Tag Archives: robert fulford

DRINK RECIPE: THE TIDAL WAVE

17 Jun

back again by popular demand is our weekly drink recipe by ROF.  if you are headed out to a sporting event, sitting by the pool, hanging out on the lake, this one is for you.  recipe is below the video.  enjoy!

 

the tidal wave: makes 2

1 wheat beer

2 shots of vodka

3 oz limeade or lemonade

squeeze of lemon

mix all together and pour in two glasses over ice.  garnish with lemon.

NATIONAL GIN DAY!

10 Jun

let’s celebrate with a GIN GIN drink recipe from COCKTAILS WITH ROF!

 

1oz dry gin like Bombay

1oz gin liqueur

Juice of 1/2 lime

2 slices of peeled cucumber

3-4 fresh mint leaves

Splash of ginger ale

put all but ginger ale in a tall glass and muddle it (smoosh it with a muddler), pour over ice, top with a big splash of ginger ale and garnish with a slice of cucumber or lime.

Enjoy!

drink it: blood orange martini

29 Oct

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hey!

happy saturday night.

watching the cubs game (sniff), drinkin’ this spooky blood orange martinis with my girls – amy & ruby.

dropping a huge steak on the grill.

life is good.

i hope this finds you well.

happy halloween + go cubbies!

MAKE IT:

  • 1 shot vodka
  • ½ shot limoncello
  • ½ shot ginger liqueur (expensive, but you’re reuse making this)
  • 1 – 1½ shots fresh squeezed blood orange juice (found them at Central Market)
  • ¼ shot simple syrup (make it here or buy it!)
  1. Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add ingredients and shake well. Make sure you make a face while you shake and hold the shaker like i do.  That’s just for fun.  Strain in a martini glass that you’ve filled with ice and water to chill and then throw it out before you pour the drink in.
Original recipe from cocktailsdrinkrecipes.com

making martinis

20 Aug

and you thought you knew how to make a martini…🍸

throw around words like “dirty”, and “up” with confidence.

by popular demand, here’s ROF’s martini making magic for your drinking pleasure!

listening to this now… detroit playlist

9 May

who am i kidding?

i’ve been listening to these songs for the past two months straight, not just now. they aren’t for everyone.  which is just how i like it.  i do believe i’ve worn ROF down playing them as much as i do.  i see some head nodding and wavy hand motions if he thinks i’m not looking.

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the music i love the most is stuff that could be the background music for my life.  just press play when i get up.

this particular mix is called detroit because i commute so much up there and stay at my cousins house out in rochester hills.  i get up super early and head out on 75 to make my way downtown.  after getting my flat white at starbucks, i press play and tear off for the motor city at 6:30am.  this is what i listened to in my headphones headed north.  i love this mix. especially spells by cannon.  <sigh.>

what is going through my head while listening to this is that i’m not actually driving down beat-up 75 at 6:30 in the morning.  i’m lounging by an infinity pool in mexico or i’ve got my feet in the sand in belize.  this is playing over the speakers.  it’s breezy and cool.

but now that i’m back in dallas for a week, i play it by our pool and think of detroit and 75 and early morning flat whites.

best flank steak recipe

23 Dec

need a “go to” steak recipe?  this is it.

i call it the “girlfriend steak dinner” because it’s what ROF served his girlfriends if they made it to date #4.  i know this because one saturday while we were visiting in his kitchen (let’s call this date #5), his friend came over and asked if ROF had fixed me “the famous flank steak yet.”

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huh?

ROF’s face turned a shade of red i hadn’t seen before as he tried to shrug the comment off and grab his friend in a head lock to shut him up.

the previous weekend ROF had indeed fixed me this famous flank steak recipe along with his butter noodles and some nice red wine.  evidently this is what lover boy did to pull out all the stops for his lady friends!  i’m glad that those lady friends now are my mom, sister and his wife!

well, here it is.  transcribed from a handmade and passed down cookbook.  you can’t go wrong.

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ROF’s GIRLFRIEND FLANK STEAK

2 tsp unseasoned meat tenderizer

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp dry sherry

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp accent seasoning (see photo below, in case you don’t know what i’m talking about)

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honey (to drizzle on steak)

  • pierce surface of flank steak at 1 inch intervals with sharp fork.
  • combine ingredients except honey
  • put steak in pan flat and drizzle with honey on both sides
  • put steak in large baggie and pour ingredients over steak and let stand at least 1 hour at room temperature
  • grill meat over high heat for about 5-7 minutes on each side (use a timer, flank steak is bad when well done!)
  • slice with sharp knife into thin slices carving at an angle against the grain

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IMG_5122518b32b3aeeca5f0762bea7edb0fee8ffor more steak ideas from ROF, click here!

4 perfect cocktails: the gin + tonic

27 Mar

from the desk of ROF:

straight gin “smells like pine needles and tastes like hair spray”.

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that being said, i think i was hooked after my first one.  when i fix a gin + tonic in a heavy, cut glass, i feel as if i’m transported to a swank party in london.  it’s just such an english drink.

<side note: while dictating this blog to me, we just got in a riff about gin brands.  ROF said that hendricks was not a proper gin brand but if i wanted to listen to miley cyrus or katy perry and drink it, that was my prerogative.”  just thought i’d note that>

when i think of gin, i think of my grandfather, HB,  telling stories of buying good bathtub gin from chicago to take to the indy 500 during prohibition.  he said the last two years of prohibition – 1931 and 1932 were wilder than any of the 98 indy races in history.  i would have liked to have seen that.  i have continued to attend the indy 500 – this year will be my 30th.

i’m a fan of the original, old-school gin brands like tanqueray or bombay.  when it comes to making gin + tonics, you may wonder why a recipe is even needed.  the ingredients are pretty easy.  but it’s all about the perfect g+t.  the right amount of gin, the right tonic and cutting the limes just the way you like it.  my dear friend emma, bar manager at the original bob’s chophouse in dallas, showed me a technique 10+ years ago that i still use today.

get:

premium gin/bombay sapphire

fresh, unopened canada dry tonic

plenty of ice

fresh cut lime wedges

short, heavy cocktail glass

martini shaker

do:

fill your glass to the top with ice.  add 4-6 cubes in the bottom of the martini shaker. pour 2 oz of gin into the martini base.  add 3 splashes of tonic.  with the lid off, take a bartender spoon/stirrer and briskly stir the drink in the martini shaker base.

do not put top on martini shaker and shake it.  you will have a disaster on your hands!

squeeze a wedge of lime over the glass filled with ice.  place wedge on rim of glass.  pour contents in martini shaker into glass.

this, like the margarita we talked about here and the martini we talked about here is also a sipping drink.  enjoy!

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4 perfect cocktails: #2 the martini

8 Mar

like the margarita, the martini has many great memories for me.

at an early age, i always thought the martini glass was chic, hip + intimidating, all at the same time.  as a teenager and in my 20’s, i used to watch clips of the rat pack and james bond – always with a martini in hand and thought there was something cool about it.

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i can remember a boss i had when i was 30 telling me:  “even if you don’t drink martinis, you need to know how to make one.  if you’re entertaining clients, you won’t look like an uncivilized buffoon. right at that time, i decided that if i was going to make one, i had to actually drink one first.  i went into st. pete’s dancing marlin one evening (one of my regular spots) and pete asked: “RO, what can i get cha?” i said: “a martini”.   with a smirk on his face, he asked: “what kind?”  i replied (painfully honest here) “i have no idea” and then added: “make one that the cool guys drink”.

i watched him chill the glass, mix the concoction, slide it over to me on a bev nap where i took a sip, winced and choked back to him “pete, this is nothing but a cold shot in a big fancy glass.”  he laughed, walking away and said “yep, it sure is!”.

this recipe is for my perfect martini.

gather:

stemmed martini glass//shaker with strainer//extra dry white vermouth//olives with their juice//stoli vodka//ice

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do:

take the martini glass, put 6-8 ice cubes + a splash of water and let sit and chill for 10 minutes.

while chilling, fill the shaker with ice + pour 3 ozs of stoli vodka, the smallest dash you can pour of vermouth and a splash (1/2 oz) of olive juice (this is called dirt and i like mine just a little dirty).  put the lid on the shaker and shake for 2 minutes.  kind of like this:

finish:

take off top of shaker, dump out ice from the martini glass + strain the martini into the glass (no ice in glass) + garnish with two olives.

much like the margarita, this is a sipping drink.   do not operate heavy machinery if you’ve had more than 2 of these!  but, as they say:

“One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough.”
James Thurber

by ROF

this is #2 in a 4 part series.  you can read about the margarita here

4 perfect cocktails: #1 margarita

23 Feb

every man, once he passes the beer only or the tumbler of rum (or jack) + coke phase of drinking, needs to learn how to make a good cocktail.  it needs to be one that he likes, impresses his friends + becomes a signature drink his lady friends brag about.

the first drink, that could be your drink, is the margarita.

probably the most bastardized cocktail on the planet.  i have to admit, i started drinking margaritas, probably underage, using chi-chi’s “authentic” original or strawberry margarita right out of the 2 litre bottle.  i remember a phase in college that i very much took part of drinking the infamous upside down margarita that is mixed directly in your mouth.   i remember doing this with a group of guys at our apartment and at the frat house in college.  all that was needed was a bottle of montezuma tequila + mr. boston’s margarita/sour mix.  together they cost less than $8. the bottles needed to be cold + almost frozen.  the person partaking had to sit in a chair with his head back, mouth open with a dish towel around his neck.  the “mixer” would then pour equal parts of the cold concoction directly in his mouth until his fist rose, which meant enough.

the kind of margarita i like to make now is nothing like these two i just described. 

i gained an appreciation for the REAL margarita after moving to dallas, texas in 1994.  anyone who lives in dallas knows all of the awesome mexican and tex-mex restaurants it has to offer. these are all places i love.  and their margaritas are all so different.  you gotta get the steak nachos at mi cocina and the frozen margarita in a frozen fishbowl schooner loaded with salt.  or go right now to javier’s, where i get the rojo fish and their top shelf margarita served in a stemmed blown glass goblet.  lastly, there is our beloved blue goose on lower greenville.  always get the fajita combo (god, are those good!) with their signature on- the-rocks sour margarita  in a large tumble.  it goes down way too easy.  two nights before my (+ the appreciators) wedding, we went there with my sister, Susan, and my brother in law and group of folks.   we were way over served pitchers of these margaritas but matched it with a platter of fajitas.

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after 15 + years of working on my perfect margarita that i like to serve to guests at home with a mexican meal or just on the back patio with friends and family is this:

ROF’s epic margarita

serves: 2

3 oz herradura silver tequila

2 oz cointreau liqueur

2 oz simple syrup (any brand or homemade)

juice of 4 whole limes

cup of ice

place all ingredients into a martini shaker and shake briskly for 2 minutes.   put additional ice cubes in a short waterford cocktail glass and pour in your mixture.

and as i often have to tell my sister-in-law, katie:

this is a sipping drink!

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enjoy!

ROF

until later, my friend…

6 Dec

 

 

 

read more about how special this trip is to me here or here  and now i’m going to be there!
gone-to-paris

paris: the new workout

29 May

we’re planning on going to paris in december.

 i’ve been wanting to go to paris for over 25 years.  i just really wanted to go with someone i loved.  like romantically (sorry mom.)

Amy Robert

so now, ROF is using his one week of vacation to take me there!  december may seem like an odd time to go, don’t you think?  not the spring when the buds on the trees are budding and the lovers are strolling down the Seine.  sidetracked <i hate that word ‘lovers’ by the way.  love-er.  almost hate that as much as the M word.>  

but there is a reason i picked december.  

it is the last month in the year and i’d like to lose 40 lbs before going to paris.  i better start.  that’s a lot of weight in not a lot of time.  the problem is, i don’t really want to change anything.  it’s no secret that ROF and i like the good life.  and that is what it is.  indulgence.  we like good friends, good wine, good food, good everything!  and i love living that kind of life with ROF.  but i’m going to have to tap the brakes, as they say, before paris.

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because this is my DREAM TRIP and i can’t settle for anything less than feeling great while i’m there.

so if you have some diet pointers (other than stop opening your mouth and eating good things) – send them my way.  use the code word “PARIS”.  I’ll know what you’re talking about.

toronto//travel

18 Feb

this past weekend, ROF and i scurried off to toronto for a weekend getaway.

it was my first time ever in canada and i loved it.  only 4 hours away from birmingham, michigan it wasn’t a bad trip at all.  i was glad to read my friend and  former neighbor’s great travel blog: roam & home before i went and we then knew about some restaurants and areas to hit.

we stayed at the park hyatt toronto which we do because we have upgrade points and really enjoy their hotels.  while typically i’d say to stay somewhere local – i’ve since rescinded my pov on that.  it’s nice to explore local neighborhoods and restaurants and cities and then sleep somewhere somewhat familiar.  what do you think?

anyway, at the top of the hyatt was an awesome bar.  you know the type, low lit, manly decor with great big stools and lounging couches and tables. it had a wrap around deck too.  it was there that we met joe gomes a bartender that has been at the same bar for 54 years.  we loved him and you can see his picture below.  he has been the source of several interviews and it was awesome to be able to hang with him for a while.

we went to la societe bistro on bloor street, walkable from our hotel, and had the best escargot in the world.  thanks to jeff & sherri for that recommendation.  the next day we explored a wonderful area called queen street west which is just a funky fun street with all kinds of shops and restaurants.  i kicked ROF’s ass in cards at a coffee shop there.  we also went to terroni which was absolutely outstanding.  thanks karen v for that suggestion.  we had a puzzo pizza and calamari and some italian soda and beer.  perfect for a snowy saturday afternoon.  of course, i had to snag some olive oil and marinated peppers to bring back.

we then headed back to the hotel and because it was snowing quite ferociously, we stayed in the hotel and had a wonderful dinner at annona where we could look out at the beautiful sparkly snow. the seafood risotto and the salmon were to die for!

so much looking forward to my next canadian adventure!

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change is in the air

3 Sep

by now you may have learned that ROF and i are moving…

it’s bittersweet. 

i’ve always embraced change but at the same time there is something in me that wants consistency and same-ness. there is comfort in what you know vs. the fear that comes with what you don’t.  however, i’ve discovered that fear dissipates as soon as you push past it.  then it becomes something that you know.


home is where the heart is and my heart is with ROF.  i gave my mom a sign that says on it “home is where your mom is” and that is true as well.  at least it was true for 39 of my 42 years.  however, having said that… i still do love our home.   and while i’m excited for change, i’m sad to be saying good-bye to a home that i love.  but it’s just a home, right?

i bonded with my sister in this home.  we bought it together 4 years ago and we had a lot of fun.  neither of us planned on it being our “forever house” – obviously – but at the time, we were single and looking to decorate.  and we loved to entertain.  i will forever look back on this time together with great fondness and memories.  then the house became ROF & my house!

the entertaining continues….   if i thought katie and i threw some parties, ROF and i really threw some parties.  all kinds.  small dinner parties, bigger bashes.  one of my favorite was ROF’s 40th birthday surprise party.  they opened an old bottle of tequila and things got fun from there – especially the fun with the cake designed to look just like… max.

another real memorable party was my mom’s 70th birthday party.  we had over 50 people here at our house, a band in the back yard, a mobile burger  unit in the back yard, homemade sangria and a special cake.  we had a blast and mom was so surprised.

i got engaged, married and lived happily ever after in this home.  we had an unbelievable wedding weekend in dallas followed by a brunch at our house with many of our friends and family members.  i’ll always cherish that time with ROF and all the people special to us.

i can’t wait to make new memories in our new place, in our new city.  i hope those memories have to do with first snows, cabin trips with card games and good ole mid-western fun.  but we’ll never forget the fun we had here.  whomever you are that gets this house…you’re lucky.  we all loved it!

if you are interested in this house – click here

 

eating like we were going to the chair

31 Aug

you know, i’m a little scared to admit this in public, but… it’s fun to eat.

yes, it is important to be healthy, be skinny and fashionable and all that blah blah blah boring stuff.  but it is also fun to enjoy a great meal, good wine, great company and excellent atmosphere. oh, so good!

(my dad was a lot like that)

here are some places we went to in san fran.  we got so many suggestions from some great people but time was limited.

 

tadich grill.  we heard about it here.

walking distance from our hotel on the Embarcadaro, this restaurant was about an hour wait, but well worth it.

but wait, i’m getting ahead of myself.... we actually went to the famous “house of prime rib” the night before.  i kid you not.  now, i am not a prime rib type of gal.  but i got major brownie points from ROF for taking him here.  and i enjoyed myself big time.  have to admit that i got teary thinking about how much my dad would have loved this place.  we got there early and sat at the packed bar – actually it was a PACKED restaurant.  there were many cool things i liked about this place:

1. we got to know the bartender, pete, who had been there for over 23 years.  he wanted to know all about us – where we were from, what we were doing in san fran.  he was swamped too – but really took the time to make us feel special.

2. while seated at the bar, a group of about 7 or 8 old men in suit coats walked by us – i mean they were in their late 80’s and 90’s.  all decked out.  so cool.  probably have been going there for many years.

3. a local couple sat by us and energetically struck up a conversation about the place and it was a highlight to chat it up with them and get insider scoop. 

4. did i mention i got brownie points from my main man for coming here?

 

hope you have a fantastic holiday weekend!

schwoosh, sniff, sip: our napa wine experience

29 Aug

here it comes... my disection of our dream vacation and honeymoon to san fran and napa.  we just got back yesterday!

i’m gonna break it down in several different posts because, as you will surely see, our concentration was placed in two specific places:  eating and drinking.  (is there anything else?)

ROF and i work well together.  he loves to plan and, coincidently,  so do i.  but neither of us is obnoxious about sticking to the plans we’ve made.  he takes care of the airline and hotel and i take care of the restaurants and things to do (shopping).  on this trip, ROF did an outstanding job of planning out the wineries we went to see —  and that is what I’ve chosen to focus this blog post on today.

the wineries–the drink.

first off, there are a couple of different things you can do at different vineyard’s in the napa valley.

1. there is the pop-in technique

2. the scheduled tasting

3. reserved tour

there are probably other ways to do napa valley but these were the ways we chose.

we had 3 days in napa valley and wanted to make the best of them.  

side note: ROF and i really enjoy good wine.  so this was a special treat for us to learn more about the things we enjoy.  

the first way to make the best use of our time was to get a driver on saturday.  typically, you could never see as many places in one day as we did, but because we didn’t have to drive or navigate we saw lots of places and then headed back to san francisco. at least that is the excuse we’re using.

saturday, august 25th

andretti winery:  owned by famous race car driver, mario andretti who has a taste for fine wine and food.  the building and adjoined house were unbelievable.  this was a good starting place for us and ROF wanted to go because he is a huge fan of mario and his whole family and has met mario before.  he was actually in town and staying at the house but we didn’t see him.  the shop was eclectic with food, cool clothes, books and great photographs of the family.

for the wine tasting, it was ok.  it was not very informative – just a pour and sip.  underwhelming but not bad.  glad we went but don’t need to go back

silver oak vineyard:  this is a favorite “special” occasion wine for us.  we’ve had it several times and the winery was beautiful and very busy.  kind of like you’re checking in at a hotel.  they were extremely knowledgable and nice.  gorgeous grounds and facility and as mentioned, some of our favorite wine.  they only make cabernet.  and it’s good.  real good. 

i’m starting to get used to the drill by now.  small pour, swoosh in the glass observe the color and clarity, take a big sniff and note the notes, undertones, overtones, peppery, smooth finish.  i appreciate the differences in all .

caymus vineyard:  this is my favorite-wine-ever.  i was drinking it when ROF proposed (thanks to paul & kelly!)  we watched a video on this family – the wagners – before we made this appointment and fell in love with the  family story behind this vineyard.

we arrived early and were met by a very welcoming woman who introduced herself and let us know that we were waiting for a bigger party to join us.  this was a scheduled “sit down” tasting (vs the andretti and silver oak pop in.) she gave us two glasses and asked us to sit in a reserved table outside on the beautiful patio.  she brought us a taste of wine and then a nice guy kept coming outside and filling our glasses.  the atmosphere was so friendly – and fun!

when the wedding party group arrived – of about 10 girls – we all went into a private room and sat around a dining room table. believe it or not, as we were chit-chatting (ROF was the only guy at first) we found out that the girl sitting next to us worked for the marketing arm and works in the same building as me.  hello small world.

this wine was presented to us by a passionate and smart guy who worked for the vineyard.  he gave an hour presentation of five different wines including their special select.  to me, this is the best wine in the world.  it’s so complex and every sip is delicious.  i could go on forever.

miner winery:   this was a pop-in tasting and the view was beautiful.  busy shop and the tasting was ok.  great wine and fantastic being there during harvest.  they had a glass wall where you could see the production.

stag’s leap winery:  another one of our favorite wines.  this place was a full on production and quite cool.  it was set up like a restaurant with a hostess stand.  we were a little bit tipsy at this point (the happy, having a ball kind of tipsy) and told everyone we were on our honeymoon and we got some attention.  not that we like attention.  they had barrels set up as tables inside and out.  inside was dark and they poured us some of their great wine.  we got a pretty hard sell to join their wine club but by this time we said “driver – home!”

sunday, august 26th

we were on our own having just checked out of the san fran hotel and we headed up early to napa.

pride vineyard:   got an excellent tip from dave & laura busker, our good friends from NYC about this winery.  WOW, were we happy we went.  ROF did some homework and booked a tour.  this was our first official tour (#2 above, remember).  first of all, the drive up to this vineyard and winery was UNBELIEVABLE.  it was steep and winding and scattered with houses and winerys and huge trees.

once there, it was breathtaking!  

we got paired up with 3 other couples and our tour guide – jake.  we toured the cave which is where good grapes go to turn into wine.   we had samples from stations stationed  throughout the cave.  jake was young, knowledgeable and answered all our questions.  at one point, we drank wine straight from the barrel.  we learned about how much goes into wine – so many variables:

altitude, humidity, what kind of barrel, how old the barrel, when the grapes are picked, where the grapes came from – the mountain, the valley – everything.

the pride family started this vineyard from scratch.  we would highly, highly recommend.  this was a treat!

sterling vineyards:  we pulled into the driveway here and saw the line to get in and kept driving.  drove next door to where there was no one but us!

twomey cellars:  the two words that got us in here were on the sign out front:  in the SILVER OAK family.  quaint tasting room with a friendly man who knew a lot about the wine.  since silver oak only makes only cab, twomey had merlot and pinot that was fantastic.  we schwooshed/smelled/sipped/sampled.  very glad we popped in here and by the time we left, several other people had filed in after us.

schramsberg vineyard:

background:  ROF went here 6 years ago and spoke highly of this tour and of this sparkling wine.  it has an unbelievable story with it’s beginning in 1862!  schramsberg has also played a role in world history. the blanc de blancs was used for President Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace” with China’s premier Zhou Enlai. schramsberg’s sparkling wines have been served at official State functions by every U.S. Presidential administration since. ROF was so excited to show me this place and go on our second tour.

the reality:  our tour guide stunk.  there is no other way to put it.  he was a teacher during the week and gave tours at the winery on sunday.  he talked so much i thought my legs were going to give out underneath me.  he took us into their cave and KEPT US IN THERE FOREVER!!  he poured us 6 or 7 different sparkling wines with his opinion of what went best with each one.  “this one is great with spicy tacos”.  “this one is good with buttery or fatty fish” “this one is good with chips and oreos”.  he repeated himself several times by insisting that champagne is good to drink anytime like after rush hour.  blahblahblahblah!

he drove ROF and i up a wall – or i should say out of the cave!  we finally got out of there by asking if there was a club we could join.  in which he said yes and (got the hint) picked up all of “his” leftover champaign pouring bottles (6 or 7!) and led us to the door.  we paid $90 for this tour and felt it was very unprofessional for such an iconic vineyard and american success story.  we love the product – when you see it  – buy it and drink it.  but we won’t go back there again.

and as it turns out, ROF and i had a better experience the next day – our own story – so it is ok that schramsberg experience stank.

monday, august 27th

oh no…. we’re not done yet.  you may need to go get yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of vino to finish this!

hall vineyard and cellars:  by far, this was our favorite tour of all the places we went.  this was special to us because we’ve had hall wine in dallas at some of our favorite restaurants.  also because the owners of this vineyard live in dallas and he a business owner there.  ROF has friends who have worked closely with him.  their story – craig and kathryn – is fantastic.  i urge you to read their story in the link i provided.

we got to the tasting room a little early and i have to say, i wasn’t too keen on sampling wine at 10:30 in the morning – also after having such a jam packed last two days.  i may have been a little grumpy even but i put on my smiley face and went in.  this was a private tour – just ROF and me and our tour guide, john.  as we found out – john and robert grew up only 5 miles apart from each other in new jersey.

john was the most knowledgable and interesting person we’ve met on this trip.  he said “hope you’re ready to really see it!” and he took us clear into the vineyard itself where we picked different grapes and ate them out in the field.  we saw the bottling process up close and he took us to the huge vats of wine and told us about the process of creating great wine.  this is a boutique vineyard – producing 75,000 cases a year.  he spent a good hour with us walking around the facility.  but then we sat down in the shade and he brought us a cheese and fruit platter and gave us a tasting of 5 of their wines.  we enjoyed talking with him, learning about this unbelievable power couple from our hometown and sipping some great wine.  perfect start to the day.  and of course, after the first sample of wine, i was just back in the saddle again!

we got an awesome surprise towards the end of our time there when john brought out a bottle of wine for us from a business partner and friend of ROF’s – john wilson.  what a treat!  we were thrilled to say the least.

our next appointment wasn’t for a few hours, so we had lunch and drove near a place that our friend dave anderson’s family owned off of sage canyon road and next to chappellet vineyard.  it was a beautiful drive.  ROF told me of great memories he had at this house with dave and some friends.

last, but not least, was opus one.

known to most as simply the best wine there is –  this was $80 for two glasses of wine.  typically, i won’t be so class-less about putting price in here but i had to for this.  FOR TWO GLASSES.  that is like the same as a decent scarf or something!   this didn’t surprise me, because i’m familiar with the wine, but they basically poured you a glass of excellent ’03 vintage or ’08 vintage and you walk around.  it’s just something that you have to do once.  there is also no where else in the world you can get “just a glass” of opus!  you have to buy the whole $200+ bottle.  anyway, it was a stunning, stunning place.  

well that is all for part I:  the wine.  i hope you enjoyed this – but probably not as much as we did going!  have you been to napa valley?  what did you think?

recipe-less grilled pizza

20 Jul

 ROF was not happy about the idea of grilling pizza.

 we were doing our pre-dinner ritual of playing cards when he kept saying things like:

“so i don’t get it.  how does it work?  i mean, do you roll the dough out?”

trust me, love.  look at all these recipe books that have done it – it can be done!

i have to say – on behalf of both of us – it was not good – the pizza was AWESOME.  y’all do this – this weekend!  this is what you do (not a recipe, just directions)

go to whole foods and buy pizza dough in the freezer section.  you can buy dough anywhere but i can’t then vouch for how good it is.  thaw it out in the fridge.  ours was in there for a few days – no biggie.  get your toppings together.  we fried up some onions and mushrooms from the farmers market on the stove.  might have thrown in some garlic too.  take the dough and just stretch it out with your fingers.  ROF and i did this together and (he won’t admit this) i think he had fun!  his dough turned out much better than mine.

get the grill nice and hot and oil up the grates, oil up the pizza dough on both sides and throw those puppies on!  Cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  bring all your toppings including sauce and cheese down to the grill, open the lid and after the dough has been flipped twice, go to work.  we both decorated our pizza the way we wanted it.  one way is to put the cheese on the bottom, no sauce and then throw the veggies on top.  but we used sauce.  i dropped ricotta cheese on mine.  then eat!

appreciating: family and keeping it real

9 Jul

“the strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.”  

MARIO PUZO, The Family

there is nothing more loving and more heartbreaking than the dynamics behind families.  and everyone has a story.  no family is without defect.  sure, families love to portray a perfect picture – especially around holidays or weddings but the truth is not one family is perfect.  not one – no matter how many pictures you post on facebook, your not fooling anyone.  the key here is: the goal is not to strive to be perfect.  it is in that striving that a lot of hurt happens.  you never measure up to this leave-it-to-beaver existence and it hurts.  it is only by being vulnerable about your family’s imperfections that you find (maybe) the purpose in which you probably are going through them in the first place.  to help others.  to be able to offer your learnings of getting through a particular situation to someone else going through the same thing.  you can extend words that hit home because you know what it’s like.

it is kind of like death or divorce or cancer.  if you haven’t gone through it, you don’t know.  and (please) don’t pretend you know.  and don’t offer advice.  however, if you have gone through it – your insight is priceless.  it could be one of the reasons we go through what we do.  who knows.

i remember being in my office after hours about 7 years ago.  i thought i was the only one in the office and decided to have a good cry.  my dad was dying of cancer and there was nothing i could do but be with him until the very end.  hold his hand.  tell him jokes.  tell him i will always love him.  i thought i was alone in my office but i wasn’t.  a new girl whom i didn’t know very well was there too.  her name was yareli.  she came in my office and hugged me and told me that she knew what i was going through because her mom had died in a car accident just 3 years earlier.  she didn’t tell me her whole story then and there but the empathy she showed in her action and her words told me that i wasn’t alone, i wasn’t stupid for crying in my office late at night.  i had a friend who knew how to say more than “i’m sorry”.  i will always love my friend for reaching out that night and not just slipping out or writing me an email.

it’s the same with families.  speaking of families, this past week ROF and i got to spend some extra special time with ROF’s sister, susan and his brother-in-law, mike.  susan has written some awesome articles for this blog which you can read here, here and here.  susan and ROF have a wonderful relationship that i know means so very much to both of them.  we had a blast this past week starting with the 4th of july and going until yesterday.  here is a photo diary of the past few days.

breakfast @hypnotic donuts in dallas

4th of july at the blue goose in dallas

4th of july at the blue goose in dallas

headed down to san antonio

dinner the first night – no where else but Rudy’s BBQ!

playing “tumbling tower” (or jenga) at hyatt hill country resort – awesome!

me – goofing off and playing with templates

there is nothing in the world like a loving family.  ROF and i were so thankful to be able to spend time with susan and mike this past week!

feeling appreciative

28 Jun

if you read my “bio” or whatever you call it in the upper right hand corner, you will see that i’m the appreciator because i wasn’t sure what to focus my blog on.  i started writing this for background info as part of my job – so that i would actually know how to do it.

how i came up with that idea of “the appreciator” is:

ROF and i were taking a walk through our neighborhood.  it was about a year ago now.  and as we’re walking i’m asking him what could my focus could be…because you know, you have to have a focus.  the conversation went a little bit like this:

“so i’m thinking of writing a blog” (me)

“really?  that’s cool.  about what?” (him)

“that’s the thing, i don’t know” (me)

“why do you want to do it?” (him)

“well, my CEO wants some information on writing a blog and i want to be able to say i know how…from my perspective” (me)

“ok.  well you are a good at a lot of things” (him)

“awe.  that’s sweet.  go on.  like what”  (digging for more…me)

“well, social media for one.  you love it, believe in it and know it.  (him)

“yeah.  but that’s work.  there’s more to me.  here’s the deal.  i appreciate nice music but i don’t write it.  i appreciate great design but i’m not a designer” (me)

“go on” (him)

“and i love DIY stuff but i don’t actually DIY” (me)

“and….” (him)

“and… i love photography but i don’t do it professionally.  love good food but don’t cook professionally – but i appreciate it all!” (me)

“i know” (me)

“i’m the appreciator” (me)

“there you have it” (him)

and there i had it.  so going back to the basics, here is the short list of things i appreciate.  

my relationship with God.  my Father and hard core foundation.  thank Him that i don’t struggle with “the meaning of life”.  i have it.

husband, ROF.  Sappy and all – he is whom i appreciate the most

mom & sister.  not a “given” they are built-in friends for life and beyond. soul-mates

awesome extended family.  susan, mike, mike, bill & sarah.  wonderful people whom i love being connected to (6 more days, susan!)

wonderful aunts & uncles & cousins – seriously fun people i wish we were all a lot closer

career and all the people who have supported me and taught me and pushed me to the limits (you know who you are)

career and all the people who believe in what we do and work hard to support “the cause”! (you know who you are A & S)

friends – you know who you are too

house, i never stop appreciating you

max and wrigley.  my babies.  i love you to death

flying all over the country

flying in first class

flying in first class on vacation with a bottle of red wine

playing gin with #1

cooking dinner with #1

clean cut grass

white sheets 

being organized

our new MAC computer suite (kiss kiss kiss)

massive storms when i’m with people i love or like a lot

massive storms when there is red wine involved to calm me down

colorado – feeling little teeny tiny in a land of big mountains and low valleys and knowing that man had nothing to do with the beauty

turbulence

poached eggs

the food network

mad men, damages, restaurant impossible, anthony bourdain

chevy dealers all over the country

the geigers in madison wisconsin

the dallas cowboys (ROF, stop laughing, i mean it)

the night before you go on vacation

the night before holidays

friends who surprise you on your anniversary by toilet papering your house at midnight and then ringing your doorbell while you’re watching ghost adventurers (EEKK!) and showing up with a bottle of good, no great, champagne.

knowing that your prayers are answered

central market and whole foods when no one else is in the store

church when you sing that hymn and it hits you in a way that you have to cry but no one knows your crying

remembering the feel of your dad’s hands and smiling at the thought of his “funny tooth”

a big Christmas dinner over at a big families’s house with lots of food, drinks, a bonfire and love

the east coast -hills and chills and history

woody allen

the movies: network, manhattan, annie hall, guess who came to dinner, manchurian candidate and more

good wine

bad wine

great music – house, electronic, rock, mix tapes, playlists, hip and cool

going out to eat

louie and louie’s

chicago

costa rica

the joule

making ROF coffee in the morning

are you still reading?

magazines and all the nuggets of information they contain

ideas and the execution of ideas

smart clients

smart people

passionate thinkers

forgiveness

ok, i’m tired now and i’m going to go.  this was not an exhaustive list by any means.

it felt good to capture some of this.  wish you would share with me some of the things you appreciate so i can too!

xxoo 

live from pagosa

21 Jun

too busy vacationing to write.  here is some eye candy for you:

lunch in durango

the house where we are staying – thank you Beckmans! love it here.

a bit of the view from the inside

lovely durango!

road to the house

bigger picture of the house where we’re staying

best husband/bartender/chef/card player

how to pack a cooler.

23 May

because ROF is getting ready for his 30th pilgrimage to the indy 500 this weekend, i thought i’d repost an oldie but goodie.  below are pictures of previous trips to indy and i know this one won’t disappoint.

from the desk of ROF:

there are a few things i do well.

one of them is packing for a trip.  i don’t mean clothes – i’m talking the important stuff  – drinks and snacks. 

i enjoy traveling and did a lot of it growing up.  i always had this fascination with coolers.  i can still remember my grandfather’s cooler.  it was an unpolished, aluminum Coleman – the kind that can keep drinks cold for 2 to 3 days.  

i’ve always been into hospitality.  i was 9 years old in 1979 during the gas crisis.  i sold cold drinks and snacks to the hundreds of people lined up outside gas stations to get gas.  used the first generation, igloo playmate cooler (red base, white swivel top with push button on the side) this was my first job and i had that cooler all through college.

for the past 20 years,

i’ve embarked on a guys pilgrimage to indianapolis the last weekend in may for the grand daddy of all motor sports – the indy 500.  now, i’m using this as an example trip because it is the mack daddy trip for packing drinks and snacks.  obviously, if you’re going on a road trip with just you and your wife, dial this back a little bit.  typically between 4 and 8 guys go on this trip and everyone is appointed a task for the trip.  this trip is a well-oiled machine.  here are the tasks:

1. ground transportation

2. non-race activities (such as concerts, parties, parades)

3. music – both sound system and playlist for the weekend

4. dinner reservations

5. drinks and snacks

i’m in charge of #5.  this is no small task.  it’s obviously a huge responsibility and i take it very seriously.

first the beer.

however much we’re bringing we split half in bottles and half in cans (no bottles at the speedway, folks).  our beer of choice: heinken (glass) and coors light and bud light (cans)

now the booze and mixers.

this takes a little bit more research or you have to just know the group you’re with.  the last few years, when my friend tod eason is with us, we go through an unbelievable amount of petron orange label tequila.  however, a staple of the weekend is vodka.  usually we bring two brands: one top shelf for martinis and tonics and a mid-level brand that goes into gallons of bloody marys and screwdrivers.  i always toss in a handle or two of single malt scotch as well as a handle of boubon.

condiments, garnish and snacks.

essential garnish are: limes, olives, pepperoncini peppers, black pepper, tobasco sauce, worchester sauce, zing zang brand bloody mary mix, tonic, soda, coke, diet coke, orange juice and red bull.  then of course you need styrofoam cups, bev naps, stirrers and a martini shaker.

as far as snacks are concerned, an indy staple has been the sunshine brand of cheez-its (the non reduced fat variety), extra large jar of mixed nuts, double stuff oreos and  pre-made rice krispy treats.

how to pack a cooler – some tips and suggestions

just like getting ready for a road trip – you think about what you’re going to pack, what route are you going to take, all that jazz- to me, what is just as important is what refreshments are going to be brought and how they’re brought.

first, the list.  it’s very important to write down everything that is needed so nothing gets left behind. don’t make assumptions.  use this list to call your friends, ask questions and cross things off.

next, do the math.  take how many people you are traveling with x how many days and then divide by .5 and round up and that is how many beers to bring.  or about a case a person a day.  let me put it this way, we don’t run out.

packing for the road:  put a thin layer of ice at the bottom of the cooler.  then a couple layers of bottles or cans.  more ice.  repeat the layer of cans.  when you get to the top, put a thin layer of ice then lay the cut up fruit, garnish and other snacks that need refrigeration.

pre-cut your limes and garnish: don’t mess with packing knifes and worrying about getting one.  do all the work in advance

pack a small cooler on road trips to keep close with ice tea and diet coke and snacks.  don’t try and go digging in your professionally packed cooler in the trunk while on the road.

now, you don’t have to be going to indy with a bunch of your friends to apply these tips and suggestions.  it is the same if you’re giving parties at your house.  planning is key.

thanks,

ROF

dreaming of friday, on a tuesday.

15 May

one of my favorite things to do, ever

is stay home on a friday night with ROF.  it’s my blog and i can go on and on about my awesome husband if i want.

you see, i didn’t get married until i was 40 years old.  and i don’t regret it one bit at all.

in fact, it was well worth the waiting.  in my 20’s and 30’s, i saw a lot of my friends get married and i’m not going to lie, it was hard.  but i reminded myself to never settle.  i would rather have the mindset to not settle than to “follow the safe and typical road”.  there is nothing like finding the love of your life and your best friend.  sigh.  now, i have the best of both worlds – a fantastic career and an even more fantastic husband.

so back to friday nights…

i read somewhere smart to have an indoor couples activity and an outdoor couples activity.  something that you and your SPOUSE (isn’t that the worst word? ) can do together.  our indoor activity is GIN.  no, not the kind you drink, the kind you play.  we’ve been playing since almost the day we met.  we have a notebook where we keep the score (YES, YOU ARE WINNING, ROF) and we also write down little tidbits of info so we remember what we were doing that day.  we play all the time.  we played with our nephews michael and bill when they were in town.  my mom and dad were gin players big time.  they played right up until my mom gave birth to me – she was winning, she always adds.

when ROF and i were dating, he invited my mom over for a classic ROF steak dinner.  we decided to play gin.  mom was helping ROF by standing behind him because he was very new at the game.  at that point we weren’t even keeping score.  so i asked my mom “how do you keep score?”  and she said “i don’t know”.  which i knew at the time to be a bold face lie.  my mom plays cards (bridge) semi-professionally and was the reining gin queen.  but she’s also not prone to lying.  when i asked her about it, she said “honey, he didn’t even know how to hold the cards in his hands correctly, i wasn’t going to go into how to score.” we laugh about that now because ROF is kicking my butt in our on-going gin game we’ve been playing for over a year.

so … friday nights  – my favorite ones – are filled with ROF, gin rummy, a special dinner and good music.  this past friday, ROF made a special grilled shrimp with a dry rub and then BBQ sauce – which was out of this world!  add to that some grilled sweet potatoes with a honey lime glaze. scrumps!   we enjoyed skinny margaritas, good talks and of course some tunes.

day 3ish travels

14 Apr

no cell service on this indian reservation-turned resort.

was in cleveland, ohio yesterday, denver the day before and today finds me in between albuquerque and santa fe, new mexico. ROF picked me up at the airport at 8pm and we drove west to amarillo and arrived at 2am.

the next day, we went to a really cool art display of caddies driven into the ground called ‘cadillac ranch’. but my favorite part was taking old route 66 and seeing the unbelievable deserted hotels. it was all i could do not to tear down one of these motel signs. as you can see i had fun putting these together in my photo apps. ROF’s favorite part was the transition of scenery from west texas into mountainous new mexico

this is the view out our window this morning:

this was our view at 6pm last night, a shared tequilla patron sampler

have a great weekend!

week in review

22 Oct

what a fantastic week i’ve had

and how great that i have this blog to remember it.  today we launched the first of 27 chevy sonic adventures across the country.  this is a partnership between agency 720, SCVNGR and chevy.  this week – who am i kidding – this whole month has been completely surrounded with prep for what is coming over the next 7 weeks.

Michael Hagen and Sonya - the SCVNGR team

ROF, someone i appreciate a ton, made a full on fancy dinner thursday night before i left for the weekend.  steak, baked potato, brussel sprouts & some awesome jeni’s ice cream that our friends suzanne & bryan gave us a while ago.  we had a medley of buttercup pumpkin and amaretto cookies, black coffee and salty caramel ice cream.

week in review

1 Oct

happy cool saturday in big d.

crazy week for us all, eh?  my week started with a day off as ROF and i headed back from a great anniversary mini trip to san antonio. 

i cancelled a trip to LA i had planned because work at hand required me staying put.

got together with bestest megen for delivery to me a very humorous anniversary gift and good talks and laughs at my fave times ten cellars.

couldn’t snap pics of our agency 720 dinner on thursday night at via real with our ceo, harold, who was in town.  it was so great to be with lindsey, jackie, angie (HOLLA!)  and folks as us “social” folks are isolated downtown away from the crew. (boo hoo)

last night, we got to visit with paul, kelly & their adorable lil sophia.  also tod, betsy and their 5 month old lilly who is as sweet as she is beautiful.  we went to mia’s on lemmon.

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