my favorite local wine bar.

Oh, how I love Screwtop.  I will need to force myself not to blog about this place constantly!  I go there monthly with a group of three girlfriends and outside of that, I try to go whenever else I can!  When I’m with these girls, we always order two bottles, eat lots of delicious appetizers, and just have the best time discussing life, love, and God.  It might be the best informal bible study ever.

Last night, the Wino Wednesday deal was $10 off Austrian wines, so we started with a Hillinger Pinot Noir.  YUM.  You can also find Hillinger wines at The Wine Cabinet in Reston.  We ordered a cheese platter with a swiss cheese, a peppery pecorino, and an “oh-so-lucious” creamy cheese, which came with honey!  I should have written down the exact names of these cheeses… I realize this list is somewhat vague!  (By the way, Gwyneth wrote a very informative newsletter on cheese this week.)

Hillinger Pinot Noir & Cheese Platter, taken with my iPhone

After that, we split the grilled cheese sliders, which are two heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches made with a blend of cheeses and served with some marinara sauce on the side for dipping.  GENIUS.  We also split a Burrata Caprese sandwich.  The highlight of this sandwich was the special Italian Burrata Fresh Mozzarella cheese!

What I REALLY wanted to share with you all was the second wine we ordered.  Next time it needs to be the first wine, and the focus of the meal!  We told the waiter we wanted a red wine that was full-bodied and interesting, and he said, “I have something I know you’ll love.”  After he walked away, we turned to each other and realized he was probably going to bring us something incredibly expensive that we would love!  Uh-oh.  Sure enough, the bottle was $50, so before we tasted, we told each other to STAY STRONG and just enjoy the taste!  It was actually the smell that made us cave (and then of course the taste was incredible too!).  Such a powerful smell of dark berries and spice.  Here it is, the Small Gully Mr. Black’s Concotion, a 2006 GSM (49% Grenache, 34% Shiraz, and 17% Mourvedre) from the Barossa Valley in Austrailia.  I will not forget you!

Small Gully Mr. Black's Concoction, a 2006 GSM from the Barossa Valley in Australia (photo credit: G. Heidel)


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i just can’t get enough goat cheese & pesto!

Some foods are just made for each other:  Peanut butter and jelly.  Chips and salsa.  Goat cheese and pesto!  This heavenly combo won me over in pizza form on Saturday night.  This morning, the memory was lingering so strongly that I decided my usual bagel with cream cheese just wouldn’t do.  (Sometimes when I find a food combo I love, I become a serial eater.)

First, the pizzas.  I had been intrigued by a recipe in Food & Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch Italian Cookbook (can also be found here).  We made some adaptations though.  Chris and I don’t like eggplant, so we used portabella mushrooms instead.  We also added some chopped onions and pizza sauce, because I don’t know about you, but when I’m really in the mood for pizza, a sauce-less one just will not make the cut.  Finally, whenever we’ve been making pizzas lately, we use garlic-and-herb pizza dough from Trader Joe’s.  It adds a lot of party to a pizza.

We are unfortunately between pizza stones right now, so we used a quiche dish (actually turns out beautiful results!) and a 9 x 9 pan.

Pizzas in the Oven

By the way, Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest newsletter was on homemade pizza.  I think the main things I took from it were: 1) Don’t use too much sauce, and 2) I really want a wood-burning oven someday.

Trader Joe’s was our source for wine again.  A Lazy Bones 2009 Cabernet Franc from Paso Robles (very cheap, as usual).  Chris has been loving Cabernet Francs lately.  Though this one was from CA, it is a very popular grape in VA wines.  He read to me from The Wine Bible that Cabernet Francs usually have pepper and violet aromas.  I’ve never noticed the violet aspect, but the pepper definitely always stands out to me.

Goat Cheese, Portabella, & Pesto Pizza with Cabernet Franc

Finally, my Memorial Day brunch meal.  It felt like such an elegant way to start a day-off.  Basically, I toasted a plain bagel very lightly.  Then I brushed it with olive oil, adding freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.  Then came globs of goat cheese, drizzles of pesto, and some chopped sweet red peppers.  I popped it all back in the toaster oven for a few more minutes, and the meal turned out AMAZING.

Goat Cheese, Pesto, & Red Pepper Bagel

Also, I highly recommend making your own pesto.  It is SO easy, and SO worth it!  I always use a recipe out of a vegetarian cookbook I have, but it is similar to this.  You can refrigerate the pesto for up to a week, and freeze it for even longer!