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Good Monday, friends! I say it every week, but I can’t believe the weekend flew by so quickly. We got a ton done as far as setting up work appointments on our old condo and our new house. I feel like I will be qualified to be a contractor by the time all of this buying and selling is over. It’s been nonstop roofing, plumbing, heat conversion, solar panels, painting, etc. It will all be worth it in the end, but for now it is definitely a part time job!

One thing that always makes us happy is finding a new wine and learning about/reading about wine in general. I pin a lot of wines to my wine Pinterest board so that I can keep track of what wines I have liked and certain wine and food pairings. It’s fun to check in every now and then to share wines I am loving, and that’s the purpose of today’s post. As always, I love hearing from you, so if there’s a must-try wine you want to share, please let met know in the comments!

Cartograph Pinot Noir

Massachusetts wine shipping laws make it difficult for us to get all the wine we want from outside the state, so I am thankful for a mom who does not mind receiving wine shipments! We discovered Cartograph on a trip to Sonoma County a couple of years ago, and have been huge fans since. First. they are the nicest people ever. Second, their wine is outstanding, which just makes us want to talk about it. Their Floodgate Vineyard Pinot Noir is simply a joy, with bright bursts of berry and a little earthy funk. It’s everything Pinot Noir should be, and it makes us dream of a trip to their new Healdsburg tasting room!

Fetzer ChardonnayFetzer Sundial Chardonnay is all about flavor and big value. You can pick up a bottle for around $8, and this Chardonnay is just easy-drinking and fun and fruity with a rich, yet not overwhelming finish.

Stylo Old Vine GarnachaWhile we lean toward California wine a lot of the time, we have also been making an effort to try and buy wines that are from outside the US, as well as wines from other regions in the US. This Stylo Old Vines Garnacha is all fruit and a nice touch of acidity. Think cherries and strawberries, with a mouthwatering finish, all wrapped up in a lovely, light garnet color. We picked this wine up after a wine tasting at Bin Ends, and we are wishing we purchased more.


La Marca ProseccoThis LaMarca Proscecco was part of a recent Sunday brunch at Steel & Rye. We drank bubbly because we were catching up with good friends, it was Sunday Funday, and because sparkling wine is a great addition to any meal! I don’t always love Prosecco because there are times pear flavors completely overwhelm my palate. The LaMarca Prosecco is different and had more tart notes of citrus and brioche. It’s a great brunch bubbly!


The wines on tap at Beat Hotel are also a great addition for Boston area wine lovers. Beat Hotel has become one of my favorite spots, and I love their wine list, which is heavy with Rhone varieties from California. The Topanga Vineyards Grenache Blanc and the Black Sheep Finds Rousanne are both favorites I discovered, thanks to the restaurant’s variety of pour sizes.

If you are interested in reading more wine posts and photos, stop by The Collectionary Wine Club, where moderators share photos of wines and other information.

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Tags: Beat Hotel, California wines, chardonnay, Garnacha, Grenache, Italian wines, Pinot Noir, prosecco, Rousanne, Spanish wines, Viognier, wine, wine tasting

A few weeks ago on a terribly freezing, snowy day, I warmed up in Hotel Chocolat’s newest space, their Cocoa Bar – Café.

Hotel Chocolat

As we shut out the bitter city, we were offered glasses of Prosecco and started to take in the delicious, chocolate-y sights and smells of Hotel Chocolat. The space is larger than when it was just a retail spot, and when that glorious warm weather finally arrives, they will have seating on Newbury Street.

Hotel Chocolat party

Hotel Chocolat and the Cocoa Bar aim to connect the experience of consuming chocolate with the sourcing of the chocolate. Some of their chocolate is even sourced from their property in St. Lucia, where they also have a hotel. I would certainly love to visit St. Lucia right now!

Throughout the event we snacked on chocolate treats, including these cheesecake truffles.

Hotel Chocolat chocolate

I also discovered heaven-in-a-bar, a banoffee pie chocolate. Banoffee pie is one of my favorite desserts, and in a chocolate bar form, it is fun and decadent.

Banoffee Pie chocolate

Hotel Chocolat’s Cocoa Bar is a elegant space full of beautiful chocolates and chocolate themed products, including savory products, like a cocoa pesto we received in our gift bags.  The prices are reasonable, making a little chocolate treat possible every now and then.

Below is a full description of the Cocoa Bar’s menu segments. A trip to Hotel Chocolat is ideal for these cold days. Just imagine relaxing with a warm chocolate plate

  • Light + Detoxing (Cacao and Tea) – Raw cacao beans have more antioxidants by weight than almost any other food. Even after roasting they have 150% more antioxidants than pure pomegranate juice. Light and detoxing drinks are designed to leave guests feeling really refreshed. The Cocoa Royale (crushed nibs and shells, steeped in a cafetiere) is midway between tea and coffee in intensity. Tea selections are: Cacao Shell, English breakfast + Cacao Shell, Peppermint + Cacao Shell, Green, Oolong, Silver Tip and Earl Grey. Aromatic hot chocolate drinks are Rosemary + Mint and Jasmine + White Chocolate. ($2.50 – $4.50)
  • Good for the Soul (Drinking Chocolate) – Cacao contains Theobromine, a natural stimulant that makes us feel energized, focused and calm. It’s gentle, long lasting and non-addictive. These are offered in variations of: classic, chili, milky, mint, salted caramel, St. Lucia 70% (complex), Vietnam 80% (fruity), Ecuador 90% (mellow). They also offer Chocolate + Fresh Banana, Praline Luxe (classic chocolate and double praline) and The Bombe (classic chocolate, vanilla ice cream, cacao whipped cream). Short chocolate drinks are the Boss-La (short and strong, 70% cacao) and 100% Cacao (a pure cacao hit, served short). Finishing touches such as Cacao Whipped Cream, Praline Dippers, and Salted Caramel Dippers can also be added to any drink for extra luxury. ($3.50 – $5.00)
  • Energizing + Stimulating – These unique Whole Bean Cacao Drinks are made from 100% roasted cacao beans. Just pure cacao, with no sugar, no gluten – and that keeps the benefits locked into their drinks: all the rich antioxidents and minerals, natural feel-good compounds and lots of healthy energy. Whole Bean drinks use roasted cacao or coffee. Barista coffee uses George Howell locally-roasted beans in Espresso, Macchiato, Cortado, Latte, Cappuccino, Americano, Mocha (70% chocolate and espresso) and Macho Mocha (shorter and stronger than a mocha). Barista cacao is all of the classics made with cacao beans not coffee beans and is full of healthy stimulants in Macchiato-style, Americano-style or Cappuccino-style. Organic milk is always used and soy is available upon request. ($2.50 – $4.00)
  • Savory Open Sandwiches – Served on a toasted English muffin with nib butter as well as a green salad dressed in cocoa balsamic. Selections are: Local cheddar with Organic Tomatoes, Smoked Salmon with House Horseradish, Vermont Goat’s cheese with Walnuts and House Chutney, Prosciutto Crudo Ham, Crumbled Berkshire Blue Cheese and Walnuts, Organic Cherry Tomatoes and House Chutney ($8.50)
  • Warm Chocolate Plates – Served on a toasted English muffin with whipped cacao cream on the side. Selections are: Chocolate Hazelnut Spread with Roasted Hazelnuts, melted Mississippi Mud Pie slab, sliced Banana with Chocolate Peanut Spread, Vanilla Ice Cream with 70% Chocolate, Farmer’s Market Raspberry Jam with Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. ($7.50)

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Tags: Boston, candy, chocolate, dessert, events, Hotel Chocolat, sweets

Between my blog, conversations I have with friends and colleagues, and my appearance on Fox, I have probably said it a million times, but I will say it again. New Bedford, MA is a great little stop on a New England day trip. It’s not Provincetown or Portland, but it oozes with New England charm in its cobblestone streets, fishing boats, and whaling history. And it’s quickly becoming a place to wine and dine as well.

We wouldn’t have discovered New Bedford if it wasn’t for our love of Travessia Urban Winery wine, but we now visit at least a couple of times a year. On our most recent Southeastern MA excursion, we worked up our appetites tasting wine at Westport Rivers and Travessia, and we (really, I) desperately needed to eat by the time 6:00 rolled around.

I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Cork Wine and Tapas Bar, located right across from the shipyard, is a restaurant we have passed on our many New Bedford trips, but we had never stopped. We made a beeline from Travessia right to Cork for a fantastic wine and food experience.

Cork Wine & Tapas Bar

Talk about New England charm. Cork is in the Joseph Tabor building, which has stood proudly there since 1836. I learned from Cork’s website that the building was designed to be a warehouse to produce, house and maneuver large nautical equipment. It’s an impressive structure that now makes a great space for dining.

Cork Wine & Tapas Bar New Bedford

Cork’s menu is fresh and seasonal and offers small plates in addition to heartier options like fish and chips.

Cork Wine & Tapas Bar

They also offer wine flights, something that I love in a restaurant. It was a wine-tasting kind of day, so I decided to go with a flight of bubbles. Surprise, surprise!

sparkling wine flight

Three glasses of sparkling wine were placed in front of me: Segura Viudas Reserva, Deor Prosecco, and Santa Julia Brut Rose. The Segura Viudas was the hands-down winner with me and the other  judges, my mother-in-law and husband. The Prosecco was just okay; while I am a fan of most bubbles, I don’t love the overwhelming pear flavor some Proseccos have. The Santa Julia Brut Rose was lovely, lots of strawberry and cherry flavors, and of course that gorgeous pink color.

sparkling wine flight

While I am usually a fan of tapas style eating, I was pretty ravenous by the time we were ready to order, and I wanted one thing, Coconut Curry Lobster: Claw and knuckle lobster meat with scallions and grilled corn in curried coconut milk. Served over jasmine rice.

To.die.for. Everything in this dish added something special, from the tender lobster to the lively curry and sweet corn and rice. It was such a filling yet light option, perfect for a hot summer day and lunch the next day. My mother-in-law and husband also really enjoyed their meals. We all agreed that the service, atmosphere, selection, and food would have us coming back again and again.

lobster curry

I’m a huge lover of wine bars, cozy places to get a glass or two, with no expectation of ordering a huge meal (unless you want to), and I wish Boston had more places like Cork and my favorite Galway wine bar, Sheridan’s.

Since we’re wine club members at Travessia, we’ll have reason to visit again in the fall, and I am making a trip to Cork mandatory.

Cork Wine and Tapas Bar on Urbanspoon

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Tags: day trips, dinner, Food, New Bedford, New England, Tapas, Travel, wine, wine flights, wine tasting

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