Food, Wine, Good (and Evil) Spirits

jordan1If I ask you about your favorite wine, you will probably tell me where you enjoyed it and with whom. Perhaps it was at a picnic on a perfectly sunny day, or on a date with the love of your life. Maybe it was at the winery where the wine was made, but probably not. My point is this, wine, like food, is enjoyed in context. It can be very hard for a winery to create a truly memorable experience with wine, but one winery is giving it a shot.

I'm lucky to have gotten to spend some time at the Jordan winery and to enjoy firsthand the food, wine and hospitality that they are about. I've stayed on their property, had lunch and a full tasting, attended one of their famous halloween parties and gotten to know their talented and creative chef and his wife who heads up hospitality and events. Those experiences have been limited to a privileged few, up till now. And while Jordan uses as many means possible to share the winery experience and lifestyle virtually including photography, videos and even a blog, nothing takes the place of being there.

The soon-to-be-launched Jordan Winery Estate Tour & Tasting is best described as a fully immersive affair. You start at the winery for a little continental breakfast with fresh fruit grown on the property plus fresh baked goods.

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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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Herradura-Scotch-Bonnet-Mango-MargaritaAs a margarita fanatic (dare I say connoisseur?), I feel like I have a certain responsibility to find the best margaritas wherever I go—dive bars, hotels, even the Greek Theatre (theirs is surprisingly worth $18, by the way). There’s only one rule: they need to be crafted with fresh juice and premium tequila. No artificial sour mix that looks like antifreeze or tequila that comes in a plastic bottle!

I love the simple, like “The Boss” at Valley institution Casa Vega and a traditional Cadillac at Hillstone. They house-make the best sour mix: freshly-squeezed lime, lemon, and orange juice and a splash of simple syrup. The complex cocktails intrigue me, too.

The best I’ve had is the Market Margarita at Rick Bayless’ Red O. It’s a fusion of tequila, muddled fresh cucumber and honeydew melon and homemade limonada.

Naturally, I’m always looking for the latest trend to spice up my love affair with the Latin libation. Pepper-infused concoctions have been popping up on specialty cocktail menus everywhere (jalapeno martinis, Tabasco gin and tonics, sriracha everything), and now it’s the margarita’s turn.

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peachmargaritaIt's only a few days until Cinco de Mayo. Woo-hoo!

That means margaritas, chips and salsa, margaritas, carnitas, margaritas. Are you seeing a pattern?

Having previously lived in Southern California where Cinco de Mayo was BIG, we always celebrated with some type of special Mexican meal. For me, the tradition will always live on no matter where I am, and that tradition will always include margaritas.

I would like to share with you one of my favorite margarita recipes. The Wild Boar and I concocted this recipe for a margarita contest we entered and WON! It was a long time ago but we still make this margarita as often as we can.

This Peach Margarita has a fresh and refreshing taste that will soothe your mouth as you eat your salsa-laden burrito this Cinco de Mayo.

So come on, find your lost salt shaker and let's get to blendin'.

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whiskey_shot_248.jpgWe'd been drinking since Happy Hour at that Korean Pirates of the Caribbean on Wilshire. We guzzled 5000cc's of Amber Ale, and dined on authentic cuisine: "tteokbokki" and "potato skins." Post-Happy Hour pricing pushed us on to the streets. We decided to regroup at a home-base off Franklin.

We drank whiskey shots and warm beer on the breezy patio. Our friends were at that bar-that-offers-free-tacos-with-every-drink. The house descended on to the watering hole recently annexed by the hip-seeking Manifest Destiny of gentrification. Friends from varied areas of my life crowded into a corner of the cantina.

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