hooray for grown-up furniture

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The best thing about finally setting up the kitchen, eating meals at home and living in a house that is actually large enough to have a dining table: Conversation.

It's amazing. Dinner is now an opportunity to catch up, to spend time with each other, to talk about abstract things (and concrete things too), to get totally carried away and lose track of time. I love it.

And I love the way we've been incorporating wine with every meal. Tonight we had meatballs and drank our last bottle of 2000 Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Reserva from the Estremadura region of Portugal.

This wine knocked my socks off. I absolutely loved it. (I also loved it two years ago when we shared it with friends at Tablespoon in San Francisco -- sadly, the restaurant has since closed.) A blend of 96 percent Syrah and 4 percent Viognier, the Monte d'Oiro Reserva is like a Côte-Rôtie, which is a Syrah-based wine from the Northern Rhone.

The Monte d'Oiro Reserva was just beautiful. A gorgeous, gorgeous Old World nose -- lots of black fruit, bramble, spice, earth and meat. And in the mouth -- power, power, power. And not the over-oaked, over-alcoholic New World power (this was only 13 percent alcohol!), but real structure and complexity. I admit that when I was opening the bottle, I was really afraid that this Syrah (from Portugal, which is better known for Port, not for dry reds) was going to be past its prime. But man, this thing could've cellared for even longer. There was so much muscle, the mouthfeel was so full, the flavors were so layered -- it was like we were experiencing something new with each sip. Really amazing. And another bonus: I paid only $21.87 for it (from Garagiste, my go-to).

Yet even greater was the fact that I could gush about this wine during dinner at a table. A real table -- not a coffee table. We could discuss this wine while sitting in real chairs. And there was no TV blaring in the background. Fabulous!

This experience? Pretty much 100 points in my book.

an explanation

Monday, April 21, 2008

One morning the rain stopped just long enough for us to go hiking. The plants were very green. There were mushrooms growing on the side of the trail. He kept taking pictures of me. He is being kind of weird, I thought. It was muddy. So muddy that he couldn't actually kneel and had to squat. I still said yes. The ring was so big that he put it on the middle finger of my right hand.

This was January. And it took me this long to blog about it because weddings have a tendency to completely overtake everything, and this is a blog about eating and drinking (and occasionally cats). Not about tulle and florists and seating arrangements. (Although I will probably be blogging quite a bit about wedding cupcakes vs. wedding pie in the future. Neither of us is a fan of the tiered cake.)


1. I have issues with weddings and almost feel like having one means I have become part of the matrix. Or something like that. I kind of feel guilty -- like maybe I have succumbed to societal pressures.

2. I'm bad at telling people. Really, really bad at it. After we got engaged, we went to a tasting, and every time I introduced Todd as "my fiancé," I would start sweating profusely to the point of needing a tissue. I have since stopped using that term.

3. I've been out of town a lot. And busy with work. And let's not forget moving.

4. I am afraid of bridal salons and strange women oohing and aahing over gigantic ballgowns. I like to bake cupcakes, not wear them.

5. I am also afraid of the color white. (I work in wine. Wearing white is like asking for something really awful to happen.)

But despite all of my weird wedding hang-ups, yes, I am very, very excited to marry Todd. When it comes down to it, there's definitely something about letting all of your friends and family know how much you love someone and how you can't imagine the world any other way.

under seige

Saturday, April 19, 2008

We have swallows at the winery.

A whole lot of swallows.

And every year when they come back to nest, it's like a scene straight out of Hitchcock: Swarms of black wings. Literally, a cloud of birds. Chirping and cooing and making strange clicking noises in their throats. They fly back and forth, building little mud nests in the eaves outside the window at my desk.

And while I think it's interesting that they come back to the same place every year, the sheer number of birds kind of freaks me out.

Especially since they poo on absolutely anything and everything.

It makes me somewhat terrified to go outside. In fact, I've started wearing hooded sweaters (despite the warm weather) in an attempt to protect myself.

My car, unfortunately, has become a poo target. So if you see a grey Camry covered in bird shit, that would be me.

ultra-premium cat food is not enough

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Apparently, I am doing something horrible as a cat parent.

Because Meep's latest favorite activity is opening the broiler and crawling inside.

dining out

Thursday, April 10, 2008

We still haven't unpacked the kitchen.

Which means we've been dining out or ordering delivery every single day for the past week. Not exactly ideal -- it's an expensive way to live (especially after a move), and you can only eat pizza so many times before you find yourself never wanting to look at a pepperoni again.

But our situation does allow us to justify trying a number of restaurants we've been curious about.

Tonight we finally made it to Le Bistro. We've heard nothing but raves about this restaurant; Yelpers love it, our co-workers love it, even The Chron gave it a nice review.

And man, does this place deserve praise: We had a fantastic meal tonight -- an every-plate-licked-clean type of experience. The restaurant itself is a teeny-tiny space (maybe 12 tables max, plus a bar that seats five), dimly lit, with a slight European feel. While it isn't make-out-in-the-corner-booth sexy like our old favorite French place in San Francisco was (for some reason, red walls have this effect), Le Bistro is definitely romantic in its own way -- lots of candlelight, you can have a conversation without yelling across the table, the timing of the courses isn't rushed, the server doesn't hover annoyingly, etc.

Then there's the menu. It's short and it isn't quite French (no onion soup, nothing made out of liver, no coq au vin), but to me this is bistro fare in the sense that it's well-priced, no-frills but still high-quality food that you can tell is prepared by a chef who knows his stuff.

We started with the tomato and red pepper soup, which was drizzled with pesto. And while neither tomatoes nor red peppers are in season right now, the flavors in this soup were just right -- I could distinguish the tomato from the red pepper, and vice versa, but at the same time, the two were melded together very nicely. For our mains, I had the parmesan-crusted tiger prawns in a pesto Champagne sauce, and he had the special -- Mahi Mahi in a beurre blanc with capers. Both were delicious, and I can't gush enough about the prawns. The parmesan crust was such a nice touch -- created great texture and a hint of saltiness. Then for dessert, we shared the chocolate pot de creme, which was accompanied by espresso gelato. So freaking good! Perfect consistency -- thicker than mousse, but not as thick as custard and still fluffy, not weighted down at all. Loved it.

I heart veggies

Monday, April 07, 2008

No, Homer, you do make friends with salad.

Take today, for instance. I took a writer out to lunch at Mustards, where we started our meal with some rosé wine and a salad of organic greens, candied walnuts, goat cheese and (my favorite ever) golden beets.

The greens in the salad were actually from the restaurant's on-site garden, which to me is very impressive. I'm all for eating locally and in season, and an on-site garden is pretty much as local and as seasonal as you can get! Since I was with a writer, we were invited after our meal to tour the planter boxes and the greenhouse and talk to the gardener.

Pretty damn cool.

settling down

Saturday, April 05, 2008

I was doing so well with my posts, and then I went to Montana on March 27 and became completely engulfed in My Brother's Wedding. And then there was no more posting. Just a lot of ribbon-tying. And family-greeting. And picture-taking (with a cruel photographer who made us bridesmaids stand outside in strapless dresses while it was snowing -- I have never been so cold in my life).

Montana marked the end of my travels, but I'm still living out of a suitcase. We finally -- finally! -- completed our move to the new house Tuesday. Everything is in boxes, and we've been living off of pizza since we haven't unpacked the kitchen yet.

Funny, though -- the one thing I have unpacked is all the wine that we store in the wine refrigerator. How's that for prioritizing?
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