Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ciel du Cheval

My husband and I just opened a beautiful and fragrant bottle of Andrew Will's "Cuvee Lucia" 2007 Sangiovese. Initially it smelled a little like bread. Now that it opened up more, it has a perfume-like floral bouquet, similar to roses and a rich red purple color. It's amazing and we got it at Costco! Overall, it's a well-balanced and smooth wine. This wine hails from the Ciel du Cheval vineyard on Red Mountain in Central Washington.
We always enjoy wines from Red Mountain, but consistently love the wines from Ciel du Cheval. Ciel du Cheval translates to Horse Heaven which is a tribute to the Horse Heaven Hills south of the vineyard. There's a neat article on Avalon Wine detailing more about this vineyard. Andrew Will's website says, "Ciel Du Cheval is about 2 miles off I 82 near the Benton City exit. The first acres were planted in 1975 and 1976. The vineyard now is composed of about 120 acres. The Merlot we get was planted in 1976 and the Cabernet Sauvignon in 1982. We also use their terrific Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

The soil is composed of loam on gravel beds (scootneay). The loam goes down 2 feet and scootneay beds to 12 feet or more. The soil is very calcareous making it good for vines since they have a hard time in this soil picking up nutrients, which would make for great bulk but poor quality.

On average, this vineyard gets 2950 heat units per year making it, along with Klipsun, the warmest site we work with. When the great Spokane Flood formed the Red Mountain region, it caused a back up leaving deposits of gravel and huge stones. This occurrence created many of the unique features which go into the identity of this vineyard.

The vineyard is owned and farmed by Jim Holmes."

For our anniversary this year we went to Sorensen Cellars on the Olympic Peninsula. We tasted the 2004 Cabernet Franc with grapes from the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. I'm not a huge fan of Cab Franc's but this particular wine persuaded me to keep trying more.

Photo courtesy of Tamarack Cellars
When we were in Walla Walla in June, we tasted the 2006 Ciel du Cheval Syrah at Tamarack Cellars. I adore its blackberry aroma. This wonderful wine was luscious and full-bodied. I may be biased though, since my favorite wines are always Syrahs. We didn't buy it at the time, because I thought it was too expensive. In retrospect, it's been so memorable that I'm still comparing wines to it. Unfortunately, when we went back two weeks ago it was sold out. The tasting notes were even beautiful as they describe the 2006 vintage, "A wonderful year of timely rains during the growing season and dry ripening conditions allowing for the complete command of the vineyard by the viticulturist and winemaker. 2006 wines show great fruit character, balance and length.' 'This wine blends Syrah Clone 174 and Syrah Clone Tablas from Ciel du Cheval."

We also really enjoy Wahluke Slope Vineyards, perhaps I'll blog about that next!

Favorite things of the day

Relaxing lily pads...
Romantic houses gone wild...
The lyrics to Gracie by Ben Folds, what a sweet song for a father to sing to his daughter...
The NPR article on corn pudding...
My cousin, Colleen!

Holy Cheezits, watch Monsters vs. Aliens!

If you haven't seen it yet, watch Monsters vs. Aliens! We just watched it in Blu-ray and it was phenomenal! Here's the trailer:

My favorite scene was the President making first contact with the Robot, (listen for the Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Axel-F phrasing!)

There were several hilarious and quotable moments too. One of my favorites was Seth Rogan's character, B.O.B. saying, "I think that Jello gave me a fake phone number." Click here for more fun quotes from the movie.

What's your favorite scene from this movie?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Plum Crumble Tart Perfection!

Photo from Piece of Cake Blog

Wow, check out these delicious looking plum tart pictures on "Piece of Cake"! The plum trees at my parents farm were really tasty this year. Nearby the plum and apple orchard, my Mom had planted a few dahlias. This particular flower nearly matches the plum tart in color!

I'll have to ask my Mom if there are still any ripe plums. I'm feeling inspired to make this awesome looking tart this weekend!

Here's the great recipe from Piece of Cake:
Plum Crumble Tart
Adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties!

If you can find Italian prune plums, by all means, use them. They are smaller than regular plums, so quarter them instead of cutting them into sixths. Look for firm-ripe fruit, nothing soft. Avoid very large plums, as they won't fit as easily or prettily into the tart pan. If you buy pre-chopped walnuts, give them a few once-overs with a knife--you want them very finely chopped, but not ground. If you find the tips of the baked fruit looking a bit lackluster, just brush them with a bit of melted jam or jelly to add some shine.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg yolk
2 pounds small plums, pitted and cut into sixths lengthwise (quartered if you can find Italian prune plums)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have a 9 or 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom or springform pan ready, placed on a baking sheet.

In the bow of a standing mixer, combine the flour, walnuts and brown sugar on low speed. Add the butter and the egg yolk and mix on medium-low speed until the butter is well-incorporated and the mixture is crumbly (it will resemble moist brown sugar).

Put about 2 cups of the crust mixture into the pan and pat it evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan (a sturdy measuring cup is a helpful tool for the job). Arrange the plum slices skin side down in a flower pattern, working from the outside in. Scatter the rest of the crumbly crust mixture in an even layer over the top of the fruit.

Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, until it the crust and topping are deeply golden and the fruit juices are bubbling. Cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a serving platter.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Starry Starry Night

I can't see the stars tonight, but this lovely painting popped up on my iGoogle homepage's art of the day. This painting instantly makes me think of the heart wrenching and beautiful Josh Groban song, Vincent (Starry Starry Night). My ballet teacher used to play his music during barre exercises.
Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh

Josh Grobin's lyrics for "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)"

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colours on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen
They did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds and violet haze
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue
Colours changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artists' loving hand

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen
They did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left inside
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you Vincent
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you

Like the strangers that you've met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen
They're not listening still
Perhaps they never will...

Adorable Aprons

This jaunty advertisement for aprons inspired me to blog about adorable aprons.
Three-Star Apron from Anthropologie. This looks like a pretty dress to me! The ruffles are very cute but chic. This apron might inspire me to drink Earl Grey tea and make banana bread.
Lulea Apron from Anthropologie. This apron makes me think about making spicy dishes like curry or chile relleno.
Twittering Teatime Apron from Anthropologie. This makes me think of roses and making jam.
The Frosted Cupcake Apron makes me want to make cupcakes, of course!

Carolyn's Kitchen Aqua Cupcake Apron reminds me of pajamas! I bet it would be good to wear while making blueberry pancakes and baking bread!!

Monday Monday...

I met a llama over the weekend. I just had to take pictures of it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bunny Cupcakes!

I've been very lazy today puttering around the house and editing photos from a bridal shower yesterday. I think I'll make some cupcakes and vacuum while they're baking!

Here's an example of what I hope to make:

By the way, Baa Baa, Cupcake, Have You Any Frosting? is an adorable cupcake blog. Just check out their great recipe for Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting! They look perfect for the fall weather that is creeping into Seattle.

Every little girl's dream shoes on Classy Young Things: Shine On, Cutie

These shoes remind me of playing dress up in my grandmother's closet. They are a modern interpretation of ruby red slippers in a little girl's eyes. Enjoy!
Classy Young Things: Shine On, Cutie

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Cute kitten livestream!

My friend just got two kitties, check them out!

What Are Your Favorite Romantic Comedies?:

I absolutely loved the movie I Love You, Man. It was hilariously awkward and sweet. It is a great representation of a "bromance".

What Are Your Favorite Romantic Comedies?:

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Template issues for the last week?

Does anyone know why my template is so funky? I cannot get my profile and picture to show up on the right hand side, even when I reset the layout. I've tried fixing it on multiple computers and in multiple ways, but my blog is missing it's other half....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Window shopping at Luly Yang

I had a conference downtown today so I window shopped on one of my breaks. Luly Yang was right around the corner! It's one of my favorite places to window shop! (This is a window display from a couple years ago!)
This window with the blue gown was my absolute favorite today!
Second favorite window and colors...
I love the train on this dress and it was a lovely blush color!
This dress reminded me of January Jones/Betty Draper from Mad Men.
This is my most favorite window display ever! Turns out, Luly Yang is having a Couture Show October 9th, 2009 in the Spanish Ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Porcini mushrooms!!!

(Image courtesy of

A thoughtful patient gave me a porcini mushroom today and it's supposed to be delicious!! I was not familiar with the name porcini, but according to Wikipedia it means 'piglets' in Italian, as the young fruiting bodies resemble little piglets. It's also known as the King's mushroom or Boletus edulis. I was happy to read on Wikipedia that, "Boletus edulis is considered one of the safest wild mushrooms to pick for the table because there are no poisonous species that closely resemble it"!

It is described as nutty and slightly meaty, with a smooth, creamy texture. This mushroom has a distinctive aroma similar to sourdough. Young, small porcini are most appreciated by gourmets. It's also said that, when dried, porcini have more protein than all other commonly consumed vegetables apart from soybeans!

I can't wait for dinner tonight. My husband suggests, it would be good in a butter/condensed milk sauce with chicken, yum!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cupcake love

How sweet is this license plate? Cupcake Love by Dianne Seriva, owner of San Diego's Beau Coup Cupcakes

This is totally my dream car: Cupcake mini (Originally uploaded by Fanny Brown Rice )

If I get a chance to visit my sister-in-law in Austin, I want to go hunting for this giant cupcake!!

Beautiful bridal photo

Wowee, this wedding gown is absolutely gorgeous. I love how the photographer at lunaphoto caught this romantic and elegant moment. This wedding apparently took place at the Zephyr Palace in Costa Rica in August.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A few favorite grape photos from Walla Walla this weekend!

Gorgeous beams in the tasting room at Northstar Winery
Wine process at Northstar
Tasting room at Waters
Crush at Tamarack Cellars
Growing grapes at Tamarack Cellars

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich
I have great appreciation for art, but alas, no formal training. I love art that speaks to me and makes me identify with it.

When I look at this painting, it makes me think of new beginnings, or reflecting on your past. At the end of high school, I replicated this painting in my own way.
This was taken on Stuart Island, in the San Juans. I was looking down the cliff, towards Sidney, British Columbia. You can imagine how pensive I was about high school, which was not much. I was ecstatic for college and living on my own!

The Wanderer also reminds me of the book, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.
"Centuries ago, when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of them all was the Raven King. A human child brought up by fairies, the Raven King blended fairy wisdom and human reason to create English magic. Now, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he is barely more than a legend, and England, with its mad King and its dashing poets, no longer believes in practical magic.

Then the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey appears and causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. News spreads of the return of magic to England and, persuaded that he must help the government in the war against Napoleon, Mr Norrell goes to London. There he meets a brilliant young magician and takes him as a pupil. Jonathan Strange is charming, rich and arrogant. Together, they dazzle the country with their feats.

But the partnership soon turns to rivalry. Mr Norrell has never conquered his lifelong habits of secrecy, while Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous magic. He becomes fascinated by the shadowy figure of the Raven King, and his heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens, not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear. This fantastic story combines the dark mythological fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien with the social comedy of Jane Austen." (Summary from

The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog is particularly reminiscent of the end of the book.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Young Botanist by Paul Peel

The Young Botanist by Paul Peel

This painting reminds me of my childhood. I used to press flowers in my favorite hardcover books, or in my mini flower press. Anne of Green Gables also comes to mind as I look at this painting. I used to love those books as a kid.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dirty Dancing "Time of Your Life" Final Dance

In honor of his passing, here is my favorite Patrick Swayze scene:

Watch dance videos and dance lessons at
"Nobody puts Baby in a corner!"

Who could say no to these wedding proposal cupcakes?

Who could say no to these wedding proposal cupcakes?

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Flying Trout wine!

I am so excited to go to Walla Walla this weekend to meet our friends from Boise. I just got an email about Flying Trout's new blends, see the tasting notes below. This will definitely be one of my first stops!

The wine maker, Ashley Trout, writes "This crush has been one of the earliest in recent Walla Walla history. Grapes are ripening and crushers are crushing. The following, therefore, will be brief. From now until September 30th, the following wines will be available for purchase: 2006 Deep River Red Blend (Sangiovese/Malbec) $29-2007 Cutthroat Blend (Syrah/Malbec) $35-Feel free to contact Carol for sales. 509-240-2219."

The Cutthroat Blend

2007 Cutthroat Blend

Case Production
72 cases made

Technical Notes

33% 2007 Konnowac Vineyard malbec, Rattlesnake Hills AVA
67% 2007 Phinny Hill Vineyard syrah, Horse Heaven Hills AVA
Used American oak

Recommended Cellar Time
Open 2012 - 2016

Tasting Notes:
Fleshy blueberries on buttermilk biscuits with a side of plum jam, trailed by whole black pepper, cardamom, with just a pinch of Chanel No. 5 and leather. This practically blue wine might be my weirdest and favorite blend yet. Many Argentine wineries are doing syrah/malbec blends, but they rarely make it up here because of politics and marketing- such a shame.

[I just adore this tasting note. It's descriptive and sassy. I can't wait to try this wine to see if I agree with the wine maker.]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A few favorite pictures from our Vamoose to Vancouver

Last weekend, we had a quick yet relaxing trip to Vancouver. The occasion was for my husband's work retreat and we got to stay Four Seasons! This is the view of downtown from our pretty hotel room!

The first day we went down to Gastown and down to the water where the cruise ships dock. It was the perfect weekend for walking around the town.
(Neat steam powered clock in Gastown!)
(Cool statue where the cruise ships dock.)
Wandering around Chinatown we saw this neat abacus statue.
We also saw a cute cat outside of a dim sum restaurant. But then my husband got stared down by a neo-Nazi, so we got lunch in the Robson neighborhood instead.
Our friend from college took us to Stanley Park, later that weekend. We started at Prospect Point overlooking North Vancouver and the Lions Gate Suspension Bridge. It's such a gorgeous lookout that several bridal parties were there too for pictures.

We unfortunately didn't get a chance to see much of the nightlife because the work retreat events were centered around dinner.
Here's an example of the gorgeous orchid table decorations at my husband's work retreat!

Overall, it was refreshing to see a similar climate and city to Seattle with an even more international flair. All our waiters had accents and everyone seemed to have more a European style. Vancouver is a great town and I hope we can spend more time there again soon!

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