holiday spirits

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Mostly, the name of this post is appropriate because I started the weekend with a Friday night rendition of wine club and ended with a whole lot of Christmas prep. For wine club, my friend Martine made the most delicious chana masala (Smitten Kitchen has a similar recipe here, but Martine added way more than a teaspoon of most of the spices, including cardamom, but no amchoor powder), and we all tried to bring a wine that would pair well with it. I wish I could remember the name of mine, but it was a viognier blend that was great and we drank it all. And isn’t this the coolest bottle ever (below)? We didn’t even end up opening this one, but it was from Trader Joes and enormous.

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My family has always cut down our own Christmas trees, so it’s no surprise that even in D.C., I make C come with me to cut down my own. No, buying one pre-cut at the farmer’s market is not the same. For any D.C. friends, we went to Butler’s Orchard this year, and it was very easy (you drive right up to the lot, grab a saw, find your tree and then they shake the tree, wrap it up and tie it to your car for you. We went to Homestead Farms last year, which I love for pick-your-own fruits, but Butler’s had a much larger selection (but was a bit pricier).

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I love looking at other people’s Christmas trees; don’t you? We listened to my epic Christmas playlist while decorating the tree and the apartment. My favorite Christmas albums are Elvis’ Duets, Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas, and Now That’s What I Call Christmas! 3. What are yours?

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to spend a Sunday afternoon, perfectly

WC and I spent Sunday afternoon at the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival at Bull Run Park in Centreville, and it was definitely worth the ride out of the city. We bought the tasting tent tickets, but we had the most fun going from tent to tent trying (and buying) wines from the vineyards themselves …

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TO DO: start a wine club [check!]

Shortly after moving to D.C., my then-colleagues and I decided to start a book club. We thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company, loved drinking wine together, but had a book-completion rate of about 40 percent (I’m being generous). It’s not that we didn’t love reading; we just preferred chatting over good wine. So we turned our book club into a wine club, and now meet monthly to celebrate the grape (except for our exotic fruit month, when we celebrated blueberries, pomegranates, pineapples and other non-grape wines). On Monday, we had our first wine club seder (my first seder (:) and enjoyed good wine and great friends.

[wine + my photographic obligation = a camera with an empty memory card, so I trusted my old Canon to my friend, Katie, who snapped these pictures. Check out her awesome blog, The Eight Hour Project.]

TO DO: monticello wine trail

Yesterday, taking advantage of the end of spring break, I whisked WC and Teddy Roosevelt off to central Virginia to visit the Monticello Wine Trail. We visited several wineries, Thomas Jefferson’s home and a fantastic BBQ joint, and we stayed overnight at an adorable dog-friendly bed & breakfast on the trail.

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TO DO: wine up

Soon after moving down to D.C., a few of my friends from the office and I started a book club. It only took us a couple of months to realize that we were looking forward to the camaraderie and wine more than reading the books (oops). Our book club quickly turned into a wine club, and we meet monthly to share different themed wines. Last week, we had a fruit-themed meet up and tried delicious peach, blueberry-pomegranate and pineapple wines. Tomasello Winery, which makes the delicious blueberry-pomegranate wine we tried, makes several different fruit varieties, like blackberry and cranberry, that I’m now dying to try.

I also fell in love with Wellspring Creamery’s cranberry orange goat cheese at our get-together, which I promptly bought at Whole Foods and used in my omelet this morning. Yum!

[psst: Check out my friend Katie’s blog for pictures from past wine club meet ups]

if you like pina coladas (then you’ll LOVE this wine)


A few years ago, a friend went to Hawaii and brought back the most. amazing. white wine. ever. It was light, not too sweet, not too oak-y, just perfect. And impossible to find in the continental U.S. I was living in Boston at the time, and I went to every liquor store throughout Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Government Center… everywhere. Every time I traveled, I would walk up and down the aisles of the local liquor store like a raging alcoholic in need of my fix. I was just looking for Maui Blanc! I even considered buying it online and paying the exorbitant shipping price to ship it up to friends in New Hampshire (you cannot ship alcohol to Massachusetts). But, alas, I went without. Until last week, when I walked into Cleveland Park Liquor and Fine Wines and saw it on display for $15 a bottle. Amazing. Seriously, if you live in northwest D.C., it is worth the trip to CP Liquor to grab yourself a bottle. It will be your own little tropical vacation in January.

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The Theme: warming up with winter reds

The Menu: Total comfort food: a smorgasbord of cheeses, tomato soup, grilled cheese with Udi’s gluten free bread and cranberry cheddar cheese, homemade chocolate chocolate chip cookies.