Odd Pairings Can Be Simply The Best

A concert at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), pretty cool backdrop. Falcon Stadium is not huge, so I am thinking an up and comer or someone fading out but still loveable.  Nope, it was Tim McGraw. Now, that is pretty awesome and I told my husband go ahead try to get some tickets…but then, they announced who is also high on the bill…I think co-lead—Train! Yes, Train, Train…I said get those tickets now!

Now, on paper this may seem like an unlikely pairing. But, it has been proven and many times here I have written about the need to break from tradition, because it works.  Well, this worked and it worked really well. Both played to the audience that sang along note for note and word for word with both of them. It was unforgettable.

The music played was ageless as little kids were there and old fogies, even older than me. Yes, it is possible. (wink, wink). Pat Monahan , didn’t think anyone in the audience was old enough to remember Drops of Jupiter and Tim McGraw, thought he might be too old to remember Indian Outlaw.  The crowd had their backs and I lost my voice. You can hear the applause right from my kids…shuddup 😉 jk

The pure talent of Train really performed that night as they did a few tributes. Opening with Let’s Go Crazy from Prince and then later on Under Pressure, Queen and David Bowie and then Hotel California, for Glenn Frey.  Although, they didn’t do any of the songs from their cover album of Led Zeppelin, they played almost all of their big hits plus a few. It was amazing and for the first time in a long time, I and I think everyone else, really heard the lyrics.  If you think you know them, go back and give them a listen, it is amazing.

I have to say I am grateful to Tim McGraw.  I love my husband but after he was listening to women of all ages swoon, and comment about this man’s pecs, my husband decided to follow the paleo diet that Tim sort of follows and we joined a gym.  This man is no slouch and his songs all sound like he is singing to you or about you or something we all have experienced.  That takes talent and although already a fan, I am much more of one now.

Now, to the surprising part and what gets me my name, The Blonde Grape.  I was looking for something to drink at the stadium and they had beer. I can do that, but hello, this is Train, they have their own wine, I want to be on the wine Train.  Yes, I said it, not well, but you read it, so there.

Train has several respectable wines and the brand is called Save Me, San Francisco…one of my fave songs. They donate a large part to charity if not all of it and they have several varietals. Some are: California 37 a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, Drops of Jupiter, a California Red Blend, Marry Me Rose’ ( I have yet to try this one, looking forward to it) and Calling All Angels, a Chardonnay wine. I was having trouble with their website but I can tell you although it has been a while since I have had some of them, I did recently have Calling all Angels and their wine is really good. Not just a celebrity wanting to do good, but the wine is great and can and should be paired with whatever you like. A nice article on how Train is successful in wine by Richard James of BuzzFeed can be read here.  In fact, Train now has a Save Me, San Francisco chocolate through Ghirardelli, a great pairing.   I say pair it with food, but pair it with good music and turn it up. I am thinking you can pair it with any of the artists above or you can even try Sting‘s new song 50,000 which is a tribute to the above artists and I am certain Train would approve.

Here is a video or link to a video that I found with Jimmy Stafford, guitarist for Train
talking about Save Me, San Francisco wines and the development of the winery. He likes to have a glass or two of wine before a concert, that pleases me. Be daring, be bold and drink what you like. Cheers!

 

A Whale of a Good Time—in Vail

“I’ve a whale of a tale to tell you lads, a whale of a tale or two…” even better when sung by Kirk Douglas (if you are wondering about the relevance of the 20,000 League ride at Disney Parks). Click here, assuming I still can’t get the video to link directly. Remember, part of the title is Blonde…now, let it go.

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A Disney Film, with a very catchy tune. 

Vail, Colorado is a beautiful mountain town with a definite European influence. Covered bridges, nestled in the Gore Mountains and plenty of unique shopping and dining experiences.


One of the better farmer’s markets around, although a little light on the natural foods, a great selection of cook to order meals, great arts & crafts and even wine. In fact, the wine caught me by surprise and ended up buying some before the wine festival even started.  Bookcliff Vineyards, probably my favorite of Colorado wines so far…although admittedly, I have only tried a few. I am getting over the coastal issue but I was very pleased and bought a triple package. The packaging was very creative and really promoted Colorado wines.

See, packaged in the box and out, it is creative and true to the vine.  We purchased a triple and was able to choose the wines. We chose the Cabernet Franc, Ensemble and the Syrah. Granted, we leaned red and I am normally more balanced between the two, but I think the strength of this vineyard is in the reds and I really enjoyed the Cabernet Franc.  Other very notable vineyards, use Cabernet Franc in their blends along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot…if the ratio is done just right, it is divine.

Now, to enter the wine festival. The food pairings they had were not disappointing, although some of the wines were. I can tell you The Prisoner was winning hands down, although Vail would have you feeling anything but trapped. I will also tell you,again, my favorite is sparkling wine, so I was drinking Chandon, by the bottle. Okay, a split..but I drank it from the bottle and it fit in the drink holder of all the Audi cars. Yes, they were a sponsor and my husband promised me the TT. Shown below.

More pics from the Wine Festival—

Vail is one of my favorite places.  It is nice and a true escape from the daily grind.  This wine fest was very enjoyable and you can never go wrong with the excellent dining and outdoor activities that abound in the valley. Go shop, taste and experience Vail. But remember, your taste is your own-drink what you like. Cheers!

In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus: Eins, zwei, g’suffa! Or, in Beaver Creek Oktoberfest, I Drink Up (Mostly Beer)

On my father’s side my roots go back to Germany on his paternal side and Sweden on his maternal side.  We also have a deep passion for all things Italian and when my dad did a bit of research on his roots, we found out we had a Guido in our German heritage. This is a distant cousin named Guido, literally, I would not go Jersey Shore on you. I will tell you being 5’2″ I got ripped off in the stereotypical traits of this union although I do have blonde hair and blue eyes. Now, that I have squirreled many times, I will go back and tell you I spent many days going to German festivals and was fortunate to travel over to both Germany  experience the beer halls in person.  I visited Sweden too, but that is a different post.

I learned early on to sing the Oompa songs and thus when I recently attended the Oktoberfest in Beaver Creek, CO, I sang along to perhaps the most popular Oktoberfest song of all time, “the Hofbräuhaus-Song”.  Link attached to pic.  

Now, you say but I thought the Duck Dance is the most popular…and that is definitely gaining popularity but not as authentic. What is the Chicken Dance? Surely, you jest…but okay, this will be in your head for a while but you asked for it.The Chicken Dance (or the Duck Dance depending on where you are listening)

Now, if you are thinking that wine isn’t too prevalent at Oktoberfests, you are right. It is also where you will find an abundance of bratwurst, knockwurst, pretzels and even WienerSchnitzel on a stick. But, steins are a lot of fun to drink from and I couldn’t resist a picture of the schnitzel on a stick.  Can’t you just hear Jeff Dunham now…on a stick.

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Jose’ Jalapeno on a stick

This particular Oktoberfest in Beaver Creek, CO is considered one of the top German Beer Festivals in the state.  Beautiful scenery, small yet inclusive atmosphere and schnitzel on a stick. So, yes, it was great. They teased us with wine but I also enjoyed a Pimm’s Cup as the wine was not that enticing at the festival. But, they also had non-traditional cuisine such as paella.  But, later a great appetizer of raw oysters with the best cocktail dressing ever, a bowl of French Onion Soup and my Kindler, canned beer. Canned beer is supposedly the best way to do beer now according to the microbrews, but I still prefer the bottle. Say what you want, I can taste the difference. But, this locally brewed beer was very good and a great way to cap off the fest. Visit the microbrew with a very good canned beer here, at Bonfire Brewing.  The last meal was at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill, check it out.

What I love best about these type of festivals is the attitude of the people.  People let people be themselves, hangout and have fun.  Dance crazy dances and sing off-key to a great copycat band.  Yes, they had the Hollywood Stones play and it was really quite an experience listening to a crowd sing Ruby Tuesday without provocation.

However, the night wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t celebrate back in the room a bit. Beaver Creek has a great and passionate wine shop.  She tries to stock to educate, entertain and seduce the customer’s palates. So, we tried a South African Sparkling Wine, called Graham Beck. It was a bit chewy, very effervescent but not disappointing for those of us who really love a Brut.  It seemed meatier but the taste was nice and after a day of schnitzel on a stick, a Mick Jagger look-a-like, and beer, it was a great end to a great day. Bottom line, as I always say, have fun and drink what you like.  Life is too short to do other wise. Chicken Dance.  Different video – you are welcome –Bitte schön.20160903_184329_resized

And….Kickoff

The sun is setting and a slight mist in the air, the anticipation of the first cork being pulled is palpable.  Cue tape rewind … Introducing, the 2016 Steamboat Wine Festival .
20160811_192601_resizedSteamboat Springs, CO  could be the quintessential town displaying the culmination of the Old West and Contemporary Resort Life.  A great ski town, known for Billy the Kid (Skier) images and lots of snow.  But, in the summer it is also known for some great events, the wine festival but there are several cycling events, running races, rodeos and more.  There are several local lakes around for camping as well as hiking and it is a great place to unwind, especially considering the winding roads to get there.

Kickoff for the Wine Festival was held in Gondola Square.  It was open to the public and my only disappointment is that it only featured one vineyard: Woodbridge Vineyards.  Now, Robert Mondavi has a great history. The experience behind their wines and the family dramas tell for some great stories. But, and there is always a but, as an introduction to a wine fest where you are expected to be blown away by the offerings to only be offered one and it to be an easily accessible one or rather a very familiar one, was disappointing.

Enter the 6 Million Dollar Band. You are saying this is the second post referring to the Bionic series in the 70s. Well, first it was the Bionic Woman, this is not my reference but one the band chose and refers to Steve Austin ( played by Lee Majors.) But, I am betting you are still looking forward to the link of the theme song. Here it is: Six Million Dollar Man Theme Song.

There are times when we will question the 80s music, but when you are gathered around a lot of people who are similar in age and younger ones that believe classic rock is cool. Yes, they are calling the 80s classic rock…something is seriously wrong there but that is for another blog.

So under the 80s link, this is a long listen, but the sampling 80s band more diverse than posted above, is a good way to boost your playlist.  Need a boost to playlist or a happy reminder of your history –  Click here.

Now, it is a wine fest so we ventured inside to Saddles, a location in the Sheraton that hosted many of the events.  This place is awesome, if you are in the area, check it out.  I didn’t know there was a patio until the next day, but great food and beautiful views. So, here I drank a glass from a vineyard I used to drink quite often but for one reason or another, haven’t had in years.  A glass of the Austrailian Penfolds 389 which was a perfect accompaniment to the Elk Quesadillas.  Now, according to the site, this is considered a poor man’s vinicultural drink.  But, I find that very hard to believe. One, is it was very nice and well-rounded.  It was strong yet soft at the same time and for the record, it was a surprising $20/glass.  I didn’t see that at the beginning and probably would have not chosen it when the other glasses were $8-$12, but I thought it quite good and a more appropriate kick off to the event.

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A wine festival is to celebrate the history, the experience, the excitement, the lessons taught and the lessons to be learned from wine.  It is an event to celebrate love, friendships, new business, new families and a beverage that has been around for millenniums that unifies us all.  There will be lots to choose from, so as always try something new but in the end, drink what you like.  Cheers!

 

Pickle Juice, Ultra Marathons, Comedy, Greek Wine and Hiking the Devil’s Head

What too much for one weekend? Okay, so you have undoubtedly heard the phrase “Out of the box”, I despise that phrase. Loathe it…partly because it is grossly overused but also because it assumes (you know what that means) that we are starting within the box.  Now, assuming you are reading this, the box is not enticing like it is to a two-year old. So therefore, I beg you, don’t just think out of the box, never step inside it.
Out of the boxOne of the current fitness trends is imbibing a salt/vinegar combination to prevent cramps or help aid them and lessen them to function better of you. . To be honest, it is not bad (That does not mean it tastes good, but it does not taste bad…remember that). Pickle juice, we tried the bottles and not bad, hard to truly enjoy.  I think it needs to spend time with a cucumber, it is freshness it lacks.  There are several health benefits and I will continuously pursue, but fresh not bottled, the prepackaged falls a bit short.

If you are going to run in a continuous loop to get yourself back in the habit of lifting your knees, swinging your arms and moving faster in hamster motion, you should do it around a lake.  Nearby, we have Palmer Lake, CO which is doing some amazing things. They have embraced their lake (for those of you outside CO, I realize this is not large, but our water is shipped to AZ,CA and used for really good beer. Would you deprive beer for size? That is a whole other discussion.) There are several trails to follow as well for hiking. Click Secret Source but don’t tell anyone I told you. Clicking secret source

We imbibed in the prepackaged pickling solution as we looped around Palmer Lake, CO. Getting back into fitness after a couple of surgeries and other distractions of life, this is a beautiful location to begin that trek. As you can see from above, paddle boarding, paddle boats, fishing, Frisbee golf and mountains…you are invited to come and visit. Check out our local dining establishments, quite good.

We met wonderful people doing the same thing as we circled the great pond and prepared for our next trek the next morning, supporting the Pikes Peak Ultra 50 Mile and 30K race.  I stress reiterate, because we did not run this, we showed up blurry eyed, slightly chilled and dispensed water, counted bib numbers and had a great time getting to know those brave-hearts strong enough, spry enough to challenge and go the distance. Age shmage..teens to late 70s…what’s your excuse?  Another blog post. We did this because we are both runners and also, I am marketing for a local escape room. If you are ever in the area of Colorado Springs, visit www.planetdeadline.com Escape Rooms. The most fun you’ll have trapped into 60 minutes.  Shameless plug now out-of-the-way.

Before you fully digest this smorgasbord, I interrupted it with a fabulous night of comedy from very funny talents, I never heard of..so, thank you to my neighbor Heather for introducing and organizing. My laugh-o-meter is much fuller now, a good thing.  For you to check out for yourselves, neighbor night included a visit to Opa Grill and an evening with Tim Hawkins and Bob Smiley.  Two talents worth your ticket dollars. A little sample: Here is Yoga Pants from Tim Hawkins: Yoga Pants

I normally do not enjoy Greek wine, but I do enjoy all things Greek.  At least if I follow the religion of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” one and two.  I did not climb in the box, but tried a Greek Chardonnay-ish wine and it was quite good. I liked it and perfect for my Bacalao.
20160729_175525_resized This wine is Avantis Estates.  It is as it says, refreshing with some pear and melon aromas and refreshing. It goes with many things, whether you are vegetarian or not, it will go with fish and of course in the tradition of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “you can make lamb”.  What is my motto? Drink what you like…and to venture into Greece, it was cool not to have Ouzo. A great intro into the evening of comedy and the laughter long over due.  Please check them out and go see them.  The night will be memorable.

Back to the Ultra. These runners, athletes, slightly off of the cuff people are wonderful. Smiles surround their miles as all we hear as he pass through our aid station is “how beautiful the canon is”  and “thank you for the drinks & food”. If you are in the area of Colorado Springs, do Visit Colorado Springs and for outdoor activities visit Cheyenne Canon Park.

Sweat time over,  I rewarded my early riser friend with breakfast at Modern Market.  A nice reward with magpies sounding in on their hunger but not receiving  the reward.  Good healthy food, but with a new twist, a box of water. It tasted great but I feel as if I was being lectured as the bottle listed the benefits of choosing a box to a bottle.  As good as the water is, it is not easy to carry when running or cycling, or hiking…fix that and you are golden.

Okay, so we are tying this weekend together with similar things but yet are we following trends or choices? Do you want to get philosophical?  The short answer is, a bit of both. I love fitness, I prefer to be informed and I know the truth of pickle juice, water, recycling and ultra running.  The long answer is, I think if you choose to move whether a running, cycling, hiking or the Thighmaster, you will get healthier, but you have to do it.  Boxed water vs bottled, is not a matter of taste but of lifestyle. I support both and think you should too.  If you are sitting at your desk and using a disposable resource, go for the box.  If you are more mobile and the box isn’t compliant, use a bottle of some sort. You have the power to choose..embrace it.

So, hiking is becoming trendy, I’ll join in as it is fun and a major calorie burner.
I am originally from the East Coast, so I do everything possible since I now live in Colorado to show that I am living in the Wild, Wild West, theme song and all of it. After volunteering, I took my Bordeaux out for a hike with my hubby. There are endless opportunities for you to explore your neighborhood, backyard or destination but you must leave your computer (this blog) to do so.  This Greenland Open Space not far from the county line between El Paso County and Douglass County.

My big red dog, Bordeaux rehydrating and being obedient. I hear you chuckling, yes his name is Bordeaux…he is a red husky and you are reading TheBlondeGrape…here’s your reminder of where you are visiting. Of course, you may be giggling, because you know about huskies and being obedient can often be an oxymoron.

Lyeth_Cab_NV_175_662Enter Lyeth, pronounced Leeth.  A great finish to a great start of a weekend that has no real plans but to get outside and enjoy what comes our way.  Is it over, NO! But, do treat each event as a new beginning, YES!

This is a great red, perfect for a hot day that has had a few rain sprinkles to “just” cool it off enough to be lightly blanketed. This is a true Cabernet Sauvignon, but not so heavy that it can’t handle a lot of life leading to the  great pour and first sip.

Folks, if you are learning nothing from me, learn this: Life is not meant to be lived on a schedule. There are places for that, but live life according to you. Start chipping away at it and learn to enjoy it. Drink well, drink what you like and Celebrate You!

Up next, adventuring north looking for Devil’s Head Fire Lookout. 

Raise your glass and cheers!

 

 

 

 

Every Horse Deserves at Least Once in its Life to be Loved by a Little Girl (or Big Girl)

I am a city girl. I grew up in Miami, Florida. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.  I grew up near Broad Causeway where the tracks to “Jive Talkin'” by the Bee Gees was inspired and created. Yes, I am one degree away from a Bee Gee, but that is another post.

I am going to go out on a limb and declare that most girls at some point in their lives ask for a horse.  They can do so often, once in a while, or once but at some point, they put the request on their wish list. When I was growing up I was fortunate enough to go to a dude ranch in Lake Wales, Fl.  It was Circle F Dude Ranch and a great place with so many fun experiences.  It is a treasured experience that I now share with my niece and my youngest daughter. I, even sat in the backseat of our car as we drove from Lake Wales to Miami repeating, “I wanna horse”…or rather ” I ..Wannnnna Hhhoooorrrrssssssseeee”.  How my parents didn’t throw me out, I do not know. They are much better parents, individuals, humans than I. But, my love affair with the giant steeds was born and I am so grateful my youngest has carried the torch.

Horses are a rare breed. Not because they are uncommon, but because they are truly magical. They do not need the mythical horn from their forehead, the possess all the magic one desires by gazing at them or even better, letting them take you for a ride.

Is this a bragging moment, yes. Yes, it is. This is my daughter not having rehearsed and going over cross jumps and I am a proud mama. Yes, totally own it, I am bragging…and now I’m done.

I ran across a wine, that just looked liked it had a western element.  I have had it before, but I was struck by the label seeming so leathery and that had me thinking as I was watching my daughter at her lesson today at MaeBree Ranch. This is a bright, crisp Chardonnay from the Rutherford Valley region in California.  It has some citrus but also grounded and true to the new generations of Chardonnay.  I couldn’t resist having some fun with this bottle around the ranch.  Although, this was a full bottle…why I trusted these guys to not knock it over and lick it up for themselves, I don’t know. Again, it must be a horse/girl thing.

This Chardonnay is really quite good. It is under $20 and can tie in with anything, but it is fun to harness it to a horse. Ok, so I couldn’t do that, but I did do this….

What is the wine that has me unbridled? Mossback Chardonnay, because I knew I was going to be outside and couldn’t resist the leathery , saddle type of label. It fits into the Colorado Western lifestyle we think we have here in the West.

Now, I finished the day or evening off with a Valpolicella from Allegrini Vineyards.  More licorice than I normally prefer but it fits the rough riding or rather smooth riding that we have been highlighting here.

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Here’s a selfie of Lola, she is telling you to try what I recommended but really she is telling you to drink what you like.  I am running a 7K into Broncos Stadium in September, we are the Galloping Hot Bloods after Thunder, the Arabian Mascot for the Denver Broncos.  So, cheers to finishing the race and Celebrate You!

What’s in Your Backyard?

When a picture says it all. The two pics are of South Catamount Reservoir as you drive up Pikes Peak. Pikes Peak is one of the pinnacles of our region and is in my backyard.

Now, it is not that long ago, that the world was shocked and awed by the fact that the USA was producing wines and damn good ones.  The west coast tended to lead the way and although a few other areas tried, they were not taken too seriously.  Now, that is changing. I can say first hand that I have had wines made in Texas, New York, South Dakota and Colorado.  I think there is still a lot of room for growth but we are well on our way to expanding our horizons in the  vinicultural world and a new way to play tourist as we travel across the states.  I may even try some Florida wine soon.

On the way home after a great day of kayaking on the reservoir.

I was reminded of just how lucky I am to be living in a place where I can hike, bike, kayak, or just be lazy outside with mountains surrounding the waters.  Before, we made it all the way down the Peak, we decided we would cap it off and grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant, The Wines of Colorado.  This place is great! It is small, very casual so whether you are a tired tourist looking for a great souvenir for you and yours or you are a local trying to do the same, you blend in.  But, the food is really good and if you thought Colorado only had a couple of wines, you would be hugely mistaken.  Yes, we are better known for our microbreweries (Pikes Peak BrewingBristol Brewing  to name but a few) and growing distilleries (3 Hundred Days of Shine)  but we have some really good wineries and the Wines of Colorado is the place to sample them.

They have two decks that are creek side and although directly off of Hwy 24, you do not hear the road.  Rather, you hear a babbling brook and it is really a great little escape, especially for us locals.

One of the things that make this place great is that you get to sample the wines, not just before purchase of a bottle, but before purchase of a glass.  That is very cool but, be careful, your taste buds may get greedy (easy to do) and the tasting could take you a while.  I suggest you sample before you sit down, remember which ones you like and then go to your table. I tried several and the ones I liked the most were Pikes Peak Chardonnay, it was a little smokey and yet smooth. I also tried Garrett Estate Cellars  a very well-balanced, smooth 2011 Chardonnay that is unoaked.    We ended up buying a bottle of the latter and we also bought a red blend Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from The Winery at Pikes Peak , called Parliament Blend. 
20160710_161800_resized_1Upon arriving you walk through an indoor patio and then the wine shop with a great bunch of “stuff” for the wine enthusiast. Everything from shirts, hats but also wine holders, aprons etc. I couldn’t resist taking a few pics as they show that we oenophiles have a good sense of humor. Make sure you click on that last link if you have any doubt of what the word means. Once you do, you may use it all the time just to see the reaction on people’s faces when you do.

More samples of stuff:
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Your challenge, should you choose to accept it is to see if there is a local winery near you (or even in your state).  Get out and explore your backyard and safely imbibe on the flavors that contribute to the fermented grape and enjoy.  You may be surprised at what and how much you find when you sample what is growing in your backyard.

Cheers!