a99kitten’s Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

A tip: If you have distribution deals with Costco and Safeway (or other large grocery chains) you know we can access your product at a discounted price. You’ve given up exclusivity for mass appeal and sales.

So then do not send me OHMYGOD CAN I BELIEVE THE DEAL emails that discount your wines by a few measly percent (at best, some have no discount) plus charge me shipping when I can just pick it up literally for 30-50% less than your full price at Costco or Safeway. It’s actually insulting. Offer me free shipping, or buy 5 and get 6th free or **something**. Without naming names since I like these places and don’t want to diss them, but if I can buy something from you for $22 plus shipping or I can pick it now up at SFY for $15, which do you think will happen? Hmmm…let me think….

I’m sure I am not the only person deluged with Black Friday, Extended Black Weekend, Cyber Monday and Cyber week e-mails. But come on man. I think 100 emails every morning followed by repeated ones through the day – sometimes 3 or 4 from the same store/site is RIDICULOUS. And honestly I just delete them all and don’t even look. It’s too much. Good grief Charlie Brown. I had to turn off the volume on my laptop because of the constant alert dinging from new email coming in.

The only 1 that caught my eye had a picture of Chewbacca slippers (Hammacher). So naturally, I saved that one. But still haven’t clicked on it.

And do NOT get me started on the snail mail catalog situation which I think keeps USPS afloat (well…afloat in USPS terms anyway…)

I love Christmas. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I am also a huge capitalist who loves to shop. And loves to give gifts! But the marketing departments really need to think about their campaigns and not not just think the solution is MOAR EMAIL MOAR CATALOGS MOAR JUNK.

Sigh…I know…not likely.

It’s Oscar night!! Not sure what that has to do with eating (absolutely nothing, zilch, zero, nada) but I decided to make this since the chicken has been in my freezer for a couple weeks :) Call me glamour-puss! I found this recipe in a magazine and then changed it to suit my tastes…

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
About 1 lb of skin-on chicken drumsticks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
12 cloves garlic (about 1 head)
2 lemons (finely grated zest of one, juice of both)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound frozen corn, thawed
3/4 cup whole milk

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons flour. Add to the skillet and cook, turning, until slightly golden on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice and turn the chicken to coat. Transfer the skillet to the oven; roast until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the corn and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon flour, then add the milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

I am pairing it with some Moet & Chandon Imperial as Moet seems to be the Hollywood bubbly of choice and this was already chilled in my fridge :)

I love watching the Oscars. Even though I love to make fun of celebrities too. Mostly because I think actors taking themselves SOOOOO seriously is rather amusing…but LOVE the outfits :)

The 1 word descriptions for champagne even sound fantastic and fun! There a few witty quotes about champagne that I always smile at…

“my only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne”
~ John Maynard Keynes

“there comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of Champagne”
~ Bette Davis

“in a perfect world, everyone would have a glass of Champagne every evening”
~ Willie Gluckstern

“why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? doesn’t everyone?”
~ Noel Coward

But I think my favorite today is..

“I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. when I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty”
~ Lily Bollinger

Werd.

Just unboxed and washed my 4 new champagne flutes!! They were a housewarming gift from one of my best friends in the whole world. She says housewarming gift – I think she just loves to buy presents and make people happy :)

Rather funny that I, she who loves bubbly sooooo much, doesn’t already have some nice flutes. But I bought 60 simple glass flutes for our wedding reception years (and years and years) ago and have just used those since I had them to use. We have tons of nice wine glasses in both houses but just my cheapo flutes. Plenty of them…but still…a girl should have a nice set of flutes for her bubbly :)

These are the Riedel Platinum Band flute made specifically for Williams Sonoma. Most of our wine glasses are Riedel so everything is nice and matchy :) And they are made in Germany (another notch in my “don’t buy or own Chinese made crap” belt!) I love them because they are pretty. The thin platinum band around the rim makes them different from the rest. It’s not super-duper noticeable or gaudy – just a nice, delicate touch of different.

Hopefully she will make the trip up to Tahoe one of these days and get to drink out of them with me!!!

mmmmm......yummy

So pretty….I think they deserve a nice bubbly to be opened tonight while I decorate my Christmas tree!!!!

This year’s champagne event was fun! Last year’s was rainy and freezing. This year’s was HOT! Crazy bay area weather. Kinda perfect for bubbly tasting though.

They had a few new ones to the event this year such as Bollinger, Salon and Charles Heidsieck. And a few smaller, lesser known ones as well. I didn’t get to the Salon before they ran out but we have several bottles at home so no big deal. The line for it was ridiculous. I wanted to make sure to get to the ones I have never had before (and the Veuve Brut Rose of course) instead.

I definitely had a few favorites. The entire 3 tastings of Laurent-Perrier were fantastic. Also Baron Fuente. And of course the flight at the Louis Roederer table was great (although I did spit out the 2004 Vintage Blanc de Blancs.) This year, I don’t think the Cristal was my favorite of theirs (even though the 2004 Cristal was very delish.) They also recently bought another vineyard – Duetz – which was FANTASTIC. Highly recommend.

I also loved the entire flight from both Taittinger and Moet & Chandon (their was combined with Ruinart which was SO YUM!)

It was fun to be able to speak with the actual winemakers from some of the small houses that all flew out from France for both today’s event and yesterday’s in LA. The French will be invading Alcatraz and SF tomorrow :)

This event is always so much fun. Although I do have to say the first year I went it was combined with a charity auction that benefited a local animal rescue organization. I wish they would do that again. That was super fun. Last year’s was at their SF location. I much prefer the Redwood City one so I am glad they moved it back here (last year it was in SF due to renovations in RC.)

The people watching is also fun. Most people are your standard Menlo Park crowd. But you do get a few different ones :) I also liked “bag watching.” So many cool bags were being paraded around. A LOT of Chanel and LV.

I debated on outfits because I had no idea how hot it might be in the tent. It was HOT. And I finally wore heels again! 4.5″ heels – not wedges. Real heels! I knew I didn’t have to walk around too much :) Was good to wear again!!

The key to tasting is keep drinking water in between (although it was room temp so I couldn’t drink as much as I should have – I need ice water people!) and snack on the appetizers they had floating around. I was good to do both this year!!

Writing some of my favorites down for future purchasing (in no particular order):

Baron Fuente “Grand Reserve” Brut
Baron Fuente “Espirt” Brut
2004 Louis Roederer “Cristal” Brut
2004 Louis Roederer Brut
Deutz “Brut Classic”
2006 Fluteau Cuvee Prestige Brut Blanc de Blancs
Ruinart Brut Blan de Blancs
Ruinart Brut Rose (very, very good)
2002 Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut
2000 Moet & Chandon “Dom Perignon” Brut
2004 Taittinger Brut
Taittinger “La Francaise” Brut
Taittinger “Prestige” Brut Rose
2000 Bollinger “Grande Annee” Brut
Fleury Brut Rose
2005 Elisabeth Goutorbe Brut
2002 Laurent-Perrier Brut
NV Laurent-Perrier Brut NV
NV Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose
Charles Heidsieck “Brut Reserve”
2000 Charles Heidsieck Brut
NV Veuve Cliquot Rose
1999 Pol Roger Brut Chardonnay
1999 Pol Roger Cuvee Winston Churchill

Interestingly, I liked the Dom better than the Cristal this year (and it’s cheaper!) The past 2 years it has been opposite. Perhaps bad years for Dom? Or maybe my taste buds are changing :) Although I just looked at the price list and the Salon was the most expensive being served. That explains why everyone was in line for it. They had the 1999 Salon. We have several bottles of the 1988 – I guess I better get on drinking that ASAP!! K&L is selling the 1988 for $400 per bottle. So maybe I should drink it to celebrate something….like Halloween. Or the huskies doing well. Or the nice weather! :)

I might have missed a good one, or mis-labeled one (doubtful though – I was determined to note every one I tasted.) My “rating” system as I taste is a star, 2 stars, an X (for yuck), or a circle (for uber fantastic) – highly technical :) No notes on oaky, toasty, peachy, dry, sweet, good for apertif, good for meals, drink now, drink in 2 years, etc, etc. That’s for the pros. I just note down if I will like to buy or NEED to buy :)

I have to say for the price, the 3 from Laurent-Perrier were awesome. I will definitely be buying some. We have a wine cellar in our new house and 1/2 of it will be dedicated to bubbly. So I need some good ones to fill it up!!

Today’s tasting at K&L was an “International Bubbles” tasting. My highly complex and detailed tasting notes consisted of: Good, Meh, Too Sweet. Oh – and a star next to a few of the goods for extra delish :)

1. La Caudrina La Selvatica “Asti” $19.99 (Italy) way too sweet ( I spilled mine out – yuck)
2. Latitude 50 N Sekt Trocken Weiss $14.99 (Germany) *good
3. San Venanzio Prosecco Valdobbiadene Brut $14.99* (Italy) *good (this was my favorite actually)
4. 2008 Raventós i Blanc “L’Hereu Reserva” Brut Cava Penedes $17.99 (Spain) good
5. 2008 Antech “Cuvee Eugenie” Cremant de Limoux $13.99* (France) *good
6. NV Quartz Reef “Methode Traditionelle” Sparkling Wine Brut Central Otago New Zealand (Elsewhere $29.99) $15.99 (New Zealand) meh – was OK. Husband liked a lot.
7. J Vineyards “Cuvée 20” Sparkling Wine $21.99 (CA/US) Have had before. A yummy favorite. No note was needed.
8. Ariston Aspasie Brut Rosé Champagne  $32.99* (France) meh – was OK. Again, husband liked.
9. Michel Loriot “Marie-Leopold” Sec Champagne $34.99* (France) Good but didn’t love. Sweet but nowhere near as sweet as the Asti10. Henry’s Drive “Scarlet Letter” Sparkling Shiraz 10. Padthaway South Australia $16.99 (Australia) Double-meh. Spilled out and got refill on Prosecco

And look – my favorites are all the lower priced ones! That never happens to me! The ones with astericks after the prices means they are K&L Direct Imports so I knew I had to buy those if I liked them :) So I bought 2 bottles each of the Prosecco, Latitude 50 N and 2008 Antech “Cuvee Eugenie”. I can get the J Vineyards at Safeway. Actually have 2 bottles in my fridge now.

I took the bottles out of the car to put them in the drink fridge and realized I need to make more room for bubbly bottles. Oops. I am way behind on my bubbly drinking! :)

Super fun tasting. The pourer was knowledgeable but also nice and pleasant to talk to. What I like about these events is that I get to taste things that I would likely never buy. I told her (the pourer), that there is little to no chance I would have ever bought the German bubbly without a personal recommendation. “German = good bubbly” just doesn’t come to mind. So that was cool. There was a constant flow  of people in the tasting room but not so crowded that it was ever uncomfortable. AND I found out the date of the Champagne Tent event in October and bought our tickets! Whew…can’t miss that! Thankfully that moved back to the Redwood City location this year. No need to drive into the cesspool of SF.

Bought this bubbly at K&L Wines a few weeks back to give it a try. It was an “employee pick” and K&L’s picks have never been bad. I had a pretty decent reason to celebrate last night after a long, stressful week so I tried it. Quite yummy.

I really liked this bubbly. And totally inexpensive ($12.99!) and quite worthy of a daily drinker (not that I advocate daily drinking at all but if you have to…go bubbly ;) ). I have found that I really don’t like so many Roses but if a Rose Brut, I usually do as it takes the overbearing sweetness away. I am totally a Brut bubbly girl. Dry is good. Too sweet = bad. Which is funny because I know when I was younger, I liked the sweeter stuff. Plus this one is a nice pink shade – so that makes it all the better for me!

If you have a chance to pick this one up – do so. Give it a try. You will like it :)

Here is what K&L says about it:
A wine with tiny, long-lasting bubbles, Cremant de Loire Rosé is a lovely gleaming pink, enticing with a delicate, nervy nose and aromas of fresh red fruit. It’s lively on the attack and has lovely aromatic intensity and brightness. Well-balanced in the mouth, this sparkler is enhanced by a fresh but subtle finish. The wine is stored for at least 12 months on racks in freestone cellars before disgorging to make incomparably fine bubbles. The fruit comes from 20- to 30-year-old vines.

I finished a long, drawn out project at work today (and the 2nd one should be done tomorrow as well) so I decided on a yummy glass of bubly when I got home. Plus I have a week of vacation in Tahoe to look forward to starting Saturday so I opened a bottle I have had for over a year (wth?)

Not a “fancy” bottle at all. Bought it at a tasting at K&L Wines last spring:

http://a99kitten.com/?p=163

It was a clear favorite then as you can tell by my highly sophisticated note-taking and rating :) “-Cremant de Limoux Rosé Antech “Emotion” (Limoux, FR) *very good*”

I really, really like this one. Not too dry, not sweet and the bottle is pink-ish! That’s some kind of perfect at this price point!($14.99 – cheap!)

I highly recommend it :)

Now….back to watching the season finale of Merlin which is CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!! Camelot CAN NOT fall!

My birthday weekend is coming to a close. I think I did OK on my birthday gluttony as far as eating, drinking and general merriment went. Was still busy and stressed with work so I pretty much kept it to a minimum. I’ve mostly been tired so wanting to just hang out with huskies and read in the sun – pretty much the best activities anyway :)

I had my pre-Eclipse dinner with girlfriends that my birthday snuck into last Tuesday, Eclipse (squeal!) and then a comic book store excursion and a nice dinner with friends on Friday, hung out with huskies a lot, finished my book AND one of my new Wonder Woman graphic novels (and the new WW), had dinner with more friends at the house on Sunday night and went to the lake today, hung out, watched (other) doggies play in the water and had a Wet Woody (yummy drink…mind out of the gutter!)

And I did end the day and the weekend with 2 glasses of Gloria Ferrar Blanc de Noir (courtesy of @missmelon leftover from last night) and some homemade Hawaiian poke. One of my all-time favorite combos/meals. Sushi grade tuna and bubbly – perfect combo in flavors.

Back to work tomorrow. I take a week off for my birthday/July 4th every year. With 2 weekends and 5 weekdays = 9 awesome days in Tahoe. This year it got changed due to work. So instead of the annual week off at this time, I will shoot for this past 3-day weekend and a 4-day weekend starting Thursday! We’ll see. Fingers crossed…

p.s. it’s Harrison Ford’s birthday on the 13th so July really is an excellent month :)

Found this on YouTube and grinned the whole way through. I don’t give a crippity-crap about meeting celebrities. But I would love to meet this man.

Saw the Travel Channel’s show on the Jucy Lucy. Apparently, this burger is a Minnesota specialty. I guess several places there lay claim to inventing it but the place that seems like the original (Matt’s) started it due to a customer wanting cheese in between 2 patties and it was so yummy, the put up on their menu ASAP and misspelled juicy.)

I love cheeseburgers. LOVE them. I don’t eat them too often but aim to enjoy them fully when I do. So when I saw this show advertised I had to watch it. And after watching it, had to try making them. Watching the show, they simply use 2 pre-made burger patties and put a slice of American cheese (more melty than other cheeses) and kind squish the patties around the sides to seal them into 1 patty. And then season with salt and pepper and they cook on their fry/grill.  Seems simple.

The other restaurant that claims they invented it use thicker patties and 4 slices of cheese. That seemed a bit too much for me. I’m sure delicious but simply too much food.

Now you can find many variations of this recipe, also all claiming to be original, online. They have various spices, sauces, additions to the burger meat mixture. But I decided to keep it fairly simple for my first try.

I bought the lowest fat ground beef. And American cheese. The mixture I used was a combo of 2 recipes:

1.5 lbs ground beef (used the 96% lean to balance the heart attack factor!)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 slices American cheese

This is for 4 servings/burgers.

Combine ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well. Form 8 thin patties. Each about the size of a slice of of cheese.

Pre-skooshing

Cut each slice of cheese into 4 equal pieces and stack the pieces in the middle of a patty and put another patty on top. Tightly pinch edges together to tightly seal the cheese within the meat. I skooshed (I am totally TMing this word) them together. Do this to create 4 complete burgers/patties.

Post-skooshing

Preheat a cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Cook burgers until well browned, about 4 minutes(ish) on each side. Turn the burgers and prick the top of each to allow steam to escape – remember the cheese is HOT and melty inside.

If you bite into it and burn yourself – you will need to sue yourself…so remember, this could get pricey…

You need to cook these more medium to get the cheese fully melted and delicious. So no rare or medium rare burgers here. The melty delish cheese will make up for it :)

It’s cold, windy and cloudy today so I went partial-white trash dinner and paired these with tater tots but then fancified abit with a Blanc de Blancs from the Cupcake Vineyards. I saw the name of this place in some Wine newsletter and have been searching for it locally since pre-Christmas. I mean really? How perfect for me – Cupcake Vineyards? :)  Finally found it in a store a few weeks ago! It very delicious, especially for the price. And the bubly went very well with the burgers. As it does with anything :) http://www.cupcakevineyard.com/

If you like burgers like I do, I recommend trying these. Although I would probably use 2 pieces of cheese (per burger.) But I LOVE cheese :) And I used no other condiments. They aren’t difficult and they are delish. The funny thing is they remind me of a burger McDonald’s used to sell a loooong time ago. The Cheddar Melt. I LOVED those. Like LOVED them. It was a burger patty with melty Cheddar cheese (sauce?) on top. I was addicted. Probably a good thing they stopped selling them but now I have these….uh-oh :)

UPDATE: Made the 2 leftover burgers tonight and added another piece of cheese on top. HOLY HELL. This change made this burger my absolute favorite yumminess! Rule: Don’t skimp on the cheese. :)