Drink Scotch Whisky, All Night Long

(A memorable line from one of my favorite Steely Dan songs on the Aja album.)


IMG_0506Or all day long, if you are in Scotland!
On a truly Scottish morning, grey and damp, we got an early start to walk about the city and plan the day.  Walking past Edinburgh Castle shrouded in misty, passing through a market, and from Old Town to New Town.  Seeing this beautiful city on foot is really the best way to go.

After a stroll, it was 11AM and time to head off to the Scotch Whiskey Experience for a lesson on scotch whisky making and a little tasting.

What?  Scotch Whisky at 11am?  Are you crazy?

Maybe only a little crazy, but it’s actually best to do a tasting earlier in the day before one’s pallet is tainted.  And besides, what could be more Scottish?!

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This tour included an entertaining little ride in a barrel to discover the ingredients and techniques used to make scotch whisky as well as a lesson on the different scotch making regions in Scotland, each with different flavors and specialties.

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After the learning came the tasting! We got a review of the old swirl, sniff, and sip techniques while admiring one of the worlds largest collections of unopened scotch.

 

 

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After this, if you possessed the “Golden Ticket” you had the opportunity to sit in the cafe and explore a tasting flight of 4 additional different Scotch samples from the different regions discussed on the tour.  I discovered Highland Scotch is for me and anything to smoky makes me cough, but there was no complaining involved, how often will this get to happen!

 


Now personally, I’ve always been a gin girl myself… but there is something very pleasing about a smoky scotch to warm you on a chilly evening.  I was also in luck, as there was plenty of gin to be found in Scotland!  My favorite haunt?  Nicholson’s Bar– basically a whole section of the menu dedicated to “build your own Gin & Tonic” and I was in heaven.

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My favorite of the evening?  Williams Aged Sloe & Mulberry Gin with Lemon Tonic.

If I could get this in the states, I would fill my apartment with it (sadly they don’t bill or ship outside of the UK).  Basically a little sweet and more tart then other gins I’ve had. Very different from many gins in that the juniper flavor was very low key.  The Lemon Tonic added a lot, and who knew there were so many different options for tonic!


So yes, on this trip there was a lot of (good) drinking.  Instant coffee all morning- don’t get me started on this!- and Spirits all night.

On our walking adventures we did find a cute local coffee shop, aka not Starbucks, and had a peaceful sit down to sip lattes and watch the people go by.  I’ve found that everywhere I go I’m looking for a local coffee place to perch relax, it really helps me feel like I’m actually living in a place and in that moment, a member of the local community.  It’s like a tradition.  My local corner in Upper Manhattan, Anomali Coffee in Ubud, Bali and  now Procafination in Edinburgh!  Really no better place to get a feel for a city, while taking care of my never ending caffeine need  😉


Have you had the opportunity to drink whiskey in Scotland?  What fun drinks have you found on your globe trekking adventures?   Share them in the comments below!

Always,

C

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Live from Scotland 

Well, made it to  Edinburgh! Actually we got in yesterday but its been non stop exploring and adventuring… And after not getting any sleep on the flight across the pond, it was a very long day.   So while, it’s well past 11pm over here, it’s just getting to be evening back home and what else would you all love to do but read a blog post from yours truly.  

I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. I can promise there will be some good pictures to go along with my babbling writing! Please forgive any typos or layout mistakes, WordPress on an iPad is very difficult to work on… Anyway… Off we go-

Upon landing, navigating the tram, and  getting into the city center, we found our hostel and got checked in.  We pre-booked beds at Castle Rock Hostel (full review coming soon) cause Savannah was staying there, and it’s literally right outside of Edinburgh Castle… So my view comic or going at any time is sorta kinda AMAZING!

View of Edinburgh Castle from the front door of my hostel!


And speaking of Savannah, once we were checked in and on the wifi, we found each other and started off on our first adventure.

Chris, Savannah, and Megan with Edinburgh Castle in the background


The first stop on this adventure, lunch. And a drink.  Even after 2 small bottles of wine on the initial flight over (oh I have so much to tell y’all about international carriers and flights, it might be a 2 part post) and a 5 hour layover, I had hardly slept and airport snacks will only get you so far.  When someone recommends a place and we get aids out if we show our hostel card you say YES! First stop- Fiddlers Arms for a drink and some food. The Drunken Roommates and Savannah had officially come to Edinburgh.

Our faces may not be pictured, but I think our drink selections give us away 😉


After being properly fed, it was time to explore Old Town and see what’s in the neighborhood.

View from Edinburgh Castle. Literally, there’s home!

Little stair cases and alleys or “close” wind all around connecting main streets and looking amazing.

Literally just some pretty building fronts along a curving road in Old Town


Gorgeous, right??

We ended the day with my favorite, GIN! Yes, we found a place that specializes in all sorts of different gins and tonics. Basically you can build your own and I chose a combo I’ve never had before and may never have again, so it was time to enjoy– Williams Aged Sloe & Mulberry Gin with Lemon Tonic. I don’t think that  right now I have the words to describe the amazingness of this, so just enjoy looking at it and secretly wishing you had one in your hand this Friday evening!

Williams Aged Sloe & Mulberry Gin with Lemon Tonic

Today we did a 12 hour bus tour of the Scotish Highlands, Urquhart Castle, and Loch Ness.  Maybe we saw Nessie, maybe we didn’t… That’s for another post on another day but I’ll just say, there will be a lot of sheep and castle coming your way!


Have a Scotland experience to share?  Enjoy, can’t wait to hear from you!
Always, 

C

A Hard Boiled Egg

Just musing around here, cause it’s a Tuesday night and “what am I having for dinner?” has been the question on my mind.  A salad.  No great story ever started with eating a salad… well, maybe this one will.

Digging through the fridge…  thinking ok I have spinach, carrots, mushrooms.  I’d like something else… we have eggs… a hard boiled egg would be a perfect addition…


I have always thought it was practically rocket science to hard boil an egg.  Laugh all you want, but ti’s true.  I grew up with eggs WAY to boiled or still all runny inside, that eventually I just quit asking for them and later started buying them pre-done at Trader Joes.

This past weekend I was going to the theater with a friend and we did dinner before.  First on the menu- a salad- with hard boiled egg.  And yes, I had to ask for step by step instructions on how to hard boil the darn eggs!

Like really?  It takes 10 minutes:

  1. put the eggs in a pot
  2. fill the pot with water, covering the eggs
  3. boil the water and once boiling leave for 5-7 minutes
  4. turn off the stove
  5. cool/rinse in cold water

Poof, done.  Hard boiled eggs.


So it wasn’t that hard at all.  But I didn’t know that till I asked.

I read a book recommended by  a dear friend a while back, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer and there is a lot to be said about asking for help or guidance.  Mostly that it’s OK and that you won’t look as stupid as you think if you just ask.  I find I look more ridiculous when I don’t ask and mess something up royally… Instead of just saying I need help.

Not gonna lie, life has been crazy and I’ve been away from the blog, but really that’s gonna change.  There are races to be reviewed, wines to the tasted, other bloggers to share (Check out the travel blog Brows The World by my dear friend Alex) and much more.

 

Stay tuned and stay true, I appreciate each and every one of my readers!

 

Always,

C

On Wine: Pinot Gris Reserve Willm 2013

Let’s start this Monday off right… with wine.

Starting a new wine series titled “One Wine”- A series of short write ups on the latest open bottle in the apartment and various top finds!  Here is this week’s edition of “On Wine”, hot off the presses…

We’ve all had a cheap Pinot Grigio. It’s light, crisp and generally refreshing but overall is pretty unexciting. There are some great examples out there but most of the bottles in the generic twenty-something’s price range will just be ok. On the other hand, there’s Pinot Gris. Same grape, but coming from the low yielding vineyards in Alsace. In general, Pinot Gris is a little more perfumed and much more complex than its Italian cousin. It’ll have some of the same citrus and steely notes that we know from Pinot Grigio but will go beyond the primary flavors.

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This one has a lovely floral nose with hints of pear and citrus. There’s little bit of a spicy, savory note that is reminiscent of sage and ginger as the wine develops in the glass.  It’s still plenty acidic but less biting with some honeysuckle and the barest hit of sweetness to balance it. To be clear, this is still a dry wine. There’s possibly a little residual sugar but not enough to make this off-dry. Overall it has good balance, great flavor development and definitely worth the $13.

This is super food friendly when not being enjoyed just as a summertime sipper. We had this with Poulet a l’Estragon but spicy Asian cuisine is also a great go to pairing. The slight amount of sweetness and acidity helps cut through the burning of really good Drunken Noodles.

-M

Enjoy your week, friends!

Always,

C

 

On Wine: Il Mimo 2014

Well friends, summer is upon us in NYC!  And summer means rosé.

You read that right– rosé season is upon us and it’s taken very seriously in this apartment.  Here again, from the desk(top) of the Wine & Food contributing writer, our first rosé review of the summer.

I love rosé. And I know I’m not the only one who gets excited when the bins of pink wines start appearing in the front of the local wine shop. Besides the fact that it means summer is coming, its bright, young, lovely and refreshing and exactly what the warmer weather calls for. IMG_7116

Sometimes all the barely pink wines start to run together and it just starts to be one strawberry and slightly steely wine after another. This one is a little bolder than most and it definitely looks it. A deep, deep pink color makes it stand out when surrounded by its paler friends and comes from a fairly long maceration time for a rosé. It’s based on the same grape that makes the superstars Barolo and Barbaresco: Nebbiolo. It’s a unique grape that isn’t in your typical rosé, which to me automatically makes it cool to me. Slightly fuller bodied but still light and easy to sip on when it’s hot and humid. With more bright cherry, raspberry and riper strawberry that make it incredibly easy to drink. A little bit of savory flavors kick in at the end with a little hint of anise. Slightly more tannic as well which makes it quite well structured.

We enjoyed some Trader Joes Flatbread Pizzas with this, but it’s pretty easy drinking and food friendly.

-M

So what are you chilling and enjoying this summer?

Let us know here and when you get the chance, try the Il Mimo 2014 and let us know what you think!

Always,

C

For the Love of Jura (part 2)

Do you know what day it is?!

Yes Christiane, it’s Wednesday May 25th.

Yes it is… but do you know what DAY it is…  No!

It’s National Wine Day!!


What a second best way to celebrate (obviously having a glass or 3 of wine comes first) then learning a little bit more about the new craze in the apartment- Jura wines.  Megan had the exciting opportunity to attend a Master Class on Jura wines a few weeks ago and below she not only educates us on exactly what a wine master class is… but what she learned and experienced.

The Master Class. The really intense day where I usually sit in the back with my glasses thinking “How the hell do you know that off the top of your head?” while I’m surrounded by people that are much more knowledgeable than me.
Backing up, a master class is seminar about a specific topic in the wine world. It can be a specific producer, a region or a topic that is usually a lecture paired with a tasting. They can be incredibly inspiring and informative as well as a great way to pick up a little knowledge from the greats in the wine community.
They can be a little hard to find and most of what I have attendedhas been through work. However you can find some good similar classes though places like Corkbuzz and your local wine shop that will make you a more educated consumer and give you a go to conversation topic for almost any party.
Recently, I went to one focused on the Jura region of France that I found through work. I knew already I liked Trousseau from the Jura (see last week’s post!  Check out For the Love of Jura: part 1) and I’d done some studying about the other wines but not much. It can be a little intimidating as the wine that this region is famous for is vin jaune, a traditionally made oxidized wine that people either love or hate. I’m just starting to appreciate dry sherries so this was more than a little off putting to me.
You start out with the history and geology of the region, in order to get an idea why the wines are the way they are. In this case the name “Jura” comes from the Jurassic limestone that gives the wines their unique flavors and the region is still recovering from phyloxera. Moving into the wines, you typically go from light to heavy, making the Jura a perfect region to explore as they produce Cremant de Jura, light and heavy whites, light reds, oxidized vins jaunes and a grape based spirit called Macvin.
Brief overview of the wines: Cremant is a great flavorful sparkling wine made in much the same way that Champagne is, but without the price that Champagne commands. Most producers are now making a variety of white wines. Some are made in a traditional style that makes them slightly oxidized, but there is a trend for light fresh and fruity whites to keep up with demand. Reds are light and fruity from Poulsard or Trousseau and can be great if you can find a good, well balanced one. Vin Jaune is unique and more than a little bit funky. It has a great oxidative character that is light and nutty while also having a little dried fruit and spice character. Under good producers, it’s light and very easy to drink, but it is FUNKY. If you don’t know if you like funk, then try a biodynamic Loire, oak aged if you can find it, before you try vin jaune. Personally I like it, but I know Christiane won’t. Macvin, I love. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and savory with a flavor that I can only identify as rye bread. Actually not made with wine, but with reduced grape musts that are fortified with grape brandy. So good.
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This was a great one, as each wine was by a different producer that gave their own little spiel as to the wine making techniques and their wineries to tell us what made them different. Really interesting to hear different perspectives on what is, overall, a very small region for French wine.
Then comes the fun part. The tasting. These producers all make between 5 and 15 wines and if you want, you could taste them all. I don’t recommend it. Laugh all you want, but tasting that long is exhausting. There’s so much wine.  Narrow down to the things you like, and the things you want to explore and overall it will be a much better experience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or just say that you’re taking notes. (Reminding myself of that too.) The producers want to talk and educate you about their wines so that you’ll come back and get them again. I definitely found some new favorites and am looking forward to the next one!
~M
There you have it!  Have you googled and scheduled your next wine master class yet?  Or maybe you’ve decided that bottle you plan to uncork after work today?!
Let me know what you plan on drinking and keep your eyes peeled for more exciting posts headed your way!
Always,
~C

Tequila & Mezcal; Cinco de Mayo Edition

Until last night I’d never heard of Mezcal.  Tequila, sure, we’ve all been there drunk that.  To celebrate Cinco de Mayo today, Megan decided to do a little tasting and tell us about the similarities and differences between these two:

At one point, I went to a birthday party for a coworker and I remember this chick in our party making a stink because the bar had given her tequila instead of mezcal. “Mezcal is brown and tequila is clear, they gave me tequila.” Now the memory makes me laugh and reminds me not to order something just because it’s the new hip thing, since both tequila and mezcal can be a range of colors from clear to brown depending on the age.

We all know tequila. Either as the start of a great night or the beginning of the end of a bad one. We’ve done shots, had margaritas or classed it up with a tequila sunrise.  It’s been the sign of rebellion and the harbinger of a wild night. Mezcal is very similar, but with several distinct differences and a very different flavors.  Both are made from the agave plant, which is harvested in the same way and has very similar production. In the world of craft and small batch cocktails that we live in, both are experiencing a bit of a revolution in terms of premium 100% Agave options and various degrees of aging.

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Tequila is produced around the town of Tequila, Mexico and comes from the cooked heart of the blue Weber agave plant and only blue Weber agave. It has delicate and distinctive agave flavors that are almost unmistakable. For this comparison, I used Olmeca Altos 100% Agave Plata Tequila from P&Js Wine and Liquor ($35). It’s a little bit piney, a little bit briney and a little floral. Almost lemongrassy. Very clean and fresh. It balanced and ready for shots or to drink on its own if you’re used to it.

Mezcal has a wider growing area around the town of Oaxaca. It can be made from many different types of agave, though Espadin is a favorite, and are usually cooked and ground in more traditional methods which will give it a rural quality. It’s going to be smokier and earthier and more savory than tequila. Tonight we’re trying Fidencio Classico Joven Mescal from Park Avenue Liquors ($40). What I love about it is the smoky character. It smells like leather seats in a vintage car and tastes like a late night campfire.  It’s got a little bit of fruitiness and grassy character.

Goes best with:

–          Chips

–          Salsa

–          Guacamole

–          Salt on the rim

~M

And there you have it!  I hope you all have a fun (safe) Cinco de Mayo weekend and enjoy all things Tequila, Mezcal, and more.

 

Always,

C

Pin Win! Margarita Cupcakes

Doesn’t that title kinda say it all?!  Let’s get this party started!  What is one to do when their boss’s birthday and Cinco de Mayo are in the same week?  Why search Pinterest, of course, for something festive involving cake, frosting, and booze.  But you know when you attempt a Pin and it turns out NOTHING like the picture you were Oh SO inspired by?

Well last night I found, attempted, and conquered a very fun festive Pin for Lime Margarita Cupcakes. 

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The cake batter is basically a pound cake- very easy to throw together if you have a stocked kitchen.   And the frosting is literally 2 sticks of butter, a lot of sugar, and lime juice.  I definitely recommend having an eccentric blender and the batter can get stiff and the frosting needs to be whipped very well so it can be pipped on smoothly.  Like for real though… between the batter and frosting there is like a pound of butter happening here.  Oh and did I mention tequila?  Umm hmm, yup… that’s right… the batter and the frosting have a generous dose of it, making them truly exciting.

(you can choose to make them without the tequila… that’s ok too)

Topped with a thin slice of lime and you are all set to go!

I mean, they look GREAT!  Seriously proud of the baking part but also the presentation part.  I always wonder how these Pinterest Post People make thinks look so perfect and then I see what a difference it makes if you have the time, space, and proper equipment.  Cupcake papers are a must, as is a pipping bad and tips for the frosting.  (Thank you Bed, Bath, and Beyond).

12 of these babies accompanied me to work today and are definitely proving to be a hit!

You too can be the Margarita Cupcake Master, cause I’m not taking credit for this recipe.  Check out The Brown Eyed Baker for this treat and many others!

So, if you are feeling creative later this week or really need something festive to take to your Cinco de Mayo fiesta, try these adorable edgy cupcakes and post your photos here!  Comment, like, and share the joy.

 

Always,

C

The House Red

How many apartments have you been to where the residents have an (almost) always in stock house wine that they are ready and willing to uncork anytime house guests appear?  None? One? Oh, about a dozen?!

Whatever your answer, my fabulous little NYC abode falls into this category.  When your roommate works in the fine wine auction business, you drink only the good stuff and Yellow Tail isn’t allowed over the threshold.  After a few months of getting settled in our home, we decided to find a “House Red” to have for visitors and those evenings when we needed a glass of something but didn’t want to open the cellar and explore something new.

What did we settle on?  None other then then the fabulous 19 Crimes 2015. 

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19 Crimes Australian Red

Lets see what Megan has to say about it…

“I picked up this one because the history buff in me loves a good story, especially a risqué one.  Named after the 19 crimes that original prisoners were sent to the Australian penal colony for, this is an easy drinking red blend.  As an added bonus, the corks are branded with one of the 19 crimes committed, instantly creating a wine themed scavenger hunt.

Deep purple in color, this is bursting with sweet fruit aromas with the barest hint of vanilla and coffee.  The palate is a little more savory then the nose suggests, but it is still a fruit bomb of super-ripe blackberry and maraschino cherry.  Acids and tannins are rather low for a red but alcohol is quite present.

Incredibly easy to drink, if not the most exciting wine.  It is fairly easy to find at your local wine store and tends to run about $13.

Goes well with:

  • Long days at work
  • Good conversation
  • People you don’t know very well who won’t go away

But seriously, it’s a great barbecue wine!”

~M

There you go folks, first wine review for your reading pleasure.  Lots more to come as well as “How to Taste”, coming soon!

Always,

C