Friday, June 28, 2013

Lesson Learned: Why you should not let friends rewrite your copy....

Today marked my third morning show appearance on WINK TV and CW6, talking about the "scene"; what's happening in Southwest Florida. The 4:45 alarm seemed particularly early after a late appearance at a house warming party. I was doing OK until the Costco Death By Chocolate Cake was cut and another glass of Cabernet was poured.

Nevertheless, I made it to the TV station with freshly washed hair and time to spare. But no time for coffee and even in my desperate state I could not bring myself to pumping a cup of the break room swill. As I sat on set and we came back from a commercial break, I thought the cameras were going to the news desk first, then to the set where I was. I coughed and cleared my throat in preparation just as the camera lit up in front of me. Great opening line.

I limped through the segment desperately needing to clear my throat and push that random strand of hair back. But it was over before I knew it and I had a full 50 minutes to get my throat in order and my hair back in place before the next hit.

Finally, salvation; I drove down the street to Bennett's Fresh Roast where I sit now next to the coffee king, my dear friend and former radio co-host; Bob Grissinger, AKA C. David Bennett. He suggested I give him a guest blog spot and offered to re-write this copy to prove his worth. Here it is. You be the judge.

Today marked Gina's third appearance on set at Wink TV and CW6, to talk about "the scene".  In other words she's talking about where she drank wine the night before and what beautiful people she rubbed elbows with.  Her 4:45 wakeup (she slept?) came particularly early considering the fact that she was at some house warming party the night before, providing bawdy entertainment for those who chose to revel with her.  They served Costco "Death by Chocolate" cake at the party (it was a house warming...who had time to bake?) and drank some kind of decent cabernet.  Nevertheless she had time to bath and wash her hair (but not to bake a cake) and skipped brewing a pot of coffee.  Off she went to the studio building.

None of that coffee in the break room for her (I trained her well) since it's tastes somewhere in between freshly dipped water right out of the Caloosahatchee and the bathwater of a yak.    As she sat on the set she awaited her cue, thinking they'd go right to the news set first, not the "feature set". But no, as luck would have it (and as "Gina luck" has been defined for at least 15 years) they went to her first.  She didn't exactly have her finger up her nose to the first knuckle, but she hacked and coughed loudly to the startled amazement of those working on the floor.  Her hair dangling in front of her eyes, she croaked through the segment sounding much like a frog.  Fortunately, she had a 50 minute break before she had to do it again, IF they decided to let her back on.  Inexplicably, they did.

Afterwards, driving at breakneck speeds she careened down 1st Street to the delightful Bennett's Fresh Roast, a local institution of some repute located at 2011 Bayside Parkway.  Fresh roasted coffee everyday, and from-scratch hand cut donuts are served up to the delight of young, old, grumpy and happy every day of the year but Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And it's run by a charming man who used to work every day with Ms. Birch and kept her grounded in the reality of sidekick subservience.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wine Wednesday, Sexual Chocolate

When I got an email from my friend Steve this week to taste a wine called Sexual Chocolate I have to admitted i pursed my lips and furrowed my brow wondering what the heck I would be drinking. I could not have been more pleasantly surprised today to sip on this cheeky red blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Syrah.

It wasn't just the wine that got me, but also the lively winemaker, Brandon Allen, on the left. He started making wine in his backyard at the age of 19, while he was in college. Allen says, "I was trying to impress the girls." Hence the name. Before long, his friends started buying the wine, their friends started buying it, their parents started buying it and now people are buying it thousands of miles away, in Southwest Florida.

Allen's goal is to make a wine that is "fun and not pretentious. It is both. The blend is smooth and easy to drink, with lots of dark fruit. It retails for under $30 and you can find it at restaurants like Blue Coyote, Twisted Vine and Yabo in the Fort Myers area, to name a few. Happy Wine Wednesday. CHEERS!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Super Moon, Super Sipping

What a great weekend for watching the skies. The Summer Solstice, when the sun reaches it's highest point, teamed with a Super Moon, when the moon reaches it's lowest point or is closest to Earth.

Summer Solstice is celebrated with feasts and festivals. Mine was a feast of wine, and it was epic.  A dear friend had a solstice party that culminated in a blind tasting of more than 20 bottles. We lined them all up on his protected pool table and the fun began. As each wine was poured, guests shouted things like "old world", "young", "cabernet", etc.

The wines came from North America, South American and premier growing regions of Europe. They ranged in price from $10 to over $100. Only two were corked or on their way out. One was mine: 2008 Domaine des Huards Cheverrny Le Pessoir Rouge. It was a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay from Loire, France. I raised my hand to say it was mine and a gentleman next to me asked if I was sure I wanted to admit it.

I said, "Yes, I'm glad I found out now instead of at a dinner party."

Take a look at some of the amazing goodies we got to try:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wine Wednesday, M5

My last few Wine Wednesday selections have been great values, todays is just a great wine. The 2009 Krupp Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon M5 comes from Stagcoach Vineyards. Stagecoach is a vineyard in Napa, developed by Dr Jan Krupp, that sells fruit to 80n producers. The vines produce some of the best Cabernet grapes for some of the best producers in the region; Conn Creek, Caymus, Duckhorn and Paul Hobbs to name a few.

The M5 is complex, both on the nose and the palate, with layers of flavors. It smelled fruity but a bit herbal to me, almost menthol, with some vanilla. I tasted lots of dark fruit, some cherry and spice to boot. It has great structure, nice tannins and will age nicely. This is a limited production and will cost you around $135 when you find it.

Over a Skype call this week Dr. Krupp says he is growing Grenache for the first time and "having fun and continuing to explore what is new while keeping what we've learned." He has a great story about taking land that was once thought useless, and turning it into something special.  Check out this video:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wine Wednesday, Summer Soave

It's hot! This time of year I find myself craving cold, refreshing white wines. I'm a big fan of big Italian reds, but I also like the crisp whites they produce. This one is a great find; Re Midas Soave.

Made from the grape Garganega, this wine smells lemony. It tastes fresh and citrusy as well, with lots of minerals and a touch of toast.

I had it with grilled chicken and veggies; it was perfect. But I could easily consume this one all by itself.

In the $10 range, it's worth buying a case for summer sipping. CHEERS!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wine Wednesday, It's a Steel

I'll be the first to admit that Chardonnay is typically last on my list when it comes to picking a white wine for the night. However,  I'm  always open and constantly looking for ones that I can embrace.

I just so happened to find one from Louis Jadot that is perfect for summer in Southwest Florida; Steel Chardonnay. This white burgundy is not weighed down by oak. It is bright with a lot of minerals on the nose, and a lot of pineapple on the palate.

It's acidic, with fruity apples. I want to call it "spunky". The Steel is a steal in the $15 range

Monday, June 3, 2013

Best Beach Shack, Bien Rico

They may not look like much from the road, but the famous kioskos off of PR-3 in Luquillo, Puerto Rico, will surprise you with the quality and quantity of food. Some 60 stalls, mostly food, are lined up side by side; serving everything from vegetarian cuisine to fried Latin favorites. I was lured to kiosko #12 by the promise of a mouthwatering appetizer that included bacon and dates. Say no more.

#12 is also known as El Jefe Burger Shack. It appears to have taken over two spots, with a small bar and patio seating facing the beach. I sat at the bar and introduced myself to my new best friend for the day, Ivan.
Bacon wrapped dates
When I mentioned the dates he paused and said let me check.  There had been an unexpected and rather large party the night before which pillaged the kitchen and bar of a few staples. WHAT!!! I did a silent chant asking the restaurant Gods to accommodate my one request of the day, it worked.  The dates ($8.95) were not only wrapped in bacon but stuffed with an almond, drizzled with a balsamic reduction then sprinkled with blue cheese. I could not have been happier. The salt and the sweet, the crisp and the creamy, all came together beautifully.

Slider Trio
Since I was at a burger shack, I figured I should get one of those too but couldn't decide which to try. Thank God for the sampler. My mini stuffed burger sampler ($12.95) consisted of burgers stuffed with short ribs, short ribs and jalapeƱos and the third with chorizo.  Ivan warned me it could take a minute to get my food because everything is made to order; the meat ground fresh every day. The ribs were slow-cooked overnight in a 150 degree oven.

No one could tell me which burger was which when the plate arrived. Three different gentleman, I think the chef was one, shrugged and said it will be a great surprise for you. It was indeed.

Lemon Ginger Mojitos

The sliders had that nice char on the surface and moisture in the middle. Small bites are hard to get right and chef at El Jefe did. The plate was perfect with my glass of Tempranillo.

I watched Ivan skillfully make all kinds of rum cocktails including refreshing pitchers of Lemon Ginger Mojitos. He tasted each creation to make sure it was perfect before leaving the bar for a table. A beer is a natural thing to drink at the beach, however, I can't stand how quickly a brew looses its cool outside. At El Jefe, each individual beer was served in its own cozy ice bucker. Brilliant! If I drank a lot of beer, I would keep one of those mini buckets in my beach bag for these occasions. Maybe more bars will jump on the bucket bandwagon.

On to the next kioskos. Cheers.