wine : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

Shadow Cutters

The hard work on my Macro Photography skills continues this week with a theme of “lit by candlelight.” A week ago when this challenge was announced, I was like “pssh, easy peasy.”

Turns out shooting by candlelight has been anything but. Sunday night I did a whole round of photos with a few objects and although candlelight is certainly beautiful, the photos I shot just weren’t working. The photos were…dull. Not interesting. They didn’t give me that excited feeling to share.

Then The Good Man opened up a bottle of wine and put out some cheese and garlicky crackers. That really seemed to lubricate the creative gears. Half a glass in, I had an inspired idea. I grabbed my copper holiday cookie cutters out of the kitchen (not that I have made any holiday cookies this year, but that’s a topic for another time) and got to shooting.

Turns out candlelight casts really great shadows. I’m now pretty happy with the results. The top photo is my entry this week in the Macro Mondays challenge. The black and white was just for fun.

Whew! This is three weeks in a row I’ve managed to produce a new Macro photo for Monday’s event. It’s harder than it looks!



©2017, Karen Fayeth, all rights reserved



©2017, Karen Fayeth, all rights reserved





Met The King In Paris

The other morning I woke up a little fuzzy-tongued and slightly headachy. As I groaned and lifted myself up from the mattress I thought “now why in the heck is my head throbbing?” Then I blamed my pain squarely on the two glasses of wine I’d had with dinner the night before.

It was a brand I had heard some good reviews about. The grapes came from California’s central coast. I learned from a wine tasting class that the central coast’s warm foggy weather is better for whites and blah blah blah just give me some wine.

While this particular purchase wasn’t a cheap bottle it also wasn’t an expensive bottle. Nice enough to have with a homemade summer dinner, possibly nice enough to take to a friend’s house for dinner, but nothing to give to the boss for holiday cheer.

For me I judge wine not by its “nose” or its “legs” but by my head. If I feel a little like my brain was extracted and cotton stuffed in, then I know it’s not a good wine. If I have my usual one to two glasses and feel good enough to go into work without the assistance of copious amounts of coffee, then green light, that bottle is welcomed into my home.

So as I pondered fuzzy brain, I thought about what wines have given me the worst headaches in my life.

Well, of course, bar none was an evil bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 shared with my roommate in college. It was her idea and a fantastically bad idea. Cheap. Horrible. And I had the shakes the next day. Bad.

But….

I also got an awful headache the next day from sharing a top notch bottle of Dom Perignon with coworkers as we celebrated a huge success over dinner. I had, yes, two glasses of the stuff and it did quite a job on my head.

In the early days of my career, there was a C-level executive who invited a select group of employees to a holiday dinner. He took us to some very exclusive Bay Area restaurants and made it a point to order the most expensive bottles of wine on the list. On three occasions I was invited to these events and I drank wine massively out of my price range. Bottles I couldn’t even look at without the help of a wealthy Fortune 100 executive. Some of those bottles were the most amazing wine I’ve ever had. Some were rather rough around the edges.

I suppose it just is a matter of taste, not cost.

Oh, and while the Mad Dog is probably my worst ever experience, I wouldn’t actually call that wine. The worst bottle of actual (i.e. unfortified) wine I have ever consumed came into my life just over a year ago. I was in England on extended stay and I decided to buy a bottle to have with takeaway food in my hotel room. I went to the local Tesco and picked a bottle that came in around £15 (about $20). On that day I chose a South African sauvignon blanc. I’d never had an African wine so I thought that was cool.

Well, my love affair with South African wine was a brief one. That stuff was rough. I had a glass and a half and felt wobbly in the knees all the next day. The next evening I decided to try it again, got about two sips in and poured over half of a bottle down the drain. : shudder :

Life is too short.

So while all of this may sound like wine snobbery, it really isn’t. It’s just a matter of what tastes good and doesn’t cause physical pain.

I’ve been to the top of the wine list and suffered. I’ve been to the bottom shelf and suffered. I’ve been to the top of the wine list and enjoyed. I’ve been to the bottom shelf and enjoyed. It’s all a matter of personal taste I suppose.

So to wrap up my semi-wine snobby post, I’ll conclude by saying I’ve also met the King (of beers) in Paris (Texas) and had a nice time, too.








Image found here.




Live From Under The ‘Over

There is no such thing as ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’ sangria. Sangria is a party drink designed to get your guests drunk really cheaply.

— Damian Corrigan, About.com Guide

Well, what Damian lacks in tact he makes up for by being right. Isn’t truth the best defense? Yes, I think so.

I found this quote when I Googled “how to make traditional sangria” because all of the sudden I have noticed that sangria has become cool. Except, the sangria they are serving in bars and restaurants these days cost $15 a glass and doesn’t taste right. It has become something hipster and these children are tinkering around.

What happened? No one knows how to make sangria right anymore!

In the folds and recesses of my mind, I remember someone’s mom or abuela telling me “Oh, Sangria is easy, just buy the cheapest sweet red wine you can find, pour it in a pitcher then cut up a bunch of fruit and drop it in there and let it sit for a couple days.”

That’s it. That’s how I recall it being told and that’s how I recall sangria should be made. Sweet, fruity, and inexpensive. It takes a few days to make it right. Land of Mañana. A little slow and easy on a hot summer day.

These days bars make “sangria” on the spot, mixing some red wine, some other hard liquor (brandy, vodka, rum or in the case of a restaurant in San Francisco, I swear it’s everclear) and tossing in a couple orange slices.

It doesn’t taste right. It wasn’t given time to do what good sangria should do.

I remember as a child, my mom confiding in me that the best sangria she’d ever had was at La Tertulia** in Santa Fe. I remember dining with the folks and all the adults at the table seemed to love the stuff, like kids and Kool-Ade.

Later as an adult I got to give a pitcher of La Tertulia’s nectar a sip for myself, and by god mom was absolutely right. Ab-so-loot-lee. Mom knows her sangria.

So all this sangria angst was dusted up because over the weekend while at my local Trader Joe’s, I picked up a bottle of Maria Ole Sangria that had been touted so highly in the sales circular.

I put that bad boy in the ‘fridge to get nice and cold and last night on a really mellow evening, I cracked it open and poured some out.

It was pretty terrible. Really terrible. I finished the glass and decided to give it a chance. Sometimes crappy wine needs a second glass. That’s my theory anyway. Second glass didn’t do much to improve this swill.

Very disappointing.

And the worst of it? Today I am slightly hungover. Not in a big way but in that “shoot, I drank some crappy wine last night” and now I’m mad. Good old fashioned aged sangria is usually mellowed out enough that it doesn’t hurt the head.

This new era of not really sangria not only hurts my head, it hurts my heart.

____________


**Sadly, La Tertulia is no more. I shall always remember their indian tacos and their sopaipillas and yes, their delicious sangria. *sigh* Pour one out for a NM institution…..











Image found here.




Dealing with My Affliction

As mentioned yesterday, last week at work included a roomful of auditors which meant that we not only had to be on our best behavior (for a whole week!!), but we also had to entertain these auditors for the duration of their stay.

When my Boss Lady informed her very own team of minions that we were each expected to attend a dinner with the full audit team, I replied, “But I don’t wanna eat dinner with auditors!”

Not to one to be easily swayed, she replied, “Well you’re gonna!”

And so I did.

Wednesday night last week we went to a local, popular and well Yelp-ranked dining establishment. It is an old warehouse converted to an eatin’ place, as is so hipster cool these days.

I found myself seated right next to one of the auditors, a pretty decent guy from Chicago. Conversation was formal and challenging at first. We were both very guarded.

The fare at the restaurant was simple and good. Not great, but got the job done. Thankfully they had a nice wine selection which helped lubricate the conversation over dinner with a bunch of stilted business folks.

At the end of the meal, and full of enough wine to matter, we were all chatting like old friends. As plates were cleared, dessert menus were plopped on the table in front of us. Since it was a busy night in the warehouse food place, the waiter asked us to share dessert menus because they were running low.

Chicago and I leaned in to look over the selection of sweet treats to end the meal.

Since I’ve had to concede that I actually *do* have lactose intolerance (despite all my best attempts to ignore it and pretend otherwise), looking over the dessert list has become a bit more difficult than has been in the past.

I have to be more thoughtful about my choices.

“So, what are you thinking about having?” Chicago asked.

“Well,” I said, “I’m not sure. Maybe that berry crumble?” He looked at the listing then sat back in his seat and sighed.

“Berries not working for you tonight?” I asked.

“It’s just that…” he faltered. “You see, it’s served with ice cream. And I was recently diagnosed with lactose intolerance.”

“You too!?!” I asked, way too over-excited to find someone else with my gastro intestinal dairy related woes.

We lamented together. He told me that he really misses milk, especially a big glass of cold moo juice with a stack of chocolate chip cookies. I lamented the loss of a late night cereal snack. I told him I’m using almond milk these days and he shook his head, “Yeah, that’s ok. Not like the real stuff though.”

“Yeah,” I couldn’t help but agree. “And I miss ice cream. Oh, wait!” I said, then dug around in my purse and withdrew four Lactaid packets. Enough for us both.

So we both got sort of happy and turned back to the menu and looked again. “Maybe that ice cream…” he said.

It was my turn to sit back with a thud. “As I am sure you have also discovered, Lactaid is an imperfect solution. I don’t know about you, but it helps a little, but not that much.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. And then we both looked sad.

Then Chicago reached out and turned over the menu to the coffee and aperitifs section. “You know,” he said, “We could solve this problem by skipping dessert and having a glass of port.”

My eyes widened and I said, “You. Are. Brilliant.”

And so we did. Two glasses of ten year tawny port were ordered and consumed and I felt nary a tummy rumble after.

Later, without even knowing it, The Good Man was also pleased with my choice.

Because lactose intolerance doesn’t just trouble the afflicted. No, it impacts loved ones too.

I guess I’m learning to live with this terrible, awful affliction.

Good thing I still tolerate wine okay. *grin*








Image found here.




You Think Apple Maps Are Bad?

“My current home address is 200 meters north of the Pizza Hut then 400 meters west…” says San José Mayor Johnny Araya

As I’ve documented here on this little ol’ blog, in May of this year I spent a week of my life in San José, Costa Rica.

Having been reared in New Mexico, the Land of Mañana, I am not unfamiliar with the more laid back ways of Latin culture.

But even to me, Costa Rica was a bit of an eye opener.

People walk down the center of major roads and cars accommodate this.

Buses stop on the freeway to pick up passengers who wait between two lines painted on a guard rail. The bus drivers shout “¡andele!” as it’s not really a stop as much as a fast roll (I rode the bus in San José, an experience not soon forgotten).

If a dog happens to trot out into a major road everyone laughs and says, “¡Ay, perro!” as they stop and wait for the hound to find it’s way through. (Costa Rican’s LOOOOVE their dogs)

And directions? Forget about it. After growing up in Albuquerque with well marked roads laid out on a grid, I always carp about California’s lackadaisical approach to marking roads and exits.

Compared to Costa Rica, California looks perfectly well organized. The roads in CR go all over the place and everyone just seems to know how to get there. Thank the god (my Costa Rican employee’s favorite expression) that my Tico minion drove me everywhere because I would have been utterly lost.

And let me tell you…Google maps don’t know nuthin’ about how to navigate San José.

So this evening while winding down with a nice glass of red, I smiled when I saw this headline:

San José, Costa Rica to install its first street signs

However, it wasn’t the headline that made me grin. It was this quote from the article:

“I don’t think it’s going to work”, 29-year-old taxi driver Manuel Perez said. “If a tourist tells me to take him to a hotel in whatever street, I’m going to say ‘you’re speaking to me in Chinese,’ because I don’t know where that is. I need a landmark.”


That is so the essence of my beautiful, magical, insane as the day is long but also kind as the day is long Ticos.

By the way, the cab drivers in CR are THE BEST. The running dialog I’d get during rides was priceless. You can’t buy that kind of entertainment.



These were my most favorite road signs in Costa Rica. They mean “give way” and were posted everywhere, on every corner and road and driveway. No one ceda’s the paso to ANYONE. These signs might as well say, “have a nice day” for all the good they do.




Image from Wikipedia and used under Creative Commons.




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