Birthday Day

I’ve been 27 for a week now. Officially in my late twenties but I think I can still get away with ‘the end of my mid-twenties’.

I’m only posting about my birthday now as I got a whole week of celebrations. Half day from work on Wednesday, long bank holiday weekend and an Italy planning dinner last night.

On my actual birthday I had to get up and go to work, but Danny drove me and we stopped off for an iced vanilla latte so I guess that was okay. Work has been slow lately but no one wants to spend their day at work. I finished up on the dot at 12:30 and Danny picked me up again to take me out to lunch.

We went out to Central Market which opened last fall but since I hibernate over the winter I hadn’t heard of it until now. We snagged an outside table and prayed for the clouds to stay away.

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They did! I got oysters to start and a chicken sandwich with bacon jam for my main. And prosecco of course! There was a cupcake shop across the street for dessert and then I headed home to change and get ready for our evening.

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A few weeks ago I bought a voucher for a 4 course meal at Chardon D’Or and this seemed like the perfect time to use it. The restaurant was really nice but very quiet as it was a Wednesday. Very fancy as well. I felt like I had to whisper the entire time as to not cause a scene! Service and food were great though.

Before dinner we headed to Limelight for a pre dinner cocktail. Their cocktails span the decade and I choose the Aviation, which was invented in 1915. So good. I’ve recently discovered that I love gin cocktails so this was perfect. We also cracked open a bottle of Tolosa for the celebrations and I was very happy to wake up clear headed the next day. Guess I’m not getting too old!

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This is why we can’t have nice things

Interesting weekend.

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Pros:
– Went out to lunch at Brel for a pot of mussels and a glass of wine.
– Had a wee pub crawl around the cute West End pubs while it snowed outside.
– Met up with some friends afterwards for the Scotland v Wales match.

Cons:
– Lost my camera lens cap.
– Lost one of my J.Crew leather gloves.
– Lost my dignity.

Combine that with the fact that I lost my favorite purple glasses on the flight back to Glasgow and I am starting to feel like I shouldn’t be allowed anything nice! I would usually leave my expensive camera at home if I was going out drinking, but we hadn’t planned to stay out beyond lunch. I actually think I lost the lens cap on the walk home when I took the camera out to take a million pictures of the freshly fallen snow. Upon second viewing, so not worth it! They’re all orangey and out of focus. I’m not sure what happened to my glove but it’s not shown up at any of the pubs we were at so I must have lost that outside as well. I need to start wearing Primark when I go out drinking, I’m a hopeless case.

Not worth the ยฃ5 for a replacement cap.

Not worth the ยฃ5 for a replacement cap.

The day out was a celebration for my entry back into the working world. I start back on April 2 and funnily enough, I start back at my old job. Yep, same company and same position as the contract that ended in December. My old VP saw my CV floating around the internal job bank and because of a few people leaving and a shift of workload, they need me again! Strange how the world works. Looking forward to my next week of freedom from a job and job hunting.

Wine tasting in Paso Robles

Paso Robles is fast becoming a well known California wine destination, second only to Napa/Sonoma. There are many wineries spread out from the 101 and in order to get the best experience, focusing on one area is key.

Danny and I had done the 46 West a few years ago, so this time I wanted to take him to some wineries around the 46 East. However, this in no way means we’ve “done” the Paso region now. As you can see by the map below, there’s so many more to explore! I can’t remember what winery imparted this fact, but the wine from either direction of the 46 highway each has its own characteristics due to the soil. The 46 west side does great Zinfandels while the 46 east side does better Cabernet Sauvignons. I love Cab and not a big fan of Zin (too jammy, too sweet and cloying at times) so I was in for a treat!

We started at Clautiere Vineyard which has amazing wines, whimsical grounds and a fun tasting room. They’ve gotten rid of their assortment of dress-up hats and wigs but added a cheese pairing with each tasting, so I still love them!

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Clautiere does mostly reds which is right up my alley. We tasted some delicious wines and ended up buying a Grenache and my dad a Cabernet Sauvignon. The girl pouring for us was so nice and personable, and recommended some great places for our next stop. Tasting room pourer – what a job!

First though, we had to take some pictures outside. One of the owners is an artist and constructed the metal fence and sculptures around the property.

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Our next stop was Pear Valley. They’re a fairly new winery with a gorgeous property. I’ve never been to Tuscany but I imagine it looks a bit like this.

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We had so much fun at this place! Danny ended up purchasing a bottle of their Sweet Orange Muscato for this mom. I’m not a fan of sweet wines but this was pretty good. Don’t think I could manage more than the few sips they pour for tasting though.

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Since it was a Thursday a few of the smaller places were closed, so we ended up next at Steinbeck Wines. This winery couldn’t have been more different than the last. A true farming family, their business has been around since the late 1800’s but they’ve only recently started their own label.

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This winery was true county and Howie Steinbeck himself wandered into the tasting room for a chat wearing Levis, a big cowboy hat and a bolo tie. Got to love Paso!

Our last stop was Eberle Winery. We tasted pretty quickly here as we wanted to get a full glass to enjoy out on the patio as the sun set.

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Eberle means small boar in German. My dad also says that wild boar roam the local hills. We may or may not have seen some on the drive to Paso.

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My dad soon found a friend who would not leave his side. Danny, my mom and I were trying coax him over to us, but nope, he was staying put!

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We ended the day with cheese and crackers, a must with all the wine we had consumed that day!

Valentine’s Week

Danny and I have been a bit naughty this week. Even though we just got back from holiday, we’ve been out for drinks or dinner three times. We need to buckle down and be good for the next few weeks – I need to find a job, for starters!

Tuesday night was the Celtic v Juventus game. Celtic sadly lost by 3 points so they have little chance of advancing to the next round in the Champions League. We went to O’Neills in Merchant City, which was packed of course. Absolutely no room to move around and a constant danger of getting a drink spilled on you. I had two vile glasses of red wine (when will I learn to not order wine at a pub?) and ended up with a headache the next day. It was good to see friends though and we ended the night with a Indian garlic chili chicken pizza. Cannae beat it!

On Valentine’s Day we hemmed and hawed about whether to go out or not but finally decided on dinner at Roma Mia – a cute family run Italian only 5 minutes from our flat. We’ve been there before, but I appreciate it so much now that we’ve been to Rome. It really does feel like you’re in Italy at this place. I got buffalo mozzarella with rocket and tomatoes to start and pasta puttanesca for my main. Danny got shrimp ravioli to start and some sort of special with sausage and tagliatelle for his main. Dessert was chocolate! A whole box to myself as Danny’s cutting out the bad stuff from his diet.

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Friday night we met some friends in town for a few drinks. We had originally planned to just meet at Wetherspoons and then head elsewhere after one, but we ended up there until closing time. I think it was mostly to do with the fact that we all had seats at ‘spoons and didn’t want to give them up and stand in another crowded bar. I had wine of course, but Wetherspoons serves drinkable wine so it was all good. We ended up having a great night – good conversation and a lot of laughs.

Soooo, this weekend has been a quiet one. Grocery shopping, Netflix, and some coconut chicken curry in the slow cooker for tonight.

 

I used the above recipe but added a lot more garam masala, more curry powder, ginger and more vegetables in the curry itself. To be honest, I think it’s going to turn out better than the original – I mean, who puts carrots in a curry?!

Edna Valley Wine Tasting

One of my most favorite activities EVER is wine tasting. Not only do I love wine, but my hometown’s local wineries are full of memories and make me feel like I’m truly at home. Growing up with vineyards and wineries practically in my back yard I always took this for granted. As a teenager I was dragged on countless wine tasting trips when relatives were in town and had nothing more to do than browse the gift shop. But I think those pre-legal years were slowly influencing me because once I turned 21 I was a full convert. Wine tasting is like a posh pub crawl – it’s fun, it’s perfect for any occasion and there’s no gross bar bathrooms to deal with.

I’ve been wine tasting with girlfriends on Valentine’s Day, wine tasting for pick-up parties with my dad and I even organized a pre-wedding wine tasting day for 20 people from around California and Scotland. Every time I come back to the States, wine tasting is definitely on the schedule.

This year, we took an afternoon to hit our favorite Edna Valley wineries and then took another day to drive out to Paso Robles and explore the wineries off the 46 East.

Edna Valley is home to one of my favorite wineries, Tolosa. Edna Valley’s climate is conducive to great Pinot Noir and I think Tolosa’s Pinot is the best. We went on a Saturday so they were quite busy, but we kept ourselves occupied with the photobooth while waiting. I had trouble locating the camera both times and my dad wasn’t fully in the shot, but we got there, sorta!

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After Tolosa we continued on to Claiborne and Churchill. They’re known for their Alsatian style whites although we ended up buying more Pinot Noir and a very cool wine grape varietal chart that’s going up in our kitchen. It looks really classy but it’s basically a scientific periodic table for winos.

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Fun fact – my dad built this winery. It was one of the first straw bale buildings and naturally insulates the room to keep the wine barrels at the optimum temperature.

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Our last stop of the day was Baileyana. We quickly tasted here as they were closing for the day and then my mom and I went outside to photograph the area. It’s so beautiful there. I miss it. I miss it more every year I’m gone. I’m not ready to hop back on a plane to California tomorrow but I know it’s in my plans for the future.

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