What Inspires You?

Outdoor dining season is here! I’ve literally been working on fixing up my backyard for two years. It’s really kinda close to being done about halfway done…

Instead of taking advantage of the great weather the past couple weeks and finishing the landscaping, I stayed true to form and started a new project in the backyard that could also be left almost completed (for now). It’s a really simple design, my son Jake built the skeleton (in record breaking slow motion). He used stainless steel deck plates that we happened to have laying around for the counter tops. Then I used fence boards to finish it. The unfinished part is the shade. Stainless steel will definitely need to be in the shade before summer, it’s already really shiny. So, a gazebo (from my favorite Bargain Market, perhaps) may be in order…

outdoor kitchen 1     outdoor kitchen 2

Welcome to the outdoor kitchen

I don’t know if it could actually be classified as a ‘Kitchen’. It has no electricity for a mini fridge (yet) and there’s no sink or running water – even though I have mentally ran water lines every possible route from the source to the new kitchen. Every route is completely complicated. So, maybe it’s more like an outdoor food prep/bar. But it’s enough. And, it inspired me to move Front Porch Wine Tasting to the back porch!

And, in turn, drinking on the back porch inspired me to add a couple of Fancy Craft Beers to the tasting menu

Quimera craft beers

Quimera Premium Craft Beer from Chile

750 ml Amber Ale or Imperial Stout $3.19

Elsewhere price $11.99

We tried the Stout first, it is very dark with brown foam. Smelled kind of sweet and tasted of burnt caramel. I don’t usually like dark beers, but I didn’t hate this as much as I thought I would. Arvin tasted cocoa and Connie tasted coffee. Steve definitely liked it. He said it tasted like good clean dirt. I have no idea what that means.

On-line review: This Chilean Impy Stout pours pitch black with an off-white head that lingers. Intense malty aroma with notes of burnt sugars, molasses, dark chocolate, cigar smoke, tar and ashes. Taste is sweet with an ashy hint, not overly complex but with good development in the mouth and thoroughly enjoyable. Body is big with a dense texture. Almost viscous and chewy. The 8.2% alcohol is well disguised. A well-made strong stout.

I really enjoyed the Amber Ale. It had a nice creamy colored foam, you have to be careful when you pour or you’ll get way too much of it. Everyone liked this one. It was an easy drinking beer. Steve commented that he would enjoy this beer during a Packer win or even a loss.

On-line review: Poured a very pleasant amber color with minimal head. Nose was nearly pure malt and this followed through in the mouth. A very nice beer.


Then, on to the wine…

03 21 14 four wines

 Eco Love Riesling ~ Blue Fish Riesling ~ Washington Hills Syrah ~ Lady in Red Cabernet

For some reason I was inspired to experiment a little with the food. I came across a recipe for Swordfish Skewers with salsa verde. They were easy to make and I found the swordfish right here at Manteca Grocery Outlet. So convenient.

Turns out, I love Swordfish! (2lb $9.99 in the freezer dept)

swordfish skewers

Click the picture for the recipe from Food & Wine

blue fish

2011 Blue Fish Sweet Riesling $2.99

Elsewhere price $13.95

This beautiful blue bottle of Sweet Riesling from Germany was refreshing. Larry tasted peaches and nectarines and thought it was excellent. Terry said she really liked it, that it was clean and crisp tasting. Connie also enjoyed it, saying it was very summery. I definitely will be getting a case of this wine. Of course I enjoyed drinking it, but I plan to make a nice chandelier from the bottles to hang in the outdoor kitchen. Thermodynamics (from middle school science class) is my new best friend.

blue wine bottle     wine bottle chandelier

Like this one, but with blue

On-line review from Snooth.com: Color: Soft gold with green reflections Bouquet: Seductive perfume of fresh apricot, peaches, and ripe pineapple Taste: Fruity sweetness with a full-bodied structure and refreshing acidity

 wine bottle torches

or this would be pretty cool too!


eco love riesling

2009 Eco Love Riesling $3.99

Elsewhere price $15.00

This sustainably grown Riesling is from the South Island of New Zealand and also comes in a really pretty bottle! We found this wine to be refreshingly crisp and fruity. Perfectly paired with the grilled Lemon Pepper Shrimp Kabobs as recommended by the on-line reviewer at yumsugar.com below.

On-line review: But I was equally taken by their Riesling’s layers of fruit: peach skins and petrol on the nose to start, followed by a puckery citrus and green apple palate, then a gooseberry finish.

lemon pepper shrimp skewers 

Click the picture for the recipe from McCormick


washington hills syrah

2011 Washington Hills Syrah $5.99

Elsewhere price $11.99

You know I love me some Syrah! Terry commented that it is very smooth and Larry said Hoorah for the Syrah. Steve thought it was sweet for a Syrah. Connie noted that it is full bodied and she noticed a spiceiness. I asked Arvin how he liked it and he said, “Well, it’s gone”. I think that means he likes it. We all did. The whole bottle was gone. Lol.

On-line review from Snooth.com: Lots of blueberries and blackberries. Very calm, slightly sweet but very delicious. I like this a lot!


 lady in red cabernet

2009 Lady in Red Cabernet Sauvignon $10.99

Elsewhere price $24.99

Arvin started us off on this Cab. He said it has a full noise and is sexy! Every other comment that was made was either inappropriate for this blog or I was completely distracted and didn’t write it down. The on-line review is spot on:

5 of 5 stars from TotalWine.com: Aromas of blueberry jam, cherry, red currant, blackberry and elderberry. These are balanced by tea, tobacco, cedar, spice and vanilla which develop in the glass and on your palate leading to a nice, lingering finish.