Category Archives: Uncategorized

Drink Me: GSM

Standard

Happy Wine Wednesday!

Last week we talked about Grenache, a grape varietal grown mainly in France and Spain and usually blended with other grapes to yield an elegant wine.

Many wines from the Rhône Valley in France are made by blending Grenache with Syrah and Mourvèdre. If you find this blend in the new world, however, the trend is to label it as a:

GSM

I’ve often seen this label when this traditional Rhône Valley blend comes out of Australia. But our last South Coast Wine Club shipment included a 2008 GSM from Temecula, California:

photo 1

Legally, in the U.S., a wine must be made up of 75% of the grape in order for a wine to be labeled as that varietal. Generally speaking, in the new world, if the primary varietal is less than 75%, it is listed on the label first, along with the other grapes. For example, a wine labeled Cabernet-Merlot, is typically made of Cabernet and Merlot, but with a higher percentage of Cabernet than Merlot.

However, the exception to the rule lies when the vintner lists the percentage of each grape, as shown above. Here, Syrah dominates, just like in the northern Rhône Valley of France. Whereas the primary grape found in southern Rhône wines is typically Grenache.

Why does this combination work so well?

  • Grenache offers red berry flavors, such as raspberry and strawberry, with hints of warm spices such as cinnamon.
  • Syrah adds dark fruit flavors, earthiness, peppery spice and tannin.
  • Mourvèdre provides acidity and balance with some floral notes. It’s rare to find this grape standing alone, but I once had a Cline Small Berry Mourvèdre that was incredible. I haven’t been able to find it in years. They do make an Old Vine Mourvèdre, but I was already spoiled by the Small Berry version that I couldn’t be converted. Good news! I found the Small Berry online and they still make it. Bad News: It’s twice as much per bottle from when I first tried it.

Here is what our South Coast GSM offered:

photo 2

Have you had a GSM before?

What about a wine from the Rhone Valley in France?

What do you think of this blend?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

 

Advertisements

Townline – Green Bay

Standard

Although we had a Green Bay address growing up, we lived on the outskirts, near the villages of Howard and Suamico. There wasn’t much nearby. We couldn’t even get pizza delivered. But the area has grown and expanded, so there’s now even a gas station less than four miles from my parents’ home.

You’ll also find a little pub and grill nearby called Townline. It was erected not long after I moved to Minnesota. What’s fun is that while the building is new, the tavern isn’t. You can read about the history here.

Because it’s so close, it’s a place we can easily get some grub and a pint when we are in town. I wasn’t intending to ever talk about it on the blog. But why not talk about an old (or newish, depending on how you look it) standby?

Our experience on our trip over the holidays was actually what prompted me to write this one…

~

What completely surprised us is that Townline is open 7am until midnight every day. {But somehow I think that just means food. My guess is that they stay open until the usual 2am bar time for drinks.} And they have free Wi-Fi. The Monday morning before Christmas Eve was the perfect time for Rob to log in to work and put in a few hours. And we could order some breakfast! That’s something we hadn’t done at Townline yet. Mostly, because we had no idea that they served it!

Since I wasn’t the one working, I ordered a Bloody Mary. I was asked if I wanted the Breakfast Mary. Can you believe I ordered it after I was told it was made with bacon-infused vodka?

Breakfast Mary with bacon-infused vodka, cheese, beef stick, pickle, two slices of bacon, hard boiled egg and a beer chaser

Breakfast Mary with bacon-infused vodka, cheese, beef stick, pickle, two slices of bacon, hard boiled egg and a beer chaser

I usually don’t like bacon in things. I only like it by itself because in dishes and on foods, I feel it tends to overpower the other flavors. But this bacon flavor was subtle and well-balanced in the Mary! I would highly recommend it. Rob took my brother there the next morning and JR said it was the best Bloody Mary he’s ever had. I loved that a hard-boiled was part of the garnish. However, they must be either pickled or preserved somehow, because the egg had a strong vinegar flavor. Not my style.

I love eggs and omelets, so I couldn’t go wrong with my breakfast:

Omelet with sausage, onion, mushroom, tomato and cheddar served with hashbrowns and wheat toast

Omelet with sausage, onion, mushroom, tomato and cheddar served with hash browns and wheat toast

Rob went out on a limb and tried something he’d never had before – a Monte Cristo:

Breakfast Monte Cristo made with sausage and served with strawberry sauce

Breakfast Monte Cristo made with sausage and served with strawberry sauce

It was rich and so much food that he only ate about a quarter of it!

~

But enough about breakfast. There are over 50 beers on tap here; but we don’t get too excited about that anymore. There’s rarely something new and interesting to us. That sounds completely snobby, but we’ve just had most of the selections available and know our tastes. But hey, we come from an up-and-coming craft brew mecca. And we understand that Townline needs to offer what suits their clientele. But, if there’s a local brew that is new to us that we can’t find in MN, we give it a try.

The menu at Townline is huge, but I’ve learned what I like to make a quick decision.

My two favorite things to order are:

~ Cajun Chicken Salad with Cajun Ranch Dressing

~ Friday Fish Fry {if we are in town on a Friday!}

Rob’s favorites are:

~ Lonely Guy Burger – fried onions, pepperjack cheese and enough garlic to clear the room on marble rye
*They also make a Lonely Guy Pizza and a Lonely Guy Omelet for breakfast!

~ Howard-Pulaski Burger – burger topped with a slice of kielbasa!
*Rob is saddened that they no longer have this burger. He thinks because kielbasa is no longer on their menu. He may just have to try the Howard-Suamico next time which is made with a brat patty!

~

If you are in town for a Packer game, the Townline is a bit out of the way. I’d hop over to Kroll’s for burgers and fried-anything for a side. It’s across the street from Lambeau and you can’t miss it. It’s kind of an institution that you just shouldn’t miss!

Northeastern Wisconsin

I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk a little about the culture that is Northeastern Wisconsin, while I’m at it. It’s funny that it took me moving out of the area to realize that these things were uniquely part of the culture there. To me, while living there, it was just normal!

~GO PACK GO! Nearly everyone supports the Packers. On game day, everyone breaks out their Packer gear. Solidarity. No matter if we are sucking or not. Whether there’s a home or away game, the mall will be dead. Many streets will be, too. While there are some diehard Viking fans in Minnesota that I highly respect, most are fair weather fans, if at all!

~German and Polish influence – That’s why you see us on TV cooking up brats and kielbasa while tailgating at Packer games! Don’t forget the sauerkraut.

~Friday Fish Fry – You’ll find this at nearly every restaurant that isn’t a chain – every Friday. Not just during Lent. And it’s almost always is perch. I’ve never seen a fish fry made with perch in Minnesota. {Though I’ve had some of the better fish and chips in Minnesota than I’ve had elsewhere!}

~Chili with noodles – Really, it wasn’t until college that I realized chili was ever made without noodles. My mom always made it with spaghetti, right in the pot! I see that Townline offers it on their menu with or without.

~Double Bubble – This is the term for Happy Hour. It technically means that you can buy two-for-one cocktails, but is often used synonymously with Happy Hour now.

~The Old Fashioned – My mom has ordered Whiskey Old Fashioned Sours for as long as I can remember. It’s only been recently that she’d be able to order one in the Twin Cities and get someone who can make one that she deems worthy!

~Bubbler and Tyme Machine = Water Fountain & ATM. I once asked for a Tyme Machine at a movie theater in MN. (Before you could use a credit card to buy a movie ticket!) Yes, they looked at me like I was crazy. Especially because I kept saying it louder because I thought they couldn’t hear me behind the glass… I’m more careful about that one now. 😉

What are some parts of your local culture that you didn’t realize until you traveled or moved elsewhere?

Cheers~
Carrie

I Canceled the Boxes

Standard

That’s right.

I canceled my subscription boxes.

All of them.

Well… except for the BarkBox. But that’s really for the dogs. And it’s paid up front for an entire year.

I am in the process of simplifying life. My theme for 2014 is Self-Care. And I’ve found that purging things and not having as much stuff or thoughts on stuff makes me feel better.

My last Birchbox felt like a gift:

It was tough to say good-bye and I almost thought about keeping just one. But then it was hard to choose… After all, it’s just a box!

What have you done to declutter your life?

Cheers~
Carrie

New Year Mishmash

Standard

I’ve started my first post of the New Year about a dozen times. I found that I just can’t express my thoughts on 2013 or what my plans are for 2014. But I also found it odd to just jump right into all of the long overdue Restaurant Impressions that I want to share without somehow wrapping things up from last year.

2013 was a tough year for me. I don’t think I would have gotten through it all without gratitude. Instead of rehashing those struggles, I’d rather list a few positive things…

Five Gifts I Gave This Holiday Season

1) Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude – If you don’t have a gratitude journal yet. this is a great place to start:

Journal

2) Make your own Rosemary Garlic & Herb Rub from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

3) Grandpa’s Keepers – My dad loves fishing, so we had a fun shirt and a mug made listing all of his grandkids and granddogs.

preview.ashx

4) I love giving concert tickets, especially if I get to attend. 😉 This year, Rob and I will be seeing (and hearing) some a cappella live: Pentatonix and The Sing-Off Live.

5) Owl Always Love You – A one of a kind work – by Moi!

~

Five Great Ways I Ended the Year

1) Making zucchini muffins for the dogs.

2) Drinking beer out of my dad’s fridge. O’So Night Train!

photo 1

3) Spending our points credit at Burger Jones on a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet. Cab + Blue Cheese Burger = nom nom.

4) Champagne with Christmas Cookies. Nuff said.

photo

5) Trusting the Process

Cheers to a fantastic 2014!

It Feels Like Vacation…

Standard

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been participating in the Food & Fitness linkup the last couple of weeks. That’s because we haven’t been home!

Well, actually, we are at home.

We aren’t on vacation, but it feels like we are on vacation. {Well, except for going to work 7:30am – 4pm weekdays.}

People, we have been out every night for the last week and a half. But I’m not complaining! I was looking back this weekend, wondering how I could get a hold of this runaway season and realized that this feels sort of like vacation. We are going out to dinner, meeting friends {old and new} and discovering new parts of our cities.

Instead of being stressed about when I’ll get those holiday cards out {sometime this week} and when I’ll finish Christmas shopping {almost done}, I’ve decided to embrace and relish in every moment I have with all of these friends we’ve made time to see. That’s the reason we planned it, isn’t it?! ‘Tis the season to be grateful for all of those important people in our lives.

In the past week, I have:

And it isn’t ending. My husband and I have something planned every night up until we leave for Green Bay for Christmas. And then I have planned to meet up with long {but not lost!} friends and family while we are there.

And I’m very happy about it!

Unfortunately, I haven’t been getting any fitness into my routine. Surely, there is no excuse. But I’m grateful that it’s making me realize that I need to make it a priority once “vacation” is over.

planning

Because I won’t be home even one night this week, I made lunches on Sunday and plans for potential breakfasts throughout the week:

  • Breakfasts: PB Toast OR granola with milk OR protein bar OR scrambled eggs with spinach
  • Lunch: Every lunch this week will consist of: cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, two halos, applesauce and a piece of dark chocolate
  • Dinner: This means that at dinner, my plan is to get in as many veggies as possible.

What do you slow down to embrace and enjoy the holiday season?

Cheers~
Carrie

Ale Fest 2013

Standard

A few months after we started dating, Rob wanted to teach me more about beer. So on our of our dates, he threw an Ale Fest.” He bought a series of beers that were unique and new-to-me.

This was ten years ago.

Rob and I have been trying to recall what beers we tasted back then. I knew one of his favorite beers at that time was Fullers ESB, but I’m sure he had me tasting that well before Ale Fest. And the closest thing we had to local microbrews at the time was Summit. Rob was lost not having any of the variety that he had while living in Seattle.

I recalled tasting some beers from Unibroue, a Barleywine and maybe something festive or with a vintage.

But Rob, who can hardly remember what I told him yesterday, recalled more specifically:

Now that I look back at that list, I’m thinking… Was he just trying to get me drunk!? 😉

I remember we also tasted the Quelque Chose Ale by Unibroue. I vaguely remember Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, but maybe that’s just a stout that I remember from those early days and not particularly that evening. Perhaps I’m confusing Sammy Smith’s with Samichlaus…

So why am I telling you all of this… my vague recollections of Ale Fest 2003?

Because when I asked Rob what he wanted to do during his birthday weekend he exclaimed,

“ALE FEST!”

So I present to you…

Ale Fest 2013

photo 2

When it comes to our personal Ale Festthere are NO rules! Just as Rob did for the original Ale Fest, we picked whichever beers spoke to us from the shelves. Or they just jumped into our basket. Yes, those are pretty animated beers.

We chose our beers from Zipp’s Liquor in Minneapolis. We’d never been there before, but it had good reviews and was just minutes away from Parka, where we enjoyed Rob’s birthday dinner.

There was a pretty decent selection. We chose about 11 beers, knowing full well that there would be no way we’d finish them all. But we wanted a variety to choose from when we finally sat down to sip.

Before I present these beers to you, I would like to point out that although I feel sort of snobbish about beer, I can’t really describe it. I read reviews on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer and sometimes get lost in the descriptions, as if it’s written in a foreign language.

Now I understand how people feel when I try to describe wine!

Still, I can describe beers at a basic level. I know the difference between ales and lagers. I can describe beers as hoppy or malty and can pick out the coffee and/or chocolate characteristics in porters and stouts. But I still have a lot of evolving to do. Maybe those of you new to beer can appreciate my simplistic reviews.

But as for all you beer geeks out there, please take my descriptions of these beers with a grain of salt. Something else to note: Our Ale Fest is very casual. We relaxed and took no notes. So this is all from memory {or lack thereof as the night progressed…}

Keep in mind that there were also no real rules to the order in which we tasted. This would make me cringe if I saw someone tasting wines in the wrong order! So I’m sure some of you will cringe when you hear about the order of these beers. But just humor us. Mkay?

~

#1 – Deschutes Chasin’ Freshies Fresh Hop IPA

Oregon – American IPA – 7.2% ABV – 22 oz bottle for $5.29

I chose to crack open this one first because I actually was thinking a little about order. A hoppy IPA would work much more nicely before any porters, stouts or bourbon barrel fermented beers.

We were interested in this one because it was made with Amarillo Hops – something neither of us had had before. We are huge IPA fans. Although I think my days as an IPA fanatic are coming to an end. It’s those bourbon barrel fermented beers that have been capturing my heart as of late. And I don’t even like bourbon.

Anyway, this beer = not my cup of tea pint of beer. It had a strange aftertaste to me. So much so that it was the first beer in a long time that I dumped out. Sure, I probably would have finished it if I were in a restaurant. But we had just started Ale Fest and I knew there were a lot more beers to go. I wasn’t going to waste the alcohol on this one.

~

#2 – Surly Abrasive Ale

Minnesota – Double IPA – 9% ABV – pint-sized can – $15.99 for a 4-pack

Okay, so yes, we have had this one before. But it’s not often on tap. And Rob said he rarely sees it in cans. He snatched it up, as it was the last single left. We are a huge fan of Surly Brewery. In fact, it’s all because of the Surly bill that we have so many craft breweries and taprooms in Minnesota now.

I actually find DIPAs smoother-tasting that IPAs, despite the higher alcohol percentage. Of course, this one didn’t disappoint. YAY, Minnesota!

~

#3 Thornbridge Bracia Rich Dark Ale

UK – English Strong Ale – 10% ABV – 1 pint .9 Fl oz for $18.99

photo 2(5)

Maybe you can read why this one peaked my interest:

photo 1(5)

However, I was a little disappointed. Sometimes I forget how subtle the flavors are in English beers. Drinking all the local American microbrews lately, I’ve hardly had anything English in a while. It was a very, very good beer; but I think I’d spend my $18.99 elsewhere next time.

~

#4 – North Coast Grand Cru

California – Belgian Strong Pale Ale – 12.9% – 500 mL bottle with cork for $14.79

This beautiful bottle lured me with wine words: Grand Cru. Plus it had that beautiful gold label and was stopped with a cork. Then reading this on the bottle sealed the deal:

ALE BREWED WITH AGAVE NECTAR AND AGED IN BOURBON BARRELS

Well, you can’t judge a book by its cover, because I just a tad disappointed. It was very good. But I think I’ve been spoiled by the bourbon barrel beers I’ve had at Steel Toe and in Temecula.

C’est la vie. First world problems.

~

#5 – Indeed Old Friend Holiday Ale

Minnesota – Winter Warmer – 7% ABV – 500 ml wax-sealed bottle for $10.79

There is something familiar about this wine. I think the description on the back of the bottle says it all:

photo 3(1)

It was pretty good. And unique. You can definitely taste the ginger. I’d order it on tap if I happened upon it. But my #1 fave from Indeed Brewing is still their LSD.

~

#6 – Indeed Stir Crazy

Minnesota – Winter Ale – 6.5% ABV – 12 oz can for $.65

photo 1(3)

Okay, so the sticker right on the can reads “$1.99,” but our receipt reads just 65 cents for this can. Considering that we were charged the $15.99 for the full 4-pack of Surly when we only got the single, I will be a little more careful watching the ring-up at Zipp’s next time.

photo 4

I have to say that I like the Stir Crazy. I have since ordered it on tap, too. But the “rich caramel” description is stretching it a little, in my opinion.

~

#6 – Boulder Shake Chocolate Porter

Colorado – Porter – 5.9% – 12 oz bottle for $1.99

photo 2

Boulder Shake – Chocolate Porter {2nd from right}

This beer tasted just like a chocolate shake! YUM! Yup, that’s all I’ve got.

~

#7 – Big City Jamaica Stout

Jamaica – Stout – 7.6% ABV – 12 oz bottle for $1.99

photo 3Apparently, we opened this. I don’t remember it. Rob said we liked it. I can hardly think I wouldn’t. I enjoy most stouts.

~

So, there you have it… An account of Ale Fest 2013. Ten years from now {unless the lights go out and we have a (R)Evolution}, I shouldn’t have to think back to what we tried. I’m sure that my palate will have evolved a lot more by then. And I might just be able to describe a beer appropriately…

In any case, I’m sure I’ll still be enjoying every last sip.

Tell me about a unique beer or beverage you’ve tried lately.

Cheers~
Carrie

A Reason to Celebrate

Standard

Today marks ten years from our first date. And Rob and I are celebrating in California Wine Country. Therefore, I will not be participating in this week’s Food & Fitness Plan Link-Up. However, please visit Running with Racheal and Southern Living Yankee (the hosts) to see what they’ll be cooking up this week.

In the meantime, you have an excuse to open a bottle a bottle of bubbly tonight! To toast to us, of course! Tee hee.

Sparkling-Christmas-Champagne-wallpapers-488464

I remember that first date like it was yesterday. We met at Grizzly’s {a bar/restaurant that is no longer in operation} for some dinner and trivia. We enjoyed a couple of beers. Back then, the only local beer on tap was Summit ESB. That was tough on a guy who had just moved from Seattle.

But look at how far we’ve come!

004

Stay tuned for photos and tidbits of our trip later in the week!

Cheers~
Carrie