Author Archives: scamp

That was awkward

Humorous Pictures
more cat pictures

OK, so the Scamp doesn’t like me laying my heavy trips on everyone who trips on in here looking for a tasty glass of wine. However, I have a lot of heavy trips (and preggo-related anecdotes/points of interest) on my mind lately. Add to this situation the fact that I could personally be responsible for the decline in wine sales this year (I made this up – I have no idea if wine sales are down) and we have here what The Dread Pirate Roberts would call an impasse.

So I propose to Have My Cake And Eat It Too in the following manner: I will write about being pregnant, etc at my new blog careening & gestating from now on. I advise you, gentle reader, that there will be more writing over there for the time being. If I can careen my way into getting my head on straighter, the Scamp and c&g might just find themselves living as happy siblings. Meanwhile, when I drink a wine I have something to say about, or when I drink any wine at all, you shall hear about it here are the Scamp as per usual. (There is a bottle of Chenin Blanc in my fridge that’s been slowly jostling up to the front of the shelf.)

My hope is that I can land in that elusive place where I can manhandle both wine key and breast pump with equal dexterity. And isn’t that what all of us want, way down deep inside?

Long time no me

When you read about pregnancy, happy is the predominant emotional theme. Which is good, don’t get me wrong. But I doubt if I am the only mother-to-be on the planet who is struck dumb with jaw-clenching, heart-stopping terror at the prospect of motherhood – and where, then, is our survival guide? There’s a few palliative columns in your average “what to expect” book about how becoming a parent can be anxiety-causing, and that it’s normal to feel afraid. Seriously now, the term “afraid” so minimally addresses how I feel. I am caught in a blizzard of frozen panic, snowed under by fright.  I need a book on how to convert an office into a nursery when all you want to do is watch episodes of House and re-read old mystery novels  as your body relentlessly balloons and your brain disintegrates.  Week by week.

I’m sure it doesn’t sound like it, but I’m actually happy to become a mom; there are things that I’m really looking forward to, I swear. These aren’t cold feet talking (despite the blizzard metaphor) – rather, every element of my adult psyche is desperately circling in my head in some broken game of musical chairs, as the uneven, tuneless jack-in-the-box music plays, trying to eye which parts of my being will have no place to sit when the music stops in December. It seems very real and evident to me that I will have to sacrifice some pieces of myself to become a mother – it’s an equation that seems as natural to me as the patellar reflex. Something new comes in, and some things have to go to make room.

So I’ve been thinking it was time to give up the blog. I’m not feeling even remotely creative (possibly because I am crusted over in panic, I grant you) and I am not drinking enough wine these days to do anything like keeping my hand in. I haven’t been reading other blogs or wine news. My whole interest in wine has scabbed over, I think in my anticipation that I could not both be a mother and a wine blogger, possibly any kind of blogger at all. Because honestly if I don’t blog about wine I don’t know what I’m entirely comfortable blogging about. It’s all very… exposed out here without a stemmed glass, isn’t it?

But then, to quote Alice, “I almost wish I hadn’t gone down that rabbit-hole–and yet–and yet–it’s rather curious, you know, this sort of life!”

Thus I am trying to dig myself out, gentle reader, of the numbing-dumbing snowbank. Melodramatic maunderings aside, I am taking it quite entirely on faith that I can be a mommy and a wine blogger. (My husband thinks I can.) It seems rather like Big Rock Candy Mountain at the moment, that combination of existences, but why not treat it like it could be true for a while and see what comes of it, I suppose? I’m honestly not sure what you’re going to be finding here from now on, but I’ll try to make it something. Don’t get your heart set – I make no guarantees.

Oh, and I had a tasty little Oregonian Pinot Gris the other night at McCormick & Schmick’s – called Cloudline, and evidently the consulting winemaker is Véronique Drouhin-Boss – which was lovely with my friend’s scallops and slightly less perfect with my pan-fried flounder.


Grape Harvester’s Soup

Last weekend we picked my father-in-law up in Cuero and drove him to San Antonio to Do Something Fun For A Change. While Cuero (Turkeyfest Capitol of the World) is certainly a thriving metropolis in its own way, I thought Dad was a bit bored with small town life, so we went to the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the Witte Museum, which I recommend highly. Worth the drive from Austin if you’re planning a fun SA day trip.

What I was looking forward to more than anything, though, was going back to the Liberty Bar, which wins the Wine Scamp prize of Most Interesting Food That I Can Mostly Afford In San Antonio, as well as Least Plumb Building. It’s tough to get both prizes in the same restaurant, let me tell you.

I ordered the Grape Harvester’s Soup for a starter, the Cold Roast Lamb Plate for lunch, and their apple pie for dessert. The pie was tasty, though inexplicably contained raisins, but the crust was on the doughy side and the apples were kind of crunchy. Still.

The soup took me by surprise, I will say. It most resembled this recipe from Olney than any other recipe I’ve found online. I had no idea of what to expect, except that the server said it had tomatoes and onions, grape juice and wine. The first two were perfectly evident, though not the last to – this tasted more like a tomato-based onion soup than anything. It was good, but I won’t be dreaming of it for weeks, per se.

What made me wonder about this version of the soup was: apart from tomatoes and onions arguably being in season when grapes are harvested, why would this be a traditional dish for farm workers? It’s very light, and doesn’t seem like the kind of dish I’d be looking forward to after a long day of stooping, picking, and hauling. Most other recipes on the Interweb include stewing beef, making the soup more hearty. But Richard Olney was well-known for his traditionalist French cuisine, right?

Have you ever had Olney’s grape harvester’s soup? Do you know anything about its history? I’m terribly curious!

kicked in the pants

Thanks to an impromptu chat with a wise new mother, I was suddenly inspired to throw off Preggo Prohibition and Freaking Have A Glass Of Wine Already (my words, not hers). Yeah, mothafuckah……! (flips the upside-down bird at abstinence) Take that! I’m BACK!

Since the rapidly growing criatura is the size of a turnip this week, we’re celebrating said humble root vegetable with take-out Thai food and a Jaboulet “Parellele 45” Cotes du Rhone Rose 2007. Makes sense in my head, anyway.

After ordering the Scamp household classic Thai food comfort order (spring rolls, pad thai, red chicken curry), I toddled off to World Market for some wine, thinking vaguely that they might have chilled wine. It’s been so long since I opened my cellar closet door, I couldn’t even remember what was in there, and I certainly haven’t been keeping anything cold.

WM doesn’t have a cold box, unfortunately, but I enjoyed browsing anyway and I bought a couple of wines from their Wine Speculator Top Whatever List display (an 05 Lehmann Shiraz and a Mosel Riesling), but for tonight’s momentous occasion I grabbed the Jaboulet Rose for only about $11.99, which is reasonable if not ridiculously cheap for said bottle.

I mostly went to WM because it was quite close to the restaurant, Blue Bamboo, which is the Thai place closest to my house. They’re both in this ridonkulous strip mall on Highway 71, and I was mitigating the guilt over my splurge on Wednesday’s dinner by not driving all over creation. For the record, in Texas this can be a challenge. I have found some decent inexpensive everyday wines at WM, so I have to give it at least a B- as far as a wine shop goes.

Blue Bamboo gets a C, I think, after their second chance. It took a Really Long Time to get my take-out order, and their pad thai is stunningly bland, though the red curry was acceptable and the spring rolls had nothing particularly wrong with them. I’ll try eating in the restaurant before I give up on them completely, but Thai Spice in Lakeway is much better, for the same money or less.

The wine wasn’t cold when I brought it home of course, and the bean was insisting on food immediately upon my arrival home. What’s a wine lover to do, in this situation? Unless you have a way cool insta-wine-chiller, I recommend the method indicated in the photo.

The Jaboulet CDR Rose is a charming salmon pink in the glass. Nose of grapefruit, raspberry, and strawberry, with a hint of herbal-greeniness. On the palate, this mutha is TART, with flavors of strawberry lemonade with mineral ice cubes. Nice body and comfy mouthfeel. A tasty rose, complex for its price point, but not too involved.

With the pad thai, which needed lots of lime to bring it to life a little, the wine’s fruit just disappeared, leaving all the tartness and mineral – rather not The Thing, if you understand me. With the curry, however, which was much spicier and had that sweet-creamy richness of coconut milk, the fruit was much more forward. It was kind of like the tartness, and to some degree the mineral, was so busy fighting the hot pepper that it never made it to my tongue.

The wine is made up of 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault and 10% Syrah, according to Jaboulet’s website. I’m not going to gabble on about the French region of Cotes du Rhone just now because it’s late and my womb treats everyone better when I get some good sleep. More than one post in June, though – I promise!

Lame Salad

Seriously with the first trimester fatigue?

I’m sorry, people, but the bean just keeps sucking all of my creative energy out and using it to build a placenta and kidneys and synapses and other stuff it thinks it needs. Meanwhile, the Scamp languishes in obscurity, gathering cobwebs and inflicting unremitting guilt upon me, your inadequate host. I’ve missed Wine Blogging Wednesdays and Wine Book Clubs and all sorts of great stuff. I don’t even read wine blogs these days! Oh, the horror!

I remember discovering Basic Juice and enjoying it so much, and then I remember how sad I was when the supply dried up. I don’t mean to abandon you, really – it’s just that all I do is work and sleep and stare off into space while blearily creating life. Dullsville Township, population: me.

Oh and please don’t assure me that it only gets worse when the kid sheds me and starts screaming. If you have nothing nice to say… maintain radio silence, if you please.

Back soon, if the rumors about the second triathlon are to be believed.

A Wine Scamp Bloggerpack? Surely you jest!

So months ago, Jill from Domaine 547, the hippest online wine shop run by a blogger, approached me about taking part of her blogger-pack program. I was quite excited to do so, as so many of my favorite wine bloggers have been involved already and it’s time I started hanging with a good crowd.

But what two- or three-pack of wine says Scamp? Jeff Lefevere of Good Grape did a neat selection of Alsatian varietals from the Willamette Valley. Awesome idea, and as an Oregonian I couldn’t agree more about promoting the whites from that region. Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 did a great round-the-world trip of value, very apropos for her blog. I love good cheap wine, so was full of admiration for this idea. Brooklynguy did a two-pack of Loire wines, which he recommended for the holidays, and Ryan and Gabrielle of Catavino did a grouping of great Portuguese wines.

All great concepts, and I couldn’t bear to copy anyone. So I went back in my head (envision Wayne’s World wavy lines) to the days when I taught a weekly wine class, and remembered that my favorite classes to teach were the “X Varietal Around the World” ones. And because I’m such a Syrah freak, I thought we’d go that direction. Jill agreed, and we started trying to think about what three wines could take us around the world on the Syrah magic carpet ride… for about $60 bucks.

This was seriously hard work!

See, if you’re going to do a Syrah Around the World (which could sound positively dirty if you say it right), you must have a French one. But in France, they do not make very many 100% Syrah wines — mostly, they blend Syrah with Grenache and other lovely varietals into wines called Cotes du Rhone, Chateauneuf de Pape, etc. But you HAVE to have a French Syrah, because Syrah’s done so differently there and that’s the whole point of a ‘Round the World tasting: regional styles.

The two French wines that are all or mostly Syrah are: Hermitage Rouge and Crozes-Hermitage Rouge. The former is v. expensive. The latter is rather expensive. Jill and I spent most of our debate time looking, but finally found a C-H for Not Much Money that tastes French, from the good folks at Dme Ferraton. Voila.

Then the other obligatory region in a Syrah tasting is, of course, Australia. Because we both love it and because it’s just a kickin’ value for the cash, we chose the d’Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz. (Anything, dear reader, from d’Arenberg is The Shizzle. Love them into little green apples, I do.)

Finally, a Californian Syrah. I hadn’t heard of the winery that Jill suggested, but once I tried them I was very impressed. Not telling, though, until I post the actual review.

A huge shout-out must go to my friend Lady J, who spent last Sunday on the couch watching movies and tasting (well, she was drinking) wine with me. Her presence got me to ignore the morning sickness nausea that has become my hourly companion and pop the corks that have been nagging me for weeks and weeks. Plus I knew that the bottles I opened went to a good home.

So be on the look-out for reviews of the three wines in the blogger-pack upcoming. I’ve been so remiss that I might be at the back of the blogger-pack line, but reviews you shall have, dearies, and sooner than summer this time.

As a post-script I must note that I REALLY MISS DRINKING WINE. Tasting it makes me miss it that much more. And these three bottles were SO good. Gah.

Depp Disses Illinois Wine

This week’s frivolity: evidently Johnny Depp is filming in Illinois, and “got sick of drinking the local wine,” so he shipped in wine from his home in France to get him through the duration of the filming.

This quote-unquote-news, while published I suppose to publicize a celebrity’s excess (because that’s unusual), makes me wonder various things:

What Illinois wine was Johnny drinking?

Why didn’t he just direct his entourage to purchase some CA wine, rather than shipping from France?

Or was California wine the “local wine” that the source in the article was really referring to? Was this a sort of slam against all US vintners, or Illinois vintners only?

Is French wine unavailable in Illinois, requiring one to ship in one’s own?

Did Johnny expect that drinking Illinois wine would be so delightful that he would not possibly need to pack some French bottles with him for his sojourn, and was subsequently dismayed to find himself mistaken, or what?

Yet another point to further my contention that celebrities are, in reality, robots and not actual people.

Happy Humpt-Day, the ancient celebration of putting a broken egg back together again. Good luck with all that and good night.

Say my name

The hu’b and I are having our first parenting disagreement, and since I have no reason to call Car Talk, I thought I’d present it for your consideration, gentle reader. Consider… The Name.

We were invited to see Blue Lapis Light dance on the Federal Building about a year ago, and while it was getting dark enough for the performance, I was reading through the program. I happened upon a list of donors and found the most exceptional name! Brace yourself: Pebbles. Wadsworth.

Just imagine what a woman could accomplish in the big wide world with a name like Pebbles Wadsworth Middleton! And we could nickname her PW, or P-Dub, or Bull-bull… Anyone with a name this phenomenal would invariably grow up to become a trial lawyer, a Texas politician, or a deep sea explorer.

Alas, the bean’s father can not perceive the twinkling awesomeness of this name. I still can’t understand what his objections are, as whenever he tries to talk about them, all I can hear is Pebbles Wadsworth Pebbles Wadsworth Pebbles Wadsworth Pebbles Wadsworth Pebbles Wadsworth Pebbles Wadsworth Middleton.

Oh wise denizens of the magical interwebs, what do you think? Am I guilty of intended child abuse, or the most rockingest mama in the world?

Women who drink wine don’t lose their minds

At least, not via dementia. The Vancouver Sun reported on a study conducted in Sweden, which followed nearly 1,500 women for over 34 years to study the relationship between kinds of consumed alcohol and the risk of dementia.

What they found was rather interesting, though scientists have no explanation for it. Evidently, women who reported drinking wine regularly were 40% less likely to develop dementia, even though they tended to live longer, thereby giving them more time to do so. Even more dramatically, women who reported drinking only wine (that is, no beer or hard liquor) were 70% less likely to develop dementia. Women who drank liquor exclusively had a higher chance of developing dementia. Sorry, cosmo gals.

This being said, there is counterbalancing evidence about wine and women’s health: Reuters reported Sunday on a huge San Diego study indicating that postmenopausal women who consume one to two drinks a day are 32% more likely to develop breast cancer. Postmenopausal women who consumed three or more drinks a day were 51% more likely to develop a hormone-sensitive tumor. Granted, it doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol was drunk.

So… we women wine drinkers will be completely sane as we desperately try to chase the cancer out of our boobies? Thanks for sharing, Science!

Closure kerfluffle

The Italian winery Allegrini, a reliable go-to for quality wine from the Veneto region, has announced their plans to close their bottles of Valpolicella Classico DOC with screwcaps this year, according to a Wine Spectator Online article. Unfortunately, because of silly Italian wine regulations restricting what wines can get what kind of closure, Allegrini will have to de-classify their wine to a mere Valpolicella, an appellation with less restrictions (and thus usually lower quality).

Franco Allegrini comments in the article that he’s not sure in screwcap closures are better for wines meant to be drunk young, like their Valpolicella, but that they have to use much less sulfur in the wine when they use screwcaps. This reduction of intervention would generally be thought of as a good thing, and it’s a shame that the Italian wine regulators are so hidebound to their outmoded traditions that they can’t see the advantage of modern closure technology.

Allegrini will probably get less for their wine, bottling it with screwcaps as Valpolicella, than they would bottling it with corks as Valpolicella Classico. Co-owner Marilisa Allegrini thinks this will actually help, rather than hurt, the wine’s sales, considering the dollar’s activity these days.

Funny old world in which, when your country’s wine laws work against you, it can actually boost your sales.