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WWWD – Bob’s Your Uncle “Bob White”

March 30, 2015
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AI thought the name was funny, and the price was right

You know me – I love a bargain. And I’ve been loving finding those “end of bin” signs at Heinen’s, which signal a great deal to be had. With my last few purchases, I’ve been rewarded for my frugality. This time, not so much.

A few bottles of Bob’s Your Uncle “Bob White” wine had been languishing on the shelf for a number of weeks, sporting the “end of bin” sign, indicating that Heinen’s will no longer be carrying that particular bottle, for whatever reason (I really should ask the wine guy why they decide to discontinue wines). I felt bad for poor Bob, caninopomorphising (is that a word?) him into the shelter dog that everyone keeps passing by because he just doesn’t “look right” but deep down he’s a hidden treasure and he will love you forever and be your best friend for all time if you’ll only just adopt him and give him a try please please please! So, I decided to spend the $4.99 and see what ol’ Bob was all about.

I was also amused by the fact that the wine was in a brown glass beer bottle, complete with crimped metal cap.

Yep, that's a bottlecap. On a beer bottle.

Yep, that’s a bottlecap. On a beer bottle.

Well, Bob was very disappointing. I mean the wine, not my husband, so you all just shut up for a minute.

The nose of a decent wine will give you a good indication of what’s to come – fruit, mineral, berries, slate, etc. But Bob just sits there in the glass and smells like nothing. Nothing! Strike 1, Bob.

The first sip of a decent wine should give you a sense of the myriad flavors that may unfold on your palate – citrus, grass, black cherry, etc. But Bob gave me only some faint apple, some pear, some Pine-Sol. Strike 2, Bob.

The finish of a wine should leave a delightful impressions, with lingering pleasant notes. Bob left me quickly, with a taste of rubbing alcohol. Strike 3, Bob. You’re out.

Save your money, even if it’s only $5.

The upside: At least Bob’s website is amusing and self-aware. They embrace that Bob’s Your Uncle wines (they have both red and white) is “500 mL or 2 standard servings of wine in a dumpy brown bottle.”

Lunch at Crop Bistro and Bar

March 24, 2015

Since we were going to be in downtown Cleveland for a meeting around lunchtime, we decided to head around the corner from our meeting location and have lunch at Crop Bistro & Bar. Crop is housed in a former 1920’s bank, and the space has been restored such that our lunch felt like a trip to the museum, but tastier.

Ceiling and Painting Over the Bar

Ceiling and fresco over the bar

It’s a wide-open, ornate room, with a coffered ceiling and giant green marble columns that stand like sentinels around the former bank lobby. Preservation Nation (hi, Sarah) posted an article about the history of the building (with much better photos than I took today. The bank vault is even a private dining room!

Giant windows hang over the dining area

Giant windows hang over the dining area

A better view of the ceiling (and a better representation of the color)

A better view of the ceiling (and a better representation of the color)

The chef's table...where diners can enjoy

The chef’s table…where diners can enjoy watching the cooks create the magic that ends up on the plates. Seats up to 12 lucky people

Not only was the space breathtaking, but the food was outstanding. Chef/Owner Steve Schimoler envisioned the space as a culinary laboratory, featuring fresh seasonal flavors from local and artisan purveyors. The lunch menu is wonderfully varied, and very reasonably priced. I managed to have a fantastic lunch for less than $17, including tip.

Salmon Over a Greens Salad

Salmon Over a Greens Salad – lightly dressed with a sherry vinagrette. Not my lunch, but still looked delicious.

Willie Bird Smoked Turkey Sandwich - Smoked Turkey, Amish Cheddar, Cranberry Chutney, Herb Aioli, Open faced Corn Bread Served with a cold Israeli couscous salad and some lightly dressed greens

Willie Bird Smoked Turkey Sandwich – Smoked Turkey, Amish Cheddar, Cranberry Chutney, Herb Aioli, Open faced Corn Bread. Served with a cold Israeli couscous salad and some lightly dressed greens

My lunch, above, was pretty amazing. Smoky turkey, aged cheese and a tart cranberry sauce, piled high on top of a thick piece of crispy-edged cornbread smeared. So delicious. The side of couscous was perfect – pearls of starchy tri-color Israeli couscous, mixed with a tiny pieces of crisp green peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and onions, tossed in a bright vinaigrette. Definitely something I’m going to try to duplicate at home.

Cleveland.com named Crop Bistro to its A-List of the Top 100 Restaurants in 2014.

Crop’s menu reflects chef and co-owner Steve Schimoler’s culinary imagination and joyful sense of experimentation

I concur. Can’t wait to go back.

Related: Cleveland was just ranked 7th in Time.com’s ‘Best Food Cities’ in America survey. I really gotta get busy.

WWWD (What Would Wendy Drink) – Jail Break Pinot Grigio

March 2, 2015

I attended a wine tasting at Heinen’s on Friday night, and had the opportunity to sample a few of the wines that they feature in their “Bin 55″ program – their favorites wines under $10. Hey, my kind of collection. #cheapskatewino

If you’re ever near a Heinen’s wine tasting, take my advice and get in there! For $10, you get a ton of wine samples (all different types) and a hearty sampling of food. And the servers are not stingy with the sample portions. Plenty enough for dinner. And dessert – brownie and blondies and cheesecakes oh my!

One of my favorite wines of the evening was a Pinot Grigio from Jail Break Vineyards in Washington’s Columbia Valley.

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This one surprised me: crisp and fruity up front, not very sweet, with a nice acidic finish. It tasted of honeydew and lemon, and I even think I detected a little underripe strawberry. When I asked the wine expert, he clued me in to why I liked it so much. It contains 13% of my favorite grape – Gewürztraminer.

The blend breakdown isn’t printed on the label, but I found it on their website:

BLEND:

  • 78% Pinot Grigio
  • 13% Gewürztraminer
  • 6% Chardonnay
  • 2% Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1% Muscat Canelli

What an interesting find. It was on sale for $9.99. I think the regular price is somewhere around $12.99. A bargain either way.

Recommend!

Aladdin’s Again

February 27, 2015

Went to Aladdin’s in Hudson again today, and decided to try their chicken salad stuffed pita. This is what arrived at my table:
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It was nearly as big as my head! Delicious though – moist chicken, nicely toasted almonds, a pile of fresh feta. And actually mostly lettuce on the inside. Served with hot sauce on the side, of course.

I can’t get enough of this place. Something new to try every time.

Wendalicious Wine of the Week – Sula Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2013

February 22, 2015

New feature! Or maybe it’s an old feature that I tried to do once or twice but got sidetracked by something and forgot about. Hey, stuff happens. It’s Wendalicious Wine of the Week! I would have done it on Wednesdays, but frankly, that’s just too much. You’re welcome.

I have been finding some very inexpensive wines at my local Heinen’s lately, and I’m enjoying trying out some new bottles.  I’ll share a new one with you each week, and I’d love to hear your feedback if you’ve tried it,or if you have some other suggestions for cheap wines I should be trying. What’s cheap? Less than $10. I’ve been finding a few in the $5-$7 range. I’m a cheapskate!

This week’s wine:

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Sula Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2013, from India.

This one intrigued me for two reasons:

  • It was an “end of bin” special at Heinen’s, meaning I could pick up a bottle for $6.99. Even if it’s awful, I’d only be out a few bucks. And I love a last-chance bargain.
  • It’s made in India. This is the first time I’ve seen a wine from India, and it piqued my curiosity. More and more viticultural areas are popping up all over the world, so why not India? They even make wine in Arkansas.

The Review:

I’m really enjoying this one. Light, fruity, with a touch of sweetness and the slightest hint of effervescence. It bursts with pineapple and lemon, and is well balanced.  If it were summer, it would be a great wine to share with friends on the deck. I’m glad it’s winter so I don’t have to share. Sula suggests drinking it well-chilled, but I think it’s a little better if it’s not directly from the fridge. Sula also suggests it is “ideal with food that has a hint of sugar and spice such as Southeast Asian or Gujarati dishes”. I don’t have any of that. Trust me, it’s great all on its own. I wish I picked up the other three bottles on the shelf.

This wine is made in Nashik, the wine capital of India, in the state of Maharashtra. 80% of the wineries in India are located in Maharashtra, due to the state’s beneficial wine-growing climate. As you might suspect, much of India is too tropical to support the growing of persnickety grapes. Maharashtra is located in western India, and is at the northern end of the southern grape-growing region. I think I confused myself with that sentence. Here’s a map:

Map of India's wine regions

Map of India’s wine regions

If you happen to see this wine, or any wine from India, my advice is to scoop it up, since the window on Indian wine is closing fast. If your store has it, it’s probably in the discontinued bin.

Have you tried this one, or another Indian wine? What did you think?

Wendalicious Now Writing for Akron Empire!

February 5, 2015

I’m excited to announce that my first guest post for the Akron Empire blog has posted today! I wrote about my recent experiences at Aladdin’s Eatery, a local chain of Lebanese-American restaurants. My post can be found here.

I’ll be writing for Akron Empire occasionally, sharing reviews of restaurants in the Akron, OH area. Stay tuned for more! (I think donuts might be my next adventure)

Thanks so much to Brit and the entire Akron Empire team for this opportunity! I’m thrilled to be part of a local blogging community again.

Macaron vs. Macaroon: It Isn’t Even a Debate

January 18, 2015

Attention, everyone: it’s time you all finally understood the difference between a macaron and a macaroon. They are NOT the same thing, no matter what you think.

A macaron is a delicate French confection made with egg whites, granulated sugar, ground almonds, and food coloring. A macaroon, however, is something different: it’s most often made from coconut, egg white and sugar, and is sometimes dipped in chocolate. It’s a popular treat for Passover, because it contains no flour. Even the dummies over at Popsugar know the difference.

Just as many seemingly-insignificant things anger my friend the Profussor, this particular failure of understanding makes me irrationally angry. Here’s the post that ignited my rage today:

I tweeted a correction, natch. But, no response as of yet. Surprise.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had to correct someone on the macaron/macaroon question; just last month I sent a Facebook message to the direct-sales company PartyLite, for this gaffe in their catalog:

FH14_J005_P91120_025  Partylite Macaroon

Take a look at the accompanying text: not only did they call it a “macaroon”, they described it as a “rich and buttery…sweet”. My head nearly exploded. NEITHER MACARONS NOR MACAROONS CONTAIN BUTTER. Their reply to my polite correction was, “Thank you for bringing it to our attention.” Which means, essentially, “Piss off, you pedant.”

Let’s review.

These are macarons:

These are macaroons:

macaroons

See the difference?

Great. Now please never make this mistake again. You’re better than that.

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