Archives

A World Tour Bucket List Checkoff!

People who follow this blog know that I have a horse.  Not only that, but I grew up with horses.  My parents were foolish enough to ask me if I wanted to go to Pony Camp when I was 7.  Umm… Yeah!!!!  It was just that quick.  The horse fever was in my blood.

Growing up around stables and horse shows pretty much guarantees you will either love country music, or you are going to die trying.  Country music is all over in the horse industry, so you are going to hear it everywhere.  And so I love it.

I first heard Garth Brooks when I was in middle school, as his first album came out in the spring of 1989.  Between 1989 and 2001, when he announced his retirement from country music, I am sure I have heard and know the lyrics to every single song…  He is now back from retirement, and has released a few new albums since 2014.  I know these albums less, but he’s still got that way of singing that draws people to his music.  It is raw and approachable, and he sings from the heart.  So many of his songs bring a tear to my eye when I hear them even now.

So imagine my excitement when a friend asked if I wanted to go see him live in concert on his World Tour!

Me waiting for the Garth Brooks World Tour!

 

Waiting for the show to start

We made a day of it with friends, leaving home around 9 am, getting lunch when we got there and then finding our way to the stadium around 12:30 for the 2 pm show.

The show was amazing!  He is such a showman.  He is funny and jokes with audience, and he has such great appreciation for his fans.  He is so high energy!  He sang mostly old songs, and rocked the house!  I sang along to all of them, and had so much fun, even though my friends were much more subdued than I was.  I was standing almost the whole time!  His wife, Trisha Yearwood, also performed, both with him and on her own, and seeing her was awesome too!

Trisha Yearwood Live

 

Garth Brooks Live!

After the show we started for home and stopped for dinner at The Beach Cafe in Kirkland.  We had the Roasted Brussels Sprouts appetizer, which came out under cooked and very firm.  We asked about the dish and they were so kind to re-do it for us and took the entire thing off the bill!  You don’t see service like that much anymore…  The second batch of Brussels Sprouts was amazing!  I also had the Blackened Shrimp Tacos and clam chowder with an Italian Pinot Grigio called Prendo.  It was delicious!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts at the Beach Cafe

 

My shrimp tacos at the Beach Cafe

I got home about 10 pm, tired but very, very happy!  This was such a bucket list thing for me!

And if you have the chance to see Garth on his World Tour – do it!  It is amazing!

 

 

Advertisements

2015 Anne Amie Pinot Gris

I had one more day of my long weekend to enjoy before I have to head back to work tomorrow.  Today was a quiet, lazy day.  I unpacked from a weekend trip, cleaned the house, took a short nap, and read my book on the deck.  It was glorious.  Temperatures have also come down here again, so the house wasn’t roasting hot!  This evening I finished off a bottle of 2015 Anne Amie Pinot Gris that my friend and I opened while we were down in Oregon.

It has floral and apple aromas, and flavors of sweet apple and peaches.  A delicious summer sipper; Anne Amie does their wines right.

I hope your work week has started out right!  I hope mine does too.  Cheers!

 

Boomtown Pinot Gris

Another tough couple of weeks at work, but at least it is the weekend!  When I got home from work, I cracked open the Boomtown Pinot Gris.  Boomtown is the second label from Dusted Valley, a Walla Walla winery with a tasting room in Woodinville.  Two Wisconsin natives with a dream for wine making opened a winery in Walla Walla, and they make some really good wine!

The Boomtown Pinot Gris is a wonderfully balanced wine; crisp with just a little sweetness.  It is certainly a Pinot Gris done the Washington way, with much less of the sweetness of the Oregon style Pinot Gris.  Not that I don’t love a good Oregon Pinot Gris, but this one is fantastic!

Boomtown Pinot Gris

Boomtown Pinot Gris

I paired mine with a tuna fish sandwich with pickles, because, hey, I like to class things up on a Friday night.  And you should drink what you like, and sometimes don’t worry about whether or not it goes with what you are eating.  Don’t tell anybody, but I had dinner in my pajamas too.  I said it was a long week!

Boomtown is available at grocery stores, restaurants, and through the tasting room, but you can’t buy it on their website.  If you see it, pick some up!

Pinot Gris, Gumbo and a Movie Review

Last night, Jon took me on a date and I generously allowed him to pick the movie.  We walked downtown and had dinner at our local southern Cajun restaurant, Bayou on the Bay.  It is one of my favorite restaurants in town, with a good variety of southern favorites, like fried okra, hush puppies, gumbo and jambalaya.

We started out with one oyster shooter each, served in a shot glass with cocktail sauce.  You can add vodka if you would like, and perhaps one day I’ll try that high-octane version, but I love the non-alcohol version.  Jon had the vegan jambalaya with an IPA, which he thought was great, and spicy!  I had the gumbo with a Duck Pond Pinot Gris.  My gumbo was wonderful, with the sweetness of the Pinot Gris balancing the spice of the andouille sausage and other spices in the gumbo.  Our service was friendly and quick, and we had plenty of time to get to our movie.

Jon has a penchant for odd, indie movies, and his pick kept up with tradition.  We saw Anomalisa.  I’m still pondering it.  It is an animated film created with puppets about a middle aged man who wrote a book on giving great customer service, and he is giving a speech on his book in Cincinnati.  In his world, everyone is the same; everyone he sees has the same face and voice, with only differences in their hair and clothing.  He is clearly depressed, irritable and hopeless – exactly the opposite of the persona he portrays in his book.  Then he meets a woman who is different…

Jon and I took away very different messages from the film, and spent a while chatting on the way home (I don’t want to give it away in case you plan to see it).  We could each see the other’s perspective, and were intrigued by each other’s differing opinions.  From that perspective, it was an interesting film, and it did stimulate quite a bit of dialogue, but I’m not sure I could say I “liked” it.  But perhaps not all movies are intended to entertain – and instead we need to search for the learning opportunity.

So, I put it out to readers – have you seen Anomalisa?  What did you think?

 

Two Wines for Scorching Hot Days

The last several days have been scorching hot.  The lowest highs have been in the low 80s.  The highest have been in the high 80s!  As we generally only get a few days in the 80s all summer, this is very unusual, especially so early in the summer.

To keep cool, we have had our fans going all day long, and are trying to strategically open and close windows and blinds to let in cool air and keep out the heat.  It is only sort of working.  The first floor of our house was 80 degrees when we went to bed last night.  Our bedroom was several degrees hotter.

All that heat means summer whites!  I found a great New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  The Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc It is a pale straw yellow, with crisp acidity, and flavors of grapefruit and lemongrass.  It was so good!  A perfect patio sipper, and a steal at less than $10!

A couple days later, I opened the Evolution White by Sokol Blosser.  A kitchen sink blend, with Pinot Gris, White Riesling, Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Müller Thurgau, Semillon, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, and Chardonnay, this wine has nice tropical flavors of peach and citrus.  Though not as crisp as the Monkey Bay, it is a great summer white with its crispness balancing out the sweet, tropical notes.

Now if only I were on vacation!

MI Road Trip: Douglas Valley Winery

Every vacation begins with a catalyst.  That “thing” that makes you decide that you are going to go there…  It could be a theme park, a museum, a fabulous hike, a concert, a beach – you get the idea.  Or a winery.  Let me explain…  Back in the spring, I won a prize – redeemable in Manistee, Michigan.  The value wasn’t much, but it got me thinking that maybe we could go visit the area.  We were heading out to visit family in Michigan anyway, so a little detour might be perfect!  A road trip was born…

In my last post, we checked out downtown Manistee – after our coffee we headed out to visit Douglas Valley Winery, just outside town. Douglas Valley’s tasting room is located in a historic building – an old bunk house along the railroad line at the turn of the century. The property is surrounded by apple orchards and vineyards.

A rusty farm wagon at Douglas Valley Winery

A rusty farm wagon at Douglas Valley Winery

UPDATE: My Dad, who grew up on a farm, let me know that the photo above is not a wagon.  Rather, it is a manure spreader…  So don’t go on a hayride in it, mmm-kay?

When we arrived, there was one couple wrapping up a tasting, and then we were all alone with our server. Tastings are normally $5 per person for 7 tastes (including a souvenir glass), but we had a certificate for a free tasting thanks to a prize from the Michigan by the Bottle blog. You can also opt for 2 complementary tastes, but $5 is very reasonable.

The Douglas Valley Winery Tasting Room – inside a historic bunk house

The Douglas Valley Winery Tasting Room – inside a historic bunk house

We picked out what we wanted. Here’s what I sampled (Jon and I tried to pick different wines and then shared, so there are more than 7):

  • Bunk House White – A semi-sweet blend of un-oaked Chardonnay, Vignole, Riesling and Pinot Gris, with flavors of apricot and peach.
  • 2013 Lakeview White – A semi sweet blend of Chardonnay and Riesling.
  • Bunk House Blue – A tart blueberry wine with spice on the back of the palate.  One of my favorites.
  • Bunk House Cherry – A sweet blend of tart and sweet cherries.  Also very good.
  • Northeastern Sweet Red – A light, semi-sweet red wine; a blend of Foch and Chambourcin grapes. It had some Pinot Noir characteristics.
  • Bunk House Red – A blend of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Merlot with flavors of raspberry and blackberry.
  • Stone House Sparkling Cider – A low alcohol (7%) sparkling cider made with several apple varieties from the Douglas Valley orchards.  Excellent.
  • Stone House Semi Sweet Cider – A blend of Jonathan, Macintosh, and Northern Spy apples. Fruity with flavors of apple (duh…) and honey.
  • Caramel Apple Cider – One of two specialty ciders that they had on tap and available for sale in growlers, this had a nose of heavy caramel, but the caramel flavor was very light on the palate, with pleasant, light bubbles.

Our server was very friendly and offered information about the wine, and the history of the property.  Currently Douglas Valley grows the fruit and grapes, and the winemaker from another Michigan winery, Black Star Farms, makes the wine.  I think there is a plan to begin making their own wine at some point in the future, but this method seems to work well, as there were several good wines.

I purchased my favorites… The Northeastern Sweet Red, the Sparkling Apple Cider, the Bunk House Blueberry and the Bunk House Cherry. Thinking back, I should go find one of these bottles to open tonight…

Douglas Valley also had a large selection of local food products, and since it was close to lunchtime, we decided to get a picnic lunch to go. We picked out some Great Lakes tortilla chips, beef jerky, cajun beef jerky, Michigan made jalapeno pickled asparagus, asparagus salsa, and a big bag of fresh Winesap apples.

Apples at Douglas Valley – Waiting to be Picked

Apples at Douglas Valley – Waiting to be Picked

We said our goodbyes and headed out on our way to our next destination – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  En route, we found a roadside viewpoint with a picnic table and enjoyed our picnic lunch.  The weather was still cold, but had warmed up enough to allow us to sit outside for 20 minutes and enjoy our chips and salsa, beef jerky and asparagus.  What a great lunch!

A few of our Michigan Picnic Lunch items – YUM!

A few of our Michigan Picnic Lunch items – YUM!

But we couldn’t linger too long, because I couldn’t wait to see Sleeping Bear Dunes!

 

An Impromptu Stop: Foris Vineyards

You want to know one of the best things about Oregon Wine Country?  The signage!  Well, that, and the wineries!  Oregon has some of the easiest wine country to navigate, thanks to hundreds of little blue roadsigns pointing you to the wineries.  Even if you didn’t have a map, or a GPS, or a guidebook, you could find some wine!

On our way back from a satisfying day trip to Oregon Caves National Monument, we saw a few of those winery signs and decided to make an impromptu stop at Foris Vineyards.  Of the four of us, Jon was the only one who had heard of Foris – but his dad doesn’t really pay attention to wineries or wine so really, only three of us count on this score.  But Jon had heard good things, so drove a few miles down the country road, following the signs and ended up at a little tasting room in the front section of a wine production facility.

Foris Vineyards is family owned and operated by the Gerber family, and has been since 1971.  That’s when Ted Gerber and his wife purchased the property; they planted the first vines in 1974.  For awhile they sold their grapes to other wineries, but in 1986 they began using their grapes to make their own wine.  Currently about 80% of the grapes they use are estate grown.

My fabulous mother in law at the Foris Tasting Room

My fabulous mother in law at the Foris Tasting Room

When we went into the tasting room, we were warmly greeted by our server.  When we told her that we had just been to Oregon Caves, she asked which ranger had given our tour.  When we told her, her eyes lit up and she explained that he frequented the tasting room on his days off.  Just another reason why National Park Rangers are so awesome!

We were guided through the lineup, and I found myself really enjoying the reds.  We were able to do a side by side tasting of their two Pinot Noirs; one their flagship Pinot and the other the single vineyard Pinot from the Maple Ranch vineyard.  Both were delicious!  Their Cabernet Sauvigon and Cab Franc were also very good.

My mother in law really enjoyed the Fly Over Red blend and their sweet Moscato.  The Fly Over wines show that this wine-making family has a great sense of humor; these wines are named for the fact that because the Illinois Valley of Oregon is one of the most remote wine growing regions in the nation, many members of the national wine press will never come out to witness these wines being made.  So the folks at Foris simply wave at the planes overhead, because you never know who is “flying over”.

A few of the wine awards Foris has received

A few of the wine awards Foris has received

Jon came in and out of the tasting room to sample my wine at his leisure, and then settled with his father on the Adirondack chairs outside.  Linda and I took our time enjoying the wines and chatting with the server.  Soon enough, we were on our way back to our home away from home by the river, to swim in the pool, eat dinner and wile away a relaxing evening, with a newly opened bottle of wine.