Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wine Rules

As I was writing my last post, I went deep off on a tangent. Foolishly, I hit back space and erased my entire tirade about “rules”. I was recently informed that my postings were too long and I’m trying to tone it down in blogsville. I’ll try to keep this short and sweet, but I feel strongly on this topic, therefore I have quite a bit to say.

As a professionally trained chef, I do appreciate making the most of a wine by pairing it with the right food, to bring out its “flavor profile”. There is something to be said, about that an indescribable moment of harmony on your “palate” when a perfect combination comes about. Out of curiosity I goggled how to pair food and wine. 497,000 results come up. There are sites where you can ask an expert, guidelines, books, blogs; you name it. Everyone has something to say on this matter.

My opinion is contrary to popular belief. I am girl who’s not fond of rules. The Los Angeles Times, recently quoted, David Ready Jr, saying Murphy-Goode was trying to “demystify” wine through this social media experiment and make it more approachable to “people who might feel it’s out of their league”. I admire this endevour. Wine became approachable to me years ago, while working at a Wine Shop in London. My father was a wine enthusiast and I knew the basics. But, not nearly enough to be left alone in the shop. We had tastings every Saturday. Mostly, I think they kept me around because I had nice printing. My role on Saturday’s was to write the wines for the tasting, on the board outside and washing the wine glasses as needed. Since, I was not legal to work in the U.K. I was paid in pounds under the table; or in trade with wine. At the ripe young age of 21, I took trade. Often frantic about my choices and what was appropriate for dinner or a specific occasion; I drove the owners to tears. “Drink what you like” is what I was told. Okay? Really? Are you sure?

So, I did just that. For the rest of the summer I took home the wines I liked. I drank them when I wanted with whatever I wanted (most frequently with nothing at all). Slowly but surely, I mastered the varietals and regions that I liked. This in turn gave me the confidence to branch out with other varietals and regions. To this day, I often don’t follow the wine rules. I like white wine when it is hot or sunny. I prefer red when it’s cold or dark. I am curious and adventuresome by nature. I can’t control myself when I see a wine from Croatia, Lebanon or a place totally unlikely to grown grapes. I must try, no matter the food or situation at hand.

I bend my own weird, wine rules, when I find myself at a four star meal. But, for the most part, I believe you should drink what you like. It’s a good starting point. Follow the divine palate within you and the esoteric world of wine, will soon enough shine it’s divine light in you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wine + Ice Cream = A Match Made In Heaven

Wine + Ice Cream = A Match Made In Heaven

I hesitate to write this post, as I feel I am compromising my creativity. Another Saturday at Venice Beach Wines. But, if you are a foodie you will know that Truck Food is all the rage right now. Hot Dog Truck, Korean Truck, BBQ truck and now an Ice Cream Truck. Last Saturday, I spotted no less than 3 of these trucks on Abbott Kinney. Every blogger in the city had mentioned that the latest and greatest, Cool Haus, Ice Cream Sandwiches would be at my office latter in the day. Naturally, I had to go. I’m sure that Murphy-Goode would find me a more rounded blogger/reporter if were submitting content that related to places other than Venice Beach Wines(, however due to the colossal frenzy the old roach coach has created, I’ve deemed it worthy of a post. Why not? Nothing better than MORE wine with dessert! It’s not just for dinner anymore.

It’s unseasonably warm this Saturday. Venice is at its finest around the post-beach, pre-sunset hours. By the time the Cool Haus ( truck arrives at Venice Beach Wines, people are anxiously pacing around. A kitschy truck, all done up with photos of famous post-modern buildings and architects parks in front. You choose an ice cream flavor and a cookie flavor, “building” your own ice cream sandwich. Or select one of their “pre-fab” flavors. The “building” process here is the shtick with the name and theme. Freya and Natasha are architects and foodies. Cleaver and creative, if you ask me.

I choose the oatmeal raisin cookie with cinnamon ice cream. It’s sundown-thirty now, which to me, means time for the bubbly. I decide on the Chateau Saint Pierre, from Provence. It has nothing to with my ice cream selection but, I have a thing about pink champagne (and yes, I drink tons of roses, blush wines – even the fauxpas “white zinfandel” with gusto) and this cheap but, cheerful glass is recession priced! I often don’t follow “wine rules” so it doesn’t bother me that this mostly floral wine is not a match for my sweet, and somewhat spicy ice cream delight. I’m just excited to be drinking champagne with me two favorite sweet treats. It’s the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A really Goode Job Pt.3

GRRR, just when you thought things were going well with the Murphy-Goode gig. . . my video is one of the top rated video’s on the "A Really Goode Job" micro-site, met the winemaker and had a phone interview with the recruiter. Game on!

It’s been three days, I haven’t showered, ate or let alone sleep. This social networking stuff is intense. The whole term “social” is completely lost on me? I haven’t had a conversation with a real person in days. I manage to make to make it around the corner to Venice Beach Wines by day to keep this Hunter S. Thompson existence alive and well by night. I need some sort of subsistence while building my “social-media dome”. My right hand is close to falling off. I write all day long. Search for a jobs, write cover letters, and blog, blog, blog. Jimmy Fallon has become my new best friend as I click through every one of my social media contacts asking them to vote on my video until the wee hours of the morning. It’s arduous work but, I happily click away. The goal is in sight. A photo of Christine, my mini cooper, in the vineyards of TEIRA Wines on Dry Creek Road( on my desk. Her little engine purrs when we explore the winding country roads of Sonoma. So does mine.

3am, I finally power down my computer. If only I could blog in my sleep.

The next morning the announcement comes. A message directly from Murphy-Goode Wines sits in my inbox. Great, right? Not so much. They’ve extend the application deadline. I’m not sure why? Are they not reading my blog? Have they not noticed the social media storm I have created about myself??? I think perhaps they’ve had too much wine. The best candidate is right here!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gardens Of Gratitude - Venice, CA.

I received an email earlier this week about a Garden Gratitude's, Garden Challenge taking place in VeniceIs it possible to transform an into an urban oasis in one weekend. The answer is yes! I had the fine opportunity to participate in an incredible community gardening event
This op arrives at the perfect time, as it seems, I am somehow genetically connected to my computer trying to create the Didi2.0 social media storm for the Murphy-Goode job.

I agree to participate knowing little about what I had en-listed myself for. I have an address, time, and date. All I know is it’s an opportunity to get out into the real world, away from my computer! In reality, what is really happening here, is a group of people, hoping to effect the way we eat, what we eat and its impact/connection to our environment through community works. Sustainability, if you will. “Gardens of Gratitude is an event created by the community for the community ( Friends, neighbors & newcomers alike have all joined together in a common vision to create a more abundant world through Growing Gardens.” This event follows on the tails of the Venice Garden Show, residents here were asked to volunteer garden spaces; volunteers were assigned to a “site” (a volunteered space); and a coordinator from the project was assigned to each site, as a project guide. The email says something about bringing food or drinks for your project site.

My trustee companions, Jack, and Christine the Mini Cooper are some of the first’s to arrive at our site. I, am wearing flip flops (the ubiquitous gardening shoe), have no tools, or food to contribute. The kind of volunteer you dream of. Never mind the fact I have driven from Venice to Venice – they still stone people around here for things like that!

An awkward group of volunteers meanders around pulling weeds, the host is brewing ice tea in the kitchen and rousting garden tools for chumps like me, who have brought nothing. Our “community-nist” is called into action shortly, we form a chain to remove old cement pieces from the yard so that we can start prepping the garden space to lay soil and plant. A DJ sets up in the corner. An amazing tray of house brewed Ice Tea comes through the garden. Slowly we unite.

The cast is assembling. I ogle at the food spread. Old New Order is in the background. People are tapping their feet. Smiling. Laughing. We have an acupuncturist, two psychologist, two teachers, film people and more. Our host has a Dutch accent. She has beautiful cookbooks and random chatchkis displayed throughout the house. Our project coordinator, Leslie, is in the Master Gardening Program at the The Learning Garden( She serves as our resident gardening Guru. There is a couple who has just returned from New Zealand. They worked on an organic farm through Willing Workers on Organic Farms (

Sean, an organic farmer, from Malibu, delivers soil and compost. Everything here has been donated. All of the work that has gone in to building this event has been done by volunteers. And, what has been created by us, volunteers, is incredible.

This is Venice at its finest. Phone numbers and emails are exchanged. We all leave satiated from hard work in the garden. A harvest dinner is planned to reap the rewards of our new community place.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Really Goode Job Pt.2

Last Friday I was on top of the world. The recruiter for Murphy-Goode had sent me an email requesting a phone interview to help determine the top 50 candidates. Naturally, I select the first available slot. I nervously await the call and miss my little sister’s graduation from USC. I answer the routine questions and then we speak a bit more candidly about the position and the interview process. I’m feeling good. Despite the shoddy quality of my video, I stood out enough to get the phone interview. AND, on the Murphy-Goode website, my video is a hit! The winemaker, David Ready Jr., will be in Los Angeles on Sunday for a meet and greet. I ask if I will be turned away as I have already submitted an application and video? No, no, of course not. She encourages me to go.

Over the weekend, I try on outfits. My neighbors vote. Tori Burch and a pair of old white Citizens with heels are deemed Wine Country fabulous. I arrive early. Anticipating a shit storm like there was in SF, Christine the Mini-Cooper and I roll in early. Like embarrassingly early. I wander around The Wine House ( Danger. Me, wine, gourmet foods + credit card = no good! Eventually, I pick up a basket and spend a bunch of money I don’t have on wine and a book I don’t need. I just can’t help myself?

I move upstairs. As luck would have it, Dave is also from Minneapolis. Turns out Dave and I have more than one connection. You see, I have something of a gold card in the Beverage Industry of Mlps. While these connections may have no relevance to this position, I’m bursting to tell him about our less than two degrees of separation. I lived next door to some influential people, the Phillips/Farrells. Point taken. We move on. Next comes hockey. He’s from Edina. I’m from Minnetonka. One of the biggest high school hockey rivalries known to mankind. Words escape me when it comes to describing what hockey means to a Minnesotan. Liar’s dice and Brett Favre are irrelevant when it comes to Edina vs. Mtka.

Candidates start filling the room. At some point, I feel like I’m on an episode of Bachelorette. Time for me to leave. I collect my new belongings and say my adieu – I try to share a “secret” find with Dave - he cannot accept gifts. I get it. Another candidate suggests chilling the wine in the chilling MACHINE downstairs and bringing it up to the tasting room. Duh?? Great idea!

A buyer sits at a desk behind this GENIUS chilling machine. Turns out he is the German buyer. I’ve selected a Washington State Riesling by K Vintners of Walla Walla. He’s impressed with my selection. Winery is sold out. I’ve been all over town, trying to snatch up bottles ( I know Murphy-Goode and this producer are kindred souls. I share the Riesling with Dave and a few of his wine reps. Seems I have a good palate, as the wine is well received. A Russian girl taps the winemaker on the shoulder “excuse me, can I steal you for a minute”? Oh that’s right, I was leaving ...

Dave tries to give me the Hornet’s Cheer as a good-bye. . .

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Office - Venice Beach Wines

Follow me on Facebook or Twitter? What is this office Didi2.0 speaks of? I didn’t know that girl worked? Thought all she did was eat and drink wine? And neurotically snapped photos of food? All of this is true. But, there is sort of a means to ends, she’s on “assignment” right now. That Murphy-Goode job. The one THOUSAAAANds of people applied for. Oh yeah, right. So, what’s this office? It’s Venice Beach Wines ( A place where she spends a lot of time. A place where great ideas are hatched out with an extra fine point sharpie and moleskin notebook. Oh, and the camera of course.

I discovered this place before they had remodeled or started serving food. I was the first person to review VBW on Yelp! Oscar (one of the proprietors) was probably my first friend in the hood. He loved the pizza at Pitfire ( where I worked at the time. We talked food, wine, marketing and branding. Soon enough I traded him half a wheel of black truffle cheese for a half case of a Gewurztraminer from Oregon that I was in love with. I was fast friends with VBW from there on out.

Fast forward six months. . . “The Office” now has food (great food at that), seating and still sells some really great un-discovered wines. The staff is magnificent. And there is always great music. More importantly, Venice Beach Wines has become an integral part of the NoRo (North of Rose) community in Venice. I go there alone frequently. Each time I leave with new friends, business contacts and a totally satiated belly! Bravo VBW!

I hope to entice David Ready Jr here for a glass of wine this week!

Read about Sangria Sundays: