Monday, October 20, 2014

Wine, Sushi, and the best thing I've ever put in my mouth

Birthday week continued over the weekend. Of course it did! What's birthday week without weekend festivities?

Friday, my friend and co-worker Eva insisted on taking me out to dinner. We settled on sushi (since we both love it and don't eat nearly enough of it), then going to Black Ankle Vineyards to listen to music, taste wine, and chill in front of the fire.

Black Ankle is one of the few estate wineries in Maryland - meaning that the grapes for their wines come entirely from their own vineyard (many wineries will import grapes from other areas, like California or Argentina, so that they can incorporate varietals that don't grow particularly well in their region). Usually, in Maryland, this means sweeter wines, with the cooler and wetter climate here causing increased sugar levels in the grapes. (Yes, I am slightly a wine nerd. In fairness, I worked for a winery for a while, and went from knowing pretty much nothing about wine, to knowing slightly more than nothing but able to talk like I know what's what!)

Eva and Kelly after a bottle of wine,
too much sushi, and lots of laughs.
But the wines we tried at Black Ankle were lovely dry reds (they are sold out of whites for the season). We bought a bottle of their Slate II, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. I think my favorite, though, was the Passeggiata VI, which was the first wine we tasted. Dry but not heavy, with a bit of spice - this is my ideal type of wine!

Once our bottle had been uncorked, we settled inside (it was crowded around the fire pits outside, and we kind of wanted to see the sushi we were eating) with our food, our wine, and conversation, of which there is never a shortage with us!

Before we knew it, it was closing time, but we still had dessert to enjoy. Eva had insisted that we get the Tempura Cheesecake, and even though they were cooled, OMG. Seriously, the most incredibly awesome thing that has ever entered my mouth. Okay, that didn't sound right, but I don't care. I'm asking Tempura Cheesecake out on a date, because it seriously doesn't get better than that!

The next day, I reluctantly got out of bed to go to rehearsal (I don't get hangovers, but it had been a late night, and Saturdays used to be my only day not to wake up with an alarm. But that's not the case as long as this show is happening). But then it was time for Family Birthday time!

My brother offered to host, which is new, so Mom brought food, we all brought presents, and we settled in to be spoiled rotten. Since my brother is recently single, he has many practical needs. Believe me when I say I've never seen a man so excited to receive silverware as he was! I wish I had gotten a picture of him hugging his new Crockpot!

I was also pretty proud of the "creative" gift I had made for him. In keeping with the dining theme, I made a binder of some of his favorite recipes, and added dividers and page protectors so that he can continue to build his own personal cookbook. I had forgotten to make a cover page on the computer, so I had hand-drawn (with old Crayola markers I found in basement that, surprisingly, hadn't dried up) a cover declaring the book to be "Shawn's BIG Binder of Good Eating". Cheese-tastic, I know, but that's just how we roll in our family.

My family was entirely too generous to me, but I love that they care that much. One of my favorite gifts was the soundtrack to "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder". When I saw this cast perform at the Tony Awards in June (and they most deservedly won the Best Musical award), I fell instantly in love with the show. I'd love to go to New York to see it. I'd love to DO the show. But I have a feeling it's going to keep running on Broadway for quite a while yet, because it's amazing. More operetta than musical, it's the story of a poor man who starts bumping off the members of the family standing between him and an aristocratic title (all of whom are played by the same actor). It's witty, well-written, and undoubtedly unique.

I promise that next week I'll get back to DIY awesomeness, but the last week has been too busy and full of distractions to focus on creating. Plus, my kitchen is a mess, the piano tuner is coming tomorrow, and Georgia keeps insisting on knocking over my plants (I'm starting to think it's deliberate).

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