Food, Wine, Good (and Evil) Spirits

kosherwine.jpgThe other day I took a walk through Wally's, my local wine emporium's autumn sale and was bottle shocked by the number of kosher wine choices on display—Ninety-seven Jewtique labels. From Israel to Australia to the Valley of Napa, there are rabbis rendering grapes right for Jewish tables the world over.

Although pleased as wine punch that my brethren can sip with confidence from so many vineyards at all the holiday tables to come, I felt drowned in a sudden wave of nostalgia, for, over in a less popular corner, I spied some "Man Oh Manischewitz – What a Wine" languishing, neglected for a mere $4.99 in its own dust.  

And a flood of bittersweet tasting memories ensued…of my parentally enforced Prohibition.  The years of my youth when I was served Welch's grape juice in a grown up glass at the holidays to placate my longing for the real deal.  I sipped the faux, while the elders were slurping Manichevitz, the manna of the God, the only choice in that era, with lip-smacking satisfaction.  I'd lift my grape laced goblet, toast and boast—'Lookit! Lookit how fast I can drink it!" 

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pinot_gris.jpgI had to laugh the other night while having dinner in a local restaurant. The patrons next to us ordered a bottle of wine, confidently requesting "Pinot Grisss", with lots of heavy emphasis on the "isssss", as their wine of choice for the evening.

I shouldn't have laughed. Really I shouldn't have. But I'm horrible like that. Don't worry... they didn't hear me. I wanted the waitress to correct them though, "You mean PEE-noh Gree?" but she didn't. Maybe she was worried about her tip or was trying hard not to laugh herself.

I think the intimidation for ordering wine is even greater at fine dining establishments employing a sommelier (sum-muhl-YAY). The sommelier is there to help guide restaurant guests in the best wine choice possible in terms of their meal, palate and pocketbook. It can be intimidating to speak up and request something from somewhere like Chateauneauf-du-Pape (shah-toh-nuhf-doo-PAHP), if you have absolutely NO IDEA how to pronounce the words.

I should be more forgiving. I know for a fact, as many have confessed to me, some people shy away from ordering particular wines simply because they are afraid of making a pronunciation mistake in front of friends and clients.

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“The Long Goodnight” 

lips.jpgLady Restylane was a carnivore, a notorious coquette who left lipstick marks like business cards. But when men followed up, expecting the innuendos to lead to escapades, their calls were seldom returned. To Lady Restylane, it was all about the dance. Genuine intimacy scared the hell out of her.

There were times when her game left her so exhausted that she’d give anything just to have a normal evening. Just to have dinner with a friend. And on one ill-fated night in the City of Angels, I was that friend.

We made plans to meet at the Bicycle Shop Café, a Westside eatery that had bicycles hanging on the walls. Not exactly artwork, unless you prefer Schwinn to van Gogh.

It was half past fashionably late when Lady Restylane arrived, wearing a little black dress and stilettos that could have doubled as steak knives. She said she wanted to leave the act at home, but she couldn’t do it. She just couldn’t do it. As soon as she made her entrance, she went on a flirting binge – targeting two guys at the bar, the bartender and our waitress. After that, I stopped counting.

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sangria-thumbWith summer in full swing there’s no better drink to sip by the pool than sangria. Filled with fruit, it seems less “boozy” and perhaps slightly “healthy”, so if you start drinking it before Happy Hour there seems to be less shame and guilt involved. Believe me the fruit only masks the alcohol, but who cares? It’s a drink I find hard to resist.

While I always have wine in the house, I am not a big fruit lover. Sure, if someone else brings it all bright and juicy and already cut up, I’ll generally eat my fair share, but I’m more attracted to the “idea” of it than its physical reality. Plus, I’m more a cheesy/salty person. Sweets of any kind just don’t float my boat.

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cocktail fznlemonade vodkaI am not a big drinker. It’s rare that I finish a glass a wine at dinner and I rarely order a “cocktail”. With that said, when I do invite friends over for dinner, I like to have a little cocktail on hand for those that simply want one.

Seeing a lot of fruit infused vodka on Pinterest sparked my interest to create a red, white, and blue cocktail for the 4th of July. Seeping the blueberries in the vodka for 36 hours, creates the most amazing scent. For lack of a better word, the smell was intoxicating.

When I do indulge in a cocktail (I much prefer to eat my calories), it’s generally something slushy, fruity, and not overly alcoholic. Grabbing the last of the Meyer lemons from my tree, I made a huge batch of Molly’s raw honey lemonade. Making something slushy was what I was craving. Tossing the lemonade and some ice in the blender, this frozen lemonade and blueberry cocktail was created.

I wanted to use the blueberries as garnish, but didn’t want them simply floating in the glass. Grabbing a handful of small wooden sticks, I skewered them and then put them in the freezer for about an hour. After the fact, I thought how yummy these would have been if I would have sugar coated them.

Freezing fresh, organic, summer berries and fruit from the farmers market is my newest obsession. I see many more fruit and vodka combos in my future.

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