Cold weather comfort

I planned this post before temperatures started soaring in my neck of the woods, but although we’re in the eighties here for a couple of days, I am still enjoying my cup of tea in the mornings. And, it should be colder in a few days. Right? Right??

Recently my husband and I have been enjoying some hot and comforting beverages to ward off the chill in the mornings and late evenings. He tends to go for the spicy and full bodied (hmm, wait a minute) while I enjoy whatever kind of new-to-me tea is my current favorite.

From left to right, this is what we are enjoying right now:
Yogi Detox tea – No, I am not doing any sort of actual detox, but I was looking for something for cooler weather and the herb/flavor mix seemed right up my alley. It tastes so good, with a hint of spice but still calming and comforting. Even my husband, who is not into teas unless it’s chai, asked me what it was because it smells so good. I got it at my regular grocery store.

Wang Derm Thai Iced Tea – We love to drink thai iced tea, and last night we enjoyed a nice chilled glass of it after my husband had been cleaning out the garage all day. Because I try to avoid dairy and this was made with condensed sweet milk, it is not something I will have often, particularly in the coming cold months, but it was such a treat.

Celestial Chamomile Tea – Love, love, love this. I make it most evenings as part of my evening routine, and it reminds me of the tea the nuns used to make at the school’s nurse’s office whenever I had stomach issues. Now I know it was probably all that dairy I was drinking when I was little – d’oh! This is found just about everywhere.

Twinings Winter Spice – Steve bought this one and I am a total convert. It is sort of a mix between my beloved chamomile and the detox tea above. It has the chamomile base flavor with spices added. Also found everywhere during the cold months.

The last two are two David Rio Chai blends we got at World Market:
Flamingo Vanilla (pink tin) – I like this one because it has more of a vanilla kick, is decaffeinated, and I can make it with my rice milk. The Orca Spice blend in the blue tin has more of a spice blend and it is also great with any non-dairy milk. Or dairy, obviously, just not for me ;D

These are some of our current favorites, nothing was gifted or given to us, it’s just a few comments on what we are enjoying lately. Hope your week is a great one!

Peruvian Pisco Drink

This week I am celebrating Peruvian Independence — yeah, I’m the lucky girl who celebrates three countries’ Independence in one month: 4th of July for my beloved America, Bastille Day for my home-away-from-home France, and Fiestas Patrias on the 28th and 29th for my homeland, Peru.

Today I bring you a little something-something to enjoy, the recipe comes from my brother, the awesome bartender at the Union Square Hyatt in San Francisco — thanks bro!

2 oz. Pisco
1/2 oz. Sweet & Sour
1/2 oz. Strawberry Puree

Enjoy as is or on the rocks!

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Is your bar ready for summer?

So, first of all, we are wine drinkers. No beer for us, occasionally a mixed drink, hardly ever Champagne. We served a Moscato at our wedding so people could toast and enjoy their cake with it.

Our little bar was a wedding gift from dear Peruvian friends and it fits perfectly in the corner of our dining room. Recently I decided to go through it and restock it with some essentials for summery drinks.

Rose’s Grenadine Syrup for a Tequila Sunrise, lovely Myers’s Rum for mojitos and mai tais, although we get the Trader Vic’s mix which you can spot behind the red hibiscus. We served mai tais at my younger son’s Tiki party a couple of years ago and it’s everyone’s favorite party to day. I am sure it was because of the coconut shrimp, not the booze, ahem.

Behind the rum is a bottle of tequila, which I usually avoid except in mixed drinks where I cannot taste it. It does not like me and the feeling is mutual. Behind the tequila is a bottle of Castañeda sangria from World Market. I initially got the sangria because it happens to be my mom’s maiden name, so I brought it over and she and my dad loved it, then the rest of my Castañeda family here in the area liked it as well, so now it’s a staple in our house.

The leeeeetle bottle in front is Peruvian pisco. I have bigger bottles but our little bar top couldn’t handle it 😀 You can make a Pisco Sour, or a locally (SF) invented drink, the Pisco Punch. My brother happens to be a bartender at the Hyatt on Union Square and gave me a pisco recipe I will share with you next month. July is Peruvian Independence month and I will be sharing some recipes and tidbits about my homeland. If you’re REEEEEALLY curious, here are the pics that went along with the article on my brother.

On the right is a sweet mini chest of drawers given to me by another dear friend, on top are my favorite yellow napkins, wine bottle opener, and foil top cutter, along with some cocktail stirrers below.

We have tons of red and yellow hibiscus in our front yard, they are so festive!! The glasses are fleur-de-lis double old-fashioneds from World Market. I LOVE how they look, I HATE how fragile they are. I bought 6 and have three left, and while I can be pretty clumsy, the many reviews on the WM site will tell you that it’s not me, it’s the glasses. So once these three are gone I’m getting sturdier glasses.

There you have it, my summer bar — I look forward to good times with good friends, some mai tais, some Pisco drinks, and awesome food and company.

What are your favorite summer drinks?

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Birthday weekend, part 2

My husband had planned a surprise for Saturday morning, my actual birthday.  He and our friends convinced me to get up early and “beat the rush” — I am a morning person and I thought, hey, if you want to get up at 6am too, whatever.  Well, the three of them were in on the secret, which was a balloon ride!

Unfortunately, Calistoga was very foggy that morning so it was canceled.  Boo.  Hiss.  At which point my husband told me of the plans and I was disappointed but not as much as the three of them, who were so excited over the balloon ride.  Oh well.  It was a super sweet plan and someday we’ll go up and see the sights from way up high.

Instead, we ended up going to a winery I’d been wanting to visit for a while.  If you ever get a chance, you should visit Castello di Amorosa.

image above from destination

Dario Sattui, owner of V. Sattui, built this castle in the style of a medieval Italian castle, and only produces Italian style wines.  You can read the story here.  It is quite historically accurate – following modern codes and regulations, of course – and it was nice to see details like the one my husband pointed out; a warming fire used to heat the rocks that made up the walls and then that heat would radiate into the rooms, making them cozier.

This place is breathtaking, and to someone who a) likes wine, and b) is a history addict, visiting Castello de Amorosa was a great experience.

My husband at the entrance of the castle.

The banquet room

My husband chose to have the wine & chocolate tasting.  Honestly, this day just kept getting better and better!  Our guide, Alene, was awesome, full of information, engaging, etc.  After the tasting, we headed over to Joseph Phelps because our friends C&D had set up a tasting for us there.

I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow 😀

Thursday Favorite ThingsWeekend Bloggy Reading

Triple yum!

On Sunday, my husband and I went to Outback for lunch while my mother-in-law watched the boys. We had a nice leisurely lunch and since I wasn’t driving, I enjoyed this Margarita trio:


You get 4 oz. of each flavor. My favorite was the pomegranate while my husband preferred the mango, but they were all good.

If you get the chance to sample these I highly recommend them!