Posts Tagged ‘washington’

Eat, Pray, Seattle

December 14, 2012
Surprise, I'm home!

Surprise, I’m home!

Andrea turned 21 last week. As the oldest of four children, I have deemed it my unescapable duty as the eldest to properly ring in every sibling on their most anticipated birthday. I’ve flown to Florida to weather a hurricane and stalled out cars in the middle of nowhere and enjoyed the rains of Washington to celebrate with my brothers and now, it was Andrea’s turn. The trip started off simply enough. But as Day One of Four progressed, the trip morphed into not only a celebration of life but a serious celebration of wonderful food.

This is real life.

This is real life.

It started with the grande soy creme brulee latte from the Starbucks at Chicago O’Hare, the worst fucking airport in the world. If you are a cheap bastard (and I can be), you will fly thru this airport. I arrived from Boston with what I imagined was ample time to get a holiday latte before my flight. I had been up since 4am with a slue of family awaiting me in Seattle; therefore, I could NOT be groggy. I waited in line to order and receive my drink before hustling down the long walk-away all the way from the N gate to the H gate. I arrived literally as they were calling “Lora Doofy”.sazrak

“Oh, that’s me. I’m Laura Duffy,” I corrected the stupid flight attendent. I cleared through with my THREE bags (limit one with a personal item) and settled into my seat for the 3.75 hour ride. Mom and Dad picked me up in Seattle and brought the sunshine with them. The day was so clear that flying in I could see the Four Peaks: Rainer, Hood, St. Helens and Baker. It was absolutely breath-taking. Don’t see that in Massachusetts… ever. Mom and I wrecked the day with a trip to Nordstrom and a lunch date at Sazerak. The trendy speak-easy had the most eclectic assortment of small plates and we just were too hard-pressed to choose; so we got one of everything! We munched on dates with cheese wrapped in bacon, lightly salted Jordan almonds, wild mushrooms, a trio of cheese, a light apple and walnut salad while sipping on some of the restaurant’s signature drinks. Amazing.

Cheers with Dad

Cheers with Dad

Dad and I had a father-daughter day the next morning in Kirkland. I love Kirkland. We went to Trelis, a lovely restaurant inside a hotel that my dad was a part of creating. They serve brunch every morning till 1030am, so after Pops and I went for a run around Lake Larson, we set out to sample some breakfast treats. The place was dect out in holiday garb and while we were the only guests in the restaurant, Trelis was a complete success! I ordered eggs Benedict. Shocking. It’s what I always get whenever I go out for brunch. Unless of course I’m at Trina’s. When I’m there, it’s a bagel egg sandwich with a bean patty and Fernet with Tony. Anyway, the food was scrumpcious! With a cup of joe and a mimosa at my beckoned call, Dad and I gabbed about motorcycle trips, my girls’ weekend I’d recently had with work ladies

Me love cookie.

Me love cookie.

and talked about my boyfriend. The nom’ing didn’t stop there. Dad and I trekked down to Wine World in Bellevue to pick up something for dinner and bought a gourmet designer cookie as well – though we were still stuffed from brunch! I selected a snowflake cookie. It was so beautiful and perfect, I almost couldn’t eat it. But guess what happened…

Andrea claimed me for the rest of the day. After Dady and I were through shopping and eating, Andrea and I took him back to work in Seattle and ventured down into Seattle for some quality time at Pike Place Market. This is by far my favorite place to shop and eat. Sure, the things aren’t high fashion or 5-star michellen rated, but the smells and color sights make up for anything

Get me some!

Get me some!

that Yelp might bitch about. We walked around and bought flowers and painting, saw fish flying around, and took a picture for the PPM piggy. There was even an old school toy store where I found the Breyer horse figurines that I’d always wanted as a kiddo. They were always so pricey… good to see that some things never change! After grabbing a coffee at the original Starbucks, we drove in a search for the Space Needle. Where was it??? It’s not on 2nd… it’s not on Mercer… But lo, we found it near 4th and Broad St!!! So exciting, you can almost touch it! Annie B and I grabbed nibble at Tilikum Place Cafe and enjoyed a spice bean soup and split pea soup with pulled ham. They were almost closing for their hour break in between lunch and dinner but the wonderful server let us in anyways to enjoy our girls’ day out. Andrea went through my phone looking for pictures of our brother and his new finance.

Seattle Sippin'

Seattle Sippin’

I just kept sipping my French 75 and slurping on my pea soup. We called it a day shortly after and headed home to help Mom with dinner. As if we needed to eat more…

Good home cookin'

Good home cookin’

Mom wanted to go for a swim when she got back home from work. Mom is a very little lady, so we must keep her that way and allow for swim time. Therefore, I volunteered to cook up the salmon and corn she craved. The recipe was simple enough: salmon steaks with flour, parsley, sea salt and pepper to taste flash fried on either side and served with black berries in a raspberry vinegar. Dad and I had the football game on and I was sipping Col Solera’s grappa in a mug so no one would know. Very naughty. I forgot I bought the eau de vie in April. It was as potent as the day it was distilled. Dad and I bought two pinots to match with the salmon, one from Willamette and the other from Santa Barbera. They were okay, I naturally prefered the Willamette-dammit bottle of Pinot although I completely forgot the name like an idiot. It was bottle I first met while working at The Purple Tooth… (thanks Dad, it’s the Benton Lane 2010 Pinot Noir).

The last full day I was in Washington started off raining. I know, it was shocking to me as well. I spent the morning with Andrea and Carter Bear while we awaited Annie’s bus to work. Upon her departure, I prepared for my day of eating the best way I knew how: with a run. I jogged around Lake Larson without ear buds or any music at all. Washington air smells so wet and fresh that I am positively convinced if green had a smell other than pine or mint, it would be Washington air. The sounds and scent of damp forestry kept me going throughout my whole run and the light rain didn’t distract me one bit. I took Bear out for a quick poo when I came home and even though he’s ancient (10 years old for a Berner is nearly unheard of), he looped alone and smiled a doggy wet grin throughout the whole .3 mile jog. He’s a good pupper!  

After locking up the house, I ventured back

Slip and Fall into Kirkland

Slip and Fall into Kirkland

down to Kirkland for a coffee and a burger. I went to Tully’s where I used to work for a nostalgic coffee but after waiting for some barista to come to the register to take my order, I left disgruntled and surrender yet again to Starbucks. Doppio compana, if you please. The girl behind the register had no idea what I was asking for but the gal on the bar knew. Thank god. I sipped on my piping bevy and walked to The Slip. The Slip is a burger joint where I would work in the summers during college. Every staff member learns to do everything there from hostessing to waiting tables and even grilling. I make a mean burger, bitches. My old haunt still featured my favorite burger of all times: the Peanut Butter Bacon burger. Serious guilty pleasure to be sure! I ordered that immediately and sipped on another favorite, the Slip’n’Fall. It’s made with gin, rum, vodka and triple sec with a splash of grenadine. Good night. Oh, and I had two. The juice burger dribbled down my chin and the side salad did nothing to make me feel better about myself. Whatever. It was simply amazing. I chatted with the staff and stared at old photos from past Slip cast members. What a Kirkland gem!

Yogurt with Andrea

Yogurt with Andrea

I had made Andrea a solemn promise that I would visit her at Skinny D’s, a yogurt shop that my Aunt Regina owns. My aunt developed a similar concept in the 80’s and I can still remember going to her shop with my brother, David, and smelling the waffle cones fresh from the griddle. Aunt Regina would watch us sometimes and we’d always hafta finish our soup before she would give us a yogurt. Fortunately, I make my own decisions now and I’ll have yogurt whenever I want, thank you! Skinny D’s is a great place filled with homemade decor like purple and green hand-painted glass on the walls and a plethora of savory yogurt choices! I always fill my cup with Taro, a yogurt based on a forest root. Andrea was there waiting for me when I finally bumbled in around 2pm. We nabbed a Starbucks across the street before coming back over to her work to check the place

Yes I will have a latte and yogurt!

Yes I will have a latte and yogurt!

out. Skinny D’s has the warmest feeling to it, you can’t help but eat everything! There are little tasting cups for when you can’t decide which yogurt is best… or if you just wanna keep eating. Andrea showed me the new computerized gadget that Reggie installed and we sat at a sequins encrusted table to lap up our yogurt. I put a little bit of fruit over the top of my treat just to make myself feel better but ruined my attempt at health when I saw the frosted animal cookies. Oops. Taro yogurt almost has this sweet purple-esque green tea flavor to it. For being some type of root, Taro really is delicious!

I took my leave shortly after we finished our yogurt so that Annie could get back to work and I could go bother my parents are their respective places of employment and snag a wax from my girl, Becca, who was guest starring as a high-demand estetisian at the Aveda salon, Habitude, in Ballard all the way from Boston. Crazy that we were in the same town at the same time!

My wonderful family

My wonderful family

After giving Carter Bear way too many human food treats when I finally returned home from my very full day of adventures, I surrendered to packing up to leave for Boston. I completely decimated the room I was given like a ticking clothing time bomb gone baserk. To make amends, I put thoughtful notes all over Mom’s room and in her things. She has the best make up ever. After playing dress up with Andrea, we were finally ready to head over to my Aunt Reggie’s house for a birthday party where some serious munching was a promised activity. It’s funny how the memory works even after a nearly a decade. I haven’t been to Aunt Regina’s house in years but I knew how to get there. Over the mountain and through the woods to Bothell we go! Reggie’s house was lit up like a Christmas tree and the interior was even more surprising. A Victorian tree, twinkling lights, candles, green garland and glittering ornaments accompanied homemade hor dourves and dessert goodies. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. My nanny and pop were there from the East with Aunt Kerry and

Caramel turtles, chocolate crinkles and peaunut butter drops!

Caramel turtles, chocolate crinkles and peaunut butter drops!

Aunt La La. All the West coast family was there too along with 20 other good friends of Regina’s. The spread was incredible! Cheese trays, quiche offerings, a goat cheese-stuffed meat roll, fresh roll and cold cut fixin’s. And that was just one room. The kitchen had egg rolls with a savory sweet and hot dip, white and red wine with soft drinks and on the kitchen table where delicable dessert treats! Pecan bars, rice crispy peanut butter drops, chocolate crinkles and caramel turtles. Then for the cake portion of the evening, the Skinny D’s girls made several yogurt cakes! You can’t make this up, people, everything was simply amazing.

I can’t believe how much family time I was able to clock in during this trip. Seeing my East coast family while on the West was just incredible. I didn’t mean to not see anyone else but my kin, I was just to selfish for time with my mom and my family. The dining treats were definitely an added bonus and made the trip all the more memorable, but being a part of my sister’s 21st birthday was irreplaceable. How do you put a price on a memory? The moment your sister tried

I love you all!!

I love you all!!

Prosecco for the first time. Drinking a beer with your dad on the couch. Snuggling your mama at 2am before your 4am flight home. The potentially last precious time you get to pet your aging dog. For everything else there is MasterCard.

This was priceless.

Ode to my Mams

October 4, 2011

Today was my first day off in quite a while and I finally had a moment to celebrate the Fall season appropriately: With baking! I woke up early to attend spin class, which was worse than others, before attempting to find the very best fall dinner recipe ever. However, upon searching and searching online with Pandora playing in the background, I couldn’t find a damn thing that pricked my interest. Then the Interent stopped working altogether. We pay over $100 a month for the World Wide Web and it was giving me the bird.

So I called my Mams. As I suspected, she had the perfect recipe for me. In fact, she had three! A gingersnap cookie recipe, a brown-sugar carrot side dish and of course, the best present of all: Flank Steak stuffed with Almonds, Cranberries and breading. Delicious!  I’m attaching the recipes for everyone else to enjoy. Throughout my childhood, my mother would always make dinner for the family. Every single night. I learned the importance of embracing the change in seasons with festive meals. The scent of cinnamon, butter and cranberries filled my house and coated the walls with seasonal bliss. I love Fall! While outside was about 65 degrees, I still pretended my Fall day was filled with cool air and gray skies. The day of orange and brown crunching leaves. I hope you’ll celebrate with me and enjoy some home grown cookin’. Here are my recipes:

Ginger Snap Cookies

After eating four ginger snaps, I stopped counting.

Combine the following all together in a large bowl: 2 ¼ cups flour, ¾ cup oil, ¼ cup dark molasses (if all you’ve got is light molasses, use it.  The darker will make the cookies a little richer color and flavor, but either totally works.) ¼ cup maple syrup or maple-flavor syrup, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground cardamom, ¼ tsp. salt, 1 large egg. With mixer at low speed, beat ingredients until well bended, occasioanly scraping bwol with rubber spatula.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Place 2 Tablespoons sugar on waxed paper (or in pie plate, or something flat.)  Shape dough into small or large balls; roll in sugar to coat evenly.  Repeat with remaining dough.Place balls 3 inches apart, on ungreased cookie sheets.  (Dough is very soft; balls will flatten slightly.) Bake cookies.  For small balls:  8 minutes.  For large balls:  15 minutes.  (Give or take, depending on your oven.)With pancake turner, remove cookies to wire racks to cool.  Store in tightly covered container.

Please believe I cooked this hunk of meat PRIOR to serving it!

Stuffed Flank Steak

Prepare Stuffing Mix from a box as directed; stir in one egg. Also, add nuts, dried fruit, and parsley for additional flavor.  Pound and score flank steak; season with salt and pepper.  Spread steak with Stuffing and roll up, tying with string.  Roll in flour and brown in 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine.  Add 1 can (15 oz.) beef gravy, I can 2 ½ oz. drained sliced mushrooms, 2 Tbsp. white wine.  Simmer, covered, 45 minutes or until tender.  Slice and serve with gravy.  Makes 6 servings. (Somehow, Nick and I managed to eat most of this entree! So, I don’t know how 6 people would split it!)

Brown Sugar-Glazed Carrots

I am a carrot.... I love you.

1 pound medium carrots, parsnips, turnips, or baby carrots. 1 Tbsp. butter or margarine, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar. Cut the carrots in half, both crosswise and lengthwise.  (If you’re using baby carrots, just use your judgment on whether or not you need to cut them in order to eat them easily.) In a medium saucepan, cook carrots, covered, in a small amount of boiling water for 8 – 10 minutes (I steam mine) until crisp-tender.  Drain; remove from pan. In the same saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and dash salt.  Cook and stir over medium heat until combined.  Add carrots.  Cook, uncovered, about 2 minutes or until glazed, stirring frequently.  Season to taste with pepper. Easy to make ahead and put in frig the same day as serving.  Pop into microwave for a few minutes just before serving.

A finished product!

This is what I enjoyed tonight after my wonderful day off. I also sipped on a 2008 Ex Umbris Syrah from Columbia Valley, WA, as a firm tribute to my Mams. She was after all the one who made this meal posssible!

September 16, 2011

September 21, 2011

(round two, first entire article didn’t save)

Five years of dedication and grueling reading were finally coming to a head in the middle of September. From the point of clicking my seat belt, I had about 15 hours until I would have everything I’d worked for judged and tried. The ride down to NYC was filled with dingy flash cards, the DOCs of Italy, grilled chicken and dried almonds with a side of more flash cards. I still can’t believe that only three months ago, I sat for my Level One through the Court of Master Sommeliers. My five-year-long determination to acquire the coveted title of “sommelier” was only further encouraged when I joined my awesome job back in April. I wanted to feel valid and qualified for my position.

“Oh! Are you the sommelier?”

“… I’m part of the wine team,” I would reply politely. Yes, my card says “sommelier” but I wanted the official pin. The purple pin no bigger than a nickel that would prove my dedication. The one pin to rule them all 😀 I’ve felt very strongly about people calling themselves a sommelier without paying their dues. An LPN can’t call herself a Doctor, why should some wino call themselves a somm? Let me assure you, I would have rather been at the gym or sleeping instead of reading before work!  I craved the validity of a certificate, I couldn’t be the pretty girl who sold wine without any real accreditation.

Ergo, New York City! I didn’t sleep at all the night before the exam. My brain was racing with regions, obscure wines, the wines I choose to present and of course, just dreading the unknown. Why did I choose Domaine Meo-Camuzet? Should I go all baller status and recommend Domaine Armand Rousseau? Where is Italy again? How do you get wine from grapes?…. My night was rough to say the least. I gave up and got out of bed loooong before my alarm was set to scream. Name all 13 Aubangebiete, give a tasting note for Aglianco, what are the styles of Sherry? I reviewed again and again before determining I was becoming ineffective. With no sleep in my future, I got dressed for the exam in my Sunday best. I figured that a new outfit couldn’t hurt my chances! Breakfast was out of the question, of course, I could barely keep it together as it was.

The walk to the Culinary Institute was like walking a wobbling plank off a pirate ship or tying off your own noose. Everything I’d been working so far for was coming to a head right at that very moment, I wanted to scream. My brain was racing through appellations, wines and regions, confusing everything into a huge mess. For all I could tell, Portugal was now a part of Australia. How do you spell Caliphornia?

The Culinary Institute appeared around a corner and a small cluster of people were gathered around the door. Yes, they were also here for the exam. We rode the city’s slowest elevator to the 5th floor and the doors opened into a bright large room with shinning wooden floors. I surveyed the other candidates as I walked to a wall and stood apart. I was one of ten other women and one of the youngest people there. The clean, white room was walled by large windows which looked out onto the alley and street. One side of the room was a glass wall from where chefs instructed and created amazing cakes. I made small talk with other candidates as we all tried to figure one another out. One piece of advice that another sommelier from Dante had offered me was to stay focused and not talk with the others. Some of the conversations were intimidating and I struggled to maintain my cool. I wanted to word vomit as quickly as I could all over this exam, giving my best answers without the misdirection of the conversations happening around me.

One of the Master sommeliers, a young woman named Laura Maniec, came out to us and beckoned us to follow her to our exam room. We all strutted down the hallway which was lined with more windows into the kitchen. The new chefs eyed the sea of suits invading their space. I glanced back at the walls of spices and utensils, the institute was truly beautiful. We filed into the large bright exam room and chose seats. The Court of Master Sommeliers’ proctors proceeded to call roll and when the coordinating master,  Laura DePasquale, got to my name, she said:

“Laura Duffy?…. you have a lot of pressure on you, Ms. Duffy, there are already two other Lauras up here!”

Wonderful. We started the exam with a blind tasting which would be followed by the exam itself and finally a presentation. As I went through the inital portion of typical wine analysis – sight, smell, tas—- oh shit! I had brushed my teeth! Everything was acid! I glanced around the room and saw that other candidates were in worse shape than I was with their coffee cups and soda. Fine, adapt.

I turned in my tasting sheet and received my exam… of 30 questions!!!! The entire world of wine was wrapped up into only 30 questions!!! I had read online that the exam ranged around 75 questions and I thought at least 100 would have been appropriate. What now!? I quickly figured out that couldn’t get more than six wrong without dipping below a 75%. Fine, adapt again.

Side note: I noticed that a fellow blogging sommelier didn’t give any more information about the exam than what I revealed, so I will end my description here.

After double-triple checking my work (I had of course, double bubbled!), I turned in my exam and swiftly exited the building. Several other candidates left in a similar manner, no one had smiles on their face.

“Where is Campania?”

“Italy.”

“Who produces Comte de Champagne?”

“I said Tattinger… I could see the label in my head.”

“What is Speyside known for?”

“Scotch.”

“… that DOES it!” (this response was from me)

My presentation was schedule for 10:30 (yeaaaaa alphabet!) and I had about one hour to continue to prepare. I was set with Chateau Gruard Larose and Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace for my Cabernet and you already saw what I was thinking for my Pinot Noirs. I shpealed them to my comrade at Starbucks (because jittery caffeine was exactly what the doctor ordered…. NO.) I briskly walked about to the Culinary Institute and again enjoyed the slow elevator. The door opened and the blinding sun slapped me in the face as I went to sit by the other 10:30 group members. I didn’t talk to anyone, I wanted to focus. The 10am group came down the hallway with a variety of facial expressions and we pounced upon them for tips. Give an amaro, expect this, think of that…. sigh.

My turn. I was the only woman in my group of four and we stood in a line before the Masters and awaited further assignment. Again, while it was never formally stated that I couldn’t disclose any information about what happened during my presentation, I don’t think it’s appropriate online. Call me.

My session of 15 minutes concluded and I politely thanked my proctor before exiting the exam room. I could have run down that long glass hallway to the nearest bar, but I had a skirt on… From that moment, I had about six hours before the pinning ceremony to contemplate all the things I may have f’ed up on. Every answer I’d given, every question I didn’t know, everything I forgot to say, my general table presence and poise was being judged right then and there. I was removed from influence.

So, like any sensible woman, I went shopping. Oh boy, did I make some great decisions including an insane pair of heels that have scarred me with one of the worst blisters I’ve ever had (currently, I cannot wear shoes without searing pain, it’s like a blister and a bruise and something else… very bad). The awaited hour came quicker than I thought it would and soon enough, I was hurrying back to the Institute to hear my fate. When the lazy elevator finally spit me out again into that opening room, the sun was still shinning in the most aggressively blinding manner. I couldn’t see for a second as I stepped out onto the floor. As luck would have it, I was one of the last people to arrive and I noticed we’d dropped a few candidates in the few hours that proceed the ceremony. Some people seems jolly but most appeared to be a nervous as I was. My comrade was certain we both passed, but I just couldn’t shake that nervous prickle. Amid my nerves and angst, I could hear heels clicking down on the wooden floors…

“Good afternoon, candidates! Please follow me,”  instructed Ms. Maniec and beckoned us back into our exam room, down the glass hall way fill with chefs and white hats behind windows. We filed into the one door entrance and saw before us a display of letters, certificates, champagne and of course, the five Master Sommeliers. The ceremony started and we were handed 1996 Krug Brut Champagne (baaaaaallin’!) to celebrate/drink away our sorrows. I stood there as Ms. DePasquale started calling out our names. I couldn’t be the very last again! I wouldn’t make it. Oh my god, if I’m not called, I’m moving back to Washington or running away to the Loire. Hey, am I locking my knees? I think I might fain—

“Laaaaaura Duffy!”

I didn’t grab my heart like I did in June but I could have shrieked and kissed every single one of the proctors. The crowd of candidates parted and I walked up to the front to accept the purple, nickle-sized sommelier’s pin. My presentation proctor, Fred Dexheimer, handed me my certificate and sommelier pin.

“Thank you so  much, sir,” I breathed.

“You did this,” he assured me with a grin and I took what was mine from his hands. I joined the other three newly crowned sommeliers off in the front corner and slightly turn my back to the crowd. I wasn’t going to cry…. gasp. Suddenly that bright, blinding sunlight didn’t seem so violent. In fact, it was a beautiful day, wasn’t it?

The certificates were nearly handed out before my work companion received his pin and I felt such a wave of relief. We did it! We both just passed the Level Two exam!… I helped myself to a second glass of bubbles… it’s becoming a tradition.

Certified Sommelier, Sept. 16, 2011

“I’d like to thank all the candidates who participated and a special thank you to those who have joined our fraternity,” said the coordinating master. She graciously reached out to those who hadn’t been so fortunate to pass and encouraged them. Half of the class didn’t pass and I was one of three women to join the ranks on September 16th, 2011. Surrounded by new sommeliers, I turned and congratulated those around me. We all stayed in the room for a moment but I snuck off to call my mom as soon as it seemed appropriate. I calmly walked down that glass hall way to the bright open room and I could feel the tears creating a huge catch in my throat. I walked straight to one of those open, bright windows and put my phone to my ear. The phone rang twice before my mom picked up her line and with searing hot tears already dropping from my eyes, I gasped and breathed,

“Mom, I’m a sommelier.”

Where ever you go, there you are!

December 8, 2010

I wanted to be an archeologist when I was a kid. The name was cool and it was the biggest word I knew at the time. When I was nine, I watched a show about volcanoes and the weird tunnels they sometimes leave and I suddenly changed my mind. Then in 2004 when Mount St Helens tried blowing up again, I drove down the state with some college buddies to join the mass of other lunatics to stare in wonder at the smoking monolith. Nothing happened. My feelings towards rocks didn’t change but I remember feeling amazed by the remaining devastation from the 1980 blow. Even though it was near 20 years later, certain plots of trees were still prostrate on one side of the national park.

Worst volcanic eruption in USA history

Anyway…I didn’t wake up one day and decide to try my hand at the wine business. My first sip of wine came – appropriately enough! – from my Nana’s refrigerator at her Issaquah, WA house when I was maybe 5 years old. Someone had left a half empty glass in the fridge and all that is yellow is apple juice so I had a sip. Not juice! I’ve worked in the service industry for over a decade… sadly dating myself a bit. I was working at Matt’s Rotisserie and Oyster Lounge when Sideways hit and ruined the reputation of perfectly good Merlot. When was a commodity to me, an extra charge on the bill and a bigger tip. I was 19 when I first saw the UC Davis flavor wheel in a tasting room at Chateau St. Michelle during a manditory staff training. I wasn’t allowed to taste a damn thing!”That’s fine, your nose will help you detect the wine’s flavor,” instructed the wine director. What the hell? Who says that to teenager? Years past, I left Washington. Had to get outta there. I attended college in Maryland. I met someone, got a “job offer” and moved to Boston, MA. Fast forward one year later: I’m near my Christmas tree on the couch in my Somerville apartment wondering what the hell I’m doing. My tree needs an angel or something.

Oh Christmas Tree!

I really want wine to be my profession but how I can’t help noticing that being a wine connoisseur is more of a hobby. The lucky few who successfully make the wine industry a career sparce and jaded, often just ending up at a liquor store. EW. Is that all there is? Well, I’ve been looking for part-time day employment within fields I focused upon in college: writing, technical communication, even light teaching. My girlfriend was encouraging and suggested that it’s sometimes hard to follow our passions and still meet our financial requirements. And how!

I’ve read too many wine books, worked a variety of odd wine jobs and sacrificed waaaay too much time with those who are dear to me for all of this to just turn out to be a hobby. I love wine. I love talking about it, drinking it and writing about it. Seriously, I dream in French labels and wine laws… I DON’T EVEN SPEAK FRENCH!

When I get my tax return back this year, I’m going to France. Massachusetts has removed over 24% from my paycheck  each week and if I can’t afford to go to Bordeaux, I’m gonna steal someone in the face. These are the things I think about regularly. Not “oh, will I get married?” …

Like I said, clay angels!

not “so and so doesn’t like me today!” not even “will I have kids?” – well, that’s kind of a lie – I think about buying a ticket to France, lying on my back in the Burgundy earth and making dirt angels! That’s how badly I want this. 

I can literally taste the dark clay in my mouth. My boyfriend repeatedly tells me if everything came easily, there would be nothing to work for in life. If tedious studying and working late nights as a server isn’t paying my dues, I’m not sure what is.  I don’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer; I just want to give people the best wine experience that I can as a career. Where ever that is.