Category Archives: wine

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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rosé with a spice-roasted carrot + avocado salad | emilie raffa’s “the clever cookbook” + a GIVEAWAY

Happy Friday, everyone!

I’m celebrating extra hard because I survived Valentine’s Day at the restaurant. It was no small feat. We served over 500 guests each evening last weekend. I am still tending to my battle wounds. Couples lingered a little longer than we anticipated, so our reservations ran behind by almost an hour each night. In order to appease the anticipation and impatience of awaiting guests, we ended up having to pour nearly eight cases’ worth of complimentary Prosecco.

I’m still asking, where’s my complimentary case of bubbles?!

Today I’m changing things up a little and hosting Emilie Raffa of the Clever Carrot here on the blog. Emilie has been a longtime favorite blogger of mine, and she recently released her first cookbook, aptly titled, The Clever Cookbook. I’m giddy with excitement! It’s filled with get-ahead strategies and tips for “stress-free home cooking,” and it is quickly becoming a favorite resource in my kitchen. It was also recently named one of Epicurious’ Top 30 Most Exciting New Spring Cookbooks! Get it, Emilie!!

Emilie is kindly letting me share with you, one of my favorite recipes I’ve tried from her new cookbook, a spice-roasted carrot and avocado salad. Of course, I couldn’t resist pairing it with a bottle of wine. So, to celebrate Emilie’s cookbook release, I’m giving away a copy of her cookbook, along with a bottle of wine from my cellar that pairs perfectly with this particular salad! Simply share one of your favorite time-saving tips in the kitchen down below in the comments OR clue me in one of your favorite springtime rosés.

Cheers!

rosé with spice-roasted carrot + avocado salad | emilie raffa's "the clever cookbook" + a giveaway

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blood orange white wine cocktails with campari + thyme

There is nothing like the vibrant color, sweet burst of flavor, and juicy texture that an orange can deliver in the middle of winter, especially on those cold, grey days like the one we had here in Denver yesterday. I only made it outside once yesterday and just for a moment. I fully understand the necessity of this darker season as a time for inner growth and renewal within nature. Even though my backyard garden looks dead, brown, and crusty right now, there is actually life flowing within the roots of those perennial plants underneath the snow. They’re anticipating spring’s arrival, and they’re getting ready for it.

Steve and I have already started planning what we’re going to plant in the garden this spring. I’ve even ordered some seeds to start indoors in a few weeks. And I can’t wait for that first crocus to pop through the leaves, followed closely by the daffodils and tulips. We have been faithfully watering the spots where we planted tulip bulbs this past fall, along the circular walkway we recently built in the front yard. In our minds, spring has already sprung. Simply imagining the new growth puts a smile on our faces and a lilt in our steps.

I recently read that with respect to taking vacations, the act of anticipating the getaway is just as exciting as actually going on the vacation. The happiness factor is equal. One thing that Steve and I are trying to do more frequently is plan little getaways. Having something fun to look forward to is bringing the two of us closer as a couple and keeping us motivated through the tough or dull times.

blood orange wine cocktails with campari + thyme | holly & flora blood orange wine cocktails with campari + thyme | holly & flora

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tart cranberry gin sparklers | fiercely ringing in the new year

Happy New Year’s Evel!!

Can you even believe the year is almost over? As I type, I’m feeling like a well-worn mix tape comprised of half a French press of coffee, two glasses of Lucien Albrecht brut rosé, several glasses of water, two plays of BØRNS’ Dopamine, thoughts of a hot shower, and a slight dread of this evening’s activities. This past year has been a great one, albeit one of highs and lows, interspersed with periods of mayhem and moments of peace. In one breath, I say I’d have it no other way, and in the very next, I dream of a deprivation tank.

C’est la vie!

I’m not quite ready just yet to craft an introspective tirade or a hopeful, inspired declaration for 2016. That will most likely happen this weekend. For now, I still have a writing assignment to finish, a suit to press, and four hours of sleep to catch before the craziest shift of the year. We have nearly 700 reservations on the books, and the last thing I want to do is pop bottles for a roomful of tipsy people. From the way I’m talking, it sounds like I am bereft of life and energy, but, in fact, I’m bursting from the seams and ready to tackle the next project. I just need a few days to reset, to recharge, to freaking sleep.

And then, it’s GO!!

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summer dill + snap pea shim | tips on growing dill

This is my favorite time of year. I guess I’ve said that about early September, when the aspens are starting to change, and I’ve definitely made mention that late March is a beautiful time of spring, when the first purple crocuses pop up in my front yard. I should more aptly state that I just really enjoy living in the moment and soaking up whatever specialties each season sends my way.

Right now, the garden is seriously showing off. Case in point, I have dill towering above my head at seven feet tall. Seven feet tall! We even had to construct a containing method, so that it wouldn’t tumble over from its weight on the rest of the garden. No complaints. This just means lots of pickling coming up for us.

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora

I’ve also enjoyed muddling and incorporating dill, along with whatever herbs are within reach, into my cocktails. I really aim to make them refreshing, balanced, and not too heavy-handed on the alcohol. Some might argue, “What’s the point of making a cocktail, if you keep it low on the alcohol content?” Well, for one, if it tastes delicious, I want seconds. Maybe even thirds. So, keeping a low proof (read: not getting day drunk) is optimal for me, especially when I’m out working in the yard in the hot sun.

On a recent trip to California, Steve and I stayed in the town of Geyserville. He was taking part in the Alexander Valley Cabernet Academy, where he toured some of the best sites for Cabernet and met some of the most innovative winemakers within the Alexander Valley. I traveled with him, but I went my own direction each day. I made several appointments at some of my favorite wineries, like Benovia and Martinelli, but I also left room to explore.

One of my favorite places I stumbled upon was the most beautiful shop and café, SHED, in the town of Healdsburg, about a ten minute drive south from Geyserville. I could seriously live in this shop, and I actually ended up staying there for a couple of hours. Not only does the shop boast a cocktail bar, complete with shrub cocktails and kombucha on tap, but it also has a proper cheese shop, a gorgeous flower cart, and a sprawling variety of beautiful kitchenware. SHED even offers grain-milling classes, beekeeping courses, and gardening workshops.

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After meeting up with my friend, Duff, for breakfast at the café, I chose to sit up at the bar and enjoy a “shim” cocktail. A shim is the answer to the quandary I spoke of a few paragraphs back: a “sessionable” cocktail that won’t get you over-intoxicated. When I asked the bartender about the drink, she handed me a copy of Dinah Sanders‘ book, The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level. She’s the original coiner of the term, shim. I thumbed through the pages and knew this book was for me. Since then, I’ve been replicating some of her recipes and dabbling a little on my own low-alcohol libations.

This particular recipe lets sake take the lead role, providing a marvelous texture, bright notes, and a floral component that marries perfectly with the herbaceous additions. I began fiddling around with this cocktail about five weeks ago, when Danguole of 10th Kitchen‘s photo of a spring pea sake cocktail popped up on my Instagram feed. Vegetables and herbs in a cocktail? I’m completely in. I love beet juice with gin and carrot juice with vodka, so sake paired with spring peas sounded intriguing.

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora


summer dill + snap pea shim


  • 2 snap pea pods with tendrils for garnish
  • 2 slices cucumber
  • 1 sprig dill with extra for garnish
  • 1 half-inch slice preserved lemon {optional}
  • 1 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 2 1/2 ounces Junmai sake {I used Shimizu-No-Mai “Pure”}
  • 1/2 ounce limoncello {my house-made version, yo}
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • soda water
  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the snap pea pods, cucumber, dill, and preserved lemon, along with the St. Germain.
  2. Add ice, the sake, limoncello, and lemon juice.
  3. Shake well and double strain into a cocktail glass filled with fresh ice.
  4. Add a splash or so of soda and garnish with a pea tendril and a dill blossom.
  5. Go back for seconds without any guilt.

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“We drink to connect  —  Perhaps that is why cocktails are a product of the modern world. As our ability to escape our present surroundings has grown, we’ve needed a ritual to bring us back.”

—  Dinah Sanders


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This week, specifically, has been a hectic one. This past Friday was the third of eight concerts that we hold at the restaurant throughout the summer. I have learned to dread Friday nights because of this production. I don’t even take vacations during this two month stretch. It may not sound like much, but the amount of brain power, emotional toll, lack of sleep, and physical labor it takes to produce a party of epic proportions at an already busy, upscale steakhouse is staggering. I’m talking well over 1,000 guests, dancing to 80s cover bands, and slurping down pineapple martinis…smh.

I don’t drink heavily on those nights. I mean, I want to, but I already know I’m going to have a “work hangover” the following morning, so why further compound the issue? Seriously, each Friday night sets me back about two days. All I want to do is sleep come Sunday morning. On any other given night of the week, when I’m working, I’m selling wine, putting together wine pairings, and talking with familiar regulars. A Friday night during the concert series? I could be breaking up a brawl outside on the patio, sweeping up broken glass, covering my mouth while mopping up the remnants of someone’s upset stomach, or throwing out “that guy,” who won’t stop creeping out the ladies.

I definitely earn whatever I’m drinking on Monday afternoon. Lemme tell you…

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So, now that I’ve painted a picture of what the start of my weekends entails over the summer, I’m sure you’re ready for a drink, yourself. Dinah Sanders’ book of low-alcohol cocktails will keep you engaged and spark your cocktail-concocting creativity. And you won’t curse my name the next morning, if you have a couple of them.

Right now, my sleep schedule is so messed up. As I write, I am also googling ways to use lavender to induce sleep {I’m wide awake at 4:00 AM}. Don’t be surprised if my next blog post includes something sleep-inducing. Regardless, I am still planning on waking at 8:00 to tend to the garden. I’ll pull on my slippers, don my sunnies, and slowly schlep on the flagstone path to water my green children. With squinty eyes and a happy, albeit sleepy, heart, I’ll welcome the heat and beckon the sun. They’ve both been so good to us this year.

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tips for growing dill


  • Site  —  Dill thrives in a spot, protected from strong winds and exposed to full sun. It’s more suitable for outdoor gardening, but it will grow well in containers.
  • Soil  —  Plant dill in rich, well-drained soil.
  • Sun    Dill absolutely loves the sun. I plant mine right in the middle of my garden, and it has grown over seven feet tall. It has also sprung up in a part-shade area of the garden, and although it has only grown to four feet in height, it is still prolific and aromatic.
  • Water    Dill seems to be pretty drought-tolerant; it doesn’t droop when deprived of water for a day or two. Thoroughly water the soil, when it is dry to the touch.
  • Harvesting  —   Clip dill sprigs when needed. Use them unabashedly when quick-pickling or making dill-based cocktails. Dill leaves taste their best, when they are harvested before the plant flowers. Pick them either early in the day or late in the afternoon. If you are harvesting the seeds, cut the seed heads 2-3 weeks after the plant has flowered. Hang the seed heads upside down in a brown, paper bag, in order to catch the seeds. You may also do what we do, and just let the dill flower, go to seed, and shed the seed. We look forward to dill plants sprouting up the following spring. You may either keep them where they sprout or transplant them.
  • Preserving  —  I try to use dill leaves, whenever they are ready. Clip a few sprigs and place them in a glass of water; they will last a few days either on the counter top or in the fridge. You may also layer clippings of dill in a jar of sea salt. Just remove the dill and rinse it, whenever you’re ready to use it. Dill also freezes and dries well. Don’t forget about dill vinegar.

Over the past few weeks, I have been writing a succession of posts on growing and preserving herbs over at the Kitchn. Here are a few links of my favorite posts from the Herb Gardening 101 series, and they are all photographed from my garden:

summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & flora summer dill + snap pea shim | how to grow dill | holly & floraCheers to a great rest of the weekend! With tomatoes finally ripening on the vines, herbs spilling over in the flower beds, and eggplants already on the grill, our garden is in full swing. The next two months will be filled with energy and growth and transformation. I’m reveling in this season. And I’m on the lookout for ways to extend my harvest and ways to extend my cocktail-enjoying ability. Bring on the shims, bring on the preserves.

Bring on summer!

XO,

Jayme

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