Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Random Thoughts: Twitter, A Growth Spurt, and Credit Crunched!

Wow, I've been a slacker, at least in the blogosphere!

The good news is that my practice has experienced a growth spurt. Or at least it did before Memorial Day. Now, between post-holiday malaise and some random maladies going around, I'm having a fairly quiet week. How have I spent my free time? Trying to chase down a new business credit card.

Random rant: Yep, I got credit crunched. I had a business credit card from Advanta. Well, I guess I technically still have it until my account goes *poof!* on the 30th due to their financial difficulties. Seriously, they gave me four days' notice! That's it! I admit, I'm not in as bad shape as some who rely on their business cards for operating costs, but I was counting on it for my conference in Seattle in June. Now I'm going to have to use a personal card for those expenses because I couldn't get a new business card by the time we leave for Seattle, um, today.

Yep, leavin' on a jet plane this evening. My plane reading? Principles and Practices of Sex Therapy, I kid you not. That's the fun of being on insurance panels: there's no telling what kind of issues come through the door.

I'm bringing my laptop with me, so I hope to update my blog as we go, but since internet and time may be limited, I also finally gave in and got a Twitter account. Uh huh, you can find me on there as @RandomOenophile (name: Cecilia Dominic). Now to find a good Twitter app for my crackberry...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tasting Notes: Oregon and Washington wines at JavaMonkey

Talk about timing! Hubby and I are working on our plans for our upcoming trip to the Pacific-Northwest, and Jess decided to taste Oregon and Washington wines as part of her Thursday Wine Series! I know we just took a trip to California, but I have a conference in Seattle the second week of June, so we decided to make a trip of it since Hubby has relatives in Portland, I have friends there, and yes, we really like the area and the wines. Plus, I can count my plane tickets as a business expense. We'll have to work hard to empty out Bertha before we go -- oh, the sacrifices we make!

The evening began with the 2008 Snoqualmie Naked Gewurtztraminer (Columbia Valley, Washington), which had a lovely apple blossom and honey nose. The wine itself followed with a chewy, almost syrupy texture over a mineral backbone. I would call it interesting and have it as an aperitif.
Rating: Good/Very Good

The second wine, the 2007 Chehalem Willamette Valley Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley, Oregon) was grapefruit on the nose. Another interesting texture that felt a bit fizzy, but still carried some of the bitterness of the grapefruit to the beginning of the finish with some of the citrus on the end. I rated it "Meh," but Hubby, who typically does not like Pinot Gris, deemed it "not bad," so I have to give it some credit there.
Rating: Meh to Not Bad

Another wine from Chehalem, the 2007 INOX Chardonnay, followed. This time, a mixed citrus nose preceded a somewhat acidic wine that had a little cream and steel to it.
Rating: Okay

Yay, reds! Yes another Chehalem, this one the 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir, was a typical Pinot with a lot of cherry and some earth.
Rating: Good

Another repetition, this one from Naked. I can't help but wonder, if they made Muscadine wines, would they label them Nekkid? The 2007 Snoqualmie Naked Merlot was black currant at the front, pepper in the middle, and butter on the finish.
Rating: Good

The closer for the night, the 2005 Orphelin (Columbia Valley, Washington), was a nice Rhone blend with 56% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault, 8% Grenache, 4% Cab Sauv, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Touriga, and 1% each of Pinot Noir and Viognier. I'm picturing them tossing in individual grapes by the time they got to the end of that blend. All that made it a little raisiny, but it had good dark fruit.
Rating: Very Good

This tasting brought up a pet peeve. It drives me nuts when the distributors push one or two wineries so heavily, especially if I'm not a big fan, as I wasn't of the Chehalem wines. However, my sources tell me that the distributor kept her limited Oregon selection a secret until the day before the tasting, when it was too late for Jess to find other options. That said, it's nice to know which wineries to avoid.

Restaurant Review: Violette

I was excited to have the opportunity to attend a dinner last week at Violette, a French restaurant just west of I-85 on Clairmont. The funniest thing was, until I got the invitation, I hadn't even noticed it was there, although I'd heard of it, and I drive by it almost every day on the way to the office.

The outside isn't very impressive, but the space inside is beautiful. The main dining room is cozy, and they have a lovely tree-lined patio for dining al fresco. We were in a side room, sort of a sun-room, with tall glass windows looking out through the trees. I could see the neighboring office building's parking lot, but the space was so nice and green and airy that I soon forgot I was still in the middle of the city.

I started the evening with a glass of French Chardonnay, the 2006 Laboure-Roi (Pays d'Oc). It was easy to sip with citrus over melon flavors, and I didn't taste any oak on it. I found winemaker's notes with further digging afterward (see: just now), and they refer to fermentations in tanks, which I assume means steel. It was smooth with a nice finish.

One of the fun things about these type of events is that appetizers are typically passed. We shared a salmon cake over greens, crostini with garlicky goat cheese with more greens, and pate with a horseradish mustard sauce. The salmon cake was the best of the bunch, although we also commented on how the goat cheese was flavorful without having that funky goat cheese taste, and everyone who tried the pate liked it and agreed that it did not taste like liver. The greens that came with everything were also very good. For dinner, I had the Filet d'Agneau au romarin, a grilled lamb loin with rosemary garlic jus and served with mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes. The lamb was very tender and tasty, and the sides complimented it well. I also heard good reviews of the Filet de Saumon au s├ęsame, or sesame- and peppercorn-crusted salmon with citrus soy sauce, and the Poulet Farci, a chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese and garlic.

Since I ordered lamb, I went for a Syrah blend and got a Cotes du Rhone from the same winery. The dark fruit of the Syrah came through nicely, and it had enough acidity to stand up to the food. I searched online for the blend breakdown, but had no luck. If anyone has any more info, I'd appreciate it because I really liked it.

Of course I chose the chocolate mousse for dessert. It was served as a soft sphere on a plate with strawberries, and I thought that it was the perfect weight, not too heavy but also with enough substance to keep its shape. And yes, the chocolate flavor was deep enough for me, which is how chocolate mousse should be, and not messed up by any interfering tastes.

Overall, I think I still like Babette's Cafe better, and Atmosphere is still my favorite French restaurant in Atlanta by far, but Violette definitely goes on the list of places I wouldn't turn down an invitation to, and if I were to find myself in that part of town and jonesin' for French food, I would happily stop in again.

Score card:
Atmosphere: Very nice and romantic
Food: Very good
Wine list: Excellent in breadth, but they fall short on selections by the glass
Wait staff: Very Good -- seemed knowledgeable, but it's hard to tell when you're part of a large group how it works on the floor
Desserts: The chocolate mousse is good; what else could you possibly need to know?
Vegetarian friendly? Not really with one appetizer, a few salads, and one entree
Kid friendly? Probably not, but worth hiring a sitter so Mom & Dad can have a romantic evening out
Would I go back? Yes