Archive for category Mrs. Vino’s Ramblings
This is not going to be one of Mrs. Vino’s frothy recipe posts – so if you are looking for that, no worries – she’ll get back to them in a week or so. Never fear though, there is a recipe at the end of this long, long blog post.
We’d like to take a moment to share some things with you, our Morovino family. This has been a particularly interesting and challenging year for David and I. It’s been year of tremendous fear and amazing growth. A year when the two of us have connected more deeply than I ever thought possible. And here’s why.
In March of this year, just before our annual wine club celebration, David had a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), which is sometimes called a mini-stroke. If you haven’t seen a lot of David in the tasting room, this is mainly why. There was no significant lasting damage – but he gets tired easily and occasionally has to reach for words. But his wicked sense of humor remains untouched.
Naturally, there were lots and lots of tests associated with what we like to call “The Incident.” Despite the fact that he really hates needles, he’s held up well. but for awhile it seemed like every time David took a test, the results came back with another problem. Blood tests showed an elevated PSA (male friends over 50, please go get tested). Repeated, more extensive blood tests confirmed that there might be a problem. Biopsy scheduled. Results were not what we wanted to hear. David has prostate cancer. Cue full body bone scan. Bring on the CAT scan of the abdomen and pelvis. “Whoops, there’s something there we really don’t like on that scan.” Interestingly, you can get a colonoscopy scheduled within a couple of days if you really need one.
At this point, I told David that he’d obviously reached his “best by” date and I was trading him in on a newer model.
The colonoscopy finally offered some better news – David does NOT have colon cancer. I burst into tears when the gastroenterologist told me (David being incredibly high on Propofol at the time wasn’t paying much attention – he was completely hilarious on the drive home). The doctor said that tears weren’t the usual reaction for that announcement, but it was such a relief. Prostate cancer can be treated very effectively (more on our journey to figure out treatment in the next post). Colon cancer less so.
We love our gastroenterologist. One of the discussions that we had with him was about nutrition/diet and how it impacts cancer cells. Based on his recommendation, we have started a Ketogenic diet. Not to lose weight, but to hopefully starve cancer cells. Please note, this is not an ALTERNATIVE treatment for his prostate cancer. But an ADJUNCT to whatever treatment David decides is best for him.
All that being said, we have both lost about 7 lbs in 2-3 weeks and are feeling pretty great. I’ve been learning how to cook Keto and will be transposing some of my recipes from this blog into Keto-friendly dishes over the next few weeks. I’ll also be giving updates on our Keto journey. I will make sure to tag them all “Keto” for our friends who are going low carb.
If you are interested in Ketogenic diets, I recommend this book Fat for Fuel by Dr. Joseph Mercola. If you buy it in digital form, it includes links to most of the studies it references and the “Mrs. Vino” in me loves the history of food/diet and how the US got to its current pretty unhealthy state.
And, the tool that really helped us were these So Nourished Ketone Test Strips– super affordable, it comes with a FREE 14 day meal plan AND they follow up with you via email to see if you need help using the test strips. Love them.
Full disclosure: Please always, always support your local merchants and small businesses. But if you can’t find this book or these products locally, Morovino is now an Amazon Affiliate. If you purchase the book through our link, there’s no extra charge to you, but Amazon tosses a couple of bucks our way – which are going to help with David’s medical expenses. And those of you who know me know that I won’t be gratuitously linking to anything that I don’t use and love.
With our deepest love and gratitude,
David and Andrea
AND NOW FOR THE RECIPE:
VERY easy slow cooker bone broth (adapted from All Recipes)
Bone broth appears to be the foundation of a Ketogenic diet. We used to just call it broth – but now it has better marketing.
3-5 lbs beef bones (Grass fed beef is best. But pretty much any bones work. This also works with chicken and turkey bones. I was lucky enough to get venison bones from my friend Angela – the real Pioneer Woman).
3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 T fresh cracked black pepper
2 Bay Leaves
2T Balsamic vinegar – yes, it has carbs, but you aren’t using enough to hurt your diet and it makes a big flavor difference. Use cider vinegar instead if you are hard-core.
1 T dehydrated garlic (or 4 fresh cloves, diced)
1 T dehydrated parsley
Salt to taste (I used about 2-3T – seems like a lot, but it helps balance your electrolytes)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Put the beef bones on a baking sheet lined with foil and drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Roast the bones for about 30 minutes – until they start to take on color.
Add the carrots, celery, bell pepper, bay leaves, garlic, salt, pepper and vinegar into your 6.5 Quart Slow Cooker. Add the bones. Add water to cover the bones and veggies. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove the bones. Pour the broth through a strainer to remove veggies. I make sure to get any bone marrow out of the bones and add it back to the broth (cuz that’s good stuff!!). For non-keto diets, you can skim the fat off this once it cools. For keto diets – why would you do that, the fat is kind of the point. This broth freezes really well.
We are so excited to have received TTB approval on our new “small batch” label! Several of
you have asked why a “small batch” label when we are already a very small producer (2,000ish cases/year)?
We are a small producer tasting and selling out of a destination beach town. Because our town is so exceptionally beautiful, we are lucky enough to get repeat visitors – people who come to see us every six months, or even once per year. We call these customers the Morovino “irregulars”. We’ve sensed some frustration with our irregulars that they visit and taste a wine, but when they come back 6 months or a year later, they can’t get the same great wine they loved on their last visit.
Our core Italian varietals – Dolcetto, Barbera and Sangiovese – are typically produced in 200 – 300 case lots. While that’s small to most producers, we typically expect to sell out of a 300 case lot in a bit more than a year. The “small batch” label is to help identify wines that were produced in lots of 50 – 75 cases. These are wines that will move in and out of the tasting room quickly (probably a 3-4 month lifespan). The cool new label will help our customers know that if they LOVE a small batch wine, they might want to consider getting an extra bottle – it probably won’t be around the next time they visit.
Plus, Mrs. Vino is just loving the burgundy background. Small Batch wines should be in the tasting room by the end of February. We hope you come and check them out!!
Welcome to Summer! It’s time for backyard barbecues, picnics at the beach and other jolly outdoor times! It’s the time for chilled crisp white and rose wines and light and luscious barbecue reds. With many parts of the country exhibiting significant heatwaves, Mrs. Vino thought she’d take a moment to talk about wine and heat.
There is one phrase guaranteed to strike chills into Mrs. Vino’s heart in summer. That phrase, uttered after a wine purchase, is “I’ll put this in the car.” While I completely understand the desire to not have to carry around a bottle/six pack/case of wine while tasting and buying wine, let’s take a quick look at what the National Weather Service says happens to a car interior in summer.
The far left column shows the exterior temperature. The columns then show the temperature in degrees over the time frame of 5 to 60 minutes. So at an exterior temperature of a balmy 80 degrees, within an hour the interior temperature of your car is 127. Realistically, exposure to temperatures to over 90 degrees, even for a short time, can “cook” your wine. A great indication that your wine has been in your car and exposed to heat for too long is that either the cork has started to pop out or the neck of the bottle under the foil is sticky and wet. Have a bottle of wine sealed under screwcap in the trunk of your car? You won’t get any hints on that bottle – you won’t be able tell that wine has cooked until you try to drink it.
So what is “cooked” wine? Well it certainly won’t kill you, but it won’t taste very good either. Cooked wines have lost the delicate balance of fruit, tannin, acidity and sweetness. They frequently taste a bit pruney or like stewed fruit. What should you do it your wine has cooked? Well put it in the fridge and try to bring it back down to 60 or so degrees, then drink it as soon as possible. Like today. And be ready to put it aside for cooking, or even pour it down the drain if it tastes off.
When travelling, treating your wine as if it is a carton of ice cream or a basket of fresh, perfect berries. If you are wine tasting during the summer (or warm winter, spring or fall days), carry an insulated cooler and a couple of ice packs in your car. Wine should go into the cooler at the last possible moment. Most wineries will be happy to hold your wine until you have finished your tasting tour – then just swing by and pick it all up on the way out of town. At Morovino, with a 2 bottle minimum purchase, we’ll deliver your wine to any of the local Pismo or Avila hotels! If you are traveling with your wine, it should be in the passenger compartment of the vehicle – hopefully where there is air-conditioning. If you are comfortable with the temperature, your wine should be comfortable too.
So please avoid tragedy and don’t leave your wine (or your dogs or your kids) in a hot car this summer!
We are lucky enough to get a number of newer wine tasters in the tasting room. If you haven’t visited a wine tasting room before (or even if you have), here are some great tips on things to do (and not do) to ensure that you (and those around you) have an enjoyable experience. And, since Mrs. Vino doesn’t want you to think this is another “Rant,” in an effort to be balanced, I will soon post my thoughts on a “Wine Tasters Bill of Rights,” things that ALL wine tasters should be entitled to in a wine tasting experience.
WINE TASTING ETIQUETTE
1. Please come to the tasting room unscented. Nothing is going to mess up the experience for your fellow tasters faster than overuse of perfume or cologne. About 75% of wine tasting is experienced through the sense of smell and heavy perfumes can completely overwhelm the aromas of wine.
2. In a related note, if you are going to smoke, please do so at least 20 feet away from the tasting room door. And, please, give yourself a minute to air out before you walk back in the tasting room. You may not notice the smell of smoke on your clothes, but your fellow tasters will.
3. If you can’t be nice, be vague! Some wines you are going to like and some wines you are not going to like. Since wine tasting is a collaborative experience your comments effect the experience of everyone in the tasting room. Please avoid making overly negative “witty” comments about the wine. While leather and barnyard notes in a wine may not work for you, they might be delightful to the person standing next to you. Your negative comments will color their experience of the wine – a simple “This really isn’t my style of wine” or “This is not the wine for my palate” shows class and intelligence.
4. Use your “inside” voice. I fully appreciate that wine tasting is a social experience, and it’s natural that the more wine consumed, the higher the level of volume in the tasting room. Please remember that while your party is enjoying itself on the left side of the bar, on the right side of the bar I might be trying to discuss our wines with other guests or sign up a wine club member.
5. If you are coming in a group, please make sure to notify the tasting room in advance so we can make sure that we have adequate staff to ensure your experience is enjoyable, educational and entertaining. (Please see previous rant).
6. If the tasting bar is full, step up to the bar, get your taste and a brief overview of the wine, then step back and let someone else have an opportunity. Or better yet, come on a weekday. When things are less busy you will have much more of an opportunity to chat with the tasting room host or hostess.
7. Everyone savors at different speeds. But shooting the wine like whiskey tells the tasting room host/hostess that you are really only in it for the buzz. Taking a little time to finish your wine sample may actually net you a slightly larger pour or, maybe an extra taste or two.
8. Crackers (or other foods) are provided to clear you palate between wines. They are not “snacks.” And they certainly are not “lunch.” And, by no means should you put the bowl down on the floor and feed them to your dog. (Oh yes, yes indeed, it has happened.)
9. Visitors new to the tasting experience (and those who have been tasting all day) should avoid over-enthusiastic swirling. If you keep the base of the wine glass on the bar while you swirl, you can avoid “decorating” your neighbors and yourself with the wine in your glass.
10. We know that wine tasting is recreation for you. But selling wine is my livelihood. If you enjoyed one of more of the wines, please consider purchasing a bottle or two. In most cases the cost of the tasting does not cover the cost to pour you a flight. Support your small local wineries that are passionate about bringing you amazing handcrafted vintages.
Tasting room staff really appreciate a patient, polite visitor. Being a gracious guest may reward you with additional tastes, discounts, recommendations and much more.
Next Up: Wine Tasters Bill of Rights. Some thoughts on what you are entitled to at every tasting room you visit.
Mrs. Vino considers herself to be a pretty easy-going person with a philosophy of “Live and Let Live.” But there is one thing that I just cannot stand: Bachelorettes. Over the past 5+ years, Morovino’s tasting room has seen many Bachelorette parties. In almost every case, Bachelorettes have been rude, whiny and obnoxious. We’ve seen far fewer Bachelor parties than Bachelorette parties, but HANDS DOWN I’d rather pour for a group of tipsy bachelors than bitchy bachelorettes. Even the bachelor party that insisted on paying for a wine tasting for the blow up doll and the bachelor party that offered to let me autograph the bachelor’s . . . appendage were preferable to 99% of the bachelorette parties I’ve worked.
Bachelorettes, I’m sorry if this post offends you (OK, actually I’m not really sorry). But Mrs. Vino is here to help. If you are a Maid of Honor, Bridesmaid or Friend planning a Bachelorette party at a winery or wine tasting room- here are a couple of suggestions and guidelines that will help make you a welcomed guest instead of a nuisance – resulting in a fun time for all! Non-bachelorettes, these rules are also true for wine tasting with any group of over 6 people.
1. Call in advance – if you are bringing 7+ people to a tasting room on a busy weekend afternoon, please call in advance to let them know you are coming. In addition to this is just being good manners, the tasting room staff can then ensure that they are adequately staffed and prepared to give your group excellent service. The follow up to this is please show up when you said you were going to show up.
2. Many Wine Tasting Rooms are Family Venues – so please don’t put your penis-shaped wine charms on the glasses without asking first if it is appropriate. And please don’t wear your penis-shaped tiara unless you check first to see if kids are present.
3. Expect to Pay for Wine Tasting – in today’s challenging economic climate, many wineries are using complimentary or discounted tasting coupons to introduce their wines to new customers. In general, tasting coupons are not intended to be used by large groups. Don’t be bitchy if we expect you to pay for wine tasting.
4. Don’t Bring In Your Own Food – without checking first. You may want to take a cupcake break, but please don’t bring out food without the permission of the tasting room staff.
5. Remember the Tasting Room is a Business – please keep your volume and your pitch down to normal social levels.
6. Buy Wine – I understand that wine tasting is recreation for you. But wine sales are my livelihood. In the past 5+ years, more than 90% of the time bachelorette parties leave without making a single bottle purchase. If you are paying less than $10 for a wine tasting, that fee does NOT cover the actual cost of pouring a tasting flight for you. That’s right ladies, pouring for you actually loses me money.
And the exception: Several weeks ago we had a delightful group of bachelorettes in the tasting room. They were polite. They were considerate. They were charming. They expected to pay for their wine tasting. Each of the seven bachelorettes walked out with a bottle and we were delighted to comp the tasting for the entire group. Ladies, you know who you were and we appreciated you!
Mrs. Vino is sorry if she sounds bitter, but having 3 back-to-back unexpected bachelorette parties through the tasting room just did me in. It’s so frustrating to watch wine buyers (carrying bags and boxes from other local tasting rooms) come up to my door, then turn away when they see the penis-bedecked bachelor girls taking over the tasting bar.
No prefab meal for tonight’s 5 Minute Friday! Because Mrs. Vino is in the mood for comfort food.
For some reason I’ve been craving the comfort food of my childhood – a Tuna Melt with Tomato and a pickle! Thank goodness this great meal can be put together in 5 minutes. And, I have the perfect pairing for it – our brand new, not-released-to-the-tasting-room-yet 2011 Pinot Grigio Rose. I make my tuna salad with Greek Yogurt instead of Mayonnaise to lighten it up a bit and add a bit of diced celery and green onion for texture. The yogurt adds a bit of brightness and freshness to the tuna. It’s still plenty creamy, though. So the really crisp 2011 Pinot Grigio Rose is perfect to pair with it. Oh yeah, and if this is truly my comfort meal, there has to be potato chips! And, if you spritz your chips with Truffle Oil – it goes from good to gourmet! The salty, earthy truffled chips really bring out the fruit character of the wine. Watch the blog next week for Mrs. Vino’s experiences with her brand new microwave potato chip maker (AWESOME) and learn about one of her new obsessions.
It really doesn’t matter how simple the meal – a good wine pairing will elevate it to gourmet (well, the Truffle Oil doesn’t hurt, either).
So here’s my question to you all – Do you have a 5-Minute comfort food? And, if so, what is it!
As some of you know, Casa d’Vino was recently treated for a termite infestation. I think I owe a giant “Thank you” to the termites because that treatment led us to a stay at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. We’d heard so many good reviews about the property from our guests – and, of course, The Gardens of Avila is one of our favorite restaurants so it was a no-brainer to decide where to stay. We hadn’t had a vacation in several years so our 2-day getaway was really important to us. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful location, better service or a more relaxing stay.
We scored a West Meadows Suite (Thank you, Marina) which is almost larger than the condo we vacated. The highlight – a private hot tub on the deck. Over the course of our two days, we managed 6 soaks in the hot tub (perhaps a new Sycamore Mineral Springs record??). At the end of the stay we were pruny, but happy!
We still had to work, so we didn’t have as much time to explore as we would have liked. We did get an opportunity to walk around the facilities which look
absolutely beautiful. And we walked the labyrinth and Meditation Garden, which I just loved. I am in the process of framing some of the photos I took in the meditation garden as they make me relax just by looking at them. My only regret was that we didn’t have enough time for a class in the Yoga Dome (OK, actually I didn’t have enough time, I can’t really see Mr Vino doing Downward Dog)!
The Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort is a GREAT place to stay if your are visiting Avila!
We had already taken advantage of Restaurant Month to dine at The Gardens, so we decided to mix it up a bit. We enjoyed dinner at the Custom House one night and the Ventana Grill on the second night. Both meals were absolutely incredible and I’ll do review in a future blog.
I’m so glad we stayed very local. It just reminds me of what an exceptional place Avila Beach is. Avila Beach is the perfect destination for relaxation. It is filled with amazing friendly, efficient, helpful people. The hotels and restaurants offer a superior experience and are definitely worth visiting. In these challenging economic times, it’s so important to support our local businesses. Please make an effort to dine at our great local restaurants, get away at our fabulous local hotels, and, of course, enjoy the many diverse local wineries.
Tonight we are excited to have the amazing History of Painters playing for our Friday Night Live Music series, so it will be a late, late night. That means it’s 5 Minute Friday!
Tonight’s prefabricated 5 minute dinner (OK, it’s actually a 7-8 minute dinner) is another choice from Costco – Harry’s Beef Burgundy with noodles. Hmmmm, what’s the perfect pairing with Beef Burgundy??? It must be a burgundy-style Pinot Noir! We are so lucky to have amazing Pinot Noirs on the Central Coast, but to pair with this meal, I’m going with a classic traditional European style Pinot. And, I don’t need to go too far – 2nd Chance Winery is just across Landing Passage from Morovino.
2nd Chance Winery’s 2009 Pinot Noir made from Clone 667 is earthy, rich and lighter than some of the California styled Pinot Noirs. I love the minerally, loamy notes to it. Harry’s Beef Burgundy has a nice light sauce. You can definitely taste the red wine in it. The beef is tender and the noodles are perfectly al dente after 7 minutes in the microwave.
Sure, it’s not a trip to France. This nice microwave meal is tasty all on its own. But when you pair it with the beautiful and elegant 2009 2nd Chance Pinot Noir – it’s as close as I’m going to get at 8 p.m. on a Friday night.
Welcome to a new feature in The Practical Kitchen – 5 Minute Fridays!
As much Mrs. Vino enjoys her time in the kitchen, there are just days when it is just NOT gonna happen. I’ve discovered a couple of things:
1. There are some really tasty pre-cooked dinners out there that can be microwaved in 5 minutes.
2. When those meals are paired with the right wine, it elevates the whole experience to something special!
3. If you light a couple of candles and play some nice music while you are eating your 5 minute meal and suddenly you aren’t as tired anymore.
Morovino is now doing live music on Friday evenings from 5 – 7 p.m. This means that Mrs. Vino usually gets home around 8 p.m. and is way, way too tired to cook. So every Friday, The Practical Kitchen blog will feature a different prefabricated 5 minute meal paired with a different local wine. If you have favorite pre-cooked meals, I’d love to hear about them.
Costco’s Monterey Gourmet Foods – Seafood Lasagna paired with Peloton Cellars 2010 Albarino
I always approach prefabricated seafood a bit cautiously. But the Monterey Gourmet Foods Seafood Lasagna offers really tasty, tender shrimp, scallops and fish. The sauce is creamy, the noodles are tender, it has great seafood flavor and it’s not overly salty.
Peloton Cellars 2010 Albarino is an amazingly crisp, full bodied white that has the perfect balance of acidity and creaminess to pair with the lasagna. It’s beautiful Citrine color sparkles like a jewel in the glass. It has great citrus notes and a lightly floral nose that I just love. But if you want to try this wine, hurry. I believe Peloton is almost sold out of it!
So fire up the microwave, light the candles, turn on some George Winston or Liz Story, take a deep breath and . . . enjoy.