Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bangin Georgia Wine Highway 2015 (unofficial) day 1

Thursday, March 19th, Charles and I drove to our friend’s place in Cartersville, Ga. to start our Bangin’ Georgia Wine Highway weekend, 2015. We spent the night with B_ and R_ so we would be ready to go bright and early Friday morning. There were several new wineries opening for the tour this year and we wanted to make sure we hit as many of the new ones as we could.
R_ being an expert organizer and planner, grouped all the wineries in the Winegrowers Association of Georgia into three clusters. One cluster for each day of the tour. They are the Ellijay/Blairsville cluster, the Hiawassee/Cleveland cluster, and the Helen/Dahlonega cluster.
Starting from Cartersville, our first stops on Friday would be the Ellijay/Blairsville cluster. A majority of the new wineries are in this area, so we were really excited to get started. The weather Friday morning was just shy of being miserable. The sky was grey and there were spots of what my grandmother would call “shivering rain” scattered about as we made our way into Georgia wine country.
Our first stop of the day was at one of the new wineries, Chateau Meichtry in Talking Rock, Georgia. We arrived early because we factored in time for getting lost, but we only got mildly sidetracked on our way there. Thankfully, the owner lives right next door to the tasting room and he was gracious enough to open up for us. We bought our wine highway passports, got our glasses and proceeded to sample. The first wine we tasted was their Pinot Grigio. A very tasty wine,  a bit on the dry side for my taste, but very bright and crisp. The second wine on the tasting was their Chardonnay. It’s a really well made chardonnay, aged in Hungarian oak, and you can tell that great care was spent making it. The third wine on the tasting was their 46° North. The 46° North is a blend of touriga nacional, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and mourvedre. It’s a really delicious wine. The final wine of the tasting was the Meritage. A blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, it is a nice dry red. After a bit of talking shop with the owner and learning about the history of the winery, we loaded up the jeep and headed off to our next stop.
The second stop of the day was at Engleheim Vineyards in Ellijay, Ga. Our first wine was the 2013 Traminette. It’s a crisp, dry white wine. Very well made and tasty. The next wine was the 2013 Sweet Molly. The Sweet Molly is a very tasty white wine. Our third wine was the 2012 Trilogy. The Trilogy is a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet frac grapes. It’s a very tasty red. Our final tasting at Engleheim was their estate grown 2012 Merlot. I am not a fan of the dark, dry reds… but this one was beautiful. After a bit more shop talk, we loaded up and headed to our final stop in the Ellijay area.
Sharp Mountain Vineyards in Jasper, Ga. has been a favorite of ours even before they officially became part of the wine highway. We we started going on the wine highway with B_ and R_, Sharp Mt was our starting point as it was the first winery between us and the rest of the wineries further north. We started off with the Pinot Gris, a really nice crisp white. Our next tasting was their Viognier, another very tasty white that was just a touch on the dry side for me. The third tasting in the flight was the Gris Rouge. Sharp Mountain’s’ Gris Rouge is a blend of primitivo, gewurztraminer and viognier grapes and it is a deliciously light rose’. Our final tasting at Sharp was the Etowah. The Etowah is a nice sweet red that is really one of our favorites.
After finishing up at Sharp, we left the Ellijay cluster and headed toward the Blairsville area. Our first stop was Serenberry in Morganton, Ga. We arrived just as a patch of misting rain was moving through so we hustled from the parking area into the tasting room. The folks at Serenberrry are very proud of their tasting room. It started in the 1920s as a barn, was converted into a farm house and has been repurposed as the vineyard’s tasting room. We started our tasting with their Swan White, which is a blend of sauvignon blanc and viognier. Our next tasting was the Morganton Rose’ a blend of chambourcin and according to our pourer “white grapes.” The next wine in the tasting was the Railroad Red, a pinot style red wine. The fourth wine in the tasting was the merlot style Skeenah Red. and finally the Cooper’s Creek Peach.
We left Serenberry and headed to our fifth winery of the day, Odom Springs Vineyards in Blairsville, Ga. Our pourer was one of the owners, Shari and she was an absolute delight. Her exuberance and passion for her wines was evident in the outstanding wines she provided for us. We started off with Earl’s Reserve, a 2010 Merlot that was bold and dry and red. A perfect merlot in the opinion of this humble taster. Our second sample was of the Homemade Sin. Homemade Sin is a nice red that hits that spot between dry and sweet perfectly. The next sample was the Just Loaferin’, a delicious merlot blush that hit the spot. The final wine for our tasting was the They Lord. They Lord is named in honor of the owner’s grandmother who would exclaim “they Lord” when pleasantly surprised or shocked. They Lord is a pleasantly surprising vidal, so the name is perfect.
Our final stop for the day was another newcomer to the Winegrowers Association of Georgia, Paradise Hills Resort and Spa. The wines that they had for our tasting were Starry Night a blend of seyval blanc, cayuga and vidal blanc. Then a 2011 Chardonnay. Then their Harvest Moon a chambourcin. And finally their Eclipse, a blend of chambourcin, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon.
We left Paradise Hills and headed to our staging area for the night. We found a great little place in Blairsville, Georgia right on the town square called Seasons Inn Motel and Plaza. After we checked in and got the jeep unloaded, we headed out to find some supper. We found Monte Alban Mexican Restaurante. After filling up on generic texmex food, we headed back to the motel and crashed.

Chateau Meichtry, 1862 Orchard Lane Talking Rock, GA 30175
Engelheim 770 The Oaks Drive Ellijay, GA 30540

Sharp 110 Rathgeb Trail Jasper, GA 30143

Serenberry 450 Tipton Trail Morganton, GA 30560

Odom Springs 637 Odom Rd Blairsville, GA 30512

Paradise Hills 366 Paradise Road Blairsville, GA 30512

Short post

Sorry for the posting silence these past few weeks. I've been fighting a major league depressive episode but I think that I am on the other side of it (fingers crossed).

Last weekend, the husband and I roadtripped to north Georgia for the annual Georgia Wine Highway. Right now I am working on my review of the trip and getting pictures ready to post. It was a really great weekend, made greater by sharing it with good friends.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Red Beans and Rice

So, the other day on Twitter, Anne Wheaton mentioned that she had just discovered the deliciousness of the Southern delicacy known as red beans and rice. There are soooo many ways that you can make red beans and rice and everyone will stay that their way is the bestest, rightest way to make em.

And they will be right.

There is no wrong way to make red beans and rice... Well... there is... you don't want to use navy beans, or garbanzo. The beans pretty much have to be red beans. Some folks say canned is fine, some folks will gladly kill you in your sleep for suggesting it.

Now, I am not above using canned beans in a pinch, especially if someone mentions having red beans on twitter at noon and you want to have red beans for supper that night. Sometimes you just don't have time to soak dried beans.

So, here is what I did:

Quick and Easy Red Beans and Rice
1 lb andouille sausage (or whatever sausage you like, or no sausage. You're grown, do what you want), sliced
2 cans red kidney beans, rinsed
1 can chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large white onion sliced thin
4 Tbs butter
1 Tbs All Purpose flour
1 cup of white rice, cooked.

What to do;
If you want to, you can go ahead and cook your rice. It can sit and wait while the red beans are cooking.While you are cooking the rice, you can slice your onion and sausage.
Bring 2 cups of salted to taste water to a rolling boil.
When the water comes to a rolling boil, add 1 cup of white rice and stir.
Return to boil, cover, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

To make the red beans:

Thinly slice one large white onion
Put two Tbs butter in a skillet on low heat
When the butter is melted, add the sliced onion to the skillet.
add 2 more Tbs butter on top of the sliced onion. This will look like a whole lot of onion, but once the water starts to cook out and the onion starts to caramelize, it will reduce.

Let the onion cook until the bottom starts to turn brown (about 15 minutes), then stir and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes until most of the onions are golden brown. The best thing to do is to put the onions in the pan, then find something else to do for a while, then come back to them. They won't caramelize if you futz with them.

Once the onions are caramelized, bring the heat up to medium and sprinkle 1 Tbs of AP flour over the onion and butter mixture. Stir constantly for 1 minute or so, until the flour starts to get fragrant.

Add the sliced sausage, the can of broth, and the can of tomatoes. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Let the sausage simmer for about 20 minutes, then add your 2 cans of kidney beans. Let the beans heat through, then serve over rice.