Thursday, March 15, 2012

A belated Valentine's Day surprise

I awoke yesterday morning with a start, flashing on the fact that the acclaimed Alvin Ailey dance troop was performing this week only at Zellerbach Hall on the Cal Berkeley campus.
The Alvin Ailey dance troop tours North America every late winter/ early spring and every Valentine's I tell myself I am going to buy DH tickets and every year I drop the ball.
We have never seen Alvin Ailey together. 
We don't typically exchange gifts for Valentine's Day and this year was no different but this opportunity seemed like as good excuse as any.
So even though it was a full month late and it was pouring cats and dogs, I trucked up to the Berkeley campus and bought two long awaited tickets to Alvin Ailey.
Upon waiting for the show to commence, I learned just how interested DH was in the Alvin Ailey dance theater. This would be his 5th or 6th time seeing the troop (my first, mind you) and he knew several of the songs and performances. (My man's love of dance is just one of the countless things I love about him.)
From the first dance move, I was hooked. Each of the four performances were outstanding expressions of technical skill, carnal emotion and pure soul.
Alvin Ailey's current artistic director, Robert Battle choreographed both 'Takedeme' and 'The Hunt', two tour de force performances equally captivating in their raw, minimalist power.
The final performance is traditionally Alvin Ailey's own 'Revelations', an ensemble piece that spans the book of Revelations. This legendary performance may well be the most joyful, compelling work I have seen in dance. Certainly I am no expert but it doesn't get much better than the entire sequence of 'Revelations'. From the costumes to the choreography, the whole thing could not have been more festive.
These tickets were meant to be a Valentine's Day gift for DH but I felt grateful to him for sharing Alvin Ailey with me!
Happy Valentine's!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Waste Not Want Not: Wine Series; vinegar

Roughly a year ago, I did a post on 'waste not want not', making an entire dinner of leftovers from the dinner night before. Not a novel concept but certainly a big theme in our kitchen and elsewhere. 
In the last year I've had the chance to see the winemaking process hands on and inso doing, discovered making wine is no different than making just about anything else; there is quite a lot of waste involved.
But where there is waste I see the challenge of reuse. And so begins ButterDate's  Waste Not Want Not Wine Series.
First off, red wine vinegar.
Whenever DH has tasting notes to compile or when we have more than one winemaker friend over for dinner, there are inevitably more bottles open than we could ever possibly finish at the end of the night. Even taking our best stab at the bottles the next day there are still leftovers of some pretty top notch Pinot's, Syrah's and Grenache's.
Pouring out a bottle of Charles Shaw is one thing but pouring out $40 to $80 upwards to $150 bottles of wine is close to physically impossible for came the idea of fermenting our own vinegar.
I could tell DH thought I was a little nuts when I first suggested it but he's used to the crazy enough by now to just go with it.
Last September we started our first vat of vinegar and by December it was ready to give as home made Christmas gifts!
If you ever find yourself with an excess of good red wine, try making vinegar out of it. All it takes is a sterile container, equal parts red wine and hot water, half part vinegar mother to get the fermentation process started and 3 months in a warm spot to ferment. 
The result is an intense, concentrated, delicious version of the red wine vinegar we buy in stores.
Next up in the WNWN Wine bottle glasses.