Monthly Archives: February 2012

Wine Wednesdays

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Yes, wine has its place in a healthy lifestyle!

In fact, the French and Italians are known for their heart-healthy Mediterranean diets which includes fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats (such as olive oil), lean meats (particularly fish), and wine – in moderation of course.

Everything in moderation, right?

Here’s something else to think about:

If you are going to have your glass of wine a day for health or are allotting your calories for such….

Don’t you want it to taste good?

Quality over Quantity!

Every Wednesday I’m going to post a little about wine. And while you can already find a lot of information online about wine, I’m hoping to give you some fun ideas and unique tips, maybe even with a dash of humor.

In no particular order, here are some topics I’ll cover:

Cheers! To Your Health!
  • Ordering Wine in a Restaurant – by the Glass or Bottle?
  • House Wine
  • BYOB & Corkage fees
  • Food Pairings
  • Wine & Health
  • Graduating from sweet wines to white wines to reds
  • How to enjoy white wine if you are a red wine drinker
  • Easy Cheese and Wine Pairings
  • The Truth about Sulfites
  • Is your wine too warm/cold?
  • Corks vs. Screwcaps
  • Is wine really meant to be aged?
  • The difference between a good wine and a great wine
  • The Importance of Company – one of my favorite topics!

Is there a topic you’d like to see in the future about wine?

Let me know because it will help me come up with posts that YOU want to read.

And as always, you can always book an fun, free educational wine tasting: www.MyTTV.com/UncommonWine.

Cheers~
Carrie

“Over a bottle of wine, many a friend is made..”  ~ Unknown

Fins & Feathers

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My husband is allergic to…

AND

That’s right – fins and feathers. Well, not literally. But he is allergic to all poultry, fish, and seafood.

I’m not kidding.

He’s not I-need-an-EpiPen-or-I-think-I’ll-die allergic. However, if he eats any of these foods… well, first, put down that snack that you are mindlessly munching on while you surf the web.

Uh hem… If he eats these foods, his throat will get swollen, constrict and everything will eventually come back up. Not fun at all.

He likes to joke that he can only consume slow-moving land mammals.

This makes trying to lead a healthy lifestyle including a wide variety of lean meats, especially those including Omega-3s, nearly impossible. There are only so many recipes you can create with beef and pork until it starts to get old.

But that’s not all. There is a longer list of allergies, which include:

  • Poultry (but not eggs)
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Kiwis
  • Bananas
  • Pinto Beans
  • Raspberries
  • Hazelnuts (newly discovered)

These are only the foods to which he is allergic. This list is not inclusive of the foods he just doesn’t like! And don’t even suggest that we can get our protein without meat. He won’t even order a pizza if it doesn’t have meat on it. Meatless meals are not an option.

The good news is that he’s picky about his meat. The beef has to be very lean and pork with minimal gristle. Consumption of fatty red meat daily could be a bigger cause for concern.

Which brings me to another reason why I’m so open to dining out: It’s another opportunity for me to eat chicken, fish, and seafood! (Of course, preparation matters, but that’s for another post.)

Still, after work Monday, I stopped at the grocery store and picked me up a good ol’ rotisserie chicken. We planned on eating dinner separately due to conflicting schedules. So I made myself a chicken sandwich.

Rotisserie Chicken, Spinach, Tomato & Havarti on a Toasted Bagel Thin with Grape Tomatoes

Sometimes something as simple as this can be absolute heaven when you don’t get it very often.

Do you have any allergies? Are there any simple meals that easily satisfy you?

Colette Bar & Bistro – Bloomington {Closed}

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Francophile  – an individual who has a strong positive predisposition or interest toward the government, culture, history, or people of France. (Wikipedia)

That’s me! I’m not sure where it began. Maybe it was when I was a kid and my dad would come home from his fishing trips in Canada with crackers or other items that had French written on the box. He took French in high school. I followed suit. I loved my high school French class! In fact, I saved my pennies from my part-time job at KFC to go on the high school French Club trip to France when I was 17 – not only my first trip abroad, but also my first time on a plane! Then, I studied for a semester in Toulon, France in college. At one point, I was returning to France every three years. I love the French culture and way of life. (Yes, the French Paradox will appear in a future post!)

Friday night, Rob and I dined at Colette Bar & Bistro in the Sofitel Hotel.

“WHAT?” you ask? With all of the options of French cuisine in the Twin Cities, why would I be dining in a hotel bar if I wanted to go out and have a French meal? Here’s why:

  • I had rescheduled my last loooooooong run (60 min) for Friday night since I missed it earlier in the week.
  • It was a Friday night. After my run, where on earth (um, the Twin Cities) can you get a seat at 6:30 or 7pm without a reservation?
  • We had a gift certificate.
  • We’d been there before and liked it.
  • It’s actually a very nice place!

I was right in my assumption that a Friday night would be a great night to dine at a Hotel Restaurant. Try it  sometime! People staying in hotels are usually out and about because they just got into town and want to check out their destination, not stay in the hotel.

I love the fact that we can order a Kir or Kir Royale as a cocktail here! Brings me back to Paris…

Kir Royale – Champagne with crème de cassis

Colette gets brownie points for including De-Light options on their menu!

Colette has “De-Light” Options

I was really in the mood for fish, so I inquired on all that was listed. The staff gave me very detailed descriptions. I did pass on the “De-Light” option (230 calories) because after running 60 minutes, I wanted something a little more substantial. The Sea Bass with Saffron Cream Sauce sounded fantastic, but a little rich for my tastes that evening. So after sharing a bruschetta appetizer with Rob, I had the Halibut with Ratatouille.

Alaskan Halibut, Traditional Ratatouille, Sauce Vierge

The presentation of all dishes at Colette was breathtaking! And while that little seasoned tomato you see above was divine (I’ll take four of those next time, please!), the fish was something to be desired. It seemed overdone and not that exciting. But the waitstaff did describe the dish correctly and indicated it was a healthy option, especially if I wanted my veggies.

However, I did have a bite or two of Rob’s dish:

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil

Creamy goodness! I’d call it comfort food with elegance.

We did opt for dessert. And while normally I try to only have a couple of bites, I hate to admit that I probably ate half of this huge piece of decadence:

Chocolate Mousse with a Basil Cream Center

Sounds strange, right? But oh it was so creamy, chocolatey, and the basil really worked in this dessert!

Yes. We will be back to Colette. And you’ll probably find us there on a weekend night when we don’t yet have plans, want to stay close to home, and still enjoy high quality food.

Cheers~
Carrie

Restaurant Week

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Does your city have a Restaurant Week?

I love Restaurant Week in Minneapolis/St. Paul! It comes around two to three times per year and is advertised in Mpls St. Paul Magazine. Restaurants all over the Twin Cities participate by offering $15-$30 three-course lunches and dinners. Diners can choose from a small selection of (hopefully) some of the best food the restaurant has to offer.

This season’s restaurant week in the Twin Cities is Sunday, February 26th through Friday, March 2nd.

Reservations are Highly Recommended

One year, Rob and I spent nearly every day of Restaurant Week trying out several of the restaurants! While our expenditures definitely added up in the end, we did enjoy a few dinners that would have cost the same for the entree alone. We also found a few exceptional places that we’ve returned to again and again.

Our favorite way to enjoy restaurant week is to browse the list of restaurants online. All of the restaurant week menus are listed there! Since there are so many restaurants participating, we can choose one that has a menu with the most interesting or healthiest options. We like to try restaurants that we haven’t before. However, if any of our favorites are participating during restaurant week, we are sure to take advantage of the special pricing!

Do you have a restaurant week where you live? If so, do you take advantage of it? What Twin Cities restaurants are you planning to or would you attend during this Restaurant Week?

We will be sure to update you on our choice this week!

Cheers~
Carrie

Season It Already!

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When Rob and I started dating, we went out to eat – a lot.

I learned that he was a beer guy. I was a wine girl. In fact, after just a few months of dating, I was presented with the opportunity to learn more about wine. I became a Wine Consultant. You can learn more about that HERE.

He taught me about beer – good beer. Gone were my college days of Miller Lite and Leinie’s Honey Weiss. I was opened up to a world of nut browns, porters, stouts, and bitter IPAs. One of our dates was even dubbed “Ale Fest”. I’m kind of a beer snob now… (Thanks a lot, Rob.)

I taught him about wine, moving him all the way from syrupy-sweet Muscat Canelli to big, bold, deep reds. In fact, it’s hard to get him to drink a white wine anymore!

Palate Evolution

During our courtship, we dined out so often that I found myself asking him, “Did I like the Tuna Melt here?” more and more often. It’s not that I particularly love tuna melts. It’s just that we seemed to be frequenting the same restaurants and I was getting bored of some of the other options. It became a joke between us. Why couldn’t I remember? Were they just not memorable?

Having both been transplants to the Twin Cities, we quickly learned the plethora of restaurant options that awaited us.

In less than a year, I gained about 40 pounds. That was about how much I needed to lose at the time, not gain! Over time, I’ve struggled with cooking at home versus my man’s grand desire to dine out as often as we do. I fought it. I cooked. But he fought back. So you know what? I decided to embrace it. No, not the weight… the dining out. It’s no secret that right now that I’m in the process of losing weight. However, I’m discovering healthy ways to eat out without deprivation.

At some point, Rob went on a mission to find the best burgers and fries in the Twin Cities, too. Top 10 lists led us to some great finds, but also some less than desirable surprises. “Why don’t they season their meat?” was Rob’s #1 question. What followed was how people could rate something without flavor so highly.

If you want good food that keeps people coming back

SEASON IT ALREADY!

There are so many options!

Join me as I discover how to incorporate flavorful food and beverages into my life while still learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Seriously, if you have to eat a healthy diet, don’t you want it to taste good? Taste matters.

I don’t claim to be an expert on anything other than my own opinion. Life’s an adventure… Let’s taste it.

Cheers~
Carrie