Drinking Rosé with Katherine Reay

Lately, I’ve been teaching myself how to cook (more on that in a later post!). Because of my new found love of cooking, I have been gravitating towards fiction and non-fiction books with food and cooking at their core.

This week I finished reading Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay.  As a die-hard fan of Jane Austen, I was originally drawn to the book because of the connection to Austen’s Pride and PrejudiceKatherine Reay‘s books tend to be inspired by classic novels, especially Austen.

Lizzy and Jane couldn’t be further from Jane Austen’s famous sisters for whom they are named.

Elizabeth left her family’s home in Seattle fifteen years ago to pursue her lifelong dream—chefing her own restaurant in New York City. Jane stayed behind to raise a family. Estranged since their mother’s death many years ago, the circumstances of their lives are about to bring them together once again.

Known for her absolute command of her culinary domain, Elizabeth’s gifts in the kitchen have begun to elude her. And patrons and reviewers are noticing. In need of some rest and an opportunity to recover her passion for cooking, Elizabeth jumps at the excuse to rush to her sister’s bedside when Jane is diagnosed with cancer. After all, Elizabeth did the same for their mother. Perhaps this time, it will make a difference.

As Elizabeth pours her renewed energy into her sister’s care and into her burgeoning interest in Nick, Jane’s handsome coworker, her life begins to evolve from the singular pursuit of her own dream into the beautiful world of family, food, literature, and love that was shattered when she and Jane lost their mother. Will she stay and become Lizzy to her sister’s Jane—and Elizabeth to Nick’s Mr. Darcy—or will she return to the life she has worked so hard to create?

-http://www.katherinereay.com/

I loved the focus on food and how a good meal can bring people together. At first, I thought the book would be more of a modern take on Pride and Prejudice, but it was nothing like the beloved Austen novel.  However, I could see the inspiration of Jane Austen’s writing and loved the references to her famous characters and novels.  I was happy that Katharine Reay’s story was genuine and her own, instead of re-writing Pride and Prejudice for a modern audience. It was a perfect book to usher in the spring, combined with my love of cooking and new found appreciation of food.

Because it’s been getting warmer in New Jersey (finally), I’ve been on a rosé kick. There is nothing I love more than a wonderfully chilled rosé on a warm spring day! Rosé wines can be tricky.  They are NOT the same as a white zinfandel, which is not grape variety, but rather created from processing Zinfandel grapes. I prefer my rosé with a dry, lightly fruity taste with a little bit of tang.

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While I was in Grand Cayman this past January for the Cayman Cookout event that I work every year, I had the opportunity to try a rosé from Jean Luc ColomboCape Bleue Rosé. After one sip I was hooked.  It was one of the best tasting rosé wines I have ever had. Plus the color is just beautiful. I knew once I returned to the states, I needed to find and purchase it!  Luckily, it’s available at several local wine stores, as well as online at wine.com (love this site!).

I chose Cape Bleue Rosé to pair with Lizzy and Jane because it’s light and refreshing. Much like Reay’s novel. Plus all of Lizzy’s cooking brought me back to Cayman Cookout and made me crave Cape Bleue Rosé. It turned out to be a great pairing!

Do you have a favorite rosé? Comment below and let me know what I should try!

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Life, Lemons, and Italy

I have been extremely negligent with my blog posting.  I could come up with a million excuses as to why I haven’t posted.  But my readers (and I) deserve the truth. The truth is that the last couple of months have been hard and I haven’t felt like myself.

Writing words and posting them online for people to openly reject is a difficult concept to grasp at times. Mix that with anxiety and depression, as well as feeling like nothing I do or write or say is ever enough, and your doubts will start to control you. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m good enough. Sometimes I feel like I have failed as a writer, before I’ve even begun. Fear paralyzes you into losing sight of your dreams and not realizing your true potential.

Honestly, I’ve had enough of letting fear and anxiety control my life.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m not ashamed of suffering from anxiety and depression. It needs to be talked about and I will talk about it until I’m blue in the face because the silent power it has over me has been weighing me down for years. And I am tired of it. I am tired of letting fear and self-doubt control my every move, my every decision. My ah-ha moment came to me this weekend. I’ve spent so much time feeling alone, but the truth is, I am not.

As my 29th birthday approaches, I may not be where I thought I’d be at this age. But through all the ups and downs, the bad dates and failed relationships, the battles with depression and anxiety, my family and friends have been there through it all. I may be single, but I’m not alone. There are amazing people in my life that I’ve been truly blessed with every second of every day. They’ve made me realize that I am loved and cared for. For that I am forever grateful and blessed. I’m not going to lie; the last year especially has been hard, but it’s a journey and it’s a moment along the path I’m taking. For the first time in a long time, I feel this fresh, new beginning that’s longing to start. And after a while in the dark, I’m ready to embrace it. Everything I’ve gone through has made me a better person. I’m stronger, smarter, and more loving because of it. I am me. And I will never apologize for that. I finally love who I am and I’m blessed with so many people who care about and love me for me. That’s what’s most important. I can finally see that clearly and honestly, I’ve never felt happier or more hopeful.

So after my revelation, I picked up my pen again and resumed work on my second novel and I picked up my Kindle again and resumed reading. The book I chose couldn’t have been more perfect for the struggles I’ve been having. That’s the thing about books; they show up when you need them most.

The book I read, and literally just finished last night, was Italian for Beginners by Kristin Harmel. I’ve read two other books by Kristin Harmel (blog posts pending) that I have adored and shook me to my very core. I still think about the stories and how they’ve affected my life. Books affect me. I think that’s magical.

Aside from my strong desire to visit Italy, Italian for Beginners appealed to me in so many ways. The main character, Cat Connolly, is 34 and single. She is incapable of maintaining a healthy and loving relationship (hey, I know someone like that!). She seems to be in a rut when the reader meets her, however Cat doesn’t really see it yet. She reminisces about the summer she spent in Rome while in college and recalls how much she loved it and felt at peace there. At the suggestion of her father, sister, and work BFF, she plans to travel to Rome alone for one month. Through a series of unfortunate events, she ends up befriending a native Roman, Karina. Karina helps her see that she has been living so cautiously that she has never truly lived. Cat begins to follow her passion for photography, reconnects with estranged family, and meets amazing people who change her perception on what it truly means to live. By the end of the book, she has done a complete transformation into a woman who is confident, passionate, and loves herself for who she is.

I was able to relate to Cat on many levels. This relation was confirmed through a family member’s advice during my recent struggles, “You need to get out of your comfort zone and take a chance”. It’s true; I do. So did Cat. As she followed her passion for photography, I thought about my pen and how long my journals, notebooks, and computer screen have sat empty because I was too afraid. But I’m not afraid anymore.

Lately I’ve been super into lemons, which seems appropriate, since life has indeed handed me my fair share of lemons. But this time, I drank wine instead of lemonade, a delicious Sauvignon Blanc called Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. It was the perfect pair to Italian for Beginners (even though the wine is made in New Zealand and not Italy). I made sure it was chilled prior to drinking it which made all the difference. It’s an excellent summer wine that I ordered through my Club W wine club. I will definitely be ordering a few more bottles this summer.

Cat and I both learned that life will always hand you lemons. But lemons aren’t always a bad thing. It’s what you do with those lemons that count. Personally, I like mine in wine form.

Getting Lost with Lost Lake and Ceci Bella Wine

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Recently I read Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen.  She is one of my favorite authors.

Because of Allen’s magical ability to let her readers taste the food and drinks she writes about, I knew I had to find a flavorful wine to pair with her latest novel.  Picking a wine for this book was an easy decision.  I knew I had to drink Ceci Bella Acai Raspberry Cabernet Sauvignon by Cava Winery, a local New Jersey winery.

Usually I am not a red wine enthusiast, but I absolutely ADORE Ceci Bella Acai Raspberry Cabernet Sauvignon.  I think I may even go as far as to say that this is my favorite wine. Ever.  That’s how delicious it is.  The taste is smooth, fruity, a little tart, and full of amazing, sweet, robust flavors.  I like to drink my Ceci Bella cold (unlike most red wine).

It was the perfect wine to drink with Lost Lake, because the wine is quirky and different, much like Allen’s characters.  I have read every one of her books, and each has an absolute mystical quality.  It’s easy to relate to her characters, but they usually have some strange magical quality, which I find intriguing.  What I loved most about Lost Lake was its focus on each character becoming stronger within their own self.  It was a search for meaning and a life lesson that it’s OK to be lost sometimes.

I thought it was appropriate that I finished Lost Lake on the beach of Lake George over Memorial Day weekend!

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This is the perfect summer read.  So chill your favorite fruity wine, and grab Lost Lake because you’re not going to want to put the book or your glass down!

Check out Lost Lake here!