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Archive for the ‘Words on Wine’ Category

Last Thursday, August 4, 2011, the harvest began at the Golan Heights Winery.  The first varietal to be plucked from the vine?  Pinot Noir.  This is so exciting for me.  I’m going to be going up to the Golan this week for a harvest party, and I may be going a few times, hopefully to the Golan and Galil,  before it’s over.  Here’s a short video taken a couple days ago – the first pressing of the first grapes of 2011:

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  • The number of teeth in a full set. Including wisdom teeth. Which I have.
  • The international telephone code of Belgium. To which I’ve been.
  • The number of traditional counties of Ireland. The majority of which I’ve driven through.

The age I will be tomorrow.

Coming to a cake near you!

Or now, depending on when I publish this post.  Yes.  I share a birthday with Harry Potter,  and I may go out tomorrow to watch the final film on the big screen.  Such an interesting feeling.  I’m not as emotional about birthdays as I’ve been in the past.  For good reason?   Hm.  I still feel like a child so often – bills and taxes and chores, all so baffling.  But here are some great things to think about (stuff you dig up as you do do on milestone days):

  • Women feel most attractive at 32. Good for me.  Excellent for me, actually. Goodbye ugly duckling syndrome!  I did wear a brand new bikini today on the beach, all day, and didn’t bat an eye.  Shame be gone!
  • Women become their mothers at age 32.  Not so good for me.  I’m seeing signs of it all the time.  However, seeing as I’m supposed to be becoming my mother, and as my mother will most definitely be reading this post, I choose to see the positive in this: she worked hard at interesting things, traveled the world, had three kids and earned a PhD in the process, and had a fascinating, creative life.  She still does, in fact.  Not too shabby.  Now if I start chewing with my mouth open, applying blood red lipstick, and start wearing hot pink hot pants, someone shoot me.  Love you, mom 😉
  • The eternal singleton?

    My 32nd Year of Being Single. A blog I just discovered.  I don’t read it, but it’s a cute concept.  The book Bridget Jones’s Diary begins in her 32nd year of being single.  I read this book when I was 21.  Didn’t think it would be me.  Seeing as I’ve now been single for 32 years, maybe I should start reading this blog as a show of solidarity.

  • And in the newsEx-Louisiana Governor, 82, marries prison pen-pal, aged 32.  Read the story.  Big shot popular politician in the slammer 8 years for extortion and bribery marries this woman who somehow chose him as a pen pal.  Lord.  Hope for me yet?
  • In photographs – in searching “32 years old,” I came across these haunting photos of women, all in their 20’s and early 30’s, all of whom had had breast cancer.  The image that brought me there was of  “Nikki, 32 years old.”  The project is called SCAR Project: Breast Cancer Exposed.  Take a look.  My mother and both grandmothers had breast cancer.  This, my 32nd year, was the first year my doctors found it necessary for me to start having twice-annual ultrasounds.  Scary real.  In short – women are getting this disease earlier.  I don’t want to die of this.  So preventable.  Check yourselves out every month.
  • WINE – finally – had to check 1979 out.  It seems my birth year was pretty crap.  Well, not total crap, but very mediocre.  All around the world.  Even the best chateaux in France didn’t make wines in 1979 that could be drunk any more than 30 years.  Doesn’t bode well.  The best wine of ’79, as this website proclaims, is the Chateau Lafleur.  It goes for around $1,600 per bottle, if you can find it.  The same vintage of the Cheval Blanc and the Mouton Rothschild 1ere Grand Cru Classe go for $325 and $365 respectively.  Must say something about the Lafleur.

There you have it.  32.  I plan to work hard.  Meditate.  Do yoga.  And be social.  Not try to do these things.  I will do these things.  Things will move and grow and change and take shape according to my will this year.  Because even though my house is a sty, it’s because I say so, and I am a grownup.  Now on to watching Harry Potter!

Irene being silly.

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As promised, here are some things I ate or saw in France (Bordeaux, Paris, Giverny) a few weeks ago. Enjoy!

Creme Brulee at an everyday kind of brasserie at the Place St Michel. Delicious. Burned to perfection.

Steak Tartar at Le Bistrot du Sommelier in Bordeaux, 163 Rue Georges Bonnac. Also fabulous. Very laid back. Very "homey" food. But it's entirely prix fixe, fast, rude-friendly (I suppose you'd call it), and certainly an experience. We had pink Champagne that night.

Fish, artfully jumping out of and diving back into...ice at Auchon, mega-awesome-supermarket

Tourte aux pommes. Giverny. Respite from the tourist hoards I had a luncheon fit for only the pudgiest of gourmands. No holds barred, a large bottle of San Pellegrino, 500 mL of red Bordeaux, duck pate, lamb brochette with amazing gratined potatoes, and this chunky rustic natural apple pie. Followed by coffee.

The potatoes!!! Best part of my lunch by far in Giverny.

The yummy lucky ducky luncheon I treated myself to on my very-hot-art-and-shopping- in-le-marais-day. What better than a salad on a summer afternoon? That would be fois gras (center) duck confit and preserved duck all around atop some heavily-dressed greens. Heaven. I believe I had a carafe of Sauvignon (blanc).

Cafe de Deux Magots. The famed literary cafe where all the greats drank and dined. St Germain. And now we, the tourist hoards, pay tenfold what the starved artists a century ago paid - and I'm not talking about inflation. I said to hell with it, it's expensive anyway, I might as well get what I want. Better a slightly overpriced gourmet salad than the death-provoking highway robbery-priced ham sandwich. The fois gras and smoked salmon salad (house specialty) was dainty, but worth every bit. Washed down with Leffe. Refreshing.

My last dinner. A bit disappointing. A bit of comfort food nonetheless. Jambon and fromage crepe with an egg on top. Yup, a croque madame a la Bretagne. The best part of the meal was a rich, smokey apple cidre - served in that brown bowl.

My first glass of Cinsault! A rose, but a Cinsault rose. I've been dying to try it since I learned that Pinotage was a hybrid of Cinsault and Pinot Noir. It was interesting, and not at all like what I expected.

Martzipan potatoes and figs. They were terrible, but only because of this particular shop. A decent potato consists of a small amount of cake, covered with a thick dense layer of marzipan (shaped into a potato) and then rolled entirely in unsweetened cocoa powder. It's my mother's favorite.

Macarons! Exceptional French cookies. Melt-in-your-mouth meringue and creme and almond and wow. So colorful and dainty. Specialty macaron shops seem to be popping up like the cupcake shops were a while back in the US. Much tastier, these are. The flavors are getting super-creative. I had a bergamot flavored one!

Last but not least. Desserts (a fairly typical, but typical is extraordinary here) at Le Bistrot du Sommelier. We have a semi-fredo with raspberry (if I remember correctly), creme brulee, profiteroles (my favorite this trip), and a chocolate fondant cake with pistachio ice cream.

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The Golan Heights Winery Big Wigs (and the 7 wines we served) at our stand at Vinexpo, June 2011

I have been an international lady as of late. Blogging has suffered. The huge events that have dominated my life since my last post have been:

  • Vinexpo – Bordeaux, France – one of the largest (if not the largest) wine exhibition in the world. Kilometers long. Immense.  Exciting.  And the Golan Heights Winery (and its daughter winery, Galil Mountain), the only Israeli winery represented (and has been for over 20 years), invited me to come with them.  A brilliant week!  I spent my days speaking French with lots of wine professionals and led them through “une degustation,” a tasting, and teaching them about our wines.  I got to know the head winemakers and management well, which was so much fun – it honestly started to feel like a school trip….and the eating and drinking through the city like there was no tomorrow was certainly a perk.
  • Paris – I spent almost a week in Paris after the expo – two/three days of which was with my parents who happened to be in town, unplanned.  I spent time with family friends, too, walked all over the city, relaxed, and ate very very very well.
  • New Job! The winery hired me to manage, train, and recruit all of the wine stewards in Israel.  This is a huge honor, and it’s a job I’m loving.  It’s not easy, but it’s mainly logistics and some training.
  • New love – a beautiful, exciting, and ultimately sad story. I met a man that I’m crazy about. It has been one of the most emotionally satisfying, significant and devastating months of my life.  He is leaving to go abroad for a very long time (years) in two weeks (we will have had about 5 weeks together). I’m not sure how I’m dealing with it all.  With the new job I love and a career I’m trying to forge,  I finally accepted the fact that I’m staying here and putting a stake in this place.

ANYHOW: I will be putting together some incredible photos in the subsequent posts.  Stay posted for gorgeous food.  And I mean gorgeous food…

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Come one, come all!  From tonight, Saturday May 21 to Saturday May 28, the Golan Heights Winery is presenting their incredible yearly wine extravaganza at the port of Tel Aviv.   There will be 6 separate themed bars, and each cost only around 30 shekels to sample all four (or more) wines featured there.

All of the information online about the fest is in Hebrew.  However, it’s going to be fantastic.  The winemakers themselves are going to be there.  We’re opening top-end wines that are not yet on the market.  There are free workshops every night.  Blind tastings.  The works.

Day 1 was incredible! I got to open a Yarden Rom. That's right. Rom.

Basically, be there or be square.  You can come for 20 minutes, you can come for 4 hours.  It’s simple.  As it’s free to get in (it’s at the namal, after all), you can pick and choose exactly which of the 6 experiences you’d like to have.  Starts at about 7 pm every night (except Shabbat, when it’s after Shabbat ends, around 8 pm).

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Whether I like it or not, accept it or not, it’s what it is.  I’m working myself to death.  Much of the time I like what I do, but there is a good deal of time I dislike what I do.  The fact that I average 3-4 hours sleep, the fact that my university and creative work is suffering, the fact that I never see my friends – that is depressing.  And why am I writing about my misery (is it misery?) on this blog?  Well, I haven’t written in a while, and I know that when I force myself to write, I feel better, and I achieve a bit more order.  In fact, I only have about ten minutes to write right now.  Perfect.  Spitting it out.

Wine Update

Dixie – This fantastic top-rated Tel Aviv restaurant (near Azrieli – Yigal Alon 120) is hosting its annual Wine Festival in collaboration with the Golan Heights Winery and the Galil Mountain Winery.  You will find me there every lunch hour between today (well, I just finished my shift) and the 21st of May.  They are selling wines by the glass that just never get opened because they are so rare and expensive, as well as very popular wines at incredible discounts.  There is also a wine shop at the front of the store where you can buy these wines for prices lower than you can find at most wine shops.  So – for incredible meat (it’s a fantastic steak house, burgers, gourmet meat everything kind of place), and the best wine deals in town this week, head to Dixie.  To entice you, there is the Yarden Merlot from the organic vineyard Odem, available by the glass.  Brilliant wine.  Also the ever-popular and gorgeous Yarden Gewurtztraminer.

Piedmont MonthAlkalay (Alkalay 1, corner of Hashla, Basel Square), the wine bar/store at which I work is celebrating a month of wines from Piemonte, a region in northwest Italy, perhaps the very best growing region there is.  The three red varietals are Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo.  We’ve got them all, including some fantastic Barolos and Barbarescos (if you’ve got a few hundred to shell out).  BUT there are several bottles of great stuff at great prices, 30-50 shekels per glass.  I especially love the Maria Gioana from Fratelli Giacosa, a spicy deep single vineyard Barbera, as well as a white wine, the first Cortese of Gavi I’ve ever drunk.  It is so flowery and delicious – could pass for a semi-dry wine, although it’s dry dry dry.

Person Wine News – soon to come.  I have big news, but I’m pretty certain I cannot share it yet.  I’m about to burst.

Finally, Personal Hell – I’m writing a short story I adore, and it was due two days ago – and I haven’t had a breath of time to finish a serious edit – it cannot possibly be read in its condition, despite the fact that I have the storyline down solid.  If I don’t get it done tonight, I’m in deep poo poo.  Wish me luck with finishing this story, my beloved main character Fatimah deserves her ending.

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Saint Paul's Cathedral during the London Blitz

I have gotten to the point where I cannot distinguish one day from another.  I didn’t realize it was Thursday – I only knew I had to be at work at 12 pm and that there was a lecture about Connie Willis‘s heroes at 9 pm at the Olamot Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival (sponsored by the Tolkien Society of Israel and the Israeli Science Fiction and Fantasy Guild).  I went.  It was the most normal thing I did this month, which is really saying something as a larger collection of fashion-clueless, absurdly costumed geeks I haven’t seen in a long time.  Tomorrow is the first day off in over a week.  The next day I work at 12 pm.  The next day I have a doctor’s appointment.  That’s how it goes.

Why have I become this clueless zombie?  Work and Passover.  We all complain about work.  Yet, I don’t hate what I do.  It’s just quite physically taxing, and my hours are long.  It can be demoralizing being a glorified waitress sometimes, but I’m getting over it.  I hope.  I’m quite proud of myself, I do have to admit.  It’s Passover, and pre-holiday wine sales are madness.  Wine sales the day before and of Passover are the highest of the year.  In fact I think most of the wine in the country is sold in those few days – but don’t quote me – I would need to find the stats.  In any case, I played my part admirably.  My sales for my winery were beyond fantastic, and for the most part, I had a great time.  Along with the wine bar work, I believe I worked I worked 45 hours in 4 days.  The haze I’m in is interesting.  The meaning of life, or rather, the search thereof, eludes me these days.  I don’t feel like reading at all.  I feel like I’m floating and not quite living.  Things like bills and taxes can wait, and I’m glad I’m not freaking…but this zombie phase has got to end.  Soon.  I want to look forward to reading a book, seeing friends with any sort of regularity, putting at least some attention into my studies (which I’ve basically abandoned for the last 3 weeks due to exhaustion), and perhaps…career, men, the future…and especially not feeling tired all the time.  Just realized it’s kind of ironic – my working like a dog, really slaving (worked a real 16+ hour day for the first time in forever) during THE holiday that celebrates freedom from bondage.  Yep.  Just my luck.

For the moment, I’m glad I did something other than sleep, watch reruns of Extreme Home Makeover (artificially-enduced emotional catharsis), and work.  It was weird paying 30 shekels for a 50 minute presentation on my favorite author that basically turned into a conversation with the audience of 20 that veered off at one point to Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.  Yeah.  My kind of people.  I have to say, it was worth it to sit in a room with several others who had read, not even just heard of, Connie Willis, in Israel.  I adore Willis, and everyone who loves a good long read should pick up both Black Out and All Clear.  Especially if you’re a WWII buff.  It’s heartfelt storytelling crossed with extraordinary research – historical science fiction at its very, very best.

The bar at the corner of my street is playing dance/trans music so loud, I can feel the bass through the floor.  I live on the fourth floor.  And I’m at least 5 buildings down.  I don’t even play my own music this loud (relatively speaking – as it now sounds in my home).  Ugh.  Popcorn, green tea, and Extreme Home Makeover may be in the cards tonight.  Oh well.  I’ll have to find earphones first.  No rest for the weary.

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