Luck of the Irish…or Luck of the Unicorn

Lately, we have been blessed by beautiful weather here in Virginia. Today, despite the sneezing from allergies, my boyfriend and I decided to visit Unicorn Winery in Amissville. Three weeks ago, we attended my friend’s wedding in Fredericksburg, and while traveling back from the ceremony, we visited Hartwood Winery. Hartwood was having a Mardi Gras festival, and Unicorn was there providing tastings as well. One of the owners gave us a complimentary tasting card, and we decided to visit.

Unicorn Winery is a small winery, but they offer amazingly good wines at reasonable prices. We happened to visit during their St. Patrick’s celebration, which we happened to miss since they ran out of soup. However, the staff made up for it by providing a fun atmosphere with the tastings. The man in charge of our tastings was very knowledgeable about the wines and what food would pair well.

Some particular favorites included:

2008 Chardonnay: If you don’t like a lot of oak taste, then this wine only provides just a little hint. This wine is full bodied with hints of apple blossom, honey, and pear. It would pair well with seafood, especially scallops and mussels.

2008 Traminette: Thai food will pair well with this wine. With hints of honeysuckle, lavender, and citrus, this wine has a sweet, smooth taste. Traminette was first produced at Cornell University in 1984.

2008 Meritage: This Bordeaux-style blend provides a literal party in your mouth, as hints of berry, smoke, and cherry come into play. This full bodied wine will get better with age. In fact, our tasting guide told us that the 2002 vintage is served at the Inn at Little Washington. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Enjoy this one with good BBQ or Sharp Cheddar. This is also a good wine to enjoy with cigars.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine is as full bodied as you might think. In fact, it was a light bodied wine with strong hints of cherry and raspberry. The smoky hint would pair well with a burger or any pasta dish.

Overall, the atmosphere and great wines made this worth the traffic we encountered earlier. This wine was truly a luck of the Irish find.

Can Red Wine Save the Day?

I love a glass of red wine. Whether it’s a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, the smooth and complex taste always seem to refresh my palate, as well as accompany a good dish. Recently, I have been reverting back to the reds, after a craving of Chardonnay in the fall after a trip to upstate New York. One thing is for certain, Virginia has no shortage of good red wines that are comparable to many in Napa Valley or Washington State.

Currently, after finishing my new favorite, Scarlet Oak Red (Naked Mountain Winery, Markham, Va.), I decided to try Rappahannock Cellars‘ Noblesse Rouge. Noblesse Rouge is a Bordeaux blend with blends of Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is smooth tasting with a lot of depth. The smoky hints are perfect, and it complemented the pizza I had earlier, along with the 72% Dark Chocolate I had for dessert.

This winery is one of my favorites in Virginia, and their red wines are excellent. As for the wine, it definitely provided some rescue from the stresses of tax season. Not to mention, the red wine is filled with flavenoids, which is good for you too.

Lemon Meets Blueberry: A Love Story for Foodies

This morning, I looked in the pantry for breakfast food, only to come out disappointed as there was nothing. I had the coffee, but nothing good to accompany the taste of a bold Italian Roast. Off to Starbucks I went…since I was running late for my friend’s bridal shower. At Starbucks, I broke away from my diet for a Caramel Frappuccino and a slice of Very Berry Coffee Cake. The cake was amazing and sent me dreaming of a recipe for tomorrow’s breakfast. I was craving blueberries, and since I had lemon in the fridge, I started thinking of a quick bread involving the two ingredients.

After my friend’s bridal shower, which was lovely and based on a tea party (not the political type), I came home with a quest to find a recipe. Enter Lemon Blueberry Muffins, a recipe that I found on Pillsbury.com.These muffins looked yummy, and since I had two of the ingredients available to me here at home, it was off to Trader Joe’s for the rest of them. They had a great selection of organic blueberries and they looked fresh (which can be hit or miss for my local store). I picked up blueberries.

I figured fixing these muffins would brighten my spirits, since I was in the midst of preparing my taxes. Baking always is a good therapy for a bad mood (and so is a glass of good wine). I adapted the recipe slightly from the original recipe, but they were scrumptious.

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Lemon-Blueberry Muffins

1/3 C. Milk
1/4 C. Canola Oil
1 Container Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
1/4 C. Sugar
1 tbsp. Grated Lemon Peel
1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
2 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. Blueberries (I used fresh, but you could use frozen)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the bottom of the muffin tins or use paper liners.

Combine all of your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). In another bowl, combine lemon peel, lemon juice, milk, oil, greek yogurt, vanilla and egg. Whisk well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until well mixed, then fold in 1 c. blueberries.

Place muffins in the oven for 16 minutes. After you remove the muffins from the oven, let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from pan. Place on a nice serving dish and drizzle with lemon glaze.

Ah yes…I didn’t mention the glaze. After all, presentation is key…right?

Lemon Glaze

2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. sugar

In a small bowl, combine the two ingredients until smooth looking. Drizzle over warm muffins.

So, here is the story how lemon met blueberry, thus creating a sweet and sour medley for the taste buds. I can’t think of a better way to wake up on a weekend morning.