Random Bits ~ My Week in Review

So another week has flown by, my to-do list hasn’t budged and I’m wondering what the heck happened.  Here are a few things I can account for:

1.  Pelligrino – Is it possible to become addicted to sparkling water?  When I first met my husband I couldn’t stand the taste of the stuff.  Now, I can’t wait ’till dinner to have a glass.  Today, I drank it straight from the bottle and it was only 2 p.m…..I think I have a problem.

2.  Pan-Roasted Brined Pork Chop


We made this for Hubby’s B-day celebration and it was Ah-mazing!  Be sure to use 2 inch bone-in pork chops as the recipe states and marinate no longer than 8 hours or they will be very salty.  We drank some good juice and started off with a 2010 Capiaux Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast.  Earthy, medium bodied with cherry cola notes, just the way we like it….paired well with the pork.  Next up, 2009 Shafer Relentless, which is a Syrah/Petite Syrah blend from Stags Leap, Napa Valley.  The 2008 was Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year  and the 2009 was drinking beautifully.  I don’t usually buy into that stuff but my honey kept saying it over and over and by the end of the evening I was repeating him like a parrot.  Yeah we had a bit to drink….

Ron's bday

Two Ah-mazing wines and Grand Marnier in the snifter…

3.  Earlier this week it was Winter and all of our plants froze.  Yes, we did wrap them in sheets and burlap but Mother Nature laughed in our face.  Today, Spring is teasing us and I’m sweating just thinking about what is to come.  I can’t take the heat….Tell me again why we live in Phoenix??

4.  Twitter….I am now on Twitter (@cherylhjohns) and it’s my new crack.  I love that you can stalk follow peeps on Twitter without having to know them.  Here are a few of my new favorite “friends” Jerry James Stone  @jerryjamesstone – he’s all about cooking in SF,  Hot Food Porn @hotfoodporn – I’ll admit they had me at food porn, but when I saw the pigs on their Twitter wall I was a gonner!  And finally, an amazing photographer Nick Ulivieri @ChiPhotoGuy who uses Chicago as his photo backdrop.

5.  The Art of Barter.  It’s January and this is the month you are supposed to get rid of all the useless crap you have hoarded over the last year!  Don’t throw it in the landfill; one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Sell it, barter for more useful items but don’t contribute to mass consumerism.  Seriously though….think before you buy.

pb8512clb6.  Jackie from Marin Mama Cooks  – my new blog crush… Lots of quoina, kale and veggie recipes.  She features meat as well as cookies and cakes but what I love most is her step-by-step pictures that work oh so well for the not so confident kitchen cook that is me.  When Hubby and I move to Northern Cali, Jackie will be one of my BFF’s she just doesn’t know it yet…

7.  This goofball keeps me on my toes.  Is she praying to the sleep Gods or practicing doggie yoga?  Either way I decided she needed a memory foam mattress in her crate since she has spent a bit of time there this last week while I was off getting myself beautified and what-not.

Yes, She really sleeps this way!

Yes, She really sleeps this way!

8.  Music finds – Macklemore…..Thrift Shop – Love this song!  It has a message with a bit of fun!  One kind reader was gracious enough to point out that I’m just tagging along to be weird and non-conformist and I should stop trying to sell a lifestyle that’s based on deception.  There was something in there about the relevance of this song with wine and blah, blah, blah.  I stopped listening because I was having too much fun and really life should be about having fun.  Be sure to check out Patty’s favorite “Same Love” – this brings me to tears every time I listen.  Also check out Heather’s favorite “Irish Celebration”.

9.  I love when my sister visits me, which happens several times a year.  She’s visiting again in a couple of weeks and I have a mile long list of things we “Have To Do”, most of which we never get to.  We do eat well thanks to her culinary skills and drink lots of good juice but don’t take my word for it, check out her latest post on the Rose Pistola Rocket Salad.  I’m hungry now!

10. Let’s end with some eye candy…..Adam Levine.  The Food and Wine Hedonist  did this so well I really don’t need to add much more except if you like men or have Man-Crushes be sure to check out his post and click on the link for the picture of Adam in all his glory.  And then check out this one on his FB page

Want to know what wine I paired with Macklemore’s Thrift check it out here.

Happy Weekend peeps and Cheers to you!  What’s in your glass?

If You See Kay you might find her at the Thrift Shop

When feeling persnickety, I look to those who flaunt convention And do it well.  It makes me feel better about my current emotional state.  Enter Macklemore….


Until recently I had no idea who Macklemore (a.k.a Ben Haggerty) was until this song Thrift Shop came across the air waves.  I loved it at first listen and then really appreciated it after viewing it on You Tube.  The other day my sister Melissa and I were chatting and she asked if I’d heard the song Thrift Shop.  More excited chatter ensued, one thing led to another and here I am posting about it.

So without further ado here is Thrift Shop…..The more I watch it the funnier it becomes!

Now the wine…..during my chatter with Melissa she suggested pairing the music of Thrift Shop with the beautiful yet funky Italian Cabernet if you see kay.

Let me introduce kay


who is kay you ask???

kay is a creature;

she is an embodiment of a lifestyle,

a genre,

a feeling in your gut.

kay is a force of nature,

a wanderer.

She represents the philosophy of “Wide Open Throttle or don’t bother doing it at all”.

She’s not trying to be, she just is

kay is elusive; she can be coming from anywhere, around any corner, the world.

I could call kay my alter ego, similar to Rose in the comic strip “Rose is Rose”….


But what it really is, is an Italian Cab with a bit of Petit Verdot and Primotivo (Zinfandel) whose grapes hail from Lazio, Italy with the wine being made in Napa.  I first saw this at my favorite wino hangout/wine bar/grocery store and thought – what is this novelty wine stuff?!  I truly turned my nose at it and dismissed it from my radar.  While searching for a wine to enjoy with turkey dinner at Christmas I found this recommendation on Antonoli’s wine blog Talkavino.  He had it with his turkey dinner and mentions that if you see kay is Perfect.  I tend to agree…in fact I could kick myself for not purchasing more during the 30% off wine sale!

Made by industry bad boy Jayson Woodbridge of Hundred Acres, Layer Cake, and Cherry Pie fame, this wine follows his bad boy image.  Possibly, this is where the idea for the  biker chick kay image came from…


When I taste this beauty I get deep blueberry fruit, then dark berries/cherries with a bit of cocoa and spice.  It’s nicely balanced with smooth tannins.  I’ve enjoyed this with appetizers such as nuts and olives along with cheese and crackers.  It also pairs well with most protein dishes including grain based proteins (Quinoa!!).  I loved it and found it enjoyable with or without food, and yes we polished off the bottle in no time!

So, to summarize from  the wine’s website:

“this wine kicks ass”. Period end of story – NO PRISONERS THANK YOU.

Melissa is coming out for a visit at the end of the month and we will definitely be drinking wine, and of course if you see kay is on our list of to-do’s along with a Macklemore Thrift Shop dance party.

If you are in the Phoenix area looking for dining options be sure to check out my recently updated Phoenix Eats page.  Lot’s of great places to nosh!

Until next time, cheers!

Revisiting Rocket Science in the New Year

New Year’s Eve found us enjoying more than one bottle of wine with our steak dinner.   Not wanting the fun to end I ventured in the “Man Cave” and returned with one of my favorites – Rocket Science from Caldwell Vineyard.  It was popped open and we enjoyed a glass. At this point, the ball was soon to drop and  we were hoping to squeeze in cognac and cigars on the patio before that happened.  The rest of my lovely Rocket Science was relegated  to the counter for enjoyment on another night.  This baby lasted for 4 days in great condition.  The air was sucked out and it was stored in the fridge.  Day 2 (New Year’s day) it wasn’t touched, but days 3  & 4 it was drinking beautifully!  The fruit was deeper and more concentrated with a spicy lingering finish.  If you can find this in a retail establishment or have any in your wine stash – drink up!  Here’s more on Rocket Science from one of my most popular posts last year!

***And a birthday shout to my lovely Mom….She was our wine partner in crime on New Year’s Eve.  Happy Birthday Mom, Love You!!

To say I’ve been a bit stressed lately is an understatement and when I’m stressed, I get sick, which has happened several times in the past two weeks.  The disclaimer here is, that it wasn’t my fault – it was more likely that someone at Scholtzsky’s didn’t wash their hands after using the restroom and then made my sandwich.  Since my Mom got sick as well and we split the sandwich I’m going to stick with that story…….After I made it through that I decided to soldier on and stuff my stress and when that happens my back decides it’s not gonna let me do anything.  I couldn’t sit, stand, walk or even find a comfortable position to lie down.  After 3 days of misery I called the ever so amazing Dr. Chris and let him work magic on my spine.  I feel better but have to ask “Why did I wait so long to see him??!!”

The whole sickness drama continued in a different vein, but I won’t bore you with that. I will tell you, I did what anyone practicing avoidance would do, I stopped at my favorite grocery store for a glass of wine before picking up a few things for dinner.


One of my favorite wine stewards was working and here’s what he recommended:


All of my stress melted away as I found myself totally enamored by this 2007 Rocket Science blend of 67% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Tannat, 1% Camenere and 1% Petit Verdot.  I’ll admit I wasn’t that familiar with Tannat, so here you go….it’s a blending grape which originated in France and Uruguay and it’s used to soften the astringency of a Cab and make it more approachable.  This definitely needs to be decanted or at least let it open up in the glass.  Given that I didn’t have a lot of time to burn, I gave it a few good swirls and dove right in.  I found the nose and the palate to have a heady mix of dark raspberries and blueberries and the medium bodied weight was nicely balanced with smooth cocoa tannins that just went on and on.  Each sip revealed another new layer of juicy flavor that had me sorry to see the glass empty. I’m confident it would stand up to a manly steak with mushrooms, but it was nuanced in such a way  that I really enjoyed this without food.  At $10 a glass it was a worthy splurge; my grocery retailer offers it for $50 a bottle and from what I understand its in short supply.  If you can find it buy it, and then hide it!

Caldwell Vineyard is the maker of this blessed juice and Marbue Marke, Rocket Science winemaker since 2007, is responsible for my adoration of this wonderful vino. Owner John Caldwell, has been instrumental in creating an awareness in Napa Valley of how French grape clones affect wine quality.  It seems that John is a bit of a rebel….he smuggled French clonal material from Canada to the U.S. and got caught. What happened next became part of wine history and put the Coombsville AVA on the wine making map.  The Caldwell website has a great article from The World of Fine Wine titled “Clones, Cops and Cabernet” that tells the story.

Taking a cue from the Rocket Science tagline, here is Thomas Dolby’s She Blinded Me With Science….Ahhh, this takes me back to 80’s with big hair and neon colors.  I love the sound of his voice and although this song is from 1982, his album Aliens Ate My Buick,  from the late 80’s, is one of my favorites.   Check out Hot Sauce – it’s quite sassy or should I say hot and spicy!

Because I grew up with the original Star Trek, William Shatner has been on my radar most of my life.  Here’s another take on Blinded Me With Science from his point of view….

If you get a chance visit the beautiful Northern California wine country (where we hope to be living very soon!), check out the Caldwell Vineyard.  Tastings are by appointment only and are done in their the wine cave…I haven’t been there yet but the reviews are fabulous.

Until next time, Cheers to you!

Good luck pig….