Sunday, November 21, 2010

Drovers Grill & Wine Bar

My husband and I finally had the privilege of visiting the new and renewed Drovers restaurant down the street from our house.  We had seen the new owner busy at work revamping the tired restaurant and were told that it would be reopening with a whole new dynamic.  He told us his goal was to open a Maryland themed restauratn with food and wine produced within 30 miles of the restaurant.  Needless to say we could not wait for the place to open.  Luckily our wish recently came true and we were able to finally see the new and improved Drovers.  We were greeted by friendly wait staff who seemed very knowledgeable about the menu and wine on the list.  Even though this was a reopening and the menu had only days before been written, it seemed to be running well.  The staff seemed eager and excited about what there was to offer.  The excitement of the staff seemed driven by the owner, Kevin whose enthusiasm and passion seemed to rub off on everyone in the restaurant.  "It all started with a Kubota tractor" according to owner Kevin Vanek.  The cute local restaurant located on Frederick Rd. in the Poplar Springs of Mount Airy was running into some financial problems and Kevin happened to be at the right place at the right time.  He was in the market for a tractor and got something more after hearing about the restaurant in need of a makeover.  His love of food and wine combined with a desire to make an investment in something he loved gave him the idea of starting his new venture.  Kevin is a trained opera singer, but decided that he was ready to make an investment in something else he was passionate about.  Thank goodness he did because the place is fantastic!  The first thing we experienced, to our delight, was a lovely wine sampling from several Maryland wineries.  All of the wines on the list are from Maryland, and Kevin himself gave us a brief introduction of each one we sampled.  This guy clearly did some major networking with some of the best farms and vineyards in the area and his efforts have really paid off.  My husband ordered the grilled romaine salad with blackened beef and I had the spaghetti squash pasta.  We were both extremely pleased with our meals.  I convinced Ben that we should also order dessert.  We were given a sample of the Chocolate Zin dessert wine (unfortunately I do not remember the winery).  It was Zin-ful to say the least.  This was paired with the baked apple dessert and was A-MA-ZING!  All I can say is what I told Kevin at the restaurant.  Wine and food is the best pleasure you can have in public!  ...And Drovers is the best public place to have this pleasure!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Resveratrol: As if I need another reason to love wine!

If you are having trouble choosing between beer or wine, maybe this little ingredient inherently found in red wine will help make your decision.  Resveratrol is the anti-aging ingredient I'm talking about and it is found in the skins of grapes.  According to Wikipedia, resveratrol is defined as "a polyphenol and phytoalexin produced naturally by several plants when under attack by pathogens such as bacteria or fungi." Well that sounds extremely boring.  So is this all a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but major research is being done on the subject and its coming out pretty good for us wine drinkers. The Mayo Clinic reported that "resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces "bad" cholesterol and prevents blood clots."  This could explain the theory of the French Paradox, which suggests that the reason the French suffer significantly less incidences of coronary artery disease despite their diet which is high in saturated fat and cholesterol is due to their large consumption of wine.  Sounds like a great diet to me:  Cheese, olive-oil, and wine!  Experiments have been done on mice that show better heart and artery health, better bone health, more agility, a longer life-span, and overall weight control.  Resveratrol appears to be equivalent to a calorie restricted diet in animals.  Now this doesn't mean that you should start drinking wine for every meal quite yet.  There is still much to be learned about resveratrol.  Many research facilities are beginning clinical research and hopefully we will be getting some results soon.  Some people have already taken it upon themselves to start taking resveratrol supplements on their own.  There are pills available right now boasting longer life and weight control that contain resveratrol.  However it is unknown what dosage is appropriate to make a difference in humans.  As for me though, I like my wine and if their are added health benefits attached to it, that's all the better for me. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gushing Over Wine: What else is new?

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit a new bar in Hampden in Baltimore City called "13.5% Wine Bar".  It's located conveniently on the "Avenue" across from the Hon Bar.  The wine bar is very cozy and intimate with a wall of wines displayed in the dining area.  The wait staff is very knowledgeable and attentive.  The wines offered are reasonable in price and there are some tasty items to choose from.  Most interesting in the food selection was the pumpkin pizza.  This was very light and different and something I have been craving since.  I am a sucker for spanish wines so I started with a nice Tempranillo.  Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the wine and I forgot to write it down.  Unfortunately I did not see it listed on their online menu.  Anyway, it was delicious.  But I am always a fan of tempranillo and have yet to try one I haven't melted over.  The second selection I tasted was the Bodegas Tarima Monastrell 2009.  Aside from the fact that the label (seen above) is gorgeous, the wine itself was extremely memorable.  The first thing I noticed was the light fruity aroma with some floral notes.  The taste was that of licorice and chocolate.  Fabulous!  I am really hoping to find this in my local wine shop as its something I would love to have in my collection.  Another great thing about this wine is the fact that it was only $20 at the bar.  My guess is its much cheaper at the liquor store.  Great QPR (quality to price ratio) wine.  My pairing recommendation for this lovely wine is a nice pungent cheese, like blue cheese.  Needless to say, I think spanish wines are becoming my favorite very quickly.  At least this week they are.  Well, CHEERS and happy sipping!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rock Climbing, then Wine: But Never In the Reverse Order

Sensing that Halloween weekend might be the last decent weekend for outdoor enjoyment, my husband and I went to do a little climbing in Harper's Ferry at Balcony Rock.  What a fantastic place!  It's tucked away behind a railroad track (which seems to be where a lot of the best climbing rocks are) and overlooks the river.  Now I am a fairly novice climber but there seems to be enough rock for all levels of expertise.  After a couple hours of climbing and with my nerves shot we decided what better time than to go taste some wines!  My only concern was that my forearms were to worn out to hold a glass.  Nevertheless, we headed over to Frederick Cellars.  What a cool place!  The winery is located right in the heart of Frederick, MD and their vineyard (Mountain Creek Vineyard) is located elsewhere in Middletown.  Their tasting room opens up to the exposed winery.  You get to hear, smell, and taste everything going on in the process of the winemaking.  The winemaker even invited us over to check out what they were doing.  They were transferring the cabernet must to the de-stemmer at the time.  I found out that they actually grow their own cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay grapes in their vineyard.  In fact their un-oaked Chardonnay and their 2008 cabernet were among my favorites served at the winery.  Another surprise for me was the Rose, which was made with chambourcin grapes and had a dry, spicy taste.  For those who enjoy something a little sweeter, look for the Trail's End.  This one is a Riesling blend with lovely floral notes.  Overall, I think this is a place to check out for sure.  Down town Frederick is just a cool place in general for foodies and winos.  I can't wait to go back!