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Nov 30

Cincinnati Wine Events 11/30-12/06

Kenwood At ChristmasAnd we’re back!

I haven’t done one of these event listings in a couple weeks due to our family crisis and then a much-needed vacation. My apologies. Because I’m so behind, it’s almost as if I’m starting over. If I’m missing events, please let me know. I’ve completely lost Autumn this year. It’s my favorite season and I completely missed it, and now the holidays are upon us.

A couple of notes before we get started: this weekend marks the last wine tastings for the year at both Liquor Direct locations. Tastings begin again in mid-January. Also, Little Sonoma and Meier’s Wine Cellars both have extended holiday hours. Watch for your favorite store to start extending their hours as well. You can’t go wrong with the gift of wine for the holidays.

As usual, it’s a big list of events, so we’ve compiled it on one page for your reading pleasure. (For information on Dayton, you can refer to Mark’s blog at Uncorked.) If you know of tastings or events that we missed in the Cincinnati area, or if we have incorrect information, please email us and we’ll add it to the list.

You may note that the tastings in KY are mostly free, and the tastings in Ohio charge at least .25. It’s illegal for a retailer to give alcohol away in Ohio, so they charge you, but many times it’s a nominal fee.

Tell them we sent you, and happy tasting!

Map IconFriday Interactive Wine Tasting Map

Map IconSaturday Interactive Wine Tasting Map

You can also click the map icons in the detailed listings to view the maps.

Small_pdf_icon

Download 1130.pdf (An easy-to-print PDF of all the events in this blog post)

Per usual, the Friday photo is brought to you from the talented folks at Cincy Images.

Follow the "Continue reading" jump at the bottom for Friday – Thursday tastings. Upcoming events are listed at the end.

Cheers!

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Posted by Michelle at 8:35 am in Cincinnati, Weekly Cincinnati Wine Events | Permalink | Comments (1)
Nov 18

Thanksgiving tips

Hello, dear readers! It’s Jen again, filling in for Michelle while she enjoys a much needed vacation.

There are people out there that live for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Hot chocolate or mulled cider on Christmas Eve while you stare longingly at the presents under the tree, seeing the joy on your loved one’s faces as they tear into the boxes on Christmas morning to find exactly what they were hoping for, and getting to be with all your friends to share a glass (okay, three) of champagne a week later. I see the appeal of this week, but for me, the holiday season is all about the food. If you’ve got to have a completely over-the-top holiday, make mine Thanksgiving.

Many people are overwhelmed by Thanksgiving, and rightfully so. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that’s always orchestrated by the grownups. No one really knows how these people came to be so knowledgeable about how it all comes together, but somehow a feast just appears while the rest of the family watches football. A few years ago, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. I would single-handedly craft my own Thanksgiving meal, a meal to beat all others. I’m lucky enough that I have my husband’s mom to make a delicious feast on Thursday, while I cook for friends on Friday so we can recount all the great stories from the day before.

If you don’t have decades worth of turkey feasts under your belt, here are some pointers. These are the things I wish I would have known years ago. I’m sure I’ll regret giving up some secrets, but I firmly believe everyone deserves a beautiful feast. Happy eating!

The Turkey – You’ll inevitably know your family’s eating habits much better than I do, but the general rule is to estimate somewhere around a pound of bird for each guest. I always estimate a little higher, because we all love our turkey – and I like to be able to send guests home with enough to make a sandwich the next day. If that’s your philosophy, go for about two pounds or so per person.

Making the big bird is great, but if it’s a feast for a small group, consider just buying a turkey breast or two. They’ll cook up much easier and faster and you can slice them so no one will be the wiser. Of course, you’ll lose the presentation factor and the drumsticks, but it might be worth the trade-off.

Don’t be intimidated by carving the turkey. You can use an electric knife if that works best for you, but I’d suggest using a regular, very sharp knife with a thin blade to do the initial prep work. There are countless visual guides out there (google “carving a turkey” and you won’t be disappointed), but here’s the basics: separate the thigh and drumstick from the body, then separate the two from one another. Cut the meat into small slices and arrange them on a platter. Separate the wings from the body. After all the limbs are separated (dark meat will stay moist longer than light meat), slice the breasts. Try to stay parallel to the body to preserve the flavor of the meat. That’s it! Oh, and be sure to sample lots of the meat along the way. Quality control is important.

The Sides – Decide on how many side dishes you want to cook based on how many people will be there – or how much you like to cook. My feast inevitably has way too much food and people end up taking a whole lot of leftovers home, but I like to err on the side of variety. Consider your heavier dishes versus your lighter ones. It’s easy to load up on casseroles, but just make sure you’ve got a little bit of contrast in your dishes. I love having mashed potatoes and gravy, and I have a particularly special stuffing recipe, but that’s as much starch as I like to put in my meal.

Adding a little something to your standard dishes gives Thanksgiving a special spin. My mashed potatoes have horseradish and roasted garlic in them, I add sage sausage and apples to my stuffing, and the secret to my cornbread is a mixture of cornbread and yellow cake. It’s not too innovative, but it’s just enough to make the meal feel special.

Cook ahead when you can. Casseroles can usually be done ahead of time, and desserts are okay to do on Tuesday or Wednesday. I’d save things like veggies for the day-of, and there’s not much you can do for the bird. Save time where you can – it’s definitely less stressful on Wednesday than when your guests are already there on Thursday!

The Guests – People will inevitably ask you what you’d like them to bring. I always have guests bring drinks so I can focus on the food. Don’t forget about little things like paper napkins, as well as plates and cups if you don’t have enough. Something simple like fresh bread can be found at a grocery store along the way, and it’s a big timesaver for you. Your guests will be able to contribute to the meal and make life a little easier for you, but you still get to have the spotlight (and obsessively plan your menu, if you’re anything like me).

Also, there’s something to be said for potluck. Many people have a special holiday recipe tucked away for occasions just like this, so if someone asks what they should bring, ask them what their specialty is. If they’ve got a stuffing recipe that’s been handed down for five generations, let them share it with you! It’s less effort on your part and you’ll get to try something new.

Most importantly, don’t get too stressed. Thanksgiving is a fun holiday, and like all others, is about getting together with your loved ones and sharing a special occasion. It will be special because you’re all there together, regardless of whether or not you use those special turkey-shaped napkin rings. Have fun and take time to enjoy this time with your friends and family!

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Posted by Michelle at 3:55 pm in Guest Writers | Permalink | Comments (1)
Nov 13

Some Desert and some Cacti

Cacti_2
I haven’t abandoned the blog. I promise. Since our rough autumn, I admit that I haven’t been overly motivated to blog – or do anything.

But we’re taking a vacation tomorrow. We’re heading off to sunny, peaceful Arizona and I can’t wait. I intend to come back rejuvenated and ready to face the holidays and everything else.

We come back the weekend following Thanksgiving. In the interim, I’ve asked my friends Jay and Jen to possibly post again if they get the time.

I will also have my phone. If we have a fantastic dining experience or come across a winery, I’ll make sure to Twitter it from my phone.

In the meantime, have a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Cheers,
Michelle

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Posted by Michelle at 10:52 am in Life | Permalink | Comments ()
Nov 13

A Complete Surprise – No More Encore

This, my friends, comes as a complete surprise to me. All the area Encore Bistro restaurants, including the former Sturkey’s location, have abruptly shut down. This is sad. It’s a local chain that had great promise, moderate prices, wine dinners, and a decent wine list. Here is the entire article from today’s Business Courier:

Area Encore Bistros shut down

       
       

Business Courier of Cincinnati

       

Encore Bistro & Bar, which embarked on a national expansion program two years ago, has
permanently closed its four restaurants in the Cincinnati area,
including its Wyoming location that was converted from Sturkey’s
earlier this year.

The Encore chain was founded by Cincinnati restaurateur and chefs
Paul and Pam Sturkey and West Chester developer and homebuilder Ed
Rogerson. The Sturkeys, who now operate another West Chester
restaurant, Mesh, sold their interest in Encore last year.

A sign posted on the door of the Wyoming restaurant states that it
has been permanently closed and directs employees to call its corporate
office in West Chester. Employees will be paid, it said. Calls to the
office were not being answered Monday.

A Wyoming city worker said the restaurant was open over the weekend but apparently closed Sunday or Monday.

The three other area locations are in West Chester, Symmes Township and Springboro.

A spokeswomen at the Encore Bistro in Naples, Fla., said it remains
open for business under a different ownership group than the Cincinnati
outlets. An Encore restaurant in Charlotte, N.C., also remains open.

The Sturkeys opened Sturkey’s in Wyoming in 1998, then launched the Encore chain with a cafe in West Chester.

                   

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Posted by Michelle at 10:49 am in Cincinnati, Restaurants | Permalink | Comments ()
Nov 08

Late Night in the Amazon

Amazon_banner

Whenever I get the opportunity, I like to promote events for the Cincinnati Opera Young Professionals Group, also known as Center Stage. This particular event, however, looks to be rather cool and a lot of fun. Of course, Kevin and I are also serving as some of the host/hostesses for this party. Sort of.

Every year the Opera Guild hosts the annual Opera Gala, for which it costs a fortune to attend. With the Opera Gala, you get a concert from a talented singer (this year it’s one of my favorites – tenor Mark Panuccio), dinner, and dancing. It’s also a chance to break out an evening gown or tux. We went last year, and it was neat. But it was also a little stodgy.

This year they’re looking to change all that. Mark your calendars for Saturday night, Nov 17. Starting at 10:30 pm is the first Opera Gala Afterparty. Believe me when I say it will probably send the old people home, leaving the transformed Music Hall ballroom to some of the most involved and outgoing young professionals in the city.

The afterparty includes a midnight buffet by Funky’s, music from DJ Will Benson, a complimentary drink ticket, and an available bar. The ballroom will be transformed, almost literally, into an Amazon rainforest to celebrate the upcoming opera season. You miss the dinner, the operatic concert, and the stodginess and are left with good food and great fun.

The best part? You’re not paying $200 like the Opera Gala folks. You’re paying $30 ahead of time or $40 at the door. The party is sponsored by a lot of folks, but the participation of groups such as CinWeekly and EQ at the Party Source is a good indicator of the type of party.

This is your chance to dress up (evening attire not required though), have some fun in Music Hall, meet new people just like you, and enjoy some great food and music.

And maybe someone, anyone, can report back on the event for me for this blog. Kevin and I are heading on vacation next week for what I’m sure you’ll agree is some much needed downtime.

You can pre-purchase your Late Night in the Amazon tickets here. The full flyer is after the jump.

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Posted by Michelle at 2:11 pm in Cincinnati, Cocktails, Entertainment, Wine Events | Permalink | Comments ()

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