Deep Sea Tasting Room of Santa Barbara

Beautiful isn't it?

Last weekend I was itching to go on a mini adventure, so I grabbed my mom and went on a day trip to Santa Barbara. We went pretty much without an agenda and decided to see where the wind would take us.

It was a gorgeous day to be out. The sun was brightly shining and the sky was so clear and blue. We were taking a stroll along Sterns Wharf when we saw a big banner for wine tasting, and of course that got me really excited. A closer look revealed the “Deep Sea Tasting Room” right on the pier! With a name like that how could you say no? We decided to check it out and that turned out to be a great decision.

The wines were pretty good, but it was really the breathtaking view that made all the difference. The tasting room is on an elevated level which makes it feel like you’re on the upper deck of a cruise ship (all without the motion sickness and wobblyness of a real ship of course!). At $10 for 6 tastings this experience is a steal! Their award winning 2008 Deep Sea Chardonnay and 2008 Rancho Arroyo Grande Zinfandel were my personal favorites.

Cheers!

Enjoying the sea breeze and wineries

We spent the rest of the day walking around then watching the sunset. It was a lovely day and I wish I could do it all over again!

Next time you’re in Santa Barbara visit the Deep Sea Tasting Room! Hopefully you’ll have as wonderful of a time as I did :)

Deep Sea Tasting Room
217 G Stearns Wharf
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
 

When Will YOU Choose to be Happy?

Source: sayingimages.com

For the last few months my life hasn’t been what I want it to be. I hated my job. I hated that I let the office bully walk all over me.  I hated that I forced myself to smile when all I wanted to do was yell. I hated everything.

My life just sucked.

Then I came across the following quote:

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it. – Groucho Marx
 

Source: reumomtoid.blogspot.com

Aha! I realized that I had a choice, and just knowing that I have that control has made all the difference. From that day on I decided not to be miserable.

I decided to let my inner child out more often.

I decided to tell myself that I am beautiful and loved every day.

I decided to do random things with people who bring me joy.

I decided to do more baking and not care about getting fat.

I decided that I would go to work because I felt like it and not because I had to.

Most importantly, I decided that I decide.

Life is too short. Choose happiness!

She's my BFF. Aren't we cute?

How to Host a Victorian Tea Party

Sandwiches, Scones, and Tea, Oh My!

My first high tea experience was at Harrods in London back in early 2011. If you know anything about Harrods, you will know that this set my expectations quite high! Last week I decided to have my own Victorian tea party, and I wanted to share some pictures and tips in the hopes that it would give you some ideas if you would like to host one as well.

Enjoy!

1. The Decor

Your table must be visually appealing. I decided to accomplish this with freshly cut flowers from my backyard.

The Place Setting

Roses From My Garden

Try Adding a Bow to Your Vase!

2. The Scone

As you probably know, the scone is an essential part of English tea. The ones you see below are delicious cranberry-orange scones, and the recipe can be found at food.com.

Cranberry-Orange Scones and Raspberry Jam

3. The Sandwiches

Tea sandwiches can be your chance to experiment with culinary creativity and mix interesting flavors! Below are the four tea sandwiches I served my guests.

Salmon and Cream Cheese Sandwiches (Sprinked with Dried Dill)

Chicken Salad with Cranberries & Walnuts

Sliced Pear and Brie Cheese Sandwiches

Dried Fig and Honeyed Goat Cheese Sandwiches

Colorful labels for your sandwiches are helpful for your guests, and red or pink rose petals make the overall food presentation more lively!

Mmmm!

4. The Dessert

This portion can vary based on your preferences which can depend on your time constraints, baking skills, etc.

Clockwise: Walnut Pastries, Coconut Cookies, French Truffles, Yogurt Pretzels, French Macarons; Center: Walnut Tart

5. The Tea

Ah yes, good tea is integral to any Victorian afternoon tea. After all, with the tea is where it all began! It is a good idea to be well-rounded with your teas and have one black tea, a green tea, and an herbal tea:

Cup of Earl Grey

My Cute Owl Teapot Filled With Orange Blossom Herbal Tea!

Blooming Flower Tea (Green Tea)

So next time you’re wondering what to do over the weekend, throw a fancy tea party! Your friends will rave over the delightful afternoon you prepared for them. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and thanks for reading :)

Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno 2008

Classy and Flavorful!

I was looking for a nice Italian wine when I came across the Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno 2008 from Marche, Italy. You might look at the long exotic-sounding name and think “Wow this must be a fancy schmancy expensive wine”. Except it wasn’t. For $8.99 this wine is a steal!

Rosso Piceno is a red wine blend made from 70% Sangiovese and 30% Montepulciano, both which are the two most harvested native grape varieties in Italy. This particular one also happens to be made from organically grown grapes!

So when I first opened this bottle of wine and tasted it, I was underwhelmed by the flatness and lack of flavor. However when I let the wine breathe (by pouring it through a nice Vinturi aerator my mother bought for me), the flavors seem to come alive and I was able to taste things that were masked before! The change was pretty astonishing and I was pleasantly surprised what a difference aerating makes on this one.

The wine starts out quite dry, and as mentioned before, letting it breathe is extremely crucial! Post-aeration this Rosso Piceno blossomed into a fruity, lively, and very enjoyable red. The flavor is fresh and bursts with personality, and it leaves a nice, light aftertaste after it has left your mouth. The lightness combined with the mesmerizing flavors really make it an experience that is flirtatious and pleasing to the senses.

I enjoyed a glass of this wine with some Pepperidge Farm jam cookies which proved to be a pairing that is truly divine. Yum!

A Match Made in Heaven!

What the Heck is a MOFONGO??

Mofongo de Camarone

Mofongo de Camarones YUMYUMYUM!!!

Mofongo. What a funny word! However there is nothing funny about how delicious that thing up there can be. This is the story of how I discovered scrumdiddlyumptiousness called Puerto Rican cuisine.

The story is actually quite simple. I wanted to take one of my dear friends out to dinner. I found a Groupon for a restaurant in North Hollywood called “Mofongos” with stellar Yelp reviews. We went to eat and I was blown away.

So here is the answer you’ve been waiting for: A Mofongo is basically a fried, mashed plaintain bowl that can be filled with beef, chicken, or shrimp and poured with a stewed sauce. The one that I ate was made with DELICIOUS spices, mashed plaintains, and was filled with lots of JUICY shrimp and olives. The plaintain also had pieces of crunchy pork rinds which made it even more nomlicious and the plaintain just soaked up all the broth to make a surprisingly delicious (probably unhealthy but besides the point) and unforgettable dinner.

We were pretty stuffed but just had to try the Tres Leches. This dessert is a cake that is soaked in tres leches (or three milks): evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. The cake was surprisingly light and not too sweet. There were moist cake pieces between layers of fluffy whip cream which made it slightly reminiscent of tiramisu. A delectable way to end our lovely dinner!

Tres Leches SO GOOD!!

Later that night I started craving Mofongos. All I could think about was eating delicious Mofongos. Could it be the beginning of a Mofongo obsession (Mofession? Obfongo?)??

I will DEFINITELY be back.

 
Mofongos Comida Caribena
5757 Lankershim Blvd North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 754-1051
Be sure to make reservations!

Sultry and Bold: The Story of the Cellared Tintara 2003 Shiraz

Can you say no? I can't.

My parents have received quite a few bottles of wine as gifts, but since they rarely drink alcohol many of these have been sitting around for years and years. A few days ago I realized that some of them must now be magnificently cellared reds and decided to go exploring in their alcohol cabinet. The one I decided to pick was the Tintara 2003 Shiraz of McLaren Vale.

McLaren Vale is a wine region in South Australia that is well known for their Shiraz. According to Wikipedia, McLaren Vale boasts 3,218 hectares of Shiraz vines and their wines are know for their “ripeness, elegance, structure, power and complexity”. After that I knew I was getting myself in a pretty awesome situation.

So now the wine. This is a full-bodied wine with an alcohol content of 14.5%. I have never tasted anything quite like this in my life. The first thing I noticed is the dryness. You can taste the bold accents of pepper and oak, which is a result of the 18 months that it spent maturing in American and French oak. There is no hint of sweetness and the flavor is POWERFUL. The aroma is slighty fruity but the taste is less so. I had to take some time to come back to reality, because this wine left me completely speechess! In other words, it was love at first taste.

Unfortunately I do not know what the 2003 costs or if it is still available for purchase. However the 2007 seems to cost around ~$15 so I would definitely be interested to see what a younger Tintara Shiraz tastes like. However if you happen to get your hands on one of these gems, you won’t regret the opportunity to be seduced by this magnificent Shiraz!

Falkner Winery of Temecula

An impromptu wine tasting trip is the perfect way to spend a long weekend, and that is exactly what I decided to do on President’s Day.

Temecula is about a two hour trek from where I live, and most of the tastings are around $10 on average. While doing my research I came upon the Falkner Winery website, and they offer 4 free tastings for two if you sign up for their newsletter! Yelp reviews also said that the place is beautiful and the wines are amazing, which made the decision quite easy.

Upon arrival I was pleasantly surprised by the inviting appearance of the entrance. Something about the warm sunshine embracing the ivy covered columns was absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately most of the vineyards were empty since it is winter and all the grapes were already harvested, but I can only imagine how beautiful the rest of the view would be around fall.

I had a wonderful time tasting their wines, which are all excellent. My two favorites were the 2006 Amante Super Tuscan and the “Hot Lips”. The 2006 Amante Super Tuscan is a medium-bodied red wine blend of 60% Sangiovese with 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc. The Hot Lips is a Falkner special mulled wine which was served nice and warm. Delicious!

So if you find yourself bored and in need of some wine, I would definitely recommend taking a trip out to Temecula to Falkner Winery. You wont regret it!