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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

2015 was a huge travel year for us, with a safari in Africa, three trips to Ireland, trips to Myrtle Beach, Chicago, and more. When 2016 rolled around, between being a bit tired and also getting a new boat, we wanted to spend more time staying local, and with the exception of a couple of trips, we did just that.

January – I got to travel to beautiful Hampshire County Massachusetts for work and to stay in Amherst, soaking up the quiet magic that is January in the region. It was cold, but we warmed up by the Lord Jeff fireplaces and with perfectly made craft cocktails. This was, as it is titled, a perfect Massachusetts getaway.

The Lord Jeffery Inn

 

February – A dreamy trip to Luquillo and San Juan, Puerto Rico was one of the highlights of the year, so much so that we might return again in 2017. 

Boats, beaches, seafood, rum, music, and lots of sunshine made this the perfect getaway, an easy and direct JetBlue flight from Boston.

Outdoor Adventures in Puerto Rico

Icacos sailing

 

AprilA much-needed getaway to Maine with friends included a stay at the beautiful Hartstone Inn, hiking to the top of Mount Battie in Camden, and shopping in Freeport. I heart L.L. Bean. Maine is just glorious, and our April 2017 trip to Camden is already booked!

16 Bayview Camden Maine

June – Sharing my June trip (and one of the best of 2016) is certainly bittersweet, as the amazing publicist who organized it recently passed away. Florence Tambone brought me along on the most wonderful day to the North Fork of Long Island on Cross Sound Ferry, along with other writers, and I just had the best time, visiting Long Island wineries, learning to shuck oysters, visiting a gorgeous farm, and laughing all day long.  Lavender by the Bay was perhaps the most breathtaking experience of my year. Thanks to Florence and Cross Sound Ferry, the North Fork is one of my favorite getaways, and I will always, always think of her when I visit.

lavender fields in Long Island

 

July – Another work trip to Hampshire County gave me time to stay at Hotel Northampton and visit a favorite, Black Birch Vineyard. I’m hoping that 2017 brings more opportunities to visit Western Massachusetts, both for work and fun!

Black Birch Vineyard

August – My cousin got married in Asheville, NC, so we got to visit this beautiful area for the first time. Outdoor time, beer tasting, and family time made it a perfect summer trip.

horses in asheville

September – We traveled just up to Ipswich, MA for the last weekend of summer and rented the most incredible little waterside cottage. We spent a ton of time on the screened in porch, went to the private beach in the Little Neck community we were in, explored Newburyport, Essex, and Ipswich, and ate a ton of seafood. This cottage is definitely in future plans. I love New England summer!

(I caught the sunrise on the first morning; magical.)

sunrise in Ipswich

October – We traveled to Chicago for the Chicago Marathon, which was a disappointing run for me but an amazing trip overall. We absolutely loved the Thompson Chicago, and WE MET EDDIE VEDDER. Maybe the highlight of my year.

image

 

November – Our annual trip to Ireland for Thanksgiving included time on Achill Island as well as plenty of time to wander around Galway, eating and drinking and being merry. We loved Tribeton for cocktails, and I have so many more Ireland posts to come!

wild atlantic way ireland

December – We rounded out the year with a trip to Maine to visit friends who just moved there. It’s great to have another excuse to visit Portland!

We had the most amazing dinner at Sur Lie in Portland, and despite bitter cold temperatures spent some time outside taking in the stunning coastal vistas and lighthouses. Vacationland for sure.

Portland Head Light

There were lots of weekends boating to the Boston Harbor Islands and other places in Massachusetts, along with other little New England trips here and there. Looking back on 2016, we actually traveled more than I realized.

In 2017, we’ll be going to Tuscany for a wedding in July, look forward to MANY more boating adventures, trips to Maine, and hopefully a warm weather getaway, possibly Puerto Rico again.

Cheers to a wanderlust-satisfying 2017 for all!

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Tags: Achill, blogger, boating, Boston blogger, Camden, Galway, Ireland, Long Island, Long Island wine, Luquillo, Maine, New England, North Fork, Puerto Rico, travel blog, travel blogger, travel planning, wine blog, wine country

My love affair with Vermentino continues, thanks to recent Sardinian wine events. A while back, there was a day on a boat with Santa Maria La Palma tasting some absolutely beautiful Sardinian wines. A few weeks later, I had the pleasure of a delicious wine lunch with Vigne Surrau at Select Oyster Bar, cementing my desire to wander around Sardinia on our trip to Italy this coming summer. We have a wedding in Tuscany in July and are hoping to tack on another destination. We’ve both done Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice, and the beautiful Le Marche and Abruzzo regions (BEST wine tasting day ever), so Sardinia is looking like a real possibility.

Okay, enough of our travels for now.

Back to the wine. . . Vigne Surrau wine lunch Warm and charming hosts from Vigne Surrau welcomed us into a cozy space in the back of Select Oyster Bar, wine and information awaiting our arrival. Learning about where wine is grown is always fascinating to me, especially when it is on an island like Sardinia, and all of the conditions of the island affect the grapes. Surrau’s vineyards are in Gallura in the northern part of Sardinia, and they are directly affected by the Mistral wind and the granite earth and clay where they grow. Their website says “Nature imitates art and man pick it”, a concept I found so beautiful as the wines truly were works of art created by nature.

Sardinia is home to incredible Vermentino, and that’s what we started our lunch with.

BRANU Vermentino di Gallura D.O.C.G.2015

Lemony and with a great, food-friendly acidity and freshness, this wine’s stainless steel fermentation means that the flavors are not influenced by oak or anything else. This wine was like sunshine and a day at the beach, but has enough body to be a winter white, we all agreed.

SCIALA Vermentino di Gallura D.O.C.G. 2015

This wine is a blend of the best Vermentino and aged on its lees, making it feel like a more substantial wine. Less lemon and more pineapple/mango/minerals than the BRANU.

Sardinian wine

 

 

select oyster bar

While we learned about Vigne Surrau, we also indulged in perfect pairings of the seafood that Select Oyster Bar is known for. Heavenly salmon crudo and Vermentino are quite possibly the perfect pairing. This menu was clearly planned keeping both the food and wine in mind.

salmon crudo

 Vermentino

As we moved onto our second course and the red wine, I deviated from the seafood menu because there was AVOCADO TOAST. I’m sorry, but I just can’t say no to that. Last sips of Vermentino cut through the creamy fattiness of the avocado and brightened it up in the best way, while my first sips of Cannonau added a bit of spice to the pairing.

avocado toast

As I mentioned in my last post on Sardinian wines, Cannonau makes for a beautiful, light red that can be enjoyed year-round. We compared the SINCARU and the Riserva, two different vintages, and noted similarities and differences. As simplistic as it sounds, both were just so delicious. The Riserva is aged in Slovenian oak which gives it a fuller body and richer texture, and I also noticed a slight hint of saline or minerals on this wine. Truth be told, the 2014 was my favorite of the two because of the spicy notes. . . I could see it being perfect for a casual pizza night in front of the fire.

SINCARU Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C. 2014
SINCARU RESERVE Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C. Riserva 2013

IMG_9590

vigne surrauFor the final course and wine, I went back to seafood, a steaming bowl of clams with chorizo, I think the key component of pairing with the wine.

BARRIU I.G.T. Isola dei Nuraghi 2013

This blend of Cannonau, Syrah, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon was big and bold, notes of baking spices and pepper along with stewed fruit. It was so cozy, and while you might not think a red would go with clams, the flavors in the broth along with the salinity of the clams really worked with the wine’s beautiful characteristics.

sauteed clams  

This wine lunch was a delicious and educational way to spend an afternoon. Thank you to Vigne Surrau for hosting me!

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Tags: Boston, events, Sardinia, sardinian wine, seafood, wine, wine and food pairing, wine blog, wine events, wine tasting

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