Category Archives: spring

meyer lemon bourbon fizzes | a change of scenery

April has been quite the month for us, to put it lightly. Since our move out to the western slope of Colorado to the tiny town of Paonia a few weeks back, I’ve traded my dress suits for Carhartt overalls, I haven’t given wearing makeup a second thought, I go to bed before 11:00 on most evenings, and I’m learning how to drive a tractor.

Crazy, right?

Our nightly conversations involve discussions on pruning styles, vineyard trellising ideas, irrigation challenges, soil amendments, the right tractor attachment for weeding, and the next step for renovating our 1950s farmhouse. It’s definitely a fixer-upper, but it has charming potential. Some people might say it’s dated and basic, while I say it’s “rustic chic” and just begging for a breath of fresh air!

It’s hard to think that March 9th was my last night as a sommelier and manager at Shanahan’s back in the city. I know I have alluded to change over the past few months here on the blog, but I hadn’t gone into much detail. Now that I am finished with my job, it’s a little easier to do. For those of you who don’t know, Steve and I took a daring leap of faith and decided to follow our dreams of owning and operating a vineyard and eventual winery.

We had always thought we’d wind up in either California or Oregon, and we had always thought it was about ten years down the road. Well, when the timing is right, and the place is a perfect fit, you sometimes have to take the risk, close your eyes, jump out, and make the dream happen.

And that’s just what we did.

We asked two of our closest friends and fellow wine industry professionals to join us on this crazy adventure, and we have all been pruning just over 20 acres of grapevines over the past few weeks, in addition to acclimating to “roommate life” in a small farmhouse. Optimally, we would’ve started on the daunting task of clipping back the vines in March, but Steve and I were still finishing up our jobs there at the restaurant. I’ll share more about the move, our new place, and our plans for the future in another post. For now, I’ll share this simple cocktail I’ve been making with the remaining Meyer lemons that keep trickling into my kitchen.

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the tropicante | margarita of the year

Between packing up our old house and making small moves out to our new spot on the western slope of Colorado, Steve and I have barely had time to fix dinner, let alone relax and enjoy it together. Last night was different, however. Steve fired up the grill, despite the falling snow outside, and served up some Coho salmon, alongside a few handfuls of blanched spring peas and sautéed green onions.

I garnished every, last bite of salmon with fresh avocado, since we’ve had a lot of it on hand this past week. It has made appearances on sourdough avocado toast, layered between salsa and corn chips, piled on by the spoonful, and even muddled up in a few cocktails. Have you ever tried adding avocado to a drink? If you have enjoyed any egg whites-based cocktails, then you understand the delicious role that texture plays and the sometimes surprising ingredients that make it happen. Adding avocado does the very same thing an egg white does – it adds a rich, silky mouthfeel and integrates a variety of flavors together.

I find it perfectly timed that I get to share an avocado-based cocktail with you that’s in the running for Patrón’s 2017 “Margarita of the Year.” It’s one of seven artisanal, creative spins on the versatile, classic cocktail, crafted by top-notch bartenders around the world. One of those bartenders in the running is Denver’s own Alex Kady of 12 @ Madison and Star Bar. His Tropicante Margarita is a whipped combination of reposado tequila, mango liqueur, citrus, and avocado. It’s also the perfect brunch cocktail to complement your go-to avo toast. I might have done just that. On a Wednesday.

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lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique

I just walked inside from a short, sun-dappled walk through the garden. This week, the temperatures have spiked upwards into the mid-nineties. All of a sudden, I’m craving more salads, donning shorts, and seeking shade. Our late-spring lilacs, tulips, and alliums have been replaced with sprawling lemon balm, bright nasturtiums, and flowering salvia. I absolutely love this ebb and flow of the seasonal changes. We’ve also packed every possible place within our yard with tomatoes, herbs, squashes, and eggplants.

It’s finally feeling like summer.

Even though the fragrant, yet fleeting, blossoms of lilacs have most likely faded everywhere by now, you’ll have to pin this particular recipe for lilac syrup to make next year. I recently created a Lilac 75, featuring this purple-hued, lilac syrup, for Eat Boutique, a story-driven recipe site, beautifully dedicated to all-things food-gifting. I met Eat Boutique’s founder, Maggie Battista last October, when I attended The Hello Sessions in Portland, Oregon. We immediately hit it off and made a day of hitting the city’s hot spots, along with our lovely, mutual friend, Bobbie.

If you’ll recall, I made a version of one of Maggie’s food gift recipes from her cookbook, Food Gift Love, back in December. I adapted her recipe for homemade grenadine and made a celebratory Clover Club cocktail here on the blog. I’m super excited and honored to be sharing even more garden-inspired cocktail recipes over on Eat Boutique in the near future! I’ll definitely keep you posted.

lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique lilac 75 cocktails + lilac syrup | eat boutique

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rhubarb + rosé ramos gin fizzes | getting our hands dirty

I’m definitely a strong supporter of getting my hands dirty, both literally and figuratively. Rolling up my sleeves and doing whatever it takes to make it happen: the job, the dream, the dishes, the groundwork, the coffee.

Today is one of those extra dirty days. I scrapped my earlier introduction here because I just have to keep it real. I let the basement flood last night. This actually happened. I was home alone, happy to have an unexpected evening off. I had been catching up in the garden, planting the last of the peppers, and I walked inside the front door. I heard a fluttering sound coming from the vent. I jiggled the lever and figured that something like a piece of paper was lodged in the ducts. No big deal. I had a shower to get after.

rhubarb + rosé ramos gin fizz | initiating the jumprhubarb + rosé ramos gin fizz | initiating the jump

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absinthe orange + chamomile gin fizzes | spring has sprung

I’m looking outside on the back porch right now, and our large, wooden dining table is completely covered with flowering annuals and vegetable starts. That’s this afternoon’s project before work: planting the spring garden. Steve and I have been so consumed with other plans and happenings, both inside and outside of work, that we have not had the time to get the garden going. It’s the latest we’ve ever planted, I think.

We finally hired a new AGM at the restaurant, which is such a load off our backs. All of us were willing to work extra hard, so that we could take the time to ensure we found just the perfect person. It seems we did just that. In the midst of a few 50-hour work weeks, Steve has also managed to tear down our old fence and build a new one, one that incorporates some of the old pieces with the new. At least our backyard is prepped for all of the plants we’ll be tucking into the soil later on.

orange, absinthe, chamomile gin fizzes | holly & flora orange, absinthe, chamomile gin fizzes | holly & flora Continue reading