Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Search for a Great Wine

So, I am far from a wine connoisseur, but a girl's gotta start somewhere, right?  I've been getting tired of my same old "go-to" value wines so this year I am going to try some new wines each month and let you know what I think.  I'll confess that the first wine I tried I bought for the name and the label.  I'm a sucker for cute marketing.  The Beach House white wine is from South Africa.  It was a value at only $12.99/bottle.  I thought this wine was good, but not great.  It has a nice citrus flavor, but I didn't love it. 

The second wine I tried was Wizards Cranberry, which is from Les Trois Emme winery in western Massachusetts.  I chose this wine because it's local and sounded appealing.  It's their Cayuga White that has cranberry flavoring added to it.  At first taste I thought it was pretty tart and the tartness seemed a bit overwhelming.  I couldn't finish my glass and was very disappointed.  This wine too, was only $12.99/bottle and if you like a really tart wine, then you'd probably like this. 

So, this month's selections were a bust, but I have high hopes for next month!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Do You Fondue - Part II

After making fondue at home with the kids, I just had to go to The Melting Pot!  I loved the atmosphere and modern decor.  The low lighting and intimate seating enhanced the experience and the smell of the restaurant was mouth watering.  Our server was super nice and patient explaining the menu and the four courses.  The drink menu was a variety of specialty martinis.  I got the yin and yang martini, which was both delicious and beautiful with vanilla vodka, white chocolate liqueur, chocolate shavings and a bit of ice cream. 

It tasted more like a dessert than a martini and I couldn't taste the alcohol at all.  It also didn't taste very sweet, which I was happy about because it looked like it had the potential to be super sweet.  I liked it a lot and will definitely try to recreate it at home because it looks so impressive!

Our first course was the spinach artichoke cheese fondue and it was out of this world.  Super gooey, super cheesy and something I will definitely make at home in our fondue pot!  We had bread, veggies, tortilla chips and apple slices to dip.  This first course was a huge hit with everyone!

The second course was salad.  We got the Caesar salad and it was delicious.  My husband had the tangy house dressing on his and said it was the best dressing he's ever had.  We also enjoyed the Parmesan encrusted pine nuts that were on the salad.  They were surprisingly sweet and crunchy and were a nice addition to the salad.

The third course was my least favorite and I honestly think I would skip it next time.  They have a variety of combinations of chicken, shrimp, beef, duck, pork, pot stickers, etc. that you cook in the fondue pot.  You choose your cooking style and we went with Coq au Vin which is burgundy wine infused with fresh herbs, spices and mushrooms.  We got the land and sea selection, which was chicken, shrimp and beef.  I was impressed with the different sauces they give for you to dip your cooked food in because otherwise the food would have been far too bland.  This course was just o.k. in my opinion and I could've done without it.

Dessert was phenomenal.  I mean, truly outstanding.  It "wowed" all of us!  We got the basic milk chocolate to dip and we were presented with strawberries, bananas, marshmallows, cheesecake, brownies, red velvet cake and rice krispy treats.  Oh my goodness!  Delish!!

All in all, I really enjoyed my night out and would definitely go there again.  It's super fun and super yummy and I would also encourage anyone who really enjoys this restaurant to purchase a fondue pot of their own and recreate the recipes at home!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Home Front

Home Front  by Kristin Hannah

Let me start by saying a big thank you and Kristin Hannah for providing such a great book club contest. We were so happy to win and it was the perfect kick-off to the beginning of our 5th year of Booktini Book Club.

We’ve read a couple of Ms. Hannah’s books in the past, Night Road and Firefly Lane, and while we enjoyed those books, we agreed that this book was even better! The story is about a woman named Jolene and in addition to being the mother of two young girls and the wife of an attorney, she is also a pilot in the National Guard. Her marriage isn’t what it used to be and before she has a chance to work on her relationship with her husband, she is deployed to Iraq.  The only thing that makes this bearable for Jolene is that she is there with her best friend Tami, who is also a pilot in the National Guard.

There is so much that civilians, like myself, do not know or understand about war. After reading this book I realized that soldiers who survive their tour and come home, need to continue to survive that tour for the rest of their lives. They don't come home and get the luxury of forgetting everything they've seen and experienced.  I always thought of myself as a strong woman like Jolene in a lot of ways and to see her so broken and her family so helpless was heartbreaking and very eye opening.

This was a story about love and loss and finding the courage to pick yourself up when you think you’ve lost all hope. And yes, I needed a Kleenex at the end.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pillars of the Earth

I love reading historical fiction. The first time I read a book of that type, I was a junior in high school and my history teacher assigned the class to read Centennial by James Michener. Oh, how I loved that book and those characters. I enjoyed it so much that I don’t know why it took many years after reading Centennial to start reading other books like it!

Pinned Image

I just recently finished Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I chose the audio book version (32 CDs) since I was in the midst of reading a couple of other books at the time. On the surface Pillars of the Earth is about the building of a cathedral, but you don’t have to look too deep to see that it’s about so much more. The novel follows 3 different groups of people: 2 noble families, a Prior and his monks, and a builder and his family. All of their stories manage to seamlessly intertwine into a wonderful novel that spans several decades in the lives of these people. I enjoyed all of the characters who were so well developed by Mr. Follett, that I felt I knew them as well as my own family. A recurring theme throughout the novel is the balance of power between church and state, rich and poor, and the righteous and the immoral.

I am planning on renting the DVD to watch the characters I feel I know so well come to life. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!!