Sunday, October 28, 2012

50 Shades of "Gris"

50 Shades of Grey; even if you haven't read the book, in all probability you've at least heard of it.

"50 Shades of Gris" is a clever play on words for an enticing, pre-Halloween party at Blu Sushi in Fort Myers (FL).

Betting on the willingness to dress up and possibly dress up naughty, the restaurant is teaming up with Van Duzer Vineyards to give away a stay in the winery's fabulous guest house, to whoever wears the best "shade of grey" in the costume contest.

Guests will enjoy $5 glasses of Gris, Pinot Gris from Van Duzer, among other specials. When I was in Oregon a couple of months ago I drank my body weight in both Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, and Van Duzer was among my favorite. The winery sits far off of 99 West in Dallas, up on a hill. It is beautiful and the staff, so much fun!

Beside the Pinot Gris, the Rose is phenomenal and the single block Pinot Noirs are a must, especially the Flagpole ($50). It's smoky, full of cherry and dark fruit. A visit to Van Duzer is not to be missed if you find yourself wondering through the valley.

And the 50 Shades of Pinot Gris party is not an event to be missed either. The hype is hot. More party info here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rum and Redheads

What does "rum" mean to you? That was one of the in depth questions I asked contestants in the Miss Panama Red contest at Hemingways Island Grille over the weekend.

Panama Red is an overproof rum made by the owners of the Bonita Springs (FL) restaurant. Overproof  rums are typically higher in alcohol and not often consumed solo. However, Panama Red is different,  this overproof is made for sipping.

One of the highlights of the contest at Hemingways was not only being able to sip Panama Red, but more than a dozen delicious, aged rums. Miss Panama Red will represent the rum company as makers move into their second year of sales and distribution. Rum is not just for fruity beach drinks, some of it has great legs and can easily stand on it's own.

Congratulations Christina, enjoy your rum reign!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Smoky Wieners

I've participated in a lot of interesting food and wine events. I've been asked to judge everything from Chili to Mango recipes and lots in between. Yesterday, I added hot dogs to that distinguished list. The Fort Myers Miracle held it's first hot dog taste test and I was there, under the picnic pavilion with a lovely breeze and a few bees. The Miracle is a minor league baseball team in Southwest Florida, affiliated with the Minnesota Twins.

Joining me were other media representatives, Fort Myers Miracle Fans and even some long time employees. We were looking for the best dogs to sell at the park when the season kicks into full gear once again.

I was hoping we would get to sample beer with the franks but only water, lemonade and iced tea were provided; we had to keep our tasting wits about us after all.

This was a bun free affair; except for the ones we were sitting on. Limited condiments were provided. We were instructed to taste the meat on it's own merits; onions and relish can cover almost anything up.

Over the course of an hour, ten trays of freshly cooked hot dogs were brought out. They were cut into small bites and since I was taking the task seriously I took two; one to eat hot, the other to keep for a second try in case I needed to revisit.

Some of the dogs were salty and smoky, others moist and mushy. Some had a nice bronze color, others were pale and sickly looking. The wiener that was a winner to me had a good balance of seasoning, moisture, a mild after taste and a good "snap" to the casing. Unfortunately the votes were not tallied before we left so we don't know what brand took home the blue ribbon, but as soon as I find out, I will pass it on.

After yesterday's event, I don't think I'll ever look at a frank in the same fashion again. And I'm quite sure I wont eat another one until well into 2013. Here's to a successful year for The Miracle, not only on the field but in concessions.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pumkin Pusher

I have friends who encourage me, love me, hug me and feed me....Bob Grissinger, owner of Bennett's Fresh Roast, does all of those things, then insults me; to keep me grounded. I expect it and in a strange way even look forward to it. After all, I put up with it for 15 years as his morning show partner on 969-9 WINK FM. But that's another story.

I shared that background so you will appreciate the torture I was put through today during my almost daily visit to his AMAZING coffee shop in Fort Myers, FL. I was quite proud of my early morning run, getting back into a good routine of health and fitness.

He rolled his eyes, nodded to an employee and within seconds his new Pumpkin Spice Donut was in my face, taunting me. I stared it down, but eventually gave in to it's evil temptation. The reward, a mouthful of creamy, delicious pumpkin custard. The seasonal treat is topped with vanilla icing, then a sprinkling of nutmeg.

It's only around for a limited time so be sure to stop in and give it a try. Pair it with a hot, rich cup of his freshly roasted Columbian Coffee and you will be set. Heavenly.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bottles and Boobies

We all know that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink is everywhere, even on the football fields, as the push is made to raise funds for research and resources to help those fighting the disease.

ONEHOPE Winery donates to the National Breast Cancer Foundation year-round; half of all profits from the sale of its Chardonnay. This month, the winery has a goal of raising $100,000. In addition, for every eight cases of wine sold, one mammogram will be donated as part of the "1 in 8" campaign. The slogan represents the stats that 1 in 8 have a chance of developing breast cancer.

Many of you buy products simply based on the cause, not the quality. I'll vouch for both in this case. The wine by Rob Mondavi, Jr, is worth the $18.99 price tag, if you like a Chardonnay that has less oak and more acidity. It is blended with a little Chenin Blanc and Muscat to round out the flavors; citrus and honey, good for Southwest Florida cuisine and sipping. The wine is distributed in Florida through Southern Wine and Spirits.

ONEHOPE Wine not only donates to breast cancer but also autism, aids and the troops to name a few. To see all of the wines, the exact amount donated and to purchase, click here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Prettyman is Pretty Cool

After taking nearly four years off from her music, Tristan Prettyman has a new CD. She called the show and talked to me about it today.  Her on again off again love affair and broken engagement with singer Jason Mraz provided lots of inspiration for her song writing. She talks about it a little here and about being resilient, whatever challenges you are facing in life.

Tristan Prettyman Talks To Gina