wine

The Fleming’s 100

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A good steak becomes great once it’s paired with the right wine, and nobody knows this better than Fleming’s. They’ve spent the past year putting together their Fleming’s 100 wine list to provide excellent wines you can enjoy in tastes, customized flights, by the glass, and bottle.

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I recently popped in to sample just about the entire list (almost! I tried!), and had a fantastic time. Don’t think that because they’re a steakhouse that you’ll only get big reds; this expertly curated list also contains crisp whites, lighter reds, and refreshing bubbles. If you’re a oenophile like me, you’re going to be delighted with their picks! Next time you’re popping in for the lobster lettuce cups on their fantastic happy hour (as I so often do), give the list a try. You won’t be disappointed.

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The Happiest Hour: Juliet

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I’ve been referred to as ‘The Happy Hour Queen’ by more than one source, and I take that as a huge compliment! I pride myself on being the first (or almost first) to try any new spot, and conquer appetizers and bar menus with gusto.

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It should come as no surprise that the moment I had a free day, I ran to Juliet’s happy hour (Mon-Sun, 3-7) to try everything.

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All rosé wines were half off, and yes, that included sparklers. House wine was available for a mere $5, beer for $4, and there were some amazing sounding $7 cocktails. I was particularly interested in the Mezcal Negroni, but I’ll be saving that for my next trip there.

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I fell in love with just about everything on the wine list, and I’m still salivating over that delicious crudo. You can view the full happy hour menu here, and I can assure that it’s all delicious.

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You’ll be surprised at how beautiful the space is, and just how welcoming the staff are. If you went to this place back in the days it was Romeo’s location, you will absolutely be astonished with how different it truly is. Both the inside and outside are completely renovated, and it makes for the ideal place to meet for an early date.

Uncommon Goods: Reviewed By A Oenophile/Cat Lady

I recently got the opportunity to try out some of the stellar gifts available from Uncommon Goods. The overall selection is enormous, and I had a hard time deciding what to choose! There was everything from barware to unique necklaces to tipis for cats to… You get the idea! Naturally, I was drawn to all things wine.

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I’m an avid picnicker, and arguably an equally avid drinker, so I know the importance of keeping wine cool in the Texas summer (which is the only other season we have beyond 2 weeks of winter). As you may have seen in my video, I gave both the Sparq Wine Pearls and the Corkcickle a test run. They both kept my wine cold, whether in the glass or in the bottle, and I have a few people in mind, from an ‘Extreme Picnicking’ group that I participate in, that absolutely need these things in their lives.

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Given that Uncommon Goods specializes in gifts for everyone whether they have 2 legs or 4, I couldn’t pass up the Dj-inspired scratchpad. If you’re wondering if your cats will like it, trust me: they will. Ours had a bit of a rap battle over who “owned it,” though they now seem to be okay with taking turns mixing sick beats for us on the scratchpad, and thankfully not our couch. Overall, Uncommon Goods is a great place to find really cool products for yourself, or someone that you love. (Or someone that loves wine.)

Disclosure: I did receive complimentary products for review purposes. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

 

You May Not Know This About Me

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Both of these pictures are of me.

I have struggled with a variety of eating disorders over the years. In fact, I think my earliest memories are of the comforting feeling McDonald’s gave me when my mom woke me up in the middle of the night with the smell of French fries and the scratchy sounds of napkins being pulled from paper bags. (She worked late nights, and I had an obsessive, irrational fear that she would die in a car wreck.) When I smelled late night fast food: I knew she was home safe, and that it was finally time for me to eat.

I won’t begin to touch on the pains of being an obese kid or teenager, but at least you can see a small part of where it all began. I decided to have weight-loss surgery at age 20, and had it reversed (against my wishes) within a year because it became abundantly clear that I had gamed my surgery for bulimia, and lost too much weight, too quickly. I learned the mindset required to starve myself, and continued to shrink without the surgery. I thought I’d be happy when I got to 120 110 98 lbs., but believe me: it’s never enough.

In a weird twist of fate, I won a stack of wine books in a drawing. I wasn’t into wine, but I’m the type that has to read every book in my house, and so I did. I learned that a glass of wine could contain endless flavors and aromas; things that I once ate, which were now a distant memory, were now accessible in a glass that contained far fewer calories than the dishes themselves. Some reds could smell of gamey meats, blueberry cobbler, or even cherry pie. Champagne contained lemon zest and yeasty bread, and Chardonnays were (some would argue unfortunately so) full of butter.

My obsession with wine grew, and I attended every class and tasting I could find. Given that wine is almost always served with food, I think you can see where the story goes. I was slowly reintroduced to eating, and eating well at that; I became less and less afraid of nibbling the bits of cheese that accompanied my Pinot. Over the years I became healthy, then slightly overweight, and then healthy again. My life became a balancing act: I did not want to miss out on the things that gave me pleasure, but I did not want to overindulge and face feeling extremely uncomfortable in my plump, loose skin. These days I try to eat a low-carb diet, and work out every day at lunch. I try not to starve myself. I never throw up on purpose. I wear short shorts because I feel good about my body.

And yes, sometimes I still see myself as incredibly fat. I love food, and I hate that I wasted so much time fearing it. I remember visiting France and only allowing myself a croissant and an Orangina most days, crying and trying to purge it somehow if I allowed myself anything else. My days are spent tottering on a mental tight rope: I never want to be obese again, and I never want to let that obsession with being skinny take hold.

This is a very personal post, and I hope you will all respond with sensitivity. I have been working on an autobiography off and on for many years now, and I felt that sharing this might help inspire me to finish it, and to quit fearing what others might think if they knew this about me.

Food Find: Terry Black’s Barbecue

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We made a quick stop in to Terry Black’s to try Austin’s most talked about, new barbecue stand. The weather was nice, and their patio offered plenty of seating with a beautiful view of the Long Center.

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It was late in the afternoon, but we still managed to grab some of their last brisket. Given that I can’t have beer lately (blame it on the low-carb diet), I was happy to see wine offered by both  the bottle and half-bottle ($12-$18). There were no lines, despite the restaurant being moderately busy.

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We thought what we had was above-average, and even better when you factor in that there wasn’t a 2 hour wait, or a 3 hour drive to acquire it. I should also mention that given you don’t have to jump through hoops to get their food, it’s not necessarily an insane, melt-in-your-mouth, Franklin-esque experience. It’s still good though, and definitely worth a try on a lazy Saturday afternoon after a dip in Barton Springs.

Food + Wine: Bridlewood Estate Meets Odd Duck

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There are few things I love more in this life than great food, and great wine. Those of you who’ve experienced the two together, know that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Given that this is where my passion lies, imagine how excited I was to see an email from Bridlewood Estate Winery inviting me to dinner at Odd Duck. A great California winery at Austin’s most beloved new Bryce Gilmore incarnation… I couldn’t wait!

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My partner and I arrived at Odd Duck a little after everyone else. When I saw a large table filled with wine, and people holding fancy-looking cameras, I knew this was my group. The other guests were an impressive list of who’s who in local newspapers, magazines, and food blogs. I always feel a tad bit inadequate at these events, because I don’t own a digital SLR (yet). Let me demonstrate:

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I put my embarrassment aside, and dove head first into the wine. (What did you expect me to do?)

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We sipped complex, delicious Chardonnay as a dazzling series of appetizers came out. We had lardo (rice cracker, lard, radish), crab cornmeal pancakes with grapefruit, and red shrimp with hazelnuts and lemon verbana. I asked the winemaker if the wine had just a kiss of oak, and he said I was spot on. (Finally! All those dashed attempts at becoming a sommelier redeemed!) I hate when Chardonnays turn into the dreaded “butter bombs,” and this one had just enough oak without pushing it over the edge.

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Dish after mouthwatering dish came by, and eventually we sat down to sip and discuss their luscious Monterey County Pinot Noir. By now we’d had masa roasted beets with mole and charred olive, heirloom chicken with pistachio and strawberries, and were moving on to grilled venison loin with sweet potato, vanilla, and juniper. The Pinot paired well with the strawberry-laced heirloom chicken, and the Cab stood up to the smoky, grilled venison. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of Bridlewood Estate before this event! (Also of note, it was my first time at Odd Duck, making me the last of my friends to try it.)

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We finished the night with polite conversation, warm nighttime air, and more than our fair share of Cab. If you run across Bridlewood Estate on a restaurant menu, or perhaps in a supermarket, be sure to give them a try. I don’t think I need to remind you to visit Odd Duck, I think those pictures speak for themselves.