Cheers to Betty White

On Monday, January 17, Betty White would’ve turned 100 years old. Sadly, she was taken away from us on December 31st, the very last day of a challenging year, 2021. A global movement started to mark her 100th birthday, asking people to give as little as $5 to their favorite animal charity, because Betty White was such an advocate for animals. Imagine passing away 17 days before you turn 100, and people saying she ‘left us to soon’.

I participated in the challenge, donating money to the Halifax Cat Rescue Society. I chose this particular charity because of this fella.

Gabriel

Gabriel is my second forever foster from the Halifax Cat Rescue Society. They look for forever foster homes for cats that still have lots of life left, but have an illness that makes them unadoptable. Gabriel is FIV+, so I provide a loving home and all his food, they pay all his vet bills. I’ve had Gabriel for almost 4 years, so there is lots of love to be had by these kitties.

Leo

Leo was my first foster from HCRS, and sadly he died just before I had him 2 years from Feline Leukemia. But he was so sweet and I loved taking care of him for his final years. As you can see Leo loved his life here.

Betty White’s show business career spanned 8 decades, and her love of animals even longer than that. She was an activist and supported many organizations to make lives better for cats, dogs, and all kinds of critters.

So let’s raise a glass to Betty White. Betty also loved her wine. She has been quoted as saying “A glass of wine a day will help you live longer, let’s live forever”.

She was living proof!!

My friend Angie and I shared a wine Tuesday evening that was definitely a treat celebratory wine.

Francis Ford Coppola Directors Cut Cabernet

My nephew Brady wanted to give me a bottle of wine at Christmas and I told him I loved Zinfandel. So when I opened the gift and saw the label, I thought it was the Director’s Cut Zinfandel, which I have had several times, as you used to be able to get it in Halifax. When I opened the wine and tasted it, I did a second take, and realized it was Cabernet Sauvignon. Oh My God! It was delicious. Hands down the most full-bodied wine I have ever had. It was so full and heavy on the palate, I wish I had one to have with a steak LOL. You can’t get it here in Atlantic Canada, but starting in Quebec and heading West you can. If you see it, pick it up, it’s a great wine.

Regular readers know I love to cook, I love to eat, and I like to share recipes. Sometimes I try recipes that don’t work out as well as I would have liked. Case in point – Orange Chicken. It didn’t turn out horrendous, I ate it, but the sauce was a little sweet for me.

Orange chicken

I love Chinese Food and I’m always trying the recipes at home. So, I wasn’t sure where I was going with this piece of chicken first, so I always marinade boneless skinless chicken breast.

So I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, so I started with a marinade of salt, pepper, Chinese 5-spice, balsamic vinegar and orange juice. A site I use a lot for recipes is ‘Rock Recipes’, originating in Newfoundland, and let me tell you, this man can cook. Check it out at www.rockrecipes.com I love this site, but I’m not as talented as Barry is.

Check out his Orange chicken recipe or his double crunch honey garlic chicken. I did the flour with the spices and the egg wash. In the flour I had salt, pepper, garlic powder, Chinese 5-spice and a little ginger. However, the mistake I made, I didn’t dry off my chicken pieces before adding the coating. Why is that important? The breading won’t stick to the chicken. You can see the breading falling off as it’s cooking.

I used a cast iron frying pan, and the chicken turned out delicious, just not as pretty as the recipe. I also found the Orange Chicken sauce a little sweet, so I only used half the chicken with that sauce, and used the offer half in a sweet Thai chili sauce. I’ll definitely do the process again, learning from my mistakes. That’s the fun thing about trying new things in the kitchen, they don’t always turn out, but you still have to try.

Last but not least, my wine of the week..

Monte Antico Toscana

I have many friends and readers in Newfoundland, so this wine is available both here and in Newfoundland. A fantastic Tuscan wine that costs under $20. This is a Super Tuscan wine, consisting of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, an absolute perfect blend. This is a great food wine, because of the 3 grapes, it will go with anything you serve for dinner.

A big thank you to everyone who donated to their favorite animal charity this past week. I hope everyone is doing OK in January, it can be a long month.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Storm Wine & Burgers

For the second Friday night in a row, all of Nova Scotia including Halifax was hit by a whopper storm. This one started with sideways rain and strong winds, and then the temperature plummeted and it turned into hail. As you can see by my BBQ this morning, you can’t even call it a snowfall, it was a hailstorm.

I lost my television service, I guess the winds knocked something out. So for the rest of the weekend, I have no tv. That’s Ok, I have a great book and a challenging puzzle on the go. It is a chilly day with temperatures right now -13-degrees with a wind chill of -26. It’s a great day to stay inside and drink some wine.

Before the storm started, I did use my BBQ. Not only did I rotisserie a chicken to make a pot of homemade soup, I did some burgers.

Some ‘Oh My Jesus’ Burgers. This is a burger with cheddar, mozzarella and provolone cheese, with bacon, carmelized onions, balsamic glazed tomatoes, jalapenos and more bacon. Probably one of the best burgers I have ever made

I sliced cherry tomatoes and put salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar, with a little brown sugar and cooked that down. In the next dish are sliced red onions, jalapenos, some bacon chopped up finely, butter and brown sugar. That cooked down until the onions carmelized, which is about 20 minutes.

It was pretty delicious.

Anciano Garnacha

This wine is fantastic and it’s on sale right now. Under $13 a bottle. That’s not a typo, it’s on for $12.99. I’ve written about it before, it may not look familiar because it has a new label. It used to look like this.

Garnacha, the Spanish word for Grenache, is the grape, which is the same grape used in Cote du Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape. These grapes, however, are fully ripe when picked so it’s not as boozy and it’s very smooth. From Valencia Spain it’s a spectacular wine for the price point. Fruity with notes of fig. Not oaky, not bitter or boozy, just smooth and delicious. Definitely worth picking up and trying.

When I was training to become a Sommelier, Alsace became one of my favorite regions for white wines. I found the history really interesting, it’s in Northeastern France, bordering with Germany, and over the years it has alternated over who controls it, France or Germany. Wines from Alsace can be pricey, but this is a great example of a wine from Alsace, and it comes in at the $20 price range, so it’s affordable. Wines from Alsace have some sweetness to them, unlike it’s cousins, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

And last but not least, my first new wine of 2022

Enfant Terrible Cote du Rhone

Don’t let the name fool you, there’s nothing terrible about this wine. EnfantOCTerrible Rouge Aoc Cotes Du Rhone is in limited quantities, and for a limited time, at the moment. It’s a Cotes du Rhone at a great price point, $16.99. It’s a beautiful complex wine with several grape varieties, Grenache, Syrah, Grenache Noir, Cinsault, and Mourvedre. The wine growers for Enfant Terrible are not harvesting their grapes when everyone else is, they wait for full maturity. What this means for the wine is it’s smooth and fruity with a full round feel on the palate. I had to check my receipt again, just to make sure I only paid $16.99 for this fantastic wine.

I hope everyone made out ok in the storm. Stay safe out there.

Darlene

Wine Trends of 2022

Every year, I take one of my first wine blogs of a New Year and talk about upcoming trends in the wine world. I’m always reading about wine and so I find it interesting when they come to fruition. In the past, I have written about wine in cans, Rose becoming even more popular and online wine sales growing. Here’s a few trends to look for this year.

  1. Chilling Red Wines

Putting light and fruity red wines into an ice bucket, just like you would white wines, has been a practice of Sommeliers in culinary hot spots like New York and San Francisco for years now. This trend has taken off everywhere. It’s no longer taboo to chill red wines, and people were once embarrassed for putting ice in red wine, but our room temperatures are too warm for red wine. This is a topic that comes up in every wine tasting. People admitting to chilling red wine. Well, I do too. I try to bring it down to 15-degrees Celsius. And your lighter fruitier wines like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel taste much better when chilled. Here’s a wine you can try chilling and let me know what you think.

Bread & Butter Pinot Noir

This wine has made a bit of a comeback in my wine rack. I’ve had it the last few Friday nights and I just love it. Smooth, easy to drink and much better when chilled. It’s $23 a bottle and available in just about every province in Canada. I enjoyed it while home for Christmas as well.

2. Low Alcohol Wines

People are choosing a healthier lifestyle and many people can be conflicted with choosing healthy and still enjoying their favorite beverage, whether it be with a meal or all on its own. Wine makers are listening, and more are coming out with low alcohol or zero alcohol wines.

Nova Scotia’s award winning winery Benjamin Bridge has come out with a non-alcohol version called Piquette Zero.

I haven’t tried it yet, but their website describes it as

“Piquette Zero is a lively and delicious alcohol-free wine-style beverage, offering a creative and unprecedented craft option to industrially dealcoholized wines that are so often stripped of their character.”

3. Cocktails will be popular and simple

One of my favorite cocktails

I made this cocktail for guests last Christmas and have served it several times since. Easy. Cranberry juice, Prosecco, lime juice and fresh cranberries in the glass to give it a festive look, and a lime wedge. You could take it a step further by adding a liquor like Grand Marnier.

Beauty of Chaos Cabernet

I have tried this beauty recently, and it’s appropriately called Beauty of Chaos. On sale right now, it’s under $17 a bottle. From the Columbia Valley in Washington State, this big juicy Cabernet is a great wine at a great price. Gorgeous berry flavors.

Well, the Omicron variant has hit Atlantic Canada hard. I did get to Newfoundland for Christmas, which was awesome. As the sign says, wine is the glue that is holding this shitshow together.

Stay safe everyone. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

The First Day of 2022

The 1st Day of 2022

I think many people were expecting to kick 2021 in the ass, and celebrate 2022 in style. Unfortunately, Omicron said ‘hold my beer’. I think this is how many of us are approaching 2022. Very cautiously!

If you’re nervous, you’re not alone

I apologize for the absence, but I just got back yesterday from 12 days in Newfoundland. It was a great Christmas, albeit very quiet. Sadly, I didn’t get to visit any friends, but I did have a great time with family. My Mom turns 87 January 5th and we were being super careful.

Happy New Year to all my readers. Thank you for joining me in another year of discovering great wine at affordable prices. I’m not sure how you celebrated New Year’s Eve, but I was in PJ’s by 5 p.m. and in bed by 9 p.m. But I crossed over on the Newfoundland ferry the night before and didn’t get a lot of sleep. I did, however, BBQ on New Year’s Eve.

Preparing the spice mixture

This might look like a wonky omelet in the making, but it’s the starter of my meatballs. In this bowl, bread crumbs, milk, 1 egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian season, hot sauce, & a little BBQ sauce.

Flavor
Love these aluminum pans

This is what the finished product looks like.

My sauce recipe is very simple

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup

And I used a little curly parsley as a garnish. Delicious, and you can freeze them, and have them any time you need a quick meal.

Ok. Let’s talk some wine. Normally the first wine blog of the year talks about upcoming wine trends. But I’ll do that next week. I want to share a couple of gifts I received.

I’ve been blessed

To say my family went a little overboard on the gifts, would be an understatement. I did very well.

My friend Sandra gave me this Prosecco.

I love Prosecco

I love Prosecco, it’s so festive. I haven’t had this Villa Francesca yet, but I am willing to bet it’s delicious. It’s so affordable, this particular one is $18 a bottle, and Prosecco is crisp and refreshing and goes with everything.

My nephew Brady, who I stayed home longer than planned so I could see him, gave me this beauty.

Francis Ford Coppola Zinfandel

I’ve had this wine before, and it’s a gorgeous treat wine. It’s about $50 a bottle and I had bought this one year before to watch the Oscar’s. It is after all, Francis Ford Coppola’s Director’s Cut Zinfandel. You used to be able to buy it here, but apparently the one store that carried it, is not carrying it anymore. That makes this gift all the more special. From Sonoma County in California, this is a rich and full-bodied wine, that I’ll be saving for my next feed of baby back ribs or a steak.

Maggie’s 1st Christmas

On a closing note, this was Maggie’s first Christmas with our family and what a fun time she had. The gorgeous scarf she is wearing was a gift from me, and made by my friend Angie. It has her name on it and looks so cute on her. She also received lots of toys.

I hope all of you had a Christmas as wonderful as Maggie. Till next week, Cheers. And Happy New Year