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

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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The Celebration of Independence

This is one of my favorite times of year.  I live in a small town and the benefits of it are numerous but this time of year, we seem to get people for a terrific four-mile fun run on the 4th, the greatest small town parade, street fair and then cap it off with bands and fireworks.  It is a long day, but it is really nice to see this town come so alive and welcome so many families and friends.

Top left: Bananas provided by Planet Deadline Escape Rooms for the race finishers
Middle Left: Crowd of finishers at race
Lower Left: A fun mobile
Right: A Colorado mermaid on the hood of the vehicle showing a two-finger peace symbol.

Thank you to Facebook, I was reminded of a great character that Robin Williams did that seems very appropriate for today.  He portrayed the American Flag. The portrayal is a reminder that we are one nation, under God, Indivisible with liberty  and justice for all. We don’t have to take ourselves too seriously and we should always remember to keep a sense of humor with ourselves less we lose the ability to laugh.  My comic heroes: Mel Brooks, Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, The Carol Burnett Show, Laugh-In now, you pretty much understand where I am coming from when I speak this way. A sense of humor is critical.

Robin Williams Flag
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Please click here to see this to help you celebrate
the birth of the United States of America.  We are fortunate to live here and like any youngster, we will continue to grow with a few stumbles, a few victories and the best opportunities for all our citizens to do the same.  So, today and this week, Celebrate Freedom, Celebrate the USA and Celebrate You!

 

 

What do we pair with a day like today.  Well, you can certainly do a red, or a white…but today (and I probably do this more often than most), I say celebrate with a white, made from a pinot noir grape  and it sparkles.  Roederer Estate Brut from Anderson Valley in California.  Now, this particular sparkling wine is a 60% chardonnay and 40% pinot noir, so you are getting a red and white which is 2/3 of the red, white and blue.

Roederer Estate Brut
Photo: Thefermentedfruit.com off of google search

It will not break your budget and is ideal for when you see sparklers, and beautiful colored lights exploding in the sky.  Remember to protect your pets, they do not understand our celebrations as much as we think they do the activity often scares them.

Oh, don’t think I forgot about the bluesy aspect of the red, white and blue. Perhaps, a bit more soul than blues, but turn it up to 11– James Brown and Livin’ in America

Happy Birthday U.S.A. and many more to you and yours!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

What a treat, tonight I was able to work late at a networking event. I am not married to my work, the event was for the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau and they held it at the Pikes Peak International Raceway.  So, yes I was able to mingle with some great people and schmooze but I got to get into a race car, drive really fast and have a “shake and bake” moment.  Yes, yes I did. If you visit the Pikes Peak Region, check out both of the above, you will be guaranteed high altitude fun!

My good friend and adrenaline junkie Amanda Finch Madison.  Master of the hairpin turns.

We cranked the music up but they were not playing any of the songs on the Top 25 Racing Car Songs.  They weren’t even playing songs by The Cars .  But, the song in my head that was coaxing me into the driver’s seat was an oldie I owned on a 45. Commander Cody and “Hot Rod Lincoln”  ” My pappy said son you gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop driving that hot rod lincoln” which begs the question, what beverage do you pair with racing?

 Most of the time it would be beer.  Hunter S. Thompson said “Good people drink good beer” and he was right.  One of the evenings sponsors was one of my favorite local breweries, Colorado Mountain Brewery. But, I say accelerate your taste buds and have a beverage of true effervescence, one that is known to celebrate bravery, victory and strength…yes, drink sparkling wine (or Champagne but only if you dare or you are right. Learn how to be right by clicking here)

A vignette of sparkling wine. Domaine Carneros is the domestic Taittinger from the Carneros Valley of California.
A vignette of sparkling wine. Domaine Carneros is the domestic Taittinger from the Carneros Valley of California.

You really can never go wrong with bubbles in your flute.  For the record, I did not choose this particular vineyard Domaine Carneros because it had car in the name.  Okay, perhaps I did, but it is the USA domestic version of Taittinger.  It is a bit drier, smokier and one of my favorites. Carneros is a great region to explore, Napa is too, but why do what everyone else does.   I hope you raise a glass and enjoy. Celebrate You and your drive in life!

Cheers!