Donkey + Goat's "Stonecrusher" - Skin Fermented Roussane

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Donkey and Goat’s skin fermented roussane is DREAM, liquid golden hay that smells like a guava apple cider. Roussane is typically a white wine but here they winemakers leave the grapes to ferment in their skinnies so it makes for a sunny, evocative wine with both chewy tannins (bitter parts of some) and fresh minerality. It goes really well with lazy laptop sessions and tastes like peach skin, ripe pear, and a Fiji apple. Happy SUNDAY!

Travel snacks

Hello friends! Good morning to all of you. I haven't been outside yet, so I can't say whether it's frosty or not, but for the sake of my drive I'm crossing my half-painted fingers. This evening I will be jetting off in my little yellow bug as I head down to Memphis, Tennessee for the United Professional Theatre Auditions. Not one to deny myself some exploration, I have lengthened the trip by a few days, with plans to stop in Blacksburg, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, and Tyler, Texas.  It didn't really occur to me until I relayed my plans to loved ones exactly how far I was driving. When they asked about my audition, I replied "I'm driving, and taking a little road trip." Maybe because I'm not crossing or reaching an ocean it doesn't seem that far to me. (Although a pit-stop in the Gulf of Mexico doesn't sound too bad...Bud Light Lime on the Sarasota shore sounds quite divine...!!)

So when I took in the length of my trip, my mind went to one thing: food. And gas. And money.  In the past, when I've traveled cross country, I've stopped at Mom and Pop dive-y restaurants, or sought out Anthony Bourdain's favorite dishes.  In New Orleans, I had Alligator Sausage and Shrimp Cheesecake and a Watermelon Mojito.  This, on top of two entrees I split with my boyfriend at the time, we also had an $80.00 bill. Worth it, but also not your everyday kinda meal.

Food is important to a traveler. It allows you to taste the scenery, examine the culture through another sense.  This being said, I will be sure to nom upon several of the local (and thrifty) eats as I make my way southward, in addition to having my epic baby cooler full of amazing travel goodies. 

1. Dry roasted almonds

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If you've been reading my blog, you are already aware of the slightly-beyond-platonic relationship I am maintaining with almonds.  I never thought I'd be one of those women in the opening montage of The Devil Wears Prada, the ones who wear La Perla and count almonds as a snack, but hell, here I am. They taste really good. I even bought dark chocolate covered ones yesterday, but I don't have a picture because I ate them all in the parking lot.

2. Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate

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If I could have any job in the world, I'd want to be one of those kids on the chocolate cooking show sketch from All That. Do you remember it? They were called Randy and Mandy or Candy or Sandy or something rhyme-y and on the brink of stripperdom, and they attempted to make chocolate inspired recipes, but it always just ended up exploding into chocolate warfare. One time Chris Farley guest starred as a man who was addicted to ketchup. I miss the 90s.

Here I have regular dark, dark with raspberry (because ya gotta get a little crazy), and dark chocolate covered cacao nibs. If you've never had them, I highly recommend. They're crunchy and bitter, providing you with a slight endorphin kick and leaving your taste buds melting in rich bliss.

3. Luna Protein

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One of my favorite things ever are things that are not cookie dough that taste like cookie dough. The raw real stuff will always win, but when it's not around, I find substitutions. Chocolate covered cookie dough bites, cookie dough pop-tarts, cookie dough truffles. I love them all. So when I found Luna Protein offered a "HEALTHY" option, I nearly punched the GNC lady in a fit of joy.  For those mornings when I need to get on the road ASAP and have to skip a proper breakfast (silent tear will fall), these might just do the trick. And then I'll be eating cookies for breakfast, which I was never allowed to do, because Cookie Crisp, while it tasted like a brown unicorn, contained about 60 grams of sugar.

I also bought mint chocolate chip and lemon vanilla, and I'm surprised I stopped there.

4. Kombucha Multi-Green

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YUM! Who doesn't love getting in their daily dose of Algae? This girl does. This is like drinking the cast of The Little Mermaid. There are all these weird green-bits dancing around the bottom, and if you don't think about it at all, then the stuff is amazing.

5. Red Wine

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This is not for the road trip, rather the road trip unwind.  One cannot travel without a way to properly say goodbye to the road each night. You need a comfy bed (or couch, or sleeping bag) and a glass of red. The first, Velvet Moon, is something Trader Joe Guy encouraged me to try.  The second, Red Truck, is one of my favorite wines, rivaling the WalMart Lucky Ducky.  Kate first introduced me to Red Truck when we ate cheese and dried apricots on the floor of our shared bedroom at the Renn Faire.  I brought it to share with one of my good friends, Joshua, and he hadn't had it since college, when they drank it outside of trailers under the Texan stars. It's an easy-going, comforting red blend, that wraps you like a warm cheese and encourages you to sit down and snuggle into an afghan blanket.

6. Granny Smith Apples

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Crunchy and tart, these are the highest one the sour apple scale, and I love them for that.  They remind me of that scene in Sleepless in Seattle where Meg Ryan peels an entire apple in one long spiral. I love them for that even more.

7.  Baby Carrots

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Because what's a road trip WITHOUT Vitamin A?!  Like the apples above, carrots provide a solid crunch. I wish I could say, "studies have shown...", but I heard this from word of mouth so who knows if it's true--crunchy foods relieve anxiety and energize you.  Regardless, this bag will approximately last me one hour of this over-a-week-long-trip.

8. Bubble Tape

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This had to come along for the ride, because sometimes, when you're on the road of some Tennessee Highway, and Jerry Lee Lewis starts playing, the one thing that will perfect the moment is blowing a bright pink bubble.

thursday night wine night, you will never die

When I graduated college, I had to graduate more than just the university.  I had to graduate a long list of things that one can only deem acceptable as a college student. These included triple helpings of cinnamon toast crunch for dinner, wearing mini-dresses in below freezing weather, and falling asleep fully dressed before your Jimmy Johns arrives. Part of this is because there are no Jimmy Johns that will deliver to my zip code, but the main reason is this: some things we must sadly pack into a cardboard box, label it college, and revisit it only on an alumni weekend or when we are in the middle of a mid-life crisis. Thursday night wine nights are not one of these things.

I loved Thursday night wine night more Jennifer Garner loves taking her kids to the park. I loved wearing my pajamas while clutching the stem of a plastic glass. I love the cackle of my roommate's drunken giggle as one of us reveals a secret. I even loved counting the bottles the next morning as they stood proudly on our coffee table; our trophies from the evening. Said wine night came about when I lived in "The Brothel" my sophomore year of college. The house was three stories tall, four if you included the scary-basement-we-always-avoided, and had eight bedrooms and three bathrooms. Eight of us lived there. Eight FEMALES. We named it, "The Brothel," under the circumstances that in Virginia over five women in a house is considered a "place of sexual business." Please, VA law, there was never any money exchanged. To my knowledge.

Last night, another Brothel lady and myself indulged in a long-overdue WINE NIGHT. The drink of choice was the same yesterday as it was four years ago: Walmart Brand Lucky Duck Cabernet Sauvignon.

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"I don't know how they do it," Clarissa said as she sipped from her crystal glass. She wore a multi-colored sweater and a pair of shiny, spandex dance tights. (Both items were hand-me-downs, because Clarissa 'hates to buy her own clothes.') "It doesn't even taste like wine. It tastes like juice."

She took a longer sip, like a mermaid inhaling after being out of the ocean for too long. Then grimaced.

"That didn't taste like juice." And we laughed.

We got deliciously tipsy, our legs dancing over one another's as we talked about sex and our dreams. Clarissa had made molasses crinkle cut cookies that sparkled with sugar and tasted like a cinnamon blanket.  The night was very similar to our college days TNWN, with the exception of the other seven beautiful ladies.

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There was Stevie, who would often spend TNWN either with her own bottle, either putting off or writing a paper.  Stevie now lives in Chicago, still roommates (lucky bitches), with the fiery-souled, Macki, who made me a green velvet cake on my 20th birthday, and then forced me to chug a 24-oz Smirnoff Ice. Macki and Clarissa were perhaps the most dedicated TNWN participants, so much that we labeled their constant togetherness a "bromance" and started to question their sexuality.  Also in Chicago is Kristen, or K-Hanes, who currently lives with her boyfriend Chris Palmer, who is the closest thing to being a Brothel member with male genitalia.  Even further across the United States is Kaitlyn, or K-benz, who is currently taking the Los Angeles world by storm. She, being the Brothel Lady that she is, recently discovered a way to open a wine bottle without (!!!) a wine key, a skill that unfortunately came after graduation. Then there was Catie, or C-Hatch, who is currently honeymooning with her recent life partner, Daniel, in Disneyworld . As they ride the spinning tea cups, I hope C-hatch temporarily envisions herself in a wine glass, spinning down a drunken memory lane of eating Chanello's and falling asleep on the couch.  Michelle, our dear Shellster, kept us all semi-in-check by offering her ears and her wit. She was the Maid-of-Honor at Catie's wedding a few weeks ago, and had everyone simultaneously crying and laughing, which I thought was only possible when experiences second hand embarrassment after watching Girls. Finally, Sarah, or S-kys, is now teaching math to middle schoolers, but who once taught us all that you didn't need a bedroom to me a member of the Brothel.

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I loved wine nights, not because I loved wine (though this did contribute nicely), but because it was a guaranteed time and place to be with a group of women who genuinely loved one another. We wore red snuggies and fell on the floor, we watched the cat dance across the wicker shelves and we kissed under the mistletoe.  College roommates like that aren't just college roommates. They're your bridesmaids and they're the ones who ink your address onto your wrist.   They will hold your hand and slap your ass.

Cheers, to the ladies of 1373.

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.