Happy April… Fools!

Happy April! Hopefully you didn’t miss my April Fools day post yesterday, if you did, check it out here. I love April Fools day jokes! I always come into the day prepared not to trust anyone but I usually fall for one or two good pranks! Here are a few photos I took yesterday that are definitely NOT April Fools jokes. photo-547It has snowed 16″ in the last two days in Park City. A couple days ago you could see the grass on my front lawn… Now, not so much! photo-549This Sea Salt Soriee is nothing to joke about, its damn delicious and I have to refrain from eating the whole bar before I leave the grocery store. photo-550Looking for a delicious snack? All you need is some EXTRA sharp cheddar cheese, freshly sliced apples and a corn tortilla. Place the apples on the tortilla, top with cheese and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese melts. This was one of my favorite childhood snacks! photo-548Some beautiful spring tulips and daffodils I picked up at Whole Foods this weekend are finally blooming! Even though its snowing outside, it feels like spring in my house! Here’s to a happy April, cheers!


Après Hour

photo-536✓ I might have an obsession with taking photos of sunsets. I just love them!

Happy Friday and Happy Après Hour! It’s been another long week, although not any longer than any other week you’ve had your whole life, so lets move on. Yesterday was officially the first day of spring but winter is not ready to back down! It was cold all week but thankfully it was sunny too! I did get to relax in the sun on a “Ski Beach” (that’s just a fancy name for lounge chairs in the snow!) photo-174Yup that’s me kicking up my feet! Time for you to kick up your feet and enjoy some of my favorites from around the internet this week! Here’s to the weekend, Cheers!

✓ Keep it LOCAL. Looking for a way to eat sustainable, fresh and local produce this summer? Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) A CSA is a partnership between agricultural producers (Farmers) and consumers (you). Members or “shareholders” pay a fee at the beginning of the growing season to meet a farm’s operating expenses for the upcoming season. In return, members receive a portion of the farm’s produce each week throughout the growing season. I love knowing where my food is coming from, don’t you?! Search for one in Utah or near you.

✓ Your quick guide to reading nutrition labels

✓ Take it from Vermont Creamery, wrinkles are sexy (and delicious). Click the link, win free wrinkles!

✓ Points for creativity and resourcefulness but I’m pretty sure this isn’t how your bike rack was meant to be used in the off season.

photo-534✓ Loving Gwyneth Paltrow’s site Goop… visit to find out how you can Make, Go, Get, Do, Be and See.

✓ Here are 17 cocktails to get you ready for spring. I’ll take #13…AND 17, Thank you!

✓ If my dog Piper could speak, what do you think she’d be saying in this photo? (let me know in the comment section below!)photo-176✓ I’d like to spruce up my dining room with this elegant spring table cloth.

✓ This is my new favorite soap scent, it makes me happy every time I wash my hands.

✓ Speaking of happy… this cover of Pharrell’s song “Happy” will definitely make you happy!

Have a great weekend!

Napa Wine Wednesday

photo-310Last weekend Jake and I enjoyed our first trip to NAPA! It was wonderful in so many ways- we had beautiful weather, drank great wine and ate delicious food. Overall it was a relaxing and glutinous weekend! If you’ve been to Napa, or just looked at a map of all the wineries… you can see it’s a bit overwhelming- there are so many vineyards to choose from. It can also get pricey! Most wineries now charge a tasting fee to sample their wines and while you can try between 3-5 different varieties at each tasting, multiply that by 10 vineyards and you can spend a lot (and get really drunk)! So I wanted to share my favorite wineries, a few ways to save on tastings and my overall review of the Napa Valley in this addition of Ski Boots in Wine Country! Cheers!photo-312Tip #1: Download the free app Winery Finder on your smart phone- its amazing. The app list all the vineyards in Napa Valley offering 2-for-1 tastings, special deals on tours and discounts on wine purchased at the vineyard. It also maps out how far each vineyard is from your current location so you can easily hit up the closest tasting without bouncing all over town! Also check out this website Napa Valley on a Budget I found it to be a helpful resource. photo-100Grgich Hills Estates– Is one of the more well known vineyards in Napa thanks much in part to the ‘Paris Tasting of 1976‘ (aka their Chardonnay won Best Wine in the World in a blind taste test against some of the best French wines- this blind taste test also included other vineyards in Napa which put California wines on the map.) We tasted 5 of their newly released wines (all of which were delicious!) in the main cellar/tasting room. Grgich is a classic to visit, the grounds are beautiful, the wine is fantastic and they offer a 2-for-1 tasting deal!

Tip #2: Start Early! Ok, I know you might not be interested in drinking wine for breakfast (I am!) but its your best option if you want to beat the crowds- especially during peak season. Before 12pm you can walk in almost anywhere- after that both the wineries and the St. Helena Hwy get busy. photo-102Frog’s Leap–  One of my favorite vineyards we visited! We tasted 4 wines only sold and released at the vineyard. We had a beautiful table on their porch and our wine flights were accompanied with a cheese plate to share. Unlike many of the other vineyards we went to, Frog’s Leap has tasting glasses for each wine (most only give one glass) which allows you to sip and compare each wine at your own pace. I would have loved to do a tour at this vineyard if we had the time- definitely an A+ must visit! Make sure to go in the morning or make a reservation if you’d like to go in the afternoon- they are very busy! photo-104Duckhorn Vineyards– Tied for first place for favorite vineyard visited, Duckhorn was a wonderful experience! We chose to do their tour and tasting. We tasted 5 wines all paired with different cheeses after touring the grounds and cellars. They had just pulled in their first harvest of the season and we got to see the pallets of grapes come in. They have a beautiful deck so request to be seated outside and they offer a 2-for-1 deal on tastings! photo-105Mumm Napa– Who doesn’t love ‘Champagne’ sparkling wine? Mumm is just down the road from Frog’s Leap with a beautiful patio and inside porch. They have 4 different tasting menu’s each with 3 different sparkling wines. We each tried a different menu allowing us to try 6 different wines- definitely the way to go! They offer 2-for-1 tastings, tours and a free tour at 10am with the winery app! A definite must! photo-309Tip #3: Make dinner reservations ahead of time… WAY ahead of time. For popular restaurants 5pm and 9pm are the only available times you’ll find within 4 weeks of your visit- otherwise go for lunch or sit at the bar- many restaurants offer similar menus for lunch and are far less busy at that time. photo-314Ad Hoc– For all the Thomas Keller fans out there, Ad Hoc is amazing. I thought for sure this was a restaurant that would rest on his famous name and serve mediocre food- I was so wrong. This was easily one of the best meals I have had in years- and for a pretty reasonable price (well compared to the $225pp prefix menu at French Laundry…its a steal. I’ll continue to dream about the French Laundry dining experience, forever.) But seriously, amazing food- don’t miss out! photo-315Gott’s Roadside– For a truly delicious and affordable Napa experience check out Gott’s Roadside. Classic diner style food and decor jazzed up by a great wine and beer selection (and milkshakes too!) I’m going to fly back just for their shoestring sweat potato fries! Gott’s go burgers like you’ve never tasted, so work up an appetite. There is usually a line (that’s how you know its good!) but its totally worth the wait!

It’s impossible to capture all the goodness Napa has to offer in one post- this only scratches the surface of what we did and the wines we tasted. There is so much to see and do and try its hard to have a bad experience. St. Helena was my favorite town and where we spent most of our time- it’s very picturesque. Check out Model Bakery on Main St. in St Helena for great coffee and breakfast. We actually only drove through the actual town of Napa on our way to and from the airport. St. Helena, Rutherford and Yountville are where its at in the Napa valley! Cheers and happy travels!

Wine Wednesday – Raats Chenin Blanc

photo-298I recently stumbled upon this awesome South African Chenin Blanc completely by accident. I was looking for some South African whites to try and noticed this label said “Unwooded” which means it was aged using steel tanks instead of oak barrels. This technique is used to preserve the wine’s “original”, vibrant, fresh fruit character making the flavors light, refreshing and smooth. I have tried a lot of unwooded/unoaked wines from Chardonnay to Pinot Noir and I have yet to be disappointed, so I thought I’d give it a shot!

The Chenin Blanc grape originated in the Loire valley of France but is thought to be one of the first grapes grown in South Africa around 1655 (it is now the most widely planted grape in South Africa.) Due to the grapes high acidity, it can be used to make a wide variety of wines from sparkling to desert wine.

This Chenin Blanc is rich in citrus flavors, with hints of pineapple, honeysuckle and orange blossom with a bright, tangy minerality. Due to the range of flavors it pairs well with a variety of foods and makes for a great everyday summer white, especially for the price!

Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2011 (Unwooded)

  • Price: $13.99
  • Varietal: 100% Chenin Blanc
  • Region: South Africa, Coastal Region
  • Tasting Notes: Beautifully structured on the palate, bursting with fresh yellow and white fruit flavors. The wine finishes subtly, yet distinct with great minerality and citrus flavors.
  • Food Pairing: An easy-to-pair wine since it has a wide flavor profile, but they especially recommend it with curry or similar spicy dishes as well as sushi and oysters.
  • Score: 88 points

Wine Wednesday and how to drink it!

As you might already know…I love a glass of wine anytime. If it was socially acceptable I would probably pour some over my oatmeal in the morning. I’m pretty jealous of Kathie Lee and Hoda on the fourth hour of the Today show, they literally sip wine at 10am while talking about random things, like how many calories are in a candy cane or take a poll on how often you wash your jeans… Unfortunately, not everyone can have a job that basically promotes being an alcoholic, although its funny to think about.

My dad introduced me to the world of wine and I was always in awe of his knowledge of different varietals, regions and vintages. Its nice to dream about drinking fancy wines like Chateauneuf du Pape on a daily basis, but lets bring it back to reality. I love finding inexpensive wines that still taste great and don’t require you to sell your first born child to drink it. I make it a rule not to spend more than $20 on a bottle and surprisingly you can do quite well at the liquor store for under $20. So for Wine Wednesday I’ve picked a bottle of wine, under $20 that you’ll love!

  • Price: $13
  • Varietal: 100% Malbec
  • 85 points
  • Mendoza is by far the largest wine region in Argentina, responsible for roughly 70% of the country’s annual wine production.
  • Alamos Malbec is a good everyday table wine or party wine. It is a deep purple color with hints of fruit and chocolate with a sweet spicy finish. Basically… this is a full bodied red wine that goes well with anything but has a little South American spice to keep things interesting!

Here is a little Wine Etiquette I found again from on of my favorites blog “A Cup Of Jo” I am a big believer in the rule about when you cheers, eye contact is a must! Enjoy!

Wine etiquette

Today I’d love to share 8 fun tips for drinking wine! It’s nerdy, but I like learning etiquette tips (do you?) and thought you might like to hear these fascinating wine dos and don’ts before heading out to holiday parties and romantic dinners. Below, I (Cup of Jo) wrote out the tips, and the genius Gemma Correll illustrated them. Here goes…
1. Fill red wine glasses 1/3 full, white wine glasses 1/2 full, and sparkling wine 3/4 full.
2. Twist the bottle at the end of pouring a glass of wine, to prevent drips (and to give it a flourish!).
3. Cheers! When clinking glasses, make eye contact with the other person. Otherwise, according to French superstition, you’ll risk seven years of bad luck (read: bad sex). You also should clink glasses individually with each person at the table without crossing anyone’s arms.
4. If someone is toasting you (your wedding, your birthday, your general awesomeness), don’t take a sip. Just smile and look humble.
5. Always hold your wine glass by the stem. Many people mistakenly think you only need to hold white wine by the stem (so you don’t warm up the wine), but experts say you should hold red wine by the stem, too, so you can see its color and clarity, as well as to avoid smudging the glass with your fingerprints. Otherwise, wine snobs might call you a “bowl grabber”! 🙂
6. On the table, your wine glass goes to the right of your water glass.
7. While taking a sip, you should politely look into your glass. (And not at another person, if you’re in the middle of a conversation.)
8. The host’s duty is to make sure glasses stay filled. “My eyes go to empty glasses immediately,” wine expert John Thoreen says. “It’s a real radar thing for me.”
9. Or happily forget all the tips above, and just eat, drink and be merry!

P.S. A lipstick trick with wine, and the #1 etiquette tip to remember for the holidays.

Wine Etiquette Re-posted directly from “A Cup of Jo”

How to eat your holiday meal (the proper way)

etiquetteChristmas is right around the corner and you know what that means (NO, not lots of presents!) your bound to being eating a holiday meal at someone else table, whether it’s at your grandparents house or maybe even your new boyfriend’s family, you don’t want to be caught with bad manors at the table! I feel sometimes my generation missed a step along the way, etiquette schools no longer exist (do they?) and while I had a set of grandparents that wanted to make sure I knew the proper way ladies should sit at the table and how to set one, I probably never would have learned had it not been for them (and you mom!). Even though our world has become pretty informal (I wear jeans to work everyday and when I have to dress up I feel like a alien has taken over my body) but heavens to Betsy your future mother-in-law asks you to set the table and you put the forks and knives on the wrong sides… you’ve gone from husband material to eating at the kids table in a matter of seconds (which would probably be more fun anyways…). I found this cute “Dinner Etiquette” guide with some illustrations (for those of you who are more visual learners) on one of my favorite new blogs, “A Cup of Jo”. Hopefully her guide will help you out this holiday season! Enjoy!

Dinner etiquette

I’ve always been fascinated by etiquette, including which fork to use and where to put your napkin when you leave the table. It’s like a little game, and it can make you feel more confident and empowered. So, here’s a handy guide to eating dinner, illustrated by the fantastic Gemma Correll

If you’re a guest at a dinner party (pictured above), wait to start eating until the host or hostess takes his or her first bite (unless they absolutely insist that you start).
A funny tip that my grandparents used to tell us: The way to sit in your chair is to pretend a cat is in front of you, a mouse is behind.
Your wine and water glasses are to the RIGHT of your plate. Your bread plate is to the LEFT of your plate. If you remember that, you’ll never drink someone’s water or eat their bread again! (A genius tip from readers: To remember the order of the placesetting, think “BMW” — for bread, then meal, then water.)
Surprisingly, salt and pepper should be passed together, even if someone asks only for one. They’re considered “married!”
Never intercept a pass. For example, don’t snag a roll out of the bread basket when it’s on the way to someone else. (You’ll just have to ask them to pass the basket right back!)
Scoop your soup with your spoon tilted *away* from you. And surprise! It’s fine to tilt the bowl slightly away from you to get the last drop of soup. But never blow on your soup or food. Even if it’s piping hot!
Always taste your food before putting on salt and pepper. It’s considered rude to assume the food is under-seasoned before tasting it.
Once you’ve picked up a utensil, it should never touch the table again. You want your utensils to rest fully on the edge of your plate. (“No oars!” gasp the experts.)
When you are finished with your meal, your knife and fork should be placed on your plate diagonally from upper left to lower right (11 to 5 if you imagine your plate as a clock face). This is a secret code to the waiter (or host) that you’re finished.
If you have to go to the bathroom—or if you’re getting up at the end of the meal—just put your napkin to the left of your plate, loosely folded.

Yay, that’s it! Bon appetit!

Re-Posted from Joanna Goddard’s Blog “A Cup of Jo”

Just put the F*cking Turkey in the Oven…

Mary Risley of Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Fransisco created this video as a “guide” to cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce. It’s freaking fantastic… and I quote, “I used to compare myself to a turkey, big breasts and short legs.” This is one of the best cooking videos I’ve ever seen. My family has known Mary Risley for many years and I had the pleasure of visiting her cooking school one year to taste some of her delicious recipes. She is an outstanding chef and culinary guru. If you haven’t already, sign up to get her monthly news letter which always has awesome recipes! I blogged on one of her recipes earlier this fall Pumpkin, Spinach & Tomato Gratin. If you follow her advice and just put the f*cking turkey in the oven I guarantee it will be delicious! (just make sure the oven is on!) Happy Thanksgiving!