I'm working on getting together some Alaska-oriented posts. In particular we did several tastings on the cruise ship – martinis, bourbon, single-malts, and wine – as well as a Riedel glass seminar. I hope to have those posts up all next week.
In the meantime, you can head on over to Flickr to check out our photos. They're divided into sections, including a Food and Wine section. I've included that one on this post as a slide show, but the other photos have great things like moose, mountains, and glaciers. You can also check out our short video clips, arranged in one location for convenience.
Wasn't that Bob Hope's sign-off song? It's appropriate here, and you're all lucky I don't embed an annoying midi to blare out the old standard.
Kevin and I thoroughly enjoyed TasteCamp. From hanging out in vineyards during budbreak to eating great food and learning a lot about the Long Island wine industry, it was a non-stop good time.
We really want to thank Lenn, who organized the entire shindig from start to finish. Additionally, it was great of the wineries to host us, often feed us, and take time out from their own busy schedules to take a bunch of bloggers seriously. That was truly appreciated. I can truly say the Long Island wine industry is thriving. All day Saturday the tasting rooms were dealing not just with a crowd of bloggers, but with separate throngs of willing tasters.
No matter where we meet – Long Island, Sonoma, or the middle-of-nowhere – there is nothing but great conversation and camaraderie when wine bloggers meet. It is always so wonderful to sit at a table of like minds. It's also fun to sit at a table where I'm not the only one pulling out a camera to snap a photo of the food! I can't tell you how great it is to meet and catch up with these other astute, funny, and friendly bloggers. When I teach blogging, I explain that you are joining a community. Wine bloggers exemplify "Community" in every way.
I think Long Island and Ohio – at least what I know of the northern Ohio/Lake Erie area – are in a similar place with their wine industry. Southern and Ohio and Kentucky aren't quite as far along, but seeing thriving local wine industries like this reassures me that our local folks aren't that far behind.
Tomorrow I'll start the first of several posts about some neat experiences we had on the trip. For now, you can flip through my Flickr album below.
Nancy, the co-proprietor behind local winery and vineyard Kinkead Ridge, sent out this photo this morning. I loved it so much I wanted to share it.
I love how the deer are wandering the vineyard, perhaps wondering where the tantalizing grape snacks are.
I hosted a small dinner party the other night for several couples. Had Kevin let me, I'd have invited about 8 more people, but I had to cut back. (So if you're a dear friend, don't be mad at me. I picked couples I thought would gel nicely and well, our house only holds so many people.)
Usually when we host a party, we shell out at least $500 in food and alcohol. Then we kill ourselves trying to make everything from appetizers through to dessert. Kevin often spends about half of the party in the kitchen and sometimes the food goes awry. This time we tossed that entire model out the window.
I did two things differently. First, I asked everyone to bring an appetizer or a bottle of Spanish wine. This worked beautifully, as we ended up with a gorgeous cheese plate and several dips. Kevin also prepared some mini quiches, baked cheese sticks, and mini herbed goat cheese balls. Good Spanish wine can be found for under $15 – in many cases under $10 – so we weren't asking our guests for too great of an expense.
Everyone brought a bottle or two of wine, which was fantastic. In fact, we emptied 10 bottles plus a magnum. I kept the wine out on our bar and just let everyone serve themselves.
Wine and appetizers. So far, an easy party with very little expense to us. But what about dinner? Well, for dinner we brought in Hector Esteve of Paella at Your Place. Hector arrives with his burner, a giant paella pan, all the ingredients and a great personality, and then he whips up some paella. I was worried about the small size of our kitchen, but Hector requires only a stovetop and a small countertop. Alternatively he can use a garage, or in the warmer months, your deck or patio.
We had a sausage and chicken paella, but he made a portion of it meat
free for our two vegetarian diners. He offers other paella combinations
of various meats and seafoods as well. Hector also arrives with a great salad and bread that starts off your meal. Once the paella is ready, he brings it to the table and sprinkles it with sherry. Alcohol makes everything better, yes? Then he serves the paella to your guests.
Hector left our kitchen even cleaner than it was when we arrived. Outside of the appetizers, Kevin and I had no need to even be in the kitchen. It was the easiest party I've ever put together and because of that, one of the most fun. I could actually enjoy my guests instead of worrying about feeding them. In fact, we wouldn't have been in the kitchen at all except that everyone was fascinated with the paella process. Hector will tell you about it, step by step, if you wish, with all the patience in the world.
Hector requires a minimum of 10 people (those pans are big you see) and starts at $10 per person. We fed 15 people, although he can feed a party of up to 150. At those prices, feeding 15 people paella is a cheaper option for us than what we would normally shell out to host a dinner party. Kevin just mentioned that by using Hector, we saved about $200 in party
hosting and more than that in time and stress, therefore this is a
Recession Tip! Host a party with your own chef and save money – who
I know I'll be bringing Hector back for future parties at this house and once we move in about a year. I recommend Hector and his paella (and apparently his tailgating options as well). In fact, I'm trying to figure out how to get him to the pre-Jimmy Buffett parties out at Riverbend. How perfect would that be?
Not sure how you feel about paella? That's okay. Hector will be dishing up his excellent paella at several local stores in the next few months. You can find him at The Party Source on Jan 31 and March 26. I think, although I'm not positive on this one, that he'll also be grilling up some paella at each Liquor Direct for a Jorge Ordonez tasting on February 27 and 28.
I'm embedding a slideshow or you can view our photos on Flickr.
Contact Hector at PaellaAtYourPlace.com or via email (hfesteve [at] fuse [dot] net) or phone: 513.528.5241.
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