Sangria Kickoff

Before the honeymoon, I’d never been to Spain before. I’ve been to England, France, Italy, Greece, and all sorts of random countries in Eastern Europe but never Spain. Barcelona definitely made me want to go back. I loved it! It’s such a beautiful city. We landed, checked into our hotel, and immediately started to explore. I chose a hotel just steps off Placa de Catalunya. What a lovely area! It was also a holiday so it felt like our honeymoon was really off to a great start.We were starving and strolled past a bunch of out door cafes on las ramblas. We found a spot at one and began with some sangria. Ohh. The. Sangria. This is a half order! Mr. J tried it as well only because a when-in-rome mentality and loved it too!
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We each chose a dinner option for 3 house tapas and our choices of paella, pasta, or pizza. The tapas was heavy on fish, but I didn’t mind at all. Mr. J didn’t seem to either. One was a warm potato wedge with a sweet & creamy dressing. I liked it. Another was a crustini with tomato and a sardine. The last was a cold pasta salad with tuna. The sampler was good since we would’ve spent forever picking piece by piece.
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I went with the seafood paella. It was so good! I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I’ve always wanted to try and and I got my most authentic chance ever! There were huge shrimp (with the heads), scallops, muscles, and some sort of tougher fish…calimari-esque but not exactly the same. I could definitely taste the saffron but it wasn’t overpowering.
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I loved it. I ate my first shrimp head since apparently that’s where all the flavor is. I’m not sure if that will happen again or not.

Mr. J got pasta that was good, but not as blog-worthy as paella!

I fell for Barcelona while sipping my sangria, munching on paella, and watching a street festival unfold before my eyes. I guess there were fireworks but I was too tired/jet-lagged to even stay awake until 9 PM (also known as when locals eat dinner).

Happy Halloween!!

Thirsty in the Bahamas

Don’t worry…this is the end of my Bahamas vacay recap. Our last day in the Bahamas before heading back to the cruise ship seemed like the perfect time to grab a smoothie at the cutest little hut you’ve ever seen.
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We soon realized that apparently it was election day. Do you know what Bahamians don’t do on election days? They don’t drink. Liquor isn’t served on election days. How interesting?! We got our smoothies sans liquor and enjoyed them just as much.
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I chose mango & sis chose a mixed fruit one. I liked hers better and wondered why I didn’t go with strawberry, a seemingly obvious choice for me. Ohh well. Next time. Ohh, wait, we were in the Bahamas on the last day.

While we’re speaking of drinks on vacation, we took advantage of the 2-for-1 happy hour on the cruise one day. I thought: there are 2 of us, and we’ll pay for 1 drink. Nope. We got 4 drinks and paid for 2. It was fun to tote the 2nd along with us to dinner after a few rounds of skip-bo. I got a traditional mojito and sis got one called something like Strawberry Lava or Strawberry Fiesta or something like that. Half pina colada and half strawberry daiquiri.
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Hers was too sweet for me, but it was definitely a fun cruise-y drink garnished with fresh pineapple. Mine had a great amount of mint. It wasn’t super muddled but my straw + ice cubes helped with that.
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Blast of Berry Sangria

I was racking my brain to come up with what to bring to a 4th of July weekend with Mr. J’s family at the lake house. There’s always more than enough food and snacks so I went with a drink!
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I figured a sweet sangria was the way to go! I made it early in the afternoon and we drank it a few hours later. It was even better the next day. Making the strawberry sangria was huge for the flavor.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups strawberries, sliced
1 cup blueberries
¼ cup sugar
2 tbs honey
¼ cup water
1 packet Raspberry Lemonade Crystal Light
1 bottle Reisling, chilled
1 nip citrus vodka

Directions

Bring 1 cup strawberries, ¾ cup blueberries, sugar, and honey to a low boil for 5 minutes. Add  water and remove from heat.
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Strain to catch all the pieces, leaving berry syrup.
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Prepare lemonade according to directions
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Mix in wine, vodka, berry syrup, and remaining berries.
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Refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
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I’d definitely make this again. I think the berry lemonade was a nice touch to mellow it out a bit. Reisling was a good addition too.

Traveling Drinks

While traveling, we like to try some of the local everday beverages. Somewhere in Greece a few years ago I purchased a canned beverage but didn’t drink it right away. It was called Hello Boss and I thought it was just a funny name. I didn’t drink it until Albania, a few countries later, because I was tired of toting it around.

On my trip to the Bahamas with my Sis, we saw a guy drinking an interesting can of something while he sold us our terrible kayaking trip. It’s not his fault we are AWFUL kayakers. I saw his Goombay Punch and assumed it was alcoholic…not sure why. Turns out, it’s not.
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We got ourselves Goombay Punch and Fruit Champagne and drink them while watching a wedding reception being set up at our hotel. I wasn’t a fan of either. Both were sickening sweet.
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I thought the Goombay Punch was OK but the Fruit Champagne tasted like strong Red Bull. I love champagne but I think just the name came about because it was bubbly.

Check it out, you can order it online!

 

Now it’s just about time for a long holiday weekend. Enjoy some festive beverages! I’m toying with bringing some sangria to the lake in Maine…

Cheers to a Wine-Off

Once upon a wintery Saturday night, some friends hosted their annual Wine-off. This competition is not your average wine and cheese night.
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This is a night each couple brings their a-game in the form of an inexpensive wine ($15 or less per bottle). Each is covered and everyone drinks & scores. There were 16 entries before the crowning of the best as well as the Golden Stink Award.
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I was really looking forward to this after thoroughly enjoying it last year AND it was a fun night out after a big work event that day! I’m the wine drinker of the apartment so I pulled a wine out of my wine rack to bring. I never spend more than $15-per-bottle anyway so I was all set! I chose a Malbec, thinking it would be a crowd pleaser and would hopefully score well.Malbecs are a grape variety originally from the Bordeaux region of France but more recently grown in Argentina for this red wine. It pairs with food very well and will stand out against ordinary Merlots or Cabernet Savignons.
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We scored just above the middle of the pack. I wish we brought a chilled white wine since there were so few and after alllll the wine they were refreshing and different.

Ingredients:

friends bringing wine to your apartment
paper wine bags
scorecards
a scoring method to calculate results quickly!
appetizers
dump cups for any heavy handed pours or stinky wines

Directions:

Invite your friends to bring cheap wines to your cocktail party.
Have extra wine bags on hand to conceal the wines.
Make a score card and prepare to tally the scores at the end of the night.
Serve some simple aps.

Presto, you have a wine-off! I love opportunities to have lots of opinions and try new things!

I was so impressed with Miss M’s scorecard. They were so professional it made me anticipate a scantron machine to tally our choices! Cardstock? Bubble choices? Wow!
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Miss M & Mr. R also invited guests to submit a song to the playlist for the night. What a great idea? It was super fun to hear a wide variety and see reactions when somebody’s song came on.

It’s not too late to message your friends and have an impromptu Valentine’s Day get together, or anti-Valentine’s day bash! Careful, it is Monday. This is a great winter party.

I had a small Pumpkin Beer tasting around Thanksgiving which was a lot of fun. I’m thinking about some sort of taste-off for my birthday.