17-19 June 2011
This weekend marks the passing of several momentous holidays:
- National Eat All Your Veggies Day (celebrated by my attendance of Pinot Days where I ate everything but)
- Father’s Day (I sprained my ankle as a gift for my Dad)
- National Splurge Day (which was spent on food for my newly discovered passion – cooking)
일:Socola @ Pinot Days
Sôcôla was representing at the Pinot Days Festival this weekend. On Friday, Susan and I attended the William Selyem wine-tasting workshop. All I have to say that was memorable about the speakers was that they were boring. Harsh, I know. But imagine: your very average college professors giving unengaged lectures on things they are “passionate” about. Wait for it. Keep waiting.
Susan and I were fortunate enough to be invited to a table to taste the wines, which were superb. I am still a 99% newbie to wine tasting (I can at least tell you the difference between a red & rosé, a cab & a shiraz…accomplishment, no?) Although I tasted the differences, I was still terrible at articulating what I was experiencing. In fact, I took the time to compile a simple list of adjectives for your pleasure:
Backward, balanced, barnyard, berry, creamy, chewy, closed, complex, corked, dry, earthy, flabby, floral, herbal, intense, jammy, musty, oaky, oxidized (sherries), silky, simple, smoky, tannic, vegetal, velvety.
There was also delicious cheese from Kerrygold, an Irish dairy company. Most notable was the Stout Beer Cheese. The Stout Beer in the cheese does the exact same thing for the chocolate. It makes it smooth, slightly crumbly, but acts an amazing complement as well. Caithiseach!
Then it was time for Susan to speak, since the burnt caramel with sea salt was paired with one of the flights (a flight = round of wine tasting). The woman who organized the event gave Susan some tips just before:
And then Susan blew the crowd away. She’s a natural speaker – full of energy and more animated than your average Japanese anime. She spoke over her allotted time of three minutes, but I honestly think I didn’t matter because she was so good. Her passion for chocolate and her story had everyone hooked. I heard people approvingly whispering around me and Susan even got a few “Hell yeahs!” She totally owned it. Commitment.
Saturday was the grand event: Pinot Days Wine Tasting.
Over a hundred wineries lined up with bottles to provide free wine tasting. I was absolutely overwhelmed – in a good way, obviously.
I did learn one thing: structure in wine. I finally caved in and admitted that I was clueless when it came to Pinot Noirs (although I backed it up by saying I was an expert chocolatier instead). STRUCTURE: refers to a wine’s texture, mouthfeel, and balance. Basically how long the taste stays in your mouth. If the acid, tannin, or alcohol is predominant, the wine will be harsher (more structure).
Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle earlier that morning (more later), so I didn’t get to be the chocolate bar who walked around giving out samples, but Aida did! Brief introduction: Aida (pronounced I-eat-a, or at least close to – it took me a while) is my Harvard roomie’s best friend from high school. We’d never hung out before this summer, but we’ve discovered that we’re totally made for each other because we are both crazy FOODIES. She’s also an amazing cook (more later) and hella fun.
SHE SO HOT SHE GON MELT.
So yeah, we had a living chocolate bar. Not to be confused with its close cousin, the brownie.
We did amazing with sales at this event. Probably a combination of consumer type (wealthy enough to come to such a large wine tasting event), the chocolate bar, Susan’s vivaciousness, and of course, some dranky drunks. Obviously left with high spirits, lots of half opened wine bottles, and racks of gorgeous classic wine glasses by Debbie Douglas Designs.
이:Sprain @ Ankle
Allow myself to throw a mini pity fest. I got this sweet road bike off of Craig’s list a day before Pinot Days, and I was hella excited to ride it. But hey, guess who decided to let her injury prone ways shine through? Me.
It’s chill. I mean, I’m pretty frustrated that I can’t be active as I wanted to be this summer and I can’t continue my daily yoga. It’s also ironic that the best physical exercise for me at this point is swimming (yes, I am even going for an early morning session tomorrow).
During the Fort Mason Farmer’s Market yesterday, I was coming out of the bathroom and passed an elderly lady who told me I should go ahead since she was taking her time. Laughing, I showed her my ankle brace and hobble. She smiled and pulled up her pants, revealing an ankle split. We instantly bonded.
Kathleen is a social psychologist for both children and adults. I am always so impressed by people who take on work that is emotionally tolling. The ability to be able to deeply empathize but at the same time learn how to separate one’s own life from another’s is highly admirable. She even tried to go into retirement but found herself drawn back into service.
We talked about everything from deep sea fishing to acupuncture and energies to improv theater. One thing she said that I loved was how with any injury, you realize first how grateful you are for the rest of your body, and also that you discover a gift from your injury. I asked her what her broken ankle gave her and she told me the gift of slowing down. Pretty sweet.
Around then I realized I had left Beth to her own means to man the Socola booth for the past hour, so I dashed off to help. Of course, I dragged my ankle buddy along with me to try out some truffles. How could I not?
삼:Pizza @ Home
Guys, I’ve realized something. I’m always looking for the weirdest dishes in restaurants and it’s really hard for me to order the same thing twice. Or to even go to the same place twice. It’s funny – I think it’s a reflection of having grown up in the same apartment, same city, and same school my whole life. I even ate the same dishes every week and was really picky about my food.
When it happened: Saturday night after Pinot Days. Aida kindly brought over some nourishment and ankle reinforcements, and loaded up this addictive website: Taste Spotting. Beautiful photos. Beautiful food. Beautiful ideas.
We didn’t watch our TV show because we couldn’t stop clicking next. And that’s when I realized: I complain about not understanding food well enough to fully appreciate it. I also love novel, weird combinations. Why don’t I finally learn the basics of cooking so I can break the rules myself?
Aida and I squealed for a good ten minutes about how excited we were to begin our culinary adventures. Thank God she’s an expert cook, because I have someone to show me the way before I go ahead and start using cheese as butter and vinegar as oil.
So Sunday night we both made it our mission to bring home a nice collection of food from our respective Farmer’s Markets. While I waited for her to come home, I began drinking my own Pinot Days wine and wrapped walnuts and almonds in fresh mint leaves. I sealed them with melted dark chocolate mixed with cinnamon (I can’t help having an affair with Mexican chocolate – he’s dark and spices up my life) and then garnished them with berries or cheese. Also experimented with bananas, walnuts, chocolate, and oats.
I may or may not have gotten slightly drunk (it’s a hard life having a sprained ankle), and decided to make white rice. I only ate a bit of it with seaweed, and then decided why not melt more dark chocolate on top of rice balls. Then proceeded to lather them with boysenberry jam, and placed caramelized onions in the middle. I wish I had put chili pepper on it to finish it off, but it was still a pretty interesting combo. Hey drunk sweet & savory rice balls.
Then Aida, the real chef, came along and we started making some pizza. We used a whole wheat pizza dough recipe. What we made:
Back: peppers, caramelized onions, red onions, tomatoes, monterey jack cheese, sprinkled with monchego
Our friends, the dough balls. Chocolate dough ball on the right.
Get a good whiff of that cinnamon Aida.