Friday, January 23, 2015

Italian night with friends

A few of my co-workers and I have been hanging out the last few months.  Typically, we meet for beers after a long shift.  Or, we met on New Year's Day to celebrate the one holiday that we all managed to not work.  At that meeting, we discussed wine education and having dinner at my place to feature a region.  Of course, I enjoy dining out.  I also enjoy entertaining at my house.  It would be uninterrupted and wine driven.
Wednesday we celebrated Italy.  I told Teo and Josh to come over at 6.  I had bought ciabatta, tomatoes, and olive mix.  Mostly, I planned on bringing the wine.  Josh would cook and Teo would accompany us.  Currently, she is in transition with jobs.  I could provide wine and/or food and not be concerned with if she did not bring wine.  It was about camaraderie.
I had cleaned my house, bought additional candles, a rug and a lamp.  My lighting in my rental is insufficient.  The overhead light is too much and my one lamp was not enough to light the kitchen and dining room table.  I wanted to make the room more hospitable.  At any rate, I thought my house looked nice.
I wanted a prosecco, a nebbiolo and another red wine.  I chose a sangiovese as the mid course wine and supplemented with a few additional wines.  All, in all, I had six bottles on hand and some limoncello.  I thought I would conclude the night with a digestif.
They arrived and Josh began preparing the first and second course.  He made spiedini--proscuitto and parmesean wrapped goods.  He prepped he roasted garlic and I opened the prosecco.  I only had the one white wine and so I chose to open a bottle of champagne to do a back to back comparison of the two sparkling wines.  The spiedini were great and evolved into a light salad.  The garlic was a disappointment according to Josh. I made bread with roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion.  I had opened the sangiovese and nebbiolo at this point.  I am an enabler when it comes to hosting parties at my house. I don't like stopping.  Wine flows freely.
As Josh prepared the walnut risotto, we had opened the additional bottles of Valpolicella and a french wine.  For some reason, we thought it would be a good idea to have more wine.  Josh bought a few bottles of garnacha and some chocolate.  We returned to my house and ate the risotto.  All, in all, a wonderful nigh full of wine and conversation.  They left and I woke to a house full of dishes.  Mostly wine glasses.  I am thankful that Josh cooked and realized he does not clean as he goes.  He is messy.  Still, a very successful night.  I have the limoncello for next time and I think we will continue to meet at my place.  It's convenient and I have wine glasses out the yang.  I always move my wine glasses with me.  Everything else, I replace.
I think, we are doing tapas next time.  When we do french, Teo wants to host.  Until then, I am off to yoga.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thoughts to begin the week.....

Happy Monday!
It's a new week and one full of ideas.  First, I want to send some love to friends in Denver who recently suffered a loss.  Life can be hard, challenging, disappointing.  We don't always understand people's choices or decisions.  All we can do is breathe, listen and love.  I am sending Sue lots of love and understanding.  
On Wednesday, I am entertaining at my house for the second time.  Hopefully, this goes over better than the first.  Remember?  I made dinner for a friend and it went south almost immediately.  This guy freaked out and I couldn't eat due to how shocked I was to his reaction.  Long story and very odd.
This time, I am hosting two of my co-workers with wine and appetizers at my place.  We collaborated on this idea a couple of weeks ago.  I suggested my place as I have been wanting to entertain.  And, I  told them that I would supply the wine.   Our focus is Italian wines and I believe, Josh, (my friend that is a sous chef) will provide some food.  I must figure that aspect out tonight.  Otherwise, I will be figuring out what to serve to accompany the wines.  I think a prosecco, barbera and nebbiolo will be a great way to showcase the country.  Sure there are many ways to represent Italy.  It is a fantastic wine country.  I have been in a nebbiolo kick and so that definitely has to be one of the wines.  I like the idea of beginning with bubbly.  We could do another white instead of two reds.  Maybe I will choose this path depending on what we will be eating.  
Nonetheless, I know it will work itself out and be a great night.  In terms of physical health, I hope to incorporate more yoga at home as opposed to attending studios.  I have become agitated at the majority of yoga studios here due to boredom and bad music selection.  I cannot force myself to go to another class unless these conditions improve. I will be heading to Phoenix to attend another yoga specific holiday.  I found great tickets.  I think, why not, seize the day?  What is stopping me?  I miss the community in Phoenix and have the time to practice.  Plus the weather is great and it is either do yoga or drink wine in Santa Fe on my days off.  I am all for that, too.  Not going to lie.  However, I want to be proactive and focus on my health.  
I made reservations for dinner in Austin.  Ironically, we are dining at a restaurant that is old school Austin and a friend of mine will serve us.  I love that aspect of it the most.  I had considered a few dining options and had committed to one place.  Their reservation policy deems reservations one month out which gave me time to think of other options.  There are some high school friends that I might see while in Austin, too.  
Over the weekend, I contemplated meeting some of my high school friends in Las Vegas this summer.  I am fairly certain that there have been no plans made to celebrate the next milestone reunion.  My class is lame.  So, I threw it out there to a select few that maybe we should meet in Las Vegas.  I think that would be an ideal spot to meet.  I mean, there are tons of possibilities. Shopping, musicals, gambling, dining.  I am not a big shopper but some of the girls are and we could at least experience a weekend together and take the time to vacay.  I can see a show and check out foodie spots.  I know that that is the attraction for me.  There has been a mostly positive response for it and I hope that it can happen.
So, I have upcoming travel, health and work.  I am in a good place and know that there is more to come.  Enjoy your Monday and rest of the week~ 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

dinner with friends

I went to dinner with my friend, Melody, the other night.  She is good people and we have been friends since 2004 (I think).  We chose to meet at a spot that is local, friendly and beer driven.  I was all for it.  As was Melody.  It is one of her favorite spots.
We arrive and it is packed.  I put my name on a list and wait in a spot that is not in the way.  About five minutes later and I am seated at the bar.  This place has 10 tables (about) and 20 bar stools.  It's busy and there is an energy about it.  I had ordered a beer prior to Melody arriving from knowing people. She arrived and waited 15 minutes before we were acknowledged.
She orders a beer and the food we want.  We b.s. and everything is great.  The food comes out in a timely manner while we have another beer.  We reach a point where we want the food boxed for her to take home.  I mention it to the bartender and Melody orders food for her to take home to her boyfriend.
We wait for the to-go food and box. I know that they are not going to box the food for us.  Which is fine given they give us the box to do it ourselves.  A friend of mine walks up to put away glassware and accidentally breaks 4 pint glasses.  I am hit with a chunk of glass.  Immediately, I tell the girl to clear our plates (with the desired to go food on them) and our beers.  They replace the beer.  However there was still a 1/3 of our beer in the glass.  I mention this as when we get the tab they tell us they bought us a beer.
That is all?  One beer?  1/3rd of of our food was thrown away due to a glass explosion.  I didn't press it.  Although, I will no longer recommend this restaurant or go there myself.  It was shocking.  The chef and GM both saw what occurred.  Neither, nor, seem interested in making it right.  I'm not greedy.  I'm not.  However, I am honest and why would they not at least replace the food that was on the table?  I've worked in restaurants where glass spiked the food.  I have waited on people that experienced that.  It is never malicious.  I know this. Yet, because I don't push it we see a fraction of what we should have seen.
We paid the tab, tipped the bartender well and left.  Yes, I will not return or refer them any longer to friends, guests or customers.  I could not believe how inefficient this restaurant was. Makes me sad that the management is so poor.  I will not return.
Life is good.  People are fair and I am happy.  Too many days off lead to idle hands.  Never a good thing for me. Must arrange yoga and fast.  I am due.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Some of my favorite photos and memories

 Table Rock, South Africa.  Stunning.  Absolutely gorgeous.  I had the pleasure of spending two weeks in South Africa.  Mostly, Cape Town. In hindsight, I should have arranged more time in this magnificent country.  I loved the wine, the food and people. I stayed in a hostel on Long Street which reminded me of the french quarter.  The hostel was located above a bar where people partied until 4 am and the clean up began at 5 am.  Lots of pots and pans and cleaning of floors.
My goal was to hike up Table Mountain and take the cable down.  I went with a Canuck and it was late in the day and so we took the cable up and back.  What a view though.  I loved spending Friday happy hour there.
I remember taking a taxi back to Long Street and being flustered by the cabbie.  They warn you that taxi drivers take advantage of tourists and so my friend, the Canuck, and I tried to have the driver confirm a price before taking off.  He seemed a little sketchy but thankfully did not over charge us.  Afterwards, Andrew (the Canuck) and I had dinner at a game restaurant.  It was near the hostel.  Interesting decor and wonderful food.  I believe Andrew had a skewer of exotic meats and I stuck with chicken.  Lame, I suppose.  I wasn't too adventurous when it came to food that night.
 Simon's Town, South Africa.  On a day trip from Cape Town, we had a brief stop at this southern town.  It was overcast.  This was our first stop of the day.  Eventually, we rode bikes to lunch, hiked at the Cape of Good Hope and saw many baboons.
This image spoke to me.  I love it.  Still love it, in fact.  Wish that I could return and spend more on this beach.  I have some loose plans of where I would like to go this year.  I think on Thursday (my next day off), I will take the time to consider where I would like to venture.  I know that I will be heading to Arizona for yoga training, Austin for a celebration of life and hopefully, abroad--I'm thinking Spain--at some point 2015.  Outside of that, I don't know.  I know that there will be more trips and places to explore.  Maybe a return to California.
Isla de Corazon, Argentina.  Another favorite spot that I found while traveling.  I had taken a 19 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Bariloche.  We arrived in this great little town that reminded me of some of the mountain towns in Colorado.  I checked into my hostel and saw that they had a few day trips available.  There was a hiking venture to this spot, lunch and more hiking to a black glacier.  The tour was all in spanish.  I understood the majority of what was being said but had difficulty in responding.  I took a passive role.  I spent the majority of the day with an Italian man from Florence.  His camera wasn't working and so I took many photos of him to document his day.  We went to dinner that evening.  A vegetarian restaurant that many people raved about.  We drank wine and enjoyed a great meal.  Lorenzo was married and yet, still, so Italian.  Meaning macho.  He insisted on ordering the wine, ordering my food and essentially taking charge.  I thought it was funny.  Typical machismo.  
Yes, I have visited beautiful places, found solitude and dined with interesting people.  I am wanting to do more of this in 2015.  More travel, food and meeting people.