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!

 

Hace Caliente or It’s Hot!

Global warming or just that time of year called Summer, we are nearing the dog days and it is hot. We are beyond warm, or a little touched by the heat, we are in full flip-flop mode and portable fans.

Now, I don’t always think it necessary to pair wine with food. As I have said before, drink what you like and choose the guidelines if you wish. But, I do tend to make a deciding factor on what I drink based on the weather.  To me when it is hot, it is the time to keep the drink a little lighter and sometimes even a little sweeter.  Warning: If you make it too light and too sweet you may drink too fast due to dehydration, be careful.

One of my favorite drinks to cool down the heat, is Sangria. There are many kinds, but typically there are three version for you to choose from: a red, a white and a cava (sparkling wine). My favorite place for Sangria and Cuban/Spanish Cuisine is The Columbia in Ybor City, FL (Tampa).

 

 

This place is very much a destination place when you visit Tampa, in particular, Ybor City. Known for it’s “Cuban” Cigars, it is hard to get much more authentic than actually going to Cuba. This is a very eclectic neighborhood that is continuously improving and free roaming chickens.  Go see for yourselves, believe.

So, back to it being hot, this place alongside it’s great food is known for it’s sangria. The Columbia has packaged a mix to help you in the process and I have used it, and liked it. Now, I didn’t have all the fruit on hand to make it pretty but I can tell you, temps in the high 80s to low 90s and it was refreshing and on point. Pics below don’t do it justice, but the ones after will, I promise:

Due to the Spanish origins, I use a Rioja wine to make the red sangria. Again, we did not have much fruit, so we used limes and grapes. But, I highly suggest you try oranges in the mix. The Cerro Anon Rioja from 2009 was perfect for this blend that had me lounging on my deck admiring the grass that probably needs to be mowed, but it’s hot, so I tell my son, the lawn can wait till manana as I don’t want to hear the rumble of the push engine catching grass. Nor, do I want to hear him whine about mowing the yard, that would get in the way of the only whine I tolerate and that is wine, without an “h”.

Now, if for some reason, you are not experiencing the mercury rising in your neck of the woods, here are some songs that may put that feeling into play for you. In no particular order of heat index, here are some great songs to enjoy your Sangria: 

The Heat is On by Glenn Frey

Hot, Hot, Hot by Buster Poindexter

Heatwave by Martha and the Vandellas

Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly and the Family Stone

When Your Hot Your Hot by Jerry Reed

Summertime Blues by The Who

In the Summertime by Mungo Cherry (1 Hit Wonder)

Some Like it Hot by Power Station

But if you don’t want songs that sing about being hot, or heat or summer, I believe this new song by Justin Timberlake, should be the 2016 song of Summer. What do you think?
Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake

Now, back to the Sangria. My recent trip to The Columbia, we tried the Sangria Cava, which is Sangria using a Spanish sparkling wine. The pictures will show some of the process and I will attach the link and post recipe to the refreshing blend that made one forget for a brief second that all the temps said, 90+, it felt like over 100 on the thermometer.

This was so yummy! The recipe from their website is as follows:

Sangria de Cava (Sparkling Wine Sangria)
Columbia’s sparkling white sangria is great for a fancy brunch.
   Ingredients
1 375 ml bottle of Cava (or any sparkling wine)
¼ ounce Torres 5 Brandy (or any Spanish brandy)
¼ ounce Gran Torres Liqueur (or any orange liqueur)
Splash of lemon-lime soda
1 orange
1 lime
Cherries for garnish
Simple syrup*

Preparation
Cut orange and lime in half. Fill large pitcher with ice and combine the wine, brandy, liqueur, lemon-lime soda, the juice of half of an orange and the juice of half a lime. Stir. Add simple syrup to obtain desired sweetness. Slice remaining orange and lime into thin slices. Garnish glasses with orange, lime and cherry.

* To make simple syrup, combine one part water to one part sugar in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Chill before use. Serves 4.

As I mentioned previously, you can purchase their mix to aid you in the assistance of your perfect Sangria. I suggest you stick to Spanish wines the Riojas, Cavas to make it as authentic and delicious as possible, but as I always say, drink what you like. So, experiment among yourselves. Let me know how it turns out.Click on The Columbia Gift Shop to purchase your mix.

Lastly, my last visit was timed with the timely return of my brother and his wife from Spain and Portugal.  My love of wine runs in the family and to let you know how they are using cork in the Mediterranean other than to top off a bottle, I give you the cork shoe.  Yes, I am now going to have to get a pair, but for now, here is a picture of cork shoes on my brother’s feet.  Salud!

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