Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Match Made in Heaven: Indian Food and German Wine

Forgive me; we had this wine club eons ago and I've just been such a busy bee I forgot to post about it! We're still on our neverending quest to better understand how best to glug our wine and in that effort, we decided to experiment with pairings for spicy Indian food. Can you guess what works incredibly well? Sweet, sweet German wines! 

Here's a sampling of what we tried:

I brought Clean Slate Riesling, a sweet peachy wine that perfectly balanced with the spices in our Indian dishes.

Our hostess Erica picked up a delicious array of Indian dishes from Saffron, including samosas, tandoori chicken, lamb tikka masala, chutney and much more! Everything was tasty, most especially the lamb!

These little honey buns were a great counteracting agent against the spice, too!

We finished the night with Corazon Gewurztraminer, which was my favorite match. So crisp and clean with the hot dishes! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Much-Delayed Housewarming

For pretty much always, I've been preparing to host my own parties in my own house. From when my Nana would make me pass hors d'oeuvres at her parties to when I was throwing my first parties in high school, I was thinking about hosting my first house party and it finally happened this weekend!

We've been so busy that when we finally looked at a calendar, we realized this past weekend was truly one of the only weekends all summer that we would be free! As a kid, I thought grown-ups had parties all the time (that's how it looked on TV!) but now I see why they don't; life is too damn busy! We were excited to have a great group of friends come over, and I got to pull out some of my favorite recipes and party supplies. Here's some pictures of the evening:

Summer means Pimm's, a popular liqueur in Britain that is typically served with cucumber and is super refreshing.

I made a Peach Pimm's Punch (recipe adapted from this one) with 2 bottles of Bombay Sapphire Gin, 2 bottles of Pimm's, a LOT of peach-flavored soda and sliced cucumbers and peaches. It was delicious and refreshing, like a spin on spiked iced tea.

We set up a fully stocked bar...although I think most folks stuck to punch, Melissa's sangria or beer.

I did make myself a rainier cherry caipiroska, though.

We dined on burgers and hot dogs, cocktail shrimp and lots of delicious fruit!

I also made a twist on caprese salad with peaches instead of tomatoes, and it was predictably tasty.

 But the best part was seeing our house full of revelers!

 Yay for friends and housewarming parties!

The piece de resistance was our dessert (definitely an idea from Pinterest...I can't take credit): S'mores Strawberries. My sister in law Katie and friends Laura and Jody helped make my dream a reality! They dipped the strawberries in melting chocolate, then in graham cracker crumbs and finally in marshmallow fluff. We used my little kitchen butane torch (a wedding gift to make creme brulee) to toast the marshmallow and it was definitely just dangerous/safe enough to be fun!

They were a pretty big hit.

At the end of the night, a few of us raided my collection of leftover wedding sparklers and danced on the deck, singing Ariana Grande songs. It was a wonderful night and a great first house party, of which I hope there will be many!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer in Savannah 2015 Edition

For the third year in a row, I've been blessed to spend a long weekend in Savannah with my besties Bret and Ashleigh. We journeyed down to Low Country this past weekend and enjoyed many a cocktail, sniffed many a $60 candle and generally annoyed and delighted the populace with our joie de vivre. Clearly we were missed; Tybee Island greeted us with a rainbow!

We kicked off the festivities with a return to the Tybee Island Social Club, where we treated ourselves to a round of the Summer Socialite cocktail and a pitcher of White Sangria that had us giggling like little kids. We love the atmosphere there; it's definitely a place to kick back and stay a while. I especially love the steak tacos and the ceviche appetizer.

On Saturday, we started our day in Savannah with a trip to J. Christopher's, where I couldn't resist the siren's call of the day's special: Oreo Pancakes. So simple, yet so perfect.

 Ashleigh tried the Huevos Avocados, with scrambled eggs instead of poached.

From there, we hit Broughton Street, a main drag mix of both thoughtful locally owned boutiques and big name stores, like LOFT and Urban Outfitters and Marc by Marc Jacobs. My favorite of all time forever will be The Paris Market, an impeccably curated shop of curiosities, decor items, jewelry, edibles and generally things you don't need but have to have. This shell and coral display gets. me. every. time.

 It also has delightful oddities, like this "wood pile" of quartz. Thanks for bringing in the kindling from The Neverending Story, Bret!

All that shopping left us thirsty, so we were delighted to take advantage of Savannah's wonderfully lax open container laws to get Cucumber Basil and The Red Clover cocktails from Chive Lounge, one of our favorite spots. It's weirdly fun to take cocktails into the Gap and not hear a word about it from anyone.

Later Saturday night, we met up with Ashleigh's dad, who happened to be nearby, for a delicious dinner at The Public Kitchen and Bar; Bret and I visited last year and thought its short-but-sweet menu of creative burgers, steaks and fish dishes would be a good fit. We started with a round of cocktails, natch.

Our favorite: the Trois Baies, made with Hendricks Gin, St. Germain, strawberries and the key ingredient of reduced fig balsamic vinegar. It was so good!

Ash and I ordered separate burgers and shared halves. I ordered the Savannah Philly, with provolone cheese, caramelized onions and sriracha mayo; she got the Roma burger, a twist on caprese with pesto aioli. Both were good to the last bite!

 We'd decided to go on our first-ever ghost tour and geared up for the possible frights with Wet Willies frozen alcoholic concoctions. By some crazy coincidence, Ashleigh and I ordered the same combo of mango and peach, despite being on opposite ends of the bar.

It was brutally hot and sticky, so much so that Bret had to create an improvised headband out of an undershirt. Necessity is the mother of invention! We went on the Beyond Good and Evil Tour, a fun and snarky take on a walking ghost tour. We saw some spooky houses, learned a bunch about voodoo and since it was adults only, snickered at a few blue jokes. All in all, a super fun night!

On Sunday, we roasted on the beach on Tybee and had a chill evening, laughing and crying through a screening of Pixar's "Inside Out," before heading to the Flying Monk Noodle Bar.

 We sampled edamame dumplings, a combo I haven't seen before and really enjoyed.

 Bret got pho, Ashleigh got a Thai Curry noodle bowl that was delicious, and I ordered the Five Spice BBQ Pork with rice.

It was very filling! I also tried a peach sake-tini that was subtle and refreshing.

 Tradition dictates that we hit the road with bellies full of delicious Southern food from Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, a family-style eatery that has people lining up well before its first lunch seating at 11 a.m. Imagine a Southern food and it's probably on that table when you sit down, from collard greens to jambalaya to stew to fried chicken.

 My first helping! The succotash was surprisingly delish!

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, so we bid adieu and have to return to the real world. Until 2016, Savannah!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Best v.247

These two slay me.

After a busy, busy week I realized I haven't blogged even once. I suppose I could have written about my utter failure to eat at home even one night this past week, or the exciting panel discussion I attended on Thursday. But all my spare time was spent finishing up my second round of Mad Men, and now I suppose I have to move on with my life. But in the meantime, here's some links I meant to share when I was busy watching Don Draper wreck his own life!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Best v.246

Picasso, in disguise

I worked for a large chunk of Saturday, so I'm treating myself to some lazy time before I get to housework and chores, like laundry and yardwork. My Mad Men addiction is still raging, and I'm loving rewatching the series knowing how it ends. If you're treating yourself to some lazy time, too, here's some good reading:
  • One of the best farewell columns you'll ever read.
  • Jenny Lewis recreated her childhood roles for her new music video. I'm jealous they didn't call me because I'm a Troop Beverly Hills superfan.
  • Tips to limit thigh chafing. Let's be real here, folks!
  • The incredible synchronicity of Beyonce and Duck Tales.
  • I'm totally over the blogger trend of "decluttering"...especially since it's those bloggers who have devoted their careers to celebrating the acquisition of stuff. So I loved this ode to clutter.
  • An oldie but a goodie: the most badass wishes made to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
  • Some ideas on how to do family friendly work policies right.
  • It's all in your name.
  • Play with your food when you make gummy Legos!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Makeshift Patio Set

I realized I still haven't shared any pictures of what we ended up with for our deck! Ignore the icky deck boards...we know they need to be stained like whoa, but we need to get a day that is not as hot as it's been on the days we've been off.

Anyways, We spent a LOT of time debating the merits of various outdoor sets. I really wanted a modern and fun look, and unfortunately most sets are black and beige. Nothing to write home about. Then I really fell for a powder-coated aluminum set at Home Depot but kept waiting to pull the trigger because white outdoor furniture sounded like a lot of work to maintain. I got hit with the idea that we might be able to put together a more fun and unique set with separate items for the same price range (about $500) and set to work.

We ended up with a super marked-down patio table from Target called the Bryant that has a very modern look of weather-resistant faux-wood and a metal border. Combined with sale prices and my Target Red Card discount, this bad boy ended up being about $142. 

I searched high and low for the right chairs, debating the merits of armchairs and wicker and all that, and ultimately went with the Poinciana metal chairs from World Market. I bought these when they were marked down to $49 each. I was debating getting end chairs that are armchairs, but I think I'm going to go pick up two more of these chairs instead. The pop of coral is so fun and adds a sculptural element. I think they look quite nice with my mod white planters.

Finally, I skipped a colorful umbrella knowing I would be getting colorful chairs and picked this beige-and-white striped umbrella up from Bed, Bath & Beyond for $40 (after I used a couple gift cards...otherwise it would have been $120 for the umbrella and the base).

All told, our makeshift patio set has cost us less than $400! 

We had our first guests for dinner on the patio on Friday night, and had skirt steak with chimichurri sauce and a twist on caprese/bruschetta with peaches instead of tomatoes. So good, and such a fun pop of flavor!

And to top it all off, I made the rose sangria that Melissa served at Wine Club and it was so, so tasty and easy to make. I can't wait for more summer nights outside!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Best v.245

The amazing Angelica Huston, working the hell out of jewelry by Alexander Calder.

I've been having a blissful Memorial Day weekend, filled with a mini Mad Men marathon, swimming, barbecuing and some time in the sun. It will be awful when we all have to go back to work!
  • Have a $1,000 day in Paris for $100.
  • I've been saying this forever. I'm in the in-between generation when it comes to technology.
  • John Slattery says an easy goodbye to Mad Men.
  • A new look at Appalachia through photography.
  • The birth of bees.
  • Find out what your name might've been back in the day.
  • Another classic Clooney prank is in the works.
  • So cool! Printmaking with simple household gelatin.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Stockley Garden Decor Spoils

Every fall and spring, I trek out to the Stockley Gardens Art Festival looking for inspiration. And every year, I buy nothing, except maybe a lemonade or — big spender! — a pair of earrings. But this year, I went through the booths quickly like a girl on a mission because I regretted passing up the opportunity last fall to buy one of these copper loop candlesticks by Tracery 157. I picked up this gorgeous verdigris candlestick that ended up being an almost perfect fit for my dip-dyed candles from North Carolina. I love how the modern form, combined with the decay of the copper, makes it look like an artifact from the future. Very cool.

I also fell in love with the ceramics of Butternut Press and couldn't resist this ceramic dish with an ouroboros motif. For now, it's just resting in the living room, but it might be hung on the wall someday, or hold rings and jewelry. I love the organic shape, especially. Perfectly imperfect.

That's it for recent art acquisitions in our house; what I REALLY need to do next is actually get some stuff framed and hung!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

BBQ Sammies and 80s Jams

I love traditions, which is part of why I love spring and summer in our region so much. I just love knowing it's time for wine fest, beer festivals, beach days and one of our longest-standing traditions, the Portsmouth Beer, Band & BBQ. We've been going for at least five years, and the event has only existed for 7!

Here are a few pictures from our fun night:

Erica got a Fujifilm Instax camera, which prints the cutest little Polaroid-style pics. This seems like just the kind of thing I need/don't need at all!

Wine Club represents...minus a couple folks, of course.

Me and my best gal pal.

We danced our butts off to the '80s tunes of The Deloreans, ALWAYS a good show. Next up: O'Connoroo, a beer fest at O'Connor Brewing (although I think I might have to miss for a work event), and the Newport News Greek Fest. Our May festival season is winding down!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wine Club's Sangria Night

Our friend Melissa hates to have any foreign objects corrupting her wine, so it's only natural she ended up hosting our wine club's first Sangria night. We decided to have a delayed Cinco de Mayo celebration with sangria and Mexican food while watching Gone Girl. Deception + Wine + burritos = perfect ladies' night!

Melissa first greeted us with glasses of white wine with lemon slices and mint leaves, a refreshing start to the evening. We agreed that if you choose to do this, let the mixture sit for about an hour and muddle the mint a little bit for maximum flavor.

Her daughter is our honorary Wine Club member...she joined us with a wine glass of water and we even taught her "Cheers!"

We dined on our three favorite foods: cheese dip, salsa and guacamole.

And I cuddled with my favorite little lady!

But things got REALLY exciting when we tried Cup of Jo's recipe for rose sangria, which was absolutely delicious. I can't wait to serve this up at future summer gatherings! Melissa's sweet husband went and picked up food from Burrito Perdido for us and that was equally scrumptious.

These are the faces of people who really love Chambord in their sangria.