Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chihuly Garden & Glass

Chihuly Garden & Glass - Seattle, WA
Husband and I visited Seattle for the first time a week ago. For me, the absolute highlight of the trip was our couple of hours spent at Chihuly Garden and Glass at the foot of the Space Needle. It is #1 on Trip Advisor's recommendations for "What to Do in Seattle" for a reason!

All pictures featured here were taken by me. :) Pardon that they're not edited!

(Pro Tip: Purchase tickets online for a better deal - If planning to visit the Space Needle too, you can save $10 by purchasing tickets to both the Needle and the Garden together. Go before 10:00 AM or after 6:00 PM for the better deals! Peak-time hours add about $20/person to the dual-ticket)

Tacoma-native Chihuly, who I previously discussed in my Seaforms and Chandeliers post from 2011, has written his love-letter to the world with this exquisite museum and garden. My own 10-year love affair with his work, so vibrant and free, was absolutely tickled by this visit. And there was a lot to see!

Glass inspired by Native American baskets, glass inspired by seaforms and of course, chandeliers. Neon-infused glass forests, energetic sketches in metallic paint, boats filled with kaleidoscopic orbs, and glass gardenscapes...each and every room took your breath away!

"I never met a color I didn't like." - Dale Chihuly

" itself, of course, is so much like water. If you let it go on its own, it almost ends up looking like something that came from the sea." - Dale Chihuly

"Glass is the most magical of all materials. It transmits light in a special way." - Dale Chihuly

If you have the opportunity to visit Chihuly Garden and Garden, I must insist you take it. It is worth the investment and you will have a wondrous time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

12 under 20: The Chardonnays!

Hello friends!

Admittedly, I have never been much of a Chardonnay fan. To be a bit crass, the idea of drinking wine that tastes like licking a buttered barrel never really compared to the idea of savoring fresh red berries or luscious tropical fruits. However, it occurred to me that I needed to be fairer to the Chardonnay lovers out there. There hasn’t been a single Chardonnay on my 12 under 20 list yet…until today.

I endeavored to compile not just one, but a few Chardonnays I have tried recently that I think are an excellent compromise for “Chardonnay people” and my personal tastes. It was really fun to learn throughout the process that not all Chardonnays are buttered toast in a glass and that ultimately, I had the wrong idea. 

 Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast, 2012 ($19.97 at Total Wine)

This wine is special because it was the wine shared the night some good friends of ours got engaged. Jess, the future bride, is all about Chardonnays and to be perfectly honest, I had her in mind when I felt compelled to do a Chardonnay post. 

This Chardonnay basically has it all: prominent fruits (apples, melons, pineapple), but also toasty oak and a spiciness, blended with soft butter. I had to admit, I really enjoyed this puppy a lot. We shared this wine again at our first time in their new house, pairing with pan-sautéed lemon cod, asparagus, rice with Cajun seasonings, and a mixed green salad.

  14 Hands Chardonnay, 2013 (Can’t find price?! – Assuming under $20)
We got this wine on a whim from someone that didn’t want it (crazy, I know…), so it was a good experimentation opportunity. 

I remember making my husband do a “smell test” to try and figure out what exactly we were smelling when we volatized the esters. Answer: Butterscotch. To me, this wine is all apples and butterscotch. The mouth flavors ended softly and truly favored bright apples with a toast foundation. It is easy to find, and if you like Washington wines this might be a good place to start.

     “446” Noble Vines Chardonnay, 2013 (approx. $11 at Publix)
Because I loved the Noble Vines Pinot Noir so much (check Instagram), I have made a point of trying every other Noble Vines wine I can get my hands on. Publix had a display of just their wines this week and I almost cleaned them out, haha!

The NV Merlot is amazing, their Red Blend is super fun, and their Chardonnay is another butterscotch beauty. The Chard is acidic almost to the point of being effervescent (but not in an invasive way). The taste is full of tart lemon and tangy grapefruit with a silky finish.

      “LIMITED” by Cambridge Cellars, 2013 ($10.99 on California Wine Club, $19.00 regular)
Myself and another woman I work with were recognized at our yearly team meeting for the work that we do. Knowing us well, our supervisors rewarded us with a 6-month wine of the month club (BEST. GIFT. EVER).  This particular club, The California Wine Club, focuses on wines at a great price from small family vineyards you won’t usually find just anywhere. I like the exclusivity of it and I have to say, shipment #1 was a hit!

When I opened up the "LIMITED" BY CAMBRIDGE CELLARS 2013 MONTEREY CHARDONNAY, I was quite pleased with what I tasted. I personally experienced apple cider from the nose and the taste was creamy, peachy, and very easy to sip. I was surprised that I didn’t get really any butter from this Chard – I am going to guess it is steel barrel aged. We paired it with a badia seasoned chicken breast, egg noddles, asparagus, and a lemon hummus butter sauce.

So, a few Chardonnays for you to try. I am going to keep my mind open moving forward in hopes of adding to this list, but for now I have found some Chards I am happy with. I hope you were able to find at least one Chardonnay here that could be an easy, “go-to” Chard for you too!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

12 under 20: Hidden Crush Cabernet and Bree Riesling

Happy New Year, readers!

I hope that thus far 2015 is treating everyone very well. As my first wine post of 2015, I would like to share two wines I discovered over the December holiday (man, I do need to get back to the art side of things sometime...). Though these were first time trials, I think these could easily become classified as "go-to" wines.

Hidden Crush Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - Madera, CA - Avg. $15/bottle
This. Wine.

I discovered this wine while up in Cleveland, OH visiting my grandparents. Our waitress recommended it between two cabs at dinner one night and thence forth, I have been in love. I enjoyed this wine so fantastically that it pained me to turn down another glass (Have to be a responsible driver though).

I am determined to find this wine again and buy many, many bottles. Why, you ask? Easy. This is my perfect cab: It was medium-bodied,  completely red-fruit forward, soft oak, and superficially, I love the bottle design. There was a hint of vanilla on the finish that left a soft, delicate sweetness in contrast to the dash of spice. It was an excellent dichotomy of flavors that left nothing to be desired for me.

Obviously, on the regular I would recommend pairing this kind of wine with grilled burgers or pasta with tomato sauce. I actually had it with a grilled salmon salad that night and thought it was perfectly lovely, so I have to feel this is a versatile pairing wine! Hidden Crush also produces a Chardonnay so be on the look out for that review (if I can find it) down the road!

Bree Riesling 2012 - Qualitswein, Germany - Approx. $12/bottle
A friend gave us this wine as a Christmas gift and I have to say, it surprised me. When I first opened the bottle (such an sleek, modern design...It looks more like a liquor bottle than a wine bottle), I did not immediately smell or taste the sweetness characteristic of most rieslings I have tried. It was very dry to me initially, which I now know is not atypical of German rieslings. I wasn't sure how I felt about it after the first glass, but it was in the following glasses (on other nights, kids) that I realized its true value.

This wine has an light nose of green apple to me. The dry sweetness comes forward with crisp, acidic fruit notes of honeydew melon and a mellow undertone of slate. I think I get a hint of peach from it as well. If you prefer softer white wines (sweet, but not lingering toothache sweet), this would be a great wine for you.

This wine I think absolutely comes alive when paired with foods. We enjoyed it with crock-pot chicken fajitas and with Patak's Mango Curry chicken. This would be a great wine to pair with any Thai or Indian dish, roast turkey, lemon baked rainbow trout, or probably with that salmon salad I had had the Hidden Crush with!

My friends, which wines did you enjoy over the holidays? Which "go-to" wines would you recommend for us to try?