Sonoma

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If you live in the Boston area, you probably know about Bin Ends Wine, discount wine stores in Braintree and Needham. Not only do they have an amazing selection and great prices, but they also have a true love, knowledge of, and passion for wine.  They periodically do wine dinners, and over President’s Day weekend, we got a group of friends together to go to their Sonoma wine dinner at The Townshend in Quincy.

The Townshend

wine dinner

Gundlach Bundschu Gewurtztraminer

 

scallop crudo

first course
smoked scallop crudo
served with pickled fresno pepper / pork rinds / cilantro
2013 Gundlach Bundschu Gewurtztraminer
"Estate" Sonoma Coast

This was easily my favorite pairing of the night. We love Gundlach Bundschu and have visited many times on trips to Sonoma County. Any sort of crudo is up my alley, and the wine was bright, crisp, and made the dish pop with notes of grapefruit and lemon.

croquette

second course
pork croquette
served with parsnip / gremolata / bone marrow
2014 Raeburn Winery Chardonnay
Russian River Valley

The second course paired a buttery Chardonnay from Raeburn (also a new favorite) with a rich pork and parsnip dish. The vanilla notes in the wine were lovely with the creamy parsnip, another spot-on pairing, and one that was great for a cold Sunday evening. 

lamb  

third course
braised bone-in lamb shank
served with cappellacci / golden raisin / oregano
2011 Donelan Family Wines Syrah
"Walker Vine Hill Vyd" Russian River Valley

Talk about Sunday supper food. . . the third pairing was a hearty, fall-of-the-bone lamb shank with a delicious Syrah from Donelan Family Vineyards. Spice and chocolate and berry notes made for the perfect fireside sipper and a great pairing with the very rich main course.

Buena Vista Irish Coffee  

dessert course
mini "Ghirardelli" sundae
cocoa waffle cone bowl, caramelized white chocolate ice cream, salted caramel chocolate sauce, praline tuille 
  Prepared By Pastry Chef Kate Holochick
Served with The Townshend’s Irish Coffee

At this point I could have rolled out of The Townshend, but we had a San Francisco treat to finish off the evening. A Buena Vista-style Irish coffee and a homemade Ghirardelli Sundae put me in the frame of mind to head to the West Coast and wander the lovely Ghirdardelli Square (which I did just a few weeks later). Easily one of the best desserts I have had in a long time, and the Irish coffee was a sweet and potent way to end the night.

Buena Vista Irish Coffee

After this experience, I really can’t recommend these events enough. It was so much fun, and I hope Bin Ends and The Townshend collaborate again for something similar.

Since I just returned from a visit to Northern California, I have quite a few San Francisco and other posts to share. . . stay tuned!

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Tags: California, Food, food blog, Quincy, Restaurants, Sonoma, travel blog, wine, wine blog

65% Sonoma County, 35% Napa County = a little vacation for my palate. If you’re a long-time reader, you know that we try to visit Napa and Sonoma twice a year. Travel recaps can mostly be found here.

This year, due to visiting new places and traveling for weddings and the Chicago Marathon, we have no trips to Sonoma planned, and while I am a little sad about this, I know that a little piece of me can visit through old photos, great memories, and of course wine. This is one of the reasons I love wine; pouring a glass and breathing it in can transport you back to a place in time that’s warm and sunny and gorgeous.

 

Ghost Pines Cab Sauv

This Ghost Pines wine will forever make me think of colder climate memories; I enjoyed it recently at a dinner at my sister’s house, Sunday night in winter with the family all around. My mom made an incredible roast prime rib with coconut shrimp, baked potatoes, kale Caesar, and other veggie sides.

The wine is rich and spicy with jammy blackberry and cocoa notes to balance it out. It was great with the roast meat, complementing the slight saltiness of the marinade perfectly, but it would also be great with a warm berry pie. It drank nicely long into the night, its long and lovely finish the perfect winter warmer.

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Tags: Cabernet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, Sonoma, Travel, wine, wine and food pairing, wine tasting, Wine Wednesday

I camped in the Serengeti. If that was the only thing I could say about travel in 2015, that would be enough. This was, I believe, my most-traveled year of my life. From November 2014 until the end of December I made three trips to Ireland, about seven trips to NJ, two Sonoma trips, a Chicago trip, a Myrtle Beach and Charleston trip, and many New England weekend trips, including Mystic (twice), Newport, Portland, and Cape Cod. Phew. Can I do it all again?

Throughout the year, especially August – November where I flew about every two weeks, I swore I wanted a quiet, homey 2016, but here I am, once again wanderlusting. So much of the world to see and such a short life. I am grateful for each corner of it I have been blessed to see. Here are just a few highlights from my 2015 travels.  Since there are so many photos to share, I am going to break this up into two posts. . .enjoy!

Serengeti camping

 

Serengeti sunset

Serengeti sunrises and sunsets were pretty much life-changing.

 

Maramboi Tented Camp

Escaping a Boston winter to lounge poolside at a game camp wasn’t too bad either.

 African elephant

I will never forget the first elephants we saw in Tarangire National Park. Mind, blown. I’m getting a little teary-eyed just writing about it.  I fell in love with the Tanzanian landscape, the food, and the warm welcome of the people. And the kids. I absolutely loved and learned from these little ones.

Between November 2014 and November 2015, I got to visit Ireland three times, which made it feel even more like home. Over the course of the Ireland trips, we got to eat my favorite things and to spend lots of time outdoors.

Connemara

Ashford Castle

Seeing Ashford Castle from a boat on Lough Corrib was sensational. Ashford Castle and Cong are must-visits on any trip to the West of Ireland!

zipline adventure

Ziplining in Ireland was another step outside my comfort zone. Between camping and zipping, I feel like I was pretty brave in 2015! Ireland visits gave us a lot of family time, something I would like to be better about in 2015. I need to slow down and be present; travel and family make that happen.

Galway was Galway, and with the length and frequency of our trips, I got to spend a lot of time just being there, and I loved it.

sunset over the Claddagh, Galway Ireland

In addition to logging international miles, I also zigzagged across the country twice this year to visit Sonoma for work! In June I traveled to Sonoma County to meet a client and to plan for Sonoma Wine Country Weekend PR and Social Media. Combining work and one of my favorite places was, as you can imagine, pretty amazing.

Willi's Wine Bar

There was obviously a lot of food and wine but also learning and connecting.

wine tasting

I loved the wine at Ram’s Gate and Fog Crest and Cain and so many others. Getting to take not just one, but two trips to the high country at MacMurray Estate Vineyards, a journey reserved mostly for press and other VIPs, was one of the highlights of both trips.

MacMurray Estate Vineyards

MacMurray Estate Vineyards Soaking up the sun and discovering new Sonoma food and wine favorites with my husband after the work was done was the icing on the cake.

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Tags: Africa, Ireland, Serengeti, Sonoma, Travel, travel blog, travel blog posts, travel blogger, travel blogging, vacation

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