Tag Archives: wine

Light Green Wine

I was lucky enough to get to attend an amazing dinner last night, put on by Foodbuzz and Black Box Wines. The dinner was at Spruce, a restaurant I’d been wanting to try since it opened a few years ago. These are the times when I wish I was a better photographer – my little borrowed digital Canon would not have done this meal justice. Luckily, this was a blogger event, in a private room nonetheless, so you can bet there were some fabulous pictures taken that evening. Check out Beer & Nosh and Chez Us (hi, guys!) for photos and much better recaps of the night. I’ll just say this – house-made charcuterie, halibut with fennel and chanterelles, bavette steak, duck fat fries? Um, yum! I also met some lovely people, and a good time was definitely had by all.

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Fill ‘er up!

Anyway, naturally (heh) my angle was taking in the green aspects of the evening, and there were many. First, Spruce buys local, fresh ingredients, uses naturally raised meats (not sure how I feel about that term, but let’s go with it), and line-caught fish. About 80% of their produce (according to their press materials) comes from a partnership with 5-acre SMIP ranch, which uses no synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. I love that!

Since the event was sponsored by Black Box, I definitely wanted to find out about the company’s environmentally-conscious policies. I was happy to learn that both the box and the wine pouch are recyclable – you just have to separate them. Also, since the box of wine weighs much less than the equivalent in bottles, it costs much less to ship. While some of the wines come from far-off places, like New Zealand, Italy and Washington State, it will at least take less energy to get to you than the bottles would. Plus, the wine lasts a lot longer- how many times have you opened a bottle for just one glass or a recipe (what, you haven’t made my wine ice cubes?), and the rest has gone to waste? Remember: you’re not just wasting the wine (alcohol abuse!) but using more bottles as well. One box = much less packaging than 4 bottles. Though, I’d like to do a little more research on the manufacturing and recycling processes of the various materials, but that’s another story for another day. Probably one when I shouldn’t be packing instead of blogging. Oh, yes. Moving day tomorrow.

Ok. I hope this isn’t starting to sound like an ad. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to attend, and now I’ve got a box of Cabernet ready to christen my new apartment, after the big move. Wish me luck, guys.

Finally, I was realllly tempted to catch a cab after the dinner, because it was freezing, the bus (first of 2 I needed to take) wasn’t coming for 15 minutes, and, dare I say it, I was a little tipsy. Hey, four courses with wine pairings, whaddya expect? Anyway, I toughed it out and waited for the bus. I got lucky that I only had to wait 2 minutes for my second bus, and I got home with a fatter wallet and a lighter carbon footprint. I’ll drink to that!

How do you “green’ your wine? Buy local, buy organic, buy in a box?

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Greener Pastures

Is it just me, or does everyone seem totally stressed out lately? A bunch of my friends are dealing with some complicated stuff, and it seems like a lot of other bloggers are also not feeling like their usual perky selves. I know I’ve been pretty stressed out myself, for a variety of reasons, hence the infrequent posts lately.

Inspired by Hallie’s post, I’ve decided to try to focus on the positive, instead of getting weighed down by what’s been stressing me out. So here’s a list of the things I’m totally thankful for and happy about right now!

The fact that my boss lets me work from home when I want/need to.
I do have to commute to work (which I feel horribly hippie-critical about) and feel really lucky to have the flexibility to occasionally reduce my carbon footprint by commuting to my kitchen table or local coffee shop. And I’m not even sucking up because I’m working from home today, I swear!

Summer produce
Berries, squash, peaches, nectarines, and my favorite, watermelon! The Farmers Markets are bursting with bright colors and flavors right now, and I can’t wait to check out a new one in my friend’s neighborhood this weekend.

My sister’s impending move to the City
She’s going to be able to sell her car, and walk to one of her jobs, at a really cool organization called My Farm SF, which I plan to dedicate a separate post to in the future. Pretty Green Sister is my eco role model and I’m excited about having her close enough for more frequent ice cream (the girl is obsessed!) dates and Scrabble matches.

My roommate’s wedding
I love weddings! I’ve been lucky enough to attend the weddings of two close friends this year so far, and can’t wait to see Jaime & Chris exchange vows next month.

Potlucks with friends
I have a standing Tuesday date with two of my girlfriends – we alternate themed potlucks with going out for dishes on the Big Eat SF: 100 List. Though I’ve actually missed all the Big Eat dates so far, the potlucks have been awesome. Last night we feasted on chicken tortilla soup (topped with mozzarella, avocado, cilantro and perfectly greasy and salty homemade fried tortilla strips), mango cucumber salsa, bean dip, Mexican cornbread, Food Should Taste Good Yellow Corn chips, and Handley Chardonnay. What a fiesta! My friends have a special way of cheering me up, and I don’t know what I’d do without them!

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Is this picture cute or creepy? I can’t decide!

Have you been stressed out lately? What’s cheering you up?

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My Perfect Summer Meal

There’s nothing I love more in the summer than panzanella with a nice glass of white wine. I discovered this Italian bread salad a few years ago, and I look forward to the weather getting warm every year so I can enjoy it, preferably near an open window with sun streaming in and a light breeze.

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I’m not big on exact measurements and usually just adjust to taste, so I recommend you do the same! For myself, I used about 2/3 a demi baguette, 1.5 small tomatoes and probably about 12 ciliegine mozzarella balls (cherry tomato size), cut in half. I made too much, and will have soggy leftovers tomorrow!

Delicious Summer Panzanella
Italian bread, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces (day-old is best, but not required!)
Good extra virgin olive oil
Garlic
Salt
Pepper
Tomatoes*
Fresh mozzarella
Basil (dried will work but fresh will take this over the edge!)

*Don’t you even consider using regular grocery store tomatoes! Organic, local, heirloom, etc. is the only way to go!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix bread with enough olive oil to moisten (ugh, hate that word! But it really gets the point across, ya know?), and season with minced garlic, salt and pepper. Tonight, I actually used Stonehouse garlic olive oil which was fab, but reg. extra virgin and fresh garlic works just as well.

Spread bread on baking sheet and place in preheated oven for 5+ minutes, until bread is crispy but still chewy. Remove from oven.

While bread is cooling, chop tomatoes and mozzarella into bite-sized pieces. Mix a few glugs of olive oil with a splash of balsamic (I told you I’m not big on exact measurements!) and add basil, tomatoes and mozzarella. Add bread and let sit for about 10 minutes, if you can stand it! You can also eat this immediately, but it’s nice to let the flavors mingle a little.

Enjoy!

I recommend making a small amount, because 1) you’re not going to be able to stop eating it or 2) if you have any willpower whatsoever, the bread will get soggy. 🙂

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Tonight, I enjoyed this with a glass of Handley Gewürztraminer, a great Gewurtz that isn’t too sweet. I’m a member the Handley wine club and anxiously awaiting their members BBQ in a few weeks. I’d also recommend Toulouse Pinot Gris or La Crema Chardonnay, my other current favorite whites!

What’s your quintessential summer meal?

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Wedding Bells!

I just woke up at 4am and got a calf cramp a few minutes later. Ick! Guess those bananas I traded in for this week didn’t do me much good. Grr! Sad banana, indeed! Funny story: my sister and I were Facebook IMing the other day and I mentioned that I was tired. She says, “have some coffee” and then goes, “wait, have a banana.” Ha, totally made me laugh.

I’m headed up to Sonoma first thing this morning (yes, I’m still awake at 5am, not sure if going back to sleep is going to happen) for the wedding of one of my closest friends, Jen. We’ve known each other since middle school and found each other again (yay, social networking!) when I moved back up here almost 3 years ago. The wedding weekend is kicking off with a bang today – carpooling (of course!), mani/pedis, picnic lunch with all the girls and private wine tasting. I can’t wait! And the wedding itself is going to be absolutely amazing, with gourmet food (hello, Michelin star!), fabulous drink (this couple knows their wine!), a stunning location and a gorgeous bride! Not to be too sappy, but I am just so thrilled for my friend and can’t wait to share her big day!

Check out this gorgeous setting!

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Pretty sweet, right? I can’t wait!

PS: Happy, happy birthday to my roommate, Jaime! Her Wedding Road Trip kicks off in just 15 days! I’m happy to say she is not just my roommate but also a great friend, confidante and sounding board. I’ll miss her a lot while she’s on the trip, but can’t wait to hear and read all about it. Have an awesome birthday, roomie!

PPS: I scheduled a few fun posts for the weekend, including a cool coupon, so make sure to stop by!

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Pretty Green Tip: Ice Ice (Wine) Baby

I love wine. Like, a lot. Sometimes nothing’s better than coming home from work and pouring a big glass to have with (or before!) dinner. Or, ok, having a beer in the shower after a great workout – the most random thing I ever learned from having an alcoholic roommate (NOT my current roommate, by the way. Also, I only do the beer thing about once a year, probably, lest you think I am talking about an alcoholic “friend”). Boy, do I have some stories about that roommate. Someone remind me to tell the tale of Thanksgiving Apple Pie one of these days. 🙂

Anyway. Since I’m usually just cooking for me, and my roommate (again, not the alcoholic one!) and I aren’t always on the same schedule, I sometime don’t want to open a bottle if I won’t use it all up that week. Yes, I definitely could have a glass every night, but I probably shouldn’t. Also, I often cook with recipes that call for just a little bit of wine, which can be a pain, since, again I’m usually cooking for one. I hate opening a bottle and letting any of it go to waste!

The solution? Wine ice cubes! The other night I REALLY wanted a glass of Syrah, but knew I had plans the rest of the week and probably wouldn’t get to finish the bottle. So I made myself a HUGE glass of ice water to clear out my ice cube tray (can’t waste water, of course!) and filled it up with the rest of the bottle of wine. The next morning – voilà! Wine ice cubes!


By the way, I do not buy plastic baggies! A relative had sent me home with leftovers in one, so I washed and reused.

Mmm, wine ice cubes. I’m thinking about breaking one out for a Mandatory Popsicle Break one of these days! That’s totally acceptable, right?

My winecubes are now in the freezer ready to be used any time I have a recipe that calls for a little vino. Last night I made chicken with a red wine & shallot pan sauce – threw in a cube and it worked perfectly! Now I just have to make some white ones. C’mon, weather get warmer, so I can have a nice crisp glass of Chardonnay!

My friend Andrea points out that there are other great uses for your winecubes – like chilling a delicious Sangria or your lukewarm Pinot Grigio without watering it down! Is anyone else seriously craving some Sangria right now? Just me then?

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