we open a bottle of a big red wine I think about our trip to California's wine country and start planning our return trip in my head! As you may recall, on our first trip to Napa we stopped off in Sonoma Square and visited the Westwood Winery tasting room at our friends' recommendation (they are wine club members). When our friends added Westwood to the Google Doc for our return trip I was excited to head back, having thoroughly enjoyed their Pinot Noirs on the first go-around.

Where the Magic Happens!

Monday, March 10, 2014

M.C. Spiedo Grand Opening Party

I was recently invited to the grand opening of M.C. Spiedo, the new restaurant in the Renaissance Hotel in the Seaport District. Chefs and co-owners Mark Gaier and Clark Fraiser are known primarily as pioneers of the farm-to-table ideals at their restaurant, Arrows in Ogunquit Maine. M.C. Spiedo is a unique concept based on the supper clubs in Florence, Italy that began in the 1400's, where modern food originated.The food selections found on the menu draws on inspirations of the Italian Renaissance and continues to re-imagine contemporary food.

Modern Renaissance Decor With Catherine de'Medici

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mango Avocado Salsa - What Tomatoes Are Meant For

It is still freezing cold out, so I need to think summery thoughts! I love winter and snow, but I have had enough this year!

One thing I have started to make a lot is homemade salsa. I'm not a big fan of tomatoes in general, so I was looking for something to do with all the tomatoes we were getting in our CSA. After looking at Megan's mango guacamole last summer I got inspired and made many variations of this recipe, finding it to be the perfect party and deck-time food!

The Ingredients

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