Photo Confessions: Philadelphia Art Museum

My weekend view of the Philadelphia Art Museum.

My weekend view of the Philadelphia Art Museum.

What better way to close down another manic Monday with a little photo confession.

In case you may be new to this reoccurring segment, "photo confessions" are short posts I write describing fun photos taken during my day to day. The majority of these photos are shared on the blog's instagram account,  but every once and a while I like to share a fun photo that was worthy of more than just the usual instagram post.

The feature this time - the one and only Philadelphia Art Museum! I admit, most of us have probably seen it - either in real life or at least in one of the Rocky movies. Personally, I walk by at least once a month. But I don't care how cheesy it is, I still run up the steps with Eye of the Tiger blasting - and it's fun every time. It is just an iconic cultural site. And that's why I love Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is definitely one of the most underrated cities on the East Coast. There is so much culture to soak up - and most of it is free! The food is delicious - where local chefs aim to feature inventive flavors without the steep price tag (viva la BYOB)! And it's just a great town to live in!

I challenge you to think about your favorite place! Whether you live in a big city or rural town, always strive to find those hidden gems that make your community special. 

 

Cheers!

Photo Confessions: Winter Wine Project

Hey there Wine-Nerds! I am excited to announce a new winter wine project - tasting and reviewing Wine Spectator's 100 Outstanding Values.

Now this month's WS featured "The Top 100: The Most Exciting Wines of 2013." Usually, I don't put much value in these top 100 lists as there are many factors at play beyond the quality of wine, such as politics, personal bias, or the weather that day. But, I figured I would see what made WS's list of favorites anyway. As I read, I was very (and I repeat very) disappointed to see so few wines in the top 100 for a reasonable price (aka below $20). 

However, I was quickly corrected when I discovered another feature for "100 Outstanding Values." Now, this list did not get the 20 page spread that the favorites of 2013 received, but I figured I would give a shout out to these noteworthy wines by reviewing them myself individually.

Here is the game plan: I hope to taste at least a quarter the list within the upcoming months (since some labels may be hard to find). I will let you know if the wine lives up to its "top 100 outstanding value" ranking from my perspective, as your friendly neighborhood wine-nerd. Plus, I will provide some history/general information on the grapes that make up the wine as well. (Because history is the best).

I hope you may be interested in joining the winter wine project and taste some of the wines yourself! I look forward to your comments!

 

Happy Holidays and Cheers!

Photo Confessions: The Government Shutdown Countdown

"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. 

As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. 

There will still be business enough." 

~ Abraham Lincoln

cagle00.jpg

Photo Source: 

http://www.cagle.com/topics/syria/page/85/

Dear Enthusiasts!

Let's get political.*

As a former political science major from the D.C. area, I learned  pretty early on that the American political system is a bit... dysfunctional. With that in mind, I have endeavored to maintain political neutrality - at all costs (

yet

I do love a good political cartoon!!!). With a government shutdown looming, yet again, I think its time to address the subject... at least from a more creative point of view than your local newscasters. What wine to drink as the countdown to shutdown winds down!

We use wine to celebrate all sorts of events - birthdays, weddings, the countdown to the New Year. And now it seems the threat of shutting down the American government is a recurring "holiday" of sorts so, I think it deserves of wine of its own.

Now what to drink?

 Tough decision right?! Well the first decision was easy, red or white? The threat of government shutdown clearly deserves red.** (It's chilly out!) Now the tough part - which grape to feature? I knew this grape needed to have some attitude, spice, and mouth-drying tannin. This holiday is not a day for smooth and light-bodied Pinot Noir. 

And the winner is... 

Grenache/Syrah blend 

(Grenache aka Garnacha). These red grapes are known for producing wine with personality. The wines are typically medium to full-bodied. As Jay McInerney put it (a favorite wine writer), "its old world wine with California cleavage." Ilove Grenache, but is rare to find Grenache on its own. It is typically blended with Syrah and M

ourvédre (to give it the peppery kick and lower the alcohol content).

Where to look...

Southern Rh

ô

ne, France;

 specifically Chateauneuf-du-Pape or 

Côtes-du- Rhône (more details on these regions later!).

Here's hoping the government gets there act together and there is no shutdown. But just in case, I have a bottle of wine on standby.

Cheers!

*Any guesses on what pop culture reference I was channeling here - hint its a musical.

**Color choice is

not

indicative of political affiliation.

Photo Confessions: Vintner Tips

"Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance." ~Benjamin Franklin

"You're making wine at home?!?!" It is true ladies and gents, I am experimenting with the fine art of wine making in the comfort of my own home. Full disclosure, it is actually a family hobby. My dad started making wine for the family and as the family wine nerd, I was quickly nominated as assistant. Which brings us today's Photo Confession - photos from the factory floor!

Phase 1: Primary Fermentation

A few batches in, I have learned its actually pretty easy to do. (Easy, but not cheap). All you need to do is by the equipment and a wine making kit (I suggest starting

here

). These wine making kits come complete with grape juice, yeast, preservatives and even oak! Just follow the straight forward instructions and in a few weeks you will have 30 bottles of wine for consumption at home!

So, what happens during the wine making process? First, the grape juice goes through

primary fermentation,

which is the initial mixing of the juice and yeast to start fermentation. Second, the wine is transferred from a fermenter to holding tank for

secondary fermentation. 

During this process, it is important to focus on

stabilizing and clearing

the wine of floating particles. Finally, the wine is racked and clarified once more before the final step of

bottling.

Phase 4: Bottling

The whole process takes a little over two months. Thus far, the family has made an unoaked Chardonnay, Riesling, Chianti, and currently working on a Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. All have received rave reviews!

So, if you have some extra space, extra time, and extra funds - I would definitely give wine making at home a chance! It's only fermented grape juice after all - you can handle it! Until next time!

Cheers!

Photo Confessions: The Lost Art of Wine Flights

"In victory, you deserve champagne. In defeat you need it." ~Napoleon Bonaparte

Wine Flight at Amelie in NYC

While Napoleon may have been vertically challenged - (

though

most historians actually say he was of average height) - he definitely had the right approach when it came to wine. We should make more room for bubbles (and wine generally) at the dinner table! Which brings me to today's Photo Confession - Wine flights!

I miss wine flights! They are a lost art! Not to be confused with the wine train (Train ride in Napa, CA) wine flights are groupings of similar wines meant to be tasted together. They are usually intended for new wine tasters who want to learn more about a specific wine region, grape, vintage or winery. 

So, why am I talking about wine flights? Well! Recently, I had the opportunity to head to a wine bar with friends that actually featured 10 different wine flights and it reminded me how in frequently I see organized wine flights as an option at wine bars. It's sad because they are a great way to taste a few different wines! So next time you are out, ask about a wine flight option - you won't regret it! Or just follow Napoleon's orders and drink champagne.

Cheers!

Photo Confessions: Street Art

As a New Yorker, you learn to tune things out when commuting - literally. We are trained to walk the sidewalks, headphones in with music blasting, avoiding eye contact with passers-by. Every so often though, I would walk my daily path sans headphones - ya know old school. 

Once your tuned in to what is happening on the streets, you notice so much more. An interesting new store, fresh items at farmer's markets and cool sights. This week's picture is one of those cool sights worth sharing.

Street Sign on my Ride Home

This photo was taken on my ride home last week when I decided to take a random path home and just explore. While the image could stand alone - it is also very representative of my time in Boston. So I challenge you Enthusiasts - take a walk without those headphones, take a left when you would normally go right and capture a cool sight!

Photo Confessions: Shippin' Up to Boston!

Finals - Check! J.D. - Check! Update the blog - uhhh, oooops.

As anyone who reads blogs, writes blogs, or ever attempted to write a blog will likely known -- a blog can be fun

and

 time consuming. Its just a given that updating the blog will sometimes takes a back-seat to real life. For me, real life has included finals, graduation, and ... (drumroll please!) ... a temporary move to Boston! That's right Enthusiasts! Contrary to the blog's title, this blogger is taking some time off from the Big Apple to cover the best restaurants, local haunts and secret sites in Beantown! 

Which brings me back to Photo Confessions! This weeks photo...

Random Historical Sign in Harvard Square

After three short days, I already know how I would describe Boston in a word (if I had to) - CHAMELEON.   That's right - this town is like a uniquely adaptable, color-changing lizard because each neighborhood is seriously different from the last and it morphs around  the people that live there. I have seen neighborhoods that are colonial, modern, collegiate, retro, traditional and artsy - all within 30 minutes of each other.

Thus - this photo confession series will feature a photo from a different Boston neighborhood. This photo was taken in Harvard Square and reminded me how much American history is tied to Boston. It caught my eye mostly due to the contrast between the brick and ivy - but I appreciated it more for its historical value. Until next time!

Cheers!