Tag Archives: drinking

Long time, no blog

I know the “too busy to blog” excuse is getting lame.  But it’s true.  I was hoping to write some proper blog posts, but since some of you like lists (shout out to Harley Quinn– I loved your last comment!), I figured I’d save myself the trouble of actually having to write anything.

In the last week and a half or so I:

  • Witnessed masked Mexican wrestling in Chicago.  It was awesome.
  • Tasted cucumber-flavored candy.  It was awful.
  • Learned that you really can’t just miss your connecting flight or your entire ticket is invalidated.
  • Re-booked my ticket.  Twice.
  • Got hit on by a Greek waiter in Chicago and a Mexican bar patron in Minneapolis.
  • Spent entirely too much time on Sporcle.  Finally learned the correct spelling of Kazakhstan.  It comes in handy.
  • Ate some killer Malaysian food in MPLS.  Heard a great (albeit very broken) story about a fire in a Malaysian place in Chicago.
  • Witnessed and responded to an on-the-job accident. Not real common in my line of work.
  • Learned I like tamales.
  • Congratulated a friend on her recent engagement. Yay Keem!
  • Almost forgot, and then lost, and then found my journal/notebook.
  • Saw Star Trek. Loved it, despite zero familiarity with the original.  Reminded me a lot of Star Wars, actually.  And Lost.
  • Met (and held!) another newborn baby.
  • Picked up a new nickname (which I’m trying HARD to not let stick).
  • Ran my second 5K, less than a month after my first, with no iPod. After being gone for a week and out drinking the night before.
  • Mowed my lawn immediately after the 5K.  Bad idea.
  • Learned that I was selected to be a Nielsen “family.”  I can’t wait to report my 2.5 hours of TV watching a week.
  • Improved my ability to ride public transportation.
  • Received a comped dessert because dinner took so long.  Waited about 20 mins for said dessert.
  • Had multiple weird conversations about weight loss.  Including one that started with “I hope you’re not offended, but…”  Um, no, not offended!
  • Took a photo next to a statue of Mary Tyler Moore.
  • Met a friend’s new boyf.
  • Spent Mother’s Day with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law. Against our advice, my mom insisted on having it at her house and making all the food.
  • Ran in Chicago.  Gave unsuspecting motorist directional advice.  Felt really bad afterward.
  • Attended a baby shower and graduation party.
  • Received invitations to two other baby showers.
  • Witnessed teachers literally FIGHTING over free books.
  • Engaged in some tipsy shopping.  Bought books and a belt between happy hour and an awesome wine-fueled dinner.

Things I haven’t done

  • unpacked
  • watched last week’s Lost
  • slept, at least not much

30 Days of 30: Last Hurrah in Chicago

Even though my 30 days of 30 were supposed to end on my birthday (Feb 2), my college friends had planned a party/reunion in Chicago for the following weekend.   My friend Lindsay flew in from Virginia and my sister-in-law Jo and our friend Ron drove up with me to celebrate.

Friday night–

Jo, Ron, Kyle, Kenny, Kenny’s girlfriend Sascha and I went to the Cobra Lounge to see some bands play.  Kenny knew the bassist/guitar player of one of the bands and the lead singer of the other band, so that was pretty cool.  It was a decidedly “heavy/alternative” venue, but the music was more punk, so I’m not sure how the regulars felt about the bands, but we had a good time.  

We also played Rock Band at Kenny/Kyle’s house where I got my very first “perfect” in singing.   (Granted, it was on easy,  but a perfect’s a perfect!)  “Celebrity Skin” by Hole is now my official go-to Rock Band song. 

Saturday–

Due to a late evening and the fact that the boys’ apartment is like a cave, we slept REALLY late that day.  We finally got up and went to “lunch” at Giordano’s around 3.  It was good.  Not great, but decent.   Then, since Jo hadn’t seen many of the tourist-y parts of Chicago, we walked around for a bit:

Me, Jo, Ron in front of the skating rink at Millenium Park

Me, Jo, Ron in front of the skating rink at Millenium Park

The Bean

The Bean

Kyle and I in front of the Art Institute

Kyle and I in front of the Art Institute

Saturday Night– PART-ay!!
The party/reunion was held at Moe’s Cantina in Wrigleyville.   Ron T. organized everything and he did a great job.  He was always the social director in college, too and he didn’t disappoint.   Moe’s was a nice, big, open bar.  They served tapas and gave us a great drink package w/o having to guarantee a minimum number of people.   I highly reccomend it.
 More importantly, though, it was great to hang out with so many old friends– some I hadn’t seen in years!
The PRSSA crew: (back) Nikki, Lindsay, Tommy, Me, Buddy.  Front:  Ron T and Janell

The PRSSA crew: (back) Nikki, Lindsay, Tommy, Me, Buddy. Front: Ron T and Janell

Same crew, different camera

Same crew, different camera

My 'home' crew (with the exception of Sascha):  Sascha, Kenny, Ron, Me, Kyle

My 'home' crew: Sascha, Kenny, Ron, Me, Kyle

Nikki, Me, Buddy:  Self-portrait time!

Nikki, Me, Buddy: Self-portrait time!

Jo and I (note the yummy-looking skewer)

Jo and I (note the yummy-looking skewer)

Jo and I "sampling" said skewer

Jo and I "sampling" said skewer

It was a super fun weekend and there are plenty more stories/pictures to share, but I’ll leave it at that.   It was a perfect way to turn 30.
** This now concludes Carichblogs’ coverage of the 30 days of 30.  Really.  This time I mean it**

30 Days of 30: By the Numbers

Those of you paying close attention may have noticed that the 30 days of 30 technically lasted only 29 days (Jan 5-Feb 2).  There were also a couple of unclaimed days in there, but I filled them by hanging out with my mom and a co-worker.  

BUT… the 30 days aren’t really over yet.  When this blog goes live, I’ll be in Chicago for the finale, so I’m counting my party on Saturday as the 30th day.

If my calculations are correct, here are some other interesting numbers about my 30 days:

60– Number of people I celebrated with this month.* 

36– Number of locations– 16 restaurants, 11 bars**, 1 bakery,  1 arena, 1 bowling alley, 1 movie theater, 1 out of town location (Galena), 1 shopping center, and 3 private residences.  

The most common location for 30 days activities was Bunny’s, followed closely by a tie between Crane Alley and Boltini.   This is notable because I probably haven’t been to either of these places much in the past year, but I really like them.  Houlihan’s and the Courier were the most popular non-drinking establishments. 

6– Number of places I’d never been before: Galena, Bridget’s house, La Gourmandise Bistro, The Brass Rail, The Sandwich shop (whose name I’ve yet to look for), Cakes on Walnut.

14-  Number of different activites: lunch,  dinner, drinks, dessert, Illinois game, bowling, LOST watch, movie, snowboarding, Superbowl party, live band, book club, story teller, trivia

15– Number of times I went out for lunch

13-- Number of times I went out for drinks

6– Number of times I went out for dinner***

2– Number of times I went out for dessert.  Again, notable because I rarely go out just for dessert.

2– Number of Illini games watched**** (one at the Assembly Hall, one at Bunny’s)

2– Number of things I’d never done before:  go snowboarding and listen to a professional story teller

0– Number of pounds I’ve gained.  Seriously. I definitely feel fatter/less healthy, but according to the scale, my weight is the same.

I don’t even want to think about the number of drinks or calories I consumed.  Thank goodness I didn’t have this “by the numbers” idea earlier or else I really would turn into the guy from Supersize Me. Lol.

More importantly, though, I’m amazed at the number of things I was able to cram into one month… and the number of people I convinced to “play along.”  It was really a great experiment and I’m glad I did it.  I highly doubt 31 days of 31 are in my future, though :)

In case you missed them (or just want to relive the fun), here are the weekly recaps:

——————-

Notes on the Methodology

*Includes only people in “my party” and does not include repeats (i.e. if I had lunch with Lisa one day and happy hour another, she is only counted once).

**For this purpose a bar is defined as a place primarily for drinking whereas a restaurant is an eating establishment.  I chose to count them based on why/when I was there.  (i.e. Farren’s is a bar/restaurant, but I was only there for lunch, so it gets counted as a restaurant.)

*** This number is probably lower than it should be.  I counted an event as drinks if drinking was the primary purpose of the activity (i.e. happy hour). It’s more than likely that dinner was also consumed.

**** Again, possibly artificially deflated.  There may have been an Illini game on during a happy hour that I did not record as a “game watch”

30 Days of 30: Week 4, Part 2

Here’s the play-by-play of my actual birthday weekend:

Friday– Although I’d been drinking since Tuesday, I officially kicked off my birthday weekend with  Happy Hour at The Esquire with work peeps.    I was impressed by the turnout– Leslie, Steve,  Janet, Lisa, Paula, Paula’s Husband, Dave, and Andrew all came out.   Peggy was also there and came over to wish me a Happy Birthday– right before the first shot!!

It was Leslie’s day and she bought me a “Birthday Princess” Tiara (pink–which matched my shirt)  and a shot glass necklace (which matched my bracelet).  Here I am modeling my new gifts:

bday_tiara

After Esquire, we went to Bentley’s.  Lisa’s husband’s band was playing there, so we had to check it out.  Here’s a shot of “the girls” at Bentley’s:

bentleysAnd me doing my first “shot” out of the shot glass necklace (note: it’s a shot of beer… this is after a Rock Lobster/Red Lobster shot at Esquire)

beerWe drank a little more and then I headed home. It had been one hell of a week and I knew I had more festivities planned.  It was a great night. I really love my work friends.  Another successful “meeting” on the books!!

Saturday– 

Since Friday was a relatively early night, I was able to get some things done around the house on Saturday.   When I went to check my mail, I got the COOLEST SUPRISE… my mailbox was FULL…. of CARDS!!    At first I thought it was a mistake–that my doctor’s office or vet and accidentally sent me multiple cards or something.  And then I noticed that there was the same handwriting… on each of them.  And no return envelope.  

I tore open the envelopes and discovered that Tracy, Cynthia, and Julie had sent me 30 cards… for my 30th birthday!!    And all of them were different.  Yeah, they had to get creative a couple times… turning a “birthday boy” into “birthday girl”  and “congratulations” into “congratulations, you’re 30″ but it was great!   Coolest idea ever.

stack of cards--before they were opened

stack of cards--before they were opened

 

cards on display

cards on display

Saturday night was the big bowling extravaganza.  Once again, I was thrilled with the turnout:  Cory/Bobbi, Lindsey/Luke, Steph/Drew, Kim, Red, Jeff/Erin and the kids all came out.   And we had a BLAST.   I actually won the first game (well, on my lane) with a personal high of 122.  Yes, 122 was my personal record AND the winning score on my lane.  We’re clearly not professionals!   It was such a fun night and I have TONS of pictures (some I took, but mostly taken by Macie and Elyce).  Here are some highlights:

 

Circle Girls

Circle Girls

Cory and the chicks

Cory and the chicks

 

Red and I... fine as hell

Red and I... fine as hell

 

the obligatory self-portait

the obligatory self-portait

After bowling it was off to Rock’s to meet up with some boys.   They were there for a UFC fight, which –honestly– sucked the life out of me, but once it was over, the party was on!!    

 

Kfish showed up

Kfish showed up

And so did the Siemsens

And so did the Siemsens

 

Drew)

Clennon and Drew stopped by for a drink (Not pictured: Drew)

A SUPER fun night with many of my very favorite people!

Sunday–  Superbowl Sunday!!!   I gotta admit that after such a long week/weekend, I was a little spent.  I went to a Superbowl party at Ron’s and had a great time– good food, lots of drinks, lots of laughs.    We watched the game, got out the 3D glasses during the commercials, the boys played poker, etc.   But after the game was over, I CRASHED!  It wasn’t time to go home yet, so Ron let me sleep in the back room while everyone else continued hanging out.  Turning 30 will do that to you.

Monday–  My actual BIRTHDAY!!   I took off work, lounged around the house and hung out with Kyle most of the day.   We didn’t get going until after 2 in the afternoon, so we just had a late lunch and went to the mall.  OMG– I couldn’t believe how many stores have closed at the mall.  So sad.  After lunch, we piddled at the bookstore for a bit and then I went to O’Charleys to have dinner with my mom and he met his mom and step-dad for dinner.  

Since I had a late lunch, I wasn’t hungry and just got a side salad and a slice of chocolate (dare i say “birthday”) cake for dessert.   It was PHENOMENAL and HUGE!!  My mom got me a bunch of much-needed gift cards and my brother sent up a  “SO IL” hoodie.  It was perfect.

After dinner, I met Kyle back at my house and we went to see The Wrestler.  I liked it a lot… it was pretty much exactly what I expected. Plus, it had a killer late-80s hair metal soundtrack.   Shopping, eating, a movie– what a perfect day to spend my 30th bday.

So, folks— there you have it.  The 30 days of 30 experiment fully documented for your reading pleasure.   The 30 days aren’t officially over yet, though.  I’m heading to Chicago for the last leg of my birthday celebration.    I hope you all have enjoyed following my little experiment.

30 days of 30: Week 4, Part 1

I know this post is a bit late, but hey– I’ve been busy.  I’m doing the final week re-cap in two parts.  Look for part 2: The Weekend soon.  And there should be a couple more 30 days posts next week.  And then I’m done… promise :)

Monday–  Officially slated as an “off” day, I’m giving this one to my co-worker Kara.  We took a much-needed Jimmy John’s break at lunch.  Plus, her day kinda got usurped later in the week, so it all works out.

Tuesday–  After dinner at The Courier, Lindsey and I braved blizzard-like conditions to attend Tuesday Night Trivia at Boltini.   Let me tell you… it was hard!!  At one point we were going for “funny points” and even those were getting rejected.  When we wrote “condoms” as the answer to a word riddle, the announcer said:

 “Just FYI– the letters don’t actually spell anything… it’s just the next letters in the sequence.”   Uh, we know.   We just didn’t know the letters.  We were trying to be funny.  D’oh.

Needless to say, we didn’t win… or even stay for the whole thing.  But it was fun and we’ll definitely do it again.  In the summer.  With a much larger group!

Wednesday–  I was triple-booked on Wednesday.  I had a lunch date with Jacelyn (my co-worker), plans with my friend Doug, and plans to watch Lost with my co-worker Kara. 

I knew I couldn’t do it all, so Kara joined Jacelyn and I for lunch at a new sandwich place in Urbana (on Race, across from the Courier… I’ll find out the name).  The food was good, but it was clear that they were just opening.  I’ll go back after they’ve had a chance to get their feet wet.

After work, my friend Doug picked me up (and helped clear my driveway–thanks, man!) and we went to 7 Saints.  As you may recall, this is one of the places I hadn’t yet been, so I was excited to go.   It didn’t disappoint.  It was actually fairly crowded for a Wednesday night and of course we ran into people we know– a mutual friend of ours and then a co-worker of mine and his friend. 

Doug is a Republican, but we managed to hang out for at least 3 hours w/o getting into any fights… a pretty successful night in my book ;)  Oh, and thanks to all the “practice” I’ve had lately,  I managed to drink him under the table.  Thank goodness he was driving!  I didn’t make it home in time to watch Lost,  but it was okay.  A perfectly lovely evening.

Thursday– Another day of multiple bookings.  First it was lunch at Dos Reales with Jennifer (aka Red).  Red is my BFF from high school and even though we’ve stayed in touch over the years, we don’t always get a chance to hang out, so it was super nice to sit and chat with her. 

Thursday night was officially Tonya’s night.  We decided to meet for drinks and were trying to decide where to go when  Cory said he was going to Bunny’s to watch the game  (The Illini game– remember that horrible loss to Minnesota?  Yep, that one!).   So, off to Bunny’s it was– for the nth time this month! 

It was super fun, though.  Bobbi came out and Cory’s friend Harper was there.   AND… the Illiniettes.  We had a great time making fun of their drama.   No, not nice, but fun nonetheless.   And I convinced Ron to come out later, after he got off work and we had already had multiple buckets.  Maybe not the best idea in retrospect, but it was a good time.  

 One more work day until the Birthday Weekend Extravaganza.

To Be Continued . . .

30 days of 30: Week 3

I’m almost on the home stretch in my 30 days of 30.  Here’s how week 3 played out:

Monday–   Drinks at Boltini with Scott, Kurt & Charlie.  I was drinking Pear Gimlets, which I fully intent to re-create at home with the Pear vodka I got as a gift.

Scott got me a book of T.S. Eliot poems to help me with my resolution to appreciate poetry.  Kurt photocopied a poem for me later in the week, too.  Books are some of the most thoughtful/personal gifts you can give someone, especially if it’s something you enjoy. I’ve been reading the poems before I go to bed and I’ve certainly gained a better appreciation for the craft.  

Food Note: I highly recommend the goat cheese crostini and the pretzel “fondue.”  Not your average bar food, but oh-s0-good!

Tuesday–  Dinner with Kelli D. at Olive Garden.  Kelli is a childhood friend of mine.  We recently re-connected and through the magic of facebook we stay in pretty close contact. But it was nice to see her in prson for a change and to get an update on her kids, work, etc. It was her first day going back to working nights after being off for a long time, so I’m glad we were able to hang out, even for a little bit.  

Wednesday– Dinner and drinks at Flat Top with Bridget.   She got me the coolest Juno card.  It speaks the line about being cool w/o even trying when you open it.  Awesome!   We then went back to her house for the LOST premiere.  We’re both huge fans and it was nice to watch with someone as crazy, er, dedicated as me!  I also got the opportunity to meet her super-cool boyfriend and their dog Oscar.  Fun night (once we figured out how to open the wine bottle. lol.)

Food note:  We didn’t have dessert at Flat Top, but the guys next to us had some sort of molten chocolate/ice cream concoction.  It looked soooooo good.  I never have room for dessert when I go there, but it might be worth a try.

Thursday–  This was officially Erin’s day since we missed our date earlier this month.  I had lunch with my besties– Steph, Erin, Kim at Houlihan’s.   Including me, this represented half of the email circle, so I guess you could say we had a quarum.   It’s never a dull moment with those girls and I love them dearly.   

Friday– Bobbi and I had planned on going to see The Dark Knight because it was allegedly going to be re-released in the theaters this weekend.I even held off watching it on DVD because I was excited to see it on the big screen.  But apparently it’s not playing here.  So Bobbi, Cory, and I did our usual Friday night happy hour at Bunny’s.  I met their friend Jamie, who was super nice. It was fun and low-key and just what the doctor ordered!

Saturday–  Because of the (relatively) early Friday night, I was uber-productive Saturday during the day.  Then I went to Fat City to celebrate Kristin and Muffy’s birthdays.  It was good to see everyone, but I think I might (gasp!) be getting a little sick of the bar scene.  Shocking, I know!

Sunday–  No one had signed up for today, and I was okay with that.  Cory and I talked about maybe going bowling, but decided to wait for another day when more people could come.  

I stayed in bed reading until noon.  My mom came up to deliver my computer desk (a  Christmas present that was still at her house!), we went to lunch and I’ve been reading, writing, and messing around online ever since.  So, I’m officially marking this day on my 30 days of 30 calendar as Cari day!

My best of C-U list

Inspired by this post from Whitney Matheson (of PopCandy fame), I was thinking about all the things I’d miss about C-U if I should ever leave this town.    

So here, in no particular order, are my personal picks for the Best of C-U.  For most of these, I’ve linked to the official site. Where none were available I linked to the listing on yelp.  I love yelp, btw. You should check it out.

Best happy hour bar:  Esquire
Peanuts, beer, and homeade pineapple margaritas–what more could you ask for?  (Plus, they put me and my friends on their web site!)

Best last call bar:  Tumble Inn
The only bar on the list I’ve been going to consistently since I was 19.  (Okay, 17–but don’t tell anyone).  It’s a bit of a hole-in-the wall, but it has improved in recent years due to the smoking ban (and the smoking-ban inspired “beer” garden).   Tumble Inn… Stumble Out, always open late. (yet, curiously, they don’t have Red Bull… for that you’ll have to go to The Phoenix, nearby)

Best beer deal:  Bunny’s
You can get a bucket of 5 beers for $10.  Can’t beat it with a stick.  Speaking of sticks, Bunny’s also gets a shut out for their Bosco sticks.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Bosco stick, it’s a breadstick stuffed with cheese and then deep fried.  Horribly unhealthy, but delicious!

Best beer selection:  The Blind Pig
Hands down.  There might be isn’t a larger beer selection anywhere in C-U, and the Pig wins for atmosphere. 

Best nachos:  Guidos
I’m kinda picky about my nachos and Guidos never disappoints.

Best lunch spot:   It’s a toss up between The Courier Cafe and Farrens.

Courier– Skinny dippers, milkshakes and salad bar.  Great atmosphere.  Courier gets the award for Best Breakfast, too.
Farren’s-- Home of Farren’s Fridays, I adore their Kobe Burger, tacos, and daily specials. 

Best pizza: Jupiter’s
Thin, crispy and great sauce, Jupiter’s (downtown) is the best.  Jupiter II creeps me out.  
Honorable mention: Papa Del’s.  Jupiters wins because I prefer thin crust, but if you’re in the mood for a deep dish pizza, the Del is the best.  (Note: this is my Best of  C-U list… if you’re willing to go a few miles South, I highly recommend the original Monical’s in Tolono.)

Best ice cream– Custard Cup
 Duh.  Okay, so it’s custard, but why would you go anywhere else?  Unless, of course, it’s closed.  Then you can go to Cold Stone or whatever.  But only until Custard Cup opens back up.  Seriously. 

Best cockails:  Boltini
I highly recommend the Bellini-tini from Boltini  (say that  ten times fast!)

Best sandwich– Chicken pesto at Crane Alley

Best wine selection: Friar Tuck
I especially like how they list the wine ratings and “best value” wines.  I’ve never been disappointed.

Best wine tastings:  Sun Singer
I enjoy their little cafe and bar area.  You don’t really feel like you’re tasting in a store .

Friendliest wine staff: The Corkscrew
Although I buy most of my wine at Friar Tuck and I go to more tastings at The Sun Singer, I’ve always found the staff at The Corkscrew to be incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.  Plus, I needed to show a little Urbana love. 

Best place to see a show:  The Highdive
I know, I know, the Canopy Club is bigger, but I like the openness and set up of the High Dive better.

Most anticipated bar re-opening:  Fat City 
I spent a great deal of time at this bar in the old days.  I hear they’re re-opening on Friday.  I cannot wait!

Best place to take a date: Radio Maria

I recently had this discussion with a bunch of guy friends.  Although we couldn’t come to a consensus, Radio Maria was mentioned most often.  Other top selections include:  Cafe Luna (now apparently called just ‘Luna’), Milo’s, and Bacaro.  Kamakura is also fun for group dates.

Best chicken strips:  The Boomerang  
Honestly, I haven’t been there in years, but their chicken strips are phenomenal.  Honorable mention:  Rocks

Best sushi:  KoFusion
Is there any other choice?  It’s also fun for a swanky after-work cocktail. Or three.

Best way to spend a Saturday in the Fall:  Tailgating before an Illini football game

And so you don’t think I spend ALL my time eating and drinking:

Best place to buy gifts:  Art Mart
Go there.  There’s lots of cool stuff from stationary to jewelry to lotion to household products.

Best bookstore:  Pages for All Ages
If I’m needed something cheap, I’ll buy from Amazon.  Otherwise, it’s Pages all the way.  Support local bookstores! 

Best way to spend a Saturday morning in the summer:   The Market at the Square
Call me crunchy, but I love strolling through the various vendors, buying locally grown produce and bread.  Its close enough that I can walk… and right by my gym so I can fit in a workout afterwards

So, those are my picks.  Do you agree?  What have I missed?

San Antonio Stories, Part II: Eating and Drinking in Alamo City

One of my favorite parts of traveling for work is the opportunity to try out new restaurants in great cities across the country.  I really enjoy researching various places and trying to find somewhere interesting to go.

By far, my favorite restaurant of the trip was 20nine, a wine bar in the Quarry Market district of San Antonio.  (The Quarry Market is essentially an upscale strip mall.)  20nine is named after California Route 29, which goes through the Napa and Sonoma valleys (it also happens to be my current age, as Lisa pointed out).  Since it’s been a few years since I’ve been to wine country, I was interested to see how a California-style wine bar would translate in Texas.

I was not disappointed.  In addition to wines by the glass and by the bottle, we had the opportunity to try various flights of wine.   The flights were grouped by varietal (Chardonnay, Merlot, etc.) or by region.  I chose a flight of spicy reds from Chile and Argentina to begin with.*  The server brought them to the table using this really cool carrier and each wine was accompanied by incredibly amusing tasting notes.

wineflight

tastingnotes1

[photos courtesy of Lisa. She likes to take pix of food.  We make fun of her, but it comes in handy when trying to spice up a food blog.  And, yes, these are white wines and I had red, but I didn’t take the photos. Beggars can’t be choosers.]

We ordered cheese plates and antipasti.  They were so delicious, I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy my dinner. 

cheeseplate

antipasti

Lord, was I wrong!!  I ordered the sea bass with a side of gnocchi.  It was phenomenal.I also had some really great homemade ice cream (unfortunately I didn’t ask Lisa to take any pix–next time!) We had some other nice dinners in San Antonio, but 20nine was definitely my favorite. 

The other highlight of the trip was Bar Rojo at the Grand Hyatt, which was next to the Convention Center and across the street from my hotel.   It was pretty fun for a hotel bar and they had the best raspberry mojitos, made with real raspberries.  I bet I had 10 of them while I was there*, and each one was slightly different.  Yum!

mojito

—————————————–

*I should probably note that, although my employer pays for our meals while we’re away… drinks are on us.  I spent a pretty penny on wine and cocktails this trip.  I just didn’t want y’all to think we were pulling an Enron or something!

Music and Wine

I’ve been blogging about music a lot lately.  I’ve written about some of my favorite drinking songs, how hard it is to discover new music, and my feelings on the new version of MySpace Music.

Today, I’m going to take a slightly different approach and discuss the similarities between two of my very favorite things in life– music, and wine.

You gotta kiss a lot of frogs– and drink a lot of wine

They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs before meeting a prince.  You also have to drink a lot of wine to figure out what you really like.  Most beginning wine drinkers will emphatically state that they don’t like red wine.  “It’s too dry,” they say.  Or they don’t like the idea of drinking it at room temperature. But if you taste enough reds, you’ll realize that it’s probably not the “dryness” that’s causing your reaction. It’s probably the amount of tannin or the fullness of the wine you don’t like.  Try enough of them, and you’re bound to find a combination that suits you. 

That’s how I feel about music.  Saying that you don’t like country, or blues, or hip hop is just like saying you can’t stand red wine.  There are so many different flavors and influences in each genre, that if you listen to enough of it, you’ll probably find something you like.   I don’t care much for contemporary country (you know, the stuff they play on the radio), but I like a LOT of alt.country and southern-rock bands.  And although I despise the sexism and violence in a lot of rap songs, there’s something about the rhymes of Eminem and Snoop Dogg that really resonate with me.  

A refined palate

By tasting a variety of wine, you can start to get a feel for what you like.  Personally, I prefer bold, full-bodied reds with some spice and not a lot of fruitiness.  Knowing this, I can go into any wine shop and get a good recommendation.  Same is true of music.  I have a general idea of what I like, but I’m always on the lookout for something new and unexpected. 

But the problem is, there’s not really a music equivalent to the wine shop guy to help me with my choices. Here’s where my friends, family, and (to a lesser extent) the Internet come in.  I need other people to be my surrogate wine guy to “turn me on” to different artists.

A Perfect Pairing

One of the true pleasures of wine is learning to pair it with food.  It doesn’t have to be as complicated as people make it out to be.  Red wine goes with red meat.  White wine goes with white meat.  Light-bodied wines go with light food, fuller-bodied wines pair well with heavier food.  Spicy wine + spicy food = heaven in my book! 

Just as there’s a wine for every dish, there’s music for every occasion.  As I’ve mentioned before, when I’m in a bad mood, I like loud, angry music. When I’m needing calm, I like mellower music.  Sometimes when I’m feeling bad I like to wallow in it with sad tunes (my old roomate took away my Air Supply CD for just this reason) and sometimes I’d rather put on some upbeat tunes to cheer myself up.  I can’t really think of any occasion where music detracts, rather than enhances, the experience.

The combination of music and wine is unbeatable.  Whether it’s a glass and the iPod at home or a grand piano at a swanky wine bar, nothing says relaxation quite like some good vino and some good tunes.

I’m Thinking Of…

My friend who lost his dad…  He was only 60 years old. An alcoholic, but a good guy.  And his mom died years ago.  Now my friend doesn’t have *any* parents.  What’s that like at 29? I mean, my MOM still has a mother.  Yeah, she has Alzheimer’s and is in the hospital right now.  But she’s still alive.  Shit, my DAD still has a mother  and he’s almost 65.  Why does my grandma get to live until she’s 90 while this guy’s dad kicks the bucket at 60????

What’s it like being 29 years old and an orphan?  Especially when you don’t have a very close relationship with your sister?  As a side note, my brother just said: “and it’s not like he’s close to his sister.”  That kinda made me all warm and fuzzy inside.  Like my bro realizes what we have is special.

Back to what I’m thinking of. Mortality. Death. The futility of life.  But, it is what you make of it, right?  I don’t want to turn out like that poor soul.  Alcoholic and alone.  But, what am I right now?  Alone and drunk with 3 dogs running around and my *mom* delivering me Taco Bell!  Is that pathetic?  

I don’t usually sit around drinking by myself, but I figured I had nothing better to do.  Does this mean that in 11  years my kids are gonna find me passed out in a diabetic coma?  Are the papers gonna get my survivors’ names wrong?  What will my legacy be?   Let’s hope it’s not this.

Wow… that’s some deep shit.  All because of drunken web surfing.