words, words, prosecco.

Maybe it’s because I like to write, or maybe it’s because I cannot dance.  Whatever the reason, I think that words are one of the best things in the entire world. I love letters, typed or in cursive. I love ink, either on skin or parchment or the white tableau of the computer.  I love the words canoe, quartet, and prosecco.

Say it.  Right now.  It’s fun, right? Prosecco reminds me of orange marmalade, Italian tablecloths, and the smell of waffles crisping before a Sunday Brunch.   For those of you who have not encountered its bliss, prosecco is as lovely a drink as it is a locution.  This sparking white wine is the less fussy sister to champagne, and it’s bubbles never fail to disappoint.  (Right now I’m imagining the sisters Prosecco and Champagne in their little wine household. Their mother is a Chardonnay and their father is a Port. I don’t know how wine reproduction works.)   Prosecco is carefree and a little magical.  In the play, Reckless, by Craig Lucas, the protagonist, Rachel, describes her experience with sparkling wine, and how she would turn her head upside down to watch the bubbles fall like snow. I always loved this image.  Prosecco is falling snow. Clean, pure, and divine.

A few months ago my friend Hannah and I enjoyed a prosecco-esque beverage outside The Standard Hotel in Chelsea. We were in New York City on one of our days off from the Renaissance Faire, and had a few hours to kill before meeting up with our friends Kate and Brett before heading back to Pennsylvania.  Being in our early twenties and without any immediate obligation, we decided to drink the afternoon away.

We sat outside, among the young professionals and silver-haired men dining alone, craftily tearing their focaccia and using their napkins to dab at their faintly wrinkled chins.  Hannah and I stood out, wearing out brightly colored sunglasses and talking too loud. I like Hannah, because when I half-jokingly suggested we order an entire pitcher of a drink, she shrugged her shoulder and with casual smile said, “Why not?” It wasn’t like we had already each had a beer and taken a pickle-back shot. (We had.)

Regretfully, I forget the name of our drink. I do, however, remember it coming in a glass pitcher with a wooden spoon placed in the center like a lone oar.  Inside was the dangerous concoction of prosecco, vodka, muddled berries and mint. The bubbles and our Renn-faire personalities made us giddy and attempt exuberant conversation with our waiter, Serge. He disinterested in being anything more than our server, and even that role seemed to cause him mild annoyance. No matter. We had a blast.

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About two weeks later, I tried to replicate the drink. It was a Wednesday night in September, and hot for the mountains of Pennsylvania.   To understand this next part you must understand the Renn Faire set-up; behind the actual Faire, there was a place affectionately known as “The Commons” which consisted of the actors housing and living arrangements. Behind that, there was a small settlement of independent acts, consisting of musicians, gypsies, jugglers, stilt-walkers and knights.  It was a breeding ground for creativity.  One of the artists, a gypsy named Aly, arranged a 50s theme party and potluck, so that the actors and the independent acts could socialize and get to know one another.

 Everyone was excited for this event.  I, on the other hand, was in a state of stress. You see, a few days prior, I had taken another trip to New York City, and accidentally left my cell phone in a rest stop about two hours north of the faire. Dumb, dumb, dumb!   I found the only spare time I had to make the four hour round retrieval trip, which was the same night as the 50s potluck. Originally, I had been planning on using this time to make something delicious and theme appropriate, but by the time I arrived back at The Commons, people were already in their polka-dot dresses and sporting bright red lipstick. I immediately thought of what I could bring that would requite little to no cooking time and then it came to me. Booze.

I had vodka. I had berries; I used them in my oatmeal for breakfast. For some odd reason I also had mint and my mother had recently given me a bottle of prosecco. This was too easy.

So, in a quick flurry of creation, I made the drink.  Due to the fact that we could not remember the name, Hannah and I called it “Coopy’s Cup.”  The name Coopy came from earlier in Hannah and I’s friendship; she was playing a game of Pokemon and needed a name for her Pidgey, so I suggested Coopy. The name stuck, and then we used it to honor an alcoholic treat.  The berries weren’t as muddled as they had been at The Standard, but it would do. 

By this point, the sun had melted into the unseen depths of sky and we all playfully intermingled, snacking on deviled eggs and apple pie, and then washing them down with cold beer or a glass of the Coopy’s Cup. I wore my favorite yellow dandelion dress, which carried a small orange stain from when I was painting a Styrofoam version of the Sun.    The prosecco electrified my bloodstream. With the hanging tapestries and tea lights, I felt as if I were in modern version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, minus the love-struck donkey man.

I think of this night often.  The images, the tastes, and the touches all resonate and remain etched in my mind; but the only way I can communicate the memory is using my words.  I cannot explain the feeling of the humidity, but I can tell you my skin stuck to the cotton of my dress.  I cannot describe the giddiness that echoed down my wrists and into my fingernails, but I can say prosecco.  I cannot even accurately translate the buttery, minty taste of the Coopy’s Cup. I can, however, give you the recipe.

 

Coopy’s Cup (serves 2-6, depending on your thirst.)

 1 bottle of prosecco

1 cup of vodka (I like Absolut. A flavored vodka also does quite nicely, but can make it a tad too sweet for the sensitive taste-budded.)

½ cup strawberries

½ cup blueberries

A handful of fresh mint

Tear and muddled the mint at the bottom of a large pitcher. Add the berries and muddle a bit more, but not to the point where all the berries are crushed.  Pour in the vodka and prosecco.  Stir gently. I like to use a wooden spoon, but this is more for feeling than flavor.

Enjoy on a hot night, or a cold night when you turn up the heat and pretend its summer.

 

**Photo cred to Wallace Bidelspach!! 

I don't always whine, but when I do it's because there's not enough wine.

Good afternoon, friends.  How's your day been?  So far I have... 1. Made peanut butter and jelly oatmeal.

2. Gone to yoga and only fell twice.

3. Gotten super psyched multiple times because Kate Rozycki is coming in two hours. (!!!) 

I like fall holidays because I like opposites. Hot vs. cold.  Wet vs. dry.  The chill of a Virginia day in late November vs. the warm interior of my mother’s kitchen.  Yesterday, for example, I spent thirty minutes out by a creek (gloveless, and therefore making me feel pretty earthy for whatever reason) collecting twigs and sticks to create little nameplates for our Thanksgiving dinner table settings.  I strive for all of my interiors to look like an Anthropologie ad.   Though my fingers were red and the bottoms of my yoga pants were soaked, I was content knowing that I would soon be able to walk into my warm, cuddly house.  Coziness is totally worth the initial, swearword-inducing cold.  In fact, I think the chill only heightens the warmth.

…Speaking of which, you know what else heightens the warmth? Wine.

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Wine reminds me of my sophomore year of college. I lived in a disintegrating, though loved, three-story house with seven other girls. We called it “The Brothel.” On Thursday nights, we joined together in our onesies and with a few bottles of Walmart’s finest red (it’s called Lucky Duck, and amazing) and parked ourselves on the couch to watch Anchorman. Or Rock-a-Doodle. Or Shaft.  It was an open door policy on these “Thirsty Thursdays,” and while it would occasionally turn into a small party, the night usually ended with one of us crying and the rest asleep in a flannel lump.

Wine also reminds me of my most recent trip to Portugal, where every day Alex and I drank approximately a bottle and a half each.  (Sorry, Liver.) One night, we decided to give ourselves a “break” and polished off a bottle in the hotel room.  The evening peaked when I sang a rendition of Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” to the bidet. I’d type out the lyrics for you, but they were rated-R and I’m pretty sure I don’t remember them correctly.

So it’s more than safe to say that wine holds a special place in my heart. It’s my preferred drink, and one that connects me to a plethora of fond memories.  Wine is celebratory, casual, and fancy all at once. It’s the perfect beverage for these cold-yet-warm holidays. However, this year I thought I’d bring out wine’s Spanish side and make some Autumnal Sangria.

Did you know such a thing existed? I didn’t until I randomly stumbled upon a recipe while scrolling through Food Gawker.  And since Mish (my mother) put me in charge of providing the mixed drinks for the big day tomorrow, I decided to add Pomegranate-Pinot Noir Sangria and Spiced Apple Sangria to the menu.   The Pomegranate sangria I got from Josie, over at Pink Parsley.  The Spiced Apple will be a Cozy Caravan original, so we’ll see how that turns out.  The concoction includes:

-Pinot Grigio

-Cold apple cider

-Brinley's Spiced Rum

-Ginger beer

-Cinnamon, cloves, allspice

-APPLES.

I don't think there's much that can go wrong with this combination. If something does, I'll just polish it off myself in a failed-mixologist shame. Kidding. Kinda.

I’ll give you a little sneak peak of our typical holiday.  It is, like Brothel Wine Night, an open door policy, so whoever needs a place is invited. This draws in quite the eclectic crowd, so we end up with a dining room full of opposites. (Ehh? See what I did there?) Once Kate arrives, we'll don our aprons and get to work.  I’m making the drinks a day in advance so there’s time for the flavors to dance. And with a low of 23 in the forecast, I predict these cocktails to enrich  and enliven this already delicious day.

Who knows? We might even throw on our onesies.