From July 10, 2011
The mother behind me is telling her son off "Don't eat your snack yet, eat your dinner first. You finish your chicken nuggets before you eat your apples, you don't want to mess with your blood sugar buddy." I can tell I’m back in Chicago.
Well I'm on my way to Euphoric Eau Claire WI for a couple of day, just leaving O'hare right now. Other than super mom nothing has caught my attention on this trip yet. I had an AMAZING day yesterday; my wonderful girlfriend and I visited one of our favorite places to be, Niagara on the Lake to try out some new wineries and experience Hillebrand Jazz at the Winery. We had a quiet Friday night at the Falls and an early Saturday morning on our bikes (not motorcycles, the things with pedals, ding ding!) riding from winery to winery to buy some new wines to sample. We hadn’t really checked out a lot of the wineries on the west side of Niagara on the Lake so off we went. MAP
Sunnybrook Farm Estates: So freakin’ cool! They’re not a very large operation and their products seem to turn off most visitors as soon as they walk in and see no grape wines, but make no mistake they are great at what they do. Sunnybrook produces a cider which blows import ciders away; it’s not blindingly sweet which is a BIG plus. Their fruit wines are also unique, certainly not some sugar laden strawberry zinfandel swill, quality fruit wines! 3 thumbs up!
Konzelmann Winery: I’ve been here before and their wines are okay, I did buy 2 bottles this go round, but what I love most about this winery is how engaging their sommeliers are. Really passionate and knowledgeable people that like to talk wine, and not just their own. A consistent Gold Star performance!
Palatine Hills Estate Winery: Probably my favorite underdog; if your estate winery tasting pavilion in is a warehouse instead of some well groomed and magnificently manicured vineyard and wine castle then you’re the underdog losing the aesthetics battle. In any case, their reds are bold, bold, bold, and they have one great dry 2006 Cab that tantalizes my taste buds. Two more bottles…The glass isn’t half full here, it’s full to the brim with excellence!
Stone Church Vineyards: Passionate people and more great wines, what can I say, this winery is a must visit and I’m disappointed that I haven’t been there before. The sommelier that was working with us brought out the salami; no that's not a euphemism but it was a nice treat with the wines. Two more bottles… and 150 bonus points!
Pillitteri Estate Winery: A) it’s off the highway, which is pretty inconvenient B) two words, BUS TOUR, so we’re just another glass to fill, no fun C) We had little selection and the new kid pouring the wine, snore. In and Out, nothing nice to say about… them… sorry…Exceptionally flashy bottles and web site though.
The Jazz festival starts at three so we gotta go, lunch on the water… Oh yeah lunch.
Recipe time: Picnic Baskets…
Picnic baskets are outstanding, you can build up a simple collage of your favorite things and mix and match your flavours. I love cured meats, cheeses, olives, and crackers; try some of these next time your want something savory.
Raincoast Crisps – I haven’t found a flavour that I don’t like, they’re the best.
Almond, blue cheese, or jalapeno stuffed olives – all so good and a great way to accent a martini too!
Cured meats, salami, supressata, shinker mager, etc.
Applewood smoked cheddar – My favorite cheddar, I’m going to make some soon
La Sauvagine – eat your heart out brie cheese
Blue Haze – so blue so good
Fresh cherries – thanks fruitland!
…the Jazz Festival far exceeded my expectations and involved an act-of-too-nice-edness story. We were new, never been to one of these before but excited nonetheless. We got lawn seats, nobody told us that you would need to get there super early and sit inches from another listener sprawled out with lawn chairs and coolers of? So when we showed up late without chairs the abbreviated letters S.O.L. were the only thing that came to mind. I explained it as clearly as that to one person working there, then their boss, then her boss and then I was shown to my new seats, in the Trius Red lounge where we’d have our own chair, a waitress, and an umbrella, now we’re talkin’. They mentioned it would be on the house and I was touched. The jazz was amazing and wine complimented it well. FUN AND 1/2, highly recommended and I shall return!
Still waiting for some member of the flight crew to arrive so that we can fly to Minneapolis (ps. Travelling to Minneapolis really helped me type Minneapolis much more quickly, practice makes perfect.). Tangent over… time to fly!
Ever in Eau Claire??? Eat at the Green Mill, better yet stay at the Holiday Inn next door too because the food is soo good and soo cheap! Some of the better pizzas I’ve had.