Monday, February 28, 2011

Valentine’s Wine and Chocolate Tasting at Arrington Vineyards


Even though Joe and I traveled all the way to California to drink wine, we actually have wineries not too far from us in Nashville. The closest is just 10 miles from my parents’ house: Arrington Vineyards. Arrington has definitely become a very popular destination for the Nashville area due to their beautiful grounds and tasty wines. It can’t hurt that there is a slight chance of running into one of the owners, Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn, when you visit either! Because my parents are wine club members, they were invited to a special Valentine’s wine and chocolate tasting and asked Joe and me to come along. The tasting included five tastings with matching truffles from local chocolatier The Cocoa Tree, a tour, and our tasting glass and a set of truffles to take home. When we arrived, we were escorted to the downstairs tasting bar where we encountered this set-up:


Our first wine/truffle combination was the 2009 Gewurtztraminer with the Beck’s Margarita truffle. The fruit in the wine and the slight salty citrus taste of the truffle complemented each other nicely. I’m not usually a fan of sweeter wines, but the AV Gewurtztraminer is perfect for drinking outside on the patio once summer comes.


The next pairing was AV’s Red Fox Red, their red blend, with a salted caramel truffle. The Red Fox Red is usually my pick when we go to Arrington Vineyards. It’s a very food-friendly and medium-bodied red wine that goes well with the cheese and crackers that we usually pack for a picnic. This truffle was one of my favorites because of the combination of different kinds of chocolates and the beautiful pink Himalayan salt that covered it.


I was going to have to be forced to pick between the salted caramel and the chili pepper truffle that came next. The heat of the truffle was subtle but played off the chocolate and spice in the wine.


I was excited to try the Encore, which is a Port-style wine. All of the grapes came from the estate vineyards, and while I’m not usually a fan of the Chambourcin grape, it does make a nice Port-style wine. We ended up buying a bottle for the house. This was a very rich pairing!


Being in the South, sweet wines are one of the biggest sellers. While they don’t match with my personal preferences, Arrington does a very nice job with their Blackberry and Raspberry wines. It is definitely sweet and fruity but not cloying. The truffle they were paired with was designed specifically for AV and was a nice sweet finish to the tasting.

We then got to have a little bit of some of their specialty wines to take with us on the tour. I chose to try the Petit Verdot, which had all of the smoky tobacco flavors I was craving.


Our very nice tour guide walked us through the history of Arrington, the wine-making process, the warehouse, and the bottling line while we sipped our glasses of wine. I thought it was interesting that the guide presumed knowledge of the whiskey-making process in his comparisons to the wine-making process. When in Tennessee…

We had a wonderful time, and as much as I enjoyed the wineries we visited in California, I also feel that it’s important to support our local wineries, so Joe and I will be joining Arrington’s wine club. If anything, it will give us a wonderful excuse to visit four times a year!

Note: I was in no way compensated for this post.

What did you do for Valentine’s Day?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Someday I Might Cook Again

But until that day comes, I have nothing to blog. Turns out that my last semester of graduate school is not amenable to coasting. Four demanding classes plus networking, meetings, filling out an interminable background check that needed to know about the last 15 years of my life, and trying to maneuver a placement in this diocese has led to quite a bit of stress and anxiety. Joe has been working nights, so my cooking has consisted of take-out, spaghetti, and black bean burgers. I used to know how to feed myself, right?

So, here are some random thoughts: some food-related, some not.

1. While listening to NPR this morning, I realized that my absolute ideal job, should I not be a minister, would be this lady’s job.

Terry Gross of Fresh Air. She gets to talk to all kinds of different people: actors, authors, politicians, scientists, economists, religious leaders, musicians, etc. And she gets to do it for a living! Her questions are always very insightful and interesting, as are her guests. Plus she has a great laugh. I think that one of the reasons that I’m attracted to her and her job is that it’s evident that she knows a lot about a lot of different things. As for me, I would rather have a broad knowledge in many arenas rather than a very extensive knowledge of one particular thing.

2. Somebody should write vegetarian versions of food and wine pairings. It can be frustrating to be repeatedly told that this wine would go great with chicken or grilled meats. What I really want to know is whether the wine will go well with a chickpea curry or roasted eggplant. It’s not that I don’t think meat should be included at all, but if you pay attention, you might notice just how meat-centric suggested food and wine pairings often are.

3. Things I purchased from Amazon today: a foam roller, chia seeds, and Amazing Grass Chocolate Drink Powder. I recently turned my mom onto coconut water as a more natural way of replenishing electrolytes. She thought she was getting really dehydrated from her hot yoga classes. I found Vita Coco coconut water at Costco and plan on using some tomorrow after my 10 mile run.

4. Speaking of running, after January, I set a yearly mileage goal for my running of 1000 miles. I think that it’s totally doable without killing myself or getting injured but will still give me something to aim for. So far, it’s going well, and I’m 9 miles ahead of the pace bunny.

If you could have anyone in the world’s job, whose job would you have?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Curried Lentil Soup

On Thursday, I left my homiletics class, stepped out of the Divinity School, and encountered terrible traffic thanks to the snow that had begun to quickly fall and accumulate. Thanks to the Twitters, I knew that traffic was absolutely horrible and that I probably shouldn’t attempt to go home for a while. Trying to maximize my time, I camped out in the library to work on my Ethics assignment. Several hours later, I was finished, my stomach was grumbling, and traffic was still snarled up all over the city.

I made plans to meet Kelly, also stuck in her office, at Amerigo for their sparkling wine tasting. However, when we arrived after trudging through the snow, they were closed! So, we turned around and ended up having dinner and cocktails at Rumba. We picked up a couple of other Nashville twitterers and had a lovely night while the snow fell. It took Joe two hours to go the 4 miles back to our house. Some people abandoned their cars or turned back around after 5 hours of little movement. Even still, the snow was beautiful, covering up the city. Walking around made me feel, for the moment, like I was in New York City.

While we made the best of a bad situation, I would’ve rather been at home cooking up a batch of this soup. After seeing it on the blogs of other fabulous ladies that share similar tastes with me like Erin and Beth, I put it on my menu plan. Reading through the recipe, it intrigued me that you essentially make hummus without the tahini and mix it into the soup. The chickpeas add a nice flavor and give the soup a creamy, thick quality. Don’t skip the lemon since the citrus and acidity liven up the flavor.

Have you ever been snow-bound? What did you eat or crave?


Curried Lentil Soup
source: Bon Appetit
Yield 4 servings


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) curry powder
  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 4 1/4 cups (or more) water, divided
  • 1 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
  • Preparation

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor.

  • Add chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency.

  • Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and serve with lemon wedges.

  • Friday, February 4, 2011

    Jalapeno Cheese Bread

    I loved my apartment in Houston. Sure, it was small, only 3 of the burners on the stove worked at any given time, and the management tried to gouge me when I moved out. But I loved the years that I lived there. I had a nice pool that I could sit out at nearly year-round (ignoring the freak ice and snow storms like the one happening right now), just enough space to host Easter dinner for my friends, and, most importantly, I was within walking distance of quite a few delicious restaurants. This came in handy when, for example, I had one too many margaritas on my 22nd birthday at Amazon Grill. Additionally, I lived across the street from Goode Company BBQ.


    That slogan above the logo says, “You might give some serious thought to thanking your lucky stars you’re in Texas.” And I certainly did, sitting out on the patio on a warm day with a plate of BBQ on the worn picnic tables and a St. Arnold’s beer in my hand. But the best part of a Goode Company BBQ platter was the soft, squishy jalapeno cheese bread that came with it. Certainly a step up from the white sandwich bread that is the norm at most Texas BBQ joints, the jalapeno cheese bread kept me crossing the street.

    So when our church supper club was going to meet over a pot of chili, I took the opportunity to search out a Goode Company-style recipe for jalapeno cheese bread that I knew I had seen on Homesick Texan (side note: Lisa’s aka Homesick Texan’s mother is the head of the Commission on Ministry in the Diocese of Texas, so I’m only two degrees of separation from her, and I got the scoop on the draft of her book she just turned into the publisher). This recipe pretty much hits the nail on the head, though I undercooked it so it was a touch raw in the middle. That chewy, squishy, cheesy bread with a little bit of heat would go quite well with your bowl of chili while you watch the Super Bowl. Just sayin’. And if you’re going to Texas for the Super Bowl, well, you might give some serious thought to thanking your lucky stars that you’re there.


    Jalapeno Cheese Bread
    source: Homesick Texan

    1 packet of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
    1/4 cup of warm water
    4 tablespoons butter, melted
    1 egg
    2 1/2 cups of bread flour plus more if needed
    1 cup of semolina flour (I found semolina flour pretty easily in the baking aisle. Look for Bob’s Red Mill or Hodgson Mill brands.)
    5 jalapenos, stemmed and seeded, diced (should be about a cup)
    2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated.
    1 cup of buttermilk
    1 teaspoon of sugar
    1 teaspoon of salt (can add more to taste)


    1. Mix together the yeast and water.
    2. Mix together the melted butter, egg and buttermilk and add to yeast and water.
    3. Add the salt, sugar and bread flour to the liquids and mix well. Then add the semolina flour to the dough and mix well. If the dough is too wet, gradually add more bread flour 1/4 cup at a time.
    4. Place dough on a floured surface and knead for five to ten minutes until dough is smooth.
    5. Form dough into a ball and place into a bowl greased with butter.
    6. Cover the bowl, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size—about an hour.
    7. Turn out dough on a floured surface, and slowly knead into the dough the jalapenos and cheese, a little bit at a time.
    8. When cheese and jalapenos are incorporated into the dough, place dough into a greased bread loaf pan (8-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 2-3/4). You can also sprinkle semolina in the bread pan for additional friction.
    9. Cover the pan and let dough rise until doubled in size (it should be at the top or a bit over the top of the pan)—about an hour.
    10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    11. Bake bread for 40-45 minutes on a center rack (when you thump the top and it sounds hollow, the bread is done).
    12. Let cool for ten minutes, and then slide it out of the pan, slice and enjoy!