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!

 

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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