French map

I am addressing the next phase of my wine education by trying to learn where the wines I enjoy come from with an eye to elevation and soil.

Michelle Gibson, the owner, manager, former wine distributor and all around sweetheart at the Cork and Cow is always very informative if I know the correct question to ask.  But, my geography class was a very long time ago.

I found this map of France and have saved it so that I can have a peek at the topography of where the French wines I like come from.

French regions

The wine shop in Hillsborough has maps on the walls that I can use when I’m there and my iPad has begun traveling with me to Burlington.


March wine

My choice at the monthly wine club was 2 bottles of Oak Farm Vineyards Zinfandel from Lodi, California. The vineyard was installed in a place that had an oak grove and the owners refused to remove the trees in order to plant the grapes, thus, the name. The wine is aged in oak casks, too. This gives the wine a delightful and unexpected spiciness.  It retails for $20.

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Friday is usually “shopping in Hillsborough night” with a stop at the Hillsborough wine store for a taste and a glass followed by dinner and grocery shopping at the Weaver Street Market coop.  There is usually a distributor doing a little wine tasting at the coop, too.  So, between Tuesday at the Cork and Cow and Friday in Hillsborough, we have a nice range of opportunities to taste a lot of fermented grape juice.

Last Friday netted us 2 whites that are intended to go with mussels the next time we find them.

The Maz Caz is a 2016 French blend from Costieres de Nimes in the southeastern region near Marsailles made of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne. We got that from the tasting table at the wine shop.  It retails for $19, but was on sale for $14 because it was part of the tasting.

Our second purchase was a surprising Muscadet that is absolutely not sweet and has a nice body. Château de l’Oiselinière is in the middle of the west coast southeast of Nantes. This one cost $11.

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February wine


This month, we got 2 bottles of the same wine. It’s a Pojega 2014 Valpolicella Ripasso.


January Club Wine

In January, we get to choose from anything in the store (up to $40). These were my choices. They have both been favorites since I met them.


This is one I met in Frederick, MD and have been pleased to find at Total Wine, here.


I seem to have a theme going.


December Club Wine

We are members of a wine club.  The wine bar we frequent has weekly wine tastings that cost $5/person for 4 tastes and a bite of cheese. Club members (and their significant other) don’t pay for the tastings. And the tasting the first week of the month is “club wines;”  you choose 2 bottles to take home.  Those tend to be in the mid- to upper teen$.   It saves us money by not paying for 8 tastings a month plus 2 bottles of wine.  It costs us for the additional glass of wine and snack we usually have when we go to a tasting.  I think everybody wins.

I am bad about remembering where we have gotten various wines.  So, I’m planning to try to remember to at least post our club wine selections here. I may run out of steam.  We’ll see.

This month we brought home 2 bottles of Shebang! Red from Sonoma, California.  It is “Mostly Zinfandel blended with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouchet, Grenache, Syrah, Alicante Bouchet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera and a touch of whites for aromatics.” Thus, the Whole Shebang.  Cost at Cork and Cow is $16/ bottle, $7/glass.



Distilleries I have visited in 2017:

Fainting Goat Spirits in Greensboro, North Carolina (Lovely herbal gin and very smooth vodka)

Broad Branch Distillery in Winston Salem, North Carolina (The blueberry flavor of the Smashing Violet whiskey isn’t nearly as strong at the color suggests)

10th Ward Distilling Company in Frederick, Maryland (We brought home lovely applejack)

McClintock Distilling in Frederick , Maryland (We went to a party they hosted. The cocktails were lovely. We didn’t, however, bring any home.)

Dark Corner Distillery in Greenville, South Carolina (Tasting room, not the actual distillery. We brought home Mountain Peak Espresso flavored rum.)

Copperhead Mountain Distillery in Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina (Brought home their “Scotch” which tastes more like Irish because there is no peat.)

Dragon Moonshine in Charlotte, North Carolina (I brought Apple Pie and Amaretto rums home.)

My liver may be in danger.


Time to eat!

The other day, I got to pondering the words we use for meals.  I was on my way to my favorite wine bar where I intended to have an early supper/late lunch and the fact that American’s don’t have a word for that meal got my brain spinning around the ways we talk about dining.

Breakfast, break fast, is just the first food of the day.   A light breakfast is light in weight and doesn’t usually last very long.  Toast, maybe an egg.  Granola.  Hot cereal like oatmeal that you can eat standing up.  A big breakfast has a load of protein and is meant to stick with you.  Frequently there are vegetables, too.  Potatoes in the form of hash browns. Sliced tomatoes in the summer. Onions, peppers and mushrooms in the omelette.  Fruit on egg bread, waffles and pancakes.  A big breakfast isn’t a meal that you grab as you run out the door.

Brunch is a word that means garnish and, frequently, alcohol in your fruit juice.  Brunch is languorous.  It also means I’m not doing anything that takes effort before noon.

Lunch is the middle of the day meal.  Big lunch means you will wish for a nap, later.  Lunch happens anywhere from 11 AM to 3 PM.

Supper is the evening meal.  Dinner is the biggest meal that is not breakfast.  So, lunch or supper could be dinner.   Sunday dinner is almost always lunch.  But, a work day dinner is usually supper.

So, the question that came to my mind was “what is the afternoon equivalent of brunch?”  Turns out, it’s afternoon tea.  My Canadian friends tell me that tea is served around 3:30 or 4:00, there is tea to drink and something light to eat.    We chuckled over a young acquaintance who had fussed at her sister to “eat your tea.”  But, I think I want to adopt that usage.  It’s a handy definition. And while a cream tea is one that includes jam and clotted cream in the snacks, I think a wine tea may become my occasional earlier-than-supper afternoon meal.

And, according to my English friend, high tea is a heavy meal served as workers come in from their labors ready for serious eats.  I expect it comes from afternoon tea that waited a little too long and needed to be more filling since you were ravenous by the time you finally got have food.

Another word I am going to adopt is “fika.” It is a Swedish word and it means to have coffee and a bite and a chat with friends.  It is a thing I love and now have a word for.  It is not time specific.  It is activity specific and it an activity I enjoy immensely.


I learned another meal word from my Spanish friend.   “In Spain, there is an actual meal between lunch (which for them is always the largest meal of the day), and dinner, which is a lunch-sized portion late in the day, like 8 or 9 pm. I was always offered this meal, each day, even in the hospital! “Merienda”. It corresponds to the “tea” idea, but without mentioning tea. Coffee or tea might be offered, or beer or wine, and deli slices, bread, cookies, fruit. Oh, it happened around 5 pm. Very confusing.”


Portrait of a marriage


This is gorgeous, rich, lovely mousse. It is made from avocados and organic cocoa. You know. Healthy stuff. 🙂

One of us skims from the top, slivers, slices, layer by layer. And the plastic protector is stretched across the top without risking the loss of any of the tasty, tasty treat.

The other one eats in from the edge and covers the part that is being saved for tomorrow (because it is very rich and luscious) with plastic wrap that is tucked in, blanket-like, around the little mound of delight.

This is us.



When I was 14 or 15, a frequent habit in my family was to go to church on Sunday and then have our big meal, usually in the dining room instead or the breakfast nook off the kitchen. It wasn’t always a huge feast that my mother had spent hours over, just the biggest meal that was getting fixed that day. It could very well be chicken salad and pimento cheese with choices of bread or crackers and some chips.

But, one Sunday when we came home, she got stirring around in the kitchen and shooed me out when I came to help. I didn’t argue. I didn’t get let off that hook very often.

After a while she called us into the dining room, where there was nothing on the table except napkins, some silverware and glasses of tea. She was clearly pleased without herself as she told us to sit down and whisked into the kitchen.

She came back with salad plates holding steamed artichokes. And she brought little dishes of melted lemon butter.

We were baffled. She sat down and showed us how to gently pull the leaves off and scrape the tasty bits off with our teeth. My sisters and I had a blast dipping in the butter. My parents seemed to think it was fun to enjoy their artichokes and to watch us having a big time. Eventually, we got down to the choke. She showed us how to scrape off the fuzzy part and cut the heart into bite sized pieces to eat the best of the artichoke.

When we had all finished, she whisked the plates and artichoke debris off the table and banged around in the kitchen for a couple of minutes. Then she brought in bowls of Campbell’s soup and a plate of peanut butter and honey or jelly sandwiches (which was a fairly usual lunch for us).

I looked at my soup and said,”I’m not complaining about the meal. Soup and sandwiches is great. But, it’s kind of anticlimactic after the artichokes.”

She almost looked sheepish and said, “I rarely see fresh artichokes at the grocery and when I do they usually only have 2 or 3. The other day they had 5! One for each of us. So, I got ’em. And if you ever find yourselves faced with one, you’ll know what to do with it.”

So, that’s my mother.


Baked Potato Day

Saturday, we had Baked Potato Day at work. Usually, we have our breaks and meals whenever we can fit it in to whatever we have to get done. But, sometimes, we eat together. LabCorp feeds us 2 or 3 times a year for some festive occasion, like a Winter Holiday between Thanksgiving and Xmas. There will be something around the 4th of July. They do a meal during National Medical Laboratory Week. And last year, Amy was pregnant so we did a little baby shower. And we, sometimes do birthdays if we think of it.

It always makes us cheerful on the days we have food together. The days when Nick picks up our LC meal from a local restaurant are nice. But, the times when we all make food to share are the best.

Last weekend was Amy’s birthday and next weekend is Zack’s birthday. So, we celebrated both of them on the Saturday in between. I don’t remember who thought of baked potatoes. I might have been me. It might have been Nick. Night shift has done something like this in the past, so it wasn’t original.

Nick went by Wendy’s on his way into work around 5:30 PM. I made chili. Amy brought steamed broccoli and crumbled bacon (not in the same bowl). Michelle made an Italian Love Cake. Marla is brought 6 kinds of cheese. Zack brought Salsa.

Victor was very puzzled by the whole thing. He has only lived in the US for 5 and a half years and baked potatoes just haven’t been on his list of foods. He said the only way he has ever had a white potato is slices with boiled eggs on a sandwich with a sauce. What his wife finally decided on was an appetizer of shredded vegetables (eggplant, red bell pepper, potato, and tomato) that was a delicious topping to a potato. (Victor is a lovely man, but Zena does all the cooking.)

I posted on FaceBook when we started planning this a month ago and then, again, on Ello, asking “If you are having a baked potato, and you don’t have butter or sour cream to put on it, but you do have your favorite (other) potato topping available, what goes on the potato?” I was told

1. cheddar cheese, (with chives)

2. chopped garlic,

3. salsa,

4. olive oil, raw garlic, and a little Parmesan,

5. Ranch dressing,

6. malt vinegar,

7. ketchup,

8. yogurt,

9. salsa, cheese, broccoli

10. DARK brown sugar “It’ll melt into molassesy goo & get down into all the nooks & crannies you made fluffing it up.”

11. guacamole

12. cottage cheese

13. mustard

14. A-1 sauce

15. Marinara/tomato sauce, cheese of any kind, gravy…. Now that I think about it- anything that I would also put over pasta.

16. ghee, salsa and black beans, cheese, cottage cheese

17. honey mustard

18. soy sauce

19. Sesame butter and hot sauce

20. roasted garlic mashed in and chipotle infused olive oil…a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

21. Shredded cheese is #1 but I have tried ranch, blue cheese, and garlic as well. And of course BACON! I think that for our little get together we should sauté some garlic to mash in there.

22. Cheese, bacon, sautéed mushrooms… Or, you know, gravy.

23. Pesto

24. Sauteed mushrooms and onions

I want to get a bag of potatoes and start working my way down the list.