Friday, October 28, 2016

Domaine de Tamary Côtes de Provence Rosé 2015, Provence, France - $15


     

This Domaine de Tamary Côtes de Provence Rosé 2015 is a really nice wine! I purchased it for $15 a bottle at Costco. Light with a dry, slightly bitter finish. Would absolutely purchase it again.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Poggio Stella Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2011, Italy - $15


     

I purchased this Poggio Stella Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2011 from Costco for $15 a bottle. It smells a little hot even though it's only 13.5% alcohol. I really like it on the palate - it's dry with a dark cocoa and tobacco finish, not fruity or sweet. It's also food friendly - went great with the beef stew I made for dinner tonight. Yum!


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Château Lamothe-Bergeron Cru Bourgeois Haut-Médoc 2010, Bordeaux, France - $20


Sassy Wine Belly - Château Lamothe-Bergeron Cru Bourgeois Haut-Médoc 2010     Sassy Wine Belly - Château Lamothe-Bergeron Cru Bourgeois Haut-Médoc 2010

Château Lamothe-Bergeron Cru Bourgeois Haut-Médoc 2010 is one of those 2010 Bordeaux wines that I've been purchasing because it's said that the 2010 Bordeaux vintage was one of the best in history. Assuming this is true, I would also assume that the less expensive Bordeaux wines of the same vintage would also be better than average.

This is a nice wine. It's much lighter than I expected, and the finish is slightly acidic with strong tannins. Interesting. It's not as smooth as I would prefer. If I want an acidic wine, I'll go with a more food-friendly Pinot Noir or Burgundy. On the nose, it's sharp - can't tell if it's the acidity or the blowback. However, at 13.5% alcohol, I wouldn't expect much blowback.

Otherwise, a little bit of tobacco and leather make this a fairly masculine wine. Hubby likes it, too. I purchased it at Costoc for $20 a bottle.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Olamaie - Restaurant Review




Olamaie, located in central Austin, is a beautifully decorated restaurant with a focus on contemporary southern comfort food.




We started with three small plates - smoked eggplant ($16), Texas shrimp ($16), and creamy mushrooms (complimentary, but I think it was around $15). All were so delicious, especially the eggplant!



We shared two entrée-sized plates as well. This was the black drum ($35), and it was my favorite dish of the night.



This was the chicken ($32), which was delicious but an extremely small portion. Would have loved for it to be a tad larger for the price.



Olamaie is famous for its biscuits, which are not on the menu ($10 for 3 mouthwatering biscuits and butter). We ordered one serving, then just had to have another for dessert.

We also had a lovely bottle of wine, but its name escapes me and we were having such a great time I forgot to take a photo! But I'm sure you can't go wrong with any of the wines at Olamaie!


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Barndiva - Healdsburg, CA




Barndiva is a modern, charming, elegantly rustic restaurant and venue nestled in the heart of Healdsburg. They specialize in weddings, and do them very well!

Upon arrival, wedding guests are offered water or lemonade from one of the outdoor bars. Women beware - all of the outdoor spaces (where the ceremony and dinner take place) are covered in gravel, so wear flats or wedges if possible, and be careful with any heels.




The couple makes their wedding vows on this sweet little set of stairs.



This beautiful fountain flows right next to the wedding terrace.



Guests are seated under gorgeous grapevines twinkling with a thousand lights.



Once the ceremony is over, guests head inside to the reception hall. Here, they have cocktails before heading to the back for dinner.



For this wedding, about 90 people were seated very comfortably in the outdoor dinner space.



Love this cool wire sculpture! Barndiva also features artwork in its indoor gallery.



Here is just one of the outdoor bars. So cute!



A view looking back to the barn. The wire sculpture is on the right, and the bar is on the left.




The exquisite table setting - crisp white linens are always so impressive! And there's my heavenly glass of rosé!



Butter leaf lettuce salad to start? Yes, please!



The herb-roasted filet mignon was just the right size and so perfectly cooked that it melted in my mouth.



And a final night shot - so lovely!


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Spoonbar - Restaurant Review


Spoonbar is one of those small plates you-love-it-or-you-don't places.

 

The restaurant is gorgeous! The spoon waterfall was amazing, and the decor was cool and contemporary.


     

I ordered this great glass of rosé - the Reeve Rosé of Pinot, Mendocino ($13 per glass), only to have the waiter spill it on me and my friend. He was very sweet and got me a new glass immediately. Poor guy!




We were immediately drawn to the Fried Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Lemon and Parmesan ($9). It was amazing!




Next came the Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber Salad ($13). It was good, but I could tell it wasn't a table favorite as much of it had to be passed around a few times.



Next came the Crispy Octopus with Warm Potato Salad, Pimento Aioli & Olive Vinaigrette ($19). Although I have to admit that octopus is hard to cook without burning or getting rubbery, Spoonbar did it right! Crispy and tender at the same time, this has been my favorite octopus on the continent to date! It still falls short of the grilled octo I had in Sydney before my Aunt's wedding. However, it was definitely my favorite dish on the menu.




The Roasted Bernier Farms Carrots (with prosciutto, brown butter egg yolk, and toasted walnut vinaigrette - $14) were great!



The black rice based chips that came with the Ahi Tuna Poke were so light, crunchy, and yummy! However, the poke itself (with scallions, mango puree, ginger & white soy vinaigrette - $16) was fresh and delicious but underwhelming for a Hawaiian girl expecting actual island-style poke. I know that "poke" means "cut into pieces," so technically the dish is named correctly. However, Hawaiian Poke is so well-known and loved, it would be better to change the name of this dish to reflect that it's NOT even derivative of traditional poke.




The Roasted Pepperonata (with Shishito and bell peppers, ricotta salata, greens onions, and pistachios - $9) was okay. I think we left a little bit in the dish.




I didn't order these, and probably wouldn't have if we were eating on our own. Braised Red Runner Beans (with stewed heirloom cherry tomatoes, chicories, and gremolata - $9).




Hubby loves chicken, so we ordered some for the table. This Lemon-Brined Rocky Jr. Organic Chicken (seared chicken breast, leg terrine, charred scallion relish, smoked turnips and roasted mushrooms - $26) was small but delicious.




CW ordered a pasta because she's not a particularly adventurous eater. She really enjoyed it. Pasta ranges from $17 to $21 a dish here.




This ravioli was also scrumptious, and I think we ate every bite!

Spoonbar's menu is pricey but extremely delectable. It's worth a visit if you're in Healdsburg!

Hotel Healdsburg - Healdsburg, CA


The Hotel Healdsburg is such a stunning place! From the glass walls to the contemporary decor, it is modern and striking. I would love to stay here sometime!



Love these "habitrails!"




When you're inside, keep in mind that it gets HOT. The hallways are not air conditioned.




The "habitrail" from the inside.




Room decor. Lovely!




Fabulous lobby fireplace. So fun!

Rooms are upwards of $500 per night. A very nice splurge if it's in your budget!


Stag's Leap Wine Cellars - Napa, CA


Can't get enough of this gorgeous setting and over-the-top delicious wines!



This is the vineyard view from the public tasting room - I could look at it all day!



We experienced a luxurious terrace tasting with five wines. The S.L.V. is still my favorite! This time the Cask 23 seemed to fall on my palate somewhere between the Fay and S.L.V.




I'd love to have some of these magnums in my collection! 


Alexander Valley Vineyards, Healdsburg, CA


Alexander Valley Vineyards is so welcoming and helpful. We were looking to experience Healdsburg wine tastings on a budget so that we could splurge on our dinners, and this vineyard offers free tastings for up to 5 wines on their Estate Wine List.



I called ahead to verify the information, and asked about a picnic area where we might be able to enjoy some nibbles. The very nice staff member who answered the phone highly recommended we stop at Big John's Market on the way in so that we could pick up some gourmet cheese and bread for our picnic.





We did our tastings (I'll post those notes here as soon as I locate them!) and purchased a bottle of Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($24), which we all liked best, then headed to the picnic area for a relaxing lunch.

     
The vineyard has three picnic tables tucked away behind some empty barrels next to the tasting room parking lot. The tables were deserted when we visited. So perfect! What a gorgeous day for wine tastings and picnics!