Category Archives: Wine

Champange…Mangos!

There is absolutely nothing more mouth-watering in that Spring to Summer transition than a Champagne Mango. I tend to favor these pint-sized juicy golden gems over other types of mangos, not only because of the word “Champagne” in the title (I’m a bubbly enthusiast, after all), but because they are truly the most luscious and most flavorful of all the mango varieties. These kidney-shaped delights are absolutely the “Champagne” of Mangos, though the yield be small, the pit annoyingly cumbersome, and then there’s the conundrum of how to slice it, which can be quite complicated.

Generally, I will beg my husband to do the honor of slicing the mangos for us, mostly because he’s terrifically good at it (well, this is what happens when your spouse has taken a “knife skills” class…you tend to leave the sous chef-ing to their skilled hands and therefore reap the benefits). Fortunately, he enjoys chopping and dicing almost as much as I enjoy consuming his choppings and dicings.

Mangos have always held a special place in my fruit-loving heart. My Mom and I are definite “fruities” (by the way, the “fruitie” came before the genesis of the “foodie” – I swear). I don’t know how or why it started, but when I was growing up, we used plop down “Under the Sink” (well, not fully under with the cleaning supplies, mind you, but just below the sink, and yes, on the ground). We’d lean back against the cabinet, chat, and eat fruit together. She’d prepare a mango, or a papaya with lime, or a mixed berry salad, and we’d sit on the floor and giggle at our odd tradition.

When we had fights, we would make up by talking it out “Under the Sink.” It was a place to make a peace offering, a place to cry it out over heartache, and a place to be quizzed on Civil War facts. Though many fruits journeyed with us “Under the Sink”, mangos were always my absolute favorite; the fruit that sticks in my memory most. Mangos were special: they came into season once a year and tasted just like candy. (Well, they tasted like candy to to a very candy-deprived little girl. For example, “carob” was presented as an alternative to chocolate. Nice try, health-nut parents.)

I have been unable to eat fruit for the past three years because of a stomach problem, but I’ve slowly been able to add it back in in small amounts over the past few months. Nothing can beat the freshness of a piece of fruit when it’s perfectly in season, especially when you’re not used to consuming sweet things. And this year, upon that first bite into that Champagne Mango…I don’t think anything could have tasted better.

Since we’re here obsessing about all things mango, I wanted to include my husband’s instructions on cutting a mango (he really gets the most out of those juicy little guys).

Also, because I do still occasionally need to talk it out with my Mom “Under the Sink” (albeit with cushions under our less-cushiony-with-age-bottoms), we might treat ourselves with…an adult Champagne Mango Cocktail! (Directions below.)

HOW TO CUT A MANGO:

  1. Get a sharp knife! (Highly important in this household.)
  2. Hold the mango so that the long, skinny edge rests on the cutting board.
  3. Visualize that the pit is only about 1 cm thick in the center so find a spot on the skinny edge facing up about half that distance from the center.
  4. Cut vertically on that line. If you hit resistance halfway through, try angling the knife away from the center to try to cut “around” the wide part of the pit.
  5. Repeat on the other side of the mango. You should now have two kidney shaped halves and the center section with the flat pit in the middle.
  6. Score the flesh of the kidney sections into a grid, like you would an avocado, doing your best to keep the skin intact.
  7. Flip the kidneys over and invert them so that the flesh pops out like a turtle shell.
  8. One at a time, use your palm to press the kidney as flat as you can against a cutting board so that the skin is flush with the board’s surface.
  9. With the knife flat with the cutting board, run the knife through the fruit flesh as close to the skin as possible.
  10. Repeat with the second kidney section.
  11. Get a high-five from the soon-to-be-mango-eaters.
  12. Grab the remnants of the kidney sections and the center pit piece and selfishly scrape off anything you can get with your teeth (so that you can offer more of the “pretty” fruit for your mango-eating loved ones, of course). Avoid scraping the exterior skin though since it is crazy-bitter.
  13. Revel in the neat little squares of sweetness.

SPARKLING MANGO MINT COCKTAILS (serves 6):

*1/4 cup crushed mint leaves

*3 cups Mango juice

*1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

*Add Sparkling Wine to taste (or fizzy water make it a virgin cocktail!) Our choice? Lexy’s Toast Brut Nature!

DIRECTIONS:

Crush mint leaves and lime juice until bruised. Place mint and lime in a container with the mango juice and leave to sit in the refrigerator for an hour. Remove, strain the mint leaves, and pour. Top with Sparkling Wine (to taste!), and add a wedge of real mango, mint leaves, or cucumber.

And ENJOY! “Under the Sink”, of course.

CHEERS!

 

How to Saber a Champagne Bottle Without Simultaneously Sabering your Partner, Dog, or Dinner Guest.

“In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it.”

— Napoleon Bonaparte….(possibly)

The iconic quote above is often attributed to Napoleon, but we are not exactly sure who said it. It sure sounds like something he’d say, so let’s go with it. And as with all Champagne lore…there’s a goodly amount of myth surrounding who said or did what. Contrary to popular belief, Dom Pérignion, a French monk, did not actually “invent” Champagne (despite all the hullabaloo surrounding his “Come quickly, I’m tasting the stars” quote). And was the coupe really designed after Marie Antoinette’s breast? Who knows? Hey – it’s possible! Regardless, lore, myth, and majesty are part of Champagne’s irresistible charm: I do believe bubbles really are magic.

Even the act of opening a bottle of Champagne can carry quite a bit of flair. You can pop the cork like a cannon, signaling celebration, or you can follow a more demure act of opening the bottle, touted by those in the ‘biz’. In this fashion, it’s highly preferred to pop the cork in such a manner that could be described (most enchantingly) as a “nun’s fart”. Regardless, that pop (be it deafening or quiet) is a delightful pre-curser to what’s sure to be a fabulous evening. And to begin your celebration with even MORE panache…why not SABER your bottle open?!?

Sabering is the theatrical art of opening a Champagne bottle by a long knife/sword/saber. If done well, upon contact to the bottle rim, the cork will zoom through the air and out will fly a bit of Champagne, along a clean break in the glass (all three of these things hopefully missing someone’s eyeball in the process).

I had never personally sabered (is that a verb?) a bottle, but made a resolution to learn on as good a time as any for resolution-making: New Year’s Eve. We were given a beautiful French Laguiole saber for our wedding and I was determined to figure out how to use it. After watching countless YouTube videos, I felt like I understood the gist of it, and decided it was high time to try the damn thing. That was the first attempt, off our front porch into the bushes. It went pretty well, and I went to sleep proudly having accomplished a New Year’s resolution before New Year’s Day had even hit.

The second attempt was in front of 60 party guests. GULP.

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I’d like to proudly report that no one was killed, lost an eye, or was doused in Champagne (although someone may have welcomed the latter), so I figured my two time success deserved heaps of praise. As I proudly sent a slo-mo video of my saber-feat to my girlfriends, one asked “so what’s up with this saber tradition, anyway? Don’t you lose a lot of the wine? What’s the point if you lose a bunch of wine?”

I had to admit; I had no idea about the tradition surrounding the saber. So I looked it up.

Apparently (hey, Champagne myths!) after winning the French Revolution, as Napoleon galloped home victoriously with his fleet of men, the townsfolk, in their excitement, tossed bottles of Champagne to him and his army. Being it was quite difficult to open the bottles while riding, the men quickly sabered them with their swords. (I’m not totally sure how that’s easier, but okay, it’s lore).

According to his quote, Napoleon drank Champagne regardless of victory or defeat, but I highly doubt anyone tossed him a bottle after his defeat at Waterloo. I’m sure when he got home from that bummer of a job, he probably did open a bottle to nurse his wounds. However I’m pretty sure he didn’t open that bottle with an extravagant pop, but probably with that gentle sound of a nun’s fart.

Since then, there’s a bit of pomp and circumstance surrounding the act of sabering. Yes you lose a little wine…but you gain some street cred. (I like to tell myself this).

And so, lastly (so you can gain some street cred), here’s what I promised you:

How to Saber a Champagne Bottle:

  1. Procure a saber and a bottle of sparkler (I’d err on the side of inexpensive here).
  2. Remove the foil completely and take the wire cage off the bottle (and make SURE the bottle is pointing AWAY from anyone you love, or even like) as sometimes corks like to “pop” on their own before the time is right). There’s a lot of pressure in that bottle – six atmospheres to be exact!
  3. Turn the bottle until you locate a “seam”, a vertical line running from the bottom all the way to the top. It’s faint, but it’s there. Place your non-dominant hand under the bottle, holding it horizontally so the seam is facing up.
  4. With the bottle slightly tilted up, guide the saber along the seam. I like to do this a few times to “practice” before hitting the rim of the bottle. (Also, look around…this is a good time to make sure no one has wandered into your safe space.)
  5. Take a breath. You got this, Champ!
  6. On your last slide down the bottle with the saber, give it a little extra “oomph”. (This is a technical term). The saber will hit the lip of the bottle, create a clean break in the neck, and the pressure will send any glass, the cork, and a bit of the sparkler out of the bottle.
  7. Celebrate! Pour everyone you love (or like) some bubbly! Be careful, as the spout of the bottle could be sharp from where the clean break happened!

P.S. In case of a sobering, saber defeat: choose your bottle wisely. I’d recommend practicing on a Sparkler under $20. Do NOT choose a bottle of $2,000 Billecart-Salmon, as did the sommelier of the famed French Laundry in Napa. Big-time. Epic. Fail.

To witness this face palming occurrence, check out the video below.

DO NOT DO THIS!  🤦‍♀️

Cheers! 

 

 

 

 

WHAT TO PUT ON YOUR FACE IN THE MORNINGS DURING HARVEST SO YOU CAN RUN OUT THE DOOR QUICKLY (AND NOT LOOK TOTALLY DEAD)!

As promised, here’s the follow up to my Cellar Rat Attire post! I have been itching to write this one as I’ve been through much trial and error with what to put on my face in my new position as a winery “Cellar Rat.”

I will readily admit, I happen to be the kind of gal who enjoys a little concealer under her eyes and a little color in her cheeks (otherwise I get asked, often in horror: “Lexy, oh my gosh, are you okay? You look sick!”) when I’m just…natural.

Hey! I woke up like this! (And it’s not pretty.) 

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(I have a nice husband.)

Hey – it’s okay! Sometimes we need a little help from our makeup-friends.

As mentioned in my last post, I spend most of my days covered in water (or wine). Too many times I’ve applied mascara, only to have it stream down my face five minutes into starting work. A wet cellar rat is even more unfortunate than a dry cellar rat. And even worse than a wet cellar rat is a wet, raccoon cellar rat.

As our winery, vineyards, and lifestyle become more and more sustainable, I’m in the process of switching over all of my household and beauty products to clean, non-toxic ones. The FDA only bans 30 chemicals from household and beauty products whereas the European Union bans 1,300. That’s an astonishing difference! After reading a lot of literature on the subject, I’ve decided to make the switch, as best I can, to “clean beauty”. As I run out of products, I’ve been slowly replacing my toxic items with clean ones. It’s a process to figure out what natural ones work best, but I’m on a mission!

Here are my top choices (and a few bonus ideas from my nighttime routine):

  1. You must always begin your day with sunscreen. There are no excuses…it’s just so easy now! I’ve got a few favorite sunscreen products, but I have to suggest this do-it-all CC Cream from Supergoop. It’s a clean sunscreen that doubles as a foundation (as it seems to have more coverage than a tinted moisturizer). It makes your skin softer and smoother with a blend of apple extract, Irish moss, and red seaweed extract. I don’t know what Irish moss and red seaweed are…but I love the product. The only sad news is I’m in between two shades: Fair Light and Light. So I bought both (ouch ouch ouch – thank goodness for the yearly Sephora sale) and mix them together for the perfect Lexy color! 
  2. Speaking of Sunscreen, this SPF 30 Powder Brush on Block is my go-to for a little extra boost of sunscreen as the day wears on. I’ve tried countless types of powder sunscreens, but this one is the easiest to use, and they make refills to cut down on waste. (Yay!)
  3. Speaking of MORE Sunscreen (yep…the love affair continues): I love this mineral-rich Supergoop SPF 37 Eye Cream. This anti-aging eye cream is packed with squalene and oat peptides to combat fine lines. The cool-tip applicator massages the eye area too. (Hint: keep this in the fridge for an extra de-puffing under-eye boost!)
  4. Hynt Concealer is the closest “clean” beauty dupe I’ve found for my beloved “It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye” concealer. I tried the popular RMS concealer but it was too thin for my cavernous dark circles. (Thanks, Mom!) Hynt’s concealer is full coverage (yay!) non-drying (yay!) and delivers a non-cakey look (triple yay!). Botanical extracts and oils make it smooth when applied and all you need is a wee dab.
  5. It’s taken me awhile to find the perfect “clean” waterproof mascara, but I give you: Eyeko Eyeliner Sport. It’s incredibly waterproof (which is HIGHLY necessary to avoid that raccoon look) and gives me great volume and curl. I’m in love!
  6. The Ilia Multi Stick in Tenderly has replaced my staple Mabelline blush stick. It’s made with cocoa butter and sunflower oil, with and it’s the perfect shade of pink! I swipe this on my cheeks, rub it in, and swipe it on my lips too! Multi-use indeed!
  7. There’s really nothing that can be done for wine-stained nails…but I use this nail brush and rub a multi-purpose Marula oil at into my cuticles before bed. (Hint: you can use this oil many different ways: on your nails, hair, and face for a moisture boost!)
  8. If I’m lazy, I take the day off with an Ursa Major wipe, OR (if I’m feeling a bit more luxurious) this Farmacy Melt-away Cleanser. After rubbing my eyes gently with the balm, it removes even waterproof eye makeup – no cotton pads needed! Genius. (If you don’t use waterproof eye makeup another suggestion to take the day off is the Osea Ocean Cleanser (it smells so good)! 
  9. After cleansing, I apply this Indie Lee CoQ10 Toner I got as a sample (thank you Follain – more on this company below!) and I love it. It removes excess oil while delivering powerful antioxidants and moisturizing hyaluronic acid. Here’s where I need cotton pads…and I love these reusable ones. They come with a little mesh baggie you can toss in with your laundry! No more waste!
  10. Lastly, I slather on this Ursa Major Face Cream cream (generally mixed in with the Marula oil) to hydrate my skin for the next morning. 

I have a couple favorite sources that sell clean and natural beauty products, but my favorite is Follain. Out of all the companies I have bought clean products from, they do the most in-depth research and testing of the products they sell, and have curated a strict list of chemicals they ban from products sold by their company. Love!

P.S. Here’s a BONUS for getting all the way to the end of this article: a code for 15% off your first purchase from Follain: just type in the code ref15_l67yii during check out!

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Butter is Better

Butter sit down for this one (pun intended). Until I turned the ripe old age of 30, I had never in my life cooked with butter.

Yep! You heard me.

Now that your shock and horror has ceased and you can stand again, let me explain.

My mother (a former dancer and therefore a former health nut) was so anti-butter that it did not even have a presence in our kitchen when I was growing up in the 80s/90s. I Can’t Believe it’s NOT Butter sat decidedly on the refrigerator shelf, pronouncing proudly from it’s little yellow package: Butter is Bad! I am Better than Butter!

Sometimes we had Country Crock, or Smart Balance, or some sort of margarine. Globs of buttery imitation substances glimmered on top our slices of ancient grain 7-seed wheat toast. Then I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter was released as a SPRAY. In college, I recall, in an attempt to cut calories, my girlfriends and I would squirt this substance on toast and top it with a Splenda. Ew.

Hellooooo chemicals! Welcome to my body!

I assume I’d probably tasted butter millions of times in restaurants on pasta, fish, and meat. But because it was banned in our house I automatically assumed it was a wicked log of heart-clogging material, so I rarely attempted to spread it on bread in a restaurant. Despite it’s universal presence outside of my childhood home, I never realized one could cook with it and STILL be healthy…until the girls in my dressing room at Avenue Q one night peered into my insanely-boring, nightly scramble. Either from the smell or simply the look of it, they wrinkled their noses at my broccoli/tofu/quinoa jumble I had sautéed in Olive Oil Spray. Then someone said, “You know, Lex, that would probably be so much better if you cooked it with butter.”

I replied that I’d never owned, never bought, and never cooked with butter. I was met with wide eyes and stunned silence. Then gasps pervaded the room! “Lexy OMG everything’s better with BUTTER!” “You don’t even put it in your EGGS?!”

I was ordered to go to Trader Joes immediately (well, after the show), buy a stick of butter and start cooking with it. Then I was to report back.

For my first experiment, I made some gluten-free pasta and melted butter on top, with a little parmesan, salt pepper, and lemon. OKAY. YUP! I could immediately taste the difference. This is what I’d been missing my whole life! Who needed a boyfriend when there was BUTTER?!? The rich, creamy, delicious butter won over my heart (in it’s potentially heart-clogging way). I began adding butter to my eggs, pasta, even gluten-free English Muffins! I then discovered Ghee (clarified butter) from my Godmother, and that also has become a condiment staple.

As I make my way through the world (and current food/gut-related issues) I have come to believe in balance (and NOT Smart Balance). I believe in making things taste delicious. I believe in whole and wholesome foods. I also believe in moderation. And butter in moderation can elevate a dish into something much more special. (And I am happy to report there is now a stick of butter in my parents refrigerator, too!)

Here’s one of my favorite (and easy!) recipes that pairs perfectly with a (NON!) buttery Chardonnay from GlenLyon Winery. ENJOY!

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Shrimp over Pasta with Parsley, Lemon, and Garlic (for two!) 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb raw shrimp (fresh if possible, we like 26/30 size)
  • 2 cups dried fusilli pasta (gluten-free for us!)
  • 1 cup of Italian parsley when stripped off stems
  • 1/2 cup Chardonnay
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp BUTTER (REAL!)
  • Shredded Parmesan (Lexy says: as much as you WANT!)

Directions (to multitask!):

  • Pour yourself a glass of Chardonnay
  • Fill a stock pot with water a bring to a boil
  • While the water boils…
    • Strip the parsley from the stems and finely chop
    • Press half the garlic through a press
    • Zest and juice the lemon
    • Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pressed garlic, chopped parsley in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper
    • Slice the other half of the garlic into thin slices; reserve for shrimp
    • Start to heat skillet over medium-high heat
    • Add the butter to the skillet, allow to melt
  • Once the water boils…
    • Salt the water, add the pasta, and start the clock (about 7 minutes for our glut)
  • Once the butter is melted and starting to sizzle…
    • Add sliced garlic to skillet, cook 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant
    • Add shrimp to skillet then leave them alone
    • Give the pasta a swirl
    • Have a sip (or two) of Chardonnay
  • After 3 minutes
    • Turn the shrimp
    • Give the pasta a swirl
    • Have a another sip (or two) of Chardonnay
  • After another 2 minutes (the shrimp should almost be done)…
    • Sprinkle as much crushed red pepper over shrimp as you want
    • Deglaze the pan by throwing in the Chardonnay with the shrimp, allow it to bubble and reduce by half for the next minute
  • While the Chardonnay is cooking down and the shrimp finishes…
    • Check the pasta (it should be done after 7 minutes)
    • Drain the pasta and return it to the stock pot
  • Now bring it all together…
    • Add the olive oil/lemon/parsley mixture to the pot
    • Add the shrimp and wine sauce from the skillet to the pot
    • Toss it all together
  • Serve with heaps of grated Parmesan cheese and a glass (or two) of Chardonnay
  • Enjoy!

Vinomoon: a Retrospective.

It’s been a year since my husband and I took our magical trip to France for our Vinomoon (ahem, our HONEYmoon). This week I happened to be doing a little spring cleaning in our apartment and found a notebook we kept throughout the trip, a compilation of the best and worst of our experiences (because we knew we’d forget them later.) So the timing couldn’t have been better for us to open the notes and relive aloud our spectacular journey to Paris, Champagne, and Bordeaux.

Before taking the deep dive down the notebook’s memory lane, we (obviously!) decided to pop open a special bottle that we lugged back with us from France: an Emmanuel Brochet 1er cru Extra Brut. (P.S. if you plan on buying wine on a trip…bring this or this lifesaving apparatus.)

The bubbly was just as we remembered it (though in France we did get to enjoy it alongside the most delicious, melty triple-creme brie cheese I’ve ever tasted). This time, we paired it with a Petit Marin breakfast cheese, which didn’t have quite the same effect. (Side note: I still consumed the 7/8ths of the wheel.) Despite our lack of gooey cheese, the Brut showed all the character that made us love it the first time, with its nose of vanilla, butterscotch, and toffee. It’s quite rich for being extra dry (with only 4 grams sugar per litre), and full-bodied without feeling over indulgent. Flavors of brioche, pear, and – with the cheese – I got baked apple cheesecake (Is that a thing? If not, it should be). It was low in acid, yet lively and fresh, with a superbly clean finish.

Whilst sipping our delicious bubbly, we ambled through the “Vinomoon” notebook, chortling and reminiscing about the trip. The most magical part of the little notebook was discovering the “interview” we gave each other on the plane back home to California.

So here it is, in all it’s glory: our fake Vanity Fair interview on the “highlights and lowlights” of our Vinomoon:

BEST/WORST TAXI EXPERIENCE:

HUSBAND: We were in the Champagne region in Reims and we missed the last train to Epernay (that sounds like a movie title.) No Ubers. No Lyfts. So we took a taxi home. Which cost a whopping 80 euro!

LEXY: BUT…it ended up being the best cab ride EVER! I got a free French lesson from a true Frenchman. (Well, I guess it wasn’t free, it was 80 euro. But, STILL!) I was crabby to have missed out train, but our Cabbie’s sweet musings about his Petite Chien (or was it his Petite Girlfriend? I’ll never know) turned my red glasses blue. It could have been the bubbly at dinner, but Cabbie and Moi really connected over the ride home.

I speak incredible French after a glass (or two) of wine.

 

CRABBIEST PERSON:

H: Lexy.

L: Moi. What?!? I’m owning it!

PERSON WHO GOT SICK THE MOST:

G: Lexy.

L: Moi. I’m owning this too! TWO separate colds, 1 stomach bug, and 1 ear infection. I couldn’t hear out of my left ear for 16 of the 17 days. SEE??? THERE WAS A REASON I WAS THE CRABBIEST PERSON!

H: I got sick one time. I re-infected Lexy for her 2nd cold. Sorry, Lex!

L: What? I can’t hear you.

ON FOREIGN COUNTRY DRIVING:

H: I only stalled one rental car once. I also got a parking ticket and didn’t even know! It was mailed to California. How did they find me? 

L: OMG did you ever pay that? We can never go back to France unless you pay it! PAY IT! Anyway, I was very impressed by Husband’s stick shift driving, but my resting heart rate in the car during the many round-a-bouts was close to 150. (Is that bad?)

H: Lexy forced me to pull over about 7,000 times to take pictures. This cow was pretty cute, though.

 

MOST LOST:

L: Gosh, it happened SO many times. But the biggie was we were unable to find the entrance to Y’quem (if you don’t know of it, Y’quem is the one of the most famous wineries in Bordeaux, and somehow I had managed to procure us a tour.) So I was having full on panic attack that we might miss our coveted appointment. Thanks to our trusty GPS guide (who I deemed “Claire Voyant”) we finally entered the vicinity of Y’quem, but ended up circling inside the vineyard for about 5 minutes till we found our way. No signs. No one spoke English. “This can’t be right” I kept repeating, over and over as our car was turning the middle of a vineyard. Heart rate: 180.

H: Lexy’s an awesome back seat driver.

L: Is that a compliment?

 

FAVORITE CHAMPANGE TASTING:

BOTH: Tarlant! With Micheline!

H: She was the sweetest older lady – the mother of the current winemaker – and it was the longest and most personal tasting we had. They are like 13 generations deep!

L: Our other favorite was at Moussé et Fils with Cedric. It was a gorgeous facility, and he really took the time to endure our (many) questions.

WEIRDEST DINING EXPERIENCE:

L: Epernay. We were sitting studying the menu at a completely EMPTY VERY LONG bar. A tipsy frenchman entered and plopped down RIGHT next to us.

H: We had asked if it was okay to eat at the bar. They had said “non.” So while we waited for a table, the drunk man was served food immediately. AT THE BAR. Before they even managed to get us a glass of wine.

L: The drunk man proceeded to ask my husband if he wanted to taste his “pig insides” and when he politely refused, Drunky forcefully shoved pig insides in my husband’s face, and continually asked us why we didn’t want to taste them. Mon dieu!

H: We were (finally) moved to a table, and asked the waiter why the Drunkard was allowed to eat at the bar while we weren’t. The waiter said: he was “an exception.”

L: Then his shoe fell off and he broke a glass. l’exception, indeed.

STINKY CHEESE MISHAPS:

H: We went to the most incredible farmer’s market in Epernay, right before leaving for Bordeaux. We bought a few things to eat on the train, one being an easy peasy normal Camembert. About half way to Bordeaux…Lexy (who has a ridiculously amazing sense of smell) got a whiff of…TRASH.

L: Something was rotten…and it was in the state of our train compartment. We started sniffing around…feet? No. My purse? No. The Frenchman across from us? No.

H: Food bag? OUI! Meat? no. Artichokes? No. Olives? No. Moldy Chevre? Like the kind that is actually covered in mold? No! Lexy’s right armpit?

L: (It’s a notoriously stinky armpit.)

H: NO! Ah HA! The “mild” camembert?

L: OUI! Nightmare New York City Subway Garbage Cheese Camembert. Even the Frenchman across from us looked faintly ill. 

BEST CHARCUTERIE (AND ACTUALLY, PERHAPS BEST OVERALL EXPERIENCE COMPLETE WITH CHAMPAGNE WINEMAKER ‘CELEBRITY’ SIGHTING).

B: Au Bon Manger in Reims!

L: Everything about this little shop was magical…the hard-to-procure Champagnes lining the walls, the perfect Charcuterie plates, the people…and in waltzed Emmanuel Brochet. (Remember the bubbly I described in the beginning? That was his!) We had seen his picture in our “Grower Champagne” book (he’s very handsome!) so we recognized him immediately. He hadn’t responded to our pleas to come visit his winery…so we asked him in the shop. While he was “way way way too busy” that week, I still managed to procure his email for our next visit!

H: I was too nervous to speak so just sat there grinning like a fool. But at least I didn’t ask to have my photo taken with him like the folks at the other table did. We had just bought some of his wine so I pointed at it and gave a thumbs up. There you go! Ha.

 

MOST FRUSTRATING HOUSING:

L: Epernay: our Airbnb smelled like chocolate poop. When we arrived (on a Sunday) there was no TP or soap…and all the stores were closed since it was…Sunday.

H: Bordeaux: our Airbnb was up at least 10 flights of the tiniest castle stairs you could possibly imagine. Guess who carried our SIX bags (one of which was a full case of Champagne).

L: They were missing a WINE OPENER (this is BORDEAUX, people!), paper towels, dish soap, and hand soap, and the sponge was so mildew encrusted we had to buy another one. I was so mad about it I took all the items we had to buy back to California with us (out of principle!). Anyone want a used sponge and a roll of paper towels?

But omg: the view from our little apartment balcony!

 

MOST PLEASANT SUPRISE:

L: Underground wine museum in Paris (that Husband thought would be “too touristy”). 

H: General availability of rotisserie chicken.

MOST ROMANTIC MOMENT:

L: Ugh! So many.

H: Paris, in general. The restaurant Le Soufflé. Locking our love lock on the Pont Des Arts Bridge> 

L: Every time it rained. (I love rain!) So, definitely the picnic we had in Ay after visiting Pierre Gimmonet. We were on the grass next to a river in Ay with our picnic and a split. All of a sudden it looked like they sky was about to open up, so we bolted to the car just in time, and enjoyed the rest of lunch safely ensconced during a thunderstorm. I thought it was romantic! Scientific Fact: French rain is definitely more romantic than American rain. 

H: Mine was when bought an (overpriced) bottle of Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé, walked to the base of the Eiffel tower, found a fountain with some rocks to sit on, and toasted each other as the tower lights flashed away. 

L: It rained that night too! Sigh. Also, If you want to know how to pronounce Billecart Salmon, just ask me. I have a recording of our tour guide. So it’s official. Side note: like those in the know, you can just say “Billie.” Pronounced: Billy. As in Billy Baldwin.

H: That’s so weird, Lex.

 

BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED:

H: Trust Lexy’s gut.

L: Trust my gut.

 

The Monthly Nine: December’s “It” List

FA LA LA LA LAAAA! I’m so in love with the holiday season…and it’s HERE! I’m finally  allowed to start practicing Christmas songs on my ukulele (much to our neighbors’ dismay). Sonoma and Napa Counties have been through a lot these past few months because of the raging wildfires, but there’s so much to be grateful for. We had an incredible “Thanksgivingmas” with my husband’s family in Chicago, and now we’re looking forward to our extended family reunion and subsequent “Hootenanny”. It’s not often that we can get our whole gang together in one place (my head has been photoshopped into our family holiday photos on multiple occasions), so it’s an extra special celebration.

In preparation for the Holidays: here are some of Lexy’s Toast Wines favorite gift ideas for December 2017!

1. Tom Ford Lipstick: For the Beauty Queen. I was gifted this lipstick for “Thanksgivingmas” with my husband’s family, and it is AMAZING! It’s creamy, moisturizing, and long-lasting, all the way through dinner (and dessert.)

2. The OG Bag: For your favorite Jetsetter. There’s a pocket for absolutely everything, and coming in at just under 2.5 lbs, it’s light enough to pack to the brim, waterproof, and slides onto your rolling suitcase. It’s on the pricey side, but Lo and Sons sometimes puts items on sale…and that time is right about NOW!

3. Stemless Wine Glasses: For the Hostess with the Mostess. These pretty wine glasses absolutely scream holiday cheer.

4. Champagne SHOES!: For the Champagne Lover. Ugh! How I wanted to buy these! (I produce Sparkling Wine after all!) Sadly, these just didn’t fit quite right…but maybe they’ll fit YOU! Or your BFF. Or Cinderella. Anyway, I hope someone gets to wear them.

5. Thank You Notes: For your Pen Pal. I’m a huge fan of old-fashioned thank you notes! Lately, I’ve been spoiled not having to buy cards since my Mother-in-law makes and sends me beautiful handmade (and unbelievably professional!) looking cards, but these would be a nice stocking stuffer for someone who loves to express gratitude the old-fashioned way.

6. 2018 Planner: For the Organizer. January is right around the bend, so let’s write down our New Year’s Resolutions, and start to plan the best year EVER!

7. To The Moon Trinket Dish: For the Teen in your life. What a sweet little dish for baubles, rings, and things!

8. Skull Cuff Links: For The Coolest Dude You Know. (This would be my husband.) He wore these on our wedding day, and I still think they are completely and utterly cool. (I still think he’s pretty cool too.)

9. Lexy’s Toast Brut Nature: For Everyone (over 21, that is)!! The holidays aren’t complete without BUBBLES! Our Lexy’s Toast Brut Nature is bone-dry (and I swear possesses a hint of Orange Creamsicle). Yum!

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Happy Gifting!

P.S. If you’ve anything left to spare during your holiday shopping sprees, Redwood Credit Union is taking donations. Fire relief efforts are still underway in Northern California, and RCU is donating 100% of the proceeds directly where they are needed.

P.P.S. On a personal note regarding the fires: check out my last blog post. #SonomaStrong: Ignited By Fire.

P.P.P.S. Except for our Sparkling Wine, we here at Lexy’s Toast are not affiliated with any products listed here; we just covet them. 😉 

Featured Image by Jon McPherson Photography.

The Monthly Nine: September’s “It” List

September always reminds me of harvest, since that’s generally the month when parent winery GlenLyon brings in the majority of their grapes. They’ve turned from green to their red purple hue, in anticipation of just the right moment when sugar and PH meet.

Harvest is the beginning of the cycle of re-growth. The Fall harvest, the Winter dormancy, and Spring pruning are all necessary stages to enable Summer’s crop growth, which will undoubtably be made into great wine!

So with that, and a pairing of GlenLyon Syrah, let’s celebrate September and that beautiful burgundy wine color.

Without further ado, here’s my ripe red picks for September:

Lover’s Creep Nail Polish: Oh how I love Smith and Cult. This laquer is 8-Free (meaning void of toxins), incredibly long lasting, and shines like a gel. It’s also the is the perfect color for the beginning of fall.

Rewined Cabernet Candle: Repurposed wine bottles into candles…with a “cabernet” scent. What more could one ask for? (Well, a glass of wine and a bath perhaps.)

Burgandy Purse: Loving this on-trend oxblood cross-body bag.

Plaid Button Down: Rails makes the softest plaid button downs in all colors…but I’m vibe-ing on this red one for fall.

Wine Wipes (for your teeth!): If you’re one of those people who’s teeth stain red after a few sips of wine, these are for you! Easy to use and portable, you can have your wine (and white teeth too!)

Ningxia Red: My friend Rachel from Young Living/Beam and Bloom turned me onto Ningxia Red. Just mix with water and go! I can’t eat sugar (including fruit) so this is a wonderful way for me to sneak some fruit into my diet, including health benefits from the elusive Wolfberry!

Sam Edelmen Flat: I’m obsessed with these adorable flats, especially because of their tough-girl spikes on the bows!

Lululemon Tight: Turn heads in your yoga class with these comfy sweat-wicking red tights.

GlenLyon Syrah/Cabernet Blend: 90/10 blend of our Estate Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

And please don’t forget to donate (if you can!) to Hurricane Harvey. The pic below is from some of our wine club members in Houston: ‘We wanted to share the happiness you guys bring in the midst of destruction and chaos as our city takes on a crazy amount of rain. This makes for a beautiful break!’

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Sending thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by Harvey. Click here to help.